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Ren Zel dea'Judan is outcast from his clan and hired by Shan yos'Galan.

  • A robust short story. For "the rest of the story" -- set years later, after "I Dare" -- see Kin Ties.
  • Changeling first appeared in Absolute Magnitude #14 (Summer 2000)
  • It also appeared in Adventures in the Liaden Universe #6 (2002), Liaden Unibus I (2007), A Liaden Universe Constellation Volume 1, Baen Books (July 2013)


Story of young Ren Zel dea'Judan before he becomes a pilot on Dutiful Passage. Ren Zel is the only pilot of Clan Obrelt, an outworld Clan of shopkeepers on planet Casia. He is to contract-wed to Elsu Meriandra, Clan Jabun, but a terrible accident ...

Ladder-Climbing Clans


Treachery, loyalty, Pilot Lore, Clan Korval, The Luck, Balance, Courage, Hope, New Beginnings

Characters (order of appearance)[]

  • Ren Zel dea'Judan (Clan Obrelt) 21 standards old, first class pilot
  • Arn Eld, his Uncle
  • Chane, his Aunt, the Delm's Sister (first to suspect that Ren Zel might be a pilot)
  • Delm Obrelt [M]
  • Master Pilot von'Eyr of the Casiapor Pilot's Hall, (testing Ren Zel)
  • Lai Tor [M], pilot, friend
  • Oraria [F], pilot
  • Eba, Ren Zel's sister, shopkeeper
  • Elsu Meriandra, Clan Jabun, Ren Zel's contract wife
  • Delm Jabun [M]
  • Son Dor, cousin of Ren Zel, eight standards old
  • Wil Bar, cousin of Ren Zel, shopkeeper
  • Tor Cam tel'Vana, the Eyes of Casia's Council of Clans
  • Shan yos'Galan of Clan Korval: Master Trader, Captain Dutiful Passage
  • Christopher "Chris" Iritaki, roster boss Gromit Company
  • Suzan Fillips, second class pilot, Ren Zel's copilot (and 12 standards his elder)
  • Ms. Atwood, Christophers's second
  • Vilt, of Dutiful Passage
  • Rusty, of Dutiful Passage


  • Dancer, Elsu's Ship, a small middle-aged packetspacer
  • Dutiful Passage, Korval tradeship


Shaking with rage, Shan pulled the ship’s maintenance records. The pilot-owner had not even seen fit to keep to a regular schedule of routine maintenance. Several systems were marked weak in the last recorded mechanic’s review -- three Standard years past! -- at which time it was also noted that the copilot’s backup board was non-operational. Typing at white heat, Shan finished his report with praise for the copilot, demanded an open hearing to be held at Casiaport Guildhall within a day of his arrival on-Port, and shunted the scalding entirety to the Tower to be pinbeamed to Guild Headquarters, copy to Casiaport Guildmaster.

Ren Zel gasped. “You, who deal in life and death -- you will be the death of all you are pledged to hold!”

A gasp ran through the room, and Shan felt a tingle in the close air of the poolroom, as if a thunderstorm were charging.

Jabun stood as if struck; and Shan heard a med tech mutter, “Dramliza, you fool! Will you play Balance games against a wizard?”