Trader Lan pauses, sips from his goblet. The emeralds around its rim glitter in the light of Aurum's sun that streams through the armorcrys window. The sun is a pale yellow, a sliver of it visible past Aurum's slow occultation. Cloudlets swirl in the planet's sky, their dark hue indicating one of the infrequent rain showers is falling on the plains. On the edge of the storm, a sullen ember burn marks the the area the Mechanicus explorators have marked down as volcanic.
Not four hours ago, the Horizon's Pride left the Immaterium, returning to the solid comfort of real space in orbit around Aurum. While the crew scurries about the lower decks preparing a lander to convey the kill-team to the surface, Lan invited the Astartes to a final meal. Much to the pleasure of Eldgrim, Lan appears not to have succumbed to the pretension of dainty dining, piling his table with succulent roast grox and exotic game birds from a dozen worlds, and spirits of every color and strength to wash it down.
"For your service in this, My Lords, I'll be forever grateful. And when I am gone, my heirs will carry on that gratitude. But I confess, this cold trail fills me with trepidation. It almost seems that there should be something more to it. Attempting to sabotage this mission to Aurum seems beyond the designs of a lone madman. . .
Lan sighs. "I suppose the Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor will get to the bottom of it," he says. "I had the astropath send a request for one as soon as we broke into real space. Still, it is troubling." He shakes his head. "But enough of that. Soon the bold Astartes will descend on Aurum and do what I and dozens of others could not: bring those bloody natives to heel." He raises his goblet in salute. "To you all, My Lords. May the Emperor watch over you."