Planetfall

 
Brother Androcles

"Not all of the Imperium's worlds are vast hives or Mechanicus forges, Caele. Fenris, the world from which my two brothers here hail," Androcles motioned to the Space Wolves, "is a vast world of boundless glaciers, oceans, pine forests, and islands where enormous wolves roam. My own homeworld was covered in forests with nary a tower to rival the tallest trees." he explained. "I cannot promise you that there will not be large machines and refineries built to make use of the rich promethium resources here. That would be a lie and an insult to your intelligence. Your world and your people will have to adapt somewhat, but not to the lengths you fear." he nodded. His words may not have been exactly what the Caele wanted to hear, but Androcles expected the tribal leader would appreciate honesty more than honeyed words.

The Caele nods. "I have known life for us would never be the same since the first Imperials came down from the skies. Only a fool would have thought otherwise. But my people's honor--and my honor--are paramount. We must have an honorable enty into the Imperium, or none at all."

He leans against the table again. "Which brings me to the crux of the problem, Astartes. Many of my people wish to integrate. Alkedre Firestarter, the woman who was here earlier, thinks I should negotiate now, that I should give great concessions to the Imperium for protection. But even she is stopped by one simple fact: no Imperial has proven your realm's right to rule over us. Only the valorous may rule." He holds up a hand to forestall any protests from the Space Marines.

"I do not mean to impugn your courage. But what constitutes valor to an Auran is very specific. An Auran warrior may hear about the brave Space Wolves of Fenris who slay great beasts," he nods at Eldgrim and Ydnar. "Or the Ultramarines, who stood against the swarms in the Tyrannic War. He can have heard the legends of the Imperial Fists, who held your Emperor's Fortress against the forces of Horus, who in our myths we call Orsas. Or even of the Blood Angels, whose great founder held the gates alone against hordes of foes. All these we have heard, and we admire, but what matters to an Auran is Auran courage."

The Caele fingers the vest of red scale armor he wears. "The mightiest warriors among us have slain the diablodon, as I have, but even the lowest have bested some of the beasts our jungles hold. So far no Imperial has completed even the most rudimentary of our trials. Trials that even unblooded youths have completed. So you can see, even if I wish to join your Imperium, honor dictates that I cannot. If I were to break that honor, Alkedre there would challenge me to combat for my place as Caele. Her, or one of the dozens of others, and they would not be wrong."

He sighs, runs a hand through his hair. "So, you see, Astartes, where my troubles lie. The Imperium must prove itself worthy to lead us. Until that happens. . .." He shrugs.

The Imperial fist felt the tension in the air as no one spoke after the Caele petered off. The thoughts in his mind was most likely mirrored in the minds of his brothers. Of course. In the end it is not word but deed that is needed to prove one's loyalty. thought Artemis.

Among the multitude of peoples that dwell in the Imperium of man, few understand the importance of honor than that of the Adeptes Astartes. The voice of Artemis Marr spoke in a low tone. I am sure my brothers here would agree, that if the price the Imperium must pay to win your great people's hand is to honor their traditions, none would be fitting to face these trails than my brothers and I.

Artemis walked forward from behind Androcles, and repeated the salute the former performed, albeit this time with only a combat knife. By my honor as the son of Dorn, and the Emperor, I will face your trails to prove the worth of the Imperium that my brothers and I defend, even if I must slay the most fearsome of your beasts.

"The Space Wolves have long use similar trials for their initiates. Sent out into the frozen wastes with nothing but the clothes on their backs - which don't do much against the weather, I'd like to point out. I'd like to say that's where I got this pelt, but the wolf it came from would've torn me to shreds back then." A broad grin broke out across the Fenrisian's face. "Besides; it's been too long since I've had a proper hunt. I assume our weapons and armour can't be used for this trial to be valid?" It was a safe bet that a warrior culture like the Aurans would believe ceramite armour and high-explosive ammunition would seem like an unfair advantage. He was pretty sure that they'd think the same about his psychic powers if they found out about them. True - he had no reason to hide them, but thought it'd be safer to do so for now.

Brother Androcles

"Yes, this diablodon, you called it? Would you like one for each of us for this test to be considered valid or will one suffice for the entire team?" Androcles asked. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Kill Team would attack any challenge the Aurans had for them with relish. There wasn't even a need to talk amongst themselves first. "I am unsure of the value each...trophy will amount to in the eyes of your people and I wish to be completely thorough." he nodded.

The Caele chuckles at their eagerness. "Somehow I knew you would be willing. The tales of your tribes' valor precedes you." His grin widens at Androcles' query. "One for the whole group shall be sufficient. By our law the hunt is a group affair, and though you may be mightier than the mightiest of our warriors, the law must be obeyed. The hunt for the diablodon is an ancient and vaunted ritual, one which we call the Divested Hunt. And indeed, I'm afraid your arms and armor must be left behind. Only the ritual weapons may be taken: spear, sword, gyrblade and bow."

The Caele's excited recitation is interrupted by a throat clearing from behind. An Auran warrior stands with the door half open behind him. Something unspoken passes between warrior and Caele, and the Caele nods.

"I'm afraid my duties as Caele must be attended to. I will leave word with Alkedre to assist with anything you need to prepare for the Hunt. She is a master of it, so heed her words: every scale in her hair is from a diablodon she scored the killing blow upon." Rylus belts his sword around his narrow waist, starts walking to join the warrior.

"And before I forget: by my decree you Imperials have the freedom of the city, but you may not step beyond its walls. Once you have earned your place as honorary Aurans that restriction will be lifted. . .and then we might speak of other things. The Divested Hunt will begin in the morning. I wish you luck, Astartes. For both our sakes."

With that he turned on his heel and strode out the door, the warrior close behind. After a moment the side door opens once again, and in steps Alkedre, the woman you saw just moments before. She greets the Space Marines with sharp raps of her sword hilt upon their pauldrons.

"I am pleased you have chosen to test yourselves in the Divested Hunt, Astartes," she says, her voice surprisingly soft for such a martial looking woman. "The Caele has instructed me to assist you in any way I can, if you wish it. Otherwise, you are free to explore the city, but not beyond."

She looks expectantly at the Kill-team, resting a hand on the pommel of her sword.

Camael cannot suppress a slow smile at Alkedre's words. Pride and valor are high virtues, to his mind, but the Aurans as a whole seem to lack perspective on the space marines. The pale, handsome marine clears his throat and answers in his low, smooth voice.

"We are not tourists, my lady. We are warriors whose prowess has been challenged. Let us begin this Hunt as soon as possible. You will find that we are the equal of any mortal trial."

Alkedre laughs, tosses an errant stand of hair back over her should with a flick of her head. "I am glad to hear it," she says, smiling warmly at Camael. "You look to have better prospects than Trader Lan, at least. I sponsored him in the martial games, in the hopes that he'd win some honor and then we could begin true negotiations to join the Empire. But then the casting of the lots pitted us against each other in the first round. He fought better than I expected, until I broke his arm."

She returns her sword to her waist, adjusting the belt around her hips. "The hunt will begin at dawn. You wil be taken to the Reaving Canyons, left only with the traditional implements of the hunt. It's simple, really. Slay a diablodon and return with its head. Then you will be treated as Aurans, free to wander our world as you please. And to select a. . .mate if you wish it." She winks, clearly unfamiliar with the nature of Space Marines when it comes to romantic entanglements.

She puts a hand to her chin, gently tapping it with a finger. "We'll have to find you some clothing for the hunt. Agrax skins are the traditional attire, but I don't think we've anything large enough. . .but that doesn't matter now? Have you any questions for me? If not, we'd best get you to the armory and see what we can dig up for you to use."

Brother Androcles

"My only concern is the protection of our wargear until we return, Lady Alkedre. This armory, is it secure? I would not accuse your people of theft, but I am not prone to carelessness when it comes to these ancient implements of battle. They are not lightly replaced." Brother Androcles said, touching a gauntlet to the aquila symbol on his breastplate with reverence.

"I understand your concern," Alkedre says. "And while I would say the armory is as safe a place as any within the city, but we are strangers to you and I would be hesitant to trust strangers with these as well." She points to her armor and the sword at her hip. "If you ask it, the Caele's guards will watch over your wargear, or you may store it at the Aspirance, where the Imperial Guardsmen are billeted." She chews her lip. "There's also the mission house, where the priest of the God-Emperor dwells. I don't know how secure it is, or if there is even space there, but it is another possibility.




 

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