The Divested Hunt

The Divested Hunt

The jungle is a riot of sensation. Gigantic flowers, wide across as a vox dish, cover the canopy, some bright blue, others striped white and green. The few spears of light that penetrate the overhead canopy illuminate clouds of pollen dancing on the air currents. The Space Marines' uncanny sense of smell picks out an underlying aroma of rotting vegetation, a fetid, cloying stench of stagnant waters clashing with the vibrant smells of living things. Speckled lizards scramble up and down tree trunks, hissing challenges to one another.

The team stands upon a game trail, which winds its ways deep into the undergrowth ahead, lost amid the twists and turns and curtains of hanging vines.

"I am on advance," Ydnar says. "Who has the van and the rearguard?"

Brother Androcles

Brother Androcles resisted the urge to slap at a mosquito landing on his shoulder, knowing that his skin would adapt to the annoyance and create chemicals in his sweat to discourage more if he just let it. The humid, rotten vegetation smell assaulted his senses and seemed to press down upon him. He had to admit it was a little disquieting to be without his armor like this, but he knew that the Emperor's Space Marines were the equal of any challenge as long as they kept their faith. His armor and weapons, priceless to be sure, were still only tools. A Space Marine's real strength came from within.

"Stay within an arrow's flight of us, as the crow flies, Brother Ydnar. I will take point back here. Brother Camael will protect us as rearguard." Androcles decided quickly, hefting his spear above the vegetation so that it did not drag. He let the others arrange themselves between him and Camael as they wanted. "Step lightly, brothers, and keep an ear and eye for Ydnar's warnings. I have every confidence that we can handle ourselves here, but that is no reason to be stupid." he advised, his mouth cracking a small smirk.

Brother Camael nods. His black hair and pale skin look out of place in the rugged wilderness, but he is perfectly at ease, crouching down and examining the ground before taking his place at the rear of their formation.

"It has been decades since I had need to track anything without the aid of an auspex..."

Ydnar chuckles. "Never fear, Brother. If this beast is as large as they say, it should not be much trouble to track down." The scout pinches up a clod of wet earth, rolling it through his finger tips. "But in any case, we must get through this canyon first."

With Ydnar leading, you wind through the narrow canyon. The walls press close, so narrow the team must pass single file. The uncanny hardiness of Auran's life is evident here, with golden grasses sprouting from sheer rock and wrist thick vines creeping up the canyon walls. The thick carpet of undergrowth rustles and shudders with the passage of tiny creatures.

After an hour of twisting through the narrow defile, the path opens into a wide pit of waist high grasses. Saurian forms move through the grasses, patrolling small pebbled mounds of dirt where clutches of eggs stand. They are theratryx, wild cousins of the Aurans' beasts of burden. The scythe talons of their forelegs flash in the early morning light, and you see that they are the same claws as those used to make the talon daggers some of the battle-brothers chose to wield.

Ydnar creeps back to the main group. "Nesting grounds. Dozens of them, perhaps hundreds. They might let us alone, but if I know wild beasts they will not take kindly to us stomping around their nests.

I am going to assume that these creatures are not Diabladons, from the Aurumite's descriptions. I agree, we should stay clear from the other beasts if we can.

Brother Ydnar, have you located the scent of this creature that we hunt?

Artemis held a clenched fist over the pommel of his aurumite sword. To his fist, it seemed nothing more than a large dagger, but theratryx talons were sharp. While the Apothecary was not worried that the group could find a diablodon and kill it, there is a large potential for wounds. Better the kill-team was unharmed when subduing the creature, that be unnecessarily injured by some other creature on the way. With every one wearing patched up scale armor re-made to fit the frame of Astartes, and most of his tools, Artemis would only be able to perform simple on field first aid.

Brother Androcles

"We could attempt to sneak past along one wall," Androcles ruminated, stroking his chin as he looked across the nesting ground toward the other side, "or I suppose we could attempt to startle the creatures and send them running long enough for us to get to the other side. Still, it would have to be some scare to make them leave their eggs." He looked around at the others. "Any other options?" he asked.

"Let us give the sinless beasts a wide berth. I kill nothing that I might with justice leave in peace." Camael lifts his head and sniffs at the air like a hound, thinking back to his training so many decades ago as a member of the 10th company. "If the wind be not against us, I say we steal past and continue our hunt."

The battle-brothers skirt along the nesting grounds, keeping to the far side as they move. They make some noise as they move, but the theratryx only send out warbling calls to one another, warnings to be alert. About halfway across the open expanse, Eldgrim's elbow scrapes against the cliffside, setting loose stone clattering down the rock.

Shrieking and hissing, two dozen wild therartryx burst from the high grass. They roar at the kill-team, stomping and lashing the air with their tails. The males inflate membranes around their necks, making them appear larger. They make no move towards the kill-team, apparently content to warn them off for now. The far end of the nesting grounds is within easy reach now.

Thrones.. muttered the Imperial Fist turned to face the therartryx. The warning display did not daunt him, but he wished not to further provoke the creatures. The astartes gripped the pommel of the bone sword, but did not unsheath it. The marine started to inch away from the beasts.

Brother Androcles, what are your orders? he hissed to the Ultramarine.

Brother Androcles

"Just keep moving out of the nesting area. Hopefully they just want us to go away, but if they attack show no mercy." Androcles said softly, his eyes on the creatures in the brush. He began sidestepping, prompting the rest of the Kill Team to keep going. If he was right, these things didn't want to fight either.


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