“Our world’s deadlier than yours. Even the grass’ll kill ya!”
She tended to keep quiet about D’Emma. Oh she’d related the story of how they were rediscovered by the Imperium. Of the Rogue Trader who’s suddenly discovered that they were surrounded by three-eyed priests; and the Inquisitor who’d screamed “Heresy” without bothering to see just what golden light the people had been talking about. But the planet? She’d taken refuge in saying that D’Emma’s a desert. That it was hot. That there was sand, and it tended to be green.
Otherwise it would have seemed to be a competition.
“You give a kid a knife when they’re about two. When they’ve got enough coordination to not stab themselves or you with it.”
On D’Emma a two year old wouldn’t be allowed out of the shelter of the settlements without an adult. Although a knife would be possible; they were just too small to survive if they got lost. By five they would be expected to know how to find water-ruler; the most common succulent plant that grew. They would have to know the signs of a sandstorm; and how to turn their travelling cloak into a shelter in less than two minutes. They would be expected to have memorised at least fifteen water storage locations surrounding their home settlements. Until they could do that, if they got lost they’d die of thirst before anyone could find them. Just like the Arborians; D’Emma’s people loved and protected their children. It was just a different set of dangers to guard them from.
The animals and plants tended not to be killers. Sure some of the reptiles and insects were venomous. Some of the plants had huge thorns or thick wax skins to defend themselves. But the biggest killer was the sun and the sand.
The planet was the killer; not its inhabitants.
But still it was beautiful. Whilst Pip generally said that the sand was green; but that belayed the reality. In some areas it was pales and bright; glittering in the sunlight. Other places had deep dark shades; swirled into the lines in the rocks. Depending on the minerals, some sands were turquoise or red; pure white or gold. Rocky outcrops shimmered in the sunlight, the traces of precious stones and metals glimmering on the surface.
But no matter the colours, the sands could be whipped up into storms that would scour the skin from flesh and flesh from bones. Areas with soft dunes clogged up machines and there were sinkholes would swallow the largest Knight. Under the swathes of sand there lurked the largest animals on D’Emma; the gigantic sand wyrms.
It was no wonder that despite the Imperium’s best efforts; the people of D’Emma still tended to rely on panrums; huge scaled creatures that responded to domestication and were able to stride across the sands with ease. That their clothing tended to be enveloping; designed to minimise loss of water through sweat and prevent sand from getting in under the layers.
The main export tended to be Navigators true. But Pip often wondered if a troop of Arborians landed on D’Emma what would happen. She had a sneaking suspicion that it would result in tinnies being swapped for Balo spirits. That there would be sparring and storytelling around the tale fires. And that although they came from worlds at opposing ends of the spectrum; they’d find common ground.
And Emperor help anyone who interrupted the party.
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