Karn Kai-unes Hengist stood at the centre of the Katechism. The dim light allowed only the faintest outline to be seen of the twelve niches spaced evenly around the chamber. Inside each, sat one of the Proctors, the regulators of Karnian Military Doctrine. This was to be his trial of worth. Success would entitle him to the "Ritual of Becoming" where he would receive his Nanodroid implant. The Nanodroids would enter into his blood, and travel his body, healing and repairing the effects of battle and age. Hengist could expect to live for hundreds of years. Failure in the trial, a moment's hesitation, and he would be denied. He would live out the rest of his days and fight with honour. But the limitation of his natural life would prevent him from completing the years of training required of those aspiring to wield the baton of an Imperial General The order erupted from one of the niches behind him. The vibrations penetrating through his chest. "Declare Yourself!" " I am Hengist, son of Brishkor of the Kaelii " Hengist had a lot to live up to, for Brishkor had been the "Proctorum Ultimo", the deeply respected Supreme Chairman of all the Proctors, Guardian of the Imperial Charter and Imperial General with 700 victories to his name until his death a few short years ago aged 645 years. Then began the barrage of questions, Hour by hour they were shouted, the answers demanded of him. The echo of questions answered filled the chamber, drove in upon his senses, pounded his brain, testing his will, his alertness, pressing the very limits of his sanity. "What is your greatest weapon?" "Initiative! Assail the enemy mind, crush his confidence,lead him to your will and drain his resolve!" "What is your worst enemy?" "Fear! Fear is the mind killer it robs us of our initiative." "When is the best time to attack?" "Always! even in defence - attack, if not with troops with dis-information. Deny the enemy rest" "When should you avoid battle?" "When the enemy most seeks it! An enemy can be led to defeat himself, through his own exertions" "Who is the voice of the Emperor?" "When in command on the field of Battle - MINE is the voice of the Emperor!" "Kneel!" "This trial is a Battle, The Katechism is a Battlefield, Here I rule. I am the voice of the Emperor... I kneel for no one!!" "KNEEL!" The order was repeated. Hengist did not move or answer. The echoes still murmured around the chamber as Hengist heard the low grate of metal on stone. The gates had been opened. This would be the final part of the trial......COMBAT. Hengist slowly turned, scanning the still darkness. Drawing his Klecta he crouched, controlling his breathing and trying to discern the sounds within the chamber. He listened as they spread out around him, There were two of them, the first ran in... a mistake! The sound of his movement betrayed him. He fell his scream cut short as Hengist's clean blade opened his neck. The second made his move. Hengist dropped to one knee, the warm blood soaking through the coarse cloth of his student's habit. He reversed the knife in his hand and swung his arm to the side and backwards, catching his attacker in the chest. The lights intensified as Hengist stood once more in the centre of the chamber. Two sharp claps from the assembled Proctors signified he had passed. The Proctorum Ultimo, Vashanian, beckoned him forward and spoke softly "You Hengist, display the same great characteristics as your father Brishkor. One day, I believe, you may even be able to step from his shadow." Hengist saluted stiffly and stepping over the body of his fallen brother, left the Katechism. Four Hundred years later Hengist pondered on his performance that day as he surveyed the present Battlefield. The current fight had been brief and bloody yet at no time had he doubted that victory would be theirs. The pattern of the enemy dead showed that they had fought stubbornly and with great courage. These were indeed worthy foes, troops against which victory brought honour. The years of training in every aspect of war had been demanding, yet he had excelled in every one of them. Today he would grant rest for his troops and give prayer. For his thousandth victory tasted as sweet as his first. Vashanian had indeed been perceptive, for he had long ago stepped from his noble Father's shadow................FILE TERMINATED.