‘Dawn’

‘You will all die this day!’

Sergeant Daito struggled to be heard above the din of the Thunderhawk’s engines, as the craft was buffeted by the volatile atmosphere through which it descended. The red clouds of dawn boiled past the viewports, hiding from view the beleaguered expanse of Far Hope’s hive cities below.

‘Of that, you can be sure!’

Thirty faces sat in two rows lining the inside of the compartment, staring impassively ahead at each other. The ruddy red lights of the compartment cast deep shadows across their features. Their cropped dark hair and steel grey eyes the legacy of the Chapter geneseed, their armour’s simple heraldry the mark of the Ultramarines 10th company.

‘But tomorrow… tomorrow, you will be reborn!’

The Sergeant released his landing restraints and stood, grabbing an overhead rail to steadying himself as the Thunderhawk lurched sideways. The vehicles descent stablised once more and he let go, striding between the parallel rows of scouts, casting his gaze at each face in turn, waiting for his words to sink in. Not one man flinched.

‘Reborn! Whether as an equal to your brother Astartes, or whether to find yourself bathing in the light of infinite glory at the Emperor’s side – that – is up to you!’

The lights abruptly flicked to green, casting a sickly hue across the faces of the initiates. The whine of the aircraft’s engines reached their crescendo, and with a shuddering impact the vessel came to a halt on the surface. Daito, unfurling his bolter, reached up and hit the pulsing release rune above the loading ramp.

‘This is the moment! This is the time! Claim your prize!

He turned to take one last look at his charges. They stood ready, implacable determination wrought on their faces, weapons in hand.   The ramp gave a metallic groan, and sunlight erupted into the cabin.

‘Come, Sons of Guilliman! For the Emperor!’

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