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Marnoc looked across the plain. The sky was bright with dropships. Assault pods drifted down like armoured spores. When they hit the ground they burst open and Ultramarines leapt forth to secure their dropsite. Marnoc raised the Fortunata's fist in welcome and was rewarded by a cheer from the battle-brothers.
Reinforcements had arrived. Marnoc believed that they were enough to turn the tide of battle and drive the Rebels from Rogsburg for the third time.
We can win, he thought, exulting as he watched hundreds of pods touch earth.
Suddenly a hail of fire tore through the Ultramarines. Those who had not got clear of the landers were mown down. Assault pods were caught at their most vulnerable, while airborne, and burst into flames. Marnoc wheeled the Titan and spotted three Death's Head Warlords.
He let out a low moan. The rebels had enough firepower to end the beachhead before it was established. He felt his mouth go dry with fear but he swiftly reached a decision. He opened the comm-link to the Moderati.
"There's only one thing to go," he told them. "We've got to protect the Marines."
The Moderati knew it was cetain death. They didn't hesitate. "Go and get them, Princeps," said Toal.
Marnoc wheeled the Fortunata easily. It no longer seemed to fight him.
Functioning as a team they raced towards the Death's Heads, weapons blazing. Marnoc concentrated fire, bringing the targetting icons to bear on a Warhound. It tried to evade but was too slow. The plasma cannon gnawed away at its void shields till they flared out. Toal put a burst from the defence laser into its reactors. It halted.
The enemy returned fire. Pain seared Marnoc as he concentrated on maintaining his own shields. He bounded forward while the Moderati blasted away. Then they were on top of the Rebels. From below him he heard Hazan shouting abuse at their foes as the powerfist tore and ripped.
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