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Brother-Captain Fenlan opened the Rhino's hatch and poked his head out. He caught the faint stench of sulphur in the air before his respirator rattled into life and filtered it out. Checking the seals of his suit, he cast a glance towards the enemy.
The Traitors were just visible on the horizon, the pure white of their uniforms a stark contrast to the featureless red sand that stretched as far as the eye could see. He tried to make an estimate of their numbers, but the heat haze distorted his vision; he guessed there were about five thousand, but it could well have been twice that number. As for his own side, they had just under seven thousand.
The two sides charged. Fenlan's Salamanders drove into the center of the Death Guards, a column of dark green cutting through the Traitor's white. Along the edges of the column there were bright veins of flashing light as the Marines exchanged shots. With painful slowness the green mass began to spread sideways, clearing itself a path with heavy bolter fire, pushing forward over the bodies of the fallen.
The rest of the Salamanders' swung around the Death Guards' flanks, trying to surround them and box them in, but the Traitors refused to yield. They fought for every inch of ground, simultaneously pushing back the flanking force and squeezing the line of troops that bisected them, isolating it within a circle of their own men. Suddenly caught with nowhere to run, the Salamanders' main force was slaughtered; within a matter of minutes every last Marine was blown apart, his broken body trampled underfoot.
Fenlan watched as his troops began to lose the advantage, his despair becoming stronger as each explosion smashed their ranks. His hand shaking, he picked up the commlink.
"Brother-Captain Fenlan. Treab's World, Northern Sulphur Desert. Request immediate reinforcements. We are engaged in combat with a large Traitor force, and are sustaining heavy losses."
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