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  1. He exhaled, and took another step into the room. For a moment he thought he could hear movement, the padding of feet, a rush of air that felt like breath before everything splintered and whirled and he crashed into a pillared wall to land hard on his back, gasping in pain.
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  3. By the time the gasp had entered his lungs, reflex had taken over and he was up on one knee, turning to put his broken right arm and shoulder to the wall and holding and tensing his left arm ready to ward as he scanned for motion, eyes sifting the gloom, pushing into infrared to see the hulking shape hurtling forwards to fill his vision—
  4. Will overrode reflex, and with an iron effort Kharn forced his hand towards his side. Then he was skittering on his back across the floor, breath hammered out of his lungs and cracked clavicle flaring. Unthinkingly he drew his knees to his chest, turned the skidding tumble into a backwards roll. Training, determination and Astartes neural wiring let him shunt the pain to the back of his mind as he came up into a combat crouch.
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  6. Then will took over again, and Kharn made himself stand upright and placed his hands by his sides. He looked back and found the spot where he had rested a moment ago, but the floor was empty, no shape or heat-trace. Was this how it was for the others? He caught himself wondering, and stopped thinking about it when the lapse in concentration started him swaying on the spot. He focused, half-heard movement closing in behind him and opened his mouth to speak, and a moment later was jerked up from the floor, the back of his head and neck in the grip of a hand that felt bigger and harder than a Dreadnaught’s rubble-claw. Will, will over instinct: Kharn stopped himself from kicking backwards, trying to wrench free.
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  8. After Desh'Eea
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