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“To serve the Imperium is to die for it.” That was the first thing I heard – officially, anyway – upon arrival at Scholam Augusta. I stood in the Great Hall of the newly-founded Scholam, waiting with all the others.
“Your parents understood this, and that is why you are here today. Rejoice that their service earned you a place here.” I was an orphan, like the hundreds who stood with me; salvaged from the flotsam of the Augustan Crusade to become a piece in the grand Imperial machine. The speaker was a tall, thin, grey-bearded headmaster.
“You will be sorted by age, then tested to discover your potential, then sorted again according to the results.” I was four, in standard Imperial years, and wondered what 'potential' meant.
“Be not afraid. While you are here, you are protected better than you can possibly imagine.” I had seen vast spacedocks with dozens of battleships and cruisers drydocked for repairs as I stared out the small starboard viewport on my way down from orbit. I held a toy ship, a miniature of the ones I saw, tightly to my chest. My mother said it was a present from my father. I did not yet know who my father was.