Apollyon considered the tactical displays with interest. He had orchestrated a battle for their honour that had lasted the best part of a terran day. The enemy had been devious and had even penetrated the outer defences of his keep. They had countered with ingenuous actions of their own. They had fought a defensive battle while acting offensively. The invasion fleet lay crippled, the elderly vengeance class cruisers were immobilised, partly due to the treachery of their own commander. Many of the raiders were blown apart or were flaming wrecks. The transports had been decimated. What survivors of the hordes of mutant and renegade guardsmen that made landfall had been engaged in determined counter attack by his strike teams. Few were left alive to be taken prisoner. The enemy infiltrators had indeed managed to strike a grievous blow, the generatorium being devastated by fusion bombs. At the closing moments of the battle, the entire void shield protection had dwindled to nothing. Only the intervention of battle fleet vengeance had turned the tide in their favour. The arrival of the battle fleet vengeance had been superbly timed, trapping the invaders against the anvil of the keep and the asteroid remnants of Caliban. The planet's remains were still venting their revenge against the traitors of eons ago. Mordinian stood at head of the command consoles on his bridge. The casualty reports had yet to be filed by his apothecaries, but he knew that the price was high. The three battle barges of the battle fleet were positioned at the mouth of the clear path while nova and gladius class frigates formed secondary rings to prevent attack from within or without. Swarms of hunter destroyers were patrolling the cleared path for enemy activity accompanied by squadrons of thunderhawks. Thunderhawk gunships were returning from the "Eviscerator" filled with the victorious warriors of the first company. With a sad heart he learned that fully two thirds of those brave men had perished in their endeavour, their captain mortally wounded by the traitors. Interrogator chaplain Taboden had also been badly wounded but there was glee in his normally stoic voice. They had a prisoner. Of the three robed men on the bridge, all of whom turned out to their fallen brothers, one had survived the psychic explosion and was now a much sought after prisoner in the hands of Taboden. Perhaps the greatest prize, apart from the successful defence of the keep, was to be what had been retrieved by the unflinching librarian Vardis. Realising the tactical situation within the "Eviscerator" he had donned his terminator suit and without a single word for caution, teleported across in the midst of a developing warp storm. His timely intervention had turned the tables on the bridge and brought within their grasp the entire cogitator banks of a chaos command ship. That would be the greatest windfall.  Just as he was determining the immediate course of action, alarm klaxons began to blare. Once again the view screens and tactical displays began their incessant flashes.

"Anomalous warp signatures! Multiple contacts! Warp breach imminent! High probability of large battle fleet exit on vector two-seven-nine-four!" The techmarine at the sensor-auger station read out. Mordinian realised that the warp vectors would place the exiting fleet in a position to trap his own fleet against the asteroid belt. Their battle barges and strike cruisers could fly through the asteroid belt with little to fear but the smaller ships couldn't do that. Besides, the sanctity of the remnants of their home world and the keep were at stake. The information within their grasp was even more significant. They would fight here and they had to win. The course of the war and the future of the unforgiven chapters depended on it. On his command the battle fleet redeployed like a well oiled machine. Even as the enemy fleet began to appear in to real space the battle barges were already targeting specific ships. Every strike cruiser had returned from their battle in the clear path and deployed in to squadrons. The smaller escorts had formed up on the flanks and up front, the swarms of hunter destroyers preparing their deadly salvoes of torpedoes. Every available thunderhawk gunship was made ready for naval attack. The indomitable survivors from the first company once again insisted on returning to duty, preferring to risk the perils of the warp in their terminator suits this time. Interrogator-chaplain Taboden had refused Mordinian's order to return with his prisoner on board a fast strike cruiser. He now stood by Mordinian's side. The tactical display began to identify the enemy contacts. A massive swarm of escorts came in to view on the display, easily numbering at least a hundred such vessels of all types. Some were captured imperial vessels like the cobra class destroyer while others were purpose built chaos vessels. An escort fleet of this size would have a significant capital ship presence. As they watched in awe a desolator class battle ship and two repulsive class grand cruisers appeared accompanied by nine cruisers of varying types. A massive swarm of attack craft were seen launching from the maws of the cruisers. He knew in his heart that this would be a one-sided battle. Not even the complete battle fleet of a space marine chapter could take on such a war fleet in an equal footing. There was but one way to equalise the odds and he set about preparations for such an action. He ordered the remnants of the first company to accompany him on the bridge. His flagship would plunge in to the centre of the chaos war fleet, the terminators teleporting in to the bridge of the first capital ship that proved practical. The battle barge would continue in to the midst of the enemy fleet and over load its warp core. The resultant explosion would trigger the ordnance aboard the barge including the stock of cyclonic torpedoes. That should create a massive tear in the reality barrier sucking the core of the enemy warfleet in to the immaterium. It was a wild plan developed in an instant under the most difficult of situations, but one that might just work. Vardis and Taboden agreed. The two fleets moved closer as the chaplain began to chant the glory of the angels.

"Defiler of worlds, death incarnate, daemons throng by the score
Valiant warriors we go to war, defy him we shall forever and more!"

Apollyon too saw the coming battle. Methodically he prepared his contingency plans for the next assault. It was likely that battle fleet vengeance would indeed loose this battle. If that happened the massive heretic fleet would have the capacity and man power to overwhelm the defenses of the keep. The revered gene seed of the lion and the knowledge contained within the keep must never fall in the hands of the despoiler. He began to prepare self destruct sequences if that eventuality arose. His faith in the lion and the emperor however remained staunch. There will be a way. We shall indeed overcome.

"Powerfists raised, bolters ready, to slay the villain our aim so true
In space or land, on sea or sand we shall stain this land with the daemons gore!"

On board the last of the escorts in the vile heretical fleet, Luchas looked on in awe. He was back in the space around Caliban after ten thousand years. He had been an out cast for tem millennia. He was coming home for the last time. What he saw vindicated his beliefs. He had served under many fallen comrades. Some were on the path to damnation others not so. Some sought personal glory while others toiled for their redemption.

"Sons of Jonson the true first born, prepare your souls for battle reborn,
Strike the enemy where hope forlorn, you shall not falter until the new dawn!"

He saw the debris of the battle that had occurred hours before. He saw the brave warriors of the battle fleet vengeance move to face the over whelming force bearing upon them. He heard the broadcast of the chaplain's sermon, defying the heretics till the last moment.

"Stand by me with warrior's pride, the son of darkness shall not pass
Let them try for woe betide, the emperors angels are here en masse!"

At that moment he knew he had chosen the right path. He felt the weight of his responsibility lift as he punched in the targeting co-ordinates for his weapons array. He input the final automated steering instructions and set in motion his final act of vindication. He then drew his bolt pistol and power sword and with a swiftness born of utter conviction, killed every one on board his bridge. A moment later pandemonium broke loose amongst the twenty Cobra and infidel class vessels at the rear of the enemy fleet. Their targeting cogitators, slaved to the single vessel commanded by Luchas came alive automatically. As the individual captains frantically tried to figure out what had happened, forty torpedoes launched in unison, every one of them headed straight towards the engines of the Desolator class battle ship lumbering ahead of them. Luchas' flagship lurched forward at flank speed, its warp engines tuned for maximum speed and on a count down for over load.

"Imperial guard and battle fleets together, Emperor's legions they be birds of feather
A force of might unseen hither With terrible power Ye Angels Gather!

As the torpedoes exploded in unison, they triggered a chain reaction within the massive chaos battleship. Luchas' destroyer smashed in to the conflagration a moment later. The explosive force of the twin eruptions resulted in a gargantuan fireball which expanded at an exponential rate from its epicenter. The blast wave rippled through the empty space smashing in to the distant vessels of the battle fleet vengeance. Displays shattered, cogitator terminals over loaded and the smaller ships buffeted like leaves in a winter storm. When the shock wave had passed all that was left of the once terrifying fleet were a few smoking husks and a handful of escorts rapidly trying to escape. Luchas was free!

On board his flagship, Modinian silently gave thanks to the emperor, having witnessed what he felt was nothing short of a miracle. Exhausted beyond even his superhuman endurance he turned his attention to preparing his fleet ready for more action. They may just be able to beat the gathering warp storm and return to reinforce the Cadian sector once again. Apollyon said his prayers to the lion as he began the arduous task of rebuilding the fortifications of the keep once again. In the distant space Gravad closed his eyes consciously sending his body in to hibernation mode. As his raptor pack shut down and his power armour sealed him in protective custody, he knew that his grand plan had failed and that the anger of the thirsting gods would indeed be terrible. Dragnarth, the sole surviving fallen angel from the command deck of the "Eviscerator" struggled feebly against the chains that bound him, contemplating the dark future that he faced at the hands of the interrogator-chaplains of the unforgiven chapters.
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Chronicled By ( Shadow Guard )
This section provides the narrative history of the events that took place during the Gathering of Angels campaign conducted by the Inner Circle, during Abaddon's Thirteenth Black Crusade. This is in no way the official GW version nor is it in anyway an attempt to infringe on their IP. There are many versions of imperial history buried within the sands of time and this is but just one of them. Read on if you dare!
GoA Volume I: Revelation
GoA Volume II: Nest of Vipers
GoA Volume IV: Battle for Caliban
GoA Volume III: The Grand Circle
GoA Appendices
GoA Volume V: Desperate Hours