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Drenexar opened his eyes slowly, struggling to focus his vision. He didn't know how long he had been unconscious. His body ached as if he had been dropped from the walls of the imperial palace on terra, not that he had ever even been to holy terra. His body remained strapped to his command chair as he inhaled slowly trying to shake the stupor from his mind. Everywhere around him lay the twisted remains of what was once his command post. He couldn't feel him legs and could barely move his right arm. Where his left had been, there remained only a charred stump. The pain was excruciating to the degree, but the stims injected by the medi-port in his command console made it just bearable, enough to allow him to come to terms with his surroundings. As his mind swirled back with memories, he slowly brought the view screen in to focus.

Captain Drenexar remembered the day when he had been given his first space command, a lowly in-system patrol craft, almost fifty five years ago. He had no rights attached to his birth, being of a non-aristocratic decent, and had struggled hard to advancement within the imperial navy. Slowly, through sheer will power and stubbornness in never accepting failure, he had made a slow but steady rise up the ranks. His start however only began to rise when he was finally given command of a Cobra class destroyer. That would never have occurred if not for fate and a malicious ambush by Eldar pirates. The death of most of those on the bridge of their destroyer in the first few minutes of the engagement sounded the death knell for the three civilian transports that they were escorting, the fate of those on board left to the delights of the vicious marauders. What transpired on board the "Imperial Vendetta" was the sudden coming of age of a young captain who had been sorely underestimated by not only his superiors but also the attacking pirates. Taking command of the destroyer and keeping their energy emissions to minimal to maintain the deception that they were dead in space, he gathered the crew and quickly made his tactical plans. The two elder pirate vessels had slowed down and closed with the transports, disabling them first and then preparing to board them. The first inclination of something amiss was when the "Imperial Vendetta" suddenly activated its power grid and fired a salvo of torpedoes at point blank range. Drenexar had ordered the torpedoes loaded manually, the torpedo bay doors also to be opened manually and had slowly aligned the targeting computer manually using minimal auxiliary power. Too slow to maneuver and too close to avoid the two torpedoes one corsair class escort vessel disintegrated in a blossom of energy, their shadow fields and mimic engines failing completely. The second vessel reacted with admirable speed, turning on the spot to face the attacker, knowing that the destroyer would need time to reload the torpedoes and that its weapons batteries would be of little effect, as the shadow fields came in to action. What the pirate captain did not expect was to see the cobra destroyer charge ahead at full speed through the expanding fireball of its sister ship on a course for ramming. A desperate evasive maneuver prevented head on collision, but the "Imperial Vendetta", true to its name smashed the engines of the enemy vessel.

Drenexar had made a meteoric rise within the ranks of destroyer fleets, to command the famed "Wolf Packs" squadron. His love of destroyer tactics resulted in himturning down promotions to larger commands and he became the foremost expert on destroyer fleet tactics, particularly in their use for covert surveillance, ambush and hit and run attacks. He was the proponent of large destroyer flotillas to better control of the space lane and had been the ideal choice for his latest assignment. Tasked with finding, following and if at all possible distracting or interfering with the progress of Abaddon's planet killer, he had thrown his entire flotilla to the task. Such was his brilliance that his mission had exceeded beyond his own expectations. They had detected the planet killer and its massive armada of escorts and had followed it without being detected for nearly three days. He had detached individual ships to move away and transmit their findings, each one of them being destroyed by marauding enemy formations within minutes of them breaking their communications black out, such was the strength of the invading armada. Yet he had continued his vigil, planning and plotting ways of slowing the enemy. It was too good to last and the last of his destroyers had finally been set upon by a more numerical enemy and destroyed in detail. His own ship blown in two, and most of his crew dead, he had elected to die with his powerless ship. His only regret was not being able to die in the fury of battle, ramming an enemy ship to death. He knew in his heart that he had accomplished much more than anyone in the fleet could have hoped for and he prayed that his final signals identifying the location and direction of the Planet Killer Fleet had been picked up by some friendly ship. He looked at the flickering view screen as the lifeless hulk of his ship slowly rotated away from the scene of the ambush. The screams of the crew members still rang in his ears as the enemy targeted the drop pods, firing at them just enough to vent the atmosphere and condemning them to a horrible death in the vacuum of space. He longed to see the shape of an imperial ship, in the hope that some of the crew may be rescued. Hours went by and as his life force ebbed away he looked one last time at his view screen. How his mortally wounded ship managed to maintain power to his consoles he would never know, but what he saw made his heart leap. There in the deep darkness of inter stellar space, slowly gliding in to view was a veritable armada of space ship. An entire fleet of snub nosed and bulky vessels with blocky outlines that could not be anything other than a loyalist space marine fleet. With the last vestiges of his strength he punched the release button for the data buoy containing all the recordings of their mission including details of the predators that had wiped out his flotilla, praying to the emperor that the passing ships were indeed friendly and would retrieve the data. With his dying breath he saw what most would never imaging, a floating fortress monastery in the epicenter of the massive armada, and they were heading in the direction between Cadia and Abaddon's fleet. Then, with a wry smile full of hope and satisfaction, his soul passed to the embrace of the emperor.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Aradiel looked intently at the three dimensional star map flitting in front of him, absorbing the massive amounts of data displayed on it. He noted that Apollyon was listening carefully to the communications in put as the data capsule was deciphered in real time. He had been in the service of the emperor for almost five hundred years now but the weight of responsibility always seemed to get worse. He was after all the commander of the watch, accorded the command title of Grandmaster of the Watch and the more sought after honorific title of Keeper of the Fortress, and his was the immense responsibility of the safety of the Tower of Angels. His command centre was buried deep within the bedrock of the asteroid that had been their home for a hundred centuries. It was completely separated from the chapter's tactical headquarters, where the supreme grandmaster performed his command duties in order to ensure the safety and survivability of their functions. Apollyon was the grandmaster of the Dark Angel fleet, honorifically called the Seeker of Stars. It was a long standing source of amusement between the two of them to call each other by the abbreviated honorific titles, seeker and keeper, and no doubt had caused the occasional chuckle amongst their command staff, despite being dour space marines. The Tower of Angels had never been attacked by external forces in the ten millennia of its existence, but that was about to change with a vengeance. They were heading in to the mouth of the dragon. The supreme commander had made an extremely difficult tactical choice, one hat he was sure the Lion would approve. The chapter had hidden reserve bases to conduct operations from, an it had been part of his duty to ensure that such a redundancy was created over the millennia. The unforgiven chapters had gathered together in unprecedented numbers and their fleet strength was approaching that of their original legion. Together with Apollyon he had devised their tactical battle plans for the coming battle. He was confident that his techmarines would provide enough manoeuvrability to the floating asteroid to be able to ram the planet killer if the need arose.

Apollyon had voiced his misgivings about the strength of their escorting fleet, mostly made up of elements from the battle fleets vigilance and retribution. The main battle fleets of the Dark Angels and Absolution chapters had already deployed in strength to Cadia. Battle fleet Redemption had turned back to Cadia from their transit to Caliban. Battle fleet vengeance had successfully held the Caliban system against enemy assault and had place a blockade in the system and had also redirected all available assets to Cadia. In ten hours the combined strengths of the unforgiven fleets would rendezvous as they neared the outer planets of the Cadian system More fleets from other unforgiven chapters would continue to join them battle fleets Retribution, Revenant and so on the list went. He had worked closely with Apollyon for the past few centuries as the younger Apollyon had taken command of the fleet. He was responsible for the close in defence of the Tower while Apollyon managed the strategic and tactical defences. More often than not, the two conceived their brilliantly convoluted and complicated plans together to such effect that the chapter's grandmaster rarely interfered in the process.
Doctrinae Unforgiven
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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