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Pandorax Campaign

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Pandorax Campaign
PandoraxWar.jpg
The Black Legion in the Pandorax System
Date 959-961.M41
Location Pandorax System
Outcome Strategic Chaos Victory
-Epimetheus captured
Tactical Imperial Victory
-Damnation Cache sealed
Combatants
Imperium Forces of Chaos
Commanders
Colonel ‘Death’ Strike‎
Lord Admiral Orson Kranswar(KIA)
Supreme Grand Master Azrael
Supreme Grand Master Kaldor Draigo
Epimetheus(POW)
Warmaster Abaddon the Despoiler
Huron Blackheart
Malgar Irongrasp(KIA)
Corpulax(KIA)
Strength
See Order of Battle See Order of Battle
Losses/Survivors
Heavy Heavy

The Pandorax Campaign was a war waged between the Imperium and the Forces of Chaos in the Pandorax System from 959-961.M41.[1]

Overview

Invasion

In 959.M41, a Black Legion incursion fleet invaded the Imperial Death World of Pythos, in the Pandorax System. The fleet was commanded by Abaddon the Despoiler himself, and consisted of half a dozen massive battleships, each one with enough firepower to lay waste to an entire planet, supported by numerous escort craft. The incursion fleet contemptuously swept aside Pandorax’s system defence craft, and moved into orbit above the planet of Pythos within hours of entering the system. What Abaddon could possibly want from Pythos was by no means clear at this time. The planet was an inhospitable death world, home to a colony of hardy Imperial citizens. Most of Pythos is covered in dense jungle, which is home to massive saurian creatures happy to eat anything that moves. The oceans are inhabited by equally large predators. Because of the dangers of moving through the lowlands and across the oceans, the human settlers of Pythos settled in mountaintop mining colonies known locally as delverstrongholds. From these, they derived a precarious and meagre existence mining the precious minerals found in the planet’s mountain chains. Hundreds of these strongholds were scattered over the planet, each home to populations of only a few thousand Imperial citizens.[2]

Pythos’ only major city was the Hive-port of Atika, which was located on the coast of the planet’s largest ocean, and surrounded on its landward side by the aptly named deathglades. Atika was a small spire city with its main habitation zones located in the dome-like upper levels of the city, high above the surrounding swamplands. Travel between Atika and the delver-strongholds was carried out in dilapidated lighter-than-air dirigibles known as sky barges, lumbering through the skies high above the ferocious creatures that inhabited the lowlands in relative safety. This, then, was the bleak environment which Abaddon found at Pythos. Within moments of entering orbit, his warfleet unleashed a pinpoint barrage, quickly disabling Atika’s defences and blasting the bastions and barracks occupied by the city’s defence forces. Blood red rain started pouring from the skies, and the massive capital ships of the Chaos fleet launched scores of Dreadclaw drop pods, which disgorged hundreds of Chaos Space Marines. Dozens of squads of Khorne Berzerkers supported by hunting packs of Forgefiends led the assault, slaughtering the defenders in a maelstrom of gore. Surprised, demoralised, and having already suffered heavy casualties, Atika’s defenders broke almost at first contact. The only formation able to organize any kind of effective resistance was the 183rd Catachan Jungle Fighter regiment, stranded on the planet while en route to The Maelstrom, and even they were only able to hold on for a few hours before being forced to conduct a fighting retreat and escape into the surrounding swamplands. Within thirty-six hours of Abaddon’s arrival, Atika was claimed in the name of the Dark Gods. A disease spread by Corpulax wiped out every inhabitant of the city.[2]

The Blood March

The Catachan Jungle Fighters that had escaped the city were forced to battle their way through Pythos’ predator-infested jungles, harried all the way by Black Legion murder squads. It is unlikely that any other Imperial Guard troops could have survived such a march, and even the Catachans suffered dreadfully through the ordeal. Battling their way past ambushes, fighting off attacks by massive reptilian monsters and voracious maneating plants, the Catachans finally reached the relative safety of the Olympax mountain range, just 150 miles to the east of Atika. Here, they braced themselves for an all-out attack by the Black Legion. Mysteriously, however, they were allowed time to regroup. Although the Black Legion continued to harry the Catachans, no serious attack on them was undertaken, and this gave the Imperial forces time to link up with each other.[2]

Although the largest concentration of Imperial troops had been located at Atika, all of the delver-strongholds had their own garrisons and, in aggregate, these troops numbered in the tens of thousands. Colonel ‘Death’ Strike, commander of the 183rd regiment, and now de-facto Imperial Governor of Pythos, quickly began to organize these widely scattered forces, using commandeered sky barges to gather a sizable army at his base camp in the Olympax mountains. Within a fortnight, he began planning offensive operations against the Chaos invaders of what he now considered to be his planet.[2]

The Damnation Cache

What Colonel Strike could not possibly know was that Abaddon had been far from idle. Unbeknownst to any of the Imperial citizens on the planet, Atika was built atop a hellish gateway known as the Damnation Cache. This gateway was a small but terrifyingly stable portal into the Warp, through which daemonic legions could travel into the material realm. Once it was captured, Abaddon would be able to summon forth a tide of wrathful Daemons to overwhelm the remaining defenders of Pythos and threaten the hundreds of Imperial planets nearby. In the dark days of the Horus Heresy, vast numbers of Daemons had emerged from the Damnation Cache to fight against those who had remained loyal to the Emperor. Following Horus’ defeat, the Damnation Cache was sealed, and in the centuries that followed, it disappeared from history. Only the Daemon-hunting Grey Knights retained any knowledge of the portal.[2]

So it was that when Pythos was reclaimed as an Imperial colony in M33, none but the Grey Knights, the Chaos Gods, and the few surviving Chaos Space Marines that had fought there in the Heresy knew of the horrors hidden beneath the planet’s surface. However, Abaddon was one of those Traitor Legion veterans, and immediately upon his arrival on Pythos, he began the task of breaking through the wards that had been set on that infernal gateway thousands of years before. Disabling the wards was no easy task; dozens of Abaddon’s most powerful sorcerers struggled to weaken the seals, sacrificing hundreds of Atika’s citizens in bloody rituals of unbinding as they did so. One by one, the ancient bindings broke, until finally, just over a month after Abaddon’s warfleet had first appeared in the system, the last ward was broken and the Damnation Cache was unsealed.[2]

Immediately, the portal into the Warp reopened and a tide of Daemons gushed through, rampaging out of Atika, across the planet, and surging towards Colonel Strike’s composite army. This time, the Catachans and their PDF allies were at least at combat readiness, but nothing could have prepared them for the tidal wave of destruction that the opening of the Damnation Cache had released. A desperate struggle erupted on the lower slopes of Mount Olympax, as wave after wave of daemonic creatures crashed against the bastions and defence lines of Colonel Strike’s camp. Only great heroics and terrible sacrifice prevented the base from being overrun in the first assault. Even so, it was clear to Colonel Strike that defending the newly established base camp could only result in the destruction of his entire command. Huddled together in a single location, they were an easy a target for the overwhelming hordes of Daemons pouring forth from the Damnation Cache. Bitterly, Colonel Strike ordered the troops under his command to split up and retreat to the hundreds of delver-strongholds that were located all across Pythos. He knew that while no single settlement could resist attack, the sheer number of strongholds and their scattered locations offered the best chance of some Imperial forces surviving until reinforcements arrived. [2]

Battefleet Demeter

Although Abaddon’s initial attack had been terrifyingly swift, he could not stop all messages calling for aid from being transmitted. High atop Atika, the desperate defenders had been able to hold out long enough for an astropathic distress signal to be sent streaking through the Immaterium. Despite the efforts of covens of Chaos Sorcerers aboard Abaddon’s flagship, the Black Legion were unable to block all of these signals, which continued to be broadcast until bloodthirsty assault squads of Khorne Berserkers were finally able to smash their way into the astropathic chamber in Atika’s central spire. The Pandorax System lies a short distance to the galactic south of the Maelstrom, in the Demeter Sector. Lying so close to Huron Blackheart’s realm meant that the Demeter Sector was in a high state of battle-readiness and could react to the attack quickly. Immediately upon receiving the distress call, the closest reserve fleet in the sector was ordered to the Pandorax System. Meanwhile, transport was arranged for the 19th and 27th Imperial Guard armies, as the massive resources of the Imperium swung into operation to repel Abaddon’s invasion.[2]

Battlefleet Demeter’s reserve fleet was under the command of Lord Admiral Orson Kranswar, aboard his flagship, the Revenge. He was highly experienced, having fought numerous actions against Red Corsairs raiding fleets, though his background would offer little benefit against the overwhelming force of battle-scarred opposition he would encounter in the Pandorax System. Over the coming weeks and months, his fleet would fight in some of the largest space battles since the Gothic campaign. The first omen of what Battlefleet Demeter would have to endure in the coming months occurred as soon as the fleet entered the Pandorax System. The 129th Imperial Destroyer Squadron was ranging ahead of the main fleet, and had just begun to pick its way through the asteroid belt that fringed the outer reaches of the star system. As they did so, they were subjected to a lightning-fast attack by Iconoclast destroyers hidden in the belt. Two Imperial ships were lost, and the Chaos squadron escaped unharmed, disappearing amidst the dense asteroid belt just minutes after launching their attack.[2]

Kranswar first established a base on the tiny planet of Gaea, located on the edge of the Pandorax System. With his lines of communication secure, he then began to mount a series of raids and attacks into the asteroid field, intent on clearing a path to Pythos. In the following weeks, a series of increasingly brutal conflicts were fought in and around the asteroid belt, earning it the nickname of the ‘Adamantium Fields’ due to the myriad hulls of wrecked ships that floated there. At first, the ships of Abaddon’s fleet held the upper hand, inflicting heavy losses on the Imperial flotillas as they repeatedly attempted to pick a way through the asteroid belt. However, in the long run, this was a campaign Abaddon could not hope to win, as the material superiority of his adversary – and the willingness of the Imperium to accept stunning losses to break through to Pythos – slowly but surely eroded the strength of the Chaos fleet.[2]

Battle of the Adamantium Fields

Slowly the tide began to turn, and Abaddon was forced to commit ever more ships to holding Kranswar in check. It was at this point that Abaddon received vital assistance in the form of a raiding fleet of Red Corsairs. None can say if this came about because Abaddon and Huron Blackheart had agreed to aid each other, or simply because the Red Corsairs were drawn to the Pandorax System by the lure of conflict, just as the giant megaloshark of the Phythosian oceans is drawn to injured prey by the scent of blood in the water. In any case, the outcome was the same: combining their strength, the Chaos fleets swiftly drove the Imperial ships out of the Adamantium Fields, and back towards their base at Gaea. As they did so, the dispersed squadrons of ships belonging to the two sides gathered for a final space battle of such scale that it would be remembered for a hundred generations.[2]

The Battle for Pandorax

Lord-Admiral Kranswar knew that he was in a dangerous position. Although the number of escort vessels under his command roughly matched those in the combined Chaos fleets, he was heavily outgunned and outnumbered in terms of capital ships. The only real advantage he held lay in the number of fast attack craft he had; the launch bays on the Revenge and Stalwart gave him a two-to-one advantage over those carried by the Chaos ships. In order to maximize this strength, Kranswar decided to hold the Revenge and Stalwart back, while the rest of his ships advanced to engage the Chaos fleet. While the bulk of his ships tried to keep the Chaos fleet at arm’s length, his two carriers would launch successive waves of attack craft, tasked with overwhelming the squadrons defending the Chaos ships, and inflicting as much damage as possible. Hopefully, by the time the two fleets came to grips properly, the attack craft would have wreaked enough destruction to even the odds in the ensuing gun battle.[2]

Unfortunately for Kranswar, while his plan was strategically sound, it lacked guile. Although Abaddon was still on Pythos commanding the ground campaign, his chosen lieutenant, Chaos Warlord Malgar Irongrasp, was a veteran of hundreds of space battles and had guessed what Kranswar’s strategy was likely to be even before his sensors picked up the positions of the ships in the Imperial battlefleet. Irongrasp’s ships tore forth from the Adamantium Fields like a battering ram, striking straight towards the heart of Kranswar’s leading flotillas. Smashing through the screen of Imperial attack craft, they gave Kranswar’s ships no time to carry out the dainty maneuvers that he had transmitted to his command.[1]

A furious close range battle erupted, as the Chaos fleet ploughed in amongst the ships of the Imperial advance guard, their immense, rippling broadsides illuminating their flanks. Hundreds of attack craft swirled and battled around the miles-long capital ships, while squadrons of escort vessels engaged in deadly close range gunnery battles. Kranswar desperately ordered his ships to disengage. Although they had suffered heavy damage, they had given as good as they’d gotten, and if he could just buy enough time to rearm and refuel his now depleted attack craft, the battle could still be won. The Imperial ships executed Kranswar’s orders with a stoicism bought through many long hours of careful training. The Imperial capital ships, screened by their escorts, broke away from the Chaos fleet, while the surviving attack craft headed back to the Revenge and Stalwart to re-arm.[2]

However, Irongrasp had foreseen this reaction too. Unnoticed at the back of the Chaos warfleet, the Might of Huron, a Slaughter class cruiser, fired up the huge thruster arrays which define ships of that infamous class, and powered full speed ahead towards the Imperial carrier ships to the rear of the Imperial formation. Mysteriously, its tractors dragged a huge asteroid along behind it. The purpose of the asteroid was revealed as the Might of Huron closed with the Revenge and Stalwart: the interior of the massive rock was hollow, and inside were hidden scores of Black Legion and Red Corsairs boarding parties, supported by Dreadclaw assault pods and short-ranged orbital flyers. As it neared the Revenge, the Might of Huron released the asteroid, which drifted directly towards the Imperial craft. As soon as it was close enough, tractor beams inside the asteroid grappled the Imperial battleship, and chanting covens of Chaos Sorcerers loosed a barrage of psychic attacks that tore down the Imperial ship’s defensive shields and blinded its short-range batteries. As soon as the Revenge’s energy shields went down, hundreds of assault pods were launched at the now defenceless craft, and a massive boarding action erupted amidst the launch bays and corridors of the ship. The Chaos Space Marines in the boarding parties were quickly reinforced by hosts of horrifying Daemons, which poured from Warp portals that began appearing all across the ship. Within moments, the Revenge was engulfed in a furious battle.[2]

Leaving the boarding parties to deal with the Revenge, the Might of Huron went after the Stalwart, which was ill-suited to a close-range gun battle with the heavily armed Chaos craft. At a stroke, Warlord Irongrasp had turned the tables on the Imperial fleet, negating any advantage the Imperial attack craft might have given them, and leaving them fatally split. Meanwhile, the rest of the Chaos fleet was able to concentrate on crushing the ships of Kranswar’s advance guard. Once these ships were destroyed, Irongrasp could finish off the Revenge and Stalwart, if anything remained after the brutal pummeling each was sustaining. As Admiral Kranswar took personal command of one of the security battalions, he knew that his command was almost certainly doomed to destruction. He offered his soul to the immortal Emperor, for it would take a miracle to save his fleet.[2]

A Rock and a Hard Place

It was at this vital juncture that the navigators in both fleets began picking up signs of an opening in the Warp, indications that one or more ships were just about to jump into the system. The navigators could hardly believe their senses – appearing this close to a planetary body was almost suicidal. Nonetheless, the sensors didn’t lie: where one moment there was nothing, in the next moment four capital ships and half a dozen escort craft blinked into existence.[2]

Seconds later, an eleventh, impossibly vast, craft appeared; one that dwarfed even the asteroid Irongrasp had used to attack the Revenge. This mighty vessel was the Rock. At the moment of darkest despair, the Dark Angels had arrived. As the Rock and its escorting craft moved to engage the main strength of the Chaos fleet, the Dark Angels Battle Barge Unrelenting Fury and three Hunter class destroyers swept towards the stricken Revenge. Closing quickly, Unrelenting Fury launched a volley of boarding torpedoes towards the Chaos asteroid. Just as they struck, a phalanx of Terminators teleported onto the rocky surface of the planetoid, their pale armour a beacon against the dark bulk – this was one of those rare times when the Deathwing deployed at their full strength, an event unlikely to occur more than once in a century.[2]

The Dark Angels battle

They tore into the covens of Chaos Sorcerers on the asteroid with righteous fury, inflicting dozens of casualties even before the Chaos forces knew what had hit them. Moments later, the Dark Angels’ boarding torpedoes struck, and with incredible swiftness, the asteroid was engulfed in a battle. Help was also at hand for the Revenge. A silvered Strike Cruiser arrived alongside the Dark Angels fleet, and a full brotherhood of Grey Knights materialized within the Revenge’s hull to cut a swathe through the Daemon legions swarming through it. They were soon joined by contingents of Dark Angels, aiding the defenders and stemming the tide of the Chaos boarding parties’ attacks.[2]

As the covens on the asteroid died, the portals through which the Daemons were appearing closed one by one. Hunting parties led by squads of Grey Knights wiped out the last of the Daemons lurking within the ship. Within hours, no taint of the incursion remained. Although she had been dreadfully damaged, the Revenge was saved, and would continue her vital role in the Pandorax campaign. All around Gaea, the story was the same. The arrival of the Dark Angels swiftly turned the tide against Chaos. The first to feel the Dark Angels’ avenging fury was the Might of Huron, which was blasted into oblivion by the combined firepower of the Unrelenting Fury and the attack squadrons launched from the Stalwart.[2]

Meanwhile, Warlord Irongrasp found his ships trapped between the battered but still combat-worthy ships of Battlefleet Demeter, and the newly arrived Space Marine Strike Cruisers and escort squadrons. Surrounded on all sides, Irongrasp attempted to break through to the relative safety of the Adamantium Fields, but his fleet, already damaged in the earlier battles around Gaea, could not succeed. Only half of the ships in the Chaos fleet survived the battle, and those that did were so badly damaged that it would take years to repair them all. Tragically, Admiral Kranswar was slain when he led a defence detail against the renegades that had invaded his flagship, and he did not live to see the fruits of his victory. The triumph of the Imperial forces in space was almost total, leaving Abaddon and his Black Legion trapped and cut off on the surface of Pythos.[2]

The Reconquest of Pythos

If Abaddon was worried by this turn of events, he showed no sign. In the months since Pythos had been invaded, the planet had become a Daemon-infested hell. Greater Daemons revelled in battle against the saurian monsters that inhabited the planet, and hordes of lesser Daemons marched on the delver-strongholds. Whenever this gibbering army reached one of the mountain fortresses, it launched a furious attack, aided by contingents of Black Legion warriors and Red Corsairs sent by Huron Blackheart to aid Abaddon’s forces. Although the defenders of the strongholds put up a valiant resistance, they could not hope to hold out for very long. One by one, the strongholds were overrun, and any survivors were marched back to Atika as slaves. What the slaves returned to was not the city they once knew. Located so close to the corrupting force of the Damnation Cache, Atika had changed beyond all recognition. Strange, hideously mutated structures had sprouted from the once elegant spire walls. Most of the city had been abandoned, and the population now lived in the network of twisted underground tunnels and caverns that surrounded the Damnation Cache. Vile smoke and putrid vapours filled the air in the tunnels and belched out through cracks and crevices into the surrounding atmosphere. Most terrible of all, the enslaved population of the city had been struck down by a terrible plague that reduced them to shambling creatures, more dead than alive.[2]

It was this grim scene of devastation and despair that greeted the victors of the space battles in the Adamantium Fields. Finally arriving in orbit above the planet, the Imperial fleet immediately began orbital bombardments on the daemonic armies that were assaulting the delver-strongholds. Squadrons of Marauder Bombers intensified the bombardment, aided by Xerxes Airborne Support Wings, and Dark Angels Thunderhead and Talon of Vengeance squadrons. Abaddon’s forces were driven back by the overwhelming aerial barrages, allowing companies of Space Marines and regiments of Imperial Guard to relieve the defenders, many of whom had been fighting continuously for over a year. In a brief ceremony, Colonel Strike officially handed over command of the planetary defence force to Commander Azrael. Colonel Strike refused all offers to join the other high commanders in the orbiting battlefleet, preferring to return to the fray in his specially modified Baneblade Traitor’s Bane, so that he could fight against the invaders who had cost him so many men.[2]

However, although the tide was turning, the Chaos armies continued their relentless assaults on the delver-strongholds. No sooner was one strike driven off, than a new one would begin. Abaddon’s tactics changed; instead of making overwhelming and methodical attacks against the strongholds closest to Atika, his legions, supplemented by Hounds of Huron raiding parties, attacked wherever the defenders were weakest. No matter how well Azrael organised his forces to react to these attacks, he could not always arrive in time. Many smaller strongholds were overrun and their populations enslaved. It quickly became clear to Azrael that fire-fighting in this way was leading nowhere. He had to strike at the source of the problem: the Damnation Cache itself would need to be recaptured and resealed. In truth, the Grey Knights accompanying the Dark Angels had been arguing for just such a strike ever since the fleet had arrived over the beleaguered world. Although the Dark Angels harbour a bitter hatred for Abaddon and his allies, Azrael argued that the first priority of the Emperor’s armies on Pythos was to shield and protect the planet’s citizens; therefore, the delver-strongholds should be saved before Atika was attacked. It was only when it became clear that Abaddon’s forces would continue to launch sporadic attacks against the strongholds, no matter how well protected they were, that Azrael was forced to change his tactics.[2]

Assault on Atika

The Dark Angels Deathwing battle Chaos Space Marine forces

Once the decision was made, the Imperial forces acted quickly to bring the Emperor’s wrath to their daemonic foes. The assault on Atika was announced by a massive orbital bombardment. The once-gleaming spire-city toppled to the ground, and the surrounding area was pounded into wasteland by the combined firepower of the Imperial fleet. In the wake of the bombardment, Thunderhawk Gunships and Drop Pods crashed onto the ravaged battlefield, disgorging the full strength of the Dark Angels Chapter, supported by the Grey Knights who had saved the Revenge. Even the Black Legion and the hordes of Daemons at Abaddon’s command could not resist such a hammer blow, and they were quickly driven underground by the fury of the Imperial attack.[2]

The second wave of the assault swiftly followed. Scores of orbital transporters landed around the bridgehead the Space Marines had established, disgorging regiment after regiment of Imperial Guard onto the steaming mire left by the orbital attack. Colonel Strike was one of the first to land amidst the ruins of the city; the hoary survivor had been given command of the Imperial Guard assault army by Azrael himself, and was determined to see the campaign to its brutal conclusion.[2]

The Imperial Guard regiments arrived not a moment too soon, as wave after wave of vile Daemons poured forth from the ravaged underground tunnels, having scented blood. Many Imperial Guard platoons and their accompanying armoured support had only just mustered in their positions at the perimeter of the bridgehead when the daemonic horde struck. Lasguns and battle-cannon tore gaping holes in the charging ranks of Daemons, but as one infernal creature fell, ten more stood ready to take its place. Soon the whole Imperial frontline was engulfed in a terrible melee, as Guardsmen and Space Marines battled furiously against creatures spawned by the Warp. Bayonets were fixed and chainswords activated in a desperate defence against the talons and blades of the daemonic host. Then, the guns of the orbiting Imperial fleet fired into the Warpspawned horde, the massive macro cannon shells and strikes of their lance batteries smashing into the ground dangerously close to the hand-to-hand combats being fought all around the bridgehead. Each titanic blast lifted scores of bodies into the air to fall amongst the swirling combatants.[2]

Even the warp-spawned Daemon horde could not withstand such hammer blows, and against the massed firepower of the fleet, the attack faltered and finally stopped. Around the implacable Space Marines, the weary, wounded guardsmen drew breath, relieved to see tunnel mouths empty and quiet. All around the bridgehead, the ground was covered in the slowly dematerialising remains of more than 100,000 Daemons. Within an hour, the bodies were gone, returned to the Realm of Chaos that had spawned them. They left the battlefield eerily barren, strewn only with Imperial corpses and the blackened shells of wrecked tanks.[2]

The Underground War

With the bridgehead established, Azrael began the grim task of clearing a path to the Damnation Cache itself. The underground tunnels and caverns were defended bitterly by newly summoned Daemons and Chaos Space Marines under Abaddon’s command, but the Imperial attackers were implacable.[2]

The cave system was vast, and incredibly complex. Tunnels branched and intertwined, some of them narrowing so that even infantry could only advance in single file, while others were so massive that they formed vast underground caverns large enough to allow Deathstrike Vortex Missile batteries and hunting packs of Warhound Titans to bring their long-range weapons to bear. Unnumbered battles and firefights were fought within the Stygian darkness below Atika, but slowly, yard by yard, the Imperial forces battled their way through the darkened tunnels.[2]

As they closed in upon the Damnation Cache, the Daemons and Chaos Space Marines were joined by shambling hordes of mutant zombies. These were the surviving remnants of the once-proud citizens of Atika, enslaved ever since Abaddon had captured the planet, and now horrifically transformed by the warping effects of the Chaos portal. Gritting their teeth, the Imperial attackers forged on through their foes, every step taking them closer to the Damnation Cache itself.[2]

Even though the situation around the cache was becoming increasingly desperate, Abaddon continued to launch raids on the delver-strongholds, even leading several of the attacks personally. Azrael, however, no longer allow this to distract him from his purpose. Spearheaded by the Dark Angels and Grey Knights, the forces of Chaos were driven ever further back until the Damnation Cache was almost in Imperial hands. However, just as Abaddon seemed defeated, a fresh flotilla of Red Corsairs raiders suddenly appeared in the system. Breaking through the Imperial cordon, they rendezvoused with Abaddon in the jungle, and their orbital transport craft quickly evacuated the surviving Chaos Space Marines from locations scattered all over Pythos. Although the Imperial fleet was able to destroy some of the Red Corsairs’ transporters, the majority made it to the ships hidden in orbit, and escaped. Hours later, an Imperial assault seized the Damnation Cache, and the Grey Knights began the arduous process of re-establishing the wards that would seal it once again. The Pandorax Incursion had finally been defeated, but at huge cost.[2]

Aftermath

In the wake of Abaddon’s escape and the resealing of the Damnation Cache, the Dark Angels and Grey Knights left Pythos. Colonel Strike was left in command of the two Imperial Guard armies that had taken part in the reconquest, and has been fighting a decades-long campaign to cleanse the planet of any lingering daemonic infestation ever since. Although the Damnation Cache was resealed, the damage it inflicted was severe, and many minor Warp rifts still need to be closed. The war carries on to this day.[2]

Order of Battle[2]

Imperial

Imperial Guard

Dark Angels

Grey Knights

Imperial Navy

Chaos

Sources