Back at the Cathedral of the Emperor's Ascent, the remaining Angels of Vengeance, under the command of Paladin Gabriel, were being sorely pressed. All three massive transport ships had managed to make a crash-landing in the ruined city around the cathedral. And within an hour of impact, a horde of combat-drugged mutants, wretches, Plague Zombies and Chaos Spawn had begun to overrun the Imperial defensive positions. As their battle lines swiftly began to crumble, the survivors fell back deeper into the cathedral ruins.

Hours later, when Chorazin's Thunderhawk finally reappeared in the sky above what remained of the cathedral, all semblance of organised warfare had disappeared. The initial brutal close-range firefights having devolved into a singular, savage melee. But still, amongst this, the Angels of Vengeance held.

As Chorazin began to hurridly assess the battlefield from his position high above the melee, the Rot King finally made his presence known. Hurtling from the heavens like a meteor, the Daemon Prince slammed into the Thunderhawk with a bone-crushing force. So furious was the Rot King's impact, that not even the mighty hull of the Thunderhawk could withstand it, leaving the broken and twisted transport to tumble out of the air, crashing into the ground with incredible force, its impact furrowing a fresh scar into the ruins.

Seeing their Chapter Master's transport fall from the sky, those Angels of Vengeance trapped within the melee redoubled their efforts. Steadily, they began to cut a pathway through the numberless hordes, inching closer to the downed Thunderhawk. At the forefront stood Paladin Gabriel. His blade in constant motion. Each swing, felling another opponent, unable to withstand the Sword of Vengeance's fury. And for a moment, the tide seemed to be turning.

Across the ruined planetscape, the surviving members of the strike force began to pry their way out of their stricken transport. Chorazin first amongst them - sporting fresh wounds, but still very much alive. Their boltguns roared as they fought their way from the wreckage, drowning out even the bestial cries of the surrounding mutants and monstrosities. But then, as if to silence the Astartes resistance, a grotesque and festering shadow dropped heavily from the sky: the Rot King. The lumbering abomination, bloated with the unnatural might of his revolting patron, bellowing a challenge that was clear even over the raucous din of battle.

Chorazin could instantly tell this was no ordinary Daemon Prince. It knew the sons of the Lion, he could see that in its fly-like eyes. And its groaning, corroded armour, though decayed beyond almost all recognition, still bore the ruined remnants of the 1st Legions iconography. This Daemon Prince was their true quarry, and one most vile. Unperturbed by this grim revelation, Chorazin strode forward towards the Rot King, yelling a challenge of his own before charging into the fray.

Six, perhaps seven strikes did the injured Chapter Master land on his unholy adversary, but no more. The Daemon Prince's mace, shrouded in chocking mist, came down in one massive blow. Chorazin brought up his own blade to counter the strike, but the Rot King's malefic mace was not to be thwarted by any mortal weapon, be it an honoured relic of the Angels of Vengeance or not. Down drove the Daemon Prince's mace, shattering the weapon that sought to prevent its passage, pulverizing Chorazin's armour and sending the Chapter Master's broken body tumbling through the air.

With the fall of their Chapter Master, dismay threatened to steal over the surviving Angels of Vengeance. For if one of the mightiest of their number had done little in the face of the corpulent and filth-encrusted Daemon Prince's rampage, what hope did they have? Heavy weapons could perhaps be brought to bear against the brute, but all the Astartes were already engaged in ferocious hand-to-hand combat. Yet, at that moment, a wrath-filled roar broke across the battlefield. Its source? Paladin Gabrial, who stood defiant atop a rampart formed of his slain enemies, his blade raised in provocation toward the Daemon Prince.

Seeing this, the Rot King smiled, beckoning the lone Astartes to him.

No sooner had the adversaries provocations been made than their battle began in earnest. Gabriel launching himself headlong through the horde, singlehandedly cutting a direct path to the Daemon Prince, who's enormous insectoid wings lifted him skyward. Riding his mighty wings ever higher, the Rot King sought to plunge down upon his prey, seeking to use the added force of his descent to end the duel in one, single ground-shattering blow. Yet Gabriel did not flinch, hefting his mighty greatsword to his shoulder, ready to take the strike head-on.

As the mace came down towards him, Gabriel poured every last ounce of strength in his post-human body into his swing. The following clash of weapons distorted the very air around the combatants, such was the force with which they collided. Neither managed to hold their ground in the face of their opponent's strike, Gabriel staggering uneasily backward even as the Daemon Prince floundered in the sky above him.

Gabriel recovered far swifter than his foe, unleashing a flurry of strikes upon the Daemon Prince, his blade biting deep into the Rot King's unholy flesh. Bellowing in rage and pain, the Daemon Prince lashed out furiously with his mace. Too close, and unable to dodge, Gabriel desperately lifted his blade into a guard stance. The thunderous mace-strike tore Gabriel from the ground, the force of the impact sending him crashing helplessly into the ground several meters from where he'd previously stood. Yet in moments, the Paladin was on his feet once more, his left pauldron bent and buckled, but otherwise unharmed. Even more shocking, was the fact that his blade had somehow escaped unscathed, thin wisps of smoke gently rising off of it from where the warp-forged mace had struck it.

Enraged, the Rot King stuck out again with his mace, but this time Gabriel was prepared, gracefully evading the swing, and striking out thrice in return. His first strike cutting effortlessly into the Daemon Prince's front leg, destroying his stance. Riding the momentum, the second rose upwards like a thunderbolt, severing one of the creature's wings. With the third and final strike, he plunged his sword into the Rot King's back. But Gabriel knew this would not be enough to slay his opponent. Who merely roared anew and sent the Paladin sprawling with a contemptuous backhand. Even then, Gabriel did not relinquish his grasp on his blade, knowing his life, and the lives of his remaining men depended on it.

The two opponents briefly circled each other before hurling themselves at each other once more. Knowing he could not win in a competition of endurance with the Daemon Prince, Gabriel placed all his strength into one last, desperate gambit. He did not attempt to avoid his opponent's strike and instead aimed for the moment the Warp-infused traitor brought his mace down once more, cleaving the Rot King's arm from his body, and with it, the Daemon Prince's mace.

Even with his adversary now disarmed, Gabriel did not relent, landing a further whirlwind of blows onto the Rot King's pestilent form. The final of his blows, an executioner's stroke, decapitated the Daemon, his spirit banished back into the Warp.

The Rot King's blood was not the last that Gabriel's blade would taste that day. Standing firm with his Battle-Brothers, they cast back the tide of combat-drugged mutants, wretches, Plague Zombies and Chaos Spawn. A small measure of respite achieved, Gabriel roused the surviving Angels of Vengeance, regrouping with Boaz's Raptorwing, conducting a series of lightning raids on Chaos Space Marine strongholds, breaking the back of the traitors' offensive. After this, and due to his exemplary achievement in slaying the Nurglite Fallen in single combat, Gabriel would then be elevated to the position of Chapter Master, his new appointment swiftly being confirmed by the two other surviving Paladins who remained on the surface of Lucerna II.

With the Rot King's death, his fleet in orbit scattered into numerous squabbling warbands, each intent on taking their master's position as their own. Mara and the rest of the Imperial fleet would not miss this opportunity, quickly capitalising on it and managing to reclaim control over the void around the despoiled shrine world. And soon, Thunderhawk Gunships could be seen descending from orbit, ready to retrieve the survivors and the slain. Of the nearly six-hundred Astartes who had made planetfall on Lucerna II, less than two-hundred would fight again.

Yet, the trials of the Angels of Vengeance were not over, as even as Thunderhawks shuttled troops back from the surface the Great Rift erupted into being. Warp Storms swept across everything, with not even the furthest reaches of the galaxy being spared their corrupting touch. Leaving over a million planets of the Imperium cut off from the Light of the Emperor as the Astronomican went out.

A new, dreadful era of war had begun.