Within his command throne aboard The Promise of Absolution, Lord Esarhaddon stared into the depths of nothing. Encased in utter darkness, he could finally begin to accept the cold, pitiless truths that now imprisoned him. The Omega Station was gone, and with it, the dreams of all those who served the Gods of Chaos. Gorath’s plot was shattered. Once more, the Imperium stood triumphant. Once more, the servants of Chaos had been defeated.
Once more, he had failed.
There was more to it now than failure, however. The Sicarii were a skeleton of their former strength. So much had been lost at Iperin and in the betrayals that had followed. Now another grandiose alliance, another commitment of his forces to great and terrible promise, had depleted their number even more. The Promise of Absolution sailed now with barely more than half the fleet it had at Iperin. Without a new influx of men and material, without victories over their hated enemies, they would stagnate. Rumors would wind their way throughout the Sicarii. Rumors of weakness. Rumors that their Master had lost the favor of the Gods. Those bonded to him more by circumstance than loyalty would begin to ask questions that could not be asked and speak of possibilities that could not be spoken.
That could not be allowed to pass. His Word Bearers yearned to eat the flesh and drink the blood of those they hated most. He yearned to feel the fierce embers of victory burn within him once more. However, it was not so easy. Word of Esarhaddon’s defeats had spread widely throughout the armies and warlords of Chaos. No doubt to even the Eye itself. There would be those who would see the Sicarii as easy prey, trapping them between a war against the Imperium, and one against their own brethren…
There were places, though. Just as he had long known of the Omega Station’s existence long before, other secrets had come to him throughout the millennia of the Long War. There were those places of power and possibility that existed in corners of the galaxy that most within the Traitor Legions had never dared to look. There, Esarhaddon could find what he was looking for. There, he could find strength once more.
For the first time in days, the venerable Chaos Lord moved. One hand, encased in the scraped and scarred gauntlet of his armor, entered keystrokes into a pad molded into the granite and plasteel of his ancient throne. There was the crackle of static, and finally a voice sounded within the lightless chamber.
“My Lord,” drawled the cavernous basso of Alchanezzar, his Fleetmaster. “What would you ask of me? Your ships are ready, and your Host thirsts to plunge their knives once more into the flesh of those who would oppose your will.”
“Know then that it is my will and my command, Master of my Fleet, that a course be set for the Parchem Worlds. All ships. Immediately.”
“...the Parchem Worlds.” the Fleetmaster responded, the slightest hint of uncertainty in his voice. “Lord, please confirm - you would have the fleet to sail to the Parchem Worlds? You know I would venture beyond the Halo Stars and into the deepest black at your command, but the Parchem Worlds... our kind has not made sail there since—”
“Yes, Alchanezzar. Now we shall return, and the wayward shall be brought once more into our fold. There we shall find strengths promised unto us by the Gods, so that once more we may bring our war to the Imperium, and crush all of those who deny the will of Chaos itself. With purpose renewed, the Sicarii tribe of the Word Bearers will ascend once more, drip our poison into the veins of Man, and see its weak corpse fall before our blades.”
“It is good, my Lord, what you say.” Alchanezzar mused. “And at your command, I would bring down the stars themselves. The course is set, and our fleet shall sail within the hour. Your will be done, Lord.”
Esarhaddon cut the link and rose, his ancient armor groaning under its own bulk. Shaking off the dust of the centuries, the Word Bearer Lord descended the stairs from his throne. There were men to corrupt, gods to slay, and a galaxy that would tremble before his hand once more.