Shouts and blasts of feedback filled the control tower of the Omega Station. Static boiled across the control room in the electromagnetic wake of the weapon’s blinding blast. Communications faltered, and the technicians struggled to bring their stations back online. Even the ancient, shielded vox-casters embedded in the Siege Lords’ armor were momentarily fouled by the overwhelming wash of interference.
In a sea of chaos, Gorath sat unmoving before the great window, awaiting confirmation of his final victory. The clouds of dust in the distant horizon faded slowly as the atmosphere of the immense fortress reasserted itself upon the visual plane. Even through that haze, Gorath saw the fire and ash that burned out the last of the loyalists’ hopes. He could feel the enemy’s lament as they saw their final salvation denied.
Then he saw doom falling from the sky. The glowing orange cloud that had been the oncoming planetoid parted, revealing a sleek fragment. Around the edges, it glowed with the yellow-orange of molten rock, but the center was bright white. Like a huge and implacable blade, a god’s spear hurled through the void in screaming vengeance. Behind it, dozens more hurtled down the same path that would see the Station annihilated.
For a brief moment, Gorath scanned the skies and tried to match each object with the Station’s defenses. Another blast from the main weapon, its annular confinement beam altered to compensate for the firing solution’s angle, concentrated fire from the endless batteries that dotted every mile of the station, or even a suicidal ram from the Black Morass crossed the steel trap of his mind, but all calculations led to the same result: he knew, without any doubt, that his plan had failed. After long centuries, the dearest sacrifices and the pain and blood of thousands, there was no time.
He began to whisper a single word, again and again, an atavistic chant that he felt more than thought. In the whirlwind of clashing voices and braying machines, his voice was lost. None could hear him.
Then the three leathery lungs deep in the degraded flesh and blood-rusted metal of his chest drew in air to an unaccustomed fullness, and Gorath let out a long cry of despair, of rage, and of hatred for the existence he was doomed to forever more.
The room was silent now. Every eye and every ear in the Command Tower was attuned to him now, in reverence or respect, or in simple, animal fear. Through gritted teeth and with a thudding finality, Gorath once more spoke the command he swore he would never need again: