The white-paneled walls trembled as a dream of centuries was prepared above. In the grand, sterile antechamber that sat below the Command Center of the Omega Station, Gorath waited. Behind him, a thrall of his own technicians and those of the Tyranid Cultists awaited, holding back from the iron wall of the Siege Lords that stood in mute guard over their Lord.
Above, his crews worked to restore the broken Command Tower, where the Prophet and his worthless pet had made an idiotic assault upon the Command Citadel with neither the support nor the guile to hold it for long. All in the name of pointless vengeance upon a thin-blooded Astartes. One more of the petty dramas that had held him back for millennia. Internally, Gorath steeled himself from giving into those same primal urges, quenching the anger swelling inside of him at the thought of such a foolish gambit. He had waited for this moment since the long-ago days of Mary Mayo. He had come this far through patience, and through patience he would endure.
Patience. The prime currency of a siege. Where hot-blooded fools might expend their forces crashing fruitlessly against fortifications beyond their measure, the true master of a siege would undermine the fortification itself, through long and arduous effort, striking only when the time was right. Those that waited to expend their force at the right time turned a siege from a contest to a simple matter of inevitability.
Now the inevitable was before him. Where others had fled, he had held. Doubt, greed and cowardice had caused his allies’ nerve to fail, but never his own. He would master this Station and throw off the shackles of centuries. He would see the end of this Imperium, and of the purpose to which he was slaved.
The lift to the Control Room chimed as its doors slid open, revealing the forms of mortal men clad in white plastek pressure suits. The pure white was marred by scorches from the long welding pikes they held, and fewer men returned than had gone up. Time and resources wasted, Gorath thought. His allies had cost him more of both than they were ever worth.
One of the men stepped forward, lifting his visor, revealing a scarred and weathered face. As he knelt, light glittered off the plate riveted to his forehead and its embossed runes of ownership. “Power and pressure are restored to the Control Room, Lord. The Virus Node has overridden the lockouts. The Omega Station is now under your control.”
Gorath did not react, or so much as acknowledge the man with his gaze. The Herald of Desecration grunted at the man and waved him and his men away. After they departed, the Siege Lords herded the mortals around their Lord into the lift. Finally, his spidery pinions moving in grotesquely regal fashion, Gorath stepped into the elevator. The doors hissed shut behind him, and with a tug of momentum, the elevator ascended to its destination.
They opened again, to a nightmarish scene. The Control room was in shambles. Smears of maroon blood adorned the walls, contrasted by bursts of the vermilion of Astartes in small patches. Many consoles had been torn out or burst into jagged wreckage by Bolter fire. A large hole in the floor had been hastily patched by the damage team, the irregular weld marks around its perimeter a bright constellation against the dark steel floor. Along the far wall, more steel covered most of what remained of a floor-to-ceiling bank of windows, surrounded by a web of metallic tape covering a multitude of cracks in the panes. Beyond them was the darkness of the void and the slowly moving pin-pricks of stars.
At the center of the wreckage stood Morkosh, Inco-Primus of the Krimson Kog and Chief Ironsmith of the 9th Company. A host of cablings retracted from a console into the Techno-Sorcerer’s gauntlets as Gorath approached.
“Lord,” he said, a hiss of annoyance plain in his voice. “The Station remains operational, despite the best efforts of the Prophet and his pet. Communication lines have been re-established with all other Towers, save the Engine Complex. I fear it is as you said.”
Gorath nodded. “Destroyed, then. They mean to send us away from our fleet, and into the teeth of a trap they hope will save them, but I know every secret of this Station’s defenses, and The Black Morass will not be far behind. Their gambit is doomed to failure.”
“These Imperials are so fond of their bloody last stands.”
“Indeed, they are,” Gorath said. “I will control this Station, Morkosh. Take your shuttle and your most competent disciples with you, and reconnect whatever is left of the hardline to a control terminal. Dig it out with your hands, if you have to.”
Morkosh let out a wheezing laugh of wet phlegm and rusting metal. “It will be done, Lord,” he said, turning and shambling his way toward the lift. The crowd of mortal technicians parted like a wave to allow him through, then moved to their stations.
Gorath assessed the room and what remained of his prize. Many of the consoles around the perimeter of the room remained intact, shimmering with data and chirping like nocturnal insects. Stools bolted to the ground before them still stood, though their internal structures had exploded during the decompression and now their cushions hung lifeless, bleeding yellowish foam onto the floor. As the mortals flocked to their positions, the chamber began to hum with life and sound, technical languages buzzing between the menials as they prepared for their tasks. One console remained unoccupied, beneath a great Aquilla pulsed with a sickly greenish color in time with a small metallic oval that covered it with bright silvery tendrils.
Gorath clambered to the console and stared into the glowing green monitor, gently brushing dust and flecks of rubble from its surface. A simple positional observation unit, a quaint reminder of humanity’s first outward push into the stars. As it blinked, a signal went out from the Station’s heart, detecting nearby objects. In its aft, he could see faint dots. The remnants of the loyalist fleet, then. Hoping to trap their quarry between two forces, enough to dislodge him and his troops from that which they had captured.
“Where have you sent us, you thin-blooded fools?” he whispered to the glowing monitor. “What forces will intercept us? What armada have you deluded into making stand against the might of this weapon, and the screaming steel behemoth of my Legion? How many more of you must I kill before no more blood remains in your veins; before the weakness of your resistance becomes palpable? Rain your worst upon us, mortals, for nothing can stand before the iron of my wrath...”
Another chime. At the far edge of the screen, a new contact came into range. Gorath glowered down at the console, awaiting the form of the last gasp of defense that the Imperium could muster. It was a tight grouping, each contact remaining indistinguishable from the next. Patiently, he waited for the group to resolve into individual ships as they moved into closer range.
They never did. It was a single object. Constant bearing, decreasing range.
Only then did Gorath notice the frenzy that had taken over the mortal’s chatter. Some ran to different terminals, watching readouts, their eyes wide in horror. Commands and binary code were shouted across the enormous room, panic creeping into the indecipherable code-slang of the Station operators. One of them rose now, a ranking member of the cohort. An ancient thing, his paunchy jowls shook with a palsy that affected nearly all of his brethren now, a scar of their Cha-Dawn’s passing. He tried to mouth words that would not come.
“What,” Gorath growled at him, “is that?”
Another mortal answered. “We are on a collision course with a planetary body! Estimated time to impact is–”
“Tactical.” Gorath shouted, whirling towards a different section of the control room. “Plot a firing solution with the main cannon on the incoming planetoid.”
“Lord!” another man pleaded. “An optimal firing solution is impossible without control of the Engines!”
“The servants of the Corpse God have taken care of your aim. You will fire that weapon, or your compatriots will do it for you while you scream and bleed out on the floor.”
“Y... yes, Lord. Fifteen minutes until the firing solution is resolved!”
Gorath once again let the chattering of the men wash over him as he casually strode to the remains of the windows and let the minutes tick by in agonizing slowness. “For centuries, I have sought this prize,” he said to no one. “For spans beyond mortal life, I have plumbed its secrets. Through planning and maneuvering, murder and betrayal, I have become its master. So many years spent raiding and wandering, simply biding time, allowing the wheels of this long plot to turn. I will not be denied my vengeance.”
Finally, a voice sounded from the command crew. “Lord? We are ready.” one of them called. Gorath did not look up.