Every now and then I pause and mourn, remembering how I lost myself and was subsumed. Briefly, of course. When facing a galaxy full of horrors and undying enmity, not to mention four unfortunately literal deadlines ticking away, waiting to rend asunder my body and soul, there's only so much time for reflection and introspection.

Still, I don't really regret my choice, there could have been worse results.

When asked which fictional setting I wished to avoid before being snatched away, I might have mentioned something like Midnight, an interdicted fantasy world where good had already lost, or Shadow of the Demon Lord, fairly close to that in its broad strokes. I'd always enjoyed fantasy more than science fiction on the average, despite finding the latter of higher quality, so what came out of my mouth was a bit of a surprise.

For all that, Warhammer 40k made sense for a setting you really didn't want to visit. Everyone died eventually, and then the Daemons ate your soul. Or possibly something worse – the Empyrean was not well explored or understood by humanity. Perhaps the Emperor preserved the loyal and true, if only some of them, and if only to use them in his angelic Legions of the Damned.

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Among the myriad lists of hereteks, data-thieves and tech-deviants kept by the Ordos, Magos Explorator Infra-Salixis Delta-19 of Stygies VIII deserves special mention. In contrast to the xenos-loving reputation of the Xenarites of Stygies VIII, the magos is noted for his scathing hatred and contempt for xenos and never bargains with such scum, though admittedly he displays little respect for anyone whatsoever.

His penchant for data-theft and tech-robbery is not confined solely to xenos, and there is little doubt that he has amassed a database of templates and knowledge well beyond what his rank might suggest.

Heretek and user of forbidden archeotech and xenotech he might be, but as of this date I judge him to be more useful alive than dead, given his repeated successes and survival when pitted against the vicious and mercurial Eldar. His ego is almost a match for that of these perfidious xenos.

The magos is easily baited by offers of tech and coordinates of xeno planets, strongholds and space assets, and has successfully assisted the Deathwatch in three major and seventeen minor operations, if admittedly with different fortresses and teams, as Astartes invariably refuse to tolerate his company after a single experience.

From Inquisitorial Report XHN993DLK-44Q-TELESTRA5-PAC by Ordo Xenos Inquisitor [Redacted], dictated 6.109.436M38

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Archmagos Infra-Salixis Delta-19 of Stygies VIII is a dangerous heretic experimenting with psyker powers, human genetics, forbidden tech and xenos knowledge. Despite his ongoing and deadly feud with the Eldar, his extraordinary knowledge and his past salutary assistance against xenos and traitors, he is judged Excommunicate Traitoris and is to be purged with extreme haste. His obliteration is vital to the security of the Imperium, with a bounty having been posted Segmentum-wide and communicated to Holy Terra.

Inquisitorial Report SNV842KKP-92A-KERESVRA0-PAL by Ordo Xenos Lord Inquisitor [Redacted], dictated 5.635.781M39

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Archmagos Eladria Naxos Gamma-5269 is the sole known inheritor of the late and unlamented Archmagos Infra-Salixis Delta-19 of Stygies VIII, who according to all evidence (including psyker divination) perished in Hive Kerata in the Plenus system, almost certainly due to a successful assassination-assault by Harlequins, evidence including scattered remains of fourteen of their dead, identified as belonging to [Redacted] and heavy damage to four lower hive floors from the detonation of heavy ordnance. See report [Redacted] for the results of the investigation.

Unusually for Mechanicus magi, our agents have informed us that she remains fully biological, reputedly being a fanatical member of the Organicist faction, and is known to wear a dreadnaught-like war-armor with a plethora of mechadendrites, tools and weapons.

The first claim is doubtful, with verification requiring extensive medicae procedures on her person, while the second has been verified by multiple agents.

Her appearance and faction are an indicator that she specializes in matters biologis as an Arch-
Genetor, but reports show that she has extensive and deep knowledge in almost every facet of technology the Mechanicus administers, maintains and produces, with a second specialty in Warp-tech. Such omni-capability has won her few allies or accolades.

With the death of her master at Eldar hands, she inherited his properties and databanks, but massive pressure of jealous magi and archmagi resulted in her exile from Stygies VIII. The eventual settlement, needed to avoid Exterminatus-level detonations in critical facilities, provided for her promotion to archmagos, as well as appointment as emissary and explorator with an attendant fleet.

Her flagship is the Matador, an Overlord-class battle-cruiser, and she departed Stygies VIII in the company of two Lunar-class cruisers, seven Dauntless-class light cruisers, a Sentetia-class light cruiser, twenty-three escorts, four forge-ships, five mining ships and twenty seven macro-transports.

In her role as emissary, she served for ninety-eight years supporting the Astartes chapters of the Crimson Crusaders (Third Founding, Imperial Fists), the Sky Wardens (Fourth Founding, Dark Angels) and the Steel Shadows (Fifth Founding, Raven Guard), repaying major debts from Stygies VIII, then thirty-one years supporting a knight world in service to Stygies VIII, before departing on an exploratory journey, approximately forty-nine years ago.

Her fleet at that time consisted of three Mars-class battle-cruisers in addition to the Matador, nine Lunar-class cruisers, seventeen light cruisers, fifty-nine escorts and seventy-six additional ships. The majority of the ships were captured from pirates or Orks and refurbished by her own efforts, with a minority constructed in the shipyards of the Astartes chapters she supported or Hive Worlds with which she had commerce.

Noted for her devotion to the Emperor, she is viewed with suspicion by her Mechanicus colleagues. The noble knights of House Torryan report her to be competent but icy-cold and impenetrable in mien, while the Astartes were surprisingly complimentary of her, reporting of her diligence in improving the quality and number of their arms and ships, and the bravery, cunning and firepower her troops and ships displayed. She even provided instructions to their Tech-marines and Apothecaries.

Judged suspect due to her mentor, possibly useful due to noted Imperial leanings, which are in turn highly suspect. Unusual adherence to biological purity – does not use Skitarii, but biologically enhanced near-equivalent 'Tech Guard'. Has displayed practical high-level of expertise with Warp-tech, having repaired and upgraded Gellar fields, navigator gear and warp engines, as well as evincing absolute contempt for 'hostile warp entities'.

The Archmagos has displayed unexpected mercantile initiative, having established rejuvenation-medical facilities (reputedly of unusually high quality) in several hive worlds of Pacificus, in return for recruitment rights and ownership of manufactorums in the underhives thereof.

Recommended action is investigation of the biological enhancement of her troops and insertion of agents to determine true allegiance, as well as investigation of her influence in the hive worlds in which she has meddled.

Inquisitorial Report JIK327TWE-11Y-VEBREKXP0-KEL by Ordo Machinum Inquisitor [Redacted], dictated 7.761.961M39

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"If the artificial intelligences, now known as abominable intelligences, on which the advanced technology of humanity once relied upon cannot be used due to the Great Enemy, the solution is both simple and elegant. Increase the mental capacity of humanity such that the requisite processing power can be made available… No, I will not explain what the Butlerian Crusade refers to, nor the source of the title Mentat."

Magos-Mentat Eladria Naxos Gamma-5269, 818M39

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Even the least among the ranks of the educated are usually aware that the Imperium is ruled and protected by the God-Emperor, and encompasses a million worlds, divided administratively into subsectors, sectors and the five Segmentum.
None of the above is factually correct.

The God-Emperor protects our souls, powers the Astronomicon and wages eternal war against the abominations of the Warp. It is my belief that he has neither the time nor the inclination to engage in administration.

Malcador the Hero was a greater loss than any loyal Primarch, save perhaps Guilliman, for it was he who tended to the administration, it was he who formed the core of the Officio Assassinorum and the Holy Ordos of the Emperor's Inquisition.

Naturally, it is the Imperial Navy, Imperial Guard, planetary and space defense forces, and the Adeptus Astartes who protect the Imperium in the Materium, with the God-Emperor's direct interventions being exceedingly rare, usually manifesting in His Living Saints.

It is in truth rather unusual, but propaganda has on occasion been known to understate numbers. I am not certain how many worlds are governed and administered by the Imperium of Man, as my acolytes could not find a reliable numeration, but it is certainly more than ten million, and the number fluctuates on a daily basis.

While it is rarely relevant, remember that star-maps of the Imperium are not accurate stellar representations, rather they are a reflection of the navigable Warp-currents which allow travel between systems. There are countless Ork and other inimical xenos polities located all too close to Imperial planets, when real-space distance is considered.

As for administration, the commonly-known facts are true, but there are two more layers between the sectors and the four Segmentum capitals and Holy Terra. Sectors are customarily composed of between eighty and a hundred and twenty useful worlds (which includes both habitable worlds and mining worlds – note, worlds rather than systems), and each is generally divided into five to twelve subsectors. In turn, Star Clusters are an administrative layer which includes between forty and sixty sectors, with Star Fields, which report directly to the Segmentum Fortresses or Holy Terra, having twenty to thirty Clusters under their authority.

While this allows for adequately swift response to the ever-present galactic threats from concentrations of strategically positioned fortress-nodes of the Imperial Navy and Guard, and is theoretically optimal for effective administration, the layers of rule allow for much friction and terrible corruption.

Be it the gluttonous nobility, always hungering for more power and wealth, the desperate underhivers who turn to questionable practices, the self-serving indolent bureaucrats, or the self-glorifying and easily duped Ecclesiarchy fools, it is our duty to prune and burn away the infection of corruption in the body of the Imperium.

From Lord Inquisitor Danilo Sevkarn's "Introduction to the Imperial Truth", Ordo Hereticus, archived 431M37

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The origin and cause of the Kursis Crusade are well known and documented.

Increasingly powerful incursions of Orks from the galactic wilds central-north of Segmentum Pacificus pushed the Imperium back from two sectors and four sub-sectors, battering back the Imperial Navy and Guard over a course of two centuries by sheer undaunted weight of numbers and insane bloodlust.

The Astartes in the region were pressed thin, with the closest chapter being the Lightning Riders, of Warhawk descent, their fortress-monastery seven sectors distant.

Eager to avenge this insult, discovered mostly by accident by his granddaughter's review of certain recently arrived data archives, the incensed Lord High Admiral of Hydraphur petitioned the High Lords of Terra for a Crusade to reclaim these worlds and secure them and the border for the Imperium.

With unusual haste, a mere forty-two years later, Lord Militant Commander Ferren Kursis, originally of the Necromundan Steel Guard, was appointed Lord Solar and received recruitment rights for a grand crusade in the God-Emperor's holy name.

As the foe was mainly composed of Ork-type xenos, a tithe of over nineteen million Valhallan Ice Warriors was the first to be recruited, with the second being a thirty-four million-men army of the Necromundan Steel Guard.

The remaining Imperial Guard troops consisted of tithes of fifty million guardsmen each from ten great hive worlds of Segmentum Pacificus noted for their military traditions, and twenty three additional tithes from civilized worlds with similar qualifications, as well as elite regiments of Cadian Shock Troopers, Catachan Jungle Fighters, Harakoni Warhawks and Elysian Drop Troops.

In all, the Kursis Crusade initially consisted of over six hundred and eighty million Imperial Guard troops, with the Imperial Navy providing a war fleet of five battleships, two grand cruisers, four battle-cruisers, nineteen battle-line cruisers, and approximately two hundred and sixty lighter warships, the 491st Pacificus Battlefleet, commanded by the veteran Lord Admiral Katarina Tarsine.

The Astartes likewise responded to the call to arms with alacrity, with over eighteen hundred space marines of eleven chapters, including a crusade force of the Black Templars, arriving to make war upon the decks of four battle-barges, sixteen strike-cruisers and over sixty escorts.

The Mechanicus response was unusual and divided.

The exact facts are not known, but sufficient details were leaked to ascertain that the future Fabricator of Forge Vista chanced upon a great space-hulk during her exploratory efforts, and shared the tech-bounty with Mars, thus gaining the right to raise her own forges among the stars.

The details of the agreement remain classified, but the Fabricator General threw a final condition in, that her forces join this crusade and act in His name, winning their forges with steel and flame.

Since the fleet and army of this then-Archmagos lacked titans, the God Machines of Legio Honorum received the honor of supporting the crusade, with five Warlord titans, six Warbringers, eleven Reaver titans and twenty-six Warhounds joining the fray, along with supporting forces from Stygies VIII and over two hundred noble knights.

Given the lack of cordial relations between the two Mechanicus parties, care was taken so that they were never present on the same field of battle.

The Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas barely participated in the Crusade, due to a last-minute proclamation by Arch-Cardinal Justinian Melestros of the Lord Solar's impiety and lack of respect for the Ecclesiarchy.

Only three Preceptories of the Order of the Sacred Rose joined the ranks of the holy warriors, and all were martyred in the battle of Haylon Plains in the thirteenth year of the crusade, overcome by the Gargants which destroyed a half-million guardsmen army caught in open terrain by the beastly Orks.

Shortly thereafter, a large flight of Marauders bombed that Ork army to oblivion, earning the air marshal in charge of the theater a reprimand due to their lateness, rather than a court martial.

Fifty-two years of glorious and bloody battles resulted in a grand victory of the Imperial Crusade, as declared on 7.256.49M40, restoring three hundred and sixty-eight habitable worlds to the holy rule of the God-Emperor.

In addition to numerous Ork armies, there were several terrible foes overcome by the might of Imperial forces:

First were a cursed race of hexapedal weasel-like xenos dubbed Rafellians, dreadful berserkers which often refused to acknowledge their own death. Having settled five life-bearing planets in three systems and traded with heretical pirates, their ferocity and numbers required over five years of efforts to exterminate.

Second was the pirate stronghold of Naulica, a great and derelict ancient space station ruled by warbands of the fearsome Night Lords traitor space-marines. With Mechanicus void-troopers supported by rapier armored carriers and battle-automata, and Astartes teleporting aboard their ships and stations, the records state that none of the heretical traitors escaped, but the fighting was nonetheless exceptionally fierce.

Third and arguably worst was the Dark Mechanicum stronghold of Jolinar, allied with an Iron Warrior traitor warband. Even with the assistance of Legio Honorum, the losses were extreme, with the Victory-class battleship Tenacious Gold lost with nearly all hands in the initial battle to control the system and orbitals, and over fifty million Imperial Guard troops, dozens of Astartes and seventeen God-Machines fallen before the Hellforges were forever silenced.

Fourth and most costly in guardsmen lives and lost machines were the three traitor-hives of Kellata Majoris, Nerandos Tertius and Gurandan Quintus, which refused peaceful re-assimilation, their battle-tested populace (having defeated many Ork invasions) and labyrinthine hive-towers requiring nearly twenty years and more than two hundred million casualties to subdue.

The sectors restored to Imperium were named Anastasia, to honor the Lord High Admiral's granddaughter, Ferren and Kursis, the latter receiving the greater portion of the remaining fleet and armies, as it bordered on the absolute frontier of the Segmentum.

The newly appointed Sector Lords, by confirmation from Holy Terra, were the three (of eight) surviving now-retired Lord Generals Militant Korun Heyvar, Astrin Makellos and Rellar Telgard, reigning from the greatest hive-worlds of the respective sectors.

The Shrine world of Kursis sanctifies the remains of both Lord Solar and Lord Admiral, who fell in the last great Ork counterattack with the Retribution-class battleship Heavens Wrath, a great space battle in which the invading Ork war-leader of the neighboring polity was slain, the resulting civil war in the Orkish empire bringing a long period of peace to this turbulent frontier.

A major draw of the Shrine World is the perfectly preserved and notably undamaged chapel of the lost battleship, whose immobile remains orbit the planet, serving as a defensive starfort.

The great fortress system of Argentium was raised at the border warp-nexus, only a short warp-passage away from Forge Dalemark, to bar the return of the Orkish menace and serve as a beacon and trap for the war-mongering xenos. Heavily fortified by the forges of Vista, it has proudly stood all tests of war and time, in the Holy Emperor's name.

Rogue Trader Lady Antersia Nallus and Mechanicus exploratory flotillas provided continuous reports on the situation beyond the frontier, allowing the Imperial Navy and Basilikon Astra to prepare for the renewed Ork incursion in 182M40, and the Medalon Crusade which followed its extermination.

Great Crusades of the 40th Millennium, by Derek Marcher, published by Hydraphur Golden Press 296M41

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There can be no doubt.

Archmagos Eladria Naxos Gamma-5269 has received the Omnissiah's blessing.

If it was merely the blessed recovery of archeotech, however great, one might mistake it for what flesh-beings call luck, but there is clearly much more to her.

Her cursed creator, may his name be forgotten by the Omnissiah, tried to produce a perfected human. He failed five-thousand two-hundred and sixty-eight times.

Of course, definitions of 'perfect' differ, and the quest for perfection is an endless abyss of peril and madness, as can be witnessed by the Third Legion's fall from the Omnissiah's grace.

He-whose-name-shall-not-be-recalled found humanity's division into two sexes to be irrational. As a result, the Archmagos and her progeny (who would inherit most features of her design) are somatically female, with male genitals hidden inside a pouch in the birth canal, easily released and withdrawn by a specific internal movement of muscles.

Her progenitor also decided that psychic power is the future of human evolution, and she and her descendants (to a lesser extent) are inherently psykers (with the potential to train as both Navigators and Astropaths, to boot), with notably better control than that of untrained humans, even at a young age.

Not being completely insane, and the primary reason for the many experimental deaths and her status as a Chosen of the Omnissiah, what the tech-less priests would call 'Saint', is a psychic ritual the mad heretek devised, to implant a much-diluted shard of the Astronomicon's light into her soul. And yes, it actually succeeded, eventually – and thanks to the Sacred Omnissiah's grace is even inheritable.

Naturally there were also massive physical and mental boosts over base-line humanity, with much of the work plagiarized from the enhancements of Astartes, and quite likely the Eldar. The estimated lifespan of these new abhumans is eight centuries.

The Omnissiah's favor is blazingly evident in the list of technologies she is willing to trade to Blessed Mars, recovered from archeotech, most prominently a great space-hulk her subordinates carved apart to raise her fleet, from her own interesting discoveries, and adapted from xenotech, a significant portion of it likely stemming from her progenitor's archives.

The list is as follows:

Detailed schematics, construction methods and maintenance procedures for the plasma conduits and advanced lances of the Apocalypse-class battleship. This will allow us to resume production of these magnificent gifts of the Omnissiah.

Detailed schematics, construction methods and maintenance procedures for three venerable grand super-heavy tanks from the days of the Great Crusade, the Fellblade, Fellglaive and Falchion – as well as the venerable Sicaran battle tank and its Venator, Arcus and Omega variants. This includes the templates for the Atomantic Plasma Hybrid-reactor, the Neutron Beam Laser, and the reinforced metaplas alloys of their superior armor.

Detailed schematics, construction methods and maintenance procedures for anti-matter reactors. The power production numbers are accurate.

Detailed schematics, construction methods and maintenance procedures for energized armor, for starships, smaller vehicles and power armor. The recorded numbers for the integrity increase are accurate, and the performance against melta and other disintegration weapons has been tested.

Detailed schematics, construction methods and maintenance procedures for a number of improved warp related devices, including a teleportarium, Gellar field, warp drive, psychic hood and the vortex torpedo. Also included are improved psi-tech augurs, and rather incredibly, a warp-stabilizer to be used against space-hulks, that such precious treasure troves be affixed in the Materium, beyond the reach of the Great Enemy. Praise the Omnissiah!

Detailed schematics for the production of manufactorums designed to produce mid-grade promethium, low-grade plasteel and mid-grade plascrete and ferrocrete from plant matter, which would make agricultural planets of notably more use to the Mechanicus.

Detailed schematics, construction methods and maintenance procedures for a starship gravitic drive and tractor beam, as well as a vehicle-sized anti-gravitational field generator.

Detailed schematics, construction methods and maintenance procedures for the conversion beamer.

Detailed schematics, construction methods and maintenance procedures for relic plasma, sonic and volkite weaponry. Several sonic weapon variants are of a non-lethal nature.

Detailed schematics, construction methods and maintenance procedures for a gravi-magnetic macro-cannon, which appears similar in principle to the Nova Cannon, if smaller and notably inferior – other than in accuracy and firing rate, in which it is notably superior.

Detailed schematics, construction methods and maintenance procedures for a powered exoskeleton.

Detailed instructions for the production of a medigel field healing agent and numerous vaccines, especially against warp-powered epidemics favored by the pestilential ones.

Detailed instructions for the production of blood replenishment pills and elixirs, combat drugs, pacification gas, and a regeneration treatment to restore flesh limbs.

Detailed schematics for a number of force-fields of various types and sizes. Production methods were not provided.

The demands of the Archmagos are by comparison modest and beneficial to Blessed Mars, as this tech-bounty constitutes an enormous revolution:

First is the unselfish and unusual requirement that Mars permanently station twelve additional battleships commanded by a single Ark Mechanicus, with appropriate escorts and provisions for supply and maintenance, in the Cadian system. This battle-fleet is to first make stop in Agrippina, to provide that Forge with a copy of much of the tech-bounty she has provided, in return for instructions and the support required for a long war against the raiders of the Eye. Mars is to claim sole credit for this intervention. Presumably her encounters with the Ruinous Powers have had an effect on her mentality.

Second are twelve Rogue Trader writs, for her daughters. Given her unusual penchant for crass commerce, this is understandable.

Third is the right to establish Forges under her own name, with the full rights and databanks owed to senior Forges, with no tithe required from such forges for the first two centuries of their existence. She claims this is to allow them to establish themselves with greater ease, and the full databanks will only be shared with Forges possessing a minimal level of security. Given what she considers 'minimal security' for a Forge World, the transfer of templates and tech-knowledge has my endorsement and unstinting approval.

Fourth is the right to sell the above technological bounty to any Forge outside of Segmentum Solar that is not under sanctions by Blessed Mars. This includes the demand that none of the above templates or any derivative thereof would be granted to Stygies VIII.

Fifth is Mars' writ to participate in the upcoming Kursis Crusade as the Mechanicus contingent, with one Forge-World being granted unto her for each twenty worlds redeemed from the darkness of ignorance.

Sixth is an assortment of raw materials, mining rights and data-templates, notably including that of the Imperator Titan. In a moment of hubris, she has already name her Titan Legion as "Legio Absortio" and designated as the symbol of her forges a sunburst aurum bursting from a cog argent, on black.

The two most difficult and troublesome demands are highly advantageous to Mars and the Mechanicus. As she and her progeny are psykers one and all, and potentially capable of both navigating the Immaterium and acting as Astropaths, Mars must sponsor the creation of a new Navigator clan, as well as the establishment of an official Collegia Psykana in each Forge World claimed by Archmagos Eladria. While costly in favors and resources, this would naturally include provisions requiring certain services of such graduates, and directly lessen our dependence on the Navis Nobilite and the Adeptus Astra Telepathica. Obviously, we must also keep their true nature secret from the fools of the Adeptus Ministorum.

In addition to the tech-templates noted above, Archmagos Eladria has provided copies of the extensive ancient cultural and historical data preserved in the databanks of the starships recovered from the space hulk, though a significant portion of the data is damaged or fragmentary.

Last but not least, the Archmagos detailed the precise location of several dozen Webway gates routinely used by the cursed Eldar and their slaves and mercenaries for raids against the Imperium and the Mechanicus, without asking for recompense other than the death of as many of these xenos as we could manage. It is clear that her progenitor's enmity with that particular race of murderous xenos has been inherited, at least in part.

As for the fleet she garnered from the space-hulk, I judge it sufficient for a crusade favored by Blessed Mars. In addition to her flagship Stormbreaker, an Apocalypse-class battleship, the fleet consists of three grand cruisers, eleven battle-cruisers, seven heavy cruisers, twenty-one cruisers, forty-six light cruisers and nearly three hundred escorts.

Note that attempts to gain covert access to the cogitators and databanks employed by this Archmagos and her subordinates ended in abject failure, and the twelve Data-Predators who made such attempts exploded shortly thereafter.

Extract from a report of Martian Archmagos-Explorator Estricht Relkator Helium-9938, transmitted to the Fabricator General on 3.821.959M39

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It is a well-known and traditional custom for Forge Worlds to rewards Space Marines who act in their favor, and the successful completion of a holy crusade is one such joyous occasion.

On the official conclusion of the Kursis Crusade, the eleven Astartes chapters which participated received significant rewards from Forge World Vista, the primary Mechanicus support for the crusade. Collating the reports of several agents, we have what we believe to be a nearly comprehensive list:

A single Strike Cruiser, with tech-crew support

Four Gladius-class Frigates, four Nova-class Frigates and four Hunter-class Destroyers, all with tech-crew support

A promethium tanker and three Macro-transports full of torpedoes and an unknown assortment of gear, with tech-crew support

The services of a Mechanicus-crewed Armory-class repair and support Forge-ship for a single century, with an escort of four Mechanicus frigates and one light cruiser

Five Fellblade, five Fellglaive and two Falchion-class super-heavy tanks

Five Land Raiders

Six Vindicators

Twelve Razorbacks (fitted with plasma cannons)

Six Thunderhawks

Six Stormhawk Interceptors

Twelve Rapier Laser Destroyers

Twelve Javelin Attack Speeders

Thirty-six Jetbikes

One hundred and forty-four power weapons

One hundred and forty-four volkite calivers

One hundred and forty-four plasma cannons

Twelve hundred vibro-weapons (a sonic melee weapon, supposedly superior to chain weapons)

Twenty-four Iron Halos

Twelve thousand sonic grenades

Thirty-six thousand plasma grenades

One hundred and twenty vortex grenades

Twelve psychic hoods (not gifted to the Black Templars)

Support of an Arch-Genetor, with full retinue and an Isis-class light cruiser with six escorts, for twenty-four years

Unknown repair-rights for starships and vehicles

The crusade-force of the Black Templars, which represented the largest contingent of Astartes participating in the crusade by a measurable degree, with more than four hundred Space Marines, also received two Vanguard-class strike cruisers and twice the above-indicated number of power weapons, plasma cannons, volkite calivers and sonic grenades.

This is in addition to the repair and refurbishment of the equipment of the surviving Space Marines.
Such over-generous gifts for services only tangentially related to the Forge World in question raise significant concerns.

Inquisitorial Report VOUB199QWP-73R-SELREPIY1-TOS by Ordo Militum Inquisitor [Redacted], dictated 6.609.061M40

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Following reconstitution and a month of training to integrate the recruits and test the blessed machines, after the loss of 37.8% of the regiment at Kellata Majoris, current effectives are at 100%, with 11,096 personnel in all.

Command Group: Colonel Jervin Malsk, Major Olvin Arens, 12 communication, intelligence and liaison personnel with Command Land Raider; 12 medicae with 4 Recovery-class Land-Crawlers; 48 champion/bodyguard detachment in Sentinel-class power armor in 6 Razorbacks; 4 Sicaran Arcus Strike Tanks; 72 Ghost operatives with 3 Thunderhawks and 12 Javelin Attack Speeders; 144 logistics personnel with 72 Kellar-pattern Trojans; 60 drone operators with 24 Kellar D19-pattern Trojans; 144 maintenance and repair personnel with 24 Atlas recovery tanks and 72 Kellar B3-pattern Trojans; 12 underground siege specialists with 4 Termite Burrowing Vehicles; 12 Storm Eagle Gunships; 12 Knight Slayers; 12 battle-pskyers.

1st to 12th Companies: 12 person command squad; 12 72-person platoons each. Each company consists of:

Command squad of captain, first lieutenant and 2 communication/intelligence specialists with Command Rhino; 3 medicae with a Recovery-class Land-Crawler; 4 drone operators with 2 Kellar D19-pattern Trojans; 1 Kellar V6-pattern Trojan minesweeper

1 Breacher platoon (Shieldbearers) with 6 Vindicators, 6 Hellhounds, 4 Vista-pattern Onager Dunecrawlers, 12 Rapier Armored Carriers, 24 Mule Automata

1 Reconnaissance platoon (Specters) with 8 Javelin Attack Speeders, 24 Sentinels and 40 Jetbikes

1 Armored Support platoon with 12 Sicaran Omega Tank Destroyers and 24 Sicaran Arcus Strike Tanks

9 General Infantry platoons, each with 2 Minotaur Plasma Artillery Tanks and 3 Griffon Plasma Mortar Vehicles, 6 Vista-pattern Onager Dunecrawlers, 12 Rapier Armored Carriers, 36 Mule Automata

Excerpt of Readiness Report, 114th Vista Tech-Guard Heavy Infantry, transmitted 7.218.022M40

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Technical Specifications
Vehicle Name: Starfire X-Wing
Type: Aerospace Superiority Interceptor/Bomber
Forge World of Origin: Vista
Crew: Pilot/Gunner (minimum requirements: 4th Grade Tech Adept, MM-17 cortex adaptor) and Co-pilot/Gunner (minimum requirements: 5th Grade Tech Adept, MM-14 cortex adaptor)
Crew Support: Two Bolo-19 Repair Servitors, two Convex-Gamma Targeting/Navigation Servitors, one Augur/Tactical Cortex-CP31 Servitor
Speed: [Classified]
Range: [Classified]
Powerplant: Xylos S-11 Anti-matter
Propulsion: Ranginori M-17 Gravitic Distortion Array, eight Atreia S-9 Plasma Drives
Length: 76.893 meters
Wingspan: 43.226 meters
Height: 16.18 meters
Weight: 827.164 tons
Armor: Energized L-4 Regenerative Bioplas, minimum 328 millimeter thick
Shield: Vista-Pattern Deflector Force-field, four Ion Shield Projectors, additional internal force fields
Stealth Measures: Reflex Shield, [Classified]
Augur: F-117 S-Variant Context Array
Main Armament: Starfire Volcano Lance/Starfire Plasma Annihilator Cannon/Gravitic Implosion Projector
Secondary Armament: Four Vista-pattern Cinder Volcano Lances
Ammunition: Seventy-two missiles in dual internal rotary magazines (Void-Hunter missiles for void interception, various for atmospheric duties); One hundred forty-four missiles in four wing canisters (Void-Hunter for void interception, various for atmospheric duties); Three capital torpedoes (for void-bomber duties)/Three capital Hellsky torpedoes (releasing a total of one hundred forty-four Void-Hunter missiles, for void interception duties)/Various for atmospheric duties (capacity for fifty-four plasma bombs)
Defensive Armament: Eight Quad-linked Lascannon Turrets (four forward, four wing-mounted)

Notes: The Starfire X-wing is capable of launching three capital anti-starship torpedoes normally fired by capitals ships (cruisers and battle-cruisers) from close range, easily reached due to their superior speed, maneuverability and stealth capabilities.
Capital torpedoes are fifty-two meters long, compared to the thirty-two meter long escort torpedoes and seventy-eight meter long super-capital torpedoes employed by battleships.
Vista base-grade torpedoes employ a melta-head to breach armor, followed by a massive plasma or nanite explosive-based shaped explosion, with less common examples of gravitic and vortex torpedoes.
Their limits are tied to ammunition and life-support, the latter of which extends to four months, or up to six and a half months with a single pilot.

-{ ꙰ꙮ꙰ }-

From: Agent Kl78-TRP1009
To: Inquisitor [Redacted], Sonatra Inquisitorial Conclave
Clearance: Vermillion-Black

Mervodar is a hive world in the Halvin Sector in northwestern Pacificus, serving as a sub-sector capital. As hive worlds go, it is lightly populated, Administratum tithe-records indicating fewer than a hundred and sixty billion inhabitants, and it is notably less polluted than anticipated.

It is a world of no particular fame, though the troops it tithes to the Imperial Guard are known to be of above average competence, specializing in mechanized infantry and artillery regiments. Its most famous son is Lord Admiral Tiberius Keynar, who led the Keynar Crusade approximately seventeen hundred years ago against a now-forgotten xenos species.

I was unable to properly review the Mechanicus agathic clinics and attached hospitals, as they are situated at the top levels of each of the nine great planetary hives, and their security is heavy and deadly. Attempted data-intrusions resulted in the loss of all freelancers involved.

Investigation of the lower hives required little effort. It is common knowledge that they are the property of the Mechanicus, and have been so for more than forty years. There are no gangs, crime or strife in any of the underhives. The locals the Mechanicus deemed irredeemable were turned into servitors or used for compost.

Surprisingly, the locals are all exceedingly proud of having the Mechanicus lurking below. The cogheads accept any and all children (orphans in particular) for their education initiative, and their schools are of remarkably high standards, sufficiently so that many nobles of the high spires send some of their children there.

They also manufacture a plethora of high quality luxury items, vehicles and trade goods, specifically including the equipment used by the elite of the PDF and all Imperial Guard regiments recruited from Merdovar. Reportedly, they also produce food in high quantities, but I was unable to verify that claim.

Further inquiries showed that the Mechanicus openly owns a quarter of the system's shipyards and provided support for both the SDF and the local Imperial Navy presence. Even the more intricate components of the Aeronautic Imperialis are sourced from the underhives, and the Tiberius Aeronautica Academy had its simulators replaced seventeen years ago by advanced immersive systems.

A full seventy-two orbital hangers of strike craft, forty-eight torpedo platforms and nineteen Galaxy-class monitors have been added to the defenses of the system since the Mechanicus arrived.

A casual review of the mechanical and electrical systems of two hives showed them to be in excellent working order, and the water is palatable even below the mid-levels. The mood on the streets is generally positive, and the Adeptus Ministorum reports enthusiastic participation in its sermons, and that donations are notably above what might be expected.

In fact, Deacon Evan Darius has been reported to complain that he is having trouble finding work to allocate to the many devout common folk who wish to do more for the Imperium and better serve the God-Emperor.

Recordings from several middle-class parents who went below to sign their children for education in three hives showed that the underhives are in pristine working order, and that there are no visible cogheads of the sort I am familiar with.
The Mechanicus education system in place prepares children for most available careers, choosing only the best of them for inclusion in its own ranks. It is also there that I heard rumors of a beautiful female healing-saint with a golden glow about her, but have found no trail to follow as of yet.

The people below, while pale, appear in good health and mood, and additional inquiries placed the manufacturies deeper below. Unusually, almost everyone in the underhives bears military-grade personal arms, even the older children. Perhaps this is the reason for the seemingly universally high standards of politeness there, considerably higher than those I encountered in the mid-high hive levels (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Attempts to infiltrate the manufactorum levels through cargo elevator shafts resulted in the loss of three agents and nineteen freelancers.

The Arbites report that it is not only violent and open crime that has sunk into decline. Corruption, misappropriation, cults and moral degeneracy have taken a sharp down-turn, as faith in the God-Emperor burns brighter and… gurgling sound

Final Inquisitorial agent report on underhives of Mervodar, deleted 7.013.972M39

-{ ꙰ꙮ꙰ }-

Segmentum Pacificus
Ferren Sector
Hestia System
Planet Hestia IV
Outskirts of Anvil Fortress
7.171.031M40
Major Alexa Vervain, 1217
th Valhallan Mechanized Infantry

"Arrgh!" Alexa cried out as the lash whipped her upper thighs and the silken constricting tendrils tightened around her large breasts, their tips squeezing her erect nipples.

Firm breasts pressed against her bare back, as a large phallus parted her ass-cheeks and nestled its length between them. Her tormentor's fingers choked her and for a moment she saw blackness and stars, before they withdrew, the cock lowering, mushroom-head perfectly positioned against her rosebud.

Her asshole was penetrated with agonizing slowness, the assault on her breasts and nipples continuing apace as tendrils played around her dripping slit, teasing-torturing but never quite touching. Soon she was gasping and drooling as her lover hilted herself fully in her dirty hole, hot scrotum touching her for a brief second, before those impossibly strong fingers caught her about the waist.

She nearly screamed as the cock withdrew, almost falling out of her asshole, her anal ring pressing against the glans, and then an irresistible thrust had her full again. Back and forth, again and again, she was being fucked, pounded relentlessly, pain mixing with peaks of pleasure that plateaued just below what she needed.

Alexa whined in near-agony, but there was no relief. For what felt like hours, she was ruthlessly, brutally ass-fucked like she'd never been before, but her body somehow held together against this unprecedented ravishing, pain blooming about her wrists as her attempts to break away from the iron grip of the tendrils above failed repeatedly.

Thrice her tormentor paused for a brief while, after releasing a torrent of seed deep inside her, then continued without a word or any sign of flagging endurance, the only change being the heavy-wet feeling inside her and the ever-louder lewd sloshing sounds.

When the powerful lash struck the full length of her aching, burning slit she froze in absolute paralyzed stasis, scream locked in her throat and lungs as her entire body convulsed, once, thrice, six times.

A puddle formed on the shower's grey plascrete floor in the bunker as her muscles twitched and she surrendered any and all control, flushing even darker in embarrassment as her bladder released its contents, sagging against the golden hair-tentacles holding her in place as her arms were allowed to fall, her lover's grip guiding her outside, down to the thin but surprisingly comfortable field mattress, bringing a canteen to her parched lips.

After slowing sating her thirst with numerous loud gulps, she bit at the proffered dark-blue ration bar, wrist thick and twenty-four centimeters long. This wasn't the Munitorum-issue ration bar the Imperial Guard normally had to content itself with, so foul tasting even grox would hesitate before taking a bite, but one of twelve primary and one hundred and forty-four secondary flavors sourced from Vista.

Even the texture was much improved, not requiring hot water or a combat knife to allow for a mouthful. This bluish one tasted faintly of lavender and more strongly of vanilla, her favorite combination. Three such bars were supposed to feed a guardsman for an entire day. There were even rumors Vista produced an Astartes variety.

It certainly explained why administration of the three agri-worlds, mining world and industrial world of this system were granted to the Mechanicus, especially with a trio of hungry hive worlds within three Warp passages and a great holy crusade to feed and supply.

Greedily, she chewed her way through the entire ration bar and half of another as her lover wiped her clean and positioned her uniform, armor and weapons within arms-reach.

Just in time for the alarm siren to begin its howl.

Steadying her trembling arms, the major rose to her knees and began to dress herself, shaking her head slightly. This was most definitely not what she'd expected when she was assigned as a liaison to the Mechanicus administrator, High Magos Feyren Kallista Omega-9.

The magnificent perfection of her gorgeous red-headed lover was all-too-soon obscured by the three-plus meter tall dreadnaught-like war armor in black, silver and gold. It boasted six heavy weapons, two plasma projectors on the shoulders, two volkite calivers where the crab-like legs met its lower body, with a lascannon and a multi-melta attached to the wrists.

There was also a twelve-missile hive attached to the back, the colors indicating that it held four tank-killers, four anti-air and four incendiary phosphor missiles, nestled between the twin jump-jets.

Each power fist could potentially wield a weapon of its own, and this was not considering the twelve mechadendrites sprouting from beneath its dome-like head, two strapped to a storm shield and the remainder wielding a variety of tools and weapons she'd not dared to ask of, if only because she'd receive a ten-hours long mind-shattering explanation and answers to all her questions.

Vista tech-adepts (they insisted that they were not priests) were uncharacteristically all too happy to explain anything and everything, that much guardsmen and women had learned all too well during the length of the crusade. It was a well-worn prank played on the new recruits, nowadays.

In all, her lover made for quite the fearsome warrior. She had no doubt that the High Magos was more than a match for most squads of space marines, as she'd seen both in action. The shimmering energy field about the massive walker made that much obvious to any veteran.

"What are we facing?" she asked the High Magos as her helmet clicked into place. And no, this sort of carapace armor was not available to ordinary or even exalted guardswomen, it was a privilege granted only to those intimate with the Vista tech-adepts, usually literally.

Alexa had not failed to notice her increasing physical and mental capabilities, when after more than a month of being railed to unconsciousness twice a day, she somehow managed to remain awake and retain some coherence after a three hour sex session. She shouldn't have that much energy at the age of thirty eight, not with all the wear and tear of nearly twenty years of soldiering, and conversely seemed to require less sleep and more sustenance.

Not that she made any remark on it. Some gifts were best not mentioned, the commissars were unlikely to approve.
"Exactly as predicted. The largest Ork landing is on this planet, one hundred seventy-six kilometers south-south-west of this fortification. Twenty-two million are already advancing in our direction, with four million left behind around the Roks," Feyren prepared the Vox for her report to the Lord Marshal.

"We only have four hundred thousand troops, only a quarter of them Tech-Guard," Alexa's brows crinkled in concern. "Is this enough?"

"Even with their eighty-four gargants, eleven of the extra-large variant, and half a million other vehicles, it is more than enough. You forget that we've had some time to prepare, and knew it was coming," the High Magos chided her.

"Their air assets are unimpressive, but most importantly, we have sixty-eight squadrons of Starfire X-wings in orbital hangers. Most are engaged with the Ork fleet, but four will be enough to shatter this army. They're waiting to engage, killing the Warboss and destroying their larger mechs, so that we don't have to chase them that far. There's a reason we have so much armor waiting behind the fortress. Not to mention the minefields and calibrated artillery," Alexa could almost see the smirk behind the plasteel and ceramite.

Stepping out of the bunker, reporting on the Vox as she walked behind the war-machine, Alexa looked up to the skies, noting the flashes of light in the dimness of early evening.

"The stalemate in space will break in three hours," the High Magos seemed to read her mind. "The Orks brought a lot of starships, but that mostly means it will take a lot of time to kill them. Ork starships are mostly dangerous in close range, given their lack of ability to aim and penchant for ramming. The local Navy idiot lost the entire flotilla since he wouldn't listen, but as you can see," she pointed at the most recently blossoming light, "the explosions of nova cannon ammunition, from the Mars-class battle-cruisers Conundrum and Sheet Music and precisely placed mines. We want to capture their ships, since they're mostly of human make, originally. Even wrecks can be rebuilt, or at least used for parts and metal."

"Ah," Alexa winced. "The Lord Marshal does not share your confidence. He has instructed the armored columns to sally."
"Well, I suppose we'll have lost another high officer. Good riddance to bad rubbish," the disdain in Feyren's voice was audible despite the metallic tones of the sound-projector of her war-walker.

Thirty minutes later three sally-gates opened, and hundreds of Leman Russ tanks drove off into the night, dust rising behind them. Three hours later, once the fate of the tank regiments was made known by Mechanicus recon-drones, the apoplectic Lord Marshal was shot in the back of the head in the Fortress' primary strategium by his commissar, command devolving to the High Magos.

"Here they come," Alexa whispered a bit too loudly as dust rose on the horizon, and forty-eight gigantic flying machines passed in V-formation above the fortress.

Flames filled the horizon, then smoke.

"Plasma bombs, the sort Starhawk bombers use against capital ships," Feyren informed the crowd of paling officers. "Now, pursuit is authorized. There are still seven million orks out there, but they're completely disorganized and already running back to the Roks, where the idiots aren't fighting each other for authority."

The strategium's hololiths briefly focused on a thick flight of gunships, before the starfighters finished their first few passes and returned to base to rearm.

"Activating mine fields," the flames this time, if anything, rose even higher, the earth shaking beneath their feet.

"The only good ork is an incinerated ork," the High Magos remarked. "Best do it at a distance, they're rather vicious up close."

-{ ꙰ꙮ꙰ }-

Segmentum Pacificus
Anastasia Sector
Vista System
7.973.057M40
Archmagos Explorator Elfros Kaiten 101 Epsilon-Orphori

Archmagos Elfros Kaiten 101 Epsilon-Orphori of Blessed Mars canted twelve prayers of thanks to the Omnissiah the microsecond after his Ark Mechanicus Persistence of Vision completed its translation into the Materium at the Mandeville point of the Vista System.

His subordinates were a set of well-oiled cogs and did not require orders to provide him with a status report.
"Moderate damage to Frigate Inocular and Destroyer Plasteel Shield, minor damage to Light Cruisers Esperant, Cognitor Vermis, Magos Exvar and the Cruiser Exegesis of Order. All systems online, machine spirits are appeased, system traffic is unusually heavy," reports came in one by one, and the Archmagos frowned, if only mentally.

One of the reasons he'd volunteered for the centennial review of this Forge World was because of its reputation for high grade Warp-tech systems, and it was clearer than ever that his flotilla required such focused repairs.

From Explorator reports, one could even purchase teleportariums at Vista, which was an unheard of rarity, especially as the price was known to be merely high, rather than truly prohibitive.

The Vista system, like all the twelve forges that upstart Eladria had won from her crusade, was a dead system rich in resources. The six inner planets of Vista had evidently been scoured by something which did not merely remove all life on the planets, but also seared away their atmosphere. Beyond those worlds was a thick asteroid belt, a gas giant with eleven moons and an ice giant with four moons.

As the auguries came into focus, he saw how apt the word 'heavy' was in the hololithic display.

Thousands of ships were travelling in orderly lanes, though fewer than twenty percent of the non-Vista affiliated starships passed the asteroid belt, most transports and passenger ships instead docking in fifteen large space stations orbiting the moons of Vista VII and Vista VIII, connected via space-tethers to the surface below.

While the volume of starships did not quite compare with that of the greatest of forges, let alone that of Sol system or even Hydraphur, it was highly impressive for a forge established not even six decades past.

The industrial activity was even more pronounced, with several hundred mining ships notable about the asteroid belt, and promethium refineries, shipyards, orbital manufactories and farms by the dozens glinting in the hololith.

Every planet and moon, and several large asteroids, bore marks of habitation, from industrial sprawls to small hives likely populated by billions. Only the innermost planet could not be clearly scanned, its volcanic nature obscuring the augurs' perception from such distance. Great elevator-cables connected each visible planet to massive space stations.
Raw materials were siphoned from the two giant planets and the belt, fed together with the bounty from many macro-transports and planetary mines into the voracious maw of seven great space-yards and hundreds of manufactorums circling the inner planets, with dozens more under construction.

A brief cant focused the augurs on the one of the space-yards around Vista VI, which his data indicated produced ships for the Imperial Navy and accepted commissions from visiting Mechanicus explorators, trade cartels and rogue traders, his twenty-four mechadendrites freezing as the numbers computed.

Twenty-four Apocalypse-class battleships were under construction there, with the same number of battle-cruisers, sixty more slips full of cruiser-sized vessels, and there were over a hundred lesser warships under construction.

Thirty-one Navy warships, sixty-one civilian transports and fourteen Mechanicus starships were undergoing repairs in a second space-yard about the same planet, with another two-hundred and eighty-six auxiliary ships under construction – including a full six Mass Conveyors!

And these were just two of seven shipyards.

It was only when he recalled the extensive resources granted the local Fabricator in her treaty with Mars and her recruitment rights in several Pacificus hives, which would theoretically allow such industry if used to their greatest extent in the most efficient manner, that his body uncoiled on itself with a sharp buzzing sound and a quickly-muted actinic-blue glow.

Until he attempted to examine the contents of the remaining ships under construction and repair, and could not interpret the output of the augurs. After a microsecond and two blinks, he engaged directly with the machine-spirits and felt their discontent.

There was a stealth field of some sort about the inner space-yards. Considering their size, this was a ridiculous expense for a dubious purpose, as such action was more likely to increase suspicion than alleviate it.

The visible defensive fleet was formidable, but considering the incongruous choice to hide space-yards, the great majority of it was probably hidden in the asteroid belt. His simulations provided eighty-four percent chance of that.
Visible were two Arks Mechanicus, each thirteen kilometers in length and sporting a nova cannon, as were four Apocalypse-class battleships, seventeen battle-cruisers, sixty-eight cruiser-sized ships and six hundred and fourteen ships of lower tonnage. The lexmechanics estimates indicated that sixty eight percent of the starships below cruiser-weight were defensive monitors.

This, of course, was in addition to the orbital defense grids about each planet, space station and yard. The Archmagos opened his mouth to transmit orders, then closed it with an audible click, mechadendrites rising into a defensive posture.
A burst of golden light that somehow failed to be blinding faded away, revealing the semi-translucent form of a golden-haired, blue-eyed and rather pale woman in a form-fitting shipsuit of dark hue, the starburst and cog on her breast making her allegiance clear to all. His databanks indicated that she was within three percent of the theoretical ideal of human beauty.

"Welcome to Vista, Archmagos. I am High Magos Rytania, Warden of the Outer Reaches. There is urgent news, and your presence is required. I will teleport you to the Fabricator."

There was no time to protest, as he was suddenly elsewhere, the warp-transition so quick that his instruments were barely able to measure anything, and the damage to his systems was immeasurably small.

The stooped Archmagos, taller than a Space Marine even with his unbecoming posture, the blatantly inhuman metal-form mostly hidden in the red robes of a Martian tech-priest, had appeared in a small, bare store-house. In its exact center was…

"This is a Standard Template Construct my explorators retrieved from an underhive of Necrumunda," another beautiful woman whose appearance was almost identical to that of the 'Warden of the Outer Reaches' (to within 4.766108%) said with such gravity and weight behind her voice he could not help but believe.

Before he could utter a single cant of praise to the Omnissiah, she continued, "Or rather, this is a full and undamaged colonial STC database, holding a full twelve thousand complete and undamaged STCs."

His systems required nearly a minute to adjust to the shock.

"I will…"

"Inform Blessed Mars to send a fleet to retrieve this blessed gift of the Omnissiah and place it on the Altar of All Knowledge in Olympus Mons. Your fleet alone is insufficient against what the forces of ignorance and darkness will mobilize against this inestimable treasure. You have twelve minutes to commune with the sacred database," a brief binary cant provided the complex passwords needed for such a holy endeavor, "to verify my words. You will then be teleported back to your ship. Mars must mobilize a proper fleet for this. As for my rewards," the elegant binary data-stream was short and decisive.

The rewards requested were utterly ridiculous. Measured against the discovery, the culmination of the Quest for Knowledge, they were just as utterly meaningless and trivial.

"I will convey your words to the Fabricator General and the Parliament of Mars," was his curt response, almost trembling as he bent to approach the holographic terminal of the four-meter tall… complete and undamaged STC database.
Emotion overwhelmed his mechanical heart, and with rising wonder he shouted: "The Omnissiah provides!"

-{ ꙰ꙮ꙰ }-

Segmentum Pacificus
Anastasia Sector
Tanelorn System
Planet Tanelorn
IV
7.974.057M40

I nodded to myself as the telepathic communion with my daughter in Vista faded away.

The trap was set, for any and all forces inimical to humanity.

Oh, the STC database in the system was the real thing, the original in fact. But all eleven other 'old' Forges in north-central Pacificus had a full copy, as did the seventeen in Ultima Segmentum, the thirteen in Obscurus, the twenty-nine in Tempestus, and the remaining thirty-six scattered about in the western and southern fringes of Pacificus.

It was possible that this would be the last time I communicated with Vista, or perhaps the measures I'd taken and more recently put in motion would suffice for a grand victory. I'd almost certainly triggered a Black Crusade somewhat early, and every Dark Mechanicum Hell-forge would send everything they could spare for the assault.

The Dark Eldar would likely come, the Eldar might, such a conflict might attract the Orks… it was a perfect storm.
Even in total Imperial defeat, I'd ensured that no one would have any chance whatsoever to plunder any precious knowledge, and their armies and navies would take a severe beating, of that much I was absolutely certain.

The defenses included more than six hundred and seventy thousand Starfire X-wings, not to mention the hidden fleets and war-stations equipped with super-capital cannons that Apocalypse-class battleships could not power… or the hidden nova, gravitic and vortex minefields.

Which didn't even account for the planetary defenses, thick orbital grids or fleet. The titan legion, knights, battle-automata of the Legio Cybernetica or the thousands of war-regiments and psyker-choirs, all itching for a fight in the Omnissiah's name.

The astropathic messages had been sent from Vista, on the heels of the strident ones that arrogant Archmagos from Mars bleated to his masters.

To several fortress-nodes of the Imperial Navy and Guard, including Hydraphur, to Forge Worlds with significant fleets (other than Stygies VIII), to thirty-seven Astartes chapters, to eight Black Templar Crusade Fleets, to the Cadian High Command and Cypra Mundi.

Cadia would be fortified. The trail a Black Crusade must take would have obstacles placed.

It would not be enough, I was rather certain.

Vista would receive reinforcements, likely significant reinforcements, and templates would be given out in reward. The risk of a Warp Storm enveloping the system or sector were non-existent, a large number of my strengthened daughters were ready in large psyker choirs empowered by great psy-technological wonder-works that in sum whole might just possibly rival the Astronomicon, prepared for such an attempt.

The counter-strike would be devastating and the fingers of the Warp Abominations would burn in golden flames.
When I incarnated inside Fabricator Eladria Naxos Gamma-5269 I was subsumed. How can the mentality of an ordinary human from a peaceful part of twenty-first century Earth survive the impact of more than two centuries of memories, some of them enough to drive a Cadian veteran to insanity? Yeah, Warp-tech mastery wasn't the safest tech-specialty one could choose.

Before that, however, I'd had my say. My choices seemed clever, but they destroyed everything that I was. I would have wept and whined, not necessarily in that order, but Eladria? It took her less than five minutes to parse the information I brought with me and settle on an optimal course of action to mitigate the risks I'd brought with my bounty.

In the universe of Warhammer 40k, you needed enormous personal power or a very high position to make a difference, and most times even that wasn't enough. For example, of all the many Ecclesiarch High Lords of Terra, only Sebastian Thor had any fame remaining more than three millennia later, and his practical influence had been entirely diluted by the greedy fools in the Ministorum.

I'd spent my points well, if not wisely.

Yes, it was a point-based character creation system. I was initially relieved and amused. I took it too lightly.

First, I tried to cheat. Of course. To earn bonus points for all the lovely, lovely options. Greed can backfire.

I succeeded, at least in some measure. Choosing to start in day one of M40 gave me a rather large bonus, for example. They call it Warhammer 40K, but the actual game chronology started mid-M41, or so I vaguely recalled. The cost of starting even earlier entailed prodigious costs, alas.

For all that, I had four literal deadlines to race against. Failing any of them would result in my annihilation, body and soul.

Three factions. I had one thousand years to remove three factions of Warhammer 40k from play, if not necessarily destroy them completely.

The Eldar, the Dark Eldar and the Tau.

The Tau might sound easy for a senior Mechanicus Fabricator with major resources.

It might well be so, if not for the fact that those bastards were hidden within a Warp Storm, and it wouldn't fade for well over fifteen hundred years, according to the original timeline. That gave me plenty of bonus points, yay me. The most out of all my choices, in fact, more than triple my starting points. The impossible always takes a little more effort…

In theory, the plan was simple. Send a large force through the Webway to break them. For the Eldar and Dark Eldar, destroying the Webway would essentially be the same as removing them from play. It essentially barred them from FTL travel, as their souls shone beacon-like to Warp predators, making Warp passages not far from suicide.

It sounded easy, to someone with a superficial knowledge of the setting and plenty of points to spend.

Oh, there was a fourth deadline, just to put the sugar on top. Destroy fifteen-hundred Necron Tomb Worlds, again within a thousand years. Considering their technology and the chance of encountering C'tan shards and fully functional World-Engines, that was no less frightening. Quite daunting, in truth.

I grunted softly, patting the sleek brown hair of the woman between my thighs, and she quickly and with practiced efficiency withdrew my cock from her mouth, my spurting cum filling the third stasis-container of the day.

Sex might be all that to a man of Earth, but to a Mechanicus Magos? Not so much. The thrill was mostly gone after more than fifty years of a minimum of eight daily orgasms, though the pleasure was still intense enough that I didn't resent the need for it.

I'd spent my points as a horny man, but it worked out surprisingly well.

There was the public (if restricted) knowledge, and there was the even more dazzling reality. Even if the Emperor died, there would still be a source of golden light and Anathema (to Chaos) energy in myself and my daughters.

Warp beacons, presumably what the Federation of prior to Old Night used, could theoretically replace the Astronomicon, and I'd already build many and sold more, labeled as navigation aids. Hopefully, a full replacement wouldn't become necessary.

I was a natural psyker, starting out at Eta-rank, with a maximum natural power growth of a Gamma-level psyker (which made it affordable), with notably increased control – and proficient in all known fields of practice. Gamma might not sound like much, but in truth, it was quite terrifying – more than most of those silly superheroes of Earth fiction could accomplish.
Yes, I could beat the Hulk, Iron Man and Thor. Working together. You could add Spiderman and Wonder Woman, and it wouldn't do much against soul-burning pyromantic flames, Doom Vortex attacks, Life Leeching or Psychic Shrieks.
My daughters started at Zeta, maxing at Delta in power. Grand-daughters needed a ritual to awaken their potential and maxed out at Eta-rank.

In addition, we could reverse polarity at will, changing Warp-affinity to Warp-rejection, becoming a blank. The blank genes presumably came from my progenitor. Since we were all immune to corruption, that wasn't nearly as useful as I'd hoped, and cost considerably too much.

Of course, that power ranking was the natural way. I did cheat, remember?

I left myself three messages while discarding most other knowledge of the setting (yes, for more points). The first was to investigate Perlia in the UItima Segmentum, in all haste. With the expense of mobilizing a single exploratory fleet, that gave me the Shadowlight, an Old One device which could be used to provide psykers with a massive increase in power. It was a better trump card than I'd ever hoped for.

The second was yet another reason for the upcoming assault against Vista, though I wasn't fool enough to keep it there. The Eye of Night was retrieved from the Gothic Sector by stealth and might, though I deliberately left a thin trail leading back to Vista.

It was an ancient Eldar artifact that functioned as a key to activate the defenses and mobility of their Talismans of Vaul, what the Imperium called Blackstone Fortresses, impressive battle-stations that survived the heights and depths of the War in Heaven, sixty million years ago. Its other functions and uses remained stubbornly out of reach.

Divination showed that it was a lynchpin in the plans of Chaos, so there you go.

Third was a message saying only Necromunda and caution. That gave me that lovely STC database, which was nowhere near to the sum-all of the knowledge the Dark Age of Technology had at its fingertips, but it was still a lovely gift and a treasure trove that would keep on giving for a long, long time.

My biggest demand from Mars and the Mechanicus was 1,728 Forge Worlds in each Segmentum other than Sol, preferably in the fringe or near hot spots, to serve as a barrier against forces inimical to mankind. Each with massive resource gifts and no tithes for five centuries, with my current Forge Worlds being forever exempt from tithes.

If they acquiesced to half of this, I'd have more than sufficient resources to deal with the Webway in a couple of centuries.

Keeping control of hundreds of forge worlds wasn't as difficult as you'd think, when the education and brainwashing was that efficient. Not to mention security monitoring. Especially so when my meddling was minimal. I wasn't that ambitious, in truth, more interested in advancing technology and making use of it Imperium-wide rather than being in command or control.

My beautiful and talented daughters, some of them enhanced by elder sorcery to Alpha or Alpha-plus power, have already begun to infiltrate every aspect of everything in the Imperium. From the Inquisition to the Administratum, with the Ministorum being particularly easy to advance in.

Rogue traders, chartist captains, Hive nobles, Agri-world governors, Cartel directors, Navy starship commanders or Aeronautica air marshals – everywhere they went technology improved, as did quality of life and defenses.

With my plans and inherent powers, I was of the firm belief that Chaos could be dealt with. I remained truly wary of the C'tan and the Silent King, and something I knew that I wasn't aware of. It was a foreboding feeling, and it was probably a good thing I only needed three or so hours of sleep every four days.

Another three hours and another load of cum drained from my cock, and I'd finished the day's administrative work for the Forge World of Tanelorn. Yes, I'd switched out with this Forge's Fabricator, as I wasn't replaceable, even if my daughters could mate with each other to produce their own equals, it was not sustainable – or so divination showed.
Not that she, or any of my more powerful and capable daughters fighting there, would be sacrificed. In this galaxy, losses of tens of millions of soldiers were par for course, but there were ways around death for those who were important to me, not least myself.

If you were thinking of the vile resurrection methods of the Drukhari Haemonculi, you'd be mostly correct.

It turns out that my creator learned how to extract memories from Eldar brains, one of the reasons he went after them so hard. He certainly learned a lot, though much of it wasn't useful to him. I did inherit the Atlas Infernal from him, stolen from the Black Library. Terribly useful for my plans.

He somehow managed to kill a Harlequin, and while the soul went to the foul xeno's master, the mad clown Cegorach, Lord of Folly and Whim, the Great Fool, a so-called 'god' of the ancient Aeldari and fallen Eldar, the body and brains provided so much information I have yet to fully digest it, as the dead fool was over seventeen thousand years old.
Another crazy old fool, my creator.

One of the must-buys at character creation was, of course, immunity to foresight and divination, inherited in a notable measure. Without that, I wouldn't have lasted very long at all, considering Eldar Farseers and the sorcery of the Ruinous Powers and their slaves.

My own mastery of technology cost a lot. I started out twenty percent more capable and knowledgeable than the average specialized Archmagos in every field of technology, other than the sciences biological and Warp-tech, where I was twenty percent more capable than the very best of the Mechanicus. I also paid for the content of that space-hulk Eladria salvaged before I entered the picture, the anti-matter power source and energized armor costing almost more than I could afford.

It was sufficient expertise to adapt the really unpleasant technology of the Haemonculi to something actually useful, not limited merely to resurrection services, but made possible many medical treatments and enhancement procedures, including regeneration treatments and mind-machine interfaces well above what the Mechanicus considered possible.

I also took an idea from old science fiction, Peter Hamilton's Greg Mandel trilogy, in an attempt to circumvent the necessity of machine spirits and artificial intelligences, creating internal organic sections in the brain which functioned as highly advanced computers, with incredible processors and bio-databases capable of equaling if not exceeding the capacity of high-level artificial intelligences, if only when used in tandem by several dozen tech-adepts.

Yeah, dozen and dozen and dozen. Twelve being the sacred number of the Mechanicus, I was rather heavily indoctrinated myself and amusingly well aware of it, having delicately removed the more useless and annoying parts of the creed from my cranium. Very cautiously.

I added external and implanted reinforcement to the brain-comps, and supported them with hard-wired crystal-based virtual intelligences that would be difficult to corrupt, since their matrix was set and immovable, only the output changeable, with any alteration to their nature resulting in destruction.

For myself and my descendants, our mechadendrites were sourced from our long hair, directly connected to our brain and capable of direct mind-machine interface.

More than that, I abandoned binary-based programming, using base-twelve instead. It made hacking our systems near impossible, and acted as an incredible base defensive line against scrap-code meant for Mechanicus devices.

Thus far it has worked better than expected, though it naturally meant that the best output of my forges was useless to outside forces, such as the Imperial Navy or the rest of the Mechanicus.

The real treat I paid for wasn't shared with anyone.

Advanced nanites, including the medical version.

That alone was what allowed for the incredible resource extraction, ridiculous production quotas and much of the biological enhancements. Divinations also helped with locating mineral lodes. Of course, my foresight in spending a few points on trade with the Hive Worlds was almost as important, as it granted me the requisite manpower.

Each Hive World in my network sent a minimum of ten million well-educated youths to their contracted Forge World every year. It meant nothing to the rulership (those I had yet to subvert), some killed more for fun and games, or to suppress dissent. Or burn heretics, or whatever mad hubris struck them. Imperial nobility could be rather… eccentric.
Ideally, each of my Forges would contract twelve hives and a hundred forty-four civilized, industrial, mining and agri-worlds. If I managed to expand according to projections, it would make for a significant improvement to a notable percentage of humanity's homeworlds.

One person would find it impossible to truly affect the galaxy, even the Emperor realized that. Witness his Thunder Warriors, Space Marines and Primarchs. It was a numbers game, even the superior Necron technology could be overwhelmed with enough numbers, if the tech-base behind them was adequate.

Without their Dolmen Gates and other technology which relied on the existence of the Webway, dealing with those nihilistic metal crazies would be much easier, that's for certain. At least the Eldar brain trust gave me the location, if sometimes approximate, of several thousand tomb-worlds.

I was also planning on improving the technology and procedures used by the Administratum outside Segmentum Solar, and expected to see real improvement there in five centuries or so.

The Ministorum would be much easier, as a lot of the faith was real (and I found it to be well-deserved, even if I was aware of the likely lack of true 'divinity', as it was defined by the Warp monsters and abominations, be they Eldar gods or entities of even purer evil and chaos), and I was already making inroads through almost three percent of Segmentum Pacificus.

The Inquisition was unexpectedly easy to infiltrate, as they were quick to snatch up exceptional people as agents and acolytes, and my daughters were a few steps above merely exceptional, and utterly incorruptible to boot.

Moreover, my attempt to legitimize my psyker powers through the Fabricator General hadn't quite worked out, only succeeding with the assistance of the Ordos. Their price was in manpower and high quality equipment, so the infiltration was something they invited.

Twelve thousand of my daughters entered the Inquisition's service every year, at their insistence – adult and fully educated, at mine. The Mechanicus received twice that number in navigators and astropaths.

For all my intentions to 'infiltrate' and conduct reforms, I was purely hands-off in such matters. I merely needed to give 'good' and 'properly educated' people with power the chance to do what they wanted, and form the basis for a cooperative network between them, be they my daughters or the children of former hive-gangers or nobility educated in my schools.

The recognition signs were easy and simple, not the slightest bit covert, and could not be taken as a cult or a conspiracy.

My daughters were easily recognizable for their beauty, with the exchange of a few sentences enough to settle any doubt. For others, they merely needed to boast about their schools and education and use a few recognizable sayings. Initial recognition would be followed by exchanging school-yard tales, which were rather difficult to fabricate – especially when dealing with enhanced people who could read body language.

"How can we rest when the Emperor suffers for us on the Golden Throne in Holy Terra?"

"The Emperor protects, and it is our duty to live up to his example. We can of course never truly succeed, but only by trying and striving to do our utmost to live up to his ideals and example can we truly serve the God-Emperor and the Imperium."

Such were excellent examples, in fact the core tenet of the creed I drilled into their skulls. Do more, be more, never rest until you have done all you can, and even then be ready to act if you are called upon.

It is the apathy of the people, be they on Earth or Terra or any old hive or civilized world, that allows for evil to be done. There's nothing I can do, we tell ourselves, and fall prey to despair and inaction, to the Enemy that is Nurgle.

Perhaps one person cannot do much, but together? I believe there's no limit to what humanity can achieve, if we just get off our butts and try our best. Of course, such enthusiasm and avidity are easily misdirected and misinformed.

That's what the high quality education was all about, as it included painful lessons concerning the results of greed and selfishness, and punishing classes on teamwork both theoretical and practical. Networking informed, enhanced and highly educated people who were properly brainwashed made it difficult to push them on a wrong path.

Oh well. Time for fighting practice.

Yes, I made time for that. It really wouldn't do to get rusty, resurrection wasn't a perfect life-saving measure, and I was a big target for those in the know. Even if my life model decoys were much better than anything ol' Fury could dream of,
there was no 'enough' where safety was concerned in the war-torn reaches of the Warhammer 40k universe.

I'd forgotten and let go of a lot, but that much I recalled.

It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you, and you can't see them.