The vast majority of vehicles and starships used by the Vista Forge Worlds require both physical augmentation and a mind-machine interface of certain minimal performance, and it has been repeatedly noted that tech-priests from other forge worlds cannot properly repair or maintain them, due to numerous proprietary tech-secrets used in their creation.

Investigation of four sector-level Imperial Navy fleets near Vista and five more such distant fleets which purchased starships and fixed defenses from the Vista-forges shows that the starships provided were standardized to a high degree, with automated and sophisticated auto-loading systems in place for torpedoes and macrocannons, with backup manual systems and contra-grav sleds for use in case of battle damage or system failure, and servitor-support for more complex operations, including shrouding measures, augur interpretation and targeting arrays.

The internal arrangements of the ships were identical and logical rather than maze-like, crew quarters were comfortable if not luxurious, and intra-ship travel was easy and swift. This does not mean that internal security was neglected, quite the opposite. The arrangements for counter-boarding defense and general security and monitoring do not verge on the paranoid, they go well beyond that.

Hidden turrets and armories, deadly trap-fields (the deadliest is the gravity crush, inescapable to the best of my knowledge, and utterly lethal), surveillance arrays allowing for the annihilation of all life in pre-programmed sectors that are typically targeted for infiltration in the particular ship-type, liberal use of defensive force-fields in support of internal redoubts, a tracking system for armory-issued weapons, and so much more.

I pity the fool pirate who tries to board and steal a Vista-produced navy starship, as even with all the armsmen, ratings and officers dead, the ship itself is trapped to a frightening degree. I did not understand a third of the information the Vista tech-adepts provided, but the security of such ships is several orders of magnitude beyond what we expect of our starships, possibly beyond what we are capable of understanding.

I was also informed that the internal configuration of the ships was modular and reinforced in some manner due to the shape and internal armoring of the modules, but this seemed unimportant compared to the survivability offered by the energized armor of these starships, which makes frigates as tough and difficult to destroy as a battleship.

Of course, assuming the internal armoring is also energized, such starships may be close to indestructible. The explanation was sufficiently technical in language that point was never properly clarified to my satisfaction. The answer I received was 'depending', but I could not understand exactly what it depended on. The tech-priests in my entourage were properly excited, but their explanation was, if anything, even less comprehensible.

In addition, the navigator and astropath chambers were provided with psy-matrices of exceeding complexity that were beyond the understanding of the Hydraphur tech-priests I brought with me, as well as the local ones. The psykers in both cases reported vastly increased efficiency, on the order of eighty-plus percent improvement. Crews did not fear the Warp, navigators did not mutate and unfailingly guided such ships in a timely manner, and the astropathic relays were considerably faster and more reliable.

While the void shields were not exceptional, the clever arrangement of shield-emitters and the machine-spirit instructions allowed for quick-shifting of loads and lowering of a void shield (for those ships which possess more than one layer) before over-capacity is reached, allowing for swift reactivation.

The warp-engines and Gellar-fields were likewise beyond the understanding of the tech-priests, but inquiries across all ranks and specialties showed a massive improvement in comfort, mental stability and survival rates across the board when considering the lengths of time spent in warp-travel. Logis calculated a two-hundred and sixty-two percent increase in efficiency across the starships' lifetime due to sophisticated warp-tech, and that did not factor in morale issues.

Another impossible improvement is the speed and maneuverability of Vista-built starships. In addition to vastly upgraded and more efficient plasma drives, enginariums and thrusters, such ships possess a gravitic array which cuts their effective mass for acceleration and vector-change purposes by a factor of six. It is not quite enough for these new Apocalypse-class battleships to equal the speed of Eldar battleships, but they are in fact faster than speed-focused escorts.

Moreover, the plasma engines incorporate tractor-beams that pull back much of the ejected mass from the thrusters, which is thereafter repurposed for fuel once again by means of an esoteric process. Calculations indicate a twenty-eight decrease in fuel consumption, and the lack of plasma trail also contributes to the generally impressive shrouding measures.

The power-plants of these ships are another wonder, providing a never-ending supply of energy, allowing for functional excellence going beyond the one-hundred percent commonly calculated for navy ships. This also means that the energy weapons and shields are only limited by their own materials and construction.

While the power plants are esoteric in nature, the secrets of their creation transmitted to Mars alone, the maintenance instructions are sufficiently clear most tech-priests specialized in the field can keep them functional and free of danger. Repair and replacement, however, require contribution from Vista-forges or their magi to avoid apocalypse-grade explosions.

The default programming of the power plant is for shut-down rather than explosive reaction, but the Vista magus I spoke with confirmed with manifest sadness that it is theoretically possible for the crazier sort of tech-priest to detonate the reactor, though it would be difficult and would have to be deliberate, which is to say no different than our current circumstances. Rather a better situation, upon reflection, as they would have to work to accomplish it, and there would be warnings provided, rather loud alerts in fact.

Logistics and supply issues were carefully taken into consideration. Every ship has hydroponics of unbelievable efficiency. It is not for nothing that Vista is famed for its mastery of matters biological. The general storage, access and transport arrangements are so efficient as to be nearly inhuman.

"Is losing a replacement part not a cause for immediate spacing in the Imperial Navy?"

That is what one Vista tech-adept asked, truly.

The ships' repair, navigation, targeting and augur servitors are, needless to say, extremely efficient. Moreover, they are aesthetically pleasing, very much unlike what one would expect from the Mechanicus.

Given the overall increased functionality and automation, rating numbers can be safely decreased by thirty-two percent across the board. Automated turrets, advanced weaponry and death traps allow for a similar reduction in armsmen, especially with the supporting Vista tech-adepts all being combat-trained and heavily armed. It should be noted that the general efficiency of such ships is reduced by using other cogboys, anywhere between fourteen and twenty-nine percent, or so evidence suggests.

In addition to the renowned Apocalypse-class battleship Vista-forges have restored to the lists of Imperial Navy starships the Imperium is capable of constructing, they make available to the navy the Sting-class destroyer, the Lancer-class frigate, the Swarm-class heavy frigate, the Dauntless-class light cruiser, the Vista-pattern Lunar-class cruiser, the Indomitable-class heavy cruiser, and the Mars and Overlord classes of battle-cruisers.

While Vista-forge tactics are heavily focused on carriers and the use of starfighters, with almost every ship carrying at least a squadron or two of X-wings, the ships provided to the Imperial Navy and various SDFs do not include such measures. The only carriers they sell are the Swarm and Mars classes, well fitted for Fury Interceptors, Starhawk Bombers and Shark Assault Boats.

I was informed that Vista is designing improved versions of these starfighters, with the versions they currently produce being a notable but not outrageous improvement over the standard machines. It is my recommendation that a naval liaison be provided to Vista, so that the Admiralty can offer its insights and influence the resulting improvements, not just for starfighter development but across the board.

The Sting-class destroyers take their inspiration from Cobra-class torpedo ships. They have only three prow-tubes, but given their automatic systems, the rate of fire is dazzling. These destroyers hold more than eight hundred torpedoes in their inventory, and can fire them all in less than ten minutes. This does not leave them merely to defensive duties with their numerous and efficient turrets, as they also hold two dorsal turreted capital lances, allowing them to contribute effectively to the battle-line.

The range of these lances is such that ordinary escorts will not be able to get to effective firing range with anything other than torpedoes, if these destroyers are not outnumbered at least three to one (even when out of torpedoes). This makes the Sting-class destroyers excellent for duties for which we currently employ light cruisers. These destroyers possess sizable rearmament shuttles which allow them to refill their magazines from a dedicated ammunition-supply transport within a mere three hours.

The Lancer-class frigate is a battle-line combatant, clearly being an improvement of the Firestorm-class frigate. Its prow bears two super-capital grade lances with performance equal to that of the Apocalypse-class broadside lance batteries. The frigate also has three capital macrocannons on each broadside and many defensive turrets. It is fast, deadly and reliable, and a flotilla has brought down a traitor battleship on its lonesome, with minor losses (see the Kortalla Secundus incident, report number [Redacted]).

The Swarm-class heavy frigate holds lance armament identical to that of the Sting-class destroyer, replacing its torpedoes with a complement of twelve squadrons of starfighters. The ship is also easily modified to suit the needs of the Aeronautica, by design. It is a formidable carrier, its only glaring weakness being the limited space for munitions, and it also possesses a set of custom shuttles allowing for swift rearmament, as well as an advanced repair bay allowing its tech-adepts to restore and rebuild even wrecks of starfighters and Marauder-class bombers, given the requisite raw materials.

The Vista-pattern Lunar-class replaces the forward torpedo tubes with a cruiser-scale nova cannon. The captains and admirals I have spoken with are quite pleased with the results, given the firing speed and accuracy of the cannon. This pattern is also somewhat larger in width and height, and has proven its worth in several hard battles.

The Indomitable-class heavy cruiser is in practice a modernized variant of the Indrajit-class heavy cruisers used in the times of the Great Crusade. It is a heavily armored shield-ship designed to close with opponents, with twice the macrocannon batteries of a Lunar and similar lance armament. With armor and shielding equal to or even superior to that of some battleships, it has proven itself in close quarters space battles against Ork fleets, attracting their attention and frequently surviving such perils, including multiple successful ramming attempts by escort-sized ork scrap-ships. Given its lack of long-ranged weapons, it is not to be deployed on its lonesome.

The only significant problem with starships provided by the Vista-forges is the misleading sense of invincibility their heavy defenses, unmatched speed and powerful weapons imbue upon prideful commanders. It is recommended that captains assigned such ships go through exercises and simulations in which they and their ships fail, repeatedly, to drive this lesson home.

In addition, tech-priests sourced from forge worlds which do not answer to Vista may attempt to plumb their secrets, generally resulting in dead tech-priests and scrapped ships. Given that all such ships are provided with the tech-adepts required for their maintenance and a magus or three by their manufacturer, it is my recommendation that replacement tech-crews be requisitioned solely from Vista-forges.

Excerpt from the report of Admiral Miles Naismith to Hydraphur Fleet Command, 062M40

Segmentum Pacificus

Anastasia Sector

Vista System

666,666 Kilometers outside Heliosphere


There is little doubt among the Magi and Archmagi of Vista as to what constitutes the greatest known work of psy-technology remaining in this fallen galaxy.

It is the Webway.

Information retrieved from Eldar minds by the heretek-progenitor fails to date its creation, but its construction is confirmed with Alpha-grade certitude to have taken place more than sixty-five million years ago, made by the reptilian Old Ones who raised the primitive Aeldari into weapons of war for the War in Heaven.

Even the most partial and fragmented recollection and legend affirm that the entirety of the Horus Heresy barely counts as a single great battle in this most horrifying conflict that has since shaped the galaxy, its shadows present in the depths of the no longer peaceful Immaterium, in the Tomb-Worlds of the Necrons, in the imprisoned and possibly few free shards of the Old Ones' ancient foes, the Star-Eaters, the C'tan.

The Astronomicon is a candle to a bonfire when compared to the Webway, a dimensional redoubt-realm of immense size, constructed of psi-reactive material in the interstices between the material and the Warp, which once led to the vast majority of the systems and planets over the vastness of the galaxy, turning journeys of light years into sedate walks of a few hours through its vast corridors and flight paths, as the distribution of webway-gates allowed.

It might well be the only product of xenos ingenuity the Emperor genuinely admired and desired to copy, though even that is no longer remembered outside the ranks of the Custodes. It is certain to have contained ancient wonders of psy-tech beyond our comprehension, but the only one who recalls their existence and function is the clown-godling Cegorach, and he isn't sharing.

It is now the primary life-artery of the Eldar-xenos, the sole remnant of their degenerate and ruinous empire, its habitation-spires a mockery of true civilization, a cesspit of torture and horror that even the daemonic worlds sometimes fail to equal. Its depths also hide the Black Library, a repository of cursed lore and the reputed lair of the Harlequin faction of the Eldar, Cegorach's servants.

Given the deadlines involved in the conditional continuous existence of the Fabricator of Vista, it would surprise no one in the know that this realm was the subject of intense studies by the best warp-tech masters of the Vista-forges, directly supervised by their mistress.

It is an ancient adage that creation is always more difficult than destruction, and this holds true for the Webway as well. The focused study of thousands of genius and augmented minds, many of them psykers with the support of esoteric devices, over decades, has produced limited results.

Destruction, however, was well within the present means of Vista.

With the auguries indicating a Dark Mechanicum fleet of prodigious size approaching, in addition to a Dark Eldar fleet of even greater size, mustered in haste to effect 'revenge', the command went through, and one of the surviving beacons within which nestled Virtual Intelligence Gorgontide executed it with immediacy and a lack of emotion, with a singular coded transmission-burst.

Fourteen minutes later, a carefully calculated small section of the Webway failed, died, exploded, vented its contents in small portions into both the Materium and the Empyrean, and with it ended the last would-be attackers.

Approximately three hundred and twelve battleships, with a corresponding number of lighter units, divided nearly equally between the traitor hereteks and the vile Druikhari, it was a combination of fleets powerful enough to mount a credible assault upon Holy Terra, given their advanced technology and general capabilities – especially when recalling how unprepared the system was for a direct, almost inconceivable attack.

In less than a minute, these fleets were no more, and Vista's convenient entryway into the wonderwork of the Webway was gone.

Vista VI


Vimana-class Starfort Omnissiah's Greetings

High Magos Avaereene Voltos Hyphen SRV-007

Protector-class starforts were designed to protect important systems. There weren't many fleets that could survive the attentions of a trio of such mighty battle-stations.

The Vimana-class starforts, named after the mythological flying palaces of Hindu myth, the god-chariots, were designed to be theoretically capable of surviving battles against Necron World-Engines when working in trios, with the support of several battle-fleets.

With two-hundred and eight-two percent of the internal volume of the venerable Ramilies-class starfort, it featured gravitic weapons and psychic cannons that would hopefully be able to contend against the might of a Death-Star equivalent, a mobile war-moon that had survived the fires of the War in Heaven and contended against the Blackstone Fortresses and the impossible green tide of the Krork, incomparably greater than the comparative nuisance presented by their degenerate descendants, the Orks.

It was the most powerful (semi-)mobile fighting asset in Vista's arsenal, and the selections to command the first of its kind had been brutal.

High Magos Avaereene leaned back into the comforting grasp of her command throne, and did not bother to utter the order, sending it mentally instead.

As the multitude of shrouding arrays dissipated, multiple avalanches of firepower descended upon the remnants of the Dark Mechanicum fleet which had managed to pass by the asteroid belt, enduring dozens of pin-point strikes from Lancer-class frigates, Sting-class destroyers and Starfire wings, a stupendous barrage to which its remaining ponderous capital and super-capital ships could not provide an adequate response.

The strident welcome offered by the Vimana-class Starfort Omnissiah's Greetings and its accompanying fleet was more than the battered remnants, a trifle more than twenty-two percent of the tonnage they had remaining after the ambush at the Webway gate, could withstand.

Daemon-ships crumpled before apocalypse-tier psychic cannons, as their brethren melted before nova-blasts and gravitic implosion strikes, the ragged remains dealt with via multiple scalpel-like barrages of torpedoes. Psykers confirmed kills and noted those ships merely playing dead, which received visits from squadrons of X-wing bombers. Other Forge Worlds would be forced, by common wisdom, to toss the corrupted remains into the sun, for fear of memetic infection by daemonic contagion.

In anticipation of the coming bounty of metal and plas, several large smelters had been constructed in the depths of the Vista system, with augmented stations allowing for psychic golden-fire to lase and melt away any such residual horrors.

As the cleanup operation commenced and the great starfort and its accompanying fleet spun into formation on a new heading, the High Magos could feel the second great psychic attack launched by the gathered war-choirs, smile widening as the Terminus Est vaporized in a cloud of golden flames, sensing the struggle in the Empyrean as the bound souls of its corrupted crew were shattered into tiny inchoate and discarnate motes.

Typhus would not rise as a daemon-prince, and the weight of Nurgle's corrosive regard pushed back against the Dome of Serenity for long minutes, the tens of thousands of consecrated psykers and complex machinery holding against the greatest of abomination, if at a cost.

Dozens of tech-adepts and magi burned to ashes, imploded or merely stilled in death as their souls collapsed. Crystalline matrices fractured as power lines of gold and pure light melted or shattered. Replacements lit up as nanobots began to repair or rebuild damaged stations, and more psykers were fed into the fray.

As more Alpha and Alpha-plus powered recovered from the targeted purification-ritual, the protection steadied and grew back to its full measure, as planet-sized mounds of immaterial rot and puss burned away against hope and heart-flame, a brief scream of hate and despair sounding as Immaterial fingers were scalded and withdrew.

Three of the Great Enemy's fleets were gone, and there would be no more convenient reinforcements to bolster their numbers, but four great fleets remained, each almost equaling the power of the first three on their own.

It was almost over.

Mycroft Asteroid City


High Magos Shirley Templor V9-Omega, Warden of the Middle Reaches

The unveiling of the first Vimana-class starfort, the swift and decisive end of the first invading fleet of the Dark Mechanicum and the final death of Typhus and his infamous and dreaded starship – all that had three fleets hesitating and confounded on how to proceed.

Especially since the Omnissiah's Greetings and its accompanying fleet of twenty-four Apocalypse-class battleships and four hundred and sixty-two lighter warships were positioned to intercept all the invaders on their present vector, since their entry into the system had come on the very same origin-path.

The huge World-Eater fleet was quite possibly not capable of hesitating, its speed actually increasing slightly as eagerness for battle consumed them. Berserkers and demon-princes answering to Khorne were not noted for their patience, and while their fleet had shed more than eight percent of its tonnage due to skirmishes and ambushes, and tens of thousands of killers had descended upon the moons and the space stations orbiting them, the skull-takers and blood-spillers had yet to encounter a proper battle.

For all that, the delay was sufficient.

Each of the four fleets, accelerating or hesitating, was struck at near-exactly the same moment. It had required a considerable amount of coordination and careful work, but the initial assault waves, the first real response from Vista, struck with devastating power.

Twelve thousand Starfire X-wings, eleven out of twelve configured for ship-striking duty, appeared all around each of the lumbering fleets, like a cloud of blood-sucking mosquitoes surrounding a tender-skinned fool stumbling into the depths of the swamp, going alligator hunting without proper protection gear.

Even the many augur-stations and data interpreting manifolds failed to convey a full picture of what took place, the density and intensity of fighting were such that entire sections of space sufficient to house multiple planets were briefly set ablaze.

In each case, fewer than eighteen hundred fighting ships, many damaged to differing degrees, were struck by over thirty thousand torpedoes released at near point blank, at an acceleration which did not allow for mortal minds to react with anything approaching effective action. Even daemonic slave-servitors froze at the sudden influx of data, only the coldest hereteks and most degenerated, mutated and corrupted traitors, those directly connected to and mostly subsumed by their star vessel-abominations, making an attempt at defense and counterattack.

It was neither coherent nor effective.

Even the Conqueror, so heavily imbued with the power of the Blood-god, could not stem the tide of more than three thousand torpedoes launched at such insane distances with such velocity.

This was not a defeat or a rout, it was better described as disintegration.

Adding insult to lethal and final injury was a second wave of identical numbers, coming in on precisely the same vectors, completing the annihilation and spending much of its attention on the troop ships, freighters, mostly-empty carriers, titan transports and various support ships, which received comparatively little attention from the first wave of twelve thousand aerospace superiority fighter-bombers, and thus nearly a quarter were left semi-intact.

The battle ended in forty-two minutes.

The debate on the defense-doctrine adopted by Vista would continue for centuries and millennia.

Vista VIIIc

Underhive Helios


Choir-mistress Elena Mandrigan

The battle in normal-space was won, that much was inarguable.

It was not, however, the end of the conflict.

Doombreed, the ancient daemon-prince of Khorne, was banished.

Its essence, however, lingered in loathing and hate, screaming of the inevitability of its vengeance, having just crossed the divide.

It was a mistake, as not all the choirs were exhausted.

It was a lesson everyone educated in any of Vista's forges learned early, always keep reserves in battle, whenever possible, with the corollary that you always prepared them well before battle. There was no kill like overkill, and there is no overkill. Just 'open fire' and 'reload'. Some of those maxims were self-contradicting, but that merely reflected the complexity of existence.

The simulations and assessments were brutal and unforgiving, and those who did not learn and improve could not advance. Final gambits were for those who gave up on fighting yet another day. Admittedly, sacrifice was not always the wrong choice, and an example of that was soon realized.

The entire Serenity Dome compacted, and a cage of power wrought of the Emperor's auramite-golden solidflame came into being about the roiling red-black essence, the daemonic spirit-being coalescing into seeming-solidity in its war-incarnation of a terrible giant Bloodthirster, the greater daemon's greataxe, suffused with chaos-energy and laden with conceptual death, already swinging at the bars in its way.

The cage grew larger instantly rather than trying to withstand the blow and lose lives as souls burnt away.

Golden angels materialized, girt in majestic shining armor, flaming spears and swords held in gauntleted hands. White-feathered wings and wings of pure golden energy flapped, and the daemon was instantly besieged by a small army of potent foes.

It was far from helpless, however, as the servants of the Lord of Skulls were amongst the most skilled close-quarters combatants in existence, with immeasurable experience and unequalled raw power and ferocity. Moreover, it had Khorne's direct blessing, and not only in the form of several artifacts.

Even with feathers shed, wings and limbs shorn away, few angels perished. Instead, they were diminished, their light falling, fading, as they sacrificed their power rather than their souls. Slowly, bit by bit, stroke by skewer, the ancient daemon's essence bled, burned away and was diminished. Numbers mattered.

Elena blocked a kick she could not dodge in time, feeling her consciousness fading and power dissipating and leaking into the roiling expanse of the aether, at least three souls in her choir shattering.

It might take her another two centuries to heal her soul and return to her strength of yesterday.

No regrets were possible.

Doombreed was no more.

Retribution-class Battleship Emperor's Hammer

Lord Admiral Kornal Naiphus

His cheeks reddened when he recalled his blusterous words, uttered just a few days ago, then turned white at the sudden realization of the complete destruction of fleets which he so recently considered unconquerable, with abominations he could not conceive of truly defeating.

The Imperial Navy fleets under his command had barely managed to enter battle, and the losses they took were still rather considerable. The Mechanicus contingent had slid away, and the rear-guard of the hereteks had pincered too many of his ships, while the ships of the cogboys ground against one flank of a heretek fleet, caught between his ships and those of the treacherous Mechanicus armada.

It had been a force strong enough to delay, rather than defeat the weight of metal the Imperial Navy had mustered, but that was not going to help his performance review. Only the treachery of the cogboys could save him from a court martial.

He had not ignored their liaison and communiques! He was busy doing important things. His two maidservants needed some personal attention to calm their pure, timid hearts.

Tens of thousands of those invisible strike fighters, a monstrous mobile battle-fort that might be able to contend with the greatest of the Imperium's starforts, possibly even the Phalanx. Golden fires burning the likes of Terminus Est, the Conqueror was gone! Emperor protect!

The reports of the navigators, of the God-Emperor's light bringing final death to the daemons, that sounded like the ramblings of corrupted madmen. If he didn't need them, he'd have the commissars shoot the lot.

"Ensign, note that we need to replace this ship's navigators. They are… humph," he finished inconclusively.

Now, he needed a plan.

Blame the Mechanicus for the losses, take the credit for the great victory.

That starfort, the crazy number of deadly starfighters, nobody would want that in the hands of an upstart Forge World.

With a confident stride, he left the Flag Bridge for his personal state room, calling in his advisors.

The wording of the battle-report required careful… consideration, yes. It wasn't like anyone truly favored those crazy cogboys, anyway.

Ark Mechanicus Conor Aeternum

Archmagos Dominus Pherris Telbar Kappa-3391

If he had lungs, the Martian archmagos commanding the hastily mustered reinforcement fleet had no doubt that he would be hyperventilating in agitated triumph and worry.

The logis and lexicanum were still analyzing the results of the battle, and there was no agreement. In fact, there were eighteen losses amongst their ranks, as disagreements became visceral.

He'd heard whispers of the tech-bounty Vista's near-heretek of a flesh-Fabricator provided Mars with, which granted her so much leeway and such rewards. His allies needed to press much harder to receive access to those records, that much was for certain. With a full report provided to many factions in the Martial Parliament, it was possible to call for a vote for this purpose.

Already he was fielding calls from dozens of archmagi of as many Forge Worlds, and a conference was being arranged. The likely consequences had his mechadendrites twitching in annoyance and regret. Mars was going to blame him for subordinate Forge Worlds receiving sacred STC knowledge before it arrived at Olympus Mons.

For his personal safety, the most he could do was delay, that negotiations would take place with Vista until the Martian fleet arrived to take away the holy database, and only then would the STC data be provided. Yes, that was the most he could do, and he needed to have this approved by astropathic relay, before the conference!

With his own astropaths, a speedy response was doubtful, at best. Vista's might be able to manage it, unfortunately its psykers were 'exhausted' by the conflict. They would doubtless be 'busy' soon thereafter, and did he not have his own contingent of astropaths?

So ingeniously false with courtesy and humility, those abominable flesh-things who were not worthy to serve the Omnissiah, by their own claim. Tech-adepts, of course, rather than priests.

His real, urgent problem was what to do with the Forge World representatives from Segmentum Solar, who by treaty with Vista could only receive STC copies from Mars or by the agreement of Mars, and he represented Mars here and now. Fortunately, they were in the minority, and his security was excellent. A quick calculation showed that he only needed to increase it by three hundred and eight percent to achieve peace of mind, and it was possible that some Solar Forge Worlds would actually offer enough to 'persuade' him to grant them a few exceptions.

It would need to be enough to allow him to keep his head and position, at the very least.

Of course, that wasn't all that troubled his calculation engines.

Vista had shown a lot of cards, displayed concerning might.

The real question was, what was it keeping up its sleeve, still wrapped in its tech-shroud?