"The path of the Omnissiah has left humanity dithering in the darkness, incapable of advancing on the paths of knowledge. Embracing the warp reveals technology that the primitives on Mars could never dream of wielding."
- — Magos Caine of the Five-Fold Path
The Dark Mechanicus, also known by its more archaic name as the Dark Mechanicum, is a sect of traitorous Tech-priests and members of the Collegia Titanica of the Adeptus Mechanicus who willingly swore their loyalty to the Warmaster Horus and the Chaos Gods as the Great Crusade came to a close and the terrible galactic conflict known as the Horus Heresy erupted in the early 31st Millennium. After the Horus Heresy ended in a pyrrhic victory for the Imperium, the traitorous Forces of Chaos that had served the Warmaster were driven towards the Eye of Terror during the brutal military campaigns remembered as the Great Scouring. The Renegade Tech-priests of the Dark Mechanicus were also driven from Mars by the resurgent Loyalists amongst the Adeptus Mechanicus. These Renegades fled the Imperium into the far corners of the galaxy and some also took refuge in the Eye of Terror. Over the centuries, their ranks have been swelled by those Hereteks of the Mechanicus who choose to follow their foul path into forbidden tech-heresy. In exile, the Dark Mechanicus became even more enthralled to the power of the Warp and heretical technologies.
A God Incarnate
When the Age of Strife came to an end in the 30th Millennium, the Emperor of Mankind was determined to bring to fruition his future plans for human unity in a very hostile galaxy. He knew the time had come to unite all of humanity under one banner after the destructive birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh in the 30th Millennium reopened the galaxy to Warp travel and communication . With the use of genetically-modified warriors who presaged the development of the first Space Marines, he quickly rose to dominance on Old Earth, uniting the once-divided nations of Mankind's birthplace during the Unification Wars. He then set his sights on the wider galaxy, and with his newly-created Space Marine Legions at the forefront of his great expeditionary fleets, the Emperor launched his Great Crusade out into the void.
When the Emperor had first come to Mars seeking an alliance between his regime and the powerful Cult Mechanicus, the Tech-priests had recognised a kindred spirit; a man of science who valued the power of machines and technological advancement. As word of the "technological divinity" of this strange golden warrior reached the wider populace of Mars after the Emperor's first arrival at the Red Planet atop the mountain of Olympus Mons, some Tech-priests even began to equate the Emperor with the physical embodiment within the universe of their own Machine God -- the Omnissiah. The Emperor forged an alliance with the Mechanicum through the Treaty of Mars -- an alliance of two empires that marked the true foundation of the Imperium of Man. In return for supplying the needed materiel for his armies and building a mighty warfleet in the orbital shipyards of Mars' Ring of Iron for his crusade to reunite the stars, the Emperor promised to protect the Tech-priests and respect the autonomy of their Forge Worlds and their freedom to continue to practice their faith. This was a protection offered despite the official atheism of the Imperial Truth that the Emperor intended to promulgate across all the other worlds of the newborn Imperium.
Dissension in the Ranks
For the masses of Mars, the Omnissiah was now a tangible being, a golden figure who had trod the red surface of Mars. But a small minority believed that the Emperor was nothing more than a False God who had enslaved the Martian Priesthood to his will with lies. This bitter resentment, harboured over the next two centuries, would fester below the surface, until such time when this rancorous hatred would boil over into a terrible rebellion against the authority of this False God. This small sect of dissenters believed the Emperor purposely came to Mars in the guise of the Omnissiah, albeit a false god who came at the head of an army of conquest. The peace that the Emperor had offered the Mechanicus was illusory, a conceit designed to conceal a darker truth. These dissenters believed that the Emperor offered peace with one hand whilst keeping a dagger behind his back with the other. In reality, the Emperor’s offer was an ultimatum, "Join with me or I will simply take what I need from you." Faced with a choice that was no choice at all, the Tech-priests had been forced to bargain away the autonomy of Mars and see the sacred Red Planet become little better than a vassal world of Terra, Mars' ancient rival for leadership among Mankind during the Age of Technology.
Two Terran centuries passed after the signing of the Treaty of Mars, and the individual known as Kelbor-Hal rose to a position of much prominence within the Adeptus Mechanicus. He had become the Fabricator-General of Mars, the master of the Red Planet's mightiest forge city, Olympus Mons. The fact that such an ambitious and duplicitous individual ever rose to prominence and the eventual leadership of the Adeptus Mechanicus is one of the great tragedies of Imperial history. It is remarkable to Imperial scholars of today that an individual as extraordinarily gifted as Kelbor-Hal could be so wrong-headed as to bring so mighty and august a body as the Mechanicus over to the service of heresy and rebellion.
The Fabricator-General knew he should be proud of his accomplishments, for he had uncovered more of the secrets of technology than any before him and had overseen the longest reign of increasing production quotas in the Mechanicum’s history. But pride, like many other emotional responses, had all but vanished as the organic Cogitator once housed in his skull had been gradually replaced with synthetic synapses and efficient conduits for logical thought. The climate on Mars was full of discontent during this tumultuous time in the days just before Horus openly declared his rebellion against the Emperor. There were tense relations between the various Mechanicus Magi who governed Mars, with sporadic outbreaks of espionage and violence being committed against the various forges that represented the primary sociopolitical units of Mars. There were even unconfirmed suspicions that the various Titan Legions of the Collegia Titanica, the most potent military forces available to the Mechanicus, had already secretly chosen sides in case of a potential conflict.
Rise of the Dark Mechanicus
At the outset of the Horus Heresy, the Warmaster Horus sent Regulus, an Adeptus Mechanicus representative who had already thrown in his lot with the Warmaster, to Mars to secure the tentative support of the Fabricator-General of the Adeptus Mechanicus for his dreams of rebellion. Kelbor-Hal was skeptical at first, for the Emperor had been brought to his forge over two centuries earlier, and Kelbor-Hal had been forced to bend the knee to him. The ruler of the once-lowly Terran techno-barbarian tribes had made empty promises of an equal role in his grand crusade of conquest, but that vaunted equality had never materialised in the Fabricator-General's view. The Mechanicus continued to toil in its myriad manufactorums and orbital shipyards across the galaxy's Forge Worlds to provide the Emperor's armies with the needed weapons of war, but received nothing for their efforts but platitudes. Kelbor-Hal knew Horus Lupercal was a warrior of vision, but Kelbor-Hal wanted to know what he could offer in addition to platitudes.
Regulus explained to the Fabricator-General that much had happened since the Emperor took his leave of the expeditionary forces after the success of the Ullanor Crusade and the installation of his favorite son Horus, as the Warmaster and his proxy in command of the Great Crusade. He assured Kelbor-Hal that alignments had shifted and that new powers emerged from the shadows, offering their aid to those with the strength of vision to heed them. Horus Lupercal was one such individual, and he was now assuredly a friend of the Mechanicus.
When it came time to strike at the Emperor and his Imperium, Horus guaranteed to be a friend to Mars as long as the Fabricator-General gave his loyalty--and his manufacturing capabilities--over to the cause of the Traitors. Horus also required the Fabricator-General to quash any dissent amongst his own Tech-priests so that the forces of the Warmaster would be able to launch their bid for supremacy within the Sol System without fear of counterattack. Any factions loyal to Terra must be brought to heel or destroyed before the Warmaster’s forces reached the Solar System. The Fabricator-General informed Regulus that the Warmaster had asked much of him and the Mechanicus already. They had already delivered, for they had already ensured that materials and weapons were priority-tasked to those expeditionary fleets of the Great Crusade that the Warmaster favoured and had delayed shipments to those not aligned with him. But the Mechanicus had no desire to trade one autocrat for another.
Regulus assured Kelbor-Hal that the Warmaster pledged to return the Martian Empire to its former glory, and furthermore, he swore to withdraw any non-Mechanicus forces from all of the Forge Worlds after the Emperor had been overthrown. To allay the Fabricator-General's misgivings, the Warmaster promised to provide the Mechanicus the lost secrets of ancient Standard Template Construct (STC) technology that had been recovered from the worlds of the recently subjugated Auretian Technocracy by the Warmaster's Sons of Horus Legion. The Fabricator-General was impressed with the Warmaster's gift, and admitted that it was a valuable STC database, but he wanted more. Regulus had anticipated this demand, and told Kelbor-Hal that the Warmaster promised to lift all restrictions on research into those technologies like Abominable Intelligence (A.I.) that the Emperor had declared forbidden. To cement the alliance between the Mechanicus and the Warmaster and display the Traitors' seriousness about their cause, Horus had provided Regulus with the protocols required to unlock the infamous Vaults of Moravec.
The Vaults of Moravec were a repository of forbidden knowledge that the Emperor had ordered sealed two centuries earlier after the signing of the Treaty of Mars, for the vaults contained innumerable artefacts of technology that had been fashioned or corrupted by the malign power of Chaos or were in themselves incredibly dangerous, such as Warp-based weapons and ancient artificial intelligences. Greedily, the Fabricator-General struck the dark bargain, accepting Horus' proposal and willingly joined forces with the Warmaster, assisting the Traitors with all of the technology of Mankind at his disposal.
Schism of Mars
When this repository was reopened, there was all manner of forbidden arcane knowledge and weaponry that had obviously been tainted by the corrupting influence of Chaos stored within. Soon the corruption spread throughout the forges and temples to the Machine God across the Red Planet as scrap code -- Chaos-contaminated digital source code that was infected with an arcane computer virus -- infested the logi-stacks and Cogitator (computer) archives of the Adeptus Mechanicus, causing literal Chaos to emerge in any Cogitator system that was networked to one of its infected counterparts.
The opening acts of treachery had already occurred, yet the Fabricator-General could not openly march to war against the Emperor without the appropriate pretense, providing the excuse to silence his detractors and eliminate his rivals. The Fabricator-General and his allies amongst what would later be called the Dark Mechanicus, used the disruption unleashed by the scrap code attack to bide their time and marshal the strength of their forces. Kelbor-Hal and his allies also used the tactics of sabotage and assassination in an attempt to eliminate those who were unwilling to join their cause. But the opportunity to go openly to war eventually presented itself when the Techno-Magi Koriel Zeth, the Mistress of Magma City, declared that she did not believe the Omnissiah actually existed. This open apostasy from the sacred doctrines of the Cult Mechanicus was the excuse the forces of the Dark Mechanicus needed to finally wage open warfare against their enemies, declaring them to be heretics and apostates to the faith that had been sacred on Mars for millennia. Magma City would soon become a focal point in the struggle for those amongst the Mechanicus who remaiend Loyal to the Imperium. Open warfare eventually erupted across the Red Planet as Martian forces, both civilian and military, fought one another in a deadly and escalating civil war whose destructiveness mirrored that unfolding in the wider galaxy between Loyalist and Traitor forces.
Acts of Treachery
To help the Warmaster achieve his goals, Kelbor-Hal oversaw the construction of the mighty Battleship Furious Abyss in the orbital shipyard of Thule, a former asteroid, which had been towed by the Mechanicus into orbit of the gas giant of Jupiter in the Sol System, far beyond prying eyes and questions. This formidable warship was unlike any other of its kind. It was so heavily armoured that it could withstand even a concerted assault from a planetary laser defence battery. It was the greatest and largest vessel ever assembled by Mankind, unique in every way and powerful beyond reckoning.
Kelbor-Hal had sanctioned the construction of such a vessel because it suited his great purpose, namely the burgeoning desire, or rather intrinsic programming, within the servants of the Machine God to gradually become one with their slumbering deity. The Emperor had sought to place restrictions upon the Mechanicus' ability to explore every avenue of knowledge that might lead to a closer unity with the Machine God. Horus had promised to remove all of those restrictions and perhaps open even new vistas of knowledge for the Mechanicus to explore in the form of his allies amongst the entities of the Warp. Faced with such a choice, the question of Kelbor-Hal's allegiance and that of the Mechanicus factions loyal to him had required mere nanoseconds of computation.
The Furious Abyss had been intended to become the new flagship of the traitorous Word Bearers Space Marine Legion. None could know of the vessel’s existence until it was too late. Steps had been taken to ensure that remained the case. The massive Battleship had been created with one deliberate mission in mind: the annihilation of an entire Space Marine Legion. The Word Bearers' ultimate aim as part of the Warmaster's larger plan of conquest was to infiltrate the Realm of Ultramar in the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy and attempt to destroy the Ultramarines Legion and their homeworld of Macragge.
In a final act of treachery, Kelbor-Hal had the Jovian shipyards destroyed once the Furious Abyss was complete. There was no time to flee to safety for the workers at the yards and no survivors. Every Tech-priest, Servitor and Menial present at the yards was burned to ash. None would discover the massive starship that had been fabricated upon the asteroid’s surface until it was much, much too late. A great deal of precious technology was lost during Thule’s destruction and so it proved to be a steep price for the Traitor elements within the Mechanicus to pay for the absolute and certain secrecy required to bring to fruition the Warmaster's plan to destroy the Ultramarines. But in the end, the Fabricator-General’s will had been carried out and the Dark Mechanicus played its part in the tragedy that would ultimately unfold on a world called Calth.
The members of what became known as the Dark Mechanicus supported Horus during the start of the Horus Heresy and they participated in the attacks against the Loyalist Space Marine Legions on Istvaan V where they used dark and forbidden knowledge to help destroy the Loyalist Astartes. Later, the Dark Mechanicus, led by the Fabricator-General Kelbor-Hal, unleashed the terrible civil war upon the Mechanicus known as the Schism of Mars in a bid to restore the autonomy of the Mechanicus from the Imperium of Man. This effort failed when Horus was slain at the end of the Horus Heresy during the Battle of Terra and the Loyalist elements of the Mechanicus succeeded in driving their Chaos-corrupted brethren from the Red Planet. Many of these so-called Hereteks of the Dark Mechanicus fled into the Eye of Terror alongside the other Traitors after the Great Scouring, when the Imperium recovered most of the territory across the galaxy that had been lost to Horus' Traitor forces.
At present, the Tech-priests and Dark Magi of the Dark Mechanicus, who are considered Hereteks amongst their counterparts in the Cult Mechanicus, have pledged their souls to the worship of the Dark Gods of Chaos. Within the Eye of Terror they continue to service and maintain the war machines and wargear of the Traitor Legions, the Traitor Titan Legions and the other Forces of Chaos with equal fervour. They plumb the depths of secret and forbidden knowledge kept hidden by the Ruinous Powers. Still dedicated to the acquisition of all knowledge in the universe much like their Loyalist counterparts, the Dark Mechanicus believes their uncorrupted brothers and sisters in the Adeptus Mechanicus are fools, for they will never be able to fully comprehend the divinity that is true knowledge if they cut themselves off from the secrets offered by the Dark Gods. The Tech-adepts of the Dark Mechanicus see the Omnissiah of the Cult of the Machine as being embodied in the power of Chaos Undivided rather than the Emperor of Mankind. As such, they pledge themselves to the destruction of the God-Emperor, who they believe is a false prophet who has led the rest of their fellows astray. The members of the Adeptus Mechanicus are horrified by what they view as their Chaotic counterparts' tech-heresy, and feel that the Dark Mechanicus' knowledge is a blasphemous affront to the Machine God and his Omnissiah, even as they are always curious to learn more about what their dark brethren are up to...
Beyond the Imperium
The Adeptus Mechanicus hold their darkest hatred for those Renegade forces of their own brethren that turned on them during the Horus Heresy, Traitors who live on to this day as the Dark Mechanicus. The forbidden histories of those terrible days show that the destruction wrought by the Traitors on Mars and in a dozen other spheres of war was unparalleled, and have left a stain on the soul of the Omnissiah’s priesthood that has never been cleansed. In the aftermath of Horus' fall, many of the Dark Mechanicus who survived found sanctuary with the various Traitor Legions and in dark corners of the Imperium where their terrible arts have prospered and their undying hatred of the Imperium has festered down through the millennia. The forbidden psycho-sonic weapons of the Emperor's Children, the gene-atrocities of the hated Fabius Bile, the malign perversion of the techno-viral technology used to create the terrible Obliterators -- all have been laid at the Dark Mechanicus’ door. Hellish Forge Worlds bestrode by cyber-daemonic overlords deep within the Eye of Terror ceaselessly churn out the weapons and munitions that arm the Forces of Chaos and fuel the dreaded Black Crusades.
The Renegades of the Dark Mechanicus were amongst the first group of those the Imperium branded as "Heretics," and they willingly fled to the Eye of Terror where they could live forever beyond the Imperium's control. But the Eye of Terror was not the only region of space where these Heretics fled to escape the Imperium's wrath. Though the Imperium is vast, its authority stretching from rim to rim of the galaxy, in reality there are vast swaths of space that remain hidden from the Emperor's light. These regions have many names, including but by no means restricted to, the "outlands," "wilderness space," and the "Halo Stars." Within them, whole civilisations can rise, prosper, and fall, without once knowing of the wider Imperium that surrounds them.
The Calixis Sector is one such region of space, lying along the edges of the galaxy, an established bastion of Imperial control amongst the hazy borders. However, it is surrounded by regions of space not under Imperial control. The most prominent is the Koronus Expanse in the Halo Stars, linked to the Calixis Sector by a fluctuating Warp passage. Beyond this passage, Imperial rule ends, and all manner of human and xenos civilisations exist unknown and undiscovered. However, there are other outlands around the Calixis Sector as well, including the Hazeroth Abyss, the fringes of the Drusus Marches, and the nomad space between the Calixis Sector and the bordering Ixaniad Sector. The Renegades of the Dark Mechanicus tend to be as varied as the regions of space they occupy.
Frequently, Hereteks take the form of extended clans that share their knowledge only through their blood relatives, maintaining a level of understanding about ancient technologies or local Warpspace conditions that astounds outsiders. The Adeptus Mechanicus is particularly sensitive to the existence of such Hereteks (of which those in the Meratech Clans are a particularly egregious example) and press other Imperial authorities to mobilise and capture or kill them as a matter of priority. Individual Renegades sometimes slip into Imperial space to pursue their trade, but they find it a dangerous place to live. If caught and identified, they are tortured and executed by the Inquisition with no hope of mercy.
Dark Forge Worlds
"Silent in the Calixian extent are worlds from which the Omnissiah has withdrawn His blessings. They trail their parent stars like errant children struck dumb and bloodied. Their ruins are profound, their catacombs endless, their savages sorrowful - for these wards of the Imperium of Mankind have paid a great and terrible price for the tech-heresy of their forbearers."
- — Warrus the Secondmost, Indexus Astrae Calixis
There are those servants of Chaos who live beyond the normal ken of mortals within a realm not entirely of the material universe and not entirely of the Warp: a Daemon World where the laws of nature and reason have been completely usurped by the whims of the Ruinous Powers. Here daemons roam freely and are constantly nourished by the twisting winds of sorcery as mortals become their playthings with a value only as Chaos Champions or slaves. Daemon Worlds are a sanctuary for the worshippers of Chaos with the means and courage to flee to them. The Inquisition never rests in its efforts to eliminate the devotees of the Dark Gods, but a Daemon World defies even their shadowy reach.
A few Daemon Worlds are dominated by the remnants of the Dark Mechanicus that once followed Horus. These Dark Mechanicus Forge Worlds are wholly given over to daemon-machines and infernal industries, where mills grind flesh and suffering is the currency used to make the insane visions of their nightmarish masters real. Countless millions are enslaved to work in a world-spanning network of labyrinthine forges, churning out an endless supply of weapons and armaments for the Traitor Legions' Long War against the Imperium. The masters of these Dark Mechanicus Forge Worlds, most now half-daemonic machines themselves, have long since left the shreds of their humanity behind and are beholden to none -- be they mortal or Chaos God. They sell or barter their unholy inventions and arms to the highest bidder, be they warlord, demagogue, Chaos Sorcerer or Daemon Prince without favour, and their coin of exchange is always the same -- new raw materials -- the flesh and souls of slaves for the Dark Forge World's unquenchable hunger.
These fallen Forges Worlds are enclosed in a perpetual blanket of dark grey clouds. Below the clouds is the source: stack after stack of vertical pipes rising even to the lower cloud decks and billowing thick smoke into the acrid air. No sign of the actual surface can be seen, for all is covered with layered factories, which are burning, creating, and forging night and day (though there are few who can tell the two apart given the atmosphere). Robed figures wander without wasteful delay in their tasks, exposed cloth allowing glimpses of artful mechadendrites or metallic limbs. Closer examination reveals more of the real nature of these dark worlds. Unhidden, clear to even a casual glance, is the mark of the Ruinous Powers. Runes and glyphs of unholy meaning litter walls, declaring patronage to the Dark Gods. Even the Hereteks carry these marks upon their branded flesh, their allegiance to the Machine God burned away from their synapses. The forges themselves burn with the terrible smells of burning blood and scorched flesh, fed by souls as well as Promethium and low-grav alloys of steel. The blessed Cog Mechanicum is gone, instead there are leering metal skulls in a circlet of spiked teeth. But the worst thing is that there is no proper, logical structure to the world. Forge cities rise in random fashion, lurching towards the skies and deep into the planetary crust at the whims of their Dark Magos lords.
Because of the nature of their split from the Imperium, these fallen Tech-priests lack a central authority or consistent belief structure. As a result, their reigning ideology is far more diverse than that of their former brethren within the Adeptus Mechanicus. Hereteks may shun the Omnissiah entirely as a false god, worship him as an extension of Chaos, or simply ignore their former beliefs to focus solely on their research.
Even among the unusually open-minded Explorators of the Adeptus Mechanicus, there are subjects which must be avoided at all cost to remain true to the dictates of the Machine God. A Heretek enthusiastically violates all such strictures, exploring xenos technology, archeotech from the Dark Age of Technology, and dabbling in all facets of technology related to the manipulation of the Warp. He may even be bold enough to develop entirely new technologies, combining components in forbidden manners to produce the ultimate tech-heresy for many in the Cult Mechanicus -- innovation. He may go as far as sharing the tools of his trade and the secrets of its ways with those who have not been trained in the mysteries of the Machine God. A Heretek actively seeks out new technology and continuously experiments with new techniques in ways that were once forbidden. He no longer believes that any information, experiment, or device can be ignored. Rather, he deliberately focuses on those technologies that the Mechanicus' teachings once taught him to avoid, with a particular interest in developing Warp-based technologies.
Few inquiries concerning technology are beyond a Heretek’s interest, though inevitably many of his inventions and much of his research tend towards the development of tools of destruction. As he builds these weapons for his fellow devotees, the Heretek has also invariably rebuilt his own body. It may be that he has few organic components left and those that remain are often marked by the mutational "gifts" of the Chaos Gods. His cybernetic and sometimes biological enhancements not only improve his technological acumen, they also grant him additional abilities in combat. A Heretek is likely to be much physically hardier as well as much more powerfully armed than even the highest-ranking Magos of the Mechanicus.
Some in the Imperium think of those referred to as Hereteks to be a unified force, like the Adeptus Mechanicus itself. This is not the case, as there is no galaxy-spanning organisation dedicated to tech-heresy, including the Dark Mechanicus, which is often treated erroneously as being a monolithic entity like the Adepta from which it schismed. Rather, there are countless fiefdoms and Dark Forge Worlds, each ruled by a fallen Magos (or several Magi) powerful enough to dominate cadres of their fellows and enslave Mechanicus thralls and servants. Just like the warbands of the Traitor Legions and almost all the other servants of Chaos, the corrupt Tech-priests war amongst each other, or prefer to exist aloof from their fellow servants of the Dark Gods.
Hereteks often follow a path of constant innovation. A Heretek may be capable of drawing power for his devices directly from the Warp and controlling them with summoned Warp entities. He might dabble with concepts of artificial intelligence, memory transference, or even attempt to capture and preserve the souls of sentient beings within his devices through his arcane knowledge of the Warp. Many of these inventors mindlessly hew to the idea that the new and the novel is always preferable for accomplishing a given end as established techniques. For them, the joy of a new idea or the recovery of an unknown bit of knowledge is a triumph, even if that idea has already been made obsolete. With each new advancement, his passion for further such successes grow as does his appetite for ever more knowledge, regardless of its source.
The Heretek is often driven by his hunger for knowledge and is quite willing to use the Ruinous Powers and their daemonic servants as a source. At other times, he seeks out xenos technology and archeotech. He may even coordinate raids upon Imperial strongholds for the sole purpose of recovering their records of where such devices can be found. In many Hereteks’ minds, there is no greater purpose in life than serving the cause of the advancement of technology and knowledge. Any sacrifice is justified in the pursuit of this end.
It is relatively rare for a Heretek to be raised by the Dark Gods as a Daemon Prince. All too often, Hereteks end up as a component of one of their own inventions, with too little left of the original body or its personality to even receive such a reward from the Dark Gods. However, those few who are granted this gift continue to spread their Chaos-tainted technology across the galaxy.
"++No Secutor, you may not move++ Even now conduction filaments are piercing your neural systems and unworthy flesh++ So they sent you to find me, did they?++ To carry out the Omnissiah’s judgment on me? ++ Well you found me —or more accurately I found you, foolish puppet of meat and iron ++ Well, now you will dance on my strings not theirs ++ Ah yes, your last paltry defences fall++ In a way I envy you; in a moment you will experience the most exquisite of agonies as I rip apart and overwrite your synapses one-by-one, it should be quite the experience++ Now Secutor, open wide, Here…I… Am."
- — Cognitive data-chain forensically recovered from Secutor Rho–456-0, aftermath of the destruction of Forge-Control Lathe-Het Delta-9
The strictures and dictates of the Adeptus Mechanicus are many and harsh; they form a labyrinthine and iron-clad code that defines every aspect of the lives of the Omnissiah’s priesthood, including their outlook and practices. Their purpose is as simple as it is unwavering: to control and regulate knowledge and its use, stifle blasphemous innovation, and above all maintain the Machine Cult’s stranglehold on the Imperium’s technology. To become a Heretek Savant by that phrase’s purest definition is to abandon this code, at least in the Tech-priest’s private thoughts. It is to embrace individual innovation, experimentation, and free will and stray from the path ordained by the teachings of the Archmagos Doctrinal. For a Tech-priest to do so is every bit as rare, as radical and heretical as a Confessor of the Adeptus Ministorum straying from the Imperial Creed, and the consequences for those that do stray, should their deviation be discovered, is every bit as harsh. Although rather than a pyre, Heretek Savants can look forward to having their implants ripped bodily from them while alive and whatever meat that remains useful recycled into Servitor components to pay for their sins against the Machine God.
Heretek Savants can come to their Renegade position for a variety of reasons, the most common of which includes the simple exercising of their free will away from the structured environments of the Machine God’s domains. Such tech-heresy is particularly prevalent among those Tech-priests who serve in the Explorator cadres or are assigned to the Inquisition’s service. The consequences of self-reliance and forced adaptation in the field away from help can affirm the Omnissian faith for some Tech-priests, but for others it can lead them increasingly to question and to innovate in order to overcome adversity and seek their own answers. Others come to tech-heresy for darker reasons, such as personal ambition and the obsessive quest for power and knowledge which will allow them no respite and lead them to increasingly rail against the narrow confines of the Cult Mechanicus’ approved technologies and patterns. Regardless, the path of tech-heresy is a dangerous one and as perilous in its own way as tampering with the powers of the Warp. Exposure to the artefacts and lore of the alien and the sins of humanity’s ancient past can be every bit as corrupting, both for the body and the soul.
Secrecy is as vital for Heretek Savants as for any other whose knowledge and actions would condemn them in the eyes of the Imperium because discovery will lead to sanction and destruction by the power of the Cult Mechanicus. This usually leads to a slow distancing of themselves from their fellows in the Mechanicus and a deep-seated paranoia of discovery. As a result, Heretek Savants rapidly gain a merciless and suspicious streak centred on their own self-preservation, increasingly favour implanting (often heretical) weaponry and defensive systems into their own bodies, and will stop at nothing in the service of the Quest for Knowledge. Becoming a Heretek Savant is a matter of choice and opportunity rather than induction into a secret cult or service to a master, and all that is needed is for the Tech-priest to turn his back on the sacred doctrines of the Omnissiah and have the will and capability to do so. From this point on, they risk censure and destruction by the Cult Mechanicus if their heresies are discovered, and while there is nothing to stop them furthering their rank and position in the Adeptus Mechanicus, they are forever more false of heart and must remain eternally vigilant.
"Those fools and their talk of spirits and rites; technology is cause and consequence, mechanism and effect, and should not be so restrained and mishandled as those red-robed simpletons would believe."
- — Rephenesti Korvane, Heretek
Within the Eye of Terror and many parts of the Halo Stars there exist those who defy the dictates and traditions of the Adeptus Mechanicus, choosing to experiment with technology and try to understand how it works without the sanction of the Cult Mechanicus. Condemned as techno-heretics, or Hereteks, these individuals are hunted for their blasphemous acts, and shown no mercy should they be caught. Many of these individuals flock together for mutual protection and the benefits of their illicit studies. Such groups often find that the employ of pirates and smugglers grants them the freedom and mobility they need to survive, and the opportunity to work with advanced machinery beyond the gaze of the Mechanicus.
Over the years, certain Hereteks have arisen in the Koronus Expanse accompanied by tales of infamous actions. Their sinister reputations have generated a collective moniker amongst the low-born populaces from Footfall to Damaris. Now in the Expanse a fallen Tech-priest of sufficient skill and infamy is likely to be labelled an Arch-Heretek by the populace. Though there are no set criteria for what makes an Arch-Heretek, they are often a match for true Tech-priests and Explorators in terms of their understanding and proficiency with machines. The greatest of them were once Tech-priests themselves, now turned from the worship of the Omnissiah. Arch-Hereteks are highly valued by void-faring criminals, both for their expertise in all things technical and their unique abilities.
Hereteks and the Dark Forge Worlds
While some Hereteks of the Dark Mechanicus serve the Ruinous Powers alongside the Traitor Legions others control Dark Forge Worlds dedicated to tech-heresy in the name of Chaos Undivided. Most of these hellish factory worlds were originally Imperial Forge Worlds that fell to the Forces of Chaos. However, some like the world of Xana II, were created anew by the Dark Mechanicum deep within the Eye of Terror and other territories controlled by Chaos like the Maelstrom Warp rift. From these heavily fortified bases Hereteks can pursue their own dark goals, which they finance with slaves, souls and raw materiel gained from various different Chaos Lords in return for the Dark Mechanicus' weapons, technological assistance and the support of their Traitor Titan Legions on the battlefield. The Forge Masters of a Dark Forge World have usually left all vestiges of their humanity behind and exist as unholy amalgamations of heretical technology and daemonic energy.
- Kelbor-Hal - Kelbor-Hal was once the Fabricator-General of Mars, the political leader of the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Magos Mechanicus of the Cult Mechanicus during the latter days of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium. When the Horus Heresy began, he willingly swore allegiance to the service of the Warmaster Horus and the Forces of Chaos, becoming the first leader of the Dark Mechanicus. In the name of his new allegiance, Kelbor-Hal would unleash the terrible civil war known as the Schism of Mars upon the Red Planet, the sacred heart of the faith of the Machine God. The ultimate fate of the traitorous Fabricator-General Kelbor-Hal is not recorded in Imperial records.
- Lukas Chrom - Adept Lukas Chrom was the Forge Master of the mightiest forge temple of Mondus Gamma on Mars during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. He pledged his support for the Warmaster Horus alongside his master, the Fabricator-General Kelbor-Hal. Chrom was quite large, his wide-shouldered frame swathed in a deep crimson robe that did little to disguise the many mechanised enhancements with which he had been blessed. Ribbed pipes and cables looped around his limbs and linked into a hissing power pack that rose like a set of wings at his back. His human face had long since been replaced by an iron mask fashioned in the form of a grinning skull. Wires trailed from the jaw and a pulsing red light filled both eye sockets. Besides his contemporary Urtzi Malevolus, Adept Chrom was considered one of Kelbor-Hal's most trusted followers, a Tech-adept who had followed the Fabricator-General's lead in all things, and who had sworn the strength of his forge city to the Kelbor-Hal's cause. An insufferable and arrogant individual, Chrom enjoyed the favour of the Fabricator-General in return. Chrom secretly constructed a deadly war robot known as the Kaban Machine which possessed the forbidden technology known as A.I. (Abominable Intelligence). Despite his best attempts to keep the project concealed from his contemporaries, there were rumours of the work that he was pursuing in his forge -- experiments on war engines designed with artificial sentience. Each time a rumour of this machine surfaced, the data conduits whispered the name "Kaban," a play on the ancient Gyptian word for their "god" Horus. This implied that the Kaban Machine had been built for Horus Lupercal. Eventually, Adept Chrom unleashed his creation upon the plasma reactors controlled by the Loyalist Mechanicum Adept Maximal in the Gigas Fossae, in a covert attack intended to test the Kaban Machine's abilities. Much of the opposition the machine encountered was destroyed until it was sighted by one of the Knights of Taranis, a Loyalist Knight House stationed on Mars. The Kaban Machine was engaged by one of the Knights, but the Loyalist war engine struggled against the formidable sentient machine. After the reactors of the Gigas Fossae exploded, the Kaban Machine seemed to suddenly disappear without a trace. But unfortunately, it would be discovered intact by an innocent cargo hauler by the name of Quixus, who was in turn discovered by Forge Master Chrom and his Skitarii forces. Chrom had his foul creation turn his weapons on the lowly Menial and execute him. Chrom, after successfully testing the Kaban Machine, commanded it to seek out and terminate one Dalia Cythera -- a young Terran girl bestowed with the very unique psychic ability to subconsciously tap into the total sum of knowledge housed within the Immaterium. Cythera was saved from execution for altering a piece of Mechanicum technology in violation of the Machine Cult's sacred proscription against innovation and brought to Mars by High Adept Koriel Zeth, the Mistress of Magma City, who sought to employ her skills in constructing a device that could transcribe all knowledge from the Warp -- the Akashic Reader. Cythera created the device, but to function it required vast quantities of psychic energy. Such an amount could only be harvested from the Astronomican during Mars' and Terra's mutual alignment. By pure coincidence, this alignment occured at the same time as Fabricator General Kelbor-Hal and the Adept Regulus opened the Vaults of Moravec, an ancient repository of forbidden technology, thus releasing viral Scrapcode upon the Red Planet. The Akashic Reader, however, proved to be unable to channel such amounts of psychic energy due to a miscalculation, and the Emperor's Warp-energy flooded Magma City, shielding it from all attacks by the Chaos-spawned Scrapcode. The Dark Mechanicus on Mars were puzzled and made afraid by this development, and when they learned that Cythera was responsible for the protection of Magma City, they decided that she must be terminated. The Kaban Machine, following one failed attempt on her life, finally tracked the girl down near the entrance to the Noctis Labirynthus. At that point, Cythera and her companions would have certainly died, were it not for two Knights of House Taranis who had been tracking the sentient machine ever since the destruction of Maximal's plasma reactor. The Knights succeeded in overcoming the Traitor robot by outwitting its A.I., but both of their own war engines were damaged in the fight.
- Urtzi Malevolus - Adept Urtzi Malevolus was a Forge Master during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras who was loyal to the traitorous Fabricator-General Kelbor-Hal and his Dark Mechanicus. Besides his contemporary Lukas Chrom, Urtzi Malevolus was considered one of Kelbor-Hal's most trusted followers, a Tech-adept who had followed the Fabricator-General's lead in all things, and who had sworn the strength of his forge city to Kelbor-Hal's cause. Master Adept Malevolus favoured dark bronze for his face mask, and a trio of green augmetic eyes set into the metal illuminated the interior surfaces of his red hood. Malevolus' red robes were fashioned from vulcanised rubber, thick and hard-wearing, and a monstrously large power pack was affixed to his back, its bulk held aloft by tiny anti-gravitic suspensor fields. Remote probe robots darted back and forth from his body, kept in check by the coiled cables that connected them to the senior Adept. He later openly supported the Dark Mechanicus forces during the Schism of Mars. Following the end of the Heresy, his ultimate fate is unknown.
- Regulus - Regulus was a high-ranking Tech-adept during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy era. He had granted his forge and all its holdings to the Fabicator-General Kelbor-Hal when he had left to accompany the Warmaster Horus and his 63rd Expeditionary Fleet to the furthest corners of the galaxy during the Great Crusade. He had once served as an emissary for the Adeptus Mechanicus to the emissaries of the new Imperial government established on Terra, honing his diplomatic skills. Horus later sent Regulus, who had already thrown in his lot with the Traitors, to Mars to secure the tentative support of the Fabricator-General for the Warmaster's cause. Regulus convinced the Fabricator-General of the Warmaster's resolve to support increased autonomy for the Mechanicus against the autocratic rule of the Emperor. As a show of his appreciation for the Fabricator-General's support, Horus provided information to Kelbor-Hal through Regulus that allowed the Tech-priest to open a repository of forbidden knowledge known as the Vaults of Moravec, which the Emperor had ordered sealed two centuries earlier -- for they contained innumerable artefacts of technology that had been fashioned or corrupted by the malign power of Chaos. But their dark bargain was struck, and the Fabricator-General accepted Horus' proposal and joined forces with the Warmaster, assisting the Traitors with all of the technology of Mankind at his disposal. Regulus' ultimate fate following the Horus Heresy is unknown.
- Blind King - In 550.M37, during a dark period of history for the Imperium, known as the Occlusiad War, the northwestern fringe of the galaxy was being ravaged by the Heretek cult known as the Apostles of the Blind King. The Blind King's cult viewed humanity's very existence as an affront to the Machine God. The Apostles uncovered wondrous artefacts lost in the Dark Age of Technology that allowed the creation of supernovae from the hearts of living suns. Constellations were forever changed as the Apostles purged the outer Segmentum Obscurus. War raged for a decade, until the Navigator Joyre Macran discovered the palace-warship of the Blind King hidden in a fold of Warpspace. Escaping with his knowledge, Macran guided the Emperor-class Battleship Dominus Astra to the palace's location. The Blind King is killed when the Dominus Astra's Lance batteries pierce the palace-warship's hull, and without their leader's prescience the Apostles were swiftly overcome and exterminated.
- Etolph Cycerin - Tech-adept Etolph Cycerin was once a loyal servant of the Adeptus Mechanicus. He was stationed on the Mechanicus Forge World of Hydra Cordatus at the planet's single Imperial bastion -- a citadel and manufactorum complex known as the Tor Christo, which secretly contained stored tithes of Space Marine gene-seed. Sometime during the 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41, an unnamed Warsmith of the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion, under the orders of Abaddon the Despoiler, attacked Hydra Cordatus in order to steal the hidden stores of Imperial Fists gene-seed that was kept there. It was Adept Cycerin who commanded the outer defences of the Imperial citadel. When a Chaos Dreadnought smashed its way into his strike-hardened bunker, Cycerin prepared to sell his life dearly, but was spared due to the unexpected intervention of the unnamed Warsmith. The Iron Warriors then proceeded to infect their captive with a techno-virus that altered Cycerin's organic and mechanical bio-components, leaving the Tech-adept hungry for even further change. He later willingly turned to Chaos to satisfy these cravings, serving the Iron Warriors and the Warsmith who attacked Hydra Cordatus' successor, Honsou. As Cycerin continued to change, he all but gave up the rest of his humanity as he became an amalgamation of Dark Mechanicus machinery and mutated flesh suspended inside Chaos-tainted amniotic gel. During the second attack on Calth against the Ultramarines, led by the Warsmith Honsou and his large Chaos warband known as the Bloodborn, Cycerin was able to interface and launch scrap-code (computer virus) attacks from the Warsmith's command vehicle, known as the Black Basilica, that overwhelmed and shut down the Ultramarines' defences. Cycerin was close to overwhelming the Loyalist Magos Vianco Locard's defences and seizing control of the Praetorian Gun Servitors deployed on the Ultramarines' side, but was thwarted in his attempts by Raven Guard Captain Aethon Shaan, who had secretly infiltrated the command vehicle, killing Cycerin shortly before blowing up the Black Basilica with demolition charges.
- Furnace Lord - On the Dark Forge World of Samech located within the Jericho Reach, the Magi of Samech create profane combinations of authorised Imperial technologies, unconsecrated archeotech, unholy creations of Chaos, and even the inhuman workings of the xenos. These abominations represent the real nature of Samech -- a world where nothing is forbidden when it will garner influence and stature, of technology and knowledge brokers willing to deal with anyone or anything as long as payment is made, of agents ever searching for undiscovered technologies to exploit. Samech is more than a simple fallen Forge World, it is a planet in constant tension between dozens of rival forge cities, each fighting, scheming, and struggling for dominance. Only the forge that can intimidate, bribe, and irrefutably demonstrate its mastery of all technology is fit to rule Samech and its Magos to proclaim himself the Furnace Lord. Such rule extends only so long as another forge does not topple it through their own exhibitions of more powerful weaponry, alliances with xenos and Chaos warhosts, or access to lost archeotech. The current Furnace Lord keeps his heavily augmented head above his rivals by ensuring his personal agents are the first to uncover new technologies for the power of his forge. These agents scour the Reach in their infamous spiderships, questing even into the Black Reef or the devoured worlds far rimward of the Drift in search of technological riches they can exploit.
- Illucis Grizvaldi - The notorious Heretek Illucis Grizvaldi and his Heretek cult followers are known to prey upon Imperial fears in regards to the immortal soul and its possible destruction. They do so by heavy-handed use of Oblivion Volitors. These devices are a corrupted and clumsy pattern of neuroaugmetic; when surgically implanted into the brain, an Oblivion Volitor turns a man into a soulless "Obliviate." Obliviates are empty shells, living on after the soul is consigned to nothingness. Hereteks further augment Obliviates with crudely implanted blades and metal fangs, so as to use them like attack animals. They debase the divine form of Mankind by whipping Obliviate packs to savage their foes. But the true weapon is terror -- terror of oblivion brought to cherished souls, terror that the God-Emperor’s protection is sundered. To the perception of a psyker, there is little difference between an Obliviate and an aggressive Combat Servitor. Illucis Grizvaldi held court for his Heretek vermin upon the world of Scintilla at the opening of the 8th century of M41. Newly made Obliviates were leashed and naked -- bloody, drooling, and empty-eyed. The idea that those torn souls would never feel the God-Emperor’s embrace put terror into Imperial hearts. The Arch-Heretek had destroyed for all to see the essence of the faithful by means of the heavy, clacking augmetics embedded in their skulls. It was through such tools of fear and death that Illucis Grizvaldi held sway over his underhive domain on Scintilla before the Inquisition forced him to flee. Grizvaldi still remains at large to this day, his current whereabouts unknown.
- Umbra Malygris - The infamous Renegade Magos Umbra Malygris, known to Inquisitorial records as Malygris the Damned, led a widespread and insidious Heretek cult that flourished in the Malfian Sub-sector of the Calixis Sector in the 6th century of M41. Many great crimes against both Imperial Law and the Cult Mechanicus’s own doctrines were laid against him, including the fashioning of forbidden silica animus, corpse vivication and the unleashing of experimental viral strains on unsuspecting populations to test their effects. Eventually the Renegade was tracked down and he and his followers destroyed in bloody confrontation with a joint Inquisitorial-Mechanicus purgation. Since then, his works and researches have been brutally, but not completely, suppressed.
- Phayzarus - Magos Phayzarus, the Perjurer, is one of the most notorious of the heretical Magi of the Dark Forge World of Samech in the Jericho Reach, whose desecrations not only encompasses the machine, but also the Machine Cult's sacred Quest for Knowledge. Once a respected scion of Forge Dimeris, Phayzarus specialised in penetrating the datacrypts of human memory. Over time he developed a vast network of Cogitators that could extract crude meaning from the neuroelectrical readings of a subject’s brain. While the other Magi of Dimeris were content to reap the secrets his discoveries revealed, it was not enough for Phayzarus’ addiction to knowledge. In the seventh century of M41 he obtained the corpse of a fallen Space Marine and extracted the warrior’s Omophagea organ for study. After years of analysis, splicing, and self-experimentation, Phayzarus succeeded in replicating the Omophagea’s memory-absorbing abilities by grafting a sample of the organ into his own spine. He did not long enjoy his success before the new tissue began to fail. Without the divine interaction with the source of the Space Marines’ blessings, the Progenoid Gland, his ill-gotten gift began to fade. In order to maintain his covetous hold, Phayzarus reforged himself for a single, unimaginable purpose: to hunt Space Marines. He turned all of Samech’s forbidden science to his cause, re-making his body into a self-repairing amalgam of metal and artificial flesh to rival a member of the Adeptus Astartes. Using subsumed knowledge, he acquired powerful archeotech, and ruthlessly documented every scrap of wisdom and every verse of battle doctrine he could absorb concerning the Angels of Death.
- Nomen Ryne - The Arch-Heretek Nomen Ryne has plagued Tech-priests of the Malfian and Golgenna Sub-sectors of the Calixis Sector since he issued his Precepts Mechanicus in the 4th century of M41. Originally a Levelist, he taught a tech-focused form of that suppressed creed of equality: that the God-Emperor provided Mankind with technology as weapon and shield against the darkness and that it was His most ardent desire that all men be so armed, equally and in brotherhood. Ryne declared the Mechanicus to be slavemasters and sought to spread tech-knowledge to all. Nomen Ryne vanished into hiding several years after the issuance of his Precepts, declared Heretek by the Mechanicus and Heretic by the Adeptus Ministorum. The Cult of Sollex hunted Ryne’s followers most zealously, as their number included many known for their skill in constructing unsanctioned Cogitators. The Mechanicus' hatred of Ryne has not diminished, as his name and influence have only grown over the centuries.
- Cyyrik Scayl - Cyyrik Scayl is a Tech-priest Magos of the Lathe Worlds, the Forge Worlds of the Calixis Sector. Cyrrik Scayl left behind his homeworld of Hadd to serve in the Ordo Hereticus in the 7th century of M41. During his time with the Inquisition, Scayl became obsessed with tech-heresy, deeming it endemic to the Calixis Sector. He became famous for his long-winded rants that the Inquisition should take a deeper notice of blasphemies against the Omnissiah occurring under its purview. When his clumsy attempts at oratory failed, Scayl withdrew from the Ordo to pursue Hereteks personally. Once in the field, Scayl found his perspective changing. An encounter with the Arch-Heretek Nomen Ryne led to an epiphany for Scayl, and rather than hunting Hereteks, he joined their number as an ardent convert.
- Votheer Tark - Votheer Tark was a senior Tech-adept of the Dark Mechanicus who joined the Warsmith Honsou's Bloodborn warband of Iron Warriors and the Daemon Prince M'kar before the invasion of Ultramar in 999.M41. Tark's warband participated in the bloody contest known as the Skull Harvest, hosted by the Renegade Chaos Lord Huron Blackheart on the world of New Badab, located within the Maelstrom. When Honsou won the Skull Harvest, Tark swore allegiance to the Warsmith after his victory. By the time of the invasion of Ultramar, Votheer Tark had all but given up his organic body, and was little more than scraps of tissue and brain matter, preserved in an amniotic vat, suspended within a spider-like machine that appeared deceptively fragile. When Honsou dispersed his Bloodborn forces across several planets within the Realm of Ultramar, Tark's forces deployed to the world of Quintarn. There, he quickly planted a series of Dark Mechanicus forges across the planet. With these Dark Forges, Tark was able to convert salvaged agricultural machinery and the wreckage of destroyed war machines into refurbished war engines. With this ability to replace his losses with impunity, Tark's forces soon overran many of the cities and quickly began to outnumber the Ultramarines forces deployed against them. Though Tark lacked strategic acumen and failed to grasp essential military tactics, the overwhelming numbers of his forces and his ability to replace his losses soon put the Ultramarines on the defensive. Perceiving the threat that Tark's forges presented, Ultramarines Scout Sergeant Torias Telion valiantly led a group of Scout Marines behind the Forces of Chaos' lines. The Ultramarines were then able to infiltrate the Dark Forges and destroy them from within. Losing his single advantage, Tark's forces were soon routed by the wrathful Ultramarines. It is not known whether Votheer Tark survived the Bloodborn's defeat. His current whereabouts are unknown.
- Ammicus Tole - The Arch-Heretek Ammicus Tole controls the decaying world of Sinophia and its corrupted Sinophian Machine Cult. He fled to Siophia to hide there from the Inquisition. Tole’s followers include Tech-witches, Hereteks, and lesser Chaos Sorcerers who clutch at words written by their master. Their tech-knowledge is a mix of rote practicality and mysticism, gained either from tortured Mechanicus Adepts or gleaned from Tole’s own writings. The Tome of Ammicus Tole, while largely consisting solely of heretical ramblings, hides true Warp-rituals and working device-patterns. Most Tech-witches possess only a few pages or fragments within a failing dataslate. To all but his inner circle, Ammicus Tole is a rumour -- a distant and hidden lord of tech-heresy.
- Vathek - Little is known of Magos Vathek's career, before he was cast out from the Adeptus Mechanicus and became a hunted Renegade. It is thought that he was a student of Archmagos Thule before some incident or event drove him mad, turning him into a Renegade hunted equally by the Inquisition and the forces of the Machine Cult. Vathek is obsessed with acquiring and perfecting dark technological lore. In particular, he desires the technological means to restore full life to dead tissue, although he is also known to have created forbidden weaponry, crafted flesh Gholams, and experimented with a variety of prohibited alchemical and energy systems. His forbidden experiments are already reckoned to have cost upwards of 3,000 lives. Aside from his drive for dark scientific lore, Vathek appears to have no known goals or plans. He also does not cooperate with or serve others, fashioning only unliving Servitors as his needs arise. Some theorise that Vathak’s true obsession is somehow discovering a means to restore biological life to his own decaying flesh. Vathek’s current whereabouts and activities remain unknown.
Notable Heretek Cults
- Apostles of the Blind King - In 550.M37, during a dark period for the Imperium known as the Occlusiad War, the northwestern fringe of the galaxy was ravaged by a Heretek cult of rogue Tech-priests known as the Apostles of the Blind King. The Blind King and his followers viewed the very existence of weak, organic humanity as an affront to the Machine God. The Apostles uncovered wondrous artefacts lost in the Dark Age of Technology that allowed the creation of supernovae from the hearts of living suns. Constellations were forever changed as the Apostles purged the outer Segmentum Obscurus. War raged for a decade, until the Navigator Joyre Macran discovered the palace-warship of the Blind King hidden in a fold of Warpspace. Escaping with his knowledge, Macran guided the Emperor-class Battleship Dominus Astra to the palace's location. The Blind King was killed when the Dominus Astra's Lance batteries pierced the palace-warship's hull, and without their leader's Warp-gifted prescience the Apostles were swiftly overcome and exterminated.
- Children of Ryne - The Children of Ryne are a Heretek cult that arose with the spread of the Levelist heresy of the notable Arch-Heretek Nomen Ryne, and the Children now worship him as a saint. Through his creation of the constructs known as False-Men (machines built to appear as heavily augmented Tech-priests) the Children of Ryne believe the False-Men bring messages and new tech-patterns from Nomen Ryne himself.
- Empyric Engineers - The Heretek splinter of the Mechanicus known as the Empyric Engineers operate within the Calixis Sector in the Segmentum Obscurus. They are known to employ numerous device-patterns to turn the Warp upon itself and annihilate daemons that transgress upon their labours. Vast Warp-machines stand within hidden strongholds of the Engineers, used to draw forth the essence of the Empyrean and imprison it within null-field containments for study. Empyric Engineers who infuse the Warp into their machinery are rarely insane -- at the outset of their labours at least. This Heretek faction is also known for creating a foul device known as an Immateria Ward -- a form of null-field projector and Machine Spirit cogitation core intended for armour, portable shield-walls, and other similar devices. They understand the need for protection from corrosive Warp-energies, and so turn to Heretekal archeotech lore concerned with creating Machine Spirits that can channel the Warp. The Empyric Engineers have long granted Immateria Wards to their allies as a form of compact—in return for the loyalty of the Hereteks their allies are expected to embrace Dark Tech. Thus the ward sigil has become a reviled symbol of the outcast Empyric Engineers in the eyes of Loyalist members of the Mechanicus like the militants of the Cult of Sollex, whose Magi direct Auxilia Myrmidon hunter-cohorts far and wide across the Calixis Sector to slay those who bear the sign of the Heretek Empyric Engineers. Mere association with the owner of an Immateria Ward bears a risk of death at the hands of the servants of the Machine Cult—or worse, a short life connected to the interrogation machinery of a Magos-Militant.
- Logicians - The Logicians are an alliance of Heretic factions who have long been a thorn in the side of the Calixis and the nearby Ixaniad Sectors. Founded not around a single charismatic figure or dark religion, they find their inspiration in a forbidden heretical text called In Defence of the Future: A Logical Discourse. Banned now for several millennia, the Logicians are a so-called "progressive" cult, favouring the advancement of Mankind through progress and the acquisition of technology, believing that they should cast off the oppression of the Adeptus Ministorum, overthrow the High Lords of Terra and put an end to the smothering constraints of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Ultimately, the Logicians aim to bring about a return to the mythic power of the Dark Age of Technology. Finding adherents through a secret network of ruthless mercantile interests and power-hungry nobles, they are a haven for Hereteks and rogue Tech-priests, and are highly organised and well resourced. Although no daemonic force or apocalyptic agenda lies at their heart, the Logicians are still a phenomenally dangerous group, utterly callous in their pursuit of power and unceasing in the hunt for ever better weapons and tools by which to achieve their ends.
- Malygrisian Hereteks - This Heretek cult is comprised of the corrupt followers of the infamous Renegade Magos Umbra Malygris, who led this widespread and insidious cult that once flourished in the Malfian Sub-sector of the Calixis Sector in the 6th century of M41. Eventually the Renegade was tracked down and he and his followers destroyed in a bloody confrontation with a joint Inquisitorial-Mechanicus purgation force. Since then his works and researches have been brutally, but not completely, suppressed. Despite the sanctions against it, Malygris’s lore persists, kept alive in no small part by those Tech-priests tasked to hunt down rebellious members of the Mechanicus itself, much in the same way as the more Radical factions of the Inquisition seek to turn the tools of the Archenemy against its own followers, risking destruction at the hands of their own kind. Some Heretek Malygrisian Tech-priests, later purged from the foundry wards of Port Wrath, practiced a form of mutational bioforging upon their workers to both improve their quotas and control them, body and soul. For all the dreadful consequences of the bioforging’s eventual failure, the wealthy and powerful have since been tempted by the possibilities of the body remade, both for their "chosen servants" and even for themselves, and the secrets of this blasphemous technology have spread to several worlds across the sector despite a ban by both the Inquisition and the servants of the Machine Cult.
- Tech-Witches of Ammicus Tole - This Heretek cult is made up of the corrupt followers of the Arch-Heretek Ammicus Tole, who rules the decaying and dying world of Sinophia in the Calixis Sector. To all but the inner circle, Ammicus Tole is a rumour -- a distant and hidden lord of tech-heresy. The cult of Ammicus Tole has made its mark upon Sinophia, its heresy overflowing to taint the poor and the villainous. Sinophia is a decaying world, its civil structures failing, its ancient grandeur rotted. Ruins of the past loom tall, towering above squabbling noble courts and the half-hearted Imperial caste. The Sinophian Machine Cult is as corroded as the manufactories and spires it once diligently maintained. It has fallen into mind-rust -- a mix of disarrayed beliefs and damage to neuroaugmetics that would horrify a Forge World Tech-adept. Another of Umbra Malygris' countless abominations was the creation of the Apostic Matrix -- electrostaves that can scourge the mind and soul with occult energies, tearing down the foundations of faith and loyalty. Some Radical Inquisitors have found the Apostasic Matrix to be a potent addition to an interrogation chamber, and take great pleasure in setting this tool of the Archenemy upon blackened the blackened souls of Heretics.
Forbidden Arts of Dark Technology
The fundamental tenet of Hereteks is the acquisition of power through unrestrained technological advancement. The great arrogance and sin of this work is as obvious as it is dangerous to anyone who believes in the Credo Omnissiah or the Imperial Creed, and it would lead Mankind back to the terrors of the Age of Strife if it were allowed to bear fruit. Here are but a few examples of the dark paths down which forbidden technology might wander and the legends that cloak them:
- Engines of Destructions - Weapons are the foremost goal and desire of many tech-heretics, whether it is the discovery or theft of heavily restricted designs -- such as atomics or the dread Life-eater Virus used as a tool of Exterminatus, the acquisition of sophisticated relics like the secrets to creating the induction coils used in Plasma Weapons, or the pursuit of alien designs of terrible power.
- Gholam and other Forbidden Fleshworks - A Gholam is an artificial construct made primarily of flesh and synthetic tissue by the arts of a gene-sculptor. Although a widespread technology within the Adeptus Mechanicus, many branches of this lore are considered heretical and forbidden. These, in particular, include so-called "Murder Gholams" -- horrific organic fabrications solely intended for violence, and homonculites -- bio-forms fashioned from harvested human organs, alchemical serums, and vat-grown tissue in the shape of a living thing with no natural origin. Rarer creations include "Chimerics" -- strange amalgam creatures that combine many sources of DNA to form twisted monstrosities with utterly unpredictable results, forced psychic mutation, and unspeakable “slaver parasites” -- artificial organic grafts that subvert the will and the bodily functions of those unfortunates they are inflicted upon. According to sacred legend, such fleshworks were forbidden by the word of the Emperor during the days of the Great Crusade in response to the horrors that he and his superhuman warriors encountered in the Unification Wars on Terra to end the Age of Strife.
- Transgenic Blasphemy - This field of research embodies the techno-heresy of combining xenos gene-matter or surgical grafts with human organic matter. It is an utterly forbidden practice, considered both a pollution of the divine pattern of the human body by the Adeptus Mechanicus and outright blasphemy against the will of the God-Emperor by the Imperial Cult.
- The Silica Animus (Abominable Intelligence) - The creation of an artificial machine mind (rather than a simple digital cogitator) using forbidden technologies is considered perhaps the greatest sin in the Cult Mechanicus and is a terrible crime under Imperial law. Tradition holds that such unholy constructs are inherently evil and a perverted abomination in the sight of the Omnissiah. Adeptus Mechanicus religious doctrine states that the Machine Spirit of a Silica Animus, a true artificial intelligence capable of emanating all the facets of the human mind, is a twisted mockery of the soul of man, treacherous and insane. Ancient texts tell apocryphal stories, shrouded in metaphor, of such murderous and powerful creations during the last days of the Dark Age of Technology, and the legions of Iron Men that served them, blaming them in part for many of the terrible wars that laid humanity low in that lost time and brought on the Age of Strife.
- Malifica - Perhaps the darkest and most arcane of all sciences is the technology created to manipulate the energies of the Warp or psychic force. A necessary evil for the Imperium and a cornerstone of its existence, it is a dangerous and volatile field of study. At the outer regions of the accepted uses and patterns of this little understood technology lie terrible devices and desires, and the melding of daemonic spirits with machinery and the channelling of the raw power of the Empyrean through technology has long been a thing forbidden by the Mechanicus. For those reckless or insane enough, the temptation to pursue such dark experiements is great, offering the possibility of creativity and function unfettered by reason or the surly bonds of the universe's physical laws.
- The Proteus Protocol (Biotransference) - Considered little more than a myth by many but the ultimate goal of an obsessed few, the Proteus Protocol is an ancient and heretical technology for transferring not only the engramatic knowledge and memory of an organic human or xenos brain, but also the personality and will, granting in effect complete mental and spiritual immortality in an artificial physical form. Of the few legends that surround this technology, some state that the abominations created are soulless beings with dark desires and alien hungers that can never be satiated. However, these warnings often fail to deter the Protocol's most ardent seekers. It was this technology, first pioneered by the C'tan more than 60 milliion Terran years ago, that created the undying Necrons. A cautionary tale indeed for any who would seek immortality in the form of the machine.
"The Dark Age of Technology casts its echoes upon us, softened with time, but foul yet. Beware the machine, for its lineage is unhallowed."
- — The Cautions of Vessifus
Dark Tech is the tool of Hereteks, comprising forbidden techlore and machine-patterns that defile the Omnissiah’s gifts, imperil the soul, and taint the sacred form of Mankind. Servants of the Inquisition recognise many forms of Dark Tech: Warpmachines built by outcast Enginseers of the Machine Cult; perversions of cogitation; tech-sorcery that corrupts worlds; the myriad sins of various Heretek Renegades; and others. Yet it is the rare and dedicated Monodominant Inquisitor who is willing to burn errant device-patterns alongside the Hereteks who use them. The Inquisition must understand its enemies, and so the lore of tech-heresy flows into the sealed vaults of the Ordos. There it lurks, a temptation for Radical Inquisitors -- for Dark Tech is imbued with great power. At first it is power enough to reveal vital secrets, divine the right choice in matters of life and death, or utterly destroy enemies of the Imperium. In the end it is power enough to corrupt a Radical’s soul, and make of him that which he once hunted.
- Apostatic Matrix - The Apostasic Matrix is one of countless abominations spawned by the Heretek followers of Umbra Malygris in the 8th Century of M41. Neuro-augmetic lore and the study of the Omnissiah’s universal laws was combined and tainted to produce an unholy technology—the Matrix scourges mind and soul with occult energies, tearing down the foundations of the individual's faith and loyalty to whatever he most hodls dear. Apostasic Matrices recovered by Ordo Hereticus Acolytes after the Cleansing of Tarycine were embedded within electrostaves. Each metal staff blisters with cogitation nodules, electro-sensors, and mottled field projection devices. As if in mockery of its origins, devotional prayers inscribed in orthodox Machine Cant spiral about its length—many Malygrisians remained convinced of their holiness, it seems, even as they fell into the vilest tech-heresy. A victim so much as grazed by the electrostave is scarred by its power. The Apostatic Matrix reaches into the very mechanisms of the soul, pouring toxins and pain upon the roots of faith, and burning away memories of worship with agonising darts of electro-essence. The immediate anguish is terrible, but the true horror is that the Matrix causes the flower of faith in the God-Emperor to wither and die thereafter. Some Radicals have found the Apostasic Matrix to be a potent addition to an interrogation chamber, and take great pleasure in setting this tool of the Archenemy upon blackened Heretic souls. In the same way that loyal Imperial citizens collapse into tormented apostasy, even the strongest devotees of the Ruinous Powers are given to babbling despair under the Matrix’s ministrations. Istvaanians in the Calixian Conclave of the Inquisition have more ambitious aims: to replicate the Plague of Apostasy engineered by Malygrisians upon the Hive World of Piety, where colossal Matrix devices infused the very air with faithlessness and madness. Istvaanian covens study the electrostaves for hidden signs of this greater tech-lore.
- Callophean Psy-Engine - A Psy-Engine is a dread weapon: barely controlled, living psyker brains set within a weapon-housing and goaded by neuro-implants to blast foes with the power of the Warp. The Callophean Pattern of this device consists of a lozenge-shaped central body and metre-long insulated director wand connected by flexible cabling. The Psy-Engine’s centre is a transparent housing just large enough to hold four psyker brains suspended in pink-tinged gel, pierced by mechanisms and linked by fluid-tubes. The narrow edges of the Psy-Engine consist of clustered psyamplifiers, null-wards, and fluid support devices joined to the tormented brains within. The psyker is a resource to be expended—this is an Imperial truth. But Heretek Magi-Psykana go too far: forbidden gene-manipulation; neuro-active implants to induce and control psyker manifestation; and holding back psykers from the Imperial Tithe. Archmagos Callophe, incinerated in 583.M41 by Ordo Malleus forces, sought to eliminate the troublesome human element in her psyker resources. Her coven tended vats of pulsing, device-ridden psyker brains, all other flesh cut away and the minds within afflicted by a controllable form of blind insanity. Callophe was not the originator of this vile lore, but her name now attends it. Other Hereteks practice it yet, harvesting the living brains of psykers to consign them to lives of sightless horror and madness. A militant warded against psychic overspill carries the director wand, whilst a Servitor or expendable menial bears the weight of the Psy-Engine. When the militant triggers the Psy-Engine to attack, the maddened psykers within it are goaded to strike at the closest target indicated by the wand (note that the Psy-Engine effectively never runs out of ammunition and never needs to be “reloaded”). A Psy-Engine presents a continual danger to soul and sanity unless it is stored within a stasis field, the heavy psy-barriers of an Adeptus Astropathica facility, or the like. The foaming, blind madness of the psykers within constantly seeps through the Psy-Engine’s null-wards, and anyone within 100 metres is afflicted by half-heard whispers, fleeting visions of horror, phantom pains, and strange urges.
- Empyric Conduit-Blade - The Heretek Mechanicus faction known as the Empyric Engineers employs numerous device-patterns to turn the Warp upon itself and annihilate daemons that transgress upon their labours. The oldest and most revered is the Empyric Conduit-Blade, a sacred standard for these Machine Cult Hereteks. An Adamantine mono-edged Conduit-Blade is a centrepiece in every Empyric Engineer shrine: inset field-guides of gold run the length of the blade, the hilt is a Warp-mechanism, and at the base of the blade is a socket for a small null-field generator. Vast Warp-machines stand within hidden strongholds of the Engineers, used to draw forth the essence of the Empyrean and imprison it within null-field containments for study. Much smaller null-field generators are constructed for attachment to a Conduit-Blade; they look like glittering gems laced with circuitry, belying the danger of their contents. Inside, raging and incoherent, is raw Warp-matter—without this imprisoned Empryic energy, a conduit-blade is no more than a symbol.
"The heretic's weapons are lies and deceipt. What are they, against faith in the Emperor?"
- — Anonymous Imperial Adept
- Berserker Thorn - A very unusual device, this arcane-looking heavy-pronged dart is laced with circuitry and power coils and contains a strange and baleful technology little understood even by the Logicians. When breaching a Servitor or similar mechanism's control system, the penetrating barbs release a cascading pulse of electromagnetic force and poisonous Machine Spirits that can overload and burn out the imprinted command functions and drive such a machine into an uncontrolled murderous rage.
- Cerebral Annihilator - Used to conduct covert murder and dispose of test subjects, this easily concealed palm unit uses a focused electromagnetic field designed specifically to destroy the delicate neural synapses in a living brain. The unit must be held within a few centimetres of the skull for at least one full round to function and is too precise and delicate to use as a weapon against any target that is not unconscious or completely immobile.
- Immateria Ward - An Immateria Ward is a form of null-field projector and Machine Spirit cogitation core intended for use in armour, portable shield-walls, and similar devices. Empyric Engineers who infuse the Warp into their machinery are rarely insane—at the outset at least. They understand the need for protection from corrosive Warp-energies, and so turn to Heretekal archeotech lore concerned with creating Machine Spirits that can channel the power of the Warp. Placed upon armour (to the accompaniment of long ritual and forging of the Machine Spirit) an Immateria Ward appears as a sigil within a circle, both shapes outlined by thin silver cables set into shallow channels. The null-field projector and cogitation core are hidden beneath the centre of the sigil. The potent Machine Spirit within slumbers until it senses the presence of the Warp; when it wakes to action, the silver cables smoke and glow with a purple mist of dissipated Empyric energies. The Empyric Engineers have long granted Immateria Wards to allies as a form of compact—loyalty is given by the Hereteks in return for a willingness to embrace Dark Tech from the ally. Thus the ward sigil has become a reviled symbol of the outcast Empyric Engineers in the eyes of the Loyalist Mechanicus Tech-priests like the militants of the Cult of Sollex, whose Magi direct Auxilia Myrmidon hunter-cohorts far and wide across the Calixis Sector to slay those who bear the sign of the Heretek Empyric Engineers. Mere association with the owner of an Immateria Ward bears a risk of death at the hands of the servants of the Machine Cult—or worse, a short life connected to the interrogation machinery of a Magos-Militant.
- Irradial Cogitator - An Irradial Cogitator is a malefic piece of technology which fues a daemonic spirit with a highly advanced Cogitator created by the damned Magi of the Dark Forge World of Samech in the Jericho Reach. The brilliance of Samech’s Cogitators was legendary long before their fall from the Omnissiah's grace. And while the Iron Pit’s Magi have turned to the forbidden and blasphemous across the ages, their craft with these calculating machines has only grown. An Irradial Cogitator is often a bargain too good to pass up, a miraculously efficient machine whose price appears remarkably low. In their nascent stages, an Irradial Cogitator’s intellect can answer a struggling hive city's prayers. Disease, hunger, and pollution are some of the most common problems the beneficent machine seems to cure for its new masters. While the Cogitator’s miracles are still endearing it to the local population, it seeks its first apostle. This person will be the seed of fear and worship. He serves as an innocuous voice for the infused Cogitator’s true wishes, a disciple to spread the knowledge of its impending divinity. Tech-priests are the obvious choice, but anyone in a position to maintain the Cogitator’s physical housing, who holds substantial regard for the device’s miracles, is a candidate. While the first apostle cultivates the population’s reverence for the Cogitator, it begins to spread its sphere of direct influence as well. An Irradial Cogitator spreads the tendrils of its neural pattern out into technology connected to its location. An Irradial Cogitator’s "body" is an inanimate machine, easily destroyed if it can be located and reached. However, the daemonic spirit within is possessed of malevolent brilliance, and has many abilities that allow it to indirectly influence its surrounding to protect itself.
- Malygrisian Bioforging - Heretek Malygrisian Tech-priests—later purged from the foundry wards of Port Wrath -- practiced a form of mutational bio-forging upon their workers to both improve their quotas and control them, body and soul. As the bioforging took hold, the workers grew addicted to the addition of a rare and synthesized Promethium extract called Nephium that was added to their food rations by their masters. Over time, unnatural bio-motes grew within their bodies and began their dreadful work of twisting the sacred human form. An irregular, lumpy rind of organic plasteen developed beneath the skin, and their flesh became laced with filaments of that tough material. Eyes and mucus membranes also became plasteen-saturated. Within a few weeks, menials could enter the void unclothed, shrug off heavy blows, and survive terrible injuries. Over time, however, the bio-motes and plasteen growth reshaped the flesh to give the appearance of horrific mutation and went out of control, turning the body on itself with appalling consequences. The tainted workers died in drooling agony as plasteen formed in the brain, crushed vital organs, or broke through the skin in ridges, horns, and fronds. Before long, the Hereteks' blasphemies could not be hidden from their just punishment. For all the dreadful consequences of the bioforging’s eventual failure, the wealthy and powerful have since been tempted by the possibilities of the body remade, both for their "chosen servants" and even for themselves, and the secrets of the blasphemous technology has spread to several worlds despite a ban by both the Inquisition and the Machine Cult. For its proponents, the bioforging is a glorious opportunity; flesh is sculpted and changed in its constituent material, potent new organs grown within, and the mind is warped to grant unnatural focus and clarity. Proponents of the procedure believe that it is noble to attempt to ascend beyond the limits of one's birth-genes. To the Imperium, however, such thoughts pave the road to tech-heresy and mortal sin.
- Murder-Cogitator - A dark lore of data-violation and ravishment of Cogitator Machine Spirits has long existed in the Calixis Sector. It is suppressed by the Mechanicus at every turn, but cogitation heresy remains widespread; there are always more Hereteks willing to carry on their damnable toil in the shadows. Many influential figures in the Imperium so greatly desire unfettered access to secret data that they turn to forbidden cogitation lore, and the careful Heretek prospers by preying upon these illicit desires. Tech-devices capable of despoiling data-vaults have spread across the Calixis Sector through the black paths of smugglers, alongside Vox-heresy, unsanctioned psykers, and a thousand prohibited substances. Crime barons of the Golgenna hives call these devices "Murder-Cogitators." They allow the uninitiated to pillage a cogitation array of encrypted secrets, slay the Machine Spirit within, and leave a steaming ruin behind. This is anathema to the Mechanicus, and Cult of Sollex hunter-cohorts show no mercy to anyone suspected of involvement with these vile devices. The dominant pattern of Murder-Cogitator is produced by adorants of the Arch-Heretek Nomen Ryne, cultists who spread forbidden cogitation lore in the Malfian Sub-sector Hive Worlds of the Calixis Sector. Many of their tainted works employ the Thirteenth Pattern of Cogitation, a Heretek design abhorred by the Omnissiah no matter what purpose it is put to. A Ryneite Murder-Cogitator appears to be a heavy, bronze-cased data-slate ornately embossed with raised scrollwork and Cherubim. Paeans declaring Nomen Ryne a saint and verses of Ryne’s Precepts Mechanicus are engraved upon the device.
- Oblivion Volitors - The notorious Heretek Illucis Grizvaldi and his Heretek cult followers are known to prey upon Imperial fears in regards to the immortal soul and its possible destruction. They do so by heavy-handed use of Oblivion Volitors. These tech-devices are a corrupted and clumsy pattern of neuroaugmetic; when surgically implanted into the brain, an Oblivion Volitor turns a man into a soulless "Obliviate." Obliviates are empty shells, living on after the soul is consigned to nothingness. Hereteks further augment Obliviates with crudely implanted blades and metal fangs, so as to use them like attack animals. They debase the divine form of Mankind by whipping Obliviate packs to savage their foes. But the true weapon is terror -- terror of theoblivion brought to cherished souls, terror that the God-Emperor’s protection within the Warp for the soul is sundered. To the perceptions of the psyker, there is little difference between an Obliviate and an aggressive Combat Servitor.
- Prognosticaon - Amongst the many tech-perversions bestowed upon the Calixis Sector by the Arch-Heretek and former Logician Ammicus Tole is the foretelling device known as a Prognosticaon. It is an inverted iron pendulum suspended within an enclosure of circular hoops and surrounded by a hedge of seemingly meaningless mechanisms. The construct is usually small enough to carry in one hand and may be etched with profane symbols or Heretekal texts. The pendulum bobs and oscillates in response to changes in its surroundings—it is very sensitive, particularly to tides in the near Empyrean. Patterns for the Prognosticaon are ciphered within rare fragments of Ammicus Tole’s tome of rituals and chants: the cipher-keys reveal attendant scrawling as debased rituals of operation. The secret of the Prognosticaon lies in perturbing the near Warp in a way that steers the pendulum towards desired revelations about the future. Wizened tech-witches of Cyclopea, devotees of Ammicus Tole, accomplish this through blood sacrifice and wild ritual taught by their master’s Tome. A Heretek Tech-priest of the suppressed faction of Empyric Engineers might find other ways of achieving the same end, but the Prognosticaon is, at its core, a tool enabled by death and suffering. Tole’s ritual requires eight human sacrifices, achieved in a variety of unpleasant and carefully specified ways, and rousing excitement amongst eight more participants. Blood is strewn about and painted upon the Prognosticaon device, and prayers offered to false gods. The tech-witch who seeks a foretelling sets Signifiers—disturbing sigils daubed in sacrificial blood at cardinal points about the device. The meaning of each Signifier is determined by the tech-witch and pertains to eight questions permitted by this tech-sorcery. With the ritual at its height, movement of the Diviner’s pendulum to one Signifier or another reveals true answers.
- Samech Redemption Servitor - A Samech Redemption Servitor is a type of Servitor whose creation is used as a punishment reserved for criminals and unruly serfs. To become a Redemption Servitor is therefore a fate reserved for traitors, weaklings, and hated enemies of those in power. Many say that the feral intelligence of these drones still bears the tormented, malicious echoes of those now trapped in servitude. Scholars suspect the Redemption Pattern Servitor originated in the Lest District, where it remains extremely popular. However, the model can be found in use throughout the Dark Forge World of Samech in the Jericho Reach. The pattern involves heavy replacement of the organic neck, arm, and leg joints with pivots that provide almost 360 degree rotation. The torso is then augmented with four additional limbs, creating a squat, arachnid profile. Most models also use epidermal armour plating, although its design varies with the forge city of manufacture. The Redemption Servitor incorporates several pieces of Samech’s electromagnetic wargear, although it is of substantially poorer quality than devices used by the world's Dark Magi. The standard configuration includes a Techxorcism Cannon—usually installed in the chest and fired through the gullet— for neutralising other technological enemies and scavenging machines that may not be completely inert. In order to reach and disassemble precarious wreckage, the Redemption Servitor contains an auxiliary magnetic repulsion system that allows them to traverse unstable structures, and its spindly limbs are capable of puncturing steel. These limbs also double as dangerous weapons, which the savage Servitor needs little provocation to use. The Redemption Pattern’s principal drawback is that its programming works as intended. In order to scavenge Samech’s wastes effectively, they must be relatively autonomous, with the capacity for self-repair and an instinct to seek out valuable technology. Not only does this cause the automatons to kill for the smallest scrap of tech, it has led to a high incidence of the Servitors infesting starships bound offworld, spreading these dangerous cyborgs across the galaxy.
- Scrapcode - Also called Scrap Code or Scrap-code, this is actually a simple form of computer virus, often used by the servants of the Dark Mechanicus against their more technologically advanced opponents. When this weapon is employed, blocks of self-replicating machine-code are constantly being broadcast on every possible Vox frequency, and when picked up, if the other Cogitator fails to identify the transmission as Scrapcode, the virus will quickly flood it by self-replicating, either forcing the machine to shut down or severely impair its functioning. Scrapcode is rather inefficient, and is considered more of a general nuisance than a real weapon by the Loyalist Tech-priests of the Mechanicus. Scrapcode infection can be prevented simply by securing one's communication channels, and even then Cogitator system incompatibility can prevent the Scrapcode's self-replication, but Scrapcode has the advantage of being a completely passive assault. More advanced forms of computer virus which would allow a Heretek to actually take control of an enemy computer system, do exist, but those must be tailor-made for their target, and cannot be used in this way. Scrapcode was first used on a large scale as a weapon by the Dark Mechanicus during the Battle of Calth in the Horus Heresy when the Word Bearers Traitor Legion launched a massive surprise assault upon the Ultramarines Legion.
- Speculum Umbrae - A Speculum Umbrae is an intricate crystalline device formed of layer upon layer of circuitry arrayed like the petals of a flower—a piece of barely understood archeotech infused with Warp-knowledge of the Heretek Mechanicus Calixis faction of the Empyric Engineers. A handbreadth wide, it is much heavier than it looks and consumes power prodigiously. The dead keep their secrets, but sometimes a Radical Inquisitor must have those secrets. At great risk to the soul, it is possible to summon shades of the dead via the dark arts of the Anima Mori; Hereteks of the Empyric Engineers who use the Speculum Umbrae device to achieve this end. When active, the Speculum crackles with energy as it draws forth visions of madness and dead souls formed from particles of Warp-matter. The sane Heretek employs Immateria Wards and Servitor labour-proxies to avoid direct exposure. Commoners upon most Calixian worlds believe in ghosts: that the dead sometimes linger where they died, seeking vengeance or trapped by unfilled desires. Hive World Ecclesiarchs preach against these beliefs and call ghosts the evidence of foul witchcraft. It is Adeptus Ministorum orthodoxy that all souls go before the God-Emperor—He protects, and no-one is overlooked. In contrast, Empyric Engineers assert that the Empyrean records echoes of tormented death-throes and the mind that made them, ripples in the Warp that drift across time to exert their influence upon the Materium. Regardless, ghosts raised by the Speculum Umbrae are not who they were; they are hollow shells of souls, indistinctly formed of glowing Warp-motes and filled out by the tides and evils of the Empyrean. They may have the answer that a Radical seeks, or they may be screaming, glowing phantasms that try to possess the living. Only the strong-willed can stand before moaning Warp-ghosts and compel answers to their questions.
- Vore-Weapons - Vore-Weapons are genetically engineered beasts, a living assassin’s tool crafted by Heretek Genetor and Xenobiologis Tech-adepts from raw xenos breeding material. This crafting is a dangerous practice for a Mechanicus Tech-priest. While the Omnissiah blesses the toil that created the Grox, Beremoth, and a dozen other worthy Imperial agri–breeds, the creation of new xenos beasts from breeds declared corrupt or vile is tech–heresy. The line between the sacred and the Heretek Xenobiologis is smudged and often redefined, but the creation and use of Vore-Weapons are emphatically tech–heresy in the Calixis Sector. No faithful servant of the God–Emperor would create or employ such obviously corrupt xenos life, and those who do must be hunted down and burned.
Dark Mechanicus Rituals
Not all Chaos rituals are matters of what might be considered "pure warpcraft." There also exists a dark and forbidden strain of technological lore which deals in the manipulation of the Warp long proscribed by the Adeptus Mechanicus. This corrupted science lurks as a nightmarish shadow that perverts the empirical understanding of the universe with the insane Maletek Incarna of the Dark Mechanicus. Such Incarna, though blessedly rare, are every bit as dangerous as a Chaos Sorcerer's summonings and often far more insidious, able to corrupt signals, possess circuits, mutate metal, and sunder physical laws in terrifying patterns.
- Bronze Malifect - A Bronze Malifect is a profane device that appears as an ugly arrangement of bronze augmetic limbs infused with a murderous spirit of the Warp. This malefic machine was the result of a strange tech-heresy that gripped the Josian Reach Sub-sector of the Calixis Sector in the latter half of the 8th Century of the 41st Millennium. The Augmetic Scholae, Tech-priests who built and maintained cybernetic devices, became Warp-tainted in many diverse locations. The Hereteks built malformed machine altars and conducted corruptions of Mechanicus rituals. They succumbed to madness and mind-rust, engraved screeds of Warp-nonsense across every surface, and toiled upon twisted devices. The bronze autolimbs are plasma-welded together such that the mass is joined into one large device, capable of articulation and movement. When active and infused with the power of the Warp, a Malifect moves rapidly with purpose and malignant intent. The daemon-spirit within guides the machine beast and senses terrified victims through unknown means—the malifect incorporates no ocular components or processing devices capable of initiating movement. It is the Warp alone, clothed in metal, hungry for death and pain, that motivates the device.
- Maltek Stalker - A Maltek Stalker is the chosen assassin and favoured agent of the outlawed and malign Phaenonite faction of the Inquisition. The Maletek Stalker is a living fusion of murderous skill, profane technology and the power of the Warp. These dark weapons given form are nightmarish shadows that serve only the Phaenonite cause, sowing terror and death among the faction’s enemies, and by their very diabolic nature epitomise the horror and malice of the Phaenonite doctrine. Maletek Stalkers are built rather than made. First, the Phaenonites select a trained killer of consummate ability from the ranks of their tried and tested servants. This candidate must also be of considerable mental and physical fortitude to stand a chance of surviving the process, and the Phaenonites have long known that a body and soul that has already felt the touch of Chaos is likely to yield the best results. The candidate is then taken by the sect’s Dark Magos and Hereteks and subjected to a series of nightmarish occult rituals and a grueling series of cybernetic and bionic implants. Not all those chosen survive the Hereteks' attentions, but those that do are profoundly transformed, their killing powers drastically augmented and possessed of a daemon’s taste for slaughter. The Potentia Coil powering the Maletek Stalker’s implants is known as a Maletek Warp Coil, a dark fusion of ancient technology and occult science, engraved with dark runes and suffused with the energies of the Warp. As a result, a Stalker’s implants may "heal" on their own if damaged just as normal flesh would, slowly re-knitting and repairing themselves (he may not be healed by first aid, only by the Stalker’s natural healing and talents). The Stalker’s augmetics are twisted mockeries of those gifted to the Machine Cult’s priesthood, attuned and powered by the malefic energies of the Warp, which suffuse the Stalker’s body with unnatural vigour. These systems react more like flesh than metal, and thanks to the malign power that courses through them can even heal when damaged, and have been seen to scar and weep steaming blood, and may even "evolve" as time progresses to better reflect the dark soul within. The most potent and terrible effect of the Stalker’s Maletek implants, however, is to allow the assassin to feed on the lives taken to bolster his own, ultimately acquiring an unnatural hunger for murder even the Phaenonites find hard to control.
- Schismaticals - Within the depths of ancient Cogitator cores of the infotombs of the mighty infotemples of the Lathe Mechanicus world of Hadd, lurk malign data spirits (artificial intelligence routines) known as Schismaticals. A Schismatical is a memory–cloud of suppressed ideas, an archive of heretical data that should have been destroyed, a folio of vile plans and whispers that has acquired forbidden volitional urges. It incorporates data–patterns by which other Machine Spirits can be rapidly corrupted into echoes of itself, and so the predatory Schismatical awaits the one unlucky Machine Spirit trespasser that it consumes and supplants so as to bear it to the Forge World above. Once free, a Schismatical rampantly converts an army of Machine Spirits to its cause. It creates machine covens populated by its echoes, each of which is an independent Schismatical in its own right.
- Forge of Nightmares - The Forge of Nightmares is a huge bio-mechanical construct comprised of an oily black lattice of supports, struts, and braces. This outer shell only barely restrains the bulging, reddish, fleshy masses that expand and contract at a regular rate, akin to a monstrous pulsing heart. The Forge consists of four greater and four lesser furnaces radiating equidistantly out from a central vent; each furnace ends in an opening resembling a distended mouth. The furnaces are two to three metres in height, whilst the central stack is well over 10 metres tall. Even when supposedly quiescent, the furnaces draw in air, with various foul vapours being expelled from the towering vent. Those who have viewed a Forge in this state find it uncomfortably similar to the act of respiration. Supposedly, these monstrosities are shaped in order to hold a great and terrible daemon of unimaginable power, although some swear a Forge is actually the daemon itself assuming physical form in our world. In either case, even the merest hint of a Forge of Nightmare’s existence will bring the full force of the Ordo Malleus to bear, as an unchecked Forge brought to full operation can render an entire world over to the Forces of Chaos. Once lost to the Imperium in such a manner, the only recourse to save the doomed world is Exterminatus. Certain documents and numerous Inquisitors link Forges with the appearance of the Tyrant Star of the Calixis Sector. The prevailing opinion is that a Forge is meant to draw a daemonic entity known as Komus to it, weakening the fabric of realspace so the Immaterium can leak through. Whilst others dispute this theory, no one can deny that an operating Forge of Nightmares lives up to its name, bringing forth madness and violence over a wide area and leaving only ruin and despair in its wake. Activating the Forge of Nightmares requires at least eight malefic cultists—one to stand at the opening to each furnace—and as many sacrifices as deemed necessary. The forge is fueled by human souls and will greedily consume any and all that are forced screaming into each of its furnaces. Once the first sacrifices have been fed to the Forge, it will start to shudder, the furnaces appearing to swallow each victim as blood and other unnamable fluids begin to seep from various small orifices scattered over the forge’s surface. As the forge consumes souls, a Chaos Sorcerer can attempt the ritual that activates it fully. Once activated, the air above the Forge's vent will start to shimmer and ripple as the fearsome construct starts to moan. Soon, strange scintillating colours will pour forth from the Forge’s vents, accompanied by shrieks and howls as the barriers between this world and the Warp begin to break down. As these barriers fray, a full-scale psychic Warp Storm will begin to rage about the Forge of Nightmares: the sky will roil with dark clouds, showers of flesh and blood will fall from above, lightning will strike not in bolts but in sheets, foul spirits will walk freely, technological devices will suffer from a myriad of problems before failing outright, and weak men will go hopelessly mad.
- Black Crusade Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 44-46
- Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pp. 201-202
- Dark Heresy: Creatures Anathema (RPG), pp. 16-17, 21-22, 26-28, 32-36
- Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods (RPG), pp. 40-51, 62, 192
- Dark Heresy: Edge of Darkness (RPG), p. 28
- Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), p. 38
- Dark Heresy: The Radical's Handbook (RPG), pp. 44-47, 52-53, 120-122, 162, 176-177, 189-195
- Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pp. 85-93
- Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (RPG), pp. 89-94
- Deathwatch: The Emperor Protects (RPG), pp. 104-131
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks - Part Two, p. 163
- Know No Fear (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Rogue Trader: Hostile Acquisitions (RPG), pp. 32-33
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition), p. 125
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Mechanicum (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Battle for the Abyss (Novel) by Ben Counter
- First and Only (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Storm of Iron (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Iron Warrior (Novella) by Graham McNeill
- The Chapter's Due (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Heroes of the Space Marines (Anthology), "Skull Harvest" by Graham McNeill
- Eye of Vengeance (Audio Book) by Graham McNeill
- Titanicus (Novel) by Dan Abnett