"The galaxy is a midden scattered with the bones of humanity's glory."
- — Aphorism dictated by Archmagos Paracelcus Thule
The Disciples of Thule are an influential radical faction of the Adeptus Mechanicus within the Calixis Sector of the Segmentum Obscurus. They follow the path set by their spiritual leader, the Archmagos Paracelsus Thule.
Many standard centuries old, Thule's Explorator fleet disappeared out beyond the edge of Mankind's domain for solar decades at a time. It is said to be vast, and many Explorator Tech-adepts and Magi have served under his tutelage over the years, passing on his teachings to their juniors in turn. Thule's instruction centres on identifying pre-Imperial human technologies and sets the goal of finding the relics of Mankind's glorious past above all other concerns and risks.
This lack of caution makes Thule and those following him something of a radical faction within the Cult Mechanicus, but a powerful and influential one in the Calixis Sector. Thule's disciples centre their pursuit of the Quest for Knowledge entirely on analysis and study, valuing the acquisition of pure knowledge above all other concerns like engineering or other applied sciences.
They disdain physical confrontation and are often so wrapped up in cogitation they fail to notice what is in front of them. Some Inquisitors appreciate this curiosity in their Tech-priests, finding it preferable to the narrow thinking and conservatism many others of their kind demonstrate, even though curiosity almost always carries its own dangers.
For many long centuries, the Explorator Fleet of Magos Paracelsus Thule has pushed as far beyond the boundaries of the Imperium as possible, never content with those places already under the Emperor’s rule. It is very likely they voyaged into the Koronus Expanse secretly long before Purity Lathimon discovered the Koronus Passage.
The scarcity of contact with the Disciples of Thule makes it difficult to confirm anything of their movements, and the Mechanicus within the Calixis Sector states that Thule's fleet did not venture into the Expanse before the Maw was discovered.
Quite how this is possible is unknown; while rumours and legends of the Koronus Passage have existed for several millennia, since Explorators and Rogue Traders first mapped what has since become the Calixis Sector, Thule's Explorators have only rarely been seen entering it from either side, leading many to suspect that the Magos and his closest followers know of other, secret routes through the Great Warp Storms.
This alone has resulted in more than a few clashes between Rogue Traders and the Adeptus Mechanicus as the former have attempted to wrest these secrets from the Explorators. Thule's fleet has not existed as a single coherent entity since the fourth century of the 41st Millennium, and his followers are united more out of a sense of common philosophy and collective respect for their nominal leader.
Many of the smaller fleets that identify themselves as Disciples of Thule are led by Magi who studied under Thule himself at some earlier point in their careers. Others simply have adopted Thule's philosophies -- for his views are ones commonly and often controversially aired amongst the Tech-priests of the Calixis Sector and surrounding regions -- but bear no specific connection to him.
In any case, few who identify themselves as Disciples of Thule are ever seen in Port Wander or the Calixis Sector more than once a decade, and some who have been encountered in the Expanse have not returned to Imperial Space in over seventy years.
The latter group -- those who follow Thule's example, rather than the man himself -- are becoming increasingly common with each decade that passes. The last time that Paracelsus Thule was seen in Imperial space was upon Port Wander, nearly two centuries ago. While rumoured sightings of his flagship (a non-standard Cruiser-class vessel known as the Revelation) within the Expanse are numerous, nobody seems able to confirm where he is, or even if he is still alive.
With adherents to his philosophy swiftly becoming the majority within the Disciples of Thule, even those who follow him have little idea as to his location or his fate. Amidst all the rumour and speculation, stands one man -- Mortigen Hale. One of Thule's oldest students and a prominent member of the Disciples of Thule, Hale claims to know for certain that his old mentor is still alive.
More importantly, he claims to know his location. Hale recently returned to the Calixis Sector to repair and resupply, and brings with him news of Paracelsus Thule's greatest triumph -- the supposed discovery of an intact STC database, deep within the Koronus Expanse. Thule, Hale claims, has spent the last few decades unlocking its secrets and will soon return with the knowledge he has discovered.
The uproar this claim has caused is considerable, with many condemning Thule of heresy for presuming to delve so deeply into sacred STC lore. Others claim that Thule and his followers are all insane, tainted by long exposure to the wilderness of the Expanse, and that this talk of an intact STC database is nonsense.
A few say that perhaps Thule's followers have found something far worse, something vile and destructive beyond the imaginations of men. Thule himself is not present to answer these accusations, and his last words before departing into the Koronus Expanse in the 7th century of the 41st Millennium provide little in the way of understanding as to what he sought: “I am driven to seek it, this ageless artifice. It is power and knowledge beyond any I have encountered, and it calls to me more strongly than anything I have ever known.” The most recent rumours of his whereabouts say that his flagship is twisted and deformed, a mockery of its former glory. This does not bode well for Thule, if he even still lives to command the Revelation.
Scholars of the Void
One of the most numerous factions within the Calixian Mechanicus, the followers of Archmagos Paracelsus Thule believe that the Cult Mechanicus' eternal Quest for Knowledge is best pursued in the field. Disciples of the itinerant Archmagos are the most fervent supporters of the Mechanicus' Explorator fleets. They believe the best way to serve the Omnissiah and utilise the limited resources on hand is to seek out the ancient technologies of the past and to follow the paths of the ancients wherever they may lead.
Such concerns as fame, political ramifications, and even personal safety matter nothing to the Disciples of Thule as they pursue their quest into the deep, cold recesses of space in the hopes of pushing the boundaries of knowledge further and further back.
The Disciples of Thule are not a proscribed or radical sect, although they are not entirely welcomed into the orthodox Mechanicus body politic due to their singular focus on exploration to the detriment of all else. Others look upon these dedicated Adepts with bemused tolerance for the most part, unless one of their expeditions claims the resources or personnel of a rival Imperial Adepta, at which point the conflicts can quickly escalate.
Archmagos Paracelcus Thule's vast Explorator fleet is a potent force in the Calixian Mechanicus. Despite that, he and his followers disappear beyond the sector's boundaries for decades at a time. In 528.M41, a sub-fleet of Thuleans under Magos Solus Kanceme entered the Koronus Expanse and scattered far and wide, spurning Xenos Worlds in search of pre-Imperial artefacts sacred to the Omnissiah.
Little is known of Kanceme's fate. The Disciples of Thule are a mystery to the Rogue Traders of the Expanse, vanished into the far voids for centuries now, uncommunicative and fixated upon their own goals. Many believe the Thuleans lost, consumed by the myriad dangers of the Expanse.
If the devotees of Paracelcus Thule still come and go through the Koronus Passage, then they do so secretively, avoiding both Port Wander and Footfall. A Rogue Trader who finds himself vying with Thuleans for a prize of ancient human technology should consider them as great and ruthless a foe as any xenos breed.
The guiding philosophy of Archmagos Paracelsus Thule is alive and well throughout the Adeptus Mechanicus in the Calixis Sector. During his infrequent visits, the Archmagos has inspired widespread loyalty to his vision for the Quest for Knowledge, and a significant portion of Calixian Tech-priests respect his wisdom. None are more fervent in their admiration than High Fabricator Castellar, the apex of authority of the Mechanicus within the Calixis Sector.
He once served aboard Thule's fleet as a lowly Electro-priest, and has never forgotten the wonders that Thule showed him during his travels aboard the Explorator's ship. Thulean Disciples can be found at nearly all levels of Adeptus Mechanicus society within the Calixis Sector -- large numbers of them act as archeoexhumators, searching locations such as Seedworld AFG:218, Lythea Haarlock's tomb, and the planet known only as Designate 228-18. The Disciples were the first to locate and study the drifting sepulchres of the Yu'Vath, and then only after a direct order from the High Fabricator.
- Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pg. 37
- Dark Heresy: The Lathe Worlds (RPG), pp. 14, 23, 75, 78
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 359
- Rogue Trader: Edge of the Abyss (RPG), pp. 90-91