"Accursed be the Machine cast not in the Crucible of Faith."
- — Catechism of the Autoculus of Mars
The Kaban Machine was an artificially intelligent robot that was secretly developed and constructed by the Dark Mechanicum Heretek Lukas Chrom in the early 31st Millennium, just before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy.
This machine possessed forbidden artificial general intelligence (colloquially referred to as "Abominable Intelligence" or "A.I."), which was considered tech-heresy by the Tech-priests of Mars and was a technology explicitly forbidden to the people of the Imperium of Man by the Emperor. This abominable machine served the forces of the Dark Mechanicum during the dark days of the Schism of Mars.
Standing ten metres tall, the Kaban Machine was roughly spherical in shape with two Mechadendrite-like weapon arms. The robot was equipped with a fearsome array of weapons, the function of some of which were recognisable while others remained a mystery. The robot was a heavy tracked unit that was outfitted with personal Void Shields to protect it from harm.
"They Shall Not Suffer a Machine to Think! For Ruin Shall Be Its Purpose and Accursed Be the Work."
- — Archmagos Takashi Ludd, "Castigations upon the Logistica Corpus"
During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras, Adept Lukas Chrom was the Forge Master of the mightiest forge temple of the city of Mondus Gamma on Mars. Along with several other members of the Mechanicum, Chrom secretly pledged his support for the rebellious Warmaster Horus during the opening days of the Horus Heresy alongside his master, the Fabricator-General Kelbor-Hal.
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 was a fully sentient thinking machine -- a forbidden technology known to the Mechanicum as A.I. (Abominable Intelligence) because similar creations had once turned on their human creators and unleashed a horrific ancient war.
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 in the service of 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 was brought to Mars by High Adept Koriel Zeth, the Mistress of Magma City. Zeth sought to employ her innovative skills in constructing a device that could transcribe all knowledge from the Warp -- the Akashic Reader. Cythera successfully 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 occurred 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 digital 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 in its construction, and the Emperor's Warp-energy flooded Magma City, shielding it from all attacks by the Chaos-spawned scrapcode. The Dark Mechanicum Adepts on Mars were puzzled and became fearful due to 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 resulting battle.
During the subsequent Schism of Mars the Kaban Machine was responsible for aiding the Dark Mechanicum in the attempted conquest of Mars by the Traitors. It is unknown what happened to this horrific machine after the end of the Horus Heresy.
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions (Artbook), "The Kaban Project," pp. 199, 201-203, 205-208, 210-222
- Mechanicum (Novel) by Graham McNeill