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Heterodyne

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“And lo, did the Opus Machina appear before our Fathers, and reveal the Omnissiah to us, that we might know the Truth.”

–Excerpt from the Vox Rotuli Uziel

Once little more than a forgotten feudal world on the edge of the Hazeroth Abyss, a century ago Uziel was ceded as a result of political maneuverings into Mechanicus control and renamed Heterodyne. The Magos have maintained a surprisingly light hand, subtly influencing the planet’s development and infiltrating its ruling elite with advisors. As a result of their efforts, the world has thrived. Now feudal primitivism and the techno-arcane exist side-by-side. It is a world where cyber-augmented beasts pull the ploughs in fields still sown by hand, and liveried gun-servitors patrol the battlements of stone castles. The aristocracy has begun to embrace the Omnissiah and its servants as the ultimate guarantee of their power. Whether this unusual approach by the world’s distant overlords is some generations-long experiment or some rarely used but established practice of the Mechanicus remains unknown.

OverviewEdit

For most within the Calixis Sector who would think of such things, the image of one of the planets that the Adeptus Mechanicus controls brings forth the highly industrialised, heavily polluted scene of a typical forge world. The majority of the Lathe Worlds indeed fit this pattern, each almost identical when viewed from orbit. Thick layers of smoke and waste gases nearly obscure surfaces covered with technological development, even as huge refinery platforms churn from one ore-spike to another. Pyramidal cathedrals of metal and plasteel tower into the skies, lost in the noxious clouds. Endless vessels move across the planet, carrying the products of the forges across the Sector: munitions, vehicles, weapons, voidship components, even pre-fabricated foodstuffs. New worlds in the Sector that the Adeptus Mechanicus comes to occupy almost invariably become forge worlds, living symbols of the Opus Machina on a planetary scale. Few worlds escape such a fate. Uziel is one such planet, barely touched after the Cult Mechanicus claimed control. On it resides Heterodyne Station, where Tech-Priests oversee a planet’s population slowly transforming from inconsequential labourers to valuable resources for the Lathes.

A World Left BehindEdit

There are few authoritative reports as to when Uziel was originally settled; most believe it was long ago in the heady days after the Angevin Crusade completed its holy work and birthed the Calixis Sector. Early reports spoke of a sparse world with few resources of note. Its location, on the edges of the Hazeroth Abyss, gave it no strong military value. It did, however, have acceptable environmental standards to easily support humans and continue the rightful and ordained occupation of the Sector. As such, colonist-transports were dispatched to claim the world, filled with pilgrims ready to take an empty world and turn it into a beacon to the God-Emperor, another light in this formerly dark region of space.

That light soon went out. There were untold other hundreds of worlds in the Sector of more importance, so little effort was spent to investigate. Warp storms in the area also limited any proposals to reclaim the planet. Years passed into centuries, and Uziel became just one of many failed colonies whose sparse records cluttered the many dusty data-crypts buried on Scintilla. It was only through accident that, little over a hundred years ago, Rogue Trader Jad Osperoux rediscovered the world through an ill-timed exit from the Immaterium, leaving his vessel near its system.

The long years of isolation had devolved the surviving colonists to little more than relative primitives, banded together for protection against the packs of feral beasts that roamed the land. There was little or no functioning technology remaining, and those devices that still operated were kept more as venerated relic than useful mechanism. Most served as base laborers through feudal oaths to those above them, tied together in protective networks. Only oral histories could relate the tales passed down through the generations, of how the colony split along religious schisms and attacked one another, destroying what civilization they had established. Those areas that still retained defensive works thrived, and those that controlled them became leaders and then barons, rulers over the lands they protected. The largest fortification, dubbed Heterodyne, was now the de facto center of civilization.

Osperoux found no profit on Uziel, but news of it fetched him enough Thrones to refurnish his ship. The Ministorum made ready to revisit the world, only to find that others had been working quietly to claim ownership before their mission could begin. A senior Factor of the Lathes presented the final proclamation, arrived at through a series of adroit political schemes and trades, the details of which have never been revealed. The Lathes took ownership over the world, a most unusual action given the lack of any clear use to the Mechanicum.

The Arrival of the Machine CultEdit

Outside observers could not fathom the Lathes’ interest in this world, there being none of the ores, minerals, or even archeotech deposits that normally called their attention. Even more puzzling still, the Mechanicus landed with little of their normal, overwhelming presence, normally designed to efficiently, if brutally, transform a world into a factory. Instead, the arrival of the planet’s new owners was something rarely seen in the Sector: peaceful and subtle.

Huge ships did land, but far from the castle-like fortresses that dotted the populated areas. Scores of Factors, chosen for their still-human looking appearance, used their wondrous technologies and camouflaged augmetics to dazzle the populace and install themselves as counsellors and advisors. The barons and other leaders grew to appreciate such assistance in maintaining their power, and came to rely on such aid. Slowly, seeds were planted. A society already conditioned for obedience was swayed towards adoration of the mechanical, while still retaining its primitive trappings. Over the years, the Factors worked to prepare for the introduction of the Tech-Priests and even more remarkable devices, all of which were part of the great Machine God’s bounty.

More wonders appeared. The great beasts of the hills were hunted and captured, then broken into placid domestic animals, their ferocity destroyed with chem-implants and their bodies improved with mechanical limbs. New tools of light and mirrored metal allowed stonework of perfect design. Fields that once barely sustained a family could now feed multitudes. Archers found their bows could shoot farther, and their arrows able to even move in flight to better hit their targets. Through it all, the Tech-Priests grew in number and now walked the streets openly, replacing the departed Factors as their role was no longer required. No longer were they thought of as grotesque abominations, but instead exalted avatars of a god who manifested his divinity with each new technological miracle.

And yet through all of these changes over the last hundred years, little has changed from the basics of before. The fields are still tilled and sown, though the beasts that draw the ploughs might have cybernetic wheels for legs, and the hands that scatter the grain are often mechanical. Knights practice their skills to defend their domains, but with inertial-lances and riding steeds laced with ropes of synthetic muscle. The castle walls still stand, firmly made of stone and mortar, now adorned with huge Opus Machina icons. Guards walk the battlements and man cannons, though now they are servitors and their cannons fire plasma. The tech-barons now watch over their subjects with eyes augmented with metal and circuitry, their hold over their peoples now increased through engrammic engravings and loyalty implants. Life continues on Uziel, but now it is life underpinned with the Vitæ Mechanica.

The planet now thrives under the guidance and care of the Mechanicum without losing its prior essence, a most unusual occurrence for a Lathe World. Its population grows, and it has even become a foodstuff exporter to nearby forge worlds. It is a shining example of the glories the Mechanicus can bring to a world. This new era for the planet is all guided from one location which the first Factors on the planet immediately claimed for themselves: Heterodyne Station.

The Secrets of HeterodyneEdit

Though it outwardly resembles the other castles of Uziel, Heterodyne has a false façade. While only cursory scrutiny of the planet’s feudal society reveals the new technological modifications and support, the station maintains its primitive appearance even under close examination. The walls are stout stone, but underneath are layers of plasteel and ceramite. Sleek panels can slide away for macrobatteries and lascannons capable of destroying airborne threats. The wide courtyard covers recessed pads for launching speeders and orbital cutters. Throngs of Tech-Priests scuttle about within; few, if any, tech-barons are allowed inside, and only after careful cranial screening for loyalty to the Cult Mechanicus. Only true servitor drones, manufactured in the bowels below, man the battlements and defenses. The castle itself descends many kilometers underground, where vast cathedral-laboratories host the true nature of the Mechanicum’s designs for Uziel.

Here only the Tech-Priests are permitted, creating new technological offerings for the people, always ensuring their new devices are easily adopted. They train and augment the preachers who speak the word of the Omnissiah to their flocks with devices to aid their message. Huge pens house captured beasts, ready for cybernetic-surgeries and their transformation into more productive biological assets. Those who sin against the Machine God are altered to become Serfitors, and those who might discover the hidden truths are transformed into much worse.

Why the Lathes decided to undertake this possibly singular operation on this world remains unclear, though perhaps it was always their plan given the name of the station they now occupy. Certainly, it takes much longer and requires more energy than other forge-implementations require. For over a hundred years, though, it has guided the populace from a primitive existence, useful only perhaps as servitor-base, into a fervent people, united in their faith in the Omnissiah and ready to fight and die in his name. Other worlds may have been transformed though similar means, but none either have survived the process or had their presence revealed.

On Uziel, the Mechanicum have molded a people into the proper worship of technology, something that some within the Lathes hierarchy calculate is more valuable than drone servitude. With little actual machinery in their previous lives, the peoples of Uziel now embrace its benefits, and know how to properly acknowledge the Omnissiah from whom all such blessings flow. Other, rival Tech-Priests insist the world is instead a new tech-heresy, for without proper understanding there can be no proper worship. This has not dissuaded those within Heterodyne from progressing, slowly melding in newer technologies. On other worlds, the Lathes contemplate similar procedures, perhaps involving planetary mind-wiping or vat-growing populations, all the better to start with peoples untouched with misconceptions of the Machine God or bound with other beliefs. Uziel sustains, though, feeding its people and those on other Lathe Worlds, pledging its warriors to battles against the foes of the Mechanicum across the Sector, and offering new knowledge in growing the Cult Mechanicus. It may take many more generations until they are fully satisfied with their work, but the Tech-Priests of Heterodyne are patient.

Fidelus KnightEdit

Like all else on this world, the Mechanicum has taken an existing structure and altered it for their own needs. The Fiedelus Knights had long protected their liege-barons against the great killing beasts as well as rival lords, and it only took subtle modifications to transform them into warriors fit to serve the Cult Mechanicus. Their weapons resembled their ones of old, but were now more powerful and reliable. Their steeds, bolstered with behavioral implants and mechanical upgrades, could carry much more and for longer distances.

The Knights themselves needed little, their faith absolute in their Machine God without any need for engrammic implants. Each now carries the cogwork Opus Machina as their shield, displaying their faith and the glory of the Omnissiah as they ride to battle. Many have even left the planet to join regular Skitarii formations in other parts of the Sector, there to spread the glory of Heterodyne to rival Tech-Priests.

SerfitorEdit

Servitors are a common sight on any Lathe World, where their tireless efforts aid in everything from basic factory work to combat operations. There are many working inside Heterodyne Station, though another variant unique to Uziel is more predominant across the rest of the planet. On this planet, those who transgress against the will of the Cult Mechanicus are not permanently transformed into mindless drones, but instead sentenced to the harshest of labor: the role of augmented Serfitor.

Like all products from Heterodyne Station, Serfitors are another experiment in improving the manner that the Cult Mechanicus controls its subjects. They might be taken for the more mundane servitors on other worlds, for much of their difference is not readily apparent. Their minds are not destroyed, only inhibited from independent thought through a series of cranial implants. Each is linked to central command devices that the tech-barons keep under careful control, so that vast groups of what was once shambling flesh can operate in perfect harmony. Mem-chips were also implanted, granting them skills that would take many seasons to learn. Their bodies are braced with vat-grown tissue, so they can work with little rest. The sentence is not without consequence, for their bodies are altered through other, more obvious, mechanical intrusions to make them better workers. Arms are replaced with automated grain-tillers, legs with churning pistons to crush raw ores for smelting, eyes with thermal scanners for watching livestock; these and more are common Serfitor augmentations. Now freed from contrary thought, they work for the betterment of their lord and the Omnissiah they all serve.

After their sentence is over, their personalities are restored to active awareness. Their lives, however, are permanently disfigured, and few can pay to have their augmentations properly removed. Most are forced to continue laboring in exchange for implants they cannot excise, or live out the rest of their lives disfigured and crippled, a visible reminder to all not to displease the Machine God.

Forge World OriginEdit

A feudal world where the Adeptus Mechanicus has successfully integrated the Machine Cult with day-to-day activities, Uziel is a world that mixes the primitive and the highly advanced. The serfs and petty nobles know nothing of the Ecclesiarchy, as the Magos of the Heterodyne Station have slowly but surely made the Omnissiah the object of the populace’s worship.

Tech-Priests originating from Uziel/Heterodyne Station start with the either the Rite of Awe or Rite of Fear Talent. All other types of characters gain training in either the Trade (Agri) or Trade (Smith) Skill. Further, instead of treating Common Lore (Tech) as an untrained Basic Skill (as normal for a forge world Homeworld Origin), they treat Forbidden Lore (Adeptus Mechanicus) as an untrained Basic Skill instead.

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