“Death is but the beginning. To capture what happens afterwards is our goal.”
–Magos Adeb Xam of the Caste Necrosis
The Hippocrasian Agglomeration orbits the lifeless world of Morwen VI outside of the Adrantis Nebula. The Hippocrasians are a sect of the Adeptus Mechanicus Biologis concerned with the death of flesh: how it occurs, what brings it about and how it can be halted. Today, Morwen VI is orbited by an irregular agglomeration of ships that now make up one of the largest and most secretive Mechanicus independent facilities in the sector.
Consisting primarily of Magos Biologis and Genetors, the Hippocrasian Sect is a fellowship of like-minded adepts forming organically around the study of life and the transition-state between living and death. The Hippocrassians, unlike the vast majority of the Biologis adepts, have come to focus almost solely on the study of death, the passing of the life essence from corporeal to incorporeal, and the process of decay that immediately begins to encroach upon the dying flesh. The Sect itself has never been clear as to the end use of their research, and has responded to inquiries from the Lathe-Covenant and even the office of the High Fabricator himself with vague statements of prolonged life, improved augmetic implantation, and the like. To date, however, the Hippocrasians have filed no official findings or discoveries regarding these fields, or, in fact, any others.
Although the vast majority of the followers of the Sect can be found in the haphazard collection of space craft and observation stations orbiting the dead world of Morwen VI, there are adherents of the Sect spread throughout the Lathe Worlds. Any research station with a Biologis cadre most likely has at least one Magos sympathetic to the fascinations that drive the Hippocrasians. Reports indicate that the Ordo Hereticus holds certain suspicions of the Sect, and the Lathe-Covenant has received warnings that Chaos taint might fester without proper Inquisitorial oversight. To date, however, absolutely no proof of any heretical influence has been found, and there is no reason to believe the adepts of the Hippocrasian Sect are anything other than what they appear; simple researchers merely studying the frailties of the flesh.
After a number of their Genetors were murdered by the rogue Inquisitor Erya Nephthys in her quest for eternal life, relations between the Hippocrasian Agglomeration and the Calixian Conclave have been soured and have yet to recover.
Over a decade ago, a schism within the Hippocrasians led to the creation of the Carnicula. The Carnicula are not solely fixated on mortality and decay, but rather on multifarious approaches to lengthening the lifespan of various vat-grown constructs.
Flesh is weaker than pure machine, yet flesh has unique attractions of its own, mysteries that cannot be resolved if the biological material is simply discarded. Flesh changes, flesh begets new flesh, flesh comes to life, and flesh dies. It is this latter quality that especially fascinates sects within the Magos Biologis of the Lathes. The Magos Biologis commonly study biological systems; those of the xenos in order to defeat them, those of the human in order to improve them. Their work has led to great victories against several alien species and improved augmetic systems, but often to no avail to their standing. They are somewhat shunned within the Lathes, due to their association (oft times unjustified) with some of the more notorious failed experiments and atrocities that have occurred in the Sector and within the Lathes System itself. Traditional Tech-Priests find their interest in organic tissues distasteful, and some even view it as tech-heresy no matter the justification. This has driven many of the Biologis to the remote areas of the Sector, there to conduct their researches.
One such location is on the Adrantine Fringes, in the Morwen System. Orbiting the sixth planet is a void station devoted to studying the impermanence of the flesh, where Tech-Priests can seek to unravel the mysteries of death itself in relative seclusion. The planet below is devoid of native life, making it a fitting place for such investigations. The Hippocrasian Sect operates here, ostensibly an outpost of the Magos Biologis and devoted to corporeal research for the betterment of the Calixis Sector. Like many of the Mechanicum stations in the Sector, however, it contains hidden secrets within. Tech-heresies of the basest sort fester deep under the brightly lit main laboratories, where forbidden sects conduct unholy experiments far beyond the station’s mandate.
A World of DeathEdit
Though records from before the Angevin Crusade are incomplete at best, they indicate the Morwen System was once verdant and lush. Some evidence indicates that it even supported a xenos civilization, which may be the reason it was attacked so thoroughly during the initial stages of the Crusade. An entire battlefleet attended to the world, obliterating any existing life in a cataclysmic bombardment of lance and torpedo that lasted a full six days. The fleet then rested a day, searching for any evidence that anything living survived, before completing the annihilation with a firestorm cannonade that burned any remaining oxygen from the atmosphere. Satisfied with their utter eradication, the fleet departed for other combat operations. Such total devastation is normally done on the order of the Inquisition, but the lack of a more simple cyclonic torpedo attack to accomplish the task indicates otherwise. Other planetary attacks during the Crusade were often as destructive, though seeking only to kill off any xenos or rebellious armies, and not to remove all life no matter the type. Whatever their enemy might have been, the Crusade required its complete extermination and was willing to take valuable time during the war to ensure this goal to the best of their ability.
It took years for the gigatonnes of ash and dust to settle onto the surface, so great as to fill many of the immense craters covering the planet. The world remained silent for scores of decades, with only cyclopean monolithic structures still standing to indicate life once existed there. An Explorator vessel performed a cursory examination of these huge formations, but was unable to even pierce their heavy plate surfaces. Records from this landing are inconclusive as to if the Tech-Priests detected any data of interest, though they did report certain anomalous readings. The ship soon departed, but its report did lead to the arrival of a more dedicated presence of the Machine Cult in the system.
The Agglomeration CoalescesEdit
The Magos Biologis came to the system with a Hippocrasian-pattern orbital, a tall torus of interlocking modular tubes commonly used as void-based laboratory installations. Their Oath of Data before the High Fabricator called for investigations into the cessation of the flesh and methods to prevent or delay such biological failures, and soon Tech-Priests from across the Sector were drawn to the station as word spread across the Lathe Worlds of innovative discoveries coming from its mortuaria slabs. Their presence brought new alchæmical elixirs, tissue-welding devices, organ regeneratives, and other techniques to aid in research. Now dubbed the Hippocrasian Sect, those on the station continued to push the weak flesh to new strengths. Experiments were conducted on hundreds each day, culled from cells and slave pens though few of the Hippocrasians were too curious as to their origin.
The research outgrew the station within a few short centuries, and additional facilities soon sprouted in nearby orbit along with ships set in high anchor. Support orbitals, dedicated docks for mass loading, plasma depots, and more began crowding the space around the original station in a chaotic spread. Such an assemblage became a useful waystation for Explorator vessels making their way outwards to the Nebula. Those on the Lathes who still viewed the sect with suspicion deemed this yet another example of how the study of the flesh can lead to unorganized results, and decried the undisciplined flotilla as the Hippocrasian Agglomeration.
The End of DeathEdit
The work of the Hippocrasian Sect has always trod a fine line between authorized standard Magos Biologis work and tech-heresy. Many of their researches delves into genetic sculpting and vat-flesh grafting, fields were somewhat common within the Adeptus Mechanicus (especially in servitor creation). Some of the Tech-Priests dared to continue even farther along these lines, creating their own flesh gholams, and then using these as experimental subjects into decay and regenerative protocols. Some even attempted to use deviant engrammatic brands to rework nervous systems, convinced that flesh could be forced to reject necrotic decay. These shambling mockeries resist death itself with their stringent protoplasm, and the Caste Necrosis is certain that these represent an important step into the perfection and extension of the flesh.
The Ethereals have instead aimed their study into the transformation from life to death, and the nature of this process. As the body leaves one state for the other, these Tech-Priests bring all their auguries and sensoria into play, seeking to observe what many before them insist cannot be measured. Their true target is the soul, hoping to detect and even capture this elusive item as it departs a dying body. Few of the Mechanicum hold such beliefs as worthy of consideration, but years of examinations have led these researchers to believe that such things do exist, and also that such essence can be ensnared just as it escapes. For what purposes they might use such ethereal membranes, none can imagine. Some have begun using heretical xenos devices to aid them in their quest, surely damning their own souls in the practice.
Many other cadres work their dark research in other manners. The Preservationists act to forestall the ending of breath though any means necessary, no matter what effects their nightmarish actions might have on the body or mind. As long as death is held at bay, they claim success. The Leagues of Ice use techniques involving cryogenic states to stave off tissue failure, employing alternating intensities of temperatures, especially those where the flesh itself turns solid and brittle, to reinvigorate the body. Their few successes remain disputed. The Mechanicals refuse to believe that death actually occurs, and instead use technological aids to continue to motivate the corpse, and foul unguents to maintain the flesh. The bodies refuse to respond to such attentions, but this has not dissuaded this group from further experimentation.
These are but a few of the dangerous groups operating within the Agglomeration, each a splinter from the original founding, but now so divergent in their goals and methods as to be nearly unrecognizable. Others, like the Carnicula, have quit the Sect to pursue their research elsewhere in divergent patterns. Their obsession with death still unites them all however, and, for many, their experiments soon result in their unity with this state.
The Rite of SeteshEdit
Utilized by the rich and powerful whose fear of death is sufficient to overcome their love of humanity, these augmetic rigs (known in Mechanicus lore as the Rite of Setesh) involve the living mummification of a dying body and its emplacement in an all-encompassing exoskeleton designed to keep an advanced aged or disease-ravaged body alive long past natural limits, trapping the body in what amounts to little more than a semi-mobile iron coffin devoid of human contact. The use of these augmetics is largely frowned upon even by the Mechanicus as skirting the edge of techno-heresy in form and function. In the Calixis Sector, only the isolated and independent Magos Biologis of the Hippocrasian Agglomeration are willing to fashion these implant systems, and only then for a price that would beggar a king.
Common: This rite grants a character the Machine (4) trait (except this Trait does not affect his or her mind) and the Regeneration trait. Wounds and mental characteristics are unchanged.
Drawbacks: The character reduces Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill and Agility to half (round down). Life in one of these devices is nightmarish and painful. The character gains 2d10 Insanity Points. Also, the rotted biology contained within adds +5 to any Critical Effect inflicted against the character.