“Me? I hope to never set foot upon that accursed rock again. It’s all that damned scuttling. Every day, every minute, and deep down you just know they are watching you.”
–Derjek Varn, Rating aboard the Drusine Wanderer
In a far-flung asteroid belt, orbiting a lonely star with no name, resides the infamous prison complex known as Sheol 17. A ferrous mass encompasses this foreboding, black spire, which uses a network of massive support struts and enormous fasteners to anchor its great bulk. A tangled maze of pipes and cables swathes the entire structure, and evokes images of a great spider nest in the boughs of a gnarled, black tree. Within this ominous web, hanging like bulbous egg sacs in the void, are clusters of Confinement Units, any of which houses up to a thousand recidivists and malefactors. From across the Calixis Sector and beyond they come, each a special prisoner of the Lathes, condemned for crimes against the Machine God, each with secrets that the Lathes demand be revealed. For them, there is no simple execution or Servitude---they must face Sheol 17 instead.
The Rites of Information ExtractionEdit
Upon arrival, the Tech-Priests of Sheol 17 strip prisoners of any nonessential cybernetic implants and inter them in arcane life-support chambers known as Expurgation Bays. Here they remain in a chemically induced coma, while canted supplications to the Omnissiah and condemnations of those who violate his doctrines bombard their minds and cogitators.
The Expurgation Bays routinely interrupt this fitful slumber in order to probe the accused for any damning or useful information. To this end, in addition to life-support systems, each chamber contains an Explication Array. This device inflicts tortuous pain, discomfort, and despair on the helpless subject within, while the chamber’s automated life support systems ensure that the prisoner is spared the mercy of death. The Archivids, spindly constructs that resemble the arachnids of ancient Terra, eagerly oversee the routine ministrations of these sinister implements. These servitors record all utterances, biological or cybernetic responses, and synaptic fluctuations in exhaustive detail on data scrolls that feed perpetually from their distended torsos.
The Explication Arrays are also capable of interfacing with any implanted cogitator systems and memory coils, ruthlessly stripping every bit of cognitive data from the subject’s augmented cortex. Data-factorisers, code scrubbers, and other harvesting protocols thoroughly examine all inloaded data for virulent scrap code, corrupt memory files, and other detrimental information. If any security protocols and sub-routines within the Heretek’s mind try to resist, logic-cants, cipher-shunts, and cognitive-fractors relentlessly disassemble them until no pre-programmed resistance remains. This process of forcefully retrieving data from an augmented brain is absolutely excruciating to the condemned, but the Archivids are unable to respond to such factors, only to record the data acquired.
Subjects who prove particularly resistant to the blessed mechanisms within the Expurgation Bays disappear into the spire itself, where they fall beneath the ministrations of the Magos Interrogus and his Excruciator Servitors. These macabre Tech-Priests excel at peeling away lies and extracting the truth from the most unwilling of subjects. Meanwhile, the Excruciator Servitors continuously monitor the vital biological and synaptic functions of the unfortunate specimen, while applying even more agonizing tools, chemicals, and inducements to his unyielding flesh. Together, these servants of the Omnissiah exploit every nerve, synapse, circuit, and servo within their victim’s body to the greatest possible effect, bringing the accused to the very limits of sanity and sentience.
When the Archivids obtain a pre-set amount of data, they convey it to the Vault of Censure, at the deepest point beneath the spire, for partitioning, analysis, and archiving. This agonizing process continues until every last byte of incriminating data from the condemned resides in the vault. Once certainty is achieved, the Cleansing Pits receive the prisoners and grant them their absolution: final death, or life as a servitor.
Sheol 17 hosts diligent coteries of Tech-Priests who continuously toil to create servitors for a myriad of functions. Endlessly they prod and cut, graft and splice, commonly using the condemned as unwilling test subjects for novel or more efficient servitor patterns. Such things constitute the final experiences of the Hereteks on Sheol 17, before their brain ceases to register such trivialities as conscious thought, and Sheol’s rune of a cog within a cog is branded into their flesh. While the ranks of arachnoid Archivids and specialized Excruciator Servitors claim many recidivists on Sheol 17, a select few serve their penance as one of the infamous Murder-Servitors, who seek nothing more than to rend the flesh of their victims, and drag the shredded corpses back to their masters.
There are whispers of Expurgation Bays hidden within the deepest crevices of Sheol 17 that contain Hereteks who display blasphemous and unsanctioned psychic abilities. These cells supposedly harness technology of a forgotten age, and are said to resonate with the moans and cries of the souls within. Scattered accounts of these devices tell of unexplained power fluctuations, invisible forces hurling objects about, and sudden visions of death, destruction, and madness. Perhaps most disturbing of all are the descriptions, of the sickly glow surrounding the bays themselves and of fleeting impressions of tortured, screaming faces upon their metal shells.
Web of IntrigueEdit
The Overseer of Sheol 17, Arch-Magos Aracdis Hasrix, is a shadowy figure within the Lathe Worlds hierarchy. For centuries, the reclusive keeper of this prison has dwelt within his spire, jealously guarding his position and the secrets of his inner sanctum. The Archivids throughout the facility are said to mirror his own unique modifications, the most prominent of which are the mechadendrites which sprout from his back and torso. These powerful cybernetics resemble the legs of some great insect, and are easily capable of conveying the Arch-Magos throughout his domain.
Hasrix is a very influential figure in Lathe World politics, with strong contacts in both the Lathe-Covenant and the Lords Dragon. Some suspect that his reach may even extend into the ranks of the Calixian Conclave itself, and rumours of the dreaded Black Ships hanging suspended in geostationary orbit near the spire are common. Whether or not Arch-Magos Hasrix stands to gain from these clandestine transactions remains to be seen. The Overseer of Sheol 17 continues his position and status, and any allegations that he takes too personal an interest in his mysterious vault or inquiries concerning his other questionable pursuits, have remained unproved.
Archivids are one of Hasrix’s proudest designs. Each spindly creation is roughly one meter long, with a fleshy body, three pairs of articulated cybernetic legs, and trailing scrolls of data relating to their numerous charges. Archivids freely roam the station, quickly scaling the winding walls and ceilings of the station’s irregular interior with ease. They seem to take a distinct pleasure in administering to their captive wards, tittering with excitement as they cluster around any active bays to record the results of their labors.
Sheol-Pattern Murder ServitorEdit
Sheol 17 is just one of many facilities where those who have committed offences against the Omnissiah find absolution as one of the skull-masked killing machines known as Murder Servitors. The Sheol-Pattern, adapted for use within the confines of the remote prison complex, is unique in that it utilises a powerful solvent weapon, capable of stripping away organic matter without harming the station’s many vital systems. Though some of these twisted fiends prowl other Mechanicus holdings, most remain on Sheol 17 to form a deadly line of defence against potential prison breaks and trespassers within the facility. Brandishing gleaming mono-talons and deadly Viscerator-limbs, they ceaselessly stalk their designated domains, relentlessly searching for any signs of life. After locating prey, they attack in a savage orgy of rending and slashing, sadistically reducing their quarry to bloody tatters.
These specialized constructs serve as aides to the dreaded Magos Interrogus of Sheol 17. Each Excruciator Servitor is able to monitor prisoner vital signs, as well as assist in any necessary triage. These automatons also wield fiendish modifications called Excruciator Arrays, ghastly devices capable of inflicting all manner of pain and torture on their victims. Tirelessly, they serve the Magos Interrogus in their grisly work, heedless to cries of pain and pleas for mercy.