- "Halt! The Fabricator insisted on a purity of .000002%, else the pouring is invalid. Your result of .00003% is unacceptable. Expel the tonnage and prepare to re-pour the smelting."
- — Smelt-Adept Baric Orelow-Zeta
The trailing side of the Cyclopian Sub-sector is a vast expanse of open space. On its inner edge sits the Forge World of Selvanus Binary, known throughout the Askellon Sector for the high quality of its products. One of the smallest of four planets in a binary star system, it is the only one capable of handling life forms. Even so, the forges have irrevocably altered the planet to suit their needs, by covering the surface in all manner of refineries and manufacturing centres. It is now a highly polluted planet, toxic to any human without protective gear or heavy augmentations, and very inhospitable -- as per the Omnissiah's wishes.
Though not the seat of power for the Askellian Mechanicum, Selvanus Binary holds itself as the true bastion of the Omnissiah's Will, as made manifest in the creations of his followers. Their strict adherence to this code and the Universal Laws has enabled them to refine the production of the most common STC patterns into wholly superior products. Their obsessive attention to detail also significantly reduces their capacity to produce the quantities other worlds demand -- one of the reasons, most assume, that the forges of Askellon are ruled instead from Cerix Magnus.
Selvanus is also home to the Vaults, an artificial moon that remains in geosynchronous orbit above the High-Fabricator's forge complex. Many believe that items of incredible technology from aeons ago lay housed on that satellite, waiting to be studied and possibly replicated. Only the revered members of the Quorum Primus and the most revered of the Selvanian Priesthood are allowed inside, and even they do not all have equal access. All members of the Selvanian leadership know that there are many secrets they are not privy to, for there are levels upon levels within the complex that deny them entry. Those who have entered are only able to speak of their detached amazement and fear at what lies beneath its surface, but no one is able to describe a single item. It is believed that only the Quorum Primus has access to the entire contents of the Vaults, and most have not accessed it in many solar decades.
The relationship between Selvanus and the other Forge Worlds is a tenuous one, for it is isolationist even by the measures of the Tech-priesthood. Surrounding the planet are the standard defence platforms and satellites, but also a series of twenty very large space stations designed as its interface with the rest of the sector. No one outside the Adeptus Mechanicus has been closer to the surface than these stations for many centuries, or at least none admit to the deed. Only a handful of the Fabricator-General's emissaries have been inside the forges. The Selvanian Priesthood dislikes disturbances from outsiders as much as intervention from within its own order, and the defence platforms have a standing order to shoot down any unauthorised spacecraft that approaches the surface.
The forges are run by High-Fabricator Dinuum, a long time protégé of several on the Quorum Primus, and ostensibly the third in line to govern the Askellian forges, after his mentor and Arch-Magos Vas-Rhia of Rhodin IV. Dinuum is a true devotee of the Omnissiah, having realised that only by being as precise as possible can they, as His followers, truly create His works.
His overzealous interpretations of the Universal Laws have carried down through the ranks of the Forge World, to the point where they are unquestioned in the forges. Given the command of Selvanus at a fairly young age, Dinuum has been in control for over 250 standard years, largely due to his heavily augmented body and the aid of his own personal staff of Magi Biologis, who perpetually keep his few remaining organics healthy and strong. He seldom leaves the system, and usually only because he is summoned to Cerix Magnus. He has, however, made many trips to the Vaults as of late, a fact not lost upon others of the Arch-Magi.
Purity of FormEdit
The working doctrine of Selvanus Binary is that the Omnissiah's Will can only be seen in the works of His chosen ones. To that end, the Tech-priests slavishly devote themselves to purifying and consecrating every step of the manufacturing process. From adding sacred oil into vats of liquefying metal to the recitations of each of the Universal Laws in-between each strike of the pneumatic hammers, the devotion to their faith is heard and seen in every stage of development. It has been this way for centuries, and though the end results are almost lawless devices, the quantities they produce are minuscule. The Quorum Primus has tried for many standard years to convince the Logi and Artisans of Selvanus to balance out the desire for quality with the need for quantity, and has always failed because they agree on one simple belief: a decrease in quality is considered failure in the eyes of the Omnissiah.
This has driven the Selvanian Priesthood to scrutinise every single detail to degrees most other forges would not even fathom. Materials are routinely cast away as being impure should any substance not part of the consecrated pattern accidentally find its way into them. Stories of immense cauldrons of molten metal being poured directly into crust-drains due to a thread from a Tech-priest's robe falling into them, or sacred unguents deemed unit for use because they were stored on the incorrect shelf, have been told for ages.
There is considerable waste in these actions, both in raw materials and time, but there is no arguing with the results, however. The craftsmanship from the Selvanus forges is, in many ways, the pinnacle of the Adeptus Mechanicus' capabilities, and there is never a shortage of buyers willing to pay the price. This obsession with precision has come with a cost, however. Not everyone on Selvanus Binary adheres to the code as strictly as Dinuum would like. As the procedures and processes grow ever more stringent, some of the more aggressive Tech-priests have begun to question the High Fabricator's logic and his sanity. The constant stream of production data from his attendant Servo-skulls has occasionally driven him into a fugue state where he is immobilised often for solar hours on end, only to emerge from it reengaging with whatever activity he was doing before. Many other of the senior Artisans and Magi have attempted to decipher the data coming from the skulls, but it is in a code that only the High-Fabricator is able to understand. Attempts to aid Dinuum have been rebuffed, and anyone questioning his judgement often faces severe retribution.
According to furtively canted tales, one such occurrence happened soon after his ordination. One of Dinuum's peers, Artisan-Magos Karpathos, questioned the new High-Fabricator as to what it was that he had seen in the Vaults that made him depart from their previous beliefs. Dinuum rebufed the Artisan-Magos with a furious burst of binaric chatter before turning away to leave, a cloud of unfamiliar Servo-skulls protectively floating about him. Karpathos was never seen again, but even without his presence, a much larger movement was sparked -- one that operates in the shadows cast by the glow of molten metal.
The Forged AriseEdit
Karpathos' protégés began to ask about the Vaults and when they would be able to study its mysteries. They were told by their superiors-in-knowledge that as the Machine God deemed them worthy, they would be allowed to understand the greater secrets contained there. Many of these Tech-priests reapplied themselves to their lines of study, but they never forgot the loss of their greatest teacher. Several of them claimed he had perished at Dinuum's hand, others that he had made a final trip to the Vaults to discover the secrets for himself. All said, however, that Karpathos had sent them coded transmissions to keep asking questions, each one marked with his personal rune, now subtly changed with fractal micro-crenulations. Calling themselves the Forged and believing that perpetual growth tempers and makes them stronger, they searched for further signs of their mentor, and showed others eager to learn the mysteries of the Vaults. Their hope was that they could help Dinuum see the failed logic of his position and thereby change it. That was not to be.
What started as an ideological break evolved into something entirely different. Following the disappearance of Karpathos, Dinuum continued to purge those with dissenting views. The most senior members of the Forged, those who maintained the original ideologies, calculated that they could engage the High-Fabricator logically. Instead, they were made examples for the rest of the Selvanian Mechanicum to see. Dinuum had them stripped of all bionic augmentation and sprayed the flailing, fleshy remains with a molten mix of impure metals, a monument which still stands outside the personal forge of the High-Fabricator. The rest of the Forged immediately went into deep hiding, until recent times.
Most now who claim to be a part of the Forged have only a rudimentary knowledge of its origins. They have either forgotten or abandoned the hope of its founders, but they still know what they want: the knowledge of the Vaults. The vast majority of their membership comes from the lower-level Tech-priests and novitiates soon after their initial augmentation by the Magi Biologis. They understand the dictates of Dinuum, but also have a strong belief that the Omnissiah has created all technology for Humanity's benefit, and therefore must be studied. Those who have been proven members of this cult have been removed from the forges. None have seen them again, though the increased numbers of Servitors leads many to conclude they still remain on the planet, in body if not mind.
Dinuum has struggled to keep this schism contained within the atmosphere of his planet. He has sought to locate the leaders of the Forged and bring them out into the open, to make examples of them and their treachery. To date, not one of the leaders has been captured, a testament to their cunning and their technical skill. Caught between the demands of Cerix Magnus, the binaric agitation of his own people, and the guardianship of the Vaults, Dinuum is very rarely able to leave the system. In his place go the other Artisan-Magi and Logi to provide all the basic data that the Askellian Fabricator-General requires; any other questions meet with elusive responses and plausible deniability. It is a stalling tactic at best, as the Quorum Primus threatens to place an ultimatum on Dinuum to personally attend at the next convening, or else be stripped of rank. Given the escalation in the tactics by the Forged, he may not maintain power that long.
The Pure of SelvanusEdit
Torn between the demands of Cerix Magnus, the growing rebellion in his own forges, and the terrible, ancient secrets within the Vaults, High Fabricator Dinuum holds to his path, desperately hoping that he can outlast the madness. He knows of the Forged and seeks to reindoctrinate them with the help of the Magi Biologis. The rebels are becoming more overt in their actions, though, and he has thus far been unable to apprehend enough of their leadership to slow them down. More and more frequently, the High-Fabricator goes to the Vaults, almost as though he is seeking new answers to his dilemmas; each time he comes back more determined to obtain higher levels of purity and adherence to the Omnissiah's sacred plans.
Dinuum believes with utter certainty in the aeons-old dangers to the Askellian Mechanicum, and that they must stay sealed away in orbit above him. He has seen the horrors of knowledge gone too far, and the terrors it unleashed upon Askellon many millennia ago, even before the arrival of the Imperium. Even though Knowledge is the underpinning of Understanding, much of what is in the Lower Vaults is too dangerous to know about, much less understand. As the Keeper of the Vaults, he has made this inner core inaccessible to anyone other than himself, the Lord-Fabricator of the Quorum Primus, and Arch-Magos Vas-Rhia, for he knows that any lesser members of the priesthood would succumb to the temptations of forbidden technologies.
He guards against the impurity of new ideas and processes unless they can be proven consecrated and safe, designations he has personally vowed never to give. Under this direction, the last hundred standard years have improved the quality and purity of Selvanian products fifty-fold, but even now Dinuum cannot see how much more he can do. Already, the Machine Spirits of the forge equipment seem to express anger and reluctance to work with him or those who follow his edicts. This only serves to fuel his obsession with maintaining and raising his already incredibly high standards in attempts to appease the spirits, but to less avail each year.
This drive makes him more and more dependent on the swarm of mysterious Servo-skulls providing him the latest production data. They appeared shortly following his ordination and first visit to the Lower Vaults, and he insists they have proven invaluable in helping the Forge World achieve its pinnacle of excellence and purity. They never leave his side and never stop providing data, a nonstop flow of information that is slowly crushing even his incredible processing abilities.
Dinuum feels that his tireless efforts to keep the sanctity of his forges should be enough, and chafes under the Quorum Primus' suggestion that his production rates are insufficient to meet the needs of the Imperium. He alone has seen the price of straying from the Omnissiah's path, and he is caught between that potential betrayal to the Machine God and the reality of a rebellion on his doorstep, and perhaps has chosen the evil he knows over the one he cannot comprehend.
The Cult of the ForgedEdit
Originally starting as a counter-discussion to High-Fabricator Dinuum's proclamations, the Forged have taken a more aggressive stance in recent times, creating situations that test Dinuum's ultrapurist views. From adding trace amounts of fluorescent dyes into cooling moulds to slightly diluting sacred unguents for the gears of purity scanners, the Forged tread the line of sabotage very carefully. None of them desire to do permanent damage to the forge complexes, but they do want to shake the cage in which their High-Fabricator has placed himself. Many find evidence of the work of other cells, such as brass shavings that reflect colours beyond the visible spectrum, iridescent feathers littering exhaust vents, and eruptions of screeching harmonics that cause Servitors to stumble and fall. No cell has taken credit for these actions, but all calculations show more favourable probabilities for their cause with each occurrence.
The Forged maintain a semblance of normal duties, but allow themselves a moment before their short sleep cycle to commune and await new transmissions from their lost mentor. Those members proven sufficiently worthy now have a new tech-rune encoded into their cranial implants -- the sigil of the First Questioner, Karpathos. Woven into it is a link to new data, data that generates new thoughts beyond those permitted by the regimentation of Dinuum's dictates. These new ideas are treated as proof that their cause is just, and that the Omnissiah has bestowed them with new Knowledge and Understanding bringing them all to deeper Comprehension.
Though the Forged treat discoveries like this as proof of their connection to the Omnissiah, they cloak their findings from those who adhere to the strict guidance of the High-Fabricator. They know that the day of enlightenment is coming, and only then can the entire priesthood bask in the glory of the new ideas and capabilities they have found.
Those in leadership roles at each forge complex know that the power to reach that point lies in having numbers outweighing the resistance. Many of these leaders have sought new ways to instruct novitiates as they receive their implants, as well as finding new ways to place the rune in the heads of more people. There are even rumours that the Felstaf Complex, the enormous forge responsible for making the majority of the bionic implants used locally, has created circuitry incorporating the elaborate rune, but thus far none have been detected.
Selvanus Binary And the Universal LawsEdit
The Universal Laws are the litany that all new Tech-priests must absorb before they are inducted into proper schooling. At most Adeptus Mechanicus installations, the interpretations of these words are studied and interpreted in largely similar ways. Following his installation as High-Fabricator and Keeper of the Vaults, however, Dinuum made a radically different interpretation altogether of the 6th and 7th Laws. The standard interpretation states that Understanding leads to Comprehension and Comprehension is the Key to All Things, and both of these leave the proverbial door open to deepening Understanding. Dinuum, after experiencing the full extent of the Vaults' contents -- and perhaps comprehending more of the terrible secrets within than any before him -- returned to Selvanus Binary's surface a changed man.
Coming back with a sense of both abject wonder and undeniable terror at what he had seen, he decreed that from that day, the sum of all sacred knowledge is already known and therefore cannot and should not be deepened -- to go further is to blaspheme the Omnissiah's perfection. It is paramount, in his view, to master what is known and follow each step in the known processes to the highest level of precision. As a result, Dinuum constantly monitors the processes of his forges through an omnipresent choir of hovering Servo-skulls, who constantly chatter production data at him, almost goading him into action.
His changes have also led to an unwillingness to explore information brought back by the Explorator Fleets, despite orders to the contrary from the Fabricator-General. Any previously unapproved deviation from long-held sacred plans, whether within allowed tolerances or not, is considered impure and therefore anathema. Dinuum insists the new technology brought back from the fleets has been exposed to unknown influences, and must thus be purified before research can begin. The Quorum Primus recently demanded a compilation of the research done within the Vaults, seemingly unaware that the only things being collected there are dust and ignorance.
- Dark Heresy: Enemies Within (Dark Heresy 2nd Edition) (RPG), pp. 108-113