Over two thousand miles from Xyphonica, under the ruins of San Cantor there are ‘The Forges’. After the atomic purging of the San Cantor Hive over seven hundred years ago, this is where the Adeptus Mechanicus brethren came looking for salvage and secrets. Whatever they found kept them here, amongst the millions of tonnes of reclaimable scrap.
The years passed and those who remained, in order to continue their work, became more machine than man. Eventually machines were repairing and replacing machines. The Omnissiah would be pleased. Their contact with the outside world, when she was appointed, was a high ranking official from the planetary government. She stayed in ‘The Forges’ as well. Eventually the position became a hereditary position for the daughter of the previous incumbent. Contact with the local government was eventually lost, but ‘the speaker’ remained, and over the years, the holders of the title have developed psychic powers.
On the speakers authority, Skitarri took what they needed from passing trade caravans. Seven hundred years later, the inheritors of the Adeptus Mechanicus mission to Devos IV are almost a folk memory for most of the population. All of their leaders are long gone, preserved as data slugs, venerated by their successors, but never committed to a processor. Oh no. It would not do to awaken the old ones. The speakers have been telling them that for hundreds of years.
What remains today is a society of servitors, ruled by a mad woman, making things in the dark. On the edge of many things. On the edge of the ash wastes, the edge of the known world. On the edge of reality, the edge of the ‘other’ as the speaker calls it.
Under the ruins of the Hive it is hot and dark. There is constant noise and fume. Everywhere the walls drip with leachates from the ruins and condensation from the remaining population. Slaves are kept in chains. They keep some of the processes running. And provide valuable genetic material to keep the mission going. The darkness is lit by bright burning fires, the forges, ducts and channels of molten metal. The lords are the Sorcerer-Engineers, Arcanists, some possessed, some mad. Some feed off of the slaves. They used to be aided by minions, all identical, grown in vats in the image of one supreme soldier of millennia past. These minions are still the overseers of the processes, tormentors of the slaves. But the knowledge of their making and remaking is lost now. Many are lobotomised, slaved to a single task, identical to other servitors throughout the Imperium. But they are wearing out.
The Elder Speaker is a tall strong woman who's ferocity is only matched by her deep mystery. Through sadistic rituals and dangerous story telling traditions she and her acolytes balance the twisted nature of ‘the mission’ and can manipulate the "other" through somewhat unique quasi religious techniques.
Veils worn by the devotees represent a past shrouded in guilt and secrets. The White Speaker cult is forbidding, rituals of blood and delirious narration keep most of Sorcerer Engineers clear. The number of White Speakers remains constant, as one dies another is initiated; too few and they would disappear and too many might create a blood frenzy that the Elder Speaker fears she could not control.
White speakers power is rooted in the names and tales of things. The Elder Speaker shares stories with young listeners bound in chains. The secrets and lore she chants drive them into violent twisted seizures as they try to absorb the words of power. Speakers learn in layers and riddles to protect their mind from dismantling under the weight of what they know.
And all of this happens in secret.