zetetic [zəˈtɛtɪk] adj Proceeding by inquiry; investigating [from New Latin, from Greek zētētikos, from zēteō to seek]
The Zetetics are a cult of around two dozen religious zealots following a renegade Keeper named Hanna (also known as Hanna the Seeker). Hanna believes that the River of Dream and the physical orb are meant to become one, in a process she calls Syncresis, and that she is destined to bring it about. Her followers are exiled and disaffected Keepers (and even a few Fallen) who have likewise come to believe in her vision. Some of them have been drawn to the cult via dreams and visions. Hanna’s vehicle for bringing about this paradise of flesh and spirit is a machine called Pharmakon, whose design came to her in a vision. The cult operates out of a hidden base within the Discarded Lands called the Workshop.
Hanna and her cult are being manipulated by a Melanis Z’bri named Z’vatis (see the Tribe 8 cycle book, Children of Lilith). Z’vatis operates out of The Institute. This medical facility from the World Before broke away from the physical realm during The Fall due to the atrocities committed there, creating its own pocket orb within the River of Dream. Z’vatis eventually discovered a smaller connected orb — the Workshop. The Workshop has several unique properties that the Institute doesn’t, giving the Z’bri hope that it might hold the key to reopening the Fold. Z’vatis realized that the Workshop’s nature made Keepers best suited to attuning to it. To this end, he manipulated Hanna and orchestrated bringing her to the Workshop.
Outside the Workshop, the cult members search the Rust Wastes, Discarded Lands, and further for artifacts, relics, and other components Hanna requires to complete building Pharmakon. They are directed by SlaveBeta, Hanna’s second and a former Machine Monk. SlaveBeta is thoroughly under Z’vatis' control and fanatically dedicated to ensuring Hanna completes the machine. Of particular interest to the Zetetics are Dreamers who have “heard the call of Syncresis” — they will stop at nothing to get those individuals to the Workshop, resorting to abduction when more persuasive methods fail. These Dreamers become subjects for Hanna’s experiments and often wind up in the hands of Z’vatis once Hanna is through with them. Z’vatis' Atmosphere, combined with the corrupting influence of the Workshop, has turned Hanna’s experiments particularly grisly and made most of the Zetetics unstable.
Should Hanna succeed in completing and activating Pharmakon, it would further destabilize the Great Architecture and cause untold destruction on Vimary, if not threaten the physical world at large. Several factions from the Fatimas to the Guides and even prominent Fallen such as Veruka the Wraith have a vested interest in discovering Hanna’s plan and putting a stop to it.
Hanna the Seeker
Renegade Keeper Obsessed With the River of Dream
Hanna was once a rising star in Olympus, highly regarded as one of the Keepers' most brilliant minds. Over time, she became obsessed with the River of Dream and Synthesis. She began to delve into the paranormal, experimenting with psychedelics and lucid dreaming. During this time, Hanna had a vision of the physical world and the River of Dream merging into one, creating a paradise where chosen humans would become gods. She called this event Syncresis and became convinced she was the prophet to bring it to fruition. Her dabbling with Synthesis and forays into Tribal lands eventually came to the attention of the Ancients in Olympus, who censured her and forbade her from following that line of research. Hanna instead secretly continued, relocating her efforts further into the Rust Wastes and Discarded Lands.
During one of her expeditions into the Rust Wastes Hanna encountered an exiled Machine Monk named SlaveBeta. Unbeknownst to her, SlaveBeta had become corrupted by the Melanis Z’bri Z’vatis and was searching for Keepers just like Hanna. SlaveBeta convinced Hanna to accompany him to the Workshop on the promise that it could give her the means to realize Syncresis. Hanna agreed and, upon entering the Workshop, never returned to Olympus.
Appearance: Hanna is around 30 summers old, with brown hair and eyes. She has the symbols she saw in her vision,representing Syncresis, crudely tattooed on the inside of her right forearm and a tattoo of a simplified magnifying glass with a stylized Z in the center on the outside of her right hand (as do the other Zetetics).
Highlights: Obsessed, charismatic, bookish, brilliant.
Corrupted Machine Monk
Lured away from the Machine Monks after falling prey to Z’vatis' influence, SlaveBeta owes his tortured existence to the Z’bri. The Melanis' Atmosphere and the Sundering corrupted implants that make up most of SlaveBeta’s body have wiped away what humanity he had left. Z’vatis has implanted a device in SlaveBeta that allows the Z’bri to channel Sundering through it. Z’vatis hopes that when SlaveBeta is connected to Pharmakon, the device will allow it to conduct the energies of the River of Dream and reopen the Fold. Of course, SlaveBeta will be destroyed in the process.
Appearance: Very little of SlaveBeta’s body is still flesh and blood. Aside from his brain, face, and most of his internal organs, SlaveBeta is composed of cobbled-together metal pieces, wiring, hydraulics, and hoses.
Highlights: Cold, augmented, inhuman.
The Workshop is a separate orb that is connected to the Institute. It contains a machine shop, living quarters for the Zetetics, and an area where Hanna’s machine is being constructed. The Workshop manifests a dedicated entrance to the physical orb through a series of tunnels in the Discarded Lands. It is accessible from the River of Dream even when the Institute has not materialized. The interaction between the Workshop and the outside world corrupts the flow of the River of Dream within the area for reasons even Z’vatis doesn’t understand.
Pharmakon resembles an oversized medical chair encased in machinery, pipes, tubing, and wiring. The chair has several articulated arms extending from the back, ending in large syringes fed various liquids by tubes. Heavy restraints on the sides, arms, and feet ensure that anybody clamped into the chair is not getting out of it. The chair was designed specifically for SlaveBeta; the clamps would crush anyone who sits in it when it is activated, followed by evisceration from the syringes.