In this blasphemous retcon the Ad-Mec absorb the 'Squat' civilization. This would mean the squats are a faction within the Ad-Mec. These Ad-Mec squats could take on roles such as an elite force of techno-hunters, part of a radical group of investigators and experimenters trying to rebuild STC tech (the hard way by reverse engineering and re-inventing), and even major leadership roles. In fact the whole Ad-Mec cult may be based on the Squats!
Explaining this away could be tricky due to the differences between the old Squats and the current Ad-Mec. However the Squats are based on the Dwarf archetype, and that is not so different from the Ad-Mec. If we look at earlier versions of the the Dwarf myth, we see they tend more towards the industrious and share much in common with 'gnomes' (not the garden type!), than super fighter tanks they are now. This earlier version has much more in common with the Ad-Mec. Going with the more traditional concept of Dwarfs allows a bit more flexibility in building up this retcon.
Resolving their differences, between the Dwarf archetype and the Ad-Mec, may not be so hard. The Squats are basically 'ab-humans' who are technically still human. The only real difference from most human populations is that they are highly advanced scientifically. This could be a problem for the Ad-Mec - but to get around this they could share similar views with the Ad-Mec as they share a common root civilization. The Squats may be far more in tune with the Ad-Mec ways than the rest of the Imperium, harking back to an earlier time, so I imagine they could be compatible, and this possibility forms the basis of my idea;
Hiding squats in plain sight: It would be easy to imagine that many tech-priests could actually be of squat decent, and this 'fact' may go unnoticed in an age of bionics etc. where a few leg extensions wouldn't be a problem. These leg extensions (as a tongue in cheek idea) could be a bit like 'Inspector Gadget' and allow for height adjustment when meeting regular humans.
The Squats would be aware of how humans feel about ad-humans, and in addition to this they may really hate their flesh. This would lead to pressure to change the way they look, and is could contribute to the reasons why the Ad-Mec are always enhancing themselves to the point it is hard to tell what they originally started out as. It may also further reinforce they cult like behaviour and their wish to exclude 'regular' humans - as their real nature would be secret (I wonder how the Inquisition would feel about 'Ad-Mec Squats' - if they found out?)
Toughness: The Dwarfs archetype's legendary toughness in this concept would be the result of technology - through bionics. The Dwarf is still inhumanly tough, but not because of their flesh, but because they are part machine.
Going nuts with the idea: In fact most of the Ad-Mec could be retconned as 'Squat', as a Forge World sound about as compatible as can be with the 'Dwarf' archetype!
Imagine how a Dwarf would view an entire world that is one massive forge?
Dwarf beards could be remade as a wild mass techno-tendrils, a mix of bushy Dwarf beards and Mind-Flayer. These tendrils could handle fine detail and even end is micro-tool tips. This would allow the Squat/ Dwarf to manipulate and control very small devices that are too delicate for human hands. I could imagine one of these bionic enhanced Ad-Mec examining an alien device held with these tendrils and viewing it through a stack of multiple magnifying lenses.
It would not be hard to make this retcon. The Ad-Mec are already quite distinctive and most of the more powerful characters are augmented with bionic limbs. In fact it would change so little that you could claim it for your own -verse, and it would be 'compatible' with the background.
It would be interesting to see a few new Ad-Mec characters that draw more on the Dwarf archetype.
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Suddenly everything becomes clear!
Along with the idea that orthodox Tech Priests are the most damnable of sorcerers—what with their conjured spirits of machine and prometheal pyres burning in the hearts of oil-crusted "engine"—this makes perfect sense! Suddenly the true justification behind the motivation for cybernetic prostheses is laid out before us, clear as GW over-pricing. Yes, it is there so that the true Tech Priests, the Arch-Magos and founders of the Adeptus Mechanicus can hide their truly stunted form, and thus their identification as abhumans of the foulest degree. Yet it is also there so that humans, the lesser Tech Priests whose understanding is so impure and mired in superstition, parrot-learning and foulest misunderstanding, might be made indistinguishable from their Squat masters.
Spurrier! Let thou see thy stone tablet conspiracy theories laid out and revealed to truest intent!
(For those that don't get the obvious tongue-in-cheek intent of this post, it was that: tongue-in-cheek.)
I'm glad you liked it! I thought it had that dark 40K 'humor' to it (ie. very silly). I forgot to reply the first time around, and found this again when collecting up a few links for our discussion thread on the Adeptus Mechanicus over on TFM. The concept could be used for other settings, where a mutant (under)class uses technology to augment themselves (that conjured up images of the Daleks!), and blend in with society as 'equals'.