The first drudges were originally cephalyx slaves whose bodies were augmented by muscle-growth solutions and prosthetic replacements. It was discovered that incisions to certain areas of the brain made slaves docile and compliant. Initially crude alterations of the brain were eventually followed by more sophisticated techniques. New mental states were achieved by combining a number of these procedures, such as making smaller and more precise surgical cuts, bathing the brain in chemicals, and inserting metal rods into the structure.
Although the first drudges came from among the cephalyx’s own slaves, it became apparent that their society was best served by utilising exclusively captured outsiders in this capacity. As the use of drudges created from enslaved captives expanded, they increasingly took on the most unpleasant tasks. The existence of mentally reduced drudges to perform menial labour allowed all cephalyx to exist on more equal footing.
Drudges are extensively augmented by the cephalyx to give them tremendous strength, endurance, and heightened senses at the cost of free will. Any intelligent species can be used in the manufacture of drudges, though the final product little resembles its natural form. Drudges will fight to the death for their masters, following any mental order a cephalyx issues. Drudges have no sense of self-preservation or any desire but to fulfil these commands. The agonising surgeries performed upon their minds preclude any hope of reversal for the process, leaving death as their only means of escape.
Drudges are still alive and require food and water to survive. They ordinarily subsist on a vile, organic sludge of cephalyx manufacture containing all the nutrients they require.
When the cephalyx transform a prisoner into a drudge, the first stage is extensive surgical alteration. The brain is carefully laid bare and altered to the whims of the cephalyx. Some portions are removed, reducing some of the drudge’s mental function while amplifying desired characteristics, such as subservience. The drudge’s old sensory organs are carved away and replaced with devices grafted directly into the nervous system. Once this work is complete, the cephalyx bolt an enclosed metal helmet permanently to the head. Made of brass and thick glass, this helmet shields tissue and filters the air the drudge breathes.
Muscle tissues are grafted into the drudge’s body, portions of its limbs are replaced with prosthetics, and adrenal glands are subtly manipulated to vastly increase testosterone production. Finally, the cephalyx inject the drudge with chemicals that prevent it from feeling pain, obviate the need for sleep, increase muscle and skeletal density, and keep it from rejecting the devices they install in the flesh.
Within the underground facilities of the cephalyx, drudges perform menial labour, serving as little better than drones. Packs of drudges wander each facility’s lightless tunnels and caverns, dragging prisoners to the surgical chambers and hauling supplies for the construction of other drudges and larger monstrosities. Anything foreign encountered in the tunnels will be swarmed and destroyed by drudges.
As military assets, drudges are created or eliminated as needed, though each hive seeks to maintain sufficient strength that it can both defend itself and conduct required offensive operations. The preferred cephalyx approach is to make heavy use of drudges and monstrosities as an expendable resource to spend against enemies.
Specifically conditioned and modified drudges can be used by a cabal of cephalyx known as mind benders to broadcast their power through their charges. Drudges used this way are burned out instantly, their minds rendered empty husks in a flash of blinding light.