"...the Inquisition merely performs the duty of its office. To further fear them is redundant, to hate them, heretical. Those more sensible will place responsibility with those who forced their hands..."
The Inquisition, formally called the Holy Orders of the Emperor's Inquisition, is a secret organisation that exists outside the standard administrative hierarchy of the Imperium of Man.
The Inquisition acts as the secret police force of the Imperium, hunting down any and all of the myriad threats to the stability of the God-Emperor's realm, from the corruption caused by the forces of Chaos, Heretics, mutants and rebels, to assaults from vicious alien species like the Tyranids, Orks or Drukhari.
The Inquisition's infamous sigil was derived from the personal heraldry of Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy and the second most powerful psyker in the Imperium of Man after the Emperor of Mankind Himself.
It was Malcador who first created the secret organisation that would later become the varied Ordos of the Inquisition at the start of the Heresy on the orders of the Emperor.
The Master of Mankind had ordered the Sigillite to find a group of men and women of an "inquisitive nature" to search out the enemies of the Imperium, whether they lay within or without.
The Inquisition is divided into three major orders or "Ordos Majoris" in High Gothic and many other minor ones, or "Ordos Minoris," each dedicated to confronting a very specific threat to the continued survival of the Imperium and Humanity.
The Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus and their Chamber Militant, the Space Marines of the Grey Knights, seek to confront and defeat the forces of Chaos and the other threats from beyond wherever they assault Imperial space.
The Ordo Hereticus and its Chamber Militant, the pious battle-sisters of the Adepta Sororitas' Orders Militant, seek to combat all of the very Human threats to the Imperium that lie within its own organisations or on its own worlds.
In the late 41st Millennium, the Inquisition is the most powerful organisation of the Imperium's many branches. Its agents, the Inquisitors, command fear and respect in equal measure. They are creatures of myth as much of flesh and blood, relentless beings who descend from on high to pass judgement upon the mutant, the Traitor and the Heretic.
It is a rare Imperial citizen who does not dread drawing an Inquisitor's steely gaze, who does not experience the starkest terror in his or her presence. Every Imperial citizen, from the poorest of underhive scum to the highest and wealthiest of nobles, has heard the tales of death and destruction, of the all-seeing eye that condemns or absolves with impunity.
Those who have crossed an Inquisitor's path and survived to tell of it are seldom eager to invite their attention again. Inquisitors are as varied in appearance and manner as the myriad threats they face. They range in age from fiery young zealots to hoary old veterans who have fought in the darkness for Terran centuries.
Some wear ostentatious robes and symbols of their allegiance, whilst others shun the trappings of status. Inquisitors commonly carry a wide range of weapons and wargear, so as to be prepared for any threat they might face. Some Inquisitors use outlandish weaponry, taken from defeated foes: exotic hardware, alien guns and daemon-possessed weapons.
Inquisitors themselves care little for morality, and nothing at all for the Imperium's many laws and procedures, except when they choose to make use of them. They are the Emperor's left hand as the Adeptus Terra is His right, and stand in judgement over all the Imperium's organisations and citizens. Indeed, an Inquisitor is apart from the rest of Mankind in every way that matters.
By ancient tradition, their authority comes directly from the Emperor Himself; there is no hierarchy to which they must answer, and they are beholden only to their fellows. More than this, a bearer of the Inquisitorial Seal can requisition any servant in the Imperium to assist in their mission, from the lowliest of clerks to entire Space Marine Chapters and Imperial Navy battlefleets.
Survival is the only goal for which Inquisitors strive; not personal survival, for they, more than any, understand that one life is meaningless when set upon the galactic scale. An Inquisitor labours for nothing less than the endurance and continued survival of Humanity.
This is a cold-hearted pragmatism, so unyielding and fervid that it eclipses the faith of even the most devout of the Ecclesiarchy's adepts. The Inquisitor is an arbiter of absolute truth. In his or her eyes, tradition is irrelevant, solar decades of blameless existence count for nothing, and ignorance matters not one whit. The deeds of the hour are the Inquisitor's obsession, and the consequences spiralling from the most seemingly insignificant acts their burden.
Though learned, Inquisitors do not possess some all-encompassing store of knowledge and certainty, for even the furthest-travelled and most experienced of their number hold but a fraction of the Emperor's wisdom. Though there are many thousands of Inquisitors scattered across the Imperium, such are the threats arrayed against Mankind that ten times their number could not hope to achieve lasting victory, or even meaningful respite.
Daemons clamour beyond the Emperor's light, waiting for the hour in which the darkness drowns all. Aliens crowd close, subverting and destroying whole worlds. And all the while, the wilful, the foolish, the misguided and the arrogant within Humanity's own ranks unknowingly work towards their own destruction.
All of these threats must be opposed and contained, by whatever means are necessary, and only Inquisitors have the breadth of vision and authority to do so. Where a Planetary Governor or Imperial military commander might perceive only an insurrection to be crushed, an Inquisitor will recognise the heresy of which that rebellion is but a symptom. They will have the contacts and resources to root out alien conspiracies, bureaucratic corruption and even the gene-seed deviances festering within hitherto blameless Space Marine Chapters.
If perspicacious enough, an Inquisitor will be able to detect incipient disaster through analysis or instinct, excising the cancer before it takes root, whether in person or through the scalpel of the Officio Assassinorum. Too often, however, their efforts are expended on a cataclysm already begun, one which can only be ended by the sledgehammer of the Astra Militarum or the horror of Exterminatus.
There are no lengths to which an Inquisitor will not go in pursuit of their duty, no sanction too extreme. They know that it is better for a billion blameless souls to perish alongside a single guilty fugitive, if it ensures the threat to the rest of Mankind is ended. Most Inquisitors grieve for the murder they wreak in survival's cause; they mourn every death, and forge on only through the knowledge that the act served a greater purpose.
Others have become so emotionally cauterised by the constant strife that they give the matter no more thought than they would when sweeping the pieces from a gaming board. Yet there are occasionally acts of mercy to balance those of murder. Most Inquisitors are not blind to the possibility of redemption. Virtue in the present can sometimes outweigh the evils of the past, though such reprieves are rare indeed.
Lesser men might believe that the means matter more than the end, but those who bear the Inquisitorial Seal know better. Perhaps in another time -- another place -- the men and women of the Inquisition would be considered as monstrous as the threats they oppose, but to judge them as such is to wilfully overlook a brutal truth: morality and compassion are luxuries that the Imperium can ill afford in the 41st Millennium. Steeped in atrocity though they may be, Inquisitors are often the heroes their grim times require.
It should come as no surprise that the Inquisition's past is shrouded in secrecy. Even the Inquisitors themselves have only the haziest of understandings as to how their organisation was founded, and must rely on hundreds of disparate and contradictory legends for guidance.
Indeed, there is a branch of the Inquisition itself -- the Ordo Originatus -- dedicated to unravelling ten millennia of myths, exaggerations and lies. This is a difficult task, raised to impossibility due to the opposing work of the Ordo Redactus, who focus their own efforts into deliberately obscuring the past, lest the enemies of Mankind discover some advantage through knowledge of the Inquisition's beginnings.
What almost all the legends agree on, however, is that the Inquisition is widely believed to have been formed by Malcador the Sigillite by the order of the Emperor of Mankind during the final days of the Horus Heresy. As the story goes, Malcador, the Regent of Terra, was charged by the Emperor immediately after news had reached Terra of the Warmaster Horus' betrayal during the massacre of the Loyalist Astartes on Istvaan III, to gather a group of dedicated Imperial servants whose loyalty, courage, and strength of mind was unquestioned.
Malcador initially chose 12 persons of "an inquisitive nature," 8 loyal Space Marines taken from all of the Space Marine Legions and 4 mortal Imperial lords and administrators, who would respectively become the initial core of the Grey Knights and the conclaves of the Inquisition. They were presented by Malcador to the Emperor at the Imperial Palace after being brought secretly through enemy lines during the Siege of Terra, the final campaign of the Heresy.
These were individuals of unblemished loyalty, determination and strength of mind, who would serve the Emperor well in the years to come. Beyond that one story, the legends diverge, ascribing numerous identities to each of the twelve -- some ludicrous, many credible and all utterly unprovable.
Yet the foundations of the Inquisition were created from the four mortal lords and administrators of the Imperium chosen by Malcador, while the Grey Knights, the first and most effective of the Inquisition's Chambers Militant, were forged from the eight Loyalist Astartes. The foundation of the Inquisition remains shrouded in mystery and is still a much-debated subject amongst Imperial scholars.
Though it is widely known across the galaxy that the Inquisition exists, its deeds are all but impossible to trace. Records are sealed, restricted or simply destroyed. Witnesses are silenced, suffer telepathic mind-wipe or are slain out of hand. Yet the signs are there for those who know how to look for them.
Many Imperial scholars believe that the Inquisition played a pivotal role in such momentous events as the Second Founding, The Beheading and the Fall of Nova Terra. There are gaps in official records that indicate whole branches of the Adeptus Terra have been put to the sword in the past, and who but the Inquisition have the authority to do such a thing, let alone disguise the act thereafter?
Most who seek the Inquisition's past go a lifetime without proof, and those that do uncover evidence have a tendency to disappear. Some attract an Inquisitor's attention, their skills deemed suitable for advancing the Inquisition's goals. Most simply perish, their lifeless bodies later discovered in situations so damning as to call their character into question. The Inquisition watch over the Imperium -- they do not care to be watched in return.
It is generally accepted that the Inquisition only solidified into its truly modern form some time in the middle of the 32nd Millennium after the formal birth of the Imperial Cult as the state religion of the Imperium, some 800 Terran years after the end of the Horus Heresy, although its essential components and apparatus (the Black Ships, the "Witch Hunters" of the Sisters of Silence, etc.) were active in the Imperium during the Great Crusade before the Horus Heresy began.
Newly uncovered sources indicate that the Inquisition had 12 key founders, who were active before, during and after the Great Crusade. As noted above, at the start of the Heresy the Emperor had ordered His regent, Malcador the Sigillite, to gather men and women of unswerving loyalty and devotion who might seek out the hidden foes of all Mankind.
Malcador ultimately presented 12 such individuals to the Emperor just before the start of the Siege of Terra, 4 of them mortal Imperial administrators of "an inquisitive nature" and 8 of them Space Marines drawn from his own Astartes special agents, the Knights-Errant. The Knights-Errant were Loyalists Malcador had been tasked with gathering from across the galaxy who were drawn from the remaining Loyalist Astartes Legions or who had escaped their Traitor Legions after the massacre at Istvaan III.
These 8 Astartes would go on to become the first of what would later be known as the Grey Knights, the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition's Ordo Malleus, the Daemonhunters. The Inquisition was originally a unified organisation with no separate divisions, wholly dedicated to fighting the corruption of Chaos wherever it reared its head within Imperial space.
In the 32nd Millennium, following the War of the Beast and the near-destruction of Terra by the Orks in service to the Warlord known as The Beast, the Inquisition was formally divided into two major orders or "Ordos," the Ordo Malleus which continued the Inquisition's original mission of combating the forces of Chaos and the newly formed Ordo Xenos which dedicated itself to protecting Humanity from assault by alien species.
The Ordo Xenos received the Deathwatch, an alliance of Space Marines drawn from many different Chapters also originally created to fight the Orks, as its Chamber Militant, while the Grey Knights continued to serve the Ordo Malleus.
A third major Ordo, the Ordo Hereticus, was created within the Inquisition after the terrible events of the Age of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium to prevent a future Reign of Blood and Plague of Unbelief.
It was assigned the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas as its Chamber Militant and tasked with searching out all enemies of the God-Emperor who existed within the Imperium's own political, religious and economic structures, including rogue psykers, mutants and other Renegades. It is for this reason that the members of the Ordo Hereticus are often called "witch hunters."
The First Hour
"You cannot deny Mankind the Emperor. He and the empire He has built are Mankind's only chance of survival."
- — Attr. Promeus, during a secret conclave of the four founders of the Inquisition, following the Emperor's Ascension
The ideal of restoring the Emperor to the Imperium in mortal form is at the heart of the Inquisition's formation. In the dark days that followed Horus' invasion of Terra and the Emperor's internment in the Golden Throne, the empire he had created was reeling in the aftermath of the civil war and the Emperor's ascension. Four individuals, trusted servants of the Emperor during the building of his galactic empire, gathered together to discuss what was to happen. They were divided in opinion, with two believing that the fledgling Imperium could not survive without the Emperor to directly lead Humanity, while the other two were adamant that the Emperor has ascended to a higher plane and that it was folly to interfere with the course of events as they had unfolded. The two resurrectionists, known only as Promeus and Moriana, left Terra to begin their quest of bringing back the Emperor, while the two that remained acted quickly to establish themselves with the newly formed Senatorum Imperialis. Known to the Primarchs as loyal servants, these two began to lay the plans for the formation of an organisation that would combat the efforts of the two dissidents. Thus were the seeds of the Inquisition itself sown.
With the backing of the Primarchs, the two first Inquisitors made themselves known to the High Lords and began to recruit like-minded individuals from amongst the adepts and warriors on Terra. Their dream of an organisation dedicated to the protection of the Emperor would not be realised in their lifetimes, even extended as they were by arcane technologies, and the Inquisition as it is seen today did not fully come in to existence until the 32nd millennium, by which time the Imperium itself and its many institutions were beginning to grow and spread across the galaxy. Promeus and Moriana were not idle during this time, and in the wake of the news of the Emperor's ascension gathered together a following of their own, particularly amongst those cults and sects that were now appearing on many worlds claiming the deification of the Emperor. At some point Moriana and Promeus split, their goal still the same but Moriana determined to use whatever means necessary to achieve her aim.
Fearful that Moriana would unleash unspeakable powers of Chaos to achieve her goal, Promeus created a small army of dedicated followers to combat the menace he believed she posed. These two factions clashed many times until Promeus' disciples prevailed and Moriana disappeared, probably into the Eye of Terror. As the Inquisition grew and its presence was felt further and further from Terra, it came into contact with the Promeans. Several hundred years had passed since the fateful first conclave, and even then the Inquisition, ever a confederacy of individuals rather than a single body, was pursuing several different agendas. The original intent, to prevent the reincarnation of the Emperor, had been diluted over the centuries, and when the Promeans were discovered fighting against an ill-specified Chaos threat, they were brought into the fold. Neither the Inquisitors that contacted the sect nor the Promeans themselves were aware of the irony of their cooperation, and thus the first resurrectionist Inquisition faction was created.
Ordos of the Inquisition
As the Inquisition possesses neither formal hierarchy nor leadership, each Inquisitor is free to pursue the mission of Humanity's survival in the manner he or she believes most appropriate. Like-minded fellows gather together to investigate areas of mutual interest or concern, as bounded by one of the many Inquisitorial Ordos. Each Ordo waxes and wanes with the times, for many Inquisitors move freely between them according to where they judge the need to lie. The greater the level of daemonic activity, the larger the Ordo Malleus becomes; in times of heresy, the Ordo Hereticus grows to match the threat. An Ordo can lie fallow for years, existing only as a historical curio until its field of study becomes relevant once more. Such is the nature of the galaxy, however, that some perils -- specifically those posed by the Daemon, the alien and the heretic -- are ever-present. Accordingly, the Ordos dedicated to combating them -- the Ordo Malleus, the Ordo Xenos and the Ordo Hereticus -- are considered Ordos Majoris, for their vigil is never-ending. Nevertheless, there are many scores of Ordos Minoris as well, lesser branches dedicated to more transient dangers.
Association with one of the Inquisitorial Ordos is not a matter of absolute allegiance, for they are no more structured than is the Inquisition itself. Nor does it preclude an Inquisitor's involvement in matters pertaining to another Ordo. There is no formal demarcation, and Inquisitors investigate and act where they wish. Indeed, many Inquisitors would argue that to compartmentalise the foes of Mankind would be a tragic error, for all too often, the lines between disciplines are fine to the point of nonexistence. Just as a plague of mutation might originate from an alien infestation, a blossoming population of psykers might prove to be the vanguard of an imminent daemonic incursion.
Membership of an Ordo is a statement of interest, a field of study. If an Inquisitor declares himself a part of the Ordo Malleus, his fellows will know that his sphere of endeavour encompasses matters daemonic. He need seek no approval to do so, for an Inquisitor has no superiors, save those he chooses to acknowledge. There are sometimes elements of hierarchy to be found within an Ordo, albeit nebulous and highly informal ones. As an Inquisitor grows more accomplished and learned, he garners esteem, and by common consent is graced with a title, such as "Grandmaster". These are marks of respect, rather than unconditional authority. Other Inquisitors may defer to a colleague's experience and reputation, but they are by no means required to do so.
Even within an Ordo, fields of endeavour seldom overlap completely. Each branch, after all, encompasses an almost infinite potential for study and investigation. Even so, Inquisitors sometimes band together into a loose association called a conclave. A conclave is assembled at the request of a respected Inquisitor, who seeks to pool the skills, knowledge and resources of his peers in order to oppose a threat too great for a single Inquisitor to face; an Ork WAAAGH!, a daemonic incursion on a massive scale, or a plague of heresy.
Most commonly, a conclave will call upon only a single Ordo, but it is far from unheard of for a conclave to include several branches of the Inquisition, if the situation requires it. Members of the conclave seldom take a martial lead -- such things are best left to the commander of whichever forces the conclave has requisitioned. Nevertheless, the conclave invariably sends a representative to oversee any military actions, and thus ensure that the focus of the mission is not lost in the heat of battle. If necessary, this emissary will seize command of the entire mission, but most Inquisitors find it preferable to remain in the shadows whilst the Emperor’s armies go about their bloody work.
Of Radicals and Puritans
"You have been told of the Inquisition; that shadowy organisation which defends Mankind and the Emperor from the perils of heresy, possession, alien dominance and rebellion. You have been told the Inquisition are the ultimate defence against the phantoms of fear and terror which lurk in the darkness between the stars. You have been told the Inquisition are the bright saviours in an eclipse of evil; purest and most devoted warriors of the Emperor. You have been told the Inquisition is united in its cause to rid the galaxy of any threat, from without or within. Everything you have been told is a lie!"
The Holy Ordos of the Emperor's Inquisition, to give its formal title, is a massive organisation that is, by its very nature, forced to interpret the divine will of the Emperor regardless of the particular ordo an agent of the Inquisition might be a member of.
Such interpretations vary within and without the major ordos and this leads to certain divisions. Such divisions are referred to as factions, highly political in nature and comprised of those individuals that share a common belief system regardless of the purpose and supposed desired methodology of the Inquisition, be it to combat the heretic, witch, daemon or alien.
While such factions are multitudinous and subject to variation both broad and infinitesimal, there are certain popular strands of belief that outweigh and enjoy dominance over others. It is from these credos that the political lattice of the Inquisition is formed and defined.
Discord between ordos, or between conclaves, is extremely rare, for each has its own clearly defined areas of interest. However, the same cannot be said for Inquisitors within a particular ordo. The most frequent causes of disagreement centre around the methods used to combat the ordo's enemies. Some Inquisitors believe that the enemy can only be fought with his own weapons, such as by employing sorcery against daemons. For others, such compromises are anathema, inviting corruption of the ordo's work for questionable gain.
Such disagreements are often presented as a conflict between "Radical" and "Puritan" philosophies, but the truth is much more complex. The distinction between the two positions is not absolute, but relative, formed solely around the observer's subjective opinions. Few Inquisitors consider themselves either Radical or Puritan, though they are swift to label others as such.
A member of the Ordo Malleus might be quick to decry a colleague as radical for using forbidden lore to bind a daemon to his will, little recognising that others of his ordo consider him just as dangerous for daring to consult a tome of blasphemous lore, even though he has no intention of employing the knowledge contained within.
For some members of the Ordo Xenos, even learning an alien language is considered dangerous, whilst others think nothing of hiring xenos mercenaries to fight their wars. In the Inquisition, truth is relative.
The nature of the Inquisition means that there can be no appeal to a higher power when an Inquisitor believes that one of his fellows has strayed irrevocably from the proper path. Perhaps, if enough evidence can be gathered, it can be presented before a conclave, and a judgement of Excommunicate Traitoris be sought.
More commonly, an Inquisitor is left to take matters into his own hands. Given the shaded distinctions between needless and necessary evils, few Inquisitors willingly involve themselves in a quarrel between their fellows.
Every disagreement has the prospect of sowing division throughout the Inquisition, and it is better for all if these matters can be kept at the level of a personal quarrel. Most of the time, such disagreements burn themselves out or are superseded by genuine threats, but sometimes they descend into outright conflict between the two Inquisitors and their agents.
The ideological struggle between Radical and Puritan is not a battle between right and wrong, for such facile definitions seldom apply to an Inquisitor's work. Radical methods can serve as the salvation for millions, just as the close-mindedness of Puritans can doom them. Alas, there is no way to see the outcome until it has occurred.
An Inquisitor can read from the Grimoire Malefact, and can use its knowledge to close a Warp rift, but in so doing he risks opening his soul to Chaos, and becoming the very thing he fears. Those of a Puritan mindset insist such risks are reckless and unnecessary, and would seek other methods to close the Warp rift, even if the delay doomed a dozen worlds.
In this case, the Radical methodology would appear to be the correct one. But what if, by opening his mind to the Warp, the reader of the Grimoire Malefact is later possessed by a daemon who wreaks more damage than the rift ever would have?
It is little wonder that most Inquisitors cleave to a single certainty of belief, for to doubt one's actions is to be cast adrift on a sea of possibility, frozen to inaction for fear of charting the wrong course.
In early editions of Warhammer 40,000, the Inquisition was a single, undivided organization -- purposefully outside the bureaucracy of the rest of the Imperium -- with a single inner order, the Ordo Malleus. The Malleus' purpose was to police the Inquisition itself. Its other, secret purpose was dealing with the threat of Chaos.
Today, the Inquisition is divided into a series of organisations known as ordos. Each ordo is responsible for assessing and combating a threat to humanity.
There are three major ordos devoted to combating threats to the Imperium from within, without, and beyond.
- Ordo Malleus - Known as the "Daemon Hunters", or the Order of the Hammer, the Ordo Malleus are sworn to defend the very soul of Mankind, concentrating on the defeat of those enemies of Humanity that dwell in the warp; the so-called "enemy beyond." They primarily concern themselves with destroying Daemons and other servants of Chaos. They have pledged their every waking hour to the discovery and scourging of such creatures, wherever they can be found. Members of the Ordo Malleus are often battle-hardened warriors, for Daemons cannot be cast out through the subtleties of espionage or trickery – only the blessed blade and the purified flame will serve. However, knowledge is their chief weapon. Agents of the Ordo Malleus are scholars of daemonic lore and know how to shackle and bind Warpspawn. Militarily, the Ordo Malleus is the most formidable of the Inquisition's branches, for its agents can call upon the services of their Chamber Militant, the Grey Knights, to aid them in their struggles. The Grey Knights are Space Marines, designated Chapter 666. Unlike other Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, who are called upon to fight any and all threats to the Imperium, the Grey Knights are dedicated to slaying Daemons and stand ever ready to assist the Ordo Malleus in their long war against Chaos.
- Ordo Xenos - Also known as the "Alien Hunters", or the Order of the Aliens, the Ordo Xenos are dedicated to investigating, cataloguing and defeating the Xenos threat; the enemy without. They actively seek out and eliminate alien influence and corruption within the Imperium. Agents of the Ordo Xenos are typically the most eccentric of their kind, for they spend years – even decades – travelling and living in nonhuman space, learning everything they can that will facilitate the exploitation or elimination of the races they encounter. As a result, many Ordo Xenos Inquisitors have strong ties with Rogue Traders, with whom they share many goals, and often travel with retinues of alien mercenaries or travellers. Most speak dozens of nonhuman languages and have acquaintances and informants far beyond the Imperium's boundaries. Despite this, there is more blood on the hands of the Ordo Xenos than any other branch of the Inquisition. Just as the Ordo Malleus can call upon the Grey Knights, so too can the Ordo Xenos call upon the services of their own Chamber Militant, the Deathwatch. Formed long ago by accord between a conclave of Inquisitor Lords and an esteemed assemblage of Space Marine Chapter Masters, the Deathwatch is composed entirely of veteran Space Marines, seconded from the greatest Chapters in the galaxy. They are trained and equipped to repel the alien tide that threatens to overwhelm Humanity, and are an invaluable tool for any Inquisitor seeking to vanquish the xenos threat.
- Ordo Hereticus - This Ordo is also known as the "Witch Hunters", or the Order of the Heretics. The Ordo Hereticus is the scourge of traitors, witches, Mutants, rogue Psykers and heretics. The interests of its members are aligned towards the combating of threats broadly classified as arising from within the great bulk of Humanity; the so-called "enemy within." The Witch Hunters of the Ordo Hereticus are sinister, feared individuals. Their skin is pale from long days spent in the excruciation chambers of Inquisition fortresses or poring over ancient texts that speak of the heretic and his machinations. The arrival of an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor is met with as much trepidation as awe, since none know where their gimlet gaze may land and upon whom their suspicions might fall. In addition to monitoring the Ecclesiarchy – ensuring that Wars of Faith do not exceed their mandate or that its many Cardinals do not amass more power than is deemed appropriate – the Ordo Hereticus keeps a close eye on many other Imperial organisations: the Adeptus Arbites, the Adeptus Astartes, the Adepta Sororitas and also fellow members of the Inquisition. They monitor doctrinal and physical purity, and no one is beyond their jurisdiction. The Ordo Hereticus can also call upon their own Chamber Militant, the Sisters of Battle, the all-female warrior branch of the Adepta Sororitas. It should also be noted that there are some freelance Inquisitors-at-large who are not part of one specific branch of the Inquisition. There are also several minor Ordos that have more specific purposes than those outlined above.
Whilst the three great ordos of the Ordo Majoris are perhaps the best known and established, there are a number of smaller ordos charged with guardianship of particular aspects of the Imperium. Whilst in theory these smaller ordos are of equal rank and power to the Ordo Hereticus, Ordo Xenos and Ordo Malleus, in practice they seldom control as many resources as these great organisations. These minor Ordos are significantly smaller than the main three, and are often formed to combat specific, rather than broad, threats to the Imperium. Some police the ranks of assassin death cults, whilst others tend the workings of the Black Ships. Rumours persist of Inquisition ordos which watch the officers of the Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy, and others whose sole task is to purge the ranks of the Inquisition itself. Most of these Ordos Minoris are largely unknown, even to other members of the Inquisition. Many are little more than cabals of Inquisitors allied against a common threat, while others are in essence specialised sub-Ordos. Other, nigh unknown Ordos might interest themselves in matters so esoteric or specialised they are entirely unknown to their fellows:
- Ordo Chronos - This mysterious and incredibly obscure Ordo was formed to investigate the potential ramifications of time travel through the Warp, particularly the potential for deliberate manipulation of this phenomenon. This now-defunct Ordo disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and their eventual return remains the subject of legend amongst the few who know they ever existed.
- Ordo Hydra - This Ordo was an extremist offshoot of the secret society known as the Illuminati that was dedicated to the use of certain extreme measures to destroy the existence of Chaos in the universe once and for all. It was composed mainly, but not entirely, of Illuminati who are also Inquisitors, some of whom occupied extremely high ranks within the Inquisition. The Ordo Hydra is often cited as an Ordo Minoris, however the Ordo Hydra was a group who used a particular tool rather than a group who combated a specific threat, and so despite their name they were perhaps better described as an Inquisitorial Cabal. They were defeated by the actions of the Inquisitor Jaq Draco who prevented them from unleashing a plot to unite all of humanity as a single hive mind. This was intended to provide Mankind with the ability to destroy the Chaos Gods once and for all, but was more likely to result in the birth of a fifth major Chaos God who would render the human race extinct and guarantee the final victory of Chaos.
- Ordo Machinum - Known as "The Judicators of the Forge", the Ordo Machinum scrutinise the Adeptus Mechanicus. Specifically, they are concerned with the reintegration of recovered STC variants into the Imperium's armies and the rare adoptions of alien technologies into established Mechanicum protocols. Inquisitors of the Ordo Machinum often accompany Adeptus Mechanicus archaeological teams to distant worlds, the better to see for themselves exactly what has been recovered. They often work in concert with the Ordo Xenos -- especially when the world in question has been under alien control or there is any suggestion of non-human origin for the technology the Adeptus Mechanicus seek to recover.
- Ordo Militum - This Ordo has the duty of monitoring the Imperium's military bodies, such as the Astra Militarum, the Imperial Navy, the Commissariat, the Sanctioned Psykers of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, the Adeptus Astartes (although see below), and -- together with the Ordo Hereticus -- the Adepta Sororitas.
- Ordo Obsuletus - The Ordo Obsuletus' task is to monitor and validate unexplained phenomena and miracles said to have occurred across the Imperium. Since the Dark Gods, especially Tzeentch, are not above sacrificing whole hosts of their mortal servants to ensure that a plot comes to fruition, it is the duty of the Ordo Obsuletus to investigate whether a miracle is a genuine manifestation of the Emperor's will, or yet another convoluted xenos or Chaotic deception. Events such as the appearance of the Legion of the Damned and the reappearances of Lord Varlak after his incineration on Korsk II, then again on Necromunda, and a third time on Vanor XXI, are their area of expertise. The Ordo Obsoletus is often cited as being an Ordo Minoris, but this is merely conjecture. It is possible that the Ordo Obsoletus is not, strictly speaking, an Ordo at all, but a regional Inquisitorial Conclave that refers to itself as an Ordo.
- Ordo Originatus - This Ordo is dedicated to unravelling ten millennia of myths, exaggerations and lies. This is a difficult task, raised to impossibility due to the opposing work of the Ordo Redactus.
- Ordo Redactus - This Ordo focuses their efforts into deliberately obscuring the past, lest the enemies of Mankind discover some advantage through knowledge of the Inquisition's beginnings.
- Ordo Scriptorum - Known also as the "Unsleeping Eye," the Ordo Scriptorum is one of seventeen Ordos based on Terra itself; dedicated to the examination and investigation of records and communiqués. This may seem a trivial, almost facile task in light of the weighty matters pursued by other branches of the Inquisition, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Imperium constantly strains under the weight of its own colossal bureaucracy, and all manner of vital bibelots of information are lost or misfiled through simple human error. The Ordo Scriptorum can only intercept a handful of these failures, but even one can prove the difference between the life and death of billions. Moreover, even the rumour that an Inquisitor is supervising a scribe's work is enough to galvanise him to more careful practice, ensuring that fewer such errors occur in the future.
- Ordo Sepulturum - This Ordo is one of the smallest and newest of the Ordos Minoris, formed during the 13th Black Crusade. Their focus is the relatively new threat presented to the Imperium by the emergence of the Plague Zombies, Poxwalkers and the Nurgle-spawned Zombie Plague.
- Ordo Sicarius - Founded by the legendary Inquisitor Jaeger in the wake of the deadly events that occurred during the Reign of Blood in the Age of Apostasy of the 36th Millennium, the Ordo Sicarius is tasked with investigating, moderating and controlling the Officio Assassinorum. Since Jaegar's reforms, no Imperial Assassin may be deployed without the majority approval of the High Lords of Terra. This is, of course, immensely impractical, and quite often, an Inquisitor of the Ordo Sicarius will sanction the Officio Assassinorum under the guise of an edict from Terra. While some believe this to be an abuse of their power, in a galaxy-spanning civilisation, such measures are essential to maintain a level of response required by the myriad threats to Mankind.
- An eleventh minor Ordo, whose name is unknown, develops methods to limit the independence of the Adeptus Astartes. It was founded during the Horus Heresy and has since been almost forgotten. They were mentioned in the Space Wolves novel Wolfblade, where the Assassin Xenothan used a poison made from the first blossoms of the Mecurian Swamp Orchid that could temporarily paralyse Space Marines. It worked by disrupting and confusing the Space Marines' genetically-engineered poison-neutralizing gland, effectively turning it into a weapon against the Astartes. Note, that as the aforementioned Ordo Militum is a relatively early and little-seen aspect of the Inquisition, this could actually be a reference to it or the Ordo Astartes mentioned below rather than a separate Ordo Minoris.
- Ordo Maledictum - The Ordo Maledictum is an Ordo Minoris of the Inquisition created during the Era Indomitus. Its members seek any means by which the Great Rift might be driven back or even closed altogether.
Other Known Ordos Minoris
|Designation||Initial Founding||Established Strength||Area of Vigilance|
|Ordo Aegis||M40||<<Unknown>>||The Cadian Gate|
|Ordo Astartes||M32||50 Inquisitors||Chapters of Adeptus Astartes|
|Ordo Astra||M34||50 Inquisitors||Stellar Cartography|
|Ordo Barbarus||<<Unknown>>||10 Inquisitors||Pre-Industrial Worlds|
|Ordo Custodum||M35||500 Inquisitors||Terra|
|Ordo Desolatus||<<Unknown>>||1 Inquisitor||<<Unknown>>|
|Ordo Excorium||<<Unknown>>||100 Inquisitors||Monitoring Exterminatus|
|Ordo Militarum||M35||500 Inquisitors||The Astra Militarum|
|Ordo Necros||M37||5 Inquisitors||<<Unknown>>|
|Ordo Sanctorum||M36||<<Unknown>>||The Ecclesiarchy|
|Ordo Scriptus||M38||6 Inquisitors||Officio Historica on Terra|
|Ordo Vigilus||M37||<<Unknown>>||Ordo Necros|
Role of the Inquisition
"Be silent! They are the eye that sleepeth not -- mention their name again and they will appear, and when they do, death will be the least of your worries! We are all sinners here, even the pure!"
- — Harker Dunne, Forge Labourer
The Inquisition is immensely powerful, and the only individual that is exempt from its scrutiny is the Emperor Himself. If he has good cause, an Inquisitor may demand any service from any Imperial citizen, up to and including the High Lords of Terra.
The Adeptus Custodes who guard the Emperor's palace and person are exempt from conscription, because their duty to the Emperor is clear and unchanging. When it comes to the Adeptus Astartes, Inquisitors often show some discretion, as Space Marine Chapters are often willing to come to blood over any infringement on their Emperor-granted autonomy.
However, not even the Adeptus Astartes are immune from the Inquisition's scrutiny and justice, and entire worlds have been destroyed in order to cleanse them if they were deemed traitorous.
Inquisitors also have absolute power to judge and execute supposed Heretics, mutants, unsanctioned or rogue psykers and the like, with no appeal save the intervention of another Inquisitor. Practically, all possible verdicts are death sentences, although the means by which they are achieved differ.
Traitors, the worst grade of offenders, are considered irredeemable and will be quickly executed. Heretics may be redeemed, often after considerable amounts of torture, and may receive absolution through death in service to the Imperium. This service may consist of arco-flagellation, conscription into Imperial armies, becoming the operator of one of the Adeptus Ministorum's Penitent Engines or, in the case of penitent psykers, being sent to Holy Terra to become new psychic fuel for the Golden Throne and the Astronomican.
Certain Traitors deemed useful to the Inquisition may in extremely rare cases be mind-scrubbed, their old memories and identity erased and replaced with one loyal to the Inquisition. If it is beyond their means to track down and kill a particular individual or organisation, an Inquisitor can simply declare the offending entity Excommunicate Traitoris, stripping them of whatever rights they may have had and as such marking them as a target fit for extermination by any and all loyal servants of the Emperor.
If the Inquisitor deems it necessary he or she can attach an official stigma to a dangerous Heretic, Traitor or alien species. Each of the major Ordos has a different official stigma which pertains to their primary enemies. These stigmata include the Extremis Diabolis for the Ordo Malleus, the Xenos Horrificus for the Ordo Xenos and the Hereticus Abomini for the Ordo Hereticus.
The Inquisition will also use its delegated power from the High Lords of Terra to declare "tainted" Space Marine Chapters or other Renegade Imperial military units or individuals Excommunicate Traitoris. The Chapter or other unit will then usually be hunted down by the Grey Knights or the Sisters of Battle, usually resulting in the Chapter fleeing to the Eye of Terror or the Maelstrom (if it has not already done so).
The Soul Drinkers Chapter was an exception, as they still believed themselves to be loyal servants of the Emperor, and continued to defend the Imperium until their destruction, even though they were no longer part of it.
Young psykers who have not worked against the Imperium or used their powers much will usually be repeatedly tested, and if they are young, strong and pious enough, may be taken in by the Black Ships of the Inquisition to become a Sanctioned Psyker or even an Inquisitor if their abilities are strong enough.
The requirements are strict and many will be found wanting. Those that fail the Inquisition's tests will either be executed or used to power the vast psychic beacon of the Astronomican, their lives sacrificed for the ultimate good of Mankind to sustain the Golden Throne which keeps the Emperor alive.
If a world is the subject of extreme corruption by Chaos or a xenos infestation like that of a Genestealer Cult, an Inquisitor may call down the verdict of Exterminatus, destroying all ecosystems on the planet and rendering the world completely lifeless.
Many question the necessity of such acts, but the Inquisition feels fully justified in performing them. They feel that it is better for countless servants of the Emperor to be sacrificed than to let a single Heretic escape their wrath to endanger even more lives.
Typically, though, such an act is reserved for only the most extreme cases, such as a massive outbreak of Chaos activity that threatens to corrupt other worlds or unchecked infiltration by Genestealer Cults that precede (or can cause) a Tyranid invasion that will consume an entire sector.
An Inquisitor has the power to declare an individual, or sometimes an organisation or planet, as Excommunicate Traitoris. This declaration excommunicates the accused from the Human race, and is an indication to other Inquisitors and adepta that the excommunicate party should be hunted down and killed for the good of the Imperium.
Inquisitorial conclaves are often the venue for declaring excommunications and, in extreme circumstances, even a fellow Inquisitor can be so branded.
Excommunication is never done lightly, but is a principal weapon of the Inquisition and one of the ways its authority can be used to protect the Imperium.
"These daemons, they hate us with a malevolence and intensity beyond words. It is their nature, their purpose to worm their way through the skin of reality and unleash horror upon our realm. Yet just as they are but puppets of their dark masters, so they can also act as puppeteers. They take the minds and souls of potent psykers, brave warriors, cunning generals and devoted healers and they...twist...all that might benefit Humanity. Their poison spreads until the Imperium's greatest champions become instead its most terrible foes. Chaos peers into the collective Human soul and uses what it finds to turn us against ourselves. That, acolyte, is why it is the greatest danger we face."
- —Inquisitor Lhorcus Phrecht
To protect its citizens from the insidious temptations of Chaos, the Imperium of Man long did its best to hide the existence of the Chaos Gods, Daemons and the Chaos Space Marines from public knowledge. Only certain Space Marines, Sanctioned Psykers and the members of the Inquisition were permitted to know the Imperium's darkest secret.
All others are either put to death after exposure to the reality of Chaos to protect the Imperium from their possible corruption, or if they have been a valuable servant to the Imperium, they are allowed to live but required to undergo memory modification or even, in extreme cases, a mind-wipe.
This is a policy that has been in place since before the Emperor of Mankind was interred within the Golden Throne, when only He and His primarchs knew that the Warp contained intelligent entities capable of possessing individuals in realspace.
But even the Emperor did not reveal to His primarchs during the Great Crusade the full truth that the Warp was not just a seething cauldron of psychic energies inhabited by entities similar to xenos, but was actually populated by malign intelligences akin to the supernatural beings of ancient Human myth and superstition.
He chose not to explain that the Empyrean was dominated by the Ruinous Powers and their daemonic servants, for fear that this knowledge alone would lead too many of the primarchs to take actions that would lead to their corruption.
To fight a Daemon army is to fight a twisting tornado of unreason and despair that forever changes those who must confront its horror. As such, the Imperium believes that it cannot allow the knowledge that such foes actually exist to spread, since even the simple knowledge of Chaos' existence may mark the start of an individual's fall to damnation.
The Human survivors of conflicts with the daemonic were invariably confronted by the agents of the Inquisition and mind-wiped, quarantined for life in forced labour camps or even -- in extreme cases -- made the subjects of a worldwide Exterminatus event.
Over the aeons, the galaxy has witnessed Warp-based catastrophes and daemonic incursions beyond counting. Since the inception of the Inquisition after the Horus Heresy, even the fact that such a thing is possible is deemed too dangerous for the citizens of the Imperium to know, for such knowledge breeds heresy as surely as a flyblown corpse breeds maggots.
Because of this, the vast majority of knowledge concerning daemonic incursions has been eradicated from extant Imperial public records. What is known is recorded only in proscribed Imperial texts and heretical xenos scripts that the Inquisition has yet to destroy.
However, in the wake of the opening of the Great Rift at the start of the Era Indomitus, this policy of secrecy has been somewhat relaxed, at least for the Adeptus Astartes, due to necessity. Before the opening of the Great Rift, the vast majority of Astartes were expected to be as ignorant about the existence of Daemons as any other citizen of the Imperium.
In truth, it was hard to find an Astartes who had not fought Daemons by the end of the 41st Millennium. Yet the Inquisition in the Time of Ending was well-known to mind-wipe entire Chapters after certain incidents, though not every Chapter was willing to submit. Some like the Space Wolves resisted any intrusion on their traditional autonomy forcefully.
But in the Era Indomitus, with the galaxy now riven in half by the birth of the Cicatrix Maledictum, daemonic incursions are so common, and Space Marine responses so necessary, that suppressing the knowledge of the existence of Daemons among the Astartes has simply become pointless.
The Inquisition does not have a formal organisation and is, at the most fundamental level, dependent upon the authority and skill of the single Inquisitor and his team of Acolytes and Throne Agents. Every Inquisitor embodies the whole Inquisition and is granted the same absolute power by virtue of the Inquisitorial Mandate.
As the word of an Inquisitor is absolute and beyond reproach, except by other Inquisitors, the Inquisition is self-policing.
At one time it was said that the Ordo Malleus was responsible for policing the Inquisition, however this idea seems to have been abandoned and there are now those within each of the Ordos who focus their time in purging the Inquisition of rogue elements; the Ordo Hereticus is particularly noted for having members who keep a close eye on fellow members of the Inquisition.
Despite the lack of a formal organisational structure, there are many types of Inquisitorial groupings that an Inquisitor may belong to, however membership within these is not mandatory. For example, an Inquisitor may choose not to join an Ordo, however by not doing so he will be unable to access their resources.
Similarly, an Inquisitor is expected to announce his presence to the head of the Inquisitorial conclave overseeing the sector or region of the galaxy in which he operates, however many Inquisitors prefer to work in secret.
The solitary nature of an Inquisitor's work means that after leaving the company of their tutor, they might never meet another Inquisitor. This is not that uncommon, and in distant parts of the galaxy where the Imperium is spread thin, there are small offshoots of the Inquisition that have had no contact with Terra for years, centuries or even millennia.
It is in these splinter groups that new philosophies may be born, or older factions maintained even though the greater Inquisition may have disregarded them. Dealing with a myriad threats that perhaps no other Inquisitor has encountered before, these isolated Inquisitors and cells might be viewed as dangerous or beneficial, and in the past have proven to be both.
Over the generations, as with the Inquisition across the galaxy, the mission and purpose of Inquisitors may be perverted, either deliberately or simply through the progression of knowledge from individual to individual.
There have been several occurrences when the Inquisition has openly conflicted with these groups, both sides ignorant of the true nature of their adversaries. Such wars do not usually end well, and so those who are most prominent in the Inquisition make great efforts to maintain contact with as many Inquisitors as possible to avoid such confrontations.
Though some Inquisitors may endure a lonely vigil against the darkness that surrounds Humanity, most will at some point meet other Inquisitors, either during the course of their duties or at a specially convened conclave. Conclaves are formal gatherings of two or more Inquisitors, and are convened for a variety of reasons, which shall be discussed later.
Most conclaves are called to discuss a single matter, and will last a few solar days at most and be attended by no more than a handful of Inquisitors. Some, known in some records as "High Conclaves," can last for several solar weeks and cover a multitude of related topics. The attendance for High Conclaves may number several dozen Inquisitors depending on the extent of the topic or topics being conferred upon.
Any Inquisitor can, in theory at least, convene a conclave, although only an Inquisitor Lord will have the authority to call a High Conclave. In practice, it is the more experienced and connected Inquisitors that have the means and communication resources to gather such a group. Most conclaves will fall into one of two areas: Inquisitorial remit, or factional agenda.
Those convened under the Inquisitorial remit may include Inquisitors from different factions, and High Conclaves fall exclusively within this category -- such a gathering of Inquisitors from their activities can only be necessitated by an urgent or important reason. On such occasions, the varying viewpoints proffered by Inquisitors with differing outlooks is not only desirable but almost essential if a proper consensus for action is to be agreed.
Factional conclaves, on the other hand, will be called to discuss matters that fall within the beliefs of the faction members, and may have little pertinence or interest to Inquisitors outside the faction. The Thorians, for example, may well convene every few standard years to share information about possible Divine Vessels, new theories purporting to any of the multiple facets of Thorianism, or to share new knowledge.
It is for the flow of information that the majority of conclaves are gathered -- to warn others of a new threat, to discuss recent events, to pass on news of success or failure. This information-sharing will be followed by debate, as the Inquisitors decide upon a course of action that they will each take.
Consensus is not essential, as Inquisitors know full well that different approaches to the same problems will garner different results. However, being aware of the activities of other Inquisitors around a certain area or confronting a particular threat can avoid unfortunate confusion and even confrontation later.
A conclave is gathered by one of two means, either through open invitation to any Inquisitors to attend, or by more selective invite. The first is the accepted course of action if a serious threat arises or is discovered, requiring that all Inquisitors in the neighbouring sectors be aware of it and, as is sometimes necessary, abandon their current missions to concentrate on this new menace.
The second is more likely if the Inquisitor calling the conclave knows of others that will bring particular skills or knowledge to the meeting, and is perhaps after guidance or further information.
Given the nature of communication and travel in the Imperium, gathering together even half a dozen specific individuals in a single place at a certain time requires that most conclaves are restricted in their sphere of influence to a few hundred light years, and must be planned in advance. High Conclaves, those that deal with the most grave matters brought to the attention of the Inquisition, can be convened on smaller timescales if required, as astropaths send out urgent missives to Inquisitors across a wider area.
High Conclaves are sometimes an ongoing affair that may see several dozen Inquisitors answer the call all told, though perhaps less than half of them will be present on any given day as they arrive or depart as the tides of the Warp allow.
With the exception of the High Conclaves, which must be held on one of the Inquisition fortress worlds placed strategically across the Imperium, conclaves can be convened just about anywhere. Secrecy necessitates that they be conducted somewhere that is secure and more experienced Inquisitors may well retain or acquire estates, libraries or bases where such conclaves can be held.
One of the most dire reasons for a conclave to be convened is for the adjudication between two Inquisitors. An Inquisitor is above any judge but his peers, and thus it is required that for an Inquisitor to be brought to trial a fellow Inquisitor must act as prosecutor. In these situations, an Inquisitor Lord will convene the conclave, often with the accused in absentia, and a panel of three or more Inquisitors will hear the case to be answered.
Such a conclave can find an Inquisitor negligent, incompetent, or worse. The greatest sentence handed down by these conclaves is the declaration of Excommunicate Traitoris -- the Inquisitor is found to be a Heretic and is to be hunted down at all costs. It has been known for Inquisitors to declare another Inquisitor Traitor without recourse to a conclave, as may be necessary to prevent a deviant from escaping, or when physical conflict is imminent.
In such cases, a conclave of inquiry will be held after the events have unfolded. Sometimes such conclaves do not occur within the lifetime of the accused or the accuser, and they must make their judgement based on whatever evidence remains. Given the flexible mission of the Inquisition and the individuals that make up its ranks, such trial conclaves are limited in the punishments they can mete out on the guilty.
One cannot simply stop being an Inquisitor, and so censures and other threats carry little weight. Most often, the guilty party may be subjected to further examination -- in itself, not a pleasant experience -- and this is usually enough to provide an Inquisitor with a new incentive to re-examine their priorities and agenda.
- The Calixian Conclave - As with many others throughout the Imperium, the Calixian Conclave has a long and labyrinthine history. This ancient establishment has gathered many resources over the years, ranging from small safe houses on distant planets to mighty fortresses like the Tricorn officio on Scintilla. Troops, secret libraries, ancient pacts and even entire merchant companies are in the control of the conclave -- though many would be hard pressed to find any evidence of such a thing. There are also numerous hidden heresies and forbidden episodes buried within the annals of the conclave. The symbol of the Calixian Conclave is a golden chalice. At Inquisitorial gatherings, an ornate version of this chalice is often displayed upon a table, plinth or other prominent position. Tradition holds that it should be filled only half-way with clear liquid. The mythology of the conclave holds that this is either a draught from the well of knowledge or the waters of forgetfulness. The original charter in which this detail was recorded has been lost and copies of the tattered manuscripts seem to contradict one another. Darker whispers from the more Radical elements of the conclave whisper that the symbolic cup is in fact the Chalice of Corruption, a warning to those who would taste the mysteries locked within the Calixis Sector's apocalyptic fate.
A cabal is a rare body instituted by a conclave and dedicated to investigating a particular matter. They form a specialist task-force charged with the prosecution of a particular concern.
Generally they gather Inquisitors from varied backgrounds and philosophies, all working together via their differing methods and focused on a single goal. Cabals are despised by many, who see them as secret societies or unnnecesary inner factions within a particular conclave.
However, they have been shown to be a highly effective tool: by combining and focusing the activities of varied Inquisitors on a particular scheme, cabals have often achieved noteworthy successes.
- The Tyrantine Cabal - The Tyrantine Cabal of Inquisitors within the Calixis Sector is an example of a large and comparatively close-knit cabal. The ominous threat of the much prophesied Tyrant Star -- a strange apparition that heralds great disaster -- has forced Inquisitors to band together. Appearing as it does, seemingly at random throughout the sector, the Tyrantines have so far been unable to track or predict its wax and wane. Whenever events begin to herald the arrival of the Tyrant Star -- mass riots, dreams of a black wreathed sun, natural disasters, unprecedented psychic phenomena and so on -- nearby Inquisitors and Acolytes race to observe the appearance. The data they record is shared amongst the other members of the cabal and is much debated upon.
There is also another resource that an Inquisitor can draw upon -- other Inquisitors. On occasion an Inquisitor may well encounter another of his organisation, or specifically request the aid of a comrade. These are temporary, short-lived affairs on the whole. However, repeated cooperation between Inquisitors can become established, and over time a growing group of Inquisitors will communicate regularly and assist each other.
This is likely if the Inquisitors share some common goals and these "cells," as they are known, tend to be factional in nature and therefore can be used not only to further the cause of the Inquisition as a whole but also to fulfil the agenda of the Inquisitors involved.
Some cells may only last a few standard years, as the duties of the Inquisitors take them apart to different worlds. The Inquisitors may never meet again, though sometimes a cell will continue to communicate sporadically over many years and large distances. In time a cell may contain a dozen or more Inquisitors, occasionally working together and passing on information to one another.
A cell will often be formed to confront a particular problem -- a Daemonic manifestation for example. When this sort of threat reoccurs, an Inquisitor may call upon his or her old cell to confront the new menace. In this way, a cell may lie dormant for standard years or even solar decades, before the call is sent out and the Inquisitors gather.
Given the secretive nature of the Inquisition, the way a cell operates is very much built upon keeping the members secure and to protect them from outside recognition. Many Inquisitors do not work openly, and simply identifying another Inquisitor can prove difficult. At some point, as suspicions are aroused, an Inquisitor will have to make the choice whether to declare himself -- risking discovery by a potential foe but also gaining a possible ally.
If two covertly operating Inquisitors encounter each other, the manner of their meeting will determine their reaction. To ameliorate this state of affairs, all Inquisitors carry with them an Inquisitorial Seal. This may be a pendant, signet ring, actual seal or some other accoutrement, and is marked with a variation of the symbol of the Inquisition.
This seal is proof positive that the Inquisitor carries with him the full authority of the Emperor. Should anyone doubt the veracity of a seal, they will normally contain other, digitally encoded information that will prove the identity of the bearer, utilising technologies seldom seen outside the Forge Worlds of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
Inquisitorial Symbolism & Ciphers
Although Traitors and other nefarious individuals have claimed Inquisitorial status to further their own ends, such is the fervour with which the Inquisition hunts down these rogues, and the well-communicated manner of their agonising deaths, that it is a brave man or woman who dares such a thing. The absolute trust and authority with which the Inquisition must operate cannot be threatened and Inquisitors will go to any lengths to expose a fraud and bring them to justice.
In addition to their Inquisitorial Seal, an Inquisitor's clothing and personal effects may well contain all manner of subtle information about their philosophy, allegiances and contacts. There is no set cipher to this iconography, for it has developed over ten thousand Terran years and contains many levels of hidden meanings, and indeed some symbols will mean various things to different Inquisitors in different parts of the galaxy.
This symbolism is not always a conscious effort on the part of the Inquisitor. By its secretive nature, much information passes between Inquisitors either in written form or by word of mouth. In time, certain artefacts have come to symbolise a variety of meanings, some of which are relevant only to particular factions or Ordos, others that are more widespread.
The Thorians, for instance, make great use of the skull symbol, as a representation of the Emperor-in-Death. Skull buttons, cufflinks, tattoos, earrings, or other decoration may be worn as a sign of reverence, but is also recognisable in certain situations by other Thorians.
However, it cannot be said that the skull is the emblem of the Thorians, for no such thing exists and the skull is a popular symbol throughout the Imperium, imparting a variety of meanings depending on how and where it is rendered. In addition to the skull, the Thorians will often have other symbols about their person, such as a scroll clasped in a hand -- supposedly the hand of Promeus himself as he left the first conclave -- and also a broken lock, the solving of the riddle of the Divine Vessel.
Inquisitors are, of course, exceptionally observant and will instantly pick up these and many other details upon meeting another individual. They will already know a little of the other Inquisitor and their purpose before a word is spoken.
Cells will often take this one step further. Agents for one Inquisitor in a cell may not know who else their master is working with, and an Inquisitor will not necessarily know who are the agents of his allies and who are either bystanders or enemies. To overcome this, a cell will often agree on a symbol or set of symbols with which to identify themselves and those operating for them. This can be as subtle as a particular type of stitching used on the hem of robes and coats, or more open such as the wearing of a particular style of ring or broach.
By these means, Inquisitors can identify and cooperate with their allies without fear of betraying themselves, or their comrades. Some cells, particularly those that are operating exceptionally covertly and perhaps investigating local Imperial officials of power and means, will also adopt a peculiar form of language.
All Inquisitors will learn various codes and battle-tongues from their master or mistress while they are an Interrogator, and there are several spoken by Inquisitors all across the Imperium in one form or another. However, it will also be one of the qualified Inquisitor's first tasks to modify or create a secret tongue of his own.
Inquisitors are pragmatic for much of the time, and every Inquisitor is taught early on that their loyalty to the master may one day have to be forgotten and they will investigate their former mentor. In such situations, security cannot be compromised, and so there is the need for every Inquisitor and his or her warrior band to be able to communicate in a unique manner.
The cell will, either through meeting one another or by use of intermediaries, agree upon a form for their code-speak, corresponding to one of the basic language foundations used throughout the Inquisition. Some are utterly impenetrable to others reading or listening, and appear to be nonsense, others are hidden within everyday phrases and conversation, with carefully placed code-words to convey the true nature of the message.
As with their visual appearance, an Inquisitor's use of different types of cipher can say a lot about what they believe and whom they learned their skills from. As mentioned earlier, a cell does not consist solely of Inquisitors, but also their agents. This varies from their immediate comrades that accompany them to distant contacts that provide other forms of support or information.
When cooperating as part of a cell, an Inquisitor may pass on certain details of their informants and allies to the other members of the cell, though it is an unspoken tradition that where possible an Inquisitor only deals with his own aides and confidants unless absolutely necessary.
Using the visual keys and code-language, the Inquisitors will be able to make their loyalties known to this intermeshed network of accomplices and agents and thus utilise their services if required. For their part, the agents will have been told of others working with their master or mistress, but information is power and so any one individual is unlikely to know who ultimately they are working for, and will instead only be aware of the cell through a layer of intermediaries and scant contact.
They may not even know it is the Inquisition that is pulling the strings. It is not unusual for an Inquisitor, even when contacting his agents directly, to masquerade as a lesser functionary to protect his identity.
All of this allows the cell to deal with the threat for which it was created. A cell will last as long as the particular problem or menace remains, and may last for several standard years. Cells are transitory creations and may contain Inquisitors who are only allied through common acquaintance and may never meet all of the other members of the cell. However, should they do so, they will know immediately they are in the presence of their co-conspirators.
Given the diverse nature of the threats combated by the Inquisition, which pay no heed to time or space, a cell may not convene with each other for several years while its members pursue their own missions in accordance with the cell's goals. On the other hand, the cell may see concentrated, almost frenetic activity for several days or months, during which the situation is resolved.
Cells formed over longer periods may well meet again when another threat arises, as an Inquisitor seeks out tried-and-tested companions to aid him. Others will disband never to cross paths again, although the knowledge learned and the shared experience will be kept by the Inquisitors involved for the rest of their lives.
It is through the organic ebb and flow of the cells that ideas, theories and acquaintances can eventually pass from one end of the galaxy to the other over the span of standard years, decades, generations and centuries. Philosophies that may well have fallen out of favour near Terra may only just be catching attention in the southern rim or the Eastern Fringe.
The Inquisitors know full well the impossibility of maintaining any kind of structure across the great gulfs of space covered by the Imperium, unlike other Imperial organisations, and for the last ten thousand years it is an approach that has, on the whole, been very successful.
In all, it is important to remember that cells exist for a specific purpose, to combat a common threat identified by the Inquisitors within that cell. Inquisitors are free to leave cells or to invite new members to join the effort, and they are organised on an ad-hoc basis
Broadly speaking, each Inquisitor controls a network of agents beholden to serve their needs and interests. In turn, each Inquisitor also has certain obligations to their Ordo, conclave or conscience, which they must fulfill.
Often experienced Inquisitors or ones in need of specific services depending on their Ordo or the current situation at hand will have retinues of henchmen that he has deemed most useful.
These retinues can be made up of a variety of individuals from Chirurgeon medics to lobotomised Gun Servitors carrying massive heavy weapons. The full list of known Inquisitor henchmen is described below:
- Acolytes - Interrogator/Explicator: An Inquisitor can take on apprentices and teach them everything he knows so that they too can some day become full Inquisitors like their master.
- Chirurgeons - Torturer/Excoriator/Sister Hospitaller: Members of the Adepta Sororitas' Orders Hospitaller or just those individuals trained in torture, interrogation and punishment, they can aid an Inquisitor in interrogating prisoners or healing wounds done to the Inquisitor and his Acolytes in battle.
- Familiars - Cherubim/Servo-skull/Psyber-Eagle: By far the strangest of henchmen, familiars boost the psychic prowess of psyker Inquisitors and allow him greater initiative. (N.B.: In Inquisitor game terms, these would normally be considered as part of a character's equipment, not as a member of the warband.)
- Hierophant - Castigator/Ecclesiarchy Priest/Exorcist: Fiery members of the Ecclesiarchy, they boost the faith of the Daemonhunters they are in service to and chant exorcisms and prayers that can cause agony to nearby daemons.
- Mystics - Astropath/Warp-Seer/Sanctioned Psyker: Sanctioned psykers used by the Inquisition to detect the presence of daemonic creatures.
- Penitent - Bound Psyker/Penitent Witch/Pariah: When a Witch Hunter makes a heretic psyker repent his sins (a notably rare event), he could become what could be called a "psychic lightning rod", absorbing the psychic attacks of other heretic psykers and protecting the Inquisitor and his retinue in battle.
- Sage - Autosavant/Lexmechanic/Calculus Logi: Individuals whose mathematical skills are so keen that they can calculate firing angles and trajectories perfectly, increasing the chance for an Inquisitor's ranged weaponry to hit its mark.
- Warrior - Imperial Guard Veteran/Combat-Servitor/Gun-Servitor/Crusader/Adeptus Arbites Arbitrator: These individuals (or mindless automatons in the case of the Servitors) act as bodyguards and combat support for Inquisitors and serve their master in direct, physical combat against the minions of Chaos.
- Untouchables - Inquisitors may also bring in an Untouchable, a psychic Blank who possesses the anti-psyker Pariah Gene, to counter detection from that of another psyker or a group of psykers. Normally an Untouchable does little more than serve as a "tourist" who follows the Inquisitor. Use of Untouchables in the Inquisition was first introduced by Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn who, after finding an Untouchable, helped form a distaff because of their usefulness against the many powerful psykers the Inquisition encounters. This distaff was ultimately attacked and destroyed by the Heretic Pontius Glaw, but Untouchables have continued to be used in Inquisitorial retinues after their underrated ability saved Inquisitor Eisenhorn many times. Some examples of Untouchables prominent in the Warhammer 40,000 universe include Wystan Frauka of Gideon Ravenor's retinue, and Jurgen, who was a part of the retinue of Commissar Ciaphas Cain.
Especially helpful, competent (or attractive) retainers may become permanent members of an Inquisitor's retinue as new Acolytes, helping him bring light to the dark corners of the galaxy.
Note that this list is not exhaustive as many different kinds of individuals with many different personalities and jobs have been seen in the employ of Inquisitors in fiction.
This allows for Inquisitorial retinues and the Inquisitors themselves to be highly distinct models with different personalities, weapons, histories and attitudes.
The Inquisition does not have a formal hierarchy, and there is no system of ranks or command such as is found in the Imperial military or the Adeptus Terra.
Authority within the Inquisition is governed by two factors -- reputation and influence. Seniority is in itself no indicator of authority, however most Inquisitors will take heed of the wisdom of an older and more experienced peer.
There is one position amongst the Inquisition that carries with it more power and authority than any other -- the Inquisitorial Representative to the Senatorum Imperialis. One of the High Lords of Terra, the Inquisitorial Representative is nominated from amongst the Inquisitor Lords of the sectors surrounding Terra, and Inquisitors that have filled this role are referred to as an "Inquisitor Lord Terran."
It is not unusual for several Inquisitor Lords Terran to share the role of Inquisitorial Representative at the same time. Though the attendance of the Representative is always appreciated, their position in the chambers of the Senatorum Imperialis is often empty and their vote conferred by missive -- such are the demands of the Inquisition. An Inquisitorial Representative may fulfil their role only once in their life, or they may attend the Senatorum for several standard years.
The requirements of service to the Inquisition may necessitate them leaving Terra to attend a High Conclave, while others quickly tire of the bureaucracy and politics that the Senatorum is based upon and relinquish their position to return to more active roles out in the wider galaxy. To avoid unpleasant politicking on the part of the Representative, the maximum term that an Inquisitor Lord Terran can serve on the Senatorum is five standard years, after which they must stand down.
It is rare that the Inquisitor Lords cannot agree on a candidate for the role, for it does carry little more honour than that of messenger -- the Representative communicates the will of the Inquisition, not their own. However, it does come with a great deal of responsibility. While the Inquisition enjoys absolute authority, in reality the cooperation of the other High Lords is essential in maintaining this position.
If a Representative were to cross the Fabricator-General of Mars, for instance, the starships and arms by which the Inquisition's power is maintained may be put at risk. Conversely, if the Inquisition feels that an organisation is stinting in its dedication, pressure can be applied to the relevant High Lord, turning an organisational issue into one of personal confidence.
In this respect, the Respresentative is in an unparalleled position of leverage, for they have not attained this role by personal ambition or desire, and therefore risk no personal stake in their dealings with the other High Lords. They, on the other hand, will be only too aware of the subordinates that view their position with envy and ambition, and so must actively protect their power at each turn. The merest hint of the Inquisition's displeasure can be the catalyst for a High Lord being removed by those they represent.
Those High Lords whose position is non-permanent, such as the leader of the Chartist Captains or the Lord Solar, are particularly vulnerable to this type of careful manipulation by the Representative, for they risk not only their personal privilege, but also that of the organisation they represent. Thus the careful balance of power between the Inquisition and the rest of the Imperium is carefully preserved.
As well as garnering support for the Inquisition's endeavours, the Inquisitorial Representative has two other main responsibilities. The first is to warn the Senatorum of threats significant enough to trouble their debates. The Inquisition operates in such a way that it is normally the first to become aware of emergent menaces to the Imperium, and has proven this with regards to the Necron awakening, the arrival of the Tyranid hive fleets, the advent of a Hrud migration and during many other momentous events.
Thus the Inquisition serves as the High Lords' eyes and ears across the galaxy, enabling them to bypass the dreary and lengthy processes maintained by the Adeptus Terra, when the need arises. Such warnings come not only for information, but are inevitably attended with a recommended course of action.
The High Lords will debate this recommendation, usually modifying it in some form or other, and then begin turning the great wheels of the Imperium to implement their plans. There have been instances in the Imperium's past when the Representative has been absent for many years, and in such times the Senatorum has become more rife with politics and infighting than is usual.
The height of this was Lord Goge Vandire's claiming of the joint titles of Master of the Administratum and Ecclesiarch, heralding the Age of Apostasy, or the Assassin Wars of Vindication that followed shortly after the Reign of Blood.
The Inquisition was unaware of these internal problems, faced as they were by increasing discoveries of an ancient alien civilisation seeded through the Halo Stars and Dead Worlds at the edge of the galaxy.
The Inquisition does not have formal organisation, and therefore there is no system of ranks or command as there are in the Adeptus Terra or the military. Authority within the Inquisition is governed by two factors -- reputation and influence. An Inquisitor may be willing to gainsay one of his fellows, but if confronted by several he will defer, thus an Inquisitor with experience and contacts can exert control over younger, less influential comrades.
Seniority is in itself no true test of authority, but most Inquisitors will default to the wisdom of another that is older and more experienced. Despite this, there is a need for a higher tier of Inquisitor to help maintain the integrity of the Inquisition and to watch over the rest of the organisation and the marshalling of resources.
They are known as "Lord Inquisitors," "Inquisitor Lords" or "High Inquisitors." Promotion to the ranks of the Inquisitor Lords is by invitation only, and is extended to those that have proven themselves numerous times, not only their courage and ability, but also their integrity and loyalty.
To become an Inquisitor Lord, one must be nominated by an existing Lord, and to have the nomination approved by two others. Quite often this is a formality, as the word of an Inquisitor Lord is sacrosanct to his fellows and the chances of an Inquisitor actually being known personally by more than one Lord are exceptionally small.
However, there is occasionally contention and a conclave may have to be convened to discuss the matter -- usually, but not always, with the nominee in attendance to answer inquiries as to their activities and beliefs. Being an Inquisitor Lord is a recognition rather than an absolute rank, and is more a formalization of a position enjoyed by the Inquisitor rather than an actual promotion.
This is because an Inquisitor Lord has no real temporal dominion -- they are not responsible for any given area of the galaxy nor specific individuals. Instead, it is reinforcement of the Inquisitor's authority and in particular to power within the organization.
The most obvious benefits are the ability to recognize the appointments of others to the ranks of Inquisitor, to convene High Conclaves and to requisition greater resources from the Inquisition's forces and agents.
Other Inquisitorial Ranks
- Grandmaster - Grandmaster is a title sometimes given to an Inquisitor Lord who runs a standing sector or sub-sector conclave, such as Lord Orsini, Grandmaster of the Ordos Helican.
- Master - Where an Ordo has a strong presence in a sector or sub-sector, the senior Inquisitor Lord of each Ordo may be given the title "Master." In the Ordos Helican, there are three masters, one for each of the Ordos Majoris; who as well as overseeing the members of their Ordos also provide counsel to the Grandmaster of the conclave and are responsible for choosing his successor should he die or retire.
Like all Imperial organisations, the Inquisition is vast, covering the galaxy with untold numbers of agents. However, here the similarity ends, for the Inquisition is arranged in a way that is completely different to the galaxy-spanning bureaucracies of the Adeptus Terra.
Its remit is open, its mandate simple: to protect the Emperor and Mankind against any threat, by whatever means are necessary. Such a mission requires the ultimate flexibility, and the scope of the threats ranged against the Inquisition vary from the individual mutant to system and sector spanning conspiracies and alien domination. In this section, we will explore the ways by which Inquisitors fulfil their mandates, and the resources at their disposal.
The basic operational unit of the Inquisition is the Inquisitor. In an Imperium that groans under the weight of gargantuan organisations and an impossible interstellar bureaucracy, the Inquisition is unfettered by such considerations and is free to operate where and how it sees fit. With an open remit to combat threats to Mankind, the Inquisition operates outside of the other Imperial organisations, though has absolute authority over them.
In practice, the Inquisition must be more political than its mandate allows. Though their power derives from the Emperor Himself, and even the High Lords of Terra are not above their scrutiny, the Inquisition must also rely on the other parts of the Imperium for resources. The Inquisition has tremendous amounts of power, and has access to troops, weaponry and archives beyond most other Imperial organisations, but it must still receive these from the Adeptus Astartes, the Astra Militarum, the Adeptus Mechanicus and others.
In essence the Inquisition exists not as a force in its own right, but as a guiding hand that allows the Imperium to protect itself, after a fashion. Much of its work is dedicated to observing threats to Mankind and instigating an appropriate response. As well as the many Inquisitors, the Inquisition has millions, probably billions, of other agents and operatives across the Imperium and beyond, watching for signs of mutation, alien aggression, treachery, and incompetence.
Each and every Inquisitor embodies the whole Inquisition and wields the power of the entire organisation. The word of an Inquisitor is absolute and beyond reproach -- except by other Inquisitors. Thus, as well as protecting the Imperium, the Inquisition is also responsible for its own self-policing.
It is a testament to the courage and diligence of the Inquisitors that it has maintained its position for ten thousand standard years despite wars, pogroms, internecine conflict, and internal heresy. The men and women of the Inquisition are amongst the most vigorously tested, intensively trained, and motivated individuals from the whole of Humanity, and they need to be.
An Inquisitor needs more than simple physical skills, and an armory that goes beyond mere weaponry. Their mind is their great strength, not only for intelligence but also strength of will. In a galaxy ruled by religious dogma and orthodoxy, an Inquisitor must cast aside superstition and faith and operate outside the established view of the galaxy.
To be an Inquisitor is to understand the forces that work against the Emperor and Mankind in a way that no other individual in the Imperiun can -- not even those that sit on the Senatorum Imperialis. To be required to fight against ten thousand Terran years of received wisdom and established orthodoxy is no easy task, but if the Inquisition is to remain effective then it is essential that its Inquisitors can see the galaxy through eyes untainted by doctrine or assumption.
To avoid the monolithic, slow processes that are the curse of other Imperial organisations, the Inquisition is organised on only the most fundamental level -- the single Inquisitor. From their original conception, the Inquisitor can call upon whatever local resources were required to deal with the threat, with no need for recourse to the Adeptus Terra. This has stood true for ten thousand years, and throughout that period the Inquisition has needed to maintain its position of absolute authority.
To allow Inquisitors to operate as needed across the Imperium safely and without abuse of their immense and open-ended authority, the Inquisition gives each appointed Inquisitor an Inquisitorial seal. This is an Inquisitorial rosette, signet ring, or similar adornment bearing the Inquisitorial icon, and gives the bearer all the potent political powers of the Inquisition, including the authority to requisition Astra Militarum troops or Space Marines, call upon all three of the Chambers Militant of the Inquisition and more besides (usually claimed "by the authority of the Immortal Emperor of Mankind").
The seal doubles as a decoder for encrypted Imperial documents up to the highest levels of security clearance and may have similar other perks depending upon the individual Inquisitor's record of accomplishment. The crime of forging an Inquisitorial seal carries some of the worst punishments the Inquisition can call down on transgressors, which is saying something.
Occasionally a matter will surface that requires more lengthy study and debate than a normal Inquisitorial case. In such cases, Inquisitors may hold Apotropaic Studies. These studies usually gather between two or three Inquisitors. Larger meetings known as Apotropaic Councils or Conclaves will gather at least eleven Inquisitors for debate and study of an important issue, or they may be called to ensure communication within the members of a faction or philosophical grouping of the Inquisition.
Quite rarely, a so-called "High Conclave" or Apotropaic Congress may be convened, but only by an Inquisitor Lord. These will often gather dozens of Inquisitors for solar weeks of debate on many related topics. Usually, it is at conclaves and meetings of this sort that new Inquisitors will be appointed. It is also during such meetings that the Inquisition polices its own ranks, as no other organisation in the Imperium has the authority to do so.
Many threats that arise can be dealt with by the Inquisitor and their retinue without outside assistance. Cults in their infancy, Renegade commanders, small scale alien influence and the other menaces that the Inquisition must battle every day are swiftly dealt with, either by the simple expedient of removing the individual at the centre of the threat, or by elimination of the core of the enemy group.
On occasion a threat will be of such an extent that the Inquisitor must also call upon local resources, most notably the Adeptus Arbites and planetary warriors. They may require intra-system spacecraft to bring their foes to justice, or simply need more firepower against established sects or powerful individuals.
In such circumstances an Inquisitor can continue in one of two ways. They may openly reveal their presence to local military commanders and thus garner the resources they need. Alternatively, they may wish to keep their presence unknown. This is particularly true if corruption is believed to be more endemic amongst local forces.
By passing on information through other channels, the Inquisitor is able to bring the problem to the attention of the Imperial Commander or other individuals and then assess their response. Failure to act appropriately to this information may well incur the wrath of the Inquisition and a greater, more widespread purge will be required.
Part of the nature of the Inquisition's work requires numerous undercover operations (depending on the individual Inquisitor, of course). Particularly dangerous or sensitive missions may require the Inquisitor and his crew of Acolytes to operate without even the remit or knowledge of local planetary authorities; in some cases, the Inquisitor may fake the deaths of themselves and their Acolytes in order to move their mission forward invisibly.
At times like this, Inquisitors operate under a mandate known as "Special Condition," which means that the Inquisitorial team, to all intents and purposes, no longer exists.
The normal Inquisitorial symbol of office is replaced with a somewhat altered symbol during Special Condition missions that has a dagger-like point at the end and is colored a distinct blue shade, with a winged skull prominent near the top of the sigil; it is presented only when recruiting members to the team who can be trusted not to jeopardize the secrecy of the mission.
In some situations, local forces are not a viable option. This may be because they lack sufficient strength to deal with the threat, or perhaps because they are linked to the threat in some fashion. In such a scenario, the Inquisitor will need to draw on forces from further away.
Such a situation can be difficult for the Inquisitor, as the Imperium is not swift to respond and a threat that might be easily countered within solar weeks may grow progressively in strength before sufficient force can be brought to bear. It is the great expanse of the galaxy and the time delays involved in moving large bodies of troops even relatively small distances that provide the greatest obstacle to an Inquisitor in confronting a large threat to a world or star system.
By the time suitable forces arrive, the problem may have grown beyond their capacity to deal with it. It is therefore in the role of instigators that Inquisitors must often operate. If a world has succumbed to alien domination, Chaos influence or some other major corruption, it is the duty of the Inquisitor to set the military wheels of the Imperium in motion and oversee their response.
The admirals and colonels that are brought to the growing war zone may never even know that the Inquisition initiated the course of events that summoned them.
The Inquisition and the Adeptus Astartes
There is also one area of an Inquisitor's remit that is fraught with peril, but is fundamental to their successful operation -- their relationship with the Space Marine Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. Like the Inquisition itself, the Adeptus Astartes operate alongside the Imperium rather than as part of it.
The Inquisition's power extends over the Space Marines, but the Chapters themselves are fiercely independent and not welcoming of outside investigators. An Inquisitor that suspects a Chapter of deviant behaviour must tread carefully.
Space Marines have been, historically, extended a lot more latitude than other Imperial forces concerning their organisation and activities. However, the threat posed by a Renegade Chapter is such that they must be constantly monitored. The purity of their gene-seed and the motives of their actions are regularly scrutinised for irregularities.
The most traditional, hardline Inquisitors have immense problems dealing with the Adpetus Astartes, simply because they also operate outside the dogma and bureaucracy of the Imperium. What may seem heretical and self-serving on one level can also be viewed as essential to the Space Marines' power. The ability to act on their own, to fight where necessary and to take whatever action they deem fit is intrinsic to the Space Marines' capability to respond quickly and efficiently to emerging threats or to proactively protect Mankind.
Unorthodoxy is easily confused with disloyalty, and there have been a few occasions when an over-zealous Inquisitor has instigated a problem where none existed. The Space Marines are rightly justified and proud of their loyalty to the Emperor, but endeavour to remain aloof from the infighting and politics that plague the Imperium.
They answer to none but their Chapter Masters and the Emperor Himself, and to have their loyalty brought into question is a great offence. To have forces of the Imperium brought against them is, to the Space Marines, a betrayal of the bonds that exist between a Chapter and the Imperium.
It is therefore a prudent Inquisitor that does not rush in. In circumstances where a Chapter is proven to be a threat, it is the most preferable course of action that other Adeptus Astartes are used to combat the threat. Not only is a Space Marine Chapter a formidable fighting force that conventional troops may not be able to confront, but also allowing the Space Marines to deal with each other is invaluable.
Space Marines all share a common bond with each other, and a Chapter Master will respond to information that threatens the honour of the Adeptus Astartes as a whole -- for one Chapter to turn Renegade is a smear on the reputation and honour of all Space Marines. It is sometimes enough to be confronted by fellow Space Marines rather than an agent of the Imperium to make a Chapter see the dangerous path it has begun to tread and to change its behaviour.
If such criticism were to come from another source, it is likely to prompt a harsh reaction, possibly even compounding the threat. On the other hand, if a situation has reached such a level as to become a genuine menace, the destruction of the Chapter is sometimes the only course left open (such as the Soul Drinkers Chapter).
This is no small undertaking, and several other Space Marine Chapters may become involved, either of their own volition or by request, as happened in the Fourth Quadrant Rebellion that led to the Badab War.
It is clear then that wherever possible it is best if the Inquisition can deal with a threat using its own resources, avoiding the dangerous entanglements that may result from involving other agencies and military forces.
It is for this reason that the Inquisition maintains its own fighting formations, foremost amongst them being the Kill-teams of the Deathwatch Space Marines and the Daemon-hunting Grey Knights Space Marines.
As with all aspects of the Inquisition, the matter of recruitment is not centralised, and the power to invest others into its ranks lies with the Inquisitors. Some do not recruit at all, spending their years in the pursuit of their enemies and dedicating themselves to their duties within their own lifetime. Others feel it is one of their burdens to bring about the next generation of Inquisitors to carry forward the battle that they must wage.
Inquisitors are left to their own judgement in all matters, subject only to scrutiny by their peers, and the same applies to recruiting new Inquisitors. Many Inquisitors leave such matters to chance or perhaps fate, picking a suitable candidate or candidates from amongst those individuals whose paths they cross. Other Inquisitors are more rigorous in their pursuit of apprentices. They will spend a portion of their time seeking out suitable candidates, perhaps from amongst the ranks of other Imperial organisations.
There are no consistent criteria of age or physical condition required to be suitable for investiture into the Inquisition. Proof of intelligence and loyalty are the key requisites, and often these aspects of a person's character cannot be properly judged until later in life. It may happen that extraordinary circumstances lead an Inquisitor to recruit a boy or girl whilst still in their teens, if they show exceptional ability, but this is not common practice.
On the whole, Inquisitors will take note of individuals that are free-thinking, possessed of willpower and determination and unflinching principles. If they find a suitable person, they will become part of the Inquisitor's retinue, perhaps serving in a more minor capacity while the Inquisitor continues their evaluation. Those that prove their worth working with the Inquisitor will then be taken into their master's or mistress' greater confidence.
Over several standard years, the apprentice will learn what they can of the Inquisitor's knowledge and in time will take on many duties. Some Inquisitors refer to these semi-qualified individuals as Interrogators, though they are also known as Novitiates, Neophytes, or Approbators. Such individuals may undertake missions on their own, or control operations in concert with the Inquisitor, but they are still subordinate until their master or mistress fully invests them.
It normally requires the consent of three Inquisitors or an Inquisitor Lord to pass on the full powers of an Inquisitor and grant an Inquisitorial Seal, though there have been occasions when this has not been necessary, or the immediate situation has dictated that the apprentice take on full Inquisitorial responsibilities immediately. This is likely if an Inquisitor is killed -- their apprentice will inherit their Inquisitorial Seal and may fulfil the role of an Inquisitor subject to repeal by another Inquisitor.
Interrogators may pass from one Inquisitor to another as fate and necessity dictates. It is in this period that the ideals of the Inquisitor are passed on and spread, and through this generational growth, the factions and institutions that make up the Inquisition are propagated across the centuries.
As well as philosophy, the student will also learn what their tutor knows of the internal working of the Inquisition -- or such facts as the Inquisitor feels is right and proper. It is an important tradition amongst Inquisitors that each of them earns the knowledge that is theirs, as well as the respect of their peers.
Such wisdom cannot be freely given nor taken without effort, for it devalues the knowledge itself. As the saying goes, "Knowledge is power; guard it well."
Limitations on the Power of the Inquisition
The Inquisition's remit places it above all of the Imperium's institutions, with the exception of the Senatorum Imperialis -- the High Lords of Terra themselves. In theory, a single Inquisitor can denounce an entire planetary government, requisition whole armies of the Astra Militarum and hold the fate of populations in their hands.
In practice, however, the reality is far more complicated. For a start, the Inquisition moves in many different ways, according to the judgement and character of its agents. Some are brash and bombastic, others dark and threatening. Some announce their coming so as to strike terror into the hearts of the Emperor's foes, while others move about stealthily, watching from the shadows before striking.
An Inquisitor would be foolish indeed to arrive at a world suspected of imminent secession and attempt to arrest the Imperial Commander, for they may find the entire population rising in opposition. Therefore, an Inquisitor in such a position has to ensure that there are significant resources at hand to combat an uprising, and to attain them they have to gain the support of other bodies.
In practice then, Inquisitors are essentially "peers of the Imperium." Although many consider themselves answerable only to the High Lords of Terra and the Emperor Himself, in reality there exists a class of high-echelon Imperial servants, to which Inquisitors belong, all who wield more or less the same levels of political influence.
Such worthies include Imperial Governors, Astra Militarum Generals, Space Marine Chapter Masters, Rogue Traders, Lord Admirals of the Imperial Navy, Adeptus Arbites judges, and the sector level representatives of the Administratum.
Relations between these various groups are often seething with internecine rivalry and bitterness, and even within one grouping, deadly wars may be fought to gain influence and leverage. Imperial Commanders, for example, quite frequently engage in bitter and bloody territorial clashes, and the Inquisition is far from immune to internal political strife.
Against such a backdrop of bloody political manoeuvring, no one institution has total power over any other, regardless of the words scratched in spidery text upon ten thousand year old charters. The powers of an Inquisitor are not, in practice, defined by the remit of the Holy Orders of the Emperor's Inquisition. They are constantly shifting in response to their position within the dark and feudal power structures within the Inquisition, as well as being subject to many outside influences.
An Inquisitor that takes action against a powerful Heretic, only to find out later that the individual was being sponsored by a rival may find himself the target of attack. One that declares a world purgatus without the agreement of their peers may find themselves ostracised and unable to call upon the aid of their fellows in times of need. These and a million other factors serve to inhibit the powers Inquisitors can actually wield when operating in the field.
Perhaps the most common shared traditions are those steeped in powerful symbolism. In many ways, man is a very simple creature, who responds very well to certain images. The Inquisition knows this, and is happy to exploit it to suit its own needs.
Fire is traditionally associated with the Inquisition and its works. The image of the cleansing flame is a strong one and Acolytes are encouraged to employ it when they have need to strike fear. Wherever there is the white-hot excruciator, a witch pyre or a promethium-dripping flamer, there too is the Inquisition.
Other than the literal interpretation of fire as a weapon, there are other uses for such symbolism. Many Inquisitors consider their role to be that of the cleansing flame, there to burn away the rotting flesh of corruption. Some also hold that they are guardians of the Emperor's light, the holy flame of faith.
Those that attend the Black Ships speak of fuelling the mystical beacon of the Astronomican, casting willing souls into the furnace of the Emperor's will. The hammer is also associated with the Inquisition. Many Inquisitors carry gorgeously bedecked warhammers with which to smite their foes.
Like the Ecclesiarchy, many members of the Inquisition regard the hammer as a metaphor for piety, the force by which heresy and corruption are crushed. Warhammers are common gifts for Acolytes who have proven themselves especially adept at destroying cultists and heretics.
Aside from the flame and the hammer, perhaps the most powerful of the Inquisition's symbols is the seal. Each Inquisitor bears an Inquisitorial Seal.
This is a small amulet or icon in the shape of a stylised column that is derived from the ancient sigil of Malcador the Sigillite, who founded the Inquisition at the behest of the Emperor during the Horus Heresy.
Thought to depict a pillar of strength or rod of control, this seal is their badge of office and for an Inquisitor to reveal it shows that he is demanding that his authority be respected.
An Inquisitor who shows his seal to a planetary governor, for instance, expects to have the planet's resources at his disposal from that moment onwards. The Inquisitorial Seal is, in a sense, an Inquisitor's most important item of equipment, and he will never willingly relinquish it.
Some seals incorporate circuits and sonic probes that can be used to hack into cogitators and open electronic locks, or double as simple weapons to ensure that the Inquisitor is never unarmed.
An Inquisitor and his cadre can also display the Inquisitorial Rosette, a symbol of the Inquisition incorporating the design of the Inquisition's seal worn on an Inquisitor's clothing or wargear.
The rosette can be worn by those in an Inquisitor's employ and can also be displayed on vehicles or by the armed forces being used by the Inquisitor.
The rosette signifies that an individual is in the employ of the Inquisition and is enough to ensure the fearful cooperation of most adepts and citizens who know of the Inquisition's purpose. The rosette, however, is used very sparingly, as most Inquisitors prefer to keep themselves and their Acolytes low-key.
The rosette is most commonly used when in the company of fellow members of the Inquisition or when an Inquisitor wishes to strike fear and awe into the common man.
"He who is not a Puritan in his youth has no heart; he who is still a Puritan in his maturity has no brain."
- — Anonymous Inquisitor
Many Inquisitors blaze a unique trail through the galaxy, relying on their own judgement and knowledge to prevail. However, it is Mankind's nature to seek consensus -- a common path upon which to proceed – and Inquisitors are no different.
At any time, there are scores of different philosophies advocated within the Inquisition, each considered the path of ultimate truth and salvation by their adherents. These are not doctrines, but ideas, tested with every tool at the Inquisitor's disposal. If an Inquisitor adopts one philosophy to the exclusion of all others, it is not because its principles fulfill a religious need, but because he or she has come to embrace its tenets as the ultimate truth.
Just as the size of an ordo itself rises and falls, so too does the popularity of each philosophy, with some flaring but briefly and others enduring through the millennia. Though they are often pursued with the tenacity of religious belief, these are theories founded in reason and tested through scientific rigour.
Inquisitors are, first and foremost, practical men and women -- they do not waste their effort or time on ideas proven to be flights of fancy.
These philosophies are often so broad that they cut across the Inquisitorial disciplines, drawing like-minded Inquisitors together from across many ordos. Such groupings are sometimes referred to as "factions," but this is erroneous, implying a structure that simply does not exist. All Inquisitors are equal in a philosophy's pursuit, even though they might choose different methods to enact their beliefs.
Thus, a Thorian -- who believes that the Emperor's soul can be reborn into a new body of flesh and blood -- might hail from one of many ordos. Even as an Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos seeks alien gene-tech to create a new body, a member of the Ordo Malleus might delve into the study of the Warp to learn how the Emperor's spirit might be guided into the physical world.
Meanwhile, an Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus might contribute their own researches into the legends of the Ecclesiarchy's saints who have been resurrected from the dead. However, for each Inquisitor dedicated to such a philosophy, there is always at least one who opposes it as radical folly and seeks to destroy all traces of it.
After all, central to the Inquisition's purpose is the credo "Trust No One," and this applies as much -- or perhaps more greatly so -- to one's fellow Inquisitors as any other living being.
The Inquisition's members broadly adhere to two very different schools of thought about their ultimate purpose and the methods to be used in pursuit of that purpose; that of the Radical and that of the Puritan.
By contrast, the Puritans adhere strictly to official Imperial political and religious doctrine and typically persecute their more unorthodox brethren when given the chance, as they are most concerned with maintaining the Imperium's status quo, even if this results in simply perpetuating the long period of technological and cultural stagnation that has afflicted Humanity for much of the time since the end of the Horus Heresy over ten millennia ago.
The main tenets of the Inquisition's competing philosophical sects on how best to defend the Imperium, beyond the basic Radical/Puritan divide, can be defined below.
Puritans more or less believe the Imperial Creed as it is handed down to the Imperium's citizens -- the Emperor is a god, the dark forces of the Warp are unutterably evil, and mutants, Heretics and witches must not be tolerated.
Furthermore they tend to believe in maintaining the status quo of the Imperium, since it is the instrument of the Emperor's will.
Puritans are mostly young and full of fire, eager to prove themselves to their peers and their Emperor by hunting down Humanity's traditional foes and preserving the stability of the Imperium. Many Acolytes also share this zeal, particularly as they are often at the sharp end of any engagement with cultists, mutants and other such scum.
Even if they do not entirely agree with this view of the Imperium, an Inquisitor will often encourage Puritan ideals within his servants, knowing that this will help them expedite the task of rooting out corruption with great gusto.
- Thorianism - Born of the fire and ruin of the Age of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium, the Thorian Inquisitors are a Puritan faction who believe that the will of the Emperor can manifest in the hearts of pure individuals and in times of great need His avatar will appear to vanquish the foes of humanity. They take their name from the great prophet and reforming religious leader of the 36th Millennium, Sebastian Thor who during that dark time led the movement against corruption within the Imperial Cult and was ultimately responsible for its cleansing and the restoration of the Imperium that followed. This is the most "Radical" of the Puritan ideologies due to the possible galactic upheaval that could result should the Thorians actually be able to summon the Emperor into a new physical form, as believers and unbelievers in the reborn Emperor's divinity and identity might then turn upon each other.
- Monodominance - Next to the Thorians, the Monodominants are counted among the most powerful of the Inquisitorial factions. Certainly this Puritan faction is believed to be the oldest, tracing its origins back to the 33rd Millennium. Monodominants are the most hard-line of all the Puritans, believing in the complete destruction of all non-Humans (including those they consider inhuman, such as mutants and psykers) and those not willing to swear eternal allegiance to the Emperor. Of course, they understand that this lofty goal will take time and, in the interim, though they might despise them, the Imperium must make use of mutants and psykers for its survival. Monodominants are also well known for their excessive use of force when purging corrupted worlds, even resorting to Exterminatus rather than risk leaving even the barest hint of heresy behind.
- Amalathianism - The conservative philosophy that dominates the Puritan faction of the Inquisition, an Amalathian advocates for unity between Imperial organisations in the pursuit of the Emperor's will and for a lack of tumultuous social and political change to maintain the Imperial status quo. The Amalathians are thus the currently largest sect within the Inquisition. Amalathian Inquisitors oppose the Inquisition's division into political and philosophical factions and sects. Ironically, their idealism marks the Amalathians as their own faction in the Inquisition. It was at the birth of this philosophy, on the world of Gathalamor, at Mount Amalath, that Lord Solar Macharius was spurred on to his grand conquest of nearly a thousand new worlds for the Imperium during what became known as the Macharian Crusade.
Radicals have deviated from the tenets of the Imperial Creed. They vary immensely in their beliefs, from those who use the forces of the Warp against its inhabitants to Inquisitors who seek to shatter the very Imperium they serve.
A Radical will often say that all Inquisitors start out as Puritans, but that as they are exposed to the realities of the Imperium and the galaxy beyond, they inevitably become more and more flexible in their ideas and all become Radicals in the end.
Puritans, on the other hand, consider the more extreme Radicals to have been corrupted by the very power they wield and the dreadful knowledge to which they are exposed.
Most Radicals try to conceal their divergent beliefs when in the company of many other Inquisitors, preferring to pursue their agendas away from the sight of more puritanical souls. Some, however, are outspoken in their views and can gain many enemies in attempting to convert Puritans to their cause.
Inquisitors are generally wary of such beliefs within their Acolytes, at least until they have proven themselves over many successful investigations.
- Xanthism - The most powerful and obviously Radical grouping within the Inquisition, Xanthites advocate the use of Warp-based weaponry, such as daemon-possessed swords, Daemonhosts, and other tactics that will turn the power of Chaos against itself. Xanthism is one of the oldest philosophies of the Inquisition, named after Inquisitor-Master Zaranchek Xanthus, who was executed in the 32nd Millennium as a Heretic for reputedly possessing a dangerous and unhealthy amount of knowledge of the Warp and its uses. Note that, unlike other Inquisitors, only the rare openly Xanthite Inquisitors will be denied the use of the Grey Knights if they requisition them. Xanthites are considered too impure themselves to be given comand of the Grey Knights; more Puritan Inquisitors fear that they may actually be leading those elite Space Marines into a trap in service to the powers of the Warp, whether they realise it or not.
- Horusians - A sub-sect of the Xanthites, this sect wishes to create a new leader for humanity, much like the Puritan Thorians. Both factions strive for a powerful, god-like figurehead to lead the Imperium into a new golden age. But the Horusians view the might of Horus as a wasted opportunity; they believe that should the limitless power of Chaos be harnessed and bound into a great leader of men, humanity could once more become united and crush all before it. Needless to say, even other open-minded Radical members of the Inquisition view the Horusians as dangerous in the extreme, likely to become nothing more than more traitorous pawns of the Ruinous Powers.
- Recongregationism - The Recongregators believe that the Imperium, after long millennia of stagnation, has become decadent and corrupt. To remedy this, Recongregators believe that only through change can the Imperium hope to prosper, believing that the greatest threat that humanity faces is its lack of progress and terminal stagnation. Working quietly behind the scenes, the Recongregators seek to influence or engineer events that will lead to change and progress. It is a subtle game, and of all the major factions of the Inquisition, they are counted amongst the least visible, keeping to the shadows whilst others charge into the fray. They are most deeply opposed within the Inquisition by the Puritan Amalathians.
- Istvaanism - Even more extreme in their views than the Recongregators is the Radical faction known as the Istvaanians. Taking their name from the infamous massacre on Istvaan III, where Horus virus-bombed the remaining Loyalist Space Marines in his Traitor Legions, said to have been the spark that ignited the Horus Heresy, they seek to ferment conflict and crisis wherever they tread. It is their belief that the Imperium requires constant strife to survive (a reasonable assumption given the galaxy's state of near total war), and if Mankind were ever to find itself at total peace, the Imperium would collapse and decay. To this end, Istvaanian Inquisitors seek conflict head-on, instigating discord within and without the Imperium, starting wars, leading invasions, and stirring discontent into rebellion.
- Antiquarti - The Antiquarti are a Radical faction within the Inquisition. Originating from a group that split from the Ocularians led by Inquisitor Thaddeus Hakk, they focus on discovering patterns and events in the past to predict the future.
- Casophilians - The Casophilians are a Radical sub-faction of the Thorians who dedicate their studies to the process by which the human soul transitions from realspace to the Warp. The Casophilians know that daemonic entities can pass through the barriers between the Warp and the mortal world. This makes them profound experts in the arts of daemonology with a special regard for ritual summoning rather than incidental or malicious possession. They hope to find the means to bring back a deceased man or woman's soul to the mortal world. If these actions are successful, then it would be the first step in bringing the soul of the Emperor back into realspace in a suitable mortal form. Further aspects that differentiate the Casophilians from other Thorian beliefs is the fact that they openly embrace new ideas on their theories and thus work closely with Inquisitors of other factions which prevents them from adopting a general, isolated view of their studies' importance. This allows them to learn much from their interactions with other branches of the Inquisition and allows them to gain greatly from their experiences. Amongst the different philosophies held by the factions of the Inquisition, the Casophilians are often known to work in conjunction with members of the Puritan Anomolian Beholders as both factions study the soul; the Anomalians examine the living while the Casophilians are concerned with the dead.
- Revivificators - The Revivificators are a Radical faction who descend partly from the Thorians' beliefs. Unlike other factions who seek the resurrection of the Emperor, the Revivificators have few ties with the Adeptus Ministorum. Their goal is the study of the transition of the Human soul to the Warp at the moment of death. Though their studies of the soul are very similar to those of the Casophilians and the Anomolian Beholders, the Revivificators seek a means through which death can be slowed or even halted and ultimately the individual can be made resurrected. This peculiar field means that Inquisitors that follow this philosophy tend to be found on the battlefield or in plague areas where they conduct investigations on those that are nearing death. In addition to such locales, they are also common visitors to tombs and mausoleums which leads to a certain amount of disrespect to the practices of the Ecclesiarchy. This has led to Revivificators gaining a reputation as "ghouls" and "ravens" due to the morbid nature of their practices. Revivificators are known to have learned much from the capture of various Aeldari over the centuries. This is because they find the Aeldari spirit to be a fascinating object of study because of that xenos species' ancient ability to reincarnate themselves after death and their other necromantic practices in the wake of Slaanesh's birth and the fall of their lost empire. They have conducted numerous experiments in replicating the Asuryani's practice of capturing a departing soul in a Soul Stone. However, all these attempts have been unsuccessful as Mankind's psychic technology is far inferior to the psychic engineering properties of Aeldari wraithbone. In addition, there are also those who follow this belief who have read Inquisitor Lord Van Hinkel's Treatise on the Soultheft Methods of Eldar Pirates which was written in the 39th Millennium. The detailed text contains a report of the Inquisitor's interrogation of a captured Drukhari which also contained collated information from many other sources which were previously scattered in various libraries and datafiles that were present throughout the Inquisition's fortresses and void stations. The least scrupulous of the Revivificators have attempted to make use of the torturous practices of the Drukhari on Heretics and other criminals. There are few within the Inquisition who are aware of the grisly dungeons that are staffed by Revivificator telepaths and which are wired to arcane machinery for the detection as well as the extraction of psychic energy. The ultimate goal of these Inquisitors is to study the Golden Throne itself and find a means of altering its functions in order for the Emperor's body to be restored. As such, they study not only the passage of a soul into the Warp but also the means through which a corpse can be maintained in a state of readiness for a possible re-infusion of the soul. Access to such knowledge and technologies often mean that the Revivificators live far longer than other Inquisitors. The oldest is Inquisitor Lord Verinath who was shot and killed whilst hale and hearty at the age of seven hundred and sixty-three Terran years.
- Unnamed Ultra-Radicals - These Inquisitors, who have no name for their faction that is yet known to the wider Inquisition, are an extreme Radical sub-faction of resurrectionists. They believe that the Emperor's final ascension into the Immaterium, and thus his ability to finally destroy Chaos, requires the death of his body in realspace, which is trapping Him in a weakened form. Needless to say, the Adeptus Custodes are known to ruthlessly hunt down any Inquisitors of this faction whenever they are identified or their activities are detected.
"You do not need to look to the stars to find the greatest obstacle this Conclave faces, my brothers. Simply gaze around this room and you will find such a sea of discord as to make our foes cackle with glee."
- — Inquisitor Eistus Gracker in address to the Calixian Conclave
In addition to the factions described above, scores of others are whispered to exist across the Imperium. These are rumoured to be splinter groups of the larger factions, fractured from their parents by extreme views or differing beliefs, such as the Puranthius or Antus-psykeer who seek to cleanse the Imperium by targeting specific foes or practices.
In the Calixis Sector, there are several of these splinter factions. Some are mere shadows of greater schools of belief, while others are genuine organisations in their own right, with no small amount of power and influence within the boundaries of the sector. These factions include:
- Libricaranism - A relatively newly-fanned flame of Radicalism founded from an unexpected source in the Calixis Sector, a Libricar is a member of a faction of the Inquisition that is a relative newcomer to the clash of Inquisitorial ideologies and doctrines. The doctrine of the Libricar is one that earns its fanatical counter-reformers an often outcast status in the Holy Ordos. An extremist outgrowth of the Puritan Amalathians, for the Libricar it is not enough to preserve the institutions of the Imperium, but also necessary to ensure that those who rule and maintain them are ceaselessly watched, mercilessly judged, and made pure by bloodshed. To a follower of the Libricar doctrine the sacred pattern of the Imperium, as divinely ordained by the mind of the God-Emperor, has become weakened from within by petty political corruption, factional strife, and beset by arrogant ideology, not least of all within the Holy Ordos of the Inquisition itself. Above all, they despise those proponents of change who presume to second-guess the will of the divine or betray their Emperor-given power and privilege for petty personal vice. For the Libricar, true order must be restored and Imperial tradition venerated and the path to this sacred goal is clear -- and if they must take it into their own hands and become judge, jury, and executioner in order to show the way, then so be it.
- Oblationism - Born in the fires of the "War of Brass" that wracked the Calixis Sector in the late 40th Millennium, the Oblationist faction is an oath-sworn society of bitter fanatics who wield Warp-forged weapons, bind daemons, and command the power of sorcerers with a self-hating fury that sees all in the Inquisition but their own creed as utterly impure, corrupt, and deserving of destruction. Their infamy long outstripping their numbers, the notorious Oblationist Inquisitors and their trusted servants have determined to sacrifice themselves in the cause of the protection of the Imperium, regardless of the cost. Consumed with vengeful wrath and fanatic certainty, they gather profane artefacts, hoard forbidden knowledge, and wield the powers of the Warp whilst tolerating no others to use such methods. Their intolerance of all other Radicals has much in common with the most puritanical factions; they believe that only other Oblationists may wield the weapons and knowledge of the enemy and remain true in the service of the God-Emperor. They are unbending in their belief and ruthless in all aspects of its application.
- Ocularians - Of all the factions of the Inquisition present in the Calixis Sector, the Ocularians (literally "they who see") are among the strangest and most unfathomable, even to their peers. They are united not simply by doctrine but by obsession -- knowledge of the future; of predictions and omens, patterns of events, divination and destiny, and above all, in keeping their own secrets. The faction's detractors range in their accusations from charges that the Ocularians waste their attentions on meaningless and futile attempts to predict future threats to the Imperium of Man while blithely ignoring present dangers, to attempted witch hunts raised by hardline Puritans against Ocularians they believe have courted damnation in their desire to know the unknowable. Ocularians are a sect whose provenance, exact origins and age are shrouded in a tangle of myth, apocryphal data, and outright contradiction. Those few that know of the Ocularians in any detail consider them to be a paranoid faction of diviners and scholars -- Inquisitors whose obsession with prophecy and prognostication has long skirted outright heresy. Ocularian Inquisitors and their tightly-knit coteries of Acolytes, (who feature a preponderance of Adepts and Sanctioned Psykers among their ranks) are generally regarded by the Conclave Calixis' powers-that-be as a useful if often erratic resource. The Ocularians' abilities and skills make them asset enough to remain tolerated despite their eccentricities and adherence to internal secrecy. This status quo does not, however, sit well with many of the Conclave's Puritans and over the centuries internecine strife has occurred on numerous occasions. The Ocularians often emerge as the victor, much to the shock of the firebrands who have challenged them. The true nature of the Ocularians' power, their history, and goals are more subtle and more terrible than even the most rabid Witch Hunter would dare believe.
- Phaenonites - A Phaenonite is a member of a malevolent Xanthite splinter faction of the Inquisition, reviled even by their fellow Radicals, that has long been declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the Ordo Malleus. They are dedicated to the overthrow of the God-Emperor and the Ruinous Powers alike, seeking a new future for humanity through the blasphemous fusing of flesh, machine and the powers of the Warp into a new mode of existence for Mankind. Once thought utterly destroyed in more recent years, the heretical Phaenonite philosophy has reared its head again and taken dangerous new shape in the Calixis Sector.
- Polypsykana - An offshoot of the Xanthites, the Polypsykana is a Radical faction obsessed with the power of psykers. Members believe that the psyker is a natural evolution of man's development into a higher being. After all, the Emperor is the greatest psyker of all, who keeps the Imperium intact through his immeasurable strength of will, even guiding ships safely through the Warp by igniting the blazing beacon known as the Astronomican. The faction believes that this transformation of humanity is inevitable and ultimately Mankind's only salvation. To this end, members work to protect and nurture psykers and increase the role they play within the sector. In addition, they work in secret on psy-tech, psy-breeding and other, more questionable, activities, all intended to spread what they see as the psy-gene to as much of humanity as possible.
- Seculos Attendous - As yet, this faction has remained very quiet about its intentions and goals, no doubt to avoid immediate censure and the risk of excommunication. The Seculos Attendous view the superstitious dogma and religious doctrine of the Adeptus Ministorum and the Imperial Cult to be slowly corrupting Mankind and hampering its growth, pointing to the Age of Apostasy and the reign of the tyrant High Lord Goge Vandire in the 36th Millennium as proof of this. They seek to undermine the influence of the Ecclesiarchy and slowly weaken the power of the Imperial Cult over the minds of the Imperium's masses, hoping to restore the more secular orientation of the Imperium that once characterised what was known as the Imperial Truth before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. For obvious reasons, this sect of the Inquisition is bitterly opposed by the Adeptus Ministorum and its many agents.
- The Tenebrae Collegium - Beneath the surface of the Tyrantine Cabal lurks a secret heart that contemplates the unthinkable. The Tyrantine Cabal's purpose within the Calixian Conclave is to investigate appearances of the Tyrant Star and to counter its baleful influence in the Calixis Sector. It exists at the sufferance of Lord Inquisitor Caidin, and its membership is not strictly fixed; Inquisitors whose operations might intersect with those of the Tyrantine Cabal may rotate into its roster. This appearance of facilitation and cooperation between Inquisitors is a lie. Hidden at its heart are the Shadow Agents of the Tenebrae Collegium, created by the late Inquisitor Cassilda Cognos. This secret empire consists of Inquisitors and Acolytes who are bound to hold the interests of the Tyrantine Cabal above all other concerns, to pursue knowledge of the Tyrant Star, and to keep that knowledge safe at all costs. The Collegium has created and seeded agents amongst the Acolytes of Inquisitors throughout the Calixian Conclave. These secret Shadow Agents serve the Tenebrae Collegium as their true and secret master.
- Xeno Hybris - The Xeno Hybris is a Radical faction that has existed within the Calixis Sector for almost as long as it has been a part of the Imperium. It is speculated that the faction grew out of a gathering of Radical Ordo Xenos Inquisitors and agents drawn to the sector in search of clues to lost alien civilizations. Whatever the case, today the faction works diligently to uncover alien technology and better understand the alien mind. Inquisitors of this faction believe that there is much to learn from the aliens of the galaxy and only by cooperation with the other intelligent species can the true enemy of all sentient life -- Chaos -- be defeated. Needless to say, these beliefs often bring them into conflict with Monodominants and their followers, who view any dealing with xenos as an abomination. Much of the faction's operations centre on the investigation of alien civilisations so that members might better understand and emulate them. This understanding is important to the faction as adherents believe that Humanity's understanding of the universe is incomplete and dangerously flawed when it comes to combating its true foes. For most faction members, this kind of scholarly endeavour represents their total involvement in the faction, with members gathering together from time to time to share and compile information and present new theories. The second major undertaking of the faction is the recovery of xenos tech. While some artefacts are recovered as part of the faction's involvement in archaeological missions, most must be stolen, purchased, or traded for. The more adventurous faction members often take considerable risks in the pursuit of such things, especially when trying to bring xenos items back into Imperial space. They also maintain ties with "benign" alien species that have nominal contact with the Imperium and only limited hostilities to date. This contact is often performed under the cover of Rogue Trader activity.
The Fate of the Radical
The ultimate fate of the Radical is likely to be an unpleasant one, whether corruption and damnation at the hands of the forces with which he has dealings, or excommunication and execution at the hands of the Inquisition he purportedly serves.
There is no strict hierarchy or formal organisation within the Inquisition, which is very much a council of individuals, an organisation of peers. There is no internal affairs department to which an Inquisitor can report another as being out of line or heretical, nor a division that deals with processing suspected cases.
Instead, there is a fairly loose process by which suspected Heretics, Traitors, and Radicals within the Inquisition are dealt with by a conclave. This process begins with denunciation, followed by a trial by peers, and then either acquittal, execution, or excommunication.
The first step in the downfall of an Inquisitor is their denunciation to the Inquisition. Many Inquisitors skirt the boundaries of what is and what is not acceptable behaviour for an Inquisitor, but few will be called to answer these potential breaches -- such is the case where almost every Inquisitor is equally powerful, their authority on any given case answerable only to the Emperor.
An Inquisitor who has truck with Heretics or worse might be whispered about wherever Inquisitors meet, rumours of their dastardly sins and fell behaviour spreading amongst Acolytes and Inquisitors alike, but nothing will be formally done about it.
Informally, high-ranking Inquisitors or particularly vehement peers might dispatch investigation teams of their own to root out the truth of the matter -- unless one of the accused Inquisitor's peers is prepared to denounce him.
To denounce an Inquisitor is a bold and dangerous move. It is to not only cast aspersions on the behaviour of an Inquisitor, but to declare him a Traitor, a Heretic, or worse. Such a move is not undergone lightly, for it can easily backfire, resulting in a souring of relations between Inquisitors of a conclave, or worse, the excommunication or execution of the accuser himself.
The accuser must be sure of his own suspicions, sure enough to be able to convince a jury of peers that he is right. Once the accuser has made his denunciation, the accused is called to be judged and a jury of his peers is assembled, comprised of as many of his fellow Inquisitors as wish to answer the summons. Next, the accuser lays bare his evidence and makes his case.
The accused gets the opportunity to defend themselves, calling whatever witnesses or presenting whatever evidence they feel appropriate, although in many cases they are not given much time to prepare. Finally, the jury passes judgement, declaring the accused innocent or guilty as they see fit.
An Inquisitor declared guilty by a trial of their peers will typically be declared Excommunicate Traitoris, and then immediately executed for heresy then and there. However, many Inquisitors genuinely accused of such heinous crimes (heinous in the eyes of the Puritans, that is) are sensible enough to remain at large rather than turning themselves in to be judged; after all, in their eyes they are above the law and have done no wrong.
In such a case, they will still be judged in absentia, and judgement passed to declare their guilt or innocence. Those Inquisitors found guilty in absentia will be declared Excommunicate Traitoris and a warrant will be issued for their arrest and execution across the sector or beyond. Being excommunicated means that they will have their Inquisitorial powers stripped from them, they will be branded a Heretic and a Traitor, and they will be cast from the light of the God-Emperor.
This may seem all very straightfoward, but in application it is far from it. The galaxy is a very big place, and the Inquisition is but one organisation spread across a large area. Transmitting the excommunicated status of an Inquisitor amongst all the Inquisition's holdings within a sector can take standard years, and it can take far longer to spread word of the verdict to every individual Inquisitorial agent.
It is not unheard of for word to spread to an agent of the Inquisition years after the judgement is passed, who in turn takes the law into his own hands and hunts down and executes the Inquisitor, oblivious to the fact that the Inquisitor has successfully appealed for innocence in the matter.
Similarly, the authority of an Inquisitor relies upon the twin weapons of fear and respect. An Inquisitor's rosette is a totem that commands great respect, a symbol of a higher authority with no more real power than any other physical artefact.
Being excommunicated does not strip an Inquisitor of any real status, for they are still able to command the fear and respect of others simply by virtue of who they are. In the eyes of Imperial law, they might be a criminal and a Traitor, but far removed from the centres of authority, on most worlds of the Imperium without a powerful Inquisitorial presence, they remain an Inquisitor in every respect.
Obviously, the Acolytes of an Inquisitor who is excommunicated are similarly excommunicated, except they do not have the power or force of their own to rely on when things get sticky. The Inquisition will move quickly to seize holdings and finances, as well as to arrest or disband the network of contacts of an excommunicated Inquisitor, potentially curtailing the activities of him and his servants.
However, any Radical Inquisitor worth their name will have put measures in place to prepare for such an eventuality, creating shadowy accounts and assets that remain hidden from the Inquisition. Some Inquisitors put contingency operations in place, designed to activate in the event of their excommunication or execution, to either safeguard their plans or ensure that their enemies reap a whirlwind of disaster.
The excommunication of a particularly powerful or influential Inquisitor can result in a ripple of dissent or defiance within a conclave, either as an Inquisitor's shadow assets are enabled and begin to wreak havoc against their enemies, or as their allies within the Inquisition stand firmly by their side. The eruption of factional infighting within the Inquisition can be devastating, especially as it has the potential to escalate further still.
The most devastating outcome for factionalism within a sector is a full-blown Inquisition War. An Inquisition War erupts when opposing factions and rivals within a particular sector conclave declare one another excommunicatus, or refuse to submit to the authority of their peers. Such disagreements are normally defused by careful diplomacy, a discrete assassination, or a swift execution.
But on rare occasions when the conclave either fails to act swiftly enough to quell such dissent or the disagreement strikes a fault line within the Inquisition, it can escalate quickly. When it does so, it drags Inquisitors into the conflict from the whole conclave, forcing them to choose sides.
An Inquisitorial conclave is never a voice of unity or quorum at the best of times, and such arguments can fracture an already tenuous consensus along factional lines, breaking the Inquisition in the sector into a whole mess of smaller organisations, each with their own agendas.
Most such fractures halt there, the Inquisitorial conclave engaging in a tit for tat diplomatic squabble between a dozen or more small factions for an indefinable amount of time.
During this period a sector often slides further towards the yawning abyss of Chaos, for whilst the Inquisition fights amongst itself, the individual Inquisitors do not fight the enemies of the Imperium. Such civil wars can last solar decades but rarely escalate beyond minor infighting or skirmishes on fringe worlds.
Sometimes, however, a conflict can escalate further, especially when the factions are divided along fundamental ideological fault lines, or where two or more factions wield a great deal of power and support -- and therefore have all the more to lose by backing down or conceding. Such an escalation leads to one inexorable conclusion: a full-blown Inquisition War.
Inquisition Wars are, thankfully, very rare, only a handful having occurred in the past 10,000 standard years. They are terrifying events, far more devastating than any alien invasion or heretical uprising, for they see Inquisitor turn on Inquisitor, each bringing their full might and authority to bear.
Shadow missions assassinate planetary governors. Entire regiments of the Astra Militarum are commandeered and turned on one another. Whole star systems burn via Exterminatus as the doomsday weapons of the Inquisitors are unleashed against the strongholds of one another.
An Inquisition War rarely rumbles on for longer than a solar decade, a Terran century at most, for they are so devastating that the wider Imperium is forced to act swiftly. Entire Chapters of Space Marines are deployed to the sector with orders to terminate any and all Inquisitors with extreme prejudice.
If one or another faction does not hold the upper hand when fighting ceases, the Imperium is not averse to wiping the slate clean in the most bloody way possible and establishing a fresh Inquisitorial conclave with Inquisitors drawn from other parts of the galaxy.
Yet the end of an Inquisition War does not herald the end for the turbulent times in the sector, for the devastation and dissent caused by the fighting can have longer lasting repercussions and consequences that reverberate for millennia.
Inquisitors of Renown
The Inquisition is a vast organisation, and for over ten millennia has known remarkable individuals beyond counting. Most have long been forgotten, for many Inquisitors seek to keep their deeds secret even after death. Indeed, often the last instruction left to a successor is to erase all proofs of his master's existence.
A few, however, have become legends within their Ordos, their stories whispered as examples to be followed, or cautionary tales concerning the misuse of power. Quite which role each is cast in depends entirely on the speaker's sympathies and whether or not his own personal philosophies are cast in alignment or opposition:
- Agmar - As a young member of the Ordo Hereticus, he lead multiple attacks upon Ichar IV's capital city of Lomas to break up rebellion among strange cult members. It turned out that the rebellion was created by a massive Genestealer infestation. With the Adeptus Arbites, he destroyed enough defenses to allow the Ultramarines Chapter to seize the planet. It was then that Angmar's Astropaths felt the approach of Hive Fleet Kraken and it was his initiative that led to the breaking of the Hive Fleet at Ichar IV.
- Adrastia - Adrastia is a senior-ranking Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus. She, alongside Lord General Castor of the Imperial Guard's Cadian Shock Troops, were ordered to the Sub-sector Aurelia to investigate charges of heresy levelled by Captain Gabriel Angelos of the Blood Ravens Space Marine Chapter against his Chapter Master Azariah Kyras. She hoped to complete her investigation ahead of the arrival of an incoming Exterminatus fleet, which had been given orders to enact Exterminatus upon all of the sub-sector's worlds to remove their growing Chaotic and xenos taint from the Imperium. Her mission was one of dire importance as it would determine the fate of the sector. However, as a Witch Hunter, she deemed the accusation against Kyras to be extremely serious and warranting investigation -- a heretical Space Marine Chapter Master and Chief Librarian was the epitome of what the Witch Hunters sought to root out and destroy. To this end, she was willing to employ any tool necessary to investigate him -- be they Imperial, Eldar, or even Orks.
- Ario Barzano - A member of the Ordo Xenos, Barzano disguised himself as an Adept of the Administratum on the planet Pavonis in order to help the Ultramarines stop the awakening of the C'tan called the Nightbringer. He dies in the attempt and is buried on Pavonis.
- Covenant - Covenant is one of a new breed of Daemonhunters who hunts down traitorous members of the Inquisition itself and their Daemonhosts. He trained the Inquisitor Ivixia Dannica. Covenant is equipped with a Power Falchion, a Psycannon and limited psychic powers.
- Torquemada Coteaz - Torquemada Coteaz is an Inquisitor Lord of the Ordo Malleus and High Protector of the Formosa Sector, a title he took from Inquisitor Laredian when it was revealed that Laredian created Daemonhosts and other abominations. Coteaz is an infamous adversary and destroyer of daemons; his name is a reference to the medieval Spanish Inquisition leader Tomás de Torquemada.
- Bronislaw Czevak - One of the few non-Eldar to gain access to the infamous Black Library, Bronislaw Czevak reported the destruction caused against the Eldar Craftworld Iyanden and its supporting spacefleet by the Tyranids.
- Daemonhuntress Ivixia Dannica - Ivixia Dannica is an Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus. Orphaned after her father Colonel Dannica was murdered by a daemon summoned by cultists who wanted revenge for the purge he enacted on them and their brethren, Ivixia was recruited from one of the Schola Progenium on Alena-Mora and trained by Inquisitor Covenant. She had her father's skull fitted with an autogun and fitted to her armour so he could serve the Emperor beyond death. She wields a Power Halberd made from the shards of Saint Josmane's armour. The weapon is filled with the power of the saint and has sent scores of daemons screaming back to the depths of the Warp.
- Emil Darkhammer - A follower of the Monodominant credo, Emil Darkhammer firmly believes that the Imperium's only hope of survival is for all other races in the galaxy to be destroyed. He has no tolerance for any deviation from the purest interpretations of Inquisitional lore. For him, there can be no shades of grey when it comes to interpreting the Emperor's word, only darkness and light. All Inquisitors are ruthless -– they must be to protect Mankind from threats both within and without – yet Darkhammer's uncompromising philosophy is harsher than most. It is a cornerstone of his methodology that nothing and no one can be ranked as indispensable in the cause of Mankind's survival. The Imperium must, after all, be kept safe at all costs -– no matter what the tally in lives or worlds might be. This belief has earned Darkhammer many detractors, not only within the ranks of the Inquisition, but in the wider Imperium as well. However, even the highest-ranking dignitaries are reluctant to disobey or criticise an Inquisitor, let alone act in opposition to him, so Darkhammer's actions meet with few obstructions.
- Jaq Draco - Jaq Draco was a secret Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus, active in the late 38th and early 39th Millennia. He purportedly uncovered a widespread conspiracy involving numerous high-ranking members of the Inquisition known as the Ordo Hydra, as well as highly sensitive information regarding the Emperor. Draco proved instrumental in stopping a plot by the Ordo Hydra to psychically enslave Mankind in the hope of striking a blow that would eliminate Chaos from the galaxy forever. In reality, the plan very likely would have spawned a fifth Chaos God who would have guaranteed the ultimate victory of Chaos over the Imperium of Man. In the course of his mission Jaq Draco became one of the few individuals in the galaxy to have entered the Emperor's Sanctum Imperialis to have an audience with the Emperor of Mankind since his internment in the Golden Throne at the end of the Horus Heresy. It is also said that he was the only human to ever penetrate the fabled Black Library, their secret Craftworld within the Webway, that contains the entire race's knowledge concerning Chaos, without the Eldar's consent. He was declared Renegade by the Inquisition, and he was reported to have died within the Webway in the early 39th Millennium under mysterious circumstances. Draco was known to have a retinue consisting of a Navigator, an Assassin and a Squat. He was reported to be a formidable Psyker.
- Gregor Eisenhorn - An Amalathian member of the Ordo Xenos, Eisenhorn was the infamous Inquisitor who orchestrated the downfall of Quixos the Bright and Pontius Glaw using a stolen daemonhost named Cherubael, a former tool of Quixos. He seemingly vanished soon after the downfall of Pontius Glaw. Eisenhorn changed over the course of his career from being a staunch Puritan Amalathian into a Radical Inquisitor through the justified choices he made. These choices included keeping the Malus Codicium for himself, and trying to save his comrades from the attack of Cruor Vult (a Chaos Warhound-class Scout Titan) by summoning Cherubael. Gregor also caused the downfall of many other foes, including Beldame Sadia, Mandragore, the House of Glaw, Cruor Vult, and the rogue Inquisitors Lyko, Molitor and Quixos.
- Silas Hand - Silas Hand is an important character of Daemonifuge, a graphic novel by Kev Walker. He was first a Witch Hunter serving under the Ordos Solar and eliminated thousands of heretics. After being approached by an important Daemonhunter, Inquisitor Lord Hephaestos Grudd, he was invited and joined the Ordo Malleus. Inquisitor Hand was sent to Ophelia VII to identify if Ephrael Stern was tainted by Chaos. Mysteriously, she was the sole survivor out of 12,000 Imperial Guardsmen that were sent to the planet Parnis. His investigation led to no conclusion, and Hand was forced to return with her to the planet Parnis. During the return, their vessel's Navigator was possessed by Chaos and destroyed their starship the Hammer of Thor. Escaping, both Hand and Stern were able to land upon the surface. However, they soon confronted the Daemon Q'tlahsi'issho'akshami. Only Stern managed to live through the battle.
- Jason Hunt - Ordo Malleus Inquisitor and Warden of the Stromgard Sector. Hunt is closely affiliated with Commander Marcus Flintlock of the Storm Dragons Space Marines, and has used detachments of that force frequently in pursuit of his missions. He is also a high-level psyker.
- Fyodor Karamazov - Fyodor Karamazov an Inquisitor Lord of the Ordo Hereticus, also known as the Pyrophant Judge of Salem Proctor. This is a reference to Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," Proctor being the name of one convicted, yet innocent, witch; and Salem being the Puritan township he lived in. A staunch Amalathian, Karamazov habitually judges and does battle from his massive Throne of Judgement and is generally hated by the Ecclesiarchy and Thorian Inquisitors for his actions on Salem Proctor. His name is a reference to Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian author of the novel "The Brothers Karamazov," which contains a parable entitled "The Grand Inquisitor." Karamazov made the infamous quote that is used to sum up an Inquisitorial investigation: "There is no such thing as a plea of innocence in my court. A plea of innocence is guilty of wasting my time."
- Kryptman - Member of the Ordo Xenos, Tyranid expert, saviour of the Imperium in the Hive Fleet Leviathan crisis, and the discoverer of a full 82 new alien species (all of which he subsequently deemed a threat to the Imperium and ordered eradicated), Kryptman was the first Inquisitor to witness the devastating effects of a Tyranid invasion during the attack of Hive Fleet Behemoth and fought the Tyranids for over 250 years. He was one of the most active members of the Inquisition against the Tyranid invasions, even taking drastic measures to the dismay of other Inquisitors. During the Invasion of Hive Fleet Leviathan, Kryptman led Deathwatch kill-teams to the Tarsis Sector to aid the Mortifactors Chapter and the Ultramarines of Tarsis Ultra. By capturing a Lictor, Magos Biologis Locard (Kryptman's Adeptus Mechanicus biologist) created a biological weapon to use against the Tyranids and his Deathwatch members used it to destroy the Norn Queen. Kryptman later authorised the largest single act of genocide the Imperium has ever inflicted on itself by abandoning or destroying all worlds in Hive Fleet Leviathan's path. He was later issued a "Carta Extremis" and was stripped of his title. However, this did not stop him and he soon led his loyal Deathwatch warriors to steal Genestealers in stasis and used them to lure Tyranids to the homeworlds of the Orks of Octavius .
- Lichtenstein - Inquisitor Lichtenstein is a dangerous radical thought by almost all of his colleagues to be utterly insane. He has been declared Excommunicate Traitoris, and is actively being pursued by one of the galaxy's most noted witch hunters, Tyrus. It was Lichtenstein's single-minded obsession with the artefact codified as the Librarium Heresius that freed the Daemon Prince Phara'gueottla from its prison on Karis Cephalon. Since then, his fate has been inextricably linked with that of the Daemon, Tyrus and another Inquisitor; an ex-daemonhost called Kessel. These three clashed on Karis over a manifestation of the Daemon Prince on the barren world of Paganus Reach, and again at Cephalon Spaceport where Lichtenstein managed to break Kessel free from Tyrus’ custody. In return, Kessel arranged for Lichtenstein's safe passage to Equinox, a world where, under the false name of Thravian Flast, the dangerously obsessed Inquisitor searches tirelessly for the true location of the Librarium Heresius.
- Ligea - Inquisitor Ligea can be described as "Looking more like an elegant family matriarch rather than a hunter of daemons." Ligea was an unusual Inquisitor, in that she did not see much combat, but rather focused her efforts on texts and ancient writing. She possessed at least one minor psyker ability, which allowed her to apprehend information simply by contacting an object, such as a book or a statue. She was recruited into the Ordo Hereticus at a very young age. One of her most notable parts was in the novel "Grey Knights" by Ben Counter, which tells the tale of Ligea, and how she was attached to the Grey Knights Chapter on the trail of Saint Evisser, looking for Ghargatuloth, Prince of a Thousand Faces, a powerful Greater Daemon of Tzeentch. Unfortunately, Inquisitor Ligea eventually succumbed to the taint of Ghargatuloth after allowing herself to delve too deeply into tainted knowledge, opening her mind to Daemons which caused her to lose her mind. Having gone quite insane and fallen mostly to Chaos in the process, Ligea was captured by the Inquisition she once served. However, having opened herself up to Ghargatuloth, she was able to learn and reveal the true name of Ghargatuloth to Justicar Alaric, through a recording of her interrogations, in which she babbled what was apparently a meaningless string of syllables. This gave the Grey Knights the advantage they needed in order to destroy Ghargatuloth once every thousand years. Inquisitor Ligea died in an interrogation room high above the planet Mimas when Inquisitor Nyxos ordered her cell opened, venting her into space.
- Xavier Mendoza - Xavier Mendoza is possibly one of the most notorious Inquisitors in the history of the Imperium of Man. A fanatical man, he quashed Chaos wherever he found it. Active in the later centuries of the 31st Millennium following the Horus Heresy, he became convinced that all Space Marines were the secret servants of Chaos because of the betrayal of the Chaos Space Marines during the Heresy. He began an all-out holy war against the remaining Loyalist Adeptus Astartes. Mendoza's action came to a head when he boarded a Chapter Cruiser of the newly-formed Black Templars, a Successor Chapter created from the Imperial Fists Legion during the Second Founding. He accused the crew of harbouring daemons and declared them Heretics. After a swift trial, fifty Space Marines of the Chapter were burnt at the stake. Xavier Mendoza was later found dead, probably assassinated by agents of the Black Templars or the Officio Assassinorum itself.
- Solomon Lok - A member of the Ordo Xenos, Solomon Lok lead the investigation of the loss in communication from Beta Anphelion IV, supported by Space Marines from the Red Scorpions Chapter, along with Imperial Guard troops from the Elysian Drop Troops Regiment D-99, and also a regiment from the Cadian Shock Troops. Featured in "Imperial Armour IV," and one of the few Inquisitor models cast by Forge World.
- Lady Jena Orechiel - The daughter of an Imperial Governor and member of the Ordo Xenos, Jena Orechiel has been in the Inquisition's service for many decades, first as an acolyte to the famed Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Dargasto and, on his death, as an Inquisitor in her own right. Upon inheritance of Dargasto's position, Orechiel gained not only her master's Inquisitorial Seal and followers, but also a mission of the utmost importance –- to prevent a second dawn for the ancient star gods known as the C'tan. Orechiel is fascinated by alien species and technology, much to the distaste of many of her Inquisitorial colleagues. Her blatant use of xenos weapons and technology has been frowned upon by the more conservative members of the Ordo, as has her use of aliens in her retinue. Rumours state she has, on occasion, cavorted with the enigmatic Eldar –- even to the point of having one in her service. Nevertheless, Orechiel's record speaks for itself, and none can deny that she prosecutes the Inquisition's war against the Daemon, the alien and the heretic with consuming fervour.
- Velayne Ramaeus - Velayne Ramaeus is an Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos and the leader of the faction of the Deathwatch known as the Dead Cabal.
- Gideon Ravenor - Gideon Ravenor first rose to prominence serving as an Interrogator to the infamous Gregor Eisenhorn. His keen insight and considerable intelligence were enhanced by a very high level of psychic ability. Reputedly he was an even more potent psyker than Eisenhorn himself. Ravenor's early career saw him in action with Gregor Eisenhorn and together they brought down many heretics, most notably the Beldame Sadia - an accursed cybernetically-enhanced xenophile. During the Triumph under the Spacian Gate (a large parade to celebrate the Warmaster's victorious purge of the Ophidian Sub-sector) Ravenor was caught on the edge of an explosion caused by a crashing Lightning Attack Fighter. He was rendered blind, deaf, mute, and senseless. Were it not for his genius and psychic potential it would have been the end of the finest Interrogator Eisenhorn ever raised. Rendered physically incapable, Ravenor spent the rest of his life within a stasis chair, an armoured life-support container that provided for his needs and allowed him to travel and operate. Deprived of physical ability, he developed his psychic skills to a frightening level of function. He commanded several notable warbands, and spared the Imperium from the excesses of many notorious heretics. He also famously composed books, such as the Spheres of Longing, on the nature of reality and the function of the mind which are still considered both scientifically rigorous and artistically brilliant. His most famous investigation was, without doubt, the one that finally brought back together the destinies of Ravenor and his erstwhile master Eisenhorn.
- Reynaard - Reynaard discovered a cult worshipping aliens on Mandall IV. Using a Deathwatch kill team, he attempted to destroy the cult, which proved to have taken over most of the capital city. After escaping, Reynaard returned with over 500,000 troops and eradicated all in the city.
- Scarn - A very secretive Inquisitor who avoids combat at all costs, and is instead a master manipulator. Last seen at an Inquisitorial Conclave six decades previously. For the past sixty years he has been working his ultimate plan, which he believes will solve all the problems that the Imperium faces, and only now are the pieces in place for stage one. Scarn was featured in the Inquisitor Campaign Supplements.
- Thaddeus - Thaddeus was an Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus, he was put in charge of hunting down and destroying the renegade Soul Drinkers Space Marine Chapter. He is a rather patient man and does things slowly and concise as to do them right. He shuns other Inquisitors who use force and fear on Imperial citizens to get their information. He believes in speaking to people politely and with respect to get what he needs. He seemed to make a deal with Sarpedon, the acting Chapter Master of the Soul Drinkers, when Sarpedon was injured badly and held almost in death by an insanely powerful mutant attempting to gain godhood in the Warp, known as Teturact. Thaddeus decided to spare Sarpedon after months of trailing the Soul Drinkers and fired on Teturact, giving Sarpedon time to finish him with the Soulspear. Thaddeus decided that Sarpedon wasn't nearly as dangerous to the Imperium as Teturact was. Thaddeus fell out of favour with the Lord Inquisitors for allowing the Soul Drinkers to continue to exist, but he still pursued them and eventually met his end facing down the Howling Griffons Space Marines after being seen as Sarpedon's ally.
- Mordecai Toth - Mordecai Toth was featured in the Dawn of War real-time strategy game. Wielder of the Daemonhammer "God-splitter," crafted from a fragment of the weapon of an Eldar Avatar of Khaine, which he later gifted to the Blood Ravens Chapter. In the Dawn of War novel series, he reclaims the "God-splitter" from the Blood Ravens, and is portrayed as a probable agent of Tzeentch, the Chaos God of Change. Toth tricked Blood Raven Captain Gabriel Angelos into freeing a powerful Daemon imprisoned by the Eldar.
- Tyrus - Tyrus is a Witch Hunter and a staunch member of the Monodominant sect of the Inquisition. As a child, he was tortured by the Daemon Prince Kholoth who took one of his eyes and ears before destroying the rest of his village. Tyrus was saved from death at the Daemon Prince's hand by the Inquisitor Covonis who then took Tyrus under his wing as an apprentice and Acolyte. Covonis was killed on the world of Epsilon Regalis by Kholoth but Tyrus successfully banished Kholoth to the Warp again, taking up his master's Power Armour and Force Sword. He was then elevated to the full rank of Witch Hunter and Inquisitor. Tyrus is highly active in the Imperium as an internal policer of heresy. He is known for carrying out extreme and bloody purges of suspected Heretics on many worlds on regular occasions. He is also known to chase heretical Inquisitors as strongly as he does witches. He has a great hatred for all kinds of psykers, even those found amongst his fellow Inquisitors. His policy on guilt is based on religious testing and arcane methodology. Tyrus is known to use the ancient trial by ordeal to determine guilt or innocence of heresy or witchcraft in certain cases, such as the Trial by Balance, the Ordeal of the Blade and the Trial by Holy Seal, while his favorite method for determining guilt is to force the accused to consume a jug of holy water blessed by an Adeptus Ministorum priest. If they choke then they are guilty of being a Heretic in Tyrus' judgement and are immediately executed. Tyrus is also known to use the Emperor's Tarot to determine innocence or guilt.
- Amberly Vail - Member of the Ordo Xenos. Featured in the Ciaphas Cain series, she acts as the editor of the Cain Archive. It has been intimated that her relationship with her famed subject, Commissar Ciaphas Cain, is more than just professional.
- Helynna Valeria - Helynna Valeria has always believed that the work of the Ordo Xenos, and the wider Inquisition, should be guided by the spirit and intent of the lore: to use the weapons of the enemy against the enemy. The Emperor bade the Inquisition defend Mankind from both its own destiny and a hostile galaxy –- a task so important that Valeria demands that no methodology, however extreme, should be considered forbidden. In pursuit of this goal, Valeria became a collector of the archaic and arcane, of bibelots and fragments of technological lore, of ancient and alien technologies to be pressed into fresh use. She has spent many decades exploring the ruins of far-flung worlds, poring over age-crumbled documents in races the Psamathean Libraries, treating with Eldar, Ulumeathi, Draxians, Hrud and a hundred more in order to expand Humanity's store of knowledge.
- Commodus Voke - Commodus Voke was an ancient and famous Thorian leaning towards Monodominant save for his very powerful psychic abilities. Lived to be extremely old due to being extremely difficult to kill. Arrogant and open with his position and fame, he was a sometime ally of Eisenhorn. A legend during his time, a testament to his ability, is the fact that he fought an uncontained daemonhost in a psychic duel and was not obliterated outright.
- Golesh Heldane - Former pupil of Commodus Voke. After being horrifically scarred by a carnodon on Gudrun alongside Gregor Eisenhorn, he had his scars surgically enhanced. This transformed his face into the image of a twisted equine creature. A formidable psyker and Radical, Heldane denounced Eisenhorn beside Inquisitor Leonid Osma due to Eisenhorn's increasing use of the daemonhost Cherubael. Additionally, during the Tanith First and Only's mission to Menazoid Epsilon, Heldane worked with Lord Militant Hechtor Dravere to gain access to a Chaos-corrupted STC fabricator that produced warped versions of the Men of Iron. However he, along with Dravere, perished at the hands of Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and his regiment.
- Grimoire of True Names - He who knows a Daemon's true name wields a terrible power over the beast, for it is the one verity that a Warp-spawn cannot deny. Accordingly, Grimoires of True Names are highly sought after by Daemon hunters, regardless of whether they intend to obliterate the Daemon, or bend it to their will. Alas, most are copies, with their information incomplete or subtly altered in such a way to put the reader at risk of damnation. Only one, the Malefact Maloreum, contains a complete and unswerving record of all the Dark Gods' daemonic servants. As such, it is highly sought after – and often fought over.
- Liber Heresius - First laid down during the Age of Apostasy, this tome has grown to contain the wisdom of thousands of Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors. By properly interrogating its pages, the reader can glean sufficient wisdom to predict and counter the strategies of renegades and traitors before their ruinous schemes come to fruition. Over the course of centuries, the Liber Heresius has become incredibly unwieldy, as each new wielder scribbles his own notes into its broad margins.
- The Tome of Vethric - First inscribed by the famed Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Macavius Vethric, this book has ever since served as record of alien perfidy and nuance. In the millennia since Vethric's death, the tome's contents have been annotated and expanded, to the point that it now stands as the Imperium's most complete treatise on xenos strategy, and contains a wealth of countermeasures for even the most innocuous of alien ploys. The only challenge lies in deciphering Vethric's almost illegible scrawl...
- Avenging Son (Novel) by Guy Haley
- Codex: Adeptus Custodes (8th Edition), pg. 7
- Codex: Assassins (2nd Edition) by Gav Thorpe
- Codex: Craftworld Eldar (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Daemonhunters (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition)
- Codex: Inquisition (6th Edition)
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pp. 8-9
- Codex: Witchhunters (3rd Edition)
- Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pp. 156, 169-174
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG)
- Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods (RPG), pp. 181-183
- Dark Heresy: The Radical's Handbook (RPG), pp. 6, 22, 78-92, 98-123, 128
- Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pp. 64-65
- Dark Heresy 2nd Edition: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 316
- Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pp. 77-78
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 26-27
- Wrath & Glory: Rulebook (RPG) (Cubicle 7 Revised Edition 2020), pg. 63
- Gaunt's Ghosts: The Founding (Omnibus Novel), "First and Only" (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Horus Heresy Vol IV: Visions of Death by Alan Merrett
- Imperial Armour Volume Two - Space Marines and Forces of the Inquisition
- Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three
- Index Astartes II
- Inquisitor Annual (2004)
- Inquisitor Rulebook (Specialty Game), pg. 8
- The Thorians (Specialty Game) by Gav Thorpe, pg. 7
- Warhammer 40,000: Core Book (9th Edition), pg. 60 (Quote)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (Digital Edition) (7th Edition), pp. 275-276, 278, 308, 321, 331, 334, 353, 373-374, 385, 390, 502, 504, 529, 541-543, 550
- Warhammer Monthly 12, pg. 7
- White Dwarf 321 (UK), "‘Eavy Metal: Daemonhunters and Witch Hunters"
- White Dwarf 320 (US), "’Eavy Metal: The Inquisition," pp. 91-103
- White Dwarf 304 (UK), "Witch Fynder: Background and story for Inquisitor Gideon Lorr," & "Chapter Approved: Zealots"
- White Dwarf 171 (US), "Dark Millenium: Psykers - Inquisition Psychic Powers," pp. 8-13
- White Dwarf 114 (UK), "Grey Knight Terminator Squads: Space Marine Chapter 666," pp. 11-14
- Xenology (Background Book) by by Simon Spurrier
- The Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow
- Atlas Infernal (Novel) by Rob Sanders
- Blood Ravens: The Dawn of War Omnibus by C.S. Goto
- Cain's Last Stand (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Caves of Ice (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Daemonifuge (Graphic Novel) by Kev Walker
- Dawn of War (Novel) by C.S. Goto
- Death or Glory (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Duty Calls (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Xenos (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Maellus (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Hereticus (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- For the Emperor (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Inquisitor (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Pariah (Ravenor vs. Eisenhorn) (Novel) - Volume One of the Bequin Trilogy by Dan Abnett
- Ravenor (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Ravenor Returned (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Ravenor Rogue (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Thorn and Talon (Audio Book) by Dan Abnett
- The Emperor's Gift (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Inquisition War (1st Omnibus Edition) by Ian Watson
- The Last Ditch (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- The Traitor's Hand (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Traitor's Gambit (Short Story) by Sandy Mitchell
- Warriors of Ultramar (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- What Price Victory (Anthology), "Thorn Wishes Talon" (Short Story) by Dan Abnett
- White Dwarf 39 (November 2019), pg. 24