"I've served at my master's side for twelve years now. I've seen him stare down a Pit Thing as if it were a yaprat and send an Ambull scurrying back down its hole in terror. If I ever learn one tenth of what he knows, I swear I'll be Lord Sector by the age of 50..."
- — Interrogator Lenk, prior to his death on Zel Secundus
Those who have served an Inquisitor as an Acolyte may be granted the rank of Interrogator, which sets them on the path of one day themselves rising to the rank of full Inquisitor. Few Acolytes ever earn such an honour, and most Inquisitors only make the appointment after they themselves have served for many solar decades.
An Interrogator is, in essence, an Inquisitor's apprentice. He is a student set upon a path that ultimately sees him granted the Inquisitorial Rosette, or, more likely, perish long before being judged worthy of that singular responsibility.
Interrogators are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds. Although most have served as Acolytes, others may have been plucked unexpectedly from obscurity, unaware of having been observed by their new master from afar.
Some Interrogators are despatched to hidden collegia, there to study assiduously with others of their station before being assigned a master. Others are appointed directly by an Inquisitor, to accompany them at all times and to learn their vocation through first-hand experience.
However, an Interrogator is far more than a journeyman Inquisitor yet to come into his full abilities. An Interrogator knows that the eye of judgement is upon him at all times. His every act is weighed in the balance, recorded, and judged.
Each success takes him that one step closer to the ultimate honour of being awarded the Inquisitorial Seal; every failure may be his last. Many Interrogators pursue their apprenticeship with a fervour that would put to shame the most bombastic Drill Abbot, pushing themselves to greater extremes to prove themselves worthy in the eyes of their master.
Many such individuals pay the ultimate price for their zealousness, performing the greatest of services to the Inquisition and giving their lives that their masters might prevail. Countless are the Interrogators that have interposed themselves bodily between master and foe, suffering mortal wounds but buying time for that master to deliver the killing blow to the enemy.
Some say that the Interrogator is uniquely blessed, existing in a state of grace. As such, Interrogators often seem to be the recipients of some form of divine protection and intervention. Many are the writings of ancient Inquisitor Lords that appear to lament the loss of such grace upon their appointment to the rank of full Inquisitor.
"Why should you help me, General? In five years' time, I'll be an Inquisitor, and you won't."
- — Interrogator Caprice Valentino
There exists no formal structure to an Interrogator's training. Some may serve for solar decades, their master teaching them every aspect of the Inquisitor's duties with minute attention to detail. Others may find themselves Inquisitors in short order, perhaps in recognition of some great service performed in the course of an investigation. In general, however, it is expected for the Interrogator to learn the most important aspect of their vocation, that which gives them their title -- the art of interrogation.
It is said that no secret can be withheld from an Inquisitor, for they seek the truth in the name of the Emperor Himself. Few would be capable of deceit in the face of an Inquisitor, for they are figures of myth and horror across the Imperium, as feared in their way as the mutant and the witch.
Those who do withhold the truth must be brought to heel, the Inquisitor peeling back layer after layer of deceit until the truth is finally revealed. The methods used range from subtle guile and artful cunning to the horrors of the auto-rack and psychic trepanning. An Interrogator must master all such methods before being judged worthy of progressing to the rank of Inquisitor.
There are many more fields in which an Interrogator may be schooled, the depth and scope dependent upon the methods and skills of their own master. They may also be schooled by other members of their master's cadre. They may learn martial skills from a loyal bodyguard, or the arts of communion with the Machine Spirit from a learned magos of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Each of these tutors impart their specialised knowledge, and their judgement is sought by the master in the Interrogator's progress.
Yet, despite all of the knowledge and skills an Interrogator may learn throughout the course of their tutelage, there is one quality that cannot be taught. They must prove beyond all doubt that they are willing and able to look in the eye the most terrible of Mankind's foes, and not falter, even should their life be forfeit. Only when judged able to bear the most terrible of truths does the Interrogator have any hope of receiving the Inquisitorial Seal.
Friends in High Places
"Perhaps the only thing worse than well-placed enemies, are well placed friends..."
- — Interrogator Maxim Locke, prior to his mission to Zel Secundus
Whilst some Acolytes find themselves judged and tested at every turn before attaining the rank of Interrogator, others find their ascent inexplicably unobstructed. These are the rare individuals who appear to have the patronage (whether they are aware of it or not) of a friend in a very high place indeed.
Within the shadowy circles of the Inquisition, it is nigh-impossible to trace even a small fraction of the impossibly complex webs of influence and intrigue that connects each member. However, it is undoubtedly the case that some Inquisitors "sponsor" promising Acolytes, lending them aid, often from afar, in the pursuit of their duties. The exact reason for doing this depends on both the Acolyte and the Inquisitor.
There are some Inquisitors who indulge in anonymous patronage as what appears to be some form of cruel entertainment. They issue mysterious commandments and set nigh-impossible tasks whilst ensuring that the Acolyte has all the tools and every opportunity to succeed. In time, an Acolyte in such a position is likely to become resentful or paranoid, but if he can endure such torment for long enough, his capricious master grants him the rank of Interrogator.
In other cases, there may be some form of binding link between Interrogator and patron, which again, the former may be entirely ignorant of. Several times in the histories of the Ordos Calixis of the Calixis Sector, an Acolyte has found himself raised to the rank of Interrogator, and discerned throughout his subsequent career the hidden hand of an unknown patron.
Such was the case for Interrogator Abigayle Cruz, who ascended to the rank of Inquisitor after a career as an Interrogator that lasted only three standard years. She subsequently discovered that the father she had believed long dead was in fact an Inquisitor Lord, and that he had ensured her meteoric rise. Upon becoming an Inquisitor, her first act was to denounce her new-found sire for such blatant abuse of his position, and the two became sworn enemies.
The aid which an Interrogator might receive from a distant patron ranges from cryptic messages containing high-level access ciphers received at exactly the moment they are most needed, to entire companies of the Astra Militarum being despatched to extract him from an otherwise hopeless situation.
Some might wonder what the patron gains out of this arrangement. In many cases, there is indeed a price to be paid, a debt to be called in at some undisclosed point in the future. Many are the newly ascended Inquisitors who have found themselves beholden to a superior in this manner.
The example of Witch Hunter Rzeel is a case in point. This zealous, fiery individual rose through the ranks from Acolyte to Inquisitor in spectacular fashion, being invited to join the ranks of the Ordo Hereticus within a Terran decade of being granted the Seal.
It was only upon his induction into the Ordo that he discovered his rise had been sponsored and orchestrated by one Inquisitor Nhekalax; an individual ostracised by his fellows and widely believed to be set upon the path of the Radical. Rzeel found himself indebted to Nhekalax to such an extent that he had little choice but to share in the dark path of his erstwhile patron.
Gaze From on High
"For many years, I felt the presence of an unseen master; a whisper in the darkness, a furtive movement in the shadow, a stray shot in the fusillade. Only much later did I discover the truth. By the Emperor, I wish I had not..."
- — Interrogator Nunnis, Ruminations on Damnation (suppressed)
To attain the position of Interrogator, an individual must have attracted the attention of the most highly placed of Inquisitors, for few take on the responsibility of training a pupil in the ways of the Inquisition. In fact, it is the lot of the vast bulk of Humanity to toil away an entire lifetime and never receive a word of thanks or recognition.
Thus, to attain the notice of a potential master is a great honour and achievement in itself. Such individuals become trusted Acolytes, yet they are haunted by the notion that their every action is being scrutinised, even if they have no reason to explicitly believe this to be the case.
Step by step, these Acolytes come to realise that the eye of a hidden master is upon them. Perhaps they receive information their fellow Acolytes do not. Perhaps they are given secret objectives that appear at odds with the cadre's mission. Perhaps they are questioned or criticised far more than the others during a mission debrief.
Eventually, the day comes when the Acolyte discovers that his fellow agents are expendable, or at the least secondary to mission considerations. It is the Acolyte's actions on which the success of the mission is judged.
To be scrutinised in such a manner is to have one's soul stripped bare by the blinding, all-seeing gaze of the Emperor's Inquisition. Many are those who wither and perish under that glare, unable to meet the gaze or confront what they know is being revealed.
Those Acolytes who can withstand the scrutiny, however, are granted the rank of Interrogator. Some might imagine the terrible scrutiny they have been subjected to for so long is at an end. They are mistaken, for it has only just begun; the judgement, examination, and scrutiny is set to increase a hundred-fold.
Though many are judged wanting, such scrutiny is a sign that great things have been foretold for the Interrogator; that he is numbered amongst the greatest servants of the Inquisition and stands on the path to achieving the vaunted rank of Inquisitor.
- Interrogator Crane - Crane was once the right hand of Inquisitor Renthor and served loyally for many standard years, often following his master to remote parts of the Calixis Sector aboard the Chains of Judgement. A zealous and determined man, Crane delighted in his mission of hunting down Heretics and dragging them bloody and broken before Renthor for judgement. Having risen from the Scintillan underhive, Crane viewed the brutality with which he undertook his job as his due for hard work and devoted service to the God-Emperor. This ruthless attitude and determination is likely why he was the only ranking member of the ship's crew to survive when Daemonhost Zul sabotaged the ship's Warp-Drive and cast them adrift. Crane fought alongside Renthor in trying to suppress the inmate uprisings. When Zul arrived and slew his master, he saw the hopelessness of the situation and made plans to ensure his survival, though not before trapping the Daemonhost in the armoury. Even as the ship fell into chaos and its crew were slaughtered, Crane and a handpicked group of Acolytes sealed themselves in the bridge and placed themselves in stasis. Crane figured when the ship finally returned to realspace, most of the prisoners would be dead and he could reclaim the vessel in the name of the God-Emperor.
- Interrogator Deric Oktavian - The most senior Interrogator of Inquisitor Bahamet Xerces, Oktavian has operated at his master's behest on and near Port Wander for the better part of twenty standard years, starting initially as an Acolyte working undercover on Footfall. Over the years, his network of contacts and resources around the Maw has expanded, and with it, his influence within the Inquisition. On the verge of full Inquisitorial status himself, Oktavian already wields much of his master's power by proxy, so trusted is he to act correctly. In the last year, Oktavian has successfully managed to insert operatives within Footfall's Kasballica Mission, a feat that many have tried and none have accomplished until now, granting him an extraordinary amount of leverage and influence within the Koronus Cabal, and the means to more closely track one of the major sources of xenos artefacts into the Calixis Sector. Oktavian is ruthless and extremely political, a growing hidden power within the Calixis Sector, who has demonstrated considerable proficiency in commanding covert operations and manipulating unwitting resources. Few who he seeks to bring low ever see his face until they are dragged before him in chains and condemned for their crimes.
- Interrogator Thirl - Once one of Thaddeus Hakk's most prominent disciples, Interrogator Thirl delved into places so forbidden he did indeed draw the attentions of the Harlequins. It was during a mission to the depths of the Slinnar Drift that Thirl and his companions drew the notice of the mysterious agents of the Eldar's vengeance, as they sought to unlock a xenos tomb uncovered beneath the shifting sands of a long dead world. The intrusion must have triggered wards as ancient as the human race, for the Harlequins were upon the Interrogator and his party before their las-cutters had breached the living metal walls of the tomb. Interrogator Thirl was the only survivor of that battle, though the means of his escape remain unrecorded. Thirl vanished for several standard years and was given up as dead by his fellow Antiquarti. In truth, the Interrogator spent that time in increasingly desperate flight, the vengeful Harlequins always one step behind him or waiting just around the next turn. Becoming ever more frantic, Thirl sought refuge in the most unlikely of places, yet always the Eldar found him out and he was forced to flee their wrath. On Amenophis IV, Interrogator Thirl sought to bargain with the machine-entity known to its human worshippers as the Array, hoping he could plunder its stygian data vaults for records pre-dating the Age of the Imperium. Before he could do so he was discovered and only barely escaped with his life. On Vallia, Interrogator Thirl sought to dominate the malign intelligence that links every living cell on that Death World, yet almost succumbed to the planet's indomitable psychic will, as did several of his pursuers. Recovering from his mental injuries deep in the wastelands of the planet Cocijo, Interrogator Thirl uncovered legends of a visitation by the Space Hulk Mortis Thule, and a prediction that another such appearance was imminent. Though it ran counter to all his instincts, Interrogator Thirl waited for the predicted appearance, spending far longer in one location than ever he had before. Sure enough, the prediction proved true and Mortis Thule appeared in orbit over the blasted world, bringing with it a wave of despair and madness amongst the colonists of the world's frontier settlements. Breaking cover, Thirl made for the Space Hulk in his gun cutter before it could vanish once more, yet in so doing revealed himself to those who had been watching patiently for him. The Harlequins attacked once again, the battle continuing even as the Interrogator plunged into the haunted depths of Mortis Thule. At that point deliverance came, and from a most unexpected source. Seeking any place he might hide from his pursuers, the Interrogator came upon a population of mutants living in the depths of the Space Hulk, and bringing every shred of his will to bear, he turned them to his service. The tables turned, the Harlequins were defeated, though a hundred mutants were slain for every Eldar life they claimed. In the aftermath of this bloody battle, Interrogator Thirl found himself the master of a powerful, if unruly, army of mutants seething with hatred for the world outside of the dark, haunted tunnels of Mortis Thule. Yet, there was a further discovery to be made, and one that would change Thirl's ambitions for all time.
- Interrogator Carl Thonius - Mannered and haughty, Thonius was the principal Interrogator of the celebrated Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor. While reasonably adept in combat, Thonius was never at ease in battle and preferred to leave "the fisticuffs" to Ravenor's more violent operatives such as Harlon Nayl. Thonius' talent lay in in the domain of dealing with cogitators. An expert in vox-tapping and cogitator systems intrusion, Thonius could pick apart cogitator stacks and secure vox-links with ease. After having his arm severed by a Slaughter Guild member at a Feral World beast-moot, Thonius developed a habit for the Warp-tainted narcotic known as "flects" in order to cope with the pain and trauma he experienced during his service to the Inquisition. It was this habit that opened him to the temptations of the Daemon known as "Slyte," a horrific Warp entity that had drawn the attention of both the Chaos Cult known as the Divine Fratery and Ravenor's former master, the infamous and feared Gregor Eisenhorn.
- Black Crusade: Broken Chains (RPG), pp. 29-30
- Dark Heresy: Ascesion (RPG), pg. 66
- Deathwatch: Ark of Lost Souls (RPG), pg. 69
- Rogue Trader: Hostile Acquisitions (RPG), pg. 94
- Wrath & Glory: Forsaken System Player Guide (RPG), pg. 118
- Ravenor (Novel) by Dan Abnett, Chs. 2, 4
- Ravenor Returned (Novel) by Dan Abnett, Ch. 8
- Thorn Wishes Talon (Short Story) by Dan Abnett