The Holy Inquisition
The Holy Orders of the Emperor’s Inquisition, more commonly known as the Inquisition, are the powerful secret police of the Imperium responsible for guarding the souls of humanity. The purpose of the Inquisition is to identify and destroy the myriad of potential threats to the Imperium and humanity. The organisation’s members are agents known as Inquisitors
Ordos are a major operational subfaction within the Imperial Inquisition. As the Inquisition possesses neither a formalized hierarchy nor leadership, each Inquisition is free to pursue the mission of humanity’s survival in the manner they see most appropriate. Like-minded individuals gather together to investigate areas of mutual interest and concern, as bounded by one of the many Inquisitorial Ordos. Each Ordo comes and goes with the times, for many Inquisitors move freely between them according to their own whims and judgement. Ordos can grow larger in crises and then exist only on paper until its field becomes relevant once more. Association with an Ordo is not a matter of absolute allegiance, nor does it preclude an Inquisitor’s involvement in matters pertaining to another Ordo
Currently within the modern Inquisition of M41 there are three Ordos Majoris (Xenos, Malleus, and Hereticus), and an unknown number of Ordos Minoris. These branches are ever-present for their mission is considered never-ending. Each branch specialises in the combat and investigation of specific threats to the Imperial domain. While Inquisitors from any Ordo are trained to deal with all potential dangers, it is the role of the Ordos to produce agents who are particularly adept at understanding and destroying specific abominations. Membership in an Ordo is not mandatory, and there are those Inquisitors who prefer not to join one.
- The Ordo Malleus (The Threat Beyond) – Destroys daemonic threats and investigates the nature of the Daemon. The Ordo came into being immediately after the Horus Heresy, and therefore has been a part of the Inquisition from the beginning.
- The Ordo Hereticus (The Threat Within) – Investigates and roots out heresy, mutation, and rogue psykers from humanity, and polices the Ecclesiarchy. The Ordo Hereticus was founded following the events of the Age of Apostasy.
- The Ordo Xenos (The Threat Without) – Investigates and eliminates alien influence and plots against the Imperium. It is not known when the Ordo Xenos was founded, however it is believed to be of a similar age to the Ordo Malleus.
The factions and philosophies of the Holy Ordos
The various factions concerned can be divided into two broad camps. There are those traditionally dubbed ‘*Puritans*’, and the factions that are referred to as ‘*Radicals*’. Puritans uphold the letter of the Lore and the dictates of the Emperor to the letter, as enforced upon the populace and servants of the Emperor at large where possible. It is they who uphold the widespread beliefs that permeate the organisations of the Imperium, and can be said to adhere to the traditional values as preached by the Ministorum and enshrined at the heart of Imperial Law. Radicals, in their favoured position as Inquisitors, feel they are free to enforce the spirit and intent of the Emperor’s Judgements, and it can be truly said that they see the methods they employ to be secondary to the execution of their duties and the achievement of their goals. They would be considered heretics by the vast majority of Imperial citizens for their behaviour, but we, as more knowledgeable and wiser observers, can see there are powerful arguments to support their views and methodology. In either case, extremism of one type or another must always be closely witnessed, lest it turn to self-destructive obsession.
The main Puritan factions are the Thorians, Monodominants and the Amalathians, while on the Radical side we know of the Xanthites, the recongregators and the Istvaanians.
The Thorians trace their origins to the Age of Apostasy, and the overthrow of Lord Vandire by Sebastian Thor. To some Inquisitors it was evident that Thor moved with a divine purpose, and was instilled with some of the power and charisma of the Emperor Himself. It is their belief that the Emperor walks among us. Having been shorn from the physical realm by the wounds inflicted by Horus, he once again must choose vessels to do His work, as he did so before the Age of Strife. The flesh maintained in the Golden Throne is not the Emperor, for he travels abroad, tending to His Divine Will, instilling His power into those who have been chosen. But these are frail, mortal bodies which can possess only a fraction of the Emperor’s power, and are ultimately destined to die of injury or old age. But what if the Emperor could be granted a body that does not wither and die, that could be His vessel for all eternity to come? The Thorians believe that such a thing is possible, that the Emperor yet waits for His new body to be found or created. In essence, a new Emperor will be created to lead Mankind to its destiny and conquest of the galaxy.
It was Inquisitor Goldo in the third century of the 33rd millennium who penned the treatise ‘Monodomination – The Right of Man to Rule the Galaxy in the Emperor’s Holy Name.’ In this lengthy document, he compiled his many experiences and commentaries from nearly four hundred years of service to the Imperium. His final conclusion amounted to declaring that the only way the Emperor’s loyal servants would survive in the galaxy was if everything else was destroyed. The Monodominants have a simple goal: to destroy forever the Emperor’s enemies. Monodominants have absolutely no tolerance for any kind of wayward behaviour. There is no excuse for heresy, contemplating heresy or for abetting heretics. Heresy includes mutation, religious deviation, aliens, psykers and any other beings who do not conform to their view of the loyal Imperial servant. There is only one punishment for heresy in the Monodominant philosophy – death. Mankind is fighting a war for racial survival, and the Monodominants hope that if they kill off enough aliens, psykers, mutants and heretics, eventually natural selection will prevail and humanity will rise to its position of ultimate power. Castus can be seen nodding in complete agreement as Havelas lectures on.
The Amalathians believe that the Emperor’s will is unfolding constantly across the Imperium and that He has a plan known only to Him. A strict Puritan faction, they believe in maintaining the laws and governance of the Imperium above all considerations, convinced that in keeping the status quo they are in fact fulfilling the Emperor’s great vision for His domain. They are also counted among the oldest of the factions, their tenets first being laid down millennia ago on the sacred slopes of Mount Amalath – from which they take their name. They strive to maintain the status quo, seeking out any person or agency that might destabilise the power of the Imperium from without and within. They are less concerned with the more traditional crimes of mutation, witchery and religious heresy except where these conflict with the institutions of the Empire of Man. They try to keep the rivalry and politicking between the various Imperial Organisations to a minimum, holding to the Inquisition’s original creed of strength through unity. Change is considered the most serious threat of all, for change can herald disaster. While other Inquisitors may endeavour to bring about some great upheaval or revelation that will see Mankind break from its current turmoil into a new golden age, the Amalathians prefer to progress slowly, if progress is necessary at all. The Amalathians accuse Inquisitors of other philosophies of utter arrogance in claiming that they know the Divine Will of the Emperor. Amalathians trust the Emperor to work His way and His plan as he has always done, and it is for the Inquisition to maintain the Imperium so that he may do so as He sees fit – mortals do not try to guess the Emperor’s mind. At its heart, the Imperium is the Emperor embodied and to protect the Imperium is to protect the Emperor.
Xanthism is one of the oldest philosophies of the Inquisition, named after Inquisitor-Master Zaranchek Xanthus who was executed as a heretic in the early 32nd millennium. Xanthus was accused of Chaos worship, and although he professed his innocence strongly, he was eventually burnt by a team of fellow Inquisitors. Throughout, Xanthus had maintained that he remained pure, though he admitted that he did on occasion utilise the forces of the Warp and Chaos to achieve his goals. It was his firm stance that such power could be harnessed without the spiritual corruption of the wielder that was to be later picked up on by other Inquisitors. It is the ultimate goal of the Xanthites to harness the power of Chaos for Mankind. They believe that Chaos cannot be defeated, for it is merely a reflection of humanity itself. However, those energies and powers created by its existence can be turned back for the benefit of humanity, rather than being an enemy. This does not mean that they advocate giving in to Chaos, but rather to capture the essence of Chaos and turn it to useful rather than destructive purposes. In the same way as the Warp (and so Chaos) allows Warp travel, Astrotelepathy and psykers to work on Mankind’s behalf, so too can other facets of Chaos be controlled, tamed to the Emperor’s Will by the Xanthites. Castus sneers, and Jean looks almost physically ill and Havelas tries to conceal his enthusiasm and moves swiftly on to the next faction.
According to the Recongregation philosophy, the Imperium has become corrupt and decaying. It no longer serves the purpose for which it exists, and works in spite of its massive organisations rather than because of them. Over time the morass of politics, factions, bureaucracy and the immense edifices of the Imperium must be pulled apart and reassembled in a new fashion that works better for Mankind. If the Imperium is allowed to continue to stagnate, it will eventually fall apart and humanity will fall prey to the unnumbered perils that it faces. Recongregators attempt to destabilise the Imperial organisations from the inside, replacing corrupt and/or conservative leaders and men of power with people who have more radical views and a will to change. Most are wary of too much upheaval though, preferring not to destroy something utterly, but to subtly change it and shape it to their will. Too much direct action risks bringing about the premature downfall of the Imperium, and the commensurate disaster that that will bring. As can be imagined, Recongregators have frequent run-ins with those who believe in the Amalathian philosophy, as the two beliefs are diametrically opposed. It would appear that Inquisitor Brieger was a follower of the Recongregators philosophy before he was led (even further) astray.
The greatest conflict to engulf humanity was the Great Heresy which began with the Primarch Horus’ virus-bombing of Istvaan III. Although the Horus Heresy saw the destruction of entire worlds and devastation on an unprecedented and unrepeated scale, there are some Inquisitors who see it as one of the moments during which the Imperium and Mankind’s future was forged. From the Horus Heresy came the great military changes that saw the break up of the Space Marine Legions and the division of Navy and Guard, the Emperor’s Ascension and the creation of the Ministorum and many other events which shaped the Imperium of the present.
It is the goal of the Istvaanians to strengthen humanity through adversity, believing that humanity is at its strongest in times of turmoil and conflict. From periods of greatest upheaval have come the greatest leaps forward in technology, faith and galactic dominance. Did not the Horus Heresy weed out those Marines disloyal to the Emperor? Did not the Age of Apostasy herald the coming of Sebastian Thor and the reformation of the Ecclesiarchy? Did not the great battles fought by Macharius’ armies shine like a great torch in the dark times of the early 41st millennium! These are the arguments they put forward. The Istvaanians claim that only when it is hardest tested does Mankind show the true strength that lies within it. To this end, the Istvaanians endeavour to propagate strife and conflict for Mankind’s own greater future. Istvaanians fan the fires of war and hatred so that Mankind will stay vigilant, that its warriors will be skilled and ready, and so none will believe that they have done all they can. They are a bombastic and obvious creed, flaunting their warmongering ways, instilling those nearby with fiery zeal to fight for themselves and the rest of Mankind. They pit faction against faction, world against world, so that the survivors will be the stronger for it.