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.
As a completely autonomous Imperial organisation beyond the power of the Adeptus Terra, the Inquisition is immensely powerful. As the Inquisition’s duties involve the scrutiny and policing of the other organisations of the Imperium, the Inquisition itself is answerable to no higher power except the Emperor. No one, except the Emperor himself, is beyond the scrutiny of the Inquisition. This power is officially known as the Inquisitorial Remit or Inquisitorial Mandate.
The role of the Inquisition requires proactivity and efficiency unbound by the dogmatic bureaucracy common to most other Imperial departments. Accordingly, there is little in the way of hierarchy or departmentalisation within the Inquisition. 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 an older and more experienced peer.
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 crisis’s 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.
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 Hereticus’ Chamber Militant are the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas, also known as the Sisters of Battle.
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 Ordo Xenos’ Chamber Militant are the Deathwatch.
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 Malleus’ Chamber Militant are the Grey Knights.
As well as the Ordos, there are many types of Inquisitorial groupings that an Inquisitor may belong to, however as with the Ordos, membership in these is not mandatory.
Conclaves – Inquisitorial Conclaves can take two forms. The first is a gathering called by an Inquisitor (if called by an Inquisitor Lord it is termed a “High Conclave”) to discuss a particular subject. There are also more permanent regional Conclaves; these are federations of Inquisitors who watch over a particular area of Imperial space. The larger of these regional Conclaves may have resources such as ships, armies, fortresses, and libraries for the use of their members. Not all sectors of Imperial space are covered by a Conclave, and some areas are devoid of a permanent Inquisitorial presence. The head of each regional Conclave is normally an Inquisitor Lord, and is nominally appointed by the High Lords of Terra. There are also Conclaves operating at the Segmentum level, again headed by an Inquisitor Lord.
Cabals – A Cabal is a rare body instituted by a Conclave and dedicated to investigating a particular matter. Generally they gather Inquisitors from varied backgrounds and philosophies to form a specialist task-force. Often, Cabals are despised by many who see them as secret societies within a Conclave.
Cells – Similar to a Cabal, a Cell is an ad-hoc group of Inquisitors who share a common goal. Often they are factional in nature, or are formed to confront a particular problem. The principle difference between Cabals and Cells is that the latter are entirely informal and are transitive in nature. Often one or more of the Inquisitors in the Cell will work overtly through investigation while the rest proceed through infiltration.
Recruiting and Promotion
Recruitment within the Inquisition is not centralized, and an Inquisitor is free to recruit whoever he so chooses as an acolyte. There are many different names given to acolytes – Interrogator, Explicator, Neophyte, Novitiates, Approbators, etc. – but in themselves they carry no authority (only that which they are granted by their Inquisitor) . Although some Inquisitors may have their acolytes pass through various “ranks” on their progression to Inquisitor, those ranks are not standardized across the Inquisition. However, within individual conclaves there may be established conventions for temporarily granting the Inquisitional remit to an acolyte within the scope of a particular assignment. Within the Calixis and surrounding sectors such an individual is known as a Legate Investigator. Legates are identified by an icon known as a Sigil of Question which contains features similar to a rosette, and a Carta of Inquiry which describes the scope of their investigation.
For an acolyte to be raised to the rank of Inquisitor, the consent of three Inquisitors or an Inquisitor Lord is required. There have been cases where the situation has called for an acolyte to take on full Inquisitorial responsibilities immediately without the blessing of three Inquisitors or a Lord. For example, if an acolyte’s Inquisitor is killed in action, he or she may inherit their Inquisitorial Seal and fulfil the role of an Inquisitor subject to repeal by another Inquisitor.