Poet of the Deed
It is often said (in hushed, reverential whispers) that the Inquisition recruits its agents from only two segments of Imperial society: the desperate, and the broken. It is from this raw material, supporters of the idea argue, that the fearless, if somewhat terrifying heroes of the Imperium we all know from the propaganda vids are forged. For all the lack of evidence to support these theories, they can boast many great scholars amongst their keenest proponents.Posted this in the Army Fluff section a while ago but since it has sprung from my earlier stuff about Inquisitor Voltar I thought I'd post it up for the folks over here to take a look at. There is more written but its not exactly in any kind of chronological order as of yet.
As an Inquisitor myself, I know that both of these beliefs are falsehoods. What little I remember of life before my induction into the Ordos was prosperous and quiet, and those few of my colleagues with whom I have shared my thoughts have expressed similar memories.
Perhaps this, then, is why the second belief is wrong also, for we are none of us heroes.
I am sat on the wrong side of an Interrogator’s desk in the Inquisitorial Headquarters on Septis Prime in the Opelicus subsector. Even in here, ten stories below the ground, I can taste the acrid stench of the fume-choked air that strangles the outside world, and it sickens me. My interrogator, a meticulous young man named Thorne, drones on at unnecessary length, repeating the same, pointless questions. Beside him is sat his master, an altogether more intimidating man, and he has yet to speak.
“What are your dealings with the heretic Aaron Voor?”
“I have no dealings with any heretics,” I answer wearily, the result of a potent combination of boredom and sleep deprivation that I can only assume was deliberate.
“And yet he went to the trouble of shouting your name as he died?”
“My mother did much the same thing,” I say, carefully measuring my tone, “I don’t recall anyone thinking that was suspicious.”
A few nervous laughs from the acolytes who stand in a ring around us at that. Thorne silences them with a glare.
“Insolence will get you nowhere,” he says to me after a moment, then: “you were in charge of the Inquisitorial Confinement Facility on Lucios V prior to your promotion, correct?”
I nod, frowning. What the hell does he want?
“That is correct,” I hear myself say.
“Then you will recall that in your three year tenure, several high grade prisoners from Inquisitorial custody without questioning?”
So that’s where he’s taking this. Sneaky bastard.
“I do. I also recall that that was investigated long ago. I had no involvement.”
Thorne smiles unpleasantly, perhaps attempting to appear intimidating.
“You realise that I have the authority to overturn the ruling of that tribunal should I see fit?” he says, “it will not protect you from your betrayal.”
“I am aware of it. My innocence is my shield.”
He smiles once more, revealing too-perfect teeth and the tell-tale signs of extensive juvenat treatments. Not so young, then.
“Don’t be naïve,” he says, “innocence proves nothing.”
Suddenly, his master sits upright in his chair. It is immediately noticeable, his bulky frame blocking much of the artificial faintly green-hued light from the holo-lamps on the metallic wall behind him. I examine him properly for the first time since entering the cell.
He is big. That much is obvious, but it is a bigness born of muscle and large bones rather than of fat. His form is further enlarged by the heavy carapace plate he wears, its dull grey armour plating chipped in places to reveal bare metal. Across the chestplate are engraved the words “Inquisitor Tybalt Lars.” His eyes are dark, his hair darker and thick.
“That,” he says, speaking at last. His voice has a deep, booming quality, like compressed, tamed thunder. “That will be all.”
“Sir?” asks Thorne, his pale features registering confusion.
“You heard me Thorne. I need to speak to the prisoner alone.”
Thorne mutters loudly as he leaves behind the other acolytes, but I do not permit myself any pleasure. He will be back.
“I believe that you can help me,” speaks Lars, “but I forget my manners. How are you finding Vorollis? It is your first time here in thirty years.”
“Dull,” I answer in a flat monotone that hides my mounting confusion. What’s he doing?
He smiles, a genuine smile in contrast to his interrogator’s leering.
“Why is that?” he asks.
“Nobody is telling me why I’m here.”
He laughs at that, the sound reverberating around the chamber.
“Perhaps I can explain,” he says after a moment, “but first-”
He hesitates momentarily, before finishing.
“Tell me about the Voor case.”
My name is Watcher. It is not my real name, you understand, for that was lost to me long ago, but it suffices. How long have I served the Ordos as a field officer? I can’t say I remember exactly, but the official file says it’s been seventy years, Terran standard. Seventy years since I first met my old mentor.
My master. Inquisitor Voltar, for all his faults (of which, according to the disapproving voices of the monodominant faction in HQ, there were many) was a man who inspired unequivocal loyalty. He took me from Lucio, and it is my duty now he is dead to follow his path, for good or ill.
Such was it that I found myself on Luteris, the farthest-flung planet of the Marcasta system. It was, as far as I can recall, the autumn of ninety-four, and I was out on my own for the first time since the death of Voltar.
Luteris was a dump, an unregarded backwater referred to only half-jokingly by the locals as the last stop before the end of the universe.
The joke was as poor as it was frighteningly believable, and that day, young and still flushed with my early successes and revelling in the vulgar power of my position, I cursed the ill-fortune that had brought me there.
It was raining. Gods, how it rained! It scythed across the grey sky to lash the dreary expanse of dull fields that covered much of the land around the capital city of New Ratheris. It splashed off the city walls and drenched the guards that lined the streets. Swaddled in heavy robes, I paid them as little heed as my companions had when they had scouted the terrain previously. Scattered throughout the city, their help would be intermittent at best.
My companions. Miral D’Orr. Torval Norn. Varcas Mal. I miss them still, even Mal, traitorous bastard that he was.
I forget myself. It was in pursuit of Caspian Delacourt that I had come to Luteris, a chase that had taken me across fourteen worlds and three different systems.
There was history between us, Delacourt and I. Three times we had met prior to this, and on all of them he had eluded me. I was determined that I bring him to justice this time.
I cursed as my quarry turned a corner, almost disappearing into a seething mass of half-starved humanity. At this time of year, grain riots were tradition and necessity in nearly equal measure.
I followed, pushing past a barrier labelled ‘Enforcement – Keep Clear,’ and ignoring the protests of an unshaven man wearing combat fatigues. He spat an angry curse at me on breath that reeked of cheap beer, but I was gone before he had time to do anything more substantial.
Where the hell was he? It was as if he’d vanished. Perhaps if I –
“Going somewhere in a hurry, sonny?” asked a gruff voice to my left. I turned on heel to meet the speaker.
My heart sank.
Two men stood facing me now. In other circumstances they might have been funny, the vast gulf in their heights matched by their respective girth. But it wasn’t that that arrested my attention, but the black uniforms they wore that marked them out as Magistratum officers.
“Umm, I don’t know if you could help me, sir,” I stammered, “could you give me directions to the Cathedral please?”
Short-and-fat frowned at me.
“What are you, some kind of tourist or something?” he laughed mirthlessly at that. There were no tourists on Luteris.
“Scholar, actually,” I answered, smiling. “Professor Uslo Sordat, Maseria University. I’m here on a short visit to examine post-Caradian architecture. A friend told me that the Cathedral was a particularly fine example.”
The two exchanged a smirk at that.
“Your friend has a strange sense of humour, son,” said tall-and-thin, “the Cathedral’s been a ruin since ‘87.”
“Nonetheless,” I persisted, “I wish to see it.”
As if to mock my difficulties, I finally caught sight of Delacourt in the corner of my eye. Still the pair hesitated. I didn't have time for this.
“Well-,” one said, but I barged past and cut him off.
“Inquisition!” I shouted as the pair looked on in confusion.
A hail of automatic fire greeted me as I entered the sidestreet, the tracer fire stitching a path across the frosted air and tearing into the masonry around me. I cursed as I ducked behind a pillar, the gunfire ripping a path behind me for a few seconds after I left the firer’s sights. I waited a moment, before a telltale click revealed that the weapon had run dry. Then, I burst from cover.
My attackers were big men, tall and thick across the chest. The closest, clearly the marksman responsible for my welcome party, fumbled with the release mechanism on his massive rotator cannon, whilst his companion was armed with a powerful Larette ’38 autopistol. He raised it to fire as he saw me.
I was ready for him. His first shot dissolved as it entered the rippling field of energy I had prepared for it. In those days, my mind was one of the finest in the subsector, a precise tool of destruction that was viewed as perhaps my foremost quality. My affinity with the art of illusion was both well-known and useful.
Nonetheless, even I could not maintain the shield forever, and with every shot my mental barriers weakened. I needed a backup plan.
“Run!” I instructed, my will-enhanced voice rolling forwards across the street with almost physical force. The men froze, fighting the urge to surrender to the command.
Shooting a man isn’t like in the vids: a headshot is too unreliable. A properly trained gunman will target the centre of mass.
I wasn’t a trained gunman. My first shot, taken as I pulled the stubber from its holster, clattered off the ferrocrete wall behind my mark, and the second followed it. My third hit the man with the cannon in the shoulder, and the fourth pierced his exposed throat. He fell in a crumpled heap to the floor. I blasted away a further eight rounds at the second man, dropping him instantly.
“A little more caution might be prudent,” came a disapproving commentary in my earpiece. Miral D’Orr was my weapons-mistress, a terse and uncompromising woman whose dry counsel I had nonetheless come to rely upon. Nonetheless, I hadn’t the time for her wit.
“Where’s Delacourt?” I demanded.
“He’s still moving,” she answered, failing to wholly disguise her surprise at my tone.
“Where?” I insisted.
“He’s heading northwest, through the lower Ministorum spires. His current path will take him to the main cogitator databanks.”
The databanks. The only things of value on Luteris, the cogitator system had access to the records of every wanted man in the subsector. On sixteen worlds prior to this, Delacourt had erased the data, and whatever his motives I had no doubt that such was his intention on Luteris also.
“Is he alone?”
“Negative. I counted at least five gunmen with him, probably puppets.”
I was already moving after him as I replied.
“Acknowledged. Thank you, Miral.”