It is a rare event that a Conclave is convened. It is even more rare for it to be composed of Lord Inquisitors who have a particular interest in a given item. If that were not enough, the subject just so happened to be me. Not the way I had envisioned gaining notoriety among my peers…”
-Excerpt from Inquisitor Andiron’s private journal
Nestled in the void of space beyond the light of any sun sat the Ramilies class Star Fort that served as the home to the Inquisitorial forces in the Segmentus Tempestus. The entire structure was painted black save for the docking piers, which were constructed in a stylized Inquisitorial Rosette. Dozens of ships baring the Inquisitorial Seal made a constant orbit of the facility, making it nigh impregnable to any who might happen upon the station.
The station garnered few visitors, and only occasionally would host visiting trade ships bringing in supplies for the residents. Of late, however, the station had received a large number of rather important visitations, all having arrived at the request of the Segmentus’ Grandmaster. Almost all of the visitors were Lord Inquisitors themselves, bringing with them a host of followers to attend to their needs. Their reason for gathering revolved around the findings of one of their brother Inquisitors, and the implications it had.
The large council chamber that had been prepared for the Conclave that had been ordered by Grandmaster Emeritus Folgrim was furnished by a huge round table, with seating enough for the various Lord Inquisitors who had been invited to join in the discussions. The walls were ornately constructed almost entirely out of stained glass, each segment depicting a victory that had been won by Inquisitors in times past. Rather than artificial lighting, the room had been littered with pyres that flickered playfully and lit the stained glass in such a way that one almost thought the murals themselves were moving back and forth.
The scenery, however grand it might have been, was lost on the gathered Inquisitors who sat around the onyx table awaiting the commencement of discussions. The last of the participants had only just arrived, and several who had arrived almost a week prior were anxious to get started and vocal about their position.
“Let us get this meeting done with,” Lord Inquisitor Ryssa Ventera called out from her position at the table, “The enemies of mankind will not stay their hands while we sit here and chat leisurely amongst ourselves.”
Inquisitor Ventera presided over the Inquisitors who followed the Ordo Malleus initiative in the Sector. The woman had risen to power decades ago, after slaying a Greater Daemon almost single-handedly. The fire that burned in her was hard enough to temper in battle, and her penchant for boisterous outbursts were well known and typically ignored in social situations.
“We will begin soon enough, Ryssa,” Lord Inquisitor Sergio Bresnic countered in a similar tone, “Need you be so quick to action?”
“At least I have seen action. When’s the last time you’ve been away from your library?” Inquisitor Ventera hissed as she glared at the man.
Inquisitor Bresnic had spent the last decade sequestered in his personal library conducting research on various mutations in the psyker gene. His participation in the many campaigns of the Ordo Hereticus initiative of late was often called into question. The fact that Ventera had chosen to start the conversation with such remarks made the old man laugh.
“Simply because I don’t slam a skull open from time to time like you do doesn’t negate all the things I have done from within my library. We have agents to do our bidding for the very reason that many of us have more to attend to in our various positions than to campaign from the head of an army. You simply have the luxury of very few expectations,” Sergio said with a twisted smirk gracing his wrinkled features.
Another voice joined the foray, “Would you both shut your damnable mouths? I can hardly think with you two bickering and hurling insults about the room like children.”
The voice belonged to Lord Inquisitor Talius Deonerus, one of several members of the Ordo Xenos who had been called to the Conclave. Among his peers, Inquisitor Deonerus was the foremost expert on the aliens for which he fought against. He had devoted almost five full decades to the pursuit of denying the Orks a hold on a great many worlds that they had fallen upon. An accomplished warrior in his own rights, Talius had personally mentored a fair number of worthy pupils during his time, some of whom were getting close to being named Lord Inquisitors themselves.
Both Ventera and Bresnic shot the man angry glares, but neither cared to pursue it or their own little disagreement any further. Had they done so, they might have missed Grandmaster Folgrim entering the large chamber and might very well have incurred his ire, something no one cared to do.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the elder Inquisitor said as he made his way to the only vacant chair in the room, “Thank you for attending this Conclave. We have a great deal to discuss.”
The room fell silent as the Grandmaster found his seat and took the proffered reports from the aide that had followed him in. All around the table, assistants passed out copies of the same report Grandmaster Folgrim was shuffling through, giving them the ability to read ahead as they so chose while the old man gathered his notes and thoughts. Off to the Grandmaster’s left, Lord Inquisitor Felix Ursaris frowned, a gesture that seemed to indicate that he had some measure of investment in the topic about to be brought forward.
“As you can see before you, a report was logged recently by one of our newest Inquisitors… a Lucian Andiron. I know the name likely means nothing to any of you, but he has stumbled upon something that warrants our attention,” the Grandmaster began.
The gathered Inquisitors shuffled through the papers and began reading the information that pertained to the man Folgrim had mentioned. Indeed, none but Ursaris had ever heard of the man and given his status as a new Inquisitor meant that he had likely only just returned from his first real task handed down to him. The elder Inquisitor gave the group enough time to read the material before continuing with his speech.
“Inquisitor Andiron was sent to the Exodite worlds on the edge of the Segmentus, where a small fleet of Biel-Tan vessels had gathered in search of a lost relic. He was charged with the retrieval of this artifact, whatever it was. He has, according to his report, accomplished the task rather efficiently. The relic in question, according to his report, is a book the Eldar have titled The Book of Lost Glory, and he goes on to state that it holds the location and description of a great many artifacts that have presumably been lost to the Craftworld Eldar,” the Grandmaster explained briefly.
“If he has accomplished his task, what reason do we have to even be here?” Inquisitor Ventera asked with a frown as she tossed the papers aside.
“If you had read further than his picture, Ryssa, you might have noticed that he didn’t just bring back an artifact of the Xenos…” Inquisitor Deonerus commented dryly.
“Talius is correct,” Grandmaster Folgrim cut off any chance for retort from Ventera with his words, “It would appear that Inquisitor Andiron has also conscripted a member of the local population into his retinue. In the report, he states that she has already helped him translate the first chapter in the book, and they will continue to work on it while they are in transit.”
“Heresy!” Ventera declared vehemently, slamming her fist against the table.
“Not necessarily,” the voice of yet another Inquisitor called out.
The woman who had spoken was Lord Inquisitor Isabella Orentis, someone who specialize on the subject of heresy in all its many forms. Unlike most of the gathered Inquisitors, Orentis adhered to no particular school of thought when it came to the execution of the Emperor’s will. She had done a great many deeds fighting against almost every enemy of the Imperium within, without, and beyond.
“Our own Ordos Militant uses the weapons of the enemy against their makers. Many have been aided in the past by alliances of opportunity and mutual benefit. This young Inquisitor might very well be doing the same thing. Talius, how long would it take normally to decipher the Eldar runes in an ancient tome?” Isabella turned to the resident Xenos expert.
“Years,” the man replied.
“I would venture to say that it will take Andiron far less time to translate the text with a native reader giving him the secrets of the tome willingly. In his own words,” Inquisitor Orentis said as she held up the page that held the information she was speaking about, “He outlines that she believes it to be her destiny to be of use to his cause. Whether that means she believes herself meant to aid the Imperium or simply this one Inquisitor doesn’t make any difference. She is loyal to him in this and left her world to be of use. It would be a greater heresy for him to have left her behind, squandering the aid she could provide.”
“He consorts with the enemy!” Ventera continued to argue, “The alien knows nothing of loyalty and service! They are heretics who worship the gods of Chaos, feeding the Ruinous Powers with their debauchery and vile influence!”
“She is from an Exodite world,” Deonerus pointed out, “Her people abandoned their kind before the taint of Chaos consumed them. She is most likely no more tainted by the Ruinous Powers than a child newly born is.”
“You can’t expect me to believe this alien can fight her nature,” Ryssa fumed.
“I don’t expect you to do anything of the sort. I’m telling you that she may simply be beyond the taint of the Ruinous Powers. That doesn’t preclude her from having her own secret agenda, though it seems fairly unlikely given her people’s level of development,” Deonerus remarked without any real emotion in his voice.
“That is the crux of why I’ve called you here,” Grandmaster Folgrim remarked, “It would seem that our young Inquisitor has enlisted the aid of an alien. Given the unique circumstances surrounding the alien having been enlisted into Inquisitorial service, it is hard for me to simply order that she die simply on the grounds of heritage. And should she prove to be genuine in her aid to the young Inquisitor, it may set a precedence to allow him to keep her as part of his retinue for the foreseeable future. However, as he falls within our authority, I felt it best to consult with each of you here to gain your opinions and levy my judgment accordingly.”
“I am against this. Even if it isn’t heresy,” Inquisitor Ventera cast a withering glare at Isabella for a moment before continuing, “It still goes against good judgment and morality. If this Inquisitor is seen consorting with the enemy, it will cast us all into a haze of suspicion!”
“As if we aren’t already despised by the ignorant masses of the Imperium already for what we do,” Inquisitor Orentis countered rather harshly, “This young man simply obtained the tools he needed to best handle the artifact that he located. If you will sleep better at night, consider her as little more than an object, to be cast aside when her usefulness has elapsed.”
“I agree with Isabella,” Inquisitor Deonerus chimed in, “There have been many cases in which the Eldar have proven useful. We have never condemned our brethren before when they took advantage of the aid given, I see no reason to single out a man freshly risen to his station as some sacrifice simply to appease Ventera. Let the boy have his plaything, and let her give us the secrets of her people. Less resources we need to invest in getting the same results.”
Inquisitor Bresnic had been silent most of the meeting, his posture that of someone utterly bored with the conversation taking place. When all the eyes in the room shifted his direction, the man shook his head apathetically, “I don’t care what he does as long as it gets results.”
Grandmaster Folgrim turned to Inquisitor Ursaris, “You were the one who gave him his Rosette. Have you anything to add to this?”
“I will reserve commentary at the moment. I would like to observe this young man a while and see what he does with this girl and the book,” Felix said after giving it a moment’s thought.
The Grandmaster straightened up in his chair, “It seems the vast majority sees no conflict with this occurrence and I shall act accordingly. This matter is closed.”
The gathered Inquisitors stood and waited for Grandmaster Folgrim to depart before they themselves started to filter out of the ornate chamber. When everyone else had departed, only Ursaris and Ventera remained.
“I would speak with you a moment, Felix,” the woman said, her posture giving him all the hint Ursaris needed to know that he wasn’t going to like what she was about to say…