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 composed of those who either embrace Puritanism or Radicalism Though the level of which an inquisitor embraces a path is largely left to the individual inquisitor. Some even choosing to keep it a secret. And while it is rare, it is not unheard for inquisitors to stray from one path and move to another in their long careers. To some being an inquisitor is as much a political game as it is hunting down the Mutants Heretics, Aliens and Deamons.
The actual founding of the Inquisition is shrouded in mystery but it was believed to have been founded shortly after the Horus Heresy buy the Emperors trusted aide-de-camp, Malcador The Sigilite.
Within the modern Inquisition of M41 there are three Main groups known as Ordos (Xenos, Malleus, and Hereticus), and an unknown number of smaller Ordos with specific functions. 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.
Ordo Malleus (The Threat Beyond) – Destroys daemonic threats and investigates the nature of the Demon. The Ordo came into being immediately after the Horus Heresy, and therefore has been a part of the Inquisition from the beginning.
Ordo Hereticus (The Threat Within) – Investigates and roots out heresy, Mutants, and rogue Psykers from humanity, and polices the Ecclesiarchy. The Ordo Hereticus was founded following the events of the Age of Apostasy.
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
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 over a younger Inquisitor unless evidence proves otherwise.
Because the Inquisition are the watchdogs of the Imperium, answerable only to themselves, given almost absolute power, along with such broad jurisdiction, corruption is an ever present danger. Its integrity is therefore upheld by constant self-policing and scrutiny. In the earliest editions of the background, this was the stated role of the Ordo Malleus, which were the Inquisition’s secretive Inner Order.