Terra (Location Classified)
Pre-Horus Heresy (30th Millennium)
- "For those that defy the Imperium, only the Emperor can judge your crimes. Only in death can your receive the Emperor's judgement."
- — Motto of the Officio Assassinorum
The Officio Assassinorum is a highly secretive agency of the Imperium of Man's government that employs different "temples" that train human Assassins to further the goals and protect the security of the Imperium of Man. Although the Inquisition strikes fear in the hearts of all Imperial citizens, loyal and corrupt alike, the deadly disciples of the Officio Assassinorum strike fear in the hearts of even the most savvy, battle-hardened of Imperial warriors. Assassins are typically deployed alone wherever feasible, having been trained to operate extensively behind enemy lines with no support. Given the sheer political power of the Adepta and the fact that its operatives are known to have been used against rival High Lords of Terra in the past, the authorization to assassinate a target must come from the very highest echelons of Imperial command. For this reason, Assassins are watched very closely to make sure that they are under the control of the Imperium.
Almost nothing is known in Imperial databases about the locations of the Officio Assassinorum's six different temples except that they are are still located somewhere on Terra, save for the Culexus Temple. The Culexus Temple does not maintain a single headquarters and instead keeps its operatives in cryo-stasis on a variety of secret starships and space stations that are scattered across Imperial space and maintained on high-alert for the assignment of a mission at any time.
- "No world shall be beyond my rule; no enemy shall be beyond my wrath."
- — The Emperor of Mankind upon Mount Vengeance on the world of Thor, circa M30
When the Emperor spoke this famous declaration during the early years of the Great Crusade, a number of his most loyal servants met, eager to help enact his dreams of uniting Mankind across all the settled worlds of the galaxy. These men and women were highly skilled in the craft of stealth and subterfuge and highly accomplished in the arts of death. They hunted down those who would bring ruination to the Emperor's plan for human betterment. In secrecy they acted, preferring not to receive praise from the Emperor for their actions, for they felt themselves unworthy of such attentions amidst the great sacrifices and destruction caused by the ongoing operations of the Great Crusade. They carried out their executions silently, moving unseen from world to world in the wake of the Emperor's conquest, ensuring that promises made to the Imperium by rulers newly brought into Imperial Compliance were not reneged upon, that newly installed Planetary Governors remained loyal, and that treaties and pacts were enforced.
In time, these servants realised that they could not hide from even their own deaths forever, and that their skills must be passed on to a new generation if their great work was to continue. Thus, they finally revealed their existence to the Emperor. He saw, sorrowfully, the necessity for their existence and the terrible duty that they had taken upon themselves and he was most pleased. Great temples were constructed and the most skillful and deadly youths were sought out to train at them. Thus was the Officio Assassinorum created in secret, and the names of Callidus, Venenum, Culexus, Vindicare, Eversor and Vanus were forever immortalised. The strongest survived their rigorous training, and in turn passed on their skills to others. New skills were learnt and new temples of death were later founded; the art of blade and pistol, poison and garrotte were honed in every aspect conceivable. So it is that there is no world in the galaxy beyond the Emperor's rule; no enemy beyond the Emperor's wrath.
During its early history all 6 Assassinorium Temples, then known as "Clades", were located on Terra. Each Clade was led by an official known as its Director Primus. The Officio Assassinorum was created during the Great Crusade in the early 31st Millennium by Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra, who served as its first overall leader or Grand Master of Assassins on the order of the Emperor of Mankind. The Assassins of all 6 Clades were tasked by the Grand Master and their founding Directors Primus with carrying out the Imperium's goals in those circumstances where unleashing the full military forces of the Imperium would prove unwise or too costly. The Assassinorum Clades came into their own during the Horus Heresy, when they were tasked with eliminating the rebel Warmaster Horus and other leaders of the Forces of Chaos, those these missions met with only mixed success. However, after the Wars of Vindication which took place shortly after the death of High Lord Goge Vandire during the Age of Apostasy, a renegade Callidus Assassin by the name of Tziz Jarek attempted to assassinate the Grand Master of Assassins. After a series of terrible atrocities that were precipitated within the Imperial Palace itself, the Assassin temples were split up and distributed across the width and breadth of the galaxy. This was to ensure that should one fall to alien influence, daemonancy, or heresy, the others would remain untainted. Similarly, a hidden order was implemented, known as the Ordo Sicarius, to monitor the Officio Assassinorum, and its power was drastically limited -- assassinations could only be performed after receiving a 2/3 vote from the Senatorum Imperialis of the High Lords of Terra. All Assassins were to give detailed accounts of their mission activity, subject to Inquisitorial inspection at any time. Lastly, all Assassins (with the exception of those of the Eversor Temple) were to undergo regular psycho-indoctrination, again under the eye of the Inquisition if deemed necessary.
There are four major Assassinorum "temples," originally known as "clades", each specialising in a different form or method of assassination. Each temple is led by an official known as a Director Primus while the Officio Assassinorum as a whole is led by the Imperium's Grand Master of Assassins.
Assassins of the Callidus Temple use deceit and trickery to accomplish their objectives, usually assisted by the shape-changing Polymorphine drug. They prefer to get up-close to their targets and slay them with a melee weapon.
The Culexus Temple is one of the most sinister and feared orders of the Officio Assassinorum and its Assassins have been described by Eldar Warlocks as nothing short of pure evil. Culexus Assassins are bearers of the Pariah gene that means they possess no souls or psychic presence in the Warp. As a result, they can emit negative psychic energy that is deadly to psykers and daemons alike. Culexus Assassins are usually deployed against psychic targets like heretics, Eldar Warlocks or even Daemons. However, Culexus Assassins have been transformed by the Necrons into their foul Pariah servants by transfering their consciousnesses into necrodermis bodies.
The most prominent feature of the Vindicare Temple is that it trains its subjects to near-perfection in the art of marksmanship; they aim to take out the Emperor's worst enemies with a single bullet. Vindicare Assassins are notorious for being beyond callous in the execution of their duties and they are usually tasked with the elimination of charismatic heretics, rebel leaders and Daemon-hosting psykers. This reputation as cold-blooded killers has made the name "Vindicare Assassin" a title feared by all levels of the Imperial hierarchy as well as the enemies of the Imperium.
The Eversor Temple is possibly the most gruesome of the many temples of the Officio Assassinorum. The Eversor specialise in shock and terror tactics, instilling fear of Imperial retribution into the hearts and minds of all who hold positions of power. Every Eversor Assassin is trained to be a one-person combat machine, capable of eliminating entire units of enemies in as efficient and bloody manner as possible. Eversor obtain their superhuman combat status by making use of a secret cocktail of ability-enhancing drugs that will actually cause their bodies to explode upon the moment of their death as a final blow to the enemies of the Imperium.
There are two more major temples of Assassins, but not much information about them is available in Imperial records. The Officio Assassinorum also maintains patronage over numerous minor Assassin temples and death cults scattered across the galaxy. There exists a "Temple Secretum," an Assassinorum temple named for its dedication to keeping the Imperium's darkest secrets rather than for a preferred method of killing.
- Venenum Temple - The Venenum Temple deals in assassination through poisoning.
- Vanus Temple - Almost nothing of the Vanus Temple is known beyond its name and the fact of its existence (though the Latin word "Vanus" means "Empty"). The Vanus Assassins are primarily used as intelligence-gatherers and in matters of grand strategy and intelligence tactics they are without peer, their political insight unparalleled by the savants of the Imperium. They often carry out their assassinations through the use of political guile, using their insight into a given situation and multiple political contacts to eliminate a target without ever getting their own hands dirty and leaving no trace that can be followed back to the Vanus Temple. Perhaps the best summary of the Vanus Temple's philosophy was stated by Fon Tariel, an infocyte of Clade Vanus, the Vanus Temple's precursor, during the terrible civil war and intrigues of the Horus Heresy: "the cleanest kill is one that another performs in your stead with no knowledge of your incitement."
- Codex: Assassins (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Assassins (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Daemonhunters
- Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), pg.52
- Codex: Necrons (3rd Edition), pg. 8
- Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pp. 139, 147-148
- Dark Heresy: Daemon Hunter (RPG), pp. 54-55
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 142-143
- Index Astartes II, "Bringers of Darkness - The Night Lords Space Marine Legion"
- Inquisitor: The Thorians (Background Book) by Gav Thorpe
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (5th Edition), pp. 121, 124
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition)
- White Dwarf 191 (UK), "Assassin!: Imperial Eversor Assassin," by by Ian Pickstock, pp. 11-14
- White Dwarf 190 (UK), "Callidus Imperial Assassin: Imperium," by Ian Pickstock, pp. 21-24
- White Dwarf 189 (UK), "Vindicare Imperial Assassin: Imperium," by Andy Chambers, pp. 13-16
- Nemesis (Novel) by James Swallow
- The Inquisition War Trilogy:
- Inquisitor (Novel) by Ian Watson
- Harlequin (Novel) by Ian Watson
- Chaos Child (Novel) by Ian Watson