- "Aliens are scum, they must be eradicated from our worlds, purged from the galaxy, destroyed wherever they appear. However, on occasion they can prove a useful tool…"
- — Inquisitor Taarn
The Ordo Xenos (Alien Hunters), together with the Ordo Malleus (Daemonhunters) and the Ordo Hereticus (Witch Hunters), is one of the primary sub-divisions of the powerful and secretive organisation known as the Imperial Inquisition. The Ordo Xenos is served by its Chamber Militant, the Deathwatch Space Marines, who draw on Veteran Astartes from Chapters all across the Imperium of Man to form the Deathwatch's Kill-teams and destroy the many foul xenos threats to the survival of Mankind.
Armed with the best human and alien technology available, extremely knowledgeable about their foe, and filled with the xenophobic hatred for non-human species that drives so much of Imperial culture since the Horus Heresy, the Ordo Xenos can respond to any alien threat. Their tactics vary depending on the situation and the level of alien taint revealed. Where the threat is subtle, they will use guile and stealth, wielding their power as if it was a scalpel used to cut out a growing malignant cancer. When the alien menace is great, the Inquisitor can commandeer the aid of entire regiments of the Imperial Guard and the Deathwatch.
The Ordo Xenos was created after the Emperor of Mankind was interred in the Golden Throne at the end of the Horus Heresy, though in fact the Inquisition had been founded earlier in the 31st Millennium at the express order of the Emperor after the great betrayal of the Heresy had begun. The Inquisition was initially a relatively small and highly secretive organisation, comprising only a group of skilled Imperial agents drawn from all of the Imperial Adepta and nobility as well as select Loyalist Space Marines from both the Loyalist and Traitor Legions who were tasked with uncovering and destroying every threat to the Imperium of Man, from both without and within. After the Horus Heresy, the Ordo Xenos gradually evolved from that group of Inquisitors who were primarily interested in investigating and studying the alien races of the Milky Way Galaxy and eliminating any threat to the Imperium that these xenos represented.
The Inquisitors of the Ordo Xenos accept responsibility for protecting humanity from the predations of aliens. To most of the Imperium, the alien is an abomination, a heathen who desires humanity's destruction and who must be slain for the good of Mankind. Most Inquisitors share this view and pursue the alien to the point of extinction if they can. Some aliens are a threat to the Imperium in a military sense, invading large swathes of Imperial space, ransacking planets and killing or enslaving the inhabitants. The green-skinned rampaging Orks and voracious Tyranids are chief among these large-scale threats. The Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy are the main weapons against these xenos hordes, and the Imperium's war zones are constantly ablaze with battles against them. The Ordo Xenos is instrumental in leading the Imperium's military forces against major xenos invasions, gathering intelligence and deploying troops. An Inquisitor in this position makes decisions that can cost millions of lives and he or she must be prepared to go further than even the most hard-hearted Imperial Guard general or Navy admiral in stemming the alien tide. Some of the Ordo Xenos' greatest Inquisitors, such as the legendary Inquisitor Kryptman, have sacrificed entire worlds to deny them to alien forces.
Armed with the best human and alien technology available, extremely knowledgeable about their foe, and filled with the xenophobic hatred for non-human species that drives so much of Imperial culture since the Horus Heresy, the Ordo Xenos can respond to any alien threat. Their tactics vary depending on the situation and the level of alien taint revealed. Where the threat is subtle, they will use guile and stealth, wielding their power as if it was a scalpel used to cut out a growing malignant cancer. When the alien menace is great, the Inquisitor can commandeer the aid of entire regiments of the Imperial Guard. As well as having the capacity to command the Imperium's military forces, the Ordo Xenos also have access to the Ordo's Chamber Militant, the Deathwatch Space Marines. The Deathwatch is an unusual Space Marine Chapter that draws its members from the other Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, with Astartes serving in the Deathwatch for a set period of time before returning to their original Chapters. Most Space Marine Chapters are a part of this ancient agreement, sending Space Marines with the most appropriate skills to be trained and equipped for a term of service as specialised alien hunters under the command of the Ordo Xenos. A Kill-team of Deathwatch Space Marines is invaluable when an Inquisitor comes to exterminate an alien infestation, investigate a potentially deadly alien world or eliminate a particularly loathsome xenos creature. Some Deathwatch squads are placed at the disposal of an entire Inquisitorial conclave dedicated to the protection of a single Imperial sector, but most of them are appointed to the retinue of a particular Inquisitor until his mission is complete.
While many Ordo Xenos Inquisitors believe that all aliens must be killed, this is not true for all of them. Some believe that if an alien species does not wish the Imperium harm and does not move against Imperial interests, then cooperating with them is not out of the question. Some aliens possess technology that far surpasses the Imperium's own, such as the elegant Digital Weapons made by the ape-like Jokaero, and trading for such technology may be to the Imperium's benefit. Furthermore, the Imperium shares common enemies with some species, and alliances between Imperial and alien forces are sometimes a necessity. Some Ordo Xenos Inquisitors actively foster these alliances, believing that their superior knowledge of alien methods and mindsets negates the risks of collaborating with xenos. These beliefs are considered Radical among the Ordo Xenos and their adherents can be shunned or even hunted down by their brother Inquisitors. Nevertheless, the contact an Ordo Xenos Inquisitor has with alien species can impart a belief that some of them can be used, not just destroyed, by the Imperium.
Although all aliens are (officially) viewed as anathema by the Imperium, some are tolerated to a lesser degree. Such races tend to be primitive in technology and culture or constrained to a backwater planet far from Imperial space. In many parts of the Imperium contact with starfaring alien races is not uncommon, and on some Frontier Worlds trading with aliens is a fact of life. Such dealings are usually overlooked by the authorities and would certainly not warrant censureship or intervention. Other races, however, represent such a threat to humanity that the Ordo Xenos brand them with a stigma, the Xenos Horrificus, marking them as high-priority targets who must be hunted down and purged at every opportunity. The brand does not merely apply to the xenos themselves, but also to any who have had dealings with them. More than one Rogue Trader has been branded with the Xenos Horrificus, marking him out as an enemy of the Ordo Xenos, the Deathwatch, and Mankind itself.
When the alien threat is too great for even the requisitioned Imperial Guard or Planetary Defence Force troops of the Inquisition to handle, the Inquisitor will call on the elite Battle-Brothers of the Deathwatch, the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos, who operate in Kill-teams made up of elite Space Marines from all of the Space Marine Chapters in the Imperium. All Deathwatch members wear black Power Armour except for one shoulder plate which bears the colors of their original Chapter (so as not to dishonor their power armor's Machine Spirit) and the other is emblazoned with the unique Chapter badge of the Deathwatch. Certain Chapters make for great Xeno-hunters, like the Ultramarines (with their long and infamous experience with the Tyranids during the Battle of Macragge) or the Crimson Fists (with their experience against the Orks during the Battle for Rynn's World).
The Ordo Xenos is well-known for either being extremely ponderous in its operations or extremely quick to act. A major example of their slowness to act was when the Tau first made contact with Imperial Planetary Governors on the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy and these aliens' technology was allowed to penetrate all the way to Terra through the Imperial trade routes as their technology was bought and sold by Imperial merchants. However, at times the Ordo Xenos can truly bring the Emperor's justice to those alien races who seek to challenge human domination of the galaxy, a prime example of which was seen during the Damocles Gulf Crusade in which an Ordo Xenos-led Imperial Navy battle group spearheaded an Imperial Crusade deep into Tau space, although its progression slowed to a halt when they reached Dal'yth, one of the core Sept worlds of the Tau Empire. It is worth noting that, with the arrival of Hive Fleet Behemoth in the galaxy from the intergalactic void, the forces of the Damocles Crusade was forced to withdraw from their siege of Dal'yth to attend to that first massive Tyranid invasion.
The Deathwatch Kill-teams may specialize in defending or attacking any known alien race, including the Tau, Tyranids, Necrons, Orks or even Eldar; it depends upon the experience of the team. A Kill-team can be composed of groups of 5, 10, or even 20 Astartes in rare cases depending on the size and scope of the alien problem. In extreme circumstances, they will operate alongside other armies of the Imperium, including Imperial Guard Regiments under Inquisitorial control or even elements of other Space Marine Chapters that have responded to the Inquisition's request for assistance. When a Battle-Brother leaves the Deathwatch after his term of service to return to his original Chapter, he gains the honour of keeping the Deathwatch's silver badge on his Power Armour's left shoulder plate.
Notable Ordo Xenos Inquisitors
- Inquisitor Agmar - As a young Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus, Agmar led the Imperial offensive upon Ichar IV's capital city of Lomas to defeat the rebellion against the Emperor instigated by the members of a strange alien cult. It turned out that the rebellion was created by a massive Genestealer infestation on the world in advance of the invasion of the Tyranids' Hive Fleet Kraken. With the aid of the Arbiters of the Adeptus Arbites, he destroyed enough of the Genestealers' defenses to allow the Ultramarines to seize back the planet. It was then that Agmar's Astropaths felt the approach of Hive Fleet Kraken and it was his initiative that led to the breaking of Hive Fleet Kraken at Ichar IV.
- Inquisitor Al-Subaii - Al-Subaii was recently elevated to Inquisitor status after serving as an Interrogator in the service of Inquisitor Van Vuygens. While Van Vuygens combs the very edge of Imperial space for alien civilisations, Al-Subaai's role is to search for alien influence in the populated worlds of the sector. Probably the youngest Inquisitor in the Tyrantine Cabal of the Calixis Sector, Al-Subaai is deeply pious, and he looks it, usually attending gatherings in a monastic habit worn over sturdy, practical carapace armour.
- Inquisitor Staven Arcturos - Inquisitor Arcturos is one of the alien species scholars of the Xeno Hybris faction, serving within the Inquisition's Calixis Conclave. He was initially drawn to the Calixis Sector during his lifelong study of the Eldar and their influence in the Segmentum Obscurus. For decades, Arcturos tracked down any trace of this enigmatic alien culture, ranging all the way out to the Gothic Sector and back. He uncovered tantalizing hints and rumours, but rarely anything solid. His first true breakthrough occurred after a battle with an unidentified xenos vessel in the Hazeroth Abyss Sub-sector. The Inquisitor's ship was crippled, helpless before the enemy craft's weapons, but Arcturos was rescued by the timely intervention of an Eldar Cruiser. This ship belonged to none other than Ulthyr Ellarion, an infamous Eldar Corsair who prowls the space lanes of the Calixis Sector. It is rumoured that Arcturos learned great knowledge from a Seer aboard Ellarion's ship. What happened later is shrouded in mystery. Some claim that Arcturos became a guest of an Eldar Craftworld, whilst others say he roamed distant stars, transported by alien witchery. Whatever the truth, upon Arcturos' return he was a deeply changed man. Arcturos swiftly became one of the Xenos Hybris' faction's most fervent members, and he is reputed to have a number of aliens amongst his retinue. Those who have spoken to Arcturos report that he is now obsessed with the Eldar's means of viewing the future through a series of psychically-active Runestones, and that he constantly practices this vile form of divination, basing every act on what he sees in the patterns of the stones.
- Battle-Brother Artemis - Artemis was originally a Veteran Astartes of the Mortifactors Chapter of Space Marines. Artemis commanded Deathwatch Kill-teams against the xenos known as the K'nib in the Donorian Sector. This was done at the request of the Kaslon Imperial Guard Regiment. Artemis slew Alcayde and ended their attack upon Imperial space, even though the credit was given to the Kaslon regiment. He is quoted as saying: "Do not ask, 'Why kill the alien?' rather, ask, 'Why not?'"
- Inquisitor Ark Ashten - According to apocryphal tales, the legendary Ordo Xenos Inquisitor was the first commissioner of a specialised Cadence Promethium "Destroyer" Inceration Device. Crafted by the artisan-masters of the world of Cadence, the Destroyer is a highly advanced pattern of Hand Flamer that uses force-compression technology similar to that of a plasma weapon to create a superheated thermal-incandescent blast that burns far hotter and with greater fuel efficiency than that of a usual Flamer.
- Inquisitor Hezika Carmillus, Inquisitor of the Chamber - Inquisitor Hezika Carmillus of the Ordo Xenos has served the Inquisition for over three standard centuries. In that time, she has led pogroms that have scoured xenos infestations from a dozen worlds, condemned and executed Lord Commanders and Admirals, broken influential and traitorous Rogue Traders, and denounced radicalism amongst her own kind. Tall and blade-thin, she wears exoskeletal enhanced armour at all times and keeps a court of diverse and deadly warriors, collected from dozens of worlds, at her beck and call. Her voice is silken honey at one moment and unyielding steel the next as she desires. She will not, under any circumstances, allow herself to be perceived as anything other than what she is: a warrior savant in the service of the Emperor of Mankind. She is undaunted by the super-human killers whose company her duty now bids her keep, and she will brook no challenges to her authority, in particular by other Inquisitors, although she is ever-conscious of its limitations. Inquisitor Carmillus has been the Inquisitor of the Chamber and mistress of the Tower of Brass of Watch Fortress Erioch in the Jericho Reach for sixteen Terran years and has executed her sworn tasks with precise dedication and utter ruthlessness. While possessing a warlike temperament, she is also highly intelligent and subtle. These traits make her an ideal emissary of the Inquisition to the domain of the Deathwatch and well-equipped to deal with its Adeptus Astartes masters. She has voiced the opinion in the Chamber that, although she is in favour of the Achilus Crusade, a contingency plan should be drawn up to destroy the Warp Gate should the Crusade suffer catastrophic failure. She believes that the Warp Gate possesses a vast threat if it is no longer under the Imperium’s direct control. Much of her other motivations, however, remain a tightly-held secret.
- Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn - An Amalathian member of the Ordo Xenos, Eisenhorn was the infamous Inquisitor who orchestrated the downfall of Quixos the Bright and Pontius Glaw using a stolen daemonhost named Cherubael, a former tool of Quixos. He seemingly vanished soon after the downfall of Pontius, having been declared a heretic by Inquisitor Osma of the Ordo Malleus and this bad reputation stayed with him despite attempts to clear his name by other Ordo Xenos members.
- Inquisitor Lord Parnival Grundvald - Parnival Grundvald is a notable Puritan Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos who faithfully served the Imperium for over 200 Terran years. He was an accomplished expert in the field of Xenology. One of his most notable actions was the discovery and subsequent persecution of the deadly xenos known as the Lacrymole. Grundvald created a conclave, the Conclave-Conservati, and appealed to his fellow Inquisitors on the deadly menace the Lacrymole posed to the Imperium. He soon earned the title of the Xenoscourge of Helschen for his successful persecution of these foul creatures.
- Inquisitor Lord Quate'maz Knael - Inquisitor Lord Knael was a former member of the Calixian Conclave, who in the aftermath of his expeditions into the Hazeroth Abyss Sub-sector, penned the infamous Calixian Black Grimoire, which takes the shape of a small black data-slate made of high-impact polyflex that opens in the fashion of a clasped book and also has a short-range audio and pict recording and playback function. The Grimoire was substantially added to a century later by the infamous Inquisitor Kol Shek. The Black Grimoire is no less than a field manual detailing many forms of xenos creatures they had encountered in their long years of service, explaining how to identify, combat and destroy them. The very existence of the Grimoire is a point of contention among the Inquisitors of the Calixian Conclave as most in the Ordo Malleus feel that such information should never leave the heavily guarded libraries of the Ordos, while more Puritan factions of the Ordo Hereticus claim that the work is far too dangerous to be allowed to exist at all, and all copies should be hunted down and purged.
- Inquisitor Lord Kryptman - Well-versed through hard experience in knowledge of the Tyranids and their infestation techniques, Inquisitor Kryptman was responsible for first identifying the Genestealer infestation preceding Hive Fleet Leviathan. He later authorized the largest single act of genocide the Imperium has ever inflicted on itself by abandoning or destroying all worlds in Hive Fleet Leviathan's path. For his actions he was issued a Carta Extremis and was stripped of his title and position in the Inquisition. However, this did not stop him and he soon led his loyal Deathwatch Astartes to capture live Genestealers, place them in stasis, and use them to lure the Hive Fleet into the worlds controlled by the Orks of Octavius, slowing down the Hive Fleet's progress towards Terra while it sought to digest that massive Ork empire.
- Inquisitor Solomon Lok - Solomon Lok was an Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos and a veteran of the Hrud infestation of Chincare who was tasked with investigating the sudden loss of contact from an Imperial research facility on the world of Beta Anphelion IV in 850.M41. Lok, the Elysian Drop Troops 99th "D" Detachment, a force drawn from the 226th Cadian Shock Troops Regiment, an Adeptus Mechanicus Biologis Exploritas force headed by Magos Biologis Arthon and a task force of Red Scorpions Space Marines went into orbit above the clouded and hostile moon. The Imperial task force soon learned the horrible truth; the Mechanicus Tech-priests on Beta Anphelion IV had been conducting biological research upon captured sub-species of Tyranids. Their containment of the savage xenos had ultimately failed and the Tyranids had escaped into the wild, rapidly increased their numbers and then wiped out the small population of the Imperial research station. Solomon Lok's task force now faced a similar overwhelming population of Tyranids. The Red Scorpions received orders to withdraw from the hopeless situation, but they refused to take any of the other Imperial survivors on their transports. In a last stand, Lok succeeded in slaying a Hierophant Bio-Titan, only to see two more stride out of the ammonia fog of Beta Anphelion. Lok was able to transmit a record of his last days from Beta Anphelion IV to his fellow Inquisitors in the Ordo Xenos, and his final fate is unknown though he is presumed dead.
- Inquisitor Natius Osrinn - A former student of Inquisitor Van Vuygens, the man now known as Natius Osrinn began as a trusted and diligent Acolyte. Osrinn was chosen for his quick wits and agressive nature from among the lower-hive scum of Solomon, and over time proved his worth to Inquisitor Van Vuygens many times during a career that spanned five decades of service. Eventually, Osrinn was promoted to the rank of Interrogator and thence to a full Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos. However, not long after his ascension, Osrinn's interests shifted, focusing more and more upon sorcery and the arcane. In time, his allegiance shifted away from his mentor and his Ordo, and eventually, he disappeared, claiming "special circumstances." The Calixis Conclave in the Tricorn Palace on the sector capital world of Scintilla received several reports indicating glimpses of the enigmatic Inquisitor Osrinn, including several that claimed he had been seen assisting Space Marines of the Relictors Chapter. Other reports indicate that Osrinn wandered far into the reaches of the Segmentum Obscurus, all the way out to Belial IV and back before he re-appeared in the Calixis Sector in 803.M41. Osrinn's return caused a stir in the Tricorn, for he bore with him ancient Terminator Armour of unknown origin and a sword that was unmistakably a Daemon Weapon. Refusing to account for his actions, Osrinn avoided a summons from the Tricorn and struck out alone into the Halo Stars. Some say he has gathered around him a group of unusual Acolytes: mutants, aliens, rogue psyker-witches, and even a Daemonhost of incredible power. What he intends to do with such an assorted retinue is still a matter for conjecture.
- Inquisitor Adrielle Quist - Adrielle Quist was first noted by Inquisitor Carmillus for her prodigious telepathic abilities. Her sharp, investigative mind distinguished her from her fellow Acolytes, and during her time as an Interrogator she was one of a select few brought to the Tower of Brass when her mistress became Inquisitor of the Chamber at Watch Fortress Erioch. Five short years ago, Quist earned her rosette, and remains Carmillus’ primary hand in the field. Quist has a deep fascination with alien technology that she keeps tightly concealed. She is all too aware that many around her would brand her a Radical or Traitor for her desire to see the Imperium match the technological advancement of races like the Tau. She is secretly one of the Crucible Resolviate’s principal sources of xenos artefacts. The fresh Inquisitor would like greatly to find Deathwatch warriors who share her open mind about the path to humanity’s advancement, as it would make procuring items of advanced alien technology from their missions far less laborious.
- Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor - Once a handsome and lean man, Ravenor was crippled on Thracian Primaris and is now little more than a crippled flesh living inside a heavily armoured casing that serves as a grav chair. In his crippled form, however, his psychic abilities have strengthened, and with the help of Psi Boosters attached to his grav chair, he has become a much more powerful psyker, in the high-Delta, low-Gamma range. He once served with Inquisitor Eisenhorn, however since Eisenhorn's disappearance, Ravenor has taken charge of Eisenhorn's old retinue of Acolytes and Throne Agents to seek out and destroy all alien threats to the Imperium.
- Inquisitor Reynaard - Reynaard discovered a cult worshiping aliens on Mandall IV. Using a Deathwatch kill team, he attempted to destroy the cult, which proved to have taken over most of the capital city. After escaping, Reynaard returned with over 500,000 Imperial Guard troops and eradicated all in the city.
- Acolyte Amberley Vail - Amberley Vail is an Acolyte of the Ordo Xenos. Featured in the Ciaphas Cain series, she acts as the editor of the Cain Archive. It has been suggested that her relationship with Cain is more than professional.
- Inquisitor Globus Vaarak - Vaarak is an Amalathian adherent who serves the Ordo Xenos within the Inquisition's Calixian Cabal. Severely wounded as an Interrogator while boarding a pirate ship, Vaarak's body is broken, scarred and bloated. Both his legs were amputated and he moves by means of a robust mechanical vehicle with mechanical legs and an inbuilt life-support system. His face is horribly burned and pockmarked, with tubes running from his nostrils and mouth to help him breathe. One arm was also lost and has been replaced with an obvious bionic limb. Vaarak's clothing is a ribbed black bodyglove that barely holds in his enormous girth and which incorporates cooling and regulating devices to keep him alive.
- Inquisitor Van Vuygens - A disciple of the legendary Inquisitor Kryptman himself, Van Vuygens is an influential member within the Inquisition's Calixian Cabal. Rarely seen at the Bastion Serpentis, Van Vuygens represents the Ordo Xenos in the Calixian Inquisitorial Conclave. He is a quietly spoken man who is more of a scholar than a warrior and, though he can certainly look after himself if required, he sees more value in dissecting and studying xenos than exterminating them. Slender, bespectacled and dressed in an archivist's robes, Van Vuygens does not cut as imposing a figure as some of the Tyrantine Cabal's more dramatic characters, but he has the intellect and strength of will to delve into the mindset of the xenos and still retain his humanity. He leaves the human and daemonic threats to the other Inquisitors, focusing instead on helping provide the Imperium with its chief weapon against the alien: an understanding of what the aliens want and what they will do to get it. Though Van Vuygens seeks knowledge about aliens, he does not trust them and would never fraternise with them. He has not studied a single alien species that does not pose some threat towards the human race.
- Codex: Tyranids (3rd Edition)
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 226, 262, 272, 320, 322, 346
- Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pp. 58-59, 111, 192
- Dark Heresy: The Radical's Handbook (RPG), pp. 80, 88, 94, 128, 136, 198-201, 209, 212, 232, 235
- Deathwatch Core Rulebook (RPG)
- Imperial Armour Volume Four - The Anphelion Project
- Index Astartes II, "Purge the Unclean - The Grey Knights and Deathwatch Chapters"
- Inquisitor (Specialty Game)
- The Inquisition (Background Book)
- White Dwarf 305 (US), "Chapter Approved: Deathwatch Kill Teams," pp. 94-99
- Xenology (Background Book)
- Ravenor Novel Series:
- Ravenor (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Ravenor Returned (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Ravenor Rogue (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Ravenor the Omnibus (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Warriors of Ultramar (Novel) by Graham McNeill