The Tyrantine Cabal is an organisation within the Calixian Conclave of the Inquisition in the Calixis Sector which was commissioned many years ago in response to the dread prophecy of the Tyrant Star. Its members are known as Tyrantites or Spectarians (or more dismissively as star gazers), for they are charged with investigating apparitions of the spectral sun and the influence of the baleful Tyrant Star. The Tyrantine Cabal is based at the Bastion Serpentis, a bleak fortress of age-polished black stone jutting from the surface of Scintilla’s moon Lachesis. The Bastion is typical of the Inquisition waystations and local fortresses peppered across the Calixis Sector. The Spectarians were granted sole discretionary use of the Bastion Serpentis at the inception of their cabal. Lord Sector Hax, Chief Astropath Xiao and a few others know of its existence, and those who do not are kept away from the moon by dire warnings about geological instability. Lord Inquisitor Anton Zerbe can normally be found at the Bastion and it is there in its grand audience chamber that he holds the semi-regular meetings with all the Cabal’s Inquisitors, at which they report on their activities and share information. These gatherings are as much a venue for making allies and enemies as they are a forum for exchanging intelligence on the sector’s various threats and power groups.
As the threat of the Tyrant Star is felt across the Calixis Sector, the membership of the Cabal is not formally fixed. Some Inquisitors, those listed here, have stayed in the Calixis Sector for some time and accept Zerbe’s authority (although they do not all obey him by any means). Other Inquisitors might join on a temporary basis, especially if an investigation elsewhere brings them to the Calixis Sector in matters intersecting the Hereticus Tenebrae prophecy, while some simply come to lend their support while they tap the expertise of the Cabal’s most experienced Inquisitors. The individuals listed here are confirmed Spectarians, but Inquisitors join and leave all the time, with Zerbe’s blessing.
The birth of this shadowy brotherhood is rumoured to have occurred several decades ago when Lord Inquisitor Caidin granted leave to (the then) Inquisitor Zerbe to form a special conclave within the Calixian Conclave following new understandings of the revelations of the Propheticum Hereticus Tenebrae. The formation of such an organisation was deeply unpopular amongst many in the broader Calixian Conclave who saw Zerbe raising his own base of power in the Bastion Serpentis, and feared that the inner circle of the Cabal might begin to subvert the Ordos Calixis to one man’s blind obsession.
Zerbe, however, had trusted the full import of the prophecy to only his closest and most trusted peers, among them the ferociously intelligent and well-respected Inquisitor Cassilda Cognos. It was her voice that swayed Lord Inquisitor Caidin to their cause. It was also she who conceived the plan to form the Tenebrae Collegium, reasoning that while the effort of all the Ordos was needed to unravel the Tyrant Star’s mystery, the Cabal’s inner circle would need to find their own core of allies and servants—even amongst the vassals of their obstinate comrades if needs be—to carry out their work and ward off utter disaster.
So was born the Tenebrae Collegium, a brotherhood of higher purpose, and into it Cognos poured all her skill and brilliance, although she was herself only to survive just long enough to see the first wave of agents “graduate”. The Tenebrae Collegium endures as memorial both lasting and terrible to her vision.
The Shadow AgentsEdit
It is said Cassilda Cognos once quipped in a rare moment of levity that the Collegium “took outstanding dissemblers and accomplished liars and then began their work”. Certainly, the results of the Collegium’s conditioning do produce agents more than capable of moving through the Imperium in a carefully woven fog of falsity and misdirection. Using tiny gestures, key words and cadences, two agents can communicate vital information in the presence of others who remain none the wiser. Furthermore, using psychic and mental conditioning, a graduate of the Collegium can close his mind to all but the most destructive psychic probing, concealing his deepest secrets around a labyrinth of half truths and falsity to confuse, making them not only extraordinarily proficient spies and agents, but near-impregnable living vaults for the secrets of the Cabal.
The ultimate purpose of these Tyrantine agents is to firstly hold the Cabal above all other masters, to pursue knowledge of the Tyrant Star and to keep that knowledge safe from all outside the Cabal’s jealous circle. In most cases, these goals coincide with the agent’s duties as Acolytes of the Ordos Calixis. However, where their true loyalties have come into conflict with the Adepta or even immediate superiors outside of the Cabal, this has led to cold and brutal conflict with those the agent would ordinarily call their lords, comrades, or even friends. So far, the Cabal has managed to keep all such “difficulties” from wider knowledge. The time may come, though, when the fate of all is at stake and they will have to act no matter what the cost. Perhaps a civil war will erupt within the Ordos Calixis as a result. This is a nightmare, however, that this secret empire, this order within an order, must bear, for their own fearful secrets are as nothing to the dangers of the Hereticus Tenebrae, and some must be sacrificed lest its truth devour us all.
Notable Inquisitors of the Tyrantine CabalEdit
- Anton Zerbe, Lord Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus - Anton Zerbe is the commissioned leader of the Tyrantine Cabal, a position he was granted by Lord Inquisitor Caidin himself. He does not take his duties lightly, as he believes the black doctrine of the Tyrant Star to be very real indeed. He rarely leaves the Bastion Serpentis, and chairs the frequent meetings of the cabal’s Inquisitors. Zerbe once roamed the Imperium seeking out corruption and incompetence amongst the Adepta but he is now dedicated to his role. Zerbe is never seen without his impassive golden mask and magnificent gilded armour, and he seems perfectly at home on the throne of the Bastion’s audience chamber. He is not an easily approachable man and always remains distant from those around him. Zerbe is even-handed to a fault, refusing in all cases to support one Inquisitor over another, no matter how grave an accusation might have been brought. His principal motivation is preventing strife within the Tyrantine Cabal, so that the group can do its holy work. He believes that if any one Inquisitorial faction within the Tyrantine Cabal was to prevail, the sector -- the Imperium itself even -- would be doomed. If the Recongregators got what they wanted, the cabal would devolve into anarchy. If the Xanthites prevailed, Chaos would corrupt the work. Even the Amalathians, if they succeeded in their aims, would drag the cabal into a miserable malaise. Zerbe’s objective is to prevent any one of these factions overcoming the others in the Calixis Sector, so that the Hereticus Tenebrae might be averted. Nothing else matters. He will even go as far as to recruit Acolytes of his own to foil one of his Inquisitors’ plans. In addition to his political skills, Zerbe is a powerful psyker, although this fact is not generally known within the cabal. Zerbe keeps his psychic talents in reserve should he be forced to vanquish a particularly dangerous foe personally.
- Rykehuss, Witch Finder of the Ordo Hereticus - Rykehuss is the terror of witches, a man for whom everyone is guilty of something and the only punishment is death. To him the Calixis Sector is a cesspit where witches breed like flies and the honest, pious Imperial citizens are besieged by sin on all sides. Rykehuss’ bouts of volcanic anger and impassioned sermonising are well known at the Bastion Serpentis, and he constantly exhorts his fellow Inquisitors to descend on all the sinners to purify them with righteous flame or condemn them to damnation. Rykehuss wears ornate, heavily customised armour gifted to him by the Adeptus Mechanicus after he sought out a witch cult on a forge world in a nearby sector, and he is an expert with a veritable armoury of weapons. The Witch Finder’s methods are simple. He descends on a particular city, sees depravity everywhere and immediately sets up a Court of Ordeals where pious citizens bring accused neighbours and family members to be tried. When Rykehuss hears of a particularly foul heresy being perpetrated somewhere nearby, he gathers all the torch-wielding backup he can and marches there, trusting in his martial skill to help him put the sinners to death personally. Some who witness Rykehuss’ terrors consider him a hero, others a butcher, and both are right. Many innocents have died at Rykehuss’ hands but so have many rogue psykers and cultists. Rykehuss, however, is not as crude a man as his methods would suggest. He knows that he cannot kill all the sinners, but his bombastic and terrifying style ensures that Imperial citizens are constantly reminded that there are threats in their midst and bigger threats waiting to punish them for their weaknesses. Innocent deaths, while regrettable, are a small price to pay for Rykehuss to spread the fear that helps suppress the activities of witches—and in any case, the Emperor sorts them all out in the end. Rykehuss is obsessed with the notion that it is the widespread activity of witches in the sector that is bringing on the doom of the Hereticus Tenebrae.
- Ahmazzi, Daemonhunter of the Ordo Malleus - Ahmazzi is the Spectarians’ sole Ordo Malleus Inquisitor. He is a grizzled and ancient veteran, close on three hundred standard years old, whose career has taken him from Titan to the very edges of the Imperium, hunting down daemons and the corrupt humans who summon them. Now all but decrepit, he has come to the Calixis Sector to, as he puts it, “bask in the radiance of the Tyrant Star and learn its secrets”. A long career has left Ahmazzi intensely cynical and pessimistic. He has come to believe that the Emperor is dead, Chaos cannot be stopped and the human race is doomed. The Imperium, Ahmazzi believes, is a grotesque symptom of the fact that the human race is currently living through its inevitable and drawn-out extinction. He has dabbled with Radicalism in his career, even being declared Excommunicate by Puritan colleagues for seeking out daemonic knowledge but no one in the Tyrantine Cabal other than Zerbe knows this. Ahmazzi has no friends and does not particularly care what people think of him, angrily refusing to tell any stories of his astonishing daemonhunting career, although an Acolyte who displays great courage in the face of a daemonic foe might win Ahmazzi’s grudging respect. Ahmazzi was a martially-minded Inquisitor in his prime and secretly would love nothing better than to mount up on his mobile war pulpit, don his armour and take up his Daemonhammer to ride into battle once more against a horde of daemonic foes. He believes that the Tyrant Star maybe the harbinger of Man’s inevitable doom and he wants to be at ground zero to witness the great day when it happens.
- Astrid Skane, Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus - A formidable woman, Inquisitor Astrid Skane exudes the rough authority of a seasoned Arbitrator officer. Tough and resourceful, she is one of the most active of the Tyrantine Cabal’s Inquisitors, happy to get her hands dirty rooting out corruption. Skane is a striking woman with a stern, strong face who wears her hair regulation short. She habitually dresses much as she did when she served as an Arbitrator on Scintilla, in a black uniform and body armour, and is rarely seen without her Shock Maul and Shotgun. Skane respects those who respect her, treats her more skilled Acolytes as equals and has little time for pomp and appearances. Skane follows the Recongregators’ creed, which states that the Imperium must be reformed radically to reduce the suffering of its people and that the Inquisition is the only body with the authority and skill to reform it. Skane believes that the Imperium’s woes are caused by corruption among its ruling classes. She developed a particular hatred for corrupt nobles whilst serving as an Arbitrator and has carried that through to her work as an Inquisitor. Her operations, therefore, target corruption among the Imperial nobility and the Adepta, including the Adeptus Arbites she once served. She dreams of a future where the Imperium is turned upside-down and justice is the rule rather than the exception, but she realises that she will not live to see it. She fights for what justice she can and hopes that others will follow her to carry on the battle. Skane is convinced that the Tyrant Star can only be appearing due to some form of summons. She believes there is a powerful Chaos Cult at work in the sector, employing sorcery to call the Tyrant Star down on Mankind. That is a cult she would very much like to personally root out.
- Van Vuygens, Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos - Rarely seen at the Bastion Serpentis, Van Vuygens represents the Ordo Xenos in the Calixian 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. A disciple of the legendary Inquisitor Kryptmann himself, Van Vuygens is in the Calixis Sector to watch for the signs of a Tyranid Hive Fleet invasion from beyond the edge of charted space. Kryptmann has theorised that the earlier Tyranid invasions of Imperial space have been testing the Imperium’s defences and that the next invasion will come from an unexpected quarter. Van Vuygens has seen nothing that proves that a Tyranid invasion is impending but there are certainly plenty of other signs of alien influence among the worlds of the Calixis Sector, from ancient cyclopean ruins to disturbing similarities between the mythological cycles of primitive worlds. Van Vuygens is currently piecing together a picture of the alien civilisation that once inhabited the very edge of the Calixis Sector’s space and he does not like what he sees. He, naturally, subscribes to the view that the Tyrant Star is a matter of xenos origin and has grave fears that it is linked with the dreaded Tyranids.
- Globus Vaarak, Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus - Severely wounded as an Interrogator while boarding a pirate ship, Globus 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 in-built 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. Vaarak is an Amalathian who believes that the Imperium, as grim a place as it is, must survive in its current state if the human race is to continue existing. He therefore seeks out sedition and rebellion in the Calixis Sector, trying to maintain the careful balance of its power groups. Given that he cannot operate in the guise of a normal citizen or Adept, Vaarak must conduct most investigations through his Acolytes, of whom he has several teams. His methods are subtle and moderate compared to some of the Tyrantine Cabal’s other Inquisitors, for he would prefer that the Inquisition’s hand was not obvious, and encourages his acolytes to avoid open conflict and violence as much as possible. Vaarak has a bleak and self-deprecating sense of humour and is an excellent judge of character. Many of the conclave’s next generation of Inquisitors will come from among Vaarak’s Interrogators if he remains in favour. He has joined the Spectarians because the Tyrant Star represents a truly destabilising threat to Imperial society.
- Lady Olianthe Rathbone - Lady Olianthe Rathbone claims membership of none of the three great Ordos of the Inquisition. She originated among the Calixis Sector’s nobility and still favours magnificent ballgowns and elaborate wigs, which would not look out of place in the ballroom of some governor’s palace. Beneath the finery, her piercing, ice-cold grey eyes betray a keen and ruthless intelligence. Some say she was originally an Interrogator in the employ of Lord Inquisitor Zerbe but there is never any obvious familiarity shown between them. Lady Olianthe is very difficult to know and impossible to befriend, and manages to suggest that everyone around her is her inferior without actually stating it out loud. Secretly a deep-seated Radical, Lady Olianthe is an Istvaanian and believes that for the Imperium to become stronger, it must be exposed to war and catastrophe. The Calixis Sector, to her way of thinking, is bloated and irredeemable, and desperately needs a major cataclysm to weed out its weak and corrupt citizens. While she is not averse to combating particularly horrible threats like Chaos Cultists or the mutants she personally despises, Lady Olianthe is also constantly on the lookout for ways to manipulate the power structures of the Calixis Sector towards strife. She intends to do this by subtly coaxing the sector’s leading noble houses towards conflict or rebellion. She is willing to pursue this agenda personally, treating her Acolytes as little more than intelligence gatherers who have no idea of her destructive ambitions. The Tyrant Star would be a wonderful tool for her purposes.
- Soldevan, Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus - A handsome man with skin the colour of ebony and a taste in imposing military dress uniforms that only enhance his air of strength and authority. Soldevan was originally an Interrogator in the employ of Witch Finder Rykehuss but never believed in his master’s extreme methods, and quickly broke with Rykehuss after attaining the Inquisitorial Seal. Soldevan believes that knowledge, not wanton destruction, is the key to protecting humanity from the threats it faces. Soldevan’s beliefs run deeper than he would ever admit. He believes that the Warp is an immense source of power and that an Inquisitor is a man of sufficient intelligence and willpower to harness it. Soldevan wants to open up a pathway to the Warp and seek out the consciousnesses that dwell there hoping to bargain with them for the power he needs to combat the enemies of Mankind. Soldevan has got quite close to his goal and has several forbidden tomes in his possession that, with the right sacrifices and rituals, will summon forth powerful daemons for him to negotiate with. He is always seeking more knowledge or artefacts of the Warp, either captured during the Tyrantine Cabal’s operations or purchased at extortionate prices from unscrupulous dealers in forbidden relics. Somewhere during this process Soldevan has lost his sanity and replaced it with absolute conviction that the Warp holds the secrets of humanity’s survival. He believes that the Tyrant Star represents a vital conduit to secrets of the Warp.
- Vownus Kaede, Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus (Xenos) - Inquisitor Vownus Kaede is a noted scholar, philosopher and an optimist. He is also a skilled swordsman, irreverent scoundrel and a self-righteous reprobate. Named after the rogue hero of Catuldynus’s epic verse allegory The Once-Pure Hive, Kaede has spent most of his life living up to his namesake’s legacy. Originating somewhere, “East of Sol and West of Macragge”, Kaede signed on with a Free Captain at a young age and has never looked back. The details of his elevation to Inquisitor status are hazy and change every time he tells the story. The only point that remains consistent is that he was once a member of the Ordo Xenos, before finding his true calling as a Witch Hunter. Regardless of his chequered past, Inquisitor Kaede has been a respected member of the Tyrantine Cabal for over a decade. Though he is nominally of Puritan leanings, Kaede is a skilled psyker who fanatically believes in the psychic future of the human race and is willing to casually commit almost any atrocity in order to safeguard it. He and the martially inclined Acolyte bands he employs spend a great deal of time travelling between Calixis’s sub-sectors chasing down rumours of hidden witches. Kaede absolutely detests Rykehuss’ methods and takes a great deal of pleasure in spiriting promising young psykers out from under the Witch Finder’s pogroms. Inquisitor Kaede appears exactly the way Imperium citizens picture a Witch Hunter. From his wide-brimmed hat, to his Inferno Pistol, to the ancient short-bladed Force Sword named Slight Jest that he bears at his side, there is no mistaking his appearance and what it implies, which is exactly what Kaede wishes. To Kaede, the Tyrant Star prophecy is a delicious mystery to be unlocked.
- Al-Subaai, Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos - Al-Subaai 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, Al-Subaai is deeply pious, and he looks it, usually attending gatherings in a monastic habit worn over sturdy, practical Carapace Armour. Al-Subaai believes that everything in the galaxy is connected and that the various intelligent alien species and their depredations are part of a larger web of hostility generated by the galaxy. The galaxy, Al-Subaai believes, is reacting to human occupation like a body reacting to a disease. To him, aliens (as well as all creatures of the Warp) are symptoms of the galaxy’s enmity towards Mankind. Al-Subaai therefore advocates the destruction of all aliens, especially those who influence humans. He considers his remit to cover not only alien-influenced cults and corruption, but also the trafficking in alien creatures and their technology. Anyone dealing with aliens or their artefacts is an enemy of humanity and nothing gives Al-Subaai greater satisfaction than to hunt them down and subject them to whatever punishment the Tyrantine Cabal decrees. To Al-Subaai, the Propheticum Hereticus Tenebrae is the handiwork of alien manipulation.
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 316, 318-322
- Dark Heresy: Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pg. 82