Confessions of a Disgruntled Inspector

In the grim darkness of the far future, there can be no victor.

Behold the sprawling realm of man, stretched thin across the starspangled void.

Behold its million worlds and uncounted voidholms, where man thrives bitterly under the rule of uncaring overlords.

Behold its countless armies and mighty armadas, each host and fleet nothing but a cogwheel in a titanic machinery greased by human blood, sweat and tears.

Bear witness to the Imperium of Man in all its power and glory, and ken it as the dead-end of human interstellar civilization. Forged in a hopeless age of ruin and strife, the early Imperium shone bright with torches of promise and hope, carried aloft by a walking god amongst men and borne to the farthest edges of the Milky Way galaxy by His all-conquering Legions. Yet the brilliant renaissance of man was cut short by common human treachery, and mankind's re-ascendance to its former pinnacles of knowledge and craft died in the flames of a ravaged galaxy. Ever since this crippling catastrophe, humanity has been left treading water, like a man doomed to drown out at sea. This is the best mankind can hope for, under the suffocating reign of the High Lords of Terra.

Bear witness to the stumbling colossus on feet of clay that man has become. Once upon a time, the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron bestrode the cosmos with unsurpassed wisdom and skill, fashioning a mortal paradise for themselves across twain million worlds and innumerable void installations. Once upon a time, man in his prime worshipped at the altar of science and reason, and his soaring technology came close to unlocking the secrets of eternity itself. Once upon a time, the sinful ancestors of latter day's degenerate descendants fell to machine revolt, civil strife and diabolical calamities. Nowadays, man has turned senile and dumb, his fearful eyes refusing to see, his blinkered mind rejecting his innate curiosity and genius, his sluggish feet moving in nought but a fruitless circle fivehundred generations in the making.

An ancient philosopher from the misty Age of Terra once claimed that he would rather teach truth to one intelligent man than entertain ten thousand fools. Let us hear the truth of human folly in the decrepit Age of Imperium. Let us hear first-hand of this cavalcade of petty parasites, counterproductive dogmatists, frothing fanatics, corrosive traitors and self-serving scoundrels. Let us hear of the ills and ailings of future man from the horse's mouth.

Shirk not. Do not shut your ears, but listen, and listen well. Let us hear the forbidden thoughts of a disgruntled watchman. Let us tap the mind of a loyal lapdog of a mass-murdering theocratic dictatorship. Let us see the internal workings of the sclerotic Imperium of Man through the eyes of a willing lackey. And let us know his damning verdict upon the very empire he has given his life to serve.

Enter, Inspector Ruminatus Saihtam Llezir of the Division for the Struggle Against Embezzlement of Imperial Property, under the ever-watchful aegis of the Adeptus Arbites. A man of crisp salutes who needs no beverage to act crazy. A hard-working maniac whose primary joy is to be found in fulfilling his tasks well, no matter what fortress-precinct or subsector he finds himself rotating to. An ambivert freak, whose conduct will range from carrying out his duties with theatrical flair, to performing tasks with a boring, mechanistic exactitude.

The eldest son hailing from a quarrelsome lowborn clan, this Arbites Inspector is a man of both paper scrutiny and savage violence. Possessing an intense focus and tunnel vision, Saihtam fancies himself a rustic poet, though others find him more rustic than poetic. He is an eccentric tongue-waggler who shifts from polished speech fit for polite society, through endless fact-chewing rants at high speed, to brusque comments composed of blunt or outright insidious words. It is not a type of personality usually found within the dour and leaden-heartened Adeptus Arbites, yet certain bookworm specialist roles still has a use for such odd human resources. This strange character is an avid reader of books and adherent of dark humour, and he will spice his everyday speech with obscure references to Imperial history and plebeian toilet humour alike. Such is the man known as Inspector Ruminatus Saihtam Llezir.

As to this Arbitrator's duties, let us consider this banned yet widespread whisper joke, a piece of sinspeech told on hundreds of thousands of planets and voidholms across the astral domains of His Divine Majesty:

Two former mates from the Schola Progenium met in the street.
"Where do you work?"
"I'm a scrivener. And what about you?"
"I work as a Detective Surveillor."
"Oh, and what are you doing at the Arbites?"
"We unearth those who are dissatisfied."
"You mean, there are also some who are satisfied?"
"Those who are satisfied are dealt with by the Division for the Struggle Against Embezzlement of Imperial Property."

As may be inferred, this Division is tasked with rooting out fraudulent usage and wastage of the Emperor's assets. It is likewise an anti-corruption unit, a maverick bloodhound organization who will infiltrate and raid all manner of Imperial departments, notaria and bureaux. Its snooping about in chancelleries, scriptoria and archive-vaults is an inherently dry and mind-numbingly patient activity of crunching numbers and puzzling together signs of creative book-keeping.

Nevertheless, the extremely fractious and dangerous cultural climate on virtually all Imperial worlds and voidholms mean that members of the Division for the Struggle Against Embezzlement of Imperial Property will experience their fair share of shootouts, ambushes, booby traps, melees and bloody crackdowns. Death by paper cuts is not the worst occupational hazard. To serve in this Arbites unit mean that it is not at all improbable to be assassinated by shady clerks and slimy officials, and then have your corpse disappear clandestinely into some grinder or other. After all, attack is often the best form of defence. Both situational awareness and documental vigilance will be required to survive for long in this dreary line of work. Never go in alone.

Toiling for his mistrustful Arbites Division, Inspector Ruminatus Saihtam Llezir spends most of his life grubbing around in parchment records and datamills, as well as sailing the wild waters of the multiple overlapping and conflicting law codes that characterize the disjointed legal landscape of edict accretions that constitute His sacred astral dominion. Ever armed and armoured to the teeth while on duty, the pious Saihtam has committed countless mercy killings in the field, both ranged and up close and personal with blood and spittle spraying his face. And the Arbitrator knows his bane deeds to be acts of mercy. After all, surely death was a mercy compared to the tender cares of Arbites Chasteners? Of course, summary beatings, electroture and undertaking field interrogations at the top of one's lungs also goes with the job. Serving in this Imperial Adeptus, sworn to uphold the Emperor's order and the Lex Imperialis, is a baleful duty not fit for those faint of heart. Only those willing and able to embrace brutality can prosper in such a lethal and sinister environment. Break those who would break the law.

The middling rank of Inspector Ruminatus means that Llezir closely cooperates, from a junior position, with Intelligencers, namely the spymasters of the Adeptus Arbites. Their spycraft usually consists of tending to informant networks and chasing endless paper trails via planted agents, as well as forensic expertise. Staying fed with information from relevant secret sources constitute a major investigative advantage for the Division for the Struggle Against Embezzlement of Imperial Property. Knowledge is power, guard it well.

The arduous archive digging and information sifting has seen Arbitrator Saihtam and his colleagues carry out dozens of Imperial asset seizures at gunpoint, often in the midst of furious compound combat and corridor wars. This is a thrilling aspect of duty that the crazed man relishes, and he takes hidden pride in equipping himself above and beyond the call of duty, both as regard lethal weaponry and practical tools. The backside of his small ceramite shield, for instance, is festooned with a sheathed shortsword side-arm, multikeys and all manner of easily-retrieved items that tend to be handy to hold in one hand even while grasping the shield with the other. What spare surfaces are left over on the shield's backside is covered with kill markings and little glued pieces of trophy parchment and order-printouts from both intellectually and martially challenging inspections. Saihtam Llezir is nothing if not a man who wish to preserve memories as clearly as possible, and so token keepsakes and grisly trophies alike adorn his cramped hab-unit, in amongst troves of equipment, tools and stacks of books.

Now, this exposer of fraud and hunter of Adeptus corruption, has seen the God-Emperor's vast dominions from a large number of different angles, from on high and low. And more to the point, his excavations of peripheral archive niches has unearthed material long lost and long redacted by official Imperial policy. The position of a roving Inspector Ruminatus has carried with it many a surprising discovery in the nooks and crannies of data-logs and archivist caverns, ones who has given this lowly Adept an unusual bird's eye perspective of the Imperium and mankind as a whole. And while many would have preferred the bliss of ignorance to the harrowing and eye-opening glimpses of knowledge he has beheld, Saihtam himself will secretly damn ignorance, despite Imperial dogma. Knowledge may be a heavy burden to carry, but it's ultimately a dignity for any thinking creature alive.

Unlikely though it may seem, he once found a couple of ancient Imperial propaganda mantras from the distant times of M.32, upon the hive world of Cylaxis Ultima. Both mantras speak of changing times in the wake of the now-mythical Horus Heresy, yet the second mantra already displayed the unhinged lunacy that would become so entrenched in human cultures all across the beleaguered Imperium of Man:

"Remain calm.
The Master of Mankind endures.
The God-Emperor lives.
The Imperium of Man shall endure.
There is much to be done."

"The Banner of Lightning drops, giving way to a red dawn.
There is only hatred under the Imperial Eagle.
Hail the Regency of the High Lords.
Hail the nightmare.
Hail mankind."

Likewise, most of the bloodsoaked doings of the Adeptus Terra during the Age of Apostasy may have been scrubbed out from history, yet on the old asteroid mining voidholm of Porus Obraluj II, Inspector Ruminatus Saihtam managed to stumble across a rusty cogitator filled with machine spirit-files from this five thousand year old reign of terror. Crucially, it had once belonged to the Adeptus Astra Telepathica before a mysterious purge had seen the choir killed off and one lone cogitator forgotten in the fiery cleansing of the installation. As such, the archival information gave certain glimpses into the guts of Imperial governance across the stars, a snapshot from a bygone aeon. Many hours of fascinated reading sufficed to patch together a fragmentary picture of a suppressed period in Imperial history, whose all-pervading watchword seemed to have been repeated over and over in official documents:

"Goge is Terra."

And for all the horrible deeds carried out in the name of this apostate High Lord, and for all the condemnation he received from his victorious enemies, the dire orders of slaughter and purging and historical rewriting and megalomania and ruthless imposition of production quotas and recruitment blood taxes, were ultimately little different from how the Imperium functions ordinarily. The nuances of cruel extraction and demented democide during Goge Vandire's reign were a difference of degree, not of kind. At the end of this rare opportunity to investigate remnant documentation from the Age of Apostasy, the unimpressed Inspector Ruminatus concluded that High Lord Goge Vandire, cursed be his name, was merely the purest manifestation of the Imperium's overlords and internal workings. His schismatic tendencies, ruinous construction projects and paranoid purges were excessive by ordinary Imperial standards, yet routine Imperial modes of operation have long been excessive and depraved to begin with.

Naturally, such private conclusions can never be voiced aloud nor written down, for to do so within the Imperium is to invite an agonizing end at the hands of torturers. It can not even be confessed to an Arbites Chaplain. How many secret realizations of similar kind have been carried to the grave by Imperial servants through ten thousand years of doubt? No one, but the lord and saviour of our species Himself, will ever know the answer to that question of the soul.

Saihtam Llezir has come to learn that the mysterious facade of governance is less an impenetrable intricacy of masterful genius divinely guided by Him on Terra, and more a front for common mediocrity, grasping hands and disappointing stupidity even at the highest positions in vaunted hierarchies. The inherently optimistic Inspector Ruminatus has become jaded by a lifetime of staring sheer human incompetence, self-serving falsehood, treachery and unending malice in the face. The pettiness and screeching inefficiency is ceaseless. While his faith in the Master of Mankind seated upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth remains unshaken, his faith in humanity itself is challenged on a regular basis. He has become secretly disillusioned with the insane dysfunctionality of the Imperium that he serves. And yet Saihtam remains loyal unto death toward a monstrous regime whom he knows to be a dead-end for human hopes and aspirations in the Milky Way galaxy. He has stumbled across too much classified information, and gained too much of an overview to be in any doubt as to the impending doom of mankind, and its horrendous flaws.

Speaking of terrors, the Inspector Ruminatus' scrutiny of paperwork has occasionally unearthed heretical sects and cells of traitors and xenophiles, sometimes as part of a wider Inquisitorial investigation. These dizzying glimpses of available alternatives to the Imperium have confirmed for him that once you achieve an elevated enough position of broad knowledge and gaze around you in all directions, you will discover that there is nothing but idiots and madmen on all sides. On a service tour through the Eastern Fringe, Saihtam Llezir heard the siren call of the Greater Good, and found it wanting. He has stared the promises and powers of the Dark Gods in the eye, and he is not impressed. All options are either traps, marshlights or abominations stalking the darkest age of mankind.

Such a high vantage point of observation will prove that there is hypocrisy stacked to the roof-beams on every side imaginable. Everywhere, madness reigns. Hope is dead, but duty calls. Duty, that dull and grinding purpose in life. Duty, that pillar and that burden. Duty. Duty without end. Duty toward the Emperor, despite the horrible mess His chosen servants have made of His once-shining star realm. And so Inspector Ruminatus Saihtam Llezir continues to serve the Imperium in his petty position, with an eye for detail and a monomaniacal energy that translates well both into summary violence and stalking dodgy paper trails.

Such is his lot, and such is his purpose. If a Chastener or Inquisitor ever found out about his roaming thoughts and secretly reached conclusions on the order of things, he would be flayed and roasted alive. Yet no matter the false confessions they would have tortured out of him, this erratic servant of the Golden Throne will never waver in his silent loyalty. If you can be nothing else, then be constant. Be true.

What better altar to worship at, than that of your ancestors? In a world of lies exposed, that may be the only truth left to cling to. In a universe of false promises and baleful horrors, you may yet pick your poison. And what better poisoned chalice to drink from than the one you were raised to grasp?

Ave Imperator.


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Self-portrait, akin to Magister Illuminus Blanche.