“Beware the enemy within!
Scorn the enemy without!
Fear the enemy beyond!”
— Excerpt from The Acolyte’s Oath
At the very lowest level, a person may work for the Inquisition unknowingly. These minions may have some inkling that they are involved with a secretive organization but believe it to be mundane in nature, such as a crime syndicate, religious order or governmental murder squad (on some planets, of course, these are one and the same). These folk are not considered to be Acolytes of the Inquisition---merely pawns, employees and agents to be moved upon the field of operations and dropped or sacrificed at will. In their way, they may play an important role but they will never know the truth of their deeds.
An Acolyte is a different creature altogether. The Acolyte is aware that he serves the Inquisition, and will have spoken to his master at least once in his career. He is thought of as a seed of potential that may one day stand to become a fully fledged Inquisitor. Though he starts at an admittedly lowly level, as disposable as any unwitting agent, he has a certain something that sets him apart. This may be an incredible skill or talent, a prophesied destiny, the luck to be in the right place at the right time, or simply something about him that appeals to the Inquisitor in some way.
As he progresses in his service, gaining skill, experience and success to his name, an Acolyte becomes more valuable to his master. Those considered to have proven themselves will be given more and more important tasks and will gain greater knowledge. These trusted Acolytes may come to have cadres of Acolytes or unwitting agents working for them, and may even be asked to seek out potential recruits for their Inquisitor to assess. With time, their master may even deem them ready to begin the long and arduous task of training to become an Inquisitor themselves.
Inquisitors are often unwilling to openly identify themselves with one faction or another, be they Puritin or Radical. Acolytes are frequently in the dark as to their master’s true predilections. Some Inquisitors hold that such things are not for the likes of Acolytes, whilst others refuse to discuss such complicated matters until the Acolyte is astute enough to have guessed where their master’s beliefs lie. Rumors and half-truths constantly circulate between cells of Acolytes, which only further serves to muddy the water. Acolytes who succeed in divining their master’s faction may discover that he holds beliefs that are very different to their own, which can lead to some very interesting moral quandaries.
An Inquisitor may inherit a cadre of people, resources and obligations---particularly if they are taking over from a mentor or deceased colleague. More usually, however, they will create a network over a number of years. Acolytes often find themselves part of a cadre that has an intricate history and must be carefully dealt with. They may find themselves caught up in petty rivalry or suffer jealous outbursts from other cells of Acolytes. They may have to deal with various eccentricities and habits that seem bizarre at first. For example, they may find that their master will only speak to them over vox-link from another room or that they are forbidden to wear the colour blue in the Inquisitor’s presence.