“No shield may stay the blade of justice.”
— Meditations of the Adeptus Arbites
The Adeptus Arbites are the watchers of the law. It is given to them to maintain order amongst the higher echelons of Imperial governance---wherever a planetary governor seeks to abuse his rule, wherever populist unrest seeks to unseat the rightful dominion of the Imperium, wherever thoughts of personal gain at the Emperor’s expense cross the minds of the ruling classes, there you will find the dogged agents of the Lawgivers.
The Calixis SectorEdit
The role of the arbitrators is to ensure that the Calixis Sector's worlds obey Imperial law. Most worlds have an Adeptus Arbites presence and the arbitrators tend to be based in grim, precinct-fortresses to remind the population of the unyielding nature of Imperial law and to insure that there will always be a defendable location for the Arbites to hold in case of widespread rebellion.
The Adeptus Arbites did not arrive in the Calixis Sector in full force until the Angevin Crusade was well under way. The settlement trains that came in the wake of the Crusade’s military gains brought small clades of Judicial advisers, on hand to ensure Imperial governance was built on a bedrock of law and to give guidance to the newly minted planetary governors. By early M38 the fortified Courthouses on Sinophia and Scintilla were fully populated, and a taskforce of Judges and legal scribes were working to copy, illuminate, and consecrate the foundation works for the Corpus Presidium Calixis. Portions of this document were dictated by Warmaster Angevin and ratified by Saint Drusus himself, and they carry considerable legal and political weight amongst the Calixian elite.
The Adeptus Arbites carve the Calixis Sector into five distinct areas, not aligned with the sub-sectors. The Pendulum makes up the cluster of worlds in the rimward/trailing corner of the sector, extending from the Precinct command at Malfi out to the far edge of the Drusus Marches. The Vanguard takes in the systems to spinward, from Dusk up to Valon Urr and contains all the Rimward border worlds up to Xeiros Prime and Port Wrath---the Precinct command is at Sepheris Secundus. The Scales begin at Sozomen's Last Stand and extends to Prester Myra and then over to the borders of the Adrantis Nebula, with its Precinct command at Solomon. The Stave begins at Gunpoint and extends out to the trailing border at Soprony and Hesiod’s Wake, with the Precinct command at Barsapine. The worlds along the Scarus Sector border, from Fedrid and Sinophia, fall into the neighboring Grand Precinct of The Word that reaches back into Scarus proper. Scintilla is not part of a High Precinct but locks directly into the Great Precinct command. The Adeptus Arbites have a small and usually overworked fleet of three ships, whose home ports are the orbital docks at Scintilla and Landunder. Lord Goreman and his advisors are conscious of how the opening of the Koronus Expanse has swelled the sector’s shipping, and Goreman’s ambition is to double the size of the fleet by the end of his tenure.
In the Calixis Sector few worlds aside from Scintilla have a major arbitrator presence, and most worlds only have a single precinct-fortress along with a few regional stations. In spite of this, the arbitrators are a feared force because they are loyal to nothing save Imperial law. Even a planetary governor can be arrested by the Adeptus Arbites should he harbor the Emperor’s enemies or seek to throw off the yoke of Imperial authority. While they are a formidable presence with great authority, the arbitrators can only act to defend Imperial law and have little influence beyond this.
Lord Marshal Goreman is the most senior arbitrator in the Calixis Sector. Goreman began his long career as an enforcer, and his lack of sympathy for the desperate mass of Imperial citizens borders on disdain. He sees no greater crime than that of an Imperial citizen abandoning his duties to take up arms against a rightful authority, and he is known to personally lead riot suppression forces on Scintilla. The lord marshal demands regular reports from arbitrators on the sector’s other planets, and is pessimistic in character, constantly issuing dire warnings about the Calixis Sector careering down a slippery slope towards lawlessness and terror.
Goreman sees doom and anarchy in everything, including the activities of Scintilla’s Magistratum. As far as he is concerned, the Magistratum are part of the problem and he actively despises them. Goreman has recently permitted the development of the Divisio Immoralis, a small taskforce of arbitrators whose purpose is to collect intelligence on cult activities across the Calixis Sector and explain a recent rise in unrest and acts of terrorism by fringe cults. The Divisio Immoralis numbers only a few arbitrators led by the veteran, and rather burned-out, Senior Arbitrator Kae Drusil, but they have considerable leeway for their investigations and may turn up anywhere in the sector.
On Scintilla, the Adeptus Arbites is based at the Fortress of the Just, a massive rockcrete slab that sits in the relentless desert a short flight away from Hive Tarsus. It is here that Goreman’s headquarters can be found, along with the training facilities for the arbitrator cadets sent to the Calixis Sector, and the Sector Judicial archive. The Divisio Immoralis is based in a cramped set of offices in the Archive, while Scintilla’s large pool of enforcers trains regularly in the bullet-scarred mock town just outside the fortress.
The home of both the Lord Sector and of the Sector’s Precinct command, Scintilla inevitably has the largest population of Arbites of any world in the Calixis Sector. It is to Scintilla that new Arbites are shipped at the completion of their training, to swear their final oath to the Emperor, don their badge for the first time, and be shipped out to their first postings. It is where the most prized medals and the most senior promotions are handed out, and where every ambitious Arbitor wants to be posted, for the chance at a career-making position under the eye of Lord Goreman himself. The second most important location for the Arbites is the Pan-Iudicaeum within Hive Sibellus itself. Here, Judges listen to cases that manage to make it before them, and the building itself serves as a visible warning to the nobles of the hive about obeying the law.
The third center of activity on Scintilla is at the orbital docks high above Hive Tarsus. Here, roving squads of Arbitrators ensure that the unruliness of the docks does not endanger the work of shipping out tithes and shipping in supplies, and cyber-mastiff handlers and Verispex adepts stage snap inspection raids to catch captains in breach of the demanding quarantine laws. Two vessels in the last ten years have been pushed back from dock and purged at great cost by Arbites and Protectorate forces after xenos infestation was discovered on board; dock gossip mutters darkly about four-armed beasts cohabiting with contaminated crew. More recently, Lead Verispex Mortyffe eluded two assassination attempts to expose an outbreak of Ganfian Lung-Clot aboard the Prayer of Crake, using encrypted vox to arrange the destruction of the vessel while he was still aboard it once he realised he himself had become a carrier.
As is standard, the visible efforts of the Arbitrators are backed up by a covert cell of Detectives. The Tarsine docks make fertile grounds for spy-work. With nearly all transit to and from Scintilla being funneled through them there is always something happening behind the scenes. Travellers may not be what they seem---a simple pilgrim or merchant envoy may be a fleeing outlaw, a roving dissident, or even a psyker. Organized rackets steal and extort a living from the endless stream of trade, and deal in smuggled contraband or forged Adeptus paperwork. The Arbites take little notice of crime for crude commercial gain, but those who seek to corrupt the authority of the Adeptus, endanger the smooth running of the docks, or abet the secret movements of outlaws get them very interested indeed. The docks are often used as a training ground for Detectives, particularly Espionists and Personators. Trainees can be exposed to a great variety of Calixian appearances, dialects, and customs, and the swirl of travelers from all over the sector means that a trainee’s own mistakes on their false personas are less likely to be spotted.
One half of the Calixia Castilis Precinct Fleet is based at Scintilla, and although its ships spend most of their time out on circuit, there are often one or two craft at the docks for refit or on a special assignment to the Lord Marshal. The dock Detective bureau has found it pays to note whose behavior changes visibly when Arbites craft come in to dock---guilty consciences have a way of showing.
The Arbites have a considerable presence within Gunmetal City, owing to their strong tradition of maintaining the Imperial tithe and ensuring that the crime generated by the competing manufacturing houses doesn't get too out of hand. On Sepheris Secundus, the arbitrators are based at the Isolatorium and are mainly concerned with battling cults and mutant groups among the massive serf populations of the planet’s mines. On Iocanthos, the Adeptus Arbites’ presence is limited to a single squad of enforcers and an arbitrators stationed at Port Suffering, although they are almost always to be found out in the Wasteland following up some new allegation of cultists or rogue psykers.
The Cerpicia Precinct on the hive world of Hredrin was the site of a prime example of abstractionism, the crime of vigilantism amongst Arbites.
The Corpus Presidium CalixisEdit
While the mighty Dictates Imperialis contains the writ of the Emperor’s holy word, the rulings of the High Lords of Terra, and the enumerable precedents and judgments of the great and the just among the Adeptus Arbites themselves, it is not the whole of the law. Indeed, it is far from it. The Corpus Presidium Calixis is the name given to the collected laws, enshrined rights, and traditions of the Calixis Sector itself. It holds sway over the lives of billions, forming the bedrock of the Lord Sector’s rule. Much of it is a reiteration (or interpretation) of the tenets of the holy Dictates Imperialis and other strictures laid down in the ordinances of the Segmentum Obscurus of which Calixis is part. However, a great part of the Dictates is individual and unique to the Calixis Sector.
Of this latter portion, much was writ during the Angevin Crusade and its aftermath, either by Angevin himself, his advisors, and most importantly, by the hand of Saint Drusus. These documents do much to enshrine the rule of law in the sector and establish the power and strength of the nobility, the rights of the great houses and the laws of dynastic succession, and to lay down the strictures in which the Combine Commercia operate. These ancient laws, given under a warmaster’s authority and ratified by an Imperial Saint, have a provenance and weight that is difficult to overturn or ignore. Even the Adepta and the Ordos Calixis must consider their import carefully before acting against them.
The Adeptus Arbites police the most fundamental of crimes---those that strike at the Imperium as an institution, at the Imperial Adeptus and the order it represents, and through this at the orderly reign of the Emperor Himself. Some of these crimes are committed by the Adeptus themselves, for any member of the Adeptus who fails to do the duty that the law stipulates of them is guilty of a crime, whether that failure comes from wilful disobedience, corruption, or incompetence. Most are committed by the Imperial citizenry, acting in ways that breach their lawful obligation to give the Imperium their obedience, their labour, their respect, and their lives.
It is not the simple physical scale of a crime that decides whether it is a matter for the Arbites or whatever mundane justice system the local governor has seen fit to set up. Rather, it is at whom or what the act was directed. A brawl between gangs of rakes in the upper streets of a hive is beneath the Arbites’ notice. A handful of murders in that brawl would be treated no differently---worth a sneer beneath an Arbitrator’s helmet for their degraded natures perhaps, but nothing more. But let a stone thrown in that brawl miss its mark and bruise the cheek of a humble Administratum functionary who’s trudging past with a satchel full of replacement stylus nibs, and then the courthouse gates will grind open for the blocks of armored Arbitrators to march out. The Detectives and Verispex will track the brawlers, and Emperor have mercy on the stone-thrower when the Chasteners drag them into a cell beneath the courthouse to begin their punishment. Human life has no intrinsic value in Imperial law: obedience is what it enshrines over all.
The Imperium is a theocracy, and although the Arbites wield and police temporal authority, religious concepts make up the bedrock of Imperial Law. The Lex Imperialis holds that the Emperor rightfully expects service and obedience from every human being in the galaxy, and that within the Imperium that expectation is made manifest through the scripture of laws. To break the Lex Imperialis is not only to disobey a law of government, it is to violate the immaculate moral order those laws set out. This violation of a divine order is present in every crime the Arbites investigate, and once this is understood the need for harsh methods and stern penalties becomes clear. For the Arbites, there is no such thing as a petty crime.
This is also why the heresy of Abstractionism, notoriously present in the Calixian Precincts, is so reviled by right-thinking Arbites. It places the flawed and hubristic whims of an individual above the clean, majestic structures of the Emperor’s laws as made manifest through the due scripture of His servants. The letter of the law is immaculate---to claim access to the spirit of the law is to claim equality with the Emperor, a crime and a blasphemy which no Arbitor should countenance.
Cyber-Nastiffs and GrapplehawksEdit
Two trademarks of the Arbites’ armory are the combat and hunting constructs known as cyber-mastiffs and grapplehawks. Most Precinct Fortresses of any size house at least a handful of each type of construct, while the larger Courthouses are able to field sizeable packs. The distinctive clatter of metal claws or the buzz of anti-gravity pinions can chill the heart of lawbreakers as surely as the sound of an Arbites shotgun being racked.
The most common makes of cyber-mastiff or grapplehawk in the Calixis Sector are built on Landunder, in Hive Surbrique. The chemicals present in the Landunder’s ocean are required to process the cortical-capture technology of the Adeptus Mechanicus a procedure, developed locally for use in these fierce mechanical beasts. Faced with the frustrating process of trying to create servitors that could compete with the instincts of a living being, the process of creating cyber-mastiff ’s and grapplehawks is a closely guarded secret. Although the facilities to produce these creatures are simple enough to be created at any reasonably sophisticated fabricatory, the devices to perform the arcane processes are rare and esoteric, their operation a high machine-mystery in which only a few of the priesthood have been schooled. Accordingly, while both kinds of construct are relatively common and come in a variety of utility builds, there are only a small number of patterns in service in the Calixis Sector.
The cyber-mastiff is a combat and hunting construct based on the form of large hunting dogs. It generally stands hip-high or so on an adult human and over a meter long from tip of head to hindquarters, its lean body composed of high-speed actuators and motor systems over a carbon skeleton and wrapped in angular, interlocking armorplates. On some worlds the dogs retain some organic internals, generally muscles and nerves, and on some frontier worlds “cyber-mastiffs” are in fact conventionally-bred hounds with armor and controller grafts. Arbites models are almost completely mechanical, with only the central nervous system using vat-grown or printed organic layers to take the cortical imprint. Heavily-sprung legs give the units tremendous sprinting speed on their splayed and sharpened steel claws. Their jaws use fiber actuators to snap with blinding speed, with backup hydraulics to exert merciless, crushing force. There are often multiple adjustable teeth in their mouths for different attack patterns: a set of blades to clip off their quarry’s gun-hand, or a set of armor-piercing spikes that can grip flesh. The design takes advantage of the dog’s cortex’s ability to process tremendously intricate sensory input, particularly scent, and most Subrique pattern mastiffs have a battery of sense and tracker systems loaded into their headpieces, made possible by the unique chemical reagents mined from the ocean’s toxic sludge. “Vanes out” is the order for the mastiff handlers to extrude their dogs’ specialized sniffer arrays, and has become common idiom among the Arbitrators serving on Hive Subrique for maximum alertness.
Grapplehawks are hunt-and-capture constructs borne up and propelled by a suspensor field. The basic grapplehawk frame bears a passing resemblance to an eagle, and the symbolism has been exploited by designers who tend to give them exaggerated pinion-wings, aquiline “heads” and metal feathers. Some models go so far as to fully reproduce the heraldic Aquila of the Adeptus, although these are unusual and tend to be reserved for powerful individuals, as they require extremely intricate construction methods that are rare amongst the Adeptus Mechanicus stationed in the Malfian Sub-sector. Grapplehawks use their speed and mobility to the fullest, swooping unerringly onto fleeing targets or picking a single important felon from a group or a melee.
Grapplehawks are equipped with scalpel-sharp talons and can use them to quick and deadly effect, but generally their use is capture rather than execution. The central body of each ‘hawk is studded with grips, hooks, and paralysis needles or taser-spikes. Hurtling forward ahead of an Arbites pursuit squad they can leave their quarry crippled or immobilized with one pass, or stay grappled onto their enemy and drag them away. The suspensors on most grapplehawks are not powerful enough to simply carry a target aloft, but they can usually lift a human a little way off the ground and move them slowly back toward their handlers. This tends to be the endgame of a pursuit operation, since a ‘hawk in this position is very vulnerable should the quarry have allies close to hand.
Grapplehawks must be used carefully, since they are bigger and easier targets than cyber-mastiffs and not as robust. The teeth-vibrating buzz of their suspensors can telegraph their final swoop, and Arbites doctrine is to close at full speed to minimize that disadvantage. The suspensors make a sound very similar to a particular ventilation pump used in Hive Tarsus, and the Tarsus garrison have become adept at steering their ‘hawks past vent openings to mask their approach beneath the sound of the fans. “Vent-buzz” or ‘bird-buzz’ is Tarsus criminal slang for the difference between a false alarm and an actual threat.
Both kinds of constructs can act independently to some degree, following programming that builds on the natural instincts captured in their construction. At the limits of the Subrique-pattern programming specially-trained handlers take over, distinctive in their bulky forearm cybernetics covered in control studs and vox-pickups and the feedback plates and eyepieces on their custom built helmets allowing them to see out of the pict-lenses of their charges. Handlers can control these constructs through a mixture of verbal commands, signals through their controls, and pre-crafted maneuver macros. The handlers serving in the Precinct Fortress on Canopus take pride in developing intricate customized command lists, making sure their attack patterns can’t be cracked or predicted by the agile cultists they often find themselves pursuing through the hive.
Some of the most skilled of these Adeptus Mechanicus controllers can lead two or even three constructs through a complicated attack sequence with as few as three or four commands while fighting right alongside them. Many handlers tend to be proud and insular, spending countless hours working with fellow Tech-Adepts to hone their charges’ performance and revising and further customizing their command routines. Most handlers are conversant with both hound and hawk, but the two are so different to operate that nearly all will end up specializing in one or the other.
While Cyber-mastiff Handlers are specially trained Tech-Priests, Cyber-mastiff’s and grapplehawks may find wider use in the Adeptus Arbites force. Though a Precinct will require a dedicated Tech-Priest to care for the constructs, their complex routines and some of their controls can be placed in the hands of Lord Marshal Goreman’s finest. While not able to control the creatures with the same level of expertise, they will respond to the vocal commands and hand signals of an Arbitrator (or other caretaker) who the Cyber-mastiff Handler has authorized.
The bulk of Arbites cyber-mastiffs in service in the Calixian Sector are produced in Hive Subrique, which crafts them from brightly-polished steel with a distinctive barrel-chested and square-bodied silhouette. A small portion are made at the Omnicron 71-DX forge world as a symbolic tribute from the Mechanicus to the Precinct Command, and so are found almost exclusively in the elite Arbitrator and Chastener formations on Scintilla. These mastiffs are often nicknamed “sleeks,” for their more rounded lines and fluidly elegant movements, or “smoke-dogs” for the matte-grey metal used for their exteriors.
Grapplehawks are still produced by Hive Subrique, although to add to the Hive’s current woes a well-organized consortium based at Baraspine seems to have caught the ear of the Mechanicus with a bid to begin producing cortices, which could conceivably strip the entire production charter from Subrique permanently. Currently, a complicated dance is taking place between the two---the Subrique fabricators are too weak to enter a proper trade war, while the Baraspine consortium doesn’t dare begin hostilities as long as doing so means, in effect, starting a war with the Arbites.
- Lord Marshal Luthir Goreman
- Senior Arbiter Kae Drusil
- Detective-Commander Jaanyi Doyenko
- Senior Arbitrator Leukala Mhal
Special Ammunition Type: Executioner Shotgun Shells
These rare and specialised shells (whose use is often limited to the upper echelons and important members of the Castigators and Mortiurges of the Adeptus Arbites) contain miniaturised propulsion and stabilisation systems allowing the shell to lock on and track its target. The mechanisms that achieve this are little understood and extremely hard to replicate, and so remain within the purview of those Magos-Munitorium that provide the Arbites with their sanctioned and ordained arms.
Effects: The weapon loses the Scatter Quality, but adds +4 to its base Damage and +1 to its base Penetration. Ballistic Skill Tests for shots that miss at short or standard range may be re-rolled, and the defensive value of any cover for your target is ignored. When firing Executioner rounds, the weapon may not be used for Semi-Automatic or Automatic fire. Weapons: Shotgun, Pump Action Shotgun, Combat Shotgun.
Cost/Availability: Not offered for commercial sale, within the Arbites and Inquisition for procurement purposes this ammunition type should be considered Very Rare and having a base cost of 150/1.
A common practice, copied by many Calixian Precincts from the Tricorn Palace, involves creating sections of the Armory devoted to weapons acquired from the criminal scum that are brought before the Judges. The most notorious of these exhibitions display weapons seized from the Cold Trade---as such, they are known as the Cold Vaults. Over the centuries, vast quantities of contraband weaponry and ammunition of all types are confiscated by any given Calixian Precinct. After these weapons have been used as evidence against their owners, they are cleaned, oiled, and displayed in a section of the armory devoted to instructing junior Arbitrators in the recognition of weapon types used by local lawbreakers. Aside from creating instructive and fascinating visual histories of the development of weapons cultures among criminal fraternities, the Cold Vaults have the interesting secondary advantage of creating a vast and untraceable store of weapons that can be obtained without the knowledge of the local planetary authorities. This resource is not overlooked by many Inquisitors who have contacts within the Calixian Adeptus Arbites.