“The void is an unutterably vast and inhuman place, a place of ancient dangers and unknown perils. In this cold darkness have bred things as obscene, terrible, and dangerous as any daemon of the warp... In the face of such dire knowledge, you must hold onto this single truth: it is mankind’s destiny to rule the stars and rule them alone.”
—Lord Inquisitor Knael, A Discursive Primer for Initiates of the Ordo Xenos, Vol. I
It is mankind’s manifest destiny to rule this galaxy, of that there is no doubt. Spiritual perils may beset us, the physical universe may assail us, but it is the Emperor’s will that mankind and mankind alone will bestride the stars, and to that end we fervently bend our lives. There are many other creatures in this galaxy, unclean creatures born of worlds far from the sacred soil of Holy Terra, whose misbegotten forms are an insult to those who wear the shape decreed by the Lord of Man as fitting and right. Some of these creatures are weak and harmless, and easily extirpated, their planets expropriated for the true masters of the stars, their memory expunged. But there are other, stronger races that would see the will of the Emperor foiled and mankind cast down.
Among them are the savage greenskin Orks, whose numberless multitudes plague the galaxy with their endless desire for war. Hulking creatures, bigger than a man, they are mindless, yet powerful and unafraid. Elsewhere can be found the fickle Eldar, those who cannot be trusted, beings which extend the hand of friendship whilst clasping a dagger behind their back. Beware these fiends; their machineries of war are as swift and as deadly as their lying tongues. Likewise the Tyranids, blasphemous monstrosities who reduce worlds to bare rocks in their feeding frenzy, their endless armies made up of hellspawned bio-constructs.
Other things dwell in the dark places of space---the Hrud, whose very presence is poison even to the rightful progression of time; the Tau, whose heretical technicians enslave technology to their grotesque ends with no thought for the proper rites; the Verminthiculians, wild mercenaries and reavers. But fear not, the alien may be legion but man is the stronger, and their warmongering is but the desperate savagery of those who know that their end draws near.
The primary remit of the Ordo Xenos is to defend the Imperium against the threat of the alien, a duty that goes far beyond merely confronting non-human creatures in open conflict alongside the Imperial Guard or Astartes. In order to oppose the xenos threat, the Ordo Xenos must undertake the dangerous task of investigating and studying alien races with a mind to destroying any that is deemed to be a threat to humanity. It must learn the nature of its inhuman foes, seek out their weaknesses and learn how to counter their strengths. More than this, it must be ever watchful, not only against what lies in the void beyond, but against other, often more subtle and insidious threats that arise much closer to home. Such threats are often posed by renegade humans, some corrupt, others merely opportunistic. Such individuals are known to trade in alien technology, or seek to hide alien species within the Imperium’s midst—often for the purposes of experimentation, profit, or bloody entertainment.
Many Ordo Xenos Inquisitors are quite open in their dealings with some alien races. Only the most Puritan Alien Hunter would consider it a great sin to make common cause with such species as the Eldar for example, and the annals of the Imperium contain many records of Human and Eldar forces fighting together against such foes as the Orks or Tyranids. More divisive however is the use of alien mercenaries, such as the barbaric and flesh-devouring Kroot. Many Imperial Governors, faced with an immediate emergency, have turned to alien mercenaries for aid, knowing that a response from the Imperium might arrive too late. In such instances, it is not uncommon for an Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus to instigate hearings and trials, and to test soldiers exposed to the aliens for signs of corruption. In most instances, the matter may pass with relatively few consequences, but should the Inquisitor in question be of a particularly Puritan mindset, entire regiments might be purged and the planetary government deposed as punishment.
The Acute Threat of the AlienEdit
Many of the Ordo Xenos’s operations are not focused outward, but inward on the Imperium itself, and with good cause. The Ordo’s records are littered with bloody atrocities and vast losses of life that have resulted where the alien has taken hold of an Imperial world via stealth, infiltration, or slow taint, as well as countless incidents where the influence of alien technology, misunderstood artefacts, and xeno-lore have resulted in unintended disaster and tragic consequence.
Within the Calixis Sector, the job of the Ordo Xenos is a particularly complex and difficult one. This challenge is in no small part because the sector itself lies on the very edge of the Imperium. It is a borderland flanked for much of its perimeter by the uncharted void of space beyond the Emperor’s light.
No complete or even meaningful control can be kept over this vast, open border, and human and alien vessels can pass largely unobserved and unchallenged despite the best efforts of Battlefleet Calixis and the Imperial listening stations.
This dark horizon is crossed regularly by Rogue Traders, the exploratory fleets of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and even by smaller independent merchant and prospecting vessels quite legitimately. Where such legal traffic ends and outlaw traffic (such as smugglers, renegades, non-compliants, and pirates) begins is often a blurred line. Each one of these is a vector, a means by which the alien and alien influences can flow like poison into the Imperium’s veins, and the eyes of the Ordo Xenos cannot be everywhere at once.
The Manifold Dangers of the Alien Edit
Although the potential threats posed to humanity and the Imperium by alien influences are many and varied, the doctrine of the Ordo Xenos defines five broad avenues by which the xeno can afflict mankind: discord, temptation, corruption, dominion, and destruction.
The Threat of Discord
Perhaps the most insidious threat the alien can pose to the Imperium is through the deviancy of its ways and ideas, exposure to which might inspire envy, apostasy, or even adoration, leading humanity away from the Imperial fold and into heresy and rebellion. The Imperial Creed is the greatest weapon against such wrong-thinking. But the further from the centers of civilization one goes, the more the risk of mental and moral contamination increases.
The Threat of Temptation
The alien is a thing of lies and false promises, offering gifts and trinkets, powerful technology, or alliances—all of which are ready lures for the weak-minded, avaricious, or infirm of faith. There is a shameful roll call of traitors and deviants who have succumbed to such temptations in the past. The dubious treasures and lost secrets of xeno-civilizations long extinct can hold equal threat for those who disturb their resting places.
The Threat of Corruption
The alien can pose a threat of bodily taint and corruption just as easily as the powers of the warp. This taint may take the form of parasitism for the purpose of vile promulgation of its own species or to appease its hunger, such as with the Lacyramole. Alternately there is the crime of transgenic blasphemy; the deliberate combination of human and nonhuman DNA or tissue falls into this category.
The Threat of Dominion
Some xeno-forms have dark powers to dominate and control humanity by psychic or other means, perhaps even forcing others to worship them as false gods. Abhorred creatures such as the Nostrafex, the Simulacra, and the Cryptos pose insidious and subtle dangers, turning humans against their own and treating them as little more than cattle or playthings.
The Threat of Destruction
Some aliens seek to invade, conquer, and destroy by overt means, from the murderous swathes cut by great Ork Waaaghs to the invasions of the enigmatic Thyrrus. Likewise, some non-sentient species, be they dangerous predators like the feared Void-Cacaradon or ecology destroying vermin such as the Xothic Blood Locust, are simply too hazardous to be allowed to live whenever encountered.
In the Calixis SectorEdit
"I have met many aliens in my travels both within the Imperium and without. There are many who are interested in the stars of the Calixis Sector---some for plunder, some for revenge, and some who seek to feed upon citizens of the Emperor’s realm. Xenos species are as varied and inconstant as the stars themselves, and I have met none I would consider worthy of trust.
"Above all others, I avoid the Slaugth. The maggot–men of Hazeroth are foul and debased carrion–feeders. Nothing good comes from contact with them. I suffer from lingering nightmares of the worm–who–walks.
"Above all others, I hate the Greenskins. Orks are nothing more than bullying, conquest–minded beasts. They seek battle, and I give it to them gladly whenever I encounter one of their rattletrap ships.
"Above all others, I fear the Eldar. Rare they may be in the Calixis stars, but those who do remain are not to be trifled with. I fear them because the Eldar know many secrets, and such knowledge they do not share unless it suits their needs. I have done business with an Eldar only once, and I have regretted it ever since."
–Rogue Trader Ansellion Aquairre
Although the Imperium of Man dominates the Calixis Sector, it was not always so. The Angevin Crusade encountered and destroyed a number of alien civilizations who dared defy the will of the Emperor, leaving only ruins on a scattering of worlds. Others fled rather than face the might of the Imperium, escaping to distant worlds and far stars. However, some xenos species still lurk within the sector or among the depths of the nearby Halo Star region where they watch... and wait. Other xenos actively seek the downfall of the Calixis sector; Hordes of Orks have assaulted the world of Kulth for decades, while the mercenary Enoulians and the shape-changing Simulacra haunt many Imperial worlds in the Drusus Marches. The alien is often equal parts insidious and mysterious, hiding in plain sight or through the manipulation of others, as in the case of the Enslavers and the Cryptos. Every alien culture represents an acute threat to mankind's dominance of the stars.
Less easily classified is a wide range of species that exist as parasites in one form or another. Many void-farers across the Calixis Sector and beyond tell tales of a species often called ‘Flukes’ or, appropriately, ‘Brain Worms’, which slowly rewrite the genetic identity of infected host creatures and thus reproduce in the most hideous manner imaginable. Others would enslave Mankind, making of their prey a sort of worker class over which they would rule.
Still more aliens are so exotic in form as to be nigh impossible to classify. Some appear based on materials other than carbon, such as the silica-based ‘Stylites’ encountered across several worlds beyond the Periphery sub-sector of the Calixis Sector. The bestiaries of the Ordo Xenos make reference to a host of even more extreme life forms, including some that exist as gaseous clouds, and even one described as an energy being that derives its sustenance from the essence of suns.
Most aliens regard the Imperium with a mixture of fear and dread, and rightly so, as they know it is only a matter of time before they draw the attention of the Ordo Xenos. But not all xenos await extermination like a Grox being led to the slaughter. There are those, secure in their perceived might, who seek to oppose the Imperium at any opportunity, and take great pleasure in attacking the works of Man, destroying his mighty starships, sacking distant colony worlds, plundering them of goods, and enslaving its citizens.
The nearby Halo Stars are a fringe region where many Xenos remain, glimpsed only dimly by Imperial citizens inside the Calixis Sector. Rumors persist that many alien civilizations that were driven out by the Angevin Crusade are only biding their time, someday to return and wreak a terrible vengeance upon the worlds of Man.