Master Xenos – Lord Inquisitor Florian Van Montisgarde

Born in the far east of the galaxy, on the fringes of Segmentum Ultima where the light of the Astronomican wanes, Florian was never an ordinary citizen of the Imperium. Born to the wealth, prestige and power of the House of Montisgarde, planetary governors of Sanity’s Edge, Florian wanted for naught, and was gifted the rare privilege of pursuing his passions, elevated as he was above the base need to work for food and lodgings. By the time he was an adult, Florian had already dabbled in painting, poetry and philosophy, all of the sort of passing quality one might expect from someone with ample resources and fleeting motivation, but a common theme amongst all his passing interests was a fascination with the Xenos. Sanity’s Edge stood, as its name indicated, upon the frontier of the Imperium, afflicted by raids from a myriad of species, and occasionally engaging in covert trading with others, and so Florian grew to develop a deep and troubling curiosity in the ways of the Enemy Outwith.

Concerned that their lone child may find himself the unfavourable object of the Inquisition’s attention, the House of Montisgarde arranged to have Florian attached to one of the Rogue Trader Dynasties that frequented Sanity’s Edge for repair, resupply, and the softly-spoken links to the cold trade it provided them. Granted a position as seneschal to the Corbulo Dynasty, Florian was sent out beyond the Imperium’s borders, in the hopes that several decades engaged in trade and wars of extermination with the Xenos would cure him of his dangerous fascination.

It did not. For decades, Florian honed his interest in all manner of Xenos – from the perfidious Eldar to brutish Orks, and stranger things besides – from a childish curiosity into a sharp-edged expertise. As a nascent Xenologist, Florian’s interest was not initially in the physiology or technology of the alien races, but in their culture and society, and in this his dabblings in art and philosophy proved invaluable. Florian would study artefacts, pour over ancient epics, collect libraries of fiction and fact, and bind them all together within his head to form a subconscious web of understanding that allowed him to think like a Xenos, even predict their movements long before they made them.

When Florian’s family died, and the House of Montisgarde passed to him and him alone, he liquidated the family assets, sold the planet’s governance to the Corbulo Dynasty. With the resultant fortune, he travelled deep into the Imperium, touring the finest collegia and military academies, seeking to slake his thirst for greater knowledge. His actions eventually earned him the notice of Inquisitorial agents – the very interest his deceased parents had sought to avoid – and in time Florian was contacted by the renowned (some might say infamous) Inquisitor Kagama.

Kagama was an openly radical Inquisitor, frequently skirting the lines of outright heresy in prosecuting her duties. A former student of the legendary Kryptman, Kagama was unafraid to take decisive and often extreme action in order to see the Enemy Outwith vanquished; however, while Kryptman’s reliance upon a cataclysmic over-use of Exterminatus weaponry had earned him a carta for his execution, Kagama was altogether more circumspect and canny in her operations. Following her master’s earlier tactics, Kagama favoured setting Xenos species against each other, and in this mission Florian was viewed as an invaluable asset.

Florian’s rise from Interrogator to Inquisitor was astronomical, with his equally encyclopaedic and intuitive understanding of Xenos cultures allowing him to aid Inquisitor Kagama in provoking several devastating wars between neighbouring species, diverting two potentially catastrophic Ork Waaagh!s away from Imperial worlds, and even negotiating with the Eldar – both Craftworld and Dark – on multiple occasions. In truth, Florian was not as unapologetically gentle with Xenos races as Kagama – his formative years with the Corbulo Dynasty leaving him with a far more hard-edged towards exploiting them to the point of exhaustion, then brutally disposing of them – and as he set out to pursue his own duties, he gradually established his own reputation as a more moderate radical: one still dangerously thirsty to understand the hated Xenos, but unflinchingly willing to use that understanding like other Inquisitors used an orbital bombardment – to devastating, unilaterally decisive effect. Perhaps unconsciously aping his old Rogue Trader employer, Florian became notorious amongst many Xenos species for his piratical tendencies: identifying and stealing artefacts and treasures of the utmost significance and value with equally ruthless precision, to be used sometimes decades later as bargaining chips. With a clutch of Warpstones he could send an aspect shrine of Eldar into a suicidal assault against a Chaos stronghold; he could bring down a Warboss’ entire Waaagh! by offering his lieutenants the shiniest shootas their brutish minds were able to imagine, and encouraging them (with dangerously little effort) to test them out on their former superior; he was even amongst the first Ordo Xenos Inquisitors to set up highly covert dealings with those Necron Dynasties receptive to trade with the Imperium.

While Florian’s integrity was often questioned, his loyalty to the Inquisition and Humanity in general was never in doubt. Indeed, when Inquisitor Kagama was found to be undertaking heretical research into Xenos sorceries, Florian was the by far the most aggressive and tenacious of her pursuers, and when his former teacher was besieged upon the Cemetery World of Lemures, actually took to the field personally against her necromantically-risen hordes.

Ever since delivering Kagama into the hands of the Ordo Xenos, Florian’s operations have been quietly authorised at some of the highest levels of the Inquisition. While that has not stopped the occasional Puritan, particularly those of a Monodominant inclination, from coming into regional confrontations with Florian’s networks of dealers, negotiators, curators and thieves (to say nothing of the extensive, and expensive, mercenary network assigned to guard his agents), for the most part Florian has been able to expand his vast network of trade, blackmail, extortion and piracy with relatively little interruption – at least, from his peers within the Inquisition. Xenos species have proven altogether more obstinate, with numerous Eldar from all the variants of their race having sworn soul-vendettas against him, at least one Necron Dynasty who have petitioned the Deathmark Assassins for his disintegration, and various minor races who offer a fortune that would beggar entire star systems to anyone who will bring them his head.

Florian’s contact with Lord Inquisitor Ollanius Wrathchild has been a lengthy, and not always entirely positive affair – hardly surprising when two Inquisitors who favour extensive networks of agents cross paths. Both have been forced on several occasions to intervene when their operative cadres have found themselves mired in covert struggles against one another, invariable over some artefact of value to either side. While the two have often been able to successfully mediate some form of compromise, on more than one occasion proxy battles have erupted between them. Yet there has never been a sense of animosity, as both are at least prepared to acknowledge that the other is simply attempting to do what they believe is in the Imperium’s best interest too, and an implicit understanding has long reigned between them that the outcome of any such proxy battle should be honoured as final. It is therefore little surprise to any who know the pair that Ollanius has chosen Florian to be his Master of the Ordo Xenos: Florian’s responsibly radical outlook on matters and emphasis on understanding Xenos species, if only to better crush them, are both valuable qualities in a sector with so many unknown variables.

Van Montisgarde’s Philosophical Affiliations

Florian has often been described as ‘the most Monodominant radical you’ll ever meet’. While he shares the belief in Humanity’s manifest destiny over the entire galaxy, and the extermination of all other sentient life as the inevitable fate of the Xenos, he differs significantly in his belief that until said extermination comes, it’s in both the Imperium’s interest and purview to take advantage of the Xenos to the fullest possible extent. That is not to say Florian does not maintain positive relations with certain Xenos contacts and ‘allies’ – in the same way an Eldar may call a Human ‘Mon’Keigh’ yet still work together towards a common goal – for Florian realises that such a vision is far from achievable in his lifetime. He is, in his own words, simply adding to the momentum of destiny.

In this sense, Florian might be described as a particularly callous offshoot of the Xeno Hybris movement: prepared to undertake central controlled, conditional cooperation with alien species, and gladly taking advantage of their technology in a manner only the former member of a Rogue Trader’s crew can. That being said, Florian is often the first to take a hard-line stance at any fellow Hybris who push too far down the philosophy’s path: those who delve into alien sorcery, seek more permanent ties with other species, or who dare pervert the divine Human physiology will usually find Florian their most outspoken critic, eager as he is to preserve the more moderate path from being tempted by extremist fools.

Where Florian is more distinctly, and unapologetically, radical is in his social outlook upon the Imperium. Having served under a Rogue Trader, and before that the scion of a potent fringe noble family, Florian often bristles against those who seek to impose a higher authority on him, especially in his pursuit of greater understanding – the Ecclesiarchy have been a particular recurrent adversary of his, given their blanket abhorrence of all things Xenos, and most things educational, but the Adeptus Mechanicus have also been known to lock horns with him on occasion. As a result, Florian harbours, and sometimes espouses, sympathies towards the Seculos Attendous philosophy, believing in the curtailment in power of the Imperium’s religious institutions, based on the argument that they have radically held back Humanity’s potential.

As a final note, less a matter of philosophy and more a series of musings drawn from his continued noble dabblings, Florian is an avowed member of the Antiquarti: those who seek to divine the future based on actions and relics in the past. Having studied as many Xenos civilisations’ cultures and histories as he has, Florian is a strong advocate of the claim that the galaxy moves in cycles – rises and falls, prosperity and calamity, war and peace – and that Humanity should remain vigilant for warning signs lest it fall into the patterns demonstrated by lesser races.