Along the border of the Sea of Dead Stars and the Terran Protectorate are a rough line of worlds that have become known as the Colonies of the Line. These worlds are the first line of defense between humanity and the dangerous species, like the Berylan, beyond the Terminus Line. These planets have become massive armed camps filled with a society that has a fanatical dedication to safeguarding humanity.
The populations of the so-called Fortress Worlds of Salvation, Redemption, Tribulation and Epiphany have become so dedicated to their cause that it has become a sort of religious crusade. Like all religious crusades, the Colonies of the Line have more than their fair share of fanatics. In fact, some would say that the fanatics are in charge.
The Colonies of the Line and their huge defense fleets and armies are not made up of the Terran Protectorate Stellar Navy or Colonial Marines, but instead they are made up entirely of militia forces recruited, and loyal, only from the Fortress Worlds. They are collectively known as the Inquisition, led by several magistrates and a cadre of expert Witch Hunters known as Inquisitors.
The Inquisition's goals are two-fold. First, to prepare the Fortress Worlds and all of humanity for the day when the darkness from the Sea of Dead Stars reaches out and attempts to smother the light of humanity. Second, to stamp out signs of corruption and evil influence attempting to infiltrate human space through more nefarious means. The Inquisition looks for people who have crossed over the Terminus Line and returned, especially those who seem changed or different, as well as Deep Time Artifacts, which the Inquisition has completely banned from the Fortress Worlds.
While the Inquisition Fleet is a force to be reckoned with, the real power lies with the Inquisitors. Dedicated, fanatical and powerful, they look for cases of possession and rogue creatures and entities which somehow have made their way into the colonies. They only operate in the colonies of the line, where their authority is supreme. Outside of the Fortress Worlds, they have no legal authority.
Inside the Fortress Worlds, they have the power of judge, jury and executioner. They can enter any establishment, psychically probe any individual and take virtually any action they deem necessary to defend humanity. No one has the right or power to impede an Inquisitor's investigation; not even colonial governors. This has led to Inquisitors being the most powerful individuals in the sector. Their positions are for life and they can only be disbarred by a majority vote of all of the High Inquisitors.
High Magistrate DuMont
The ultimate leader of the Inquisition is not an inquisitor at all, however. It is High Magistrate Xander DuMont. Officially, DuMont is in charge of all the Protectorate magistrates in the Hyperion Sector, and they are all hand-picked and loyal to him. In an unprecedented move, magistrates have been elected as governor of every one of the fortress worlds that make up the colony of the line. It is perfectly legal, as magistrates are not barred from holding power, and the people elected them freely in the belief that order and rule of law should be the chief priority. Of course, since every magistrate answers to the High Magistrate, this has made DuMont the de facto ruler of the Colonies of the Line, even though he officially has no elected position.
Also, since the Inquisition Fleet is made up of the militia forces of each Colony of the Line, and each militia is under the command of the colonies' civilian government, the magistrate governors, DuMont is unofficially in charge of the Inquisition as well.
The Inquisition Fleet
The fleet, like the Inquisitors, has unparalleled power. On at least two occasions the fleet has leveled minor colonies due to what was deemed "deep-rooted psychic corruption." Supposedly, too many of the members of the colonies had fallen under the influence of alien powers from beyond the Terminus Line. Word of these so-called purges reached the Terran Protectorate Stellar Navy, but an investigation found no evidence of the alleged attacks. Of course, the investigation was handled by the local magistrates, as required by law.
The fleet is made up primarily of warships of the previous generation, like the Stalwart Heavy Cruiser, old Rama-class destroyers, Ranger corvettes, Venture-class cruisers, etc. However, the Colonies of the Line have developed and built their own shipyards and some of their own ship designs as well as using old Protectorate warships that can be found virtually nowhere else. These include Falchion-Class Heavy Cruisers, Halberd-Class Command Carriers (remodeled and renamed the Inquisitor-class command ship), and Templar-Class Battlecruisers (all coming soon in the ships section!).
The Protectorate is unaware how upgraded these ships have become and does not realize they are on an equal footing with most modern warships.
The Fortress Worlds are also surrounded by Cerberus Class Mobile Defense platforms, massive mobile space stations designed to defend a planet from full-scale invasion. The Cerberus was originally designed to move only in high orbit around a planet, but the Colonies of the Line have refitted them into fully mobile dreadnoughts.
The ground forces of the Inquisition and Colonial Militias are not so different from the Colonial marines. However, there are a number of special units unique to the Colonies of the Line that deserve special mention.
Psychoborgs and Soothers
Psychoborgs are full conversion cyborgs (use the Ultimate Edition Rifts cyborg O.C.C. but roll two random insanities and select gear from the Gear section of this website) special forces units used for heavy assault. Such extensive use of cybernetics and bionics is virtually unheard of anywhere else in the Terran Protectorate. Most humans would never voluntarily do that to their bodies. However, Psychoborgs are not like most humans. They are recruited from the worst of the worst of the criminals shipped to the penal colonies in Hyperion sector. The Inquisition has convinced them that their violent and aggressive, often downright murderous, natures are a gift, not a curse. They have been trained to focus that aggression on the alien enemies of human kind, and have been convinced that this is an evolutionary trait; that Mother Nature selected them to be the flaming sword of humanity's vengeance. They just needed their aggression aimed in the proper direction.
Soothers: To keep the Psychoborgs' aggression in check, each is teamed with a psychic soother. These are criminals who used their psychic powers in the commission of a crime. Instead of jail or execution, they are paired with a psychoborg and use their powers to keep the maniac cyborgs calm and at ease until battle. Typically, the soother is of the opposite sex of the Psychoborg (with 70% being women), and the two form strong bonds. The soother is taught to construct a psychic realm shared in their consciousness and that of the psychoborg. There, the psychoborg can unleash all of his bloodthirsty urges, usually with the soothers as the victims. Soothers can be any major or master psionic class, as long as they have sensitive powers (so a major psionic with physical or healer powers could not be a Soother). They also receive military training, usually with a focus on scouting, espionage and sniper skills, to better work with the Psychoborg's heavy assault combat training. Use the military empath OCC to create a standard Soother.
Somehow, amazingly, this develops an incredibly strong bond....so strong that one of the reasons these duos are so deadly in combat is because they want to get back to their own private psychic world as quickly as possible. Thus, in the field, they can be bitter, callous and tempermental the longer they have to stay in the "real world." As soon as possible, the couple retreat to their chambers and into their private psychic realm of, one would presume, horrors. What is really confusing to the Inquisition is that the psychics who are victimized in these worlds night after night by their combat partners are the ones who seem most eager to return.
Theories on this abound, but the predominant one is that because they are psychically bound, the psychic begins getting pleasure feedback from the experiences of the cyborg. So if a psychic handler (usually called a Soother) is forced to bond with a rapist, even though they are the victim in the psychic world day after day, they also get the exact same rush of both physical and mental stimulation as the monster they are bound to. But the cyborg has been used to these urges for years, the psychic has not...and becomes addicted.
The one reason this theory hasn't become accepted as fact is simple: imagine having someone torture you to death, night after night, and there is no escape. Now imagine you become addicted to the experience. You even go into battle at the side of your tormentor. Think about what that would do to your state of mind.
The truth is that the Inquisition doesn't want to admit that while it appears that they've tamed psychopaths, murderers and rapists and turned them into bloodthirsty soldiers defending humanity, they also may have given them a cadre of well-trained psychics who are being bent into something even worse.
As long as the psychoborgs and their psychic soothers fight alien enemies, the Inquisition sees no problem. But they have begun to dread the thought of peace....and tens of thousands of these pairs being idle with nowhere to unleash their murderous tendencies.
These are the elite stormtroopers of the Inquisition. They are loyal, dedicated and well-trained. Unlike most of the regular troops, largely made up of conscripted prisoners, all Templars are volunteers chosen for their dedication to the Inquisition's cause. They often work in strike teams headed by an Inquisitor to tackle special threats. Use the Hired Gun O.C.C. They can be any M.O.S., depending on their assignment. Some are specifically trained as bodyguards for Inquisitors. Others are trained in reconnaissance or even mechanized infantry. Standard gear includes the Templar Armor, which is virtually identical to the Knight heavy body armor, and the 2407 Espalda 12.77mm Assault Rocket Rifle and the Abdicator Heavy Plasma pistol.
Base of Operations: The Alhambra Star Fortress, located in deep space between the Fortress Worlds of Salvation and Redemption.
Sphere of Influence: Hyperion Sector of the Terran Protectorate
Membership: Humans only, mostly Ares-Draconis, Proletaran and Hannu clan members.
Activities: Patrolling the Terminus Line and defending against incursions from the Sea of Dead Stars.
Goals: Defend humanity from alien invasion.
Resources: The entire sector's resources are virtually at the Inquisition's disposal, giving it the equivalent of two sector fleets and 800 marine regiments.