Draco is a novel by Ian Watson. It was originally published in 1990 under the title Inquisitor.
Forty thousand years in the future, the human Imperium struggles for survival against its relentless enemies. Inquisitor Jaq Draco uncovers a plot that threatens the psychic future of mankind. Can he unravel the trail of conspiracy before he himself is destroyed by its deadly clutches? Dazzling and frenetic, Ian Watson's Inquisition War presents a unique vision of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
Draco is the first novel in Black Library's Inquisition War omnibus. This 234-page novel presents the first part of a story featuring an Inquisitor of the Imperium by the name of Jaq Draco. Jaq's companions are few; he travels with a female Assassin Meh'Lindi, a young Squat Grimm and Navigator Googol. Draco is a secret Inquisitor; as he's a part of the Inquisition's Inner Order, his missions often involve issues of internal affairs. Such is the premise under which this story begins.
The story is retold from the recorded account (Liber Secretorum) of one claiming to be an Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus, Jaq Draco. The record is being scrutinized by a master librarian who is unable to verify many of its claims.
As the story opens, our heroes are in a hotel on the hive world of Stalinvast. Inquisitor Jaq Draco of the Ordo Malleus is joined by his retinue: Callidus Assassin Meh'Lindi, Navigator Googol, and Squat engineer Grimm. In most of the planet's hive cities, a rebellion borne of Genestealer infestation threatens to destroy human Imperial rule. Another Inquistor, Harq Obispal, leads the planetary garrison in a purge against the rebels. Jaq's assignment, given to him by his Proctor Baal Firenze, is to oversee the performance of Obispal another Inquisitor leading the purge of the planet's Genestealers. During the Genestealer uprising, Meh'Lindi injects herself with polymorphine in order to take on the guise of a Genestealer, as she is followed into battle by Grimm, with both being followed by Draco with tiny spy-fly cameras. Meh'Lindi rescues Inquisitor Obispal as his position is nearly overrun by Genestealers. Grimm is near falls in a human stampede and crush of those fleeing the war, but is also rescued by Meh'Lindi.
After the Genestealers are purged, Inquisitor Obispal leaves with much fanfare. However, Draco suspects the mass casualties caused by the war may allowed warp beings to emerge upon Stalinvast. Draco consults the Emperor's Tarot to find answers, but is disturbed to find his cards have been psychically penetrated by the Harlequin Man Zephro Carnelian, who mentions the have hydra business together. Carnelian leads Draco, Meh'Lindi, and Grimm down to the underhive of Stalinvast, where they encounter a strange octopus-like warp entity with Carnelian behind it. As they attempt to battle it, they find themselves suddenly succumbing to psychic attacks upon their pain and pleasure centers, before they all break out of their trance. They fail to destroy the Hydra and fail to capture Cornelian, only catching his tricorn hat showing a naked infant seated upon a stylized cloud against a starry background. Upon returning to their hotel, they find and untie Googol, who was likely subdued so that his warp eye could not be used by Draco.
Understanding the seriousness of the threat the Hydra poses, Draco eventually and regretfully resolves to declare Exterminatus upon Stalinvast. Draco travels to the Imperial Governor's palace in order to make use of his personal Astropath, who would be the most experienced and reliable in communicating the decree of exterminatus. Draco discovers that governor Voronox-Vaux, and his family, possess a mutation that allows them to see primarily in the red and infrared spectrum, which is also accompanied by occasional physical deformities. Voronox-Vaux reveals he had primarily agreed to Inquisitor Obispal's catastrophic approach to the Genestealer purge in order to for his family's mutations to be overlooked. Draco is then brought before the governor's personal Astropath, Moma Parsheen, who laments her decades of confinement within the palace, despite being able to see and hear far beyond the stars.
Draco communicates to her the coded command she is to send to the Fortress-Monastery of the Imperial Ravager chapter of Space Marines. However, Draco cancels his order when Moma Parsheen reveals she senses multiple warp portals opening across the planet, and the Hydra leaving through them. Carnelian then once against reveals himself through hologram and goads Draco to follow him. Moma Parsheen places a psychic beacon upon Carnelian, allowing Draco and his retinue to give chase through the warp. However, as they transverse the warp, Moma Parsheen reveals she sent the Exterminatus command anyway, out of spite for her confinement within the Imperial Palace. With Moma Parsheen unwilling to send a message within the warp (if even willing), Draco unwilling to bring the risk of daemons torturing an Astropath in the warp would surely bring, they continue trailing Carnelian.
They eventually track Carnelian to a Space Hulk within the warp, and begrudgingly the group bring Moma Parsheen along in order to track the psychic beacon within the massive Space Hulk. As they near their destination, they are seized by tendrils of the Hydra and stripped of their armour and weapons. Draco is then presented with a banquet by Carnelian, attended by a group revealing itself the Ordo Hydra. Draco sees Inquisitor Obispal, and much to his surprise Proctor Firenze. They explain that the Ordo Malleus is a hidden Ordo within the Imperial Inquisition, and within this order is an inner order composed of the Hidden Masters, of which Draco is already a member. However, within the inner order of the Hidden Masters is the Ordo Hydra, whose goal is to control humanity using the Hydra warp entity. The Hydra, they claim, was created in a covert theological lab on some frozen fringe of unclaimed territory, and that each tendril of the Hydra was part of the whole. Tendrils of the Hydra are to be sent from world to world, its spores infecting humans across the galaxy until most if not all of humanity is united by the Hydra, which is controlled by the Ordo Hydra. Once this goal is achieved, the Hydra will be used to expel all daemons and xenos from the galaxy, leaving only a united mankind to rule the galaxy. Draco is then inducted into the Ordo Hydra and marked with an octopus tattoo on his head to mark his membership. Draco later mentions that the astropath had sent the exterminatus order of her own accord, which seems to trouble Carnelian, who then kills Moma Parsheen with a shot through her eye. Draco is later given his own sealed container holding a tendril of the hydra to be transported to another world.
Even after induction Draco remains skeptical, doubting the supposed origin of the Hydra, and intents behind the yet unknown Hidden Masters of the Ordo Hydra, whether the Emperor truly intended this outcome, and whether the Ordo Hydra can be trusted with controlling humanity. Draco also begins to wonder if Carnelian may in fact be a double-agent working against the Ordo Hydra. Meh'Lindi also notes that the servitors being used by the order bear some marking similar to those of the Traitor Legions. Based on these suspicions, Draco and his retinue travel to the Eye of Terror. Guided by the Emperor's Tarot, they land upon a Slaanesh-corrupted world, where they successfully capture the hedonist leader of the daemon world. Before she can reveal much about the Hydra, Carnelian appears and kills her before fleeing.
Having little recourse, Draco travels to Terra itself to commune with the Emperor on this matter. Using an Inquisitorial Black Ship's psychic shields to hide himself from Carnelian, Draco and his retinue sneak themselves within Terra's palace within stasis containers used for food. Draco's tarot cards then begin physically leading the retinue through the maze of the Imperial Palace for weeks, driven by an unseen force. As they approach the Eternity Gate, time freezes as the Emperor personally grants Draco and his retinue audience. The Emperor reviews Draco's memory, but cannot definitively confirm whether he, or one of sub-minds knew about the Hydra. The Emperor also states that a reflection of his goodness was thrust from himself. Left with a series of contradictory answers, time begins to move again, and the Draco and his retinue flee the palace.
In the epilogue, upon scanning the Liber Secretorum, the master librarian confirms to a hooded Ordo Malleus Inquisitor that the recording was delivered soon after Draco was declared a renegade for ordering exterminatus upon Stalinvast. The existence of Meh'Linda was confirmed by the Director of the Callidus Assassins, but her they would not confirm her abilities to transform into a Genestealer. The Navis Nobilite is unwilling to disclose whether Vitali Googol existed, preferring to remain fully independent of investigations. Grimm is a common name amongst Squats and cannot be tracked to a single one. Few other details could also be confirmed. As the librarian asked the Inquisitor permission to admire his tattoo, the Inquisitor who is revealed to be Carnelian, kills the Librarian and states the Inquisition War has begun.
- Draco and His Retinue
- Ordo Malleus Inquisitor Jaq Draco - An Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus, psyker, and main character of the series
- Callidus Assassin Meh'Lindi - A Callidus Assassin with the ability to solely morph into the facsimile of a Genestealer. Background: The Alien Beast Within (Short Story)
- Navis Nobilite Navigator Vitali Googol - The Navigator of Draco's ship, the Tormentum Malorum, who also assists Draco with the use of his Warp Eye
- Squat Grimm - Draco's abhuman engineer
- Ordo Hydra