Seriously, they let anyone be an Inquisitor these days…

"So," he said to the assembled Explicators. "You want to become Inquisitors?"

The twenty Explicators glanced around, unsure if an answer was expected or not. One, a tall man with short-cropped blond hair, said tentatively, "Uhh… yes?"

Perchant snorted derisively, which was a lot harder than it sounded. Snorts don't tend to be the best medium for conveying exact amounts of scorn and humour. "Not with an attitude like that you don't!" he said loudly. He raised one hand to them, his fingers forming into a claw. "You're in the Schola Progenum! You've got to take life by the balls, and frakking rip them off! None of this 'ummm' and 'err' crap!"

"Yes Inquisitor!" said the Explicators in unison. Much better. Perchant was well aware of his reputation for being more than a little unbalanced, but by the Emperor it worked well for keeping the little frakkers in line.

"So," he said again. He liked starting sentences with that word. It meant that if he said anything wrong, he could just pin it on the other person and shout at them for not being clear enough. He liked shouting.

But now look, the Explicators were getting confused. He had just said 'so' and then stood silently for thirty seconds, thinking. Ah well, it just added to his reputation. Reputations were brilliant tools for controlling people. And you got to get away with so much.

And that was another thirty seconds gone. He really should say something. What had he started to say, before he had trailed off? 'So'… what? What was he talking about? Ah, yes, the Explicators!

"You think you have what it takes to become members of the Inquisition, do you?" he continued, as if there had been no pause at all. More than a few confused looks were turned his way.

"Well, let me tell you, you don't. One of my personal Bugbears would make a better Inquisitor than most of you. And be assured, eight foot tall furry insects with anger management issues and razor-sharp pincers do not make good Inquisitors. Seriously, this one time, we had a new Bugbear in – I think its name was Frankie or something – and we tried to play that old game of pin the rosarius on the Aquila with it. But we didn't have an Aquila, so we decided to play pin the rosarius on the Bugbear. Let me tell you, you do not want to have to tally up the damages bill after an enraged Bugbear has just wrecked an entire bar." He shook his head. "But I digress-"

One of the Explicators sniggered. Perchant pulled out his laspistol and shot her dead. He might be a little crazy, but by the God-Emperor's golden bollocks, he was not going to have sniggering in his lecture theatre. The nineteen remaining Explicators all scurried as far away from the corpse as they could.

"As I was saying," he said sternly. "You can't be Inquisitors if you try to fight Bugbears – well, I did it, but that's not the point. What was my point again? Ah yes. None of you are going to survive – I mean succeed. While that may seem a little grim, you just have to get used to the fact that life outside the Scholam isn't all shootings and brawls. There are far worse things out there – like wild Bugbears! Ooooh, think of that! By the Emperor's shining arsehole, they'd be a sight to see! Maybe not a sight to survive seeing, but one to see all the same. I doubt if all of you together could get the better of one of those beasties."

By now the Explicators had completely lost the plot. Most of them were just staring blankly at the front wall, while a few were aimlessly throwing knives at one another. Not like it used to be, mused Perchant. Back in the day, they had thrown grenades, not these pansy knives. That was back when Inquisitors were real Inquisitors; when the only graduates were those that were too smart, tough, well-connected or just plain lucky to survive the gauntlet of education. He was just lucky that kind of thing had been banned the year before his graduation.

He picked one, a muscled teenager who was busy loading a stubber, and shot him in the head. As his body – minus the head – slumped down onto the floor, the Explicators regained some semblance of order. They slid nervously back into their seats, and Perchant started speaking again.

"Now, this is my lecture, and I expect you to listen! If you persist in this laxity, I'll shoot you all myself! I will, you know! I've got a stack of meltabombs under my desk here that are just waiting for one of you to slip up!"

He paused to check they were still there. They were. None of the students had figured out how to crack the code yet. Perchant guessed he was just lucky that their code-breaking tutor had been killed last month in a freak Bugbear-related accident. Nothing to do with him whatsoever, of course. Definitely not. God-Emperor bless those Bugbears, he thought. He was thoroughly pleased with the purchase, expensive though it had been.

"So," he said, straightening. "I think that about wraps that up. To conclude, you're all going to die in some way or another, and with any luck, I'll be the one to pull the trigger. Oh yes, and do not try to pin anything on my Bugbears. Next lecture, you'll be wrestling them, and I don't want you to have any unfair advantages. Come to think of it, I don't want you to have any advantages at all. Report to the medical wing, all of you, and have your fingers amputated. Dismissed."

The Explicators filed out of the lecture theatre, ducking low and constantly shooting glances his way to see if he was going to shoot them. Briefly, he considered killing a few, but they were gone before he could make up his mind.

Ah well… He could pretty much guarantee none of them would turn up to the next lecture now, so he had the time off. Brilliant. He could use it to go down to the city and buy some more Bugbears.

Perchant sat down, put his feet up, and slowly drifted to sleep, images of Explicators being ripped to shreds by Bugbears running happily through his mind.

Pah, the path of the radical wasn't dangerous at all. He had been like this before he had even found the artefact.