The Apostasy Gambit
The Adeptus Administratum is the administrative and bureaucratic division of the Adeptus Terra, the heart of the gigantic bureaucracy that controls the government of the Imperium of Man, consisting of untold billions of clerks, scribes and administrative staff constantly working to manage the Imperium at every level, from assembling war fleets to levying taxes. It is the largest of the departments comprising the Adeptus Terra, and ten billion Administratum adepts work in the Imperial Palace on Terra alone. Its billions of officials on Terra and throughout the galaxy are constantly carrying out population censuses, working out tithes, recording and archiving information, and the million other things that are necessary for the running of the Imperium. Such is its immense size, that whole departments of the Administratum have been submerged by a sea of complex bureaucracy, becoming lost in loops of paper trails. Other departments have continued to dogmatically operate and carry out their founding function, even if the intent and requirement behind them no longer exists.
Within the Imperium, the agents of the Administratum are an innumerable and ever-present facet of interstellar commerce and politics, with the largest concentrations found on worlds with a particularly high military presence, high tithe requirements, or large-scale commerce. In particular, extensive Administratum offices on more developed worlds house hundreds of thousands of archivists, ordinates and prefects, who scrutinise sector-level operations with a keen eye and unwavering adherence to ancient doctrine. Typically, the Administratum takes little direct action in regards to matters of law or violations of it within the Adeptus Terra, as such matters are the concern of the Adeptus Arbites. However, the attention to detail that characterises much of the work of the Administratum often discovers criminal acts where they would otherwise go unnoticed, detecting pirates from reports of missing ships and locating smugglers from incongruous audits and tithe manifests. In situations such as these, the Administratum tends to hand matters over to another Imperial Adepta so that appropriate action can be taken. Even once others are involved, the Administratum continues to observe, ensuring that everything happens by the book and as efficiently as possible.
By virtue of wider necessity, even at the sector scale, the Administratum enacts collective decisions that will affect millions, even billions every day. Such actions are arrived at by a simple and utterly impersonal process of procedure, precedent, tradition, and cold calculation based on long-established criteria — heedless of the level of suffering or upheaval that they will cause at a local level. Likewise, the absolute importance the Administratum places on the minutiae of its nightmarishly complex bureaucratic system and the strict adherence to regulations, forms, protocols, and due process, can itself be the source of great friction and dissatisfaction at all levels of Imperial society.
Worse still can occur when error creeps into the system, such as when the consequences of inaccuracy, lost data, or simple incompetence manifest themselves. Though exceedingly rare, it is quite possible for the Administratum to simply “lose a world” thanks to administrative error, condemning it to isolation and privation, or wrongly apply a tithe grade and thus render a world an asset-stripped wasteland. It might even misfile a request for emergency aid, which consequently arrives years, even centuries, too late. The trouble that such errors can inflict on a personal level are not hard to imagine; indeed, many individuals have had their records mangled, lost, or misregistered. For such unfortunates, unless very powerful, the consequences can be as shattering as they are impossible to rectify.
Of course, the lack of personal enmity involved in the Administratum’s actions means little to those who may find their lives turned upside down, their families suddenly displaced or shunted wholesale to a strange world, their protections removed, their property seized, or themselves simply left to starve. As a result, the Administratum is both hated and feared by all strata of Imperial society. Many, even in the other Imperial Adepta, find them hidebound, petty, and obstructive. It is quite possible that through its work, the Administratum will breed bitterness and discontent that can explode into outright rebellion or provide an opening for darker forces to gain purchase.
The Administratum is also a shockingly parochial organisation, its Adepts blindly ignorant of the nature of the world around them and naive of its many pitfalls and dangers. This naiveness in itself can leave the Administratum’s myriad local offices and workers vulnerable to individual canker, deception, and infiltration, and in any organisation where human greed, ambition, vanity, and hubris may be found, worse still can bloom. Ironically, the organisation’s greatest defence against corruption is its own vast complexity and inertia. This makes it woefully difficult to derail or subvert in any widespread or meaningful way. If a thousand Adepts have to be purged simply to ensure the accuracy of a particular tithe-repository’s records, so be it. For the Administratum, nothing, not even the lives of its servants, is personal.