Rogue Trader - Orthesian Legacy
“Home? Nay, for my home is where my heart truly lies, and that is my true love, my Tremi. She is more my mistress, for I may only tarry a short while before I must be off, and her eye does indeed Wander to others when I am away.”
-Rogue Trader Alton Keller, captain of the Lux Extremis
Located at the very fringes of the sector, Port Wander is often dismissed as a barely-lawful outpost, and never mentioned as one of the more impressive or honoured installations of the Imperial Navy and Battlefleet Calixis. Though technically a Navy station, Port Wander would not exist without the support and trade of various Imperial Adeptus, chartist captains, and Rogue Traders, a point that rankles many prideful Naval officers. Those assigned there frequently view their posting as a punishment or an attempt by enemies in the service to drydock their careers, and typically serve with resentment bordering on bitterness. In addition, the station is filled with swaggering civilian captains, merchants fat of purse and jowl, and interfering factions of every sort, from supercilious Administratum functionaries to scheming Inquisitorial acolytes. Port Wander is far more than a simple military base.
Despite its poor (if well-deserved) reputation, however, Port Wander is one of the more important facilities of Calixis. It guards the entrance to a largely-unexplored section of space, rich with exploitable resources, powerful artefacts, lost souls to recover, and potentially unimaginable wealth. Also, though undisciplined when compared to a proper naval vessel, it is a veritable ideal of the Emperor’s Law when compared to what lies beyond it. Here there is rightful law, though it is often tempered by gelt and influence. On the other side there is no law other than what can be enforced with bolter and lance. This station is the last true outpost of both the Calixis Sector and the Emperor’s Law. Beyond it there is only what law a captain imposes on his crew and his fiefdoms, or that which is imposed on him by cruel xenos or crueler fate.
The Guardian of the Maw
Port Wander originated as a standard Xerxes Mark IV Naval station, made from prefabricated and pre-blessed sectionals and transported into the system by mammoth Greatholds over many months. Assembly took only seventeen years; the station was consecrated, declared operational, and thruster-anchored into position orbiting Rubycon II far ahead of Thamos in a stable position a year later. Though smaller than many Naval stations, it is large enough to handle battlecruisers and other huge vessels. Organised upkeep tends to be spotty, though, given its distance both physical and political from subfleet headquarters, and much of the constant refurbishment was done as needed to better deal with the variety of vessels used by Rogue Traders. Over time, entire new modules and battlements were installed, and whole subsections became layered over with new construction such that little of the original voidfacing hull is visible. Deep inside the station whole decks were simply lost to poor planning, and only those well-versed in the ancient blueprints can find their ways through the mazelike passageways.
As the area grew in importance due to successful voyages to the Expanse and back, the station grew as well, attracting the attention of many Imperial agencies throughout the sector. What was a standard Navy-operated station became overrun with Rogue Traders, commerce shipping agents, merchant guilds, Administratum functionaries, Inquisitorial spies, Mechanicus and Ministorum preachers, and more, all vying for control. With more and more passages through the Maw and increased trade in exotic (and profitable) goods to be found on the other side, the original role of naval station began to wane and Port Wander began to become more of a transportation hub for Rogue Traders and others dedicated to transporting products into and out of the Expanse.
With less military and more commercial functions occurring and constant years of pressure, the Navy was forced under Palace decree in early M41 to cede authority over the station to a consortium of Administratum functionaries, heavily influenced by factions of Rogue Traders, merchants, and guilds. Imperial Governors nominally led the station, but proved too easily swayed by outside interests or too inept to maintain their power. This, of course, was paradise to many, and with little or no oversight or regulation to counter them the merchant guilds and Rogue Traders became exceedingly wealthy. The lack of order spread wildly and the port quickly gained a reputation for lawless anarchy where Imperial Law is merely an afterthought to the fortunes awaiting. Rival commercial guilds took to outright combat inside and outside the port, and the port possessed little functioning defenses against outside attacks. After a dozen decades including long stretches of disorder and zealous excesses, even the Rogue Traders realised only the Navy could stabilise the port at a level where profits could be dependably made. They petitioned the Lucid Palace for a solution in mid-M41, lest reliable access to the Expanse be squandered and lost.
The Grand Alignment heralded the return of the Imperial Navy to operational control over Port Wander. While the station returned to Navy control, the charter also granted some areas of authority to other agencies, and imposed limits on Naval authority. The Inquisition and Adeptus Ministorum were of course granted official status as agencies of interest and special spheres of control, and the Administratum given an unofficial but important oversight role. While still not recognising their rights over the Maw, the Adeptus Mechanicus gained rights to several areas of the station for their own research. The merchant guilds kept much of their shops and trading halls, and continue to exert considerable influence on the station’s activities. The Adeptus Arbites were officially relegated to a lesser role than normal, but still required to police the “civilian” side of the Port’s population. The Navy works closely with all of these organisations where possible, as they free its personnel to concentrate on matters of military operations and station defence, areas that went unforgivably lax while it was not in control.
Port Wander has since re-established itself as a mostly lawful outpost, though its location on the edge of Calixis ensures it will never be at the levels of other naval installations or even established imperial planets. It is at the demarcation from the Rule of the Imperium to the Rule of the Void and will always be a struggle between the two, making the port a site of constant pressure and tension. It is here where a Rogue Trader really begins his journey to riches and glory or ignominy and disgrace. Amidst the hustle of hundreds of explorers and merchants, officers and civilians, spirituals and heathen, Port Wander stands as the first step into the Koronus Expanse.
In And Around Port Wander
Physically, Port Wander is a maze of passageways, halls and chambers that has grown ever more complex as it has been haphazardly repaired and expanded. In many ways it more closely resembles a small hive city than a station, and within it bustles a changing population of strange and exotic individuals. Rogue Traders and their fellow Explorers often spend many weeks in port while their ships are refuelled and repaired and cargo loaded or off-loaded. Missionaries charged with bringing the light of the God-Emperor to lost human worlds come to find passage into the unknown accompanied by pilgrim militia. Traders and smugglers whisper deals behind curtains in the station’s drinking dens, while mercenaries and bodyguards look for business. Here also are many items for sale which would normally not be found deeper in the Imperium, and better still, no questions are asked. Strange artefacts brought from the depths of the Expanse, exotic wines and narcotics from worlds yet unnamed, valuable gifts and tokens from appreciative traders, all this and more is traded throughout the artificially lit days and dimmed nights of the station. Finally, what cannot be found at the port can often be found outside it, for the system hosts a wide range of services, from extensive repair and refurbishment facilities, spare parts, and even vehicles and intersystem craft for sale. Watching over this constant carnival of outlanders are the Naval authorities, brooding in their Bastion with barely-concealed resentment and disapproval.
The Ruling Factions
Port Wander is a domain of the Imperium of Mankind ruled in the name of the God-Emperor of mankind and divided by the desires and ambitions of His servants. Port Wander was originally built by the Imperial Navy and technically remains in their control to this day. However, as Port Wander grew fat on the riches of Rogue Traders, wanders and explorers returning from beyond the Great Warpstorms, other parties took interest in the station and its governance, and its rule is now a complex interplay between factions whose interests intersect and conflict in an ever-shifting web of power. These battles for dominance are commonly waged with deceit, lies, and diplomacy, but sometimes descend into assassination and sabotage.
Notable Persons of Port Wander
“In division, there is strength.”
–Maxim of the Calixian Administratum
The population of Port Wander is roughly five million, and the surrounding asteroids’ population is roughly as large again. However, even amongst those teeming masses, there are those who stand above the rest. They are the notables, the movers and shakers of the station, and may even know (or take an interest in) a Rogue Trader.
Commander Larius Sans
Captain Karsus Har of the Ventan Iron Hounds
Captain Morthus Whitehold
Omidaeus and Isshaak
Torvan the Fallen
Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Linetta Res
Rhaelee Mahvorn II, Foremistress of S/914 R IX
Honourable Representative Pultarch Norn
The Law on the Port
As an Imperial Naval installation, law enforcement nominally falls under the jurisdiction of the station’s Naval Provost authorities and the Navy branch of the Commissariat. Normally this would be sufficient to ensure law and order. However, the majority of Port Wander’s population is not Navy personnel, which creates problems.
Under the terms of the Grand Alignment, the Imperial Navy officially handles the enforcement of Imperial Law on Port Wander, though the Provost and Commissariat retain a solid presence on the station. However, their activities are directed towards ensuring Naval personnel obey station and shipboard conduct regulations, or at least keep civilian disruptions to a minimum. Violators are dealt with harshly, keeping the stockyards busy across all watches. Civilians found guilty in Naval courts often find themselves sent directly to the pressment centres, where they are offloaded onto the next warship. That said, Naval enforcement does not often concern itself with civilian matters, unless it directly effects the Navy’s operations.
By default, much of the civilian law enforcement falls to the small Arbitrator presence on the station. The Adeptus Arbites occupies a precarious and thankless position in the authority structure of Port Wander. Technically, they have jurisdiction over Port Wander’s civilian population, while the Navy is responsible for the Naval population. However, the two groups are extensively intermixed, and tidy separation is impossible. Jurisdictional conflicts are extremely common, and although the Arbites have (admittedly shaky) authority even over the Navy—in practice the Navy has the strength to make that authority meaningless.
The infighting is only exacerbated by both organisations’ attitudes. Though the Navy is happy to ignore the civilian population for the most part, they do not hesitate to exert their authority whenever that population becomes embroiled in Navy affairs. Even a simple brawl between civilians and Navy ratings can result in the Provost or Commissariat stepping in. This angers Marshal Dhorin (see page 244) and the Arbites, who see such actions as a deliberate undercutting of Arbites responsibilities.
Ironically, the factional infighting between the two organisations only heightens the criminal activity aboard the station. Neither organisation has enough power to police Port Wander, but if the two were able to truly unite their efforts, they could do a creditable job. As it is, the current state of affairs only benefits the criminal underclass. As it is, the Arbites spend most of their days at their precinct, self-sufficient and able to withstand even the most determined of attacks. Much of their activity is undertaken by informers or undercover officers—it is rare for uniformed Arbitrators to leave the precinct except in large and well-armed parties. Recently, however, the Arbites has been making renewed forays into the station’s decks and conducting more suppression and enforcement raids. This has only served to increase tensions between them and the Navy.
There are plenty of other organisations on the station that have at least a nominal interest in law and enforcement. Naval Intelligence has a presence that watches for threats to the Battlefleet, should they be pirates, xenos warships, or even corruption by the Ruinous Powers. There is also an Inquisition presence aboard the station of uncertain size—the only known Inquisitor is Linetta Res, although it would be unwise to assume she is the only agent of the Holy Ordos on Port Wander.
Finally, many of the merchant houses and Rogue Traders employ their own law enforcement to protect their interests aboard Port Wander, meaning much of the interior is protected by mercenary bands and hired thugs. Both the Navy and the Arbites detest these paid enforcers, but so long as an organisation doesn’t grow too powerful or overstep its bounds, they are willing to accept them as part of the status quo.
Crime in the Ruby’s Light
Port Wander supports a thriving underclass of criminal activity. This ranges from pirate raiders that drift in the outer cometary clouds, to smugglers, thieves, brokers and murders that infect the station itself.
Smuggling is a common crime; most captains cannot resist an opportunity to supplement their income by hauling some additional, illegal cargo. Smuggling is so common that many intersystem ships or transport shuttles contain hidden stowage spaces for that very purpose. Many of the shuttle clans are known for making a tidy profit as go-betweens for larger vessels returning from the Halo Stars and brokers aboard the station. There are also larger smuggling networks, with Warp-capable vessels, intersystem ships, and even hidden asteroid bases. The infamous Cold Trade of xenos artefacts runs through Port Wander, and it is not the only smuggling venture in the Rubycon system. The Calixis Battlefleet would have to station at least a quarter of its starships at Port Wander to even put a dent in the smuggling, something the Navy has little interest in doing.
Pirates also infest the system, attracted to the rich bounties being harvested from the Expanse and the heavily-laden vessels supplying the system. A common tactic is to attack transports as they translate into real space or lure them with false distress calls. Many merchant vessels approaching the system operate in fleets in an attempt to stave them off, but with little success. Xenos raiders are also a threat, though major attacks have been rare in recent decades. Be they human or alien, pirates are ruthless and generally leave no survivors. Captured ships are either stripped for parts, refitted and re-crewed as prize vessels, or left to drift and die without power.