“A stinking, painted harlot who would see your blood flowing for a few coins, that she may be, but who cannot say that they love the light that is known waiting for the traveller returned from the void.”
–Rogue Trader Cortin Blaine, captain of the Astra Veritas
Port Wander is a void station on the uttermost edge of the Drusus Marches of the Calixis Sector, rightly regarded as the last bastion of the rule of the Emperor this side of the Koronus Expanse. A place of desperate hopes and vain dreams, Port Wander teems with a transitory population of traders, spies, merchant factors, pilgrims, and missionaries, amongst whom move Administratum functionaries and minions of the Mechanicus, all feeding on the riches that flow from the realms beyond the warp storms in the Koronus Expanse. All who travel into the Koronus Expanse share one common experience in that they pass Port Wander. Be they the pious bringing the Emperor’s Light into the darkness beyond the Imperium or black-hearted monsters searching for the keys to forbidden dreams, many will stop in the last place where the rule of the Golden Throne keeps the horror and possibility of the unknown at bay.
Port Wander was founded by the Imperial Navy in 917.M40 as a staging ground to investigate the loss of many vessels on the fringes of the Drusus Marches. With the discovery of the Koronus Passage in the late 40th millennium, the station grew in importance owing to its close proximity to the Passage. Its original role as a base for military operations was slowly forgotten, and Port Wander became a way station for those daring passage into the Koronus Expanse. Merchants and mercenaries began to choke the once-deserted corridors of the station, and strangers shook the dust of distant stars from their boots while trading wondrous things from beyond the Great Warp Storms.
For those venturing towards the Halo Stars, Port Wander is often the last stop before leaving the sector and a welcome harbour should they return. It orbits an otherwise unremarkable red supergiant, and provides basic facilities for everything from Rogue Traders to small Void Jumpers in the area. Somewhat of a frontier station, it is popular with many a vessel (and crew) of dubious legality. A hundred different currencies are brought to Port Wander by merchants and Rogue Traders---or even issued by those same worthies, for all great men wish to see their face embossed on coins or parchment notes. Money-changers of the Administratum are both corrupt and busy in the Port, and the heady mix of currencies seeps outwards into the Imperial settlements of the Koronus Expanse.
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 Adepts, 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.
- 1 Guardian of the Maw
- 2 The Structure of Port Wander
- 3 In and Around Port Wander
- 4 Port Wander Central Bastion
- 5 Civilian Quarters
- 6 The Gilt Processionals
- 7 Places of Faith and Devotion
- 8 The Void Docks
- 9 Halls of the Mechanicus
- 10 Around Port Wander
- 11 Station Defenses
- 12 Celebrations and Feasts
- 13 The Ruling Factions
- 14 The Law on the Port
- 15 Notable Persons of Port Wander
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. Organized 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 realized only the Navy could stabilize 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 recognizing 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 organizations where possible, as they free its personnel to concentrate on matters of military operations and station defense, 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.
The Structure of Port Wander
From a distance, the port resembles a small cityscape, with spires and cathedral towers arching upwards and a huge aquila marking its allegiance to the God-Emperor. Numerous long piers protrude from the sides with spider-like docking fixtures, ready to bring in a ship and anchor it to the station. Smaller shuttle bays dot the station where numerous small craft carry cargo and people between ships and the station. Deep crevasses run along the station, showing the slow layers of expansions through the many decades and the somewhat patchwork nature of many of them which includes parts from small vessels such as the nearly intact hull of the Solstice Imperialis, grafted onto one side of the station many centuries ago. Further construction and external maintenance is constant, with servitors crawling over areas of damage or expansion like flies over a bloated metal beast.
On the underside of the station are the main repair yards, where damaged ships can contract out for refurbishment and mending. The yards include entire sealed dry-dock bays, where smaller ships can be totally enclosed for more intensive work. Also along the station’s keel are a variety of elaborate and mysterious arrays and probes used by the Adeptus Mechanicus in their arcane research into the nature of the warp passage leading through the Great Warp Storms to the Koronus Expanse beyond.
Across the length and breadth of the station are lance emplacements, weapons batteries, torpedo launchers, and void shield generators, all placed for maximum efficiency and kept in readiness. In addition to these static defenses, squadrons of heavily armed monitor craft are stationed near Port Wander, and warships from Battlefleet Calixis pass the port on regular patrol. Port Wander may be the gate to the Koronus Expanse but it is a gate that is guarded.
At any given time there are at least a half-dozen Rogue Traders docked at the station, as well as other merchant vessels, enormous transports, and numerous smaller craft moving into and out of docking stations like swarming insects. Other vessels move through the area, offloading raw fuel gases mined from the two larger planets or minerals and ice from the further reaches of the system. There are also numerous asteroids sharing its space, most of which have been turned into fuel depots, palatial manses and estates, crude habitats, storage facilities, ship yards, and other more useful installations.
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 refueled 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.
Port Wander Central Bastion
Though the entirety of Port Wander is technically the dominion of the Imperial Navy, their stronghold in this den of rogues and wanderers is the Command Bastion. It sits at the heart of the station, separated by code-sealed hatches, isolation bulkheads, and sentry weapons. Behind these defenses are the staff and systems that keep Port Wander functioning and safe.
The Command Deck
This cavernous room rises above the upper reaches of the superstructure, forming a grand deck house with dozens of consoles and displays, dimly lit and filled with the smoke of purification incense. The station weaponry is directed from here, along with other vital systems. Usually the center is manned by junior officers unless there is a major docking or military operation ongoing.
One of main spires reaching above the central axis of the station houses Port Wander’s Sensorium, in which vast auspex displays watch over the movement of all vessels of interest throughout the area and ships in dock, logging them when they arrive, and monitoring them until they leave.
For those requiring in-system communications between ships and the port on commercial business, the Vox Centre Office will route messages as needed for a nominal fee, usually included with routine docking charges. For longer-range messages outside the system, the port’s Astropathic Choir-Sanctum can provide psychic communications---though since they are servants of the Navy, they may not give such requests priority without reciprocation in Thrones or favors.
Port Wander has several top-notch medicae amenities for those who can afford premium care. For the rest, there are smaller back-room offices that provide more basic services, such as setting bones or staving off infections. Most visitors rely more on the care their own ships provide, while Naval personnel have official care facilities for their treatment. The Ministorum operates a crude hospice to the rear of the port, where they tend to those with no other hope of care. Service is free to all, and often the last place many unfortunates spend their days.
All Naval personnel are quartered in the Central Bastion; from the commander’s lavish quarter to the fetid bunkrooms for lower ranks. Visiting Naval officers are quartered in fine cabins. Ratings and enginarium workers exist in huge barracks where dozens rest from the long day’s labour in squalid conditions.
Imperial Guardsmen are usually sequestered in these Spartan quarters when their transport ships are in dock. Like most naval installations, officers on both sides of the Aquila know the less the two intermix the better for everyone’s health. Many Rogue Traders who employ fighting brigades as part of their ship’s complement also use these facilities for their warriors, but grant them more leeway in travelling through the port.
The Stockades and Pressment Centers
Discipline for the crewmen on any Naval vessel is harsh, and violators of regulations are sent to the stockyards for sentencing, assuming summary judgments are not carried out on the spot. The kiss of the lash, grueling days in the stockade or void-pillory, or even a swift round to the head are all punishments that can be meted out without trial for a myriad of crimes should the officer class see fit.
Located next to the stockades, the pressment centers house those hapless souls who have been impressed into service either at the port or by a visiting ship in need of ratings. All ships require untold bodies toiling in unending labor for them to function, and the pressmen do their best to fill these needs from wherever they can find warm bodies.
For affairs of honor there is The Circle, located not far from the stockades, where offended parties can settle disputes through trial by combat (or more frequently have their seconds fight for them). Crowds often gather as these are considered great sport (and free to boot), with numerous side-wagers conducted on everything from first blood to last punch (or strike if blades are used).
There are many dark places throughout the station, walled away by new constructions, powered only by flickering, half-exhausted lights and forgotten by almost all. These are the homes of the wretched refuse of the port, those who have escaped impressment or slavery, run from the law or debts, or simply fallen through the cracks of the station. Housed literally underneath the main decks, they rarely venture outside their lairs, unless in packs to pilfer food or other easily stolen items, only to vanish back into the depths of the dark tunnels when pursued. As the station builds more and more layers, older sections often lose power or airways are blocked, forcing the denizens of the underdecks to move elsewhere in search of new dwellings. Clashes with other groups are a frequent result, or worse still clashes with “civilized” areas unprepared for such encounters out of the darkness.
Adeptus Arbites Precinct Complex
At the bottom of the Central Bastion, separated by Arbitrator-manned blast doors, the Adeptus Arbites watch and judge those who govern Port Wander. Here is where the servants of the Emperor’s Law reside and His Law is faithfully adjudicated. Heavily fortified like all Arbites precincts, it can withstand almost any assault if needed and will stand as the last bastion of the Imperium should the rest of the station fall. There is rumor that the Arbites also maintain a hidden asteroid precinct-fortress as well, which they will neither confirm nor deny.
Port Wander has a population of roughly five million, and the majority of these are civilians, all of whom must be housed within the port. From elaborate state rooms, simple berths, bunked quarters, or doss spaces near the outer hull all are available and all cost. For those not choosing to live in the station there are of course their own ships, if they are moored within a short distance and accessible by shuttle.
In the most ill-repaired and dangerous portions of Port Wander, small colonies of destitute scavengers live in desperate and wretched conditions. They prowl the waste-ejection areas for whatever they can reclaim, be it organic matter or scrap salvage. Anything not secured or stowed is fair game, and the stalls of the Gilt Processionals are kept supplied by the skill of these scavenger-thieves.
For the wealthy there are many estates and huge apartments on the Port and surrounding asteroids, owned by Rogue Trader family lines and maintained well during their absences into the Expanse. The rich have large quarters on the port, the richest have their own asteroids, hollowed out and turned into lavish estates.
The Gilt Processionals
The Gilt Processionals are the vast and labyrinthine markets of Port Wander in which one can barter for strange and exotic wares or lose one’s life to a thief ’s blade. The Gilt Processionals stretch for nearly a kilometer in a wide arc across the port, meandering between levels down wide holds that have long lost their original purpose, and twisting through cramped compartments thick with the scent of burning spices and heady narcotics. This ragged arc houses thousands of traders, whose stalls compete for space with criers hawking theirs dubious wares. Almost anything can be found in the Gilt Processionals if one has enough coin and knows who to ask.
The Chamber of Gold
The Chamber of Gold is a great colonnaded chamber that opens off the Gilt Processionals. Here, beneath a painted ceiling showing Drusus the Warrior, the Gelt Brokers and money changers do their business. Vast loans may be negotiated from the rich robed factors of House Krin, and treasure from strange worlds bartered into Throne Gelt. On brass walkways above the factors and their scribbling scribes stand plate-armored guards, their weapons and eyes watching for any attempt to interfere with the business of the Chamber.
The Court of the Dead
The Court of the Dead is the largest of the open holds that make up the Gilt Processionals. Some three hundred meters across, it forms the heart of the Processionals. Along its sides sit clusters of stalls from which spiced food and drink can be bought, and amongst the thoroughfares the greatest of Rogue Traders may exchange crude jests and rumors with void-crazed pilgrims. In the center of the Court of the Dead one can find letter writers, watch displays of swordsmanship, pay to have one’s limbs or organs replaced with prosthetics, and give coin for charts that claim to show passage to the untapped reaches of the Halo Stars. Above this swirling confusion of people, the faces of Rogue Traders stare down, etched into the metal of the ceiling and covered in precious gilt, each one the likeness of one who died seeking their desire beyond the Great Warp storms.
Most Rogue Traders are gamblers at heart, and it is only natural they would frequent such facilities while on the port. There are scores of basic games of chance to be had in almost any bar, but Rota Fortunae is the finest dedicated hall for gamblers of all types, from high rollers wagering thousands of thrones to smaller types pushing single gelt coins at a time. The décor rises with the stakes, and the rooms in the rear are dedicated to exclusive, invitation-only games. Here entire fortunes may be lost or made, and even entire ships are wagered on the turn of a card.
At the other end of the spectrum is Last Chance. It has no fixed location and it moves from place to place each night, with games where the stakes are not always measured in mere thrones. The regulars know where to look for it based on word of mouth and hidden runes left by the enigmatic operators. For novices who stumble across it or rollers desperate to try their luck, it may be their last chance indeed.
It is not surprising that a station as large as Port Wander has numerous places to purchase food and drink. The station’s taverns run a brisk business, both as public meeting houses and as places to grab a hot meal.
- The Blind Eye is a small-but-popular tavern near the station’s sunward shuttle bays, frequented by void travelers looking to do business. Many Rogue Traders use it as a meeting place for recruiting new comrades for their next voyage, especially those with prior experience in the Expanse.
- Bloodstone is a much more dangerous place, a lowdecks tavern that lies off the Gilt Processional and is uncomfortably close to some of the passages leading to the station’s Black Holds. Only the toughest will ever gain the respect of the regulars; those who do not will rarely survive their second visit. To become a regarded as a regular here is a mark of true respect among the scummers and heavies on the port.
- Voidfarer’s Rest is a larger tavern near the Basilica, frequented by Navy officers. Operated by an ex-Navyman, it is covered with military decorations and battle prayers inscribed on yellowed parchment. By custom, the senior captains and command crew remain away from the place, and the mid and lower officers see it as somewhere to relax away from the pressures of the service. Civilian captains and their officers are exempt from the custom however, and friendly rivalries have resulted in some legendary brawls, leaving most with bruises---but also new drinking companions.
Places of Faith and Devotion
Faith is the essence of the Imperium, and on the edge of the unknown faith in the Emperor is one’s strongest shield against what waits beyond. Pilgrims on fool’s quests, crusaders, missionaries, and fanatics are drawn to Port Wander like predators to a bleeding wound. The Port is thick with shrines and chapels tucked away in dead spaces, tended by ragged flocks who murmur prayers and light candles for hope. In the Central Bastion the formal cathedral echoes with entreaties of protection for those lost on the Sea of Souls. The chaplains and ministers who watch over the port’s spiritual level are zealous in their task, for each day they see the signs of xenos corruption brought back from the dark places. Many believe the Emperor sealed off the Expanse for a reason, and any who would defy His actions are heretics who deserve the pyre. Others view the Expanse as an opportunity to reclaim untold numbers of lost souls, and eagerly await their chance to make the journey. Internecine clashes between these and other differing views amongst the Ministorum are usually kept away from others, but outbreaks on holy days do occur where only the Arbitrators’ truncheons can restore calm.
The Solstice Imperialis
The Solstice Imperialis is a derelict pilgrim ship that once ferried Pilgrims to the station for many years, until their plasma drive failed to ignite. Despite the catastrophic implosion, no one was injured and the pilgrims took it as a sign of the Emperor’s grace. Over time the vessel was worked into the fabric of Port Wander itself and is now given over to chapels and sanctuaries of a hundred different branches of the Imperial Creed. Missionaries wishing to recruit militias of the faithful to accompany them beyond the Great Warpstorms often come to the Solstice to find strong souls willing to follow their faith beyond the circle of Imperial rule.
Rivalry in the Ministorum
Imperial expansion into the Koronus Expanse and the influx of pilgrims toward that region has caused some friction between Cardinal Fortis, who oversees the Arch-Diocese of the Pereiphery and the Halo Stars, and Cardinal Kregory Hestor of the Drusian Diocese. Fortis maintains that as a new untapped area of faith, and a region of the Halo Stars, all matters concerning the Expanse should fall into his diocese. However, Port Wander, the gateway to the Expanse, can be found on the edge of the Drusus Marches, Kregory’s diocese, and the Cardinal of the Marches is loath to give up the stranglehold he has on the wealth the port is producing for the church and the power it affords his sub-sector. In a move to settle the matter Fortis has been seeking aid from Arch-Cardinal Ignato to go to Port Wander himself and build a mighty shrine to the God-Emperor for the pilgrims and missionaries passing into the Expanse. He then intends to have himself transplanted from his ship, the Pax Calixis, into the shrine, effectively taking up permanent residence in Port Wander and officially claiming it as part of his diocese. This is a plan that Kregory would go to great lengths to stop, should he learn of it---perhaps going so far as to ensure that the Pax Calixis would never reach Port Wander...
The Void Docks
Numerous docking ports line the edges of the station, managing the off-loading of hundreds of ships, from small inter-system ships to gigantic mass conveyors. The docks are also where most minor overhaul work and replenishments occur as ships take on all manner of provisions. Here, overworked Administratum adepts are also charged with checking cargo, levying tariffs, and detecting contraband and proscribed goods; though as any smuggler will tell you, they are far from universally successful. A purse of Thrones works wonders in removing any bothersome questions amongst the dock officials.
Port Wander has shuttle bays located in roughly equidistant notches around the station. Given the multitude of ships nearby, there is constant traffic into them. While most craft are dedicated to a ship or are naval vessels, there are many for hire when short hops are needed. Some clans of shuttle pilots have been operating the same shuttles or lighters for generations, passing the ships from parent to child.
Port Wander has extensive repair yards located underneath the station where skilled void wrights can rectify damage caused by combat or accident. The station’s repair facilities are varied - smaller ships such as transports and frigates can be worked on in cavernous, yawning zero-gee space-docks that can be sealed against the void. For larger craft, there are yards on nearby asteroids that can accommodate even the vast bulk of the largest Imperial battleships and mass conveyors.
Resupplying in Port Wander
For captains looking to fill their empty stores, Port Wander is a welcome sight. The merchant provenders of the station can usually supply whatever may be needed provided the captain has money. Weapons, ammunition, shuttle fuel, promethium, food, water, apothecarium supplies, servitors, and more flow constantly out of Port Wander in exchange for Throne Gelt or bartered goods from the Halo Stars: thus is the wealth of Port Wander maintained by this simple exchange.
Halls of the Mechanicus
The Halls of the Adeptus Mechanicus occupy a large, blister-like extrusion of metal and sensor spines at the base of the station. Here is where the tech-priests conduct research into the strange objects brought out of the Koronus Expanse, and monitor the data sent from their many stations scattered throughout the solar system, only some of which are known to the Navy. The cavernous interior also hosts the altar to the Machine God, where hundreds of priests chant in binary rhythm with the station’s cyclic bass rumbling. The Main Enginarium is located not far from the Mechanicus Hall, and its enormous reactors provide power for the station’s various systems, station-keeping thrusters, weapons systems, shielding, life support, and more. Extensive backup systems are in place in case of emergencies. With so many demands on its limited capabilities, however, large power drains such as void shield activations cause lights to dim across the port.
Around Port Wander
The space around Port Wander is filled with a clutch of asteroids that share its stable orbit. Nowhere near as large as the asteroid belt that girds the system, the asteroids have been extensively mined and developed since Port Wander’s founding. Some of the larger asteroids have been converted almost entirely into vast shipyards and drydocks, while others have been converted into habs, low-gee farms, foundry stations, refineries, and sustenance processors. The population of these asteroids is roughly equal to that of Port Wander, though spread out over a much wider area. Some of the more notable stations and asteroids are as follows:
- S/914 R IX: This asteroid-turned-repair yard and its attending hab-stations are largely left unbothered by Imperial Authority. Led by Foremistress Rhaelee Mahvorn III, the yard has a reputation for reliable and fast repairs with no questions. However, the yard does not suffer those who cannot (or will not) pay their debts, and are rumoured to have contacts among some of the pirate vessels that drift outsystem.
- B/017 C III: The largest shipyard in the system, B/017 is a gigantic gothic-tiered scaffolding almost twelve kilometres long, designed to house all but the very largest Imperial warships and mass conveyors. It is controlled jointly by the Imperial Navy and House Krin, and its clients are a mix of military and civilian vessels. Although there is little new ship construction in the Port Wander system, B/017 does turn out a new heavy transport every half-century or so.
- Hab 21: Amongst the numerous drifting hab stations around the port, Hab 21 is far more infamous than its modest 500-meter size would suggest. The small station is a critical node in one of the Cold Trade smuggling operations, and a steady stream of unregistered shuttles constantly enter and depart its docking bays.
- The Bounty Ring: A chain of mined-out asteroids turned low-gee farms, the Bounty Ring provides half the foodstuffs for Port Wander and the surrounding space. All aboard the station recognize just how important the Bounty Ring is to Port Wander’s existence, and the Navy keeps an intersystem defense monitor and two orbital weapons platforms on station at all times.
As it is a fairly isolated station on the edge of the Calixis Sector, Port Wander must be able to defend itself. In this regard, the station is quite capable. Batteries of macrocannon dot the outer edges of the station. Interspaced between them are multi-laser, autocannon, and Vulcan mega-bolter turrets for point defense and ordinance suppression. The station’s main offensive weapons are the dorsal and keel long-range lance batteries in the central bastion. In addition, the station has a dozen orbital weapons platforms in close attendance. Together, Port Wander’s defenses rival a Naval cruiser squadron.
For offensive operations in the Rubycon II system, Port Wander maintains five defense monitors---slow but heavily-armed intersystem vessels---and the starfighter and bomber squadrons of Vanguard Wing. Although under-strength compared to most Navy wings, Vanguard considers itself an elite formation---with good reason. Fighters and bombers can operate where larger ships cannot, such as Rubycon II’s dense asteroid belt, and the Furies and Starhawks of Vanguard have launched many vicious (and successful) attacks against pirate vessels since the Navy returned to Port Wander.
Celebrations and Feasts
In many ways Port Wander operates like its own city, and over the many years of existence has adopted its own unique holidays to accompany the standard Imperial and Calixian dates. These include:
- Feast of the Alignment - This marks the date the Navy regained control of the station. It is a grand holiday for Naval personnel, with double rations and amasec for the ratings as well as a huge feast for the officers. Unsurprisingly, the civilian population does not celebrate it with the same fervor.
- Salvation Day - A celebration to mark the end of the siege from Waaagh! Gulgrog, who surrounded the port with a huge fleet in 422.M41. Unlike many of the other festival days, it is marked with some degree of acrimony as many of the Rogue Trader fleets refused to come to the port’s aid in these dark times, finding it more profitable to stay out of the conflict or request impossible fees for their efforts. The vile greenskins had almost brought the station to collapse with constant bombardment and fighter attacks until the valiant Imperial Navy came to the rescue. It is common for many a toast to be raised to Battlefleet Calixis on this day, and for many a drink to be poured on the floor at the mention of any of the Rogue Traders who demonstrated their true colors during the conflict.
- Discovery Day - A somewhat fanciful holiday “honoring” Rogue Trader Vivaldi Jontur’s “discovery” of the Rubycon system. It is celebrated in a humorous fashion mostly by the station’s civilians, who spend the day searching for lost items or cleverly hiding things from their friends. On occasion, however, this has been used as a cover to steal valuables with the thieves claiming they “were only celebrating” should they be caught.
- Comet Fall - This happens whenever a comet comes near the station. Though it is probably stripped of most of its ice by that time, there is still plenty to be harvested if it is large enough. Most of the comet miners gather at the port for a collective effort, and indulge in friendly rivalries to see which clans can mine the most water before the remains drift too far from the station. Days of hard work take place, with much feasting and camaraderie to follow, and additional water rations are available throughout the port in the weeks thereafter.
- Opening of the Maw - This day of feasting celebrates the successful return of Purity Lathimon from the Expanse, opening the way for reliable passage through the Maw. This is often celebrated by feasting, though other, more sinister excesses are also prevalent. It has become a matter of honour for some nobility to provide the most exotic delicacies or darkest indulgences from the distant corners of the Expanse, resulting in a influx of smuggling in the weeks before.
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.
Battlefleet Calixis have formal primary authority over Port Wander. Without their guns and warships Port Wander would likely not exist today as anything more than a drifting shell or Ork-infested wreck. They have the means to destroy ships, enforce embargo and quarantines, and (potentially) bar the Koronus Passage to a vessel. These powers are theirs by virtue of the Imperial Navy’s duty in the Calixis Sector to protect the domains of the God-Emperor of Mankind. These are powers that they must exercise cautiously, however, lest they risk antagonising other influential factions in Port Wander. As powerful as the Imperial Navy is, its officers and men are by no means beyond the reach of other Imperial factions.
The Adeptus Mechanicus are the guardians and maintainers of the secrets of technology. Without the Tech Priests and their arcane lore, Port Wander would soon become lifeless, defenceless, and blind. It is by the knowledge and consent of the Mechanicus that the ships that flock to the station are repaired and the spirits of their machines calmed. Their shrines anoint the port in mysterious sectors, unremarkable except to those who know the secret histories of the station and its hidden mechanical pathways. Their presence is always in demand to offer consecrations to newly-repaired vessels, and for binary prayers as the ships depart for the Maw. They operate the huge auspex arrays located below the port, monitoring the Maw’s relative calmness and surrounding warp storms, the better to advise the captains who would make that passage. They are the foundation for all operations in Port Wander.
For their part, the Tech Priests have a great interest in the station, as it functions as a staging point for Mechanicus Explorator expeditions into the Halo Stars. It also keeps keen watches over the artefacts brought out of the Koronus Expanse by Rogue Traders, its eye ever searching for prohibited technologies or sacred relics of the lost past. The Xenos Biologis and Technologis factions often engage in a conflict hidden from all not privy to the aetheric communication networks between Tech-Priests, with data blasts and canted logic accusations wielded as violently as swords in their desire for first examination of all recovered items.
Merchant Cartels and Gelt Brokers
Representatives and factors of the merchant cartels, gelt brokers and trade houses of the Calixis sector swarm to Port Wander like ravenous predators. The flow of wealth and goods of all variety is controlled by them, and they have the ability and will to bankrupt nobles and strangle enterprises. It is to these keen-eyed factors that treasures from beyond the Great Warpstorms may be sold, and from cunning provender merchants that a Rogue Trader’s supplies are purchased. Of all the factions of Port Wander, this loose grouping of cartels and merchants is the most internally fractured and the most dangerously unstable; their disposition is constantly uncertain and the limits of their greed and spite are hard to gauge.
The Navis Nobilite
The Navis Nobilite hold the keys to the stars: it is only with their consent and complicity that any can venture from Port Wander into the Koronus Expanse. Without the Navigators’ third eye---their ability to see and navigate the tides and current of the warp---there could be no exploration of unknown regions such as the Koronus Expanse, and so it is that Port Wander (and all drawn to it) depends on the families of navigators for its continued existence. For their part, the Navigators are little concerned with controlling Port Wander, but the station is a battle ground for clan struggles: exploration into the Koronus Expanse offers priceless insight into the process of navigating uncharted space. As Port Wander is the gateway to the Expanse, many navigator houses see a dominant presence in the station as vital in securing contracts to explore the unknown. This knowledge improve the fortunes of a Navigator clan, especially if a route leads to a valuable world or is later designated for a crusade or colonization. In such cases, the exclusive knowledge of a route and the skill of the clan navigators to steer it mean that they can command a fortune in bonds from the Imperial Navy or Merchant Cartels.
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 centers, 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 organizations' 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 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 organization 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 organizations 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 organization 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.
Notable Persons of Port Wander
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
Rarely found outside of his offices or the port’s command deck, Naval Commander Larius Sans has grudgingly tended to his duties as both Port Wander’s highest Battle Fleet Calixis officer and, to his dismay, the station’s central authority. Leadership takes its toll, especially on a station like Port Wander. Commander Sans occupies a tenuous position between power brokers, wealthy merchants, ambitious Rogue Traders, and House Krin money-lenders, not to mention smugglers, cultists, and pirates. To make matters worse, reports suggest that a notorious spy from the Inquisition has begun an investigation that could bring his career to a calamitous end. Little is known of the Inquisition’s representative other than that she may be the reason an entire planet was committed to dust.
Larius Sans’ calm and disciplined demeanor suggests anything other than the situation he finds himself in. His muscular frame provides ample space for his many military commendations, which further express the irony of his position---a decorated officer gifted with command of a station for which he has little love. He suspects that his betters laugh at him from afar, his post as Port Wander’s commander a joke and inheritance from the blunders of his uncle, the late Admiral Sans. Acting against his impulse toward weeding out the corruption and factionalism within the port’s ranks, he bides his time, catering to those who undermine his authority until he can make his move and prove that he is not one to be laughed at. Civilians have unwittingly come under the commander’s employ, as he is cunning and willing to accomplish his goals through indirect means.
At some point, the port will have to bend to the commander’s will. Should it fail to do so, it will succumb to its own lawlessness and depravity, whether at the hands of an Inquisitor, pirates, or the stations own factionalism. Such an event may lead the citizens to look to Sans for salvation, at which time he could realize his ambition, save them, and put his competitors to shame---or so his fantasy plays out. On more sober days, he accepts that the port’s condition will likely sustain itself and so, with little hope, he waits.
Captain Karsus Har of the Ventan Iron Hounds
For the right price a man can buy many things in Port Wander, goods and information, influence and station, damnation, or even grace. Unsurprisingly, might is among the many immaterial products available. For Captain Har of the Ventan Iron Hounds, military might is more than just a concept, it’s his stock and trade. Stationed in his cell-like abode in the grimy tunnels of the Port, Captain Har sells the services of thousands of eager, violent men every day. A hard-bitten man of middling years, Captain Har is clearly no stranger to violence, his scarred flesh a testament to his experience, his manifold augmetics evidence of his dedication to a life of soldiery.
Har spent several years serving as a marine officer aboard the Telum Argentus, a Rogue Trader vessel of little renown. During a particularly bloody battle Har’s boarding party was left stranded aboard a hulked enemy ship as the Telum fled from the remaining opposition. Pressed into service aboard an enemy vessel, Har and his men made poor conscripts and eventually absconded during a period of shore leave. Seeking refuge and knowing little beyond warfare, Har joined the ranks of the Iron Hounds. Working on his own terms, Har has served the Hounds diligently for nearly six decades, becoming their liaison in Port Wander only in the last three years.
Those whose names grace the bottom of his contracts are as varied as they come, from Naval Officers in need of extra bodies for a coming conflict, to Rogue Traders engaged more in violence than subterfuge. In the interest of his business, Captain Har keeps a watchful eye on Port Wander and the surrounding void, always listening for whispers that might give him an edge in future negotiations. It is for this reason that Har is known throughout the Port as a source of information as well as military muscle. Though Har hires his men out for violent work of all kinds, one thing is always made clear to a buyer: the Hounds are soldiers for hire, not would-be crew; when a conflict is over, the buyer is left to his own and the Hounds return home.
Captain Morthus Whitehold
Exploration in the Expanse is never without risk. Most who travel there are desperate or vain enough to wager all against the faint hope that they will one day return with enlightenment, fortune, or glory. A great many perish in the Expanse, and those who do return rarely do so unscathed. So it is with Morthus Whitehold. Once a Rogue Trader of considerable renown, Captain Whitehold has since declined into a mad prison of his own paranoid making.
It has been nearly three decades since the captain of the Emperor’s March has set foot off Port Wander even to enter his own ship, a tremendous vessel that dwarfs the naval light cruisers which often rendezvous with the Port. In years long since past Captain Whitehold and his Trader fleet plied the Maw, practically a force of nature in the Expanse, and a legend to the would-be explorers trapped in the mundanity of Port life by fate and circumstance. It was during one such adventure, to an unknown region of the Expanse, previously untouched by human influence, that the famous captain was brought low. Morthus himself never speaks of the event and his loyal crew refuse inquiry, but it is said in low whispers throughout the Port that the majority of the Rogue Trader’s fleet was battered to hulks and the captain himself was cursed by a being of baleful power. Fleeing with little more than his life, Captain Whitehold lead his remaining ships back to Port Wander for repairs. Upon arrival Morthus fled his ship and took quarters on the station, as though he fears the March. To this day the Emperor’s March remains anchored to a docking station just off-Port, it’s crew resigned to disuse and neglect.
To the people of Port Wander, Morthus has become as constant as the thrum of the atmosphere recyclers. The distraught Rogue Trader often stalks the decks of the Port, a lunatic light in his guarded eyes, keeping a suspicious watch on those who pass by, his once-gaudy clothing now a tattered reminder of his famous past. He is met with open disdain by those too brazen to understand the depth of his misfortune, and somber condolence by those who fear his fate. While he is usually too withdrawn to approach directly, he occasionally has periods of total lucidity, sometimes lasting days at a time. During these times he temporarily returns to his former grandeur and gregariousness before eventually lapsing back into a paranoid delirium. For obvious reasons, curious or inquisitive Explorers seeking the once-great captain’s knowledge and experience are advised to approach him during these rare moments, as his advice can sometimes mean the difference between success and disaster for an adventurous void-farer.
Servitors are a necessity on a station like Port Wander, their presence overlooked by most. Through the constant, unflagging labour of a mindless horde of thousands Port Wander is kept operational. Overseeing these laborers is Constructor Acholus, the master architect of Port Wander. Acholus was installed on the Port nearly two centuries ago by the Priesthood of Mars, to serve Magos Toronos by both managing the servitors and organizing the slow, but constant expansion of the station. A rigidly orthodox servant of the Machine God, Constructor Acholus attends his duties with the pragmatic efficiency so prized by his cult, a swarm of servo-skulls continually darting to and fro about him, relaying messages to his servitor charges throughout the station.
As his servants carry out their ceaseless labors, practically unseen by the Port’s inhabitants, they watch and record, and utilizing his superhuman ability to process information, Acholus takes note of what they see. The majority of this information is mere trivium, useful only for predicting possible future expansions. However it was through this host of mindless agents that the Constructor became aware of troubling rumors, that his superior, Magos Toronos, may be engaged in uncovering proscribed tech artifacts. Now the Constructor finds himself burdened by a crisis of loyalty. While the orthodox Martian priest bristles at the possibility of Toronos’ profanity, his pragmatic sense of duty requires more than just rumors to level an accusation of tech-heresy against a Magos of such accomplishment. In order to illuminate his suspicions with facts, Constructor Acholus has instructed his countless charges to keep a passing watch on Toronos and those visitors to the Port she deals with personally.
The various machines and technological systems that ensure Port Wander’s continued functionality rely on the Adeptus Mechanicus and its local master, the great Magos Toronos. Mysterious and driven, Toronos facilitates more than is reasonable for an individual, yet does so with finesse and striking efficiency. Her strides, long and deliberate; her form, bulbous, amalgamated machine and flesh; the last sign of her gender, a feminine pronoun---few could mistake her as she makes her way about the Halls of the Mechanicus or the many other administrative centers on port. Given the weight of Toronos’ daily business it would be surprising were she to accomplish anything beyond the Adeptus Mechanicus’ demands.
This has not stopped a few jealous others from levying accusations in the port’s darker corners, claiming the Magos uses her power and resources to smuggle in artefacts both strange and dangerous to sate a debauched hunger for technology. Those who suggest this have little evidence to support their claims and would be hard-pressed to come up with more. Though, as history shows, lack of evidence rarely prevents the fabrication of falsehoods to sully the names of the powerful. If Toronos knows of these rumors, she pays them no mind and none have yet dared ask her directly.
Regardless, her followers strongly outnumber her detractors and she exercises a position of undeniable strength among Port Wander’s power brokers. Moreover, a lower citizen or visitor to the port may approach the Magos for her expertise or a prayer to the Omnissiah and they will undoubtedly receive what they ask for, increasing her popularity in turn. Such occasions are brief but always valued by the fortunate soul.
Port Wander is a troublesome place for those in authority. It provides a great deal of power and influence, positioned as it is on the one safe path to the Koronus Expanse. However, this location makes it a perfect stepping off point for those recalcitrant elements of Imperial society wishing to make their escape into unpatrolled space. It was the latter that first drew the vigilant Marshal Dhorin to the Port. As a Judge of the Adeptus Arbites, Dhorin was responsible for tracking down and apprehending fugitives of the Imperial Law, criminals responsible for heinous crimes beyond the scope of planetary enforcers.
One such criminal, Chiros Artaemos, whose crimes included over a dozen murders of Imperial officers and officials through three systems, had eluded Dhorin for three years. In the final weeks of the man hunt, Dhorin tracked Artaemos to Port Wander before he escaped further into the Expanse. While on station, the Arbites Judge was foiled time and again by what he perceived as the mismanagement of the Arbitrators assigned to the port. After a wearisome investigation and a desperate confrontation Dhorin cornered and eventually executed the assassin. His duty done, the Arbites agent turned his attention to the Proctors managing the station’s precinct. In a ruthless move he had the leading arbitrators demoted and reassigned throughout the system, and assumed control of the precinct himself.
Despite his intentions, the station has improved very little since Dhorin’s seizure, and he has since realized that it was not the failure of the previous Proctors which lead to the Port’s lawlessness, but the station’s very purpose and position. The grim Marshal therefore does what he can to mitigate the danger to the citizens of Port Wander, and works diligently to stem the flow of illegal goods, censured artefacts, and fugitive traffic through the station.
Very recently, rumors of the arrival of an Inquisitorial agent has set the inexorable man on edge. He suspects that his mistreatment of the former precinct officers followed by his inability to purge the Port of danger and vice has earned him the attention of an acolyte of the Inquisition. This has done nothing to improve his demeanor and, if anything, has exacerbated his prejudice against incompetence. Visitor to the Port are quick to notice that Marshal Dhorin himself has taken to the decks of the station in an effort to make the Arbites presence more visible. Those with ill intent are warned, Port Wander is no place for the enemies of man.
Omidaeus and Isshaak
In a time long passed, Omidaeus would stroll about the Astropathic Choir Sanctum to greet visiting sanctioned psykers and welcome those in need of communications services. Few remember those days and no one understands how or why they came to an end. Today, only his trusted servant Isshaak may enter the antiquated, dust-covered chamber that once served as his private quarters, a refuge Omidaeus refuses to leave. On the rare occasion Isshaak forgets the door, some have claimed to glimpse movement, the occasional finger, or even a hand from behind a cascade of cable and wire that descends from one of the chamber’s walls like constrictive vines and serpents. Attempts made to communicate with Omidaeus telepathically have been described sonorously as metal against glass---no thought, no sign eligible for interpretation. Any open speculation regarding the condition of Omidaeus leads to violent outrage on the part of Isshaak who sees it as an affront to the master’s wishes.
The possessive and servile underling Isshaak holds audience with Omidaeus daily and dispenses his master’s commands throughout the Sanctum. Despised by the rest of the Choir, Isshaak guards his privilege with haughty disdain and eccentric displays including donning his master’s garb, performing self flagellatory exercises in recompense for the Choir’s supposed descent into sin, and flaunting his possession of the Sanctum’s master key. When he feels the need to leave his master’s side, the short, fleshy creature presses flat against the Sanctum’s long, dark walls for fear of contact with those he suspects plot against him. Regrettably, any who seek the master of the Astropathic Choir Sanctum will have to communicate with the first among his servants instead.
A word of wisdom for potential visitors: three years ago, suspicious members of the Choir accused Isshaak of imprisoning Omidaeus for his own gain and attempted to mete out justice on Omidaeus’ behalf. In a fit of terror, the slave fled to his master’s refuge followed by the mob. Isshaak, the only being to leave the room alive, continued the business of the Sanctum as though nothing had happened. None of his accusers were ever seen again. The wake of this event forged a kind of peace only possible in the shadow of insanity, an eerie peace that lingers there still. Isshaak’s countenance signifies weakness but in madness he finds strength, a fact one would be wise to remember.
Torvan the Fallen
Years ago, Torvan lost control of his ship on his first voyage through the Koronus Expanse. The unfortunate event led to an arduous ordeal on a desert covered death world shrouded in a cloak of near-eternal night. Through cold and hunger he endured, making his way back to the nomadic fleet, Aleene, from which his life journey began. But the fleet deemed him cursed, and a danger to all his house, banishing him and casting him off into the void. Dark years of exile followed, and he scraped out an existence by trading his services to ships of ill repute for meagre reward, until he settled upon Port Wander to sell his knowledge as a cautionary tale to the various Rogue Traders that pass through the port’s halls.
At many of Port Wander’s places of rest may be heard whispers about a grounded navigator, consumed by quiet madness, hoping to peddle his experiences to young and foolhardy explorers of the void. Black robes billow about his gaunt figure as he makes his promenade about the Gilt Processionals or the Solstice Imperialis. He’s been known to issue cryptic words of warning to those of haughty baring or ostentatious garb, though these morsels are often passed off as the ramblings of an addled fool who ventured once too often through the warp. His visage indicates unknown years of experience---a mechanical lower jaw, wandering left eye, and a single scar carved into pale, taut flesh for every story he has to sell.
Torvan’s travels include uncompleted adventures, uncovered but unsolved mysteries, and blunders potentially in need of remedy, making him valuable for any crew in need of work---though only the most desperate crew would rely on him. He refuses to navigate another ship, but will give valuable advice on the subject as long as a reasonable amount of gelt comes his way. Those who request his advice should use caution: the man is said to have doomed more expeditions than he has successfully plotted.
Inquisitor Linetta Res of the Ordo Xenos
Ten years ago a destructive artefact of unknown origin appeared on a death world among the Halo Stars. Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Linetta Res discovered a cult unwittingly activating the artefact as a beacon---what kind of beacon and what it might have summoned remains unknown. She ordered the entire world destroyed in hopes that the beacon had not yet attracted any unwanted attention, and in reward found herself on missions of increasing difficulty across the Calixis Sector, working to uncover the smuggling of xenos technology.
Her presence on Port Wander remained a secret until recently, when Commander Larius Sans received a disturbing report that a Rogue Trader was taken by the Inquisition while working for an anonymous tech priest. The identity of the heretical priest has yet to be revealed and Res, enervated by her first catch, continues the investigation with renewed vigour. Rogue Traders have incentive to choose jobs carefully given the Inquisition’s presence on the station and depending on their activities---past and present---may find themselves under her scrutiny.
Res examines every scene and character she meets with eidetic precision, ready to analyse even those she believes have no part in heretical activities. She words every statement with the utmost care, taking time to tactically deploy information like a series of traps to rein in her prey. She makes victims of even those truly guilty of crimes against mankind and the Emperor, for the slowness with which she speaks disarms her opponents, leading them unwittingly to their own demise. For those rare few able to fool her or prove themselves uncorrupted, she trades in information, making her an invaluable source as long as something useful comes her way in return.
Rhaelee Mahvorn III, Foremistress of S/914 R IX
The void surrounding Port Wander is lousy with asteroid-bound mines, palaces, fuelling stations, and repair yards. Given the sheer number of these facilities, the authorities of the Port have long since lost track of all of them. In the absence of direct Imperial oversight, many have become small kingdoms unto themselves, governed by dynastic lords and elder councils. On S/914 R IX, an asteroid-turned-repair yard, the Mahvorn dynasty has directed the labor for over a millennium. To the Mahvorns, leadership has never been a privileged position of luxury and decadence, but a seat from which to ensure a job well done and a labor force well rewarded. While the inhabitants of other installations toil under the harsh watch of would-be Imperial courtiers, the people of R IX have worked for one of their own.
The Mahvorn dynasty was never a noble line, but rather a family of laborers who were artificially raised above their peers by the administrators of Port Wander. Early in the 40th millennium, while Port Wander was first being established, many of the surrounding asteroids were settled to provide materials and facilities for the construction of the Port. During this period R IX was managed by a naval officer and his small staff. Shortly after the completion of the Port, the officer was killed in a shuttle mishap and the administration of R IX was temporarily transferred to Vindalv Mahvorn, the foreman of the construction yards. In the intervening centuries the bureaucrats of the Port lost track of the relatively minor installation and no new administrator was sent to replace the erstwhile overseer.
It has been over nine centuries since then and a Mahvorn has ruled ever since. The current steward is Foremistress Rhaelee Mahvorn III, a woman of indeterminate age and fierce bearing. Often mingling with the workers on the repair yards, a visitor to R IX would be hard-pressed to pick the steward out from a crowd. Her clothing is as worn and grease-stained as that of her subjects, her flesh as scarred and calloused from years on the yards. Indeed her most noticeable feature, her bionic arm replacement, is the result of an industrial accident from years past.
Despite her proletarian appearance, Rhaelee takes her administrative duties very seriously. She runs the ship yards of R IX with a practiced hand resulting in a reputation for efficiency and quality. While R IX is a relatively small installation, only numbering roughly fifty-thousand souls, it is known to be one of the best facilities in the Rubycon system, having even been contracted by they Imperial fleet itself in times of need. In negotiations the steward is cordial and charming, but always keeps a shrewd eye on her contracts. Foremistress Mahvorn is well aware of her people’s reputation and rarely lets the prospective client get the better of her. A Rogue Trader with a crippled vessel and the coin to spend would do well to seek out R IX and its capable steward.
Eventually, every Rogue Trader who survives the many dangers within the warp or among the stars will have to face an encounter with a pirate fleet or one of its representatives. The fortunate ones fulfil this informal obligation through a meeting with Thran Finn, who can be found wasting time among Port Wander’s admittedlyfew idle citizens of meagre means. Thran wants for little, however, preferring the company of the station’s most indolent rogues as a matter of taste and vanity only. His pay, so the long running joke goes, comes from an unnamed pirate fleet that stationed him on Port Wander as a pair of eyes and ears. Though probably true, his innocuous smile and laid-back attitude relieve the curious of any concern about his associations and the more serious accusers are paid in laughs all around.
Rumor-trading and word of ships and cargo at dock will hold his attention for a time, and though his rumors are as cheap as the hat on his head, he dispenses the occasional gem. When one has nothing to go on, he seeks out Thran Finn. If he leaves with nothing else, he will at least have had a laugh. For reliable informants willing to take the time and effort to temper a long-lasting relationship, Thran will gladly return the favor. Such a rapport is rare, however, given that the longer one works with Thran, the more likely it is that misfortune will befall him... though Thran makes sure to keep his own mechanical hands as clean of violence as possible, preferring to leave the dirty work up to others.
Honorable Representative Pultarch Norn
Port Wander hosts the Honourable Representative Pultarch Norn, representing House Krin, the pre-eminent supplier of loans, bonds of credit and surety of funds across the Calixis Sector. As the envoy of the most powerful financiers in the sector, he is one of the most influential individuals in residence, and his power carries far beyond the confines of the station. Though he is not a blood member of House Krin, he is one of their most trusted and senior servants, and has power to broker terms on vast sums of Throne Gelt.
Gaunt and angular, he favors heavy black and gold robes with fingers sheathed in rings of authority and rank. He is spoken of by many as the “Gilded Crow,” though he is never addressed as such to his face. He is rarely seen outside of his rooms in the Chambers of Gold where he meets with those who have procured the proper type of introduction. The sole concern of this trusted servant is a good return on an investment or loan, and if that return is not met, his second concern is that a debt be paid in full. Should matters proceed beyond that, there are many employees who can deal with the necessary collections and deliver sharp lessons in correct payment practices.