- "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 massive void station on the uttermost edge of the Drusus Marches Sub-sector of the Calixis Sector in the Rubycon II System, rightly regarded as the last bastion of the rule of the Emperor of Mankind this side of the Koronus Expanse and the last stop before entering that untamed region of the Halo Stars. A place of desperate hopes and vain dreams, Port Wander teems with a transitory population of traders, spies, merchant factors, pilgrims, and missionaries amongst which move Adeptus Administratum functionaries and minions of the Adeptus 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 into the Koronus Expanse region of the Halo Stars in the late 40th Millennium, the space station grew in importance owing to its close proximity to the Passage. Its original role as a base for Imperial 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.
Standing sentry at the gates of the Maw, Port Wander is the last outpost of Imperial law and order on the far rimward side of the Calixis Sector. 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 other Imperial Adepta, 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 political enemies in the service to drydock their careers, and they 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 the Calixis Sector. 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 void station is the last true outpost of both the Calixis Sector and the Emperor's Light. 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.
Guardian of the Maw
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. Originating as a standard pattern Xerxes Mark IV naval void station, Port Wander was made from prefabricated and pre-blessed sectionals and transported into the Rubycon System by mammoth Greathold freighters over many solar months. Assembly took only 17 Terran years; the station was consecrated, declared operational, and thruster-anchored into position orbiting the world of Rubycon II far ahead of Thamos in a stable position a year later.
Though smaller than many Imperial Naval void 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 the sector's 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 Koronus Expanse and back, the station grew as well, attracting the attention of many Imperial agencies throughout the sector. What was a standard Navy-operated void station became overrun with Rogue Traders, commerce shipping agents, merchant guilds, Administratum functionaries, Inquisitorial spies, Adeptus Mechanicus Tech-adepts and Adeptus 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 Koronus Expanse.
With less military and more commercial functions occurring and constant years of pressure, the Imperial Navy was forced under Imperial Palace decree in the early 41st Millennium to cede authority over the station to a consortium of Administratum functionaries, heavily influenced by factions of Rogue Traders, merchants, and guilds.
Imperial Commanders 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 station possessed little functioning defences against external attacks. After a dozen solar decades including long stretches of disorder and zealous excesses, even the Rogue Traders realised only the Imperial Navy could stabilise the port at a level where profits could be dependably made. They petitioned the Lucid Palace on the sector capital world of Scintilla for a solution in the mid-41st Millennium, lest reliable access to the Koronus Expanse be squandered and lost.
The so-called "Grand Alignment" imposed by the Sector Governor heralded the return of the Imperial Navy to operational control over Port Wander. While the void station returned to Imperial 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 void station for their own research. The merchant guilds kept much of their shops and trading halls, and continue to exert considerable political 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 the Calixis Sector 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 or her 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.
Siege of Port Wander
When WAAAGH! Gulgrog attacked Port Wander in 422.M41, it struck suddenly and forcefully. With charts and observations of the Koronus Expanse even more limited than they are now, warning signs of the oncoming assault were few and largely unnoticed: those who did see the Greenskin invasion coming either fled to safety or found their predictions falling upon deaf ears as the notably lax Port Authority busied itself with matters of profit. By the time the Ork fleet had swept past the recently established port of Footfall unhindered and entered the Maw, there was little that could be done to evade the swift and reckless invaders.
Moving at speeds that baffled Navigators who witnessed it, the Orks traversed the Maw in mere solar days, striking first at those vessels that rushed to depart Port Wander. Thirty-seven merchant haulers and transports were reduced to burning wreckage, and a dozen Rogue Traders found their prized vessels torn apart by swarms of raiders and frigates, while the bulkier "Kroozers" headed for the starport itself. Port Wander's own defences responded admirably to the invasion, crippling and destroying innumerable vessels as the Orks attempted to board and overwhelm it. On a hundred occasions in the first years of the war, the Orks managed to land groups of warriors within the fortress, only to have them repelled at significant cost by the mercenaries, voidsmen and Imperial Navy armsmen who defended it.
The first year was, in the estimation of those who survived, the hardest of the siege. With most void ships crippled or destroyed, and the outer defences bombarded to ruin, Port Wander was essentially alone amidst the Ork fleet. Their momentum failing, the Orks slowly divided into factions, each squabbling to salvage the most intact of the hulks that littered the Rubycon II System and competing to see which would be the one to claim the defiant fortress.
After two Terran years of battle, the first reinforcements arrived, as Battlefleet Calixis and the Adeptus Mechanicus rallied to form a substantial rescue fleet. A squadron of Sword-class Frigates, supported by the reconnaissance of Lathe monitor-cruisers, launched lightning raids to clear the outer reaches of the system. Then, a combined force of Imperial Navy warships and Secutor Light Cruisers from Scintilla arrived to begin the conflict in earnest, supported by the Navy warships on patrol from Passage Watch 27.
The resulting war of attrition may have actually extended the war -- the Orks' initial unity quickly fractured in the face of a prolonged conflict, and while Port Wander could not hold out indefinitely, the arrival of Imperial reinforcements did not have the desired effect of routing the Orks. Quite the opposite, in fact -- faced with new enemies and new plunder, the Orks rallied together around Gulgrog's flagship (identified through unclear and poorly-translated Vox-transmissions as the infamous Da Wurldbreaka) and fought all the harder.
The counterattack lasted for another standard year, as the Orks rallied to the fight, and was costly in terms of men, vessels and money. Lord Admiral Androvast Strophes is credited by many as being the hero of the war, leading fully two-thirds of Battlefleet Calixis in the final assault from his flagship, the Retribution-class Battleship Fist of Adamant, and crippling Gulgrog's flagship in a punishing broadside duel that sentenced the Fist of Adamant to spacedock for half a Terran century. After two solar days of conflict, the Orks were finally routed and, wearied from battle, the Imperial Navy moved to reclaim Port Wander instead of pursuing the Orks through the Maw.
Their forces broken and slaughtered, the Ork survivors slunk back to their worlds in the Expanse. Most believed that the threat had now passed, that the remaining Greenskins were too few and too demoralised to pose more than a trivial threat. For a time, they were correct -- Ork raids upon voidships in the Expanse dropped dramatically in the following centuries.
The relative peace, however, could not last, for Orks are not easily discouraged from acts of brutality and senseless violence. By the early eighth century of the 41st Millennium, the Ork menace had regained much of its strength and was as great a peril within the Expanse as they had been more than four Terran centuries before, drawing in Rogue Traders in greater numbers to combat the escalating threat with the promise of handsome reward. Yet still the threat grows, and now the Koronus Expanse stands on the brink of something terrible -- a second Greenskin invasion preparing to burst from its depths, just over half a millennium after the last.
The Footfall Affair
As the Imperial Navy's new Battlefleet Koronus' operations in the Koronus Expanse grow, its warships come into increasing conflict with those already there. Though these certainly include the Expanse's native inhabitants, there are those nominally affiliated with the Imperium -- such as more than a few Rogue Traders -- who find the Navy's presence disruptive to their plans.
Amongst these individuals, one incident stands out as particularly infamous. A half-century ago, a pirate wolfpack began operating through the Maw. The pirates raided around Port Wander, then would flee with their loot through the Passage to Footfall, where they claimed two of the outer hab asteroids as their base. One of these marauders was actually a Rogue Trader who turned to piracy to supplement his meagre fortunes, and the powers of Footfall showed little interest in dislodging him.
As the situation persisted, a coalition of brokerage houses and mercantile interests led by House Krin petitioned the Imperial Navy to take action and protect their interests. The newly promoted Admiral Nathaniel Horne (the current commanding officer of Battlefleet Koronus) agreed to aid them. However, instead of reinforcing the patrols around Port Wander, Horne took a direct action.
A task force consisting of the Cruisers Gryphon, Sirius, and Gethsemane, escorted by a reinforced squadron of Frigates and Destroyers, travelled to Furibundus and attacked the pirates directly. The resulting battle quickly devolved into a confused melee, with Battlefleet Koronus warships dodging amongst the asteroids of Footfall while exchanging point-blank broadsides with pirates. Besides the pirate Rogue Trader, several other Rogue Traders and Free Captains found themselves drawn into the battle, often unsure just whose side they were on.
Though the Gethsemane and Frigate Pride of Vaxenhide took heavy damage and the Cobra-class Destroyers X-11 and X-24 were lost, the Navy destroyed a dozen pirate vessels, shattered their habitat asteroids, and sent the scattered remnants fleeing deep into the Expanse. Other Rogue Traders including Aspyce Chorda and Elizabeth Orleans raised a flurry of protests against the Navy's "heavy-handed and barbaric actions," which the Imperial Adepta ignored, tacitly approving Horne's actions and giving him free reign for operations deeper into the Expanse. In the following years, many have speculated that this was the Admiral's goal all along.
Rubycon II System
Rubycon II is the star system that is home to Port Wander in the Drusus Marches. It is centred on a a bloated red star that is nearly a thousand times larger than Blessed Sol and burns a deep crimson. It is a dead system of two large gas giants whose pale surfaces flow with great typhoons that spread and die like bruises on flesh. These two planets are named the Ruby Brothers, and between the two worlds lies a wide and dense field of asteroids that may be the remains of a lesser sibling planet whose death occurred long ago.
This broken string of asteroids is a common hiding place for those wishing to avoid Imperial notice, and has become a meeting place for agencies of ill repute who would still chance the Koronus Passage to the Expanse. Beyond the orbit of these two bloated twin planets is Port Wander itself, set amongst a clutch of asteroids, many of which have been converted into other installations, ship yards, housing units, research stations, repair docks, and storage facilities.
Surrounded by vessels of all shapes and sizes, it glows with the lights of hundreds of beacons and tens of thousands of souls. Beyond this island of life are the comets, untold hundreds of thousands of chunks of ice and carbonaceous soot, each a glittering mote in the heavens. Finally there is the true void, still and serene except for the silent roar of mighty Plasma Drives as voidships pass in flight or in hope.
In and Around Port Wander
From a distance, Port Wander resembles a small Imperial cityscape, with Gothic 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 voidship and anchor it to the station. Smaller shuttle bays dot the station where numerous small spacecraft carry cargo and people between voidships and the station.
Deep crevasses run along the station, showing the slow layers of expansions through the many solar 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 void 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 drydock 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 defences, squadrons of heavily armed Defence Monitor voidcraft 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 voidcraft 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 gas giant 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, voidship yards, and other more useful installations.
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 space station, and within it bustles a changing population of strange and exotic individuals. Rogue Traders and their fellow explorers often spend many solar 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 solar 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 Imperial 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 defences are the staff and systems that keep Port Wander functioning and safe.
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 centre is manned by junior officers unless there is a major docking or military operation ongoing.
One of the main spires reaching above the central axis of the station houses is Port Wander's Sensorium, in which vast Auspex displays watch over the movement of all vessels of interest throughout the area and voidships 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 Imperial Navy, they may not give such requests priority without reciprocation in Thrones or favours.
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 Imperial Naval personnel have official care facilities for their treatment. The Adeptus 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 Imperial Naval personnel are quartered in the Central Bastion; from the commander's lavish quarters to the fetid bunkrooms for the 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 Stockade and Pressment Centres
Discipline for the crewmen on any Imperial Naval vessel is harsh, and violators of regulations are sent to the stockyards for sentencing, assuming summary judgements are not carried out on the spot. The kiss of the lash, gruelling 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 centres house those hapless souls who have been impressed into service either at the port or by a visiting ship in need of ratings. All voidships require untold bodies toiling in unending labour for them to function, and the pressmen do their best to fill these needs from wherever they can find warm bodies.
For affairs of honour 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 void 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 "civilised" 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 rumour 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 people 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 the local currency, Thrones. 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.
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 kilometre 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.
Chamber of Gold
The Chamber of Gold is a great colonnaded chamber that opens off the Gilt Processionals. Here, beneath a painted ceiling showing Saint 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 the currency of Throne Gelt. On brass walkways above the factors and their scribbling scribes stand plate-armoured 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 metres 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 rumours with void-crazed pilgrims.
In the centre 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 augmetics, 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 and into the Expanse.
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 starships 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 - This small-but-popular tavern lies near the station's sunward shuttle bays, frequented by void travellers 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 - A much more dangerous place, the Bloodstone is 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 regarded as a regular here is a mark of true respect among the scummers and heavies in the port.
- Voidfarer’s Rest - 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 God-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 Imperial Cult 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 Ecclesiarchy 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 Koronus 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 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 Warp Storms often come to the Solstice to find strong souls willing to follow their faith beyond the circle of Imperial rule.
Numerous docking ports line the edges of the void 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 voidships nearby, there is constant traffic into them. While most craft are dedicated to a starship or are Imperial 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 damages 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 spacedocks 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 star 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 Plasma 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 Rubycon II 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 all 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 include:
- 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 out-system.
- 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 voidship 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-metre size would suggest. The small station is a critical node in one of the infamous "Cold Trade" smuggling operations in xenos artefacts from the Expanse, 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 recognise just how important the Bounty Ring is to Port Wander's existence, and the Imperial Navy keeps an intrasystem Defence Monitor and two orbital weapons platforms on station at all times.
As it is a fairly isolated space 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 Macrocannons dot the outer edges of the station. Interspaced between them are Multi-Laser, Autocannon, and Vulcan Mega Bolter turrets for point defence 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 defences rival the firepower of an Imperial Navy Cruiser squadron.
For offensive operations in the Rubycon II System, Port Wander maintains five Defence Monitors -- slow but heavily-armed intra-system vessels -- and the starfighter and bomber squadrons of Vanguard Wing. Although under-strength compared to most Imperial 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 Wing have launched many vicious (and successful) attacks against pirate vessels since the Imperial Navy returned to Port Wander.
Port Wander is a domain of the Imperium of Man ruled in the name of the 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, wanderers and explorers returning from beyond the Great Warp Storms, 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.
The Imperial Navy's Battlefleet Calixis has 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 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
The Adeptus Mechanicus are the guardians and maintainers of the secrets of technology within the realm of Mankind. 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 voidships 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 great 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 Warp Storms 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 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 currents 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 noble 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 improves the fortunes of a Navigator House, especially if a route leads to a valuable world or is later designated for an Imperial Crusade or colonisation. In such cases, the exclusive knowledge of a route and the skill of the house's Navigators to steer it mean that they can command a fortune in bonds from the Imperial Navy or Merchant Cartels.
Notable Personnel of Port Wander
The population of Port Wander is approximately five million people, 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 and his entourage of explorers:
- Station Commander Larius Sans - Imperial Naval Commander Larius Sans tends to his duties as both Port Wander's highest Battlefleet Calixis officer and, to his dismay, the station's central authority. Commander Sans is a decorated Imperial Navy officer gifted with command of a space station for which he has little love. He suspects that his betters laugh at him from afar, his post as Port Wander's station commander a joke and inheritance from the blunders of his uncle, the late Admiral Sans. 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.
- Captain Karsus Har - For Captain Karsus Har of the mercenary company known as the Ventan Iron Hounds, military might is more than just a concept, it is his stock and trade. 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. Stationed in his cell-like abode in the grimy tunnels of the Port, he sells the services of thousands of eager, violent men every day.
- Captain Morthus Whitehold - Once a Rogue Trader of considerable renown, Captain Morthus Whitehold has since declined into a mad prison of his own paranoid making. It has been nearly three solar 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 Imperial Navy 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.
- Constructor Acholus - Constructor Acholus, the master architect of Port Wander, oversees the constant, unflagging labour of the station's Servitor workforce, ensuring that they are kept operational at all times. Acholus was installed on the Port nearly two Terran centuries ago by the Priesthood of Mars, to serve Magos Toronos by both managing the Servitors and organising 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.
- Marshal Dhorin - The ever-vigilant Marshal Dhorin is a veteran Judge and senior Arbitrator of the Adeptus Arbites precinct on Port Wander. Following the successful conclusion of a manhunt for a ruthless criminal, 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 of authority, and he has since realised 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 xenos artefacts, and fugitive traffic through the station.
- Omidaeus and Isshaak - Omidaeus is the senior Astropath of Port Wander's Astropathic Choir. 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. 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. 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.
- Torvan the Fallen - Torvan the Fallen is a disgraced Navigator who lost control of his ship years ago 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.
- Linetta Res - Linetta Res is an Ordo Xenos Inquisitor stationed upon Port Wander. Ten Terran 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 as a reward found herself on missions of increasing difficulty across the Calixis Sector, working to uncover the smuggling of xenos technology.
- Rhaelee Mahvorn III - Rhaelee Mahvorn III is the Foremistress of the asteroid-turned-repair yard known as S/914 R IX. The Mahvorn dynasty has directed the labour 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 labour 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 labourers who were artificially raised above their peers by the administrators of Port Wander during its construction early in the 40th Millennium. Rhaelee runs the shipyards of R IX with a practised hand resulting in a reputation for efficiency and quality. While R IX is a relatively small installation, only numbering roughly 50,000 souls, it is known to be one of the best facilities in the Rubycon II System, having even been contracted by the Imperial Navy itself in times of need.
- Thran Finn - Thran Finn can be found wasting time among Port Wander's admittedly few 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. Rumour-trading and word of ships and cargo at dock will hold his attention for a time, and though his rumours 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 favour.
- Honourable Representative Pultarch Norn - Pultarch Norn represents 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 on Port Wander, 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.
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 Imperial 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 fervour.
- 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 those 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 Fighta-Bommer 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 colours during the conflict.
- Discovery Day - A somewhat fanciful holiday "honouring" Rogue Trader Vivaldi Jontur's "discovery" of the Rubycon II 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 Koronus 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 an influx of smuggling in the weeks before.
Law on Port Wander
As it is nominally under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Navy, law enforcement aboard Port Wander is, on paper at least, the purview of the Naval Provost and the naval arm of the Officio Prefectus. Unfortunately, the majority population aboard is civilian and not bound to the rules and regulations of the Navy, which causes no end of difficulty for those trying to enforce the law.
Due to this state of affairs, the Navy tends to ignore civilian matters except where they directly affect the Navy and the administration of the port, such as crimes perpetrated against Naval personnel and materiel. Instead, they focus their attention on making sure that all Naval personnel aboard obey Naval regulations and follow Naval law and largely leave the civilians to fend for themselves. This leaves a vacuum that the Adeptus Arbites have stepped into, deploying a small precinct of Arbitrators to 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 Officio Prefectus stepping in. This angers Marshal Dhorin (senior Judge and commanding officer) 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.
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 Calixis, 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 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.
Thanks to the general lawlessness and gridlock caused by the feuding Imperial agencies, the aforementioned private security organisations and mercenary bands do brisk business on the station. Being hired men instead of public servants, these heavily armed and typically well-trained security agents zealously protect the interests of their employers but pay attention to little else, especially unfortunate incidents that involve their employers' rivals. Both the Navy and the Arbites detest these paid Enforcers, but so long as an organisation does not grow too powerful or overstep its bounds, they are willing to accept them as part of the status quo.
Crime and Punishment on Port Wander
Despite this awkward mish-mash of squabbling officials, mercenary security forces, and roving packs of armsmen from Rogue Trader and Free Captain ships who tend to keep the peace in the civilian docks, Port Wander is generally a safe and lawful place. The laws, when actually applied, are a strange mix of laws from the Imperial Navy and the Arbites, with a healthy dose of obfuscation and legal loopholes generated by nearly every Rogue Trader dynasty and merchant house with a controlling interest in the station.
Much of the crime aboard Port Wander is property crime, theft, vandalism, and the like, with a constant stream of kidnapping, public drunkenness, brawling, and murder. There is also a large underground economy based on the trade of stolen goods, proscribed artefacts, and other ill-gotten gains from the constant stream of pirates and smugglers that put in to refit and give their men liberty.
Punishments tend to follow more Naval traditions, with a particular emphasis on flogging, imprisonment, and summary executions. One particularly unique punishment meted out on Port Wander is "spacing," or execution by being blown out of an airlock without a voidsuit. Spacing is typically reserved for heinous crimes against Naval materiel or personnel, or sabotage of or damage to any of the numerous infrastructural systems aboard the great space station.
Another exceedingly brutal punishment on Port Wander is being "flogged 'round the fleet." Typically handed down to Naval personnel, but not unknown amongst civilian and Rogue Trader fleets, a sentence of being flogged 'round the fleet involves a sentence of hundreds of lashes. The convicted is lashed to a whipping frame, bundled into a shuttle with an Imperial Priest, a chirurgeon, and someone to administer the punishment like a boatswain's mate or a Naval Commissar, and flown to each of the ships in the fleet currently in port.
At each ship, the convicted is debarked and, as the ship's officers and a large portion of her men are assembled to witness punishment, he is administered a number of his lashes while the Priest recites the convict's crimes and prays over him. This continues at each ship until the convicted receives all his lashings -- with the chirurgeon stepping in only to keep him alive so that he may endure his complete punishment.
In fact, it is not uncommon for the convicted to die despite the chirurgeon's best efforts. Being flogged 'round the fleet is, again, more punitive than rehabilitative and is designed to make a public example out of the convicted more than anything. It is also, in many cases, a death sentence.
A Hive of Scum and Villainy
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 murderers 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, intrasystem 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 II 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 Imperial Navy has little interest in doing.
Pirates also infest the system, attracted to the rich bounties being harvested from the Koronus Expanse and the heavily-laden vessels supplying the system. A common tactic is to attack transports as they translate from the Warp into realspace 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.
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 340-341
- Rogue Trader: Battlefleet Koronus (RPG), pp. 58-60, 67
- Rogue Trader: Edge of the Abyss (RPG), pp. 51, 53-54, 81-82
- Rogue Trader: Hostile Acquisitions (RPG), pp. 15-16
- Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (RPG), pp. 234-253
- Fantasy Flight Games - The Calixis Sector