After an exchange of telemetry and servitor binary chatter, the Ghost docks at Port Wander.
Lord-Captain Elias Cole orders shore leave for the crew, except for the ring leaders causing unrest over pay.
At Serverus‘s suggestion, Cole sends Commandant Rh’ahv Han’dile covertly onto the station. The eldar mercenary takes Iyan’na and three of the Sons with him. They have Kor’El transport them in an Arvus lighter to avoid suspicion and sneak aboard via one of the many cargo bays. Kor’El wears a sun-shielded blast helmet to hide his face. One of the Sons remains on the Arvus with him for protection, and backup for the team if required.
Meanwhile, Cole places Antonius in command of the ship which somewhat disgruntles Regina.
He gathers four of his Household Troopers as his personal guard, and has Flight Marshal Iesha Feulner fly them, Haarlock and Serverus across to the station in Cole’s personal Aquila. The Enginseer has brought his troublesome servo-skull +++Disdain+++ with him.
Cole tasks Haarlock with securing him a Refractor Field at the Guilt Processionals while he and his retinue heard towards the Control Bastion to meet with Commander Sans as requested, whilst Serverus takes his leave and makes his way to the Halls of the Mechanicus, hoping to discover more of Magos xxx’s whereabouts. However, he tasks Disdain to remain with Cole to act as his eyes and ears.
Cole and his bodyguards are escorted by Naval security personnel to the heart of the station, which is separated from the rest of the den of rogues by code-sealed hatches, isolation bulkheads, and sentry weapons. Behind these defences are the staff and systems that keep Port Wander functioning and safe. As they near the base of the Central Bastion, they pass the Arbite guarded blast doors that lead to the Adeptus Arbites Precinct Complex.
Upon entering the bastion, Cole orders his guards to stand to, and is greeted by a senior naval officer who escorts him up to the Command Deck. Both Cole and Serverus(via Disdain’s auspex link) can’t help noticing that several cogitator displays linked to the station’s Sensorium and weapon’s batteries are currently displaying the Ghost.
Cole steps on to the Command Deck, a cavernous room that 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 Commander Larius Sans, dismisses a number of his senior officers in order to receive Cole. They converse amicably in the Commander’s private office over amasec and lho-stubs. The Commander strikes a chord with Cole, as they are both currently find themselves in tenuous positions between power brokers, wealthy merchants, ambitious Rogue Traders, and House Krin money-lenders, not to mention smugglers, cultists, and pirates! Cole learns that the Commander’s position has been made worse yet, as reports suggest that a notorious spy from the Inquisition has recently begun an investigation on the station. Little is known of the Inquisition’s representative other than that she may be the reason an entire planet was committed to dust.
The talk quickly turns to Cole’s Grandfather’s feats whilst in the Imperial Navy, House Cole’s continued links to the Navy through long standing arms deals and the Ghost’s ties to the history of Port Wander. The Commander then steers the conversation to what Cole realises is his real agenda. Sans has recently received word that the world of Damaris in area of the Expanse known as the Cauldron, has begun requesting aid to repel an impending Ork invasion. The Battlefleet Calixis High Command have however, ordered that no assistance be given to the system and have begun a withdrawal of their assets in that area;
Having given Cole time to review the data-slates, the Commander asks if he would travel to Damaris to investigate if there is any truth in the reports of invasion. All Cole would be required to do, is to transmit a ciphered signal that would be provided by the Commander once the Rogue Trader is in-system. Cole is initially non-commital, so the Commander sweetens the deal by offering Cole a Writ of Claim for the xxx, a wrecked starship recently discovered by a Naval Scout Pinnace in the Battleground station of passage within the Maw. The cargo manifest for the ship shows that cargo belonging to Cole’s Grandfather was being transported in one of it’s holds. The Writ requires that Cole be the first to set foot on the stricken vessel. Cole is intrigued, and agrees to investigate Damaris, and the pair shake on the deal.
Meanwhile, Serverus arrives at The Halls of the Mechanicus. They occupy a large, blisterlike 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.
Serverus makes enquiries with the priests regarding any records of Magos Thraun having been on the station. He learns from a data-trawl of the mechanicus archives that the Magos passed through Port Wander 3 years previously. Whilst on the station, Thraun appears to have been researching obscure references to a mythical piece of powerful archeotech known as the Occulus. A subsequent less-than-legal search of the station’s archived shipping manifests carried out by Serverus’ Mate, Arcadia, revealed that Magos Thraun appeared to leave the station aboard the Bloody Harlot, a Chartist vessel bound for the Damaris system.
During his visit to the Halls, Serverus is approached by a senior tech-priest in charge of the station’s servitors. He had seen the Omnisiah Staff carried by Serverus and incorrectly assumed him to be a high ranking Magos. He confided in him that he had, via his servitors, observed odd behaviour on the part of the station’s Magos. He had also heard rumours that she has an unhealthy interest in forbidden tech. He felt it was his duty to bring it to Serverus’ attention.
Cole and Serverus both receive a request from Haarlock to meet him at the Bloodstone, a lowdecks tavern that lies just off the Gilt Processional as he has made an important discovery. They arrive to find that the Bloodstone is a highly disreputable drinking den, located 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 on the port.
Haarlock informs them that whilst he was in the Court of the Dead, purchasing a refractor field for Cole, he came across the obscure emporium of ‘the Baron’, the man Tycho Rhett had confirmed the Crow Mother had spoken with whilst she was aboard the station. Haarlock has spoken with the Commandant, and he and his team have set up in covert positions surrounding the emporium.
Serverus sends Disdain to observe from the gantries, while he, Cole and Haarlock enter the emporium.
They speak with ‘the Baron’.
Cole agrees to give the Baron passage to Footfall in exchange for information as the proscribed artifacts dealer wants off the station as soon as possible following the rumours of an Inquisitor being on board.
They learn that the Crow Mother was enquiring about powerful psykers soon to be holding a foretelling on Footfall. Entrance to the foretelling will only be granted to those who make a successful bid at an auction soon to be held. The Crow Mother had discovered that the Baron was acting as a Broker for the auction on Port Wander. Entrance to the auction itself requires a vouchsafe from the House of Krin to prove that you are of sufficient financial standing. It transpires that the foretelling relates to the ‘Pearl of Dread’, the artefact the Crow Mother has been searching for.
Notice the Baron has a small cylinder bearing the mark of the House of Cole adorning his necklace of bones and fetishes. Cole raises the cost of passage to Footfall and demands that the Baron hands over his family’s property and tells him how he came by it. The Baron won the ‘trinket’ from a drunkard called Orbest Dray as settlement for a gambling debt. Dray tried to convince him it was very valuable, and somehow linked to the fabled treasure ship the Righteous Path. The Baron didn’t believe him so took some of Dray’s fingers too.
The Baron hands over cylinder as they are leaving the emporium. As Cole’s fingers grip it’s cold metallic exterior, it slides open, and……..