|Galactic Position||Cloudburst Sector, Cognomen Subsector|
Not all Cloudburst military stations are as prestigious as Thunderhead or important as the Gargantuan. The station now known as Clog used to be known as Cloudburst Void Point Bulwark, a normal defensive naval logistics station. Here, ships could recharge their batteries if needed, collect supplies, or drop off equipment for the station’s own crew. It had some defenses, but not as much as a Xerxes; it had some counter-boarding troops, but only enough to actually see off boarders. Life changed quickly for the workers on the station in M41.874. The station came under abrupt attack from a pirate frigate named Wealthy Lads, under the command of a gang of freebooting Navy defectors. Bulwark managed to give as good as it got, and destroyed the ship’s main guns, but the pirates elected to ram and destroy Bulwark instead of allowing themselves to be captured. The frigate slammed into the station, and crumpled one half of the station around itself like paper around a rock.
Eighty percent of the Navy and all of the pirates fighting in the battle died instantly. The last few Navy survivors included no Astropaths. By the time Navy supply ships arrived for routine deposits of fresh food from Combine, Bulwark had only four percent of its personnel left alive.
There was no real way to salvage the station without immense loss of wealth for the Navy. According to the Navy’s logistical calculations, the cost of disassembling the damaged portions of the station and the pirate ship, reassembling the station with better components, and re-staffing it, would have been more expensive than just building a new one. However, leaving it there to be looted by more pirates was hardly a better option.
Enter the Rogue Traders. While the Navy was too strapped for resources to repair Bulwark, the Rogue Traders of the Circuit and Exo-zone suffered no such restriction. A collective of Rogue Traders from the houses Vermouthe, Arpel, Marcus, and Victoire purchased the station from the Navy, and began refurbishing it for their own use. For its part, the Navy is less than thrilled about the whole arrangement, but the money from the sale of the station will help prepare the Sector for the coming of the Migrations, and so long as the Rogue Traders are hardening the region’s defenses and generally getting in each other’s way, they’re not causing problems for the Imperium. The four Houses have since settled into a fairly stable truce on the station, and are looking to their pocketbooks.
Aboard the station now, the internal systems are finally beginning to return to normal. As small groups of Trader-patronized Tech-adepts and Priests labor on the damaged systems, individual corridors gain back their gravity, their atmosphere, and their function. The great reactor at the heart of the station was running at only four percent capacity after the collision of the Wealthy Lads, but now, a team of Victoire Techpriests have brought it up to eighty-seven, and that number improves every year.
As the station’s habitability zone increases, so does its economic capability. So far, several of the enormous cold storage bays for naval rations have been cleared of debris and stripped of their refrigeration equipment. The empty bays now house great markets, where members of the four houses and their allies can come to trade more or less anything. Books, ammo, alien trinkets, icons of the Throne, cash, gemstones, exploratory gear, bombs, food, slaves, and ship parts flow freely through markets. Whenever the restoration teams manage to restore a bay, the place floods with marketers and prospectors, who stake claims in the great chamber and begin constructing as soon as they can. The first bay brought back online resembles a termite mound, thanks to the unregulated building carried out by the marketers. When floor space ran out, merchants built up. Stalls no more than fifteen feet wide now tower over six hundred feet up; disassembled storage racks now serve as superstructures for great vertical shops. Finer venues use grav-lifts and elevators to carry customers from one floor to the next in the stalls, while cheaper ones use stairs or even ladders. Each floor of these tiny stalls might specialize in a good or service, or perhaps they may all sell variants on the same thing.
If it can be bought or sold in the Imperium, it exists on Clog. The consortium of Rogue Traders that purchased it began expanding it before they had even completed a third of its repairs. Pre-fabricated modules sprout from the sides like fungus on a tree trunk. Some are chapels, for those who find the utilitarian chapel of the station too demure for their liking, and enjoy some finery in their piety. Some are storage bays for the markets, while others are defenses for the station, with their own internal power supply. Those decks that served a martial purpose for the Navy and no purpose for the Rogue Traders may become permanent residences for the crews they leave behind to run their stores. Those parts of the station that were completely destroyed by the impact of the pirate ship are gradually returning, thanks to the efforts of Techpriests and private contractors paid by the Traders. When those decks are restored, Trader staff are often forced to step in to prevent land grabs of the sort that claim the cargo bays. The decks that were destroyed often included crucial defenses or cogitators that the station needs to operate safely. As such, some of the Rogue Trader staff left on the station find themselves in the unfamiliar position of having to run the largely dolorous and mundane processes needed to keep a station afloat, far from the intrigue and treasure of exploring at a Trader’s side.
In other decks that served the Navy, commerce of other sorts has taken over. Inside abandoned bunkrooms and training rooms, gambling halls and taverns have popped up. Some of the training rooms have been left intact to serve as fighting arenas, where travelers can beat the hell out of each other for the adulation of cheering spectators. For other pursuits, the station has several brothels and casinos. As wings of the logistics hub come back online, the range of services offered to visitors widens. The Inquisition is understandably displeased by this, but so far, the Traders have managed to keep any truly dangerous temptations from the people of Clog.
The problem that the Inquisition would most like resolved is the remains of the Wealthy Lads. The vessel lodged itself in the heart of the station. The ship itself fared the worst; every vacuum-tight compartment ruptured. Even decades after the impact, there are vacuum-cracked bodies floating through the empty ship. A Navy shipbreaker team would have had the ship disassembled decades ago, but Rogue Traders have fewer assets, and making money is a higher priority than being safe. So far, Rogue Trader scrap scavengers have managed to haul several thousand tons of material out of the wreck, and have either salvaged it for their masters’ ships or sold it. The Inquisition’s concern is that at some point, the Rogue Traders, in their haste to gain wealth, will damage or loot cogitators or logs that could show where the ship came from. All the Inquisition and Arbites have managed to learn about the ship is that it was stolen from a Drumnos Navy depot by disgruntled Imperial ex-military. So far, the Imperium does not know if there are more pirates in this gang, or how they managed to steal the ship.
The station itself is developing its own, unique culture. Because the station is technically no longer part of the Imperial government, the Arbites presence amounts to one Judge, who never leaves the command office of the station. Law enforcement for the station comes from the dozens of groups of Rogue Trader ship armsmen who travel about the station looking for anything that might disrupt the flow of money. Wealthier travelers and shoppers get fairer treatment, while beggars and scavengers receive the cold shoulder at best. The larger merchant groups are gradually shifting away from their roots in the service of Rogue Traders. Some have begun offering purchases of items they have traded for outside of the purview of their ostensible employers. There is even talk of collectivizing, though this has gone nowhere so far. The joygirls and joyboys of several brothels have formed a guild, to the annoyance of the owners.
Beyond such shopping and carnal diversions, there are the other functions of society that pop up anywhere there is money and there are people. Some of the restored corridors and chambers have become theaters, chapels, luxury apartments and hotel rooms, auction houses, or even crafting areas. Some of the larger restored chambers belong exclusively to one of the Rogue Traders, and are used for forging goods from the scrap pulled from the remains of the pirate ship. Eventually, the remains of the pirate vessel will be gone, of course. When that happens, the outcome of the event on the survival and future of the station is unclear.
The station’s defenses are not yet back to full power. The void shields of the station are at eighty percent capacity, since several of the damaged or destroyed wings of the station contained void shield relays or projectors. Clog’s guns consist of several macrocannon batteries and several turbolasers, but only half are online. The four Rogue Traders have welded modular weapon turrets onto the outside of the station, with their own power supplies, but this is inefficient, since they require recharging so far from any star that could fuel solar panels. The Rogue Traders make use of shuttles outfitted with Cognomen capacitors to recharge the guns after testing or use.
No enemies of the Imperium have attacked Clog since its sale. Now that it no longer carries food for the Navy, its main prize for raiders is gone, and since Rogue Trader crews and customers traditionally carry guns at all times, boarding the station now would be a daunting prospect. However, Gorkypark is not so terribly far away, and the Imperium knows of several Orkholds in or near the Cloudburst Circuit. The possibility of Ork raiders assaulting the station sometimes keeps Clog’s armsmasters up at night.
Given its lack of hydroponics, the station is wholly dependent on shipping for its food. Restoring the station’s protein recyclers and water purifiers was priority one for the Traders, and priority two was establishing supply imports from nearby worlds. Now, freighters from Foraldshold and Forender regularly drop off provisions for the permanent residents, while ships from Cassie’s World and Combine bring in luxuries. Clog also benefits in this regard from the fact that its co-owners are Rogue Traders, and there are no extents to which Rogue Traders will not go to find their favorite treats.