Footfall

The light of Furibundus marks the far side of the Great Warp Storms and the beginning of the Koronus Expanse. It is a huge and primal stellar mass, far brighter and more energetic than any star should be. Its fires rage so fiercely that the cataclysmic energies unleashed within cause vast bulges of burning plasma to distend Furibundfus’s form, writhing as though immense beasts fight within. The outer envelope constantly tears and ripples, throwing off huge flaming masses into the near voids. Furibundus is surrounded by shells of remnant gas expanding outward, each a remnant of the star’s outermost layers. The Imperial presence around Furibundus clusters in two locations: the Adeptus Mechanicus temple of Altar-Templum-Calixis-Ext-17 and the stonework void-settlement of Footfall.

Established in 410.M41 by the Rogue Trader Parsimus Dewain, the settlement that was once called Dewain’s Footfall, and now simply Footfall, is a tethered network of hundreds of stone structures floating in the Furibundus System’s voids. It is a mass of buttressed temples and plasma-pitted fanes whose towers jut out at all angles into the void. Most are linked by enclosed stonework tunnels and arch-bridges, in addition to huge steel chains. Footfall’s ornate, tethered structures orbit at a sufficient distance from the star to be safe from the lethal ribbons of solar plasma, and for voidships to operate with little impediment. Many of Footfall’s buildings would not look out of place upon a planetary surface, while other spiral mazes and winding tunnels of unsupported stone would fall apart under the tug of gravity. Sections of Footfall have no gravity, and many have fluctuating levels of generated gravity. The few structures that have their own stable gravity generators are highly desired prizes and are fought over by the most powerful factions, changing hands over the corpses and regrets of their prior occupants with alarming regularity.

Over the centuries since its establishment, Footfall has become a lair of villainy and intrigue, the descendants of its original population of stoneworkers and Rogue Trader vassals now far outnumbered by less-reputable newcomers. Here, religious fanatics rub shoulders with assassins, spies, fugitives from Imperial justice, narco-tribesmen, rowdy crew on furlough, and a wide range of disreputable merchants. Beneath this tumult of lawlessness can be found an even more shadowy world: Hereteks, Chaos Cultists, unrestrained criminals, unsanctioned psykers, and worse. Here a thousand forms of deadly intrigue can be found, and anything from a starship to a human soul can be bartered in Footfall — for a price. It is for precisely these reasons that many great powers and factions from the Calixis Sector maintain secretive agents in Footfall: the Administratum, the Imperial Navy’s Battlefleet Calixis, the Great Houses of the Imperial nobility, the disciples of the Dark Gods, the Adeptus Ministorum…and perhaps even the Ordos of the Inquisition as well.

There is no central law on Footfall, at least not one that would be recognised in any civilised areas. Instead, the numerous criminal and piratical factions that run this wretched place have drawn up a series of laws and codes of conduct creating a neutral zone wherein visitors and residents are free to engage in their various business pursuits without the interference of the Imperium. This Derwin’s Compact, as the laws of Footfall are known, serve one purpose as stated in the preamble of their charter: “Fomenting and fostering an environment upon this station and its surrounding areas that is agreeable to the pursuit of any and all business practices for the purposes of bringing profit to the ruling parties thereof.” In this freewheeling, anything-goes environment there is very little that is considered illegal. Criminal gangs like Footfall’s Black Brotherhood and the Kasballica Mission, organisations that would surely be hunted with extreme prejudice by the Adeptus Arbites on any civilised world in the Calixis Sector, operate openly next to “respected” shipwrights, merchants, and Throne Gelt brokers. Trafficking in narcotics, humans, xenos artefacts, proscribed knowledge, and many other types of contraband that carry a death sentence elsewhere is commonplace here. Even the most respected Rogue Traders and Free Captains dabble in these dangerous pursuits to greater or lesser degree.

Since the entire sprawling edifice is carved into different areas of influence under control of one or another of the numerous ruling factions, order, such as it is, is kept by roving gangs of household Enforcers and hired thugs. For the uninitiated, navigating the complex and ever shifting net of allegiances, tithes, bribes, and obeisance required to survive daily life on Footfall can be quite daunting, and those that are foolish and inattentive can lose more than their purse here. Technically, Footfall is “ruled” by the Liege of Footfall, currently an easily-bribed individual completely lacking in ambition named Tanthus Moross. Moross has remained in his role longer than most, due mainly to the fact that he has no desires to control Footfall. Instead, he is perfectly willing to play the figurehead, in exchange for plentiful bribes.

However, there is an older law, held almost sacrosanct by the powers of Footfall. Whenever a Rogue Trader visits Footfall, he rules the station. Should several visit at once, the most senior Rogue Trader (a nebulous definition, to be sure) rules the station. While Rogue Traders seldom show any interest in actually ruling there, this position of authority (enforced by the raw power of their starship and plentiful armsmen) usually ensures no fool disrupts Footfall’s carefully balanced society by messing with them. The Liege foolish enough to ignore this takes his life in his hands. In 500.M41 the Liege Tarn Marvolus united an alliance of criminals, witches, and narco-tribesmen, and ruled Footfall with an iron fist. However, when Marvolus demanded the Rogue Trader Cassilus pay tribute to dock, she ensured the four quarters of his body were found at the four furthest points of Footfall. Likewise, however, a Rogue Trader who goes too far in upsetting the status quo may well find themselves opposed — not only by the powers of Footfall, but also their fellow Rogue Traders. As stated before, there is little that is considered illegal by the ruling powers on Footfall. There is, however, one cardinal sin here, the act of which brooks no quarter from the locals, and that is the act of hindering business.

Kept deliberately vague to allow incredible flexibility in its prosecution, hindering business can be anything from snooping about or investigating criminal activity to pressing too many voidmen from the shipyards to murdering a high-level crime boss. Anyone accused of hindering business is permanently banished from Footfall and the entire Furibundus System. Those foolish enough to return and who are caught are rarely heard from again, their corpses often turning up mutilated in the Boneyard, Footfall’s midden. There are, however, fates worse than a quick execution in one of the abandoned warehouses on Footfall, and rumours abound of “obstructionists,” as those convicted of hindering business are called, being sold to Chaos Reavers as slaves for their vast pirate fleets or handed over to covens of accursed witches for their amusement. Of course, the more powerful the Rogue Trader involved, the more he can get away with. No merchant factor or Liege would be foolish enough to try and banish an individual such as Calligos Winterscale, for example.

Footfall

Rogue Trader Thunderheavyarm