Some Rogue Traders are rulers of powerful trading empires. Others are grim warlords who trade in the most violent corners of the galaxy. Some are little better than pirates. A small handful are irreverent adventurers, part scoundrel, part rogue, part hero.
Among this last group can be counted Captain Adeon Drake.
Owner and captain of The Atropos, Drake was born in 700.M41 to Idaeus and Theresa Drake on Belliose III. Idaeus died in a manufactorum accident when Drake was eight years old. Two years later, his mother married the seneschal of Oriol Belisarius, the 10-year-old second cousin of the Celestarch of House Belisarius, an ancient and proud Navigator House of Holy Terra.
For three years, Oriol lived on Belliose III while his parents dealt with the affairs of their Navigator House in the Corvus Cluster, and Drake was assigned as one of Oriol’s playmates. Unperturbed by the young navigator’s “third eye,” Drake was a popular presence in the Belisarius court for his good nature and spirited sense of fun. He often recruited Oriol into ill-advised adventures that got the two in trouble, but it was all great fun to the youngsters and it won Drake the undying friendship of this soon-to-be politically powerful navigator.
In M712.M41, Oriol and his family returned to Holy Terra—and his mother was required to return with her husband. But, to the horror of Drake and his mother, Oriol’s parents decided that Drake was a distraction to the young navigator’s training. He would not be permitted to travel to Terra. As harsh as this decision was, House Belisarius felt some fondness for the young Drake and arranged for his future. He was apprenticed to a distant relative, “Uncle” Leopold, a Rogue Trader who, as it happened, owed a debt to the Belisarius clan. After tearful farewells, Drake was parted from his mother forever.
Despite this emotionally traumatic turn of events, Drake’s life was far from ruined. He adapted well to life aboard ship, and his good nature earned him the favor of the crew and eventually earned a measure of affection from his somewhat aloof newfound uncle. It wasn’t long before Drake had embraced the Rogue Trader’s life, and his natural leadership talents soon allowed him to work his way up the ranks—on merit alone. By his mid-teens, he was leading work crews and landing parties–and showed real skill in handling difficult situations.
By his early 20s, Drake was his uncle’s right-hand man—providing the dashing and fearless drive that complemented his uncle’s thoughtful planning. Yet their well-balanced partnership soon came to an end. In 726.M41, Leopold sneaked his ship, The Atropos, through an Imperial blockade of the dead world of Torox in search of ancient xeno artifacts. Amidst some xeno ruins, Leopold, Drake, and a work crew uncovered a significant number of artifacts—but also awoke a serpentine creature of glowing crystal that attacked and killed several crewmen, including Leopold.
The creature was eventually subdued and a large haul of objects returned to the ship. Upon his return to Belliose III, Drake was not surprised to learn that, under the terms of his uncle’s final instructions, Drake inherited The Atropos and his uncle’s Imperial Warrant of Trade.
For the past nine years, Drake has led a relatively successful life as a Rogue Trader. With only a single ship, he will never rival the great trading houses in political influence, but there is a certain freedom in commanding a single ship—Drake can come and go as he pleases, pursuing any business opportunities that spark his sense of adventure.
Drake also has maintained an infrequent correspondence with Oriol Belisarius, who now serves as assistant deputy secretary for all House Belisarius interests in the Ultima Segmentum. On occasion, Oriol has sought Drake’s assistance in transporting navigators or cargo–and Drake often sends Oriol information that might prove useful. Drake retains his independence, but values his friend and his “friendship” with an influential Imperial power.
Among the highlights of Drake’s recent years:
The Tech Priest of Hegira (726.M41)—A representative of the Adeptus Mechanicus requires immediate passage to Hegira, and Imperial authorities—with no naval ships available—firmly encourage an unenthusiastic Drake to provide transport. When the ship arrives in the Sculptor System, it is immediately attacked by a Chaos gunship–and Drake is forced to burn out his ship’s engines to escape capture or destruction.
The incident incenses Drake—who suspects the Tech Priest knew of the danger—but it turns out profitably. In addition to the promised payment, the Tech Priest arranges for the repair of The Atropos—and engine upgrades that boost the ship’s acceleration to that of a strike cruiser. Drake is still contemplating whether there was a subtle attempt at humor when he bid farewell to the Tech Priest, who commented that the upgraded engines of The Atropos “will no doubt prove useful to a man in your line of work.”
The Lean Years (727-728.M41)—While orbiting Belliose III, the plasma coils explode in the engine room of The Atropos, killing 85 crewmen and disabling the ship for two years. The cost of repairs is astronomical, nearly bankrupting Drake. The young ship captain desperately trolls the spaceport bars in search of rumors and gossip that might suggest a profitable expedition. From a drunken naval officer, he learns of a previously undiscovered human colony that authorities have not had the time or resources to bring under Imperial control.
The Xarxis Escape (729.M41)—Following up on the rumored human colony, Drake brings The Atropos to the world of Xarxis. The populace, having regressed to 2nd Millennium technology, is delighted when Drake, as an “official” representative from Terra, arrives and negotiates a trading agreement that proves highly profitable. Unfortunately, on his fourth trading run to the planet, he arrives to find Inquisitor Serillian’s personal warship in orbit. Ignoring hails to shut down his engines and be boarded, Drake turns tail and makes a run for the system’s edge. The Inquisitor’s ship is, not surprisingly, well equipped for a high-speed chase and, with only minutes to spare, The Atropos exits the system’s gravity well and escapes into the Warp.
War Profiteering (731.M41)—The unofficial war between the Imperium and the Tau creates a dangerous—but lucrative—opportunity to transport supplies for military operations. Much of the work is dull cargo hauling from Nguyen Imperial Naval Base to the patrolling Imperial fleet, but Drake cannot resist a highly profitable—and exciting—mission to deliver critical ammunition to the Knights of Altair during their campaign on Hyberia II. A plasma blast from a Tau orbital station misses The Adropos by only 25 kilometers—a very near miss by the perspective of Void combat. It is a tale that is oft retold during every drunken revelry involving Drake.
The Delhis Hulk (733.M41)—After paying a small fortune to a corrupt Imperial Navy officer, Drake acquires the coordinates to a wrecked Adeptus Mechanicus vessel that an Imperial Navy patrol had recently spotted drifting in interstellar space.
Hoping to remove a rich harvest of technology before authorities mount an expedition to recover the vessel, Drake brings The Atropos alongside the 6-kilometer-long wreck and sends over several work crews to strip the ship. An assortment of technological marvels are recovered, but when work crews reach the core of the ship, they encounter a number of robotic weapons systems that attack. A raging battle ensues and the work crews are forced to withdraw, with Drake several times risking his life to rescue his men as they fight their way to safety.
Drake escapes with heavy crew losses. Despite the crews’ recognition that Drake risked his life on their behalf, only the promise of a significant bonus to the survivors avoids a mutiny, and Drake abandons the drifting Adeptus vessel. Despite the human cost of the expedition, the profits from the sale of the recovered technology earn Drake a small fortune.
Crossed Swords on Agira (734.M41)—Both Drake and Count Johaan Feracci race to Agira in search of the lost golden throne of the mad Gov. Tharsis, a 33rd Millennium artifact reputed to possess life-extending technologies long lost to the Imperium.
Deep in the fetid jungles of that world, both men reach the ruins of the long-abandoned capital city of Gov. Tharsis. Upon discovering the throne room, a battle erupts between the two expeditions, with Drake and Feracci clashing with power swords at one point. In the end, reinforcements arrive to bolster Feracci’s numbers, and Drake is forced to flee for his life. Gloating at his victory, Feracci orders his men to allow Drake to make his escape—one of a handful of unpredictable signs of chivalry that the arrogant nobleman will show Drake over the years. Not to be outdone, Drake sends Feracci a bottle of Talorian Champagne with which to celebrate his victory.
The Balor Slavers (734.M41)—On the world of Talaara, Drake stumbles upon a plot by the infamous Balor Slavers to ship hundreds of kidnapped women off the planet and sell them to a criminal syndicate that owns pleasure houses across the sector. Incensed, and with little regard to the risks, Drake intercedes. With 50 crewmen, armed with laspistols and chainswords, Drake boards the slavers’ ship to rescue the women. All the women are saved and returned to their families. None of the slavers survive.
Over the years, Drake has collected a crew of loyal subordinates. Among the more noteworthy:
Mordax Ahaus—Nearly 500 years old, this Imperial-sanctioned psyker is mostly paralyzed and confined to an anti-grav life-support unit. After years of service with the Imperial Guard, Mordax was considered physically spent for further service but deemed too dangerous as a psyker to be granted retirement. Slated for termination, he was confined in an underground cell at an Imperial Guard base—until a Dark Elf raid slaughtered the base garrison. Undiscovered by the xenos, Mordox survived—and was found by Drake after he arrived in response to the base’s distress signal. Realizing the value of a psyker on the payroll, he offered Mordax a more luxurious life aboard his ship—and stole away before Imperial forces arrived.
Laana Castronova—A young aristocrat of Korriban who loathed the upcoming marriage arranged by her noble family, she eagerly accepted Drake’s offer to be a consort and escape to an exciting life amongst the stars. Although considered a non-combatant, she has trained in the use of a two-shot mini-laspistol, and she has used it on more than one occasion.
Torina Hollarn—Raised by the Adepts of Demeter for a life as a consort, Torina was purchased by Drake in 733.M41 after he was celebrating the huge profit earned from the Delhis Hulk.
His purchase of the woman was a drunken lark, and upon sobering, Drake offered Torina her freedom. Having lived under the strict regimen of the Adepts, the girl was terrified at the thought of taking control over her own life, and she begged to remain with the Rogue Trader. The greatly amused Drake agreed.
Finding the duties of consort far from demanding, Torina took an interest in the art of business negotiations. With training from Drake and others, she has become quite adept. In Drake’s opinion, the girl’s beauty gives her an edge—many fail to see the sharp mind behind the lovely face.
Increasingly, Drake is turning over minor trade negotiations to Torina, with the hope that one day he can delegate more important tasks and rid himself of what he considers an increasingly onerous chore.
Titus Marbray—A seneschal traditionally is the title of the steward of a noble household—a land-based position—but Drake has never forgotten how his stepfather so ably served the Belisarius family. The title has special meaning to him. So when Drake needed someone to handle his business affairs–as well as deal with the administration and security of his ship–the position of seneschal was created.
Currently holding the position is Titus Marbray, a distinguished former Imperial Guard soldier who had the unusual distinction of being allowed to retire after years of service as a sturdy and efficient logistical officer. While much of his career was behind a desk, Marbray is unlikely to be underestimated as simply a bureaucrat—his grim demeanor and muscular frame suggest a man who is no slouch in a fight. Indeed, he is a fierce combatant with an intense loyalty to his somewhat reckless captain.
One minor but potentially dangerous trend in Drake’s life is his repeated clashes with Count Johaan Feracci.
So far, the two men have managed to keep their budding rivalry within “gentlemanly” bounds, although the two did attempt to kill one another during a recent expedition to Agira. What’s more, Drake has begun to take some delight in stealing business from under Feracci’s nose, a practice that is eventually going to bite back. It would be wise if Drake would step back from any future confrontation with the politically powerful nobleman–but that’s not Drake’s style.
LAST KNOWN ACTIVITIES
In the early months of 735.M41, Drake has been hauling plasma coils from Belliose III to a manufacturum on Belzagor (Scupltor IVd). This is an incredibly dull work, but the Rogue Trader has hardly settled down to a life of honest trade. The cargo run is playing the bills as he prepares to use Belzagor as the staging ground for an expedition to the long-forgotten planet, Prysmos, which was abandoned in M37 after it entered a radioactive ion cloud.
Recently, contacts within the Imperial Navy have informed him the planet is now free of the radioactive cloud—a fact that Imperial authorities have attempted to keep quiet.
In Drake’s mind, this world is exactly his idea of a profitable adventure-—seeking out long-lost technology on an abandoned world. He’s counting the days until he’s ready to launch this expedition.