Piracy

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Although most spacefarers are respectable people, there will always be some who cannot, or will not, stick to the rules. To them, the ancient pirate customs of pillage, forage, stowage and carnage are too strong to resist, along with the chance to acquire vast amounts of loot and then bury it all in the ground.

Overview

Piracy is surprisingly common at the edges of Known Space, given the cost of upkeeping a spaceship. The truth is that many of the great powers surreptitiously fund a range of privateers, whom they use to gather intelligence and attack the shipping of rival nations. The area between traders, spies, privateers and outright bandits is very grey. Aliens are often involved in piracy, especially the M’Lak, who regard pirate operations as a useful source of fun. Although they often don’t bother with the looting, and are referred to as raiders or reivers, they are pirates all the same.

Old Blue Teeth

“Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest/ Doo badda dee doo dam – dig it, ye swabs!”

The undisputed king of space pirates is the dreaded rogue known only as Old Blue Teeth. Although his true name is lost to history, it is widely rumoured that Blueteeth started his career as a club singer on an orbital cruise liner somewhere near LV422. When it was raided for booty by the renegade captain Charles le Bocor, Blueteeth seized his chance and forged a new, blood-spattered career as a buccaneer. Blueteeth earned his nickname from his customary drink, a filthy mixture of dental mouthwash and Blue Curacao. He is believed to be responsible for the scuttling of several dozen spaceships, and the loss of hundreds of lives.

Blueteeth carries a number of trophies and fetishes into battle: chief among them is the embalmed, shrunken head of Giancarmo Grotti, notorious don of the Grotti crime family. Early in his piratical career, Blueteeth was hired to transport a shipment of cut-price Canadian “medicine” to the Free States, which he promptly sold on the black market, keeping the takings for himself. Grotti shanghaied the pirate and took him to his personal ship, where he was thrown onto a stage and ordered to perform a humiliating medley of show tunes. Blueteeth agreed, but surreptitiously imbibed a potion consisting of equal parts of rum, gunpowder, Horlicks and windscreen wiper fluid. He then proceeded to “croon up the spirits”. The ghastly noises that issued from him must have disturbed the gangsters, for an hour later the ship was Blueteeth’s, and the Grotti family lay in tatters on the fo’castle.

To this day, Blueteeth’s reputation continues to proceed him, along with his sinister crooning and distinctly minty aroma. He seems to see himself as an enforcer of traditional pirate values, and has been known to murder crewmembers who fail to speak in an affected Cornish accent. Blueteeth's recent hauls include the wiping out of Captain Killa and the Killa Krew, a gang of rival pirates, in a brutal incident known among bucaneers as the "Booty Kill".

Other Pirates of Note

A rival, and occasional crony, of Old Blue Teeth is Cutty John Legba, a wily rogue who combines intergalactic pillaging with the trusty, if slightly passé, practice of Voodoo. Cutty John was born Jean-Paul Raimond, and worked as a loss adjuster for Dupont et Fils of New Port au Prince. He was captured by pirates, who, on discovering that he was Haitian, demanded that he perform magic for them. Luckily, he was a quick learner. Forced into a life of piracy, Raimond put the hours in: he not only took the name Cutty John Legba and bought a top hat, but even attended a seminary and is now a fully qualified houngan with the certificates to prove it. He remains a shrewd and calculating buccaneer, and it is said that when he summons the loa, he draws his magic symbols with a set square. Rumour has it that he has even struck a terrible bargain with the being known as Nom-Noodloth.

Other notable pirates include No-Nose Chang, an up-and-coming brigand who cut his own nose off to terrify his enemies, and is especially dreaded when the pollen count is high; Space Pirate Jim, a handsome scoundrel much beloved of the ladies, who inexplicably always speaks in a terrible impersonation of Ringo Starr; and Awful Little Annie, of whom the less said the better.