Now, I ain’t much of a historian, but as far as I can tell, there’ve always been pirates runnin’ around. Even before the Cataclysm, pirates were an issue. Though back then, they pretty much hung out in Southeast Asia, South America and the Indian Ocean. They’d usually hit the large freighters, cargo and transport vessels when they got near land. They’d just shimmy on up when the monsters had to slow down to navigate all quiet like in little dinghies or motor boats and do their thing. Usually, but not always, so-called pirates weren’t in it for themselves so much as they were part of a crime or smuggling ring. Nor were they interested in cargo, ships or gear. They just wanted cash. Think of them less like that old movie with that guy wearing all the makeup, prancin’ and dancin’ and generally just lookin’ and actin’ like a faggoty girl, and more like your common street thug lookin’ to take your lunch money after kickin’ you in the balls hard enough to redefine ‘spit or swallow’.
So how’s that different from the here and now? In some cases, a whole hell of a lot. In others, not so much. First off, there’s more pirates out there now, and they have nicer toys and bigger guns than they did back before the cataclysm. The smaller groups and gangs still need to act more like goddammed ninjas than pirates because they cant afford the good stuff yet, while others have small fleets under their flag. The biggest change is the tech and toys that’re available on the market. Sure, you have your mini and micro missiles, masers, lasers, particle beams, plasma EM weapons and other fun stuff, but that will only get you so far. The biggest thing to hit the field and change how pirated do business is the mass production of the Neurological Link Enhanced Exoskeletal Frames…though most people just call ‘em mecha to keep things simple and some call ‘em Heavy Armored Exoskeletons if they wanna be fancy.
I know it may seem that I’ve gotten off track from Pirates to mecha, but bear with me on this kids. You have to realize that mecha as it is now is linked to piracy on the open seas.
Anyway, with the perfection of the Neural-Link system and the mass-production of mecha, pretty much anyone could get a suit if they could afford it. Of course civvies couldn’t get the high grade military hardware, but a lot of corps and people with more money than they ever spend in five lifetimes (even if they burned it) could get themselves a suit or three. Sure, they couldn’t hold a candle to a military suit, but they were far beyond anything that anyone else had. They made the perfect guards, escorts or workhorses.
So, you have these twenty foot tall walking tanks, and if you can afford ‘em you can have ‘em. Cool part about ‘em is that they can carry guns too big for a man or borg, and are not as clumsy or cumbersome as a Power Loader, more maneuverable than a tank and can go places that not even an ATV can touch. Eventually, criminals got a hold of these beauties and they started puttin’ ‘em to work right quick. This wasn’t a big deal or much of a problem until the Cataclysm hit because not everyone could get one, and even less likely outfit it. And if they could, the local militaries would just put a beat-down on the fool anyway.
However, after the Cataclysm, things changed. A lot. Bases on the coasts got thrashed, defense forces were pushed beyond their max to keep their own lines in check. With the chaos of trying to recover, a lot of stuff was salvaged and managed to slip through the cracks. Shit came up missing, and the governments couldn’t worry about it. Criminal organizations suddenly found that they had a lot more elbow room to do their thing.
With this sort of freedom and more access to weapons and tech, pirates on the seas began to change their game plan. Shipping of all sorts had already managed to defend themselves pretty well against a group of guys with assault rifles in a dinghy while they were maneuvering into port or through some locks. Now ships could get hit from mecha equipped with low-altitude flight systems, jump-jets or what have you. And you only needed one. One mecha could come in, hit the boat and do whatever they wanted, and there was not a damn thing anyone onboard who could do anything about it. The onboard defenses were meant to take on men with guns, not mecha with bigger guns.
To make a long story short, the pirates that used mecha started breaking the bank and coming away with a shitload of loot. Those that didn’t, found it hard as hell to get by…especially as ships started trying to defend themselves against mecha attackers. Of course as raids became more successful, folks would either join up, or more equipment would be acquired. More importantly, was that not even the United States Navy much less any other navies for that matter, could do much about this. The Cataclysm crippled most of the seas in a major way. Without the manpower and resources, most countries could only defend their waters.
Why does this make a difference? Because, before if someone tried to hit a ship in, say, the old Panama Canal area, the local navy or coastguard would hunt them down. There was no safety in international waters. Nowadays there are, just like way back in the day. Because of the fact that there is now safety in international waters, pirates, with their kick ass assault mecha, could begin to lay siege to whatever spots they wanted to. Sure, the local military can be mobilized. Sure as shit, those military suits are ten times better than the pirates too. However, the pirates just have to run back to their carrier, which could be just outside of international waters. By the time the locals are able to get a response force worth a damn in the area, the carrier is in open waters and untouchable along with its complement of mecha and whatever they could grab.
The way pirates work now, is pretty dammed simple, and with the right tech available as it is, dammed effective. Like I said before, pirates usually run off of a carrier of some sort. This carrier doesn’t have to be much. As long the boat can carry a mecha, then it can be a carrier. However, the small ones usually carry five suits, 3 to pull the raid, 2 to pull defense for the carrier and cover the raiders as they come back home. For five suits, you don’t need a big boat, but it helps, mostly to keep parts, ammo and a place to hold your booty. Of course, those pirates that know what they’re doin’, got lucky or somehow just managed to make the right hits or whatever you wanna call it, have bigger ships. Some of ‘em were old aircraft carriers modified to be mobile bases so that the ship rarely, if ever has to hit port. Others work out of modified subs. That way they can sneak up on a port or target and hit ‘em hard in one hell of a blind spot.
The thing you haveta keep in mind about most of these carriers is that they are bought, stolen or salvaged hulls that have been modified in most cases. If it’s a sub, then it was at one time a military sub that was acquired somehow. Though these are pretty dammed rare. Usually carriers are light freighters or other medium to large sized vessels that have been modified heavily. Even the ones that can go under water are usually very modified medium hulls, some are even made from scratch and look more like something that came out of World War II…only a bit bigger. Now, there are stories about one hell of a boat out there, bigger’n a Nimitz class nuke carrier called the Relentless Fury that’s supposed controlled by a group of pirates callin’ themselves the Steel Corsairs.
Now, I haven’t actually seen the Fury, so I can’t tell you much about her. Hell, because I haven’t seen her for myself, I can’t even tell you if she’s actually out there or not either. But from what I’ve heard, the Fury, was an experimental ship design that was lost during or right after the Cataclysm. What happened, at least according to the stories of what I’ve heard anyway, was that the old United States Navy was working on a full blown aircraft carrier that doubled as a submarine. The main takeoff deck was completely incorporated, while aircraft comin’ in would land on top and have elevators and lifts take ‘em back inside. Of course the Fury carried a full blown arsenal of defense weaponry of all sorts as well as the ability to maintain several hundred suits of mecha for air defense or assault.
Ok, ok, ok, so if this sort of thing exists, how in the hell did a buncha pirates get it? More importantly, how did they get it from the most powerful Navy in the world? Good question! I asked that when I started hear’n these stories myself. Supposedly the ship was pretty much complete, at least the major stuff was done at any rate, while it was sittin’ in dry-dock somewhere in the Pacific. When the Cataclysm hit, lotsa people bit it, and the damage to the area…hell…the whole world, was pretty extensive. Apparently a crafty group of guys were able to steal the ship before it was totally finished. How they pulled this off, I have no idea. I figure that it was either an inside job, a group who knew what they were doin’ and/or just decided to give it a shot and managed to get lucky…or a combination. I dunno for sure. I havn’t met anyone of the crew to ask, I have only heard stories here an’ there about it. Since the Cataclysm, the United States tried to look for the ship, but they never looked too hard for it because of the aftermath of the Cataclysm. I guess they figured that it sunk or somethin’.
Even if the stories are true, and the Relentless Fury does exist, and was stolen from the United States back then, there ain’t much that can be done about it now. The U.S. Navy was broken, especially the Pacific Fleet, and the rest of the naval forces are stretched pretty thin. They can’t afford to go runnin’ after a boat that they may be able to take on. They just don’t have the firepower to take it on unless they drop everythin’ they have on it, because we all know that the Steel Corsairs ain’t gonna give the Fury back. The way I figure it, is that if the Corsairs ain’t causing too much shit for the United States, they ain’t gonna bother too hard with it. Especially if the Fury stays way out in international waters if they hit land targets or make sure nobody walks away from a hit on the water.
Now, I can tell you right now that there ain’t any one single group or type of pirate out there. You have some that are a group of guys hangin’ out and tryin’ to make a living however they can. If that means they have to jump you and take your shit, then that’s what they’re gonna do. These guys usually don’t hit anythin’ themselves, but try to take advantage of any situation. They may hang out at the fringes of a naval battle, and after it is all over come in and take what’s left. They could also jump small, poorly defended vessels and take what they can carry (which ain’t gonna be much). As far as pirates go, these guys are pretty small-time. Even if they have mecha, they can’t make a major hit and come out of it better than when they went into it. These guys usually operate from a small sloop, frigate or a modified yacht and they may have one to five or six mecha…sometimes more, but not usually and not many more than that.
You won’t hear any government admit it, but some pirates are actually encouraged, supported and financed by a governmental power. The entire purpose of these pirates is to beat up on, steal, harass or otherwise hinder or halt trade over international waters. This was pretty dammed common back in the days of sail, and only recently has it come back into occurrence again. The way it works is pretty simple, though it can get dammed complex and ugly really quick. I’ll give you an example: the government of country ‘A’ is on shaky terms or are already at war with country ‘B’. Country ‘A’ wants to strangle or otherwise hurt ‘B’, but they don’t wanna be implicated, or made to look bad in the eyes of the other countries of the world. So what A does, is they hand out ‘Letters of Marque’ or somethin’ of the sort, to a captain, group of captains or whatever. Their whole purpose in life, then is to go out and mess with anything coming into or out of Country ‘B’s territory that is carryin’ Country ‘B’s colors. The advantage to this, is that these privateers now can hit ships and other targets and can find sanctuary within Country A’s borders, military and holdings. Of course, it sucks to be you if you end up getting caught by someone from Country ‘B’, and if you’re caught by someone else, you may get lucky, or you could be sucking with them too. The reason this works in the favor for Country ‘A’ is because the privateer is doin’ them a favor. On top of that, if the privateer gets caught, they can deny any attachment to the poor sap, thereby saving their ass. Of course, a smart government would do what they could to bail out their privateer if possible, cause if they don’t, they may find themselves short of privateers later on down the road.
With the way that corporations and mega-corporations are startin’ to act and do business, there is now a more shady type of privateerin’ that’s goin’ on now. It works just like regular privateering, but instead of the target bein’ another country, it is instead, another corporation or mega-corp. Of course, considering how corps tend to work, they could just as easily have their privateers attack anything from competition to choking off an entire country. Problem with dealing with these guys is that if these Corporate Privateers’ are caught, it’s a lot harder to prove that they were working for a corporation and aren’t some random criminals or regular pirates. On top of that, a corporation or a mega-corp is gonna have some kick ass lawyers workin’ for ‘em so they can do whatever is necessary to help out their guys and keep it all on the downlow. Besides, most piracy takes place in international waters anyway. If something goes down, you’re pretty much on your own anyway. This kinda goes for privateering in general too. After all, there may be international laws about this sort of thing…but who can enforce ‘em? Nobody is in any sort of position to anything beyond their territory or what is considered their waters or airspace. If you hit something within a country’s territory, your best bet is to haul balls to the open sea and hope that you can get into international waters before they sink you. Chances are, they won’t pursue you…or if they do, they won’t pursue you very far.
Speaking of international waters, I would like to point out, that outside of privateering, there are your regular pirates who do what they do because they can. Some privateers act on their own and hit anyone that is not their patron nation or corporation. All in all, the difference between bein’ a privateer and a pirate is whether or not you’ve been sponsored by someone. Of course, in many cases this doesn’t make a bit of difference because if you’re caught, it ain’t likely the guys that caught you are gonna treat you any differently anyway.
I guess this would be a good time to start talkin’ about pirate gangs and organizations now. Pirates, whether they are also privateers or not, can come in a wide range of groups, organization or size. A lot of groups are a crew, serving in some degree under a captain or other commander. Someone is usually always in charge. How that guy gets to be in charge can vary from group to group. Some captains are captains due to their experience, some manage to inherit the ship somehow, some just take it by force and others own the ship to some degree or outright. Sometimes the guy who owns the ship isn’t really in charge. Well, he is, but he is in charge of the day to day running of the ship, while someone else plays captain and, possibly, another person altogether plays captain in a fight. Either which way you cut it, you have someone in charge, and no matter who it is that is in charge, they have the respect and loyalty of those that they command…even if that respect and loyalty is through fear.
A pirate gang can be a small group of guys controlling a small boat with a handful of Mecha. If this is the case, then one guy is obviously the leader and he runs the whole show. More often than not, a pirate gang is run from a medium to large sized vessel…just what that vessel is doesn’t matter, only the size of the boat. Here, you will have your leader. This guy can fill a variety of roles on the ship, but usually he’s the ship’s captain and administers the ship accordingly. He may or may not take part in the fighting and he may or may not also be the owner of the boat…though usually he is. The larger ships have someone who is the captain, another guy who is out there fighting when it needs to be done and someone else to handle the day to day stuff and navigation. Basically, the bigger the boat, the more staff you’re gonna have. Really, the easiest way to think about it is to think about how things are done on a typical naval vessel…and then strip that vessel and her crew from whatever navy they serve and make them independents. This is how it is in most cases really.
There are some exceptions to this, the most notable and common being are those that are financed from corporations (mega or otherwise) or governments directly or indirectly. Another notable exception is in the cases where a gang gets to be big enough to have several ships under their flag. Most cases, these gangs have about 2 or 3 medium or large ships and several small ones. Of course this is variable, with some of the largest gangs having three to five or more large vessels about the size of battleships or small aircraft carriers anywhere between six and fifteen medium vessels about the size of a corvette or destroyer.
These guys will have a leader, who can have a variety of titles rangin’ from ‘Lord’, ‘Commodore’, ‘Admiral’, ‘Captain’, ‘Master’ or whatever. He is in charge of the whole gang, period. He may not own all the boats, but he at least owns his. Those boats that he doesn’t own, he controls the captains or leaders of. In these cases, the hierarchy hasn’t changed too much, only that the guy in charge of a particular vessel has someone to answer to…when normally this would not be the case.
It should be noted that many ‘large pirate gangs’ ain’t pirate gangs at all. They are usually several individual ships who have come to an understandin’ and are workin’ together for a short amount of time. Of course, in some cases, this is how the larger gangs form. The individuals get so used to workin’ as a team that they make their temporary partnership less temporary and more permanent.
I mentioned before that some pirates have ties to corporations and mega-corps. What is different about these guys is that although most times they are freebooters that have some sort of protection from their patron company. However, there are times when they are actually employees of that corporation. This is either as if they were hired on and instead of being a desk-jockey, they ride the waves, or, more likely, they are mercs who have been hired to do a job. Some merc groups make their entire living doing stuff like this. Some mercs become pirates because of this, and some pirates become mercs. Really, it’s just as changin’ and movin’ as the sea itself, but with one rule: they go where the money flows. There have been times where freebooters end up taking on crew from their patron corp. usually though; these employees act as minders for the pirates, reportin’ what goes on back to the corporate HQ, and/or as additional fighting men.
Well, that’s about all I can think of to talk about pirates. I mean, is there really that much to talk about? Well…there is, but when you start doin’ that, you start havin’ to get into how they operate, and I swear, no ship or crew works the exact same way. Even if you have a fleet of ships, under the same organization, they still work differently. Sure, there are similarities, because that’s what works. Once you get past the general similarities, that’s where things start getting’ different.