Trope-a-Day: Space Pirates

Space Pirates: Type I is occasionally possible, thanks to the constraints of economically favorable trajectories, refueling stations (around gas giants), and the stargates themselves making it at least possible to lie around in somewhat-disguised- bearing in mind the constraints covered under Stealth in Space – ambush for merchant shipping to show up.  That, and raiding isolated colonies (which is actually substantially easier).

In their more stupid and brutal (“Yarr!  Kill – or enslave – everyone gratuitously unpleasantly, then takes their stuff!”) forms, seen occasionally out in the lawless backwaters of the stargate plexus – but even then, only occasionally, because everyone hates these guys, and even if they don’t run into anyone’s regular navy, mercenaries, bounty hunters, and heavily armed “free traders” – and a lot of star nations out there have, shall we say, a relaxed attitude to what a merchie bearing their flag can bolt onto his ship by way of insurance – have no particular problem making an extra exval or two by reducing them to inventory.  Especially since their business model is rarely profitable enough to let them buy decent ships until after they’ve given people plenty of chances to whack ’em, unless they start out as renegade naval units or some such.

Played somewhat straighter by people with more complex business models involving tangle-enabled insider trading, commerce raiders, privateers, and mercenaries hired to be commerce-raiding privateers, mostly because either due to better business models or access to thinly-disguised naval auxiliaries, they can afford decent ships, or have someone backing them up who can.  Generally also less stupid and brutal, since they want to live to spend their earnings and/or have a patron who will clean them up himself, lest he be held responsible by someone who finds their casus belli just the thing he was looking for.

Marque and Reprisal

To all to whom this shall be presented, be it known that this warrant entitles the bearer:

Rhadam Sinyéren Daemar

Owner and master of the armed merchant cruiser IS Gloriously Acquisitive;

To subdue and to seize goods and citizens, to destroy goods that cannot be taken, and to destroy military assets, belonging to such enemies of the Empire of the Star that Their Divine Majesties shall deem to exist from time to time, states, private sovereignties, or sovereign individuals, armed or unarmed, fixed or mobile, as designated in such separate Imperial proclamations as Their Divine Majesties shall see fit to issue, or by any pirates or brigands at any time;

And to bring the same to a starport, naval base, or roaming fleet base wherein a Court of Admiralty is empaneled, for adoption as prizes, condemnation for sale, or payment of bounty;

And to retake any vessels, goods, or citizen-shareholders of the Empire captured by such aforementioned enemies;

And to bring the same to a starport or naval base within Imperial territorial space, or to a roaming fleet base, wherein a Court of Admiralty is empaneled, for payment of due reward.

Furthermore, this warrant entitles the named bearer and vessel to apply for whatever assistance, whether monetary or not, that Their Divine Majesties shall deem fit to provide from time to time, and to seek succor and resupply at bases and depots of the Imperial Navy, subject to payment of expenses and the exigencies of war.

In the course of these privileges here granted, the named bearer and vessel are required to conduct themselves in all ways in accordance with the Ley Accords and the Imperial Rules of War, and to give such assistance as may be requested and required of them by captains and flag officers of the Imperial Navy; and should they attack and seize goods or citizens of any polity, howsoever constituted, that is not a thus designated enemy of the Empire, they shall be subject to such penalties at law as if they had carried out such an attack against the Empire itself.

Given under my hand and seal this day, 4045 Cálíath 14,

Kynéä Valentarios Tentáren, Constellarch of the High Verge


“We issued a letter to Rhadam Daemar?  The man’s a loose cannon, and his crew are worse.”

“Actually, he’s four loose cannons.”  The constellarch’s military aide flipped the associated documentation back on screen and off again with a gesture.  “And six loose missile racks, four loose launch tubes, two loose armed cutters, and one loose… ‘electromagnetic pulse-projecting xenowidget we picked up in a breaker’s yard on Méklish’.  But he’ll get the job done.”