Leader: Pirate Council
Headquarters: Broken Rock, the Diaspora
To a merchant captain whose cargo has been looted or whose ship has been stolen, the pirates of the Pact Worlds may seem like a disorganized scourge. In truth, many of the freebooters who plague the space lanes are bound by something approaching a code of honor, or at least the recognition that they have more in common with one another than the ships and crews they prey upon. These are the Free Captains, and while not every raider who attacks a civilian ship in the lawless void between planets is one of them, the most successful and infamous of the Pact World pirates claim membership in this diverse organization.
Ostensibly led by a council of elected pirate lords, the Free Captains are an association of independent starship captains whose primary trades are freebooting, piracy, raiding, smuggling, and other enterprises that lie firmly outside the law. What binds these disparate individuals together is the code they follow, which determines who can be raided, which ships can be stolen or scuttled, and, perhaps most importantly, who has been granted immunity to such predations. While the rules that compose the code may seem arbitrary or capricious, simply having a structure at all is essential to keeping the group working together rather than devolving into a free-for-all that’s easily mopped up by the Stewards. These rules are modified from time to time based on the whims of the ruling captains, yet a few tenets remain consistent:
·No Free Captain will attack another outside of a council-approved duel.
·Clients paying the Pirate Council’s steep fees for “protection” must enjoy complete security from unwarranted attacks.
·A deal is a deal, and once an individual Free Captain has made a bargain, she must honor it. (This is particularly useful in helping victims know that a pirate offering them their lives in exchange for their cargo won’t simply kill them afterward.)
·All crew members are free to leave a ship in port, but once they are underway, they must fight to the death if their captain commands it.
While the Free Captains range throughout the Pact Worlds and beyond, their center of power is in the Diaspora, whose scattered collection of asteroids, chunks of space rock, and planetesimals provide countless docking stations, ports, and safe havens for fugitives, outcasts, and pirates eking out an existence on the wrong side of the law. The Free Captains’ Pirate Council meets on one these asteroids, called the Broken Rock, though its precise location is a closely guarded secret, and the place is said to be exceptionally well defended, lest the Stewards or a planetary police force seek to curb the Free Captains’ extralegal activities. The Free Captains don’t have much of a unified ambition beyond the piracy of their individual members, but intelligence reports in the highest echelons of planetary governments suggest a nascent “pirate kingdom” is emerging in the Diaspora as a result of the Free Captains’ growing power and influence.