Story:The Shape Of The Nightmare To Come 50k section08

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Section 08: Ravagers and Rogues: Piracy in the Second Age of Strife[edit]

As with any major disaster, the collapse of the Imperium was exploited by the scum and dishonourable filth of the universe, which oozed up from the widening cracks in Imperial authority, like wriggling maggots crawling free of a corpse. With no centralised Imperial authority, and with a non-existent interstellar communication system, any Imperial Battlefleets or sector fleets which survived the initial hell-storm of the new devourer, were utterly lost and aimless in this new, shattered galaxy. All warp routes were rendered useless, and all warp charts and mapping of the universe instantly became out of date. The universe became a bigger, more incomprehensible place. Not only this, but the few coherent battle fleets could only travel as fast as the short warp transit systems onboard their vessels would allow. The main body of the Navigator houses were destroyed when Terra was overrun by daemons, and many more were simply driven utterly insane by the sudden surge in chaotic activity in the dreadful wake of the collapse.

Thus, without any opposition the criminal, and sometimes heretical, scum of the universe sprang up in greater numbers than ever before. Disorientated or lost merchant fleets were ransacked, their people either butchered or brutalised in a variety of interesting and, above all, nasty ways. 'Wolf Packs', composed of rogue frigates and other human detritus, blockaded whole systems, holding their people for ransom. Other, more insane or reckless pirates, chased convoys and transports for many light-years, just for the thrill of the hunt. It was said this Age of Strife was a veritable paradise for the impious and the criminal.

Throughout this period, there were several general varieties of raiding forces operating at any given time across the galaxy, which we shall detail here. Of course, these categories are by no means exclusive. Such is the rag tag nature of pirate and ravagers fleets, that often they are composed of mixtures of several different kinds of raider, each sharing the similar goals of savagery, plunder and profit.

1) The Wolf Packs[edit]

Rogue Frigate captains, disgruntled former merchants, political dissidents turned profiteering privateers and just plain pirates. These are not a new phenomenon, and were certainly present throughout the 41st millennium, as well as the 51st. Yet, it was the scale of these piratical groups which increased across the Second Age of Strife. They became bolder and more vicious, picking off larger targets who, stripped of their protectors, were relatively easy prey for these bands of renegades. 

Sometimes these packs of predators and scavengers would be founded by dissident ex-navy personnel, other times they would be formed by ambitious local crime lords, who, through bribery, murder and betrayal, managed to gain enough power and resources to commandeer, or commission to be built for them, several starships. These would be outfitted with whatever weapons and crew they could scrounge, be they mercenary scum, thieves, or murderers, and from simple missile pods and projectile cannons, to stolen plasma batteries or lance emplacements. Such cobbled together forces would be no problem for a fully equipped military fleet. Unfortunately, none were forthcoming to challenge these cowardly villains.

One prominent example of this sort of fleet was the fleet of Captain Tastando Markus. During a failed warp transit, during M42, this Dauntless-Class Light Cruiser Captain found himself alone, his Cruiser lost amid the sea of stars. The Captain was a greedy man, and cared little for the Imperium while he was within it. Now he and his crew were alone, his greed turned to open dissent. He used his ship's substantial offensive power, to terrify isolated worlds into submission, or used his bloodthirsty crew to board ships, or invade particularly primitive worlds, plundering them of anything of value, raping anyone they chose to, and generally being unpleasant.

His crew were not uniformly greedy and malicious, though those honourable souls onboard were soon double-crossed or betrayed by their more unscrupulous ship mates. Markus kept order through the promise of bounty and rewards, and a system of violent meritocracy prevailed onboard. 

Soon, as word spread of The Shark's (his vessel was renamed thusly) criminal successes, a small following of captured vessels, from frigates to crudely home-built converted cargo freighters, tagged alongside the unusually powerful pirate vessel. In general, his wolf pack, like most of this sort, stayed around a single system (or local 'net' of systems that they had visited before), not daring to risk warping off into unknown areas.

2) The Corsairs[edit]

Easily the rarest form of pirate abroad in the galaxy during this period. These near-mythic forces consist of those scant few Eldar, locked on the path of the Outcast, who lost everything. Their Craftworlds were either dead, or imprisoned within the Ynnead web. These outcasts found their race was gone. There would never, ever be any redemption for them. Thus, with great wrath and hatred, they turned upon the perceived causes of their misery: humanity being one of them.

The Eldar, whose race had become a myth to almost all beings in the galaxy, darted between the various overlapping jurisdictions of the countless Petty Empires of the galaxy, murdering and stealing, howling curses through lyrical throats. They never left a trace of their presence. Only bodies. Their overly emotional minds turned to dark thoughts, which they could not escape from. Some said Yriel 'the mad' led them, but no one can be sure. Indeed, no one is sure these Corsairs exist at all.

Of course, something is killing the isolated human colonies, and stealing supplies from anyone they can.

3) The Darklings (Dark Eldar)[edit]

[Little info available at this time...]

4) The Scavengers[edit]

Some pirate fleets seem to consist of scratch-built, cobbled together starships, built from ruins and wrecks, but repaired. Some say these fleets are remnants of the fabled pure-Orks. However, no one takes those claims seriously. Everyone knew what happened to the Orks…

Thus, these vessels were not Orkish in design. Yet, some great cunning must have built these crude wonders. Encounters with these vessels, and their piratical crews, gives us better clues.

Mutants. Every single encounter was orchestrated, performed, and carried out by mutants. These deformed and hideous creatures, hiding their humps, bestial tails and wasting limbs beneath thick robes and clunky respirator equipment, boarded vulnerable vessels, using flamers, stub guns and other, home-made weapons, stealing whatever they needed.

They simply called themselves 'the Scavenge'. It is thought that these disparate fleets, operating nearby the Flurian system, in the Segmentum Pacificus, are said to have a base within that region, possibly even a captured industrial world. Legends tell of the Scavenger, a young boy, cursed by a dreadful wasting affliction, making him feeble and ugly. The young boy was driven into the underhive of his world, by the hateful 'normals' of society. He found a loving family amongst the mutant slave population of the world, who were all hunched, twisted monsters, but who loved him as one of their own. This boy was, by any accounts, a savant and genius, of the most dangerous variety. He was an innovator. He swiftly became leader of the underground mutant coven, and got them to steal machinery from the surface, to bring to him. They did so, and in the dark, he began to create.

No one knows the end of the tale, but soon after, the Scavenge became a notoriously dangerous pirate faction, using whatever machinery they could to devise ever more ingenious and lethal technologies.


The Shape of the Nightmare to Come: Section Navigation[edit]

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Continued in Warhammer 60K: Age of Dusk