So long as there have been seas to sail, merchant ships to pillage, and treasures to bury and claim, there have been pirates. Some of them are the dirtiest, most rotten scoundrels that you’ll ever have the displeasure of running into. Others are simply lovable rogues who live for excitement and adventure. Whatever their reasons, these salty seadogs and scurvy skyfarers are all drawn to the absolute freedom that this profession of ill repute provides and the daily life-and-death challenges provided by the ever capricious weather and the long arm of the law.
For thousands of years, pirates of every race and both genders have been making names for themselves upon the high seas. In fact, for a very long time, pirates have been one of the few groups (along with mages and ninjas) which are known to be very open when it comes to gender equality, racial tolerance, and tolerance of homosexuality. To them, so long as your talents are actually useful to captain and crew and you can hold your own when it counts, you can be a gay, transsexual slime monster-dragon hybrid and no one would be allowed to mess with you about it. Because of this policy of tolerance, many individuals who have found themselves outcast from normal society have found a happy home at sky or sea. This has also led to many instances of beings from two different races which are normally blood enemies becoming close friends, or even lovers—such as Assissla Kinla, a naga, and Fillerion Wistvither, a velvend. Their romance is epically legendary among pirates and a horror story among both nagas and velvends.
In fact, pirate culture has many traditions, such as spouses breaking each other out of jail, burying treasure and making a map with an “X” to mark the spot where it’s buried, and even banding together with the naval or air forces of their favorite pillaging grounds in times of war (because, you know, no one gets to pillage the kingdom but them). It is the tradition of pirates joining forces to battle against anything which threatens either the pirate way of life or the world itself which led every pirate crew in the world at the time to join the Free Beings’ Alliance in the battle against the Alliance of Humanity during the War of destruction. Many a pirate risked it all, and sometimes lost it all, for the cause of freedom. Of course, they had nothing to lose as far as reputation from losing the war. Either way, they knew that they’d go right back to being criminals after the battle was lost and won. Actually fighting in the war at all was really more of a thing of principle than anything else.
Of course, there are divides within the pirate community. There is the “Yar” vs. “Arr” controversy, the ethics of having people walk the plank, and even a heated debate over how long a guy has to be dead (or whether he has to be dead at all) before you go and dig up his loot. The newest and most pronounced divide is that between sea pirates and sky pirates. Ever since the invention of the airship finally made the skies above into yet another open ocean, there have been sky pirates. Though most pirates are known to have at least some flair for the dramatic, sky pirates are often jokingly (and not-so-jokingly) referred to as “the flying hams.” They absolutely love flashy entrances, flashy exits, flashy wardrobe, and flashy combat techniques. The most flamboyant of them even have custom weapons decorated with everything from tasteful inlays of brass and mahogany to rhinestones and rainbow sequins. Their ships often feature elaborate, brightly colored paint jobs and/or carvings of dragons’ heads or soaring eagles for decoration. Even their clothes tend to lean toward the awesome but impractical side of things, with rule of cool dominating everything they do.
Many sea pirates—especially the more serious-minded—find the sometimes cartoonish antics of their skyfaring brethren to be anywhere from strange to downright embarrassing, and will often do their damnedest not to have to ask them for help or owe them any favors unless it is an absolute emergency situation. Yes, to the sea pirates, sky pirates are those embarrassing relatives that they only ever want to see when somebody either gets married or dies. Still, if a sky pirate asks a sea pirate to help them on a big job, they’ll still lend a hand…if the incentive is right. After all, pirates of all stripes tend to have a higher wackiness tolerance than the average joe—even the most serious-minded of them.
Aside from all of the hard work that it takes to keep a ship running, plan heists, and get the most out of a hostage situation, pirates also love to party. Yes, all of those stereotypes about rowdy drunken pirate shindigs are perfectly true. At such gatherings, bawdy sea chanties are sung loudly deep into the wee hours of the morning, alcohol is in every single drink (even the water), and there are always at least two good brawls per event. Some of those brawls—such as the one between Iona “Iron Boobs” McGee and her first mate (and eventual husband) Cletus “Pussy Cat” Clemons on New Year’s Eve 5496 B.W.D.—have actually become legendary.
Another thing that pirates love to do is screw with the International Werewolf Hunters’ Association (IWHA). You see, they still haven’t gotten over getting beaten back during the War of Destruction and are none too pleased with how the Werewolf Hunters’ Code gives them free license to just shoot people who don’t even deserve it (after all, pirates never kill someone without a practical reason…even if their “practical reason” is that the guy wouldn’t hand over his wallet). So, they work to undermine the IWHA every chance they get; whether it’s hijacking their transports, robbing their hunters’ stations, or smuggling books of banned legends and lore across borders and into port. There are even rumors of pirate spies working within the organization. Though, really, with how well-organized the IWHA is, there couldn’t possibly be any way for spies to infiltrate their ranks…
There is rumor of a long running rivalry between pirates and ninjas. Although neither side will openly admit to any form of rivalry whatsoever, there have been reports of ninja masters and pirate captains having massive throwdowns in the past. These alleged throwdowns have occurred in broad daylight and there have even been civilian witnesses in some cases. Every time such a battle has been reported, however, all of the collateral damage has conveniently disappeared before any authorities, news reporters, or Johnny-come-lately gawkers were able to get to the scene and view the aftermath. The paranoid claim that it’s because the pirates and ninjas are using magic to cover it all up, while average folks just wonder if they imagined it all or don’t believe their neighbors when they insist that half of a building was blown away when a pirate’s bazooka shell collided head-on with a ninja’s ki attack. What is the truth? Only the pirates and ninjas of the world know for sure.
Well, that does it for this week, readers. Join us next week when we take a look at an article from one of the world’s leading tabloids, The Town Crier, about the supposed existence of “transpiriteds.” You’ll have to read it…and probably still won’t believe it! Until then, you can find the first book in the Star-Runner Chronicles series, The Rebirth and Awakening of Wolfie Star-Runner, on Amazon.com (Kindle and print editions) and Createspace.com (print edition only). See you next Sunday!