Tahora Whai Piracy and Raiding
- "Piracy is just a part of life out here in Beacon Space. A fact of nature. Like the tide on planet's lucky enough to have water. Like solar flares, like meteor strikes. Like some Bleed-cursed anomaly. They're always there. Lurking in the dark like something out of your nightmares or some Old Earth fairy story. Wherever the whales are, they aren't far behind. Watching, waiting. Sometimes they come like demons, charging out the void with fire and lasers. Sometimes, the only warning you get is a shadow across your bow. But always, always, there's the chanting. A dozen voices, a hundred, but just one infernal sound flooding your comms. Once you hear it you never forget and pray you're left alive to remember. Stay out here long enough and the Whai will come for you. There's no avoiding it."
The Kikorangi o te Tahora Whai, aka Rangi, is a place of many dangers. Between the killer void fauna, radioactive stellar storms, and crushing black holes another threat looms for travelers through this space; pirates.
Since before the development of the Tahora Whai’s neural link, the planet Dynae was the source of a piratical tradition. Dynae’s warring-states periods, known as the Age of Discordance, was rife with petty squabbles and civil wars over the control of the planet. In this age several warlords consolidated fleets to project influence and seize resources to entrench their power. A common tactic employed in this era was blockading planets or stations to siphon trade. The more tyrannical warlords, like the Pirate Monarch Bal’ipp Ahe, would stoop to orbital bombardment to extort a planet of their supplies. The Tahora Whai are, in many ways, inheritors of the Dynaean culture, much like how they are descendants of Dynae’s practice of whaling.
Dynaean piracy ebbed and flowed with the fortunes of the world. In times of plenty and stability, the planet sent few raids. However, in the lean times or times of strife, when few opportunities could be had locally, piracy was a natural export. During particular turbulent decades, entire generations were born into and passed on the trade. Some tribes and bands never returned to Dynae during these years, instead they sought their fortunes among the stars.
After the creation of the Vak, and the neural network of the Tahora Whai was spread to many Dynaeans, it was hoped that war and piracy would be an antiquated practice of a bygone era. The Final Dissonance would cut those hopes short. The years of conflict during that civil war prolonged Dynaean piracy but it was the last act of the Discordant, the Great Cataclysm of Dynae, that would solidify its use among the Whai. With the planet devastated by the sabotage, raiding was a necessity for the survival of all Dynaeans.
Three centuries of struggle to reclaim life on Dynae brough the Whai riders against many of the sector’s powers. During the dynamic Beacon Wars, the Whai served as privateers and opportunists reaping plunder and supplies for their home system. Asteroid belts and deep space stations, far from the influence of local powers, became de facto Whai pirate bases. This era would provide a proving ground for tactics and equipment for Whai pirates.
Tools and Tactics
Whai ships often disguise themselves as humble traders or whalers to catch their victims unaware and with their guard down. But the ruse was much more effective if they were in fact utilizing their ships as a whaler when no dupes could be found. Dual- or multi-use ships became commonplace for the Whai. Tools like harpoons and trackers could likewise be utilized in both situations.
In the Rangi, and in other bases of Whai influence, escort services are a thinly veiled extortion racket to legitimize Whai piracy. For a fee, the Whai will keep your ship safe from the many dangers of the sector. On refusal to pay, a ship will be effectively marked as a target for various schemes. The Whai have negotiated rates with the Space Truckers–large shipping and logistics services of the Sector–to travel in these regions with minimal interruptions. Special relationships, such as the Reach-Rangi Agreement, also exist with entities like the Assembled Commonwealth for agreed ‘safe-travel’ for licensed merchants. The decentralized nature of the Whai causes a handful of diplomatic incidents but plausible deniability is the name of the game for the denizens of Sector-West.
Undefended or simply lightly-defended targets, like waystations and tradeships, are typical prey for the Whai. Bloodless and low-risk raiding is a natural pursuit for pirates of all stripes, not just the Whai. If supplies aren’t defended, they are seen as fair game–especially if they are in the west of the sector. The adage “If it meant this much to you, you should have defended it better,” is common. As the reputation of the Whai as fierce fighters and raiders spread they began to extort ships, stations, and localities without even firing a cannon. Several crews like the Vaeringi Veterans and Fluguafli Klika would be notorious sector-wide, striking fear into common merchants and station operators.
Whai will often warn and challenge their targets over open communication channels to intimidate and threaten them. Drums, war chants, hakas, insults, and occasionally demands can be heard over the radio during an impending raid.
However, hardened targets are seen as a worthy challenge. To plunder a target that is heavily defended is a sign of great prowess and fortitude, a Whai that can wear their tattoos proudly. Great songs and epics are sung of such prestigious warriors that can overcome or subvert a station bristling with defenders. Survivors of a Whai raid and those that put up a decent fight against the Whai are regarded highly. There are several incidents where Whai crews will refuse to engage in diplomatic talks with a high-ranking officer of a rival if there is an individual that proved themselves in battle against the Whai to talk to instead. The Whai do not negotiate with just anyone, only those that they respect.