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After the disintegration of law and order in the British Isles, following the mass outbreak of the CVP-2 Virus, many turned to the primitive employment of piracy and theft for survival. Many of those who originally took to the sea in an attempt to escape across the Channel, or to wait out the virus, became victims of desperate and violent pirates who seized the opportunity for profit, as looters do in a riot. Others still turned to piracy themselves, and seeing the lucrative rewards, thousands flocked to harbors in an attempt to sustain themselves in luxury.
Known Operating AreasThe map to the right highlights known operating areas of raiders and piracy in red. Please note that pirates often operate many nautical miles from the coast, and so the red borders show the nearest areas of coastline to their known locations. Blue highlighting shows the approximate locations of the bases of these criminals. The red oval shows the 'Black Zone', an area frequented by pirates preying on the major shipping routes that run along the Southern coast.
Feared and loathed, coastal raiders and pirates can be found all along the coastlines of the British Isles. Many settlements have anti-piracy measures as a result, and most criminal gangs are forced to base themselves in remote areas, far from their prey, for safety and security. Smaller scale raiders predominantly range the coast in less populated areas, assaulting and looting small coastal settlements, fishing craft and small yachts. However, a number of large pirate gangs have the capabilities to attack settlements along the coast of the Southern Confederacy, and target the booming shipping lanes in the region.
Many raiders dock for the winter along the scarcely populated Western coast of Ireland, and in the islands to the West and the North of what was once Scotland. They either then use these as bases throughout the Summer for short range assaults, or spend months at a time at sea before their return. Some establish small 'Forward Operating Bases', a parody of the military term, closer to their chosen target areas in the Summer, choosing to build their main settlements much further away from privateers, naval forces, and reprisal parties. For this reason, many pirate communities are thriving and safe places dominated by children and women throughout most of the year, which see little relation to the crime until the return of the menfolk and their raiding parties at the end of the pirate season. Reportedly, pirates keep hidden caches of weapons, fuel and supplies at secret locations along the coast, which are regularly restocked, explaining the long periods some spend at sea.
The Raiding Season
Generally, the raiding season is taken to be from early April through to October, a 5 month period that for some o the more sophisticated gangs will not see a single return to home port. For most larger pirate units however, a regular schedule is to use a 3 week cycle, with two weeks allocated to raiding, and one week for going to and from the home port. Smaller raider gangs may only spend a few days, or even a few hours, out before they return to port, but will repeat this throughout the year for a much longer season.
Although most pirates generally stick to this season in order to avoid cold winters at sea, and to return home to families for Christmas and the surrounding months, it is not unknown for there to be exceptions. Many small time pirates will raid for most of the year, and some crews take advantage of the lack of competition and stay at sea for longer periods.
'Raiders' can usually be divided into 2 main categories: pirates, or sea raiders, crews that prey on other ships, and Coastal Raiders, crews that prey on coastal targets. Some more powerful coastal raiders will venture many miles inland in search of profits, and the two classes have a large amount of overlap.
The majority of coastal raiders utilize speed and surprise, engaging in hit and run tactics along the coast. They usually leave their targets much poorer but relatively undamaged, so that they may return when the settlement is recuperated and a valuable target once more. Most pirates are not unnecessarily bloodthirsty or violent, merely seeking loot and survival, they are known for viscous reprisals and shows of force to ensure co-operation from those they assault.
Sea raiders are usually similar, lurking out of sight until the moment is right, and then assaulting their target ship in a lethal strike. However, it is here that there tactics split in two: some pirates board ships and plunder them before withdrawing and leaving the ships unharmed or sinking dependent on the ferocity of the assault, whilst others take the crew hostage and take control of the ship, with the aim of being paid a ransom.
Most coastal settlements have early warning systems and procedures in place such a beacons, flags and alarms. A common anti-piracy method is for villages to establish volunteer part-time defense forces, usually primitively armed and trained, and more permanent watch units who man beacons etc from their posts on headlands, alert for unidentified vessels in the vicinity. Although these tactics often work against smaller crews, it is inefficient against large, well trained, well equipped gangs, many of whom seem more like professional military forces than crooks. Larger settlements such as towns and cities operate full time, well equipped response teams who are a much more efficient deterrent, whilst some micro nations such as the Southern Confederacy operate a large scale military which have joint purposes, including combating piracy.
Perhaps the most infamous of all Raiders are the Sea Wolves: a large, well trained and incredibly well equipped Raider gang, made up predominantly of ex-military personnel. Upon the disintegration of the UK's armed forces, many naval personnel based at Portsmouth and their families took to the sea using the Royal Navy ships stationed there. Originally, their purpose was to wait for the virus to be cured, but after their hopes of this were extinguished, and as relations with the Southern Confederacy deteriorated, they turned to piracy as a method of survival.