Going on the Account: So Ye Want to be a Space Pirate, Eh?

So here I was, going to break the news about Alex Aja doing an adaptation about Cobra – The Space Pirate, before a bad health incident hit me.

How bad?  Imagine yourself on the tenth day of nothing but hardtack and bracken water, your intestinal system compromised, and let’s leave it at that…

So by the time I stopped needing to do what I need to do regained my normal faculties, the story above was widely reported elsewhere.  So for me, it’s less of a piece of news than a reinforcement of what’s been said previously here, between my gushing for Captain Harlock and support of other Brethren of the Spacelanes…

Though I should address an injustice here, before I continue.  For the life of me, I don’t know why there hasn’t been a shout out given yet here to Crimson Dark, the twice-weekly webcomic about privateers being pressed into service in an interstellar war.  My apologies for brainless forgetfulness, as I do enjoy the strip but somehow never gave it its due…

Anyways; the point herein works on the following assumptions:

  • Assuming we all believe in Mark Twain’s assumption, “Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates,” and
  • We accept the idea that we’re not going to ply the sea lanes the way our ancestors did during the Age of Sail when they went on the account*; and
  • We’re not about to follow the Somali/Indonesian/Nigerian/modern model of how to conduct oneself as a pirate

Then herein it is required that we must learn how best to go boldly on the account where no one has gone before…

To that end, a few things need to be taken into account before you go on the account:

1)      Know Your Knots.  Yes, yes, I know, ropes in space, so Méliès and all, but there’s a meaning behind that statement.  You just need to know what you’re doing when you go on the account, and that means having all the basics down cold as far as being a valuable assent on crew for a space-going vessel.  Admittedly, for most of the 20th century the requirements for being an astronaut were pretty stringent, but with space tourism requiring much less of passengers and crew than NASA used to, this is a gap that’s more easily bridged as we go forward.  And consider this: By the Age of Sail, the learning curve was a lot lower for potential crew than it was for most sailors preceding that time, to the point where someone accepting the King’s Shilling by “accident” was considered seaworthy; as a result, the future should the pattern holds means a lower bar to jump graces you than your predecessors face…

2)      Be Prepared to Work Hard.  This seems to get lost in a lot of the literature about pirates, both historic and fanciful, but folks going on the account faced the same basic job description met by anyone in the service of whatever branch they ended up in:  Days of routine punctuated by minutes of terror.  And that routine is filled with lots and lots of maintenance, whether it’s swabbing the deck, checking the air seals, or whatever you need to do to keep your vessel battle ready (or at least sea/space-worthy, depending on how much you need to bring to the game to go on the account; quite frankly, buccaneers in the Golden Age of Piracy were held to a stronger standard than those plying the lanes of Mare Nostrum during the Roman period) between bloody engagements, which leads us to…

3)      Be a Ruthless SOB.  And yes, the so-called “killer instinct” is a requirement for this line of work, more so than you’d need on Wall Street or in Sales.  In all civilized venues, piracy is considered a crime (even under the UN’s Law of the Sea; good luck with proper enforcement, though…) which requires a Spartan do-or-die attitude towards the Sweet Trade.  If you spare a life, it better be damned well worth it…

4)      Have Your Intel Handy.  From the beginning, knowing who your likely targets were out there has been essential.  The seadogs of the Golden Age of Piracy had in their favor the current of the Caribbean; the Flota de Indias had to conform with the sea and air currents in the Caribbean, which meant the likelihood of a treasure heading to Espania outside of such requirements as “stop-first-at-Granada-sail-to-Mexico-then-sail-to-Cuba-then-on-to-home” were minimal.  Consider as well the intel the Somalis require to pick the proper target sailing through the Gulf of Aden.  With this in mind, it’s important to know what you’re fighting for before the first shot is fired, as it’s a better use of your limited resources to have your target in sight and known before engaging it.  It’s only in fiction that you find your manifest expanded beyond your expectations exponentially (cough*thisnovel*cough); the more you know, the better when you finally claim your loot, and the less you’re going to be disappointed when the time comes to log the new manifest…

5)      Have Realistic Expectations for What You’re Going to Face. If you think each encounter is going to be as exciting as it is terrifying, then you have an unreasonable expectation.  As the current state of the art stands right now, each such climactic battle in space will be less like Star Trek and more like Run Silent, Run  Deep, which means you should be prepared for your moments of terror to being turned into Spam-in-a-can should you loose…  (And frankly, if you’re going into battle, watching Burt Lancaster duke it out with Clark Gable throat-in-fist until the bitter end is a lot more explosive and informative than anything J. J. Abrams could bring to the table in his movie…)  This all assumes that the evolving state of the art isn’t going to give you impressive vid screens or effective tactile sensations when you reveal the colors near term, as opposed the likely closed-system-under-fire engagement rules we’re likely to see in the near term.  If we end up at such a point where when we engage in piracy in outer space someone can claim, “There’s an app for that!” then all damn bets are off…

6)      Know Ye Limits, And When to Quit. There’s an old adage that when a sailor wanted to get away from it all, he’d put an oar over his shoulder, and stop heading inland when someone asked him, “What the heck is that thing?” at which point he’d stop and settle down as a yeoman farmer.  Likewise, anyone going on the account should have a proper skill level; if you have enough credits in your account to but all but purchase the European Union debt, you probably have too much liquidity to survive a reasonable audit…

All said above, there’s a few potential routes you could apply yourself to…

a)      The Moon-to-Earth Route: If the assumed H3 supplies in the Moon are actually there, this could be a potentially profitable route for those willing to go for it;

b)      The Mars-to-Earth Route: for whatever reason we need to get our ass to Mars, there’s something worth taking when we seize their ships en route from the Red Planet to Earth.  And even if there’s nothing there, there’s the potential for possible tradable goods seized from any traffic seized from trade with this world

c)      The Asteroids-to-Earth Route: With the potential for riches from mining the asteroids, this is an obvious potential source for income, assuming that the powers that be would rather hand the situation to local authorities at that end as opposed to dealing with it themselves; given what’s involved, we could be looking at the virtual equivalent of the Treasure Fleet here, assuming that there’s no better score to be made from fleets coming in from Io, Titan, and some of the better-endowed moons of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus,,,

d)      Extra-Stellar Riches:  If we assume that some of the goodies we find around nearby G-type main sequence stars (i.e., the ones like our stars) are comparable to what we need and therefore what we want, there’s a lot of potential there for interdicting any trade between Tau Ceti or  Alpha Centari and Sol (us).  Again, major assumptions regarding potential markets here, but what are good are projections except to anticipate potential markets…

All said above, we’re talking a great potential for those wanting to engage in the Sweet Trade if they gaze upward, which is of value to those of us wanting to see the next generation going on the account the way our forefathers did when we were their age.#

And that’s the beauty of the Sweet Trade: The desire for riches beyond the expected is there for the taking if you are both reckless and daring enough to want it!

*This is not to disparage the fine recreation units out there reminding us of America’s piratanical past; that said, if you’re willing to do thing in the method a la mode, there’s a few organizations who are recruiting for action in the Indian Ocean that could use your help…

#As for my own contribution to the cause, it looks like my progeny is likely to take a different path…

…and become, God help us,  a musician…

Mind you, should he ply the space lanes and end up the “guest” of a red-haired pirate captain and end up following her, I can think of worse fates for my progeny than being smitten by such a captain…

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