|Court of the Bayou|
|Group type:||Organized Pirate Court|
|Leader Title:||Fleet Captain|
|Motto:||A short life of glory|
|Location(s):||Bayous of Louisiana|
|Goals:||To destabilize the economy of Louisiana to achieve wealth and power|
The most feared group of pirates west of the Mississippi River, the Court of the Bayou is a well organized democratic coalition of pirates who inhibit the bayous of Louisiana and use their knowledge of the swamp, cunning, and access to boats to evade pursuit after they raid a target. Waning in power due to a crackdown by the Gulf Privateers Alliance, the Court of the Bayou is still a formidable opponent and force to be reckoned with.
The Court of the Bayou was founded in 2256 by John Samuel Harding, an infamous pirate who operated in the former Gulf Commonwealth. Harding had journeyed far from the Gulf and into Texas to hold a summit with the leading pirates in the gulf in the Corpse Coast.
Harding promised great wealth to the participants should they make the long voyage to attend the conference and sure enough, it took only weeks for all four invited pirate chieftains: Enrique Moratone, Katrina Gooding, Max Savage, and Dylan French all attended.
Harding offered the bunch a proposition, unite their holdings and crews to wage war on the Gulf of Mexico's economy to destabilize the area and force it into anarchy, forcing organized groups to destroy themselves in civil war. Harding's plan was that the massive anarchy would destroy the Gulf Commonwealth's growing organization to a point to where the pirates would be the only organized force left, hiding in the Louisiana bayou and emerging when the strife was over to gain complete control of the Gulf of Mexico.
While controlling an empire was far beyond the aspirations of any of the pirates, they were quickly intrigued by the charisma of the well educated Harding and signed on. Pleased with this, Harding declared the group to be The Court of the Bayou, and the ruin town that he knew as Old Tortuga to be its capitol. The makings of government were established and by 2257 the court was in complete secret established under the noses of the growing and powerful Royaume in the bayous of the Acadiana area in Louisiana.
Arguably the hardest part of establishing the court was trying to make an organized democratic government out of pirates. Months were spent writing an organized code of laws to bound the court together. Though a difficult challenge, laws were written and the cabinet formed.
While membership applications were not booming at first, it took time but by 2260 the organization was doing well. Old Tortuga, a serene village which was discovered deep in the Louisiana bayou by Harding in the 2240s. The village was mostly unscathed by the bombs and was the focus of reconstruction by Harding's crew.Old Tortuga became the pirate capitol of Louisiana, boasting weapons dealers, brothels, bars, and casinos. Taxes were raised from the businesses which went towards building fortifications around Old Tortuga and financing voyages. By 2263, the Court of the Bayou was gaining infamy around Louisiana and the Mississippi. Two corsairs had been replaced, but the most drastic of changes was yet to come. In February 2264, a young feminist pirate named Kelly Carter did the unthinkable, challenged the sitting Fleet Captain for his position, and won.
The engagement started when Carter, one of the most successful pirates in the Gulf formally challenged Harding for his position. While Harding knew of the danger the young woman posed, he believed himself superior.
The engagement was revolutionary. Where others had taken down corsairs through eliminating their crews and destroying their troops. The downfall of Harding began and ended in a single blow of firepower and deception when Carter had one of her men masquerade as a photographer, offering to help indulge in Harding's sense of arrogance and self importance.
Harding proudly agreed to meet the 'photographer' in a brothel where he dismissed his guards into another room to allow the man to take his picture which Harding thought would be sent to The Royaume in New Orleans so as to see the man whom Harding thought would take down their city.
What Harding failed to know was that Carter had set up the photo shoot. The nature of the brothel was perfect to Carter's plan. She had planted ten of her twelve man crew inside as potential clients, all armed with hold out pistols and sub-machine-guns. Carter herself was in wait outside, refusing to take the obvious prostitute disguise she and another man waited with assault rifles to take down the guards waiting outside.
After the photos were taken, Carter's men opened fire killing Harding and his guards while outside the five-man reinforcement squad was gunned down by Carter and her fellow gunner. In only five minutes the Fleet Captain of the Court of the Bayou was dead and within a day Kelly Carter was ratified as the new Fleet Captain, opening the door for a golden age of piracy in Louisiana.
2264 would be the start of piracy's new golden age, Carter started by unifying and rallying the corsairs towards forming a force which would spearhead a return of murder and robbery on the high seas. Months were spent in preparation as Carter amassed funds from all over the Gulf.
By autumn of '64 the force was ready. Carter organized a vote to declare war on the Royaume of New Orleans and as expected a declaration of war was approved. On October 12th Kelly Carter and seven pirates marched to the gates of New Orleans under the protection of a white flag of truce.
From the wall Carter read off a declaration of war, stating the Royaume to be an illegitimate government and tyrannical monarchy which must be destroyed. After two hours the pirates left and began their raids, piracy's new golden age had begun.
Boats going to New Orleans of any affiliation were attacked whether they be rafters, travelers, or just nearby. By 2267 an estimated forty ships had been destroyed ranging from rafts to moderately large vessels. Loot was taken to locations containing various seedy dealers including the Orange Bowl, Old Tortuga, and The Corpse and varied anywhere from weapons, to slaves, to booze. It was at this point that the Royaume would strike back.
The Royaume's initial response to this new threat could charitably be described as a disaster. Though disciplined and well armed, the Gendarmerie were mostly a land-based force. They were ill prepared to repel pirates or chase them into open water. With James St. Just uncharacteristically befuddled; the Roi Jérôme Devereux stepped up. He called an assembly including a number of prominent rafters, and representatives of Obed Narcisse, the Mississippi Traders Union, and Baton Rouge and gave a stirring speech that would come to be known as the Acadiana Address. Before the conference concluded, the assembled parties had drafted the boilerplate for a Letter of Marque and Reprisal. Privateers acting under the aegis of the letter would be able to pass along the Mississippi and the Gulf unhindered by the Royaume or Baton Rouge in order to hunt pirates.
- "Our honor and sacred duty is to keep those fires of civilization bright. We require a solution that not only maintains our respective sovereignty, but eliminates this scourge of the Acadiana once and for all."
- ―Excerpt from the Acadiana Address
The layout of this alliance was simple and kept in accordance with the terms discussed previously at the address. Privateers with a letter of marque were free to hunt down any pirates and were to be given immunity from hostility in any port they sailed into. Upon the capture of a pirate vessel, the body of any notable pirate was to be brought into a Royaume controlled community for verification. In addition, fifty-five percent of all currency or items of value seized on the boat along with any high-end technology was to be handed over to the Royaume as payment for the protection their Letter of Marque offered them.
The membership of the Alliance would flourish in the coming months as dozens of gunmen and rafters out for money and revenge joined up and accepted the Letters of Marque which the Royaume handed out freely.Numerous small engagements were waged on a boat to boat basis, by 2270 over fifty pirate vessels had been confirmed as captured and all the major leaders but Carter and French were confirmed KIA.
The power the Court held was rapidly diminished by the privateers who were more capable than Royaume forces in chasing the pirates back into the bayous of Acadiana. This rapid purge would become known as the "Privateer Crusade" and would end with French's last stand.
This would occur in early Fall of 2270, seeing the beginning of the end, French rallied a conglomerate of twenty-three captains, over three-thirds of the remaining members of the Court. With his small fleet, French sent a message directly to the Royaume's privateers in New Orleans daring them to combat in the Bayous of Louisiana near the wreck of the pre-war heavy munitions ship, the USS Diamondback.
Receiving French's message and coordinates, the Alliance proceeded with caution and after taking out loans to fund supplies and equipment for a battle to end the Court once and for all. Sailing out in November with two hundred privateers, mercenaries, bounty hunters, and soldiers from The Big Easy, Baton Rouge, and Little Israel the first two of whom sent aid to purge the pirates that threatened their economy.
Little Israel, on the other hand, was ruled mainly by Jewish bankers and merchants who had greatly subsidized the force with monetary loans and high-end weaponry. This had prompted their military leaders, the Holliday Family send troops to take loot from the dead pirates to reimburse the bankers and to neutralize the at the time two dozen man crew of Dylan French who all had bounties on their head which would be sent directly to Little Israel if verified by a Holliday rifleman.
Now with one of the largest military forces ever assembled in the Gulf Commonwealth since the devastating Great War, the Gulf Privateer Alliance set out to find and kill French and his one hundred and fifty or so pirates who very eagerly awaited either victory or martyrdom.
French's Last Stand
The engagement occurred on November 12th when the lead privateer vessel, a small converted rafter vessel not fit for open sea spotted the pirate blockade near the mouth of the delta where the Diamondback's wreck was located.
With gunshots fired, the two small fleets began waging what was possibly the largest maritime battle since before the Great War. With fifty-three ships involved in total, the delta became a mess as the rafts rammed, boarded, and shot at one another with bullets flying from one end of the battlefield to another and some of the boats so close that one could walk several dozen yards across them without falling into the bayou or jumping considerable distance.
In these close quarter fights, the buccaneers held all advantage as savage boarding crews leaped aboard privateer boats with machetes and improvised melee weaponry. It was mainly in longer range gunfights whose distanced averaged around ten to thirty yards where the privateers and seaborne Gendarmie infantry held the upper hand.
However while this fight waged on, Holliday infantry embarked in the irradiated bog like land which made the delta a choke point and proceeded to open fire with high caliber semi-automatic rifles from shore, picking off pirate crewman from the side and rear as they navigated around the fighting by land.
With naval gendarmie and land borne rifleman, French ordered all ships to fall back to the wreck of the Diamondback where he had planned his poetic last stand. A merchant marine vessel prior to the war, the Diamondback was loaded with high power howitzer shells to be brought to China to assist in the war effort.
Crashing into the bayou due to massive waves stirred up by the nuclear apocalypse, the Diamondback lied dormant on the banks of the bayou south of New Orleans, virtually untouched by scavengers who dared not risk their lives to scavenge the freighter due to extreme radiation from its broken nuclear reactor and the lack of demand for howitzer shells in the Gulf Commonwealth.
With around one hundred pounds of dynamite rigged throughout the ship, French's crew fought to the last man as privateer marine forces boarded the ship and the feared machine gun boats the Alliance employed moved closer in to provide support, French gave a broadcast over a radio on an open channel to any of the privateers who had radios.
In his final address, French made clear it was him and mocked the privateers, claiming that they would never see his bounty and that they would go down with him. When he detonated the ship, the broadcast's meaning became evident to the privateers farthest from the ship a few seconds after the vessel was detonated and the inferno and waves stirred up by the massive explosion of five tons of undetonated howitzer shells sweeped across the bay, eventually claiming the lives of every combatant within a matter of fifteen seconds.
After three weeks of anticipation, the remaining privateers would send an expeditionary force to investigate the fleet's unusual vanishing. While defeat was certainly a possibility to the organizers of the battle in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Little Israel, it was French's calling card to ensure that people knew of boats he plundered, normally through agents in New Orleans leaving photos or messages on the doorstep of a high ranking Royaume official or the merchant who had sponsored the ship French had plundered.
Confused, a group of five Privateer vessels embarked to the site of the battle where the ghastly site of hundreds of burning corpses floating in the bayou awaited them. Within minutes of seeing them, the boats hurried back to New Orleans and spread the word of the catastrophe.
Taken aghast by the news, the privateer coalition began to fall apart. Little Israel's bankers who had invested thousands refused to further invest in the privateers and made formal demands for the officers and nobles of New Orleans and Baton Rouge to reimburse them through caps and weaponry appraised of equal value to remaining debts, repayment of this debt would fall upon the privateers whose funds were taken and weapon stockpiles looted to pay back the Jews (after the Royaume was satisfied with its own losses having been covered).
The Roi and his Chevalier considered the operation an unqualified success. The staggering casualties among the privateers ensured that they paid out very little of the offered bounties, with absolutely trifling losses among the Gendarmes. They further capitalized on the death of French by bringing out a number of criminals condemned to death and adding farcical charges of piracy so their peasants could see some "sea dogs," hang. In another gesture, the Roi had his Architect allies reclaim one of the old vaults in Saint Louis Cemetery #1 for use as the "Tomb of the Unknown Privateer," where the slain privateers (or their ashes) could be interred with honor.
- "These men of many nations and faiths, of diverse races and creeds, came together as brothers with the dream of forging a safer world for all peaceable peoples. Their sacrifice and valor stands in stark contrast to the revolting cowardice of the Pirates who decided it was better to burn than face true justice..."
- ―from the Roi Devereux's dedication of the Tomb
After seizing eight ships in five months, Carter drew more attraction from the privateers who desperate to catch her placed a fifty thousand cap bounty on her head, drawing from funds taken from bankers, private citizens, and captured pirate vessels. This would usher in the still active manhunt for Kelly Carter who rumors placed in Texas, Louisiana, Rumrunner Bay, Mexico, Tennessee, and even Cuba. As the years pressed on, sightings of her became commonplace and the ranks of privateers filled with bounty hunters seeking the highest paying bounty in the gulf.
Currently, the Court, like the Privateer Alliance is rebuilding. Weaker than its Royaume funded enemy, the activities of the Court have been reduced to a much smaller scale as fourteen vessels a year is now the average amount of ships seized by the Court. Acknowledged by all is how instrumental Carter is to the Court. Both the Royaume and the pirates of the Court believe without her the group will fall apart and as the privateers believe she is the head of the snake which must be cut off to doom the pirate group. This has ensured that the bounty on Carter's head continues to rise as the privateers hope that by doing so she will be killed before the Court will rise again to meet the merchant community of the Gulf as it had previously.
On the contrary of what would one expect, the Court of the Bayou has a well organized 'government' and leadership structure. Decisions on the actions of the fleet are managed by the Fleet Captain and other four captains in a democratic process. While their democracy and laws are not on par with pre-war or other post-war democratic societies, the Court of the Bayou maintains a leadership structure which is impressive for a group of pirates.
The leadership of the Court is a cabinet of the five most powerful captains known as "Corsairs". Power is generally defined by who has the most guns which means anyone may become a corsair if they can take down a standing one. If an aspiring captain wishes to ascend to corsair, they must select a current one and declare war on their forces. Generally, power conflicts take around a week of gunfights before either the challenger or defender is killed.
It is forbidden for a challenged corsair to request help from another when a captain wishes to usurp them this ensures that corsairs who control the movement of the fleet are strong and capable of handling their own affairs.
By majority vote, the five corsairs elect a Fleet Captain to serve as the leader of the court. The Fleet Captain and the corsairs control the movement of the fleet and keep peace in Old Tortuga. When a target is offered by a corsair, the cabinet votes on it and if selected by at least a 3-2 majority vote. If a target is official ratified then a declaration of war is sent and the maritime holdings of said target are decreed valid targets.
To date two declarations of war have been drafted, one against The Royaume and one against Rafters. While these may be the only official targets, pirates of the court commonly attack targets that are not affiliated with either The Royaume or Rafters.
Besides declarations of war, the cabinet handles internal affairs in Old Tortuga. Keeping order on the streets at gunpoint, settling property disputes, and accepting promising pirates into the court. The Fleet Captain has final say in all affairs and acts as a complete autocrat. If all four corsairs are in agreement then a Fleet Captain may be impeached and is exiled from the bayou, after an impeachment the remaining four corsairs elect a leading captain and proceed to elect a new Fleet Captain.
To join the court a pirate must have a ship and a crew numbering at least five men. The crew must be capable of basic piracy and be able to confirm at least one act of piracy. Once these conditions are met the captain of the applying vessel must put in a petition to the court. Once the petition is accepted then the captain must have an audience with the cabinet.
The hearing with the cabinet is similar to an interview, a corsair may pose any question to the applying candidate. After around an hour or two of questioning, the applicant is dismissed and deliberation begins. After several hours of deliberation, if a majority vote of the corsairs agree to accept the possible recruit then the captain is ratified as a member of the court. If the applicant is turned down then the captain is immediately evicted from Old Tortuga. An accepted captain is recorded in the log book and proceeds to fly the flag of the Fleet Captain along with their own flag on their boat.
The strength of the court is best measured by the number of pirate captains in their employ at a single time. Numbers widely vary on the court's strength and rumors all over the Gulf state the pirate union to have anywhere from a thousand members to less than twenty.
In reality somewhere around twenty to thirty ships are in the employ of the court making their army around a hundred or so. Many claim to be members of the court for the protection it offers and pirates looking to inspire fear by wearing an American flag, this extremely distorts the perceived power of the court.
To help gain membership into the court to better raid targets and defend Old Tortuga the members of the court have to be well armed and while not nearly as large as opposing groups of raiders or organized armies, their soldiers are of quality and are highly skilled in guerrilla warfare, engaging anyone not affiliated with them who dare to enter their part of the bayou.