Every other pirate gang including the big two pirate blocs are scrambling for men to fill up those positions as well, so we ’re hardly unique at that.
The only way to get them is by plundering the treasure hunting fleets who never stop coming to our region of space.
Some pirates don ’t have much luck with that, so they cross over to civilized space and assault some lightly defended space station or isolated colony for slaves. ”

”How are you able to make them stay obedient? It ’s a simple matter for any mech technician or rating to sabotage the machines they are working with.
One misplaced component, one weakened support structure, a few substances in the fuel tank where there ought to be none, and everything quickly comes crashing down. ”

”That ’s the easiest part. ” Ketis grinned.
”You just have to teach them a lesson to know who ’s boss.
Back at the Swordmaidens, Lydia only lets us take men whenever we need to top off our support crew.
When we first capture them, we beat them up and threaten them a few times.
Most quickly understand the new score, but some need firmer handling.
In any case, as long as we have some Swordmaidens overseeing our slaves, we can stop most of their attempts at cooking something up. ”

”That doesn ’t solve the problem of obedience.
You can beat a man down, but you can ’t extinguish his desire to be free. ”

His Brighter background came to the fore when he spoke those words.
Slavery was one of the big taboos of the Big Two, but the Bright Republic valued freedom more fervently than other states.

”Oh, we have plenty of tricks to account for that in the frontier.
Whenever we capture a large batch of slaves, we head over to a space station belonging to the Dragon Alliance.
The Dragons of the Void offers us a service where we hand over our slaves for processing. ”

”What does this processing entail? ”

”Heck if I know.
The Dragons of the Void messes with their heads somehow.
They ’re always the best at this kind of stuff.
After they ’re done with the slaves, they give them back to us after paying some K-coins for the service.
Now, our captives have become proper, obedient if somewhat dull little slaves.
We don ’t have to worry about any antics from our new toys after they go through processing. ”

The Dragons of the Void.
One of the biggest two pirate organizations in the Faris Star Region, and an old enemy of Ves.
Their tentacles reached wider than he thought.

Ves closed his eyes and practically pressed his eyelids into his cheeks.
Bursts of anger, frustration and resignation flitted through his mind.
He pushed them aside in favor of cold, hard practicality.

Right now, he needed to be rational.

”How are the..
Processed men aboard your ship working out for the Swordmaidens? ”

”As I ’ve said, they ’re stupid, dimwitted and lacking in imagination.
The only merit to them is that they are human enough to make sense of our command, and they have kept most of their old skills and knowledge.
They ’re barely better than bots in that sense.
At least they cry out nicely when you kick them around.
Bots don ’t make those satisfying screams of pain when you smack them up. ”

Ves tried to imagine the life of a man within the Swordmaidens.
Stripped of his free will, brainwashed into obeying the Swordmaidens as if they were goddesses, worked to the bone and for the rest of their lives, what difference was there between death and slavery?

At least Ketis never showed too much contempt at him for being a man.
Considering that most pirates in the frontier consisted of men, she knew better than to belittle the masculine side of humanity.

Still, this whole custom revealed one massive vulnerability.
One that was great enough to jeopardize their entire mission!

”How many slaves are among your fleet? ”

”I don ’t know.
We never keep count of numbers like that.
To my guess, it ’s easily a thousand or more men.
Our fleet is smaller than yours and Mayra told me that processing the slaves and whipping them into shape to perform their new duties costs a lot of time and money, so we don ’t go overboard like the Dragons of the Void. ”

”Don ’t you think you are inviting a hidden danger in your outfit by relying on slaves processed by the Dragons of the Void? ” Ves pointedly asked.
”From what I ’ve been told, the Dragons aren ’t the friendliest or the most reliable bunch. ”

”Oh, we know. ” She nonchalantly shrugged before she grinned like a predator.
”That ’s why we tend to stay far away from their territory once we ’re done.
This is a non-issue.
Thousands of pirates have made use of their processing service and not once have we heard of a slave revolt.
Besides, if something like that did happen, you have to remember they ’re mostly weaklings who don ’t even have the strength to rustle up a single chicken.
We can chop them all up within an hour if necessary. ”

”What if they keep their revolt quiet? What if instead of taking up arms they sabotage your mechs, ships and other stuff? Their ship engineers could easily induce a power reactor to blow, or destroy an FTL drive during transit.
How can you prevent such instances? ”

”As I said, we ’re not stupid enough to let the slaves work out of our sight.
We ’ve stationed Swordmaidens in each compartment they work at, and we do have some smarter Swordmaidens like me who followed some courses or received some tutoring to know what ’s going on.
As far as I know, almost every other pirate gang run their slaves along the same line. ”

”And the Ravienne Alliance? ” Ves mentioned the other pirate bloc.
”I ’ve never heard any mention of brainwashing from their organizations.
How do they keep their slaves in line? ”

”Oh, that ’s simple.
They do some other freaky stuff.
It depends on the outfit, really.
The most popular methods I ’ve heard are genetically modifying them into ugly abominations to implanting bombs in their brains that automatically detonate once they run out of the range of their assigned ship. ”

The way these pirates treated their support personnel was abysmal and prone to catastrophe, but somehow they made it work.
Ves heard so many surprises today that he simply didn ’t know how to respond to this all.

”You pirates live in a messed up society. ”

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