Monday, 4 March 2013

The Devil Beliah

This is the revised version of Beliah Black intended for inclusion in Prisoners and Exiles. The original write up on this character was published in Sinners and Saints.

The Devil Beliah
“Surprise matey, I be saying that this ship an’ all in it, be mine. I beg ye disagree.”
-The Devil Beliah, hijacking of the Cornets Fire by base deception, 5005, Twilight

“I had long hoped that this monster had crawled into some dark pit, never to return. But since he has seen fit to show his head again, I shall dedicate my life to ending his menace. I give you my oath that I shall cut his devil from his face and give it to the cleansing flame.”
-Sir Yang Chi Li Halan, renowned Pirate Hunter, 5006, Icon

The myth of Beliah Black claims that he was born aboard a pirate ship and raised amongst cutthroats and thieves. It is said that they adopted the boy as a mascot and taught him all he would ever need to know. How much of this tale is true and how much is simply fiction is hard to say, the legend continues, and recounts how it was not until his 13th birthday that the boy first laid foot upon a planet’s dirt. Breathing air untainted by the metallic tang of a recycler, some whisper that the devil looked up at the sky and it was then for the first time that he knew fear. He fled back to the void that had spawned him. 
If some myths are to be believed than Beliah is not human, or only part human, conceived to a slave woman who was forced in to a union with a horror from between the stars.  Others, that he was born whole, already full-grown from some dark womb among the stars. Folk tales and superstitions, these tales serve only to make is black reputation all the darker.
Beliah has lived all his life aboard one starship or another, taking up arms against any who cross his path. It is said that he first killed a man at age five and earned a much-deserved reputation for cruelty by the time he reached his majority. By then he was the master of his own ship with a crew of merciless cutthroats at his back. His first command was a small shuttle he took from a murdered prospector. Repainted, it was christened the Devil’s Revenge. With it, he established a reputation for daring, skill, and outright insanity by taking on much larger ships. Over the years he has had many other vessels, but each has taken that same name. His own nickname ‘the Devil Beliah’ was first given to him at this time.
Born not long after the start of the Emperor Wars, his career has spanned most of them, taking advantage of the chaos and strife to sow his own seeds of suffering and line his own pocket with plundered treasures. Though he took many prizes his most noteworthy achievement was the ‘Ransom of Icon’. The Devil’s Revenge and two other pirate ships crippled the only Li Halan destroyer sent against them and blockaded the world, while the Li Halan fleet was engaged elsewhere. He took off with a fortune in gold, medicines and ammunition before the fleet returned and has been at the top of the Li Halan’s most wanted list ever since. 
The final act in the making of his devilish reputation was to come in his 22nd year, though some historians dispute this, as the dates don’t seem to align properly. The Devil’s Revenge was in the Bannockburn system, evading a League patrol, when it encountered a derelict starship bearing the emblem of House Masseri. An examination of the vessel revealed little of value, except a sealed stasis box. Breaking the seal on the box in the privacy of his own quarters, Beliah discovered an organic octopus-like creature. What actual communication occurred between the pair is unknown. When he emerged from his private chambers, ‘his devil’ had firmly attached itself to his face. Over the years since, the creature has never left its resting place, though it has changed position and periodically moved about his head and face. 
Amongst his crew there were some reservations about the new devil in their midst, but plots of mutiny were quickly silenced when Beliah displayed an uncanny knack of knowing who was going behind his back. It is whispered that the devil knows every black thought that crosses your mind and whispers them to Beliah during the dark of the night. 
The Devil Beliah has one of the longest running and most successful careers in piracy in the Known Worlds. During the Emperor Wars, rumors whisper that he was made offers by more than one House to align himself with them, but these clumsy attempts at alliance never interested him. Instead he would make an example of the messenger that was sent to him with honeyed words. Sending back their corpses to their masters as a sign of his contempt.  Other times they were never found again, force to take a Chauki stride or marooned on a distant asteroid, or worse. If spacer’s tales are to be believed one such unfortunate was the Baron Ikan al-Malik who survived 12 years in an oxygen tent on the Delan asteroid. Subsisting on recycled water and mold, until finally discovered by a prospector. 
It is said that Beliah’s appetites were horrific and that he would often make use of prisoners captured on raids for his own gratification. Often violent, he would take a personal interest in some captive soul, taking him or her under his wing, slowly crushing their moral sensibilities through forced participation in pirate raids or inflicting torture upon fellow prisoners. He took a particular pleasure in watching the soul mirror of another dim through the acts he would force them to perpetrate.  Some of these unfortunates would be corrupted into his service, joining his crew, others would be discarded once they had served their purpose and no longer of interested him. 
In the last days of the Emperor Wars, another pirate, Sister Tracina Isterot finally eclipsed his reputation. Not for the number of cargos plundered, firebirds stolen, or space travelers murdered, but for her peculiar sermons and religious ideology. 
At first enraged that another could surpass his dark reputation, he began to seek out rumors and information about her. Over the years his rage gave way to obsession and admiration of the woman heretic. In the beginning he would simply listen to the tales told by prisoners he had taken, often offering a chance at survival for any who could tell him something he did not already know about her. He passed up the opportunity to take several rich cargos, instead pursuing his search. His crew became discontent and whispered that his judgment was not what it had been. They were not so foolish as to actually plot against him though.
Then finally he found her in the Bannockburn system; his search was over. He hailed her ship to make the heretical sister an offer she could not refuse. But much to Beliah’s surprise and considerable rage, she not only refused him, but also rebuffed him as though he were some upstart. In haste, he ordered his crew to attack and board. The fighting was brief, the fanatics fell back easily, too easily, but he did not notice. He forced his way onto the bridge of her ship and sought to take the woman for his own. She uttered prayers as he bore down upon her. His devil cried out and made a gelatinous scramble to the back of his head to be as far from the witch as it could be. Its pain and distress echoed in his own mind and he stumbled and fell back. The fanatics came again from all sides and he was separated from his crew and his ship; forced to retreat into a small life pod and make his escape. She mocked him again as the pod launched and fury and panic in equal measures flooded his mind.
He slunk away to lick his wounds and consider the only real defeat he had ever suffered. Revenge simmered in his black heart, his reputation in tatters and folklore telling tales of his demise. He captured a small craft that responded to the life pod’s transponder and made good his escape from the system. 
Over the next few months he recruited a new crew of cutthroats and raided Hawkwood shipping in Gwynneth and Ravenna, before making his escape to the Twilight system while being pressured by Hawkwood naval forces. The Emperor Wars were over, the good times and easy pickings would be drying up, there is no place for pirates in an ordered and lawful society.
In Twilight, Beliah and his Devil have remained in a state of self-imposed isolation, on occasion returning to strike at easy targets in the Ravenna or Twilight systems. He ruminated and ploted revenge, not only against Tracina Isterot but also the Empire itself. The end of the war and the rise of the Phoenix standard over Byzantium Secundus have stripped away the freedoms he exploited and took for granted. He dreams of making a glorious return that all would again remember who he is and cower down in terror.
Beliah is however not the man he once was, past his prime, he is an old pirate who is feeling his age and seeking after the glory days of his youth. He is more cautious now than he was, but intent on again confronting Tracina Isterot. First though he has another task, in his dreams his devil has told him many dark secrets, whispered many unpleasant truths, He seeks a dark artifact with which to resist her heretical powers. His devil’s visions have shown him a terrible vault, located deep under water, but it is not yet clear to him on which world this dark treasure may yet be found. Then all will fall before him, unable to resist this power.

Crimes: Antimony, Murder, Piracy, Kidnapping, Hijacking, Theft, Rape

Entourage: The Devil is slowly building up a pirate fleet with which to sweep into the Known Worlds and light the very worlds on fire that he will be remembered for all time. He has returned quietly to long lost stashes of treasure to finance his ‘Black Fleet’. His flagship is the latest in a long line of ships called ‘Devil’s Revenge’ and this time he means to take his ‘revenge’. Word of his return has begun to circulate and lesser pirates have been drawn to his banner, pledging themselves and their ships to him in return for a share of the spoils. 

Race: Human

Quote: “Do ye not want to look upon me pretty face?”

Description: A large man with broad shoulders and brooding eyes that burn with malice and insanity. His dark skin is covered in many scars, a reddish pink octopus-like creature hugs the underside of his chin like a beard of prehensile tentacles. Now in his advancing years, his once dark dreadlocks have turned to grey, and his face is lined and tired.

Body: Strength 7, Dexterity 7, Endurance 8
Mind: Wits 7, Perception 8, Tech 7
Spirit: Extrovert 9, Introvert 1, Passion 7, Calm 2, Faith 2, Ego 6
Natural Skills: Charm 4, Dodge 8, Fight 9, Impress 11, Melee 10, Observe 7, Shoot 8, Sneak 5, Vigor 7
Learned Skills: Drive (spacecraft) 9, Gambling 6, Inquiry 6, Knavery 8, Search 6, Lore (space) 9, Social (leadership) 9, Stoic Body 6, Stoic Mind 7, Streetwise 8, Think Machine 5, Warfare (gunnery) 7, Warfare (ship tactics) 6, High-Tech Redemption 4, Mech Redemption 6, Volt Redemption 3, Spacesuit, Speak Urthish, Speak Urthtech, Read Urthtech
Wyrd: 7
Combat Actions: Parry, Thrust, Slash, Draw & Strike, Double Strike, Quick Draw
Weapons: Blaster Pistol, Wireblade
Armor: Armored Spacesuit
Vitality: -10/-8/-6/-4/-2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0

Beliah’s Devil
The creature attached to Beliah’s face is a marvel or organic parasitech, though who created it and why remains a mystery even to the creature itself. Most of the time the creature hugs Beliah’s chin and it gently ripples and pulsates, its tentacles only becoming animated when Beliah becomes excited. Over the many years Beliah and his devil have become as one, a true symbiotic relationship. The creature derives its sustenance from Beliah and he in return is protected from psychic powers. No psychic power can directly affect Beliah or his devil. The creature’s tentacles can reach out in combat and grab at anyone in combat with Beliah, inflicting two Strength 12 attacks with a base goal number of 14. If the attack penetrates the opponent’s armor, it injects a paralyzing poison, which reduces the victim’s Dexterity by 1 each round until he can make an Endurance + Vigor goal roll.

Devil’s Revenge, modified Hornet Class Frigate
Size Rating: 6 (60m long, 20m wide, 15m high)
Grade: Atmosphere
Engines: Fast
Speed Left / Right
Full thrust 0 / 0
3/4 thrust 1 / 1
Half thrust 2 / 2
1/4 thrust 3 / 3
Full stop 4 / 4
Armament: Grappling Gun, 12x Light Lasers (6 port, 6 starboard)
Sensors: Laser Radar 5
Crew: 19 (captain, bridge crew x3, engineer x3, gunner x13)
Passengers: 13 (Pirates)
Cargo: 100 metric tons
Jumps: 2
Supplies: 3 months
Vitality: 60
Cost: 110,750 firebirds

Description: The Devil’s Revenge appears to be a standard Hornet Class Frigate with the dorsal turret removed, following the typical rocket-like design favored by Hawkwood engineers. The paintwork has been reworked into a gaudy nose art depicting a large devil, brandishing a pitchfork. The gun decks on the port and starboard sides have been expanded to carry additional weapons packing a powerful punch into this small ship.

History: Once named the Cornet’s Fire, this ship served as an ambassadorial vessel to the factions of Twilight carrying diplomats and honor guards to the fractured powers of that war torn realm. It was on one such diplomatic mission that the ship encountered a trap set by Beliah and was taken as his new prize and flagship. The ambassador was later ransomed back to the Hawkwood for a small fortune. In so doing Beliah announced his return to piracy in the Known Worlds after many years maintaining a low profile. This ship has since seen action in Twilight, Antioch and Ravenna.