The Nightside Raiders were a pirate organization in the Unknown Regions, plaguing the Tetrarchy of Mezlagob from at least 50 BBY until the second century after the Battle of Yavin. Led by a pirate with the rank of Captain-General, the Raiders fielded a small fleet of modified freighters, corvettes, and other large starships and small capital ships. They often preyed on civilian convoys in the Mezlag and Vall`to Sectors, occasionally even engaging government ships when gathered in sufficient force.
Formation and evolution
The original formation of the Nightside Raiders is lost to history, though some in the Tetrarchy of Mezlagob and the later Golden Empire speculated that they had formed from a combination of dissolute soldiers out of work and smugglers looking for easier pickings. The first definite confirmation of a Nightside Raider attack (by that name) was dated to 50 BBY, when six Raider ships captured a mining cargo carrier coming from Varga.
Throughout history, the Raiders were led by a wide variety of Captains-General, some of whom were relatively benevolent (aside from being thieves), others who were vicious and ruthless marauders. In the last decades of the Raiders' existence, however, there was a marked trend toward more harsh conquests, and the Nightside Raiders became feared on many worlds, especially the "vassal" worlds of the Tetrachy, which received less care and protection from those in power on Mezlagob. Attempts by the Tetrarchy to suppress the Raiders met with slim success; while occasional ambushes were successful, even slaying the Captain-General Feng-Ku in 29 ABY, by and large the Raiders were able to escape punishment. They had no permanent base, but operated from a series of "friendly" shadowports, including stations on Deshad, Sanduluc, and Mir Kaldu`uz.
In 81 ABY, the marauder and pirate Garik Armande became Captain-General of the Raiders, organizing them in a series of raids along the Keblygrin Way, which netted several wealthy cargo ships and gave the Raiders the finances to expand their operation even further. In 96 ABY, Armande recruited the bank robber and murderer Kilwyo Kesh, who quickly became Armande's right hand man and an even more ruthless and vicious criminal than his master.
Last years and collapse
The Raiders experienced a brief upsurge in success during the Great Liberation; the Tetrarchy's war with the Golden Empire forced it to divert all military resources to hunting the Empire, leaving fewer ships to protect spacelanes, especially those leading to the vassal worlds. A year after the war's conclusion, Kesh assassinated Armande and took control of the Raiders.
However, the Raiders now had a new nemesis in the Golden Empire's Queen, Rin Sakaros, and her Order of Force-using warriors and expanding starfleet. Initially, the Empire was recovering from war and working to integrate the former Tetrarchy's systems into itself, and had few resources to devote to hunting pirates. However, when the Raiders ambushed a Royal Integration Corps force and murdered the crew, the Empire made hunting the Raiders a priority, and Kilwyo Kesh himself was declared an Enemy of the Empire.
In 109 ABY, Kesh was stabbed to death in a bar on Vedros IV by a civilian who had identified him. The patrons of the bar rallied to the civilian's defense, clubbing and shooting to death most of the pirates with Kesh who attempted to avenge their master. The Royal government capitalized on this incident, using it to rouse previously frightened citizens to fight back. An influx of informant information led to a Raider force being massacred by the starfleet at Vedros. Decapitated and deprived of much of its strength, the Nightside Raiders succumbed to infighting and fractured into splinter organizations, most of which were quickly eliminated by the starfleet or local law enforcement.
Public perception of the Raiders varied along with the actions of its Captains-General and crews. At the best of times, they were viewed as devil-may-care rogues and almost folk heroes, a band of men who refused to play by the stiff rules of the Tetrarchy of Mezlagob and determined their own destinies. At the worst of times, they were feared and hated as a scourge and a blight on civilization.
Inside the group itself, loyalty was demanded of all crewmen to their captain, and of all captains to the Captain-General. It was the Captain-General who appointed captains of Raider craft, usually rewarding cunning, ingenuity, and sometimes outright ruthlessness. Informing on the Raiders to law enforcement or other authority was punishable by the death of the Raider in question, along with the crew of his ship and his entire family, if they were living. Those who had grown weary of a life of piracy, however, sometimes retired with their fortunes, never breathing a word of their former work and letting their neighbors guess at the source of their incomes.
Some Captains-General preferred more stealth and subtlety, while others relied on fear and intimidation for victory; consequently, large gaps existed in the already spotty historical record in which Captains-General were unknown. Known Captains-General include
- Cossik Fenti (known only by name)
- Feng-Ku (—29 ABY)
- Kunnai Trep
- Garik Armande (81 ABY–103 ABY)
- Kilwyo Kesh (103 ABY–109 ABY)