They call us pirates. Why? I can think of a few reasons. Maybe we don't want to pay for their crappy, bug loaded, spy-laden software. Maybe we don't want to stomach paying for their sub-par, nonfunctional tech and framework. Maybe we don't want to cease and desist when they tell us to stop fixing their lousy junk products and reselling them. Maybe we don't want to quit cracking their copy protection and redistributing their software for free. We don't fall in line with the great big Them; screw 'em. The fact that they go and declare us crooks and start hunting us down just proves they're the antagonists in this little story.
I guess we're pirates then. Arrr, mateys.
Don't get the wrong idea. We aren't pirates in the 'shoot holes in your stick and lasso anything that pops out that might be worth a mint' sense of the word (Though some times you got to do what gotta be done to make ends meet). They stick us with the P-word because we show up the major corporations by ganking their lousy products, fixing them up so they work right, and either dumping them on the Local Nets for free downloads or hawk them for cheap in back alleys or black market bazaars. No chests of gold here, my friend, but still, a lot of bank drops out of the fat pockets of corper pigs and rains down on us. And to be all totally frank for just a second, it was a blast in the beginning. Then we had to deal with the corper deathsquads showing up to crack our shins and cut our throats. The script kiddies ran home to mama, and the rest of us got tough.
I guess that's the definition of conflict escalation. They release crappy hards and softs; we patch them to make them work they're supposed to. They come knock on our doors with pistols; we shoot through the door with sawed-offs and subguns.
I guess you could say that it's the nature of the 'verse that makes us who we are. Corporate control and monopoly leaves no room for the independent coders (except for the cybermages, but corps won't touch those guys for obvious reasons), techies and troubleshooters. Everybody that wants to do business independent and on the small scale is either a dreamer or a resource ready made to be bought out and gobbled up by the big boys on the block. Everybody else has either got to drop what they do entirely, or get on their knees and lace their hands behind their head. Well screw that, I say. We're a bunch of techies and coders that don't spook at the sight of a double breast jacket and a fancy tie and don't run when they send armed thugs to deliver their cease and desists.
You know what? They're damn right: we're pirates. And more, we're damn good, hard as nails pirates at that. So we don't charge cargo ships with guns blazing and we don't hobble around on peglegs with eyepatches, but we plunder and pillage with the very best of them and we don't back down easy. And if you hate corpers as much as we do and are looking for a crew to cut some stars with and plunder the crap out of some high tech booty, you know where to find us, at our latest cove in a little system called PAX. If you drop a line looking for us, we'll be sure to give you a hit. Just be sure to come waving a white flag, because where we go, we always go strapped.
The Crossbones Exchange are a loose federation of digital misfits. They run the range from dangerous (hackers, phreakers, virus coders, and worse) to less dangerous (software pirates and script kiddies) to merely sympathetic (those that hate the Big Software hegemony and all it represents). Some are former corporate coders that finally burned out. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill geeks, though…they pack heat, because today’s anti-virus software sends droids out to kill the hackers who coded it.
The history of the Crossbones Exchange is the history of the Cyberpunk Age.
While the Crossbones Exchange doesn't like too much structure, there are several communities within the exchange by specality. If someone isn't so good at math, they're probably not in Mathack. But the guys with guns love calling themselves the HotwareHeroes.
- HotwareHeroes -- packing heat
- Mathack -- all hacks in math
- ModderMoles -- "Fixing" limitations built into hardware
- Moles -- Software hackers operating on The Grid
- Engineers -- Making all kinds of software more "accessible"