The Blood Raiders
Regarded as one of the most frightening groups in the cluster, second in most people’s eyes only to the never-ending scourge of Sansha’s Nation, the Blood Raider Covenant has gained a reputation as one of the most savage forces an individual can cross paths with in New Eden. It is a particularly well-known sect of an ancient cult by the name of Sani Sabik, which literally translates to “blood seed.” Under the leadership of the legendary Sabik priest Omir Sarikusa, they have made their way into the minds of the general populace as perennial bogeymen, people of tainted minds and ghastly appetites.
The Sani Sabik cult first appeared thousands of years ago on Amarr Prime as a schismatic sect of the Amarrian faith, long before the advent of space travel. This sect’s guiding belief was that some people were born for greatness, and other people lived only to breed and serve these exalted few. To this, they added the obsession with eternal life that permeates the upper tiers of the Amarrian elite, and the result was a cult so pervasive and destructive that Amarrian religious authorities immediately stamped down on it. Depleted but not defeated, the sect lived on in the shadows, every so often mutating itself anew. Today the cult exists in a multitude of independent sects throughout the Amarr Empire, with some even having moved their business to other empires or out into neutral space.
At some undocumented point in their history, the Sani Sabik began using blood in their rituals, and though each of the different sects of the cult varies in their rituals and doctrine, blood is always the focal point of their search for immortality. A few sects have taken “blooding”—as they call the draining of blood from a body—to new heights. Rumors exist of “blood farms,” where people are kept against their will, their blood regularly harvested. Other stories tell of sects that engage in necrophilic and even cannibalistic activities. As little is known of the inner workings of most of the sects, it is difficult to say whether these stories are true or just urban legends.
Before Omir Sarikusa took leadership of the covenant, the sect was already infamous for killing children, who were considered to have “purer” blood. Omir added to this practice by beginning to target those who were clones, believing their blood better suited for their arcane blood rituals.
In their search for cloned people, Omir’s sect has taken to space. In the time since, their frequent attacks on passenger ships and other space vessels have made them feared and hated across the entire cluster. While the fact that they originated within the Amarr Empire is still a sore point for the Amarr (and rarely brought up in conversation), the covenant do not return the Amarr’s hatred. Instead, they are inclined to view them as believers who have been led astray, faithful who could realize their true potential if they could only accept the true uncompromising and savage nature of their own faith.
The fact is that the Sani Sabik doctrine still shares a substantial number of beliefs with the Amarrian faith. It simply applies a different approach, paying particular attention to a number of scriptural passages that the Amarr would just as soon gloss over.
Under Sarikusa's rule, the Blood Raiders went from targeting children for their blooding rites to targeting clones individuals. Because so many pod pilots are clones, the Blood Raiders have begun piracy in order to capture them. They are utterly ruthless in obtaining the precious red, regularly boarding other spacecraft and abducting all aboard; some sects prefer to process their "donors" aboard the captured ships instead. They refer to the Sisters of EVE as "little hunters" and often follow their movements to be directed towards the nearest disaster. From their base in Delve they launch lightning raiding parties and surprisingly well co-ordinated incursions deep into empire space in pursuit of their goals.
During Dochuta Karsoth's corrupt rule of the Amarr Empire, he was in contact with the Raiders and employed them for various illicit projects. Karsoth apparently approved of Raider philosophy to the point that he sent them various Amarr emissaries, including Antar. Following Jamyl I's return, Karsoth fled to the Blood Raiders and hid among them. He was later recaptured by the Amarr Empire.
The Blood Raiders were both terrified and enraged by the return of Jamyl Sarum, and vexed that their dealings with Chamberlain Karsoth did not come to fruition. During the reign of Empress Jamyl I they appeared politically uninterested in the affairs of the Amarr Empire or the heirs, at least to the casual eye. However, there was an upswing in Blood Raider incursions along the empire's borders in the Bleak Lands and Devoid regions.
“We will eat the body and sanctify its blood, to let it be born
Blood is a cornerstone of the Sani Sabik religion and, to them, just as potent as the seal of the imperial family is to the Amarr. It serves several uses among the Sani Sabik, mainly in medical processes that improve quality of life in a myriad of ways. It is also seen as a symbol of good health, strength, and moral endurance against corrosive philosophies.
Those who follow the Sabik faith wear necklaces with golden vials. Many adorn their walls with the same golden vials, decorated with silver droplets. It should be noted that, as with many other religiously symbolic items, these icons symbolize not only an entity but an event. In the Sani Sabik’s case, that entity is the blood, which they worship and hold sacred—but they also have an occult appreciation for the act of bloodletting itself.
The golden vial around a worshiper’s neck is thus a symbol that she will always be safe, because she has a symbolic cache of blood if it should ever be needed; it also reminds the wearer that the blood had to be taken from somebody else. This reinforces to the Sani Sabik that they must always remain vigilant, active, and aggressive in the pursuit and preservation of their faith. This does not mean they see themselves as barbarous—it is merely that their culture leaves little space for flexibility, doubt, or second thoughts.
The Sani Sabik universally believe in the Red God. He is particularly unforgiving of any transgressions. Part of the reasoning behind the Red God’s name is obvious, but he is not only associated with blood; the redness can symbolize anything from a sunrise to the heart of an explosion. He symbolizes life, rejuvenation, and strength on the one hand, and the forces of destruction, anger, vengeance, and death on the other. This multifaceted symbolism is important to the Sani Sabik as a culture, because they are one of the few factions in New Eden distinguished primarily by religion, and as such, their religion has to have the capability to suffuse every part of their daily lives. If it didn’t, they would long since have lost cohesion, no doubt devolving and splintering into estranged, isolated cults.
Their burial rites include writing the names of the deceased in the Books of the Dead. This register is part of a burial ceremony that dates back over a thousand years, though in modern times the physical book has been replaced with an enormous digital archive which is stored at the headquarters of the covenant.
The condition of the entry of one’s name into the Books of the Dead is seen as both a promise and a threat. The promise is that you will never be forgotten by the society to which you devoted your life. This goes some way toward assuaging the doubts of those people who follow the secular rules of the faction but can’t quite find it in their hearts to truly believe in the more intangible and fantastical parts of the religion.
Whatever else happens, so long as the Sani Sabik live on, a devotee’s name will not be forgotten. This is a constant encouragement for her to do her part in keeping the faith alive. The threat, likewise, is that if one strays from the path, her crimes will affect both her own legacy and the lives of those she leaves behind. While it is not a given that a particular crime will directly result in a devotee’s death, if a crime is serious enough for the Sani Sabik to consider striking someone out of the Books of the Dead, it can safely be assumed that death is waiting for that individual in the very near future.
Family members of those refused entry or struck from the Books of the Dead may have only the most basic funeral service. Other benefits as fundamental as education and medical aid are refused to them, however, on the basis that they are tainted by association. As it usually leads to either self-imposed exile or ignoble suicide, this type of shunning is applied only in extreme cases.
The vast majority of Sani Sabik are not directly involved with the harvest of blood, bloodletting in general, or the hunting and sacrifice of cloned individuals. They are aware that certain practices are carried out in the name of science and religion, but those things tend to happen far away, to unnamed people, and the benefits, while vague and kept relatively secret, are reaped through the remarkable self-sufficiency of the Sani Sabik, who very rarely need to trade with outside entities.
The Blood Raiders in particular spend relatively little of their energies on raising crops and feeding their people, having found sustenance through the very fluid that gives them life. In fact, this autonomy and the resulting isolation have perpetuated the common image of the Blood Raiders as monsters. Since the other factions only interact with their bloodletting pirate crews and have no inkling of the cult’s true society, they fear and demonize the Sani Sabik at every turn.
In their isolation from their imperial brethren, the Sani Sabik have made amazing advances in the scientific research of blood plasma in various fields related to decomposition, rejuvenation, organ transplantation, and organ cultivation. Over the centuries they have developed intimate knowledge of the workings of the human body, though unlike other factions they’ve focused almost solely on biological aspects rather than delving into the arena of cybernetics.
The Blood Raider Covenant in particular is a perfect example of how far they’ve come biologically, with the average citizen living well past the age of 180. Far from being naive or careless with their knowledge, the covenant closely guards the secrecy of its medical advances. It is believed that aside from improving the nutrient and oxygen delivery of human blood, the Sani Sabik have been able to vastly improve the human immune system, altering its characteristics to breed far more physiologically robust members of society through the manipulation of blood on a cellular level. Many believe that this is the primary reason for their interest in the blood of children and clones, with the Sani Sabik finding it far more potent in nature for experimentation.
The Blood Raider Covenant’s elite combat units are known as the Crimson Paladins. Those who have faced off against these foes and survived have come back with stories that lead many to believe the potential benefits of blood cell manipulation are wide and varied, with added strength, endurance, and immune function coming from the regular transfusion of cultivated and purified blood. This is also believed to be a contributing factor as to why the Blood Raider Covenant in particular, among all the Sani Sabik, has had continued success: its invasion teams are extremely difficult to deal with, given their perfectly conditioned physiology, and are probably surpassed only by the biomechanical army of Sansha’s Nation.
A hardy, self-sufficient people by the very nature of their faith, the Sani Sabik have also made leaps and bounds in optimizing lower-grade blood to provide simple sustenance, using various scientific means of coagulation to mass produce highly nutritious blood-based foodstuffs for their growing flock.
Structure and Leadership
The Blood Raider Covenant is structured as a strictly hierarchical society. Religious tenets and rituals surrounding the use of blood are a part of daily life within the covenant, having arguably more of an effect on the everyday lives of followers than the church has in the Amarr Empire.
The arch and enigmatic Omir Sarikusa, known to many as “Bloody Omir,” has led the Blood Raiders since YC 84. In that time he has transformed them from a rabble of disjointed worshipers into one of the most powerful pirate organizations in New Eden. He remains to this day one of CONCORD’s ten most wanted and sits at the top of similar lists within the Amarr Empire, the Khanid Kingdom, and the Ammatar Mandate.
Behind him sits a trusted group of his closest allies, many of whom date back to his seizure of command a little over three decades ago. The vast majority of the organization outside the simple clergy of the Sani Sabik revolves around the Bleeders, a force that serves a combination of law and religious enforcers. Commanding respect from the general population of the covenant, Bleeders possess a higher degree of freedom than any other under the Sani Sabik faith, often conducting some of the more unpalatable aspects of their profession behind closed doors.
While not a secret police as such, the Bleeders deal with every aspect of life among the Sani Sabik, acting as undertakers, religious advisers, midwives, and priests, with an overshadowing presence and quiet dignity about them. They are held in the highest of confidence by members of their communities, though this is usually tempered by a very real aura of danger.
While one may confess his problems and worries to a Bleeder, or even petty sins, one would not be so bold as to reveal the nature of any serious crimes against the faith or another follower for fear of swift and brutal retribution. Bleeders also take their names from one of their oldest responsibilities: ensuring that every follower donates blood on a regular basis in order to aid with rescue work, religious ceremony, the upkeep of the Hematology Advancement Program, and, on occasion, further scientific research. Those who do anger the Bleeders by committing a crime or a great sin more often than not find themselves—or various parts of themselves—used for live experimentation.
As a society, the Blood Raider Covenant are fiercely proud of their independent way of life. Not unlike Sansha’s Nation, they are a society that was left to fend for themselves, and found a way to thrive that made them the subject of hatred among the entire cluster. The covenant are well aware of this, and take a certain degree of perverse pride in it, although they do not truly consider themselves evil any more than anyone else does. The Sani Sabik feel that their present good fortune was hard won, against odds stacked very much against them.
Among their people, the practice of identifying and deifying savants has been part of Sani Sabik life for over a thousand years, but has in more recent times taken a back seat as the Blood Raiders in particular have widened their pursuits to the acquisition, inspection, and manipulation of blood, with this becoming their core focus. The only remaining echoes of the lauding of savants are in the near worship of Omir Sarikusa and in the unstated but general belief among the Sani Sabik that each and every one of them is a savant of New Eden, having all in one way or another been the beneficiaries of the blood rituals.
Born in late YC 47, Sarikusa belongs to a lineage that is a mixture of pure Amarr and Deteis ancestry. While his official history is littered with misdirection and shrouded in secrecy and mythology, it is known that he was born somewhere in the Bleak Lands region to a mother who was a high-class escort, and that early on in his childhood he displayed many sociopathic tendencies. When he was seventeen, he murdered the son of a wealthy holder. Realizing they could no longer protect him, his relatives gave him money and sent him off into the lawless territories of the Bleak Lands, where Amarrian authorities could not find him. The Blood Raiders found him instead.
By the time he reached the age of thirty, Omir had been inducted into the innermost ranks of the Blood Raiders and was considered a high priest. This gave him control of his own ship, which he used to raid not only nearby imperial territories, but also other sects of the Sani Sabik, his bloody and ruthless strikes gathering him much loyalty and many followers among the cultists in the area. Under the direction of his superiors, Omir eventually cowed these Sani Sabik sects, forcing them to assimilate into the covenant.
Omir found himself increasingly distanced from his superiors and, after a failed assassination attempt against him was carried out on orders of the Blood Raiders’ leadership, he engineered a coup. It was a bloody, vicious endeavor that earned him a fanatical following and a fearsome reputation. By the time YC 84 arrived, Sarikusa was the leader of the Blood Raider Covenant, at just thirty-seven years of age. Although his coup and the subsequent purge drastically reduced the numbers within the Blood Raiders, it meant that everyone who remained was fiercely loyal to his leadership and his cause. To this day he is revered among his followers, with millions swearing fealty to him.
A woman of pure Amarrian blood born into the family of a wealthy holder in YC 44, Ahremen found herself in the Sani Sabik faith at the young age of twenty-two, swiftly defecting to the Bleak Lands to locate her kin.
A leader of dizzying intellect and tremendous cunning, she has for the past three decades remained a fiercely loyal and devoted follower of Sarikusa. She is charged with the day-today military operation of the entire covenant, ensuring that Sarikusa’s will is done.
A certified sociopath and psychopath, Merlonne was born on Villore IV a little over four decades ago. After her mother died from complications during childbirth, and her father disowned her during her early teenage years due to her increasingly antisocial behavior, Draclira spent much of her early life locked away in a series of mental institutions within the Gallente Federation.
After reaching the legal age for release, she ventured across the imperial border in search of the Blood Raider Covenant, vanishing for several years. Upon her reemergence, during an attack on a federal trade convoy in the system of Covryn, far outside the Blood Raiders’ usual hunting grounds, she was elevated to the federation’s top ten most wanted list, where she has remained since. Unpredictable, utterly psychotic, and fanatically loyal to the Blood Raiders, she has proven time and time again to be a highly capable pilot who will not hesitate to attack anyone she believes to be a threat to the covenant.
Intaki by blood but Sabik to his core, Raysere was born on the Intaki home world in YC 49 and became embroiled in a life of crime from an early age. Part of a prison convoy traveling out of Intaki and destined for Oulley IV, Raysere was spared slaughter in YC 71 due to his bizarrely pale appearance and extreme height.
After being introduced to the Sani Sabik faith, Raysere revealed a twisted and highly sadistic streak that earned him the nickname “the Sick Giant.” After serving a number of years as a Bleeder, he ascended to a position leading internal security operatives for the Blood Raider Covenant. Eventually, after siding with Sarikusa during his coup in YC 84, Raysere became the Blood Raider Covenant’s head of Internal Security, the perfect position for a man with such a cruel, machinelike disposition.
Born on Oris in YC 77 as a member of a minor royal family, Tairei was cast out and exiled from her family at the age of twenty for the murder of her cousin during a minor family dispute. Reportedly she was discovered soaked in crimson, drinking from her deceased relative’s slashed throat.
She lived in exile on the edge of the Bleak Lands for almost a decade, practicing the Sani Sabik faith in solitude before becoming personally involved with a Blood Raider scout, and being indoctrinated into the Blood Raider Covenant a little over a year later.
Today Tairei serves as one of the most senior tactical commanders in the covenant, directly under the command of Omir Sarikusa and Ahremen Arkah. Described as a brutal, unforgiving commander who takes no prisoners, she is called on by the covenant whenever an issue requires a hard, swift resolution.