Scum and Smugglers
When you enter the Shanties, a somewhat informally planned area of Liberty,
you walk under a sign. It states, in large friendly letters, 'Welcome to
Liberty. We Mean It.'
Liberty was not so much founded as just sort of happened. But right from the
start the city had insisted that it was a place of sanctuary. Anybody who
arrived there was safe from pursuit. Given that the city was trying to
encourage settlement, it was a desperate expedient but it worked. Those who
had pre-empted divorce by organising a sad demise, or who had redistributed
the wealth of their employer, found a new home and a new start. But it
wasn't just humanity who flocked to Liberty. The surrounding sectors contain
a number of different alien races, some of them spacefaring, some of them
content to hitch rides on the ships of others. Rubbing along with so many
other races broadens the mind and alien refugees started arriving as well,
having trespassed against some custom or regulation few other races could
even comprehend. Indeed so many of them were arriving at one point, they
were merely entered on the ships' manifests as 'Aliens, mixed races,
contemplating settlement.' Given the description was arrived at by an Ard,
one can assume that the 'Aliens, mixed races' included humanity.
It was Patricia Gärtnerin, who was running for Mayor at the time, who saw a
particularly undistinguished collection of new settlers disembark at the
spaceport. She pronounced them Scum and Smugglers. In the way that people
do, they claimed the name and within a year or so, the inhabitants of the
Shanties were describing themselves as 'Scum and Smugglers' on official
documents. The name stuck so well that now in Liberty, smugglers who do
actually smuggle things are now known as Contrabandists.
The Shanties is built on a large number of floating steel islands, each
island being regarded as a 'ward' for administrative purposes. In reality
each ward will pay protection money to a boss, who will provide law and
order, and indeed is normally held responsible for providing basic education
and medical services. Being a boss is a competitive business, fall short and
you might find that your neighbour has taken over your ward with the full
blessing of the inhabitants.
Here you have Pags, the boss, and his supporters. The local term for them is
'Bullies', although in official documents they may be referred to, in a
disparaging manner, as 'Thugs.' But in the Shanties, they are the law.