Into that Vast Expanse
Phil Starwright Harlock
Original Captain of the Doyle's Gambit
Captain Harlock was a jovial rogue who cared naught but for his personal gain and amusement. Most of his command staff were hand-picked based on how unique or interesting he found them, and it seemed mere chance that they were ever actually any good at their assigned task(s).
Harlock does have an eye for talent and picked not only his crew, but his heir, very carefully. He’s been squirreling away money to his own world to ensure a comfortable retirement—faking his own death and becoming a new man is the easy part—not micro-managing his dynasty from a distance? That’s hard. His new name is Jiaya Starforger.
Phil grew up on Footfall with a slew of other grubby, homeless, orphans. His best friend was a young girl by the name of Chalcedony “Chad”, and together they carved out their place in the world: establishing a name for themselves as a talented and dangerous criminals-for-hire. While Phil grew to love Chad, she never noticed, and never returned his young affections.
When he was seventeen, Phil saw his chance, and grasped it with both hands. The current head of the Harlock Dynasty was dead, and there was a question as to who the heir truly was. With the help of his best friend, Phil maneuvered himself (and appeared to take Chalcedony with him) into position to take over the Dynasty. At the last step of the plan, Phil sold out Chalcedony to the authorities on Footfall, and succeeded in taking the Harlock name as his own.
Chad would never forgive Harlock, and worked her fingers to the bone establishing one of the most extensive and powerful trade networks to function without a Warrant of Trade. Time and again she tried for Harlock’s life, and failed to kill the slippery rogue. Time and again, Chad would obstruct Harlock’s trades and dealings. Bitter and vengeful, Chad happily played the roll of the arch villain to Phil Harlock’s devil-may-care trajectory through life.
Harlock would build a mighty empire through his policy of collecting the most talented and interesting of crew, and then making them do all the work. His curiosity and lack of fear would be his eventual undoing.
Harlock took an interest in the art of hypnosis, and began to practice at every given opportunity. His disarming charisma had often led to him manipulating people into believing what he wanted them to believe, and he grew fascinated at the applications of these manipulations on an unconscious scale. He began to hatch a dangerous scheme.
Never one for hard work, and someone with exceedingly good observational skills (paired with an unshakable will to survive), Harlock took note of the comparatively short lifespans of most Rogue Traders, and decided that his life would not be cut short through dealings to improve the Empire of Man.
One of Harlock’s greatest acts of hypnosis was to take Aiden ‘Iron Lord’ Fairweather and turn him into Winston Henry Alexander Merigold Vendigroth IV. Harlock had approached Fairweather after the fall of Megacity 14, and offered him a deal: join my crew, become someone new, and live—or be hunted down by Arbites and die as the man you were born: an offer Fairweather couldn’t refuse.
Pitted against his childhood friend again and again, Harlock never blamed Chad for the extreme hatred with which she regarded him, but he did not share her sentiment. Feeling that the innocent young girl he had grown up with had been destroyed life’s hardships (in no small part related to his own actions), he hoped that he could grant her a second chance.
It was around this time that Harlock was stranded in the The Processional of the Damned away from most of his crew, and met a young archeologist by the name of Layla—falling suddenly and intensely in love. During their escape, Harlock learned that Layla detested Rogue Traders, and it was the last push he needed to put his grand scheme into play.
After he had been returned to his crew, and having told Layla that he would meet her on Ocean (the planet he had set aside for his retirement), Harlock approached Chalcedony with a deal: If she were to agree to be hypnotized, he would give her his dynasty.
Harlock prepared an elaborate Will, and a kill-switch in Chad which would return her to her merciless personality should her life ever be terminally threatened.
Knowing a good deal when she saw it, she put her affairs in order (finding a suitable heir to her own fortune), and followed Harlock to Dirt. After establishing her securely within Dirt, Harlock returned his best friend to the innocent and idealistic person he remembered from his childhood, and took his navigator and returned to his ship for one final goodbye.
With a spectacular finale (Harlock was always a bit of a showboat), he took his Navigator (stranding his crew in The Labrynth), and disappeared into the Warp. The Navigator did not survive, but—scared with a star-burst pattern across half his face—he took up the name Jiaya Starforger and retired into obscurity on Ocean.
- – -
Never able to resist meddling, and beginning to crack under the strain of being a vessel for Tzeentch, Starforger would end up shielding The Gentlemen Mous and Cabhan Murtahg, taking them in—once again—when they had run afoul of the new command structure of Doyle’s Gambit.
Eventually, he would find himself back on Footfall, and—despite Layla’s attempt to rescue him—would be consumed by the Lord of Change which had been growing within him for most of his adult life: gaining more strength and control with each leap through the Warp which Starforger insisted on making with only his mortal body and Navigator for protection.