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The biggest pirate fleet the world has ever known controlled Chinese seas 200 years ago. Its crews were fearless and expert at blackmail, torture, and terrorism.
— Richard Platt

The Yang-Fei were Chinese pirates, led by the notorious Cheng I Sao (a female pirate), who controlled the seas around China during the 19th century. Boasting an army size of over 80,000 soldiers (men, women, and children) and a fleet of more than 1,800 ships (known as the Red Flag Fleet), the Yang-Fei terrorized the Chinese coast and threatened naval superpowers such as the British, Portugese, and the Qing Dynasty. The Yang-Fei also controlled illegal rackets in coastal cities, such as running gambling houses. Cheng I Sao was never defeated and voluntarily retired from piracy in 1810, rich and successful. As warriors, the Yang-Fei excelled in combat with bladed weapons and bamboo polearms, rejecting the use of firearms.

Battle vs. Privateer (by El Alamein)

The coast is quiet, breezy, with the surf still and uncannily silent. The early morning shines weak light through the darkness. A six-masted ship, an English galleon, sits cracked open and sunken over on the shore. A thick gray fog hangs low over the wreckage, as an injured man stumbles to the shore. The lone survivor of his destroyed ship, an English privateer, slumps over on the wet sand and falls face-first to the ground. His weapons fall from his grasp, the matchlock musket useless thanks to its exposure to the water. 

As his vision fades into a blurry blackness, he peers into the distance and sees a lone figure approaching. Exhausted from his impossible swim to shore and his injuries from the wreckage, the privateer rolls over and passes out. 

The Yang-Fei pirate makes his way down the beach, tracking the galleon his junk had ambushed and destroyed the night before. As the daylight breaks through the clouds, the Yang-Fei notices the shattered wooden skeleton of the English ship, and he walks forward just to make sure it's the ship his crew had wrecked. A figure lying strewn across the beach stirs and comes to his senses just as the Yang-Fei steps into speaking proximity. 

The privateer stumbles to his feet hurriedly and looks down at his useless musket, kicking it aside. He grabs his rapier and holds it at arm's length, challenging the stranger. The Yang-Fei recognizes the weapon as one of his enemy, and unsheaths his enormous Ch'ang Ping-Tao sword, holding it vertically and growling menacingly. He throws his pike to the sand and hooks the Yao-Tao on his belt. Taking advantage of the privateer's confused state, he rushes forward and hacks downward, snapping off the top of the rapier's blade and rendering it useless. The privateer slashes with the broken blade and cuts the Yang-Fei on the cheek, drawing blood with a superficial wound. The Yang-Fei swipes upward with his sword, narrowly missing the privateer's neck and tearing a laceration across the Englishman's chin. Falling backward, the privateer throws his rapier at the Yang-Fei and grabs his cutlass in one hand and holds his boarding ax in the other. He throws the ax at the Chinese pirate, who nimbly sidesteps the projectile. 

Yelling, the Yang-Fei jumps in the air and kicks the privateer in the chest, slashing down with his Ch'ang Ping-Tao. The wound slashes diagonally across his chest and spurts blood onto the sand. Crying out in pain, the Privateer lunges forward and cuts the Yang-Fei on the inside of his elbow on the sword-arm. Forced to drop the Ch'ang Ping-Tao, the Chinese pirate swings his billhook out from behind his belt and holds the weapon out in front of him. He spits at the privateer, who flinches, giving the Yang-Fei all the time he needs to leap forward and hack down at the privateer. The hook lands awkwardly in the sand, thanks  to the weapon being wielded in the pirate's weak hand. 

Pulling the hook up, the Yang-Fei whips the handle up into the bottom of the privateer's already-injured chin, knocking him backward. The privateer falls flat on his back and hits his head on the sand. The Yang-Fei tosses his billhook aside and walks back to his weapons stash, pulling the bamboo pike out of the ground. Preparing to execute his downed foe, the Yang-Fei smirks and raises the staff in the air. The privateer swipes his cutlass horizontally to counter the stab and breaks the weak wood in half. Surprised, the Yang-Fei holds the useless top half of his weapon and raises his in front of his face as the privateer hacks into it. The bamboo gives way and the cutlass slices through the Yang-Fei's nose and down through his chin, severing his face in half from the cheek down. The Chinese pirate falls to one knee and lands splayed out on his back, laying in a gathering pool of his own blood.

The privateer's breathing is ragged and harsh, and as the fog slowly begins to lift and the surf begins to pound yet again, he too drops to the ground and groans in pain. As the sky grows lighter, the privateer's vision grows darker as unconsciousness overwhelms him yet again.

Expert's Opinion

While the Yang-Fei were certainly more brutal and flashy with close-ranged weapons, the Privateer's military training was superior to the gang mentality of the Yang-Fei, and the shock-and-awe of the matchlock caliver was a long-ranged weapon that the firearm-rejecting Chinese pirate was unable to overcome.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

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