Competing colonial interests led to tension between the great powers, and then to war. Polaris, led by Emperor Napoleguin, launched a great war against Marleybone, Valencia, and Monquista. Every other realm in the Spiral soon found themselves drawn into the conflict as allies, mercenaries, or battlefields. Napoleguin's military genius and strong navy brought the Spiral to its knees - his victory seemed assured, but Marleybone's staunch resolve and Valencia's new clockwork Armada finally defeated him.
The war and its aftermath was a wild, lawless time in the Skyways. Colonies, cut off from their owners, collapsed into anarchy or fell to hostile raiders. Mercenary ship captains constantly switched allegiances, fighting for Marleybone this week and Polaris the next, switching flags whenever the winds of profit and fortune changed. In time, some of these captains refused to follow any nation - they saw the ships of every side as prizes waiting to be pillaged. The first Pirates were born.
Pirates flourished in the outer reaches of the Spiral, where the colonial powers spread their forces thinner and thinner. In Skull Island, gangs of Pirates took control of entire Skyways, building their own ports and cities and launching daring raids in every corner of the Spiral. After the war's end, the great navies had been humbled and broken - no one could stop the spread of piracy, and the Pirate lords amassed huge hoards of plunder and gold. Captain Avery dreams of transforming Skull Island from a den of thieves into a new Pirate republic. This is the Golden Age of Piracy, when Wharf Rats and Cutthroats can make imperial navies tremble.
But winds of change are blowing across the Spiral. Marleybone's Royal Navy is regrouping, and lawless Skyways are being tamed. The Armada continues to rise. The Clockworks are supposed to be the military of the Valencian monarchy, but many are beginning to wonder if the Clockworks and their leader, Kane, don't have an agenda of their own. The Armada keeps growing, despite the end of the war it was created to fight. Now Armada ships are venturing into distant realms, hunting down Pirates and enforcing the law as they define it.