“He didn’t lie down. They never lie down.” — River Tam (on Reavers)
“If they take the ship, they’ll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And, if we’re very, very lucky, they’ll do it in that order.” — Zoe Alleyne Washburne
Some folk scoff at the campfire stories about men gone mad on the edge of space, saying they are too fanciful to be true. Unfortunately, the stories are generally a tame version of a truth so horrible that it has been kept from the knowledge of even the most powerful.
How Reavers came to be, no one really knows, and no one is about to ask them. Leastways anyone looking to not have their insides yanked out and gnawed on. It is said that they are the travelers who went too far from humanity. Out there on the edge of space, cut off from their own kind, they looked into the great void beyond and went mad. Another theory about the Reavers’ descent into madness says it wasn’t random, but deliberate. That some shady dealer tried experimenting with folk’s brains and dumped their failures on a far away planet. Or that the experiments found a way to escape their tormentors and ran as far as they could. There’s even a rumor going around the Cortex that the Alliance created these monsters with s strange new wonder-drug that didn’t work.
All that’s truly known is that the Reavers have carved out a territory on the outer reaches of the beta quadrant (and no one has a guess of just how many are out there). They keep their ships going by cannibalizing other ships and machinery. Reaver ships run “hot,” operating without engine core containment, leaking enough radiation to kill normal folk twice over. The ships are crudely painted in garish colors, and often sport gruesome totems, such as the skeletal remains of victims strapped onto the bow. Reavers themselves suffer from horrible radiation burns and practice self-mutilation, marking their skin with primitive tattoos, body piercings, and by cutting on their own flesh.
Reavers send raiding parties out to steal ships, technology, and supplies. Unfortunate folk who get in the Reavers’ way are captured, raped to death, eaten and skinned—-in no particular order. The savages seem to feel no pain themselves. They derive pleasure only in inflicting pain on others. Sometimes they force one victim to watch their reavings, then they leave him behind to go mad. Ships that venture into Reaver territory are never seen again.
Those folk living their safe comfortable lives on the Core planets don’t believe in Reavers, thinking them tales dreamed up by illiterate hicks. Those on the outer worlds know better. Ships, farms, and entire communities have been lost to the Reavers’ savage appetites. Reavers do not discriminate in their choice of victims and will attack, torture, and kill men, women, and even little children without so much as a glimmer of mercy.