A ship at sea is its own world. To be the captain of a ship is to be the unquestioned ruler of that world and requires all of the leadership skills of a prince or minister.
- Col. Corazon Santiago, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
As previously stated, the Free Traders are Captains of their own ships.
In the FTB Universe, Free Trader Captains come from three primary sources. ONI, Red or Blue Armies, or Civilian Ship Captains operating outside the rules.
While pirates and smugglers have existed since mankind found a way to float on the water; in the FTB Universe, the Free Traders were crafted by the Office of Navel Intelligence as, first, the means of monitoring the questionable and/or illegal flow of goods/services. Then, second, as an opposition force to the UNSC's Department of Commercial Shipping * D.C.S. to prevent trade from being used as a weapon by the UNSC against its member worlds. Then, third and most importantly, as a place to put either rogue or burned out ONI personnel such that they could be of later use to ONI without having them go, 'postal' while clearly a member of ONI.
Current, Former and Ex-ONI personnel serve as approximately one third of the Captains. Ex-ONI are those viewing themselves as being extremely unlikely to take suggestions from ONI while former ONI could consider themselves as being in a sort of unofficial contractor relationship with ONI.
One third of the Captains originate from either Red or Blue Armies and their related fleets. Most were originally Post Covenant-War veterans still looking for adventure of sorts among the space lanes. Due to the length of time following the War, these ships have been, in some cases, handed down to the next generation so the original allegiance to a specific color of flag is present but not ingrained through actual participation in hot combat operations. However, in most cases, a captain will retire and either sell his ship to either his second in command or some other Captain without a ship. Some Free Trader Captains are cashiered starship captains (dismissed from service) or retired officers who acquired a ship and taken up trade as a means of making a living or supplementing their pensions.
One third of the Captains are civilian Captains who have either tired of operating under the repressive rules and regulations of the D.C.S. or simply play both sides, sometimes being a legitimate D.C.S. flagged ship and other times piloting on the gray side of the ledger.
And, of course, there are the exceptions. Developed within WMB was a Roma Captain who clearly was not part of the primary groups. Therefore, if you wish to explore something unique, that option exists within the SA threads but transitioning of characters out of the SA threads into RPG threads must be pre-approved should an RP group be formed for play within the Games Forum.