Pirates of Uranus
Piracy is as old as the sea. While space might be large, pirates in
space use the same strategies as their seaborne ancestors before them.
They strike at chokepoints in regions where the law is weak. In the years
before the Martian-Belter War, most pirates operated out of the inner moonlets
of Uranus. The gas giant was the lowest cost -- in terms of escape
velocity -- source of hydrogen and helium isotopes needed by older fusion
plants. And deep in the atmosphere, mining platforms harvested rare xenon
gas, still used in smaller and specialized ion drives. Corporations from
both the Belt and Mars mined the Uranian atmosphere. Yet Uranus had the
smallest population of any outer world. Discounting the reclusive Children
of God on Oberon, the system had only about 10,000 residents, mostly on Ariel
and Miranda. And the military presence never amounted to more than a few
patrol ships and fighters.
Of course nobody built and sold pirate ships. The most notorious bands of marauders at Uranus used a variety of second-hand vessels. The most common of these was a modified version of the Canard 300 series long range Belter scout singleship. This vessel had the range and power required for long waits and quick attacks on passing ships. With the standard manipulator arms replaced by a pair of 50mm X 7m gauss cannons, the "Black Canards" had the power to cripple or cow small and mid-sized freighters. As the threat increased, most ships traveling to the outer system acquired their own gauss cannons for defense.
Pirates couldn't earn a living destroying ships. And they could hardly fly a seized ship into any even marginally legal port. Their goal was capture, with the cargo sold off and ship either cannibalized or held for ransom. The same was true for the freighter's crews, though the former fate remains strictly unsubstantiated rumor.
-- Vrak Lawson Space Pirates!: Lawlessness in the Outer System, Ingot ePress 2548
All pages and images ©1999 - 2009
by Geir Lanesskog, All Rights Reserved