Three ways to attract space pirates (and one way to repel them)

Space pirates are those that troll fairly empty regions of unmonitored space searching for vessels that are carrying valuables, with a particular emphasis on vessels that are vulnerable.  They will take what they can from a given vessel, frequently at the expense of the lives of those on board.  For example, it is common to steal portable fusion cores, leaving the vessel without a stable power source. They are valuable enough, and untraceable enough, that they still make a legitimate target.  Most ships now have expensive parts built into the ship in a way that makes them so hard to remove so as not to be worth it, but if you’re in an older vessel or one that has been heavily modified, it might not be safeguarded the same way, so keep an eye on your comms, and don’t make any of the following common mistakes.

  1. Call for help: If you’re in a remote zone, and you don’t know who you’re calling for, don’t broadcast a distress call.  Pirates monitor for untargeted distress calls and will apprehend and board your ship under the guise of trying to help you while scouting for valuables.
  2. List your cargo in a public manifest: Nearby ships can get a lot of information from your manifest.  It’s legally required to have an accessible ship callsign and captain’s name, and crew roster is commonly available without digging too deeply.  Make sure that you haven’t listed your cargo publicly, because if there are pirates nearby that see value in it, you’re basically just baiting them.
  3. Tell any strangers your planned origin or destination:  It might seem obvious to keep your origin to yourself, since the other ship will be able to use it to deduce your cargo, and if it includes valuables, along with the length of your itinerary.  That may not seem important, but the longer your trip, the more easily they can blame your disappearance on a run of the mill problem.  As for your destination, pirates have been known to contact a ship’s destination in an apparent act of good faith. They inform the destination that the ship was incapacitated or otherwise destroyed, ostensibly as a courtesy, sometimes even returning keepsakes to the crew’s loved ones. Meanwhile, they keep all the valuables for themselves and leave the crew to perish on their debilitated ship.

So, what can you do to protect yourself from pirates if they apprehend you despite the above tips? (Or if you already did one of the above before realizing that it was a bad idea.)  Your best bet is to transmit their ship’s data to the nearest authorities, but you can run into trouble since most pirates will scramble their callsign and crew registries.  Your best defense is not to get caught out in the first place.  If you can, stick to well-travelled and monitored routes that track ships carefully to ensure no one goes missing.

Safe travels!