Part 69: Ships Part 12 - PirateLet's Meet the Pirate Ships!
Pirate ships are good in general. They're a bit faster, a bit tougher, and much better armed than the ships they're based off of, and will generally range from "decent" to "frightening." If they have any flaws, it's that the stock capital ships are very weak at long range. Best of all, they're available immediately if you have the cash - no faffing about with mission strings and delivery runs.
Heraan Researched Argosy (Pirate Upgrades)
It's slightly better than the Auroran Argosy, which isn't really better at all. It can be surprisingly deadly to small fighters due to the one-two punch of homing missiles and chaingun fire, though - so not entirely ignorable.
How the advanced Heraan Argosy fell into the hands of pirate shipwrights is a matter of hot debate in some circles. The story that the ship dealer spins for you maintains that the plans were snatched during a daring hit-and-run raid several years ago. The truth of the matter is that Aurorans can be bribed, as can all humans throughout the galaxy. Senginar Hmel, the noteworthy shipwright, has been brutal with the original design spec, and sadly much of the original beauty of the lines of this ship has been destroyed, performance boosts aside.
Auroran Industries Enterprise (Pirate Upgrade)
It's quite a durable freighter, and mounts some serious long-range weaponry, making it a great escort or sniping ship. However, as an enemy it falls flat on its face - the combination of its terrible maneuverability, the massive blindspot at the rear of the ship, and the AI's complete lack of piloting skills means that even a fighter can take one down - assuming you can stay out of the fusion cannon's reach.
The Enterprise has been a favorite of pirates for a hundred years or more. With a modular framework based so closely along the lines of the IDA Frigate (note the drive-train), the Enterprise is a joy to hotrod. This model sports several improvements, including both Federation-style shielding and Auroran railguns. Truly a must-have for the privateer on the move.
Porsche Valkyrie (Pirate Upgrade)
The version you'll see most often, Class II, is pretty weak, and not much different from a stock Valkyrie. The railguns they mount aren't large or numerous enough to be a serious threat at range, making them easy to kill in long range combat. It's the Class IV that makes the Pirate Valkyrie so feared - mounting Hellhound missiles, Ion Cannons, high-damage railguns, and being super fast and very tough. It's very deadly at all ranges, and it has more weapons space than the ship has mass. Don't take one on without anything less than an army or a capital ship.
Pirates and Valkyries have gone together almost since the Valkyrie was first released. Somehow the hotrodded starship seems to embody the very idea of a swash-buckling corsair; so much so, in fact, that people who fly normal, unmodified Valkyries get a few sideglances from other spacelane users. Pirates take great pride in maxing their 'Valks' out, and most Valkyries will sport afterburners and custom paintjobs, as well as radically altered shield grids. This darkly menacing custom convert by Olaf Greyshoulders is no different.
Light Capital Class S-25 Starbridge
Compared to the Valkyrie Class IV, it's slower, less tough, and mounts half the weapons. However, the Starbridge D carries EMPs, which amount to a win button in most fights. It's good to have one escort for that purpose, but Valkyries win out every other time.
The Starbridge commonly in pirate service is relatively unaltered from its base design. There are a few reasons for this, but the primary one is that the Starbridge makes an excellent pirate ship as it is! Also, a good many... <ahem> 'privateers' were consulted about the vessel's design during the planning stage, and they feel that their comments have in some way helped shape this graceful keel. Most Starbridges used by pirates haven't had their engines tweaked much, but they do have more powerful guns than normal.
Stay away. Enough ion cannons to ruin your day if you venture too close, the Manticore is actually quite easy to kill as its long-range weaponry is practically nonexistent - typically a handful of high-powered missiles. It's quite slow, too. It makes a great escort vessel, but if you catch one alone, they typically carry about a million credits - it's like winning the jackpot. Just remember to not send fighters or warships against it, as they will charge and get dismembered in short order.
The Manticore is the most terrifying vessel that pirates have ever used. Built from salvaged Leviathans (just don't ask where they got them from), the Manticore's primary offensive weapon is the 'Crown of Thorns', a ring of modified Rauther Ion Cannons. This ring is fully independently targetable, and can easily disable large ships, while being accurate enough not to shred smaller vessels.
Greyshoulders Dockyards Pirate Carrier
The ship that Grandpaw built. Despite looking like something out of Kerbal Space Program, the Pirate Carrier is very dangerous at all ranges. Some variants can mount half a dozen 200mm railguns on top of their EMPs, point-defense weaponry, and the squadrons of fighters. Running into one is a guarantee for a long, drawn-out fight - or a very short and final one. Needless to say, you can do quite well for yourself piloting one.
Hrunyir Greyshoulders, father of Olaf, crafted the Pirate Carrier 60 years ago as a tool to aid in the suppression of worlds for ransom. This terrifying weapon mounts tubes for EMP torpedos, the most devastating explosive known (and banned by all space treaties, even between the Aurorans and the Federation). Olaf started work on a second carrier 20 years ago, and it is now reaching completion. He is still hunting for a buyer with enough cash and few enough scruples to buy it.