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This is the sort of spaceport you picture in your head when you think of pirates. Half the storefronts are bars, and rum seems to be on the menu everywhere. It is almost like the stories of ancient Earth, except that the eye patches are cybernetic implants and the peg legs are motorized prosthetics. Swarthy, dangerous-looking women glance at you as you pass by, and scantily clad men crowd around the bars. -Buccaneer Bay description
Pirates and anarchists have claimed a number of relatively undesirable or remote systems on the outskirts of human space, from which the make regular raids on merchant shipping. Pirate worlds are nearly the only source of advanced (and sometimes illegal) hand-to-hand combat tools civilians can buy. They also offer a variety of lucrative and risky jobs, many of which will upset Navy ships which manage to scan your cargo hold.

The details of governance on pirate-controlled worlds varies wildly, but the bribes required to land are effectively the same across the galaxy, and pirate ships and crews tend to be drearily consistent.

"It's worth noting that most people on the 'pirate' worlds are not pirates. They're just anarchists, just ordinary people unlucky enough to be born there, or people who feel unwelcome everywhere else."
-Brother Greg, Harmony monastery pirate outreach coordinator
"In the galactic south, the average age of a pirate crew member is seventeen years old. And many are much younger than that. They're more like street kids than like hardened criminals."
-Katya Reynolds, former Dirt Belt Parliament representative

Bounties

Players who have proven themselves in space combat may be offered bounty missions from the jobs screen. There are two basic classes of pirate bounties: ordinary pirates, and marauders. Pirate bounties become available at around combat rating 6 (your save file must have a combat rating of at least 300 points, which is approximately level 5.7), and consist of a single pirate vessel located in a random system up to 2 hyper jumps away from the planet offering the bounty. Marauders, on the other hand, tend to travel in groups, and often use highly customized ships. Marauder hunting jobs will be offered beginning about halfway between combat rating level 6 and 7 (at exactly 600 cumulative enemy crewmen killed, about level 6.39) and will require you to search systems up to 3 jumps away from the source. Bounty ships can be boarded and captured, which will satisfy the terms of the bounty contract and allow you to collect payment. As mission-spawned ships, they will persist upon leaving the system or landing on a planet. Beware when boarding Marauder vessels, however, as many of them are fitted with self-destruct systems and can explode during boarding attempts.

Faction Relations

Pirates are attacked on sight by the Republic Navy, the Syndicate, and the Free Worlds, as well as planetary militia forces and armed merchants. Pirates will also attempt to disable and loot any alien spacecraft the encounter, though the Quarg are hardly even inconvenienced and the Korath generally manage to jump out.