The Pirates of Warfleet
Numerous pirate bands became strong during the War of Independence and are now the largest threat to both UCO and CA convoys. Before the war pirates generally only had access to smaller raiders, but managed to salvage, or in some cases, steal larger navy cruisers. The largest of the pirate bands operate from hidden space stations within asteroid fields, on the fringes of star systems, or occasionally in deep space. The stations in deep space especially are very difficult to find. Despite navy and mercenary anti-piracy efforts, there seems to be an endless supply of raiders.
The Starslayers are the largest, most active, and most dangerous of all the pirate bands. Before the War of Independence they operated mostly in the outer colonies, but have since been seen operating in all areas of civilized space. They operate without mercy or restraint. Convoy ships found to have been boarded have usually had their crew slaughtered and have been booby-trapped for the rescue personnel.
Currently, it is unknown whether or not the Starslayers operate from a station or a mobile ship or even if they have a base of operations. While the band is large, there is very little coherency between them and it appears that each Captain operates more or less independently. The DSMG actively sends out patrols to look for possible Starslayer bases, but has thus far found nothing.
The Golden Sun pirates are some of the oldest in known space. The group first appeared several years after the formation of the UCO. They maintain a relatively small fleet, but are very effective. They pick their battles carefully and are not afraid to run from a fight if the odds are against them. Their tactics have lead some to believe that members of the Golden Sun are former Navy commanders.
Golden Sun attacks are limited mostly to the inner colonies of the UCO, with occasional raids on DSMG resource transports. It is rumoured that the Golden Sun have an entire planet in an "unexplored" system as their base of operations, but this has not been confirmed.
The Hypernova Pirates are a relatively new band that has just cropped up in the two years since the end of the War of Independence, and are quickly becoming the most deadly pirates in terms of raw firepower. The original band was made up of deserters from both the UAN and EEF. The Hypernova have since captured at least one boarder outpost, several cruisers, and many smaller transports. Their current base of operations has not been confirmed, but patterns in their attacks suggest it is located in or near the Aldebaran system.
Hypernova pirates are not as active as the Starslayers, but they are nonetheless dangerous. They often lurk at the outskirts of a battlefield, waiting to move in and board a crippled ship. They also specialize in hit-and-fade attacks on convoys -moving in, capturing a single ship, and retreating before any mass response can be organized.
Other, smaller pirate bands operate with varying degrees throughout colonized space. These bands often form together and become powerful, only to attract the attention of the main battle fleets or be destroyed by their mutual greed.
The “Harvesters” are somewhat of a mystery, and hard to classify. They're a band (or bands) of scavengers found operating in small groups in less populated and remote systems. They earned the name “harvesters” from their tendency to directly harvest resources from asteroid and ice fields. These locations are often claimed by mining companies, technically equating the actions of the Harvesters to resource piracy. They'll likewise also capture and deconstruct space hulks and other debris from deep space wreaking sites without permission.
Classifying Harvesters as pirates is not entirely accurate. Generally Harvester ships are non-hostile and will flee when challenged. However, due to the value of the resources they pilfer (either legitimately or illegally) private firms often try to engage fleeing Harvester ships, and it is not unheard of to find raider ships trying to force a Harvester vessel to surrender. Because of this Harvester ships tend to be moderately armed. They gamble that the risk of inflicting more damage than their stolen cargo is worth is enough to let them flee.
Harvester ships are unique designs not used by any Government or militia. While no shipbuilding firms directly admit to building and selling ships to the Harvesters, it is known that several of the larger drive yards construct the odd “side contract” for less-than-reputable clients.