It is now time for us to focus on the Space Pirates, a foe that has been a thorn in the side of the Galactic Federation and Samus Aran across the majority of the series. These creatures are well known to conquer planets and claim them as their own. We look into their history, and dive deep into what makes them so interesting.
The Space Pirates that conquered Zebes will be called the Zebesians and will be handled in another feature, and the Prime Pirates as we will call them here, hail from the Pirate Homeworld located in an unknown solar system. Right off the bat, it was established that they had a direct link with their Zebesian comrades, since they acknowledged their failure on Zebes based on logs found on the Frigate Orpheon. A short time thereafter, a powerful energy source was detected by the Prime Pirates aboard the Frigate Orpheon. When the returning scouts came back with samples, and information about what came to be known as Phazon on the planet Tallon IV, they decided to settle a base there. This was the beginning of their mutation programs regarding Phazon and the completion of Meta Ridley. Sometime later, they lost control over the orbiting ship, and the pirates were left to their demise as the bioweapons escaped, including the Parasite Queen, which then started wreaking havoc onboard. Science teams on the planet’s surface were researching the radioactive substance, primarily found inside a crater that was sealed off by Chozo energy fields. Two bases of operations were established at Phendrana Drifts and the Phazon Mines.
The freezing temperatures of Phendrana’s climate aided the pirates in controlling the Metroids held there while drastic security measures were implemented at the mines due to Metroids mutating into more dangerous forms such as the Hunter and Fission Metroids. Identifying an unknown creature inside the Impact Crater, also dubbed Metroid Prime, was another reason to continue further research on the Chozo Ruins. Unfortunately for them, the Chozo language and codes were too difficult for the pirates to decipher, and thus could only come up with the theory that in order to gain access to the crater, one had to find Chozo Artifacts that functioned as keys. Suffering heavy losses due to security breaches by both local and experimental lifeforms, Samus caused immense destruction to all their bases and outposts, and the lack of sufficient reinforcements led to the end of their Tallon IV operations.
At some point between the events of the first Metroid Crisis on Zebes, and the Dark Conflict on Aether, the Prime Pirates also received a telepathic message from the Alimbic Cluster. Like Samus, the other bounty hunters, and the Galactic Federation, they sent their own “representative” in Weavel, a bounty hunter and an elite but unknown individual defeated by Samus at some point during her onslaught on Zebes. Practically recreated as a cyborg, he was dispatched to gain this Ultimate Power the promising message conveyed. Weavel encountered Samus on Alinos and engaged her in battle, with Samus emerging victorious again. Once she opened the rift to the prison where Gorea was kept, Weavel and the other hunters detected this anomaly and quickly traveled there. When Samus finally arrived, he and the rest were already shooting at the Seal Sphere, possibly forming a short lived alliance for their own greater personal benefit. Unfortunately for them, the seal was broken and Gorea emerged, impaling each of them with energy tentacles and absorbed their weapons. Once it was defeated, everyone including Weavel escaped and went their separate ways.
Several decades before the arrival of the Prime Pirates, a Leviathan struck the planet Aether and caused a dimensional anomaly that split the planet in two. A second Pirate force was quickly dispatched to the planet after the detection of Phazon there. Learning from the Tallon IV failure, they also sent elite forces for further support. The mission was met with a deadly outcome not long after they began to operate. The Ing launched systematic attacks against them, causing heavy damage to their defenses, leading the Prime Pirates to ask for reinforcements. Two discoveries were made: a wormhole, and then the Dark Beam, which was needed to open it. Detecting vast quantities of Phazon on Dark Aether through the wormhole, extraction teams were sent. Dark Aether was the Ing home world, and its atmosphere was deadly, making it almost impossible for the pirates to succeed. Survivors were either killed or possessed by the Ing, turning their former comrades into enemies while the rest of them stationed at basecamps suffered from attrition. Dark Samus’s arrival was another major disaster as their resistance proved to be futile. Requesting support from High Command also resulted in failure since they were shot down by Galactic Federation forces above Aether’s atmosphere. The Federation ship that shot down the Pirate support forces became stranded on the planet themselves due to the powerful storms occurring at the time they were chasing the pirates. The Ing began to shift some focus toward the human forces, allowing the pirates to gain some stability until Samus also arrived on Aether, meaning definite demise for the pirates. In one last hope, they prepared to form an allegiance with Dark Samus by delivering all the Phazon she wanted, sparing their lives in the process.
Two major Phazon operations had failed, another minor one soon followed by attempting to shoot down the Galactic Federation ship transporting Phazon with them but this too failed. Fortunately for the pirates, the human forces left most of the remaining Phazon on Aether, enabling them to extract it. Realizing that Dark Samus was among the Phazon reserves, the remaining pirates pledged their allegiance to her after initial defiance was suppressed to say the least. Dark Samus suddenly left to bring back a Leviathan, causing some pirates to question their loyalty, ultimately shot dead by the rest. Once Dark Samus returned, the pirates were ordered to go through the wormhole created by the Leviathan, some refused still and were promptly killed. The rest were blessed by the presence of Phaaze, the home world of their glorious new leader. Several missions were commanded by Dark Samus for the pirates to carry out. Some were tasked with weaponizing the Leviathan and transforming it into a base of operations, another team was sent to attack the Federation ship Valhalla to steal the Aurora Unit so that Dark Samus could control Phaaze, and then sent a Leviathan to the Pirate Homeworld. While resisting forces tried to destroy the Leviathan, they quickly met their doom and survivors were shown the path of enlightenment, realizing how pathetic they used to be. Their next targets to “purify” were the planets Norion, Elysia and Bryyo, which they attempted by sending a Leviathan to each. Successful impacts took place on Elysia and Bryyo, but Samus managed to blow up the Leviathan heading towards Norion, only to become corrupted along with the rest of the bounty hunters by Dark Samus as a result. Samus, now upgraded with the PED Suit, began to destroy the Prime Pirates and their forces operating on Bryyo, Elysia and the Pirate Homeworld. Not even their new commanders Rundas, Ghor and Gandrayda could stop the onslaught of Samus’s path in preventing the corruption. Their remaining forces were orbiting around Phaaze in a final battle against the Galactic Federation while Samus took on Dark Samus and achieved the inevitable destruction of Phaaze, ending the Phazon Crisis and the short-lived religion of the pirates.
Losing their glorious leader and any trace of Phazon, one remaining force had been present on the Bermuda System a few years prior to carry out more missions in a traditional Space Pirate way, namely, to establish bases, survey and find new useful technology and then use that technology to upgrade their military prowess. At some point during this time, they found the Amplification Beam, a weapon created by the ancient Bion race capable of increasing the physical size of any lifeforms. Naturally, the pirates immediately began to experiment with this weapon, using it on the many lifeforms inhabiting the planets Talvania, Bion and Excelcion, on themselves and ultimately Samus after her capture through a successful ambush, as difficult as it was to believe on any level… The Federation Force, having lost contact with her, set out to find her and destroy three Transfer Devices that powered their latest cloaking technology, that was shielding the Doomseye from enemy eyes. The Doomseye was a pirate mothership created to destroy the Galactic Federation and avenge their fallen brethren. They managed to wound the Federation’s forces by firing a powerful beam attack from the Doomseye shortly after it was unveiled. Now in one last effort, the Federation Force infiltrated the pirate mothership, defeated the brainwashed Samus in her Morph Ball form and destroyed the Master Brain, which was the core of the Doomseye’s shield, leaving it open to attacks by the remaining Galactic Federation fleet in the system. With this, as it currently stands, the Prime Pirates suffered complete defeat.
There are different types of Prime Pirates where nobody can determine the true form of their origins. They were bipedal sentient beings – whereas the pirates during the Tallon IV events had a more insectoid shape, being primarily reptilian and mantis-like with antennae on their head, the pirates during the Aether conflict had a bird-crustacean appearance with somewhat sturdier bodies, and the Phazon Crisis pirates resembled the Tallon IV pirates but with a more monstrous look. Tallon IV pirates also had glowing eyes, unlike the other two groups, and they all seemingly have three fingers on each hand. All Prime Pirates were also highly agile, could jump quite a distance, were naturally aggressive, and had a complete disregard for any living thing that was useless or inferior to them. One thing that has been noticed was that they had an appetite for Aether’s Blueroot Tree branches, which were highly poisonous to most other species, but were considered a delicacy by the Pirates. This could be connected to the fact that one individual tried to feed a Metroid and then later on through data scanning, Samus found out that it suffered from food poisoning – perhaps this delicacy was being fed to it?
Culture and Technology
What is there to say about their society? They are primarily a ruthless species hellbent on accomplishing any mission objective they set out, combined with the goal of possessing advanced technology from anywhere in the galaxy that could bolster their arsenal further. Unlike their Zebesian brethren, they seem to have an extensive sense of self-awareness while still maintaining a hivemind hierarchy. One thing to remember however, is that both Zebes and Tallon IV belonged to the same solar system, FS-176. They also have several different home worlds where each could perhaps have their own superior authority just like the Zebesians have Mother Brain and the Prime Pirates have High Command. Individually, they do have their own personalities based on certain information Samus obtained by scanning pirate computers. For instance, there were a few incidents where pirates, during a period of three cycles, broke security protocol in order to try taming Metroids as their pets, with some even trying to feed them. Obviously, this backfired and the Metroids caused a few deaths leading to improved security and warning to others to not attempt this again since these attempts were deemed as stupid, or as they called them, having vapor for brains.
Another pirate tried to use Metroids as target practice which resulted in that pirate ending up in a coma, and they apparently dislike theft in general despite being the biggest thieves in the galaxy themselves. Pirates also have very short tempers when things go wrong as archived in their logs where High Command didn’t send support when needed the most. One could say that the Prime Pirates operated more like a criminal organisation, just at a near galactic level. Due to their hive mind mentality, the Phazon Crisis force developed a religious cult-like agenda serving Dark Samus. This mentality likely came from the hatred as well as paranoia the pirates in general felt by the presence of Samus. When Dark Samus arrived on Aether as well, it didn’t help their superstitious line of thought due to believing they were cursed by fate. Cunning as ever though, they formed an alliance with Dark Samus under her guidance, being spared in the process by heeding her will. They did not tolerate any fear or disobedience. The most loyal among them shot anyone that did not heed the commands of Dark Samus as they believed they had to be completely submissive as her disciples.
Technology wise they don’t differ too much from human technology in practice. They have spaceships, some of them for military use, research facilities like the Frigate Orpheon, elevators and platforms, mining facilities such as the Phazon Mines, storage crates, observatories, research bases, containment facilities, computers, projectors like ones us humans use, wormhole technology and much more at their outposts such as Tallon IV and Aether. Their home world was highly toxic due to the acid rain there, so they had special suits they wore in order to survive, and this harsh environment likely shaped their aggressive nature. Not much, if any wildlife and nature could be seen by Samus while operating there. The pirates also used train-like vehicles to travel around their planet, which was basically one giant base. If one looked carefully, the small Pirate Cargo Drones operating on the planet contained the disembodied heads of pirates inside them. Whether they were still alive or not is debatable, but looking at their aggressive society, they likely killed them straight away and then put their heads into these drones, but it was definitely punishment for either committed crimes or cowardice.
Weaponry and War
Being highly adaptable, fearless, and creative, they had many types of weapons, combat suits, experimental military projects and other support mechanisms that made them into the galactic threat they represented. The Tallon IV pirates had reversed engineered to some extent the arsenal of Samus’s Arm Cannon technology by creating special armoured suits based on the Power, Wave, Ice and Plasma Beams. Shadow Pirates used cloaking technology that made them unable to use ranged weapons due to the high energy usage, so they focused on melee combat. Aerial and Aquatic troopers were also employed for defense or to directly attack Samus and other threats. The Aether group had similar weapons but seemed to be somewhat better armoured in general. Unlike their Tallon IV counterparts, the ground forces used more conventional weapons such as basic energy-based weapons, grenade launchers, melee weapons, and aerial troopers.
Higher ranked combatants in the form of Pirate Commandos were specially trained to hunt down Samus. They were equipped with an exceptionally strong armoured suit, energy shield, scythe weaponry, boost pack and a type of EMP grenade launcher. A secondary objective was to attack Ing forces, but unlucky for them, the Ing possessed them shortly thereafter. The Phazon group were the first ones in the galaxy to enhance their weapons with Phazon due to Dark Samus’s teachings, which made them even deadlier, not to mention new combat armours based on Phazite. The most dangerous forces during the assault on their home world included Commando Pirates, which were pretty much the most experienced and skilled among them, led by a Pirate Commander. A Commando Pirate can be promoted to a Commander after ten years of loyal service. Defensive measures such as the Remorse Class and Humility Class turrets were placed at strategic areas while mobile units such as Sentry Drones and Crawltanks functioned as both offensive and defensive support. They also had sophisticated war ships that rivaled the Galactic Federation’s ships. Everything from transport vehicles such as the Pirate Dropships and Shrike Class Assault Skiff, to the Pirate ATCs carrying troopers and equipped with a Tribeam Cannon, to the bigger warships including the Destroyers and the Doomseye. Besides technological weaponry, they also use different creatures such as the Korakk Beast on the planet Bryyo by the Pirate Hussar, where it bonds with the creature and battles as one.
A vast armada of military and other experimental projects primarily through the use of Phazon also aided their power and future, but ultimately thwarted their plans. Elite Pirates, Berserker Lords and the Omega Pirate were direct results of their merciless strive for galactic supremacy. Other Phazon based projects that ultimately became impossible to control came in the forms of the Parasite Queen, Thardus and the only living prototype of what would later become Elite Pirates, namely the Phazon Elite. Phazon experiments were conducted on various lifeforms found and captured from Tallon IV to test the extremes of its mutagenic properties. Metroids were the main focus of these experiments in order to evolve them to extreme levels of threat and in hopes of controlling them as bioweapons. At the peak of the Phazon Crisis, the pirates managed to combine Pirate and Phazon technology into their arsenal, resulting in Phazon enhanced weaponry, warships, and their own biology.
Non-Phazon based projects were also being developed at the same time. This included the cybernetic enhancements made on Ridley after his defeat on Zebes under the orders of High Command, and this could mean that Ridley is either under their authority as well, or High Command has an equal rank to him. One interesting thing that was observed was that the Pirates still seemed to report to them despite having their new leader. This could likely suggest that High Command also got corrupted by Dark Samus, whether they got corrupted before or after a Leviathan struck their homeworld is currently unknown. Attempts to reverse engineer Chozo technology, such as the Arm Cannon and Morph Ball, gave varying results but could overall be considered failures due to the lack of knowledge required to understand Chozo science. The Hazard Shield developed by the Pirates on their home world to survive the acid rains that regularly present themselves around the planet was also used by Samus. While on Aether, spatial anomaly experiments took shape once they found one such location but to no avail. It wasn’t until they found a relic in the form of the Dark Beam that they learned it was used to activate the wormhole that led them to Dark Aether.
It is hard to say if the Prime Pirates have a future at all, based on the fact that Metroid Prime 4 will likely have a new group of Space Pirates causing trouble. In that sense, yes, they have a future from the fans’ point of view, but in-game wise it would be unclear. While it was stated in Metroid Dread that all the Space Pirates are gone, one must wonder if that really holds water. Remember, it has been stated that both Zebes and the Pirate Homeworld were only two out of several home worlds which the Space Pirates had claimed. So, while the Prime Pirates were the main antagonistic military power during the Phazon Crisis, they still only originated from one planet. With that in mind and later the defeat of the Zebesian Pirates, what happened to all the other Space Pirates across the galaxy in between Super Metroid and Metroid Dread? This also further gives raise to more thoughts, such as what is defined as a Space Pirate in the end? As mentioned earlier, the Prime Pirates in particular altered and mutated their bodies in order to adapt to different situations and environments, or whatever sinister plot they had in mind. Is there a true origin of one single species or are Space Pirates a combination of several different species working together for a common yet malevolent goal?
Just take leaders such as Ridley, Kraid, Phantoon and Draygon, partially controlled by Mother Brain through telepathy, and then we have other leaders such as Rundas, Ghor, Gandrayda and Ridley again, under the influence of Dark Samus. The connection here was Ridley, acting as a field general to both factions, meaning that High Command has a direct link to both groups. While it is theorised that Mother Brain could be High Command itself, the introduction of Raven Beak could potentially complicate matters further. It is not impossible to theorise that he at the least knew of the Space Pirate’s activities in the sector and monitored them to some extent during this entire time since he was adamant about controlling the Metroids himself. Due to his relentless mission to control the galaxy, it would be foolish of him to not be aware of similar agendas made by other factions.
Written by Quadraxis