What I would do near the start of the game (once I figured this out) was hire cargo transporters, trade between Thehir and Gribn, accumulate money and use this to hire more cargo transporters... and use them to own renegades. One cargo transporter by itself is a weakling, especially when controlled by the AI, but if you've got six cargo transporters that fly in formation with you, that's like having six blaze turrets of your own, not counting your own ship's weaponry (which was usually a few blaze cannons in a shuttle or scoutship). You just have to be careful not to let one of them take all the damage and die, or die yourself. I plundered many a turncoat with my deadly fleet of six cargo transporters, full of equipment or metal. It's a good way to begin a game--making money and upping your combat rating and fighting pirates all the while.