The infamous main character in my story is traveling among others on a mining spaceship that is carrying tons of valuable materials from Mars to Earth under the protection of the US government, our infamous hero wants to convince his fellow miners to seize control of the spaceship and travel to a Chinese space colony near Saturn (he arranged a deal with someone in charge of that colony) where the US has no authority and then become rich thanks to the spoils of Mars, but his diabolic plan is faced with many challenges :

Obstacles :

1 - The ship is heavily guarded : about 100 soldiers equipped with laser rifles.

2 - The ship is under the command of one ruthless ex-military feared by everyone.

3 - The miners are many (about 600) but have no criminal background.

4 - He has only two months before reaching earth.

Spaceship :

The spaceship is very huge, it's a mobile industrial refinery used to refine materials extracted from Mars before shipping to earth, but it's also very fast (not speed of light fast).

Miners :

The miners are a variety of space engineers in many fields such as :

  • Material engineering.
  • Mechanical engineering.
  • Chemical engineering.
  • Electrical engineering.
  • Civil engineering.

They are using advanced high-tech tools in order to get their job done, however under the new regime of the US government, scientists and engineers are being treated like slaves and forced to work for a cheap payement since it's their duty towards their ruling government.

Advantages :

The main good thing that could work in benefit of his conspiracy that the miners are poor and underpaid by the government so they are angry with their condition, also they are not traveling in cryostat (they are not sleeping) because they have to refine those materials before delivering to earth.

Important :

He needs to get rid of all the soldiers (kill them and burn them or send them to the nearest rock in escape pods) before reaching Saturn and also get rid of the ship after taking all of the cargo, because the person in charge of the Chinese space colony can't protect our infamous hero from the Chinese government in case he brings back anything representing the US government (a proof of the mutiny).

Question :

According to Wikipedia :

Mutiny is a criminal conspiracy among a group of people (typically members of the military; or the crew of any ship, even if they are civilians) to openly oppose, change, or overthrow a lawful authority to which they are subject.

How would the main character trigger a mutiny and make his plan work ?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ How much time does he have? $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Mar 30 '16 at 14:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What kind of propulsion do they have? If the ship is already on it's way to Earth, you might have an interesting time getting it moving in the right direction to get to Saturn. Inertia is a harsh mistress. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Mar 30 '16 at 14:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What kind of tools do they have, since they are refining the ore? Most tools can double as weapons with the right know how and will to use them. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Mar 30 '16 at 14:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ One last clarification required from OP. Do you want a proper mutiny on the ship or do you just want to hijack the ship to Saturn? Notice that there is major difference between both. $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Mar 30 '16 at 14:22
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ So, despite a lot of edits, there are some key things that are being left out: What do the miner have to work with? It would be easy to do a coordinated surprise strike and take out a the key infrastructure such as communications, engine, and bridge, if they have some tools. Plasma cutters would be nice, or do they just have picks? Second is turning the ship. Unless the planets are just right, it's going to be difficult. The refining ship has a lot of mass, so turning it is going to take a lot of energy. Lastly, what skills are available? Computers and hacking? Electrical? $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Mar 30 '16 at 15:45

Convincing the Miners

Unless the plan calls for lots of miners, involve as few of them as possible. Invariably, some of them will rat the hero out and just mess up all the plans. The participating miners will have concerns about seeing their families again

Eliminating the Guards

This is going to depend heavily on the design of the ship. The miners are incapable of open conflict with the guards due to lack of training and lack of weapons. So, the hero will have to be sneaky about how to kill/eliminate them. Shutting down life support in the crew quarters is one approach. I anticipate that the best way to eliminate the guards will be a technical one. Remember, the miners are engineers and they are maintaining incredibly powerful machines. They are very very smart (which makes me wonder why they are so poorly paid.)

Eliminating the Guard Leader

Kill this guy. Poison him, smash his skull, whatever. It's unlikely that any amount of negotiating will work. Ideally, you'll want to make his elimination the first thing on your list of things to do. If he's alive and so are some of the guards, then you can be guaranteed significant resistance.

Navigating the ship to Saturn

Doing this will depend on the design of the ship. If the ship is remotely controlled from Earth then redirecting the ship will require significant technical skill to overcome those controls. If the ship is piloted by a navigator then the navigator will need to be bribed or otherwise eliminated. Whatever navigation keys required to alter the ship's course will need to be acquired before the navigator is offed.

Preventing pursuit from Earth

All you can do is slow down a response from earth, not prevent. Assuming a continuous burn to get from Mars to Saturn, the ship's engines will be clearly visible from most points in the solar system. Venting some of the ore along with explosives timed to coincide with the redirection burn towards Saturn. Telescopes on Earth will see the super heated debris and the engine's burn. If done properly, this will look like an explosion on the ship. This will most likely start a rescue mission but not a pursuit mission. (Kind of like sending the EMTs but not the police.)

Discarding the ship

After offloading all the refined materials, deorbit the ship into Saturn. Any ship with the delta-v to change course from Earth to Saturn will have plenty left over to do a deorbit burn.


Well, if he had this plan early enough, then sowing quiet discontent throughout the mining colony before the ship even left port would be the place to start.

Then the next most important would be to bribe the navigator. If you can convince him to set the ship toward Saturn from the outset, (assuming you don't have a ship envoy) then you just need to get the miners on your side before it is discovered where you are going.

Of course you'll have to deal with communications because it will likely only be a couple weeks before Earth wonders where you are going. If you are really lucky, Saturn will be on a course that takes you on a path similar to the original course where the deviation isn't real noticeable for weeks or a month.

But you will definitely need to start long before you get everyone on the ship. Mostly by getting people unhappy with how little they get for this huge fortune they have amassed for their rich masters.

Also when things are building up, cutting off the head of the beast (kill the leader) and offer a 'share' to the rest of the soldiers can make it a fast change over.

Of course I don't understand why the miners would be on an ore ship, since their job is mining and they would likely be left to work on the next shipment. If there are any ships accompanying the freighter all they need to do is poke a hole in the ship to stop any mutiny. And last but not least, someone will try to give chase so you need to make sure you are far enough ahead of pursuit to get to your destination before you get caught. So actual timing of overthrow will be important too.


Use the ore and cargo as a hostage and/or threats.

You said, "they have to refine those materials before delivering to earth."

You have a few options here. I'm going to go with some non-violent approaches.

  • Threaten the destruction or evacuation of the ore.

    The workers necessarily have to be able to maneuver the ore through the refinement process, so they have a little bit of freedom here. If they can situate it in such a way that they have the commander convinced they will either destroy all the ore or blast it out of the ship, they could use that as leverage. It would have to be a realistic threat - not fabricated.

    This is a risky endeavor because they have to convince the commander, and the commander needs the incentive - if he knows he will not be in trouble or lose out in any way, there is no incentive for him to listen to their threat and he can simply have them killed.

  • Threaten the destruction of the ship or its crew.

    This works a little better than the previous option. If the tools they own (or even the ore itself) lends towards explosives or chemical reactions that could harm the rest of the crew, it would be more threatening than simply going to war with the soldiers.

    They don't necessarily have to target the whole ship, though. It could be an attack on the bridge or on the engine - no one wants to be stranded in space. Alternatively, if the commander's family is onboard, the miners can threaten the destruction of the family's living quarters, assuming the commander cares about his family.

  • Do nothing. Literally.

    It could be the case that the commander/captain/other staff have a lot on the line here, and if the miners don't work, then it would be an empty threat to say they will have them killed if they go on strike. This one is not very likely to work, but it would work better if they had additional leverage - the commander or captain as a hostage, for example. But for this to really work, it would probably need to be combined with...

  • Get the rest of the crew on your side.

    It could be that the commander and captain are greedy. If you can convince them that they can have part of the profits, then there's no reason to fight or threaten at all.

  • $\begingroup$ If word goes out that you just have to take the cargo hostage to take control of a ship, no ship will be safe. That's a "don't negociate with terrorists and kill'em all" bloodbath scenario ahead. $\endgroup$ – PatJ Mar 30 '16 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ @PatJ I don't agree with your opinion. The ship here is a very special case - it has a lot of precious ore and it's under the protection of the government. There's a large difference between that and another ship that might belong to an average person with average cargo that's likely to be more expendable. $\endgroup$ – The Anathema Mar 30 '16 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ Even though, how do you quickly destroy large ore quantities? In a few minutes, the air in the cargo bay could be vented and dumping it outside would just necessitate a mission to get it back. $\endgroup$ – PatJ Mar 30 '16 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @PatJ I feel like that's a red herring. The question is about how to have a successful mutiny on this ship in particular, with this cargo in particular. It's entirely dependent on the properties of the ore or the tools available to the workers. I still have contingency plans in my answer. And at any rate, no one wants to retrieve objects in space traveling at relative fast speeds - that's a lot harder than you're making it out to be. $\endgroup$ – The Anathema Mar 30 '16 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, "give me the cargo and the ship or kill me and keep the ship", that's a not a bluff. A big crew won't follow you in the bet if their life is on the table. $\endgroup$ – PatJ Mar 30 '16 at 16:08

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.