Independent Mercenary News
Welcome to OP.NET. Your single source for all the news, tips, and insights that any independent mercenary could ever want. I’m your host Conva Maynard. And although we’re not Guild affiliated in any way, I’d like to give a special welcome to Local Guild 806 out in Ferron who comm’d in to tell me about their weekly OP.NET gatherings. While it may surprise some of you to learn that Guild members would be fans of the program, in fact, more and more of our audience are people like the 806 who are eager to get their hands on any solid information no matter the source. Basically, what I’m saying is that Skiv’s reviews are useful no matter who you are.
I know a lot of time it can feel like it’s an ‘us versus them’ thing. Independents and Guild members out there scrapping for the same work, arguing about what’s the best way to handle our business, but if you want to know the truth, we all have a lot more in common than not. We’re all trying to do the job the best we can. I’ve always felt an important part of being independent is respecting and learning from the way other people like to operate. Yeah, the Guild may not be for everyone, and it sure as heck ain’t for me, but for a lot of folks it makes sense and that’s okay. OP.NET is all in favor of making the choice that’s right for you, as long as you do the proper research and diligence first.
Speaking of, with this week’s Job Board, research all of these opportunities on your own to make sure they check out square before signing up for anything. We say it every episode, but any merc worth their body armor always vets their leads before making a move.
First up, we got an offer coming all the way out of Oberon. A growing refinery concern, Miguello Extraction, has expanded recently and it seems that a local outfit of marauders has taken notice of Miguello’s success. While the Navy have been flying more ships in system as of late, their priority is definitely dealing with any Vanduul threats, leaving folks like Miguello to fend for themselves. The company has been hit more than a couple times this year and they’re looking to hire a security detail to patrol and protect their spread of collector arrays, ASAP. What’s interesting about this contract is that they aren’t just looking for sluggers to tangle in the field, they’re looking for strategic consultants, someone who can help figure out the logistics of guarding such a large area. So, if planning routes, schedules, and security protocols gets your thrusters boosting, and you don’t mind how isolated the location is, then I’d snatch this one up right quick.
Next, we got something for those of you who might be a little less cerebral. An individual wishing to remain anonymous had their estate robbed of a so-called “sensitive item” by a local gang. Now, they’re being blackmailed for the return of said item unless they pay up. For various reasons, paying the ransom is not palatable, so they’re looking to hire a recovery team. Now you can see why there aren’t a lot of public details on this one. The crooks catch wind that their mark is hiring mercs and you can bet they’ll retaliate. For my creds, a job like this requires either a very light touch or a very heavy hand – i.e. sneak in so they don’t know you’re there or hit them so hard and fast they don’t have time to do anything but panic. Hard to say which is best without some more information but that’ll be up to you to acquire. Understandably, this contract’s looking to staff up fast, so if you’re interested, don’t wait long.
Finally, we’ve got an escort contract protecting a hauling convoy doing regular runs out to Tal. What makes this job a little bit different than your standard fly-along is that the escorts will be expected to directly interface with the Xi’an criminal houses in control of the sectors the route travels through. Since the passage of HuXa, I have seen more and more of these kinds of requests popping up, and I don’t know about you, but I pretty much know next to nothing about navigating the intricacies of Xi’an politics. Figured that it was about time I do something about my ignorance and hopefully help out any of you interested in operating in Xi’an space.
Please join me in welcoming to the show our special guest for today, former MISC security officer Jack Leong.
Jack Leong: Pleasure to be on the show.
Thanks for taking the time out of your well-deserved retirement to talk with us.
Jack Leong: Don’t worry, I’m having my granddaughter keep an eye on the fish for me until I can get back to my boat.
So, just for a little bit of history, my understanding is that you worked for MISC going on sixty-two years?
Jack Leong: Correct. Joined them right out of equivalency as an off-shift factory guard and worked my way up from there. I’m one of those odd people you meet who’ve only ever worked one job in their life. Didn’t even have to bother with the whole Guild or Independent debate. Just always been MISC.
Now, I’m sure with six decades in security we could fill a couple episodes with your advice and wisdom, but for today I wanted to talk to you specifically about your experience operating in Xi’an space.
Jack Leong: I’m happy to tell you what I can.
You were one of the first civilian Human pilots to officially be permitted to fly a combat ship through their territory correct?
Jack Leong: That’s right. Back in 2910. MISC had just signed their partnership deal and was going to be sending some execs and techs out to Tal on a regular basis. I was the lucky guy picked to go along and make sure all the important people got there and back in one piece.
What was that like? Flying into Xi’an space for the first time?
Jack Leong: Security-wise? Pretty darn easy to tell the truth. It was a big deal and all eyes were on us and the Xi’an to see how this whole thing would shake out. Nobody was going to risk anything happening to us. We got a military escort everywhere we went. For the first five years at least.
Turned out, that was all the initial lendlease agreement covered. After that, we were on our own and let me just say it was a damn pretty steep learning curve.
Sounds a bit like my dad teaching me to EVA by kicking me out an airlock.
Jack Leong: Not too far from the truth. First flight after our government protection ended, we ran into a collector for one of the major criminal houses, the Kuang.
Let me see, I have a list of terms here. That’s a yu’at.ōngh’uitā, correct?
Jack Leong: You’ll have to excuse me, I never did learn to speak much Xi’an. Blame it on me relying on my extremely competent translators too much.
No worries. We’ll post a bunch of terms to our spectrum page for anyone who’s inclined to look it up. For now, would you mind explaining a bit more about these criminal houses?
Jack Leong: Basically, the Xi’an have legal crime. I know that doesn’t sound like it makes much sense but that’s the way they do things. Criminal houses get permission from the government to run what amounts to a protection scheme; pay us and we’ll leave you alone.
I heard that’s what they do, but I still have a hard time believing it.
Jack Leong: I did too at first, but after having to deal with the system for a few decades I’ll admit the logic of it all is appealing. The Xi’an will tell you that they have just come to terms with crime being a fact of life and since there’s no way to get rid of it, why not try to control it?
The criminals have to follow certain rules, right?
Jack Leong: Exactly. For example, they’re limited to only taking a certain amount of profit every cycle. They’re not allowed to kill. They can’t take all your cargo. They can’t hit the same people too often. And that’s just a few of the rules. As with all things Xi’an, the list is long and complicated. One of the more interesting things is that a lot of the time these criminal houses wind up acting like security forces since it’s usually them who hunt down and catch rogue outlaw Xi’an who break the rules.
That thing about not being able to take all the cargo has to be pretty nice for haulers.
Jack Leong: Well, to risk sounding like the retired old dodder that I am, it’s a bit like fishing. Take all the fish out of lake in one go, and next time there won’t be anything for you to catch.
Wish some of the gangs out here showed that kind of restraint.
Jack Leong: It’s all a numbers game with the Xi’an. In fact, another way to think of Xi’an crime is almost like a second tax or an alternate form of insurance. Depending on how much you fly you can choose to risk being held up, or you can plan ahead and pay a fee. After being robbed a few times, MISC eventually figure out that it was smarter to just make regular payments to the Kuang.
Sounds like it would all be pretty straightforward after that.
Jack Leong: It would have been if it weren’t for the renegotiations. It was never clear if it was because we were Humans or if it was just because we were seen as valuable targets, but more often than I’d like our payments were refused.
Let me guess. They wanted more money?
Jack Leong: Yup. It meant that we would have to settle on a new price en route. Or as one of my associates called it, “Combat Haggling.”
Okay, definitely want to hear more on this, but I’m gonna have to ask you to hold that thought right there, Jack, as we need to take a quick break.
When we come back, we will have plenty more insights from Mr. Leong and Skiv will be by to provide his hot-take on the newly available fighter from Aopoa, the San’tok.yāi. All that and more as OP.NET continues.