Hey sharpshooters, thanks as always for joining us here at OP.NET, the best and only home for non-guild news, tips and reviews — unfiltered and raw. I’m your host, Conva Maynard, and I’d like to give a special welcome to all the new mercs joining us for the first time. Skiv and I had the honor of visiting the BHM Training School out in Cascom last week and giving a talk to their most recent graduating class. There was a bit of a Q&A with the students afterwards and it was really great to have a chance to explain why I choose to operate on my own instead of joining the guild. How being independent is a bit more work, sure, but for me, the freedom to set my own standards and decide for myself what terms I feel comfortable with makes it worthwhile.
For those of you not familiar with the school, they offer courses in general tactics, weapon training, boarding procedures, the works. All of the instructors are veterans of the industry and after meeting with the students, I can say the intensive courses they’re offering are a pretty fantastic way to learn the ropes. Especially for those who are looking to go a different route than getting their training in the military like a lot of mercs do. They also offer courses for experienced mercs who are looking to expand and hone their abilities. That’s how I got hooked up with them in the first place. Took a refresher course last year after we did a review of targeting systems and I realized that half the features Skiv mentioned were new to me.
Speaking of Skiv, there will be no review this episode because the lucky bastard is attending a super-secret sneak peek of a new ship that one of the majors is unveiling soon. I can’t say anything more than that, but I will cop to comming him about ten times a day trying to sweat more details out of him. Don’t worry though, we have plenty of other great stuff coming up. If this is your first time joining us, you have picked a fantastic show to start on. We’re going to do another edition of PsyOps where we get experts from various fields to discuss the latest tricks and tech for the modern merc. Plus, we have a special interview today with a guest who is very near and dear to my heart, and also the whole reason I’m even your host in the first place.
But before all that, we got some new contracts lighting up the Job Board, so let’s take a look.
First up, Blackjack Security is looking to take on a few hands to help handle an escort overflow they are dealing with near Crusader in the Stanton System. Recently, there’s been a rash of mining ships attacked by local scrags, and it seems that most of the companies over there are suddenly seeing the wisdom in ponying up for the extra security. They are specifically seeking mercs with combat experience who have their own rigs.
Next, we have an exotic escort gig out in the Protectorate. A trade caravan is seeking to staff up a fairly sizeable protection detail to accompany them from Corel to Gliese on a bimonthly basis for a year. They are hoping to hire people for the full stint of the contract, so while you can work other jobs in between, it will make scheduling a bit trickier for a little while. Also, before you ask, they do clearly state on their posting that their business is in no way connected to sentient trafficking, which is always nice to see made plain like that.
Last, the good people of Uriel in Oberon are expanding their security forces. The Navy had been maintaining a presence after last year’s Vanduul attacks in the system, but as war efforts concentrate elsewhere, the need for Uriel to provide its own protection has increased. Now, Uriel is a pretty tough place to live, but for the right merc, let’s say one who just graduated, I could see this being a great chance to establish themselves and get some real valuable experience.
All right, if you’re interested in any of those, we have the details for all of the Job Board listings up on our spec site. As always, make sure to check out all the specifics carefully for yourself before accepting any work.
Now, let’s finally get to that special guest I mentioned. I think it would be fair to say that I’ve been waiting my entire career here for a chance to sit down with her. Please join me in welcoming none other than OP.NET’s own Sabine “Mixer” Murillo.
How the hell have you been, Mixer?
Mixer: Surprisingly good, all things considered. I will say it’s a bit strange to be sitting on this side.
You can have your chair back, if you’d like.
Mixer: No, it’s your chair now. I was glad to see that the show was left in such capable hands.
Let’s talk about that.
Mixer: Me leaving OP.NET?
Yeah, exactly. It caught a lot of us, me included, by surprise at the time. What happened?
Mixer: To be honest, it caught me by surprise too. Hell, when I started that broadcast, I wasn’t expecting to quit like that. But telling everyone about what happened to Stephan Ganz … I don’t know, I just knew I had to do something to make it right.
And did you?
Mixer: Not in the way I was expecting. Those first few months in Terra, all I did was try to track down Doormat’s — Ganz’s — killer. The official reports were no help, so I hit the streets. Turned over just about every flophouse around those docks trying to find the lowlife who did it. Got to the point where the corner thugs would start shooting at me on sight, but in the end, I wasn’t any closer to finding out who had pulled the trigger.
That sounds frustrating and … and well, kind of reckless. Churning up that kind of trouble couldn’t have been healthy.
Mixer: No. It wasn’t. And the worst part was that even after I had a cleared out some ratnest, the very next day it’d be like I hadn’t done anything at all. Slowly, I came to terms with the fact that while someone may have pulled the trigger, it was the Blocks themselves that had cost Doormat his life. The people who wind up there, they can’t help sink lower and lower. Whether it’s drugs or violence or just straight up neglect, everyone there is living on borrowed time.
Yeah, places like that, you take down a thug and there’s always ten more waiting to step up. It’s like trying to bail out a sinking boat with a spoon.
Mixer: Right. Even if I could find Doormat’s killer, chances are it would be someone who was just as desperate and out of options as he had been. Started thinking that if I couldn’t find justice for Doormat, then maybe the best thing I could do was help see to it that no one else wound up like him.
Sounds like you decided to stop acting like a bounty hunter, and start behaving like a real merc again.
Mixer: Never thought about it like that, but you pretty much hit the nail on the head. While working the case I had met this counselor who had tried to help Doormat get clean, and with her help I got in touch with some vets who had fallen on hard times. I couldn’t pay credits at first, but offered them food, a room of their own and counseling if they needed it. Most people didn’t want anything to do with me, but there were a few who were willing to take a chance and that was enough to start. I worked out a perimeter line and together we took shifts patrolling a few select blocks. And while we busted up some thugs here and there, I think just having a few people around who were willing to stand up and say “no” made the biggest difference.
I get that. A lot people miss the point that most of the time a merc’s job isn’t to fight, but to act as a deterrent and prevent fighting from even happening in the first place.
Mixer: Exactly. Confronted with an actual opposition force, a lot of the worst elements retreated, and those that didn’t, we dealt with. Slowly but surely, we were able to expand the green zone. The Blocks still aren’t the nicest place to live, but now at least, for the first time in a long time, the people there have a real shot at turning things around.
And for me, the fact that you got to help some vets in need along the way is what makes the whole thing really special. I think Doormat would be touched by this legacy you’ve built in his honor.
Mixer: I hope so.
Now, if you were as moved by Mixer’s story as I was, there’s luckily a way you could help, and one that doesn’t involve moving to the Blocks yourself.
Mixer: Though I wouldn’t say no to the extra hands if anyone does want to come out, the main thing we need is equipment. We have almost no operating budget, and it would make a big difference to us if anyone was willing to donate some armor, weapons or ammo to help our effort out.
If any of you are like me, I know you have a few dented pieces of gear just taking up space. Or maybe next time Skiv does a review and you buy some new piece of kit, instead of selling it or tossing it, you could make a big difference by making sure it goes somewhere it’s needed. We have all the info on our site and to make things even easier, OP.NET has arranged with Covalex shipping to cover the cost of hauling your donation out to Terra.
Mixer: What? You serious, Maynard?
It’s the least we could do for such a great cause.
All right, we need to pause here, but we’ve got a lot more great stuff coming up after the break, including a brand new PsyOps. Care to do the honors, Mixer?
Mixer: Hold your course, OP.NET is active and unfiltered.
Still got it! [/feedquote]