Your sept-boss says that you’re tired of fighting in other people’s companies and want to start your own, and told me to give you some advice. About damn time. Anyway, here’s what you need to know – and these aren’t rules, so don’t think they’re written down anywhere. The Iron Concord isn’t a set of official rules you can game, it’s a set of unofficial rules that can get a real army chasing you if you come too close to the edges, so be warned.
If you want to do merc work anywhere in the Worlds as a “bonded” mercenary, most polities you can base in want you to have a merc license, under some name or other, which costs money and usually comes with some pain-in-the-kveth rules and inspections and other crap. The Empire doesn’t, it just treats you like any other business, but if you want to be considered bonded, you’ve got to buy insurance from some outfit, and they’ll want to inspect you. You can avoid the whole mess if you base out of somewhere like the Rim Free Zone without hiring a bond-board or, Venirek burn you, Nepscia, but then you’re an unbonded merc, and you don’t get any of the little courtesies they save for real mercs, like not shooting you out of hand. Even if they don’t do that, if you’re bonded, you can get paroled and move along if you’ve got a repatriation ticket, but they don’t trust unbondeds to play by the rules.
And speaking of those, don’t ever forget that war has rules, even for mercs. If you even think about breaking the Ley Accords where anyone can see – and someone can always see – they will hunt you down and kill you. And if you get any psych cases on board, I suggest you take ’em somewhere discreet and introduce ’em to a bullet before they get someone looking to do it to you. Being in the killing business is no good reason to go around giving people excuses to take it personally.
Most of your employers will have their own rules they want you to fight by – some of them are fair enough, others’ll get you killed. That’s up to you, and you can usually get away with playing fast and loose with those without anything worse than losing your contract, but read ’em carefully before you start, ‘kay? Or get a good broker.
Ultimate Argument’s the big rakhan in that business. You can work for ’em or not – if you do, you’ll never be short of business, mind, they’ve got contracts and to spare, but some potential employers don’t like ’em much. Too corporate for their taste, and an Imperial starcorp to boot. Just don’t try playing both sides of the field – the Concord is not fond of mercs who try and hide their ownership or their contract history, and while most won’t work for an employer who turns on his mercs, if you lie about that, all bets are off. Too much bad history for it to be otherwise.
Anyway, there’s plenty of work around; everyone hires mercs. Governments, corporations, colonies, shipping lines, interest branches, they all hire, and they’re all pretty safe, and play by the rules. Then there’s privateering, which can be a good way to make money if you can get a letter of marque from a respectable polity. (Be careful if you can only get one from one of the more roguish nations – some navies see those as little more than a confession to piracy – and don’t bother with one from any of the people who’ll sell you one in the Free Zone. They’re just more of the kveth-lakh slash-traders peddle to gullible outies.) Rebellions are a bit more risky, but they’re not so bad by the time they’ve graduated to actual civil wars.
Filibusters too, sometimes, but rebellions, terrorists, black cartels – they’re all hiring, but they don’t play by the rules, they want you not to play by the rules, and so the people fighting them don’t either. However well it pays — and if they don’t kill you to save money — dead sophs can’t live to spend, and it’s hard to enjoy it on the run, too. Leave that for the unbondeds.
Here’s the top two rules. First, stay bought. No-one expects you to die for hire, but they do expect you to fight for the contract that brought you. Break it, however hard the fight or however good the money, and no-one’ll hire you again. Worse, some’ll try to kill you just on general principle. Everyone hates a defaulter.
Even more importantly, remember you’re paid to make war. Don’t ever try making it without being paid, or worse, try to get paid for not making it. The one unbreakable rule of the Concord is that we fight for money, not for loot, not for conquest, and not for extortion. We have a place in the galaxy because our employers find us useful. Mercs who turn pirate, conqueror, or blackmailer stop being useful, and shortly afterwards, stop being.
Don’t get anything shot off you’ll miss, boy. Your mother still has that kalsheklik flame cannon on her wall, and I like my face.
– mor-Lissek Wrokk