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[] OP.NET: Branching Out

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Independent News for Independent Mercs



A good merc is always ready for anything, and being ready means having the best intel. That’s where we come in. Welcome back for another round of OP.NET, the only merc show on the spec that’s as informative as it is unsanctioned by the Guild. I’m your host, Conva Maynard, and as always, I’m darn proud to be officially unofficial so that we can provide you with unbiased insights, opinions and reviews.

Speaking of, Skiv has got a bit of deep dive lined up for later on in the program. He went full gun nerd on us and actually did statistical comparisons on most of the major manufacturers who make energy cells. This ain’t your normal range analytics, either. In fact, you may think Skiv has gone off the deep end once you see the tactical trial that he went and set up using an Arclight II. I’ve always favored Clarkson myself, so I’ll be real interested in seeing if switching to the pricier Joule packs makes much of a difference. That’s coming up later. First though, it’s time to take a look at the Job Board.

These are current op vacancies that we source directly from various contractors we have connections with. We do our best not to feature anything that we don’t feel is solid, but situations are always in flux, so make sure you vet the job for yourself before taking on any work. If you’re interested, all the pertinent contacts and details can be found on our show page.

That said, first posting is a recovery raid out in Gurzil. Some proprietary tech was taken from an independent research vessel doing scans. They got hit by an unmarked Prowler, but luckily they had enough scanning equipment left on board to do all the tracking work themselves. They hunted the bastards down to a makeshift camp on some desolate rock. Now all that’s left is to hit the culprits before they can unload the goods. From the funds the research outfit is offering, I’d say it’s a prime job for a three-person crew — one up, two down. Bright side is the researchers are being smart here and not looking for justice or anything. All they’re after is their property returned, so sounds like a stealth run could work well.

Next up, we have an offer from the Odyssa Trade Council, who are looking to add some additional protection along the shipping lanes from Borea to the Magnus-Terra jump. They’ve had a bit of an uptick in business recently and surprise, surprise, some bunters have decided to try and take advantage of that. You’ll be coordinating under their militia forces to patrol the area and keep haulers safe. I recommend this one for those of you who enjoy spending a lot of time stuck watching traffic flows.

Last, we have an offer from Eckhart Security. They’re looking to bring on a few extra hands to retrieve black boxes and clear out insurance claims near Crusader — specifically, someone who’s comfortable with zero-g’s and tight spaces to actually navigate the wrecks. Stuff like this is usually pretty tame work, but sometimes you come across the scavs still picking the ship clean and things tend to kick off pretty fast after that. So, it’s like all merc jobs — safe until it’s not.

There is one more unusual thing about that last job. The man who offered it is actually our first guest today.

He’s an independent operator who has managed to take his skills and know-how and turn them into a bustling security outfit. I know a lot of you out there are interested in taking that next step and engaging larger contracts, so we asked Miles Eckhart of Eckhart Security to come on in and share his own experience transitioning from solo missions to managing a full team. Thanks for being here, Miles.

MILES ECKHART: Yeah, well, it’s not everyday someone asks to interview you.

Okay, let’s start easy, why don’t you tell us how you wound up in this line of work.

MILES ECKHART: My story’s a lot like everyone else’s. Got out of the Army and was looking for a quieter way to make a living. Always loved electronics so decided to try to do something with that, but after months of studying and interviewing, when I finally landed a job, it turns out I was bored to tears. Meanwhile, this friend of a friend had been inviting me to go work merc contracts with him, and since I was getting pretty jumpy in my office work, I finally cracked and said yes to an escort op. Figured why not. It worked out pretty well, so I stuck with it.

So, I’m gonna ask the big one next, why did you never join the Guild?

MILES ECKHART: The Guild works for a lot of people. Provides a safety net, you always know where to look to get your bread buttered. Worked with a lot of people over the years who went on to earn their cards.

That was a political answer if I ever heard one. Can see why you’ve been in business so long. That’s why other people joined the Guild, but what about you?

MILES ECKHART: For me, I just didn’t want to join another Army. For the first time in a long while I was living by my own rules, and I wanted to see if I could make that work. Good or bad, at least I knew the choices were mine.

Very good, I’d say. According to my notes here, Eckhart Security has over a dozen full-time staff and even more contract workers. How did you go from being a contractor yourself to running a team?

MILES ECKHART: I was working insurance claims out on the fringe of Nyx. Sort of became my specialty. Once I began earning a bit of a name for myself, I started to have more offers than time. I was always taught never to turn down work and the last thing I needed was to feed my competition. I figured if I could find someone looking for work, they could piggyback off my good rep and we’d all come out ahead.

So you weren’t looking for a partner?

MILES ECKHART: Nah. Like I said, I like being the one calling the shots. Maybe it was the Army discipline stamped into me, but with this kind of work, it just makes more sense that there’s always a single voice at the end of the line saying yes or no. People might not wanna admit it, but I think there’s a comfort in having someone else make that call. Bringing on a partner just muddles the message. Plus, your people are only as good as their last job. It’s better to be able to adjust your team as you see fit and not have to run it by anyone else. Someone has a bad op, you let them go. That simple. This is dangerous work we do and second chances aren’t really worth it. A lot of people like the idea of treating their teams like family, but as far as I’m concerned that’s just a good way to end up with a lot of dead family.

I know for a fact we are going to get some comms about that piece of advice, but it’s a great point. Sometimes being in charge means making hard decisions, and things can definitely get a whole lot messier when feelings are involved. Take it from someone who did a contract with his brother one time and swore to never do it again.

All right, time for us to take a break. When we come back we’ll talk more with Miles Eckhart and learn how he assesses a potential new hire. You’ve got some tips on that too, right?

MILES ECKHART: Yeah, a few.

And there is still that energy cell breakdown from Skiv to look forward to, so make sure you stick around for more OP.NET right after this.

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Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. - Lord Acton
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. - Rhett Butler

I am the Law. - Judge Dredd

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