By Gregg Giles
The mercenary units listed below are all based in areas of space controlled by humaniti, but there are a plethora of non-human units that exist in known space.
In 1107, a group of five Imperial citizens crossed paths on Trin/Trin’s Veil. Through some bizarre quirk of fate, each had the same purpose in mind – find new business partners for a mercenary organization. The abilities of these individuals to gather equipment and funding for the organization were surprising. By 1108, Sapphire had already established a small base in a remote region of Trin.
The five soon formed the “Big Five”, the command structure for the fledgling Sapphire. These five were: Dutchess Colonel Kimberely Angelen (retired Imperial Marines), Anduril Pivani (retired Imperial Marines), Michael Dialto (retired INS), Sirhan Minera (IDES), and Traltha Pyramus (former Trin Chief of Police).
The initial forces employed by Sapphire were the remnants of other defunct units. It didn’t help that much of Sapphire’s staff came from a unit forcefully disbanded by personal order of Emperor Strephon himself, allegedly for attacking on of the Emperor’s vacation retreats (all the leaders of the unit were executed by the remainder of the personnel were released). Because of this inherited past, Sapphire was in an unfortunate position – small, broke, and staffed by renegades. Sirhan Minera’s former position with the IDES allowed Sapphire to surreptitiously obtain classified data on the operations of other mercenary units and intelligence agents in the Spinward Marches.
After the IDEA discovered Sapphire’s break-on at Trin IDES office, Sapphire’s Trin base was attacked by commandos intent on destruction of the facility; the attack was repulsed. Later that same year, Sapphire absorbed the Omega Seven unit from Trin, which was staffed largely by retired military personal or active reservists. When the Zhodani initiated the Fifth Frontier War, fully half of Sapphire’s personnel were reactivated by the Imperium.
In 1109, Sapphire was hired by a powerful merchant to drive a growing pirate influence from Trin’s Veil. Sapphire’s losses were astounding – nearly 65% of the assault force was destroyed or immobilized, and Traltha Pyramus was killed. Soon after, Anduril Pivani left the organization. As the unit tried to recoup from its losses, commander Angelen was indicted on espionage and other charges, and subsequently commited suicide. No doubt, the IDES was involved.
Today, only two of the five remain with Sapphire. Sirhan Minera is the new commander, with Michael Dialto as his vice-commander. The unit has maintained an extremely low profile in recent years, but it is continuously building its forces and actively employed along the Imperial frontier. Some Sapphire elements have been seen in combat against invading Aslan forces. Sapphire facilities now exist on Trin (3235), Katarulu (3032), and Murchison (2935). Plans for a Robin (2637) outpost were dropped when the system fell to the Aslan.
Perhaps the best known unit from the Sword Worlds is the Death’s Head mercenary unit. Established during the Third Frontier War in 980, Death’s Head has managed to maintain a flawless reputation dating back to 1086, having always successfully performed every mission to their client’s satisfaction.
In 1099. DHU (Death’s Head Unit) took part in a raid on Winston/Darrian (0620). Drop-forces had established themselves on the surface when a Darrian patrol squadron from Stern-Stern arrived for a routine patrol. After receiving a distress call, the Darrian forces closed on Winston and quickly deployed a marine contingent. A brief orbital battle ensued in which half of the DHU dropships were brutally mained. 38 hours afterwards, DHU forces were ready to admit defeat. Unexpectedly, DHU support ships broke out of jumpspace on the edge of the system. With marines on Winston and starships coming in, the Darrian commander had to decide if he’d support the marines or deal with the starships; the Darrians would take on the starships. In the ensuing battle in the Winston high atmosphere, the Worlders inflicted heavy damages and dispersed the Darrians. The DHU drop troops were quickly evacuated and the ships fought their way out of the system.
Since 1100, the Gram government has subsidized DHU. DHU shock troops are amongst the finest in the Confederation, and are often used to resolve hostage and hijacking situations.
Honor and loyalty are expected from each member of the unit; instead of taking oaths to the government, members pledge their lives to the defense of the people of the Sword Worlds, which has made them an integral part of the Sword Worlds defensive capabilities, and in fact an important psychological component of the Spartan-like Confederation. As Worlders are raised to be honorable and stoic in the face of pain, DHU personnel rarely whine or complain; those that do are harshly reprimanded or even imprisoned for cowardice.
According to intelligence sources, DHU has bases on Gungir (1221), Gram (1223), Narsil (0927), and Asteltine (0931) in District 268. Bases lost since the Fifth Frontier War include Winston (0620) and Sacnoth (1325). Shock troops are stationed at the starports on Tizon (0922) and at DHU installations on Ator (0729) and Faldor (1131). Before the Imperial occupation of the Border Worlds, total unit manpower was estimated at 8,000. Today, the number is unknown.
Financial support is provided mostly through governmental subsidies. Revenues from missions alone are barely enough to cover expenses, so Gram’s contributions are critical to DHU’s survival. At present, DHU is being reorganized.
This unit also finds its roots in the years of the Third Frontier War. It was established in 979 by an agreement between two firms, Dorea Standard Products and Magge Zihkuran, LIC. When both formed were faced with the possibility of losing all their investments on Utoland (1209/Marches) to the attacking Zhodani, they formed Magdorea. In return for protecting corporate facilities, Magdorea received substantial cash payment and ownership in both companies. Although the new unit acted in good faith, the companies had no intention of making good on their agreement when the danger had passed. In 980 when the Zhodani approached, Magdorea evacuated to Regina in the face of insurmountable odds, leaving the facilities exposed.
Upon returning to Utoland in 986, the companies found their installations largely intact, and soon after Magdorea returned demanding full payment for their services. Backed by a new mercenary contingent, the companies refused, and heavy fighting quickly erupted. When the smoke cleared, a superior Magdorean force was in full control of the heavily damaged facilities. With the threat of Magdorea attacking other facilities looming, Dorea Standard and Magge Zihkuran agreed to ceded control of the lucrative Utoland facilities as payment in full.
Today, the main Magdorean installation is near the city of Fringe on Utoland’s main world. A smaller base exists on Trmous Dex (1311). The new Federation of Arden licenses Magdorea, but it doesn’t enjoy as much operational freedom as do other Arden mercenary units. Arden secretly fears Magdorea’s capacity to hinder the Federation’s expansion, and has installed undercover agents within the unit to report their activities.
Gemidaaskada-Zhulk is more of a business conglomerate than a mercenary unit. Although its roots were purely mercenary, its growth came through shrewd financial investments to fund paramilitary activities; in time these investments transformed the unit into a lucrative business. Based from Gemid (1903) in Vland and founded during the youth of the Sylean Federation, Zhulk is nearly 850 years old. It received a great deal of business from the Federation during the Pacification Campaigns, and a strong leadership combined with wise mission choices helped Zhulk develop into a powerful force in Vland.
From time to time, Zhulk purchases smaller units in the sector te same way that a business franchises itself; all 24 subsidiary units bear the Zhulk name and are directly responsible to the parent unit as military units would be. The corporate headquarters are in an ancient complex of vast size; it features an extensive military history library, a unit museum, and an efficient and effective paramilitary relations section that handles all legal issues and relationships with various governments. Unlike many mercenary organizations, Zhulk has its own superb naval tactics school for its own pilots and naval commanders, and has been known to produce renowned career naval offices for the Imperium. Among those notable officers is Fleet Admiral Nishguma Dirat, who used his fleet to overwhelm and devestate a superior force at the Second Battle of Spinport (2806/Vland).
Zhulk has also expanded into trade and commerce in the last 30 years. Zhulk’s strong relations with many Vargr factions within and beyond Vland have allowed it to gain special trading and operational privileges within the Vargr Extents. Over its eight century history, Zhulk has amassed a 200 ship fleet for trading and military operations (60% commercial, 40% military). Although most ships are in the sub-1,000 ton range, it does have a few ships in the 20,000 ton range. Because of its excellent relationship with the Imperial government, in times of need, Zhulk has made its resources available to the Imperium to show continued goodwill, not to mention encourage continued tax breaks.
The seperation of the Vland sector from the Imperium has hurt Zhulk. Slowly it has had to close and consolidate many of its bases. Officially, Zhulk is in complete support of the Ziru Sirka, but most leaders simply hope for an end to the struggles and a reestablished peace. The current Zhulk leader, Lord Tinakata Daletain has expressed great dismay over the Vargr invasions of the Corridor and Lishun sectors.