Welcome to an episode interlude for Fireteam Freelance readers! The interlude is beyond the jump to save anyone from spoilers, so hit it to get started! A list of all episodes can be found at the Fireteam Freelance page.
Interview Excerpt – Adah Nay
The following is part two of a vocal interview with the mercenary Adah Nay, currently in the employment of the Fireteam Freelance private military company. This interview was conducted by Samantha Stiles on behalf of Mercenary Monthly, and has been edited for clarity and security purposes.
Samantha’s portions of the conversation will be in bold.
Well, a contract is a contract.
I know, and you’re right. You can push them to the edge, but once you break them …
So how did you pay off your contract?
Well, they tried to break me. Tried to lock me into missions I wouldn’t take.
How’d you pay off your debt?
High-risk combat missions. Every merc group gets them. The kind of mission that no one wants to take because there’s a really high chance you won’t come back.
I started taking all of them.
Any you can talk about?
A few. You know, despite what some would think, they’re not all secret. Just risky. The benefit with them was that I could pick the ones I wanted, and they were always open. And the company couldn’t deny me because they were so high-risk. There was one—you might have heard of it—where a corporate board member’s VTOL got shot down over the Utah desert, in the states, by a bunch of disaffected security forces.
Out near MOAB?
Right. The company ran a risk analysis and decided to pay someone to get the guy out. The security force had a pretty good array of gear, so it’d be a minimal insertion, and if it didn’t work they’d just blow them all away. I took the job. Me and two others. Two of us made it back. But we got in, stole their VTOL, and got the board member out.
That’s how I got out of HailStorm. Risky, dangerous, almost stupid missions.
Interesting choice … Is that what brought you to the attention of Valkyrie?
Commander Castillo? Yes. She was particular about the type of people she was recruiting for the fireteam, I think.
How did she find you?
It wasn’t hard. After I left HailStorm, I went home for a while. A few months, actually. As you might imagine, I suddenly understood why a lot of my family had gone private over the years, switched to a lower-key jobs, or gotten out of things entirely. I didn’t know if I wanted to ask one of them about their companies, or even if I wanted to be a soldier anymore. I actually considered getting on a colony ship and seeing where I ended up. And then one day there’s a knock at the door, and there’s Commander Castillo. She wasn’t my commander then, of course, but she moved like a soldier.
This may be changing the topic only slightly for a moment, but did your family every consider becoming their own private military unit? Certainly it would have made dealing with some concerns more feasible?
It’s been brought up a few times. Certainly joked about. But never seriously considered. The thing is, any good unit is a like a family. When you make it your family, it can be a little too personal.
I see. Too easy to compromise?
Maybe we’re wrong. But while we’re a family of soldiers, I don’t think any of us wanted to make it that much a part of our family. Soldiering together, at the same time, or serving as soldiers, is one thing. When our family becomes the army … Don’t get me wrong, if someone attacked our family directly, it’d probably be a bit like attacking that army, but if as a family we became a unit like that, there’d have to be concessions from every family member on the jobs we took, the work we did, and none of us ever really wanted that to be bound by the family. Or to make the younger children in the family feel like that was the only option or they disrespect the family.
I see. That does make sense. The family respects its members, almost.
That’s a good way to put it. Which, if we’re back to talking about Commander Castillo, is why I listened to her when she came calling.
Because your family respected her?
Well, yes. But also because my mother had invited her in, and clearly respected the woman. Before I found out who she was, there was already a measure of respect. Clearly she and my father trusted this woman, and believed I should speak with her. From there, well, it was only a matter of figuring out why.
Did you know who she was immediately?
No. Not until she mentioned the Valkyries.
You’d heard of them?
Yes, I had. The Valkyries may have been gone, but they were still well-regarded by most, and I knew who they had been. And what had happened to them.
A great tragedy.
A purposeful one, too, don’t forget.
Those responsible for the crime were at least caught and punished.
Or took the fall for it. But you don’t want to talk about that, I’m guessing.
Not particularly, unless you feel it’s relevant to your joining Fireteam Freelance.
Let’s just say that when Commander Castillo introduced herself and I made the connection, I knew she understood how I felt.
A kinship then, that influenced your decision to join Fireteam Freelance?
Yes. To be clear, her background didn’t come up past our introduction. But when she explained what it was she was looking to do, I knew she was telling the truth.
That she was interested in forming a small fireteam that would take jobs that would be not just the kind we could live with, but the kind we’d be proud to live with. The kind of jobs that would make the world a better place. The kind of jobs that no one else could take because the price was too high for a full company, but out of reach of the smaller, one-person operations.
Let’s talk about the size of your team. Fireteam Freelance really is unique in its small size. Or rather, in the amount of logistical support you have for such a small team.
We are, and we fully admit it. It’s entirely due to the funding of Commander Castillo. Most other small fireteams or even single-soldier operations can’t come close to matching the amount of materiel we provide and are equipped with. Most mercenary outfits of our number might have a single, standard VTOL gunship that their entire operation revolves around, or an armored vehicle. Most likely used or surplus from a larger group or private military.
We have a top-of-the-line stealth gunship. We have a fully-automated refit facility for arms and armor. We can manufacture our own alterations to our equipment if needs be. We are, essentially, a team that’s equipped like an elite military unit and sharing the same materiel budget, while being independent.
We can only do that because of Commander Castillo.
Because of the payout she received as the last of the Valkyries.
Correct. We’re a small team with the operational budget and initial funding of a team a hundred times the size of ours.
Is that a contributing factor to your success as a team?
Not so simply no. Yes, it does allow us to be better outfitted than any other team like ours, and yes, that does mean we’re going to come better equipped. But we’re still only a team of four. Where we succeed, or where we fail, is on the strength of our members. Which was why Commander Castillo was so careful in choosing us the way she did.
Do you think that had you turned her down, Fireteam Freelance would be as successful as it is now?
I don’t think it would exist. The commander made it quite clear when she spoke with me that she was speaking with me specifically not just because of my talents, but because of the “moral backbone” I’d shown in how I left HailStorm. It showed a similar kind of honor that the Valkyries had ascribed to. She wanted me. Not someone like me. Me.
Isn’t that selling your teammates a little short? You make it sound like if you hadn’t accepted her offer, Fireteam Freelance wouldn’t exist.
It wouldn’t. As it wouldn’t have if any of them had turned down her offer. The commander wasn’t just looking for anyone. She wanted us specifically.
You were the last member of the team she recruited. You’re telling me that you were so important that she would have dropped everyone else if you’d said no?
I’m saying that all of us were as important. If any one of us had said no, the team never would have come to be.
So she’d have sent everyone home and said “Sorry, can’t do it” if you’d said no?
She would have said “I won’t do it” but close enough.
And you know this how?
Because she told me so. And I trust her. Commander Castillo wanted each of us. Had Ursa changed her mind after I’d said yes and backed out, that would have been it. We wouldn’t have found another Ursa. We simply wouldn’t have been.
After all that effort? She’d simply walk away?
You have met the commander, haven’t you? Do you really find that so hard to believe? She’s a committed woman.
Would you say that commitment has paid off?
I would answer that our track record speaks for itself.
Fair turnabout. Well then, obviously you accepted the offer, and you’ve served as the commander of the fireteam ever since?
Not commander. Squad leader.
And what’s your official rank?
Don’t have one.
Why not? Doesn’t that bother you?
We’re a squad of four, Sam. Who am I going to pull rank on? There’s Commander Castillo, and then there’s the team.
But you’re in command of the team, correct?
I am, by Commander Castillo’s authorization. But we’re a mercenary unit, and a small one at that. Rather than thinking of me as the commander, it’s better to think of me as the senior operative in every operation.
Doesn’t matter. The point is that we don’t have a rank and file system. There’s the commander, and then there’s us. And in the field, the commander’s order is that my role is in guiding the team and taking the lead. So I do, and that’s my official job. If you want to think of that as the traditional role of a sergeant or a lieutenant, then by all means do. But officially I bear no rank. None of us do. We’re just the team. And in the field, the team looks to me to coordinate to our objective.
That’s a very unusual setup.
We’ve already established that we’re an unusual team. And it works for us. Not saying it’d work for everyone. Hell, if one of our members changed, it might completely fall apart. But as small and close as we are, it works.
So you consider yourselves fairly close as a team?
I do. All squads have an opportunity to be close, of course. But there’s only four of us, and we’ve gotten to know one another fairly well over the years. By comparison to some of my earlier squads, I’d say the only people I’ve ever been closer to are my family. And even some of them may not know me as well as the team does.
Interesting. How does that translate to an operation, then?
We know our roles and we trust one another to get them done. If I assign Owl to take a target at a certain moment when Ursa, Anvil, or myself does something, I trust that she will. And if she engages earlier or later than I asked, I trust that it’s because she noted something I wasn’t aware of that she didn’t have time to tell me about.
Has your team always operated on such a high level of trust?
Not always. Trust takes time. We weren’t always the team we are today. We’ve had to learn to trust one another like everyone else. When I first met Anvil, she and I didn’t hit it off initially. In fact, there were times when I wanted to pound her smug face in. But … that was on me, not her. Well, my end of it anyway. Anvil’s an interesting sort. But I learned, and we both realized we had one another’s backs when it counted, and we learned to trust one another.
All right then. As the leader of the fireteam, what advice would you have for other squad leaders out there that want to see the kind of cohesion you have?
Hmm … I’d say that you get what you put into it. Sure, we’re a well-equipped team, but we’d be effective even if we didn’t have that equipment because we all trust one another. I trust my squadmates, and I put myself on the line for them. Because of that, they do the same. You still need good squadmates to make that work, and I know especially if you’re in a more official military unit, you don’t always have a say in who you get or why. But if you always know your team will be at your back like you’re at theirs, you’ll go a lot further than you will if you’re always thinking you’ll be out there on your own. I held that hill it Recife because I trusted my squad, and they trusted me. We went into the breach together.
Thanks for your time, Adah. We look forward to seeing what Fireteam Freelance accomplishes next.
You’re welcome. Enjoy your interviews with the rest of the squad.
End of Interview Excerpt #2. Be sure to subscribe for more military news delivered to your feed each day from Mercenary Monthly, a subsidiary of Icon News Media.
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