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 – Zhang Li
The following is a transcript of a vocal interview with the mercenary Zhang Li, or Li Zhang to those of western culture, 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.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Ms. Zhang.
Thank you. Do you have a particular moniker you prefer to go by, or …?
Zhang is fine.
Very well. Zhang it is. Now, you’ve been with Fireteam Freelance the longest, correct?
Did Valkyrie come to you first?
I was with Commander Castillo long before she formed the fireteam. Several years longer.
A relative or friend?
Let’s go with friend. The commander pulled me out of the gutters of the Dragon Bloc when I was a kid. Long time ago.
You grew up in the Dragon Bloc?
Not so strange. Even after the collapse, there’s still a lot of people living there. Billions.
Is there actually an official number, or …?
Not a correct one that I know of. Sure, the provisional government gives an official census number, but if you’ve been to the Dragon Bloc you know they don’t count everyone. They can’t. Half the old infrastructure is still in shambles, there’s half-completed megascrapers filled with squatters, gangs, and even regional warlords that aren’t counted.
How does that work with your identity, then?
The commander got me an official one when she pulled me out of the gutter. Before that, the only identity I had was the name the street gang I was in gave me. Wayu.
It means “crow.” I was a lookout. You know, keep an eye out for the paps, warn—
People’s Armed Police. Holdover from the last government, serving under the provisional government. Most people still call them “paps” because it’s a simple acronym.
So you were the lookout if the police arrived.
I was. But not if they arrived. More if they looked serious or like they’d be a problem.
Can you explain that a bit more?
Sure. The paps are a shadow of what they were before the collapse, at least according to what I know. Before the collapse they were in essence a second military force. Under the provisional government, they don’t have the funding or the organization like they used to. The paps you see on some days might have batons to beat you with, or rifles. They might look the other way if the crime isn’t that important, like quiet theft of food … or they might shoot you. Or they might shoot you and then claim what you were about to steal as their own.
So you needed to know them or be able to read them.
Basic survival in the Dragon Bloc. You piss off the wrong paps, and you might end up dead.
So your job was knowing which was which.
Yeah. Not an easy life. Or a good one. But at the time … It was all I had. I’ll forever be in the commander’s debt for pulling me out of that.
How’d you meet her?
Chance. She was in the Bloc after the incident. Why I don’t know. I don’t know if she was looking that day for something or someone … and I’ve never asked. But she spotted me being a lookout—I guess I was pretty obvious to her—and … Well, long story short, she got me out of there.
Do you miss it?
I’ll admit I hadn’t expected to get onto this topic, but … Have you ever thought about going back and trying to help?
The Dragon Bloc? You mean fix it? Sure. I guess I’d start with the toppling of the UN.
But the UN—
Pours billions in aid into the Dragon Bloc each year? Sure. They also made the Dragon Bloc. They caused the collapse to check a threat to their power. And now? They keep it that way. The Dragon Bloc has been under a provisional government for how many decades now? They keep saying they’ll set up a proper government and let the people govern themselves, but it’ll never happen, because then the Bloc would be out from the UN’s control. And the UN like it this way. For the UN it’s a steady supply of social power in the media, a reminder of what the world will look like if the UN can’t help. They want the Dragon Bloc to stay just as it is: poor, destitute, and always struggling.
Let’s talk about something else.
Ah … Alright. What’s your preferred loadout on a job?
Depends on the job. Most of the time I prefer a rifle, but if we’re going in for close work I’ll bring a carbine.
Any particular make or model?
Depends on what we go up against. Usually I’ll bring a V19-Lance for straight sniping and overwatch, or a V23-Spear DMR if we’re going to be a bit closer.
V19 and V23 … That’s …
Valorous Arms, yes. Pretentious name, but I like their designs.
Do you use their carbine rifle as well? I think they make one.
Actually, I don’t. I use an Aeroline Ranger.
Yes. They make a very good carbine. Tough, durable, and very dangerous. Kicks a little hard, but that’s true of most carbines that are worth using.
What about your suit?
Nothing out of the ordinary. Low-profile panels. Thrusters. Countersniping package. Spotter drones.
Plural? More than one?
You ever shot a sniper’s spotter out of the air? I have. It helps to have two.
Fair enough. Are they independent or …?
They’re both integrated into my suit. Easier than dealing with trying to lug around independent drones or leaving them behind by mistake.
All right. Well, one last question: What do you think of the current debate over energy weapons for snipers?
I think you should use the best tool for the job. If that’s a heavy laser, and it does the job best, then that’s what you use.
Thank you for your time.
[Zhang departed without a further word.]
End of our interview with Zhang Li! 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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