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Interview Excerpt – Ania “Anvil” Vade
The following is a transcript of a vocal interview with the mercenary Ania Vade, more often known as Anvil, 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.
Thanks for speaking with me today, Ms. Vade. Do you prefer Ania, or Anvil?
For the sake and spirit of the interview, call me Anvil.
Any reason why that’s your preference over your real name?
Easy. I figure there’s a chance at least half the people who’ll read or listen to this here interview might end up on the opposite side of my guns someday, and I want them to remember why I got that name.
And how did you get that name?
Because I don’t break, right? Anvils are solid bits of heavy metal that hammers need in blacksmithing.
Why not go by “Hammer” then?
Because the hammer only works when it’s swinging, and only then into an anvil. The anvil never breaks, and it takes every blow that hammer can give out, on it? So maybe someone out there thinks they’re a hammer. Well I’m the anvil, and I’ve broken hammers before.
That’s certainly a grand claim, Anvil.
No claim, Sammy. You come and push on me, and you’d better be ready to break. So yeah, call me Anvil.
How’d you come by it? Was it a name you were given when you worked with Biotat?
Not even. They wished they came up with it. Didn’t get it in the Peacekeepers either. I got it scrappin’.
As in … street fights?
Street fights, pub fights, whatever. That thing I said about the Hammer?
Well, he was a real person. Called himself that because he could throw a mean punch. Broke himself trying to take me down. After that? Anvil it was.
I see. So now, Anvil, I’d ask you about your past, but it’s a little murky.
Yes. You’ve given interviews before, and you served with both Biotat and the UN Peacekeepers, but before that … Well, one interview seems to think you were, and I quote, “Grown in a lab in an attempt to make the toughest human alive” while another says that you are, and again I quote, “a former mafia leader from Old London who got out after the current queen of England realized you’d never love her back.”
And what do you have to say about either of those highly unlikely stories?
Not my fault they couldn’t keep their story straight.
I see. And if I were to ask you to clear that up?
Well obviously they both got some key details wrong. For example, I was never grown in a lab. My parents found me on their doorstep and adopted me. And the Queen of England was never in love with me. The whole thing’s mistaken. They thought I might be the rightful King, lost at birth. I gave up my claim to the throne, and the UN Peacekeepers seemed like a good idea at the time.
Wouldn’t that be queen rather than king?
See? Everyone’s confused.
Right … So then, the UN Peacekeepers.
Like I said, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Was that a mistake?
Well obviously. I mean, I went to Biotat right after and did a lot better.
What was it you didn’t like about the Peacekeepers?
Well, for starters, I ain’t that peaceful. Come on, I call myself Anvil. You think the Peacekeepers want someone like me in their ranks? No, I washed out good and hard. Wasn’t for me anyway.
The official report says something about flagrant disregard for rules and authority.
And they’re entirely right. Rules for everything, from how to eat to walk and talk and how to wear my hair. They made robots illegal, so they want people to be robots. Not my style.
Some would argue that those rules and that kind of conformity are what make humanity strong.
Look, I ain’t got anything against standing together. After all, that’s kind of how this whole team thing works. But if that means cutting off everyone’s fingers so that everyone shares the same number on their hands, I don’t want any part of it.
That’s a rather barbaric comparison, don’t you think?
Forget who you’re interviewing, Sammy? Or who for?
Still, regulation haircuts feel almost tame in comparison to fingers.
Maybe to you. The way I see it, it takes all kinds to make the world turn. But the moment you start trying to force all those kinds into one mold … well the only people that do that are the ones that get a sick sense of glee out of it.
The UN Peacekeepers don’t force anyone. They’re volunteer.
And I “volunteered” to leave. Maybe it’s for some folks, but it isn’t for me.
Why work for Biotat then?
What, because they were a corporation? I don’t have any loyalty to them. Not any more than I had to the Peacekeepers anyway. I wanted work, I liked a scrap, UN wasn’t going to take me, except maybe to a cell for insubordination.
Your Peacekeeper record notes that you told a superior officer that you were— Well I’ll paraphrase, but that you were going to rip his genitalia off and shove them down his throat so far that when you kicked his “ass” you’d crush his balls.
At the time, it felt perfectly justified. If you’re going to abuse your rank to try and force someone into sleeping with you, then you’d better have a lot of force.
He was cleared of that charge.
Sure he was.
I ended up there before long. I did some small gigs for various small groups after I got dumped out of the Peacekeepers, mostly explosives and demolition work. The fun stuff. Nothing big. Mining. Demolitions. Safecracking. That kind of thing.
One thing led to another and I found myself working for Biotat in a heavy weapons squad, doing demo work on the side.
Was that where you were augmented?
Right right. Leonidas package one-point … two-six.
Why that particular suite?
Toughness and survivability. Same reason anyone used to get a Leonidas.
Boras is more popular, however, and even shared by two of your teammates.
So? They got what they like, I’ve got what I like. I can take a sword to the gut and walk away. My eardrums are self-healing. I can hold my breath for ten minutes, and lose almost half the blood in my body before I pass out. Sure, maybe I’m not as fast or quick as somebody else. But I only need to hit them with one good hit. They’ll need to hit me a lot more than that to take me down.
You’re already in an exoskeleton, though. Doesn’t that already provide a lot of armor?
And everyone knows that. Besides, armor can be broken. That’s kind of half my job.
When you worked for Biotat, or here with Fireteam Freelance?
Both. You want it blown up, torn down, or just filled full of shrapnel, I’m the one you call. Well, as long as it wasn’t a dirty job. They didn’t like it when I wouldn’t do that, but they couldn’t afford to send me away.
What happened when Biotat was taken over?
I split. So did half the crew.
As I understand it, you absconded with your armor as well, which was company property.
Oh, and they tried to come get it too. Good times. Might have been their’s on paper, but that suit is mine.
As I understand it, you’re still wanted in several countries for that.
I know. It makes visiting them really fun. There’s always some hotshot looking to collect.
And if they send something heavier after you? Other exoskeletons? Or heavy armor.
More fun for me. But no, I paid off the armor before I joined Freelance. One of the commander’s requirements. At this point, they’re just holding a grudge.
But if they came for you …?
Last thing they’d do, Sammy. Don’t play rough if you’re not ready for the consequences.
Okay then, so with all … that … in your past, how did you end up on a team like Freelance?
Commander Castillo tracked me down. After Biotat fell, I just kind of went back to my old jobs, doing what I could to keep my armor in good shape and make a living. One night I’m chilling in bar in Shinyanga, I get up to get another drink, I come back to my table, and there’s this woman I don’t know sitting there, wants to talk.
Sounds … theatrical.
Oh, it was. The cloak was a nice touch. Very mysterious. And I figure she’s either there to try and kill me, which means I get to have some fun, or she’s got a job. Turned out to be the latter. No fun, but promise of plenty of fun later.
So we’ve spoken about how you’re experience with UN Peacekeepers was, shall we say, less than successful, and your experience with Biotat was perhaps workable but not perfect. Yet you’ve been with Fireteam Freelance for years now. Are there differences with the way Freelance operates that account for the difference in experience?
Well yeah. Otherwise I’d have bounced long ago. Look, don’t get me wrong, the UN Peacekeepers work. I mean, obviously they do. But that setup they have isn’t for everyone. Some people are really right with a lot of rank and file and orders and strict barriers. Me? I didn’t do so well in that.
So you’re saying you need a degree of anarchy?
Eh, no. More like … give me a mo to think on it.
Take your time.
Okay, I’m on it. Think of it this way: The whole point of the way the UN Peacekeepers do stuff—and the UN, really—is “trust the system.”
What do you mean by that?
Simple. Someone comes up to you and tells you to do something, no matter what, if they’ve got the higher rank than you, you’re supposed to simply trust that they’re right and do it, right? No asking of questions, no clarification, just do what they tell you and trust them that they’re right and it ain’t gonna get you offed. That’s how the UN worked: They tell you, you do it. Doesn’t matter how little sense it makes. You think about it before jumping? That’s wrong, soldier! And bang bang boom, you’re in the hot hot.
And you think that we shouldn’t trust those above us?
Not without proper reason, right? You don’t just listen to any random crouper who walks in off of the street and tells you how to do your job, right?
They’re not random people, though. They’re trained, professional soldiers.
You sure? Some crouper comes up to you with a rank on their shirt and tells you to do something? Look, the rank is a symbol of trust, you on it? But what if you don’t trust the rank?
So you’re saying that your difficulty with the UN Peacekeepers was because you didn’t trust them?
In a way, right. They’d tell me to do something, but I didn’t trust they knew why they were telling me to do it any more than I did. And most of the time I was right. Or they knew why they were telling me to do it, but it sure wasn’t for good reason they could explain.
So yes, you didn’t trust them.
They didn’t earn that trust, right? They just took it for granted. I don’t work like that.
They earned a bit more trust, but they also expected less trust to just be given and asked for it proper. You could ask the crouper you were working for “why” without being confined to quarters for insubordination. Now, there was still stuff I disagreed with there, but Biotat was more open about my expression of it.
So you have problems with authority?
Now you’re sounding like a crouper, Sammy. No, I have problems with people that assume they have authority over me and act on it with no reason other than “because I do.” You want absolute obedience without question? Fight your battles with drones. Don’t try to make a drone out of a thinking, breathing person. What’s the point of that? You’re taking away all the reasons we’re human in the first place.
So then, what makes Fireteam Freelance different …?
It’s how we’re treated. When Commander Castillo walked into that bar and started talking with me, you know what the first thing I suspected about her was? That despite whatever she was selling or buying, she respected me as a person. I wasn’t just some inferior individual who was expected to do what I was told. I was a person who could think and reason.
You can’t have everyone thinking for a whole military force though. It’d be anarchy.
I’m on that. But look, you go back into history and look at those big armies in the past, and they respected the people above them. They earned their place, and when they told a soldier what to do, that soldier knew that person was considering who they were and how they worked. As me, I need that. A small team can do that. Fireteam? They do. Trust is a big part of how we work, on it?
I think so, ye—
Hey, and I don’t want to hear that I’m on the team just because we’re a bunch of anarchic hotshots. That ain’t it. Castillo came to me, respectfully, and spoke with me. She understood that I liked to know the bigger picture before I went in, and that I didn’t like doing things for people I didn’t trust for reasons they wouldn’t explain. Her, I trust, and she always gives us as much of a reason as she can give.
Prime. What’s next?
Well, I’ve already talked with your squad leader about the unusual composition and command chain of your group, so I was thinking we could talk about your armor instead.
Oh so on it. What do you want to know.
Well, let’s start with make and model.
Shosha Robotics Astra mark three. Heavily modified, of course.
Three questions: why Shosha, why Astra, and why a mark three?
Shosha makes pretty good tech. They’ve been around for almost a hundred years now. Their suits can take a beating, but they’re not like some other manufacturers that go for stripping the armor down in the name of survivability and just piling more armor on. As for why an Astra, and why a mark three, that’s because the mark three Astra was the best one they ever made.
Over a four?
The mark four is popular, don’t get me wrong. But you know what it does that the three doesn’t? Locks your loadout. The whole point of the Astra line was that you had a heavy exoskeleton that could be modified for a large number of conditions or situations. You could be ready for however things went hot hot.
The mark four is still modifiable.
Not to the same degree. Part of the Astra’s appeal was the modular adaptive tech integration. You can plug almost anything into an Astra and it’ll make it work. Lose a module after a scrap? Rip one off the skag you just killed and take it! The armor’ll almost always get it to work. That’s why people loved it. Prefer a module that isn’t Shosha or their big boss? Stick it, shoot it. But the four’s rolled that back. Not prime. Now it’ll work as long as it’s from the big boss corp.
So you chose not to update to the four.
On it. A bit risky, yeah, but the four’s new. I’ve got time to decide what to replace it with.
You’d replace it simply for being an older model?
Maybe. Suit’s as much the hardware as the software. You stop updating the software … Things can get dicey.
You’re worried about information warfare.
Your mag reviews cybersecurity modules. It’s a thing. But past that, Astra did have to stay fairly up to date to keep up with being able to work out most other company’s modules. If that goes away …
Why does that aspect appeal to you so strongly?
For the boom boom, Sammy! No, really. My “official” role on the team if you can call it that, is heavy weapons and demolition.
You do have a reputation for liking the boom.
Prime. Yeah. But there’s a lot to that. If we’re going on an op, do I want to bring a heavy missile module or a mortar? Maybe grenades? Autocannon? Countersniping package? Anti-armor weaponry? ECM? Yeah, Shosha’s parent company makes most all those things, but what if I like someone else’s better? Or need to use one in the field? It’s just us out there, so I need to be ready.
A good point. Perhaps Shosha is being overambitious with its scaled back modularity in the mark four?
Oh, I’m sure the people working on it know that.
So, what’s your most common loadout then, when you’re on an op?
Probably an MMR. There’s not a lot of situations where a good MMR will steer you wrong, on it?
Any particular model you prefer?
Titan’s, actually. It’s pretty dependable.
Okay, how about your favorite loadout?
Boom boom! All the boom boom! Hah! No really. I’m all about the boom. A Titan MMR is nice, but I think one of my favorites is just a good old-fashioned autocannon. Twenty-millimeter. Explosive ammo. Especially one with a variable fuse, so you can airburst? So heavy, but so much fun.
You have one, don’t you?
Hell yes I do! Three, actually. The roar when that thing lets loose is just beautiful.
A girl’s gotta have spares, on it? That isn’t entirely true, but it’s not that far off. Two are short-barrel and magazine fed, one’s long-barrel and drum-fed. Both from the same manufacturer.
Very nice. Now, before we end this interview, there’s one more thing I wanted to ask. You’re a pilot?
More a driver, really. And only unofficially.
Do you perform that role for the team, then?
Only sometimes. Ursa’s halfway decent like me. Usually the only vehicle we have is the VTOL, and that’s good enough on its own or on remote. Plus I’m in my exoskeleton, so I don’t fit easily in most seats. But when the situation calls for it, yeah I can drive or pilot. Sort of.
Any landing you can walk away from is a good one, on it?
Well, I’ll make sure to take a different flight if I hear your voice over the intercom then.
Hey, what’s an aircraft but a very large, kinetic missile?
Given the rest of our conversation, nothing about that statement is surprising to me. Thank you for your time, Anvil.
End of our interview with Ania “Anvil” Vade! 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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