Merc Talk:
The Magazine for All Your Mercenary Needs

Issue 278

Words from your editor:

The latest issue of Merc Talk is here! This time we feature a number of informative and interesting articles, including the much anticipated "Knives: Some of Your Best Friends". This article covers a great way to expand your arsenal (that's weapons for those of you who haven't had much schooling). Our 'fashion' section looks at boots, answering the often asked question of which boots are best for kicking the shit out of the Feds. We think you'll be thrilled with the answer (here's a hint: they're serviceable and economical!).  I also think you'll find this month's Merc Talks Money column full of useful advice (after all, if you want good boots and good knives, you need to get paid).

I'm also thrilled to say that this issue we've been lucky enough to draw a very special Mercenary of the Month. Jayne Cobb, best known to mudders everywhere as 'the man they call Jayne', has generously granted us some of his time. We have a great interview with Jayne by our brand-new freelance reporter, Andie Kinkaid. Jayne's also answered some questions about his sex life, and submitted a great Top 10 list, Hints for Keeping Your Aim Sharp.

I'm especially excited to say that Jayne has also consented to answer some of the questions our readers sent in to him, in anticipation of his contribution to Merc Talk. Also, don't forget to check out our fabulous, full colour pictures of Jayne in action (thanks to our intrepid photographers who are willing to go to the field to capture the true Jayne)!

Remember our motto: This ain't no Fed magazine, and we don't got no fancy, pretty pictures. You want straight-up merc talk though, then this is your place.

Good reading, good killing, good profit,

Annie O'Reilly


Mercenary of the Month

Jayne Cobb: A Man of Action


Dear Jayne:
Jayne Answers all your Most Pressing Questions and Dilemmas.

Q: Dear Jayne; I am a young, good looking guy hoping to hook up with a great crew. I ain't had much in the way of luck lately, even getting shot at by my own boss.  I only stole half the goods! It weren't real fair of him to get all antsy like that. Advice?

A: 1) I ain't your 'dear'
    2) I ain't got much to say to someone who only tries to steal half the goods. A real merc goes for the big hauls, doesn't waste his time pissing around with crap.
    3) How good looking are you? I got me a captain who likes his men -- I mean crew -- pretty, maybe if you send a picture I can pass it on. You'll owe me though, and I think you know what I'll be wanting. One warning - he might go and try to space you if you screw up real bad.

Q: Jayne: I got me a dumb-ass merc on my crew and I ain't sure if he'll go and betray me again. I don't want to dump him at the next planet, seeing as how he's awful handy with the guns.   I get this feeling that without him, we're more likely to be humped in a fight.   Any suggestions for how I might keep him under control?

A: A merc who's rutting on a regular basis (and getting a decent cut) don't have much time to be worrying about betrayal. My advice: get your merc laid regular.

Q: Man-ape gone wrong: How is it possible for you to have such good aim? I saw your stats listed two issues ago, and given what I've seen of you, I'm not sure it's possible that you have the brainpower to have such good hand-eye coordination. While I realise that this is partly a function of lower-brain activity, I still don't understand how you can possibly be as skilled as you are. Please elucidate.

A: I don't know what you mean by 'elucidate', but I got a feeling it's something I ain't doing for free. As for your question, I can't be giving all my secrets away now, can I? But, check out this article: Jayne's Top 10 Hints for Keeping Your Aim Sharp.

PS - Doc, is that you? Keep your crazy sister away from my knives.

Q [editor's note: We were going to delete this one, seeing as it makes little sense, but Jayne insisted we include it. We're just not going to argue with a man his size]: Do you know what time is it? Does it make you feel afraid? The stories are all wrong, wrong, wrong, and the hands of blue are dancing, dancing.

A: Gorram retard.

Q: My boyfriend went and got hisself killed by taking a bullet for you.  Now I'm real lonely - there ain't that many gay mudders around, you know. What should I do?

A: I got it from reliable sources that the magistrate's son is a little light in his loafers. Try cleaning yourself up a little and paying him a visit.


A Man of Style!

Jayne in serviceable brown: "It don't show the dirt so fast." He also speaks highly of sensible
gloves: "Recoil can be a real bitch. These babies help my aim.

In every issue: Lookin' Good, Feelin' Good
Killing, Kicking, Walking, Running: You Gotta Have Boots
by Clem Kroberg

Boots. Can't live without 'em and I wouldn't want to. How many times have I thought that? Too damn many to count. Now, some of us ain't real pretty, and in our line of work, that ain't what I'd call a bad thing. Good boots will help with your bad-ass image, and if they're hardcore enough, they might even make you pretty-boy (or girl), scar-free newbies look dangerous (don't count on it though).

I'm going to tell you about two brands of boots I've field tested myself.You know me, so you know what that means: they've been in mud, in firefights, and they've helped me bash in the heads of a few Feds. They've been scuffed, covered in blood, and worn in all manner of temperatures. The field tests have lasted years. I like these boots, and I don't say that lightly.

I got my first pair of PX-520s (Panther) 15 years ago, and I stuck with 'em.
Advantages: Strong laces (need replacing ever 5 years or so - knew that fancy Alliance tech shit had to be good for something); mid-calf height - enough to protect you so from kicks and some rounds of bullets. This ain't your ordinary leather. It's coated with some kind of polymer (don't ask for details, I ain't your personal science-type) that makes it sturdy and resistant to dirt, not to mention some bullets. It isn't hard though, which means hours of walking, running, or standing around waiting for something to shoot is a lot more comfortable. They come with optional steal toe-caps under the leather (I'd take that option if I were you), which are real handy for kicking in heads. Sturdy soles. I'd be half the merc I am if I didn't have these boots.

Disadvantages: A little pricey at the outset, but they last you years. Soles tend to crack in extreme cold, but Panther sells a resealer that's cheap and good.

Sometimes you gotta give your favourite boots a break. That's why I went out and bought some Independents (style No. 267). These babies are sweet and come in a choice of three colours: black, grey and dirt. I chose black (can't go wrong with that). They don't have the fancy Alliance polymer tech that the Panthers have, but the feeling of freedom you have when wearing these boots can't be beat. Only available from a little shop on Shadow, the Independents are triple hand-stitched and made special to your feet. It means you've got to wait around a few days, or make the order and come back to Shadow later. Don't let this put you off. These boots are worth it. The soles are thick but not hard, and the ankle support is the best there is. Plus, when you buy these boots, a portion of the profits go to the Independent War Widow/Widower fund. I know most mercs don't give a crap about charity, but most of us knew someone who died in the war. So why not do your good deed for your life: buy Independents. You'll be doing your feet a favour too.  And we all know that some potential employers were real invested in the Independent side of the war. Wearing Independents sends out a good signal.

Top Five Things I Like About My Current Job
by Jayne Cobb

5. Pretty mouthed doctors, even if they are mighty full of themselves, and are saddled with a crazy sister.

4. My own bunk.

3. A pretty good cut.

2. Tight-pants-wearing captain, even if he does want to kick my ass.

1. Getting to shoot at the Feds and lots of other annoying shit.

In Every Issue: Merc Talks Money
Payday: Making Sure You Get One
by John "Hazard" Cartwright

So you wanna get paid. Don't we all?

But in this business, you're just as likely to get a bullet in the head and kicked into the nearest ditch as to get your hard earned cash. Like I told you in the very first issue of Merc Talks, Never Trust the Money Man.

That's right, maggots. While the other side may be shooting at you from the front, the Money Man is more likely to sneak up behind you and slip it between your ribs. Not only does he want to get rid of any witnesses to whatever business he's been up to (and I'll cover that in another issue) but he'll want to get rid of the expensive hired help. And If you've been reading this column regular, then you gorram well better be expensive!

First, get as much money up front as you can. Most professionals are willing to part with half. If you are dealing with such an individual, then deal straight and do the job. Most times, you'll get the rest of what's owed you when the job is done.

Still, don't let your guard down just because you've got cash in hand. Make sure you stash it in a safe place, preferably in an off-world account.

Now and again, you'll run into somebody who is willing to give you all your money in advance. Think it through and do what you think you can get away with. Just keep in mind that a person desperate or stupid enough to front that kind of money before the job is done is probably capable of anything.

There will be times that you can't get any upfront money. Be particularly careful of this situation. Consider the Money Man's reputation; ask around. A person who hires mercs and don't pay up will find himself in a world of shit when it comes time to get someone to do his dirty work.

But that don't help if it's -your- empty pockets. Consider this: if the guy didn't pay you, you can bet your ass he didn't pay a lot of the other hired help, either. Link up with some other pissed off personnel and launch an independent action against the Money Man. Hell, you might want to do that anyway, even if you do get paid!

There is one more route you can take, and this is probably the most dangerous. When all else fails, think about going over to the other side. Keep in mind that you only recently kicked their ass (if your job was successful) and there is gonna be some hard feelings against you.

But if you've been reading Merc Talks Money all along, you know to have some sugar to sweeten them up. You memorized the layout of the Money Man's compound, right? Got recent passwords and signals? Useful intel on number, types and dispositions of weapons the Money Man has at his disposal? Any weakness in the defense system? Any and all this information will make the other side more inclined to give you a hearing at least.

Still, there's nothing stopping them from taking your intel and tossing you into an unmarked grave for your trouble, so just don't feed it to them all at once.

Everything's a risk and it's your job as a professional mercenary to find the most acceptable risk and exploit it. And it's my job to help you get the most of your career. Good luck and much profit to you.


Up Close and Personal: The Inner Jayne!
By Andie Kinkaid, freelance girl reporter
I was painting my toenails in my fabulous uptown apartment when I received the news that I would be interviewing Jayne Cobb. Immediately, I started to worry about what I'd ask him. I'm a freelance writer, and this would be my first time interviewing a mercenary. After spending two days researching the man on a mud farming moon, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. It's not often that a journalist of my calibre gets to interview a mercenary who has songs about him, as well as his very own statue (oh my, and what a statue it is!).

I got word that Jayne and I would meet on Ariel. Our interview is below, but I have to say that he seemed a little distracted at the time. Still, the whole experience was an awful thrill! We met in a reasonably clean alley, and Jayne sat on an old crate and kindly answered my questions.

Andie: Hi Jayne! Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview!

Jayne: Yeah. Git on with it.

A: Sure thing. Wow, what's that you have in your bag?

J: Nothing.

A: Ok then.  So, how do you like Ariel so far?

J: Passable.

A: You just aren't all that talkative are you? That's ok! I'm just honoured to get to meet you.

J: [looking a bit more friendly] Really?

A: [I'm ashamed to admit I gushed a little bit here] Sure! I mean, you're a legend around some parts. And Merc Talk is thrilled you agreed to be their Mercenary of the Month! Anyway, so can I ask you what you're doing here on Ariel?

J: No.

A:  Oh.  Ok.   How about this?  Let's not talk about what you're doing or anything like that.  Let's talk about you - your hopes and dreams, that sort of thing.

J:  Whatever.

A: Let me ask you this: You won't tell me what's in your bag, but if it could be anything - anything seriously - what would you have in your dream bag?

J: [giving me a confused look]  Aaah.  I guess Vera?

A:  Vera?  Is this the woman in your life?

J:  Nope.  She's a gun.

A: [feeling oddly relieved that I don't have to track down and kill Vera] Super!  Since we're on the subject, what's your idea of the perfect woman? [I'll admit that I preened a little when I asked him this.  It's hard to be professional around Jayne.  And anyway, I'm an attractive girl].

J: Women?  I guess...available?  Kinda like it when they're all fawning and pretty and stuff, but I ain't real bothered with the specifics.  Might be nice if they were clean, maybe.

A: Redheads?  Blondes?  Tall or short?

J: Don't matter.

A:  Anything else?  What kind of woman do you see in your fantasies?

J:  Tight pants.  Nice ass.  Owns a ship.

A:  Ah, so you like a woman with a bit of power. [winking]

J:  Maybe.  Not so much the 'woman' part of it, if you know what I'm saying.

A: [I try not to droop too visibly.  Damn straight I know what he's saying] Let's get back to the bag: What else would be in there?

J: Money.

A: And? 

J: Knives. 

A: I'm sensing a theme here.  What about more personal items?  Things that mean something to you?  Like maybe love letters?  Or memories of an old girlfriend?  Pictures?  Any thing like that?

J: Nope.

A: Huh.  You're a man of little words, aren't you?

J: [glowering] That some kind of insult?

A: No!  No!  Absolutely not.  So tell me, your sartorial choices - are they for fashion or for convenience?

J: I ain't into anything too kinky and weird, girl.  Quit askin' dumb questions.

A:  Aaaaaah...ok.   Oh, I know!  I heard a rumour that you get a kick out of smacking cows?  Is it true?  And why?

J:  I like it.  It's fun.  They make these angry little noises, but there ain't a damn thing they kin do about it.

A:  Oooookay.  I think that's all I have to ask you.

J: Good.

A:  It was great meeting you!  Have fun on Ariel!

J: [walking away quickly].  Might do.

And that was it: my first interview with Jayne Cobb!  Thanks so much, Merc Talk, for letting me have the chance!

[Andie Kinkaid is a freelance writer who does most of her work for high society and fashion magazines.  Her recent article 'The Companion and You: Dos and Don'ts of the Relationship', published in Persephone Fashion and Style Monthly, received a Companion's Choice Award. - ed.]



Jayne: Checkin' out the Scenery: "Gotta always know what's going on around and in front of you."

Pretty women might look at Jayne, but at heart, he's a man's man!

In every issue: Weapons and Such
Knives: Some of Your Best Friends!
by Billy Bannon

It has been said that a sharp edge is your best weapon. I agree, and in this case, we aren't just talking the metaphorical edge. It's all well and good to keep your skills honed and to remember that anyone could be out to kill you. But that's not much use if you don't have a decent set of weapons.

Now I know I say the same thing every issue, but it can't be got around: you've either got decent weapons, or they're all for shit. A merc worth his weight in dead men's ears takes the time to find himself weapons that reflect his talent.

Knives aren't for everyone. And even if you think they might be for you, it's best to decide what you want them for. Throwing? Slitting throats? A little torture? Do you practice skinning? Do you want something that looks showy, or are you in the mood for something more discrete? What about a multi-purpose knife? Is it your primary weapon, or a back-up?

It's best to have the answers in your mind before you go looking for something to buy. Let me tell you: there are a lot of knife dealers out there who either want to fleece you of your hard-earned cash, or who don't know what they're talking about. Check out the end of this article for a few places where they know their stuff.

Personally, I like a couple of knives. They're good for tight spaces, and great when your guns jam up (for tips on minimising this, see the article in issue 176: Guns and Lube: Not Just Part of Your Fantasy Life). If you've got a little more space, a throwing knife is just what you need. If you're in the market for this kind of thing, make sure you try it out first (try not to kill the guy who's showing you the knife). A good throwing knife should be well-balanced and easy to hold. Don't be tempted by anything that looks shiny and fancy. Those pretty jewels throw off the balance, meaning you could end up dead.

If you're in a situation where you can't throw something, you want a gutting knife. These are big, and if you show them the right way, sometimes the other guy might turn and run. Make sure you keep your gutting knife sharp, and don't be afraid to show it off. If you know how to handle it, a good gutting knife makes people think twice about going for you in the first place.

I know that some of you are skeptical about knives. Why bother, when you've got decent guns and good hand-to-hand skills? Here's a little story of mine that might make you rethink your position on our sharp little metal friends.

A couple of years back, I found myself cornered by three Feds. Now ordinarily, this isn't a problem, what with my guns and bulk. Sadly, the Feds were trying out some new fancy tech that disorients a man fast. Before I knew it, I was on my knees and disarmed. Things weren't looking so great, especially since I could barely stand to fight them off. Lucky for me, the Feds got cocky, and didn't bother to check for concealed knives. I was able to pull out a throwing knife, and got one Fed right in his motherfucking eye. He went down screaming (and did it ever sound great), and took his fancy-ass tech with him. Once that shit was off, it only took me a couple of minutes to take care of the other two.  If this isn't a lesson to all of you out there, then I don't know what is. 

Knives: know 'em, love 'em, learn how to use 'em.  Trust me, you won't forget it.

Knife Dealers Who Won't Screw You:

All Things Sharp
Knives and Guns

Independent House of Knives

Patience's Knife Gallery

Living the Knife Life (don't let the dumb name put you off)

Sharper Than Dirt

Jayne's Top 10 Hints for Keeping Your Aim Sharp

(What every merc needs to know!)

10. Remember prison, and how you don't like it none.

9. Remember the Feds are after you, and they got fancier weapons.

8. Know your weapons up close and personal. If you treat 'em right, they won't jam up on you.

7. Your cut is on the line: don't fuck it up.

6. Think of that pretty little doctor in his fancy-ass clothes that make him an easy target. Think about what your captain might to do you if you go and let his pretty doctor get hisself shot.

5. Practice on targets smaller than the pretty doctor in his pretty clothes.

4. Running and shooting: it ain't just a myth. Practice.  Use the cows as targets if you got no other choice.

3. You don't know what position you might have to be in to shoot something. Practice shooting while hanging from ships and walls. Practice shooting while crouching.

2. Good aim needs a steady hand. Guns are sometimes heavy. Exercise.

1. Remember again what the captain might do to you if you go and let his doctor get shot up.

Special Bonus Feature!

Big Guns, Hot Knives and Pretty Mouths: Jayne's Perfect Romance!

Now, we know a bunch of you mercs out there (and any non-merc pansy-asses who read this magazine for kicks) are hot for Jayne. We've got plenty of letters attesting to your desires for everything from a one-hour fuck fest to a couple of years of doing each other while shooting things up and stealing a lot of money. Still, we figure you can't ALL have a piece of Jayne's ass. So, we decided that it'd be useful to provide you all with a few hints about what Jayne's looking for in the sack. We sent him a series of questions, and here are his answers! - ed.

ps - Sorry, this is strictly a G-rated article. You know how pissy our publisher gets.

1)  What do you look for in a bed partner?

Sex, and knowing something of guns and knives - during and outside of the sex.

2) Are you in some kind of relationship right now?

'Relationship' is for fancy-ass core-worlders with pretty clothes and fancy talk. I'm getting some action, that's all you need to know.

3) Readers want to know: are you monogamous?

Nope. I ain't even sure what that means, but I figure no.

4) Monogamy refers to only having one sexual partner at one time.

Like I only do it one other person? Hell no. I got some pretty hot stories about a couple of mudders and me.

5)  Tell us:  Men?  Women?  What?

Don't matter, long as they ain't crazy.

6) What's your favourite fantasy? Where would you go, who would it be? We want to know all the details!

I like a pretty mouth, like thinking about it doing something else other than yapping all the time. Like maybe licking my knives, telling me it's all hot for a little something more. Maybe we're in the engine room, I can smell the oil and he's nekkid, his rich-boy pale skin all chaffed from the metal floor.

7)  What's the most romantic thing you've ever done?

Romance is for little girls.
Once, I didn't turn this guy in to the Feds. Well, I almost did, but then I saved his ass.

There you have it!  Jayne's idea of the ideal romance. It's enough to make us swoon, and a get little jealous of the pretty-mouth rich boy Jayne's got his eye on! Or possibly get a little worried for said boy.


In Every Issue:
Ruttin' and Dyin': Merc Talk Personals and Obits

Jubal Early: You didn't have friends to speak of (too weird, too crazy), but you kept your subscription to Merc Talk updated. We didn't much like you, but we'll miss your money. -- the Merc Talk Staff.

Allen, Richard, Kevin, Jer: I've had many mercs in my service, but you were some of the finest - even if you did manage to get yourselves killed by a soon-to-be-dead Firefly captain and his crew. Allen, Richard: A man couldn't have asked for more supportive and enthusiastic torturing compatriots. Kevin: You were awfully good with a gun. Jer: Never have I had more fun than I did when you'd orally pleasure me as I cut a man's skin off in strips.  You will all be missed. -- Niska.

Me: A sheriff with a chronic yet treatable illness, living on a dump-end colony. You: A lying, stealing Firefly captain. Any chance we could meet again? We could compare guns. -- Lonely Sheriff

You comment on my 'pretty mouth', and I've seen the way you watch me in the kitchen. If you don't make a move soon, I'll be forced to take matters into my own hands. You won't like the results (or perhaps you will). -- More than just a pretty mouth.

We met for a only a few minutes, but your accent charmed me and your hair caught my eye. Any chance we could meet again, my lovely? -- Badger

You: Firefly captain with inadequate engine parts. Me: Captain who shot you in the gut and tried to steal your ship. No hard feelings? I thought you looked real good in those tight pants, and the life of a ship's captain is awful lonely. Maybe we could meet again on neutral ground? No guns. -- Good aim, bad judgment.

Want to place a personal or an obit?  Or do you want to answer one of these
notices? Just contact the Merc Talk staff! It's cheap, it's easy, and
you might get laid (iffin you're not dead).


Merc Talk  is the deranged idea of Ana, aided and abetted (and beta'd) by Ozsaur
The fabulous Ozsaur also contributed Merc Talks Money.  She's
always been good with the money man.

Images: Fox. Those Bastards. Still, pretty pictures.

Home  | Firefly stories