The Merc
"Gun for hire."

Supporters of the no-holds-barred Cestus merc call them guardians. Detractors call them thugs and criminals. But everyone calls the Cestus when someone has to do the dirty work.

The use of Ulster technology began on the Moon. The unpressurized mines there were dangerous hellholes of cosmic radiation, crumbling moon rock, and deadly tunnel cave-ins. To allow workers to survive there, technologists invented a nanotech "second skin" that was the ancestor of the Ulster, and the first people to use the Ulster extensively were the miners who burrowed in the moon.

The Lunar Penal Act transferred all criminal prisoners from the world's jails to the Moon for sentences of hard labor. Here, convicts performed hard, unrewarding work that was impossible for robots to do at the time. The EGS created huge prison mines that became infamous for their deadly accidents and deadlier criminal miners. Even Vanguard troops were hard-pressed to police the worst that Earth could offer. Prison gangs formed, ones that threatened the jailers as much as their rivals. So the EGS put the gangsters to work by making them Cestus Merc Trustees.

The Cestus Merc program was originally designed as a way for these criminals to earn their freedom on the backs of their fellow prisoners. If a Trustee survived long enough, and kept their mining zones quiet enough, he or she would be eligible to become a Cestus Merc. Mercs gained a measure of freedom on Luna or might be sent on other assignments in the Solar System; particularly useful Mercs might even be granted a pardon.

The first Mercs had a tough time fighting against the prisoner gangs. The famed Trustee William "Loader" Johnson is regarded as the Cestus who broke the back of the Lunar prison gangs, personally confronting each gang boss and crushing them with his twin Loader Claws. He went on to be the first Cestus Merc to leave the Moon on assignment and subsequently earned his pardon in the Grange Wars. Over time, enough Trustees survived to become the fearsome custodians of the Moon that we see today.

The Cestus Mercs are a private corporation that has three main businesses: penal operations on EGS contract, Lunar mining concerns, and paramilitary mercenary operations. Deep ties with EGS senators and Consortium bigwigs ensure their continued monopoly on penal guardianship while they pursue their Lunar mining and other shady operations on the side. For non-penal assignments, the Cestus are usually hired by the EGS and other organizations (like various Consortia or Syndic subgroups) as muscle for bodyguard, transport, or paramilitary operations that are either too 'hot' to be handled by official military personnel or are activities that the Mercs' employer wants kept quiet. The Mercs are careful to take only legal or mostly legal assignments - none of them want to find themselves in prison again.

Syndic Champion: Zak-9
Zak-9 was originally a Sleeper, put into suspended animation in the hopes the future could cure his inoperable brain tumors. He was cured, but had to pay for his treatment. Working off his debt to the EGS, he grew tough and strong in the mines of Luna, and became a champion zFighter using Cestus equipment. His quest to find his sister has motivated him to higher and higher levels of training and prowess, to the point where he is now one of the most feared opponents in the ZGXL.

Cestus Strongpoints:
Cestus Merc Trustee Training Facility (Luna),
Cestus Station (Geosynchronous Mars Orbit),
Cestus Security Tower (Africa, Earth),
Lunar Penal Headquarters (Luna),
Dreadnought Flagship Fist of Fury

Base of Operations: Cestus Security Tower

Sphere of Operations: The Cestus operate all criminal detention facilities on the Moon and Inner System, excluding military prisons, under contract for the EGS. They are also commonly hired by the rich, powerful, and famous to provide security services for valuable people, places and things. Covert operations for corporate or military clients are performed with no questions asked, though the Mercs are not subtle and are usually hired to quell insurrections as opposed to assassination or acquisition assignments. They also maintain a small fleet of spacecraft for use in transporting prisoners and for paramilitary operations, including a Dreadnought class warship, the Fist of Fury.

Relations Analysis:
Hostile: Cartel, Mavryk, Mummer, Trancer, Thesper, Virago
Rival: Androgyne, Exotic, Lunar, Monzon Ezut, Null Foundation, Skrag, Terran
Friendly: Armada, Avatar, Exarch, Omniclone, Orbital, Paragon, Protostar, Savant, Sleeper
Ally: Freaker, Consortium, Solon, Vanguard

Power Levels (1-10)
EGS Influence: 5
Firepower: 7
Respect: 8
Renown: 5

Syndic Drives: Force, Pride, Resolve
Syndic Flaws: Despair, Shame, Stubborn
Syndic Skills: Alertness, Body, Command

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