In 2009, a crack Capsuleer unit was made GCC by Concord for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly podded themselves out of a stockade to the Mesybier underground. Today, still wanted by the CCP, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you need towers saved...if you need renters ganked...and if you can afford them them...maybe you can hire...Noir Mercenary Group.
“Space Mercenary”, like “Spymaster”, “Fleet Commander”, and “Internet Spaceship Journalist” is one of those lofty professions to which starry-eyed newbies come into EVE thinking that they could one day aspire. The exploits of the mercenary group Guiding Hand Social Club were some of the first major media coups for EVE; most notably, a situation arose where GHSC took up a long term contract to infiltrate a corporation and destroy it from the inside, walking away with everything that was not nailed down in addition to a fat contract bill. In 2011 Pandemic Legion showed up in the news after taking a contract from the Drone Russian Federation, and played a critical role in eviscerating the old Northern Coalition that had stood for the better part of a decade. More recently, Black Legion took a contract from the CFC and played a sizable role in the outcome of the Fountain War. After all, if blowing up people is fun, blowing up people on someone else’s coin and getting paid for it must be the best thing in EVE.
On the ground, the situation is far less rosy. Much like how American and European manufacturing have been largely priced out of the market by Chinese labor, mercenaries in EVE are faced with the fact that plenty of pilots are willing to shoot people for free as long as they get things to shoot. Calling yourself a “mercenary” is one thing, but being good enough at killing to be paid and make a living off of it is another thing altogether. Once you remove the “mercenaries” who only operate in trade hubs, mess around with instalock T3’s+Tornados on undocks/gates, and groups that have to wardec E-uni to maintain a green killboard, the number of groups that can call themselves mercenaries with a straight face drops down to a mere handful: Pandemic Legion (ex-mercenaries, now happily retired and living off of renter provided pensions) and Black Legion in Nullsec, Exhale. and Surely You’re Joking in WH space, and of course, Noir Mercenary Group, led by Alekseyev Karrde, who also happens to be a prolific podcaster as well as a member of CSM 7.
Of the lot, Noir Mercenary Group <NMG> is perhaps the alliance that stays truest to the ideal of “Space Mercenary”, rather than the “If you are good at something don’t do it for free” approach taken by PL and BL. Noir possess no money moons and no throngs of serfs; the entirety of alliance-level income comes from contracts accepted from customers for services rendered. With no permanent roots, the alliance travels around New Eden, from highsec to lowsec to nullsec, and occasionally even wormholes in the process of earning their bread.
Getting paid to pew
While NMG certainly earns its isk from mercenary contracts, it is a fairly small organization. Unless the name of your alliance ends in “Legion”, hundred billion isk contracts will be a pipe-dream. The majority of jobs NMG handles are in the billion isk range, ranging from bashing structures for a proxy, to harassing a target, to providing additional manpower for a timer. However, every isk that the alliance earns goes straight back into membership in the form of a limited Ship Replacement Program, which only reimburses “Key Ships” (Logistics, Tackle, Boosters), as Alekseyev believes that full ride reimbursements for ships creates pilot complacency, which in turn leads to incompetence and carelessness, traits that are fatal to the all-important reputation of a mercenary group. In line with that ideal, the best killers on an operation are awarded with cold hard isk for their performance.
The process for hiring NMG is fairly simple; you have a problem, you contact Alekseyev, and he names a price based on personal judgment. There is no official guideline for “how much a contract costs”. If you are a repeat customer with good history, the price will be lower. Alekseyev keeps the price of contracts close to his chest, but he assures TMC that NMG charges “the industry standard” for mercenary jobs. However, he was able to provide two specific examples:
During the Fountain War, NMG was hired by an undisclosed customer within Goonswarm Federation to harass TEST and its renters in Delve while the CFC focuses on large battles. The goal was to deny TEST renting income and deny TEST line members the opportunity to rest and recover their wallets when taking a leave from the front lines. In three weeks, NMG destroyed ~100 Billion isk in TEST and NOFKS assets, fulfilling their contract, and picking up a sizable amount of shiny ratter loot in the process. More recently, Ali Aras of SOUND openly hired NMG in their recent rebellion against CVA for the price of 6.5 B, which involved NMG showing up to SOUND timers and harassing CVA formups.