In Broker society, wars between corporate entities vying for resources and territory are completely legal, providing that all parties involved abide by Board regulations. The social contract prohibits bodily harm to citizens, which means that these conflicts are fought primarily using autonomous platforms like drones and unmanned vessels so as not to put the lives of any Broker at risk. Such conflicts are usually short and violent, with the two parties fighting until one of them exhausts their resources, cuts their losses, or is forcibly acquired by their competitor.
While some corporations might operate their own small security forces, the bulk of Broker martial power is made up of private military companies. These PMCs fight for the highest bidder, sometimes warring amongst themselves for access to the most lucrative contracts, and whichever corporation can afford to hire the most renowned PMC usually comes out on top.
PMCs operate their own fleets of warships and drone carriers, but whenever drone swarms alone won’t do the job, they deploy more exotic equipment. Hazard Teams get their name from the term hazard pay, which refers to how these ace exosuit pilots sign waivers allowing them to participate in direct combat actions in exchange for generous compensation. Gambling with their very lives for profit in many ways makes them an embodiment of Broker capitalistic values, inspiring admiration in some and disapproval in others.
Each member of a Hazard Team is an elite pilot who has climbed the ranks of their respective company, participating in many conflicts and surviving each one. While some pilots gamble only until they have earned enough money to purchase a nice estate near a reef in which they can enjoy their wealth, others are drawn by the promise of riches and adventure, making long careers out of corporate warfare.
Hazard Teams are responsible for acquiring and maintaining their own equipment, which results in those more accomplished pilots accruing a great deal of powerful weaponry and custom armor. Every exo is unique, being tailored to the preferences of its pilot and the requirements of the mission, with hardpoints for equipping a wide variety of offensive options. These might include gauss guns that accelerate supercavitating projectiles, plasma weapons, micro-missile and torpedo launchers, mortars, and microwave emitters. Many also deploy alongside drones that are tethered to their suits, enhancing their firepower or aiding in the identification and tracking of targets.
Exos are as heavily armored as they are armed, sporting thick composite plating, active protection systems, close-in weapons, and personal plasma shield projectors. The cost of an average Hazard Team exo can range anywhere from hundreds of thousands of equivalent UN credits, to tens of millions, comparable to the price of a Kodiak or a Beewolf.
The vibrant coloration of many Hazard team exos is a tradition that dates back to the Reclamation period, when camouflage designed to help pilots blend into vibrant coral reefs became associated with elite units, gradually becoming more showy and ostentatious as its practical function was made obsolete.
This colorful piece of artwork comes courtesy of our friend Sickjoe.