A Death Merchant is a projecting mercenary or assassin-for-hire that appears in Orpheus. Although Death Merchants have a loose confederation and contact network, they exist outside of an established organization. Most learned their skills on their own or through other establishments, such as the military. Death Merchants are in the business for the money, the thrill of the hunt, or both. All Death Merchants are skimmers, have access to sleeper technology, or are already dead and spirits of hues themselves. The last category of Death Merchant is particularly dangerous, as spirits and hues can operate fully outside of the law with no repercussion.
After the Orpheus Group fell and Terrel and Squib was nearly destroyed, the Death Merchants became quite popular alongside NextWorld as hired projectors and spirits. Part of their appeal lies in their cheaper services and their disposible nature; however, as they lack an organized support structure and sense of unity, jobs are botched when temporarily partnered Death Merchants turn on one another. Some Death Merchants, usually that were part of the same organization prior to their new career or those who are members of the same family, do form small cells that work efficiently together. Death Merchants are mostly American, and those that tend to become Death Merchants usually have a background of violence; they include neo-Nazis, gang members from inner-city slums, and extremists and militants from all over the country.
While they are loosely organized, most Death Merchants work with similar methods, which include contact by anonymous means, weeks of studying a target and killing them by untracable means. Legend has it that any Death Merchant can be identified by a tattoo of the Grim Reaper underneath their left eyelid; this appears to be more a rumor than anything. Only those eager beavers who believe in an organized, secret-society version of the Death Merchants tend to get it, so its presence tends to weed out the poseurs and wannabes from those with dedicated experience.
Ironically, one of the Death Merchants' first major jobs came around with the destruction of Orpheus. The National Security Agency hired a group of them to go into the Orpheus mainframe following NextWorld's own hired attack and destroy the data there. They were hoping to cover up the evidence of their involvement in Project Flatline; unfortunately, the Death Merchants did not do as good of a job as the NSA would have liked and their secrets spilled out anyway.
- , 134-137