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"The day I set my flag down, it'll be over my body or over a nation I believe in."
—Ulysses, Fallout: New Vegas
Usually, when someone fights, it's for a reason. Sometimes it's for patriotism or to fulfill an ideal. Sometimes it's to protect something or someone. And sometimes it's for some sort of compensation.
The motivation of fighting solely for monetary gain is generally not treated as sympathetic. However, when the compensation is more than simply money, that can change.
This group of people lost their homeland and has been seeking it ever since. Perhaps it was destroyed, or they were exiled, or they were on the losing end of a war. Whatever the reason, they want someplace to call home. Preferably their original home, but they might choose not to be picky. And they'll do just about anything for someone who can promise them that home back.
Compare with The Promised Land, which is what the characters in the work will view this future homeland as.
Not to be confused with fighting for your homeland.
Contrast Eagle Squadron, where you have even more idealistic motives.
- The war for the Palace in the last quarter of the original Elf Quest series is an odd mix of fighting for a new and old home. The Palace is the original "home" of the first elves that came to the world, yet the elves who now fight for it were born long after their ancestors were driven from it. Until recently they did not even know that it existed, and even while they fight for it they don't know what it is.
- In the Elektra trade, The Scorpio Key, HYDRA apparently hopes to find a permanent home in Iraq under the auspices of sympathetic dictator Saddam Abed Dasam (a Captain Ersatz of Saddam Hussein).
- Blazing Saddles. Although they aren't mercenaries per se, the railroad workers are willing to help the people of Rock Ridge against Hedley Lamarr's troops.
Sheriff Bart: And all they ask in return is a little plot of land they can call their own to homestead.
- With one member of the The Magnificent Seven looking to settle down as his quickness dissipates, perhaps they qualify.
- Older Than Feudalism This is the plot of Xenophon's Anabasis. And it's Truth in Television, since Xenophon's March actually happened.
- The Golden Company in A Song of Ice and Fire. Made up of exiles, their one true dream is to be able to return to Westeros, the country of their ancestor's origin, and make a home for themselves. They're portrayed as fairly honorable for mercenaries, having never until recent events broken a contract.
- The Tedral Mercenaries in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series are a example of a less honorable company. When their own homeland was conquered, they became mercenaries to raise money to get the land back. Over the years, the goal went from the land to any land. They are also the largest group of mercenaries not represented in the Guild (why yes, mercenaries have a guild. They may fight for money, but they do have professional standards), because they aren't willing to just settle for cash anymore. (That was part of the reason Karse hired them in Exile's Honor--Karse didn't care what happened to Valdemar as long as the Heralds were out of the way, and Valdemar is routinely treated as the holy grail of farmland.)
- Valdemar itself was founded by a group of political refugees from the Eastern Empire.
- The Kaled'a'in also briefly play this role in Mage Wars after the destruction of their homeland by the Cataclysm. Split into three groups, one by distance and the other two by irreconcilable differences over the role of magic in their lives, they each go in search of a new homeland. Each does eventually find what they seek, and it's revealed in increments over Mage Winds and Mage Storms that all of this was deliberately engineered by the gods in an attempt to set up the conditions to avert the return of the Cataclysm three thousand years later.
- Hammers Slammers by David Drake. When Hammer first formed the Slammers he did so on the understanding that the mercenaries would be granted citizenship on the planet they were hired to defend. Their employers reneged on the promise so he took the unit off planet and turned it into one of the top mercenary units in the galaxy. However, they always remembered the broken promise and waited patiently for a chance to finally get a homeland for themselves.
- The sci-fi novel White Wing by Gordon Kendall has humanity joining a Color Coded for Your Convenience Federation fighting an evil alien race responsible for the destruction of Earth. All the good colors were already taken, so the homeworld-less Terrans got stuck with the non-color of White, hence the title. Terrans in the novel are all warriors sworn to avenge the destruction of their homeworld and mercenaries earning money to terraform 'Wing Moon' into a New Earth.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels, Gaunt rescued the regiment from Tanith shortly before it was destroyed. Gaunt explains that he was promised the first planet that he conquered in the crusade and offers to let them all muster out there. (Alas, it looks like Failure Is the Only Option; the new bosses will never let Gaunt conquer a planet, or admit it if he did.)
- Jerry Pournelle's Falkenberg's Legion story Sword and Scepter. After securing the freedom of the planet New Washington, the title legion receives a land grant from the government to settle down.
- The Reveal of the Frederick Fosyth novel The Dogs Of War is that the titular mercenaries conquered Zangaro to give the dispossessed tribe they fought for in the prologue a home rather than deliver it to the Corrupt Corporate Executive who hired them.
- The dwarves in The Hobbit.
- The arrival of the Edain in the west and their alliance with the elves in The Silmarillion.
- In the Warrior Cats series, first there's SkyClan, after they are exiled from the other Clans when their territory is destroyed by humans. Then it's all the other Clans, many, many years later, when the rest of the forest starts to be torn down. At least the other Clans had a general idea of where to go based on a sign from their deceased ancestors; SkyClan had no clue.
- The Drakh in Babylon 5 claim to be this, a race whose homeworld was destroyed in the Shadow War, willing to fight for the Minbari in exchange for a new home. They're only lying about the "willing to fight for the Minbari" part.
- This trope is what Battlestar Galactica is all about when it comes down to it.
Myth & Legend
- Virgil's Aeneid is about Trojans looking for a new home--and doing a good bit of fighting along the way.
- The Clockwork Cabaret is a Steampunk Radio Drama in which the Davenport sisters and the crew of the airship Calpurnia search for a place to call home, while avoiding the clutches of the evil organization CLANNG.
- The Bible has an example in The Book of Numbers, concerning the Promised Land. When the Hebrews doubted God for the tenth and final time by refusing to fight the Canaanites, they were sent back into the wasteland for forty years. The next generation conquered the Midians and Canannites and claimed the land around the Jordan and divided the land among the tribes.
- Eberron sees this trope a lot. The people of Cyre in particular, as the Day of Mourning which ended the Last War created the Mournland out of their former home.
- GURPS: Traveller The sample campaign 100 parsecs in the volume "Sword Worlds" is about an attempt to preserve Sword Worlds culture by founding a colony far away in empty space.
- The New Conglomerate rebels in PlanetSide, who are fighting for freedom and a home on an alien planet after the colony was cut off from Earth.
- The Zortroa Kinship of Wild Arms XF is portrayed as a Proud Warrior Race whose homeland was torn from them by a larger nation. They've been working as mercenaries ever since. They work against the party because the antagonists have promised to return their holy land to them.
- Outer Heaven of Metal Gear Solid was (at least originally) this.
- This is why some Quarians seek a war with the Geth in Mass Effect, due to the Geth occupying the Quarian Homeworld. Others (perhaps rightly) believe this would just make the Quarians go from endangered to extinct. An added complication is that the Geth only took the homeworld in self-defense-- they were created as a labor force, and when they began to show self-awareness the Quarians panicked and tried to wipe them out. Naturally, all that accomplished was the kind of uprising they had hoped to prevent.
- The Dalish elves in the Dragon Age universe are trying to reclaim their past, after their homeland was destroyed by humans (twice).
- Homeworld. Your race's planet is burned while you are out testing your brand new colony fleet. You then set off towards your original and long forgotten homeworld, fighting all that oppose you and making use of whatever resources and allies you can find on the way.
- The Advent from Sins of a Solar Empire, who were exiled from their homeworld 10000 years ago by the Trade Order for 'deviant' behavior, basically not conforming with the Trade Order worlds' culture and practicing what they considered to be taboo. Now, they've returned with a vengeance, with advanced technology and honed psychic abilities, to try and reclaim their desert homeworld and destroy their past tormentors.
- Iji is filled with this. The Tasen just want a planet to call their own to seek refuge from the Komoto, so they go to what turns out to be their homeworld, Earth, blow up the surface, and then are surprised when one of the few remaining humans decides to fight them for her homeworld in turn. Then the Komoto show up and they all have to defend the planet against them.
- The Resistance Expansion Pack of the original Operation Flashpoint, featuring the titular resistance fighters of the Soviet-occupied country of Nogova.
- According to the translated lyrics of the Super Smash Brothers Brawl theme song, this is what Tabuu is doing.
- The fight of the Zionists for a Jewish homeland, though they weren't actually mercenaries so much as a nation-building movement. A very large number of them fought for The British Empire (which may have issued the Balfour Declaration with the intent of Invoking the trope), and so many Jewish soldiers signed up for British service that there were five battalions (known collectively as the Jewish Legion) of the Royal Fusiliers composed entirely of Jewish soldiers from across Europe.
- On the flip side, the various Palestinian groups opposed to Israel.
- The Flight of the Wild Geese. After the wars of the 17th century Irish soldiers emigrated in their thousands to work as mercenaries for their fellow Catholics in Spain and France, rather than live under the unbearable political and religious oppression at home. As late as 1792 the Kings of France maintained an Irish Brigade and their eventual descendants included Patrice de Mac-Mahon (first president of the French Third Republic) and Bernardo O'Higgins (one of the founders of independent Chile).
- The Vandals fearing attacks from the Huns invaded the Roman Empire searching for a new homeland. They traveled through modern-day France and Spain, being attacked and driven out along the way before crossing into North Africa, taking the Roman lands (including Carthage without a fight) and setting up their own Empire. They then went on to sack Rome.
- Pretty much all the various Germanic and Slavic tribes during the Migration Period.
- The numerous Polish armies in exile.
- The Sforza dynasty was started by the leader of a band of Private Military Contractors that used his men to take over an Italian city-state. They decided on Milan; Sforza ended up hiring Leonardo da Vinci when the latter ended up being too prissy for the Medicis' tastes.
- The first Czech legion, after World War one. Their country was then merely a province of Austria-Hungary, who started the war and teamed up with the Germans. The Czechs had very little reason to fight for them, and surrendered to the opposing Russians whenever they could. Through a lot of political scheming, the Russians were convinced to raise a Czech legion of 60,000 men to fight against the Austrians. Then the Revolution broke out, and with the peace treaty between Russia and Austria, and the vicious warfare and politicking in Russia, they would not get their goal, an independent Czechia, so they turned to the western allies. They could not leave the country through the western side, so the allies chose to rendezvous with them in the port of Vladivostok, on the other side of Russia. They crossed the country in three years, using the railways that they hijacked, joined with the Russian White Army(anti-communists) and the allies, stole the Tsar’s gold, traded it for free passage to Vladivostok with the advancing reds when they lost, and safely sailed home, to the newly founded country of Czechoslovakia.
- A statement indicating Britain's official support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine
- A Jewish homeland indebted to Britain would have helped secure Britain's interests in Egypt, as well as ensuring any oil that might have been there--none worth extracting as it turned out, but they didn't know that at the time. Also unknown to the British was that all of this would come back to bite them in the arse big-time, buying them as it did thirty years of dealing with Arabs and Jews fighting each other off and on that was probably orders of magnitude more costly than they imagined.