The Mercenoids were, as their name suggests, mercenary droids.
Three million years into the future, the boys from the Dwarf encountered a lone Mercenoid whilst cruising in Starbug 19 and they came across the Mercenoid's transport ship. Given its close proximity to the asteroid belt Juno 98, the dwelling place of the Vampire GELFs, Rimmer advised against investigating since he was scared it may have been a GELF battle cruiser. However, Kryten had already completed a remote hack on the mainframe of the transport, discovering that it was a transport with a crew of two - one Mercenoid guard, and one prisoner of indeterminate origin.
Both Dave Lister and Kryten seemed familiar with Mercenoids - Kryten said that the Mercenoids had agreed to sacrifice their lives in exchange for free software updates in Silicon Heaven, and Lister mentioned that they are "nuttier than a vegetarian's breakfast".
Lister was excited by the prospect that the Mercenoid's prisoner may have been human, and wanted to board the transport. Rimmer advised against investigating a second time, especially when he pointed out that the transport was on a death dive into a super-massive Black Hole. Nevertheless, this only made Lister more determined, and they docked with the transport and Lister was joined by Kryten and the Cat, all armed with bazookoids.
Kryten picked up EM emissions on his Psi-Scan, and they moved towards it and eventually they bumped into the Mercenoid, who was armed with an energy weapon. Hiding round the corner, Lister tried to ask it who it's prisoner was, and what crime they have committed, but the Mercenoid merely said that it was it's own business. Lister proposed a trade, but the Mercenoid refused, and ordered the "humies" to take it's advice, and leave or die.
Lister rounded the corner with his bazookoid, telling the Mercenoid to drop it's weapon, but instead it opened fire, narrowly missing Lister and hitting a pipe instead. However the Mercenoid was distracted by a human voice - which turned out to be Rimmer's dictaphone that Lister had thrown a short time earlier, and contained recordings of Rimmer talking to himself about how he is beautiful, and how size doesn't matter. The Mercenoid was tricked into picking up the device, which backfired with a massive electrical burst, activated by Lister remotely, and completely disabled the Mercenoid. After giving out a loud, final groan, it's body slumped down and it's red eyes went dark.
The Cat rescued the prisoner, who turned out to be a female Felis sapiens - Cat's own species - named Ankita. Kryten retrieved the black box of the transport ship, and the Dwarfers along with Ankita got back to Starbug and left. The Mercenoid transport ship was then presumably left to fall into the Black Hole.
Soon after, as Kryten studied the Mercenoid's black box in the Science Room of Red Dwarf, he made a disturbing discovery - that Ankita was actually a polymorph, and that the Mercenoid was piloting the transport into the Black Hole deliberately to destroy the polymorph which they had unwittingly brought aboard and had taken an interest in the Cat... ("Can of Worms", Series XI)
Behind the scenes
- The Mercenoid was portrayed by Bently Kalu.
- Some sources have claimed the Mercenoid costume was previously used as the costume for the "Vigil" in the 2013 Doctor Who episode The Rings of Akhaten. However, there are significant differences.
- It is arguable that the Mercenoid was not actually a villain for a number of reasons:
- It was prepared to give its own life to destroy a polymorph.
- It gave the Dwarfers a number of chances to leave it's transport before taking a more aggressive stance
- It did not fire its weapon until Lister pointed a bazookoid at it.
- When it did shoot it missed, quite possibly missing on purpose as a warning shot; given its high level of combat programming and experience it would have been unlikely to miss such an easy shot.