Merc Rule 2: Behind every great merc there’s five more holding guns.
In our younger days me and Spivey went looking for the infamous Hammerhead Ozzie. A legendary merc said to have never lost a fight, and a man who needs no introduction anywhere across the Red Frontier. A real old school badass, that one. Sent plenty of men to the long sleep in a mud coffin with naught but cold steel and a grin. Still, there’s always some young buck that thinks an old merc makes for easy pickings. Thing is, it’s never safe to say when an old merc is past his prime.
Now, Hammerhead was drunk as a skunk, so the kid figured he could bully the old merc. He swiped Ozzie’s bottle and helped himself to a taste. But there’s two things the kid didn’t count on. First, an old merc is never as drunk as he looks. And second, a truly great merc don’t need to fight to win… If he’s got the respect of the bar, all he has to do is sit back and watch the show.
Me and Spivey looked on as every merc in the joint came to Ozzie’s aid. Breaking bottles, grabbing hold of barstools, pulling pistols, and generally making ready to have some fun. Poor bartender was wrenching his dish rag, real nervous like. These things tend to get messy. Wasn’t his fault trouble come knocking. But Ozzie wasn’t about to let these boys tear up the bar. So he pointed ‘em to the door. It’s considerations like that, that won the old merc his respect.
Those mercs dragged that kid out into the street by his ears. A few held guns on him so he didn’t get any bright ideas. The rest worked him over real good. Just fists, boots, and the occasional club. Nothing too nasty. Still, they gave him a beating to tell stories about.
And that’s why ol’ Hammerhead has never lost, even past his prime. It’s damn hard to lose a fight if you don’t get in one. So if you’re feeling froggy, and find yourself itching to put a legend to the test, always remember a great merc has backup wherever he goes.
And they usually have guns.
—Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc
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