Merc Rule 14

Written by J. D. Wiley --- Art by J. D. Wiley

Merc Rule 14: A single nod is the proper way to greet unfamiliar mercs. Less chance of it ending in incineration.

Mercs are a prideful bunch. They all think they know best. And when they tend to walk around carrying guns, knives, and rocket-propelled cluster-bombs that can reduce buildings to hot ash… well, there’s no one left to tell them any different.

Every merc is a unique creature, and until you know ‘em on an individual basis, it’s best to keep your damn mouth shut. For this reason, a silent greeting is ideal for them you ain’t familiar with. Even so, not all greetings are created equal. A wink, an eyebrow, hell, even a grin can rub some mercs the wrong way. But there’s no harm in a stern nod.

A while back, some idiot walked into the Bitter Bullet, said “howdy” to Psycho Cid, and gave him a wink. Cid took that for interest, as he ain’t one to be picky about something like say… gender. So in swoops Cid for the kill. This fella turns beet red, tells Cid he’s got it wrong. And that’s something you just don’t say to a man with the word Pyscho in his name. He might think you’re insinuating he made some sorta mistake.

Cid’s eye twitched. Barstools shrieked against the hardwood floor as every merc in the joint scooted back an inch.

We had ourselves five star Pucker Factor situation, if you follow. Couldn’t tap a needle up my sphincter with a ten-pound mallet.

By the time anyone realized what was happening, Pyscho Cid’s cluster-bomb was one beep away from leveling the joint. Every merc grabbed their hat and hit the deck as the back corner of the saloon belched itself out into the street in a gust of fire and splintered wood. The tattered remnants of wanted posters fluttered about. Meanwhile, Cid’s just sitting at the bar, cool as you like, sipping his milk one pinky pointed out. Like there ain’t a smoking hole where the back wall used to be.

No one saw that fella again, nor any part of him neither. The story spread so fast that folks across the Red Frontier won’t so much as grin at a fella they don’t know. Never mind saying howdy.

And that’s the story behind the third time the Bitter Bullet was remodeled.

Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc

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