Merc Rule 16

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

Merc Rule 16: Good Idea: Keeping track of how many bullets are left in your gun. Better Idea: Keeping track of how many are left in your enemy’s.

Every merc worth his salt knows how to break his gun down to brass and bolts. Knows how to shoot. And at the very least has a passing notion about the caliber of a bullet just by the sound it makes leaving the barrel. But there are some things only the most talented gunslinger knows. Like how many rounds a shooter is carrying just by catching a glimpse of it. Which is why there ain’t no better merc to illustrate the art of bullet counting than Bullet-Eye Cain.

Me and Bullet-Eye were holed up in this old church. Rain pouring in from a roof that was stove in. Fighting off a swarm of local vikers. The Broken Axle Gang. Gearheads covered in motor oil warpaint and tire armor. Most of ‘em were carrying weapons welded from stripped vehicle parts. Muffler clubs, fender shivs, car door shields. And the leader, a madcap named Torque, was wielding an improvised hand cannon. Like the bastard child of a howitzer and a machine gun.

Bullet-Eye took one peek at the taped mag poking from the bottom and reckoned it for 30 rounds of 7.62s. After Torque rattled off a few at us, the smoking holes it left agreed with his estimation of the caliber. But I didn’t have the presence of mind to keep track of how many rounds he’d fired, or if he’d even reloaded.

Lucky for me, ol’ Bullet-Eye was counting ‘em down. Biding his time. When Torque dropped his mag and went to reload I learned something. We all did. Apparently, Cain can fire a revolver twice in succession so fast it only makes one sound. I swear, that merc is so quick he could blow out a lamp and jump in bed before it got dark.

Bullet-Eye whipped his pistols out and started bouncing lead around the sanctuary. Finding the gaps in their armor. Dropping those bastards with every pull of the trigger. Vikers scrambled behind rotting pews, ducked behind dripping pillars, or just tucked tail and fled. With everyone’s attention on Cain, I lobbed out a few bullets of my own. The way the lightning was flashing through that mouth in the ceiling, right then you could’ve mistook Bullet-Eye for Old Man Death.

Wasn’t long before we’d routed ‘em. Torque escaped with his hide, but then, so did we. I reckon that’s as good an outcome as anyone in the bloody business can hope for.

That little encounter is the reason I started learning to count bullets.

In my time with Bullet-Eye he imparted a few pointers for bullet counting that I’ll pass along to you. First, it’s smart to carry pistols of different calibers that hold different numbers of rounds. Second, semi-automatics can hold one in the chamber to throw a wrench in things. And third, you should never wait until you’re empty to start reloading.

These’ll throw off any bastard who’s keeping count. And they’ll do the same to you if you ain’t paying attention. Count on clever mercs taking advantage of every trick in the book. And learn to use ‘em yourself.

Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc

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