Merc Rule 17: The trouble with being the smartest merc in the room is thinking you’re him.
Calculating who’s the slickest merc in the joint ain’t as easy as it first might seem. ‘Cause there’s a whole lot more’n one kind of genius.
Some mercs are virtuosos with rare talents. Tricks of the trade they’ve mastered through the years. For example, Bullet-Eye Cain can hit two tin cans with one shot, ricocheting hot lead with the same precision he shows at the pool table. When it comes to flicking knives, Stab McKay can put a blade in the crack of a gnat’s ass at twenty paces. And if you give Shotgun Sadie five shells she’ll paint a crimson masterpiece every time.
Others, like Chili-House Javier, can make a mean pot of gumbo with little to nothing on hand. Wildfire Burgess knows how long it takes to burn down a church. Right down to the second. Cheapskate Calhoun’s got a mind for numbers and an eye for deals. Callie Quick-Finger puts Bullet-Eye to shame on the quick draw. Scav Harrison is a mechanical genius. Builds automatons up from junkers and scrap.
You’ve got mercs with the gift of gab. Roach Wheeler and Huckster Souza are two of the best hustlers this side of the Blue Line. Bad Mouth Douglas is so creative with profanity she could give Shakespeare a run for his money while making a sailor blush. Roberto the Love God once sweet talked a cathouse madam into being his third wife.
None in the bloody business can think as quick and dirty as Birdie Bad Egg or Mad Hatter Markov. Though, I might oughtta add Psycho Cid to that list. Mercs like that are damn good at killing. But others are better. Bloodlust Ortega, Snake Matthews, Thaddeus King, to name a few. You’d be hard pressed to argue there’s anyone craftier when it comes to spilling claret.
Some mercs got a more conventional wisdom earned through experience. Outliving the competition, you might say. Old timers like Hammerhead Ozzie, Cassius Winter, or Gravedigger Gibbs. But there are a scarce few with the whole package. Luck Avery never tried her hand at something she wasn’t good at. Folks swear she’s got the Gift. And I ain’t one to argue.
No matter how you judge wits, there’s always a merc who’s got some clever advantage or another. Point is, if you find yourself thinking you’re the smartest merc in the room… don’t worry, you ain’t. There’s always someone better at something than you, and they’re always ready to do things their way.
—Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc
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