Merc Rule 22

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

Merc Rule 22: A quiet merc is a welcome patron, but five in a huddle are downright suspect.

Everyone loves a quiet merc. He’s usually a humble sort. Keeps to himself. Don’t bother nobody. And when the going gets tough, he’s the first one to knock the opposition on its ass. Everyone knows those fellas tend to be the most dangerous. They almost never cause trouble. On account of having seen enough as it is. That’s why they’re welcome.

But no group is made entirely of quiet fellas. ‘Cause they don’t often want company. When they do, they tend to get on with fellas who can talk enough to fill the air for the both of ’em. And ‘sides, how would a pair of mercs that don’t talk even make friends?

I digress.

Point is, when a whole group of mercs is huddled and things fall quiet… you know you got real trouble on your hands. Some manner o’ scheme is in the process of being hatched. And it ain’t ever nothing nice.

So, one quiet afternoon at the Bitter Bullet, me and Spivey are minding our own damn business. Listening to the rust-bucket android in the corner clank out show tunes on the piano, as we’re like to do. That’s when we notice a group of slingers with their heads together. Psycho Cid, Mad Hatter Markov, and a few others I don’t recognize. But what I do recognize is the twinkle in Cid’s eye. And it’s nothing nice.

Not a minute later Mad Hatter Markov goes running right out the front, saloon doors flapping.

Me and Spivey hear something outside. The revving of an engine, maybe. It’s growing louder. And louder… We edge away from the table just in time to watch the saloon doors burst to kindling. The back end of a flatbed rig rams right through the broken doorway. Quick as jackrabbits the other four conspirators spring up and set to work.

They surround the old piano and haul it away. Right out from under the robo-pianist. They load the old eighty-eight on the bed of the truck, tap the side, and let out into the Three Hub like the devil was right behind ’em.

Ten seconds later, without missing a beat, Pyscho Cid runs back in. He hefts the rust-bucket over his shoulder, and high tails it out.

Bastards stole the piano and the player. Wasn’t a damn thing anyone could do. A strike that fast and coordinated… hatched from two known madmen. Imagine if they had some bloody business in mind. I reckon it could’ve gotten real bad real fast.

So be on your guard. If you see a group of mercs huddled, keep your eyes peeled. And consider starting a huddle of your own.

-Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc

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