Merc Rule 24

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

Merc Rule 24:  Omission is the better part of valor.

You may be wondering if this rule refers to lying by omission, or just plain omission of valor. And to that I say… yep. It’s a whole lot easier to convince folks of your valor if you ain’t speaking on your “less than” valorous acts. And that’s especially important when it comes to omitting valor. The less folks know on that the better.

Mean bastards like Kurgen Black ain’t assumed to be a valorous sort. And rightly so. Getting around in a poncho full of shooters don’t help his cause. Neither does the fact that that vicious hombre is always spitting on boots and wishing the Red Jinx on everyone. As if he weren’t hated enough without invoking that evil bitch’s name.

So you can imagine my surprise when me and Spivey wandered into the Grit and Grandeur to find him surrounded by common folk. All handshakes and cheers. Drowning that shifty devil in all the booze he could quaff and showering him with praise for his valor. Place was up in a merry ruckus. Like Kurgen just saved the whole of the Red Frontier. 

But me and Spivey, we know better. There’s always a reason folks are set to praising a dubious fella like that. And ten times out of eight it’s on account of some vile manner of skullduggery.

We lean an ear in. Find out Kurgen just stopped the Shogun Express from running right off the tracks.

Somebody tampered with the maglev, set the engine room on fire. Whole damn locomotive was sparking on the rails instead o’ riding smooth ten inches above ’em. When the train slowed, apparently Kurgen personally helped see the women and children to safety. A strange notion considering they’re usually his priority targets.

A strange notion considering they’re usually his priority targets.

If I come off like I have a certain distaste for the man, I apologize. It ain’t true. No, I hate his goddamn filthy guts. So I ain’t buying into this “turning a new leaf” horseshit. And all the while the crooked bastard is eyeing me with his yellow grin.

Now I ain’t about to pick a fight. Leastways around all the innocent folk. But me and Spivey can’t help but dig deeper. We find out the Kabukimono were transporting their finest wagyu cattle. Prime stock. Turned out they went missing. The whole lot. And amid all the commotion no one seemed to know how it was accomplished.

I might have been born in the dark, but it wasn’t last night. My gut’s telling me Kurgen played a hand. I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop, so we can all finally see that bastard on the end of a rope. But it’s been the better part of an evening and I’m starting to wonder if he don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Then a pair of Kabukimono street samurai wander in flanked by a white-haired Alexandrian. The old boy in the armored gorilla suit has got the Gift. Says his far sight brought him here. And the man who sabotaged the train is in this very room.

Kurgen knows he’s caught. He don’t even hesitate. Bastard throws back his poncho and pulls up twin Kalashnikovs. Me and Spivey kiss the floorboards. There’s a sound like God laughing, a rattling din that leaves my ears ringing something fierce. Didn’t so much as take a peek until the shooting stopped, but the long and short of it was that Kurgen Black escaped.

Much as I hate the man, there’s a lesson to be learned here.

We all got ill deeds staining our past. And sometimes those stains last a lifetime. But even a low down snake-tit like Kurgen can get the benefit of the doubt if he keeps his mouth shut long enough to appear valorous by omission.

Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc

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