Merc Rule 31

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

Merc Rule 31: A merc can conquer the entire world with one hand if you put enough money in the other.

This rule’s a bit deceptive. Particularly the bit that seems to imply that a merc’s ability is directly proportional to their greed. That ain’t always the case. Hell, hardly ever. It’s true that the more coin you put on the table, the more excited the merc is to complete the task. And the greater lengths they’ll go through to the complete it. But that only goes so far.

The real implication here’s the fact that the more money you throw at ’em, the more they’ve got to spend on resources to get the job done. Mercs are quick to take the credit for putting a plan together. As well they should. But they often hide how the job was accomplished. You might find their fee hefty until you learn where the money’s going. More often than not it’s sunk into hiring more mercs. Fellas with special skills. Subcontracts, for marksmen, demolitionists, smooth talkers, and creative minds to help get the job done.

Hiring out help also means compartmentalizing things so none are apt to get jealous. Mercs tend to lie about their fee amongst themselves anyway. They know better’n to tell their price. That’s how mercs wake up dead. But make no mistake, you put down enough coin, the solution is well at hand.

There was a group of local ruffians, fugitive mercs, escaped convicts, wanted men. Made their home in the Midtown Tunnels. The Alexandrians didn’t want any trouble but reckoned clearing ’em out was for the best. Me and Spivey took the job, told ’em we’d find an effective means to solving the issue. Given enough money. They assured us we’d have whatever was needed if we could avoid things turning into a big mess. No one likes a shit show, least of all the Alexandrians. They got a reputation to uphold.

So, me and Spivey head into the ancient subway system. Don’t get far in before we’re ducking hanging cans and stepping over tripwires. Exactly what you’d expect to find in the lair of a bunch of ne’er do wells. Not fifty yards in and we were surrounded by bastards with guns, knives, and knuckle dusters that contained implements from the previous two.

Spivey flashes his winning smile. Lets me know it’s time to do what we came to do.

I reach into my rucksack and hammers go back on pistols, fuses get lit, pins get pulled on grenades. Until I come out with a handful of clinking coins. I explain to these holed up sons of bitches that the Alexandrians want to hire ’em to keep the Cradle clear of riff-raff. Which ain’t precisely true. Mainly ’cause I’m lying out my ass. But what the Alexandrians don’t know won’t hurt ’em. 

These fugitive fellas are suspicious at first. And why wouldn’t they be? A bunch of no good scoundrels wanted for murder, assault, thievery, cannibalism, public intoxication, you name it. Pyscho Cid was among ’em, and he was one of the first to warm up to us.

Cid puts the pin back in his grenades and waves off the others. He’s more or less the leader of this band and reluctant to buy into the story. But after a little more explaining, and a lot more coin he starts warming up. We tell him there’s none better suited to keep trouble at bay. That they’ve got all the skills and makings of a militia. That society needs protectors like them. Real stand up types that know the ins and outs of local bandit ways. Who better to stop criminals from taking root in the Cradle than the most notorious of ’em all?

I’m sensing that all these hard-edged bastards need is a name. “The Solid-cast Soldiers” Spivey offers. There’s a few grumbles, but even more nods of agreement. We walk out with our skins, and a coterie of badass mercs and convicts ready to serve and protect the Cradle. 

When we tell the the Alexandrians, they don’t know what to make of it, but they’re happy enough to keep the peace and accept the Solid-cast Soldiers into the fold.

Course the good faith money we gave ’em will only go so far, but it’s up to the Alexandrians to keep things in order after that.

Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc

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