Merc Rule 38

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

Merc Rule 38: A merc crew is only as stealthy as its drunkest member.

If you’ve ever been around a drunk merc then you know they ain’t exactly the kind that can whisper without their voice echoing off the farthest wall in the joint. And when being covert is the name o’ the game, drunkards ain’t conducive to anything but getting caught red handed. Yes sir, a drunk merc is about as stealthy as a bull in china shop.

Reminds me of a time me and Spivey were running a clandestine op in the bowels of Babylon. We hired on Boozer Hayes on account of his knowledge of the tunnels we were infiltrating. The Hollows, a hive of drugged out squatters wasting away in a thousand dirty alcoves. Place was crawling with organ harvesters, black market arms dealers, and underground hacktivists. Not exactly a honeymoon spot.

So we reckoned Boozer was an asset we couldn’t afford to leave behind. He had the plans and layout to the labyrinth leading us right to one of the biggest scores of our lives.
We snuck in right under the noses of some of the richest merchant bastards in the whole of the Red Frontier. Kabukimono, to boot. And lord knows how mercs hate those smug pricks.

So we crept in through an old access tunnel, the guts of Hollows. Had to be miles of wires and ventilation ducts. But we followed the pipeline all the way to the tippy top. Right up into the Reaches, Shinjuku District.

The plan was to get in under their treasury. Wire some explosives, stand back, and watch it rain gold. Then we’d haul a couple wheelbarrows out and make off into the night while those Kabukimono bastards were still trying to figure out what happened. No one would be the wiser.

But boozer, damn him, was a boisterous son of a bitch. Couldn’t stop singing, whistling, and stopping to piss on copper wire every five minutes. Eventually, we had to tie him up and gag him. Because when a mission requires stealth, you can’t have an idiot serenading the walls around you. A good reason to always keep duct tape handy.

At any rate, we made to their vault but had to turn back. By the time we had Boozer bound and gagged, the tunnels were crawling with street samurai keen on clearing us out. So we hauled Boozer up and bundled him off. Left him tied and taped, instead of letting him run on his own two feet. Might have been more work for us, but some things just ain’t worth the risk. And if Boozer kept railing on like he’d been ain’t a one of us was gonna make it out alive.

Hindsight, you can let a drunk plan your route. Hell, even your whole mission. Just don’t take him along if he’s gotta keep his yap shut. Lesson learned.

Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc

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