Merc Rule 42

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

Merc Rule 42: Never trust a man in a poncho.

There’s no shortage of shady characters in the bloody business. Hell, I ain’t come across a merc who didn’t have a closet full of skeletons. But most of us are honest about our dishonesty. Or at least pretend to be. It’s just good manners.

And damn it, wearing a poncho is an affront to that pretense. Like telling everyone in the room, “Maybe I got some nasty hardware under here, maybe I don’t. But either way, there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it.” A thing like that is liable to put everyone on edge. Especially us mercs who pretend to play by the rules. And besides, it’s just plain rude.

Can’t think of any better mercs to illustrate my point than Grifter Montoya, Kurgen Black, and Roach Wheeler. All three of them shifty bastards get around in ponchos. And all three ain’t to be trusted.

Montoya hauls around more cutlery than a butcher shop. You should see the rows of blades lining the inside of that horse blanket he gets around in. That skinny son of a bitch might as well be wearing armor. And with the way he can flick a knife across the room… Well, let’s just say I’d never sit with my back to him.

Next up is Kurgen. Wheezy old bastard lugs around any kind of ammo he can scrounge up. He’s always packing an assortment of firearms, too. Last I saw him, he had a gold-plated Kalashnikov. Hard to do better than those old world Soviet rifles. Probably traded for it with some warlord in the Southern Wilds. But no matter what he’s slinging, he’s always got a surprise stowed somewhere. A Saturday night special, spring-loaded pocket pistol, or some little custom shooter ready to drill you full of holes. Combine that with an itchy trigger finger and you have a recipe nobody wants a taste of.

And Roach… well, that two-faced rat keeps a little of everything on hand. Blow torches, chainsaws, landmines, fishhooks, you name it. Wouldn’t be a stretch to find a four-foot bazooka stuffed up his three-foot poncho. Only he knows how he does it, and that’s why you can’t trust him far as you can throw him. He does make a mean merchant, though. You ever find yourself in need of some rare and obscure trinket, you can bet he got his hands on one. And that some other poor soul is missing one…

Ain’t a coincidence that Red Jinx, patron Fate of mercs, outlaws, bastards, and thieves wears a poncho.

I said all that to say this—and I can’t stress it enough—mercs in ponchos ain’t to be trusted.

Not under any circumstance.

Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc

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