Daranikone’s favorite watering hole was the Mangy Dog. It was so for many reasons: the unpleasant name tended to keep the spineless at bay and out of his hair, for one. The water was murky but free of contaminants thanks to Canem’s skillfull distilling. The food was tolerable, if bland, and it was seared well enough to kill parasites that swarmed in more flavorful but less well-cooked meats.

But most of all, Daranikone liked the Mangy Dog because it served as a filter for those that wished to avail themselves of her services. If the name didn’t scare them away, Canem’s growly baritone often did. The murky water and carbonized meat chased away their fair share. And Daranikone’s familiarity with the regulars meant that the odd loose zipper that came in looking to “prove” his manhood by conquering a tough-as-nails ladytype more often than not left with that same manhood bruised, bleeding, and birdshot.

As Daranikone’s father had said when he was still teaching her to shoot: “It ain’t right, but a lady’s got to defend herself twice as often with half as much. That’s why you gotta give yourself every ‘lil advantage. Shoot first, shoot fast, shoot hard, yeah. But also know that sooner or later that gun’s gonna jam up, that bullet’s gonna misfire, or some trash that ain’t worthy of the name ‘man’ is gonna get the drop on you. And when that happens…the only way you’re gonna come out on top is if there’s people who got your back.”

The regulars at the Mangy Dog had Daranikone’s back. So when yet another man with a strange look came poking around with her name on his lips and on his lisp, she made sure he found here there, in her usual spot, back to the wall and hands on her holsters.

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