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Sidir is hilarious in Arabic. He's funny in Farsi, ribald in Russian, and witty in a half-dozen other tongues.


English is not among them.


Sidir never wastes his time learning the wastrels' names. They're interchangeable, or will be soon enough, and he's in charge of code names. They think it's for the Oyabun. He thinks it's hilarious.


Sidir stands by the stairs in the back of the pub the Black Sheep call their own (The Ram's Head, how droll) and reads from a small notebook. McCabe, draped in two of the Honeypot girls from the scuffle last night, pours himself over the banister to mumble something at Sidir before clapping him on the shoulder with an over-loud "Old chum!" Sidir rolls his eyes.


He motions to the One in the Bowler and the One With the Hat—no, the Other One With the Hat—then a couple of the less reputable Guild officials and the Oiran in the torn stockings who doesn't speak a word of English but smokes like a chimney and robs them blind at poker. He respects her.


They stretch and ready their weapons. As they assemble by the back Sidir ticks them in his book and names them.


"Jacket Racoon. Potato Strumpet. Ice House. Chestnut Squirrel."


"I say, is this really necessary?"


Money changes hands before the speaker can be identified. Chestnut Squirrel's friend whips an abacus and notebook from her purse.


Sidir gazes across the room. "Drunk Mule. Tansy Goldethorpe."


A chair scrapes loudly across the floor. The surreptitious betting intensifies.


"I SAY, is this really necessary?" the man is tall and large, well-bred in that little neck and too much jowl sort of way. His pants are still tailored in the Earthside cut and Earth colours cling to him without the warp and shift of Malifaux.


Sidir turns to the man, all bristling hair and indignation, and stares. He looks him over from toe to top with a steady, penetrating gaze. He judges him the way lesser men judge dog- or horse-flesh and the man wavers and steps back. Sidir turns away, "Frolicking Unicorn."


"I SAY."


Sidir pauses and the Ram's Head holds its breath. He turns and the remaining dissolutes erupt into a flurry of bidding, all pretence gone. The brutish Englishman cocks his hat and raises two fists like the miner's sledgehammers (the miner who is vanishing out the door with his rail worker buddy because they just wanted to have a few drinks and they are not doing this not in Malifaux not today).


Sidir looks at the man. "Frolicking Unicorn."


The man charges.


His head explodes.




Three times.


The fourth time is overkill by anyone's admission, but shots were fired and his body hasn't hit the floor and they did pass through where his body technically was, so someone must keep track. Salty Dragonfly's abacus clicks.




The whump of wet meat signals the end. Sidir points twice more.


"Suspended Titmouse. Laughing Cow."


Sidir turns away.


The men stagger to the back, faces flushed and eyes bright with fear. Salty Dragonfly relieves them of their scrip (a lady never gambles on an Englishman's ability to repay debts).


Sidir is fucking hilarious.

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