Noxapater. They say it means “little bullets” in Choctaw, but I bet they’ve never asked an actual Choctaw to be sure. All that matters is that Noxapater himself chose it as his name for that reason, I guess, since he wasn’t the sort to argue or bandy words.

Not that he was the sort of psychopath who’d kill you just for disagreeing with him. Those people didn’t last long in the guild. No, Noxapater was the sort of assassin who was wound tighter than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, and taking a life unsprung that tension for him. He always took a vacation afterwards, someplace real nice on the guild’s dime, and he’d show up with a bit of a tan and ready for work once his psychoses had rewound themselves.

He wasn’t like Ellerbee, who would talk your ear off as a cover for slight-of-hand, or even like Sones, who was on a monosyllable-only basis with everyone who wasn’t his mama. No, Noxapater was the sort who would listen, maybe with a nod or a “yep,” until the topic was something that interested him, and then you’d find yourself doing the nodding and the yepping.

I remember, back when I was real new with the guild, I mentioned a funny little pistol that a contract had used in self defense. Noxapater had been listening like a stone up until that point, but he perked right up at that, and soon I was in the middle of a twenty-minute lecture on the virtues of a silenced Astra 3000 pistol for wetwork, the intricacies of the Basque firearms industry, and why .32 ACP was not to be taken lightly when fired from a simple, reliable pistol.

You could say he practiced what he preached, since the next contract I heard about through the informal guild grapevine was that Noxapater had killed a philandering stockbroker in Buenos Aires with just such a pistol. Followed, of course, by a six-week vacation to Iguazu Falls.

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