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Category Archives: Zach


The thing digging into his ribcage, Zach decides as he lies prone and aching, is a gun.

This knowledge sits there in his mind, unprocessed, a block shaped inappropriately for the available holes. A gun. A GUN gun.

Who on earth, he wonders, would be so irresponsible as to give him one of those?

The half-life of lidocaine in the body is roughly two hours. The pain of his burns is returning, but Zach gets the big black thing unholstered. He ejects the clip (full) and reslots it. He checks the slide.

Somebody taught him how to do that once.


“You’re right,” says Sara, tossing the hammer behind her. “I’m not going to hit you.”

“You could have saved us some time, dear,” says Nasser, regarding the ruins, “and me some money.”

Hogy a mellény.

István grins and leaves. Nasser frowns.

“I do speak a little Hungarian, you know,” he says, “but I fail to see what ‘vest’–”

“It’s time you knew how it feels,” she says, “to be the one manipulated.”

“We all manipulate each other, Sara,” he says, but with an unusual sobriety. “Every one of us.”

“Not every one,” says Sara.

Meanwhile, Zach shoots an eight-year-old.


“Oh Jesus oh fuck,” says Zach, stumbling through a panicky crowd. The police, hair-triggered, have pounded into the square with shields high; kids with vinegar kerchiefs are squeezing through gaps to whip masonry at them. Gas and smashed vegetables underfoot. One of the cops pulls off his mask and becomes Hidebound, looming, grinning, aiming, and then the Vulpine Phalanger hits him so hard they both tumble back into the ranks.

Zach scrambles up, takes a rock to the head, blinks away light and blood and gets up again. There. Finally.

The kid he shot makes a mess of his shirt.

The Vulpine Phalanger

Most fights go to the ground, especially fights that begin with tackles, and on the ground strength beats quickness. The Vulpine Phalanger knows this, which is why she’s got her punch dagger out. Hidebound’s block is insufficient. He and his ear come to a parting of the ways.

He levers her off and several yards back in a fit of screaming strength. The police, single-tracked and spooked, spray them with rubber bullets. Rubber bullets hurt like regular bullets without the common decency to break your skin. The two withdraw in haste and opposite directions.

One of them leaves a trail.


“Are you a relative?” asks the triage doctor in Hungarian, Romanian, German and English.

“Oh! No! I don’t know her.”

“Angel of mercy,” she smiles.

“I shot her.”

The smile drops. “You are armed?”

“Yeah.” Zach checks his pants. “Whoops! No. Crap!”

“Your bulletproof vest. Police?”

“No, no, assassin. I was hired to kill this girl. Not that girl. Another girl. But she’s got this mommy complex so she left me with these guys, but then Hidebound, who’s supposed to be my–”

“You have a concussion,” she sighs.

“I’m still technically an intern,” says Zach, choking up for some stupid reason.


Theora’s not sure who came up with this protest formation but she likes it: there are a dozen of them, bound with gaff tape, turtled together like legionnaires against the bullhorns and the tear gas. Their signs are painted on riot shields.

The problem with this particular turtle is it seems to have no head.

“Embassy row is this way,” insists a man with regrettable dreadlocks. The police, behind them, look hesitant.

“Fuck that, the pigs are right there!” Theora howls with glee.

“Would you please stop elbowing me I am wearing a VEST FULL OF BOMBS DON’T SHOOT,” says Nasser.


Upon the gears. Upon the levers.

Sara hasn’t slept in long enough that, she notices, she’s not prioritizing well. She’s indulged her baser urges plenty this week, yet she can’t keep herself from sending a squad of bright young terrors out on the hunt for that idiot boy. She can’t spare them. She can rely on so few of these people. But she does it, and gets back to work.

Zach isn’t allowed to sleep because of his head, which hurts a lot by the way, and also they took away his bulletproof vest because this hospital is full of dicks.

The Vulpine Phalanger

This guy Iakob has had a bad day: the girl’s enforcer crippled him and dragged off his boss in a dynamite undershirt, and Hidebound must have followed to torture said boss’s whereabouts from him. This would explain why the Vulpine Phalanger finds him huddled over the toilet, choking and snorting.

“You know why I’m here, right?” she says gently.

He shudders and nods, but something’s wrong: a chink of metal on porcelain. He’s cuffed here. A reflection, in the bowl, of something white and doughy wired into his mouth.

Three steps; the blast hits. The Vulpine Phalanger tastes blood and darkness.


The first thing Nasser says to Hidebound is “it’s about damn time,” upon Hidebound’s entry into the holding cell; this despite the fact that Nasser has no idea who Hidebound is. It’s the kind of thing Nasser does.

He’s right annoyingly often.

Hidebound’s got a thick bandage over one ear and one drug interaction or another has made things alarmingly clear and bright, but he kills a sufficient number of prisoners and police officers to effect their escape.

“There have been complications,” he says, “in eliminating the girl.”

“Forget her,” says Nasser. “I’ll pay you double for her little American fuck.”


Night, and the demonstrations in Budapest have peaked and begun to decline. The summit leaders will be gone by morning, in private jets and motorcades; the kids in black are straggling home.

Sara’s agents have tracked down Zach. She leaves István to his grief and comforts. Nasser is on a jet of his own, but he’s left Hidebound with a new sense of purpose. The bleeding has stopped and he’s got a fresh clean high.

Sara and Hidebound set out in the dusk, hooded and alone, in converging directions.

They are going to the hospital.

They are going to say goodbye.