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His eyes are shot; his arm is broken; the magic has left them all. But Alex takes a stance from eidetic memory and snarls:

“I know kung fu.”

Quan-Ti, immortal, hesitates.

Behind Alex, Amadeus Faust steps out from nothing and opens his femoral arteries with a circular blade. In the cage, the Chosen Ones scream.

A snap of the cloak; the sorcerers vanish. Alex, on his elbows, crawls toward the lever that opens the door. His face is white-green, his blood an empty bucket. He gets a grip with one hand. Then the other.

His body pulls it down.


“A nameless kill is without glory,” hisses the tattooed man, “and rest assured that today you die. So this I tell you: I am Amadeus Faust.”

“Really?” says Alex.

“That’s kinda semiotically loaded, man,” says Tyler.

“Tyler,” says Toe. “Gross.”

“You don’t even know what semiotics is.”

“I know I don’t want to see you two load each other with it.”

“Is your surname really Faust?” asks Daniel curiously. “I thought the preferred transliteration–”

“I chose it myself,” snaps Faust.

Alex smirks. “If we’re picking our own names, I want Einstein Tyrannosaur.”

“Dude!” says Toe. “You know that one was mine!”


“The fuck!” explodes Toe.

“Can’t believe a girl beat you to it?” Dylan says, airy.

“It has nothing to–” starts Tyler.

“Faust deserved to die.” She stares them down, willing herself to be hard. “For Alex.”

“Was it hard?” asks Phillip quietly.

So fast, he’s so fast, blade flickering out from his sleeve. But she’s fast too, heel of her hand snaps out to break it with a cheap-toy spang but the short edge is still coming, one chance, one weapon, the broken blade flipping away. She’s fast, has to be, has to catch it–

She shrugs. “He was candy.”