By Guest Contributor

C oles checked his gunsight again, snapped in a fresh mag and patted his buckles. Still acting the newbie.  Bale smirked at him, but said nothing. As hazing went, Bale was pretty easy to deal with. It was really only Johns who still gave him shit for things like that.

The wagon leaned hard to the side round the circle on Wisconsin, lights flashing but the siren silent. The driver– Coles didn’t know her– swore and the wagon jerked hard right. Their feet were all planted firmly, knees bent, arms through shock straps. They swung like surfers.

“They only let crazy sons of bitches drive these things,” Bale laughed.

“Daughter,” Johns spoke up from the back.

Light in the roof of the wagon went from red to amber and they all pulled their arms out of their straps, got comfortable with their weapons of choice. Hardy was carrying what looked like a cannon. Coles was sure it would take her down as well, if she had to fire.

The wagon slowed, but the light went green before it stopped. Soft chimes descended in one two doors open three the van stopped and they were on the street, cars swerving away and Bale was at the door to the place, lockpick in hand, already cycling through the combination lock codes. Captain Marfa gestured Coles and Johns around back. Marfa, Bale and Hardy would take the front.

Coles took point. He wasn’t the overeager type, but as the newest member of the Copyright Unit, it was on him to make it clear to the crew he was serious. Johns didn’t mind letting him play living body armor.

They were through the gate, just at the back of the brownstone when every window on third floor shattered out– Hardy had lit that sucker up. Something heavy hit the awning over the back steps and rolled, then slid. The sounds were unmistakeable and upon reaching the backyard they were greeted by their perp. Late teens. Hair and shirt smoking. Glasses cracked. Phone in one hand.

“Drop the IP!” Johns yelled while Coles took a knee and fired his taser.

“Release! Release!”

It took Coles a second to even hear him over the crackle and snap of the taser. And then it took another second to realize it was he who should release, not the perp. Johns elbowed the back of his helmet. Hard.

“What the fuck?”

“Release, asshole. You’ll fry the IP.”

Coles let up on the trigger. He flipped a switch and the barbs in the perp’s gut retracted. The cables retracted, thin trickles of blood steaming away as they dragged across the grass and were pulled back up into the taser unit.

The perp’s fingers were  constricted around the phone. He was still breathing, so they couldn’t break his fingers to get it out. Shouts from inside, Marfa and the others descending to the backyard as Johns knelt over the perp and connected his hand unit to the phone. He read the screen, sat on his ass in the dry, charred grass as Captain Marfa came to stand over him.


“Song’s intact, Captain. Copyright stamps are uncorrupted.”

Marfa turned to Coles.

“Next time we take down a dj, genius, use bullets. You fry the IP and you fry the case. Clear?”

Coles felt his face go warm. Looking down for a second, he dialed up his pigment just enough to hide the blush.

“Clear. Sir.”

“All right. You’re filing the paperwork. The rest of you: beer’s on Hardy, for nearly deafening us all. . .”


–James Smith

James Smith is a Brooklyn based writer and graphic novelist. Read Gang of Fools from the beginning on Activatecomix. To see more of James’s work go to