Rather Die Young
rating: +13+x

“Hello, Emily.”

Agent Cipher flinched at the use of her real first name. Underneath layers of digital modulation, the voice coming from the phone was unrecognizable. But there were only half a dozen people in the world who knew that name. And only one who still had business with her. “I told you I’d kill you if you ever tried to contact me, Luthor.”

The phone gave a distorted, electric laugh. “You shouldn’t assume your secrets are so well protected. Don’t worry. I’m not Luthor. The Coalition kept their word.”

“I’m still going to kill you.”

“Don’t make empty threats, Em. It doesn’t suit you. Do listen. I have an offer, and it would be best for everyone if you took it.”

Cipher looked at Kantos. Her partner’s gun was pressed to the imposter’s head. The imposter looked as unconcerned as ever. Kantos’ face was furrowed in worry. “Would it?”

“If you like your partner’s head still attached to his body.” It was hard to tell, but under the warble voice filter was a hint of amusement. “Step outside.”

Cipher thought for a moment, then motioned to Kantos. “Come on. I’m going up.”

They moved back to the elevator. It rumbled to life and began to carry them upwards. They reached the dark interior of the shed and Cipher pushed the door open.

A second car had parked next to theirs. A woman stood next to it. She looked like the type of person who’d graduated top of her class in law school by poisoning every other student. Her black hair was cropped short, and a bulky jacket enveloped most of her upper body. When she saw Cipher she smiled and lowered the phone she’d been holding to her ear. “Before you do anything rash, you should know that we have three snipers placed around this area. Try to bend reality, and they unload.”

There was a moment of silence, broken by Kantos saying, “What did you say?”

The woman turned towards him and smiled. “You didn’t know? Agent Cipher… I’m sorry, Emily Vakes, is on the run from the Coalition. She’s one of the most powerful type green’s they ever seen.”

“No.” Kantos shook his head. “No, that isn’t possible. She’s a Foundation Agent. She’s worked here for ten years.”

“Correct. And she joined to stay safe from the Coalition. Among… other reasons. She’s suppressed her powers. Barely using them. Nudging things just enough to let her rise through the ranks. To get her where she wanted to be.” She raised an eyebrow at Cipher. “Right?”

Cipher took a step towards the woman. “What the fuck do you want from me?” She could feel her fists clenching and unclenching, trembling. It would be easy to end this. To reach forward and snuff the woman from existence. Who cared if they killed Cipher after? How dare she come in here, how dare she reveal these things, open up Cipher’s past for all to see. And when she was so close to her goal. But she’d spent ten years resisting the urges that welled up inside her, whispering for her to take control. She wasn’t about to give in to them now, when so much was on the line.

The woman didn’t flinch as Cipher approached. “We want you to save the Foundation.”

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