The thing wearing O5-4’s faced smiled as Kantos pressed his gun to its face. “Hey, you people catch on quick. So what gave it away? Was it the teeth? I was worried I didn’t get the teeth right.”
Kantos grabbed it by the hair and slammed it against the window hard enough to make a small crack on the glass. None of the passing pedestrians seemed to notice. He drove the muzzle of the gun into its temple. “I will ask one time. Where is she?”
The imposter laughed. “And if I don’t answer, you’re just gonna execute me in a crowd of civilians? Sure thing pal.”
“We can make them forget.” All the previous levity was gone from Kantos’ voice. But he didn’t sound like someone making a threat. More like someone announcing the day’s chance of rain. Cipher watched calmly. She’d been curious what her new partner would be like in action. Perhaps she’d get a chance to find out.
“You could. I know how you people work though. Why kill something when you can keep it alive and squeeze every drop of information from its brain?” The fake O5 licked its bloody teeth.
Kantos thought for a moment, then withdrew, keeping the gun aimed at the imposter. “I hate people who think they’re clever. Cipher. Watch the intruder. I will take us a safer place.”
He began to start the car as Cipher unholstered her weapon. As the car began to roll off, their passenger said, “Cipher? That your real name?”
She hit it in the face.
The drive took several hours, following a route that was as deliberately as circuitous as possible. The route doubled back in a dozen different ways, took side streets, crossed half-built roads that had never appeared on any map. Still, they had no doubt the imposter would be able to keep up with the route. Once they were safely away from observers, they stopped to blindfold it before continuing on. And all the time, it continued to talk.
“Seriously though, how did you tell? I’m always looking for constructive feedback. This is a cutthroat business. Can’t expect people to hire you if you’re not always pushing yourself to improve, knowwhatimean?”
After about the 30th time it asked the question Cipher grunted out, “O5-4 knew I’d be picking her up today. And you didn’t use the passphrase.”
The blindfolded imposter nodded. “Smart. Gotta remember that for next time.”
“There isn’t going to be a next time.”
“Course there isn’t.”
They arrived at the black site. From the outside, it was just a small shack in the middle of nowhere. A rotting remnant of some home that had collapsed decades prior. Weeds and grass twisted between broken slats of wood that crawled with insects. Cipher opened the door as Kantos shoved their still-blindfolded captive inside. They stepped in. She crouched down, found a small metal ring in the dirt. She pulled it up. With a rumbling noise, they began to descend. Twenty meters down, a door opened up until a brightly lit metal hallway.
“Very cool,” said the imposter as they dragged him through the hall. “Secret kill site. Good place to keep track of all your dirty little secrets, right?”
“Shut up,” said Kantos.
“Yeah, y’all can keep me here for however long you want, doing whatever you want to me, and there’s nothing to stop you. Nobody who’ll ever wander across.” He smiled. “You fucked up one thing though.”
“And what is that?”
“You thought I didn’t want to get caught.”
“You think you’re the one with the power here. You think this is all happening according to your rules. But you have no idea what this actually is.”
“And what is that?”
At that moment, Cipher’s cell phone began to ring.