Buckbark continued eating his sandwich, unaware–or not caring–how uncomfortable it seemed to make Mujiff.

“The problem is, we usually place a Series 10 with a target for one of two purposes. Intelligence-gathering, or assassination.”

“I don’t need a lecture on your unit’s questionable wetwork,” Mujiff said. “I need a reason for Unit 10-11 going around attached to a real family, one on whom there is no intelligence and no kill order in the databases!”

Another long, leisurely bite followed. “Well, it’s simple. 10-11 has implanted on them,” Buckbark said, mayonnaise dripping from the corners of his mouth. “It was probably subjected to a shock–electrical, physical, magnetic–which rebooted it and allowed it to imprint on whoever found it.”

“I see,” Mujiff said. “And placing these Series 10s…how is that done?”

“It’s the old story about a changeling,” said Buckbark. “We take the target’s biological child, do a quick and dirty brain-dump, and replace them with a Series 10. The child gets a wet-wipe and goes into the foster pipeline, and the Series 10 arranges for itself to be destroyed along with its targets. If it’s an assassination; intelligence-gathering is just a matter of reversing the brain-dump and wet-wipe, of course.”

Mujiff leaned over Buckbark’s desk. “Are you telling me,” he said, “that there’s a Series 10 out there, with a family that may or may not have been targeted, and that it has imprinted on them?”

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