Human-spec android Z001/19, better known to the crew of the cruise ship Kerguelen as James, stepped over the bodies of its security team. Though they wore body armor and carried police-grade weapons, the team had trained to repel boarders in the form of heavily armed but lightly armored pirates.

They were no match for a human-spec android, who despite his prosaic work in the reactor core was just short of military grade.

Her stateroom was unguarded now, save for alarms and a lock. James dealt with the latter easily, applying 4000 meters per square inch of pressure to the emergency release. A form was huddled, shivering, under the blankets in the master bed.

Without breaking stride, and without saying a word, James throttled the form where it lay. Only when he’d squeezed every ounce of life from the prostrate form did he cast back the covers to reveal…a woman in the livery of a Kerguelen housekeeping staff.

On hearing a scuffling noise, James tore open the ornate doors to a nearby closet. Through a forest of expensive garments, he saw the pried-off cover of a panic chute disguised as ductwork.

“I hate her,” James said again, leaning over the opening that was too small for him to fit though, “and I hate that she is here.”

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