"I have to WHAT?" Harms yelled incredulously.

"Tell Mister Kyrill to take disassemble the distillery. Did I stutter?" If she'd been alive, Kearns would have been tapping her foot and giving Harms a glare so cold, he'd have icicles hanging by his earlobes. As it were, Kearns was satisfied to fold her arms, lower her voice dangerously and trying to distract herself from other happening that were going on somewhere else on the ship.

"But-- that's-- I will not, I will absolutely, under no conditions, go anywhere near that geriatric gun-toting--"

"Why not?" Kearns asked, her voice whiny.

"Because--" Harms stopped himself from reaching hysterics and continued, somewhat calmer: "Because I know things about him."

"Oh, big whoop-dee-freakin'-doo," Kearns rolled her holographic eyes. "I know things about all of you, and I still talk to you sickoes."

"That's a completely different-- wait a minute, what is it that you know about us?"

Kearns grinned wickedly.

"Well, I have all the letters you ever wrote. Those to your 'Rambunctious Redhead' on Midora-Fallons, to your 'Chocolate Goddess' on Periclictus-Hephastion, to your 'Sweetsuckle Siren' on Naquus-Neptune, those to your mother..."

Harms looked terrified. "No, it's impossible..."

"Well, I'm hooked up to the ship's internal system, what were you expecting?" Kearns replied, almost insulted that he thought a few firewalls could stop her.

"So you went through my personal files?"

"I went through everyone's personal files. Now, are you gonna march down there and get the old geezer to take down his booze filters, or am I going to have to go to extremes?"

"You wouldn't..." Harms whispered, his voice shaking. Of course she would! She was Kearns!

"If you don't," Kearns purred, "I'm going to enclose every letter you ever wrote to your girlfriends... and send them to your mother."

Harms winced, wrought with psychological pain. There was no doubt about it. Kearns was pure evil. Worse than Mr. Kyrill.


"So, how much does your holo-projection system take after Silk Nebula's?" Morency asked, a lurid smile on his face.

Kearns sorely wished she could inch away. Though she didn't have any semblance of physical sensations anymore, the way he was eying her hologram gave her the impression that she should shudder. Though she might have been a program, she was a program that closely replicated neurological functions-- so the fact that she couldn't shudder and metaphorically get it out of her system was driving her mad.

"I pretty much copied it all."

"Ah." He sounded much too pleased.

"And purged all their images."

"Ah." Disappointed. Good.

"Though I'm sure there's still one or two sub-routines left over."

"You don't say?" False hope. How entertaining.

Ruby Carbuncle was crawling through an access hatch, trying to find the ship's flight code. Kearns could have told her that up front, but the longer she stalled them, the better. Of course, now that she was stalling them, she found herself increasingly creeped out by Morency. She'd lived her whole life surrounded by greasy, sex-deprived geeks, but this was reaching new levels of impropriety. Could one file charges for sexual herassment post-mortem?

"Is she coming out soon?" Kearns asked miserably.

"Oh, yes, of course, she'll be fine," Morency brushed off the question. "Now, let's get to know each other a little better..."

Kearns really, really wished she could shudder.