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By Charles Stross

Freya Nakamachi-47 has a few significant existential concerns. She's the precise concubine, designed to thrill her human masters - hardwired to develop into aroused on the mere sight of a human male. There's only one challenge: she got here off the creation line a 12 months after the human species went extinct. no matter what else she will be, Freya Nakamachi-47 is gloriously out of date. What's extra, the inflexible social hierarchy that has risen within the two hundred years because the final human died, areas beings equivalent to Freya very close to the ground. So while she has a run-in on Venus with a murderous aristocrat, she wishes passage off-world in a rush - and can't be too fussy approximately how she can pay her manner. but when Venus was once a frying pan, Mercury is the hearth - and shortly she's going to be working for her existence. as the task she's taken as a courier has drawn her to the eye of robust and hazardous humans, and so they don't simply wish the package deal she's wearing. they need her soul ...

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She hasn’t informed me any of her plans, so i will speculate aloud. not anyone right here. Heh. The courier gave me the message and that i left. I wasn’t to grasp that 5 mins later a couple of her tame butchers will be alongside to ensure there are not any unfastened ends, used to be I? ” “Tame butchers? ” He starts off, then turns again to make eye touch. “I didn’t say something, ” he says, having a look startled. “You do recognize that she wishes you hunted down, don’t you? It used to be silly of Jeeves to ship you, unless—” correct. I stressful myself for what’s coming subsequent. “Is there whatever you will have me to move directly to Juliette if I see her? ” I ask. He appears to be like wondered. “Yes. inform her . . . inform her approximately my new association. and provides her my love, and my apologies. ” He twitches. “It won’t be eternally. ” He stoops to choose up his toolbox. “And as for you. ” He straightens up, yet pauses in entrance of the door (which has overvalued and extruded a domed emergency air-lock sack in entrance of the rest room) . “Try to appreciate, i like her. you're not her. I’m very sorry you’re being affected by this, uh, delusion”—he locations a hand at the air lock—“but I don’t wish you. ” Then he steps out of my lifestyles, leaving me by myself within the room with a damaged window and a damaged center, to look ahead to the coming of the Domina’s executioners. half OUTWARD sure at the Run WELCOME TO MARS (again). Mars is the third-longest-inhabited planet (if you count number Luna); our Creators despatched us the following to discover and die, then to construct and die, and at last to build factories and service ourselves and construct much more cohorts of prepared robots to fill the barracks, out of a few imprecise dream that someday quickly they may are looking to begin a gargantuan planetary-engineering application to import water and air and warmth and eco-friendly goo, eventually turning Mars right into a second-rate, arid, and somewhat cold imitation of Earth. They even obtained so far as sending numerous hundred in their personal out right here to oversee the paintings, whereas my kindred slaved and toiled and died in our innumerable thousands to construct the mining amenities and metalworks and processor foundries that may offer the instruments to roof over the Valles Marineris and reduce the 1st cables of what could finally turn into the Bifrost bridge. one can see a few sections of the vaulted Gothic arches that cap the good rift, even if the few roof segments that have been accomplished are lengthy when you consider that long gone. Bifrost, in fact, fared higher, and this day money owed for a goodly percentage of alternate among the interior sunlight process and the outer darkness. Even the terraforming undertaking bought a way alongside ahead of our Creators passed away; the atmospheric strain on the backside of the Marinaris Trench is sort of ten kiloPascals, and sometimes, while a hot summer’s day heads towards dusk, the skinny overcast scatters a cold drizzle of rainwater around the bleached sands. The Hellas Basin is one other topic, in fact. Pour a tumbler of water at the flooring there, and it’ll fizz and crackle in brief, effervescent with a gunpowder odor that tickles the nostrils and reminds you of the 1st breath you took within the Venusian stratosphere.

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