Jonny cursed as he tripped over another of the octokittens, which had been lurking unseen in the shadows of the bridge. Aurora had always been infested with them but they usually kept to their habitats in the engineering decks. It was only recently that they’d taken to wandering the rest of the ship. Now they seemed to get in the way of Jonny’s feet and Jonny’s pistols on a daily basis.

“What are the little shits doing?” Jonny asked, calmly despatching the poor creature with a couple of rounds.

“Moping,” Ashes replied.

Jonny raised an eyebrow. “For who?”

“Nastya, because she seems to know best what they like to eat,” Ashes explained. “Ivy, because she always used to pet them. And their natural form. I think they’re moping for that too.”

“But they’re fucking born like this!”

Ashes gave him a withering look. “I dunno what cats look like where you come from, but they don’t usually have eight legs, no tail and a taste for engine oil. I don’t think you’d be mentally well-adjusted if you’d been born that far from what your brain thinks you should be.” They paused. “Actually.”

Jonny gave them the finger. A second octokitten dropped from the ceiling and bit it. “Fuck!”