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Chapter 1: Darkness

He awoke in the darkness, which was almost starting to become routine at this point. His mind briefly wandered to the thought of what time it might be, but that was quickly drowned out by the nagging thirst he felt. He raised the bottle of jack that he had fallen asleep with still in his hands to his dry parched lips, and eagerly wrapped them around the end of the bottle. It was then that he fond that the bottle was empty, and he hurled the bottle into the far wall from his chair. The sound of a loud crash filled his head, followed by the sound of glass shards clattering loudly on the floor. It sounded louder than a bomb going off in his head, and he felt a deep ache behind his eyes and temples.

“Ime fur a little air of the og,” he slurred, still drunk as he clumsily got up from his chair. Slowly he made his way to the kitchen from the living room in the dark, not bothering to stop and turn the lights on. Along the way loud crashes rang through the house followed large strings of clumsy, jumbled swearing. Finally after what seemed like an eternity he made it to the fridge. When he opened the door he almost broke it, in his anger, after all the time and pain it took to make it there. The light in the fridge hadn't worked for a long time so he blindly reached in and grasped around until he found the shape he was looking for. He hurriedly removed the cap and brought the bottle filled with sweet nectar to his lips. His eyes went wide and he spit the contents of the bottle all over the fridge and yelled, “Ketchup?!” He hurled the bottle back into the fridge without returning the cap, “God damn it! Wheres the beer!” He only slightly registered the fact that he was speaking better than when he first awoke. It was then the cell in his pocket rang, he looked at the caller I.d and saw the number and realized it was Mike's work number, so he answered the call.

“Sorry Mike I can't talk right now...” He belched into the phone before he finished, “I have to kill my fridge.”

“John what the hell do you mean, you have to kill....” the phone went dead. That bastard is drunk again! And he's late for work. He was already up from his desk; coat in hand. The guy should be running our security department and the best I could get him is a janitors position. Even if he is probably the most over paid janitor in existence with salary not to far from six digits. And now I gotta go clean up after him like some kind of big baby. John was an ex U.S. Army Ranger, not just that but he was the leader of a black ops squad that carried out classified missions all over the world. The man was highly trained, talented, and now he was a drunk, sullen, shell of a man whom felt he had no purpose in existing. Today was Monday, and with every Monday John was late, but even when he was late he was usually in by now. It was two O'clock. Luckily for Mike his boss liked him and tolerated johns tardiness because when he was there he did his job and didn't nose around. The reason John made so much money was because Dyna-tech was very protective of their secrets. Nothing out-sourced was allowed into research areas without being scanned and checked. And if you didn't work for the company you didn't go past reception or the shipping bay period. Exec's that needed to meet with a client not belonging to the company did so out side the building over lunch or something of that nature, unless someone at the top cleared that person. So even someone like a janitor still made anywhere between seventy to eighty thousand dollars a year. Dyna-tech was smart to buy of their employees silence with money. Conversely of course, if you were caught selling company secrets they didn't hesitate to take the consequences to their fullest extent. Those few times that it did happen, they made sure they made an example of the individual in question. He just couldn't let John ruin a good thing like this.

But this was one of those more frequently occurring bad days, and this needed to stop, not only for johns sake but for the sake of mike's job and reputation. Mike was the only person John even spoke more than two words too any more. Nearly two years before he was still out in the shit, fighting what he always said was the good fight. He used to be proud of himself and what he did, but not anymore. His task force was sent to recover a rogue nuclear device, but something went wrong and the mission nearly failed until he had turned the situation around, and rallied them to success. They ended up recovering the device and only had one casualty. But that was enough to break him, because the one ended up being the girl he had fallen in love with. She had sacrificed her self by putting herself between him and a .50 caliber gun. The enemy was somehow warned of them coming, and even in the cover of darkness they had found them. The enemy had set a trap for them, they knew the time they would be coming, the direction they would be coming from, everything. She only took two shots, but both were too bad to save her life. One she took hit in the main Femoral artery of her right leg and another through the back of her plate carrier vest about an inch to the left of the heart, but because of the caliber of the round fired it still destroyed part of her heart and the surrounding area of the shot itself. He had to hold her in his arms as she died telling him how she had loved him, and it was worth it, if she got too save his life. He didn't agree.

Mike sighed as he reached John's driveway, he had gotten depressed thinking about what had made John this way, on his way there. And seeing the condition of his house and yard didn't lift his mood either. The grass in the yard was at least two feet tall, at least where it wasn't dead and scorched from the sun. Vines grew unchecked up the siding and over the windows, pieces of the gutters hung loosely in the air from what was left of the brackets or the long spikes that also held them in. The roof itself also looked as if it desperately needed to be re-shingled.

Mike frowned, “enough of this he needs to be taken care of whether he likes it or not. And I've got just what he needs whether he wants to take it or not.” Mike knew it wouldn't be as easy as all that, but he was determined to get him out of this woeful state one way or another. He tried knocking for a while but no-one answered so he let him self in. The house was pitch black, none of the lights were on and all the blinds were drawn shut. After turning the lights on he walked into the living room after seeing John's head sticking over the top of the recliner. When he got to the front of the chair he couldn't help but sigh in frustration as he dragged his palm down his face in mixed disgust, frustration. John was covered red flecks, that he was afraid to ask, how they had gotten there. Three toes on one foot were bandaged and the arch of the other foot, as well as one of his hands. Too top it of, all he had on was a tank top and a ratty pair of boxers.

“I told you I had to kill my fridge,” John smiled tiredly.

“Do I even want to go into the kitchen to see?”

“Probably not. Hell I don't even want to. Not exactly one of my prouder moments, lets just say ketchup is not a good substitute for water,” he laughed in his deep full voice. John was still a really good looking guy even with the scar that ran down from his left temple around his eye and mouth down to his chin and the burn on the same side of his neck. Both of which he received from that day. He could have met plenty of other girls and landed them if he tried, but he refused to have any social life. Mike laughed both at johns little joke and the knowledge that he was about to change his life, if he could just get him to let him do so. He didn't even want to know how that ketchup event had happened, but he still found it funny.

“Your late again you know?”

“I'm not late, look how dark it still is.” Mike sighed yet again and walked over to the blinds and yanked them open one by one

“Ok, ok I get it, knock it off!” He yelled as he covered his eyes from harsh sun-lite cascading into the room. He got up stumbled awkwardly up the stairs to go and change in his work cloths and grab a pair of sunglasses for the ride into work. It was about ten minutes later when he came back downstairs and headed right for the door, “come on slug man, lets go.” He said with a smirk on his face

“Slug man!? Your the one I had to come here and bail out cause your late... again,” Mike yelled back.

“Waitin' on you now, c'mon,” this caused mike to sigh loudly once again and throw his hands up in surrender, but when John wasn't looking he let himself smile a little. It wasn't often this side of his best friend made an appearance, and it gave him hope that his plan for him could work. They climbed into the car and made for mike's office, it was only about fifteen minutes away, and then he could hopefully begin his friends road to recovery. That is if he could get him to accept the contract, he had a feeling he was in for a long argument.It wasn't long before they were in Mike's office relaxing in some comfortable leather chairs across from each other at a small table, a glass of water in each of their hands. Although this was Johns fifth glass.

“So what it is you need to talk to me about that we need to be in your office? Am I fired or something?” He rolled his eyes before continuing, “not that I would be surprised.”

“No fish boy your not fired, keep this idiocy up and you will be though,” He said as he watched his buddy glug down another cup of water. John rolled his eyes again.

“Look man I'm hung over, I need water. All kidding aside, what is it you wanted to talk about, I know how it looks man but I'm not gunna do anything crazy... at least not on purpose. I swore to her that I wouldn't waste what she did for me, even if I don't want to” Mike sighed yet again as he pinched his thumb and forefinger on the bridge of his nose in frustration on how to brooch this subject without making him too mad. John simply continued to stare at him waiting for him to begin, he clearly wasn't going to make this easy, not that he had figured he would.

“John, you remember that synth-skin we produced about ten years ago, that I told you about? You've seen how that revolutionized treatment for burn victims and skin graft procedures in general. A synthetic skin that not only looked exactly like to patients real skin but was able to register not only temperature, but touch of various ranges of degrees and it could even allow them to sweat and grow hair just like normal.” John simply nodded still waiting for him to get to the point. He took a drink before continuing, feeling a bit nervous now. “Well all of that was simply a side-effect to a greater goal. Not only is Dyna-tech the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, we are also the largest company in the world period. They have their hands in just about everything and own more company's than you could have ever thought possible. They have ties to military applications all the way down to more wholesome things like dog food. One of the biggest and longest running projects they have been working on is a humanoid, cybernetic AI.”

John's brow creased together in thought, Mike raised his hand before he started to fire off questions, “Please. I'm not done yet. Well that project finished about a week an a half ago, and about two years after they had wanted it finished, but the finished product was worth the wait. I have to warn you that these have been tested and are perfectly safe, I've tested one myself in the final beta stages. The higher ups have given me the go-ahead to select you as one of fifty people to market test the first run of our Synthia line.” It was then that John got up and went for the door, but when he got to the door he found that it was locked. He grit his teeth as he turned to Mike, “Unlock the door now, or I'll tear the damn thing down.” Mike simply shook his head, “ God damn it mike, I'm not going to sleep with a hunk of metal to replace the person I loved.” Mike remained calm and kept his face even as he continued, “ Look John I know this is a strange thing for me to ask you, and I'm not saying you have to sleep with her. All I'm asking is that you take her home for a week or two, or maybe even longer if you should change your mind. She will cook, clean, mow the lawn, whatever you ask her to do. If after you have her for those two weeks you don't want her there anymore, call me up and I'll have them pick her up and you will never have to deal with her again. On a side note along with her comes twenty grand to spend on things for her like clothing or going on the town what ever you want to use it for. They want the market testers to be bale to take full advantage of her abilities and we don't want bank accounts to hinder the testing” Mike could see that John still wasn't sold but he had at least calmed down a bit. “Look man, I just don't think I can do it. I'm not interested in some monotonic obedient slave wandering around my house. I appreciate that your trying to help and all but this isn't gunna cut it.” He walked over and clasped Johns shoulder with one hand and looked at him sadly and with sincerity in his eyes, “You need this man, I know it's not ideal but at least let her come over and fix the place up, and maybe it will push you in a better direction.” He had walked over to the leather chair again and put his head in his hands, “Besides were both on our last straw here, it seems I stuck my neck out to far and now if you end up fired so do I. So please John, for me?” John walked back over to his chair and sat across from him, “Alright. tell me everything I need to know about taking care of this thing.” Mike smiled and took in a deep and cleansing breath. “Her,” he corrected, with a smile. “It,” He glared back. “Her,” he simply repeated still smiling. John rolled his eyes. “whatever.” “You really won't have to do much of anything to take care of her, she is after all created to take care you, not the other way around. If anything happens that you need to help her to fix she will notify you or contact us through her wireless connection, and then we will be there to fix the problem. You wont have to do more than pick up a phone really.” John just shook his head slowly, as he stared into his friends eyes, “can't you see that, that isn't companionship, it's slavery. I can't even sugar coat it, and say she's a house keeper, because they get paid,” he practically yelled the last word. “You can't ask me to treat it as a human, and then be ok with having it working in my home like a slave. But I'm going to do this for you, but after two weeks its gone.” “Ok, john. First I have to tell you, two weeks is the minimum, but if you should decide to keep her around the contract ends after 3 months. At that point you have to return her, should you decide that you want to keep her we will have to send you another, as she will be kept here and her memory of her interactions with you recorded for our records. Any model sent to you after that point will keep all of the information of your interactions private. Once they are on sale the privacy of our customers is of the utmost importance, but since you not paying for the first model, she essentially remains the Property of Dyna-tech.” He slid the papers over to John as he finished, “Now if you could just read and sign this, ill go over all her features and she should arrive within a week... and thank you John, I really feel this will help you.” John just gave him a weak smile as he reached over and began to read his contract.

Chapter 2: A Glimmer

He sat there staring at the large wooden crate that the delivery guys left in his living room, a glass of jack and coke in his hands that the ice had long since melted in. He must have been sitting there for about an hour now, his head swimming somewhere between rage, and eagerness. An eagerness to just open the crate, get this whole damn mess over with. The crate was roughly six foot tall and 30 inches wide, and about three and a half foot deep. It had taken three guys to move into the house, and it would only fit through the door one way. John had refused to even lift a hand as they brought it in, and sifted through the sea of junk on his floor to clear a spot for the crate to be set down. John couldn't help but be impressed by what this hunk of fake skin and wires was supposed to be able to do. Mike had explained everything he could remember to him, and it had taken a good two hours to do so. Apparently it would be able to talk and enter social situations so well that nobody would be able to tell the difference between it and the real women in the room. And as far as looks went, Mike had assured him any other woman in the room would be jealous of her. It would be able to swim , shower, cook, laugh, hell it was even supposed to be capable of small bits of humor after being active a while and learning more human subtleties. After about another fifteen minutes of staring at the blank crate he reached over beside him, grabbing the crowbar he had set down on the side table next to his chair. With a grunt he stood up, and walked over to the crate and jammed the end of the crow bar into the seam where the two walls met. With another small grunt pulled, and the wall came apart from the other with little effort on his part. He may not have been in nearly the shape he had once been in, but no lousy crate would give him trouble. Not if he had anything to say about it, he thought, with a nod of dominance toward the wall section now laying on the floor. When he looked back over at the crate he could see what now stood inside. It was a tall chamber that looked like one of those expensive single person showers with the big glass doors. The whole thing was trimmed in silver and across the center of the chamber door was a touch monitor. John pressed on the screen but nothing happened, so he tried again and still nothing at first.

Suddenly a monotone voice sounded from the speaker, “ please speak your name into the speaker for voice recognition.” He grunted in anger at forgetting that Mike had told him he would need to do this.

“John Archer,” He yelled into the speaker, over pronouncing it. “Voice print accepted as, John Archer, 37 Pine st, Hudson county, New York 07306. The activation process will begin momentarily, please wait.” It only took a few moments before it continued, but he found his eyes caught by the presence behind the glass he hadn't noticed before. He couldn't make out the details through the foggy glass, but he could see the clear outline of a feminine figure. He felt something stir in him as he gazed at the image of the female form inside the glass.

“ Please select a name for your companion,” the voice droned out to him. He smiled, he knew just what to do with this thing. If he was going to be forced into this situation he was going to get something out of it, he was going to get to be with her on last time. He began to work on the little keyboard that stuck out from the door. First her name; Melisa. After that he was a flurry of energy and emotion. By the time he was done, the 3-D representation looked just like his lost love. Five foot ten emerald green eyes with pouty red lips, and short blonde hair that made her eyes seem even brighter. B-cup breasts, small but perky, defying gravity. A flat tone athletic belly, and body overall, which he had used sliders to adjust. Long legs that went up to a rear that was perfectly rounded into a bubble butt. Not much later he found his hand hovering over the confirm button, remembering what Mike had warned him about. He had told him that he needed to be sure what he wanted, because after this point only some of those things could be changed. Her height would only be able to be changed by an inch at most without using things like heels, and making her shorter would be impossible. Breast size could only change by a sup size once this initial phase had ended. Also any muscle tissue could only change by small degrees. It all could be completely reset if need be, but that cost nearly half what the robot cost. When he asked why, Mike went on to explain that once he pushed the button the tank in the back was filled with a special protein solution that fed into the robot to grow the artificial muscle tissue, and the breasts to the programed size. This process also consequently locked her height to roughly that size, while the skeleton would still be able to change its size the muscles would only stretch or get squashed, making for a really unappealing companion. Once the tissue went through the initial growth process it would no longer accept protein into it in large enough quantity to grow and starving them would only cause problems elsewhere. Changing her fully, required a tech visit, payment for a new artificial musculature system and refilling of the protein solution. But still he didn't care, she would be his again, with that thought he pressed his finger down hard on the large flashing green button.

“Thank you, please wait twelve hours for the initial setup process to complete,” Johns eyes went wide in surprise. Twelve hours? He didn't know he would have to wait that long for this damn thing to fill up. Gritting his teeth in anger he walked back over to the stand next to his black reclining chair and grabbed the now warm jack and coke, slid it all down his throat in one gulp. But that wasn't enough to quench his anger, nor his thirst. He sat down in his chair and grabbed the bottle that was still sitting on the table and took a long pull from the bottle, quickly followed by another. It wasnt long before he found himself slipping into a deep sleep, bottle in hand, once again. He didn't care, he just let it happen.

“Archer! How did they know we were coming!?” “I don't know hutch! Mclintock, get over here corporal!” After a brief pause a feminine voice yelled back over the mic. “But sir, I have the shot. Let me do my job,” she pleaded. “I gave you an order soldier, get that ass down here! Hutch, Erickson, you made it to the flank yet?” “Nearly there sir, E.T.A two minutes,” came Hutch's voice, quickly followed by Erikson. The enemy had set up a good defense, and even though they knew they were coming, the element of surprise still aided them. John could tell as they approached the little camp recessed into the mountain that they knew they were coming. How they knew would have to come when he got his team outta there, for now he had played the waiting game, changed the time and the angle of attack, as much as he could on such short notice. The outer patrols had already been eliminated and he estimated there to be no more than ten left in the main encampment, fifteen in total. According to Intel they only had one more hour before the enemy contact was supposed to arrive and take the device off the groups hands that had acquired it through unknown means. The group had arranged their group of three large transport trucks into a wide U-shape, providing the best cover they could get considering what they had. John and his team had only some trees and a few large rock formations for cover. But between the darkness of night and their training they had gained the advantage, and he wanted to press it. “Be there in one,” he ordered. “Yes sir,” they replied in unison. Mclintock still hadn't gotten her rear back there , and he didn't have time to wait for her, so he started to hoof it over to her high rock formation she had taken roost in. Just as he arrived she was reaching the bottom, and upon seeing him moved in close beside him. “Two less contacts to worry about sir,” she said with a sly smile spread across her lips. She was now removing the night vision scope from the top rail of her Masada ACR; which stood for adaptive combat rifle. She had a suppressor attached to the end of her barrel, an angled for-grip on the bottom of the shroud, and a sliding buttock with adjustable cheek-well, and to top it off, she had it set up to fire the higher power 762 round, leaving her with the mobility of an ACR but higher stopping power. She had the rifle set up just perfectly for her roll as marksman of the group. In a matter of moments she had replaced her scope with their standard Eo-tech holo sight. “I don't care, next time you follow my orders,” he commanded, only allowing the faintest hint of a smile to pass over his lips. She simply nodded and readied her weapon and stance to move back over to where Jacobs was still watching for movement from where john was before. John held out his left hand and raised three fingers up, quickly counting down from there. He didn't wait for any response that she understood, as there didn't need to be. As soon as his hand formed a fist he began to move slowly and silently back to where Jacobs still sat looking for any sign of movement. Suddenly in the distance John saw the bright flash of a reflection, and before he could react he felt Mclintock slam into the side of his body as two loud cracks filled the air. As quickly as those loud sounds where heard, Jacobs fired two shots right to the firing position of the sniper. “Kill confirmed,” came his voice over the com system. Just like that his team began to move, John and Jacobs laid down a heavy suppressing fire while the two flanking members made their move. John heard roughly twelve shots from the flanking crew, then everything went quiet. “We have the package, and were making our way back to you.” John didn't reply, he had already ran to Mclintocks side, “Melisa, are you ok? Say something.” Any semblance of control was gone, over his concern for her. As he rolled her over It was then that he saw the oozing hole in her chest.

Johns eyes shot open suddenly as he gasped, leaping to his feat holding the bottle of jack by the stem with both hands, brandishing it as if it were a claymore. He began to breath faster and faster, and quickly yanked the waste basket from under the side table, and unceremoniously deposited all of the nights liquids into it. It was then he saw the image of what he had done in his drunken state, spinning slowly on the screen of the chamber of that thing. “What have I done...,” he mumbled despondently. Already he had stumbled his way over to the monitor, and had begun thrashing away at the keyboard. He let out a sigh of relief when he saw that it still had four hours left before it would be completed. Try as he might though, he couldn't get anything to let him change her appearance. There was no way he would let this machine make a mockery of the women he loved. An hour quickly passed by and he still hadn't gotten any where, and to top it off his hangover was starting to kick in fast. He was running out of time and needed to act fast, it was four in the morning, but he didn't have any choice. He had to call Mike, he was the only one he trusted with this problem. With that thought he had already produced the phone from his pocket, had it up to his ear ringing. When he didn't answer he started firing off texts, about a minute later his phone rang; it was Mike.

“This better be important, and you’d better not be drunk, or I'm hanging up and turning the phone off.” His voice was groggy and he clearly wasn't totally awake, but he would be soon. He hoped. “You gotta help me man, I fucked up, I fucked up real bad,” he took a loud audible breath. “i turned it into Melisa... you gotta help me undo it.” Suddenly Mike found himself sitting bolt upright, and wide awake. “Jesus Christ! What were you thinking,” his voice incredulous. “I wasn't... I was drunk... look just help me fix it. We've only got like two and half hours left,” the desperation in his voice clear. “OK, OK, just calm down and tell me how far along the progress bar is." “About three quarters of the way to full.” “Alright gimme a minute to think,” He said as he brushed his fingers through his hair, now feeling stressed. Having the Cynthia look like that wouldn't help anybody. After a couple of minutes he had all his thoughts in order and began, “ OK highlight the override tab and click on that, then click on administration. When it asks for a user name and password type in my full name with no spaces, then for the password type in, Iddqdclip12,” he said each part of the password one at a time to make sure he got it right. “Now what,” his reply was anxious. “Now go back to the setup screen and click the change appearance button that should now be there. Now, when it asks if you are sure you want to do this, just click yes. No need to waste time on reading all that.” Mike sighed, as he found himself doing often with John lately. “She is too far along now to change some things, such as height and body mass. The rest will now only change as far as the new notches on the slider bars are. You're lucky that the program builds her from the ground up, you'll still be able to change her face and hair fully. Now you have fun, I'm going back to sleep, its the weekend and I want to sleep in... asshole,” he let his laugh carry over the phone. “Thanks mike.” “No problem,” hanging up, he left it at that.

Slowly he opened his eyes, to the sight of his empty bottle of jack lying on its side on the table that was next to his chair. It was then that he also noticed that he had a thin blanket draped over himself, and that the light was no longer on, to make his head throb. He stood up, letting the blanket fall to the ground, and gripped the arm of the chair as he did. He had expected to be more unbalanced than he was, but when he stopped for a moment he noticed he didn't feel bad at all. He supposed it should make sense, after all he had fallen asleep when he was already hung over. The only thing he felt now was a strong desire for food, water.

“So now your tucking me in at night too...,” his words trailed of as he saw the feminine figure standing at the sink in his kitchen when he walked in. Her back was turned away from him as she idly scrubbed a frying pan, her round butt shaking back and forth as she did so. She had short raven black hair, that was cut into a bob and feathered at the bottom, with a bit a of a layered look to it. John loved a woman with that kind of hair, he liked the way it framed the face but would still show off a woman’s beautiful slender neck. He shook himself from his staring and closed his jaw, as he watched her turn to face him. “Hello, master. Are you feeling better now,” her soft voice lilted through the air, almost dancing in his ear. He would have gotten lost listening to her voice if it wasn't for the fact that there seemed to be no emotion to it and her eyes were pure white, with no color at all. “Are you ready to begin the secondary setup? You can choose to answer some questions now, for example whether or not you want me to be dirty in bed or more innocent. Or...” “Whoa, whoa, whats the other option?” he stopped it, not wanting to get involved in those kinds of questions with this glorified dishwasher. “The second option is to allow my A.I to learn what you like as I get to know you.” “Ok, number two sounds fine, just don't count on getting to know me. Your out of here in two weeks.” “Selection confirmed, please wait while my companion A.I loads, so that you may begin getting to know me.” She said in that same emotionless voice, completely ignoring the later part of his statement. He took a step back as her eyes flashed a bright white. After he rubbed the flash from his eyes he saw that she now had soft, gentle looking, bright blue eyes. Seeing him staring now, it smiled to him warmly, and then looked around the room. “Hello master, is there anything you would like me to do for you?” It asked him, this time a look of concern passing over its features. It was then that he realized he hadn't said or done anything since it had activated its A.I. He couldn't get over how real it looked, the smile, the way it breathed, the way the simple gray jumpsuit it was wearing clung to every curve of its body. He could feel a rush of excitement in his belly, and lower, from staring at it. He watched as its hips swayed provocatively to each side as she took each step, both of its slender arms reaching toward him. It wasn't until it had his head gently held in its hands, moving its head side to side looking into each eye for something. “Are you ok, master,” its breath was warm on his face as it spoke, he stared at its lips. Her bottom lip was wide and pouty, and her upper lip was thin and turned up into a point in the middle, just slightly. It had a small button nose that also pointed upwards just a bit, and just the slightest smattering of, light, freckles across her cheeks. He gasped suddenly, and she jumped back a step letting out the tiniest squeak as she did. “I have to go and run some errands,” he said, sucking in a deep breath, not having realized he had held his breath the whole time. “Would you like me to drive you there master?” “What, you can drive? No, no, no your not coming." “But I thought we would be getting to know each other,” it said, with a clear look of disappointment on its face. “No, I need time to think,” he replied with a sour tone, his mood shifting quickly. “What would you like me to do while your gone master?” “I don't care, figure something out!” He yelled, wanting the thing to just do its own thing and leave him alone. He stormed out of the house, jumping in his old silver Volkswagen and speeding away. He drove for what turned out to be a couple of hours, before he pulled back into the driveway. He just sat there in his car, not wanting to go inside and have to deal with his would be slave. After about another twenty minutes, he got out of the car and stomped toward the house. “Nobody is gunna make me feel awkward in my own home, especially some stupid appliance,” he mumbled out-loud, still angry being stuck in this situation. She was coming down the stairs as he walked into the house, the moment it saw him a friendly smile bloomed on its face. He glared at it, annoyed by the realism of her fake emotions, and feelings for him. It was about to speak but he just cut it off, all he had to do was ignore it for a couple weekends and he could escape most of the weekdays at work. “Leave me alone,” he said bitterly. The weekend went by slowly but he had made it through, it had tried many times to speak with him or get him to order it around but he refused to acknowledge it. Things went by faster during the week, it tried to make him dinner, but he refused to eat anything it made. When he ignored it, it would usually end up cleaning some things up around his house before coming to bother him again after a few hours. Soon it was the last of the two Friday's before his minimum time for his side of the contract was over. But after all this time, most of the house was clean and she followed him around incessantly. When did he start to think of it as a she? Try as he might he couldn't remember when that distinction had taken place, that set him in a foul mood right away. He stalked into the kitchen and opened the fridge, opening the door he began to sift through its contents. When did it fix the firdge? That made him even madder, as he shoved things around looking for anything to drink. “What happened to all the damn beer!?” his voice was loud, and he was sure the neighbors heard him, but he didn't care. “We've been out for seventy six hours and fourteen minutes, master,” She said with that same amazing smile, that never seemed to leave its face when it spoke to him. He growled and went over to the kitchen table, sinking down into a chair. “Would you like me to go and purchase some, there is a seven eleven five hundred and sixty one meters from here, master.” That was it, not only would she not leave him alone but the way she could tell him exactly how far from his house the god damn seven eleven was, really pissed him off. “ No! I don't want you to do anything, I never wanted you here in the first place. Stop calling me master, I'm not interested in a slave, it is impossible for you to be a companion if I'm your master. Those to terms don't mesh together. All I want is for you to leave me alone and not bother me until Monday, at which point my contract with you is done, and I'm sending you back. He didn't wait for her to try and argue some weird logic to him or to say anything for that matter. He simply walked into the living room and turned on the football game. “Lions are losing again, of course,” he sighed to himself as he settled in to watch his favorite team lose again. About an hour later there was a knock at his door, “Hm Mike must be coming to check up on me since I haven't said anything to him about her yet.” He groaned as he noticed he referred to it as a she again. The knock on the door sounded out again, this time much louder than the last. He was about half way to the door, when Mike came barging through, he looked to each side of him as he entered the house. The dining room which was attached to the kitchen was to his right and john was to his left in the living room. He wave an arm hurriedly toward the kitchen, then immediately turned to John and walked purposefully toward him. Three people followed behind him carrying crates and large metal suit cases, but they went into the kitchen. Mike grabbed him up by the collar and started shoving him toward the door, before long they were outside. He couldn't believe Mike was doing this, he was about six foot even and about a hundred eighty pounds, which essentially made him the size of john. Mike was in good shape, but john was a big guy, even if he had let himself go. It wasn't to long ago people had said he was a monster. "Whoa, what are you doing man," he said, surprised by Mikes anger "Why am I getting message from your companion, that she is broken and unable to perform her tasks properly? That shecan't stop making you angry?" He didn't wait for john to answer, he just continued his vocal assault.

“Take it easy were here to help, what your name.” The woman said as she began unpacking a series of machines, the other two were doing the same thing. “I... do not... have one,” she managed between sobs. The woman raised one eyebrow questioningly, her eyes wide in shock. “Ok, well then, for now I'm going to call you Cynthia. Please explain what happened, what was the error you encountered.” Her head was in her hands as she sobbed, she didn't want john to see her crying, she didn't want to upset him. But everything she did seemed to make him made, she was the worst companion he could have had, there was nothing she did right. When she first saw him, looking at her with almost a child like wonderment she thought she was going to make him very happy. But from the moment she first spoke he seemed to get more and more unhappy with her. She had run a hundred fifteen scans of her systems since being activated but everything turned up functional. But there had to be something wrong with her if he didn't want her around, she couldn't find any other explanation. One of the other technicians had opened the panel on the back of her neck to hook up the diagnostic machine, this made her gasp in surprise as he slid the plug into her USB 3.0 port. “Hello? Cynthia can you hear me, did he hurt you?,” the young woman waved her hands in front of her face. “No, no, he never hit me or abused me,” she waved her hands in front of her face adamantly, then started to quickly explain what she had done wrong. After fifteen minutes and some tears, and a bit of hugging and consoling from the tech, she had finished her story of what happened. Again the test results showed that she was fully functional, and all programs functioned well within tolerance. When she had asked how that could be if she was still making him so upset, the nurse said 'He's just a self loathing asshole' which Cynthia told her she didn't like her saying that about John.

Mike was lecturing and yelling at him, but he didn't pay any attention to it, he had heard it all before anyway. Besides that, he was distracted by what he saw through the dining room window, which was wide open for anyone to see in. Not that it mattered, he lived in a community built by the corporation and only corporate employees lived here anyway. What had distracted him so much, was her, and for the first time he didn't care that he referred to her as a she. She was sitting there in the dining room, tears streaming down her face. He watched in his trance like state, as she seemed to be going over everything that happened, waving her arms in the air sometimes, to emphasize certain points. In her distress she was speaking loudly, and he heard her on quite a few occasions claim that she was faulty , and that something must be wrong with her, if he was so unhappy with her. Mike stopped yelling, not because he was done but because of what he saw. When Mike looked into the house he could plainly see the Cynthia droid balling her eyes out. And there on Johns face was a genuine look of concern, and what he thought could even be pain. Then he heard the technician talk about John rather loudly, and what seemed to be on purpose. Johns eye widened in shock as the fembot asked her not to say things about him like that. It was then that Cynthia looked out the window at him, and saw him staring through the window, genuine concern spread on his face. John watched as she gasped and covered her mouth with both hands, she started crying anew. The technicians hurriedly packed up their things and started to make their way through the door. She walked between the technicians her head hung down, tears still rolling down her cheeks. It wasn't until they brought her outside that he noticed how dirty her thin gray jumpsuit was. Black marks were spread all over it, there was a hole on the inner thigh of her left leg, and a rip across her stomach, exposing some of her creamy white skin. The only dirt on any of her skin though, was on her face, from all the crying she had done, he couldn't help but wonder how many times he had made her cry. Almost on impulse he ran over to her, and with a gentleness that surprised even him, placed a hand on her shoulder. She turned to him, her face full of questions, eyes shining from the tears forming in them. She placed a hand on his, it was soft... it felt... warm. “I'm sorry I failed you... John,” she seemed hesitant to use his name, almost afraid. The sound of her saying his name so sadly almost melted him right there, he felt terrible. “You have nothing to be sorry for... Diane,” He tasted the name he had thought up for her on his lips for the first time, he liked it. Her eyes lit up a bit, her mouth opened quivering a bit, but nothing came out. “I've been through somethings in the last few years, that turned me into kind of a jerk. The only reason that you couldn't connect with me was because I wouldn't let you.” Stopping for a moment he looked over to Mike, who nodded and waived the others away. They didn't go far though, they simply put their things in their van and stood around it, waiting to see how this would end up. He turned back to Diane again who had just the faintest hint of a smile in the corners of her mouth. “The thing is... the thing is.. I've been too afraid to let anyone new into my life, that way I would never have to worry about losing them. I became a shell of what I once was, a drunk... a jerk to be honest. Then this man gave me the chance to get to know you... and I almost ruined that too.” He look over to Mike who simply nodded solemnly to him that he understood. When he turned back around, she wrapped her arms around his chest and buried her head in his shoulder. He could feel the tears roll off her cheeks and soak through his shirt. The feeling of her soft body pressed into him felt good, he could feel her oh so soft chest pressed against his. It rose and fell with each of her rapid breaths, involuntarily his arm wrapped around her back and rubbed it soothingly. After a short time he placed a hand on one of her hips and the other on her shoulder, gently pushing her from their embrace. “Why don't you go inside and get cleaned up, and afterword’s we'll go to the store and get you some cloths.” Her eyes lit up with excitement, and she ran into the house with almost a child like enthusiasm. “I'm proud of you John.” “We'll see,” was all he could say. And before Diane made it back out, Mike and his team had left.

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