Workspace Difficulties

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In the capital city of New Emporia, on the lower end of the Northern Industrial District sat the tall, shining Astirius building, all the way up on the twenty third floor was Erik Varon’s office. Though calling it an office was almost an insult to what it really was. The space included a reception area, complete with a large mahogany desk. Standard fare for any work space could be found there. A drawer filled with notepads and pens, a desktop computer, calendars and planners, though most of them went unused at the moment. Plastered across the front of the desk was the large Astirius logo, printed in hard angular black and red. Just behind the desk were floor to ceiling double paned glass windows. They were thick, intentionally, like every other high rise building there was always the threat of some corporate executive trying to throw themselves to their death. The public reason for it was safety, no one wanted to accidentally push away from their desk too hard and find themselves tumbling towards the ground.

Standing in the space between the desk and the windows, arms crossed over one another and resting just below her chest was Claire. She wasn’t the kind of tall, imposing figure that one might assume a prototype android. She was a collaborative effort between the three main departments within Astirius. The robotics department had put their finest minds into creating a chassis that could be both flexible and reliable. The Artificial Intelligence division had spent years and millions of dollars developing the finest artificial mind that anyone on the planet ever had. From the energy and weapons department, a power core that could be recharged over and over, likely outlasting several generations of humans before it needed to be replaced. She wasn’t so much a gift to Erik as she was an assistant and aide to him.

Claire stood in front of the windows, gazing out at the city twenty three stories below her and began dwelling on her day's tasks. She was gently tapping her foot, the stiletto heels she wore clicked sharply against the polished tile floor in the reception area. Her dark slacks and matching jacket gave her relatively slender body a dark silhouette look as the rising sun began to shone through the windows. Her eyes were closed, the small seams that ran from the top and bottom portion of her eye sockets seemed to catch the sunlight and darken just a little. It was a trick of the light and shadows cast by the rising sun, but it prominently showed off that she was, in fact, not a human.

Claire was an experimental unit, something of a prototype. Assembled from the best and brightest in the company and assigned as Erik’s personal aide. She was assigned to Erik, not because of some special request, but rather because he was good friends with the CEO, and as a head in the artificial intelligence department having an advanced artificial mind in his service was well within his purview.

Presently, though, Claire was waiting for Erik to leave his suite. A small apartment to the right of the entry foyer that he could use as a temporary residence for late nights or weekends at the office. His work kept him busy and late nights were not unheard of, and because of that he had the suite built into his office space, and had it stocked with a few changes of clothing, refreshments, and a small additional room for Claire to call her own. Afterall, Claire needed a place to change her own clothes, recharge the power cells inside of her, and with an artificial intelligence that was, for all intents and purposes, fully sentient, she needed a place to be her own person. The two had been working closely with each other for long enough that they had crested from a robot and employee, to close co-workers and now into a solid friendship. Work time was always professional, and downtime was always filled with a hint of sarcastic humor and surprisingly rousing discussions.

Today though, Claire was up early enough to have dressed herself in an incredibly professional tight fitting suit. Dark slacks and a jacket, with complimenting dark colours on the vest and blouse. Her hair was pulled back into a loose fitting ponytail, with a small amount of hair framing one side of her face. She had managed to strike the complicated balance between looking professional and attractive all at once. Standing in front of the windows overlooking the city she pursed her red lips together and manually pulled up the clock inside of her operating system, checked the time and then closed the process. Her foot continued to impatiently tap against the floor until the sound of the lock on the door leading to the suite clicked. Claire turned her head to glance over at Erik as he slipped out and gently closed the door behind him.

“It can’t have taken you that long just to get dressed.” Claire commented as he twisted the handle to close the door silently.

“That’s not all I was doing to get ready for my day.” Erik responded with a tone that sounded annoyed, but Claire knew better. She had months of audio recordings of his voice stored inside of her. She knew when he was actually upset and when he was feigning a tone.

“Mmhmm. Did you leave any charge in her at all?” Claire shot back.

“I’m very sure I don’t know what you are referring to.” Erik replied, straightening his slate grey tie and standing up straight.

“I’ll schedule a maintenance session from Alex down in robotics to give her a once over, tune her up, recharge her. The usual.” Claire said, unfolding her arms, thrusting them into her pants pockets and turning to fully look at Erik. He was wearing a fully grey and black suit and he filled it out nicely. At his side was a moderate suitcase, equally as fancy as the clothes he wore.

“You’ll be gone for..?” Claire asked, knowing the answer but also wanting confirmation. It’s what she did.

“Just a week. Should be a really short trip. Make sure everything runs smoothly around here. There are leftovers in the fridge, kiss kiss, see you later sweetie.” Erik replied and the pair shared a moment where both of them attempted not to laugh. With as close as the two had become, there were times where someone had commented that Claire was almost Erik’s work daughter rather than his assistant, to which both had immediately begun mocking each other every chance they got. Eventually, a genuine laughter broke out between the two

“Tell you what. You take care of Sophie for me this week. The boys down in robotics are good, but they treat her like a piece of equipment.” Erik said, then turned away from Claire, lugging along his suitcase. He stepped through the reception area, and then out into the hallway, leaving Claire not only alone in Erik’s office suite, but temporarily in charge of many of his day to day tasks. She smirked to herself, loving the idea of being a semi-free unit at the moment. While she was required to obey direct orders from Erik, he never stooped to that level, and she was more than happy to work with him rather than for him.

After about a minute of idle tasks Claire wirelessly received an alert inside of her operating system. The alert let her know that she had been granted access to Erik's room, as well as administrator access to Sophie, Erik’s personal sexbot. She was sure that he had simply checked a few boxes in a piece of software to grant her access, but it felt like he was personally giving her the permission to enter the space. As Claire looked up from the alert she somehow knew she had access to Sophie. She also knew that Erik had probably left her sprawled out and low on charge in the bedroom suite. The right thing to do was go and at least recharge her. So, Claire pushed herself away from the table and walked across the office entry and pressed her hand into the handle, twisting it and stepping into the entry room to the suite that her and Erik shared. She tossed a small glance to the right, looking at the door that led into her own room. She didn’t need anything from there for once, so she strode across the room and pushed open the door to Erik’s room.

The room was dark, even with the rising morning sun outside. The blinds had been drawn tight and only small slices of sunshine shone through in long beams that sliced through the darkness. The darkness concealed everything and the beams of light only revealed small portions of shapes where it touched down. Claire could see those shapes on the bed. Smooth flowing curves of pale legs that rose and fell as they contoured the calves and thighs. Further up the toned abdomen gave way to the rising of breasts and the sudden jutting nipple on the tip of one. The light seemed to make the otherwise deep dark mane of hair on her head sparkle and almost glow. Claire knew it was just a trick of light as it reflected off of the pigment that was applied to the artificial hair piece, but she admitted that it was a nice sight. Another beam touched the girl's nose and highlighted the wide but delicate nose on her face. The eyes were open still, staring off into an unknowable distance.

Sophie was laying on her back still, from what Claire could make out in the scattered shards of light her legs were spread wide, and so were her arms. There was a distinct smile on her face and, from what Claire could tell, she had been powered off while in a good mood. Claire leaned against the door jamb for a moment and surveyed the scene. Clothes were scattered around the room, all of them belonged to Sophie, that much was clear. The sheets were tousled and there was little mystery left to what was happening before Erik had left. Claire sucked in a deep breath and exhaled. She brought her index finger up and flicked on the lights in the room, illuminating the area but the scene was already set, there was nothing here that more light would reveal.

Stooping down over the low bed, Claire ran a hand along the back of Sophie’s head for a moment, enjoying the sensation of her hair tangled in between Claires fingers. She then moved to the small patch of skin just behind Sophie’s left ear for the power button that was hidden somewhere on the back of her head. Once she had located it she held it in for several seconds until power began to flow through the companion type android on the bed. Sophie’s eyes closed for only a moment before they flashed back open and the smile on her face transitioned from a lustful grin into a sweet smile of recognition.

“Claire, hi! Sorry about my state, Erik and I were having some fun. He had to shut me off though, or he would miss his flight out!” Sophie said as she sat up in the bed, not even bothering to cover her nakedness.

“He left me in charge of you while he’s out of town. So I figured I would start by recharging you a bit.” Claire said in response.

“Oh sure, let me just open that access panel for you.” Sophie said, and in an instant there was a small hiss from her chest.

A small hairline seam appeared in the center of her chest, just below her collar bone. From there it materialized in two directions, one racing straight down between her breasts, the other running to one side along the upper portions of her chest, following the natural contours of her collar bone. Once the seam line down the middle of her chest met the bottom of where her ribcage might be it gently curved downward and came to a stop. A full half of her chest sprang out a centimeter or so at which point Sophie reached up and pulled it open like one half of a cabinet door. There was a thick layer of pale flesh attached to a relatively thin piece of hard plastic. Inside of Sophie on the other hand, a tangled mass of cables could be seen. Most of which were bundled together inside some form of mesh netting or at very least ran to the same cluster of small circuit boards attached to her frame.

Claire raised an eyebrow. It hadn’t been what she had asked for, but knowing Erik it was what he had configured her to do. Opening up fully to allow him to plug her in for a charge, tinker with her internal workings, probably reprogram her or at very least tweak some settings. She couldn’t help but smirk at the idea of Sophie sitting on the bed, demure and submissive with her chest open, power plugged in, and Erik wrist deep inside of her. She smirked and shook her head.

Claire wasted little time gazing at the technological marvel that was Sophie, and retrieved her power cable and plugged it into the port that had been conveniently placed on the side of the girl’s torso. It wasn’t much work to leave over the side of her bed and plug her in to the wall port next to the bed.

“There we go, now, about those processes you were running before Erik had to leave” Claire said as a wicked smile began crossing her face. She had already turned over her right arm where a small panel just below the left wrist had opened. Inside was a simple cable with a data plug on the end of it. Claire used it to help her interface with other equipment around the facility more directly, and that was exactly what she was planning to do. She tugged some slack on the cable and was already moving towards one of the direct interface cards that was jutting out of another circuit board inside of Sophie.

“Oh I don’t know. Erik usually likes to- External device detected.” Sophie announced, her voice didn’t change pitch, so much as it was just a short interruption. Claire on the other hand only smiled and began to gently navigate her way through Sophie’s code base. With the administrator access that Erik had granted her there was little that she was restricted from. Sure, personality files and some of the necessary files for her operating system were off-limits, but most other aspects of her programming were on display and ready for Claire to modify as she saw fit. She had suspected that Sophie, while hand built to be a sex robot, had some built in loyalties. She belonged to Erik, and regardless of Claire’s level of access she was and always would be Erik’s girl. That didn’t mean that Claire couldn’t take her out on a loan for a bit.

It took very little time for Claire to locate Sophie’s internal database of acceptable users. There were several empty slots below Erik’s name and Claire took the liberty of adding herself to the list. From there it was just a matter of saving her work, and then as a means of speeding along the process, adjusted a few small settings inside Sophie’s core body control mechanisms to make her a little more ready.

“-External device detected-” Sophie had said before finishing her sentence. “Oh, sorry. Erik usually likes to keep me all to himself-” but then the changes Claire made took hold inside of Sophie. “- but for you I’m sure he would make an exception. After all, you're so pretty.”

Claire smiled, no disrespect for Sophie, but the ability to change an android's preferences on the fly was an incredible feat. Technically it was tough to modify an artificial mind in an instant, let alone modify exactly who was in control. The greatest feat of engineering that Erik’s team had done though, was the flawless transition from one thought process to the next. Sophie hadn’t even stuttered or stumbled as the changes were made. Claire knew that on some level that she was like that as well, but she didn’t feel like spiraling into a philosophical self examination of what or who the self really was.

The feeling of Sophie’s hands gently tracing the curvature of her chest brought Claire back to the present. Sophie’s sexual programming gently moved her hands from Claire’s chest to the series of buttons along her vest, each one popping free with little trouble. Claire lowered herself to the bed and reclined, laying her head on the small fortress of pillows at the head of the mattress and simply allowed Sophie to take the time to undress her. As each garment came loose and exposed more and more skin, Sophie planted hot kisses across the skin and Claire let her. Soon, her blouse was unbuttoned and sliding off of her shoulders, at which point Claire sat up and let Sophie kiss her on the mouth, sliding her synthetic tongue inside of Claire’s. The passionate kiss continued as Sophie pulled in close to Claire and reached around her back and began to unfasten Claire’s bra.

With her breasts freed now, Sophie began moving doward, leaving a trail of kisses along Claire’s jaw, then her neck, down across her chest with a particular set of kisses around each nipple and then down to her belly. Her hands were working faster than her mouth though, and Claire found her slacks were already sliding down her shapely legs by the time Sophie had made it down to her abdomen. Claire did her part by inserting the toe of her show into her opposing shoe and sliding it off before repeating it with her other shoe. Soon though, Claire found herself just as naked as Sophie was, and put up no resistance at all as Sophie’s hands gently came to rest on the inside of Claire’s thighs and gently encouraged them to spread wider and wider.

Clair was the first of the pair to let out a lewd sounding groan. The stream of pleasurable data that Claire had felt while being undressed and kissed was nothing compared to the torrent of feedback that her artificial womanhood sent surging towards her processors as Sophie’s tongue entered into her own synthetic folds. Claire’s robotic pussy was rarely used by anyone but herself, but Sophie’s programming knew exactly what to do. With nothing more than her tongue, lips and the occasional use of her hands, Sophie managed to explore every last inch of Claire’s artificial sex. In the process of which Claire herself loaded and executed three separate orgasm sequences before she finally placed a hand on Sopie’s head and gently pushed her out from between her legs. Claire was panting, sucking in deep breaths of fresh cool air to assist in cooling her already hot processors. She would have allowed Sophie to continue on for much longer, but she had already received an alert about her internal core temperature.

Sophie took the hint and gently scooted herself away from Claire, folding her legs under herself and resting back on them. Her face was glowing with a beaming smile and a look of pure, unadulterated satisfaction. She knew she had done a good job, that much was clear, but it was evident that she was happy to have served. Claire contemplated for a moment if she should offer to return the favor to Sophie, but her eyes darted down to the open chest with the power cable recharging her, and decided that she would allow the sexbot to recharge. Maybe if there was time after her check in meeting with one of the most loathsome employees. Neera.

As Claire was smirking back at Sophie and leaned in for one final kiss, an inbox alert popped into her field of vision. It was a small thing, just a calendar reminder of the meeting she had, but it was an update, Neera was on her way right now and would be in the office in approximately eight minutes. Claire rolled her eyes behind her lids and broke off the kiss.

“Thank you Sophie, you’re a peach. Go ahead and get a full charge in you and I’ll see if I can come check on you a little later, ok?” Claire said sweetly, and in response Sophie giggled lightly and nodded. Claire stood and began redressing herself and Sophie took the opportunity to sprawl comfortably across the bed, her chest still open and electric life pouring into her. Once Sophie was settled Claire leaned over her and kissed her gently on the forehead then pressed the power button behind Sophie’s left ear and shut her off completely.

Claire had barely gotten dressed and softly closed the door to the living suite when there was a sharp rapping on the door to the entry room. Claire was thankful that she wasn’t quite facing the door so that the exasperated look on her face wasn’t apparent to Neera. Still Claire was a consummate professional and stood, turned and faced Neera and greeted her politely.

“Good afternoon Neera, can I get you anything before our check in?” Claire muttered.

Neera, stood with impeccably perfect posture. She was shorter than Claire, but not by much, and her face was fully framed by a short cropping of vibrant blond hair that tumbled loosely from the top of her head. She was currently wearing a smart looking pure white blazer and skirt, juxtaposed by a black blouse and matched stockings. Like Claire she also wore stiletto heels that announced her presence wherever she went with a punctuated click against the polish floors. She was also clutching a metal clipboard in her hands. Her chin was raised upwards ever so slightly and gave the impression that regardless of who she was looking at, that she was always looking down on them. The way she carried herself was only reinforced by her expression. A thin tight line formed her mouth, surrounded by lips that would have made her look pretty if she ever smiled. Equally harsh was the perpetual glare that her eyes seemed to form, though they were a pretty pale aqua colour, they always seemed to convey that she was disappointed in you.

“No thank you, I have plenty to do and unlike some of the employee’s here, I don’t have the time to play around all day long.” She said as she walked briskly across the space and stopped only a few feet from Claire. While she had been walking Claire had taken up a post in front of her desk, leaning her rump against it and folding her arms under her chest.

Claire was already grinding her teeth. Like Claire, Neera was a high level advanced artificial intelligence that had been slotted into a very realistic human body, which, for some reason, made her think she was far superior to everyone. Claire usually prided herself on getting along well with most people, but if there was one thing she simply could not abide, it was being talked to like she was some kind appliance.

“Now, if you’ll just follow me down to the weapons division on subfloor three we can get this test done and collect the data from your storage drives.” Neera said, her voice verging on something like a sneer. With that she turned on heel and briskly stepped through the office door and out into the hallway.

Claire sighed to herself and pushed away from the desk. She had to quick-step to follow Neera closely enough, Claire was used to a mutual understanding that both people were leaving and the pair could leave at a more leisurely pace. Neera on the other hand treated the engagement as if it were an already settled agreement, Claire felt like Neera treated it more like she was picking up a piece of equipment rather than having a conversation and mutually going to a new location. Regardless, Claire had had this meeting on the books for nearly three weeks now and she followed Neera to the elevator. Once she arrived there, Neera was already inside, holding the door open and leveling a mean looking glare at Claire.

The button for subfloor three had already been pressed and Neera was waiting, though that was more of a reason for Claire to take her time getting into the elevator with her. Once both androids were in the lift though, the doors smoothly slipped shut and began the long descent. Claire, to her credit, was designed and programmed to be a social robot, and even though she and Neera were not even close to friendly, Claire felt compelled to at least try and make conversation with her.

“So, how long do you think this will take?” Claire asked, attempting to keep her voice calm.

“Irrelevant. It will take however long it takes.” Neera replied curtly.

“Great. Good talk.” Claire muttered quietly.

“No, it was not.” Neera said.

Claire only nodded and turned her gaze down towards the floor where it remained until the elevator lurched to a stop and the doors slipped open. Beyond them was a brightly lit hallway with doors on either side, all of which were numbered with comically large fonts. As the pair, led by Neera, walked down the corridor the faint sounds of deep chest rattling thumps could be heard behind several of the doors. Neera stopped in front of a door labeled with an enormous eight on the outside of it. She pushed open the door and Claire followed her in.

The room beyond was something akin to a shooting range combined with a server room. There was a long laneway with paper targets dangling at the far end, a few at mid range and just one at close range. Against the far wall was an array of computer terminals. Scattered across the desk were a number of tools, cables, and other bits and bobs that didn’t seem to have an immediate use. Next to the computers and the bench was a pair of stools, Neera immediately walked to one and lowered herself to it before pointing to the one across from her at the end of the wok bench.


Claire simply blinked at her and raised an eyebrow. The look on her face was some kind of combination of fury and seething hatred. Both of her hands clenched into tight fists and then relaxed into an open palm. She stepped across the room and stood next to the stool, crossing her arms across her chest and looked down at Neera.

“A little bit of politeness would go a long way you know.” Claire suggested, though the anger in her voice was unmistakable.

“Politeness doesn’t matter with someone like you.” Neera said as she scanned through the papers attached to her clipboard, reviewing them before the tests.

Claire narrowed her eyes at Neera who soon realized that Claire hadn’t taken a seat on the stool yet. She looked up from the clipboard and her notes, donning a confused look.

“I said sit.” Neera commanded again gesturing towards the stool.

“I think I would prefer to stand, thank you.” Claire replied through clenched teeth.

It was Neera’s turn to sigh as she stood up. She stared at Claire for only a moment before turning to the computer. She began to type wildly on the keyboard and open more than a few command windows. Soon the shooting range seemed to come to life, lighting up and the paper targets began to move up and down the lane at a slow but measured pace.

“I can get a data dump from you after the practical test.” Neera commented, then pointed to the small counter top space in front of the shooting range. “Step up and deploy the weapons system.”

Claire could only glare in Neera’s direction, her arms folded over her chest she took a more defiant stance, planting her feet shoulder length apart and standing to her full height.

“No, I don’t think I will. Not until you start treating me like I am more than just a combination of parts and wires.”

“But that’s exactly what you are. Now stop this nonsense and do as you are programmed to.” Neera snapped back, suddenly on her feet staring down Claire.

“God, you’re the biggest bitch this company ever assembled.” Claire retorted.

“I simply do not have time for this. Admin override charlie uniform seven eight two nine.” Neera rattled off the administration code while walking directly at Claire. Once she was within striking distance Claire snapped a hand up and across Neera’s face. She knew it wouldn’t hurt the robot, or if it did she wouldn’t register it. Her face was a mask of pure hatred now and there was no coming down from it.

“Did you really just try and override a high level artificial mind with an administration code that literally everyone in the company knows? You are not only a bitch but a stupid one at that.”

“W-Why didn’t that-” Neera muttered in befuttlement.

“Because I’m not just a robot, that’s why.” Claire snapped back.

Neera took a moment to collect her own artificial thoughts and blinked several times before glaring back up at Claire. Then through gritted teeth Neera spoke again.

“I don’t have time for this Claire. Just open the weapon system and let me do my work.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that. At least not until you ask politely. After all I am a fully realized artificial-” Claire retorted before being interrupted.

“Listen, I don’t have time for this. I have a lot to do and a machine like you isn’t going to just throw me off my schedule because you believe you’re a real person.”

“Excuse me?” Claire said, stepping forward, even though she stood nearly six inches taller than Neera, the androids from the weapon’s division still seemed to be scoffing at her without a word.

“Don’t play coy with me. You and I both know you’re an artificial being just like me. So please disable your firewall and allow me access to your systems so I can do my tests, and you can get back to whatever nonsense it is that you do around here.” Neera said, her voice remained calm and even through the whole exchange, in fact she almost seemed to enjoy referring to Claire as something less than a fully sentient being. Claire was already glaring at her, but her eyes now narrowed to dangerous levels. Inside of her complicated artificial mind she was already beginning to calculate just how much force it would take to put Neera through the cement wall behind her. The cleanup would be messy, but Claire knew that Neera was an important enough asset to the weapons division and putting her out of commission would land Claire and the entire Artificial intelligence prototype line in danger if she just tossed someone through a wall.

Claire sighed, closed her eyes and took a moment to manually close some of the processes that were causing her to be so angry with Neera. When she opened her eyes again she saw Neera still staring at her expectantly, just the look set her off.

“Listen, I don't know how in this wide world anyone would want an insufferable bitch like you as their assistant, but you can’t just come in here and treat me like I’m another piece of equipment.” Claire said, her voice verging on a shout as she poured as much venom into her statement as possible.

All Neera did was shrug one shoulder as her face remained impassive. She blinked once, then again, as if she was simply waiting for Claire to finally do as Neera had asked and allow her access to her system. Claire took notice of this, reasoning that Neera was either just programmed to be an icy cold android with less personality than manners, or perhaps she just didn’t have the kind of software suite that Claire had and didn’t actually register that she had been blatantly insulted. Either way, the two continued to stare each other down.

“You will lower your system defenses. You are an android and a piece of property that is owned and managed by this company, and you will comply with my orders.” Neera said again, this time her voice carried with it the kind of hard and uncaring tone that you might scold a misbehaving puppy with. It was more than enough to set Claire off.

In an instant Claire took a half step back, placing a foot down and bending at the knee ever so slightly. As she changed her stance her right arm raised and leveled itself with Neera’s chest. Her hand hinged downard and out of the way as her forearm split in half lengthwise.

Once it had split open a pair of rails, set into sturdy looking clamps raised from her arm. They rested next to each other, only an inch or so separating them. There was an array of complicated mechanisms lining the sides and a mass of well bundled wires pinned to the side of it, all compact enough to easily fold up and hide inside her arm. It was already glowing and whining. Inside of her chest, next to the two large power cells that resided where a pair of human lungs might be, was a smaller secondary power cell. It dipped in power for a moment as the energy cannon inside of her arm pulled a significant amount of energy from it and concentrated it then launched it directly at Neera’s chest.

The charged shot seared through the jacket and shirt on Neera‘s chest with ease. The blast melted away the artificial flesh on her torso and began to char and burn her internal workings. The shielding on the wires inside of her disintegrated in an instant and then the wiring itself was destroyed. Silicone based circuit boards melted and electronics burst. The crackling ball of energy exited Neera’s body through her back, directly between her shoulder blades and destroyed her clothing there too. At that point most of the energy contained within the energy burst had been spent and it tumbled through the air for a few more feet before dissipating, leaving the room silent save for the sizzling of electronics and occasional snapping and sparking from inside of Neera’s body.

Neera had instantly changed her expression to a look of shock and horror. Her mouth hung open as if she meant to protest the attack, but there was little life remaining in her body. Claire wasn’t done though, she still burned with hatred for Neera and in an instant her hand snapped back into place and both arms flew up and clamped on to the sides of Neera’s head. There was a sharp and swift twist to one side. As she moved Neera’s head with an immense amount of force there was a distinct crunching and cracking sound as the artificial spine inside of Neera’s neck reached its breaking point and shattered. As the neck joint and mechanisms shattered, pieces of shrapnel went scattering in all directions and tore through the soft artificial skin around Neera’s Neck.

With a primal scream of fury Claire pulled upward and back, yanking Neera’s head free of her now ruined neck joint. The momentum of pulling Neera's head free caused Claire to take a steadying step backwards while her head carried up and over her shoulder. Claire let out one more scream and she hurled the disconnected head module down the shooting range. She watched it sail down the lane, land and tumble for several yards, scattering shining shards of metal and plastic as it did. Finally it came to rest and the range was quiet again.

“How’s that for a weapons test you bitch.” Claire muttered to herself before placing her foot against Neera’s body and toppling it over. She turned, straightened her suit and walked briskly from the weapons testing area and back to the elevator. On the ride back up to the twenty third floor she began to realize the gravity of her actions and knew that there would be a stern reprimand in her profile when Erik returned.

“ can’t just tear apart another robot like that.” Erik said as he looked over the damage report to Neera.

“I know sir.” Claire said, clearly defeated.

There was a short pause as Erik stood from behind his desk and tossed the folder he had been reviewing aside. He looked out the window view at the city and, unseen by Claire, smirked to himself.

“It was a good weapons test though.” Erik said at length. Claire looked up at him, seeing only his back as he stood with his arms folded behind him. “You did well, certainly better than we had expected. No recommended updates this time around.”

“I don’t understand-” Claire stammered.

“You destroyed a valuable piece of equipment. Neera is going to be rebuilt and resume her functions in the weapons department. You’re a bit of a unique case though, you’re more human like than any other android here, and because of that you’re given certain..special treatment.”

There was a silence hanging in the air, Claire was confused by what Erik had said. She knew there was a reprimand recommended by someone in the weapons division, but all she had heard was praise. She silently wondered if the weapons division had sent Neera as a test, not for the weapon system but for Claire and her A.I.

“You’re dismissed, take the rest of the day off.” Erik said, bringing Claire out of her thoughts. “Sophie requested that you come visit her when you get a chance as well. She let me know you took good care of her while I was away. Thank you for that.”

“Yes sir, thank you.” Claire replied and dipped her head just a bit and then turned and left his office.

She retreated to her own room and shed her professional looking business suit. Neatly hanging them in the closet to prevent wrinkles. She then dressed herself in a pair of simple white socks, a comfortable pair of well worn jogging pants and a tank top. She looked like a different person, and she certainly carried herself differently as well. While she would normally walk with an air of confidence and almost smug superiority, dressed like this, she was far more casual. Her movements were more fluid and relaxed. She opened the door to the living space to find Sophie standing in front of her. She was wearing a pair of black lace panties and a matching bra. Her hands were folded behind her back and her chest pushed forward. She was smiling coyly at Claire.

Claire stepped back and Sophie stepped into her room. The pair would spend the rest of the day there, curled up in bed next to each other, relaxing and sighing happily.