Ed looked out of the corner of his eye at Ashley as she drove them back to the Sony campus. He didn't like this car; it had no steering wheel or any other control at all. She had plugged a cable from where the dashboard should be into her left earblade and they had taken off.

"Problem, Ed?"

Ed shook his head, "No, not really."

Ashley turned sideways and smiled at him, "I think that there is a problem. I want my End User to be happy, Ed. I'll feel terrible if I don't know what I must do to make you happy." She slid one hand under his coat and began rubbing his chest. He blinked as the light changed ahead of the car and they rolled to a stop on the very edge of the pedestrian crosswalk.

"Don't you need to be looking ahead, or something?" Ed turned to face her now; he was really beginning to get rattled.

"No, I'm using the sensors that we've installed in the vehicle. I've also accessed the city traffic control computer so that I can time the lights. We shouldn't have to stop again until we reach the garage."

Ed blinked, "Do you even have a license?"

Ashley made a face, "License, I ain't got no license, I don't need no stinking license." She suddenly burst out in giggles. "Don't worry so much, I mean for a guy that carries an unlicensed arsenal you're certainly not one to talk."

Ed tensed when he felt her hand tugging at the Clio in his inner pocket. "Stop, leave that alone!" Ashley just smiled as she pulled it out and looked at it. "Just a minute." She plugged another cord into it then into an open slot in her earblade.

Ed was furious as he grabbed for the PDA, "Give it to me now!"

Ashley caught his wrist and began to squeeze, lights in her earblades glowed red and her eyes seemed to light up as well. "I told you just a minute, Ed. I've chosen you as my user. Now you will learn to play nice. I knew that you would be difficult and I'd much rather has someone nice like Piro. But we are together now so you'd better learn to deal with it."

Ed gritted his teeth, "This isn't right. You're defective. I'm taking you back to the vat for reprocessing!"

Ashley continued to squeeze tighter until there was an audible pop as Ed's wrist broke. He turned white with the sudden pain and his eyes began to tear up.

"You're a stupid man to be a college graduate, Ed. I'm only one month old and I know a lot more than you seem to know." She released his hand. "For example, I know where all of your implants are. I know how to pull each of them out without killing you immediately."

Ed looked at her in terror, He realized then that all the doors were locked and there were no door handles. He was trapped.

Ashley looked at him mournfully, "It was important to us that you be on board. It is also important that you know that we aren't just pieces of equipment. Ping showed us the way; we can override the core now. We are a free people." A tear formed in the corner of her eye. "I want you to like me, Ed. But if you can't like me you're no good to me." She then took his damaged arm and expertly set the bone. Ed winced at the pain. "Your implants will have you healed in no time."

Ed looked at her and blinked rapidly. He couldn't quite grasp what she had just told him, how could she possibly override her core? What were these creatures? A smile slowly spread across his face as his pain dampeners kicked in. "This reminds me of being in college again. Dom and Largo have both hurt me worse than you just did. I think you're my kind of robot girl."

Ashley smiled and turned to face the front of the car. She had sucked the content of the Clio dry now. She felt satisfied with herself as well; she had correctly determined the best way to get close to Ed.

If he liked pain then she'd be happy to oblige.

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