<How is the network running? >

The technician looked up at Rostovich and frowned. <Well, we've not had anymore anomalies if that's what you mean. >

Rostovich narrowed his eye, <What I meant was, have you found the cause and remedied it. >

The tech shook his head, <No, it just seems to have vanished. Things like that don't just go away of their own accord though. Short of wiping every workstation and server and reloading everything we can't be sure that we've got it. And we can't afford to do that right now. This has been a nightmare. >

Rostovich nodded; <Do you think that it may have been something coming from the outside? >

The tech looked thoughtful for a moment, <That almost makes sense, but this all started after that robot girl uploaded those files. I wonder if she could have been doing it to us. >

Rostovich suddenly felt very uncomfortable. He had seen the reports on what this Ping was capable of physically. He couldn't believe that anyone would develop something like that just to be a companion for otaku with more money than social skills. What if she really had done such a thing? Why would she do it? His mouth went dry, she wasn't human and there was no telling what motivated her.

Forcing himself to smile Rostovich patted the tech on the shoulder; <You're doing a good job, and just keep an eye out for anything strange. >

The tech grunted and nodded in reply then watched out of the corner of his eye as Rostovich left the room. He licked his lips and began to type.

ARE YOU THERE?

In a moment a reply appeared on the screen.

OF COURSE I AM, SILLY. WHERE ELSE WOULD I BE?

The tech grinned and looked around, he waved at the camera in the corner of the room and it wobbled up and down in response. He quickly typed a reply

CAN YOU REALLY ARRANGE FOR ME TO MEET ONE OF YOUR SISTERS?

There was another long pause. What was she doing?

OF COURSE I CAN

The tech looked around again. He was sure that she would warn him if Rostovich or the other was coming but he still felt afraid.

WHEN?

The technician's hands were sweating now as he waited for her reply.

TONIGHT, WE WILL SEND A TEXT MESSAGE TO YOUR CELL. WE HAVE OTHER THINGS TO TAKE CARE OF AS WELL.

The technician wanted to shout this was just to good to be true! He typed his final reply.

GREAT, I'LL BE WAITING

The message box simply disappeared then. He didn't bother to check his log files, he already knew that there was no trace of the conversation anywhere in the system.



Rostovich walked down to the studio, as he passed the break room he could see Kimiko studying her script. He shook his head and smiled, She was what he called a stress puppy. She performed best when everything seemed to be going wrong for her. The mess with that Largo character had immensely improved her performance. It appeared that they would finish ahead of schedule.

He watched the other girls for a little while then headed back to his office. He had a lot of paperwork to finish. There were a number of permits for events yet to be arranged. Rostovich grimaced; the TPCD was getting to be a real pain these days.

As he approached his office he noticed that every other light was out in this section. He'd have to check that from the security monitor. He slowed as he approached the door. Hadn't he locked that?

He cautiously pushed the door open and reached inside the office to flicked the light switch on.

Nothing.

Suddenly he was lifted off his feet and driven into his office and over his executive desk. He heard the door slam and lock. In the pitch black he could hear his heart pounding, it was worse than a night dive in a muddy harbor. Feeling his way up the desk he pulled himself to his feet and squinted into the darkness. He slid the secret drawer open but the pistol he kept there was gone.

<All right, who are you? >

Rostovich could now make something out. Four faint reds light glowing softly.

<I'm not Ping>

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