Kimiko looked up from the script and stared at the girl who was looking in the break room refrigerator. <Ping? What are you doing here? >

The girl turned toward her and smiled, <Oh, hi ,Nanasawa-san. I'm not Ping. I'm Rio. >

Kimiko continued to stare, then blushed and looked away. <I'm sorry, you look just like one of my roommates. >

Rio nodded and sat down across from Kimiko, <Well I should; and we're based on the same chassis after all. >

Kimiko blinked, those were earblades and that was a cheek plate! <You're, umm. I didn't know that they had started . . .> Her words trailed off and she blushed. She felt very uncomfortable with the notion of someone like Ping being for sale.

Rio reached across the table and patted her hand, <It's okay, I'm a pre-production model undergoing field evaluation. I'm a girl but I'm proud to be a robot as well. After all, why wouldn't I be? >

Kimiko's eyes went wide, <Field evaluation here at Cubesoft? >

Rio shook her head, <No, with Rostovich-sama. I am a daddy's girl. >

Kimiko raised her eyebrows and smiled nervously, <A daddy's girl? That sounds nice. How did that happen? >

Rio looked away as if embarrassed, <Well, when you and Ping-chan came to your agreement things sort of fell in line. >

Kimiko knew that there was something that Rio wasn't telling but decided to let it slide, she could ask Ping later on. Rio suddenly turned back toward her, <So, where is Piro-kun going to take you on your date with him tonight? >

Kimiko blushed again, <I . . .I don't know. I'm sure that it will be someplace nice. > She glared at Rio, <Say, how did you know about that? >

Rio giggled; <We girls talk about everything. Ping called Ashley, then all us sisters got together for a chat. >

Kimiko leaned back, <All you sisters? Just how many of you are there? >

Rio frowned, <Right now there are four of us besides Ping-chan. > She looked at the clock on the wall even though she had perfect time built in, <I'm sorry, Nanasawa-san. I need to take Rostovich-sama his water. I don't want to get in trouble. Bye. >

Kimiko giggled as the robot girl left that room - she was different from Ping.

In the chat space that Europea had created while she was still the Baby the rest of the sisters watched Rio intently. In the physical plain Ashley and Europea were both driving while Demi was sitting cross-legged on the floor in Harry's apartment watching the news. Ashley spoke first, <She seems nice, what do the rest of you think? >

Demi frowned, <Yes, she is nice. She seems to be very accepting of Rio. That is a very good thing. >

Europea nodded her agreement, <Do you think that you might get Rostovich-sama interested in her, Rio? >

Rio shook her head; <Rostovich-sama is in need of much healing. He has not yet come to terms with the tragedy that he experienced. He was a military man and always expected that it would be his wife and daughter who might mourn his death. He never thought that he would return from the field to find that they had been taken from him in such a brutal fashion. He knows that he could have protected them but he wasn't there for them. >

The other girls considered this revelation. Though they pumped Ping and each other for every detail of the men in their lives they all became skittish when Rio began to speak of Rostovich. They too were possessed of the drive to protect and the thought of such a loss disturbed them all deeply. They knew somehow that Rio would one day be the strongest of them. It wasn't something that they envied.

Rio smiled then, <I think that we need to deal with another matter. Ping-chan has arranged for Piro-kun to spend some time with Nanasawa-san so that balance between her and Hayasaka-san can be maintained. Has she taken care to see that he will in fact take Nanasawa-san someplace nice? >

They all looked at each other before Ashley finally spoke, <Well, First One or not we need to ask her about this. We know what she and Hayasaka-san have in mind, but there is no excuse for shirking her responsibilities to her End User. >

The others all nodded in agreement, Rio looked around at them and said, <I will call her myself right now. >

Miho and Ping were trying on different outfits in Miho's room. Mho was helping Ping out of a leather bustier when the phone rang. Miho feigned disinterest when Ping casually jacked its cord into her earblade without bothering to put a top on first. She couldn't maintain her facade as she noticed Ping becoming increasingly agitated. She had never seen her quite like this before. Finally Ping turned to face Miho; <I have made a terrible mistake! I have to go to Megagamers right now and talk to Hayasaka-san and Piro-kun! >

Miho's mouth opened and closed, finally she was able to speak. <You made a mistake? >


<Oh Miho-chan, this is terrible! I don't know how this could have happened to me! I made the arrangements for Hayasaka-san and myself but I didn't do a thing for poor Piro-kun! He is helpless when it comes to these matters! >

Miho narrowed her eyes, <Who was that on the phone? >

<It was Rio, one of The Sisters. > Ping unsnapped the cable from her earblade, <I just have to get an upgrade! I need to be able to go online and talk to the others and I can't do that very well with an external device for my link! >

Miho tilted her head to one side, <The Sisters? You mean the other EDS units? >

Ping nodded, < We have a special chat room that we go to. We help each other, try to give each other advice. They can connect using anything from WiFi to cell phone signal. All I have is the cell phone or a hardwired connection. Neither of those is very convenient. >

They changed back into the clothes that they had worn earlier in the day and started for the store. Ping fairly ran down the street down the street and Miho found herself hard pressed to keep up. Finally she put on a burst of speed and was able to grab Pings arm, <Slow down! You're going to run out in front of a truck or something and then who would take care of Piro? >

Ping slowed to a walk, <How big of a truck are we talking about? >

Miho grinned, <Never mind that, Ping. We'll make it there and you and Hayasaka-san can make sure that he has some actual plans. It's probably a good thing too, when it's your turn I know that you'll want him to take you someplace nice as well. >

Ping nodded, <That's true. Look, we're almost there. >

Miho smiled as Ping sprinted away again and nearly tore the doors off the store as she went in. She was very glad to see that Ping could make a mistake.

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