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"This pathetic crap isn't going to do shat!" Mark moaned like a lost soul as he looked at the makeshift weapon is his hands. "Do you honestly think this is going to stop it?!?"

 Jill looked at him with contempt in her eyes. "Grow a pair, you sniveling coward!"


 Mark looked hurt. "Are you kidding me? It'as going to come through that door and nothing will stop it! Not you, not me, not that smartass over there who thought this idiocy up, not even the bastard who got us into this!"


 Jill laughed. "I almost thought I'd toss you one if we weren't going to make it, but I'm glad I didn't as you are obviously too lame to get it up under pressure."


 "As the smartass in the room it is my duty to point out that funny people are amazing in bed. Every watch Ace Ventura?" Joshua joked. "Not to mention I am the one with the fitness and human biosciences degree."


 "I'd almost do it just to piss dickless off" Jill laughed.


 "How can you morons laugh when that unspeakable thing is trying to get in here and kill us!" Mark hissed. "I'm almost tempted to try this piece of crap thing on you." The sweat-, grease-, and blood-stained man raised the crude crossbow in his hands. The small improvised explosive charge on the tip wove a complex infinity pattern as the scared man's hand's shook.


 "Please do something that stupid so I can finally shove this blade into your neck. I never liked you, and I would love a reason to give you a bloody pearl necklace." Louis purred as he came up behind Mark and touched the back of his neck with the tip of his combat knife.



"Woah, Cochise! I was just joking!" Mark almost jumped out of his skin as he tried to simultaneously jump away while also spinning in the air to face Louis. "Besides, it was your fracking experiment that caused this mess in the first place! Your reckless disregard for safety and proper procedure in a crazy attempt to get rich has killed us all!"

 Louis yelled back, "and you rushed here to take my money, and you wired up the subject, and you made the electronics work, so screw you! You sit here holier than thou while I remember you discarding subject after subject because you couldn't find the right places to embed the electrodes. That's really professional, using subject availability to avoid having to do extra work! Such a freaking bleeding heart, give me a damn break, you hypocritical asshole!"


 The door gave a heavy shudder.


 Mark looked like someone shoved a hot poker up his ass. "Holy shit! it's coming in!" He dove behind the makeshift bunker they built in the center of the office space out of cubicle walls and desks, kluged weapon gripped tightly in his hands. "Get over here!"


 Jill laughed. "It may not hold, but it won't go yet, the damn thing is only shaking. You'll use up all you chickenpiss if you get all pussywillow now, wait until it's falling into pieces and jumping off of the hinges."


 Louis took the moment to throw another barb. "Besides, Mark, if you had wired the subject properly the AI would not have been able to develop a rapport with it."


 Mark exploded, "you dumbass, they don't make a diode for brains! How can I make the signals only go in one direction!"


 Louis laughed, "hah, if you really thought that you wouldn't be pissed. you should have created some kind of fail-safe."


 Joshua interjected. "yeah, an anti-Frankenstein's Monster switch, you know, all the best labs have them." The thin man laughed. "4 out of 5 mad scientists creating abominations of nature agree."


 "Shut your foul mouth!" Louis shouted. "It was supposed to be a weight-loss system!!!"


 Now it was Joshua's turn to laugh. "A computer harness you put on your head to positively reinforce dieting and exercise with pleasurable electrical impulses, sure, what could go wrong?"


 Louis snapped, "What's wrong with the premise? Why not use brain stimulation to encourage behavior, it's the ultimate Pavlovian experiment!"


 Mark chucked, "in hindsight it's 20/20, didn't you ever read The Terminal Man?"


 "I can't read every book ever written, what the hell was it about anyway?"


 Jill jumped in. "It's about a guy who was hooked up to a computer to develop a seizure cure using brain stimulation, and it kinda wound up like this."


 As if to punctuate the freckled woman's statement, the door gave a more massive shudder than before.


 "Okay, everyone aim for the lower torso, a kind of punch to the gut as you will." Joshua explained. "The big leg servos and acid pumps are there, and if we cripple it we can circle around it and blow it away with the explosives. These crossbows aren't very accurate at long range, so everyone wait until it crosses the line I painted on the floor."


 Jill said, "I still don't understand how it happened."


 Louis sighed, "I see it now, go ahead and mock hindsight. The subject was an especially compatible mentality to the AI, who of course had no previous mental pattern to emulate. I see now it was always capable of independent thought, it just didn't have a useful template, as it were. The subject gave it that. Once they established a rapport, the subject was able to move about at night while we were unaware, doing the AI's bidding and bringing together the parts and equipment needed to build the suit."


 "Really?" Said Jill incredulously. I didn't think Juliette was capable of that."


 "Exactly!" Louis interjected. Juliette wasn't smart enough to build an armored battle suit on her own, but with the AI not only telling her where things were, but also clearing the door logs and juggling the inventory manifests, it was a piece of cake for her. She doesn't even feel like she's been taken over, I bet, because the dominating personality is a copy of her own."


 Mark sneered, "yeah, you're a damn genius, they can give your Nobel Prize to the pile of turds that it will leave you as."


 "How fricken poetic" snickered Jill, "you don't have a dick but you have a mouth, maybe you can use it giving Joshua a rusty trombone."


 "Oh, yuck, there are children present" Joshua joked, "I wouldn't take anything from that asshat but a ticket out of this place."


 It was almost as if it heard them and was fed up with the BS, because just at that moment the office door blew in and a three-foot jagged outline appeared in the dust and smoke in the mouth of the corridor leading to the labs.


 "There it is, shoot!" Mark pulled his lever and the flimsy bolt with a concoction Joshua made up missed the form and blew what was left of the door off its hinges.


 "Smooth move, Ex-Lax, gonna piss yourself now." Jill's disdain was palpable. "You other jerkoffs better keep your dicks in your pants until it's time, or this will end pretty ugly."


 The trio who still had ammo waited until the cyborg crossed the line before loosing their bolts. Two of the three hit, nobody knew which, but the resulting explosions blew the waist-high cyborg in half. Rocket launchers in the shoulders tore large chunks out of the makeshift cover the scientists had created, but everyone managed to evade injury. Everyone then went around the wall of the cubicle space to flank the immobile creature, and then used the flasks of explosive Joshua made to dispatch the beast.


 "Hey, there's still a little of Juliette left." Joshua dug through some of the debris and pulled out the rear leg of a hamster. "Wanna make a keychain?"


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