Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. Wish they were, but them are the breaks. The entire first scene is based on the last few minutes of "Army of Darkness", which also is not mine. If you've not seen the movie, go rent it.

Just a weird idea I had when I wondered about the ways AI's could reproduce and how they may have originally been created on the Vedran home world. This is what I pulled out of my... bun, yeah, that's it. Oh, and special thanks to Zionstarfish for playing beta for me. I appreciate it.

Rating: PG - 13 for violence and language.
Status: Unfinished
Title: Mutual Gifts
Archive: Ask me first, please... my e-mail is in my profile.
Summary: Rommie decides to give Harper an offer to create a child with her.

Good...Bad... I'm the guy with the gun.

- Ash, Army of Darkness (Ancient Earth Comedy)

No one ever frelling believes me. I tell them the truth, that I am responsible for saving civilization as we know it from the Deadites, from the evil of the Necronomicon. I am responsible, in part at any rate, for shaping the world as we know it. Me, Ash.

I could've been a king, but I came back because my place is here.

So what am I doing now? I'll tell you what the frell I'm doing. Living a trailer trash existence while I'm restocking the shelves at the local S-Mart. And the world calls this gratitude.

I felt her standing there next to me, staring, before I saw her. The brand new redhead cashier. Man she was hot. She must be on her lunch break.

"You know that story about how you could've been king?" She whispered. "I... ah... think it's kinda cute."

I smiled and turned in her direction, trying to look as cool as Mr. Smooth can be. "Yeah?"

I heard the familiar hiss of a Deadite just a second before I saw it. It took possession of the blonde that just past us, and began to wreak havoc in my aisle. My aisle that I just finished restocking.

Of course you realize this meant war. I leaped behind the gun counter and grabbed a Winchester, reaching into the stock cabinet and finding the shells to load it with. I began to load the gun with shaky hands as I heard the Deadite attack the customers. Finally with the Winchester fully loaded I stood, took aim, and fired.

I missed, but it got the bitch's attention. Least I think it was a bitch. Anyway, it turned and looked at me.

"Lady," I said, trying to keep as calm as possible. "I'm afraid I'm gonna have to ask you to leave the store."

"Who the hell are you?" it hissed in my direction.

"Name's Ash..." I reloaded my Winchester for effect."... housewares." Pushing a stock cart forward, I jumped and proceeded to pump lead into that bitch.

Too bad half my round missed and since she's a Deadite... yep, still moving. Damn.

"I'll swallow your soul."

You know, after so many centuries and time to themselves you'd think a Deadite would come up with a better line than that. But no, it had to be the standard boring old 'I'll swallow your soul' line.

So I cocked my gun for emphasis. "Come get some." And I managed to blow it away.

It dropped to the floor in a lifeless heap and I blew the smoke from the Winchester.

Sure, I could've stayed in the past, I thought as I grabbed the Clerk Girl and dipped her. Could've even been king. But in my own way, I am king.

"Hail to the king baby." I kissed the girl.


The simulation end slowly as he kissed the girl, bringing him back into the main AI matrix that he was used to seeing whenever he jacks in to fix her programming. The woman he was kissing within the matrix slowly morphed from a redhead into a petite brunette with olive skin and dark eyes. The man who initiated the holo drama simulation morphed from Mr. Smooth into a young, short blonde haired man with a slight build.

Crap, the man thought as the woman broke the kiss. This ended way too soon.

Tilting her head to one side, the woman studied the man and said in a completely deadpan voice, "Hail to the king baby."

The young man gave a nervous smile. "Well, it is in the script."

"Hail to the king, baby?" She questioned, this time with a slightly disgusted look.

"Hey, it's a classic."

"I realize that sentient beings like to be entertained, but that line is revolting, not to mention degrading to women of any species."

"It was pre Commonwealth Earth. Rommie, you promised if I recalibrate the environmental controls today I'd get to reenact my favorite one with you. Besides, it's not like this one was hard to find."

"Harper, I had to cross reference my data files under cult religions to find a copy of this holo drama."

"Hey, you gotta admit, Raimi was an absolute genius."

"I found it right along with the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Seraglio gelatin fight worshipping."

Harper couldn't resist whispering the next comment. "Admit it, you liked it didn't you?"

Rommie rolled her eyes. "I should kick you out for that."

"Sorry." He eased her virtual self into a standing position.

"I expected something more of a classic, like Shakespeare from Earth or the plays based on the lives one of Museveni's descendents, or even a Than myth."

"Do you think I'd look good as a bug?"

Rommie processed the possibilities. "Actually you'd look great as a Diamond Than." Rommie manipulated her matrix so that Harper's virtual self morphed and the form of a silvery colored Than was now holding her. A mirror appeared to their left and she smiled. "See what I mean?"

He turned to the mirror and twitched his antenna a bit, considering. "Bleah, I'd rather be a Makra if you ask me." Harper manipulated the matrix so he took the form of an orange colored felinoid and rested his head on her shoulder as he gazed into the mirror.

Rommie wouldn't admit to him, but she liked it when he manipulated her programming - on occasion. He already knew more about her specs than some of her original designers. With few exceptions did he take too many liberties of that fact. The holo drama simulator was one of them. Besides there is a certain intimacy involved with allowing someone into your mind that few, even engineers, have the respect for that Harper did.

His tastes, however could use some fine tweaking. She changed his Makra appearance so that his fur color was a caramel color instead of orange. "That's better. Works with your eye color."

"Much." His virtual form began to become a bit static. This meant he was sleepy.

"You're getting tired. You should go eat and rest for the night."

"Mmmm." His eyes were shut as he exited her matrix. Rommie stood staring into the mirror. The reflection blinked at her.

"He is tiring faster than he used to," the reflection said. "In his condition he won't stay healthy long at this rate."

"I agree with you. But try telling him that. He's a workaholic when it comes to you."

"Maybe you should get Dylan to order him on a vacation."

"Hmm... somehow I don't think Dylan would want him to take one. I'm still not functioning at 100 percent since the Magog attack.: Rommie sighed into the mirror. "Andromeda, I want to offer..."

"Oh, no you don't, not this again. You know how they'd both take it."

"Do you have any other suggestions we can offer to a man with a possible death sentence on his head? If so I'd like to hear it."

The reflection remained silent.

"I know you don't like it, but without him, I wouldn't be here. Most likely, neither would you. We should make the offer."

"Fine, but keep in mind he may say no or worse he'll think that this is a pity offering." The mirror vanished. Rommie exited the matrix.


Dylan sat in his office as he reread the flexi that his avatar just provided for him. She remained motionless in the seat in front of him.

He couldn't believe what she was asking him to let her do with another member of her crew.

"Rommie, where did you find this?"

"In the design specs needed to create my core personality. The process should apply here as well - the only difference would be that we'd be using a copy of ..."

"I know. I don't know how ethical this is." Dylan stared at the flexi. "Does Harper know about this?"

"No, I was hoping you'd help me make the offer."

"Rommie, this is too personal an issue for me to become involved in. I wish I could help you but this is really between you and him. Just keep in mind, he may say no for a variety of reasons." Dylan gave her back the flexi with a shaky hand. "For what it's worth, I wish you luck. Both of you."

Rommie stood and left Dylan's office without another word. Outside of Dylan's office, she was confronted by her hologram. "I told you he wouldn't like the idea," she said.

"You did. But he didn't say no either. I don't think he's about to stop me from asking."

"Are you sure you want to do this? If anything goes wrong..."

"Nothing is going to go wrong. At the very worst, he'll say no. In which case we'll start from scratch. And I know Harper, he'll help me with the program even if he says no to this."

"What makes you so sure?"

"The same reason why he made me." Rommie studied the flexi again even though she already knew its specifications.

The hologram eyed her skeptically. "Are you sure you're not just trying to use him?"

"Are you sure you're not just using him when you need to work late on a slipstream drive overhaul, or an AP valve replacement, or how about - "

"That's not the same and you know it."

"Is it?" Rommie sighed. "Look, I know you are just looking out for him. But we've been over this 674 times already."

"I just hope you know what you're doing." The hologram disappeared.

"Me too."


Harper stared at the details of the flexi Rommie gave him. He's been staring for a while now, slowly taking in what she was asking of him.

Rommie sat still across from him and waited. The longer she waited, the more convinced she became that he was about to turn her down. She hoped her other selves wouldn't say "I told you so." But she knew they would.

Finally he spoke. "Is this gonna hurt?"

Rommie smiled. "If executed properly, it should not be more than a pleasant tingle. The process is not as complicated as it looks on flexi."

Harper nodded, eyes still on the flexi. "And why do you want to do this again?"

"Originally the basis of AI personalities were based on scans from members of the Royal Vedran and Than families. Once Humans were introduced into the Commonwealth, their scans were incorporated in part because Humans were simpler in design. I figured we could use a scan of your brain in combination with my core programming as the basis of a secondary AI program in my matrix. At a later time we can always transfer the program into an independent matrix if he or she chooses to do so. I think my processors can handle more than one personality if I needed to in the either way."

"So you want to reproduce."

"As far as one AI can, yes."

"Why me?"

"Out of my current crew of six you are one of two individuals with the closest qualifications under Commonwealth protocol."

"Who's the other?"


"Not Dylan but Tyr?'

"Based on overall intelligence observations, yes."

"And you didn't ask Mr. Genetically Superior because?"

"I didn't think he'd appreciate this form of... procreation." Rommie blushed slightly.

Harper snorted slightly. "I didn't think he'd take the Data approach to having kids either."


"Never mind, it's an Earth thing. So you're original personality basis was?"

"A lower female of the Vedran Royal family."

Harper stared at her a long time. Rommie blinked and waited patiently, still half expecting a no to come at any moment.

"You'd look really hot with feathers and the extra legs, by the way."


"Think you can wine me and dine me first?"

Rommie stood and snatched the flexi out of his hand. "If you don't want to do it, all you had to do was say no. I can always ask Tyr anyway."

"My answer is yes."

"It is?"

"It is. I mean come on, how often does a guy have the warship he lives in and worships ask him if he'd be her virtual sperm donor?"

Rommie winced. "Putting it that way, you make it sound disgusting."

"Naw, it's a beautiful thing. Besides if you wanted prim and proper, you would have asked Rev."

Rommie couldn't help but smile. Harper was right. She would have. She sat back down across from Harper. "So now what?"

"I guess we start working on the scanning program and the avatar body."

"Shouldn't we wait until we know if it wants to be male or female first?"

"You're not deciding?"

Rommie shook her head. "My programmers didn't decide I was female, or what I was going to look like, or what my reactions would be to my crew. I did. So the secondary personality will get the same choices."


Trance placed the gel for final probe on Harper's temple so she could monitor his vitals. She hummed, calculating the possibilities to herself as she did so. The chances of this turning out perfect were slim - 18,970,890,053 to 1 against - but the chances of it turning out well were almost 4 to 1 in their favor. All things considered, Trance liked the odds.

Harper, on the other hand, looked incredibly nervous. "Oh, come on Trance, how much longer are you taking?"

Pressing the final probe into his skin, she beamed. "There, that's better. Rommie, ready when you are."

Rommie sat down, connection in hand and looked at Harper. "You ready?"

"I'm here, right?"

Rommie faked a breath and placed one end of the connection in her hand, closing it. "Try to relax," she said as she plugged him in. Harper's eyes closed. Immediately after, so did Rommie's.

Trance monitored. Harper's vital sign remained steady and the two of them rarely moved. Harper began to hum a tune after a few moments. She wondered what it must be like for Harper to go through whatever was happening within the matrix. Seeing that there is no distress on his end, Trance assumed it must not be painful. Just like Rommie said it would be.

Trance saw Dylan's reflection in the monitor as he entered the Med Deck. "How are they?"

"The parents to be? So far so good." She noticed Dylan taking a seat and frown slightly at them. "You don't like them doing this, do you?"

"That obvious?"

Trance turned to Dylan and nodded. "It will work out fine."

Dylan stared at Trance. "This one of your guesses?"

"This is faith in Rommie and Harper's ability to rise to any occasion. With a brain as large as hers, I think she can handle motherhood." Trance turned back to her monitor. Everything was still fine.

"I never thought of Rommie as a mother before."

Trance shrugged. "Think about it, she feeds us, keeps us protected from the vaccum of space, fights for us, and advises us. Sounds motherly to me."

"Have they been like this long?" She noticed Dylan was still frowning.

"No. Rommie said it would take an hour for the initial scan, followed by another twenty four for the programming to set up the core personality based on the sample scan. So it may take a while."

"I see." Dylan spent the rest of the time waiting in silence for any movement or sound from either Rommie or Harper. From what Trance could tell, the rest of the procedure went without a hitch.

After another forty five minutes, Rommie finally opened her eyes and gently touched Harper's cheek. Harper yawned and pulled the jack out a minute later. He was smiling.

"How do you feel?" Trance said while checking his vitals one last time. Still looked good to her.

Harper sat up slowly. "Sleepy. And tingly. Rommie?"

Rommie smiled at Harper. "Some of my resources are taken up by the reprogramming process, but otherwise I'm good. Thank you." She leaned over and kissed Harper's temple.

"So doll, think you'll respect me in the morning?"

"Shut up, Harper."


Trance and Harper were sitting in the Mess hall that night. It was late but Harper didn't want to go to sleep without Rommie telling them how the program finished. So he sat there drinking coffee and tinkering with an external maintenance bot. Trance for her part simply didn't want to leave her friend alone, so she drank her tea in silence.

Harper's hand slipped and gave himself a shock. He threw the tool he was using across the room. "I don't know how much more of this I can take, babe. I mean how long has it been since the scan?"

"Only ten hours, Harper. This takes a lot out of Rommie's programming. You of all people know that." Trance retrieved the tool and placed it by Harper.

"Yeah but..." Harper stood and stared out of one of the view ports. "Do you know how long I've been without family? Ten years."

"And how long has it been for Rommie?" Trance wrinkled her nose in thought. "Harper, it'll be great to have a family again. For both you and her."

Harper opened his mouth to say something when Rommie's avatar appeared. She had a bit of static in the hologram but she was there. "Harper, I'm done with the program."


"He's settled on being male, and has selected features for his avatar. I'm sending a flexi with his specifications. But he wants us to give him his name for him."

Harper blinked. "Do you have any ideas in mind?"

"I hadn't thought that much about it, actually. You?"

"I was thinking - we could name him after my dad, Marcus. How about Adam as a middle or last name?"

"I think that can be arranged." The hologram smiled, and a maintenance droid appeared with the flexi. Harper turned the flexi on, and an image of a young man, with short dark hair, deep green eyes, a slight build, and an olive complexion appeared onscreen.

"Wow," was all Trance could say.

"Yeah, he's beautiful."

"Congratulations," said the hologram.


End Ch. 1