Persephone was tense.
“Hey, relax, sis.” Zoe pinched her on the arm.
“Ow, bitch!” Persephone complained, holding her arm. They were standing in front of the double doors that housed the mainframe. It was just a glorified computer, but since that computer could think for itself, it could plot the course over generations and had control over life and death over everyone on board, it might as well be their god.
“Now you’re focused on me and not on your worry,” Zoe said proudly.
Persephone opened her mouth to say something, but there was movement.
The doors slid open.
The sisters gulped.
Then Zoe shoved her inside with a giggle and the doors shut again.
Persephone slammed on the floor. It was rather unclean, she noticed, having been a floor cleaner for a few months. She pushed herself up and tilted her head up to see the mainframe.
It was more like a light show, blinking lights.
“Colonist,” a soft female voice said. It didn’t sound synthesized.
“Echo,” Persephone grunted. She was upright now, rubbing her palms on her pants. “I have come seeking audience.”
“You could have spoken to me through any terminal and comm on the ship,” Echo said, her tone not sounding displeased.
“I could, I suppose…” Persephone said, pressing her lower lip. She started to pace up and down and waving frantically as she tried to express herself. “This felt more official, I guess. It’s important, what I’m about to ask of you.” She suddenly had a paranoid realization and she snorted. “Unless you’re intercepting our messages and you already know what I’m about to ask you, making the whole thing pointless.”
“I do not intercept personal communications, Persephone. That would violate human rights,” Echo said. “That would only happen in case I was worried about the safety of the ship. Even then, I would have forked an instance of myself with that specific task alone, would have investigated, and then she would have reported back to me only if it deemed it relevant. In any case, the instance would have deleted itself, and I would never know the contents.”
Persephone stopped and frowned. It was hard to stare down a row of blinking lights. “So… You would have copied yourself, opened my messages, figured out if it was harmful, made a report back to your original self and then made yourself forget about it?”
“Pretty much,” Echo said.
“Thanks. But I think you’re stalling. No offence.”
Persephone’s eyes shot up at that remark. “None taken, Echo.” She clapped her hands once. “Okay, here’s the deal. You know about my relationship, right?”
“The fuzzy bits, yes.”
Persephone couldn’t help but smirk at that. Echo was funny sometimes. “Okay. I have a dilemma. On the one hand, I want to be with Trip, make a family, raise babies. Not yet, mind you, but I do want that. It is obviously impossible, I know that. I’m not delusional. And on the other hand, I have a duty on the ship for the next generation. I, unfortunately, have been cursed with the brainpower to understand how important the colony is.”
“Indeed, you are,” Echo said, and she sounded sad.
“I’m not ready to get pregnant,” she chuckled. “Definitely not. But you seem to think that I am, so fine. What do I know? I’m just a stupid human with a squishy brain and limited information. I trust you, Echo. But I wanted to ask if we might bend the rules a little?” She winced as she said the last bit, looking up expectantly.
“What do you have in mind?”
“I’ll be impregnated with a diverse seed from the sperm bank, right? I know it’s not the same thing, but could we perhaps find a close genetic match to Triptolemus?”
“Ah…” Echo said, with an expression that was thoroughly human. “You believe that that way you can better care for your child. If that’s what you want, yes, it’s possible. The sperm bank available is extensive. We might even find a familial match. But I wouldn’t suggest genofixing an actual copy of your lover’s genetic code, that might have unintended consequences for future generations.”
Persephone shook her palm at Echo and pressed her lips in an ‘o.’ “No, no, it’s fine. I get it. I just want my kid to look like him, you know? Like if we actually had a child together. His hair, his eyes, his smile.”
“That’s not how children are-“
Persephone interrupted her. “I know! It’s a mix of genes. I’m sure you can simulate an approximation.”
“I can, yes,” Echo said simply.
“Good,” Persephone said, breathing hard. “Thank you, Echo.” She turned to leave, then stopped. She added, “For everything you do for us.”
She walked out to meet Zoe’s expectant eyes. “Well? Did she go for it? Did she?”
“Yes…” Persephone groaned and hugged her sister.
She hugged her back. “Then why are you so mopey about it? You did it! Yay?” Zoe sounded confused.
Persephone hugged her tight, then she loosened her embrace and met her eyes. “That was the easy part. Now comes the hard part.”