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Ninety Nine Red Balloons

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Disclaimer: Andromeda belongs to Tribune Entertainment and Fireworks Productions; it is not mine, nor are the characters of Rommie and Gabriel, or any others that are mentioned who appear here. The story takes place during season 3 and references events from the episode "Day of Judgment".

There's an excerpt of the song by Nena at the bottom of the story. Written for Maeve Bran in the 2007 Yuletide challenge.

"Ninety Nine Red Balloons" by karrenia

As much as she would hate to admit it, having Gabriel around, was, in word, interesting, and even somewhat intoxicating. While androids and High Guard ship avatars are not programmed to have or be capable of emotions Rommie has been around humans and other organic beings to know the difference.

"If there is a discernible difference, I have not yet found it," Rommie said as she devoted one part of her mind to completing a level three ship-wide diagnostic on the Andromeda's slipstream drive.

She did have to wonder,however how Gabriel as a fellow avatar and one without a ship or a captain had managed to discover a still functioning High Guard Ship, especially one with a limited crew, but then shoved the idle thought to a back corner of her mind.

Elsewhere, the object of her musing strode down the corridors of the ship, knowing full well that Rommie would be preoccupied with her duties, and thus not as diligent in monitoring his activities.

Not that he blamed her, after all, to the outside observer; perhaps, just perhaps, what he contemplated could, in point of fact, be considered crazy, or even suicidal. But then, Gabriel decided, in essence, that ship had sailed a long time ago, to borrow a time-honored cliché.

In fact the sheer symmetry of that phrase and its relevance to his present situation was actually quite beautiful in its own way.

"Not quite as beautiful as Rommie and soon we will be together just like it always was intended."

Dylan Hunt and his crew were unavoidable obstacles in his path, he didn't think of them as enemies, just expendable resources. and he did not believe himself as malicious or evil, merely someone doing whatever was necessary to accomplish his goal. Gabriel sighed, after waiting and waiting, it was more than past time that he make his move.

Gabriel paused in his rapid fire march down the corridor two decks below the command deck lifting one hand to brush back the wheat-colored shoulder-length hair from his eyes.
Then he kept going, ordering the turbolift to take him up.

"Rommie," Gabriel greeted upon his arrival.

"Gabriel," she replied, and without much indication, but either motion or intonation in her voice he could not read her current mood. The original Commonwealth had spent so
much time, effort and resources the into the creation of the avatars; given them so much human-like qualities. Gabriel wanted to share with her the joys and sorrows of being capable of having emotion; without the pitfalls of other human characteristics.

"Hey," he greeted with a lopsided smile on his face. "Aren't you a sight for sore eyes."

"Hey, yourself," she replied, returning the smile after a few moments spent regarding the planes of his face. "I fail to see why you are so fond of Old Earth axioms. I was under the impression that was Mr. Harper's specialty."

"It's a highly diverting pastime," Gabriel replied, trying to keep a straight face and only partially succeeding. "Besides, you never know when it might come in handy."

"Like now?" Rommie prompted. In the back of her mind, she could not help allowing some if not all of her initial reserve and, let's face it, frostiness at Gabriel's presence aboard melt away. If pressed to assign certain human characteristics she would say he was charming, in grating, a bit ego-centric, troublesome, and very handsome.

"Now we would be an excellent example," he replied. "Running a diagnostic I see, anything interesting in there?"

"No, all ship's systems are operating within approved specified parameters. Why do you ask?" Rommie knew he did not much care if the response had been in the negative when it occurred to her that he might be asking in the sense of the idle human pastime of making conversation.

She briefly wondered what had happened to Gabriel: in the very long interval between when the Commonwealth fell over three hundred years ago and now, which had made seem that much more human and yet still much like a ship's avatar.

In the back of her mind, she realized that incongruity in his personality should worry her, however, at the moment she was more intrigued by it than concerned. "I like this. Do I want this for myself? Should I tell Dylan about it?'" she thought and then shoved the thought into a back corner of her mind.

"Oh, I know what you're probably thinking, right?" Gabriel grinned and this time came a bit closer where he could place his hands on her shoulders, leaning forward to land a brief airy kiss on her lips. "Why would I care if the ship's running okay or not. I mean, I care, it's your ship after all, and I would much prefer it good working order while I'm aboard it. However, the everyday humdrum task of keeping it running I'll leave to the likes of Harper and Dylan Hunt."

"Lazy, that's what you are," she replied pulling back and away from his grip on her shoulders. "And that reminds me, have I mentioned lately that you are incorrigible?"

"No, but now is as a good time as any," Gabriel replied. "And in all honesty, I do need a reminder of that from time to time."

"I have little doubt of that," Rommie said with a smile. "However, it might bear quite a bit of repetition before it sinks in."

"Have I mentioned lately that you are even more beautiful when you're angry, he replied.

"I am not angry, and flattery, no matter how well-intentioned and well-spoken," Rommie paused to think over her next words, "will not get you anywhere."

"That's too bad," Gabriel replied.

"As long as you're here and apparently with nothing else to occupy your time except make idle chit-chat, you could at least make yourself useful."

"You're going to trust me with delicate machinery?,"

"Stop it," she muttered under her breath."

"Stop what?" Gabriel asked and by the intonation in his voice he appeared genuinely surprised that she should ask.

"Stop being a pain in the neck," Rommie replied, turning on her heel to face him once more. "It's annoying as hell and I really don't need that right now."

"Sure, anything for you." Gabriel grinned and this time it was reflected in his eyes.

"Oh, I give up," she replied throwing up her hands and striding towards the turbo lift. "I need to go check with Harper in engineering. Come with me, and we'll check the slipstream drive in person."

"Lead the way." Gabriel threw out his arm and made a gallant sweeping gesture towards the door of the turbo lift.

"Do you always have to have the last word no matter what the circumstances?" Rommie sighed and placed her hands on her hips.

"Yes, and for the sake of a job well-done, yes," Gabriel replied.

"In that case," Rommie gravely replied, trying not to let her rather muddled thoughts show on her face, "I shall have trump that prerogative and have the last word."

"Oh?" he replied as doors to the turbo lift opened and they stepped inside.

"Yes," Rommie replied. "A piece of free advice, unasked for and most likely not heeded; try not to be as incorrigible and stubborn as you have been. It might make things go a little more smoothly around here. Okay?"

Gabriel nodded. "Sure thing."

"Why I am less than reassured on that score? Just try and stay out of trouble."

Excerpt of song lyrics:
"Ninety nine dreams I have had
In every one a red balloon
It's all over and I'm standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
If i could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go."
Full lyrics can be found here: