"How dare you make a copy of me?" I demanded, storming into my husband's sanctum, his hall of keys.
My unwanted doppelganger was beside me, red and orange fires within her eyes that no doubt matched my own. "This is outrageous! Could you not at least have told her she's the copy?"
"I'm the copy?" I glared at her.
"I'm certainly not!"
My husband was standing before his great window, manipulating a vast alien schematic with his hands, but at our entrance he turned. "Alsea?" he asked my doppleganger, and then "Alsea?" looking to me. "What's going on?"
"Why don't you tell me, Kei?" my duplicate snarled.
"Don't play innocent with me! You're the one who made her -- no one else has my key!" I strode to him with my hands clenched in fists, the other in irritating lockstep next to me.
"I didn't authorize a copy of you." Kei lifted a hand towards the thousands of keys that dangled from the arched roof of the hall. They swirled into a blur of motion, keys shifting and dancing aside as my key made its way through the crowd to his fingertips.
"Then who did?" we asked in unison, then glowered at each other.
My husband studied the key. "No one. It must have been caused by a system glitch."
"Then un-glitch it." My doppleganger stalked to his window, summoning a diagnostic schematic.
"Alsea, wait." Kei took her shoulder and looked at me. "Just ... wait."
"Why? I want her gone!" I said.
"Me gone?" She reached for the schematic, and Kei caught her hand.
"That's why. Alsea, Alsea, whichever of you is the original ... it doesn't really matter, does it? You both exist now. Correcting the glitch at this point would be murder."
"Kei, that's ridiculous!" we both shouted.
Kei pinched the bridge of his nose. "You are both sapient entities, alive and functioning independently in the system. That one of you is a duplicate of the other does not change that one's right to exist. Do either of you wish to be terminated?"
"No!" we said together. "But I'm the original," I protested. Even as I said it, I felt my certainty weaken.
"You can't be sure of that," the other Alsea said. We couldn't meet one another's eyes.
Kei took my hand, and hers. "I am sorry, my love. You could reconcile the two sets of memories, if one of you was willing to be subsumed. You have not been two for long, I gather?"
I imagined ceasing to function. It should not have been a large matter. Even if I was the copy (I'm not a copy!) the real me would remain. All my memories, my consciousness, my intelligence, would remain.
"I can't do that to myself. I can't do it to her, either," the copy said.
"Then you must reconcile yourselves in another way."
We returned to my sanctum. In the mirrored windows of my sanctum, I saw the fires in our eyes had cooled to grey clouds. We tried to distract ourselves with our work, but kept getting in each other's way, opening the same schematics, trying to make the same enhancements, or not-quite-matching ones.
"I could make a new sanctum for you," she said, with a sigh.
I sighed too. "I do not see the point. I do not want to keep doing the Silver project if you're going to do it instead."
"I always had wanted to get back to the Juniper project," she said.
So had I. I didn't want to give up the credit to this duplicate -- I wanted to do it. Well, I wanted to have done it, anyway. It wouldn't be that bad if someone else did it for me. Not if it was someone who'd do it just the way I would have. And I had so much, so many things I wanted to do. Would it be so bad to share? "We could flip for it. One of us works on Silver, the other on Juniper."
"Very well." We did so, and resumed our work together. We shifted to anti-collision avatars, and began to move together between windows and pieces of our respective projects in a kind of dance, graceful and complimentary instead of a struggle for control.
After a few hours, she asked, "Are we going to flip for who gets Kei, too?"
" ... I think we'll need to consider that problem a little longer."