Albert and Jarvis part 51

a tale in weekly parts

Episode 51

“I don’t like the look of that,” Madge said, seeing the two dogs standing a few feet apart, just facing each other. Neither tail was wagging, and both animals were stock still.

“I see what you mean, love,” Al replied, “it looks like what I call a Mexican stand-off.”

“You don’t suppose they’re going to fight, do you?” Madge asked, looking at each person in turn.

Inside the room, Xander and Kr’veth’neq’is were party to the conversation between Chav and Ixus, as were Albert and Jarvis outside. In the main, once Chav had ascertained just how bad Ixus’ life had been, he was deeply engaged in bragging about his exploits with Jarvis and the rest; his travels through time, space and dimensions and the adventures that went with them. Ixus was unsure whether to be impressed with what he was telling her, or to dismiss it as an extended exercise in story-telling; the kind of posturing, bravado, and all that kind of nonsense that males engage in when trying to enhance their standing, particularly in the eyes of females. It wasn’t clear which of them tired of the exchange first, but it was plain to see that they had decided to relocate outside the house for a chase around. They started to walk toward the open door.

“Grab Ixus, Xander,” Al shouted, “she’s not been here long enough yet to know it’s where she lives. She’ll need to be on a lead for at least a couple of weeks.”

“Why, Dad?” Xander asked, “She won’t run off.”

“Say you don’t know, lad,” he said, “say you don’t know.”

“You can go out, Chav, but Ixus will have to stay inside,” Xander said to the dogs. He then sent to them, “Sorry, guys. I know you won’t run off or anything, but Dad doesn’t, and I can’t let him know how I know you’ll be okay.”

Chav muttered something about needing to pee real bad and ran out. Ixus uttered the canine equivalent of “Harumph!” and lay on the dog blanket in the corner of the room.

“That was impressive, Son,” Al said, “fluke or something else?”

“Who can say, Dad. Perhaps dogs understand more than we give them credit for.”

“Aye, perhaps, Lad. Or perhaps you understand more than I give you credit for.”

“That’s a given, Dad,” Xander said, running out of the room and ducking a flying slipper.

Kr’veth’neq’is followed Xander out, and as soon as they were out of sight, they phased to Jarvis, where Albert was with Chav, expecting their arrival.

“I’ve just been explaining to Chav why he needs to stay at home with Ixus for a while,” Albert said. “I know it isn’t fair on him, but I worry that if your father found out the truth about these animals, he’d try to find a way of using it for his own ends.”

“You mean, like—”

“I mean, Xander, that he would try to make some financial gain from it,” Albert explained. “Don’t forget, I’ve had my eye on Algernon Alfred Grahamson for a lot more years than either of you have been in existence.”

“But what if we take him with us, but get back at the same moment we left.”

“Ixus would know. She would detect the Eddies.”

“Eddies? You mean our travels cause a disturbance in the space-time continuum?”

“Don’t be soft, Lad. You’ve been reading too much science fiction. Eddies are bitek constructs that we use to travel around. Jarvis keeps a large number of them in his toolkit; they come out and manipulate time and dimensions so we can pass through them.”

“So why ‘eddies’?”

“Ephemoral Dimension Drift Interface Engines.”

“Oh, I see,” Xander said.

“What does OIC stand for?” Kr’veth’neq’is asked.

“Not OIC, Sis, Oh, I see.”

“Ah. IC2 now.”

“So why have we never seen these Eddies?” Xander wanted to know.

“Too small, Lad. Eddies are quantum-level machines. Compared with them, standard nanobots are like a jumbo jet alongside a micro-drone.”

“Quite small then.”

“Roughly speaking, about the size of the nucleus of a hydrogen atom.”

“And how many does Jarvis keep?”

“It varies, as they come and go as they please,” Jarvis said, “but generally around nine hundred trillion.”

“Nine hundred trillion,” Xander gasped, frantically doing the arithmetic, “that would be about…”

“Nothing, give or take. They live everywhere and anywhere in and around me; like your bacterial load is in you; but put them together, and you could fit them all into a cubic nanometre about five thousand times.”

“Quite small, then?”

“You could say that,” Jarvis agreed.

“So they are, in a way, your flora,” Kr’veth’neq’is suggested.

“Except that what is here is merely their projection into this dimension.”

“You mean there’s more?” Xander asked, a shocked expression on his face.

“Think, ape-descendant,” Jarvis snapped, “how do you suppose they move us across dimensions if they are trapped in one, like you are? Can you cross dimensions unaided? No! Do you even understand how dimensions in space and time work?”

“Don’t be hard on the lad, sweetie,” Albert said, “he’s new at this.”

“Well, I’m not new at this, but I don’t really get how dimension-transiting works,” Kr’veth’neq’is said in Xander’s defence.

“That’s because of the limitations inherent in your monkey brain, even with enhancements.”

That is nasty,” Kr’veth’neq’is spat, casting a fierce look at Jarvis’s control panels and causing three monitors to fade out of existence, “and un-necessary,” keyboards and chairs gone, “and you need to apologise.” Jarvis manifested a cushioning layer just before the last remaining chair crashed into the main controls.

“Is that the best you’ve got?” he asked, sneeringly, as he fashioned a medicine ball that flew into Kr’veth’neq’is’ midsection and sent her careering toward the back wall.

“Why, you—”

“Children, children,” Albert said. “Can we please have some… OUCH!”

Chav was still inside, recognised a game when he saw one, and seized the opportunity to sink his teeth into someone’s leg. It mattered to him not one whit whose leg it was; the game was on. In the event, it was Albert who felt the business end of the dog’s canines. Chav, however, had no idea how powerful Albert was.

Have you ever seen a Jack Russell execute a double back-flip?

Endlessly entertaining. Distracting enough for all present to descend into fits of laughter. While Xander and Kr’veth’neq’is were occupied rolling around on the floor (Chav was too, though he wasn’t quite sure why), Albert busied himself reforming his lower leg, and Jarvis re-manifested the missing items.

“I think you should go home for now,” Albert said at last, “you too, Chav. Come back tomorrow with some ideas where/when you’d like to go.”

“Goodnight Jarvis, goodnight Uncle Albert, goodnight Kr’veth’neq’is.”

“Goodnight Jarvis, goodnight Uncle Albert, goodnight Xander.”

“Woof!”