a tale in weekly parts
“Do you want to plead for her?” Albert asked.
“To whom?” Xander wanted to know, “I don’t follow any gods, and I don’t know who else can help.”
“To the Eddies, of course,” Albert replied, “I was talking to them when you came in.”
“Oh. I wondered what you were doing. Were you pleading for her?”
“No. I was trying to find out if they know anything.”
“And do they? Know anything?”
“Not yet. A few trillions of them are putting the word about. They’ll find her.”
“So what are the dogs for?”
“I can answer that,” Jarvis interrupted suddenly.
“What? You made me jump out of my skin, then.”
“I can see no evidence of any part of your anatomy relocating itself outside the confines of your epidermis,” Jarvis intoned.
“It’s an expression, alright? I don’t mean I literally jumped out of my skin; that would be impossible.”
“Exactly what I said.”
“Must he be so pedantic, Albert?” Xander asked.
“Afraid so,” Albert replied, “we both are, by our nature, but I manage to control it, for your sake.”
“So, either of you, what’s the answer?”
“To what you need the dogs for,” Xander yelled with frustration.
“Oh, that,” Jarvis replied, “I’ve done my work. They are now more sensitive to the Eddies than even I am.”
“How will that help?”
“It means, young ape-descendant, that they will pick up the emanations of the Eddies’ collective mind as they happen. It means they won’t need the Eddies to tell them what they know. As soon as their collective consciousness processes a thought, your canine companions will own it, too.”
“You mean you’ve made them like Eddies?”
“Albert, Honey,” Jarvis sent, “I told you we should have allowed this species a few thousand more generations’ evolution before getting involved; the human brain is still far too weak.”
“Allow me, Angel,” Albert replied then, to Xander, “You’re Star Trek fan, aren’t you?”
“So you understand the workings of the Borg hive mind.”
“Is that what the Eddies have?”
“Nothing like, but the underlying concept is similar.”
“So Chav and Ixus are in the collective, kind of?”
“No. They are like a listening station within the range of the collective.”
“So they can hear all the Eddies?”
“He’s not getting it,” Jarvis said, “explain it to him again, Sweetie.”
Albert put on his most patient, fatherly voice. “Think of the individual Eddies as atoms. A lump of steel may comprise billions of atoms, but it is only one lump of steel.”
“So, there are googolplexes of Eddies—”
“Googolplexes of googolplexes.”
“But only one Eddie. So Chav and Ixus can hear the thoughts of the single entity that is googolplexes of individual, though not really individual, Eddies.”
“I think he’s got it,” Jarvis said, “I think he’s got it.”
“And because each individual Eddie is part of a collective, there’s just one cohesive thought to hear.”
“By George, he’s got it! Now, once again, how many Eddies are there?”
“Googolplexes. Googolplexes of googolplexes.”
“And how many minds?”
“One! Just the one!”
Albert and Xander started dancing around to a Frederick Loewe tune that Jarvis produced, until they were interrupted by a strong signal from the dogs.
“Much disturbance in the Eddies there is,” Xander said, still on a euphoric high after getting what sounded like praise from Jarvis.
“Now we know when and where Kr’veth’neq’is is, we can go and find her,” Albert said.
“And not a moment too soon,” Jarvis concurred, “hold on!”
“Do you know those coordinates?” Xander asked Albert.
“Sadly, yes. It is a synthetic planetoid orbiting a dying star in dimension Lambda. Mendacium is not a good place for Kr’veth’neq’is to be.”
“Because the Mendatians; that’s what the dominent species call themselves; have some of the strictest laws ever known. Time travel, dimension switching and particularly bitek, are strictly forbidden.”
“So how did Kr’veth’neq’is get there?”
“Trapped. They control a dozen cubic parsecs of space in all dimensions. Anyone or anything entering there is caught in a stasis field and ported to Menda City, a secure facility below the surface of the planetoid.”
“But how do you know that, if it’s so closed?”
“Xander, until you really fully understand time, and particularly our relationship with time, just accept that what I say is true. Can you do that for me?”
“So let’s think about how we rescue her, before they locate and wipe her enhancements and take her identity with it.”
“What will you do last time, or what did you do next time?”
“Now you’re thinking right!” Albert exclaimed, at which Jarvis fired up the Frederick Loewe tune again.
“No time for that,” Xander complained, “I have a sister to rescue.”
“Yes, right. I’ll get the Eddies involved.”
“How can they get in there without being detected?”
Xander picked up a message from the dogs. “They can enter the underground area before it was shielded, when it was just a natural cave system created by an ancient submendacian waterway. They can then slip forward to today, drag Kris [surely you didn’t expect dogs to be able to pronounce Kr’veth’neq’is] back to their entry time, then bring her to us here in dimension Alpha.”
“But what if they’ve already tampered with her brain?”
“They won’t have,” Albert explained, “The Eddies will grab her at the exact moment she arrived there.”
“But won’t that change things?”
“I know what you’re thinking, Lad, but no. The Mendatians have only a linear view of time…”
“Like us at home, then?”
“Exactly. If the Eddies can grab Kr’veth’neq’is at the right time, all they will know is a failed capture – not an unusual occurrence – whatever would otherwise have happened after that, simply won’t.”
“So you’re changing the future, then? Won’t that risk a paradox?”
“Technically, we are preventing a possible future from coming to fruition.”
“And that’s okay?”
“Is it okay to lock the door before you go out of your house?”
“Of course. If we didn’t, a burglar could get in.”
“So you are preventing a possible future; one where a miscreant enters your house and makes off with your stuff.”
“Fair point… Oh. Hi, Kr’veth’neq’is. You okay?”