Albert and Jarvis part 65

a tale in weekly parts

Episode 65

“Four twenty-five,” Xander said to himself, “that’s no time for a growing boy to be awake. And alert.”

“Better a Lert than a Mendatian,” a voice inside his head said, “although there are worse beings in this universe than even Mendatians.”

“Name five,” Xander challenged.

“Grinches; Dongs, especially of the luminous-nose variety; Vogons; Krikkiters and duplicitous bitek constructs.”

“You’re back early, Albert,” Xander said.

“Yes, we are,” Albert replied.

“Want to tell me why?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“There are things, Xander, that the human brain, even enhanced with bitek components, is not ready to understand. Were I to go into detail about our unexpectedly early return, it would only serve to confuse you.”

“Try me.”

“Very well, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Are you ready?”

“Yes.”

“Sure?”

“I said so, didn’t I?”

“Positive?”

“Shoot.”

“Okay; you asked for it. The reason we are back early… you really won’t get it; it’s nothing like you would expect…”

“Go on.”

“Is…”

“Yes?”

“It didn’t take as long as we thought it would.”

“And why would I not understand that?” Xander asked.

The voice of Albert that was inside Xander’s head chuckled dismissively. “You have no concept of the complexity of the mathematics that underlie our expectation of how long it would take. How can you possibly grasp the reasons for it taking less time than Jarvis and I, using our combined processing capabilities, calculated it should take?”

“Let me tell you something about humans, Albert.”

“What can you possibly tell me that I don’t know already?”

“What happens when someone throws a ball in my direction?”

“You extend your arm and catch it.”

“But how do I know exactly where it will be at the point I reach out for it?”

“That is simple ballistics. You take as input the force and vector of the throw, factor in gravity, air resistance, wind speed and direction, the weight of the ball and its surface qualities, then plot an intercept point. How else?”

“Observation and estimation, Albert. I see how the ball is moving through the air and use that to forecast an intercept point, then constantly modify the forecast during its flight, using a simple feedback mechanism.”

“You mean you guess?”

“Mostly.”

“No calculations?”

“Nope.”

“And yet you catch it.”

“Not every time, but usually.”

“Amazing. You live your lives by guesswork.”

“Never mind that. What do you know about Kr’veth’neq’is being pregnant?”

“Oh that. Yeah, that was us.”

Xander sat bolt upright in his bed. “You raped her! That’s so wrong.”

“No. There was no sexual activity involved; we simply modified her body while she was sleeping.”

“Did you have her permission to make her pregnant?”

“No.”

“Did she even know about this?”

“Not as such, although it is something we had discussed before, and she seemed okay with the idea.”

“Seemed okay with the idea? What did she say, exactly, when you proposed doing this to her?”

“Wrong question, Xander. We didn’t propose doing it to her; we were talking about how your father came to be, and when we got to the part where we modified his mother’s body while she was asleep, Kr’veth’neq’is simply said that it was a crafty move.”

“And on the basis of that single word, you assumed she would approve of you doing the same to her?”

“Of course not. Why would we need her approval?”

“Because this is her body we’re talking about. Because you can’t just mess around with people’s bodies or minds for your own amusement.”

“Now steady on, sunshine. This has nothing to do with amusement. This is scientific experimentation.”

“Albert… Can’t you see how immoral this is?”

“Morals has nothing to do with it. It’s science.”

“Leave me now, Albert.”

“What?”

“Please go away.”

“You don’t know what you’re saying.”

“Go away and leave me alone.”

“Okay, I’ll leave now. Come out and see me when you’re ready to talk about this more rationally and without human emotion.”

“If I’m ever ready, I will. But I don’t know if I want any more to do with you, if this is the way you’re going to carry on.”