Albert and Jarvis part 67

a tale in weekly parts

Episode 67

The school day dragged for Xander, as it always did. The worse subjects for him were, of course, mathematics, physics and ICT. His knowledge in these areas was not just greater than that of his teachers, it was greater than that of any human limited to a biological brain. A small number of highly advanced mega-computers were beginning to approach speculatively a few things that he knew either as fact or as fantasy, but his school could no more access them than it could set itself up in orbit around Jupiter. History was a similar story. Some of what was being taught was just plain wrong, but he couldn’t propose any alternative interpretation without revealing that he had, in many cases, been there/then and seen it for himself.

The areas he did enjoy were the real human subjects; topics where his bitek couldn’t help. Biology he tolerated, music and the visual arts he loved. But what he enjoyed most was, without any doubt, philosophy; the human brain pondering and trying to make sense of its very existence. Oh, he was familiar with pretty well every word that had been written on the subject, from the Mahabharata to Pritchard’s Epistemic Angst and beyond, but his thirst was too great for the written word to quench. What he craved was mind on mind discourse with equals on a subject that was beyond bitek, one where he could really stretch that part of his brain that remained completely human.

Neither philosophy nor the arts, nor even the philosophy of art were timetabled, so he allowed most of his mind to wander. He left a little behind to raise the odd query to which he already knew the answer, or to answer wrongly questions that he was more than capable of answering correctly, this to make him appear ‘normal’.

He found Kr’veth’neq’is in Italy, in the year 1754. She was deep in conversation with St Gerard Majella. Of course, he wasn’t a Saint at that time, but he was doing the counselling work and other things that led the church to beatify and canonise him at the turn of the twentieth century. Thinking about it, to whom else would she turn than the Patron Saint of Expectant Mothers and Unborn Children? Xander shielded himself and listened in.

“And how came you to be in this condition if no man has touched you?” the holy man asked, “you surely are not comparing yourself with the Mother of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, for that would be blasphemy indeed.”

“Indeed I am not,” Kr’veth’neq’is replied. “I fear that my condition was brought on by advanced technology.”

“I know nothing of this advanced technology of which you speak. Enlighten me, child. What is its nature?”

“It’s a kind of magic,” she replied.

“Sorcery? Witchcraft?”

“It would seem thus.”

“I will pray for you, child.”

Xander lifted his shield, exposing his mind to his sibling.

“Thank you, Father,” she said, “I must away to the bosom of my family, there to find the solace and comfort I need.”

“And the Lord will be with you.”

Kr’veth’neq’is phased back to meet Xander as he left school.

“How was your day, brother of mine?” she asked him.

“Fascinating, engaging and absorbing enough for me to seek you out,” he replied.

“No philosophy or art today?”

“Nor even the philosophy of art.”

“I am so glad I left school when I did. So stifling!”

“Yeah, but we have to put on a show of being normal, whatever that means.”

“So,” Kr’veth’neq’is continued, “how much did you hear?”

“Nothing before he asked you how you became pregnant without being… you know.”

“Yes, I do know. I would have preferred that to the remote genetic manipulation they used. At least I would have had the pleasure before the pain. As it is…”

“I understand,” Xander sympathised, “but Dad and I had a good talk last night, and he wants a family meeting to thrash it out.”

“There’s nothing he can do, though. And how can we have a family meeting without filling Mum in on… well… everything?”

“That’s for Dad to sort out. I think he’s told her a lot already.”

“But what can any of us do? Albert and Jarvis are too powerful for us.”

“I have an idea, Kr’veth’neq’is. When they upgraded our bitek, they conveniently routed around the permission circuit.”

“What does that mean, Xander?”

“If we can will the permission circuit back on, they can only enter our minds and control us with our say-so. Without it, we are a closed book to them.”

“How do you know this?”

“Before I came looking for you this afternoon, I delved into my bitek, and that of the dogs. There was, in all of us, a chunk of pathways that were by-passed. I managed to reset Chav’s, then couldn’t enter his mind. I skirted it and asked him if I could enter, he said I could, then I was in again.”

“Xander, you clever little fellow. I think you may just be onto something there.”