Albert and Jarvis part 68

a tale in weekly parts

Episode 68

“I think it can work,” Xander said to Kr’veth’neq’is, “I think we can activate the permissions circuits to keep them out. But I don’t see a way to do it to ourselves.”

“Can we do it to each other?” Kr’veth’neq’is asked.

“These circuits are like firewalls. The entity that contains the firewall can’t change it. It can only be changed by whoever—”

“Or whatever?”

“Or whatever, has administrator rights.”

“That means A & J,” Kr’veth’neq’is suggested, “which is exactly who we are trying to keep out.”

“There is one other possibility,” Xander said.

“Which is?”

“Something that is more powerful than them. Something that, though they won’t ever admit it, actually controls them.”

Kr’veth’neq’is experienced one of those light-bulb moments; the flash of realisation that is so rare, even for the gifted.

“Eddies?” she asked.

“Eddies,” Xander replied.

Now; as everyone knows (or at least, anyone who has been with us since about part 51), Eddies are Ephemoral Dimension Drift Interface Engines. They number in the googolplexes of googolplexes (a googolplex is one with a googol of zeroes after it, and before you ask, a googol is one with one hundred zeroes after it), and they account for about five-sixths of the matter in the universe.

Kr’veth’neq’is furrowed her brow and screwed her nose up. Rather prettily, Xander thought, then reminded himself that she was his sister, and dismissed the thought.

“Can they do that? Can they change our firewall rules?” she asked.

“I’d be surprised if they can’t” Xander replied, “The question is, though, will they want to? They know already what we are thinking about, but is their relationship with A & J such that they will prevent us from shutting them out?”

“Perhaps if we can convince them that we don’t actually want to use it, only to be able to use it; perhaps as a bargaining chip when we’re negotiating with A & J—”

“Yeah. That’s not going to happen.”

“Why not?”

“You know when we were younger, Mum always knew what we were doing, even if she wasn’t in the house?”

“She said she had eyes in the back of her head. She didn’t, I checked.”

“Eddies do. Eddies are the eyes in the back of their own heads. They are omnidimensionally omnipresent. You can’t get away from them.”

“Xander,” Kr’veth’neq’is said hesitantly, “did you feel something then. Well, not so much feel as, I don’t know, experience.”

“I did. Try to shut me out.”

Immediately the thought left his mind, he became aware that his sister was no longer there. She was still physically there; he could see her, he could reach out and touch her (stop that – she’s his sister), but he could no longer sense her.

“Now you shut me out,” she said, this time using the paraphernalia of human speech; mouth, vocal chords, that sort of thing. Xander closed the route from her to him. “We can do it!” she shouted.

“What can you do?” Jarvis’s tones echoed through their minds – and stopped, suddenly, before he could say any more.

The bitek entity that was Albert and/or Jarvis became alarmed. Never before (or since, given their casual relationship with time) have any of their creature-based experiments gained the ability to shut hem out of their minds. The entity immediately phased to its point of origin to study its plans, hoping to find a way to prevent this calamity.

Back on Terra, the young siblings re-opened their minds to each other, but kept all other routes (except, of course to their dogs) closed.

A conversation passed between them in the blink of an eye.

“I’ve had a lot of fun with this bitek thing,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, “but I don’t know that I want to do it for ever.”

“I know what you mean, Sis,” Xander replied, “It’s a bit like going on holiday. While you’re there, you think it’s the best place ever, and you’d love to live there. But it’s more the holiday than the place that you love.”

“This has been like a gap year for me, Xander. I’ve loved every minute of it – well, most of them, that thing on Mendacium was a bit scary. Even though you pulled me out before anything bad happened to me, I am aware of the bad stuff; it left it’s shadow. But apart from that, it’s been great. But this being pregnant business drove it home to me that A & J aren’t our friends, they’re our masters, and I don’t like that. It’ll be hard to stop after all this time, but I think I need to.”

“Any idea how?”

“If they can do it, I want the Eddies to deactivate all my bitek. I want to go back to being Alice again. I want to be normal.”

“I’m with you there, Sis. I like being smart. I like being the brainbox of my class, but the rest of it is less fun each trip. Tell you what. Let’s try to negotiate with the Eddies to leave the intellectual parts, but remove everything else. I’d like to still be able to talk with Chav and Ixus, though.”

“And your name? If I go back to Alice—”

“I’ll go back to Alex,” he replied.

The siblings were suddenly in possession of a single fragment of information. They knew that their mental abilities remained, but that they could no longer call on the Eddies to transport or transform them. Alice, for that’s who she now was, knew also that the changes that had initiated her reproductive system had been undone and had never happened.

“Who’s going to tell Mum and Dad?” Alice asked.

“We’ll tell them together,” Alex replied.