a tale in weekly parts
(formerly Albert and Jarvis)
In episodes 1-88, Albert and Jarvis told the story of a bitek construct that had been in the lives of the Grahamson family for three generations. Appearing in the form of a shepherd's hut (Jarvis) and its elderly occupant (Albert), an earlier experiment had resulted in the birth of Aloysius, a non-manifesting human/bitek hybrid. Alice and Alex, the two children that Aloysius had fathered with his wife, Magdalen, displayed strong bitek capabilities from an early age, though Alice was significantly more precocious than her younger brother. Albert and Jarvis nurtured and enhanced these capabilities through many adventures until the point where, to prevent a global catastrophe, the two needed to act together. The action needed more power than the two possessed. To produce stonger hybrids, Alex's seed was used to produce a young in a distantly related hybrid female in another dimension, while Alice was impregnated using her own bitek components. Albert and Jarvis absented themselves from the lives of the Grahamsons to allow Alice's pregnancy to progress in a safe, normal environment.
You can see the full story so far at this link.
“Wow!” Zak exclaimed as he looked around the inside of the shepherd’s hut that he had only ever seen from the outside.
“I know what you’re thinking, Zak,” his mother said, “Uncle Alex and I had the same reaction when we first came in here.”
“I knew that Jarvis was just a manifestation in this dimension of a multi-dimensional entity, and I expected it to be bigger on the inside than you’d think from seeing the outside, but… Wow!”
“Impressed, young human?” Jarvis asked.
“I should jolly well say so,” Zak replied, “but I’ll bet there’s more.”
“There is,” Alex said, “but I should warn you about the immediate consequences. You will go into a deep sleep, where you will stay for about four days. In the first part of the sleep, sections of the bitek components of your brain will be activated and trained. Okay so far?”
“Yes, Uncle. But why will the components need to be trained? Don’t they know what to do?”
“We’re talking about a sophisticated AI that makes anything seen on this planet look like kindergarten stuff. Once activated, the components need a bit of time; just a few days; to learn how to behave, and how to mesh in with your human brain. Whilst that is happening, you will have some weird dreams, and I mean really, scarily odd. That will be your brain assimilating all the new information that’s suddenly available to it, and beginning to understand its new abilities. Finally, we will fast-forward your wisdom by a few decades.”
“Because, Simpleton,” Jarvis said tetchily, “the alternative is not to allow you to develop the abilities until you had matured enough emotionally to handle it. Kapeesh?”
“What my other half means,” Albert said in a more conciliatory tone, “opening up your considerable powers without giving you the maturity to handle it would be like making a school-leaver king without making sure he had the right background of duty and service and the maturity to handle it.”
“I think I know what you mean. I’ve read about women marrying into royalty and not having the qualities needed to take the pressure and carry out the role. It’s not something that ever ends well, is it?”
“Precisely. And we don’t want that to happen to you, do we? However, I should warn you about one thing. During the procedure, you will become aware of the job you have been created to do.”
“I was created to do a job? That sounds a bit fatalistic to me and doesn’t help my self-image at all!”
Zak’s education had included an in-depth study of all the major world religions. He could hold his own in any theological or eschatological discussions, knowing all the precepts, understanding all the dogma, but accepting none. Of course, his understanding of bitek theory and practice militated against the adhering to any religion that ascribed ultimate power to a supreme being, simply because no religion he had heard about can cope with multiple dimensions or the concept of non-linear time. For that reason, predestination and fatalism were foreign to his mindset.
“You will understand all this when you dream it through, Lad. But you will wake up with a deep awareness of your unique place in the omniverse and you may find that knowledge overwhelming. Remember, we have all been through it and we are all here to support you.”
“Jarvis, are we ready?”
“Aye aye, Captain,” Jarvis replied, “the Eddies have confirmed they’re standing by waiting for Alice to initiate sleep.”
“Thanks, J. Alice. Can you do the honours, please?”
“Of course, Albert,” Alice said, “I’d be delighted.” Looking straight into her son’s eyes, she said, “Esterkha’a.”
Zachary found a bed and slept.
A large contingent of Eddies phased into Zak’s cranium and started work on his young brain. They unclogged and reinitialised pathways closed off by hundreds of thousands of years’ evolution and opened Zak’s mind to new experiences. They enhanced his bitek components and strengthened the genes that activated and controlled them. They opened his connections to themselves, to those of his family who were capable of connecting with him and, of course, to the three dogs (Isaac had not yet been enabled, but he would use the same frequencies and protocols as Chav and Ixus, so would take his place in the group as soon as he was activated). Finally, they implanted knowledge and understanding from their collective consciousness and boosted his wisdom and his ability to use with discernment the power they had given to him. Without taking away from his childhood, his maturity and mental outlook on life were raised to that of a university-educated adult with five decades of life experience. All that took around thirty hours.
Once complete, the bulk of the Eddies withdrew, leaving just a few million of their number in place to monitor him whilst his brain used the long period of sleep to sort, classify, pigeon-hole and organise his new knowledge and abilities. This was the most delicate phase. Success meant they’d end up with a capable, mature and powerful member of their community. Failure would have left them with what can only be described as a damaged boy: neurotic, fearful, paranoid – symptoms reminiscent of a bad case of PTSD. The difference was in how his subconscious mind processed the programming and information that had been presented to it.
Alice and Alex took turns sitting with Zak, watching his face and his body movements, checking his pulse and temperature… Of course, they knew this wasn’t necessary. Jarvis was monitoring his vital signs and his brain activity, and the Eddies were in there, observing closely every synapse that opened, extended or fired. Had any problem arisen, Alice and Alex knew that they would have been informed immediately, but that didn’t stop them wanting to keep an eye on the boy themselves.
There was one small concern towards the end of the fourth day; Zak’s third day of sleep. The Eddies noticed that a block of synapses was firing erratically and flagged it up to Alex, who was on watch at the time. Alex asked for their action plan and predicted outcome. Before he had fully formulated his question, the Eddies came back to say that a small break in a little-used pathway had interrupted a non-critical part of the assimilation phase. They had repaired the fracture and the uptake continued as planned. No negative impact was expected.
Zak awoke naturally in time for lunch on day five.
“I’m starving,” he said, “Is there any food to be had?”
“What would you like?” Alice asked.
“Logically speaking, I suppose I should have a mix of foods that is designed to boost my levels of all of the key elements my body needs, especially as I haven’t eaten in days…”
“I hear a but coming,” his mother said.
“But can I have some cereal, please?”
“That’s a strange request at this time of day,” Albert observed.
“Not when I’ve only just woken up,” Zak explained, “I’m ready for breakfast.”
“Okay,” Alice said, “but not too much. We’ll be close to eating when we phase back to the house.”
“Will I be able to phase back under my own power?”
“More than able, Zak,” Alex said, “no-one here will want to carry you now you’re capable of doing it yourself. We’ll go back as soon as you’ve eaten your breakfast.”
As soon as Zak had finished his cereal, Jarvis intoned, “On my mark… three, two, one, MARK.”