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.
“Mum,” Alex said, “how did you arrive at that conclusion from what Albert just said?”
“Simple. He said, and tell me if I get this wrong, Albert, that the Eddies; this ‘dark matter’ the scientists talk about; these things that seem to be all-powerful and control just about everything there is, are subject to laws from a higher authority. That authority can only be God. Am I right, Albert?”
“Your reasoning is good, Madge,” Albert said, “but you start from a belief that a creator-god exists. The fact is—”
“Your opinion is, you mean.”
“Okay, I’ll play along for a while. Our understanding is that the Eddies were in a state of permanent boredom and making a total nuisance of themselves. The multiverse in all its dimensions developed out of a need for the highest authority to give them something to do, to direct their energies to something vaguely productive. It set off something like a firecracker, each explosion of which was a Big Bang.”
“So this higher authority – what do you call it?”
“We don’t know its name. Even the Eddies won’t ever say it out loud.”
“This is all beginning to sound rather familiar. Anyway, it’s probably easier, rather than always calling it the highest authority, that we give it a name – a sort of shorthand. Just to save us using seven syllables; we can make do with one or two.”
“What did you have in mind, Madge?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe something like Deus, Theos, Allah, Jehovah. Tell you what; let’s stick with God. It’s short, pithy, and everyone here knows what you mean.”
“I see what you did there, Madge,” Albert said after some thought, “but all of those names are applied to a deity that expects, if not demands, obedience and worship.”
“Worship is our natural response to a loving God,” Madge said, “as for obedience – aren’t you doing exactly that by accepting the Eddies’ statement that going back and re-running my kids’ upgrades is against the law?”
“I need to take that away and think about it, Madge.”
“You do that. I’m going to go and make dinner.” Madge again left the room.
Alice wrapped her arm around Zak’s shoulder and nuzzled closer to him. Dropping her head to his ear, she half-whispered, “Is there anything special you’d like to do for your birthday?”
“Actually, there is,” Zak replied, “I should dearly like to meet Zara. After all, if she’s to be my wife, it would be nice if I could get to know her and maybe become friends, first.”
“I’m not sure I like all this,” Al said.
“All what?” Alice asked.
“All this Zak marrying his cousin malarkey.”
“Second cousin, Granddad,” Zak corrected him.
“It’s not the possible incest implications I’m worried about—”
“Well, I am!” Madge shouted from the kitchen.
Speaking very quietly, Al said, “Ignore her,” then after flinching, continued at his normal volume, “I’m not comfortable with the whole idea of arranged marriage. I thought that had been outlawed a long time ago.”
“Can you go see if your grandma needs any help in the kitchen, please, Zak?” Albert said.
“You want to talk about me without me hearing? That’s not very nice, is it?”
“What I want to do, Zak, and I know your mum will agree with me, is to make sure that you can decide things for yourself, without being confused by opinions that are not based on solid information.”
Albert cast an accusing look at Al, who responded by raising his eyebrows, pointing to his chest and silently mouthing, “Me?”
“Go on, Zak,” Alice said, “do as Albert says.”
“Okay, Mum,” Zak said, skipping into the kitchen.
“Aloysius,” Albert continued, “firstly, who said anything about marriage? It is necessary that Zak and Zara have a child together, not that they marry or live together as a couple. Alex, would you care to tell your father how Zara was conceived?”
“Hmmph,” Alex replied sullenly, “While I was asleep, Jarvis, or maybe the Eddies, made me have one of those dreams – you know the sort I mean – and they took a sample of my seed. Exactly how they impregnated Kris I have no idea, but I certainly got nothing out of it.”
“Except a son,” Albert said, “Alice – how did you come to have Zak?”
Alice turned to look at her father. “The Eddies manipulated my DNA, Dad. Zak is pretty much my clone.”
“Well, not exactly a clone, but that’s near enough for now. So you see, Al, there is no real need for marriage or for the possible incest you’re worried about. When the time is right, the Eddies will tell us how they plan to do it; to produce the child they need.”
“And you’ll meekly go along with it?”
“Because if what they suggest seems in our view to be against the best interests of either of the kids, we’ll ask for a rethink and a conference.”
“And they’ll grant that?”
“Again. Why probably?”
“Because we’re in uncharted waters here, Al. There’s no precedent to fall back on. We’re all playing it by ear.”
“Anyway. So you’re telling me that neither Zak nor Zara were produced what-I-call naturally?”
“You know how babies are made, don’t you?”
“Of course I do. For God’s sake, do you think I’m a child? Naive? A simpleton?”
“What I think doesn’t matter, Al. The fact is that we needed to produce Zara, not from the chance union of an untested egg and a random sperm from millions; it had to be the right egg and the right sperm.”
“So Zak and Zara were designer babies?”
“I don’t much like the term, but yes, absolutely they were. They had to be.”
“Can I ask why?”
“Because, Son, they had to be absolutely right, DNA-wise, to produce the perfect offspring.”
“I can understand why you’d think that, but bear one thing in mind.”
“The fate of the world; the future existence of the human race depends on that child being perfect. Would you put a batch of random pieces of metal and plastic together and expect it to fly you to the stars?”
“Of course not.”
“Then how can you expect a randomly produced human to carry out this task?”
“No. Not possible.”
Al stopped as Zak came back into the room.
“So, Mum,” he said, “do I get to meet Zara?”
“As soon as we can arrange it, Zak. As soon as we can arrange it.”
Zak looked at Albert and raised an eyebrow.
“Next week, Lad,” Albert said.
“Thanks, Albert,” Zak said. He ran to his mother, hugged her and said excitedly, “I’m going on an adventure!”
“Yes, my love. We all are.”