Albert and Jarvis part 86

a tale in weekly parts

You can see the full story so far at this link.

Episode 86

“You there, J?” Alice asked aloud.

“Sure am. Still listening.”

“Well don’t. I’ll signal to you by raising my right hand when I need you. Until then, like Greta Garbo, I want to be alone.”

“You’re never alone with the Eddies, Alice.”

“And neither do I want to be. I just want you and Albert to leave me alone to think.”

“But Albert isn’t here.”

“Isn’t he?”

“Do you see him?”

“I don’t need to. Must I quote back to you what he has said in the past?”

“If it makes you feel better…”

“It does. How about ‘I am Jarvis, and Jarvis is me. We are one’ or ‘Even when we are physically separate, we share a single mind’.”

“I remember saying that. So?”

“Leave. Me. Alone.”

“Are you are saying that you don’t value our input into your thought processes?”

“No. I’m saying that I don’t WANT your input into my thought processes.”

“We can’t actually leave you, you know. We’re joined at too deep a level for that.”

“When I was young, I often shut Alex out by sticking my fingers in my ears and singing ‘la la la’. Do that.”

“Sorry, no fingers.”

“Are you trying to tell me that a big, powerful, bitek like you can’t absent yourself long enough for me to think clearly and in private?”

“Well…”

“Weak!”

“What?”

“Weak.”

“♫La la la♫, can’t hear you.”

“Good.”

As soon as Jarvis faded from Alice’s consciousness she started wrestling with the decision she was obliged to take.

On the one hand, her humanity and her instincts told her that although there were many valid ways to have a child, the natural way, the way she felt she wanted to follow, would involve another person – one of the opposite gender. She smiled at that prospect. On the other hand, her purpose in having a child would possibly be served better by following Albert’s proposed route: there’ll be plenty of time for having fun once she has fulfilled what seemed to be her destiny, her purpose.

At its simplest, the question is whether an F3 hybrid formed by splicing pure bitek to an F2 would be more powerful, more likely to achieve its goals than one formed from the union of two F2s. And the only way to know that is to try both and compare the outcomes.

Alice raised her hand and immediately sensed Jarvis’ presence.

“What did you decide?”

“You mean you don’t know?”

“I blocked myself like you asked. Well, insisted.”

“Thank you, J. Thank you for respecting my wishes. Can you take me home now, please?”

“Jump in.”

Alice entered Jarvis and they headed back.

Jarvis spoke to her. “What did you decide?”

“I’ll tell Albert and my family when we get back.”

“You do know that I can access your mind and read your decision, don’t you?”

“Yes, but you also know that I can dismiss you, Albert and the Eddies if you do. I’ve done it before, I’m not afraid to do it again.”

“There’d be a cost to you if you did.”

“I may feel it would be worth whatever the cost was.”

“Okay, you win. Do you want to sleep now?”

“No. I don’t trust you not to act against my wishes if I’m not awake and able to resist.”

They spent the rest of the journey in silence. Once Jarvis landed, Alice phased back into the dining room, to join the others.

“You’re back,” Alex said.

“Good of you to notice. How long was I gone?”

“That’s just it. You went and came back again almost straight away.”

“Good.”

“Have you reached the decision you needed to make?” Albert asked.

“Indeed I have,” Alice replied, “It wasn’t easy, and it goes against every instinct in me, but I think I have to go along with your plan, Albert.”

“Are you sure about that?” Madge asked. “You don’t have to follow his plan. It’s your body and it has to be your decision.”

“It is my decision, Mum. Just this once, I have to put what I have to do ahead of what I want to do. There’ll be plenty of time for me to do what I want to do with my body once this is done.”

“Just take one piece of advice from your old mother, will you?”

“Sure.”

“What you’re talking about; what you want to do…”

“What about it?”“In my experience, it’s a much-overrated pastime,” Madge said. And the look she shot her husband stopped him short before he could open his mouth to comment.

Albert and Jarvis part 85

a tale in weekly parts

You can see the full story so far at this link.

Episode 85

The words in Alice’s mind, words that were heard clearly by the Eddies, were, “Take me somewhere nice; somewhere quiet where I can think.”

The Eddies obliged. They transported Alice to what looked to her like Rio de Janeiro in the middle of Carnival.

“You call this quiet?” Alice shouted, both pointlessly and needlessly. Pointless because the Eddies were in and with her and so picked up her thoughts, and needless because… well, the same thing really.

In her head, she heard an indistinct voice announce, “Transition in thirty seconds.”

“What?”

“Transition in twenty-six seconds.”

“We’re on Inevitabilia?” she asked.

“We’re on Inevitabilia,” the voice replied, “eighteen seconds.”

“Count me down from ten, please.”

“Of course.”

…pause…

“Ten… Nine… Eight… Seven… Six… Five… Four… Three… Two… One… TRANSITION!”

Alice found herself on the edge of a palm forest, just off a pristine beach. The coast swept in a wide arc from north to south and was edged with some of the largest palms she had ever seen; indeed the largest palms she had ever seen.

“Climb,” the voice counselled.

“Why?”

“Don’t waste time with questions, just climb.”

“I’m not going to start climbing palms for no reason, who do you think I am?”

“CLIMB!” the voice repeated with a note of urgency bordering on panic.

Alice climbed.

From the top of the tree, she could see a herd of what looked like large dinosaurs making their way towards the coast.

“What the hell are those?” she asked.

Pycnonemosaurus nevesi,” the voice replied, “one of Brazil’s largest-ever land carnivores.”

“It must be—”

“Nine metres long; that’s thirty feet to you.”

“I know metres,” Alice said indignantly.

“We know you do, but some don’t.”

“So it’s a carnivore.”

“Yes.”

“A p-predator.”

“Yes.”

“What’s it eat?”

“Titanosaurs mainly. There are loads of of medium-sized titanosaurs in the area. They range from the 7-meter (23 feet) Gondwanatitan to the 26-meter (85 feet) Austroposeidon. They also hunt iguanas, turtles, various herbivorous and carnivorous terrestrial crocodilians, and small numbers of dromaeosaur or raptor dinosaurs. These guys are top predators.”

“You reading that somewhere?”

“No need. My indices cover every book ever printed and every web site ever populated.”

“Okay. Erm. Would they eat humans?”

“They won’t ever have met any mammals, so it’s impossible to guess how they’d react, but maybe they’d be game to try. Mind you, you probably wouldn’t qualify as a snack to one of them.”

“When are we?”

“Late Cretaceous.”

“And you brought me here to be quiet and think?”

“It’ll be good once they’ve gone.”

“Hang on a minute,” Alice said, “your voice…”

“What about it?”

“You’re Jarvis.”

“Did you think we’d let you come here without us to keep an eye on you?”

“I came here to get away from you.”

“No. You came here to think. So stop talking and think.”

“I can’t. Not up this tree.”

“Transition in forty-three seconds.”

“Good.”

Forty-three seconds later, Alice was lying on sand so white it was nearly silver, under an umbrella of palms. The beach and its surrounds looked more like she would expect to see in Rio, only with no evidence of human presence.

“When are we now, J?”

“Early fourteenth century by your counting. There’s a settlement just around the headland to the north, but you won’t be disturbed here. Do you want me to manifest?”

“Do I want you to what?”

“Manifest, materialise—”

“Do I want you to become visible?”

“Well, yes. That.”

“Yes, but use a psychological cloak, like you did in Rocamadour.”

“Look straight out to sea, Alice.”

“Why?”

“Humour me.”

“Okay.”

“Anything in your peripheral vision?”

Alice looked straight out and concentrated on a point on her horizon. Off to her right, she almost saw a shepherd’s hut. She turned her gaze towards it and, of course, it disappeared.

“Sneaky, aren’t you?” she said.

“It’s what I do.”

“Okay. Can you withdraw from my mind for, say, ten minutes? I want to think about his thing on my own, if that’s okay.”

“More than okay, Alice. It’s a big decision you have to make, and probably one of the most personal you’ll ever face.”

“So you don’t want to know about it.”

“Damn right!”

Alice was aware of Jarvis’s withdrawal and suddenly felt more alone than she could ever remember.

 

 

Albert and Jarvis part 84

a tale in weekly parts

You can see the full story so far at this link.

Episode 84

Jarvis travelled back to the little corner of England that he had come to think of as home. Albert, Alice and Alex exited the vehicle and went back to the Grahamsons’ dining room, where Al and Madge were still trying to resolve their positions, much to the dogs’ amusement.

“Gather round, team,” Albert said.

“You can cut that tone, Albert,” Madge said angrily, “you storm out of here without a word  and the youngsters have to chase after you and drag you back again. Explain yourself.”

“What?”

“I said explain yourself, or face the consequences.”

“M-Madge,” Al stuttered.

“Shut up and keep out of this.”

“Magdelene Grahamson,” Albert barked, “will you please calm down and get off that high horse of yours.” Calmly and softly, he continued, “You are in the presence of people with abilities you cannot begin to understand. You have experienced the power of the Eddies, power that enables and guides your husband and children, and your dogs, but which is not available to you. You, on the other hand, have strengths that we lack. You possess depths of empathy, of compassion and, yes, of rationality that are closed to us. These attributes complement ours. Stop trying to use them to control us. We are a team. We value your input, but you must recognise that, in the most literal sense, you can’t go where we go.”

Madge became pensive, her eyes tilted to the ceiling and with a distant look to her gaze. “I remember playing cowboys and Indians with my brother and his friends. I always had to stay behind to clean the wigwam and cook dinner while the boys went out play-fighting. I resented it then I and I resent it now.”

“The difference, Mum,” Alice interjected, “is that when you were young, that was the role of women; stay behind and keep house while the men go out to work. It’s not like that now, I know, but the situation here is different. As far as I understand it, there’s no way to give you our abilities, so the choice is either you stay here as our enabler, our supporter, our…”

“Lackey?”

“No, Mum; not our lackey. You’re far more important than that. Anyway, if you don’t help us like that, we either go ahead and do it anyway, or stay here with you and let the world self-destruct!”

“I wondered how long it would take you to pull that one out: ‘do as we say or we’ll let the world destroy itself’. Honestly. Talk about emotional blackmail. Okay, I’ll do it. No choice really.”

“Good,” Albert said, “Now. Here’s what’s happening. Kris is pregnant on Terra, with Alex’s child, which, as you can tell if you look at his face, we achieved without his active participation.”

“But how…?”

“Difficult to explain, Madge. It involved Jarvis manipulating time to twist it over on itself. But, what we need to do now, is to impregnate Alice.”

“Yeah. That didn’t happen, either,” Alice complained. “Can we go back again?”

“Alice. Do you remember the one incident that, above all others, really annoyed you?”

“You mean when you got me pregnant?” [episode 65]

“Yes, that. You’ll recall we did that by modifying your body by redirecting some of your bitek nanites while you were asleep. According to our calculations, that will produce a child stronger even than one made by two F2 hybrids.”

“So why didn’t you do that with Kris, too?”

“Because life is ornery. It doesn’t always behave as the calculations show. We; and the Eddies agree; felt it safest to use both methods. We need two hybrids to achieve the objective, and this seems the best and safest way.”

“One thing I don’t get,” Al said, “You have a casual relationship with time, yes?”

“Yes.”

“But what is time?”

“Just coming up to half past three,” Alex said.

“Shut up Alex.”

“Sorry, Dad.”

Al continued, “And you can flit around, backwards and forwards through time?”

“Go on.”

“Why can’t you just stop the war happening?”

“That’s what we’re trying to do, Al. Time isn’t as compliant as we’d like. When we move forward through time, we enter a future that is not yet fixed. It is a possible future; a potential future, built from an infinite number of variables. That’s why, if we want to stop the war happening, we have to make a change a long time beforehand. Were we to act too close to the event, we could well be in the wrong timeline. We have followed the chain of causation that will lead to the war. It leads us to a rape that appears to form the root of all the strongest projections that culminate in the destruction of this planet.”

“But what if you’re wrong?” Alex asked.

“We will have tried, lad. The past is easy. It’s happened, and there are mechanisms in place, backed up by some pretty severe punishments, to stop it being changed. The future is less certain, and the further forward you go, the more uncertain it becomes. We do what we can, Alex, and trust the Eddies to guide us.”

“Does that mean,” Madge asked, “that these Eddies are like God?”

“They are the stuff of which the universe is made, Madge,” Albert explained, “they interface with bitek constructs and enhanced life forms, so maybe. But we don’t worship or pray to them; as far as we know they don’t interact with ‘normal’ people or other races and they’ve never taken human, or any other form; so they don’t fit the general definition of gods.”

“Can we get back to me?” Alice asked petulantly, “Are you saying you want to do that again; put me to sleep and do things to my body?”

“How can I best put this?” Albert asked. “Yes.”

“I need to think about this,” Alice said, as she disappeared from view.