Category: Hybrids

Hybrids part 106

a tale in weekly parts

(formerly Albert and Jarvis)

Albert, Jarvis, Trevor, Eos and Dawn

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.


Episode 106

“Zak, come here, son,” Al said.

Zak came trotting around the corner with three dogs in tow. “What is it, Granddad?”

“Albert and his hut—”

“Jarvis, Granddad.”

“Whatever. They’ve definitely gone?”

“Yes.”

“And they won’t be coming back?”

“No.”

“Never?”

“Never.”

“Excellent.”

“What? How can it be excellent? I thought Albert was your father?”

“Yes, but I didn’t know that until just.”

“I still can’t see why you’re so happy about it.”

“Look at it this way, lad. We haven’t so much lost a man; well, kind of a man anyway; as gained fifty square metres of land. And not just any land. It’s well-shaded, free-draining land that’s not been disturbed in more than fifty years – apart from the hard-standing I put down, and that’ll make a smashing base for a shed. What’s happened is I’ve gained an allotment with the best land in the area.”

“What’re you on about?” Madge shouted from behind the leylandii.

“Come and look at this,” Al said.

Madge came around from behind the trees, followed by Alex and Alice. “What am I looking at?”

“Your new patch of garden.”

“But the sun never gets through to this part.”

“So this is where you plant the shade-loving plants you can’t grow in the main garden.”

“Ooh. Does that mean I can grow rhododendrons, hostas, ferns and bamboo?”

“I was hoping you’d mention something we can eat,” Al replied.

“Like brassicas—”

“What the bloody hell is brassicas?”

“Cabbages and stuff.”

“Yes, that.”

“And beetroot?”

“Why on earth would anyone want to grow that rubbish?”

“Some people like beetroot.”

“No bugger I know!”

“I like beetroot.”

“Is it too late to disown you?”

“Will you two stop squabbling?” Alice shouted.

“Just having a bit of fun, love. Nothing’s meant, is it, Madge?” Al said.

“Not by me, anyway,” Madge replied, “don’t know about misery-guts here, though.”

Al scowled.

“What’s the pH of this patch?” she asked.

“PH? What’re you talking about, PH? All I know is PH shows where a pub is on maps, and you know where the nearest one is; it’s the one I go to sometimes, the Traveller’s Rest. Got a picture of a shepherd’s hut on the sign. Here. I’d never thought of that. You don’t suppose it’s named after Albert, do you?”

“Aloysius Grahamson, stop being obtuse, and don’t change the subject. Little pee big aitch; shows how acid or alkali the soil is.”

“How would I know that?”

Zak shimmered briefly. “I’d leave it alone, Grandma. It tends to be a tiny bit acid, but that’ll be okay. Cabbage, sprouts, spinach and salads will love it.”

“And beetroot?”

“And beetroot.”

“You know about these things, Zak?” Al asked.

“We do now,” the boy replied. He turned to his mother and said, “Mum, Alex; we need to meet. Coming?”

“We?” Alice asked.

“Yeah. We, Zed. Xander and Kris will be there, too.”

“I’m in,” Alex said quickly.

“Me, too,” Alice added.

Al and Madge stood looking into space as Alex, Alice and Zak disappeared from view.

***

In a clearing close to a woodland, Zak and Zara stood side by side, shimmered and merged into one. On a bench nearby, Alex was seated beside Kris and Alice beside Xander. They were all looking towards Zed, all more than somewhat confused.

Zed looked up and faced the others. “Albert based his action plan on an understanding that the destruction of the planet would be the result of a major conflict linked to the rise of a despotic ruler. Albert was in error.”

“Are you saying the war won’t happen?” Alex asked.

“It will happen, all right,” Zed replied, “but its cause will not be linked to the unsuitability of the holder of high office.”

“So this individual won’t be a problem?”

“He will be. He will cause major problems to his people, but the war will not be a direct result of his disastrous rule.”

“Then what—”

“The war will be an indirect result of global climate change.”

“How?”

“Rising temperatures will render some parts of the planet incapable of supporting human life. Refugees will flee those places in their millions and try to settle in more suitable areas. This will give rise to local tensions, leading to closed, protectionist governments. Other parts of the planet will lose access to clean water which will lead to more refugees. Regional food shortages will cause raiding parties from poor communities to attack better-off locales where food and water are plentiful. All these things will come together to effectively result in every population being at war with another bloc or with itself.”

“Can this be prevented?”

“Let us finish. This war will be the result, not the cause, of the planet’s fate.”

“Then what will be the cause?”

“Climate change.”

“Please don’t tell us this is inevitable.”

“Of course not. Nothing is set in stone. This is statistically the most likely future, and it’s the one that will happen if everything continues as at present with no intervention.”

“So what can be done? Is there something you can do? Albert was talking about preventing a birth, as though that alone would change the course of history.”

“And it would. Preventing a birth would mean that the despot wouldn’t be there to take high office, and a vast swathe of people would be saved a lot of unpleasantness. It would also have an effect on the rate of global climate change. But that would not, of itself, be enough to prevent the catastrophe. That needs concerted action by the entire population of the planet. It is a political movement, which is not something that we can directly influence.”

“Why not?”

“Because it means convincing billions of people to make what will be, for them, uncomfortable, possibly expensive and certainly counter-intuitive changes to their lifestyle.”

“But if it’s to save the planet…”

“Convincing them is the issue. It’s a job for politicians and civic leaders, not for bitek constructs.”

Hybrids part 105

a tale in weekly parts

(formerly Albert and Jarvis)

Albert, Jarvis, Trevor, Eos and Dawn

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.


Episode 105

Madge returned some minutes later with a tray of tea and biscuits. She poured a cup each for her husband, children and grandchild and took her seat at the table. Zak was deep in conversation with Alice and Alex, so she decided to hold her tongue for a while.

“You said your relationship with the Eddies was closer than Albert’s,” Alice said, “How would you describe it?”

“It is,” Zak replied, “much closer. I would describe it as symbionic.”

“Symbionic?” Alex asked, “Don’t you mean symbiotic?”

“By definition, a symbiotic relationship exists between two different organisms living in close physical association or between different people or groups. It could, I suppose, apply to machine intelligences or other techno-mechanical constructs—”

“Like bitek—”

“Or mostly bitek, but we thought our relationship deserved a better word; like symbionic.”

“And just how close is it?” Al asked, trying desperately to keep up with the conversation.

“It’s hard to describe, Granddad.” Zak paused. “Okay. When you hurt yourself; say by sticking a needle in your finger, what hurts?”

“My finger, of course.”

“But where does the pain actually register?”

“I think I see where you’re going with this,” Madge said, “the pain registers in your brain. Your brain tells you that it’s your finger that’s hurt.”

“Exactly, Grandma. It’s not a very good example, but we and the Eddies are as close as your finger and brain. Zara and I are, too.”

“How do you mean?”

“If either of us pricks a finger, we’ll both feel the pain. That close.”

“Like the Borg?” Al said.

“What?” everyone else asked.

“You know. Star Trek. The Borg collective. They are all part of a single hive mind.”

“Well, yes. I suppose so, except we don’t lose our individuality. Think of it as a little bit like a Prime Minister’s cabinet; all individuals, but giving the same message and acting as a coherent unit.”

Al laughed. “Not in this bloody country, they’re not,” he said, “but I think we get what you mean. When I speak to one of you, I speak to all of you, sort of thing.”

“Well put, Granddad.”

Madge looked at Zak and said, “Never mind all that, Zak. I’m interested in this housekeeper robot you said about earlier. Tell me more.”

“Sorry, Gran. I shouldn’t have said that. They don’t exist yet. I guess I’m still new at this time malarkey.”

“But they will exist in the future?”

“Probably.”

“Can’t you be more definite than that?”

“Would you prefer probably not?”

“Probably not. Is that because the future’s not certain?”

“Time is like a tree, Grandma. We’re on the trunk. In front of us are branches, any one of which we might follow. Every time anyone makes a choice, it takes us down a different branch – like a fork in the road. Every branch has branches and so on until you reach the twigs. Standing here on the trunk, we may be able to see what each branch and twig looks like, but we never know which one we’ll end up on. It depends on thousands of choices made every day by billions of people – as well as other factors that people can’t even foresee, let alone control.”

“Like the butterfly effect?” Al offered helpfully.

“If you like.”

“So no help for me around the house for a while then?” Madge asked.

“You’ve always got me, Grandma,” Zak said. Madge smiled. You know the kind of smile that you make when you know you ought to smile but really, I mean really don’t want to? That kind of smile. “Let’s all get some air,” she said.

The family got up from the table and trooped out of the house, followed by three dogs each of which displayed a lot more excitement than was seemly. They walked around the garden until they came to the leylandii, behind which Jarvis had been parked, if that’s the right word to use for a bitek unit. The patch was bare grass with a three metres by two metres hard standing that Al had constructed during one particularly wet autumn when he thought that there was a risk of Jarvis getting bogged. Of course, at that time he had no idea that Jarvis was anything other than the old shepherd’s hut that he appeared to be.

“Never seen this patch without the old hut,” Al said.

“Are you wiping a tear from your eye, love?” Madge asked.

“Course not, woman. Bit of hay fever,” he lied.

“It’s alright to be sad, Dad,” Alice said, “we’ll all miss him, you know. None of us has any experience of life without Albert. Except for Mum, of course. But he’s been in our lives from the very start. All of us.”

Madge hugged Al and drew their children in. There had to be a period of adjustment, of grieving, for all of them.

Alex and Alice were aware of  the goings-on beyond the leylandii involving three dogs and one bitek construct that was also a ten-year-old child. Zak may be a super-powered post-human with the ability to converse natively with the three dogs, but he was also in the body of a pre-adolescent boy. Outwardly, everything was calm and quiet, but a look around the hedgerow would have revealed three dogs performing stunts that are physically impossible for dogs, aided and abetted by a lad whose maturity, judgement and moral compass were, at best, works in progress. Not only were they performing these deeds, but they were also, judging by the output from their brains, loving it.

Alex wandered around to where the activities were taking place.

“Zak,” he said, “are you sure dogs are supposed to be able to do that?” At the time, Ixus was lying on her back, Chav was balancing on his nose, bouncing up and down on her nose, and she was making running motions that had Isaac doing a passable impression of a hamster in a wheel, flipping over, too.

“Sorry, Alex. Can you take Isaac?”

“How?”

“Hang on, I’ll pass you control.” Alex became aware that his link with Isaac had strengthened, and he somehow felt that he was mentally holding him. “Now think him off Ixus and gently pop him back on the floor.” Alex did as Zak asked and mentally carried the puppy away.

“Wow!” he said, “That’s amazing.”

“Can’t you do that already?”

“I don’t know if I can or not, Zak. I’ve never tried it before.”

“Well, you can now. Can you lift Chav off, too?”

“You mean you put him there but can’t get him back?”

“Oh, I can, Alex. I just thought you’d like the practice,” Zak replied with a grin.

Alex raised Chav from Ixus, who immediately flipped and tried to lick Chav’s nose. Chav hates that and began growling. Alex raised him half a metre and held him there until he calmed before putting him back down on his feet.

Did you know we can do telekinesis?” Alex sent to his sister.

In theory, but I’ve haven’t tried it since we reactivated,” she replied.

Zak’s eyes glazed for a moment. “You can now, Mum,” he sent.

 

Hybrids part 104

a tale in weekly parts

(formerly Albert and Jarvis)

Albert, Jarvis, Trevor, Eos and Dawn

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.


Episode 104

“Yes, we have a plan,” Zed said then, both looking and pointing straight at Albert, “and it doesn’t include you.”

“But you can’t cut me out of the story—”

“We can, and we have. You and your ‘partner’. The writer calls it killing off your darlings. Apparently it’s a good thing to do. So he’s doing it.”

“Hang on. The story was named after us. Albert and Jarvis, it was called. Do you understand the word eponymous? You can’t kill off the main character without—”

“Without what, Albert? Were you going to say without changing the name of the story?”

“Well, yes…”

“And yet: Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet… need I name more? And we have asked the writer to change the name from ‘Albert and Jarvis’ to ‘Hybrids’.”

“Which he has done, and I, that is to say we, Jarvis and I, agreed to that. But if we’d known it was a prelude to killing us off we may have been less enthusiastic in our support.”

“Just accept that it’s going to happen, Albert. Sorry-o and all that, but your time has come. You’ve done a grand job, but you’ve outlived your usefulness.”

“You may find,” Albert said, in a tone that sounded almost threatening, “that the way J and I use time – and we do use it, it doesn’t use us – will make it difficult, if not impossible for you or anyone else to find us to deliver the fatal blow. We do have a very strong relationship with the Eddies, you know.”

“As do we, Albert, as do we. The difference, though, is that where your relationship allows you to ask them for almost anything and they’ll grant it—”

“Precisely,” Albert said, symbolically folding his arms and assuming a smug expression.

“Our relationship with the Eddies is not as a supplicant, but as a constituent part. The Eddies don’t just communicate with us; the Eddies are us, and we they.”

“But how—”

“Time’s up, old man. You are to be returned to your point of origin. Ready?”

“No. Wait.”

“What?”

“You need Jarvis at least. How else will you navigate the dimensions?”

“We will. Leave it at that.”

“Can I at least say goodbye to my family?”

“They’re mostly here. Say it now.”

“But my son—”

Alex looked at his grandfather. “We’ll say goodbye for you, Albert.”

“Thanks, Alex.”

“And Albert?”

“Yes?”

“Thanks for everything…”

“Oh, spare us the tear-jerking farewell. They’re not human, you know,” Zed said.

“No,” Alice replied, “but we’d be just as emotional about our dogs, and they’re not human, either.”

“Okay. Point taken. Say goodbye, Albert.”

“Goodbye,” Albert said and promptly disappeared, as did Jarvis. Somehow, though, the landscape didn’t change; a point not lost on Alice.

“Zak,” she said.

“We are Zed,” they replied in unison.

There is something about a mother’s bond with her son that transcends other connections and something about the way a mother relates to her son that is, in many cases, a major source of her power. So it was with Alice.

“I was talking to my son,” she said in a voice that would instil fear and respect into the heart of Hermes himself (and he has been described as the most badass of all the Greek gods).

“Yes, mother,” Zak replied meekly and alone.

“Zak. We were inside Jarvis. He manifested this environment. If he’s gone, how come we’re still here?”

“Smoke and mirrors, Mum,” Zak said.

“Like Albert’s firework display in Part 42?”

“Exactly.”

“But Albert and Jarvis have gone.”

“No problem, Mum. We lifted the manifestation and kept it going.”

“You hacked Jarvis?”

“No, Mum. Had we been outsiders, it would have been a hack, but we’re not. Think of us as the network controllers and Albert and Jarvis as administrators. We simply transferred their admin privileges to ourselves before shutting them out.”

“Clever little sods,” Alex said.

“We like to think so,” Zak and Zara said in unison.

***

Alex, Alice and Zak were seated at the dining table.

“Did you do that?” Alice asked Zak.

“Damn right I did.”

“You moved us here from wherever we were; I thought inside Jarvis, but plainly not; in the blink of an eye.”

“Sure.”

“What of the others?”

“Xander, Kris and Zara?”

“Them.”

“Back in their place. The olds probably as fazed as you are,” Zak said with a barely muted chuckle.

“We should tall Dad and Mum about Albert,” Alex said.

“They’re on their way,” Zak told him.

Al and Madge entered the dining room. “You back?” Madge asked.

“No, Mum,” Alice said, with as straight a face as she could manage, “it’s an optical illusion.”

“Don’t cheek your mother,” Al said.

“It’s alright, Al. Wouldn’t surprise me, though, with that lot. Where’s Albert?”

“That’s what we need to talk to you about,” Zak said, taking charge of the conversation, “Albert and Jarvis have gone.”

“Gone?” Al asked, “gone where?”

“Just gone,” Zak said, “think of it as being like recycling.”

“You mean they’re being—”

“Recycled? Yeah. Probably. They’ve reached the end of their useful life.”

“But you can’t just chuck people—” Al started to object.

“They’re not people, Granddad,” Zak said, “they’re bitek constructs, exactly the way your housekeeper robot—”

“Housekeeper robot? What bloody housekeeper robot. We haven’t got a housekeeper robot. In fact, I’d be surprised to learn there even is such a thing.”

“Bad example. Let’s say exactly the way your vacuum cleaner is an electromechanical construct. Whatever – they aren’t human.”

“So who will do their job, or whatever it is?”

“Thing is, Dad,” Alex interrupted, “Zak and Zara together—”

“Zed,” Zak added.

“Zed, they call themselves, are more powerful by far than Albert and Jarvis. You know about the Eddies?”

“Don’t remind me,” Madge said, shivering at the memory, “one experience was enough for me, but what of them?”

“Albert and Jarvis were in tune with the Eddies and could ask them for anything they wanted.”

“And?”

“We,” Zak said, “have what I like to think of as a closer relationship.”

“I thought Albert and Jarvis were close enough,” Al said.

“Let me explain,” Alex said, “Albert once said to me that he and Jarvis are one. Well, Zak and Zara are one, too. But they’re also, jointly, one with the Eddies.”

“I’ll make some tea,” Madge said, “I expect you all need to talk.”

“We will, Grandma,” Zak said, “when you come back.”