a tale in weekly parts
Albert saw Kr’veth’neq’is looking at her wrist and understood what she was trying to say.
“What’s up?” he asked, “Bored already? Want to be away? Not exciting enough for you?”
“Is this where you want to celbrate our first anniversary? Just look at it,” she said, sweeping her arm around to indicate the entirety of their surroundings, “does this look like fun to you? ”
“Fun? Fun? Do you still, after all you’ve seen and done, think life is all about fun?”
Kr’veth’neq’is rolled her eyes and sat in the nearest chair, knowing that a lecture was on its way. She had spent enough time in the company of Albert and Jarvis to sense when some trifling action or throwaway words on her part would trigger a reaction that was not only disproportionate, but also thoroughly, totally, excruciatingly boring.
And it began…
“Wherever, whenever you go, in whatever dimension, when you find an environment where life is easy, enjoyable, safe and fun, it is so because others have made it so. Every civilisation has to pass through the same stages: scrabbling to make a living from the land, taming and working the land, pre-industrial, industrial and post-industrial. It has to deal with factions, wars, famine and violence. It has to handle the universal curses of property, slavery and control of the dispossessed many by the wealthy and self-serving few. It must… Kr’veth’neq’is? KR’VETH’NEQ’IS? Don’t you dare teleport while I’m talking to you. Kr’veth’neq’is! Get back here.”
But, of course, it was futile.
“Where’s she gone?” Xander asked.
“Every time,” Albert said, his voice heavy with exasperation, “Every time we try to inject some responsibility, some accountability into her, she disappears off. I really do think we should modify her bitek circuitry; give her a serious gene or something. She can’t spend eternity as a good-time girl; she has to realise that if it’s nothing else, the universe is, always has been and always will be in balance with itself.”
“Can’t you find out where/when she’s gone and get her back?”
“In theory, yes. We can trace her movements. Her Eddies leave a distinctive signature, of course, which we can follow.”
“Like a hunter following animal tracks?”
“Yes, if you must, although I find the analogy particularly distasteful.”
“So she has Eddies too? Not just Jarvis?” Xander asked.
“Oh, please,” Jarvis complained, “do at least try to keep up. How do you think – sorry, I forgot. You don’t.”
“Don’t be unkind, Lover,” Albert said, “You’ve only ever spoken about Eddies as entities that you keep. He couldn’t be expected to infer from that snippet of information, that they are an intrinsic part of his bitek enhancements, too.”
“And why not, pray?”
“Because that isn’t pre-programmed knowledge. And that means it’s our fault he doesn’t know it.”
“Fault? We don’t have faults?”
“No, we don’t!”
“Not helping, girls,” Xander interjected. “So. If we can track her Eddies, we can find her. No?”
“No,” Jarvis replied, pouting virtually.
“Because,” Albert replied, “she will know we are tracking them and make sure she stays one step ahead of us.”
“How can she know that we’re tracking them?”
“Eddies are omnidimensionally omnipresent,” Albert explained.
“Omnidimensionally omnipresent,” Albert repeated, “that means they are, in effect, concurrently everywhere and everywhen in every dimension. That’s how they do their job.”
“Wow! There must be loads of them. How many Eddies are there, in total?”
“Googolplexes of googolplexes.”
“What’s a googolplex?”
“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.”
“Quite a lot, then?”
“You could say that. They account for about five-sixths of the matter in the universe.”
“Isn’t that what astronomers and astrophysicists are saying is—”
“Precisely,” Albert interrupted, “that’s exactly what they are saying. And we aren’t going to disabuse them of that.”
“Because they’re not ready to know the truth. Not yet.”
“You’re not having me on, are you? This isn’t some kind of April Fool’s thing?”
“No, lad. I don’t even like fish.”
“Okay. So, what are we going to do about Kr’veth’neq’is?”
“All we can do is to be here for her when she decides to come back.”
“And when will that be?” Xander asked.
“That rather depends on your understanding of the word ‘when’ in the context of our casual relationship with time,” Jarvis intoned.
“But surely,” Xander suggested, “if you have been everywhere and everywhen, you must know where and when she will turn up again.”
“Sorry, lad,” Albert said, “it just doesn’t work like that.”
“Then how does it work?”
“Honestly? No idea.”