a tale in weekly parts
“Yeah, dark,” Xander said when he arrived back in the dining room. “I’ll start tomorrow morning. Going to my room; coming, dogs?” he said, leaving the dining room and climbing the stairs, dogs in tow.
“Your mother and I are having an early night, too. Keep it quiet in your room and don’t disturb us, okay?” Al shouted after him.
Xander trotted up the stairs and, as usual, the two dogs bounded either side of him, nearly sending him crashing back down to the bottom. At the top of the stairs, Ixus turned, dropped into a play-bow and barked at her master. Xander looked at her, made a growling noise and briefly bent his knees. That set Ixus off barking playfully again, running the length of the landing, turning, bowing and barking some more at the end. Chav being Chav, he joined in; not playing, just barking, loudly and incessantly. This went on for a few minutes until Al loudly and, it seemed, angrily shouted “shaddap” from the bottom of the stairs.
The boy and his dogs did as they had been instructed, and filed into Xander’s room; dogs first. Xander closed the door.
“Some information from Eddie,” Chav said. [I know he didn’t ‘say’ it, but if I put “Chav sent a set of mental concepts that Xander interpreted as indicating there to be information from Eddie” we’d never get anywhere, so let’s just stick with ‘said’, okay?]
“What have you got?” Xander asked.
“It’s a bit vague,” Chav admitted.
“Of course. Your sensitivity is kept quite low, for obvious reasons.”
“Do you really want to hear the entire universe?”
“So?” Xander asked.
“Albert and Jarvis have reached their destination, and are looking for the chart. What chart are they looking for?”
“The star charts that show the extent of Mendatian influence in all dimensions, so Kr’veth’neq’is can avoid another brush with them. They’ve had to go around the Great Mendatian Expansion and into the thirty-second century.”
“Nope. Don’t understand any of that.”
“Some bad people control a chunk of space in all dimensions. These people don’t like anyone who’s not like them, especially if they are smarter, so they capture them and remove their abilities.”
“Why would they do that?”
“Jealousy, probably, or fear of things they don’t understand.”
“Yeah, I totally get that,” Ixus said.
“The thing is, though,” Xander added, “that they were able to grow their influence and, for a few hundred years, their control extended over a very much larger chunk of space. Anyone who travels in time needs to know exactly where and when it’s not safe to go.”
“And Kr’veth’neq’is travels all over the place, and all over the time, on what she calls her holidays.”
“Exactly. That’s why we need the charts. As soon as we have them, she can commit the information to memory and be safe. Anything in Eddie to say when they’ll be back?”
“Nothing I picked up. You, Ix?”
“Not a thing,” Ixus replied.
This exchange, brief as it seems, took most of the evening to complete. Xander and the dogs turned in for a good night’s sleep.
Xander lay awake for some time, listening carefully to what was coming out of his dogs’ brains. In his diary [you do know he kept a diary, of course? You don’t? Well, he does] after a brief paragraph detailing the evening’s ‘conversations’, Xander wrote a single line.
Dogs don’t dream about chasing rabbits. He underlined it, too.
Something awoke Xander in the middle of the night. He looked at his phone, which displays a digital clock when on charge. The time indicated was 3.17am. Both dogs were still asleep. Not wishing to disturb their sleep, he didn’t turn the room light on, so he had no idea that he wasn’t alone in his room, until he sensed someone very close to his head. He turned to look at whoever it was had interrupted his sleep.
“Shhhhh!” a voice admonished.
“Who’s there?” he whispered.
“Who do you think it is, idiot?” Kr’veth’neq’is asked, communicating without sound, brain-to-brain.
“Is that you, Sis?”
“Who else do you know could come in here silently, without even disturbing the dogs?”
“Okay, Albert could do it, too. Hahahaha.”
“Just looking at Chav’s dream. He’s quite taken with Ixus; in his sleep at least.”
“How is that funny?”
“Take a look. It’s not that he is fond of her, it’s what he’s doing to her in his dream. He has been done, hasn’t he?”
“Hahaha. In your dreams, Chavvy-boy!”
“Literally,” Xander said.
“You properly awake, Xander?” Kr’veth’neq’is asked, her tone serious and almost conspiratorial.
“I am now, why?”
“I have something very important to tell you, but I need you to be absolutely awake and clear-headed first.”
“You’ve certainly got my attention now, Kr’veth’neq’is. What is it?”
“Before I say anything, this is strictly entre-nous, okay?”
“Okay, Sis. Don’t keep me in suspense; what?”
Xander tried to read her mental state. He picked up a mix of excitement, fear and – was that shame, on the fringes?
“I’m pregnant!” she said.