Akayama glided through space toward her Hurricane Planet. She propelled herself with new organs which threw clouds behind her. These organs worked like the engines in her Zephyrs, which she’d developed after cracking the secrets of Jupiter’s spot. The efficiency and compactness of these engines were why her new robots were Zephyrs, in comparison to the Hurricane.
As she fell into the red planet’s gravity well, the mountain which had jettisoned her now caught her in a caldera. Soft sand at the core of the planet grasped her like a rescue net.
The planet rumbled around her. “Have we made progress?”
“I didn’t expect these results so soon.” Akayama made a blue tentacle and stuck it in the dark wall to transmit images to the planet. “Look, there was a man under the sand. Did you put him there? I named him Nemo. I also found an awkward insect you probably made from my cockroach, and turned it into stable plant-matter. Here’s its genome. The fruit trees are healthy.”
“Only one man?” The planet’s core contracted in disappointment. “How long until each of my pilots has a private person to possess?”
“Look at this.” Her tentacle uploaded Nemo’s genome. “You contain my copy, correct? I’m sure with her knowledge and your massive form, you have the resources to give Nemo countless children.” She retracted her tentacle. “Give Akayama more control. Put her knowledge to use.”
“Do I have to?” asked the planet. “I let her beam radiation and genetic material over the oceans, and I even let you control your own body. Now you want to control my form as well?”
“I can’t obey you if you won’t let me.”
“Fine.” The planet rumbled. “But don’t expect this to happen again.”
“The vessels should represent both sexes evenly,” Akayama said pacing in the dark, “and contain the full spectrum of heights and skin colors. Then your pilots can experience the gamut of humanity. I’m sure my duplicate can produce such subjects.”
“Done,” said the planet. “Take this.”
An egg rolled from the darkness. It was larger than Nemo’s head and white like milk. Akayama focused her eyes to magnify her vision of the egg; her compound ocular lenses looked like jewels. “I see. This shell protects a hundred human ova. I’ll have them fertilized.”
“Take this, too.”
Akayama reared back. An arm from the wall offered a black ball of long bugs. “What is it?”
“My copy of Akayama built them from your insect-plant, the cricket,” said the planet. “These fruits have lots of legs, so we’ll call them centipedes. Feed them to the human vessels. This will connect their minds to me wirelessly. Then I can make them immortal before I put my pilots in them.”
“What? No!” Akayama crossed her wings in an X. “We’re not making them immortal, remember? If your vessels are indestructible, you’ll never understand death. Can’t you hear Akayama inside you, telling you you’re misguided?”
“Not anymore,” said the planet, “I let her delete herself after making centipedes.”
Akayama’s lower lip trembled. She made her mouth a hard beak so she couldn’t cry. “Why?”
“Now I have her knowledge but don’t have to hear her quaint morality.” The wall opened an eye to squint at her. “Didn’t you say death is necessary? You should rejoice. Now there’s only one of you. Speaking of which,” said the planet, “you’re getting uppity because you’re separate. You need to understand you’re just a drone in my control. Since I fire you from a mountain on my surface, your new name is Nakayama.”
“Inside the Mountain,” translated Nakayama. “I see.”
“Now make me men and feed them centipedes.” The sandy floor shot upward. Nakayama approached escape velocity. “I’ll be watching you.”
“If you’re serious about immortality, I should ensure the vessels are healthy before feeding them centipedes,” said Nakayama. “I’ll plant them at altitude so no one stumbles on them accidentally.”
Nakayama rocketed out of the Mountain. She tossed the ball of centipedes to land atop the largest island.
Nemo sat under a mango tree slurping fallen fruit. He licked juice from his skin wherever it dripped; he was flexible enough to lick his elbow and the far side of his ankles and knees.
When he finished all the fallen fruit he looked up the mango tree. The trunk stood forty meters tall and the lowest branches were halfway up. Each branch was heavy with mangoes.
He tried climbing the tree-trunk, fruitlessly. The bark chaffed and scratched, and falling hurt his feet.
He stepped to a nearby tree with no fruit but low branches, and he climbed this tree easily. When the branches became too slim to support him, the mangoes were almost in reach. He’d have to jump for them.
He shuddered when he looked down. If he jumped and missed, his body would break the branches below and he’d hit the ground.
The mangoes looked good enough to jump for.
He leapt and grabbed a mango-branch with both hands. He hyperventilated and clung shakily, but finally pulled himself up.
He climbed to the top of the tree collecting mangoes. He ate them while enjoying the view. He saw the sandy island of his birth and a giant, mountainous island in the distance.
He noticed a thin cloud elongating.
He blinked. At the head of the cloud was Nakayama, shooting right toward him at incredible velocity.
“Aaaugh!” Nemo dropped his mangoes and scrambled down the tree, but not fast enough.
A sonic boom followed as they both crashed through branches to the ground. Nakayama cushioned Nemo with wings of fluffy feathers. “Sorry if I startled you.” She produced the egg from the sleeve of her lab coat. “I need you to ejaculate on this.”