Lucille’s Chain

(A chapter of Akayama DanJay.)

Last time on RuRu no Jikuu no Kasoku!

The year is 2420. The Hurricane exploded Earth, so Commander Lucille and her crew of ten thousand joined Akayama by combining ZAB and Uzumaki to make a giant space-robot called the Galaxy Zephyr. The Galaxy Zephyr’s ongoing Super Heart Beam is a weapon called the Wheel, which Akayama claims is reconstructing the principal components of Earth’s life.

Lucille used the Wheel to sever the Hurricane’s thumb. Can she keep up the offense?

“Who cares?” The Hurricane reached across space to reclaim its purpling severed thumb. It obviously cared quite a bit, because its wound poured pearly pulp which petrified into painful teeth. “Wheel or no Wheel, I’ll end you just the same!”

Lucille smirked and bit her own right thumb. “ZAB! Uzumaki! Let’s go!” ZAB morphed the Galaxy Zephyr’s pink Uzumaki Armor into a pseudopod which stretched far faster than the Hurricane’s reach. Uzumaki engulfed the severed thumb, and the whole volume returned to the Galaxy Zephyr as thick purple armor.

“Hey!” signalled the Hurricane. “You’re trying to ruin humanity! I collected all that mass myself!”

We’re collecting it back!” Now Lucille commanded a giant purple robot twenty orders of magnitude bigger than the Milky Way had been. It wore pointed sunglasses like those of Lucille’s late father, Commander Bunjiro. The Wheel spun faster, increasing in diameter to match the Galaxy Zephyr’s new height. The Galaxy Zephyr would appear unfathomably large compared to anything else, but compared to the Hurricane, it was merely thumb-sized. Lucille pulled levers and stamped both her pedals. “Eisu, Fumiko, advance!”

Steam poured from the Galaxy Zephyr’s feet, propelling it above light-speed. The Hurricane swatted with both arms and uncrossed its legs to stomp with both feet, but the Galaxy Zephyr easily outmaneuvered those slow, clumsy limbs. When Charlie and Dakshi saw the chance, they swung the Wheel to shave flesh off the Hurricane. ZAB had Uzumaki absorb it to become even larger. “If we get much larger, we won’t be so agile,” warned Dakshi. The Hurricane kicked at them.

Ora!” Lucille smiled fiendishly as the Wheel sliced the sole off the Hurricane’s foot. The Hurricane’s wounds gushed painful teeth. “If we get much larger, we won’t need to be agile!” They lingered too long absorbing the sole and the Hurricane stomped on the Galaxy Zephyr. In space there was no floor to be stomped against, but the Hurricane’s foot wrapped tentacles around them to scrape its wound’s teeth against their purple Uzumaki Armor. “Retreat!” shouted Lucille. Eisu and Fumiko pumped steam from the Galaxy Zephyr’s feet, but chomping teeth restrained them. Dakshi made the left hand blast steam from its palm, and Charlie swept the Wheel to slice tentacles. At last the Galaxy Zephyr freed itself and fled from the Hurricane’s reach.

Lucille hid silent tears as she assessed the damage. Bite-marks endless light-years deep almost severed their legs at the thighs. If any part of the Galaxy Zephyr had been bitten off, hundreds of crew-members would’ve been killed or, worse, preserved for eternity by an entity which hated them. Medical-personnel tended to injured crew, but who could repair the purple Uzumaki Armor and keep her crew together? Would the Galaxy Zephyr bleed teeth, too?

“Don’t worry,” said Akayama. “I’ve updated Uzumaki’s immune-system.” The wounds flooded with roaring rivers of liquid gold which quickly set and solidified. The Galaxy Zephyr was repaired like a shattered and restored vase.

Lucille laughed and wiped her cheeks dry. “Dakshi, you were right. Our size is slowing us down.”

“We just need to keep our distance from the Hurricane,” said Eisu.

“We’re getting used to its gravity, that’s all!” promised Fumiko.

Lucille wasn’t so sure. “We’re only gonna get bigger. Professor Bird-thing, how can we counteract our sluggishness?”

“The bottleneck is Uzumaki,” said Akayama. “ZAB is overseeing its hundred merged pilots, but we’re spreading them thin across our enormous volume.”

“So our armor needs more crew?” Lucille stared down the Hurricane advancing on them. “Everyone. Any volunteers to merge with our robot?”

“That won’t be necessary,” said Akayama. “We’re producing life’s principal components, remember? They’ll be our new Zephyrs. As soon as a worm-vessel is prepared, I’ll load them into my mountain.”

Lucille looked at the spinning Wheel. “Of course. We’ll add crew to our armor as soon as we’ve made them. What do we do?”

“Look closely.”

Lucille magnified the image on her main monitor. Her Wheel’s rim had blades like the teeth of a circular saw. As the Wheel spun the blades spun too, but a silver circle near the rim remained stationary. “Charlie, Dakshi, I need a better view. Turn the Wheel so its flat side faces me.” The silver circle was the first link of a chain. The next link was half inside the Wheel, which seemed impossible because the Wheel was almost two-dimensional and each link was light-years thick.

“Pull the Chain when I tell you I’m ready, and I’ll send one of life’s principal components to help direct the Galaxy Zephyr.” Akayama explained like a schoolteacher struggling to simplify something unimaginably complex. “We’ll start with low-hanging fruit: principal components which will readily accept their duty. The more unruly aspects of consciousness will take longer to process, because I can’t process them myself without corrupting the procedure.”

“Dumb it down another notch, Professor Bird-thing. How does this relate to that epic slice-of-life you mentioned?”

“I’ll pick a main-cast. When you pull the Chain, we’ll enlist a character as a Zephyr, and their stuck-together worms will account for a substantial proportion of the variation in Earth’s life. I’ll pick an easy character first, but at least one of the main-cast will be a serious nuisance to pull in.”

“I get it,” said Lucille.

The Hurricane spread its arms and clapped at the Galaxy Zephyr. Eisu and Fumiko barely propelled the robot to safety before the clap could crush them. Charlie and Dakshi swung the Wheel and sliced the tips off two fingers. The Galaxy Zephyr nabbed one fingertip to add to its armor, but the Hurricane caught the other and reabsorbed it. “You’re a pesky little thing, aren’t you?” it signalled with its eyes.

“Funny,” said Lucille, “I’d have said the same to you!”

“Quiet, you imp! I should’ve done this a long time ago!” The Hurricane melted its humanoid shape into a blob. The blob flattened into a sheet. “Escape this! You call that a Wheel? This is what a real Wheel looks like!”

“What’s it doing?” asked Fumiko.

“It’s surrounding us,” said Eisu.

“It’s catching us in a bubble,” said Dakshi.

“A bubble,” scoffed Charlie. “Doesn’t it know we could cut right out?”

“Not necessarily.” Lucille chewed her knuckles. “Our Wheel’s only so wide. The Hurricane might be too thick to cut through in one swing, and it’ll be harder to attack the interior of a hollow sphere than an enormous human body.” She tutted. “If the Hurricane had done this to begin with, it could’ve eaten the Milky Way without contest. Its pain-aversion protected us until now. We must really have it on the run.”

“What do we do?” asked Fumiko.

“We call reinforcements,” said Lucille. The Galaxy Zephyr held the Wheel with its left hand and its right hand grabbed the Chain. “Pick a character, Professor Bird-Thing! Make us a main cast you can wrangle!”

Akayama’s cockpit in ZAP was filled with more monitors than any other Zephyr—larger monitors, too—but they couldn’t compare to the visions she received through her tail from her bird-shaped counterpart, Nakayama. Inside the Wheel’s green haze, her compound emerald eyes watched her water-world from distant perspectives in countless time-periods. “Shouganai,” she whispered. Her compound eyes cried countless tears. “I had to intervene eventually.”

“What’s the hold-up?” Uzumaki thought to Nakayama. “What are you even doing right now?”

“To say it like the young Commander might, I’m channel-surfing through the Wheel’s epic slice-of-life. Choosing the right main cast means picking just the right character at just the right moment.”

“Picking them?”

Off.” With one wing, Nakayama wiped tears from her compound eyes like dew from malachite.

“But—” Even enlisting ZAB’s help, Uzumaki wasn’t sure it knew what Nakayama was talking about half the time. “You said you’d touch worms as little as possible!”

“Strictly speaking, as the creator, I’m already responsible for the death of every worm-vessel in the Wheel. A tad harrowing, isn’t it? But I’m sure I’ve identified a main-cast whose characters can handle what I’m about to do. It won’t excuse my transgression, but at least it will keep worms narratively stable.” She let her tears drip from her wingtip onto the Wheel’s rim. One of its saw-teeth zipped back to the center prematurely. “Let’s see if that worked.”


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