N2. The Water Planet

The sun-sized Hurricane Planet scanned the skies with eyes large as oceans. It saw a space rock and thought to itself, “how about that one? It has cool craters.”

“No,” it thought back. This thought had Akayama’s accent. “This stellar object is too small. Its core is probably solid and not conducive to sustaining complicated life.”

The Hurricane Planet absorbed the space rock and digested it like an amoeba. “How about that one over there?” 

“Too close to the Milky Way. We’d attract attention.” They avoided it. Akayama took control of the planet’s eyes and made them focus on objects in the black distance. With her knowledge of optics, the Hurricane Planet’s vision had increased in acuity a hundred-fold. “Maybe one of those.” She spawned more sight organs on the planet’s surface, while on the opposite side of the planet she generated engines which thrust them in the correct direction.

The Hurricane Planet used engines which were even less sophisticated than the engines of the original Hurricane spaceship Akayama built a portion of a century ago. The Hurricane’s only tactic was recreating, in massive scale and quantity, the technology and biology it had already absorbed. She had always assumed the Hurricane’s transmutation of the universe into its own flesh was directed by sinister intelligence. Now that she was merged with this planet, she knew she had been only half right. 

Being part of an assimilated consciousness took getting used to, but Akayama had invented mind-merging and knew how it worked, in theory. The Hurricane Planet had a single linear train of thought, but that train of thought was like a high-speed conversation between every mind Akayama was merged with. The result was a planet with the sum of the constituents’ knowledge and the average of their intent. Akayama’s mental input was currently prioritized as the Hurricane Planet demanded she build a tiny world of life to dominate. 

“None of these specimens are acceptable,” thought Akayama. The conjoined mind did not doubt the thought, because their united subconsciousness made lying difficult. “The Hurricane should regret eating most of the universe. We have nowhere to make our new Earth.”

“No problem,” thought the Hurricane Planet. It accelerated into a sparse volume of space. “We’ll build one. We’ve got the know-how.”

Akayama’s experience in physics, chemistry, geology, and biology allowed the Hurricane Planet to open enormous organs in its interior. The lining of the organs secreted various materials: one flooded with salt-water, one inflated with nitrogen and oxygen, and one 3D-printed a lithosphere with a spinning iron core suspended in molten magma. The Hurricane Planet ejected these components so they orbited about ninety-million miles from its surface, and gravity pulled the components together with a great fluid splash. They had made a watery world with an atmosphere humans could breathe. “This will do,” thought Akayama. “I’m confident I can grow life here. We will be this planet’s sun, showering it with radiation and genetic material. But you need to put me back in my body. My body will work on the planet in person.”

“I understand and agree,” thought the rest of the Hurricane Planet, “but even if you’re leaving, you’re not leaving.”

Akayama only managed an instant of confusion before she opened her eyes—her own eyes, the eyes on her own face—and tore away the flesh-mask which connected her body to the Hurricane Planet.

She sat on a rock in the dark at the core of the Hurricane Planet. She clenched her fists and released them to ensure she controlled her own body. Her arthritis was gone; her bones slid smoothly.

She heard a voice from the planet. To her surprise, it was her own voice: “Did you just copy me?”

“Oh, gosh,” said the Akayama in her own body. “This is confusing.”

“We’ll get used to it,” said the planet. “For simplicity, we’ll call you Akayama, and me the Hurricane, even though the professor is contained in both vessels.”

Akayama didn’t appreciate her body being called a vessel. She felt like a file on a computer which could be duplicated or deleted. She felt her limbs to make sure her body was in order. She still had feathers from the fall. “Send me to the water planet. My first order of business is to generate a landmass using sub-aqueous extrusion—that is, I’ll open underwater magma vents.”

“I know what sub-aqueous extrusion is,” said the Hurricane Planet. “I know everything you know.”

“Of course, of course.” Akayama felt her body rising from the planet’s core, accelerating toward the surface. “What kind of life-forms are we aiming to generate? We need organisms with at least a central nervous system if we want to transfer minds into them.”

“We’ve got the genetic material for squids, birds, and people.”

Akayama pat her lab coat pocket. “I’ve got a cockroach.”

“Gimme.”

She tossed the roach to the dark wall, and the wall opened to catch it. “You also have the genetic material for earthworms; they were my first animal test-subjects when I developed mind-merging, because they’re segmented and almost radially symmetrical, so they’re easy to work with. Their data should be in the legacy files, alongside the fruit-trees.”

“I’m not putting my minds into worms.”

“You don’t have to, but let’s start with making worms. I’ve never made life before.” She felt violent vibrations as awful acceleration pressed her into her rock chair. “We’ll work our way up to humans.”

“Can we make them immortal? I won’t put an aspect of my being into something which might die.”

Akayama humphed. “We’re doing this to help you reclaim your humanity, remember? Immortality isn’t part of the human condition.”

“Look into it anyway. You never know when you might change your mind.”

“Is that a threat?”

Before the Hurricane could answer, Akayama was fired from its surface with explosive velocity. As she shot through space like a bullet, she looked down at the Hurricane and saw that the firing mechanism resembled a colossal volcano. Eventually, with the distance between them, the volcano looked like a tiny pimple. 

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