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 the 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 opened a caldera into which she fell. Soft sand at the core of the planet caught her like a trampoline.
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. Through it she transmitted 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 a copy of Professor Akayama, 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 into the oceans, and I even let you control your own body. Now you want to control my form as well?”
“I can’t do what you want 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 paced in the dark. “And should contain the full spectrum of heights and skin colors. Then your pilots can experience the gamut of humanity. I’m sure your copy of Akayama 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 ocular lenses looked like jewels. “I see. This single shell protects more than a thousand human ova. I will 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,” said the planet. “These fruits have hundreds 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 and put my pilots in them.”
“What? No, no, no!” She crossed her arms in an X. “We’re not making them immortal, remember? If your vessels are indestructible, you’ll never understand death. Can’t you hear a copy of Akayama inside you, telling you immortality is a bad idea?”
“Not anymore,” said the planet, “I let her delete herself in return for making centipedes.”
Akayama’s lower lip trembled. She made her mouth into 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, “I’m giving you a new name. You’re getting uppity because I let you be a separate individual. 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 shouldn’t feed them centipedes until I make sure the vessels are healthy,” said Nakayama. “I’ll plant the centipedes 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 body wherever it dripped; he was flexible enough to lick his elbow and the far side of his ankle.
When he finished the fallen fruit he looked up the mango tree. The trunk stood forty meters tall and the lowest branches were halfway up. The branches were heavy with mangoes.
He fruitlessly tried climbing the tree-trunk. 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 mango tree’s branches were almost in reach. He’d have to jump for them, but they looked strong enough to climb.
He shuddered when he looked down. If he jumped and missed, his body would break the branches he’d climbed and he’d hit the ground.
The mangoes looked good enough to jump for.
He leapt and grabbed a branch with both hands. He hyperventilated and clung shakily, but finally pulled himself up.
He climbed to the top collecting mangoes. He ate the mangoes 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 was growing longer.
He blinked. At the head of the cloud was Nakayama, shooting right for him and not slowing down.
“Aaugh!” Nemo dropped his mangoes and scrambled down the tree, but not fast enough.
They collided before he heard her. A sonic boom followed as they 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.”