“No matter.” The Enemy Hurricane redistributed mass to build a new thumb. “I’ll end you just the same.”
Lucille smirked and bit her own thumb. “Ikuzo.”
At her command, the Galaxy Zephyr’s pink flesh stretched across space to engulf the Enemy Hurricane’s severed purple thumb. The combined mass returned to the Galaxy Zephyr and enveloped it. Now Lucille’s ten thousand pilots controlled a giant purple robot twenty orders of magnitude larger than the Milky Way had been. The giant purple robot wore pointed sunglasses like those of Lucille’s late father, Commander Bojack. Lucille’s Wheel increased in diameter to match their new height.
Still, compared to the Enemy Hurricane, the Galaxy Zephyr was merely thumb-sized. Lucille pulled levers with both hands. “Eisu, Feito, advance!”
Steam poured from the Galaxy Zephyr’s feet, propelling it above light-speed. The Enemy Hurricane swatted with both arms and uncrossed its legs to kick with both feet, but the Galaxy Zephyr easily outmaneuvered those clumsy limbs. When Charlie and Daisuke saw the chance, they swung the Wheel to shave flesh from the Enemy Hurricane’s chest. The Galaxy Zephyr absorbed the flesh to become even larger.
“If we get much larger we won’t be so agile,” warned Daisuke. The Enemy Hurricane kicked at them.
“Ora!” Lucille smiled as they sliced the sole off the Enemy Hurricane’s foot. “If we get much larger, we won’t need to be agile! Ora ora!”
They lingered too long absorbing the sole; the Enemy Hurricane stomped them. In space there was no floor to stomp them against, so the Enemy Hurricane’s surface tore the Galaxy Zephyr with tentacles and chomped its limbs with giant mouths.
“Retreat!” shouted Lucille. Eisu and Feito pumped steam from the Galaxy Zephyr’s feet, but chomping teeth restrained them. Charlie made the right hand blast steam from its palm, and Daisuke swept the Wheel to slice tentacles; at last the Galaxy Zephyr freed itself. They fled from the Enemy Hurricane’s reach.
Lucille hid silent tears as she assessed the damage to her robot’s armor. Awful gashes ran light-years deep through its purple flesh. Bite-marks almost severed their legs at the thighs. Lunar medical personnel flew through the purple flesh like a human body’s regenerative cells tending to individual injured pilots, but who could heal the Galaxy Zephyr itself?
“Don’t worry,” said ZAP’s bird-pilot, “I’ve updated our immune system.”
The giant robot’s wounds flooded with 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. “Daisuke, you were right. Getting bigger is slowing us down.”
“We just need to keep our distance from the Enemy Hurricane,” said Eisu.
“We’re getting used to its gravity, that’s all!” promised Feito.
Lucille wasn’t sure. “Bird-thing, how can we counteract the slowdown?”
“The bottleneck is our Hurricane Armor,” said the bird-pilot. “Its merged mind is made of only a thousand pilots, and we’re spreading it thin. It can’t control our immense mass in a timely manner.”
“So it needs more pilots?” Lucille stared down the Enemy Hurricane advancing on them. “Minah. Any volunteers to be merged with our armor?”
“That’s won’t be necessary,” said the bird-pilot. “We’re already producing human simulacra, remember? They’ll be our new Zephyrs.”
Lucille looked at the spinning Wheel. “Sou da. We’ll add pilots to our armor as soon as we’ve made them. But how? What do we do?”
Lucille magnified the image on her main monitor. Her Wheel’s rim had tiny blades like the teeth of a circular saw. As the Wheel spun, the blades spun also, but a silver circle near the rim remained stationary. “Charlie, Daisuke, turn the Wheel so its flat side faces me.”
Now Lucille saw the silver circle was the first link of a chain. The next link was inside the Wheel, which seemed impossible as the Wheel was almost two-dimensional and each link was light-years thick. The bird-pilot explained, “When you pull that chain, I’ll send a potent specimen from Earth’s recreation to help pilot the Galaxy Zephyr.”
“Wakaru. I get it.”
The Enemy Hurricane spread its arms and clapped at the Galaxy Zephyr. Eisu and Feito barely propelled the robot to safety before the clap could crush them. Charlie and Daisuke swung the Wheel and sliced the tips off two fingers. The Galaxy Zephyr claimed one fingertip, but the Enemy Hurricane grabbed the other and reabsorbed it. “You’re a pesky little thing, aren’t you?” it asked with its eyes.
“Funny,” said Lucille, “I’d have said the same to you!”
“Escape this, if you can!” The Enemy Hurricane melted its humanoid shape into a blob. The blob flattened into a sheet.
“What’s it doing?” asked Feito.
“It’s surrounding us,” said Eisu.
“Even though we’re faster, it could capture us in a bubble,” said Daisuke.
“A bubble,” scoffed Charlie. “Doesn’t it know we could cut right out?”
“Not necessarily,” said Lucille. “Our Wheel is only so wide. The Enemy Hurricane could be too thick to cut through in one swing, and it’s harder to attack the interior of a hollow sphere than an enormous human body.”
“What do we do?” asked Feito.
“We call reinforcements,” said Lucille. The Galaxy Zephyr held the Wheel in its left hand, and its right hand pulled the chain.
Inside the Wheel, Nakayama floated through haze. Her compound emerald eyes could distinguish between the yellow and sky-blue sides of the Wheel, spinning so quickly they blended into green.
Her mind was still linked to the Galaxy Zephyr’s Hurricane Armor, so she addressed it at the speed of thought. “You absorbed Earth’s sun and moon. Rebuild them.” The sun and moon materialized beside her. She willed them to accompany the water world, on which humans would be born from worms. “Do you know how Zephyr engines work?”
“Technically yes, because I have all your knowledge, but I’ve never looked into it. Why?”
“Inventing them required unlocking the secrets of Jupiter’s spot.” Nakayama poured white powder from her lab coat. “From that violent red storm, I summoned calming white powder. It accelerates cyclical reactions.” The powder diffused through the disk. “It’s working,” she thought. Streaks of light shot from the Wheel’s center to its rim to become sharp blades. “Thousands of years pass every instant.”
“Good,” thought her Hurricane, “because Lucille just pulled the chain.”
Dan watched Beatrice shut the apartment door behind her. Through the kitchenette window he saw the 1:00 Bluebird Line strike Beatrice and smear her across the intersection.