He still felt rather diminished in size and strength after losing his horse-body, lost in crossfire but replaced with a human chassis by the hand of the Almighty.
And the two human youths he had tried to tutor had turned out rather badly--had they not? One had turned into a Black Crystal now wandering the Earth, the other still alive, walking bipedally, but unteachable, intractable like a stone! Yet, despite these short-comings in his performance in the Upper World, the Almighty had seen fit to favor him mightily.
And, come to think of it, why were these insidious invaders exclusively matriarchal? It seemed to betray a pattern. Instead of the nurturing, life-giving, caring attributes normally describing the human female gender, these matriarch-dominated aliens of the Algol and its controlling parasite exhibited destroying, blood-thirsty, tyrannical, and malicious behaviors.
They required the male gender for initial reproduction, but afterwards they produced almost all female workers, comparable to the societies of Earth’s social ants and bees...and furthermore--
“You are needed now,” Palmoni informed the vacillator. “Choose, Mighty Warrior.”
“But--but--” Wally protested, stalling for a little more time to delay. “Only give me a few more moments to make my final decision on the matter. I still haven’t thought the thing through sufficiently. I really need to consider all the data on the subject before--”
Wally paused, torn with an agony of doubt, fear, and low self-esteem. He was nothing--a zee-ro. He knew it well by now. Why should the Almighty bother to send him against the foe when he was certain to be beaten? It made no sense at all!
“I am the Lord’s servant,’ sighed Wally, giving up. “Do with me as you will.”
He was hurled faster than a bullet through what appeared to the honorary alphabetic champion as black space lit by passing lights of all colors. With no time to think, Wally converged on the Mountains of the Moon and the target: the Nano-Queen Parasite’s hidden base of operations.
He was in! It had to be the place--there was nothing else it could have been, populated by things that made Earth’s worst viruses and bacteria look like harmless blobs of cotton candy.
Displaying the behaviors of a much larger entity’s elaborate immune system, the colony, fortunately for Wally, did not recognize him as an intruder, since nothing like him had been contacted before in the vicinity. Reduced to the dimensions of a microbe but left relatively unmarked and equipped with a single harpoon-shaped grappling arm, Wally found he could maneuver any direction he wanted. He himself was not the streamlined vehicle that encapsulated him. Rather, he was the controlling chip that governed its movements from the inside of the protein’s hull-membrane, so that the protein and locking arm constituted an infiltrating warship.
Wally’s first impression was that the Queen had gone to great trouble to replicate Earth’s ruling species, observed or reported to her concerning the Primary World she hankered to conquer, such as chickens, salmon, shrimp, eels, pigs, tongues, sausages, eggs, jars with truffles, jugs, bottles, and fancy cakes.
Long before, a probe of the Blue Planet had revealed to her, not the ruling species as she had supposed, but the mere contents of a lunch basket, ordered from Maxims by a once renowned film director! But hers were not harmless and benign copies in the miniature.
Sporting all sorts of neon stripes and glaring headlamps, bristling with ugly weaponry that dripped with lethal toxins and formic acid, both workers and soldier castes pushed about in every nano-inch of space, alert and poised to drive off and terminate any intruder. What was one little Wally against so many saber-toothed tigers?
As if the Almighty had divined his thoughts, the Voice spoke again, cutting into Wally’s despairing thoughts.
“I’ll never get out of here alive!” he thought. “The colony’s security system, the T-Cell fighters,, will sooner or later detect my alien entity, then swarm to the attack! And I haven’t anything to defend myself! I’ll be poisoned and gobbled alive by the little geeks!”
It was awful, but Wally thought he could hear the writhing thing screaming bloody murder--but, he told himself, bacteria don’t scream. He was only imagining it, wasn’t he?
Making his foes look like a blur of electrons on his viewscreen, he rocketed through the midst of the last high barricade of guarding soldiers and found himself flying above a landscape that resembled a moon’s.
Drier than a desert, where rain never fell nor could fall, with outcroppings that resembled giant stone arches on a plain, he thought at first that he had slipped off unwittingly into limbo, an anaerobic realm where no creature could possibly find means to exist except septic things that needed no air.
He had lost all bearings by this time, and had even begun to feel the company of hostile parasites was preferable to this vast nullity, when he sighted a shape like a colossal planet ahead, moored to a gargantuan arch that rose above the center of a vast pentagon composed of what appeared to be shrubbery, all geometrically configured and regimented according to rigid, classical 18th Century taste of which Voltaire himself would have approved.
He had to find out more, so he kept forward momentum and approached the marvelous spectacle.
The floating palace itself--a crystal of some sort? He could see, despite the magnitude, that it was designed with geometric planes. Polygon? No! Pentagon? Hexagon?
And it was the size, apparently, of a long-lost Jupiter! All for one little queen-parasite!
He was still seeking to catch a glimpse of the queen gazing out one of the window-like planes, but there was little chance of that--a thick, muttony, mucilage-like growth covered the crystal much like seaweed covered and smothered corals. Approaching closer, he examined the icosahedron’s bizarre exterior growths in more detail, realizing with a jolt that the crystal’s covering writhed like an octopus’s and pulsed with energy and life. Alive! Flailing the void around it with innumerable sensor-packed arms, the “seaweed” was the icosahedron’s living and intelligent exo-body, brain, nervous system, and reproductive facilities stretched over an absolutely dead crystalline frame! Wally discovered. Sally ports spewed parasites of all kinds and sizes that protruded from the exo-body. And those “gardens” beneath her were yet another form of parasite, stationed in such a way that they resembled shrubbery!
His brain-circuits spinning with the increasing data, Wally quailed in his resolve as he saw that this was the Nano-Queen herself! A particularly virulent radiolarian escaped from some other solar system’s backwaters and turned Mega-parasite of the Universe! A reproductive, aggressive juggernaut, she could sweep all before her, and apparently was about to do just that.
Before he could think what to do, the Queen’s immensity grew in his vision to former Jovian dimensions.
Locking-injecting module extended, it was only a moment before he would crash into her headfirst when Wally saw the Queen’s reply to his insulting attack materialize at a thousand ports. Spewing forth into the combat zone, they were infinitesimal, of course, but so was he. Locusts! was his first impression. But as he darted to avoid the closest ones, he saw how horrid they truly were. Heads crowned with golden skulls and orange neon eyes, hairy breasted, teeth like saber-toothed felines, breastplates of ivory, winged and making a terrific racket together like chariots racing, all sported a wicked tail that could penetrate his hull and administer the fatal sting.
It was none too soon. She was being attacked by armadas of tiny but highly effective Nano-Queen-terminators. The icosahedron let go of its mast and sailed off, drunkenly careening across the plain between granite molecules somewhere in the nose of Thomas Jefferson.
Attacked by her own manufactured legions, she bled from countless wounds.
Soon she was losing flotation, as supporting gases leaked from through her perforated shell.
Flailing at relentless waves of foes, she lost vital fluids as well, further draining reserves of strength. Though still a Jupiter in size, she was fast losing cohesion. Unable to sustain internal pressure and keep herself from imploding, the Queen began to disintegrate.
Palmoni must have been tapped on the shoulder. He looked surprised, then flew off to the monuments in the Mountains of the Moon. Installed there in bygone ages by the Grand Taty of a powerful Per-aa, the figures looked rather weather-worn now. Faces were no longer much distinguishable from the stone from which they had been carved with so much effort and ability by Borg the Moth, as the master sculptor’s name came down to the latter-day world.
However it was accomplished, Jefferson convulsed visibly, and Palmoni had the microscopic Wally safely in hand. The Wonderful Numberer squeezed, this time holding a chunk of granite. He squeezed until he reduced the rock to powder. Then he raised his hand and blew the fine particles into the air like a mist. Released, Wally flew free, right into the splendid light--the light of long-deserved retirement aboard a cruise ship--a final ARGO manned by greater champions than the ancient Argonauts of the Greeks--but not before he was taught two new songs, “Be Not Afraid,” and “The Lord is Our Leader.”
Chiron was not only a new species but he was granted a spirit of the Christ. And then, the most shocking transformation of all came when they escorted the triumphant champion to the celestial spheres of the Second and First Heavens. Christ intercepted them en route, appearing as YAH. His wings cast shadows across the galaxies, and unapproachable masses of dark clouds and fire rolled before and around him.
They were so surprised they dropped Chiron, or, rather, the Blue Man flew forth out of their hands on his own.
The clouds parted, and YAH and the Blue Man circled each other, while to astonished eyes a most amazing change came over the former beast-man from Atlantis--he flowered. Where Chiron had been a glorious blue, five-petalled rose flew, only it was more starlike than a flower, blazing with a pure and intense blue radiance blinding to the angels.
Palmoni had seen only one thing greater than this spectacle--Christ Himself, the Son of God, becoming via the Spirit of God and a pure Jewish maiden an infant human in a sheep stable on the Blue Planet! This was the Mystery of the Ages revealed--the Desire of all Nations, promised long before by the Almighty to a despairing, fallen Adam and Eve--good news, indeed!
As he flew something strange happened. It was as if a ghost of a long-vanished people and land were speaking to him. A few verses of an old song came to his mind, not from the Book of War, no. It was something mankind had sung at the close of many a good time long before in the lost Golden West:
The inner circle of holistic-nutritionist doctors, aromatherapists, chiropodists, masseurs, psychics, choreographers, and makeup people turned to stare in horror as their leader and idol rose, gasping for breath as if something were lodged in his throat. Fortunately, an ordinary cameraman knew what to do. Dropping his cam-corder used to tape a painting of a vast-bewigged Louis the Sun-King showing off his leg, he threw his arms around the choking man, tightly hugged his middle and suddenly pressed in at his abdomen.
Everyone watching heaved a vast sigh of relief too. A lot--world peace, in fact--was hanging on Michael’s voice. He was scheduled to arrive in Israel in a few hours and deliver an address to the Israeli Knesset. As EU Vice Premier, Michael had all the leverage he needed to get the touch, suspicious, usually uncooperative Israelis to listen, though even the U.S. had, some years back, given up on the Mideast peace process.
The unthinkable--Michael’s taking seriously ill and the capsizing of the World Peace Initiative--had nearly occurred, but there was no time to dwell on “might have beens.” The world press was beating on the door for details of what had already leaked out. But there was no time to go into it, the diplomatic tour de force must continue on to its appointed destiny in Jerusalem.
He had gone far, indeed! He had parleyed pop star earnings in excess of 39 billion U.S. into a political career that catapulted him from his Dream Ranch to the equally rarefied echelons of international diplomacy. With a transfer of citizenship and a billion or so here and a billion or so there, he facilitated and smoothed his way to the EU’s vice premiership after taking Dutch citizenship at the Hague that left the plainer Dutch gasping for weeks after from the media blitz and spectacle. Now he would surely be in line for the Nobel Peace Prize. He was about to do the impossible, get the intractable and suspicious Israelis to sign a peace accord guaranteeing their territorial integrity forever in exchange for placing the hotly contested Golan Heights under U.N. control. With that accomplished, an epoch of peace would ensue that would last as long as the Sun.
He liked the idea so much as he strode between hundreds of bodyguards to his car and screaming multitudes of fans, reporters, and secret police that he decided to commission gigantic statues of himself, set high on pillars, to encircle Paris, Rome, London, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Tokyo, Bangkok, Mexico City, Beijing, Cairo, all like the one stipulated in the Peace Treaty that would be set in the fully restored Jerusalem Temple. Would the Israelis, and their radical conservative Hasidim, swallow that condition of the Treaty? They’d have to! The alternative was, of course, annihilation. Hooked up by world television and Internet, the whole world would see the unveiling of his billion dollar gold image, stunningly real on a gold crystal display that fit the contours of his body perfectly. Then everyone could see him, how great he truly was!
“Michael the Magnificent” wasn’t good enough a moniker.
Once he had sent a Titan-sized mannequin with his designer face and looks sailing up the Thames to London to herald a new CD. That was child’s play--a media spin for a new CD’s release. Now he would show the whole world the Sun-King, with golden splendor radiating from his figure and head--just as peace emanated from his brilliant mind.
Yes, the world needed an Image like his, to be set up in every public and religious venue. It would unify all the political and religious systems of mankind make everyone one in spirit!
He could do it. He was the Cyber-Christ, the Cyber-Mohammed, the Cyber-Vishnu Avatar--all in one package everyone could identify with!
Safe inside, the doors slammed shut, and he was whisked away.
The Vice Premier and his “World Integrated Managed Peace Initiative” were off to Tel Aviv--the little choking incident in the Hall of Mirrors completely forgotten.