“We can’t just leave her!” Peter screamed at Eun.
“Peter, if you try and save her and you’re dooming the world to death!” Steel flashed through Eun’s eyes. “She’s sacrificing herself so she can give us a chance!”
Peter’s eyes ticked back and forth, his face made green from his glowing battle-helmet. “But…but…”
Eun nodded at Dissona, still swatting ANOS’s aircraft out of the sky, then looked again at Peter. “You let Dee go, and everything we’ve done will be for nothing.”
Before Peter could respond, Kora’s voice thundered through their minds, only she wasn’t addressing him or Eun, she was talking to someone else and her thoughts were slipping through. [Ho, Krul’Dar! Ho, Wodec! Akanax on a pike, am I glad to see you! And…and…Orgoth’s balls, you’ve brought Indashi warriors with you!] Her last exclamation was filled with joy and astonishment.
Peter reached out. [Kora, are you—]
[Worry not, for I am in worthy company.] Kora projected a hearty smile.
[Aye, she is.] This from a wise, older man. [I am also possess magic fungus; we can restore these hell-fiends to their proper forms.]
Eun heard the entire exchange. “See?” she prodded Peter, “they’ve got it handled. Focus on Dissona.”
A data-monocle slid down over Peter’s right eye, feeding his brain a concentrated flash of visual imagery: Kora—shield strapped to her back—grabbing the reigns of a velociraptor, and leaping onto its saddled back, sword cocked out to the side. Forty-four barbarian riders lifting their weapons high above their heads, rampaging through the mob of bug-creatures. Handfuls of warriors were throwing crumpled mushrooms at the insectile corpses, restoring their life and humanity.
“Okay,” Peter muttered. His blaze-filled eyes settled back onto Dissona.
Eun blew a frustrated sigh. “Is there anything I can do? I feel like a third wheel here.”
“Um…let me check.” A gleam of light flashed across his monocle. “Is there anything Eun Yin could—”
At that moment, Bitefighter (during the drama with Kora he’d been sitting in lotus posture, upturned hands positioned on his knees) leapt to his feet and waved frantically with both arms. Peter, who was nodding along as his data-monocled right eye ticked back and forth across a variety of readouts, lasered in on his little buddy.
“What is it, Bitey? Got some advice for us?”
Bitefighter held his bent-armed fists by his sides, approximating the grips of a two-handed machine gun. He turned in place, his mouth forming into a charming little ‘O,’ his fists moving in tiny pumps as he mimed gunfire.
Peter’s brow furrowed in puzzlement. “A support gunner? Like on the Millenium Falcon?”
Bitefighter nodded vigorously, a cheesy grin widening his fang-filled mouth.
“But there’s no gunner’s pod; there’s not even a gun,” Eun protested. “How am I supposed to—”
Suddenly, her seat lurched and clunked. Her body jerked as it dropped a foot in place and servos began whirring.
“Whoa!” Her hands shot out, shooting out to either side and grabbing onto the interior. “Whoa! What the hell are you—”
Bitefighter held up his little whiteboard: Keep your hands by your sides, please!
Eun shot a frightened glance at him, then did as he asked and hugged her arms to her chest. She continued looking around with wide eyes and parted lips, watching in amazement as her seat underwent a series of Transformer-worthy folds.
A few seconds later, her chair extended through the bottom of the car. It was now surrounded by a circuitry-threaded dome of beta-amyloid glass. Peter glanced back and forth between her seat and Dissona, who was still flying away on a giant set of wasp-wings.
“You okay?” he called down to Eun.
“Yeah!” she called back. “I’m good!”
Visual confirmation came a moment later, when a small slat of holographic light appeared next to Bitefighter. It showed Eun grinning up at a camera in her aerial gunner’s pod, holding onto the grips of a sci-fi laser cannon. Her right hand came off the grip and gave Peter a big thumbs-up.
“I’m good!” she repeated. Glowing tendrils snaked around her head, forming into a battle helmet that linked her neurology directly to the gun.
Sixty attack-saucers crested the horizon and sped towards Dissona. Forty more planes came screaming toward the Bite Mobile, targeting its left and right flanks. Peter yanked the Bite Mobile into a hard turn, dropping it into a steep, aft-leaning dive. Exploding missiles dotted his wake, marking the car’s sparkling exhaust trail with blooming fireballs. Eun fired back; due to her cannon being a psychedelic extension of her intent and desire, none of the shots were lethal. She was shooting long blasts of pixelated light; each time a round hit, it would disperse into long-running streams of quantum magic, illumining the seams of ANOS’s saucers. Moments later, the craft would malfunction; as they spiraled madly toward the ocean, their pilots ejected against their will, leaving a long line of cursing aviators drifting gently down on their just-deployed parachutes.
“Fuck, Eun.” Peter checked his rearview cam. “You got five of them! Way to go!”
“Get me closer to Dee.” On their holographic video-link, the interior of her pod shone with the muted reflections of her brilliant rounds. “Then we’ll talk.”
“Doing my best.” Peter reached out and flicked a couple of switches, manipulating the banks of his side-mounted thrusters. “We’re staying even, but we’re not gaining.”
“Stay on her,” Eun’s pod swiveled and shot, swiveled and shot. “An opportunity’s bound to present its—”
Up ahead, Dissona turned her big-ass head to her right and exhaled a giant cone of pitch-black flames. Two of ANOS’s saucers were caught in the blast; their hulls withered into a rusted, pitted mess, then burst into flames.
Holographic readouts reflected off Eun’s face. “She’s growing stronger by the second.”
“I know.” Peter released a stream of chaff from the Bite Mobile’s sides, diverting a salvo of ANOS’s missiles with a bright-lit stream of ultra-hot metal. “I’ve opened the throttle as much as I can, but—”
Before he could finish speaking, Dissona blinked out of existence.