After Eun had clicked the gearshift into Mushroom, the Bite Mobile had transformed into a mushroom-headed mecha-ship. Peter and Eun were now riding in a saucer-shaped cockpit that was lined with dirty sci-fi crags and mechanical jags—the craft had been infused with old-school Star Wars design and aesthetic. Below the cockpit, the “stem” of the mushroom tapered into a smaller, v-shaped torso, which sported a pair of gun-arms and a set of multi-jointed thruster-legs.
As cool as that was, it didn’t hold a candle to where they were going.
“Oh FUUUUUUUUCCCKKK!!!” Peter screamed.
The view outside the cockpit blurred and hazed; a mess of colorless tines shone at the edges of their windshield, dreamily prickling in and out of the center of their view…then were speeding through a brilliant mess of rainbow whorls.
The Bite Mobile spoke to them with the voice of Optimus Prime: “CLOSE YOUR EYES. I WILL OUTFIT YOUR PSYCHES WITH A NEURO-KINETIC FILTER. IT WILL DULL THE INFORMATION OUTSIDE THE CRAFT, AND CONSEQUENTLY PRESERVE YOUR SANITY.”
Peter and Eun closed their eyes and felt the slight swish of wind on their skin; the Bite Mobile was doing something in front of their faces.
“YOU MAY OPEN YOUR EYES.”
“Whoa…” Peter whispered. A green holographic visor was floating in front of his face; he was wearing the equivalent of an extradimensional heads-up display. Tiny streams of alien symbols ran down the left edge of his vision, forming colorful chains that glimmered and sparked. He looked over at Eun and saw she was had a matching visor.
“So cool!” She grinned. “Kind of like the opposite of augmented reality, right? If we didn’t have these, then—”
“YOUR MINDS WOULD BE COMPLETELY UNDONE,” the Bite Mobile intoned. “WE ARE CURRENTLY TRAVELING AT THE SPEED OF INTENTION. THE EXISTENTIAL DISTORTION OUTSIDE THE CRAFT IS FAR TOO MUCH FOR YOUR LINEAR PERCEPTION.”
“ ‘Linear perception,’ ” Peter murmured. He looked through the multi-windowed cockpit, watching a stream of icons passing by. “You’ve filtered the environment into a human-friendly narrative—it hews to the bounds of time and space.” He looked at the center of their greatly expanded dashboard (it was twice as big as their automobile version, and was now almost entirely holographic). Bitefighter was still there on his personal holopad. The six-inch rascal gave Peter a double-thumbs up, accompanying it with an extra-toothy grin.
“THAT IS CORRECT.”
“Dissona,” Eun reminded. “We still need to stop her.” She glanced at Bitefighter. “Weapons systems?”
He pointed to her right, at a pull-down grip hanging from the Bite Mobile’s ceiling. She reached up, grasped it, and yanked it toward her. Her seat began lowering down into the mech’s torso. Peter’s chair began moving to the right and settled in the center. He was now in the upper deck, in control of the piloting functions. Eun was back down in another gunner’s pod. Two haptic sheaths (they looked like mechanized gauntlets that extended up to the elbow) were mounted in front of her. She stuck her hands into their cavities and slid her fingers into the gloves. The backs of their knuckles lit with cool blue light and began to glow in steady, pulsing time.
“DYADIC ORDNANCE IS ARMED AND READY.”
Light-woven targeting reticles appeared in front of Eun’s visor, one for each eye. They narrowed into tic-lined circles, tracking Dissona as she banked and flitted through the extradimensional aether. Eun pressed the triggers on her holographic grips, causing the mushroom mech’s craggy-muzzled arm-cannons to chatter and blaze with radiant chains of fractalized patterns. The Pain Lord looked over her shoulder—her face had morphed into a reptilian simile of her human countenance—and responded with bone-quaking shriek-laughs. Nearby thought-forms screamed in pain as her unholy mirth tore them to shreds.
It also vaporized Eun’s ordnance. “Peter!” she shouted. “I can’t hit her! Everything I’m shooting is falling short!”
“I see it, Eun.” Peter clenched his teeth, watching as a long string of sentential logic fell apart and withered away. “Keep trying.”
“Goes without saying.” Eun fired again. This time, solidified music—it looked like a rainbow spiral of concentrated hues—shot from her barrels. Dee accelerated. Phantom duplicates of her gross-ass wasp-form trailed behind her, leaving a wave of shadow-copies in her wake. The weaponized music impacted against the shadow-bodies, blasting them apart into smoke-trail fragments.
“She’s throwing me off with quixotic chaff!” (Courtesy of her battle-helmet, she knew exactly the formal name for Dee’s shadow-copies). Eun kept firing, but only because she couldn’t think of anything else to do. “I can’t hit her!”
“Fuck,” Peter hissed. “Gotta be something we can—”
On the dashboard’s central holopad, Bitefighter waved his arms. The extradimensional miscreant got down on one knee and started writing on his whiteboard.
“Huh?” Peter’s eyes darted to Bitefighter, then back up at the holo-lit windshields. “What is it buddy? What are you—”
Bitefighter held up his whiteboard. Drink the Fuckrising! Eject from the ship, fight Dissona mind to mind!
“What?” Peter sputtered. “Are you crazy?”
Bitefighter expressed an adorably tiny frustrated growl, and shook the board. The words changed to: It’s the only way! You were born for this, Peter! You were designed for it!
Their environment shifted. Bat-winged demons with question marks for heads were flying by, taking swipes at the Bite Mobile with three-taloned claws. Peter jerked the wheel left-right left-right to evade their strikes.
“Peter!” Eun shouted. “There’s too many of them!” The Bite Mobile’s weapon-arms worked in ultra-fast flickers, blasting apart gargoyles as fast as possible.
Peter cast a frantic glance down at Bitefighter. “What do you mean, I was designed for this? Are you saying that—”
The little guy gave him a steady look (despite his cartoonish appearance, he managed to convey gravitas) and shook the board again. The new message read: Before you were born. You agreed to be here. You agreed to stop her.
“The fuck I did!” Peter spat. “I didn’t volunteer for this!”
You don’t remember because you decided not to.
“The fuck are you talking about? Why wouldn’t I—”
The board read: It’s more fun this way! Just accept it!
Peter searched the air with his gaze. “I…I…”
An ancient glimmer of timeless amusement—one of the truest things he’d ever felt—flashed through his brain. “Okay,” he said. “Okay,” he said again, his voice steadying. “I’ll do it.”
BF threw him a double-thumbs up. And, of course, a giant cheesy grin.
“Retract my belt,” Peter declared. “Prepare to eject.” His restraint telescoped back into its sheath, sounding out a neat series of clicks.
“Peter!” Eun looked up at the cockpit. “What are you doing???”
Peter rummaged in his pocket and grasped the Fuckrising. He held the green-glowing vial up before him.
The Bite Mobile boomed, “I’LL LINK YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS WITH THE ENTIRETY OF MY FUNCTIONS. DO NOT WORRY, EUN YIN—YOU’LL BE ABLE TO STEER AND FIGHT AT THE SAME TIME. YOU’RE A TAO-RIDER; DUE TO YOUR CAUSAL CIRCUITRY, YOU ARE UNIQUELY SUITED FOR THIS.”
Eun’s brow wrinkled in confusion. “I’m designed to pilot and shoot a psychedelic vehicle? Is that what you’re saying?”
“YOU ARE DESIGNED TO BECOME WHATEVER IS NEEDED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.”
“But I haven’t been trained for this! I haven’t—”
“THAT IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE. YOU WERE BORN FOR THIS, EUN YIN. JUST AS PETER WAS BORN TO DRINK THE FUCKRISING AND FACE DISSONA BY HIMSELF.”
“Say what?” Eun gasped. “He’s not gonna—”
“EJECT FROM THE CRAFT. YES. HE WILL. HE MUST.”
For a long moment Eun was silent, continuing to blast apart demons with the Bite Mobile’s arm-cannons. Vivid light reflected off her pupils.
“Eun,” Peter said. She looked at the holographic square of light that served as their video-link, locking eyes with his image. “Remember in Star Wars, when Luke’s about to take on the Death Star? Remember when Ben Kenobi tells him to—”
“Use the Force. To let go.” Eun rolled her eyes. “Yeah, Peter—everyone knows that one. Trust your feelings.”
“Well I need you to not just remember, but to actually do it. Right here, right now.”
The Bite Mobile began playing the music from Luke’s Death Star run at the Death Star, when Obi Wan spoke to him from beyond the grave.
Eun cracked a smile; she couldn’t help it. All along I’ve been trying to keep Peter from shooting himself in the foot. Now he’s guiding me.
“Yeah, okay.” Her last vestiges of resistance fell away. “Bitefighter, jack my consciousness into your mainframe. Give me full control of all functions.”
Peter pumped his fist in a gesture of triumph—yessss!—uncorked the Fuckrising, and gulped its contents. Down the hatch it went.
A storm of emotions arose on Eun’s face. She’d protected Peter from his own stupidity his entire life, but now she had to let him go.
“Peter…” The angst carried through over their vid-link.
“I know, Eun—I know.” Peter smiled at her.
The top half of the cockpit hinged open. A rush of synesthetic feeling swept over Peter; the outer environment wasn’t composed of wind and atmosphere, but emotion and sentiment. His mind was buffeted by random urges and nonsensical impulses. But even though he was nudged and tugged, pushed and pulled, he kept himself steady.
Dissona was still out there and he needed to stop her. That was all that mattered.
Eun’s next words sounded steady and sure. “Good luck, Peter. Whatever happens out there…it’s been an honor.”
Peter was touched, inspired, and motivated. “Same, Eun—same.”
His eyes steeled over. “Bite Mobile: launch me toward her.”
“AS YOU WISH.”
Peter blasted out from the mushroom-shaped craft, flying through the aether at the speed of thought.