I sat on the rug in Lynn's gypsy carriage. She watched nervously from a few paces away as I opened the chrome case and lifted a pen-sized cylinder from inside. The desert sun fell in a strong beam through the small window, illuminating dancing particles of dust that crossed its path. The light that hit the chrome reflected glowing curves across the walls.
"You said that if you take this medicine, you'll never be human again?"
I still felt the weight of the boiler unit my father fused to the small of my back. I had to be prepared for a sudden transformation at all times, he said. All it did for me in this state was ache and chafe. Was I ever completely human with this contraption attached to me?
"That is correct."
"And this is the only was to rescue your brother?"
"I'm afraid so."
She smiled gently. "It wouldn't change how I feel."
I could feel the blood rush to my face. Another human trait that I'd miss.
I pressed the tip of the cylinder to my arm. I heard a rush of air and a tingle as the nanobytes spread through to every cell...and everything went black. Was that screaming echoing from a distant mountain range?
I saw the world again through thick glass. Darkness washed away the color save for a few candles. I heard the rush of air through my boiler, and my strength slowly returned to me. I lifted my arms...articulated brass. I touched my face. A smooth metallic mask. My true face. Again.
Lynn was facing away, sobbing against the wall.
"Lynn? Do not cry. I am here. The metamorphosis..."
She turned to face me with horror in her eyes. I struggled to regain balance as I rose to my feet. Her jaw fell as she backed away.
"You're Qli? HOW? If you're really...then who...?"
She pointed towards the door, left swinging open. The bloody footprints on the carpet leading out did not escape my attention.
"Lynn? Do I even want to know...?"