A small metal cylinder suddenly extrudes between sixteen year-old Rak’khiel’s toes. As she works it free, another searing pain tears at the base of her skull:
Rak’khiel clapped the hand holding the bristling object over the wounded spot. She heard a snick, felt a gooey, slick sensation slipping against her fingertips.
The lozenge moved.
“Holy Forge!” Her fingertips scrabbled frantically to catch, to grip the slimy capsule. Found the tiny spikes retracted.
The thing slid into the base of her skull, then into her brain. And settled.
Tendrils, like strands of ivy, or root systems of noxious weeds, branched through her mind. They explored the recesses of Kel’s skull, created connections and networks, became one with her.
Rak’khiel retched. The bile held back for so long came up in a churning rush. She lifted her head and scrambled away from her hiding place. Lurched to one side just far enough to deposit the sparse remains of her supper in a nearby bush.
As with her foot, all pain disappeared as quickly as it arrived.“Shalit,” she whispered. “Goddess forbid. What just happened to me?”