As Ashwell walked into Bryce's studio with Breughal and Mahler, he almost felt a twinge of guilt. He pushed it down, however. Cheviot had left him in charge while he was away on a trans-net summit in Antarctica with Lauren and Edwards. He wasn't going to risk losing their major client over a moment of conscience.

Bryce tried to run for the door. Before he could make it, Mahler lashed out with his chain, wrapping it around Bryce's throat and pulling.

"Easy!" Breughal said as Bryce fell to the floor unconscious. "He's worth more to us alive than dead."

"Take him to the Parkside Medical Center. Tell them he's for Dr. Avery."

As soon as they were gone, Ashwell punched a number into Bryce's vu-phone.

Ped Xing's face appeared on the screen.

"I'm sending you that package," he said.

"Don't forget about the modifications we discussed." Ped Xing reminded him.

"It's being taken care of," Ashwell told him.

Bryce drifted in and out of consciousness as Breughal drove toward the medical center. Mahler would let up on the chain just enough for him start coming around, then put the pressure back on until he passed out again.

As they reached the medical center he thought to himself

~They'll make these two thugs let me go. There's no way they'll admit me with this chain around my neck.~

To his horror, a doctor walked up to them. In the blurred vision caused by the low oxygen he was getting, he saw something in the doctor's hand.

There was a pain in his arm, then Bryce lost consciousness completely.

The curtains were fluttering as a gentle breeze filled the room when Bryce woke up.

He was in a brightly lit room with cheerful pink and gold wallpaper and a vase of flowers on the end table by the bed.

~Who on earth would send me daisies?~ he wondered. Then it came to him. He dialed Jenny's number, still feeling a little woozy.

"Network 66 Research and … can I help you?"

"Jenny," Bryce began.

"How do you know my name, miss…"

"Jenny, it's Bryce."

Jenny stared at the girl on her screen, studying her closely. Her eyes widened as she recognized her at last.

"I hate to tell you this, Bryce," she told him. "But… you're a girl."

"Jenny, this is no time for jokes," Bryce said crossly. "I was kidnapped and taken to the medical center. I can't trust anyone at Network 23 to get me out. Ashwell was behind it. He showed up in my lab with Breughal and Mahler."

"I'm not joking, Bryce. Whoever had you abducted apparently thought they'd be better served if you were a girl."


"Go into the bathroom and see for yourself," Jenny said, patiently, tapping some keys on her computer and frowning at the results that came up on her screen. "Go on. And in the meantime, I'll call Miss Saunders. Because you are right about one thing, we have to get you out of there."

"Eve Saunders? The old school nurse from ACS? Why her?" Bryce said, refusing to even entertain the idea that he was no longer a teenage boy but rather a teenage girl.

"Because you're going to need her, Miss Lynch," Jenny replied.


"Let's just cut to the chase and say your interior has been revamped to match your new exterior."

""For the last time, Jenny. I am not a girl!"

"Good, that argument's over then," Jenny told Bryce. "Miss Saunders will pick you up with Blank Bruno in five minutes. Be ready to go when they get there, Miss Lynch."

She smirked as she put the vu-phone on standby, making it look on Bryce's end as though it were off while kept an eye on her friend.

Bryce slipped into the hallway, first peeking outside to make sure nobody was there. Finding a supply closet, he (he did not believe that he was a girl) quickly picked the lock and fetched a set of scrubs. There was no way he was going to leave this place in an open-back johnny.

Stepping into the bathroom, Bryce removed the johnny and froze.

He was not looking at what he thought he was…

Or rather she was looking at precisely what she thought she was.

She checked the rest of herself and promptly fainted.

"Bryce," a voice said as she came to a few moments later.

"Go away," Bryce pouted.

"Jenny already told me about what those quacksalvers did to you," Miss Saunders said, studying the new girl appraisingly as she finally came out of the bathroom. "Let's go. We've got a lot of shopping to do. But first, do you feel any cramps or abdominal discomfort?"

"I just got turned into a girl and you want to know if my stomach hurts?!"

"I want to find out if you're getting your period," Miss Saunders explained. "You're a full switch, not just an external change. So you will be getting it. You can use tampons in a couple of months, but until you're fully healed you'll want to stick with pads."

"Why would Ashwell have this done to me?" Bryce asked.

"I don't know," Miss Saunders said. "But we'd better get to the store before…"

"No," Bryce shook her head. "I don't want to go shopping with you. I want to go with Theora."

"That's okay by me," Miss Saunders said. "But right now we have to get you out of here before whoever bought you comes to pick you up."

"Fine," Bryce agreed as she followed them out to car park.

"Wow, Bryce," Rik laughed, "you sure have changed."

"I'm going to be hearing this a lot, aren't I?" Bryce complained.

"That didn't take long," Rik chuckled. "Girl for less than a day and already it's that time of the month."

Bryce slapped him.

"Okay, sorry," Rik apologized.

Bryce curled up in the back of the rickshaw, holding her abdomen while they sped away from the hospital.

"Ow…" she whimpered.

Miss Saunders looked at Rik as if to ask how he knew.

"Female bodyguard," Rik shrugged. "It's like having a sister. Relax, kid, we're almost as Theora's."

Theora was surprised to see Rik pulling into her driveway with a woman he didn't recognize, a strangely familiar girl, and Blank Bruno.

Bruno got out of the rickshaw and walked up to the door.

"Miss Jones," he said, "we have a serious problem with Bryce Lynch."

"Where is …" then she realized why the girl seemed so familiar. "Bryce?"

"We need help here," Miss Saunders called, choosing Bryce's health over her modesty "She just started bleeding very heavily."

Theora understood.

"Bring her in," she said. "I'll draw a soothing bath and put some scented oils in it."

Rik picked Bryce up as she was cramping too badly to stand, and carried her into Theora's apartment.

Theora dismissed the men, then looked at Miss Saunders. "How do I know I can trust you?"

"I was the school nurse at ACS when Bryce attended. I would never hurt a former student."

Theora turned off the taps and helped Miss Saunders strip Bryce, who had passed out, and put a towel around her before the two of them moved her into the bath. This was one time that Theora was glad her tub was so short. There was no chance of Bryce drowning.

"Are you okay?" Theora asked as Bryce came around.

"I had a strange dream, Theora," Bryce told her, sleepily. "Someone turned me into a girl."

"That wasn't a dream, Bryce," Theora apologized. "I'm sorry."

Bryce decided that the most logical way to handle the situation was to simply break down in tears.

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