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transformation would take place.

The interior was dark, and as Galen entered, he found himself somehow alone. No one seemed to be in front of him or behind him. A globe of light appeared farther inside the tent. It hovered over a table of dark crystal.

In the faint light, Galen noticed that to the side of the entryway were several stacks of canisters. The canisters were smaller than the ones that held the chrysalises, about two feet high and one foot across, and they were covered in an opaque outer layer that was ornate, carved with runes. This must be how the Circle stored the implants, once they made them. Galen marveled that something so intricate and so powerful could be so small.

Galen approached the table and rested a hand on it. The cold surface stung his raw skin. Obviously he was meant to lie on it. He eased himself down onto the crystal table. As soon as he was supine, a great force-like an invisible hand- slammed down on him. He was pinned flat against the cold surface. His breath came in short gasps. He couldn't move. His lungs couldn't fully inflate against the pressure.

The light above him went out. All was silent except for the panting of his breath. A line of fire cut through the darkness above him, curled itself into the rune for solidarity. The rune descended until it hovered just above him, the same size as his body. The heat of it awakened more pain in his skin. He tried to turn his head to the side to escape from it, but he could not move.

Then the rune began to unravel. The line of fire whipped out and down, driving into the flesh of his shoulder. Galen screamed.

Fire burned like a microthin wire shot down his arm. It split into three parts as it reached his hand, running down his thumb, index, and middle fingers and exiting out the
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