[Comic: 693]

   Will clenched his whole body and clenched his mind, as if he could will himself to remain himself…

   Static crackled blue-white around him, making his short-cropped hair reach up to touch the skullcap. He winced, but refused to close his eyes… if he closed them, Fitz might be the one to open them…

   And suddenly the static was gone… and Will was still there.

   "Nani?" said Rikk. Only it wasn’t Rikk.

   "…the…" said Rumy. Only it wasn’t Rumy.

   "Come on," said Fitz to the stunned looks on all their faces. "You didn’t really think I’d perform this transplant without TESTING my equipment first, did you? The cocker-spaniel-to-a-tabby test was inconclusive at BEST, and there’s no way I’m going to fry my own brains over an untested hypothesis! I mean, what do you take me for," he cackled maniacally, "a mad scientist?"

      Rikk and Rumy had a lot in common at that instant. Both were in each other’s bodies, both stunned and dazed, both trying to make as much sense as they could of a dozen new sensations each, and both trying to fight their way back to reason before Will ended up even worse off than they were.

   Rikk was first. "Nan desu ka?" he said, contemptuously, through Rumy’s lips. "Your mind-to-mind transfer has failed utterly, gaijin! Gomen nasai, but you are the Weakest Link! Sayanora!"

   Of the two, Rikk was the more successful.

   Rumy… who for years had enjoyed a special awareness of her body that most people would never understand, let alone share… looked down at the clumsy, chunky hands with lengthened index fingers on her wrists and said, "Da… GYA?…"

   "Rikk," Will groaned quietly, "The Weakest Link is the weird British game-show import. Iron Chef is the weird Japanese game-show import."

   "I can see," Fitz went on, not even acknowledging their outbursts, "that I’ve failed completely to teach you the scientific method, Rikk. I’m a lousy teacher. I think with Mr. Erixon’s body here, I’ll try a new career as a boxer."

   "NO!" Will’s voice broke…

   ....as Fitz threw a second switch.

   Electricity shot through Will, locking his muscles in place. No choice about closing his eyes this time: every muscle, even his face, was rock-hard and spasming…

   And then he was in front of the machine, feeling sick and feeble, and looking at his father’s… his face, smiling in cruelty and triumph.



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