--------- Minor Transformation ---------

----- Chapter 1 : The Sting ------

Ash looked up just in time to see the giant serpent roar with anger as it sank beneath the turbulent surface. He rose to his feet, a little unsteady as the speeding raft slowly corrected itself. Kiki, the FOnewearl, approached him, a concerned look crossed her face.

"Are you alright? That was quite a hit you took there!"

Ash flashed one of his trademark smiles.

"Nah, don't worry about it. It merely caught me off guard that's all. I'm more surprised than hurt."

"Surprised?" Queried Bernie the RAmar. "The worm knocked you flat on your back!"

Ash shot him a look of irritation before continuing, "It's okay, my armour absorbed the blow, no harm."

"Whatever you say." Replied Bernie.

When the raft had come to a stop at some kind of secret mining facility, Ash had secretly breathed a sigh of relief when the group decided it would be better to report to the Principal their discoveries before further exploration. Bernie was a bit too condescending for his tastes and besides his arm was still numb from when the tentacle had struck it and he did not want to appear weak in front of others.

-----

"So let me get this straight... there's no pain just an itching?" said the nurse sceptically.

"Yeah, like I said before, this giant... thing hit me with a tentacle and now... well I've been scratching it for about one hundred and twenty-five beats now. It feels like its itchy under the skin..."

The nurse looked down at Ash's forearm, slightly swollen and red with scratch marks.

"Hmmmm. Well I've examined it and I can't find any real cause. Other than the skin cream I've given you, I'm not sure what to recommend..." She stopped in mid-sentence.

Picking up a mini-hypo and with one smooth motion she pressed it against his neck with a hiss and removed it before he had time to say...

"Ouch!"

"How about a sub-cellular scan?" She said walking over to a bank of sensors at which she began to operate the complex machinery.

"Its not very comfortable..." She continued, "And it'll take eighty or ninety Beats, but I'm sure it'll get us to the root of the problem..."

She turned around and was bemused to see that she was talking to an empty room. She had seen it all before, Hunters always hitting on the nurses with their tales of daring-do and bravery.

"Hmph." She said to herself. "He'll be back."