The kitty's kitty was scheduled to be examined by a committee. Sophia and the rest of her band of rebellious space mercenaries were fighting four high-level Executioners known only as the Horsemen. While most Executioners took the appearance of chaste angels or nebulous dragon-beings, these fellas looked like someone had modeled four 12-foot-tall androids after a Michelangelo painting and dressed them up to join a death cult.

The towering otherworldly opponents fought with scythes that sent the whole party scattering. Cliff and Nel frantically ducked to avoid a quick decapitation. One of the Horsemen slammed his staff in the floor and unleashed a shockwave that knocked most of the party senseless. Sophia was performing one of her magic dance routines for conjuring a lightning storm when a swinging robotic fist slammed into her side.

She expected to topple over and crash on her back. Instead she toppled over and stopped halfway through her fall when she landed on a strange metal surface. She wound up in a reclining bed built into the torso of the giant Horseman crouching behind her. The edges of his cloak dangled down the sides of the structure like black curtains.

The Horseman quickly secured his captive in the Saddle of Reprobation. Metal shackles locked around Sophia's arms to keep them from moving. A rigid metal collar closed over her neck and completely covered her choker. A ring of exoskeletal ribs sealed around her waist to form a second corset. Hydraulic levers emerged under her bottom end so she was tilted back with her legs elevated. Another one of the Horsemen slashed his scythe under her miniskirt, and something white and pink that may have been underwear was briefly seen flying through the air.

Sophia was dizzy from her sudden loss of balance and the bewildering cluster of technology that instantly surrounded her. Everything happened in such a blur that part of her mind was still thinking about the incantation for the lightning spell. Glancing downward, she saw her miniskirt was bundled up to her belly and her thighs were raised in a "V" position with the paw prints on her stockings reaching toward the sky. Three of the Horsemen were chaotically huddled in the narrow space below her legs with magnifying lenses built into their mechanical eyes. The hybrid software troubleshooters / veterinarians debated in bleeping and blooping voices as they studied all of the enchantress's private orifactories like they were nobody's business but their own.

One Horseman lifted a giant metal capsule from underneath the black cloak covering his arms. He handed it to the next Horseman beside him, who broke the container's shell apart and revealed a smaller container stored inside. The Horsemen passed around the object and divided it into smaller and smaller capsules for what could have been a hundred times. Finally, when the capsule had been reduced to a tiny fraction of its original size, it broke open to reveal the quivering cybernetic creature that was stored underneath the countless layers of armor.

The worm was only about an inch long, but it was made from millions of complex metal joints and electronic tendons. Its fibers pulsated between bright green and pure white in the simulated rhythm of a heartbeat. The thing was nimble enough to slither in through Sophia's ear or crawl down her throat, but the robotic hands of the Horseman holding the fragile little device were slowly and carefully descending between her legs.

Sophia's voice shrieked and her thighs squirmed. Something crawled through her and curled up like her pelvis was a bean bag cushion. She saw what looked like hundreds of lines of diagnostic code sweeping across her vision for a split second, before her eyes were filled with the blinding golden light of a star exploding in her face.

When she came to, she was sprawled on her side on the ground with her hips slightly twisted. All of the things that had been restraining her were gone. Her skirt was back down where it was supposed to be, but the security of a simple pair of panties was missing and the skirt's fabric was brushing directly against her bare backside.

She sat up mostly using the strength of her waist as she gathered her bearings. She silently rose to her feet at the same time the rest of the party was recovering.

Fayt and the others didn't need to look at Sophia for more than a couple seconds before they knew something was off about her. She stood with her head slightly lowered while an ambiguous smile crossed her lips. Her eyes shined with the same celestial gold aura that was common among the Executioner race. As she sighed and rolled her shoulders, a pair of black energy wings extended from her back in a familiar and slightly suggestive "V" formation.

Blair leaned over Welch's computer chair to see what the younger programmer was working on. She seemed intrigued by the convoluted mess of assembly code flickering across the dark screen.

"You got the worm online," Blair said with satisfaction. "Well done. Now let's see how it cleans up the rest of the anomalies."

"I went for the one with the big honkers," Welch replied in a cheerful voice. "I figured she'd have the easiest time freeing up some of her resources. Isn't she cute?"

Blair loomed closer toward the screen as she became struck with disbelief.

"These response times are extraordinary. We estimated it would take at least three dedracycles before the patch fully assumed control of the host program."

She turned to her coworker with her brow quirked in a bit of confusion.

"What installation protocol did you use?"

"Oh. You know," Welch said while playfully rolling her eyes. Her nylon leggings quietly stretched as she crossed her thighs.

"Oh dear." Blair sighed while she nodded with an understanding that was best left unspoken.

"Well, you asked me to fix one of them, didn't you?" Welch shot a mischievous smirk.