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If so, the cattle yards had the opposite effect on Io. They boosted her morale, reminding her that there were still some things neither animals nor machines could do as well as a human craftswoman. No fabricow would ever produce wares as fine as hers!

That evening, months ago, Io's friend had only just begun her latest surropreg and still yearned passionately for the chemical pleasures now denied her by guild rules. Of course, soon Perseph would be substituting a mellow high from her own hormonal flow. Meanwhile though, she made pretty miserable company.

Nawi, Io. I don't think I could hold out long enough to do eggwork. It takes so long, I'd go crazy for a party."

But Pers, look what Technique Zaire's paying for a prime cockatrice, these days. Or a shipbrain --"

A shipbrain! Hah! How'd a piece like me ever get seeded with a shipbrain? If I ever signed up for eggwork they'd knock me up with ... with a traffic cop!" Perseph laughed, a sound Io felt had grown more bitter of late.

Io shook her head. “All I know's I don't want to have to scrimp for another ten years. Two more successful carries and I'll have paid for tuition and a license, and have enough left over for nestworks. Anyway, eggcraft leaves me needing less retroconversion."

Hmm," her friend had said, dubiously. “Meanwhile you live like a tweenie, saving your bonuses, cashing in all your hobby and travel 'lotments. I swear, Io, some of us think you --" Perseph bit her lip. “Well, you just don't party enough."

I got no time for move-parties, Pers. You know that. First, there's school..." Instantly Io knew it had been a mistake to mention it.

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