Maggie watched them swim over the trees, bisecting the clouds like telephone wires in an emerald sky. These skywhales were adorned in steel and topaz, their skin emblazoned with the colors of the queen and her daughters. The Scottish Isles were beautiful this time of year; hazy days dripping into each other, the earth swallowing houses whole. From her balcony she could see the celadon mists part for them, the stars shine for them. The creatures would bring her queen victory in this war.

She lived alone these days, and had for many years. Revolution had scorched the countryside and nobody liked to talk. Not to her, anyways; she wasn't them anymore.

Sometimes she wondered, quiet and still in the back room, whether or not her heart would stop ticking. It had happened before, she knew—everyone had heard the stories of little girls and little boys who'd had a fright and shorted their circuits. Her father, who was the best engineer she'd ever known, had told her it would never happen; he was far too careful, and he would never misplace a cog or a wheel in his baby girl.

But she was still afraid.

Maggie braided her hair, because it made her feel small and human. She tightened her corset and let her blackened skirts fall to the floor, hiding those horrid gears, those silvered demons wrapped around her legs. Survivor's luck, they called it; a decorated cyborg. She knew she wasn't alone, and in fact in Spain she would have died, but the Scots were a hardier people. Queen Mary supported human engineering.

A tea kettle sang on the stove. She heard still rain outside, melting the trees with their chemicals. The stone sizzled and dripped into nothing.