Lol aye, the gender vagueness was a deliberate choice, since the beginning was more to hook the reader, and challenge any preconceptions not long after. (which will prove to be an underlying theme as things develop.)
There's a lot of character building in the first few parts, with the action bits coming later, It's 60kish words so far, (and not finished yet) so lots of stuff still coming.
Oh and to answer your tongue in cheek questions becuse it's 2am and I'm bored: :P
You'll have to wait an see, although as far as controversial/disturbing subs, that one would perhaps out do my sub about the reverse abortion of an undead fetus. Okay maybe not that disturbing...
You'll just have to read on and see if she's pregnant :P
Unstable sub spatial molecular transference. When she shifts to a smaller form a portion of the extra mass is transferred into energy and released as a flash of light, the rest is bled into sub space.
What part in Romeo and Juilet?
Update: Edited to include the paragraph describing the characters human appearance.
(And for those who don't want to reread the first chapter just to find that one paragraph here's a quick reprint.
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I remember pausing, finding my dark African American skin oddly foreign looking after seeing myself clothed in feathers, my black hair a tangle mess. years later people would say I looked a lot like Kandyse Mcclure in my human form, but at the time I was just geeky, and developed enough in the right places to get embarrassing stares from the boys in my class.
Interesting item, and I can certainly see it encouraging the rest of the group to also be more generous int eh hopes of receiving coins themselves (even if the luck is purely imaginary and only seems lucky to the PC's/players)
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Oh and one small nit pick in the line: a woman who can't find his children and so on. (I just found the sentence a bit jarring due to the error)
Short and catchy, with all the quality I'd expect in a short story from one of the published magazines like the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
The piece can work well as the basis behind a rescue mission for nearly any sci-fi setting, or a cautionary tale told around the star port bar by a retired brotherhood guard about what happens to those who are *too* successful with cutting edge creation.