Flux had only been in the cell for about an hour, not counting the encounter with the *lovely* Agent Clark, and she was bored out of her wits. Currently, she was sitting on the sheet that was to serve as her bed and braiding three pieces of straw together as she thought out loud to herself.
     "So if all agents are sentient programs, then they shouldn't be able to be outside the Matrix. But Agent Clark is definitely an agent. Either I'm inside the Matrix, I'm in something like the Construct, Agent Clark was a hologram or a projection, or there are actual real people that are doing the agents' jobs in the real world." She shrugged and looked back down at her braid. Behind her, the door hummed. Silvertooth stepped through, followed by two burly men with police clubs and guns tucked into their belts. Flux looked over her shoulder at them and then turned back to her braid.
     "Goody, the goon troop," she commented under her breath.
     Silvertooth grinned. "Snow Queen has asked me to prep you for her. If you will follow me."
     "And if I won't?"
     Silvertooth jerked his head towards the girl and the two men moved up to flank her. "Then you will regret it."
     "I seriously doubt that."
     He jerked his head again. The man to Flux's left moved forward and grabbed the shoulder of her shirt, hauling her to her feet.
     "Do you mind?"
     He poked the end of his club into her side.
     "You'll do as he says."
     "Oh no I won't."
     "Yes you will." He ground the club against her ribs. She jerked away and backed up. The man who had been standing on her right followed her, and when she stopped, grabbed her arm, yanking her back to stand in front of Silvertooth. The other man took her other arm and held her still. Silvertooth showed his canines and reached out to touch her face.
     "After Snow Queen is done with you, I know who we'll give you too. He'll rip you apart before you can touch him." Flux pulled her head back, trying to keep him from touching her. His hands were clammy and cold, what her eighth-grade English teacher had called 'fish hands', and they felt disgusting. Silvertooth turned and stepped back through the wall. The two guard-men, which Flux had now mentally named Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb followed him, pulling her along.
     Going through the wall was an interesting feeling. It felt like you were passing through very thick velvety smoke or being brushed with a feather duster.... or something. Flux was more interested in keeping her eyes open and trying to figure out what was going to happen to her than being poetic about a wall, no matter how impressive the technology in the wall was.
     She was being led down a hallway like the ones on the Death Star, (she grinned again at the reference to Star Wars,) metal walls and floor and grid-ed ceiling with nasty fluorescent lights. The hallway was just straight metal, but every seven or eight feet there was a small red or green light near the ceiling with a number. Flux was puzzled until an agent stepped out of the wall under a green light and a scream escaped the room. The agent didn't look back, but nodded to Silvertooth and went back the way they had come. Further down the hall there was a cluster of lights in all different colors. Silvertooth went through the wall first and then yanked Flux through. She noticed that this wall felt different than the last one... more like one of those pin-image things being drug over her skin. Then Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb came through, still behind her, holding on to each of her arms.
     This wing of the building, the 'holding facility' had glass, or at least, see-through something lining the hall, and a display stand in front of each window  like a zoo reader-board, telling you what each animal was, where it came from and all that... stuff. Flux stretched to see what was on the readerboards....
     It was statistics.
     Pain tolerance level, level of heat withstood, depth of cold tolerance.
     On humans.
     Silvertooth had paused in front of one of readerboards and was looking into the window.
     "Bring her over."
     The Tweedles pushed her over to stand next to him. He pointed down into the cell. It was a two stories. The person stayed on the bottom story, and was viewed from above by the people on the walkway. Flux looked down. There was someone in the cell- he wasn't looking up, but just looking at the back of his head Flux was scared......
     It looked like Mouse.
     As if he could read her mind, Silvertooth gave a malicious chuckle. He pushed a button on the display-board. Electricity licked out from a socket on the wall of the cell, jolting the occupant. He looked up, angry, directly at Silvertooth, Flux and the Tweedles. Flux's knees almost gave out in relief. It wasn't Mouse... too old, and now that she looked closer, too muscular... but it had still scared the shit out of her. Silvertooth saw her sag in relief.
     "Mael." he explained, giving her a name. "He's our record holder right now."  He gestured to the statistics on the reader-board.  "Also the most hostile and violent one of you we've picked up." There was a clang from the window. Flux jerked. Mael was standing there with an aluminum disc, and there was another lying on the ground in front of him. As she watched, he screamed something she couldn't understand  and then hurled the one he was holding at the window like a Frisbee. It hit directly in front of Flux, and she started. Silvertooth grinned from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat.
     "He's going to be your cell partner. He doesn't like having to share, I'll warn you now. The faster you tell us what we want to know, the faster you'll get to move in on your own again. Be stubborn, and you stay with him."
    "I'll tell you something," Flux offered, still looking at Mael.
     "Which would be?" Silvertooth prompted.
     "You're an asshole." She looked up at him, then spat into his face.
     He growled deep in his throat, and gestured to the Tweedles. They pulled her away from Silvertooth and towards the opposite end of the hall. Tweedle Dee gave her a smack upside the head as they went through the door that made her teeth rattle. She held her tongue, realizing it would just get her in more trouble, and let them man-handle her through the wobbling wall-door and down more hallways.
     As they got farther away from where they had begun, the halls got narrower and narrower until they were forced to walk single-file, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb bringing up the front and rear with Flux sandwiched helplessly in between. Abruptly, the hallway widened out just enough for three people to stand abreast. The Tweedles too their death grips on Flux's arms again, and yanked her through one more wall. This one definitely did not feel good to go through. It was like someone was dragging a hairbrush of sharpened nails down your body. As she opened her eyes on the other side there was a bright flash and the pressure on her arms disappeared.
     Standing in front of her again was Silvertooth. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb were nowhere to be seen. Flux glanced from side to side.
     "Where did they go... how did you do that?"
     As an answer, Silvertooth reached forward and slapped her across the face.
     "You've asked enough questions. Snow Queen is going to have my throat as it is. You're late."  Before Flux could react, he clamped a set of binders over her forearms. They were made out of some metal-plastic alloy that stretched from three inched under the elbow to the wrist and were connected by chain links in four places. And they were heavy. The whole set up was connected so that your arms were held almost naturally in front of you, but keeping you from moving them more than eight inches apart.
     "And just what did you think I was going to do if you didn't put these on me?" Flux asked sarcastically. "Burn the place down?"
Silvertooth took a small thin black box off of the back of his belt and pushed a single button.
     Electricity shot through the binders, licking around the girl's forearms. She yelled, more surprised than hurt, and tried to yank her arms out of the cuffs. Every time she jerked, a new tongue of electricity reached out and wrapped around her arm. After a minute of watching her struggle, Silvertooth released the button.
     "Now, if you will follow me." He waved the remote control in front of her nose. Glaring at him, she grudgingly followed him through another painful door into a small room. The light was so bright it hurt her eyes, and she squinted until she could see clearly. Someone was standing in front of her.... someone female... tall... thin.. built like Miss America 2000.... The person stepped out of the light and came forward.
     "Silver..." she purred "you're late."
     "I... I'm sorry. She was... uncooperative." Silver stuttered.
     "I hope you took care of it."
     *SLUT* Flux cried mentally, and clamped her lips together to keep from blurting it out. The woman noticed her and walked around Silvertooth to get closer. With a wave of her hand she dismissed the Tweedles-they melted into the background until Flux couldn't even pick them out anymore. The woman put one hand on her shoulder, right where the bundle of nerves connected to the bone and pushed Flux down until she was kneeling on the ground in front of her.
     "I assume you are Flux?"
     One side of her body had gone totally numb, but she managed to nod.
     "Good. I am Snow Queen, as you may have guessed already. I trust you got my message?"
     Flux barely nodded this time, the rest of her slowly going numb too. All she could feel clearly were the burned places on her arms. Snow Queen motioned to Silvertooth, who moved out of Flux's vision. There were soft metallic clicking noises behind her, and then she felt the pressure ease on her shoulder, only to be replaced by ice cold hands holding her head on both sides, keeping it still. Snow Queen moved around behind her and pushed her head forward, exposing her neck. There was a scraping sound and then something cold and hard and heavy against the skin on Flux's neck. With a series of small clicks, whatever it was was jammed into the sockets implanted in her flesh. As the last one went in, the rest of the connectors seemed to expand under her skin, sending  muscles spasms all up and down her spine.
     "Do you know what that is?" Snow Queen purred to her. All the muscles in the girl's back twitched once. "It's a transformer. We're going to use your power to power the Dome." Silvertooth handed Snow Queen something. There was a clicking noise and then Flux felt a cold metal object go around her neck, right under her jaw. The collar had two spikes sticking up from it that speared the wearer in the soft spot behind the ears. Silvertooth clipped a chain on the loop at the front of the collar and pulled Flux to her feet.
     "Put her in the chair." Snow Queen ordered. Silvertooth led the girl over to stand in front of a chair much the same design as the ones on the Nebuchadnezzar that they used when they were plugged into the Matrix. But this chair was a lot newer, a lot cleaner, and it was solid metal. Silvertooth yanked on the chain until Flux sat down, then grabbed her legs and chained them down at the ankles to the chair. He then took the cuffs off of her arms and put her wrists through straps on either arm of the chair to keep them down.
     "So what is this, preparation for the dentist from hell?" Flux almost bit her tongue off as she heard herself say it. By way of answer, Silvertooth reached over and swiftly snapped the upper bone in the pinkie finger of her left hand.
     "You will stay quiet unless asked a question." Snow Queen leaned over her.
     "Like hell I will!"
     Silvertooth snapped the middle bone in the same finger.
     "You will stay quiet if we have to cut your tongue off bit by bit." Snow Queen's eyes flashed a dangerous shade of blue. Flux subsided somewhat, her finger throbbing.  Silvertooth shoved her head back down onto the chair's headrest and jammed a connector into the socket on the back of her head.
     It hurt.
     It burned.
     It felt like someone had just shot her in the back of the head, and she gasped.
     Her head was on fire. She jerked frantically, trying to get the connector out. She couldn't get her hands up to her head to pull it out because of the straps across her wrists. She jerked harder at all of the things holding her down. There was a cracking noise from one around her wrist and she pulled harder, assuming that it was giving way. Instead,  the wrist straps tightened, holding her arms down against the chair and almost cutting off circulation. She felt her hands get colder and the twice-broken finger throbbed more ferociously. Silvertooth was standing at the foot of the chair, and Flux kicked at him. The straps did the same thing around her ankles, tightening until her feet started to go numb.
     "You do know that if you happen to cut off circulation entirely we won't be able to help you. And the straps will just keep tightening up every time you struggle." He smirked. "I'm sorry. Did we forget to tell you that?"
     "Asshole!" Flux spat.  From behind, Snow Queen grabbed her forehead with one smooth, ice-cold hand and slammed her head back against the headrest of the chair. With one smooth movement, she lifted two wires twined with two tubes from off the cart next to her and inserted the bare ends into a small box, The box clicked once, twice and then beeped. Snow Queen drew the wire contraption out and held it up so Flux could see them. Each separate strand now had a needle on it. The wires were small needles, like an average hypodermic or a sewing needle, but the needles on the tubes were huge, and hollow, like the needles they used to draw blood. Flux stiffened.
     *Where are they going to PUT those? Oh dammit, I hate needles, dammit dammit dammit!*
     Snow Queen handed the other ends of the wires and the tubes to Silvertooth, who twisted the ends of the wires into a small box and then fitted the tubes into holes on the side of another small box, securing them tightly.
     Pushing Flux's head back into the headrest even harder, in one  smooth move Snow Queen jabbed one of the wire-needles into the side of Flux's neck.
     Flux screamed.
     Quickly, the other wire was jammed in to the other side of her neck, and the shorter tube-connected needle was stuck into an artery close by. Bright red blood started to flow down the tube. Letting go of the girl's head, Snow Queen shoved the other tube-connected needle into a vein on the back of her hand. Stepping back, she seemed to admire her work, and then turned to the small boxes. As she flipped the switch on the tube-connected box, it whirred quietly, cycling the blood through it and back into the girl's body through her hand. Silvertooth took a plastic package from behind the machine and stabbed it onto a hollow prong-like device  on the top of the machine, letting the liquid seep extremely slowly into the machine.  Flux felt her hand go tingly... then it was crawling up her arm and through her shoulder.... She tried to lift her hand to pull the tubes out. It wouldn't move.  Her head jerked from side to side in a vain attempt to dislodge the wires in her neck.  There was a hissing from the box they were connected to and then an electric shock jolted through the girl's body.
     Snow Queen was in her face, giving her a vampiric smile. She tugged on one of the wires hooked into Flux's neck and then cupped the girl's face in her ice cold hands. AS she touched her, the tingly feeling moved over the girl's head. Flux tried to complain, or at least spit out a witty comment, but all that came out was a garbled choking sound. Her tongue was like fuzzy lead, and her mouth was dry. All she could move was her eyes, and she started to panic, breathing faster. Snow Queen rubbed her thumbs along the girl's cheekbones.
     "Wouldn't you like to know why we're doing this?" she purred.
 The look in Flux's eyes was somewhere in between horror and fury. Snow Queen smiled. "I'm sure you would. That's why we're not going to tell you. Oh , don't worry. The paralyasis isn't permanent... not yet, at least. It's only to help encourage you to talk faster. I'll tell you this much. The electricity is stimulating all your muscles in turn, and we've deadened all of your nerves. When we take the deadening agent out,  you'll be sore like you've never been sore before. And it will start to wear out after a while. Just to make things easier. Your adrenaline is powering the Dome."
     Flux closed her eyes.
     "I knew you'd be happy to hear it." Snow Queen laughed. "So now, we're going to up the stakes a little." She reached behind Flux and a keypad beeped as she typed something in  with an evil smile. "Sweet dreams."
     Flux opened her mouth in a silent scream. The room spun into a whirlpool of color, sucking her down into it's black center.