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black matter veined with silver.

What did they want? Her interior held no weapons. Desperation filled her.

What are you doing? she asked Justin.

Justin looked up at her brilliant, shifting skin. "We need your help, Anna. In a different form than what you've become accustomed to." He nodded to the technicians. "Don't be afraid. We won't harm you."

The two technicians leaned forward, plunging their arms into her brain. Then they were pulling something up out of the black matter. As the vague shape rose from the darkness, suddenly the connections inside her were failing. One after another they broke, interrupting her access to different parts of her body. Frantically she re-formed them, but they broke again just as quickly.

The machine's beat raced. All of her orifices opened. She was losing control.

Her link to the Eye was severed.

Stop! she told Justin.

Stop them! she cried to the liberator.

She extended the skin of the chamber's wall, reached out for the closest technician. But as her glistening black skin wrapped around him, she could not feel his puny body; she had lost sensation. Then she could no longer see, or hear. She was trapped in silent blackness, disoriented, the march of her beat stumbling, erratic. She tightened her grip, hoping she crushed the technician.

Connections were slipping away. The processes of cleansing and circulation fell out of her reach. The great balls of destruction, the fierce mouth that shrieked the red rapture-she could no longer feel them. One after another, pieces of her self dropped away into blackness. Pain seized her partial body, shot out with astonishing intensity along her arms-a massive systems failure.

They were pulling her brain, her heart from her body. They were ripping her apart. The tireless,
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