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It had started out well enough. The seventeen year old sharpshooter was accompanying Jake "Danger Ace" Stefokowski on a mission to determine where the criminal and homeless in St. Petersburg were disappearing to. The trail had led them to a Rational Experimentation Group laboratory in Siberia, and then everything had begun to go wrong.

They hadn't expected them to have weapons capable of taking out an aircraft. The plane had been more hole than not by the time Jake crash landed them in the river. If anyone else had been flying the plane, they would have been dead. As it was, Annabelle lost consciousness from her injuries.

She woke to pain and metal walls. They had turned one of Dixon's inventions to a more sinister and terrible purpose: draining the life energy from humans instead of the spare Telluric energy that one of the Inspired could lend. It didn't hurt at first, as the machine drained what Dixon had designed it to take. Then it felt as if she was being beaten for many painful minutes. Next, unbearable agony, as if every nerve had been set afire. It might have been a few minutes, but it felt like eternity.

After that, things became confused. Muttering about improving the energy yield and an unusual specimen; some kind of green opalescent drug injected into her veins. She came to in a metal room, chained to the wall and hallucinating.

The drug was an interesting concoction, one that it accelerated the body's healing to a rate much faster than normal. But that healing came at a price. Hallucinations always, increasing in intensity and frequency the more often the subject was dosed. In the end, the drug would fail to save its victims, as they succumbed to massive organ failure.

Annabelle isn't sure how long she's been here. There's no way to keep track of the time, and the drug leaves blanks in her memory, periods she can't recall. The world has narrowed down to cycles of pain, unconsciousness, and worsening hallucinations. She knows that she's dying, she can feel it when she's shaking with chills or burning with fever. She can see it in the paleness and yellow cast to her skin in her reflection on the walls.

They don't send anyone human in anymore, not while she's conscious. She killed one of the scientists, snapped his neck. She might have managed to escape after that, if not for the robots. They've begun treating her like a wounded predator. Dying perhaps, but still dangerous. The machines bring her food, take away the waste bucket. She doesn't have the strength to spare to fight them, anymore.

They think Jake is dead, but Annabelle believes otherwise. She couldn't count on one hand the number of "deaths" that have been reported for him. He's alive, somewhere. If she can hang on to life and sanity long enough, they'll come and get her. She hates herself for being too weak to escape. Hates herself for eating what she's given, for channeling every ounce of energy into survival instead of battle. She knows that she wouldn't survive out there, not in the shape she's in, but that truth doesn't make it any easier to bear.

She hears voices all the time, now. Mostly whispers that she can't make sense of, but sometimes the voices plead for rescue, or sob, or scream in pain or terror. Some of them are probably real, but she has no way of knowing which. The shape of things twist, distorted. Unreal forms and things that couldn't be appear before her eyes. The worst of them are not monsters or demons, but images of her teammates come to rescue her. They talk to her, comfort her, but they're only phantoms. She wept the first time she saw them, and felt her hopes die when they did nothing to get her out of here.

Annabelle knows that her arms can't really be being restrained by a giant snake, surely? It looks real, sounds real, and she can feel the cool scales of it on her arm. She jerks her arm sharply. "Let go, damn you!" she hisses, her throat raw and her voice harsh from screaming. The snake hisses and bites her wrist, sending sharp pain up her arm. Cautiously, she tries scent and taste to verify what her senses are telling her. Steel and blood are what she gets, confirming that the chains are still chains. The snake makes a threatening lunge. "Oh, get bent. You're not real," she croaks. The effort of speaking causes her to spit up blood that she can't spare.

She knows that she's running out of time. She's heard a woman's voice singing, urging her to rest. That if she'd just let go, everything would be okay. Annabelle knows better than to listen to her, because her voice has hints in it of the arctic wind, the cold that kills men in the north and other, empty, places. The kind of cold in which a man goes to sleep and never wakes. "You can't have me darling, not today," she says with a choked laugh that's part hysteria. "Maybe tomorrow...."
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