Groggily, the prisoner raised his head as the door above him slid open. He tensed his muscles, but the welded wire bonds that attached him to the ore cart were too strong; all his struggles achieved was the cracking open of old scabs, and the oozing of more pinkish-yellow blood from his wrists and ankles. He could not even clear his mouth of the foam that had hardened there. All he could do was glare at the dark silhouette outside that door, and the bulky shapes that flanked it, in impotent fury.
“Boys, watch him and make sure he doesn’t try anything.”
“Uh, estrev -”
“Because I am about to indulge in monologuing. And I hate being interrupted when I am monologuing.”
The bulky shape, a linobir by the sound of its voice, took that as the warning it was and fell silent.
“Since we have never met, my dear Sen Kal, I thought perhaps you deserved a brief introduction. Certainly there will be little time for anything else, given the magnitude of your failure.”
“Beginning, of course, with attempting to contract me and my organization to assist with your meat-market. Did you really expect any different result? I may have abandoned the society and scruples of my prissy cousins for the sake of an ambition suited to my talents, but I am not, shall we say, entirely lost to decency.”
“And then,” the silhouette sighed, “there is the matter of our little game of dominance. You showed no promise at all, I am afraid. Outmaneuvered at every turn. Had you shown even marginal ability, you might have proved a useful tool. Had you recognized how outclassed you were and pled my mercy, you might have lived. Humility can be a virtue… for the low. But if there is one thing that I simply cannot abide, it is an incompetent who does not realize his own incompetence!”
“In any case: know, then, that it is Anatev Sarathos who has defeated you. I’d say it was a pleasure, but I fear it was not even that. And so, farewell.”
The sefir jerked in one last hopeless attempt to escape.
The door closed.
The door beneath him opened.