“But I released all of the corporation’s slaves!” Reginald protested as a pair of Brutors pulled him out of the chair and started dragging him towards the forcefield.
“Not good enough,” Vuld replied, his arms crossed, “By the time we’re done with you, you’ll be a moron who can barely pilot a Bestower.”
“This doesn’t make any sense!” Reginald screamed. He needed to buy more time. Where were the DENT operatives?
The Brutors suddenly turned him away from the forcefield and into a maze of shipping containers. They were lined up neatly, in the style Reginald demanded–each one numbered and categorized with a pedantic precision for ease of accounting. And they were moving towards the “fauna” category. At first, Reginald could barely make out any sounds, but as they neared their destination, a cacophony of barks, growls, and howls started to saturate the docking bay. Finally, they reached a container sealed on all sides except one, which was made up of steel bars. As they approached, Reginald could make out at least three Brutor men antagonizing its contents–a small pack of slaver hounds.
“Where do you send packs of bloodthirsty hounds?”
“To their deaths.”
“I thought–I thought I ordered those destroyed!” Reginald’s heartbeat quickened, as he kicked and shoved away from the snarling mouths of the hounds.
“You did,” Vuld replied calmly, “And as a result, they haven’t been fed recently.”
The Brutors put Reginald on his knees in front of the container, then violently tilted his face up towards the slobbering mass of teeth, fur, and ravenous gazes within the cage. He could feel the Brutors pushing on the back of his head, closer and closer to the bars. One of the hounds managed its muzzle between the bars and took a snap at Reginald’s face. The Brutors yanked him back, casting him onto the ground, and laughed at his terrified expression.
Reginald took the moment to try to calm down. He had done it dozens of times before–the instant before the capsule exploded, he had always been prepared, he had always known he was about to die. But his pulse wouldn’t slow down now. His heart was pounding against his chest. This death, and most likely all the deaths to come, would not just be his brain being fried followed by an instantaneous euthanizing neurotoxin. No, these would be long, messy, protracted, painful deaths. And nine hundred sixty seven of them.
Vuld typed some commands into his neocom while Reginald lay on the ground, frozen in fear, “We’re about ready to start. The digital message of your death will be intercepted and you’ll end up inside of the Rorqual’s clone vat bay. I suppose I should ask for last words, but you have nine hundred sixty seven deaths to contemplate a historical one.”
Reginald said nothing in response, his eyes were glued to the cage. There had to be a way out. Some way. Some thing he hadn’t thought of. Think. Think.
“Throw him in.”
One Brutor pulled out a shockwhip and slammed it into the bars, causing the hounds to cower in the far darkness of the container. Two more Brutors lifted Reginald off of his feat.
“But I released them all!” Reginald whimpered as they opened the gate and shoved him in towards the hounds.
He may not have been able to see them, but he knew they were there, watching him. He took several deep breaths–each one filled with the stench of the cage. Calm. Help is coming.
He whispered to himself, “Standard predatory instinct. One of you will aim for my neck. The resulting impact needs to snap my cervical and thoracic vertebrae to increase the probability of my spinal chord being severed. With my neck broken, the nervous system connection from my brain to my heart will be interrupted and I will enter spinal shock due to sudden drop in internal blood pressure. My peripheral and central nervous systems thus cut off, in theory, I shouldn’t feel a thing after the initial impact. Or, it could be an inefficient break and I’ll suffocate to death as you all tear me apart.”
Nothing really prepared Reginald for the next few seconds. How can you really be prepared for a vicious animal lunging several meters from the back of a cavernous container directly towards you? He remembered seeing it fly towards him at remarkable speed. In that second, he felt strangely fortunate to be able to witness a slaver attack in action–did all victims of hounds feel the same way? There really wasn’t anything he could do. The hound soon crashed into him, biting into his neck immediately, the sharp fangs penetrating clean and deep. The impact flung the two of them back into the bars. Then, as if only dragging a fresh meal, the slaver pulled the lifeless corpse back into the darkness.