Stretched out on the table, the captive's body formed a landscape of tidy strength. Strips of lean muscle shifted behind his neck, along his legs, between his ribs. Lines of force tightened and relaxed as he moved, semi-conscious, against the white restraints. His genitals were exposed, shielded only by a light fuzz of pubic hair. The scar tissue on his stomach seemed at odds with his youthful frame. Yet his face — the sunken eyes, the hollow cheeks, the wrinkled forehead — belonged to an old man.
—Mr. Tokyo. The voice came from the shadowed perimeter of the room. Its owner stepped forward until his outline was visible, a squat form in a tailored suit. —Mr. agent Tokyo. Now you are dying. But we will treat you kindly. Our own operatives do not fare so well.
The man on the table seemed not to hear. He was fading. Eyeballs shifted behind his slack lids.
—I am Pyramid. Yes … you know me well. You have heard of my reputation over many years. But this is the first time we will ever meet, and also the last time.
His voice became gentle. —You know we must understand everything before the end. I think for you there will be no pain. But you must come on this journey with us, Mr. Tokyo.
The captor walked around the table, to where his subject's head was clamped in place. A strip of hair and skull had been removed, and pale blue light bathed the watery brain tissues. He took a tiny pillbox from his jacket pocket, opened the lid, and tipped the contents into his palm.
The little gel was red, transparent, shaped like a fish. It curled with the heat of his hand. He pressed it against the exposed cerebrum, and held it in place as it melted to fit the contours. As he waited, he leant down close to his subject's ear.
—It will not be so bad, he whispered. —Perhaps you will again meet with … old friends.