Thor Slaymaster sat quietly in the dark room. He had been there for three days, more or less. In that time, he had determined that the floor and walls were constructed of hard, durable, seamless plastic, probably overlaid on solid concrete or stone. Temperature and humidity were controlled, which suggested some kind of ventilation port, somewhere above his reach. He had not been provided with any sort of food or water or anything that even pretended at being a toilet, and had therefore determined that the room did not have a drain built into the floor.
The good news was that there weren’t any zombies in the room. Thor Slaymaster could handle being in a dark, stinking, escape-proof cell as long as there weren’t any zombies in there making life difficult for him. So he slept when he could, and sat quietly when he couldn’t sleep, conserving as much energy as possible against the time when his situation changed enough that escape and bloody vengeance were possible.
Twenty feet above Thor Slaymaster, an eight-foot tall alien in a brown robe impassively watched a monitor showing Thor Slaymaster impassively sitting in his cell. “This one is not reacting as the others have,” he said.
A human in a filthy lab coat nodded. “He is taking longer to reach his breaking point. But he will. All men reach their breaking point, sooner or later.”
“As you have said, Dr. Slaughter. What else can you do?” the alien asked. His squirming mouth-tentacles were the only outward sign of impatience.
“I can introduce pain,” the doctor said. “This specimen is very large and very tough, and probably not very smart.”
“He could be smarter than he looks,” the alien said.
“I don’t think so. He’s probably survived much worse privation than this in the wilderness where we picked him up. It will be difficult to break him using our standard tactics.”
The alien’s mouth-tentacles spasmed and went slack. “We have discussed this, Dr. Slaughter. Our race does not believe in violence. We intend to subjugate Earth through persuasion and logic, not force. There is no need to cause this man any more pain.”
“But we must break him,” Dr. Slaughter said.
“Yes,” the alien said. “Do you remember how we broke you?”
Dr. Slaughter went pale. He repressed a violent shudder, then went to the control panel next to the monitor. He paused for a long moment, considering a large red button that read “NICKELBACK,” but thought better of it. He opened a plastic cover and pushed a smaller, black button, to be used only in emergencies. It read “LANA DEL REY.”
Thor Slaymaster heard the opening strains of “Young and Beautiful” and smiled. Up until this moment, he had only known one thing about his captors. Now he knew several things. He knew that they used some sort of power source to power the hidden speakers above his cell. He knew that they were at least conversant with some elements of human culture, even if they might not be human themselves. He knew that they were wholly irredeemable and therefore not entitled to anything even approaching mercy.
And he knew they would come for him, eventually, and try to subject him to something worse. He would be ready.
About sixteen hours into the musical torture, a bright light came down from the darkened ceiling. Thor Slaymaster was caught in its beam. He was unsurprised to find that he was immobilized, and that he was drifting upwards.
“It’s a stasis field,” Dr. Slaughter explained. “The sensation will pass in a few minutes. You’ll be taken to our recovery room for analysis.”
The recovery room proved to be brightly lit and quiet, without a hint of twenty-first century torch music. The bed was nice and comfortable. The restraints were well-padded. A small medical robot crawled up Thor Slaymaster’s arm and injected an IV saline solution. A larger robot held out a bedpan.
The alien in the brown robe glided over to the foot of the bed. “Welcome,” it said. “Are you ready to accept my unquestioned authority?”
Thor Slaymaster stayed silent.
“He must have survived his ordeal only through his brute strength,” the alien said. “He does not appear to have much in the way of reasoning function.”
“It may be a lingering aftereffect of the stasis field,” Dr. Slaughter explained. “More likely, he’s just too stupid to understand.”
“Maybe a different question, one that’s easier for him to answer?”
“You can try. He’s not going anywhere.”
“Well, then. Do you have any questions of us?” the alien asked Thor Slaymaster. “Who we are? Why we’re doing this to you? What do we hope to accomplish?”
“Why do you want to die?” Thor Slaymaster asked.
“A metaphysical question,” the alien said. “See, Doctor, he is smarter than he looks. And to answer your question, what I want is to rule this planet, and end its plague of violence, and I cannot do that if I die. So your premise is invalid.”
“You misunderstand,” Thor Slaymaster said. “You kidnapped and tortured a Slaymaster, so you must want to die. If I know why, I can kill you more efficiently.”
“Clearly,” the alien said, “this one is not at his breaking point.”
Dr. Slaughter started to say something about the limits of operational conditioning, and then started to say something about the padded restraint on Thor Slaymaster’s left arm being loose, and then didn’t say anything at all because Thor Slaymaster had yanked on his cheap polyester tie and had fractured his windpipe.
“Violence,” the alien said. “Is it all you humans know?”
Thor Slaymaster grabbed hold of a medical robot that was trying to refasten his restraints. “Pretty much,” he said, as he threw the robot in the general direction of the alien’s head.
As the alien screamed in unaccustomed pain, Thor Slaymaster removed the rest of his restraints and his IV. Unfortunately, the alien recovery room did not seem to have anything in the way of usable weapons. “I have one more question for you,” Thor Slaymaster said. “Do you like your justice swift, or poetic?”
“I thought you were smarter than you looked,” the alien said.
“Poetic, then,” Thor Slaymaster said. He picked up the IV stand and whacked the alien in the midsection. The alien doubled over, and it was easy work for Thor Slaymaster to push him down into the cell below.
“Get me out of here,” the alien said. “I’ll give you whatever you want.”
Thor Slaymaster smiled. He had what he wanted. He had his freedom, a new race of aliens to fight, and fellow human beings to rescue. Thor Slaymaster had a breaking point, but it would take a lot more than nonviolent aliens, turncoat doctors, and cheesy twenty-first century popular music for anyone to get anywhere near it.