Jeremiah floated at the center of the rogue planet, thousands of miles below the surface.
“There’s a certain freedom at rock bottom, Hoyle. Down here we float because the gravity of the surrounding mass cancels itself out. After you took everything from me I had a lot of time to think. All my old concerns were gone, canceled out by what you had done. Decency? Morals? Those things mean nothing at the bottom. I was totally free to think, for the first time in my life. Think, and plan, and work ceaselessly. And now, we are finally here. This surgery module you’re strapped into is going to keep you alive, and conscious, for years. It’s a marvel, isn’t it? Expensive. Out here in extrasolar space nobody will notice this dead, worthless hulk of a planet. You’ll have a lot of time to think about what you have done. But you won’t be bored, don’t worry.” He floated close to the glass behind which Hoyle’s now lidless eyes were rolling madly. His men locked the module in place facing a shelf containing expertly preserved heads. Men, women. A teenage boy. A little girl. Every face seemed to be frozen in a rictus of agony.
“We’ve prepared some entertainment.” A video screen on the shelf turned on. “We made some wholesome home videos of how we met all of your friends and family, and the games we played. I know you are familiar with all those party tricks, you performed so many of them yourself after all.” Jeremiah checked the vital readouts. Redline agitation, but the module could handle it. “Enjoy the show, Hoyle. I’ll check up on you in a few months.” Jeremiah turned away and began the long journey back into the light.