I stood in the center of a ring of bristling, well-armed pit guards, facing Niven. He seemed unimpressed by my presence. As intimidating as I was trying to be, I couldn't change the fact that I was shorter, less muscular, and less visceral in appearance. I was the tiny little kid on the playground trying to bravely stand up to the bully who was three grades ahead of him.
"Torvin, my associate," I informed him, still trying to intimidate him with a persona of a sinister Hollywood villain, "Is fetching me a set of tools. Tools I will use to extract the information that I need from you, slice by slice, cut by cut and blow by--"
"You don't have a fucking clue," he interrupted. His voice was wet and rough, like he was about to spit saliva all over me with each hard consonant. And his attitude...well, it seemed clear to me that I wasn't held in much regard.
"You don't know how to hurt me," he continued bluntly. "You don't have the slightest idea how to extract"--he spoke that particular word with extra disdain--"anything from me. Your bluff is as obvious and pathetic as--"
I lunged forward and grabbed him by his thick, surprisingly squeeze-resistant throat. "You will speak when spoken to," I snarled. His eyes widened slightly, only breaking his coolly contemptuous countenance for a fleeting moment. Perhaps I'd managed to rattle him a bit with some surprise aggression.
He nodded once. "Okay," he said simply, quietly. Something about his tone was maddeningly rebellious, despite his ostensible contrition.
I released him slowly, glaring at him. "Good," I said. "I'm glad we've established how things will work from here on out."
In a flash of movement too quick for me to react to, Niven swung his right arm at me. With mute horror I felt the blade extending from his wrist slice my throat open.