Kim Yong Jin stood on one side of the bed, holding the intravenous bag. His daughter Hana watched him from the other side.

“I imagine this is something you have seen before,” he quietly asked her in Korean.

By this he meant the strong asserting themselves over the utterly weak. And yes, he knew she’d borne witness to that too many times to count.

“No comment?” he said.

She stared at him.

“No, I suppose not. The fish would never get into trouble if he but kept his mouth shut. Right?”

She nodded.

He smiled at her intuition, then returned his attention to the bed and asked, “Are you comfortable?”

But the older man lying before them did not reply. How could he? The drug had paralyzed every muscle, numbing nerves, freeing the mind. A tube from the IV bag Kim held snaked a path down into a vein. A valve allowed him to control the flow. No danger existed of anyone ever knowing that it had been administered since their captive was a diabetic, one more needle mark hardly noticeable.

“I don’t suppose it matters if he’s comfortable or not,” he said. “Silly question, actually. He’s not going anywhere.”

Indifference in the face of dominance was a trait he’d inherited from his father—along with sparse hair, excess weight, a bulbous head, and a private passion for decadent entertainment. Unlike his father, who managed to succeed his own father and lead North Korea for nearly a quarter century, Kim had been denied that opportunity.

And for what?

Visiting Tokyo Disneyland?

Two of his nine children had wanted to go. So he obtained false Portuguese passports and tried to gain entry. But an observant border officer at Narita International Airport caught the deception and he was detained. To secure his release, his father had been forced to personally intervene with the Japanese government.

And it cost him.

He’d been disinherited, dropped from the line of succession.

Where before he’d been the eldest son, entitled to the reins of power, afterward he was disgraced. And twelve years ago, when his father finally died, Kim’s illegitimate half brother had taken his place as head of the military, chairman of the National Defense Commission, and supreme leader of the Workers’ Party, wielding absolute control over Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

What was the wisdom?

Only a bad plowman quarrels with his ox.

The Patriot Threat (Cotton Malone Series #10)