The HarvestMature

Upon the prison frigate, Sergatis, distrust and fear permeated the air with a palpable tension as the giant ship neared the Arcanum Fringe. Its crew, fresh from the academy and virtually untested, waited for landing with bated breath. None but the captain had even glimpsed the true nature of the Ambages Sphere, much less witnessed the reality of the Fringe. Few of the soldiers had even been slotted for graduation within that year. Early promotion was almost unheard of; and, due to the nature of their first assignment, many of the crew had their suspicions about the likelihood they'd survive the first mission.

According to the captain, the prep crew hadn't provided enough fuel for the entire journey so they were now forced to perform an emergency landing and refuel. In reality, he had received notice of a very dangerous man hiding within the Fringe and explicit instructions to extract the rogue agent.Many believed that not even the many gods of lore could escape the Pits... and the Empress Illian Shamir certainly seemed to believe as such. Just the thought of the man going free made the captain blanch. One of few truly loyal subjects, Wiltaem Starning could not bare to think of his Empress harmed... and if her advisers were correct about the potential damage this man would bring--well, he wouldn't let that happen.

The Sergatis's hold was almost full. Three hundred clear cages were stacked in columns of 5. Each cage was checkered with small holes in the floor and ceiling--drains and air vents. When prisoners relieved themselves, their excrement seeped into the cell below them. Because of this, the best behaving prisoners were placed in the higher cells. Placement was, however, the only distribution of privilege. All prisoners were clad in loose-fitting, brown, sac-like gowns. Most had been caged on the frigate for months and almost all of them had layers of grime. A few paced in the meager confines of their cells. Others slept. Even more wept--from loud weeping or silent, shuddering sobs it didn't matter--most faces bore tracks where the warm saline traveled down cheeks. A few of the inmates, however, had not been broken yet... and they had heard the crew's whispers about the Fringe. They knew this was their last chance.

A loud crash resounded throughout the ship and one of the occupied cells now lay vacant.

The End

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