A solitary figure sat silhouetted against the dim light of the cold cell, head down, shoulders slumped, bound hands resting on one up-drawn knee.  The man, for a man it was, looked the picture of dejection, but if one could but catch a glimpse of his downcast eyes one would see a fierce determination and slow burning anger, a reflection of the stormy thoughts which occupied his mind. 


          Everyone was gone.  Captured, imprisoned, or worse. 

          He had to get out of here and warn the Governor-General.  They must be stopped!  And once he escaped this prison they would be.  He would make every last, filthy, Desian pay for their crimes against the innocents of Sylvarant.  No more would they be pawns, slaves, to such cruel masters.

          Once he escaped...

          He allowed himself a surreptitious look at his surroundings.  A six foot by six foot cell, solid metal except for a tiny slit of a window at the very top of the outmost wall, and the door, which was sealed by magi technology.  Little hope there he knew, he had given his cell a good once over the day they had confined him here.  Why he had been moved here he didn’t know, he supposed he was a threat, but he had heard the guards at the change of the watch mention something about his ‘case’ being ‘special’. That gave him serious pause.  He had quickly come to learn what that meant, and he did not like it at all.  But it did mean that they had to open the door at least once a day, if only to track its progress.  He looked down at his left hand and grimaced.  He had seen what those things could do to a person.

          Soon they would come to check on him, and then he would strike...

          His head raised a mere fraction as footsteps sounded outside, approaching his cell.  Someone was coming.

          He made a quick mental review of the Ranch and his chosen escape route, tensing beneath his dejected pose.  This would be his only chance.  If they caught him it was all over.

          The door slid open and closed soundlessly, and in his peripheral vision he saw two men approaching him.  One was the guard; the other was the ‘researcher’ who kept track of the ranch’s ‘projects’.  The researcher knelt beside him and reached for his hands.  When he refused to offer them the guard stepped closer and prodded him with a heavy boot.  He still failed to respond which angered the guard who then kicked him.  As the captive doubled over he smirked inwardly – they were too cocky, these Desians.  The guard would regret coming so close.

          The guard paused to pull out his whip, and in that instant the captive pounced.  In the space of a breath he was on his feet delivering a sweeping kick that knocked the researcher into the guard and sent them both sprawling on the ground.  Two swift, upward, thrusts to their noses, delivered before they could recover from their shock, and both were dead.  He paused only long enough to grab the guard’s sheathed sword and the key, which allowed him to free his hands as well as open doors, and then he was gone.

          He would not fail.

          He owed the others that much.