Chapter 01:

"Survival of the Fittest"

The rattle of an infinitely irritating cackle rang in his numb ears. Every hair on the back of his neck stood on end with alarm, what remained of his senses on alert. But he could do nothing to appease his unease. There was vaguely anything his bloodied half-dead corpse could do other than stay limp in their repugnant embrace as they no doubt taunted him and laughed at their own crude humourless jokes.

His body had long since given up the fight but his soul and raging spirit would never—not until he took his dying breath. That, he realized, would probably not be long then…

His entire being throbbed with the agony of his torn, bleeding muscles. He couldn't open his eyes to see their repulsive faces because of the dried blood that made his lids too heavy for him to lift. His fatigue was catching up on him fast, and he barely had the power to even stay in the semi-conscious state he was in.

The next thing he knew, he was discarded listlessly from the hovering craft and the ground rushed up to embrace him painfully. It wasn't long before the powerful roar of the engines disappeared into the distance.

His extremities twitched slightly as he felt an odd wave of gratefulness wash over him. This was it, then… He was going to die there, stranded on an alien planet, unwanted and made a laughing stock by the destroyers of his home world.

They had seen no use of him—they had dismissed any possible potential that he might have had. They thought so little of him that it was not even worth delivering the final blow he so badly desired to pull him out of his misery. He felt that annoying salty moisture of an essence and color far from blood leak from his tightly clutched eye lids. He had been made a fool and denied the honor of dying in battle. His dying hour had been dreadfully desecrated.

The dusty infertile ground stratified in his aching throat with each labored breath. He made a pathetic attempt to push himself up as his arms and legs screamed desperately to stop struggling and heed the searing pain. Succumb to the shame and hatred also bubbling raw inside his veins.

He pushed on despite the wretched agony that tried again and again to pull him down to the cushiony deathbed. His onyx eyes cracked open only a tiny bit to see the countless cuts on his body waste crimson moisture. There was a large gash on the back of his head and blood was oozing ruthlessly from a deep wound in his gut, his liquid life obviously in a huge hurry to flee him.

He chuckled deliriously as he lost focus yet again and fell sideways on a severely injured shoulder, which gave a menacing crack upon impact. His fading consciousness was oblivious to the long trek his battered body had managed to take from the initial spot he been thrown.

Princes didn't die thrown face down in the dirt, his mind mocked when the last brims of life betrayed him. His mentality, always quick to chastise him for the endless mistakes, also seemed fit enough to make fun of him even in his last moments. It reminded him heartlessly of the gory carnage his world had been reduced to before it had been wiped off of the face of the universe.

It reminded him how he had been powerless to protect himself; how he had been denied the right to die alongside his subjects and family an honorable death; how he had been disallowed the right to fight for his freedom and pride as he should… Instead he was given a painful, lingering and humiliating death from blood loss on a world he had never before set foot on. He was to rot away as a faceless stranger on that wretched planet.

Princes didn't die pathetic deaths, his mind assured him.

But as his stark fingers lost their feeble hold on what consciousness he had left, he somehow found the words terrifyingly difficult to believe…

Slowly, cautiously, his wandering mind seemed to settle for whether or not it should bestow consciousness on him again.

The distant and oddly distorted sound of gentle tapping and a low, alluring hum of a weird kind of engine had awakened him from his eternal slumber. It seemed he was given no peace, even in his death.

He made a desperate attempt to will his eyes open but the traitorous pair resisted the signals of his brain ferociously. His brain had succumbed to the numbness as he could no longer feel any part of his body. All his senses were severed and all he could do was listen to the strange sound in half-awake awe as a cool chill settled over him.

Languidly, detecting no reason for any haste, his mind was lulled dotingly back to dreamless sleep by the tender embrace and gentle sound of an unknown engine…

Every single spot on his body throbbed when his eyes fluttered in yet another attempt to open. Convinced in his success this time, he found the action easier than he had expected it to be. He took a deep breath in what he noted was some sort of life-support mask. He scowled deeply as the contraption retreated from his face, as this was the first moment he was given to take account of his surroundings.

Now, realizing latently, he did not die from his injuries on the ground. His mind slowly wrapped around the concept while noting that the hum he had been hearing, chasing away the demons welling somewhere deep in his subconsciousness, was actually the sound of a machine he had been placed in. The cooling sensation was the result of an oddly green colored liquid, currently draining out of the chamber he was confined in.

A large, heavy lid rose sloppily, leaving him and his vision a few evanescent moments to adjust to the lighting and atmosphere he found himself in.

His garbled brain again attempted to connect the reasons for his survival and transition to his new surroundings when suddenly a body blocked his view. Squinting his focus slightly, he scrutinized the person who dared stir him of his slumber as though he were expecting to see one of the scoundrels who had attacked him. However, the silhouette was too small, too curved for anyone he immediately recognized and with grave nonplus his fuzzy brain had to come to the conclusion that the figure was actually a female that stood before him.

For his brief twenty years, the prince had devoted everything to become an icon of fear and respect among his subjects and demanding parents; a warrior without compromise. However, sitting listlessly within the draining tank, he looked over her forma again, slowly admitting that he had never come across such exotic creature before.

The lines defining her face were soft, betraying the several winters she had been through. Her eyes were vivacious and held a spirit that was not too unfamiliar with him—they held a strong will to live, as well as the fervor of someone who had seen a few too many of life's hardships for the short time she had inhabited that fragile body of hers.

She was saying something to him but he couldn't understand an utter of her incoherent blather as the alien tongue came off disjointed. He looked at her intently, trying to make out something of her and her actions instead of her melodic voice.

Even in his fleetingly exhausted state, he could not help but find it greatly amusing when she turned her aquamarine haired head to the side slightly. An ever so small quirk of his lips rewarded her as pallid cheeks flushed with color, a petite hand reached to sprawl lazily over her eyes as she continued to mutter shyly to him.

Maybe he had indeed died and was now going to face the King of the Underworld for all he had done… Maybe this minx was just a pawn, to distract him before judgment was passed onto him for his deeds.

What he failed to realize was that the real reason the girl refused to look at him was due to the fact he was completely in the nude, droplets of the odd liquid trickling slowly down his impeccably chiselled, perfectly wound-free body…