Fantasy Science Fiction Suspense


"Second, Adjutant, we're ready to release the prisoners over the waters per the court-approved mandates."

The Second Adjutant walked to the view portal to gaze at the fantastic panorama before him. The immensity of the spectacle took one's breath away.

Literally, the view reminded him that he needed to shower his body to replenish his body's water saturation levels. The shower had been overdue due to his need to promptly deliver the prisoners to their new home. The Second Adjutant and his crew had traveled from their planet Carthiop around the Andromeda Galaxy.

"Release all prisoners so we can return home, lest I join the prisoners in this beautiful sea."

The beautiful sea that the Second Adjutant had been admiring had been a planet terraformed to Carthiopan specifications, for Carthiop was entirely oceanic. The project had taken nearly a century to complete, translating to a third of the life span of Carthiopans. And since their race lived to be over three hundred years, their planet was approaching overpopulation, and a solution needed to be found and soon.

After much debate amidst a global crisis, the governing body of Carthiop chose to send all prisoners, regardless of the crime, off-planet.

Once the Joint Imperial Team had selected the planet for terraforming and to become the recipient of Carthiops rejects, the chosen world was subjected to a devastating Neutron-like weapon. The resultant cleansing obliterated all life that did not live in the sea.

In addition to total land life extermination, huge water-bearing ships from Carthiop brought voluminous quantities of their home waters to the Sea Prison to render the planet landless. These same water-bearing ships also introduced Carthiop water life into the new prison planet's seas. As of date, over two hundred thousand prisoners have been relocated.

The Second Adjutant decried the decision to use the planet as a prison. He and many others of the Council Forum thought the proposed Sea Prison should instead become a satellite of Carthiop for a future homeland for those who favored such an idea.

There was never a global sentiment from the masses to abandon the beauty of Carthiop for another world as Carthiop was home to a great variety of vegetation that grew to great lengths above water. The atmosphere of Carthiop lent itself to generating a wide range of colors for most of the above-water vegetation, which was very pleasing to the several eyes of Carthiopans.

Over time some of the vegetation had grown to become tree-like, some with girths over several thousand feet wide. This was the period in Carthiop's past when the Free Breathers emerged from an oxygenated Carthiop.

Many Carthiopans refused to leave the seas for life in the tree-like structures. Still, those that did could live for long periods outside of the sea environment. The Second Adjutant was from a long line of Free Breathers, explaining why he was chosen for the long trip to Sea Prison.

The Adjutant completed his prescribed allotment of time in the replenishing shower and returned to the view portal to continue to oversee the prisoner's release.

No guards were assigned to the prisoners on the planets. Still, several Carthiopan warships orbitally patrolled the world to discourage disruption within the hosting galaxy. Patrol ships were given six months of duty, after which their replacement relieved them for the six-month trip back to Carthiop.

The Adjutant could view prisoners as if they were being dropped into the receiving sea from a height of ten feet above the waters. He watched as the rejects of Carthiop swam off to investigate their new living quarters. No one hung around the ship after being dropped, and the Adjutant thought to himself that either some remarkable occurrence was capturing their attention or they were just glad to be off-ship. Nevertheless, his ponderings continued.

From time to time, the more liberal elements of the Council Forum advocated for transplanting the native Carthiop vegetation to the Sea Prison. Each request to make life commensurate with life on Carthiop always ended the same, with the governing committee turning their backs on those assembled. This turning one's back meant no and that the issue could not be brought up again until the following time cycle of Carthiop, which was two years. Later discussions that were held in various venues intimated that the Sea Prison was already a gratuity and that the prisoners should be grateful that executions were no longer allowed.

Everyone knew why the executions had ceased, but no one wanted to discuss Carthiop's sordid history. It was a vicious history steeped deep in the cannibalism of enemy factions. It was also common knowledge that the flesh of Carthiopans was utterly delicious and helped contribute to the earlier raids by space-faring races to obtain the succulent meat.

After the wars ceased between the numerous factions, several generations decreed that prisoners would be executed. Then, Carthiopan flesh was back on the menu until the new regime outlawed executions. Many were relieved as it was thought that fellow mariners were unduly sentenced and dined upon. Again, discussions in this arena were few.

The Adjutant was still ambivalent in his assessment of the Sea Prison when he conjectured that the prisoners weren't being punished but seemed much better off. Perhaps their resolve to make the best of their new environment stemmed from the Carthiopan law that imprisonment was for life. This single factor had enlarged the prison complex in Carthiop and had injuriously affected their economy.

The success of the Sea Prison soon attracted the attention of other water worlds to warehouse their criminal elements. The financial gain to Carthiop was welcomed. To increase the cost-sharing from the other planets, Carthiop disallowed anyone transporting prisoners except Carthiop. Although the additional costs were considered robbery and a tax, the partners quickly acquiesced as their rejects were removed from their planets far away from home.

The prisoners' release and the temporary food supply allotted to each prisoner had been completed. Carthiopans considered themselves compassionate in their undertakings, a new beginning that tended to disassociate them from their past.

The enormous ship began its turn to reach the proper trajectory for lift-off, and the Second Adjutant took one last look at the remarkable serenity of the planet that used to be called Earth.

August 05, 2023 15:45

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