The lights flicker on and off above you, the stench of grease and sweating bodies overwhelming, the only thing warm about the unsanitary cargo ship you’ve been placed upon. Space is quiet despite what you’ve seen in the movies, the only sound you hear is the gurgling shudder of the engine on the floor below you and the cacophony of grown men snoring in the endless row of cages that line the corridor. You’re one of the lucky ones, perhaps, as your cage is by the wall, and from your blood and urine stained bed, you can see a glimmer of the sky through a tiny, filthy window. Beyond the scratched glass, stars twinkle with hope, a thousand worlds out there with a million possibilities just beyond your reach due to a lifetime of mistakes. It would be the last time you see the sky.
After weeks of travel, you finally see your destination, the majesty and horror of it, a metal ball floating at space. Instantly, you are reminded of the ancient motion stories you were forced to watch in school as a child, and you mutter beneath your breath, “That’s no moon..” No one who hears you laughs. There’s little time to explain your joke to the burly man in the cell next to yours, as soon you’re being herded out like cattle, into a small, rounded room full of crates. There’s barely enough room for everyone to stand, and you can’t help but wonder who’s foul breath that is upon your neck, and how many men the hands upon your arm have killed.
The guards seal the room, which is more of a pod now that you think about it, and the entire thing lurches into motion. You can feel the protein meal you had been given for lunch rise into your throat, then suddenly you are crushed up onto the ceiling, the pod careening down towards the surface. There’s a splash of something warm and wet against your thigh, and you realize the prisoner behind you has just wet himself. You could hear the screams of those around you, if it weren’t for your own. Then suddenly, the descent is over. You fall again as gravity takes over, getting the wind knocked out of you as you land on a crate.
The walls of the makeshift pod fall open with a hiss, and dazedly you realize you aren’t alone. A crowd surrounds you, the clank of metal striking metal and the boom of homemade firearms deafening. Who you are and what you’ve done doesn’t seem to matter, as it seems you’ve been thrust into some sort of mad battle. Many of those you’ve come with have already been killed, and as you feel a hand grip your collar, you begin to understand the true meaning of fear. You’re hefted up easily, and you can feel lips upon your ear, a hoarse whisper chilling you to the bone. “Welcome to Naraka.” Comes the greeting, then you’re tossed aside, thrown like a ragdoll away from the crate you had been lying upon.
When you wake up, you are still lying where you had lost consciousness. The crates, the walls of the pod - everything is gone, scavenged. There are corpses littering the area, most of them stripped bare, and as you move to stand, you realize your boots are missing. From the shadows, you feel eyes upon you, the faint sound of amused whispers and laughter, and you simply shake your head. Welcome indeed.