Dear reader, tonight with us is a prisoner from the far future, one who claims his imprisonment is for good deeds.

It’s very unusual for a person so young to be in such a high-security prison. What did you do?

Never one to be subtle, are you? I suppose all interviewers always cut to the chase. There was a famine crisis in the neutral world of Livina, and the Council refused to give aid, despite it being in their constitution to always offer such help.

We decided to teach them a lesson. So we hijacked their cargo ship carrying supplies to the latest ball for the dignitaries and sent them to Livina instead.

The people got their food, but I was careless and ended up arrested. With the mounting charges to my name, I was thrown in jail for misconduct, hijacking, and thievery.

You’ve been in trouble with the Council before?

Many times, I’m afraid. I would have thought my actions would be enough to change their minds, but alas, they remain as stubborn as ever.

What brought you into the world of crime?

Crime? I would hardly say the things I do are criminal. I admit some of my methods are more… erring on the grey area of the law, but they function well. I only have one purpose, which is to help end the suffering of the innocent in any way I can.

What inspired you to help others?

My home planet, Anguini, is a neutral world. So I suppose I am fortunate I grew up on a planet with relatively unbiased approaches to the galactic political proceedings. Some years ago, before I was born, our planet was ripped apart by civil war.

The High Council stepped in and sent their most elite peacekeeping forces, the Star Corps, to settle the matter. After a few years of a bitter struggle, they finally did, and they helped us recover and flourish as a planet.

I very clearly remember one Star Corps member, then retired, came to our school to talk about the conflict. It was difficult for her to talk about, but she did regardless. I couldn’t help but admire her.

I asked her why she’d risked her life for people she didn’t even know. She said, “The Star Corps is about helping everyone, in any way we can, because it’s the right thing to do, and it makes the galaxy a better place.”

Their selfless assistance for my people inspired me to do the same.

Seems very ironic the people who inspired you imprisoned you.

But of course, unfortunately, life is full of cruel contradictions. It’s hard not to feel bitter.

What did you do to help people?

My main focus was, and always has been, the poor and disadvantaged so often neglected by those in power. I, too, am from humble origins, where desperate times call for desperate measures. I know what it’s like to suffer, and I don’t want others to endure the same pain.

Do not fret for me, though. My childhood was a happy one.

So I raise money to build infrastructure, crack down on crime syndicates and other low-lifes trying to take advantage of these people. Just anything within my power that is worth doing.

What do you do now?

Very little. Unfortunately, the only thing I can do is be on my best behavior. Thankfully I only received a short prison sentence, yet I still have over a year left in this miserable place.

What’s the worst thing about being in prison?

You ask difficult questions, don’t you? No matter, I suppose it’s the groundwork of all good interviews. Perhaps the hardest thing is the sense of failure.

Every day I spend locked up here is another day wasted. Another day I could have spent helping people and undoing the treachery of the corrupt and greedy.

What’s your favorite drink, color, and relaxing pastime?

Interesting how you’ve completely changed subjects, but I shall indulge you. After all, I don’t have anything better to do. I do enjoy a glass of Sirpil Fruit Juice, a local delicacy from my home planet.

In terms of colors, I do find deep shades of green quite relaxing. Perhaps this is because of the grasslands in my homeworld and how peaceful they are.

But a relaxing pastime, you say… I do not know of such a thing. Why waste time on superficial matters when there is important work to be done?

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

My latest adventure? Alas, you’re sorely mistaken if you think I have an interesting story to tell… It is merely the day in day out of grueling prison life. The only mildly interesting thing that’s happened recently is Mara Keres moving out of solitary and into the cell next to mine.

Who’s Mara Keres?

One of the most infamous inmates. She was in solitary confinement for six years. Can you believe that? I’m surprised she survived. Over my time here, I’ve heard whispers of her past, of her incredible abilities, and how terrifying she can be.

I try to ignore such rumors, but it’s difficult not to get caught up in the intrigue.

Especially when you think about the stories they tell, with her apparently able to take on an entire squad of High Council Guards single-handed. Or the powerful weaponry grafted to her body, supposedly able to disintegrate opponents in mere seconds.

If anything, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

You should have witnessed the silence that fell when she entered the cafeteria for the first time.

Was she what you expected?

Quite frankly, I’m disappointed. I was expecting something more impressive. However, she’s just like all the older prisoners, jaded, suspicious and selfish. A shell of a broken woman.

Whom (or what) do you hate?

Hate is such a strong emotion and can consume you from the inside out… I try my best to avoid such feelings, yet I cannot stand those who sit idly by and let people suffer. The person who can think only of themselves in every situation is the one I most despise.

Perhaps this is why I do not like Mara at all. My apologies, that is the exact reason.

Do you have any cellmates?

Why yes, I do. One. They don’t talk much, and I don’t know their name, but they always seem to be watching, waiting. I believe they’re up to something, but what, I am unsure.

What do you think they’re scheming about?

If I were to take one guess, it would probably be the latest attempt to escape the prison. Many have tried, almost all have failed, yet it never seems to deter the latest batch of desperadoes.

But if they were, and it seemed like it would work, would you join them?

Of course. What desperate prisoner wouldn’t? No-one likes being in jail. In all honesty, I try not to get my hopes up. This universe is a strange, wondrous place, but rarely do things work out in my favor.

Leo Flynn writes Science Fiction & poetry. The debut, Mara’s Awakening – #1 of The Mara Files, an exciting sci-fi series is coming in 2021. When not writing, Leo loves music, food, hunting intriguing but useless ideas, lurking in nerdy internet corners, and taking photos.

You can find Ishali on the pages of the Mara Files series, starting with Mara’s Awakening.

Join us next week to meet a girls fighting for her life and for possession of the Queen of Hearts card. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.