In a world where dragons, basilisks, leviathans, and other deadly creatures roam, man has developed steam-powered weaponry to fight back the forces of nature. They have created sanctuaries free from the beasts that once plagued them. In Serenity, a human sanctuary, two children are taken in and used for experimenting. This is their story.
That's all J had anymore. The clean stone walls around him were too big to break. He had tried. Tried so much. Everyday those walls let him know he would stay lonely. J liked the loneliness better than being outside, though... At least in this place he had a bed and potty. He could relax instead of being poked and prodded...
J shivered as he thought about the daily routine the adults had put him through. Cutting, stabbing, burning... He shivered. He had to stay on the bright side. J was getting used to the cold. That was something good. Yeah, something good. He was ten years old today, too. J wondered what he would get for his birthday. His last birthday had ended with him being taken to the Dark Place...
A noise made J jump. It sounded like when the door was opening to his room. Were they here to take him? No! He didn't want to-
J realized his door wasn't opening. Was it the that room next to his? He tried to listen in.
"... in there," a voice J recognized as Mr. Core said roughly. Something seemed to fall to the ground through the wall. Were they putting someone in that place? Maybe they could be a friend! "I don't understand why you cried all the way, you whelp! We even had to put sedatives in you to shut you up!"
The door closed fast, making the sound J always dreaded. It reminded him of every time they would grab him...
J was excited, though. He hadn't had anyone to talk to since his last birthday, before he was taken to the Dark Place. He was nervous, now. "H-hello?"
"Daddy? Where are you?" It was a girl, or J thought so, anyway. She sounded weird, though. Like when you get up too early or get all sleepy before bed. Did she just wake up?
"I'm Justin," J said through the wall, "I don't know where your daddy is."
She started to cry, making J feel bad for the girl. "Where are we?" she asked between sniffles.
J walked over and sat on his bed. He didn't like to think about that. He should think happy thoughts, not sad ones. "The Dark Place."
She seemed to calm down a little, but still sniffed some. "My head hurts..." she complained. Was it the sed.. sidad... J tried to remember what it was Mr. Core had said he had given her, but lost his thought as the girl spoke again. "I can feel your fear. Can you feel mine?"
Scratching his head, J tried to figure out what she was saying. Feel fear? What did it mean, really? "I don't feel anything."
There was a shuffling noise. "I can see my breath."
Steam was coming from J's mouth, too. It was from being cold, wasn't it? "It gets better after a while," J told the girl on the other side of his wall, "I'm only cold sometimes, now."
"Where are your parents?" the girl asked, "Won't somebody come for us?"
J didn't talk for a little bit. What could he say? He never knew his parents. "I don't have parents," he told the girl, "It's just me."
It was a few moments before the girl spoke again. J nearly jumped when she did, too. "Justin," she said, making J excited that someone used his name instead of some other name like 'Subject 87,' "Can I come over to your box thing? Mine is cold and creepy."
The walls were thick and J had tried to break them a lot. How would she come over? "You can come over?" he asked slowly. Wait, maybe she had some secret way of doing it! "Yeah! Yeah! Come over!"
There was more shuffling and movement. J tried to listen and see where the girl would come. There. In the back of his room was some bars that led to a very dark place. The girl appeared from there and slid between the bars. J didn't know that led to another room. He thought it was where a monster lived...
The girl was just as tall as he was, J realized when she stood up and pushed her dark hair out of her face. She had freckles on her face and reminded J of a girl he knew back at the orphanage. "Thanks," she said, trying to smile, "I'm Isabella, by the way."
The girl sat down on J's bed. She was shivering too. J decided to move and sit next to her. It was something he used to do with the others in the orphanage whenever it was cold. He didn't know how, but it helped. "Can I call you Izzy? I can't say the other name real well."
The girl looked like she was about to cry again. "My mom and dad call me bell," she said, her voice cracking slightly, "But it doesn't matter. I don't care..." She covered her face and started to hum something to herself. J couldn't help but to pull her into a hug. She was cold...
"Bell is a good nickname," J told her, "You can call me J. Let's be friends, OK?"
Bell looked up at him from where he held her. There were tears in her eyes, but she did her best to wipe them away. "Sure, why not?"