For an easier life Circulation: 184,658,392 Issue: 487 | 25th day of Running, Y13
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Worlds Apart: Part One

by tanikagillam


Trying to recall every thought that flowed through your mind during the course of one day is like trying to capture a handful of mist. It’s there, you know it’s there, you can feel it, you can see it, but you just can’t seem to hold onto it.

     Jaden wasn’t like this.

     She knew every thought that crossed her mind, sometimes before it had actually happened. That’s because she only thought of a few things. She wasn’t simple, mind you. She was just controlled. She thought of where she would be sleeping that night, wherever her travels had taken her that day. She eyed everyone that she passed, or who had passed her. She thought of who had the most money, and who she would be following later that night when the sun set and shadows were alive.

     Jaden had done a few bad things and couldn't afford to let herself remember them. That was why she didn’t allow thoughts of very much enter her mind, except for thoughts of the music box. Occasionally, when she was tired and felt her eyelids slowly drooping and she knew sleep was inevitably closing in on her, she would allow her mind to drift. To float away from her, and it always went to the same place.

     Jaden would fall asleep to the tinkling sounds in her head; the vision in front of her closed eyes was one of a little dancing figurine, slowly turning as the music box played its melodic song.

     That’s how they had caught her, when she had been distracted by her own thoughts.

     It had been ten years since she had seen that box.


     Jaden was woken harshly at some odd hour of the night by the sound of a deep, guttural yelling and screamed obscenities. She focused her eyes sleepily into the darkness and tried to see who was roaring at the top of their lungs and disrupting her music.

     Her eyes found the cause of the ruckus, in the form of a fire breathing Scorchio, toasting any of the guards who tried to get close enough to re-cover his face to stop the flames.

     Jaden sat up against the wall and watched the scene with a faint smile flickering across her eyes.

     He was roaring, he was fighting, but she knew he would lose. She had been locked in this dungeon for three years, and if there was any way out of there, she would have been out a long, long time ago. The Scorchio had no chance.

     “Hey, Vin, check it out,” she hissed at her cellmate, who could (amazingly) sleep through anything. “Vin! VINCENT! ”

     “Huh, wha? Who ─ Jae, what have I told you about calling me that?” Vin managed, through his sleepy haze, to glare at her reproachfully.

     “Mmm. But look ─ a new one. Love the new ones.”

     “You’re horrible. He looks... excitable,” Vin said mildly, pulling his heavy, black hood over his head.

     “That’s a nice word for him. Do you recognize him?”

     Vin rolled over to get a better look at the still-defiant Scorchio. The guards had him backed against the wall, trying to dodge the fire he was still shooting at them.

     “Never seen him before. I do hope he calms down soon. He’s making an awful lot of noise. Not to mention the stench of charred furnishings.”

     Jaden rolled her eyes and refrained from commenting on the Green Kyrii’s outstanding manners and polite speech. She had tried for two years to make him yell, and he hadn’t given in once. They’d been cellmates for what felt like forever, and while at first she had wanted to sludge him with Dr Sloth’s ray gun, he had eventually become her best friend.

     “I don’t think you’ll be getting much ─ HEY!” the pink Zafara yelled suddenly, leaping gracefully to her feet as their cell gate was opened and the Scorchio was shoved inside.

     “Until this thing stops going volcanic on us, he stays in here. And don’t you go causing any trouble,” the biggest guard warned her, checking the lock on the gate before shaking his head and limping slowly up the stairs.

     Jaden pulled Vin to his feet and stood staring at the Scorchio in their cell. He was Darigan, that was the most obvious thing. He was a mix of dark purple and black and his wings curled wickedly around his body while thick, black spikes protruded from his back and tail.

     “Hey. What’s your name?” Jaden called out to him, as Vin peered out from behind her.

     The Scorchio spun around and glared hatefully at her.

     “Why should I answer your question? We’re stuck in a dungeon together. It doesn’t mean I have to talk to you.”

     “We’re the only company you’ve got,” Vin pointed out, before shrinking back behind Jaden as the Scorchio appeared to ready his flames for some more roasting.

     “Not for long. They think they can hold me here? Ha!”

     “You think they can’t?” Jaden asked softly, a slight smile on her face.

     “I know they can’t. I’ll be out in a day. So keep your greetings to yourselves.” He sat down heavily on the cold stone floor and crossed his arms. Vin thought it best not to mention he looked like a sulky kid.

     “There isn’t a tighter dungeon than this, friend. I’ve been here three years, Vin’s had two. I’m Jae, by the way. There’s no escaping this place.”

     “Maybe you’ve not got the smarts nor the strength, but I sure have. Ain’t no cell that can hold me, I tell ya. Now leave me alone.”

     “I think we should do that,” Vin said, nodding vigorously and tugging on Jaden’s tail, making her yelp and glare at him. He shrugged apologetically.

     “Suit yourself, friend. We’ll be here tomorrow, and so will you be. Just sayin’.” And with that the two friends settled down for the night once again and before long the cold, damp cell was filled with the sound of Vin’s (incredibly) loud snores.


     It had been three weeks since the night Jaden the Zafara and Vincent the Kyrii had been woken by Carrick the Scorchio breathing fire all over the guards.

     At first he was so determined to escape, as it usually was with any newcomer. After a hundred or so failed attempts, he had lumbered over to the corner where Jaden and Vin were playing Cheat!, and sat down heavily next to them.

     The two friends had exchanged knowing smiles and Vin dealt him a hand of cards. After three hours, he had finally ventured up his name.

     “So what did you do, Carrick?” Jaden asked, leaning back against the wall and trying to peek at Vin’s hand of cards. He noticed, of course, as he always did, and rolled his eyes at her lack of subtlety and held his cards closer to his chest.


     “To get thrown in here.”

     “Oh. It’s not a very interesting story.”

     “Do tell anyway. Not much in the way of news in here.”

     Carrick shuffled his cards and looked up at them. “Ever heard of the Lost Isle?” He continued on when Jaden and Vin nodded. “The monstrously large petpetpets? That was my fault. I was there with the scientist, so many years ago, who was experimenting when it went wrong. Really, really, gigantically wrong. So I ran away. I got off that Island as fast as I could. I left him there. Never did find out what happened to him.”

     “Where did you go?” Vin asked, horrified.

     “I just kept on running. Been in a few dungeons for what I did. This one’s... sturdy.” Carrick jutted out his jaw defiantly. “But I’ll get out.”

     “That’s what I said for the first two years,” Jaden said, scratching behind her ear.

     “There are three of us now,” Vin said slowly, his eyes fixed on the gate. “I wonder...”


     “We’ve all done some pretty bad things in our time. That’s why we’re here. Carrick, what went wrong with the experiments?”

     “I never knew the science behind it. I was the muscle of the team. He was the brains.”

     “And you could beat them? The petpetpets?”

     “I suppose. But I ran away, I didn’t stay there. But yes, I took on a couple that tried to eat me. Shot fire at them, mostly. Why?”

     “So we have brute strength and fire-breathing. We have the fastest Zafara you’ll ever meet. And there’s me.” He added as an afterthought.

     “Don’t be so down on yourself, Vincent. You’re a genius. He’s a genius,” Jaden repeated to Carrick so he understood, who nodded with a slight frown.

     “Right. So brains, muscle, fire and speed. They made a big mistake putting us all in here together.”

     “So what’s the plan,” Carrick said, frowning. “Are we roasting our way out or not?”

     Vin threw a card at him.

     “Not in such crude terms, friend.” A slow smile spread across his face. “But yes, in a way.” His eyes sparkled dangerously. “You say no cell has ever held you?”

     “Not a one. But this is Meridell. We’re at the bottom of Meridell’s Castle, and they’re used to Darigans.”

     “But they aren’t used to them working in partnership with others.”

     “Like a revolution!” Jaden’s eyes lit up and she grinned, flashing her white teeth.

     “They’ll be sorry they ever locked us in a dungeon,” Carrick growled, throwing a glance over at the snoozing guards.

     Yes, they sure would.

To be continued...

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