Chapter 1 - Destroyed

Daniel lay down next to his brother in the chamber corner. Dim light poured it's way through the bars and criss-crossed across the several Norns that were trapped inside. Daniel and Seth had been travelling for a long while in the search for refuge. Along with them in their cell were the mutants - Norns who definitely had problems with them. One female's neck was bent forward, giving her a permanent slouch. Others were sick, and coughed every so often. Disease spread rapidly in the containment chambers of worlds - and that was how Seth had become so ill.

None of the Norns in the chamber had eaten for a long time. Daniel felt weak and hollow, and he wanted to sleep, but he was afraid what might happen to him and Seth if he did. Seth was dead to the world - his breathing was shallow and his eyes were closed.

Daniel knew, deep down, that unless the world was nearly empty, him and Seth would not be accepted. Seth was contagious - he was a threat to other Norns, especially children. But, Daniel thought, he isn't a threat. He is my brother - the only family I have left…

Suddenly the light in the chamber turned on. Selection had begun.

Three mutants were expelled, as well as two adults, who were coughing badly. The Norns left were the three children - Daniel, Seth and another, sleeping boy who looked reasonably healthy, apart from being very thin. Two adult males approached the chamber from the outside, and peered in.

'Three children. But look-that one doesn't look too well.' the first Norn said.

'We can't take that one. I have my family to think of.' said the other, shaking his head.

'Could he be cured?'

'No, the fumigator's been broken for aeons. He's almost dead - looks like he's poisoned, with the coughing sickness as well. He'll never last.' said the second Norn.

Daniel, struggling to cry out through his parched throat, panicked. His brother couldn't be left to die.

'Please…save my brother. We've been travelling for so long…I have no one else…and we're so hungry…' he wheezed, his eyes pleading.

'There's nothing we can do for your brother.' the second Norn said, 'I'm sorry.'

'But - you can't leave him!' Daniel cried. He heard his brother's breathing - it was coming in short, uneven gasps.

'Mate, he's going already. We might be able to accept you and the other child, and find another place for you after that.' said the first Norn, nodding at the sleeping child.

The discussion was stopped by Seth's passing. He whimpered, and the death rattle echoed through the chamber. The two adult Norns shook their heads, and Daniel slipped away into unconsciousness.