purple – mysterious stranger

black – player/narrator

blue/grey – Nyles

green – Vie

Turqoise – Vendor

olive – Arvok

orange – Jailer

blue – Zoe

# The game opens with the protagonist on the floor, face down, seemingly dead. Can open a number of different ways, like with a bird’s eye shot, or preferably close up of the bottom of his/her face, with the “ball of death” he/she just coughed up. 

A stranger bends his knees and picks up the ball. He could be already reaching for it in the first shot.

m “There are two types of forces in the universe. Creation and consumption.”

m “You build a fire to warm a body. You write the words so someone will read them. You make a child, and the world consumes it. “

m “That’s all life and death is. It’s a transaction. A cycle.”

“It was the size of a walnut. He held it up, pinched together between his index finger and thumb.”

#We get a closeup of what she has in her hand

m “This, right here, is a ball of pure death. There’s one growing inside all of us. Slowly consuming our souls until there’s nothing left.”

m “Now, we do our best to stunt its growth. We eat, we exercise, and we pray. But in the end it always wins.”

m “Go back a billion years to the very first organism, all the way up to you and me.”

m “Go out a trillion light years to the center of our universe, and draw a line to this very room.””

m “Same story, same rules. Everyone dies in the end.”

m “But not you. Not when I have this.”

m “Think of it as a lost sale.”

m “Think of it as the devil giving you a refund.”

“There was something about the way he held it that made me wonder.”

“Maybe he was right. Just this once, the universe was making an exception. The rules didn’t apply.”

“Heh. But that was bullshit. The rules always applied. Just not in the way you’d expect.”

scene bg title
with fade

#Show the titlescreen here then a black screen

scene bg street_opening
with fade

# From the protagonist’s POV we see Vie, a raven-haired mechanic, is working on the back wheel of a bike.
# Her short hair is pinned back with goggles. She has splotches of dirt and grease on her face, narrow eyes and a scar split across the corner of her mouth.
# The skin on her left hand is frayed and tattered, revealing a hand grafted together with rusted metal bones and wires.
# Her index finger is removable and can be replaced with various screwdrivers, drills, and the like. She’s a mechanic, after all.

p “So basically what’s going to happen is, we’re all going to get a basic income. Just enough for food, rent, and electricity.”
p “And it won’t even have to be that much because most shit will be free anyway.”
p “You’ll have time to do all the things you’ve always wanted to, and you won’t have to wait until you’re half-dead to do them.”

v “Yeah, sounds great, until some freak bored out of his mind murders you for the thrills.”

p “What? No! Why would he do that? That doesn’t even make sense.”

v “Makes sense to a freak.”

p “Well, we’ll just make sure to medicate those people and…why am I even debating this, the point is, automated labor isn’t the end of the world.”

p “It’s the beginning of a new one. A better one. Where machines do all the work, and we’re free to do what we please.”

v “Yeah, just like that freak.”

p “You’re crazy, you know that. Tonight when I get back to our room, I’m gonna leave the door unlocked. Just to prove we live in a civilized society.”

v “Mm-hm.”

# Nyles enters the frame. Skinny man wearing thick-framed glasses and looking bored. Non-human skin color. Likes making quips in a dry, British way.
# Nyles is the scientist type, collecting and analyzing soil samples. So he likes everything to be clean, and occasionally gets frustrated with the rest of the crew.
# He does, however, have a bit of a drinking problem, among other vices, but is generally a playful and charming drunk.

n “Ah, there you are! I was wondering if you could help me find Zoe. I really want to start testing the new samples.”

p “To be honest, I haven’t seen her around all week. But she always pulls this shit right before we leave town.”

v “Maybe she got smart and left already.”

n “Now that you mention it, at my last job, we did lose a bunch of employees two weeks before we were finished collecting data.”

n “Just POOF! Gone. Perhaps it’s the same phenomenon? Conspiracies everywhere!”

p “More like she’s dicking around the bar.”

n “This city has bars? Why wasn’t I made aware of this?”

v “Because you’re an alcoholic.”

n “Recovering alcoholic. The problem is I’ve yet to make a full recovery.”

p “Well, but there’s one in the market plaza, that’s the closest, and there’s the small little place over by Lai-Sheng’s.”

v “If you’re talking about that little shithole on the second floor, that place only serves to Kro’lal. Scalefaces.”

n “Ah, that’s right. And that’s assuming she’s even in the city. You know how she is.”

p “Tell you what, instead of having you solve twenty ancient riddles and slay a giant sand wyrm, why don’t I find her for you.”

n “I thought you said you were going back to your room.”

p “I can’t. Didn’t you hear what Vie said? There’s a murderer there waiting for me.”

 

# Here we’re given a shot of the city.

scene bg city
with fade

“We’ve been working in Kordoon City for the past three months.”
“A friend of mine helped get us the contract. It isn’t easy finding work when most of it is automated. But small towns can’t afford the cost.”

# Next, a shot of the desert and terrain and how the rakers dress to survive.

scene bg desert_landscape

“They call us sandrakers.”
“We make our living out in the wastes, where even the ground conspires to kill you.”
“The terrain isn’t the only hazard. When the wind picks up, you have to breathe through a wet scarf, so the barbs of sand don’t tear the inside of your lungs.”
“You trek these wordless deadlands from dawn to dusk, gathering samples, combing through deserts and skies the color of rust.”
“But every now and then, you’ll find a plot of dirt that isn’t infected. They call it crop sand.”
“Out in the metro, sure, the stuff’s worthless. But here, it’s self-sustaining. It’s the only way to live off the grid.”
“And nobody has a clue where it comes from.”

jump citynav

label citynav:

# Protagonist standing in the market area. We see how the city looks from the inside, as well as the various racial makeup of the city and by proxy, the universe.

scene bg city
with fade

“This is the market. People come here to buy, sell, and trade. Whether you’re a scavenger, a farmer, a butcher, or a raker, here is where you make your living.”

“There’s something pure about it though. It’s as if someone ripped open the old economy, and all that was left was the blood and guts. Sure, it was messy and disorganized, but you got what you saw.”

“In any case, Zoe might of passed one of the vendors on her way to the bar. I could ask one of them, go to another part of town, or head on down to the Lonely Aardvark.”

menu:

“Enter the Lonely Aardvark Saloon”:
jump Saloon

“Ask a Nearby Vendor if They’ve Seen Zoe”:
jump vendor

“Go to UNFINISHED SECTION”:
jump citynav

label Saloon:

scene bg Saloon

“This is the Lonely Aardvark Saloon. Like most watering holes out here, the bourbon will burn you if you aren’t careful.”

“There’s a few people milling about, but I don’t see Zoe. I take a seat by the counter and ask the barman if he’s seen her. He only shakes his head.”

menu:

“Go back to the market and talk to a vendor”:
jump vendor

“Head over to the jailhouse”:
jump Jailhouse

“Order a drink.”:
jump Orderadrink

label orderadrink:

“I order a drink, just to take the edge off.”

“While I wait for the bartender to pour the glass, I glance once more around the room. Take inventory.”

“Halfway back around my eyes meet a Kro’lal, sitting in the corner. I turn away, but he keeps staring. I can feel those lizard eyes burning through my neck.”

n “I thought we were looking for Zoe.”

p “I am.”

n “Oh yes, me too. How about we look for her at the bottom of this shot glass. Gulp.”

n “Nope, not in this one. Bartender, another please.”

n “By the way, the Kro’lal in the corner. He a friend of yours?”

p “Not quite.”

n “He’s staring so hard you’d think it was a contest.”

p “Well, if it is, he’s definitely winning.”

n “Maybe we should send him a drink.”

menu:

“Sure, you know me. I like tall, dark, stalker types.”:
$ malelove += 1
$ sarcasm += 1
jump stalkertypes

“I’d say he’s more your type than mine.”:
jump yourtypethanmine

“You do that, I’m going to try the jailhouse.”:
jump Jailhouse

“Good luck with that, I’m going back to the market.”:
jump vendor

label stalkertypes:
n “And you’d probably want to keep him to yourself. That’s just being selfish.”

p “Who do you think he is?”

n “Probably just another cowboy whose mother didn’t show him enough love.”

n “I say ignore him. But if he starts something, I’ll be sure to let you know.”
jump orderadrinkadvance

label yourtypethanmine:
n “Now you’re just putting words in my mouth. They taste just as funny going down as coming out. “

p “Too bad the same can’t be said for bourbon.”

n “We all have our vices. Speaking of which, it doesn’t look like she’s in this glass either. I should probably drink the whole bottle to make sure.”
jump orderadrinkadvance

label orderadrinkadvance:

p “I’ll leave you to it then. I’m gonna keep asking around.”
menu:

“Go back to the market and talk to a vendor”:
jump vendor

“Head over to the jailhouse”:
jump Jailhouse

 

 

label vendor:

# The vendor is fat, species doesn’t matter, probably balding with tufts of hair in the oddest of places. He’s generally unconcerned with his appearance.

scene bg city
with fade

v1 “What can I do for you, pal?”

menu:

“Did a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes pass by here?”:
jump didagirlwith

“What are you selling?”:
jump iselljunk

“That’s all the questions I have.”:
jump citynav

label vendormenu:

menu:

“Did a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes pass by here?”:
jump didagirlwith

“What are you selling?”:
jump iselljunk

“That’s all the questions I have.”:
jump citynav

label vendormenu2:

menu:

“Let’s try that again. Did you see the girl or not?”:
jump didagirlwith

“What are you selling?”:
jump iselljunk

“That’s all the questions I have.”:
jump citynav

label didagirlwith:

v1 “Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t.”

menu:

“Fine. Maybe some cash will refresh your memory.”:
if gold >= 100:
$ gold -= 100
jump youmeanzoe
else:
jump youdonthaveenough

“Maybe if I hit you across the head with this pipe it’ll jog your memory.”:
$ asshole += 1
jump maybepipe

“Yeah. I take it the customer faces sort of blend together.”:
jump toomanycustomers

label toomanycustomers:

v1 “Sometimes. There’s a few that stand out though. You, for instance, are completely forgettable.”
jump vendormenu2

label maybepipe:

v1 “You don’t scare me asshole.”
jump vendormenu2

label youdonthaveenough:

v1 “Looks like you’re a little short pal.”
jump vendormenu2

label youmeanzoe:

v1 “It might. I take it you mean Zoe?”

p “Yeah. She stop by here?”

v1 “Just to pick up some new specs. Last one got cracked.”

jump specs

label iselljunk:

v1 “What does it look like? I sell junk. Spare parts, gear, everything you need to get your old tech working.”

menu:

“Call it what you want, but it’s still valuable in the right hands.”:
jump callitwhat

“Looks like you’ve been selling quite a bit, to feed that boiler of yours.”:
$ asshole += 1
jump youvebeenselling

“Sorry, I’m new in town. Most of the questions I ask are pretty stupid.”:
$ niceprotag += 1
jump sorryimnewintown

label callitwhat:

v1 “True enough. I should hire you to pitch my wares.”

v1 “I’d have to pay you in junk, of course, seeing as how you think its valuable.”

jump vendormenu

label youvebeenselling:

v1 “Haha! Can’t complain. A lot of gearheads in this town, trying to stay off the grid.”

v1 “For that, you need old wares. Shit that wasn’t manufactured by KD.”

jump vendormenu

label sorryimnewintown:

v1 “Eh, I didn’t mean nothing by it. Besides, you look like you got a good head on your shoulders.”

v1 “In this town, if you’re stupid, your head wouldn’t be on your shoulders. It’d be on the floor.”

if asshole >= 1000:
jump specs
else:
jump vendormenu

label specs:

p “Specs? You mean she’s been working?”

v1 “I’d say. Day and night she’s been out there. Got nothing to show for it though.”

p “She say why?”

v1 “Didn’t have to. Only one reason someone goes out into the wastes.”

p “Yeah. Thanks.”

scene bg arvokencounter
with fade

#Protagonist bumps into Arvok, a dangerous looking bounty hunter who will play a prominent role in episodes to come. At the moment his entrance is meant to look suspicious and perhaps contentious.
#Arvok is also an “alien” race, as in not humanoid in any shape or form. 

“As I turn around I bump into a Kro’lal. He takes one look at me and curls his lip, showing fangs that could cut glass.”

a “Watch where you’re going, meat.”

p “Sure.”

“There’s something about him I don’t like. I’m pretty sure the feeling’s mutual. But I don’t have time to pick a fight.”

jump Viebike

 

label jailhouse:

“I doubt I’ll find Zoe here, but you never know. We’re outsiders, and outsiders aren’t welcome so much as tolerated.”

“Although really, the same could be said about the law.”

“It’s an unspoken rule. You fuck up, you do the time. It doesn’t matter if the guard can’t enforce it. Smash that illusion and it all falls apart.”

“That’s why the jail here is run by single man.”

j “You got business here, outsider?”
menu:

“I was wondering if my partner came by here. Blonde hair, blue eyes.”
jump friendscameby

“Not if you’re going to talk to me like that. Where are your manners?”
$ sarcasm += 1
jump whereareyourmanners

label friendscameby:

j “Not if she’s human, no. It ain’t in our blood. Not like them Relgons or Kro’bal or whatever those scalefaces are called.”
j “You want to know what happened to your friend? It probably has to do with them.”

p “What makes you say that?”

j “Just look at them. Ugly little bastards, every one of them. Gods made it so you could spot their wickedness on sight.”

j “They’ve been trying to get close to us for years, so they can kidnap our children. But they won’t fool me.”

jump surewhatever

label whereareyourmanners:

j “I can talk to you however I want. This is our town. Outsiders bring nothing but trouble.”

p “What kind of trouble would that be?”

j “Oh, you know, starting gangs and fights and gang fights…things like that.”

p “That’s not all they do. They also sell drugs.”

j “You’re right. You’re a sharp cookie, you know that? You could be a jailer someday.”

jump surewhatever

label surewhatever:

p “Sure, whatever. So you didn’t see her?”

j “I didn’t say that. I said she didn’t come by, but I do see her. Every day, heading out the west gate.”

p “Wait, did you say west? There’s nothing but deadlands out there.”

j “Of course! I don’t need no fucking implants like you kids. My eyes have been perfect from the day I opened them.”

p “Thanks, I’ll check it out.”

jump arvokencounter

label Viebike:

“Zoe and I go way back. She’s always been the one with the new ideas.”

“Of course, the thing about new ideas is, it doesn’t really matter who you are, most of them are going to be terrible.”

#Protag finds Vie finishing up, wiping the sweat off her brow with her forearm. 

scene bg bike
with fade

p “Vie, I’m gonna need the bike.”

v “You going out now? You got a death wish? It’s an hour to sunset.”

p “It’s Zoe. She might be in trouble.”

v “You need me to come with?”

p “Don’t think so. Shouldn’t be a big deal.”

v “I thought you said she was in trouble.”

p “Yeah, with me.”

#Protag is now riding a bike west toward the setting sun. Everything is a shade of blood, sand and rust.

label desert:

scene bg desert
with fade

“When the sun sets over the desert, you get this weird effect. It’s as if the rust from the sky is bleeding into single ball.”
“When you see it sitting over the horizon, you’re reminded that death was here first. It was here before mankind, before bacteria, before the ground and the sky.”
“Death was there at the beginning, and now it’s sitting on the porch, reading a book and scratching its neck. It’s waiting for us to arrive.”

#Here we show a picture of shadowy desert monsters. Not actually rats, as that would be dumb.

“Only it’s not just some hokey metaphor. When the planet got sick, everything that used to live underground came bubbling up to the surface.”
“They were like rats leaving a sinking ship. Big, ugly, fucking rats. And they were hungry.”

“Wherever Zoe’s been working, it was way off course.”

“Nyles, Vie, and I had been scouting areas to the north, south, and east of the city. According to the data, everywhere west was deadlands.”

“You didn’t even need the scanners to tell you. The soil was so rotten you could smell the stink coming off it. There wasn’t a raker with half a brain who would venture out here. But Zoe never claimed to be smart.”

“I wrap the scarf over my nose, put the bike in gear and start heading west. Ten miles in, I pick up a blip on the scanner, and train the bike toward it.”

“I check my watch. Twenty minutes until it all turns dark. There’s a tickle in my throat.”

scene bg desertbike
with fade

#Zoe is taking a break sitting on the ground, a shovel stuck in the ground beside her. In her mouth is a desert reed/plant that you chew on. Probably a narcotic on the level of caffeine.
#Her other hand is clenched in a fist, as if holding something. The bike she rode in on is parked beside her.
#Zoe has eyes like the way the sky used to be, bright and blue. She’s got some dirt under her fingernails, but unlike Vie, it somehow manages to make her look cleaner, like the kind of girl who’s prettier without makeup.

“Phew. There she is.”

“Like I said before, she and I go way back, back when she went by her full name. Shit like this is just part of the deal.”

“You know when you’re with her she’s going to do things that piss you off.”

“And you know when you look in those eyes, big and bright like the world used to be, that you’re going to forgive her.”

“But she doesn’t have to know that.”

p “What the fuck are you doing out here? Do you have any idea what time it is?”

z “Hey! I thought that was you! How did you find me?”

p “She’s not even listening. I try giving her that thousand year old stare, the kind wise men give their pupils when they disapprove. It just bounces right off her.”

z “Oh it doesn’t matter, you’ll never guess what I found!”

“With her free hand she clenches my jacket and tows me over the lip of the dune. I’m about to rip it off when I hear the sand diving off a ledge.”

# show crater. Maybe even from the crater’s POV, looking up at Zoe and the protag.

“I look down, and there it is. It’s a big empty hole of dirt. A crater.”

p “Oh good, you went to the trouble of digging your own grave. Now all I have to do is throw you in.”

z “Come on, look at the size of this thing! There’s no way anyone could dig this. It had to have dug itself.”

p “You know, as impressive as this is, you still haven’t told me what you’re doing out here.”

z “What else? Making us all rich.”

scene bg oldman
with fade

#show flashback, a wanderer claims he saw a star falling from the sky, Zoe chats him up.

z “It all started about a week ago. I was at the Aardvark having a beer when this old man comes stumbling in, saying he saw a star fall from sky.”

z “Everyone just assumed he was crazy, but I got curious. I chatted him up a bit, and when he stuck to his story, I decided to check it out. All it took was a few creds and he offered up the coordinates.”

 

#back to the desert

scene bg desertbike
with fade

 

p “A few creds. Right. Exactly how much did you pay him?”

z “Does it matter? It’s what you call opportunity cost.”

p “That’s what you said in Saipan.”

z “This is different.”

p “What makes you say that? All I see is a hole in the ground.”

z “Put out your hands.”

p “Why?”

z “Just put them out.”

#close up of hands, Zoe’s and protag’s

“Zoe raised her fist over my outstretched palms and let the sand drain out of the bottom.”

“That tickle in my throat turned into a gulp. I didn’t need Nyles to tell me what it was.”

“It was dirt. Real, honest to god dirt. It wasn’t the hot, sticky bloodsand that covered half the planet, and it wasn’t that weird lab-synthesized shit they produce in the metro.”

“It was brown, earthen soil, like mother nature used to make.”

z “I got lucky. I’ve been working this pit for a week and barely made any progress. But the sandstorms let up this morning, and I was finally able to get past the bloodsand.”

z “Trust me, there’s a lot more of that stuff once you get three or four feet down. Enough to feed a city.”

“I started doing the math in my head. Numbers got crunched. Gears got spun.”

“There would be costs involved, like borrowing a truck and hiring some extra help, but the profits would more than make up for it.”

“I was on my way to counting the zeroes when I remembered what time it was.”

p “Zoe, that’s great, but it’ll have to be tomorrow.”

z “Oh, and that’s not all. Check this out.”

p “Zoe-”

“She places it in my palm. It’s a shard of some kind, maybe a jewel.”

“The color was a bit cloudy, tarnished by age and soil. But like a pair of faded jeans, you could see the blue mixed in with the fog. You could see the patches of sky.”

p “Where did you get this?”

z “Found it in the pit. Looks like it broke off from a larger piece, but couldn’t find anything else. You think it might be worth something?”

p “We can have Nyles take a look. But we have to get back.”

z “I know, I know. Rats. Come on, I’ll race you to the gate.”

 

#show bikes racing back

scene bg desertbikerideback
with fade

“We hop on our bikes and head back to the city. Thinking about that pit, it was hard not to be a little excited. Rakers dream of a score like this.”

“It was enough to make me forget how careless Zoe was. And how easy it was to find her.”

jump citynightscape

label citynightscape:

scene bg citynightscape
with fade

“The streets are empty. Once the sun sets, the residential areas go dark. Half the city goes to the bars, the other half turns in.”

“Of course, some of these towns, you get that polite kind of quiet, where a stray cat could wake up half the neighborhood.”

“But this town had that easy calm, where even the stars felt like no one was watching.”

#picture of Zoe and protag looking up at the stars in the sky, maybe a shot from behind as they walk their bikes back to the garage.

z “Just look at that sky! Ever seen so many of them?”

p “It’s a pretty clear night.”

# close up of zoe, profile maybe, of her looking at the sky

“I glance over at my partner. She was as stubborn as a bull – head down, heels up, always sprinting forward.”

“That was her charm. Vie was our muscle, Nyles was our brains, but Zoe was our heart. If only I could get it to slow down.”

z “Damn. Do you think this is really it?”

p “Do I think this is really what.”

z “A pivot.”

menu:

“What do you mean, a pivot?”:
jump whatdoyoumeanpivot

“You mean the part where I turn around and walk away?”:
$ asshole += 1
jump turnaroundandwalkaway

“I don’t want to get your hopes up, but I do think this is the beginning of something big.”:
$ niceprotag += 1
jump somethingbig

label whatdoyoumeanpivot:

z “You know, a turning point. A little hitch in the road that changes your life path.”

p “What’s wrong with the path we’re on?”

z “Well, it’s not that the path itself is bad, it’s just way too predictable.”

jump zoetalk

label turnaroundandwalkaway:

z “Well, that’s one way of putting it. I mean more like a turning point in your life.”

p “What’s wrong with the life we’ve got?”

z “Oh come on, you don’t see yourself doing this forever, do you? At least, I can’t.”

jump zoetalk

label somethingbig:

z “Oh thank god. To be honest, I would’ve told you about this sooner, but I was worried you wouldn’t be up for it.”

p “Because of what happened in Saipan?”

z “Yeah.”

p “No, that was a once in a lifetime fuckup. This is completely different.”

z “It feels that way, doesn’t it?”

jump zoetalk

label zoetalk:

z “I’ve always hated how our lives were mapped out. Fixed, like these constellations.”

z “But I also know there’s a point in every person’s life where they can change directions.”

z “And that’s what this is. It’s our pivot. It’s us, not missing the turn sign.”

p “Relax, kid. I know you’re excited. Shit, I’m excited. But it’s not that much money. Not life changing money, anyway.”

z “We’ll see. Anyway, it’s getting late. All that digging really wears you out.”

p “Now you know how I feel. But yeah, get some rest. We’ve got a long day ahead of us.”

# scene of zoe waving goodbye

 

z “Aye-aye, captain.”

p “Oh, and make sure to lock your door.”

z “Why?”

p “Agh, forget it, it’s nothing.”

jump hotelroom

label hotelroom:

scene bg hotelroom
with fade

# protag in the hotel room

“It’s late, so I decide to turn in.”

“This is our room. Nyles must be out gathering samples. As in Black Biker Rum, Angel Scotch, Evening Red.”

“Zoe and Vie were across the hall. Normally we’d have to share a room, but everything here cost next to nothing, and with good reason.”

“The room was hot, muggy, and full of bugs. The only difference between sleeping here and sleeping outside was the beds.”

“Nyles was a bit of a neat freak though. He’d clean the spots off a leopard if he could. If he was dying, he’d bury himself alive before letting his corpse draw a fly.”

“It’s a bit strange then, to see his side as disheveled as mine.”

“That’s when it hit me. Nyles didn’t make this mess.”

“There was someone else in the room.”

scene bg hotelroomstab
with fade

# shot of protag getting stabbed, then lying on the floor as the pool of blood surrounds him/her.

“I never even felt the knife go through my chest.”

“Vie might say otherwise, but this wasn’t some killer, out for a cheap thrill. This was about the creds. It had to be.”

“Was I followed? Was Zoe? It didn’t matter much now.”

“As I’m lying there, face down in my own blood, the scratch in my throat gets louder. It’s pressing against the walls of my throat, choking me from the inside.”

“I can’t take a breath. I can’t even scream. I have to lie here convulsing, stumbling toward the end.”

“I’d all but given up when suddenly, something hard and flat strikes the small of my back.”

“And just like that, I cough it out, and it rolls harmlessly off my tongue.”

#Fade to black

“It’s the size of a walnut.”

 

END EPISODE 1

 

START EPISODE 2
m “If you want to know how we got to this point, the first thing you need to know is the equation.”
m “You don’t really have to understand it, how to apply it, or know what it’s for. All you need to know is that mass equals energy.”
m “Got it so far? Good. Now here’s what you may not know. Deep down in the center of your planet, there’s a molten core. It’s burning off energy bit by bit, minute by minute.”
m “Now think about it. If mass is energy, and energy is mass…that means if you burn off one, you lose the other.”

m “The world is shrinking. Every day. Slowing eating itself away from the inside.”

m “They say there’s about 10,000 years left before this rock loses orbit. Not enough to scare anyone yet, but close enough that you can see the finish line.”
m “But that number’s wrong. You don’t have 10,000 years. You don’t even have a thousand. You have thirty.”
m “Well, thirty minus a second, and another, and another.”
m “Tick-tock, tick-tock. Time’s running out. Better get up.”

v “Hey!”

p “Nnnngh…”

v “Hey! Get up!”

“The words were enough. I open my eyes, but Vie doesn’t take the cue. She slaps me across the face so hard my head feels like a carousel.”

p “Goddamnit Vie, how many times do I have to tell you, use the other fucking hand!”

v “Good, you’re up. I was worried for a second.”

p “Worried?”

“Then I remember. The mess, the knife…”

p “Vie, someone was in here. He stabbed in me the back.”

v “This isn’t the time for jokes.”

p “Are you kidding me? I’ve got a hole in my fucking chest. Look.”

v “I don’t see anything.”

“She was right. Not even a bruise. The floor around me was just as spotless.”

v “Listen, everyone’s gone.”

p “What do you mean? Who’s gone? Zoe? Nyles?”

v “Everyone.”

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