This/Survivors song/Part 3

From Zaori


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Part 3: Query dead ends

In practice, there is only so far you can go, so much you can do, so much you can say.

Nevermind practice. This isn't practice. This is a treatise by the narrator, an examination of could-have-beens, an aside from the GM. We can talk about anything. Let's talk about anything.

Notes:

  1. Cats tolerated.
  2. Vitoi is the Cerrissian god of Dead Ends. He is the god of other things, and other things, too.
  3. Relative positions are absolute in their primacy.
  4. There is a map.
  5. The Deathdealer has been condemned.
  6. Who are you, sweetling?

Stability

INT. Blocky structure - lodgement floor
It is a large, blocky room, full of blocks.
Kit and Erry are sitting on chairs (blocks) at a table (a block), amidst many other tables (blocks) in an entire room full of tables (blocks). Nolan is sitting on the table. Jora is standing nearby. A gog is hanging from the ceiling. They are all holding blocks that have turned out to be rations. Only Nolan and the two gogs have started eating any.
Erry has a block on her head.
JORA
I've secured the floor. All empty, nothing hostile here, at least.
NOLAN
And the other floors?
JORA
Not yet. We'll need to find out how many there are, clear them too. See if there's a way out, see if anything else goes anywhere. If we are truly stuck here, know what it is we are stuck with.
Nolan nods.
JORA
This one appears to be all lodgement. Probably military of some sort, very basic, but efficient accommodations and support for up to a few thousand. A lot of it doesn't work, but we do have food and water.
NOLAN
And air. For now.
KIT
Do we have any idea what it was all for?
ERRY
Blocks.
KIT
Ugggh.
(tapping his ration block uncertainly)
Are we absolutely certain this is food?
NOLAN
Yes.
Erry slips off her block chair and heads for the door.


INT. Blocky structure - adjournment floor
Over the course of a few days, the kids clear the other floors, five of them altogether. The layouts are the same. The blockiness is all the same. Mostly rooms are empty, or full of blocks. Or partially full of blocks. Or mostly empty, but with one or two blocks.
They stop and rest at intervals, and slowly start to eat the ration blocks as they run out of their own food.
One room is full of zombies, in blocks. The zombies activate as the door is opened, sliding out of their blocks. Jora dismantles some with her sword, and Kit deactivates the rest with magic. They stuff them back into their blocks.
Another room will not open. There is a small puddle at its base.
NOLAN
This is significant.
Kit gives him an enquiring look.
Erry scuffs at the puddle with her boot.
KIT
You don't suppose there is a way out? What if this is all just a giant dead end?
JORA
What would be the point of having a giant dead end?
NOLAN
Ask Vitoi.
This isn't supposed to be.
They move on. They find a room full of disks, and no indication what to do with them. After all the blocks, they are strangely round, and even more strangely shiny, stacked in cases on shelves. Erry picks up a few curiously, holding them up to her light, admiring the colours.
KIT
(trying spells on a couple of different ones to find labels)
Uëkuëa ido. Yokoo mämana. Uëkuëa ido ibao inukuan?
This brings up nothing.
Nolan selects a few carefully, pocketing them.
They move on.
Gogs skitter in the darkness.
ERRY
Why don't we have magic ponies? Why aren't magic ponies a thing? I wanna ride a magic pony. It could be shaped like a giant sofa and gallop by flying around.
KIT
That's just stupid.
ERRY
No, you're stupid.
They move on, clear the rest, and as the days pass, settle in.


INT. Blocky structure - lodgement floor
They stay together, at first, talking little, doing things, doing nothing. Kit frets at his studies, practicing magic. Nolan calculates, considering sheep. Erry stays close, hugging her moose, but doesn't make eye contact.
Jora separates first, wandering off, working out, spending more and more of the hours at it, running, excercising, stretching, practicing at swords. She fashions workout clothes out of the things she was already wearing. There is no need for warm gear.
Erry wanders off and for awhile, nobody even notices. Nolan fetches her later, and makes her eat. She falls over shortly after.
There are no days, no nights, not even coherent cycles. They sleep, they eat. They come and go.
Through it all, the silence hangs like anvils.


INT. Blocky structure - gateway floor
Erry is alone, hugging her moose, staring at the Gateway, waiting for it to come on. It glows vaguely, but other than that, does nothing.
From time to time, she glances off to the side, toward the wall, as though she expects someone to be there.


INT. Blocky structure - adjournment floor
Nolan pokes at some blocks. Some of the rooms had functions. He tries them all.
In one, he finds resistance over the blocks, and pushes at it, pulling.
He turns and frowns at the doorway, but there is noone there.
A sound of skittering drifts through the halls.


INT. Blocky structure - lodgement floor
Kit is lying on a bed, staring at the ceiling, gnawing on a ration block. The others are elsewhere. There is no taste to the block, no smell to the air. No sound through the walls. He can hear his own gnawing most of all. He can hear his own breathing, and his heartbeat, and his stomach as it works to deal with the ration block.
He takes a deep breath and screams.
In another room, Erry screams in response, the sound muffled and bouncing as echoes.
Jora runs in a moment later, holding a sword, dressed in workout clothes, pale from a workout.
JORA
Kit? What's wrong?
She goes past, not waiting for a response, looking around for a threat, only looking back at Kit after.
KIT
(just lying there)
It's too quiet. It's the silence. The silence.
JORA
Stay with your sister. She'll distract you.
KIT
That's even worse.
JORA
(putting away the sword)
Get up.
Kit groans.
Jora comes over and picks Kit up, setting him on his feet.
When she turns to leave the room, he follows.


INT. Blocky structure - control floor
Nolan and Jora are in a room. A block is up against a wall. Another block is in the middle, low and blank. A gog is hanging off the ceiling.
Nolan is at the wall block, pushing his hands against the air over it. Screens flicker in and out of being above it.
JORA
It doesn't look like it's working.
NOLAN
This place is entirely devoid of sheep.
(he turns to Jora)
I don't think it will crush us, but we'll need to come up slowly.
JORA
A way out?
NOLAN
Possibly. Pack rations. Waterproof your bags. I don't know where we are.
JORA
How bad is it?
NOLAN
I don't know.
JORA
We need to get out.
NOLAN
Yes.

Sequestered

EXT. Soravian countryside - early morning
Coraline regains consciousness on a horse. Her arms are bound in front of her, wrists tied to elbows, and her hands are wrapped and tied up such that she cannot even move her fingers. She's sitting, held up by an arm across her chest under her arms, the rider holding her close and keeping her in rhythm as he posts with the horse's trot. Her head hurts horribly, a horrible throbbing strangeness resonating through it with each shift in motion. It's almost fuzzy.
The pain almost even drowns out the voices. Almost.
VARDAMAN
Don't fucking move.
CORALINE
What?
VARDAMAN
I know what you are. If you try anything, I will kill you.
CORALINE
Then why haven't you?
VARDAMAN
Your cat says you are different. That you may be the key to a cure. It is worth risking, but only to a point.
Coraline closes her eyes, trying to block out the light, the pain, the nausea. The hopelessness sinks in like a tightness in her chest.
VARDAMAN
How long have you been a Carrier?
CORALINE
(quietly)
Since before we met. The first time.
VARDAMAN
That was over four years ago.
CORALINE
(desperately)
Yes!
VARDAMAN
How are you still alive?
CORALINE
I don't know! If I knew, don't you think I'd do something? Use it to come up with a proper cure?
Vardaman shifts his hold, switching arms. Coraline tries to turn her head, and he tightens his grip, urging the horse to slow.
Coraline cries out in pain as the whole world spins around her, and tries and fails to vomit all over herself.
VARDAMAN
Don't try anything.
Coraline collapses back against him, just trying to breathe and not be any more sick for a bit.
CORALINE
Where are my cats? Where are you taking me?
Vardaman doesn't answer.
CORALINE
Where are my cats?
Coraline gets a vision of Vardaman's backside, but in the vision she? is on another horse, covered in pack, Thimble in front of her. Another horse still is also there, with an empty saddle.
AGATA
(mind voice)
We're here. Be careful. He may be able to hear us.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
So... no discussing our plans for world conquest. Definitely don't bring up the ferrets.
AGATA
(mind voice)
That would be bad, yes.
(after a pause)
He hasn't responded, but that may not mean much.
CORALINE
(mind voice, hopelessly)
I could just say his...
AGATA
(mind voice)
Don't.


EXT. Soravian countryside - morning
The horse slows to a stop, the other two horses pulling up alongside, their leads slack. Coraline looks around, surprised.
VARDAMAN
We need to rest and switch horses.
Vardaman dismounts quickly, taking Coraline down at the same time. He guides her over to a tree with a hand on her shoulder, holding the two ropes off her bound arms in his other, and then quickly ties one rope to some branches on one side, and the other to branches on the other. Neither is long enough that she can reach either knot.
Coraline sinks to the ground by the trunk as Vardaman goes to tend to the horses and shuffle their saddles, and her arms wind up suspended up over her head by the ropes. There is barely even enough slack for this.
She leans over and pukes, though little comes up, and wipes her mouth on her shoulder.
Vardaman doesn't turn his back on Coraline for more than very brief intervals, watching her closely.
AGATA
(mind voice)
You need healing. That blow should have killed you, and the damage remains very real.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
I can't. I can't even... I don't have any energy at all.
AGATA
(mind voice)
But your voices are quieter. That's interesting.
CORALINE
(accidentally responding aloud)
Is it?
Vardaman turns sharply.
VARDAMAN
Are you speaking to someone?
CORALINE
Am I sober? I can't tell.
Vardaman frowns, and casts a quick spell, directing it over Coraline.
VARDAMAN
bury thunder.
It has no obvious effect.
AGATA
(mind voice)
You're not drunk. I'm not sure this qualifies as sober.
The good news is I don't think he can hear us. That wasn't even a listening spell.
Coraline takes a deep breath and concentrates to get the words out properly.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
And the bad news?
AGATA
(mind voice)
The bad news... the bad news is the entire situation at hand. There's no plan. I'm glad he's kept you alive so far, but I don't know how long this will last. You need an out.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
What did you tell him?
AGATA
(mind voice)
The truth. One or two things slightly divested of the truth. Something else that had very, very little to do with the truth, but was convenient. The usual.
He thinks your name is Amadi?
CORALINE
(mind voice)
It is. Sort of.
Vardaman finishes off with the horses and sits down nearby, watching Coraline. Coraline stares past him vacantly, leaning back into the tree, focusing on listening to Agata.
AGATA
(mind voice)
You're a travelling lorekeeper, who just happens to have been a Carrier of the Death of Souls for years, with no clues as to why, nor what to do about it. And yet you can resist it.
You were in something of a scuffle in another town and all your stuff got stolen, but to put it rather bluntly, your pride prevented you from going back and getting it. Instead, you just charged headlong off into the hills. This is why all you had with you was a bag of coins and booze.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
I have no pride.
AGATA
(mind voice)
The fact that you'd deny that makes it believable.
Thimble wants to go to you very badly. And we can't just put him back in the bag because Vardaman hasn't found the real one. Somehow you magicked the inner bag to show up lumpy on the outer bag, bypassing the middle bag entirely, and yet cats can go past. Was that intentional?
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Do I look like a competent mage person to you?
AGATA
(mind voice)
You look like you're tied to a tree.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
I feel like I'm dead. But more tired. And more in pain. Dead people don't have to put up with this. Why do I?
Just put Thimble back when Ense Vardaman isn't watching. Cats come and go. That's what they do.
AGATA
(mind voice)
Hmm. Maybe. Your bag's buried pretty deep. But he is watching you and not me.
Work on healing yourself. He's tied your arms like that in part so you can't use your hands to cast spells, but this isn't casting. And if this works, we might try using Mad Anna's flames to get you out later.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
And if it doesn't?
AGATA
(mind voice)
You'll probably die.


EXT. Soravian countryside - morning
Vardaman and Coraline are on a different horse now. They're heading west. Vardaman is again holding Coraline up in front of him, and keeping her from bouncing. Coraline is still trying not to be sick.
At some point the nausea becomes too much regardless, and she leans over to the side very suddenly, vomiting up a small amount of horrible liquid.
Vardaman's grip tightens momentarily, but other than that he doesn't respond.
Coraline leans back into him, breathing shallowly.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Why do I feel so sick?
AGATA
(mind voice)
Withdrawal? I'm not a healer. Go find out.
Coraline tries to focus through the pain and general fuzz to heal herself, but whatever it is she normally uses to do this, she just can't seem to find it. Her hand twitches like she should be using it.
She can feel Vardaman behind her. She can feel the horse beneath her. Other shapes linger around too, vague, further off. She reaches into Vardaman, sensing for his hurt, for anything she can use. Overall there is very little. A weariness, gnawing and uncertain, lingering in the back of his mind. A tiring, his arms beginning to ache from the strain of holding her up. And something else, too, unlike anything she's sensed in anyone else...
She focuses on his arms, tries to sooth the ache, pushing it down, flattening it out. It fades, just as she would have expected.
AGATA
(mind voice)
Now do that for yourself.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Yeah. I needed to see if I could do it at all, first. Me me me me me...
Coraline tries to focus inward on herself again. She's definitely there. She has a sense of that much. She tries to focus on her head, but she can't quite find it. She knows she has a head. She knows where it is, physically. But magically, with her healing senses, it seems to never quite be where she expects...
She chases it around for a bit regardless.
Suddenly Vardaman is lifting her off the horse again for another rest. It's later in the day. Birds are being loud and obnoxious around. Ash demons drift around the edges of the clearing, avoiding Vardaman.
Vardaman ties her arms up between two trees this time. Coraline sits, resting her head on her arm, vaguely wiping at her hair, trying to get it out of her face.
VARDAMAN
I am taking you to Abearanoth, the heart of my order. There, if there is help to be had, the Keepers will find it.
CORALINE
Isn't that kind of far away?
VARDAMAN
It is, but the Gateway in Soras will get us there in a matter of weeks.
CORALINE
Oh...
VARDAMAN
Will you last that long?
CORALINE
I'll be honest. I've felt better.
Vardaman gives her a look, and then goes back to tend to the horses, brushing them down, shuffling saddles, before stretching and resting himself. At some point Thimble mysteriously disappears.
Coraline goes back to trying to find her head, even as her shoulders, too, begin to ache. Her hands twitch from time to time.
At some point she falls asleep.


EXT. Soravian countryside - afternoon
They're riding again. It's later, the sun low, the wind carrying hints of frost. Coraline is drifting in and out of consciousness.
AGATA
(behind them)
Yoo hoo, mister Deathdealer guy! My human has to go to the bathroom.
Coraline startles and tries to give Agata an utterly surprised, bewildered look, except then she winds up puking instead.
VARDAMAN
Do you?
CORALINE
Er... yeah, kind of.
VARDAMAN
We'll rest, then.
They continue on a bit until they get to what apparently appears to Vardaman a satisfactory campsite, and to Coraline just like any other random patch of woods.
Vardaman ties Coraline to a tree, tends to the horses, and then comes back over and loosens the knots to the tree, allowing Coraline considerably more slack.
VARDAMAN
Do your business.
CORALINE
(holding up her still bound arms)
I need my hands.
VARDAMAN
I will not risk that.
CORALINE
What?!
AGATA
(mind voice)
Well, that's unfortunate.
CORALINE
But I can't... my clothes...
Coraline gestures a bit toward her legs, or as much as she can with her arms bound. Which isn't much.
Vardaman sighs and comes around behind Coraline, reaches up under her skirts, and pulls her undergarments down by her hips for her, trying to make it as not awkward as possible.
It is still very awkward.
VARDAMAN
There. Go.
Coraline goes and squats behind the tree, but Vardaman follows, watching her carefully.
When Coraline finishes, Vardaman goes and pulls her undergarments back up. He then ties her to a different tree again as usual.
Coraline scrunches up as much as she can against the trunk and starts sobbing.
Agata pads over, climbs onto Coraline's knees, and leans into her, purring.


EXT. Soravian countryside - night
They stop for the night, and Vardaman ties Coraline to a tree, her bound arms suspended above her head as she sits against the trunk.
Snow drifts down idly around them.
CORALINE
If we're stopping for the night, can't I at least lie down? Or put my arms down?
VARDAMAN
No.
CORALINE
Why? What would I do? Magically untie this?
VARDAMAN
There is that possibility. As long as I can see your arms, I know you are secure.
CORALINE
Glargghhle blugh. It hurts. It's cold.
Vardaman wraps her arms in a cloth, tightly, and drapes a blanket over her legs. He sits down on another blanket nearby.
AGATA
(mind voice)
You showed yourself to be a mage. I guess this is the consequence.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
But I don't even use my hands for my magic...
AGATA
(mind voice)
Other mages do. Your patent refusal to do any of that is probably the main reason why you're still so bad at magic.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
It looks so stupid. And it is doable without... I don't need to waggle my hands and say ridiculous words.
AGATA
(mind voice)
But you could. It would be easier.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Perkele. I don't wanna.
AGATA
(mind voice)
Don't worry. I'm reasonably sure pointless stubbornness is a prerequisite for being a witch. And now it may just be your salvation.

Small escape

EXT. Soravian countryside - morning
There is a light dusting of snow over the ground and trees, and Coraline's blanket. She wakes up cold and stiff as Vardaman unties her from the tree and hauls her back to her feet, giving her a quick pat-down. She cries out in pain as she lowers her arms.
Vardaman puts away the blanket and feeds Coraline a tortilla wrapped in a paper.
Coraline gnaws on the tortilla, biting it awkwardly as Vardaman holds her arms. She nearly pukes it up again, but manages to hold it down.
Agata falls off a horse.
The voices whisper in and out of the cold, dull, wrong.
They get going again in silence, Vardaman again holding Coraline in front of him. Her arms ache fiercely, especially her shoulders. She concentrates on the pain, using it to transition from moment to moment, following it home, tracing out the figure of her shape.


EXT. Soravian countryside - later morning
The snow melts quickly, leaving everything brown and damp. Coraline continues trying to find her head, chasing it around vaguely, while Vardaman does all the work of riding for her. The world is vague and fuzzy, not all there.
She finds her arms and heals the stiffness and soreness in those, and that, at least, is a relief. But still her head refuses to be found.
Agata grumbles to herself on one of the other horses.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
This isn't working.
AGATA
(mind voice)
You seem better, though. Maybe you'll survive anyway.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Better still sucks. My head bloody aches. I haven't had anything but water, and yet I still feel drunk.
AGATA
(mind voice)
Your life sucks.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Oh, shut up.
They continue on. The day goes on. The woods break up in favour of rolling hills. Frost moulds grow across the rocks and trees, creeping slowly. Coraline watches them vaguely, wondering what they might become.
Another voice resonates in Coraline's head, like Agata's, but this one is male, someone she does not recognise.
VOICE OF KYRULE
(mind voice)
Keeper. You are summoned to the Grey Lobby. Please, follow my voice, and join us.
CORALINE
Eh?
AGATA
(mind voice)
I heard that too. Someone's in our heads. Someone else.
VARDAMAN
What is it?
CORALINE
I don't know. I thought... I thought I saw something.
(mind voice)
Who? Grey Lobby? That sounds familiar, but...
AGATA
(mind voice)
No idea. It's definitely not a witch thing. Witches don't do lobbies.
VOICE OF KYRULE
(mind voice)
Follow my voice.
Somehow Coraline does, driftingly, doing a sort of half-side-stepping in her mind, and then suddenly she's somewhere else.


INT. Grey Lobby
The Grey Lobby is a large, grey room, with high ceilings, sort of tasteful (grey) decor, several patently uninteresting doors, and sofas, armchairs, and low tables scattered around a large open area in the centre, all of which are grey.
Coraline finds herself standing on a sofa, wearing blue. Several other folks are also loitering about randomly, a few of them heading for the centre, where a cowled man in dark grey robes is standing, his arms folded in his sleeves.
In the background, Coraline can still vaguely feel her physical surroundings - the cool morning air, the Deathdealer holding her, the motions of the horse. Somehow, her head is working better, here.
Coraline hops off the sofa, stretching her arms and fingers, and rolls her shoulders.
CORALINE
(loudly)
Gods bloody dammit.
A few people give her surprised looks. Coraline ignores them.
Agata jumps onto her head.
AGATA
Interesting. We cannot use the mind voice here, because it seems that is how we are here at all.
CORALINE
I want my arms back for real. This is just making me even more painfully aware than I already was how deprived I am of my arms.
A nearby WOMAN IN RED comes over.
WOMAN IN RED
Hello. You're new here, aren't you?
CORALINE
Er, yes. Apparently. Where is here?
WOMAN IN RED
Here is the City of our Lord. The Grey Lobby, our home and sanctuary as his Keepers.
CORALINE
Our Lord?
WOMAN IN RED
Kyrule, of course.
AGATA
I didn't know Kyrule was your god.
CORALINE
Neither did I. Did I? Wait, what?
Grey Lobby! That's... Keepers. We're Keepers.
What.
The woman in red gives Coraline a curious look.
AGATA
Don't mind her. She got hit in the head with a shovel the other day. And I just don't pay much attention. She's my witch, not someone... important.
WOMAN IN RED
Oh, er, I'm sorry to hear that. Are you all right?
CORALINE
No.
WOMAN IN RED
Usually a Keeper learns of the Lobby as part of her apprenticeship, and even enters a few times at her master's side. You never did?
CORALINE
Er... I'm afraid my master died unexpectedly. There's probably a lot I'm missing.
WOMAN IN RED
But the stories are safe?
CORALINE
(after a slightly too long pause)
I guard what I know.
WOMAN IN RED
(nodding)
That is all we can do. Come, let's see why we've been called.
The woman heads toward the centre, and Coraline follows.
Around them, quite a few others have also appeared in the meantime.
AGATA
(quietly, in Coraline's ear)
Died unexpectedly?
Coraline slows, hanging back a bit.
CORALINE
(muttering)
Pretty sure saying 'I actually found all this in a book I stole out of a library and never was anyone's apprentice' would have tipped her off I'm not quite...
AGATA
Not the real deal?
CORALINE
I... don't even know.
AGATA
Well, this would explain why you knew the Deathdealer's name.
Coraline grumbles.
CORALINE
(quietly)
How the hell did I forget this?
Agata lightly bites Coraline's ear.
AGATA
You haven't been here before.
CORALINE
Er... no. I just read about it, you know? But it did say...
There are maybe thirty of them altogether, and they all take a bit to gather around the centre. Coraline stands vacantly next to some others, trying and failing miserably to look like a normal person with a cat on her head.
The dark-robed man, the VOICE OF KYRULE, faces them, waiting. He nods when everyone seems to be assembled and paying attention.
VOICE OF KYRULE
Welcome, Keepers. For those of you who are new, I am the Voice of the Eternal.
You have been summoned because you are all in danger. The secrets you guard are at risk. There is a plot against the Eternal, seeking to take down the known Voices within the worlds. Already, two have been killed, their murderers using means to prevent their souls passage into the afterlife we guard so dear. I do not need to tell you all, do not make yourselves known, for the secrets you guard within your Stories already warrant this. But be wary, too, of those who might seek out Voices of any kind. Should you speak for the Eternal as his Voices, know who it is you are speaking to.
A GUY IN PURPLE raises his hand slightly.
GUY IN PURPLE
Hi, yes.
Should we investigate? I mean, if we think there might be something odd going on.
VOICE OF KYRULE
Use your best judgement. But remember your priorities - guard yourselves, first and foremost.
The incidents so far have been localised to Cerris, Abaeranoth specifically, but this may not remain the case. It is not known what we are up against, and that alone should indicate the seriousness of the situation.
AGATA
(quietly)
Two isn't a very meaningful number.
CORALINE
So what is known? How were they killed? Are we certain it wasn't a coincidence that they were voices of the... Eternal?
VOICE OF KYRULE
Means were not consistent. One man was poisoned, the other's throat slit. Both deaths were quick and efficient, inflicted without hesitation. And it was no coincidence. Previous and subsequent unsuccessful attempts have made this clear.
MAN IN BLACK
Are the other Keepers in danger? The Keepers of Might and Magic?
VOICE OF KYRULE
All Voices are. The targets thus far have been Messengers, a sage, a Deathdealer First, and the Cerrissian High Priest. You are guarded for now by your secrecy, but the intent is clear.
BOY IN GREEN
They killed a Deathdealer?!
VOICE OF KYRULE
He survived. A Messenger and the sage were not so fortunate.
MAN IN BLACK
Might prevails. It could be a sign.
GUY IN PURPLE
It could be a coincidence.
WOMAN IN BROWN
It could be anything. We don't know. That's the problem.
VOICE OF KYRULE
Indeed.
Go, and be wary. As the Keepers of Stories, you guide us all. For all who may never know your names, thank you.
The Voice bows.
Several of the Keepers just vanish. A few bow back. A few loiter around, clumping up with others, chatting. A couple head toward the Voice to talk with him directly.
Coraline just stands there for a bit staring at the Voice dubiously.
AGATA
Somehow I think you've got more immediate problems than this.
CORALINE
Somehow I'm still not even sure this applies to me. Like at all.
I feel like the only dog at a llama orgy.
The boy in green comes over and stares up at Agata.
BOY IN GREEN
Are you a witch?
AGATA
Yes.
CORALINE
I'm a cat.
BOY IN GREEN
Coool.
CORALINE
Do you not have witches where you're from?
BOY IN GREEN
We don't even have magic. It's not allowed.
(conspiratorially)
I do it anyway.
CORALINE
Good. Be careful, though. Magic's nice, but it's not the only thing that matters.
BOY IN GREEN
Yeah? What's more important?
CORALINE
Being able to move your damn arms.
AGATA
Libraries.
CORALINE
And libraries.
BOY IN GREEN
Why can't you move your arms?
CORALINE
I'm a bit tied up. Which is actually really annoying because I've got something of a head injury and I can't seem to find it without my hands. Why the hell are hands so important?
BOY IN GREEN
You've got your hands here. Why don't you just find it here?
CORALINE
Er, that... I didn't think of that.
(she slips her fingers through her hair)
Can we do magic here?
BOY IN GREEN
Sure. It's where I practice.
Coraline gives him a surprised look, and then focuses on her head again. Suddenly it's right there. Magically, she knows exactly where it is, and she can feel the wrongness and imbalance in her brain, reaching like fingers. In a moment she rights it, with hardly an effort.
The voices flood back in the same moment, almost overwhelming.
CORALINE
Oh shit!
Coraline sidesteps out of the Grey Lobby and back into the horrible glaring reality of her own body.


EXT. Soravian countryside - noonish
The voices are much louder here, a cacophony of noise thundering through her mind, pushing the darkness inward, overwhelming.
Coraline pushes back, focusing on the ground in front of her, the ache in her shoulders, trying to remember who she is, and for the moment, the voices die back. A little.
She's sitting on the ground, tied to another tree, her arms held up over her head. Vardaman is standing nearby, watching her, though his head is cocked like he's listening for something else as well.
CORALINE
E.. ghn. Vardaman. Vardaman! I need my bag!
VARDAMAN
Why?
CORALINE
The bottle. It's shalott. It... it keeps the voices down. Please.
VARDAMAN
It's getting worse. Voices... and the hunger, too?
CORALINE
It's wearing off! As long as I stay drunk, it keeps the voices quiet, and I work. I function like I'm a girl.
VARDAMAN
Are you always drunk?
CORALINE
I try to. I have to. When it wears off, the blackness returns. I feel shapes, lights in the dark. It's so strong, I'm not myself, because it's so strong...
The voices are returning with force, the blackness spreading around like gleaming homecoming.
Coraline's eyes darken, a blackness spreading over her irises so that little white remains. She strains her arms against her bindings, digging them into her flesh.
CORALINE
(quietly)
No. I know who I am. I know who I am. You can't take that away from me. I'm not... this...
Somewhere, in the darkness behind her, Agata screams.


INT. Grey Lobby
Coraline sinks to the floor, falling on her back, and stares at the ceiling. The voices are quieter here, but still huge, overwhelming, pressing down like cloying black around all the edges of the grey. The pain in her arms is her focus, a brightness staving off the dark...
CORALINE
I know who I am. I'm me. I won't die like this.
The Voice of Kyrule kneels beside her, placing a hand on her arm. He smells of cats, and overgrooming.
VOICE OF KYRULE
You're Coraline. Focus on my voice, and remember who you are. Coraline Henderson.
CORALINE
I'm Coraline. I'm me. Karoliina.
VOICE OF KYRULE
Focus. Focus. You will not lose yourself today.
Somewhere, behind it all, sand trickles into the black.
Coraline chokes, and the Voice draws back.


EXT. Soravian countryside - noonish
Coraline coughs again, choking on the vodka. Vardaman is holding the bottle to her mouth, trying to get her to drink. Some of it spills down her face, vibrantly cold, splashing her clothes, and then she gulps it down, chugging at the bottle until he pulls it away.
Coraline leans back against the tree, coughing. Her throat is burning, her head throbbing. Blackness is everywhere, uncertain. The voices clamour, and waver.
After a bit the voices begin to fade as the whole world resumes its fuzz and the vodka properly hits her head.
Vardaman puts the vodka away, and then draws a sword, turning. On the blade, near the hilt, gleams the dark skull and mask of Kyrule.
Coraline lies against the tree, exhausted, but she still notices the sword.
AGATA
(mind voice)
The Deathdealer's right. You need to go to Abearanoth.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Not with him.
AGATA
(mind voice)
Of course not.
A newcomer is staring at them, a HUNTER standing between the trees, with bow and arrows.
VARDAMAN
Go on your way, friend. This is Deathdealer business, and not your concern.
HUNTER
That woman, why is she tied up like that?
VARDAMAN
That is not your concern.
CORALINE
(quietly)
Just go. He's right, it doesn't...
HUNTER
What?
CORALINE
(louder)
It's all right.
HUNTER
Are you on his side?
CORALINE
I'm on my side. And my side doesn't want to see you killed over this. Please, worry about your own life.
The hunter looks between Coraline and Vardaman and then shakes his head and leaves.
VARDAMAN
Your side? What side is that, exactly?
CORALINE
(sinking back tiredly)
My left side.
VARDAMAN
Interesting that you would be making jokes even now.
CORALINE
If I don't have jokes, then what in all the worlds do I have?
Vardaman watches Coraline calculatingly for a moment.
VARDAMAN
Are you still able to travel?
CORALINE
Will you carry me?
Vardaman pulls Coraline to her feet by the arms, gives her a quick pat-down, unties the ropes from the tree, and guides her back over to the horses.
Coraline leans against the horse of the moment, feeling its warmth, before Vardaman hoists her up.
AGATA
(mind voice)
You know he probably will if it comes to it.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Perkele. I screwed up.
AGATA
(mind voice)
And what else could you have done? Secreted a bottle up your sleeve? Gotten pre-drunk and died? I'm sure that would have worked out great.
You're still alive, Names. That counts. That counts for a lot.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
'Names'?
AGATA
(mind voice)
Aren't you, though?

Madness

INT. Blocky structure - gateway floor
Erry stares at the Gateway, watching it, waiting again for it to come on. It glows vaguely, but other than that, does nothing.


INT. Blocky structure - adjournment floor
Erry walks through the dark without a light, holding the stuffed moose closely. She makes her way by memory, following the ghost of a sound of something not quite there. Laughter almost echos around her. Tiny footsteps disappear into the silence, scuttlingly.
A light rises slowly out of the floor.
Erry shrieks and runs away.
Nolan emerges from a shaft in the floor a moment later.
NOLAN
Woogly.
Nolan turns and heads off in the opposite direction.


INT. Blocky structure - testing floor
A stack of large blocks is stacked up against a partially open wall door at the end of a section of corridor. Nolan heads back for the other end, goes into a room, and emerges a moment later pushing another block, as tall as he is.
He proceeds to push the block the entire length of the corridor, tips it up onto another block, and then heads back toward the other end again, goes back into the room, and emerges pushing another block.
He pushes this block the length of the corridor as well, and leaves it at the base of the stack.
He heads back and does this a few more times, until one of the blocks suddenly hits an obstacle partway as he pushes it down the corridor. A gog watches from a nearby wall.
Nolan stops and walks around the block to investigate.
Kit is standing on the other side, looking a bit confused.
KIT
What are you doing?
NOLAN
Stacking blocks.
KIT
Why?
NOLAN
To stack them.
Kit stares at Nolan.
Nolan stares at Kit.
This goes on for a bit.
KIT
I see.
Kit clearly does not see, but turns and leaves.
Nolan resumes pushing and stacking blocks.


INT. Blocky structure - adjournment floor
Nolan is in a room holding a block under an arm. Blocks are around, forming cabinets and shelves.
Nolan selects various blocks off of shelves and inserts them into the block under his arm. Sometimes he removes them from the block under his arm. Sometimes he removes others from the block under his arm.
Nolan stops and stares at the block expectantly for a bit.
The block does nothing.
Nolan sets the block down on another block and takes a step back.
The block explodes, chucking smaller blocks in every direction.


INT. Blocky structure - gateway floor
Kit, Erry, Nolan, and Jora are in a conference room. A large block is in the middle like a table. Small blocks are around it like chairs. Kit, Erry, and Jora are all seated at the table; Nolan is standing at the head. Two gogs are hanging off the ceiling.
Nolan climbs onto the table and glares down its length.
NOLAN
(loudly)
Sheep.
Kit, Erry, Jora, and the gogs all kind of stare at him blankly.
Nolan marches down the length of the table and out the door wall.


INT. Blocky structure - lodgement floor
Kit and Nolan are in a room. Jora is standing nearby.
NOLAN
Can you breathe underwater?
KIT
There's a spell for that.
NOLAN
Can you prevent dissolved gases from coming out of solution in the body?
KIT
What?
NOLAN
Can you cast spells while drowning?
KIT
I... uh... I guess?
NOLAN
Can you prevent us from being crushed by the weight of an entire ocean?
KIT
What the crap are you talking about?
(he looks up uncertainly)
Wait, you don't mean we're underwater now, are you?
NOLAN
Can you prevent us from drowning, suffering blood pressure complications, or being crushed by the weight of an entire ocean?
KIT
Uh... maybe.
NOLAN
Good.


INT. Blocky structure - lodgement floor
Jora is sitting on a block, facing away, staring at the wall. Erry comes in from the door behind her, holding the moose, and stands there for a bit, trying to figure it out.
ERRY
What are you doing?
JORA
(in Nolan's voice)
Waiting.
Erry stops, confused.
ERRY
...Nolan?
JORA
(in Nolan's voice)
Yes?
Erry comes around and looks at Jora from the front, except it turns out it's actually Nolan wearing Jora's clothes, with a gog on his head.


INT. Blocky structure - gateway floor
It's later, another time, and yet the same. Erry is staring at the Gateway again, still watching it, still waiting. But still, nothing happens.
Erry glances off to the side, toward the wall. There is noone there.


INT. Blocky structure - control floor
Kit is in a room, going through blocks, poking them with magic.
Nolan comes up to the open door and peers in.
NOLAN
I'm going to shut the door.
KIT
Whatever.
Nolan backs out and the wall door shuts.
Kit continues doing what he's doing.
This goes on for awhile.
Eventually Kit finishes off and heads to the door. He stands in the circle to open it.
Nothing happens.
Kit tries harder, actually focusing on opening the door.
Nothing continues to happen.
KIT
(yelling)
Nolan?
Nolan, this isn't funny!
There's no response.
KIT
(looking around)
This isn't funny, right? There's nothing here that would objectively qualify as funny...
Um. No, I don't think so. Okay.
Kit goes back and pokes at some of the things he was doing before again, and then goes back to the wall door and tries that. Again.
Nothing continues to happen.
Kit steps back out of the circle of glyphs.
The room bursts into light. Shapes grow out of the various blocks, forming far more affordant forms, making chairs look like chairs, desks look usable, and shelves and cabinets show up as shelves and cabinets with handles and labels and suddenly incredibly clear usage patterns. Screens light up around the walls, showing various output and controls, as well as scenes that could be almost anywhere, but moving, alive: a snowy winter forest with the ruins of an ancient city, what might be underwater in some lake, a prairie with a huge thunderstorm moving in. An elaborate chandelier appears overhead, with smaller light fixtures inset neatly into the detailed trim around the edges.
KIT
Woah.
Kit takes a moment staring around, taking it all in, and then runs around poking bits with magic and fingers, peering at various things from all angles. None of the basic shapes have changed, and yet everything is much clearer what it actually is, and how it needs to be interacted with, and he tries it all, going from thing to thing, opening drawers, swiping over consoles, turning various lights on and off. He peers at the magic behind it all, poking at that as well, trying to figure out how it works, following the flows to track the power.
He does this all very excitedly for several minutes.
Then the wall door starts to open, and it all goes out again, the room returning to its base, dark, blocky state.
KIT
Aww...
NOLAN
Did you try to open the door at any point?
KIT
Er, yeah.
NOLAN
Did anything happen?
KIT
Not with the door. Room turned on for a bit, though.
NOLAN
So if I hold it shut from the outside, it cannot be opened from the inside at all?
This is an incredibly poor design choice.
KIT
Ya think?


INT. Blocky structure - Gateway floor
Erry is staring at the Gateway, watching, waiting. It does nothing, does not come on, but still she watches. She ignores the wall. Its whispering has nothing to offer.
The gateway stands, quiet, humming, glowing.
Erry's head begins to droop, and she jerks awake and glances toward the wall.
The Gateway flickers to life.
Erry holds her moose out in front of her like a shield.
A duck waddles through the Gateway.
Erry flees.
Nolan walks in and collects the duck.

Explanations

EXT. Soravian countryside - day
The hours pass slowly and painfully. The hills roll in and out of forests as they slowly gain elevation, continuing westward and north, approaching the mountains. Ash demons and ghostlights flit about, but flee at their approach. Vardaman continues to hold Coraline in front of him as they ride on, tying her to trees when they rest, giving her vodka periodically with her food. He does not seem to sleep himself.
Coraline's bindings only become more painful, even as she continues to heal her arms from time to time.
For a time she avoids it, just watching the scenery as it passes, thinking, but then she slips back into the Grey Lobby regardless, just because there's nothing else she can do.


INT. Grey Lobby
It's much as before, but now nearly empty. A WOMAN IN BLACK is sprawled on a sofa, reading, a leg hanging over the side. Her clothes look oddly modern, but not, with leggings and zippers and slip-on shoes, and lots of ruffles. She looks up momentarily when Coraline appears nearby, but then returns to her book.
Agata hops onto Coraline's shoulders.
Coraline heads vaguely toward the open area in the centre. All the furniture is facing it, forming vague circles around it.
She stops at the edge, and the Voice appears beside her.
VOICE OF KYRULE
Keeper. It is good to see you well. Come, we have much to discuss.
Agata gives him a dubious look. Coraline stares blankly.
VOICE OF KYRULE
You were right to guard the nature of your Legacy. The other Keepers, they are led to believe that all Keepers of Stories are as they are, their stories and mantle passed down from master to apprentice as an oral tradition. It is for this that their stories are incomplete, and varied, but they are also safe.
CORALINE
By which you mean they're not all stored in some book any random nutjob can walk away with.
VOICE OF KYRULE
In essence.
CORALINE
Since that's what I did.
(to Agata)
I did that.
VOICE OF KYRULE
Your book is the single exception that defines the rule, a compendium of all the given stories, the public and the real, the fragments and all the variants. Your existence as a Keeper is an inconsistency that cannot be explained without the very stories you guard, and yet of all of the Eternal's Keepers, your role is the most important.
Coraline raises a hand.
VOICE OF KYRULE
Yes?
CORALINE
I'm a librarian.
VOICE OF KYRULE
The Apostate has often been a librarian. Someone who could find a book among many others and see its importance, and see the stories within for what they are. You were chosen by what you are and what you chose to do. You have questioned, and hunted for answers. You have guarded the stories, you have kept them secret, as well as their very nature. You have even guarded yourself, at great personal expense, when you could use your status to avoid the situation entirely.
It is more than we could ask. It is everything.
Coraline stares at the Voice even more blankly.
CORALINE
As much as I love apostasy, blasphemy, and all things heretical, you know I'm getting eaten by a horrible dark something, right? And that's the only reason I even got involved in any of this...
VOICE OF KYRULE
And yet you are involved. You are a Voice, and all faithful may heed your words. You are a Keeper, and you alone guard our most precious stories.
And should you succumb to the Death of Souls, those stories may be lost forever.
CORALINE
Well I don't bloody want to, but don't you think if that winds up happening it'll not exactly have been up to me?!
VOICE OF KYRULE
You see how important it is that you protect yourself.
CORALINE
And how am I supposed to do that, exactly? I've got this Deathdealer tied me up so securely I can't even piss right now.
VOICE OF KYRULE
Do what you must. If it comes to it, you may take his life for yours.
Do not tell him who you are. It will not end well.
CORALINE
What? Isn't he trusted?
VOICE OF KYRULE
It is the difference between trust and security. Ense Vardaman is trusted, but he does not need to know.
AGATA
If he gets eaten by zombies, they might find out.
VOICE OF KYRULE
Yes.
CORALINE
This is crazy...
AGATA
So why haven't you stopped it? Why haven't you spoken your Deathdealer's name and commanded him to let you go, or even help you?
CORALINE
I... don't know. It doesn't seem... I'm not really a Keeper, am I?
VOICE OF KYRULE
You are.
CORALINE
Because I stole that book?
VOICE OF KYRULE
Because you read it.
CORALINE
So what, anyone reads it and they become a Keeper of Stories, just like that?
VOICE OF KYRULE
No. It is for you, and you alone. Others will not be able to read its words until you pass it on. Its magic protects it.
CORALINE
...why? Why me?
VOICE OF KYRULE
You found it. You dug up the references, and put together the research. It was intended for a librarian, and a librarian you were.
CORALINE
I'm not a follower of Kyrule, though.
VOICE OF KYRULE
That was never a requirement. Though should you decide to use your status at any point, it would generally be best if you appeared to be.
CORALINE
What... fake it?
AGATA
Be professional.
CORALINE
Shit.
Off to the side, the boy in green jumps from sofa to sofa, tossing around swaths of colour, which shimmer and fade behind him. He whoops, misses a sofa, and falls to the floor.
The boy jumps back up again a moment later, looking around a bit in embarrassment. When he sees the Voice and Coraline looking toward him, he waves.
BOY IN GREEN
(calling out across the room)
Needs more colour!
The boy starts casting another spell, working his fingers in intricate patterns around its shape.
BOY IN GREEN
(muttering)
stone sun thunder fire...
VOICE OF KYRULE
The Deslau mage will almost certainly die for his magic, in time.
CORALINE
But he still does it...
VOICE OF KYRULE
Wouldn't you die for your libraries?
CORALINE
A single one, probably not. Losing one library doesn't generally change much in the long run, since you can rebuild...
But libraries in general, as a concept, as a thing... yes. You take away a people's history and knowledge, you've taken away their soul.
It's when they burn their own library down that you know they're truly doomed.
The boy in green finishes off his spell, weaving in the last brilliant tendrils. It hovers for a moment, then fizzles out.
He gives it a disappointed look.
A dragon form bursts out around the boy in sparkles, moving as he does, and he immediately perks up.
BOY IN GREEN
(loudly)
Hah! I am might incarnate!
WOMAN IN BLACK
(looking up briefly)
Oh, pipe down.
CORALINE
Is Ense Vardaman right? Would the Keepers of Magic be able to do anything?
VOICE OF KYRULE
Unknown. But you already have the relevant stories, even the secret ones. Shalias, of all who were cursed, came the closest to a solution, and she did not use our means.
AGATA
You mean she used necromancy.
CORALINE
She would have had to give up her soul to stop it.
VOICE OF KYRULE
And it might have worked. It also might not have. We do not know if she chose correctly, only that she chose.
The nature and source of the Death of Souls eludes even the eyes of the Eternal. This is the very heart of the problem, and why, beyond even your role as the Apostate, you are so important.
CORALINE
How... important?
VOICE OF KYRULE
Understand. Ense Vardaman is a Keeper of Might, the most honoured of all our Deathdealers. His worth is greater than all others within the worlds combined. He would have been High Priest, had his strength not been needed elsewhere.
And yet you are worth more.
CORALINE
Oh...
AGATA
So if she's so important, why aren't you helping? Why is this the first time you're even talking to her? Why haven't you called off your pet Keeper?
VOICE OF KYRULE
Do you really think we've done nothing, cat? Her very life inspires hope, the potential that there may yet be something that we simply have not seen.
AGATA
So that's a no.
VOICE OF KYRULE
(to Coraline)
Do not think you have been alone. You have been watched and guarded since you first appeared in Hadrin, even before you took on the role of the Apostate. You were granted the coin as a marker, something normally only given to Deathdealers, for you showed their same strength in you.
But your existence, as Apostate or Carrier, is not something the world can know. You must act in secrecy.
Kill Ense Vardaman. Preserve yourself.
CORALINE
And then what?
The Voice shakes his head.
CORALINE
So... basically I'm doomed.
VOICE OF KYRULE
That is very likely.
AGATA
Heh.
CORALINE
And you've got nothing else I can use.
The Voice doesn't respond.
CORALINE
You do, don't you?
VOICE OF KYRULE
There is a vain possibility. A half measure. Attempts by the priests in Abearanoth to use powers they do not understand, that have already led only to more loss.
CORALINE
But could it help?
VOICE OF KYRULE
It could end you outright.
AGATA
That's not a no.
There's a long pause.
VOICE OF KYRULE
We don't know. There is no reason why it should. There is no reason for it to have ended so poorly already.
AGATA
That you know of.
CORALINE
Okay, that's somewhat disconcerting.
VOICE OF KYRULE
Indeed.
CORALINE
Humour me, will you?
VOICE OF KYRULE
When the Eternal slew the god of dreams long ago, her form was shattered, pieces left behind. Some of these were kept as relics by the ancient priests, and by arbitrary testing, have been shown to exhibit unusual interactions when placed with black soulstones.
A Deathdealer was sent to test it on a live Carrier.
CORALINE
And?
VOICE OF KYRULE
Initially the Carrier did become more lucid upon contact. Then the Death of Souls exploded around him, turning dozens in one moment. He and many others in the outbreak were later drawn to you, after which you know the rest.
Ense Vardaman has a fragment of this god with him as well. He was not told why, or what it is, but you may be able to get it from him if you so choose.
CORALINE
Yeah, I think maybe I'll pass on that one.
AGATA
I suppose you'll need me to get it for you.
CORALINE
Um...
(sighing)
Whatever. But if this kills me, I will be very irate.
AGATA
Sure. Even though you really could just kill him, and then take it yourself.
CORALINE
Agata...
AGATA
It's true. You healed him, you could kill him just as simple.
CORALINE
That's not what I... nevermind.


EXT. Soravian countryside - evening
Camp is set. Coraline is tied to another tree, blanketed, her arms aching, tied up over her head. Vardaman is watching her.
Agata climbs onto Vardaman's knees and peers up at him.
AGATA
I could kill you, you know.
VARDAMAN
I'd very much like to see you try.
Agata stares at him for a moment.
AGATA
Meh.
Agata curls up on his lap and starts grooming herself, though she stops momentarily to peer at Coraline.
CORALINE
A lot of things could kill me. You're not special.
AGATA
(mind voice)
He's got deep pockets, three bags, and a lot of other gear. Am I supposed to search it all?
CORALINE
(mind voice)
I... don't know. I don't suppose you could just sit on him all night and have it come out like a slug.
AGATA
(mind voice)
You sure you don't want to just kill him? It'd make it a lot easier to search his stuff. And then you could sleep, too.
But you're not going to, are you?
CORALINE
(mind voice)
I don't know.
AGATA
(mind voice)
Your god says it's okay. And we're in the middle of nowhere, so who'd know?
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Me?
I suppose I've got no trouble killing when there's good reason. This, though, this just doesn't seem like a good reason. He's technically on the same side we are, he's a decent guy, he's had good cause for everything he's done to me... as horrible as it is, I can't really fault it.
I just need it to stop. I need to get away.
AGATA
(mind voice)
Yes. You do.
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Also Kyrule's not my god. We've been over this.
AGATA
(mind voice)
You sure about that?
CORALINE
(mind voice)
Uh... no. But still.
AGATA
(mind voice)
Well, it's his god.
I'll send a bag cat to check his bags.
Coraline sighs, and drifts slowly into sleep.

Replication

INT. Blocky structure - testing floor
Kit tries to repeat the room-turned-on incident, trying to get the lights and shapes to show up first in other rooms, then even the same one as the first time. Nolan locks him in, Kit throws around magic and goes in and out of the circle of glyphs.
KIT
(gesturing more than speaking)
kagamokuao. muta. kiuen zitukua.
Nothing happens.
They try it in other rooms, on other floors.
They try locking Nolan in, with Kit outside.
Kit throws around more magic inside, poking around at various things and nothing, tossing raw magic at the walls and blocks.
Kit and Nolan both have Jora lock them inside, and try various combinations of trying to open the door and Kit throwing magic.
KIT
atakalo. muta adëaka.
Nothing happens. No lights come on. No reasonable shapes or opulent decor burst into existence.


INT. Blocky structure - Gateway floor
They don't really try with the Gateway chamber. Jora stands outside the room in the circle. Nolan stands inside the room in a corner, calculating. Kit kicks at the Gateway with the toe of his shoe, and half-heartedly tries opening the door, just as he had with every other room.
For a brief flicker, the room comes alive. Light fixtures burst into light, decorations bloom out of the walls. Consoles and options and screens appear around the gate, behind and before. A welcome carpet appears on the floor.
Then it's gone.
No matter how hard they try, they cannot replicate it again.


Lace mask.svg

(heaps: heapheap2heap3)
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