SEASON 2, EPISODE 6
RELEASE DATE: 04/17/2021
It’s time to get a little starry-eyed. Liam’s head is in the clouds between obstacles at works, a potential breakthrough, and… a date.
VALENCE is a serialized fiction podcast meant for adult listeners. You can find more information, including our full cast list and transcripts, at VALENCEpod.com. You can support us on Patreon and get access to inspo images, bonus audio, and more.
VALENCE is brought to you by Proton VPN. You can use our link at hughouse.productions/protonvpn to support this podcast and keep your data safe.
- Depictions of in-scene misgendering, trans impostor syndrome, dysphoria, and transphobia throughout. (We’re processing some stuff here in the Hug House Writers Room. That stuff is gender.)
- Our theme was made by Travis Reaves,
- With production by Raul Vega.
- Additional music provided by Loyalty Freak Music and Kai Engel.
- VALENCE was created by Wil Williams.
- VALENCE is edited and sound designed by Wil Williams.
- VALENCE is directed by Katie Youmans and Anne Baird.
- VALENCE is produced by Anne Baird.
- This episode was written by Katie Youmans and Wil Williams, with story consulting from Caleb Del Rio and Elena Fernández Collins.
Performances by, in order of appearance:
- Josh Rubino as Liam Alden and Liam’s Inner Voice,
- Alex Welch as Noel Alden,
- John Westover as Nico Salvai,
- Miracle Fonmanu as Zoe Kafoa,
- Elena Fernández Collins as Soledad Marquez,
- Caleb del Rio as Flynn Velasco,
- Richie Ammons as Halo Security Officer,
- Emma Laslett as Planetarium Employee, and
- Miranda Southwell as Planetarium Show Narrator
[[A door handle turns and clicks open. Soft wind chimes tinkle.]]
ANNE: Brought to you by Hug House Productions
AD (Katie): This season of VALENCE is sponsored by ProtonVPN. You’ve heard us say this before, and we’ll say it again. Online privacy is crucial, and can be hard to manage, even for the most cautious of us. That’s why we’re glad to know that ProtonVPN believes online privacy should be available to everyone. Their basic account is free and their app is supported on all devices. So whether you’re working at a magical tech firm, creating an anonymous blog for Muses, or just browsing the web, you can know you’re doing it safely when you use ProtonVPN. And you can do all that and help support VALENCE and Hug House at the same time by signing up for any account at hughouse.productions/protonvpn or by following the link in our show notes.
Wil: VALENCE is a serialized fiction podcast with discussions and depictions of struggles with mental health. You can check our show notes, or the transcripts on valencepod dot com for a full list of content warnings and their timestamps. It’s important to take care of yourself — especially here in New Candler.
[[theme music – bright, synthy beat with airy, flowing strings that fade into a brief moment of a darker synth more reminiscent of the Season 1 theme]]
CWs: In-scene misgendering, internalized transphobia
HALO INC OFFICES – MORNING
Liam sits, typing at his desk unenthusiastically–a complete contrast from Sarah’s usual typing. Liam’s thoughts are absolute soup.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: These training modules are so booooooooooring. I’ve already done this, I don’t need to have it explained again.
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Come on, pay attention. There’s probably something you can take away from this all.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Uuuugh. Okay. Module 37. Testing procedures. This one should be valuable, at least. “One. When speaking to a test subject, remember to use your color identifier and the subject’s numerical identifier.”
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: (Hums a piano song)
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: “If the test subject asks for your real name, do not use it; instead, tell them that your color identifier is your real name. If the test subject tells you their real name, affirm them that their numerical identifier is their real name.”
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Ugh. Usually even Reilley is more subtle than that. Hey, what was the name of that–that thing you read? There was something like this, kind of.
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: “If a test subject, at any point, starts to act violently, you must first use the emergency Haven button on your side of the table. Second, speak to the test subject calmly to deescalate the situation.”
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Kafka? The Metamorphosis? With the–y’know, the bug person? No, I suppose that isn’t really related.
NICO (MEMORY): (laugh) I’m a terrible influence on you.
LIAM (MEMORY): Most likely . . . but I don’t think I mind it.
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Not right now. Pay attention. “Second, speak to the test subject calmly to deescalate the situation. Remind the subject that you are here to help them. Remind the subject that they are being filmed. Remind the subject that security is always close by. Remind the subject that they are contractually bound to the project. Remind the subject why they have agreed to take part in this process, as per their file.”
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Was it Catcher in the Rye? What even happened in that one? Was there a plot?
The PIANO SONG plays in the background, distorted
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: “As a reminder, you should memorize the questionnaire before entering any testing session with a subject. This will help you negotiate if a subject starts behaving violently.
If you cannot judge whether or not a subject is behaving rationally, always remember that Halo values your safety. Always err on the side of caution. If you aren’t sure, it is always better to act with the assumption that the situation may get violent. Take time to [contact your direct supervisor if you have any worries during a session.]”–
NOEL knocks three times on Liam’s glass door. Liam gasps in surprise. He gets up, walks to the door, and opens it.
LIAM: Hmm? Oh! Uh, good morning, Noel.
NOEL: Here. I brought you a coffee.
LIAM: Oh, thank you.
NOEL: I’ve noticed you typically take it with enough milk to be just barely the color of the dinner table in the family home, so I added approximately as much as [seemed enough without going over]–
LIAM: I . . . don’t know what that table looks like.
LIAM: Or, at least, I don’t remember. But, ah, this looks perfect! Thank you. I, I-I didn’t realize you were paying attention to such a thing.
NOEL: [Suddenly defensive] I only noticed because I was shocked you don’t take it black, given how dutifully you stick to an air of the macabre.
LIAM: [Laughs] Christ, Noel, you certainly have me there.
NOEL: Ugh. Come on, then. You’re starting solo testing this afternoon.
LIAM: What? But I was just in the middle of this safety training document about—
NOEL: You’ve already read it three times. We track what you’re doing. Stop wasting my time.
LIAM: Right. Sorry, I–is everything okay?
NOEL: Excuse me?
LIAM: Is everything okay, Noel?
NOEL: If you’re trying to—
LIAM: I’m trying to talk to my sister, who seems kind of on edge right now.
NOEL: Well you could have done that—
LIAM: Five years ago, when I es–mmm. When I left. I know. But you wanted me to work here, didn’t you? And I wanted to work here, so I could–so I could see you. I’m trying to–I’m doing my best, I think. But unless you want us to have an entirely business-based relationship and forget all family ties, I’ll need some help from you, too.
NOEL: This–this isn’t a conversation suited for the workplace.
LIAM: No, it isn’t. Is everything okay?
NOEL: I–I got an alert on my school email account about this Spring session’s graduation information. It just threw me off. It’s nothing.
LIAM: That isn’t nothing. I know you wanted to walk, and–
NOEL: I can help, but you need to understand that I can only do so much of this. I’ve hit my limit for now. And we have work to do.
NOEL: Today’s assignment will be easy. You’ll take the morning in the office, studying your subject’s file. Then, after lunch, your session with your subject is at 2:15. The session should last no more than ten minutes, but we do add in a five-minute buffer just in case. After you log the session information in the file, you’re free to leave for the day.
LIAM: People in R&D are just allowed to go home early after sessions?
NOEL: It depends. For newer recruits, we only schedule one session each afternoon. The rest of the afternoon is scheduled for either early release or emergency medical attention, if needed.
LIAM: Ah. How many sessions do you typically have in a day?
NOEL: N-not, um–not too many. Just three for now. But I know, um, I know Hailee used to have something like fifteen, and dad, dad was up to, I don’t know, probably somewhere like twenty, before . . .
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Who’s Hailee?
NOEL: Your session today is with N-213. Th–She’s a slight. That can levitate coins in their hand. Her. Hand.
LIAM: Are this person’s pronouns they or she?
NOEL: The file states “she.”
LIAM: That isn’t what I asked.
NOEL: The file states “she.” You need to always follow the information in the file.
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: No, not going to be doing that.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Oh, what a great moral stand from the person working with Reilley.
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: No, nope. Shan’t do it.
LIAM: What will I be testing for?
NOEL: The same I’ve been showing you.
Noel takes a breath in and a breath out.
NOEL: Don’t worry. I’ll be watching from the other side of a two-way mirror. And if you need anything, I’ll be in my office until then. Just–don’t worry. It’ll be fine. You’ll be fine.
NOEL: Alright. I’m–I’m going to go. I will see you after lunch.
LIAM: Oh, ah — maybe we can do lunch together?
NOEL: No. I have a lunch meeting.
NOEL: But–but perhaps tomorrow?
LIAM: I’d like that.
CWs: Trans impostor syndrome, dysphoria
INT. A SMALL, PRETENTIOUS GRAB-AND-GO STYLE CAFE – LUNCHTIME
Liam and Sol and Flynn are in line to checkout with their lunches and there’s business people lunch hour chitchat in the background.
SOL: I’d heard such good things about this place, but I never have an excuse to come out to this part of town. Thank you for giving me the excuse I needed!
FLYNN: Always a good day for Salt Session with Sol.
LIAM: I’m glad you were free today — how are you?
SOL: Well, I’ve killed about half of my plants by now. I was never the one who looked after them, so I’m having to guess, and usually guessing wrong, and feeling bad when they die. Jessie has to stop me from buying more whenever we’re out.
LIAM: [laughs] Impulse-buying plants? I wouldn’t know anything about that.
SOL: [laughs] Don’t you lie to my face — Flynn told me all about you turning your room into a plant nursery. He–
FLYNN: Hey, I told you that in confidence!
SOL: And now I’m telling Liam in confidence that you told me in confidence. Flynn, you look good! I like the teal hair.
FLYNN: Oh, that’s, uhhh, that’s actually a side effect of something I wanted to tell you about? I’ll bring it up once we’ve found somewhere to eat.
LIAM: [cutting in as Sol was about to pay for their lunch] Oh, no, lunch is my treat. It’s the least I can do.
LIAM pulls out his phone and taps it to the Apple Pay thingy.
SOL: The least you can do? Something’s up.
LIAM: If I’m being honest, my motivations for inviting you were . . . not entirely unselfish. I hope that’s alright.
SOL: Oh? Are you doing ok?
LIAM: You’re . . . you’re much smarter than me, and—
SOL: I’d argue “smartness” is subjective, but go on.
The two of them leave the cafe and walk down the street towards a small park area.
LIAM: –and you have much more experience with being a functional person in the world, and more experience making decisions based on right and wrong rather than out of fear and self-preservation.
SOL: This is about to get heavy, I can tell. Let’s put that on hold until we get to the park. Fewer eavesdroppers.
SOL: Flynn, what did you want to tell me about?
FLYNN: So it’s–ugh, also the reason I’m so sweaty! Let’s stay outside but sorry in advance if I’m just over here dripping.
A few days ago, Elisha told us about this magic shop? So we went, and this enamel pin is like connected to this crystal I had to charge and then you put the pin on and then it helps with little appearance changes for dysphoria?
SOL: [suspciously] Mm-hmm.
FLYNN: And I think it’s just, I think it’s cool. It has side effects, and some of them are okay, like the hair–the hair is great like hell yeah not having to buy dye or bleach or anything–but there’s some that suck. Like for me, I run really hot. And the shopkeep said there might be some unexpected magic runoff because I’m not a muse. But like, it’s new but it’s already really helping me out.
SOL: [suspciously] Mm-hmm.
FLYNN: Just thought, you know. Maybe sometime you’d want to try it out.
SOL: I don’t know, Flynn. Maybe. But things . . . it’s so fluid with me. I don’t even know what I’d change! And I wouldn’t want people to think I’m using it to make myself skinnier or something. I don’t want people to think I’m trying to hide my body. I’m fat and that’s that.
FLYNN: No, it’s all about what would work for you. I won’t push it on you, though.
SOL: I–mmm–I’m processing. I can’t help but wonder what Luis would think, what he would say–not about how I look, obviously, just. Using something like this as someone without magic. And I don’t even–who’s to say if I even have real dysphoria?
SOL: I dunno — maybe I’m just too old for this new tech. I can’t really wrap my brain around what it means for me.. But maybe I’ll try it. Someday. Thank you for telling me about it, Flynn. And I’m glad it’s working for you. You look great. Comfortable. Happy.
FLYNN: Thanks, Sol.
They reach the park, where there are a few trees/shrubs to soften the city noise, and a fountain. They sit on a bench a little ways away from other people.
SOL: Now, Liam, I hear you’re dating again?
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Why is my personal life a source of gossip now?
LIAM: I’m . . . pretty sure that’s what it is?
SOL: [laughs] You don’t gravitate towards the straightforward, uncomplicated ones. Flynn mentioned her to me once or twice–
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Oh good.
FLYNN: Because someone had to!
SOL: — but didn’t really go into detail. What’s she like?
LIAM: She’s. Hm. I . . . am still getting to know her.
SOL: Not quite what I asked.
LIAM: I know. And I’m sorry — I’m not sure I’m comfortable talking about it just yet. I’m still working out how to feel about it all.
SOL: No need to apologize. It can be difficult to put labels on things that are new.
LIAM’S INNER NICO: C’mon Vamps, you know I fuckin hate labels.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Not. Now.
SOL: So what was it you wanted to talk with me about?
LIAM: Ethics, I think? And also . . . how do you know when you’ve gone too far. When you’re trying to do good. But to do that good, it requires you to do something terrible.
SOL: [heavy exhale] That is . . . not a small topic.
SOL: And not a clear-cut one either.
LIAM: I know.
FLYNN: I think you probably know more about it than anyone else we know, though.
SOL: I’m not sure I can answer that for you.
SOL: I’m not sure anyone can? I think it has to be you determining where that line falls for yourself. But I can try. Tell me more.
LIAM: We’ve talked before about Noel. About how I feel I abandoned her. And failed her.
SOL: Mmhm. And is making up for that what’s got you worried?
LIAM: Yes. I need to know where the line should be drawn. I need to determine how much harm is acceptable in order to help. Or if even trying to quantify that is a monstrous act.
A heavy pause.
SOL: Love is surprisingly good at justifying harm.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: See? Even Sol thinks your quest is misguided and terrible.
SOL: But guilt is even better. Your guilt, though, seems to be more focused on finding reasons to tear yourself apart no matter which choice you make.
LIAM: [surprised] Oh?
FLYNN: Oh shit
SOL: I think you know yourself much better than you give yourself credit for. And I think you’ve grown as a person, even in the last few months, enough to be able to answer those questions. But if I may make a suggestion?
LIAM: Of course, please.
SOL: Consider looking at this from another angle. Instead of “how much harm is acceptable”, ask “is what I am doing compromising who I am?” and if the answer is yes, you’ll need to find another way to accomplish what you’re trying to do. Or . . . if there’s something else you can do to keep you grounded in who you are.
LIAM: Hmm. That . . . makes a lot of sense.
SOL: [cheeky] Well, like you said, I’m very smart.
CWs: Trans feelings (listen I don’t have the words to unpack that all)
TESTING ROOM – AFTERNOON
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Two fifteen. Okay. You can do this. It will be simple. You will be k-kind. You will be fine. You will do no real lasting damage, personally. You will just ask simple questions. This in no way compromises the person you have worked to become.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: They’ll remember your face forever. Your name might be Glass, but your face will always be in their nightmares.
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: You have to do this. You have to do this, so things can get better.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: What if they become violent? How will you protect yourself?
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: [disgusted that he would even think that] What?
Two sets of footsteps down the hall, and a brisk knock at the door. Liam opens the door.
SECURITY OFFICER: N-213 is here for you, sir.
LIAM: Th-thank you. You can–you can show them in.
N-213 walks into the room and takes a seat at the table opposite Liam. Liam closes the door and the lock re-engages. N-213 sits down.
LIAM: Hi, N-213. You can call me Glass.
N-213: Okay. Hi, Glass. I’m–I’m N-213.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: They look so scared.
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Good. That’s smart. It shows they’re not a fool like N-414.
LIAM: Today, we’re testing a new version of the device we released recently. Do you know about the Havens?
N-213: Only, um, only from the previous tests.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Come on. You’re supposed to have that memorized.
LIAM: Right, of course. Thank you. Our tests today will be simple and routine.
LIAM: Could you please remove your Halo?
N-213: (Takes a shaky breath in)
They place their Halo on the desk.
N-213: (Takes a shaky breath out)
LIAM: Please take the piece of nickel on the desk in front of you and attempt to levitate it in the palm of your right hand.
N-213 picks up the piece of metal. They attempt to levitate it, but can’t quite get it to float.
N-213: S-sorry, I–sometimes I have trouble if I’m nervous. Sorry.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: This is your fault.
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: This is their fault.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: You are them, Glass.
LIAM: That’s alright. Take your time.
They try again. This time, they succeed.
LIAM: Thank you. Now, could you try with your–oh! I like your pin.
LIAM: Your pin. It’s good to know you use they/them. I’ll be sure to mark it in your file.
N-213: Oh. Wow, thank you.
LIAM: Of course.
N-213: I’m supposed to try with my other hand now, right?
LIAM: Right. Yes, please.
They try with their other hand and succeed.
LIAM: Thank you. I’m going to turn the Haven on now. Okay?
N-213: Okay, I guess.
Liam turns the Haven on. The Haven dings once.
LIAM: Now, try to levitate it again once with your left hand, once with your right.
A magic crackle that is quickly cut off by the Haven, and the pleasant tone sounds. N-213 takes the nickel in their other hand and does the same thing.
LIAM: Do you experience any physical sensation when your magic is interrupted by the Haven?
N-213: Um–no, I don’t think so. No.
LIAM: Good. Can you try levitating the metal higher?
N-213: I can–I can only ever do it that high.
LIAM: Can you try anyway?
N-213: Yeah, I can try.
A magic crackle that is quickly cut off by the Haven, and the pleasant tone sounds.
N-213: Huh. Maybe I can levitate it higher. I mean, you know, without–you know.
LIAM: [thoughtful noise]
LIAM scribbles a quick note down to buy himself time as his thoughts are racing
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Can I use these sessions to help teach muses about what they might be able to do? Oh–oh my god. This is it. This can be the Something Else that Sol mentioned.
LIAM: Still no changes? No physical sensations?
N-213: No, still nothing.
LIAM: Alright. Let’s keep trying that, just to see.
Short montage of them trying it a few times.
LIAM: How are you feeling?
N-213: Actually, kind of tired. Is it–is it okay if we call it here?
LIAM: Of course. Thank you for your efforts today.
N-213: Thank you, too. I–I’m glad you’re the one working with me.
LIAM: I’m glad to hear that.
NOEL (OVER INTERCOM): N-213, we’ll see you out now.
N-213: Oh! Oh, jeez, I didn’t realize anyone was watching. Um, okay! Bye, Glass.
LIAM: Have a good rest of your day.
The door opens, and the security guard walks N-213 out. Noel walks in.
NOEL: That was fine work for your first session, but you’re being risky. You can’t go changing procedures and scripts, especially not this early on.
LIAM: Right. Sorry.
NOEL: You’re free to go. I’ll show you out.
Liam follows Noel down the hall, towards the elevator.
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Why is the energy right now so . . . tense? She must be so mad at me. Augh, I’ve fucked this up. They’re probably even more onto me than they already were. I’m an idiot. I’m going to ruin this for everyone—
The elevator door dings. Noel waves her Halo in front of the sensor, which beeps.
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: –all because I thought I could outsmart them and teach these muses something, or try to act like I’m the good one here. There’s no such thing as a good one here. Obviously. You’re ridiculous.
Noel hugs Liam, tight.
Liam hugs back.
NOEL: [muffled against Liam] Thank you for how you handled that. With the pronouns.
NOEL: It just–it meant a lot to me. I’ve been trying to advocate for changes on this front for some time, and it just–it matters. I understand that this company is traditionally . . . conservative. But it just seems . . . cruel.
LIAM: Yes. It does.
NOEL: So. Thank you. This is me doing my part. And now I have reached my limit again.
LIAM: It seems your limit has increased dramatically since the last time.
NOEL: Don’t get your hopes up that this trend will continue.
LIAM: No, of course not.
NOEL: This was a one-time thing. But–yeah. Thank you.
INT. NEW CANDLER PLANETARIUM, EVENING
The planetarium has been converted to a pop-up bar for an event. Crowded, noisy, full of wannabe instagram influencers trying to get the best selfie. The sounds bounce off of the high ceilings and hard flooring.
ZOE: [breathless from elbowing her way through the crowd] Liam! Hey, I didn’t know if you would make it! I know you don’t really do crowds . . .
LIAM: Of course! I–how?
LIAM: How do you know I don’t do crowds?
ZOE: [laugh] I’ve seen you pack up and leave when Firecreek gets to be too much for you. I figured it was because you were out, but not too out, y’know?
LIAM: . . . what do crowds have to do with being bi? And I’m very out about [that]-
ZOE: Nooo, out about your magic!
LIAM: I see. No, I–that’s unrelated. I’m-
PLANETARIUM EMPLOYEE OVER LOUDSPEAKER: The next show will begin in five minutes. Please begin finding your seats in the auditorium.
ZOE: Shit, I’ve gotta get my drink order in. Gimme your drink tickets, I’ll get yours too. What do you want?
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Get the wine get the wine get the wine get the wine get the wine
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: You can do this. Just say no, and then you’re done.
LIAM: Nothing for me, thanks.
ZOE: Huh, you didn’t strike me as a teetotaler.
LIAM: [attempting to flirt, bless him] I haven’t struck you yet at all.
ZOE: [choking back laughter] Oh boy.
LIAM: [hushed because he’s embarrassed] Oh, no, not like–I wouldn’t! I meant it like–
LIAM: Wait, what?
ZOE: What were you gonna say?
LIAM: N-nothing! What did you say?
ZOE: Doesn’t matter — I’ve got to go get a drink, and you need to get us some good seats! Show’s about to start, sparky!
ZOE darts off in the crowd, bumping into people on her way. LIAM starts walking towards the auditorium, then stops short.
LIAM: . . . Sparky?
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Really, what is it with you and people with terrible taste in nicknames?
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: At least it makes more sense than buckaroo.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Don’t try to play this off as a joke. He called everyone buckaroo. He called you Vamps.
LIAM walks into the auditorium, picks two seats as far from other people as possible, sits down. They’re the kind of seats where the bottom makes an awful wheeze as you push it down to sit.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: And what the hell was that you said? Were you trying to be smooth? Were you trying to be sexy? Just be glad she cut you off! Honestly, the first five minutes of the date and you’re already bringing up corporal p–
ZOE: Liam, hi! I found you — you sure you didn’t want to sit closer up?
LIAM: The show will be on the ceiling, so all seats are good seats. And I . . . I thought it might be nice to be in a quieter corner.
ZOE: [big flirt energy] Oh?
LIAM: In case we wanted to talk? So we won’t disturb the other people here.
ZOE: [deflated] Oh.
Small bingbong chime signalling it’s time to be in your seats for the show, and the general hubbub starts dying down gradually
PLANETARIUM EMPLOYEE OVER LOUDSPEAKER: Please take your seats now. The show will begin momentarily.
Sounds of squeaky auditorium seats, people shuffling to sit down, crowd chatter dies out fully
SHOW NARRATION RECORDING: [in the background throughout] When you look to the night’s sky, what is it that you see?
Do you look for constellations, clusters of stars that tell the stories of ancient myth? Do you look to find planets, wondering how their surface differs from ours? Do you look at the millions of stars, wondering what else lies in space? [fades behind dialogue]
ZOE: [hushed] Y’know, there’s a theory that your natal chart influences what your magic’s focus is.
LIAM: [hushed] There–what?
ZOE: Just something I read online.
LIAM: Do you . . . read a lot about muses?
ZOE: Well, yeah. Do you not?
LIAM: [scrambling to cover] Oh, I–yes, of course. I have a . . . twitter alert. On my phone.
ZOE: Yeah? That’s smart. It’s not like you’re going to get real news from major media outlets these days.
LIAM: That is. True.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Do you have any goddamn clue what you’re saying, or are you just throwing word soup at her?
LIAM’S OTHER INNER VOICE: Sometimes the situation calls for word soup! You will look up what these things are later and do them so it’s not technically lying — it’s just telling the truth before you turn it into a truth which might be fine.
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Oh my god.
LIAM: Do you have any . . . hobbies?
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Oh my god.
ZOE: [laugh] Pitching softballs now, huh?
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: What does that mean
ZOE: I’m kidding! But yeah, I’m part of this community organization. We try to coordinate local resources for muses who need help. Things like legal aid if they lost their job because they got outed, mentorship for muse kids who need it, things like that.
LIAM: That’s amazing. That’s. It’s so tangible.
ZOE: Well, yeah, tangible is what people need right now. Bigger changes take time, so while people are working towards those, I want to work towards helping how I can with everyday stuff. But what about you? I saw you with a few different muses — are you involved in anything?
LIAM’S INNER VOICE: Telling her you were part of a secret government organization is absurd. Do not say those words out loud. That is a monumentally stupid idea.
LIAM: I . . . was recruited. To a group of people who. We were trying to make those bigger changes . . . faster?
ZOE: [suddenly very intense] Shit, like secret agent stuff? Liam, were you an operative? Did you have missions? No, no, don’t say anything more here. It’s way too public. Tell me later. In private.
[to herself, very into it] Wow.
LIAM squirms Uncomfortably in his seat. It squeaks
SHOW NARRATION RECORDING: [fades back in] . . . the view from the stars themselves tells a story that’s a little different.
In Greek mythology, the story of Centauri starts with the story of Ixion, a king of Lapiths who went mad after betraying his father-in-law. Zeus, taking pity on Ixion, invited him to Mount Olympus. When he arrived, Ixion was taken by the beauty and wisdom of Hera . . .
END OF EPISODE 6
Valence is a Hug House production. You can find more information at Hug House dot Productions.
VALENCE is created by me, Wil Williams. This episode was written by Katie Youmans and Wil Williams, with creative consulting by Caleb Del Rio and Elena Fernández Collins. This episode was edited and sound designed by Wil Williams. This episode was directed by Anne Baird and Katie Youmans, and produced by Anne Baird.
This episode was performed by, in order of appearance:
-Josh Rubino as Liam and Liam’s Inner Voices,
-Alex Welch as Noel Alden,
-John Westover as Nico Salvai
-Miracle Fonmanu as Zoe Kafoa,
-Elena Fernandez Collins as Soledad Marquez,
-Caleb del Rio as Flynn Velasco,
-Richie Ammons as Halo Security Officer,
-Emma Laslett as Planetarium Employee, and
-Miranda Southwell as Planetarium Show Narrator
-Our theme music for season 2 was written and performed by Travis Reaves,
-with production from Raul Vega.
-Other music is provided by Loyalty Freak Music, a trans composer who we love and who makes music people can use for free. You can find their work at loyaltyfreakmusic.com.
-You can find our full cast list and information on how to support this indie podcast on valencepod dot com. There, you can find a link to our Patreon, where you can access the full version of the planetarium narration from this episode.
-Until next time, protect your magic.