VALENCE – Season 3, Episode 4: “Memento Mori”

The team goes back to the scene of the crime. Mahira falls back under. And Liam gets put back in his place.

VALENCE is a serialized fiction podcast meant for adult listeners. You can find more information, including our full cast list and transcripts, at

If you’d like to listen to the next two episodes in advance of their public release, you can purchase access to them now in the free Apollo Podcasts app.


VALENCE was created by Wil Williams. This episode was written by Katie Youmans and Wil Williams, and edited and sound designed by Wil Williams. This episode was directed by Anne Baird and Katie Youmans, transcribed by Katie Youmans, and produced by Anne Baird. The VALENCE Season 3 theme was composed by Travis Reaves.

Performances by:

  • Josh Rubino as Liam Alden and Liam’s Inner Voice,
  • Noami McMillan as Morgan Reilley,
  • John Westover as Nico Salvai,
  • Caleb Del Rio as Flynn Velasco,
  • Jordan Cobb as Sarah Harris,
  • Katie Chin as Grace Chen,
  • Ishani Kanetkar as Mahira Varma,
  • Alex Welch as Noel Alden,
  • Elena Fernández Collins as Soledad Marquez,
  • Miracle Fonmanu as Zoe Kafoa,
  • Giancarlo Herrera as Luis Acebo,
  • and Roanna Cruz as Pratima Biswas.


[[A door handle turns and clicks open. Soft wind chimes tinkle.]]

WIL: Brought to you by Hug House Productions.

WIL (PUBLIC FEED): Before we begin the episode, we want to let you know that VALENCE is participating in the new Partners Program created by Apollo Podcasts! If you’d like to listen to the next TWO episodes of VALENCE Season 3 in advance of their public release, you can purchase access to them now in the Apollo Podcasts app.

WIL (APOLLO FEED): Before we begin the episode, we want to thank you for supporting us and the Apollo Partners Program! Your contributions go directly to the creators to help fund projects like VALENCE so that everyone involved in the production can be paid a fair wage! Here is your Apollo exclusive tip for the day: are you a podcaster? Are you somebody who writes for any kind of audio? Do you work in Audible Originals? Do you make audio fiction yourself? Do you make a nonfiction audio project that requires a script? Do you do any. Writing. For audio. 

Please, for the love of god, join the WGA . . . E Audio Alliance. Sorry, there were a lot of letters and I forgot how they work. Letters, I mean. So, the WGAE Audio Alliance is affiliated with the WGA East, but it’s not a union, per say. It’s more of an advocacy group, where we do a lot of work trying to get people  paid equitably! If you’re here on Apollo because you paid a money to listen to this guy, you probably care about creators being paid, and if you’re a creator yourself, I care about you being paid what you deserve. 

Turns out labor is labor even if you love it, and we deserve to be paid for our labor. It’s good actually. So you can – there’s a link, probably, somewhere. I am so sleepy. It’s probably gonna be in the show notes, but if you google WGAE Audio Alliance, we’ve got a Discord and resources and a whole bunch of stuff. Please join us. Please get paid. Ok, I love you, bye, enjoy!

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. It’s important to take care of yourself — especially as you make your way back to New Candler.

[Season 3 theme music starts, gentle and driving acoustic guitar that builds, bringing in electric instruments and feeling like the beginning of what you always wanted a road trip to be when you imagined it]

[begin episode]

Scene 1

INT. the tour bus, right where we left off in the previous episode

Late night fleeing from Flagstaff and looking to ditch the tour bus. GRACE is driving and FLYNN navigating.

FLYNN: What we need is an actual plan. So far we’ve been aimlessly hopping around to avoid Morgan, or the cops, and-


-my aunt calling the cops. It’s not sustainable. We can’t live like this

GRACE: Agreed. I don’t know about all of you, but I was not built for the car life.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE (NICE): I’ve already filled my quota for existing in small spaces, certainly.

SARAH: We need to take down Reilley, and we need to do it in a way that doesn’t make us America’s Even More Wanted. Let’s put all her layers of consequence-armor up on the board. That should help us with figuring out how to dismantle each of them.

FLYNN: Here, I can take notes. I want to keep track of all of this.

NOEL: She has political connections. At all levels. She’s not one to neglect local — city council members, zoning commissions, even school boards.

FLYNN types out notes on his phone

NICO: School boards? What the f– oh. Oh!  [horrified laugh]

NOEL: Havens in schools, yeah. And before that, policies mandating Halos during standardized testing and sports.

LIAM: Of course. Of course.

MAHIRA: Fucking repulsive.

GRACE: Nightmarish.

FLYNN: So, I think the news pieces on illegal testing are definitely helping weaken that layer, but the work’s not done yet. There’s protests starting to gain some momentum. I’d . . . I’d like us to join that effort where we can.

MAHIRA: Same. She needs to become the third rail of politics. Nobody wants to touch her and nobody wants to be caught supporting her.

LIAM: Zoe has talked about the ways her organization is working towards that, and I do think they’re getting there.

NOEL: If stock prices are anything to go by, I’d say yes. Each time another story comes out, the price takes a sharp dip, and so far, it doesn’t recover much between stories.

MAHIRA: Maybe this is a little too on-the-nose, but another layer of armor: her actual literal magic.

FLYNN: And with it being fucking data-based, she’s got her shitty little fingers in basically everything, forewarning about anything we do without layers and layers of security.

SARAH checking her phone and reading a message from ELISHA

SARAH: Not everything.

LIAM: Hmm?

SARAH: Look. [she holds up the phone for LIAM] Elisha got her hands on a screenshot from a Halo employee’s social media. Look what’s in the background.

NOEL: That’s a Harmony.

GRACE: Where was this picture taken?

SARAH: The Palladide facility. Colorado.

NOEL: We’re . . . not far from that.

MAHIRA: Nico, how do you feel about a repeat performance?

NICO: Yeah, I think there’s room in my schedule.

FLYNN: First, we’ve got to ditch this bus.

Scene 2

INT. the stolen silver 2007 Honda Civic. The most nondescript car in the lot they robbed. 

Early hours of the morning as they pull an all-nighter. Flynn is driving, Sarah is riding shotgun and navigating with a paper fold-out map.

SARAH: You’re going to want the turn coming up – it’s a left.

FLYNN: How much longer after that?

SARAH: (shrug noise) We’re about to be in Colorado, at least. No GPS means we’re just estimating.

NICO: I still say we could have magic’d our phones to make GPS fine.

SARAH: I’m not having this conversation for the third time.

LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: Seems your team spirit is fraying. I’m curious to see how long before it falls apart completely.


LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: Suit yourself.

FLYNN: You all should be trying to sleep as much as you can. I already don’t like us going on this little rest. Nico, you especially.

LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: That’s right — Nico. And not you. You’re of no use to them anymore. Left behind as a child because of your magic, left behind now because of your lack. You really can’t win either way, hmm?

LIAM: You’re sure I shouldn’t be going in too? Even without magic, I’m familiar with the facility. I could . . . I could help. I think.

SARAH: [walking on eggshells] I’m sorry, Liam. I do think it’s for the best though.

NICO: I was able to take out the last one on my own — with just Mahira, Sarah, and me, we can poof in, junk it, poof out.

SARAH: I’m just wondering what the security situation will be like when we get there. I’m shocked Reilley even allows employees to have smartphones on them anywhere near proprietary tech.

FLYNN: Lucky for us, I guess.

SARAH: Lucky Elisha heard the photo existed in time to send it our way before Morgan scrubbed any trace of it.

FLYNN: Yeah, I’m still kinda nervous about you going in there with them, Sarah.

SARAH: I know. But like Nico said, it should just be a quick in and out. I’m only there as backup in case magic is a no-go. The Harmonies are built to withstand a lot, but there’s plenty of weak spots. I can take care of myself.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE (NICE): They know what they’re doing. It’ll be fine. You just need to trust them.

A text alert ping on FLYNN’s phone

FLYNN: Shit, Sarah, could you-

SARAH: Yeah, got it.

SARAH grabs FLYNN’s phone from the cupholder it was sitting in, unlocks it, taps her way to the text

SARAH: Mahira says they’re on 145 now, Grace’s driving is [small laugh] . . . the word she uses is “enthusiastic”.

NICO: (stifled laugh)

FLYNN: That sounds right.

SARAH: And they’ll be waiting at the meetup spot for us. Going by the map, I’m guessing we have about two hours to go. Everybody try to nap if you can.

FLYNN: [fondly] Hey, that means you too.

SARAH: No promises.

Scene 3

EXT. the woods, early morning, but the sun is up now.

MAHIRA and NICO and getting ready to poof the last half mile over to the Palladide facility. 

GRACE: I will never get used to sending you all into danger like this. I still don’t like it.

MAHIRA: Bright side, we’ve got practice now.

NOEL: Practice or no, I’ll feel better when you’re all back and we can leave. Being this close to the facility has me . . . on edge, I suppose.

NICO: In and out, Wednesday. And then we can fuck off somewhere less [disgusted noise]

GRACE: If you don’t all make it back safe, you’re fired.

MAHIRA: Love you too, Grace. Ok, let’s go.

MAHIRA and NICO grab SARAH’s hands and poof away

FLYNN: Well, I guess we just wait now.

LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: You have plenty of experience with that, don’t you Liam? Being left behind, of no value to anyone.

A beat, and then, a soft crackle of comms coming on

SARAH (over comms): We’re in – it’s pretty empty this early. Nothing exciting to report yet.

FLYNN: Glad to hear it.

The comms crackle ends. A brief, uncomfortable beat

NOEL: How did you all stand it?

GRACE: Stand what?

NOEL: This. Waiting. Is it always this hard?

LIAM’S INNER VOICE (NICE): Comfort them. That’s what being their brother is for.

LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: And you’d know all about being a model older brother, would you?

FLYNN: [overlapping with Liam’s inner conversation] I’d almost say it gets harder, because each time you find out more of what they’re going up against. Wondering and guessing is pretty bad already, but this is — it’s pretty fucked up.

NOEL: How do you fill the time?

GRACE: With this. Just. Making uncomfortable conversation. Oftentimes I’m alone, so . . . I don’t even get to do that. I keep myself busy with paperwork and stuff – you know, the bureaucratic stuff none of you like to do.

The comms crackle on

SARAH: We’re coming up on the room the Harmony is in. Mahira thought she heard something so she and I are splitting off to make sure nobody comes up on Nico while they’re breaking it.

NOEL: No sign of any Havens in operation yet? That’s strange.

MAHIRA (over comms): Oh, there were a couple. Sarah took them out already.

LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: They seem to be doing awfully well on their own.

GRACE: Glad to hear it’s going well. Keep us updated.


Comms off

A tense, quiet beat.

NOEL: I hate this.

FLYNN: Liam, are you alright? You’re really quiet over there.

LIAM: [lost in thought] Mm?

FLYNN: I just — this is your first time hanging back with us. Normally, you’d be-

LIAM: I’m fine.

FLYNN: Ok . . . but it’d be ok if you weren’t fine too.

LIAM: I don’t like not being able to help.

NOEL: That’s understandable. No one would blame you if you were feeling . . . anything, I suppose.

FLYNN: Yeah, grief is allowed to be messy.

LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: And what do you even have to grieve? Wasn’t losing your magic what you always wanted? I gave you your dream, Liam, and this is how you react. With ingratitude.

LIAM: I’m fine.

A beat.

GRACE: I do not regret not delegating those dogs to you. They were mine.

FLYNN: [small laugh]

Comms on

SARAH: [hushed, tense] Mahira was right. Something’s up.

NOEL: Are you alright?

SARAH: So far, yeah. Nico’s taking care of the Harmony as we speak.

GRACE: [sigh of relief] That’s good, at least.

FLYNN: If you need to bail, I vote sooner rather than later, ok?

SARAH: Yeah, but we also found what looks like a battery? Nico said it “had fucky weird magic vibes” so we stole it. And-

MAHIRA: [hushed, tense] Shh.

A beat.

MAHIRA: Ok, false alarm. Or. 

No, wait.

Do you hear that?

GRACE: Hear what? What’s happening?

SARAH: Fuck.

FLYNN: Sarah ditch the comms — focus on {the mission at hand}

A loud bang and a sharp crackle of magic

SARAH: [screams]


The magic fires off, cutting MAHIRA’s shout short and killing the comms

LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: Deeply underwhelming that it took security this long to respond and do what I pay them to do. What is even the point?

FLYNN: What do we do?

LIAM: Get Nico.

GRACE: Sarah has the only comms — she said it was best to minimize the-

LIAM: Get. Nico.

NOEL: [shaky] I’ll do it. Give me your arm. The marked one.

LIAM: Here.

NOEL takes LIAM’s arm and presses their thumb against the mark. We hear their magic, and then NICO’s. The two go back and forth for a brief moment.

NOEL: It’s done. They’re on their way to help.

FLYNN: Marks can do that?

LIAM: Where’d you learn that?

NOEL: I . . . Morgan.

GRACE: Where’d she learn that?

Static interference building, drops out after Noel’s line

NOEL: [uncomfortable] I never asked.

NICO’s magic sound, growing in intensity as they poof back, with SARAH holding on and MAHIRA slumped in their arms.

SARAH: [fighting back panicked tears] She jumped in front of me. I was going to — she saved me.

NICO: She needs a doctor now.

GRACE: Where’s the nearest hospital?

NICO/LIAM/SARAH/FLYNN: [immediate simultaneous “no”, “are you out of your mind”, overlapping messily]

FLYNN: No hospitals. We need to find somebody else.

NOEL: How do we do that?

LIAM’S INNER VOICE (NICE): Zoe. Call Zoe. She’ll know someone.

LIAM: Let me –

LIAM fumbling to grab his phone and dial, struggling to hit the right buttons in that nightmare way where nothing you do works right on the first try and it makes the panic worse every time. He manages finally, and ZOE picks up

ZOE: What’s wrong?

LIAM: How’d you know?

ZOE: It’s ass o’clock in the morning. Out with it.

LIAM: We need to find a doctor, not in a hospital, and we’re . . . we’re in Colorado.

ZOE: I know two people. Where in Colorado?

LIAM: We’re near — fuck, where is the map?

SARAH: We’re in the southwest corner. Ish.

ZOE: Ok, yeah, one of them is right around there. Texting you the info now.

LIAM: [shaky but earnest] Thank you.

ZOE: [warmly] Of course. Now go — I’ll text her to expect visitors.

ZOE hangs up, LIAM opens the message from ZOE with the doctor’s info.

LIAM: Nico, Noel, can you two get us all to these coordinates?

NOEL: I don’t know about getting back, though. The cars –

NICO: It’s fine. We were going to ditch them anyway. Let’s go.

Scene 4

EXT. a suburban street, midmorning.

The TEAm together in front of the home of the doctor ZOE recommended.

Sounds of a magic heart monitor. Inner Morgan running this whole time.

PRATIMA: Noel, I need you to soften your magic.

NOEL: Soften it? How?

PRATIMA: That’s up to you. Do it fast or I’m having you switch with Nico.

NICO: You calling me soft?

PRATIMA: Don’t have time or energy to razz a stranger right now.

NICO: [Under their breath] Coward.

LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: Couldn’t even step in to help her, and the one way you know how—electrifying her heart back to life—wouldn’t have even worked here if you could. 

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: No. I know how to do more. Luis and Mahira both taught me some first aid.

A memory of a night at Sol and Luis’s home. Sweet, lilting music plays on the radio in the background as Luis and Liam prep dinner

LIAM’S INNER LUIS: Ooh, the knife, the knife—it’s always cherry tomatoes. Here, let me show you how to fix that. Eh, Sol? Maybe get some bandaids just in case, we’re a little tipsy over here.

LIAM’S INNER MAHIRA: Okay, Liam. You’ve got this. Just imagine it closing up. It can help to think of your magic like a bandaid or a scab, and then just picture the skin reforming—or maybe think of it like—you ever seen The Fifth Element? Maybe that’s more—oh. Well, y’know, like, cool sci-fi 3D printing. (Chuckles)

LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: But you were never good at it, were you?

LIAM’S INNER SOL: Uh-huh, ok, here’s the bandaids. And I’m making coffee. ‘Cause I think you need it.

LIAM’S INNER MAHIRA: Okay, that’s—that’s close! You almost got it. Listen, I’m sure Flynn has a copy of that movie. Or Sarah does.You never know – it might help!

LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: This is what you get for only being useful inasmuch as magic. Look at all the vocational time you’ve spent, what, learning about the stars? About the intricacies of gravity? About theories that will never actually help anyone? And what institution would possibly take you in to teach you anything else? No formal education, even with expensive tutors. No grades. No transcripts. Not even a documented life. You’re nothing, Liam. And thanks to the work of myself and your unfortunately equally embarrassing father, you never will be. You will never be able to learn enough to help anyone.

snap back to reality ope there goes gravity

FLYNN: [Underneath inner Morgan until snap back] Liam, could you text Sol? . . . Liam?


He’s doing it again. I don’t know what to do at this point.

LIAM: Hmm? I—sorry, sorry, fuck, what were you saying? I’m sorry.

SARAH: You gotta stop apologizing like that, Liam.

LIAM’S INNER VOICE: But I fucked up.

LIAM’S INNER MORGAN: Just like you always do.

LIAM: I—right. What did you need me to do?

FLYNN: Never mind. It’s okay. I got it. I just wanted you to text Sol and let them know what’s up.

LIAM: Oh. Right. Sorry. I mean—that, that makes sense.

SARAH: Are you good?

LIAM: I don’t know. This isn’t about me right now. I’d rather focus on helping.

SARAH: But . . . we’re on, like, B squad. There’s not really anything we can do to help. We just have to trust Pratima and let those three work.

LIAM: Where’s Grace?

FLYNN: Food run. She was . . . uhhh . . . pretty pissed. You didn’t see her storm off?

LIAM: I didn’t, no.

A beat. Flynn and Sarah look at each other.

FLYNN: Liam, you know you’re not doing okay, right?

LIAM: I don’t know. I don’t feel like I know anything.

PRATIMA: Okay. Noel, let up—up!

Noel magic stop

NOEL: Sorry.

PRATIMA: Nico, herbs, now.

The crunchy crumble of dried herbs in a salve

PRATIMA: Okay. We’re going to take shifts dosing her with magic. Nico, you’re up first.

NICO: On it. Scale of 1 to 10?

PRATIMA: A 3. Slow and steady. Don’t let it get jagged at all.

NICO: Yeah, yeah.

PRATIMA: [to Liam] So you’re the one Zoe dated, right? The one who cheated but didn’t cheat.

LIAM: . . . right. Yeah. That’s . . . That’s me!

PRATIMA: A lot of folks in this org don’t want anything to do with you, but you should know that’s not Zoe’s fault.

LIAM: Even if it were, she’d be rightly entitled.

PRATIMA: No. Listen to me. She’s not. That’s more important than whatever you’re trying to make this about. What I’m saying is that there’s plenty of us, including Zoe, who care a lot more about organizing for muse rights than they do about interpersonal drama. And that means that yeah, you’re going to have a lot of people who don’t want to talk to you, but there’s more of us who do. We’re seeing what you’re doing.

LIAM: Oh. Okay.

SARAH: Thanks, Pratima. It means a lot to hear people aren’t just drudged down in drama.

PRATIMA: Honestly? It seems like mostly that’s just . . . you all.


LIAM: It’s—it’s personal for a lot of us. Deeply personal.

PRATIMA: (Sighs) Okay. Think about what you just said. Now think of every muse who’s out there fighting. Is it not personal for them?

LIAM’S INNER VOICE (BITCHY): Yes, obviously! Is it their father they have to deal with? Their abuser? Their family?


LIAM’S INNER VOICE (NICE): Of course they have to deal with their families. Come on.

LIAM: God. You’re right. You’re completely right. Thank you for that.

PRATIMA: Good to have an outsider looking in to keep you grounded. [sigh] Okay. I’m going to keep prepping herbs. Noel, you’re with me this time.

NOEL: Right.

The two start prepping herbs again. The soft, rhythmic chop of a paring knife against a cutting board continues in the background

LIAM: Do you two remember the time we watched The Fifth Element together?

SARAH: Yeah, you hated it!

FLYNN: You were all, “This movie is sexist!” “This movie needs less Bruce Willis and more Gary Oldman!”

SARAH: Hate to jump to Liam’s defense here but he’s right.

FLYNN: Well yeah but like, it’s The Fifth Element, c’monnnnnn

LIAM: I just wanted to say thanks. For trying to help me study up on mending charms. I wish I could do them now. Or, um, then. It just means a lot that you two tried to help.

SARAH: Pfff, I just wanted to watch the movie.

LIAM: Oh, hush.

The bed rustles as MAHIRA regains consciousness

MAHIRA: (weakly) Hmm? Where—huh? Sarah, are you–? [wince noise] Fuck. 

NICO: Easy there tiger. Your body is all fucked up right now. Lay back down.

MAHIRA: (Weakly) [Whiny noise of protest]

LIAM: Mahira, can we get you anything?

MAHIRA: Vengeance.

SARAH: Well, I mean . . . here’s hoping.

LIAM: No, not vengeance. [small, relieved laugh] Justice. That’s what we’ve got to focus on, right?

NICO: Ugh.


FLYNN: Oh my god, you two.

Knock on door

PRATIMA: Can one of you three get that?

LIAM: Yes! Please, let it be me.

Liam gets door, lets Grace in

LIAM: Welcome back, Grace.

GRACE: [still with a simmering anger] Mm. I got us some food and some supplies. I also found a few local dealerships Nico can hit so we have a way out of here. I updated Sol and Zoe on our status. I also sent Sol a shipment of cat food and litter.

What have all of you done to help in the meantime?


A beat.

GRACE: . . . okay. Well. Where to now?

MAHIRA: Uh . . . closest place is maybe . . . Albuquerque? Does anyone have people there you trust?

GRACE: I don’t.

SARAH: Me either.

FLYNN: I don’t think so.


LIAM: All of my people are currently in this room.

A beat.


NOEL: What? Is it family?

NICO: No. Worse. An ex.

[end episode]

WIL: VALENCE is a Hug House production. You can find more information at Hug House dot Productions.

WIL: VALENCE is created by me, Wil Williams. This episode was written by Katie Youmans and Wil Williams, and edited and sound designed by Wil Williams. This episode was directed by Anne Baird and Katie Youmans, transcribed by Katie Youmans, and produced by Anne Baird. The theme music was composed by Travis Reaves.

WIL: This episode was performed by:

  • Josh Rubino as Liam Alden and Liam’s Inner Voice,
  • Naomi McMillan as Morgan Reilley,
  • John Westover as Nico Salvai,
  • Caleb Del Rio as Flynn Velasco,
  • Jordan Cobb as Sarah Harris,
  • Katie Chin as Grace Chen,
  • Ishani Kanetkar as Mahira Varma,
  • Alex Welch as Noel Alden,
  • Elena Fernández Collins as Soledad Marquez,
  • Miracle Fonmanu as Zoe Kafoa,
  • Giancarlo Herrera as Luis Acebo,
  • and Roanna Cruz as Pratima Biswas.

WIL: We’d also like to thank Perry Carpenter for supporting Season 3 of VALENCE on Indiegogo.

WIL: You can find our full cast list and information on how you can support this indie podcast on valencepod dot com.

WIL: Looking for another great podcast to listen to? We recommend Sidequesting! Sidequesting is a fantasy podcast about avoiding the main plot and follows Rion, a budding adventurer who’s willing to help out just about anyone, as long as they’re not being asked to deal with the scary wizard everyone keeps talking about. We know a thing or two about scary wizards here. Each episode follows a new sidequest of Rion’s as they travel from town to town, meeting new people and doing new things. It pulls from classic tropes across fantasy stories, but subverts them. It’s a fun, light-hearted, and exciting adventure. You can listen to episodes of Sidequesting in any order, and you can listen to it now on your favorite podcast app.

WIL: Until next time… protect your magic.

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