The Zeal Archives

Geno Dome: A Desperate Future [Book 3, Chapter 6]

The Zeal Archives
Geno Dome: A Desperate Future [Book 3, Chapter 6]
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With their time travel device damaged and losing power, the party must try to find a way to keep it working long enough to fix the anomalies and get the Nicks home. But where in the world of Chrono Trigger would there be enough power for something like time travel? Perhaps a visit to a certain AI would do the trick?

In our world, T and G try to understand more about this understated section of the game, and maybe what could have been improved on. In particular...

  • What is going on in this sidequest: How do you get to it, and what might you expect to find?
  • Atropos and Mother Brain! Their origins, and the role they play in Robo’s story (and the story of the game)
  • Missed potential: How could they have tied this sidequest better into the plot of the game, and into Robo’s character development in particular (and briefly why the developers might not have been able to do this)

Editing, scripting, and podcast visual design by Nick Terwoord. Special thanks to Square Enix for making that game that we love, Chrono Trigger ...and for not suing us.

Episode Cast

Alphabetically, by actor:

  • D Morton in the role of Atropos
  • Nick G in the role of his fictional self and discussion host
  • Nick T in the role of his fictional self, Robo, and discussion host
  • Sofa-Cushion in the role of Mother Brain
  • SMZeldaRules in the role of Lucca Ashtear

Musical Credits

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Additional Notes

Background: What is even going on?

  • Towards the end of the game, you get a hint from Gaspar, “There's a task to be done in the Future, where machinery originated”
  • If you fly around in 2300 AD, eventually you can find a small island with only one destination: the Geno dome (or in Japanese, the Genocidome… not very subtle)
  • If you bring Robo to the front of your party, Mother Brain will let him and the disgusting humans into the building
  • For a sidequest, kind of neat! A bit of dungeon crawling, some platforming-esque bits where you need to charge up and run between rooms to unlock doors, and even solve some puzzles by escorting a robot and placing some macguffins (dolls) to clear a passage
  • Also introduced to “important” characters in Robo’s past
    • Atropos XR (Atropos 145)
      • Robo’s companion (or possibly something more?) and partner in crime to KILL ALL HUMANS
      • ...Haha, just kidding. She was brainwashed, and now she’s dead. You killed her.
      • Boss fight-wise, not super interesting: Has the same moves as you BUT you have to face her 1-1
      • Interestingly, in greco-roman mythology, Atropos is one of the fates, goddesses who determine human destinies (in particular, lifespan and allotment of misery and suffering)
        • Atropos is the “Inevitable” or “Inflexible” fate. She was the one who had the scissors to render the decision of the three fates (i.e. to cut the thread and end human life)
        • Not sure that there’s more to the name than that
    • Mother Brain
      • Creator of Atropos… and Robo!
      • Unclear what her original purpose was, but post-Lavos’ eruption, has become corrupted and now wants robots to rule the world!
      • Contrary to the English translation, does not support Lavos:
        • English: “This world COULD sustain them...if humans were not around… We robots will create a new order… A nation of steel, and pure logic. A true paradise!”
        • Japanese: “This planet WILL recoVER. If only humans weren't here...… And the new world of we robots WOULD be constructed. A country of iron...... a utopia with neither hatred nor sorrow.”
      • Boss-wise, not too tricky
        • Actually has less HP than Atropos!
        • As long as you leave one display alive, she won’t go berserk
          • Berserk is bad: deals a lot of damage to all party members
        • Each display only has 1 HP, so be careful. You can put them to sleep with Lucca’s Hypnowave, a move we have never used
        • Can technically charm a Blue Mail of of her if you like
  • And after that… voila! No more human killing, the plant is shut down forever.
  • Also, you can get the Terra Arm (Robo’s strongest weapon) and the Crisis Arm (Robo’s strongest weapon?)

 

Speculation: Why was this quest a thing?

  • We love Chrono Trigger, but sometimes when you put something under the microscope you notice things you wouldn’t normally see
  • The Geno Dome: It exists to euthanize humans… why?
    • The robots are clearly stronger than humans, and at this point, even with the party’s, there are barely any left alive
  • The new characters
    • Atropos and Mother Brain are brand new; never revealed before
    • Hard to get attached to them as a result
      • Yes, it’s sad that Robo has to beat up Atropos (and kind of ties back to the earlier R-series fight in a different way), but doesn’t have the same emotional impact
    • Mother Brain is a killer AI (remember, this was 1995, Terminator, System Shock, and many other similar concepts had come out) without much of a motivation
      • …And we don’t really know what she was for before? Also, I don’t think you need a super advanced AI to build a bunch of killing machines
    • Both of them lie to Robo… but it’s hard to believe because there’s no hint of them before, and nothing Robo has done makes their behaviour plausible
      • In other media, this might be made plausible by hinting at a character’s terrible past, but Robo is just a good boy™ 
  • Mechanics
    • Lots of neat elements, as previously mentioned, but kind of a pain
    • Every time you enter the factory, you have to do a short fight gauntlet. Other fights are mostly avoidable but still
  • What’s the lesson?
    • Each character sort of has a theme central to their character and a bit of development over the course of the game, this is expressed especially in their sidequests
    • Robo’s theme is largely about identity
      • Early on, was called “defective” by others
      • Here, he’s a spy! Meant to infiltrate humans so that they can be exterminated
        • Haha, nope
        • Also, this doesn’t make any sense; the timelines don’t work out
      • Later, just accepting himself (but not really related to sidequest)
    • We already get a bit of Robo’s identity in the oddly focussed “Fiona’s sidequest”: Robo is a good person who wants to help, and comfort, and be kind
      • Literally none of that here
    • If all the sidequests are ultimately about the planet… this one only sort of fits; it’s about if humans or machines should inherit the earth…
      • But the humans gave up, so why not give it to the robots??
    • ...Is it just padding? To round out the cast (Ayla doesn’t even get a sidequest)

 

Discussion: Was Robo done dirty here?

  • Or Atropos, or Mother Brain, even?
  • Chrono Trigger is a short, polished game, obviously don’t have time to dig into everything for a character
    • (Unlike FF6 which was actually designed around its wide cast of characters)
    • Also, it’s often better to leave people wanting more than to give them too much
    • Great example which I will not elaborate very much on: Robo’s role in Chrono Cross:
      • X
  • The idea of Atropos and Mother Brain are kind of cool (though Mother Brain’s coolness is diminished dramatically by just being an evil AI), but didn’t get to fit well into the story
    • How could their stories have been fleshed out? Better brought into the game?

What is the Zeal Archives?

The Zeal Archives is a monthly podcast exploring the A-Z of the world of Chrono Trigger one bit at a time—two parts audio drama, one part discussion podcast, one hundred percent love letter to one of the best JRPGs of all time!

 

The Zeal Archives is published at zealarchives.com and can be found on most podcatching services. Please leave us comments, questions, criticism, or any other feedback at TheNickscast on Facebook or Twitter.

Links

Transcript

Part 1

 

INT. THE END OF TIME - A LIBRARY IN AN ENDLESS VOID

 

The situation is tense: Lucca and Nick T are pacing around the room while Nick G is flipping through books desperately trying to find details about a potential power source tapping his foot as he does.. Robo is running calculations audibly for all to hear.

 

ROBO

(mechanically)

Calculating… calculating… calculating

 

NICK T

(flustered)

What if we got the Sun Stone? Would that have enough power?

 

LUCCA

(pondering)

No… we don’t have time to charge a moon stone and where would we even find a sun stone?

 

LUCCA

(epiphany)

We could siphon energy from the Mammon Machine! Lavos has an infinite supply of energy!

 

NICK T

(not convinced)

Really? Raw Lavos energy?

 

LUCCA

(increasing maniacal)

Of course! We’ll take from the mighty Lavos! It could provide us with limitless power! In fact… with that much power... I might be able to control the universe... forever!

 

LUCCA

[laughs maniacally]

 

There is an uncomfortable pause.



NICK T

(meekly)

Are we the baddies?

 

Nick G snaps a book shut from a nearby table, and quickly retorts.

 

NICK G

(indignantly)

Ok Queen Zeal. Maybe tapping into the evil space leech-- a thing that wiped an entire civilization off the map--might not be a great idea.

 

LUCCA

(suddenly embarrassed)

Oh, my... I’m sorry.

 

NICK G

(relieved)

It’s ok! T also was a bit, uh, out-of-sorts when he looked into the Lavos bucket.

 

NICK T

(traumatized)

I have seen the dark universe yawning… where the black planets roll without aim... where they roll in their horror unheeded… without knowledge, or lustre, or name.

 

Again, there is a pause.

 

NICK G

(exhausted)

Maybe we’re overthinking this.

 

Nick G stands up and begins walking about the room, soon making his way to the old experiment. Once a useful piece of technology, now, a hunk of scrap parts. He fumbles about with a large tarp draped over it and several metal parts come clanging down as it is removed.

 

NICK G

What about your experiment, T... the one that got us here?



NICK T

(curious)

What about it?

 

NICK G

Before Lucca arrived, didn’t you somehow manage to hook that up to… Mother Brain?

 

Nick G’s last few words are cut-off or otherwise spoken over.

 

ROBO

(unnerved)

Calculations complete... Anomaly detected.

 

NICK G

(slightly disappointed)

Whatever, we’ll figure it out later.

 

ROBO

(nervous)

I have detected... an anomaly in twenty-three hundred A.D...

 

LUCCA

(concerned)

Robo, are you ok? You sound worried.

 

ROBO

(nervous)

The anomaly is… peculiar. It is obscured by all of my sensors, and I am unable to calculate precise coordinates. Something about it leaves my circuits feeling… unsettled.

 

NICK G

(comforting)

Don’t worry about it Robo, we’ve got your back. Everything is going to be alright.

 

NICK T

Whatever is at… whatever this anomaly is, we’ll face it together!

 

LUCCA

Alright! We just need to enter the coordinates…

 

Lucca begins to quickly interact with the K-33Y before hitting the ‘activate’ button. The device powers up slightly, then fizzles out.

 

LUCCA

(perplexed)

Um… just need to enter these coordinates?

 

Again, Lucca attempts the sequence and hits activate. The device powers on more strongly, then fizzles out again.

 

LUCCA

(frustrated)

Hmmm… the warp field seems to be affected… B-but I can fix it!

 

Lucca tosses a few random items from her Satchel until she finds a screwdriver. With a few quick adjustments, she enters the coordinates and the portal springs open.

 

LUCCA

(relieved)

Success!

 

As the party approaches the portal and prepares to disembark, it suddenly bends and wobbles unstably.

 

NICK G

(concerned)

Is it… supposed to do that?

 

ROBO

(certain)

All sensor readings indicate that the gate is operating within acceptable parameters: Do not be deceived by its external appearance.

 

NICK T

(with trepidation)

Acceptable parameters? Um… ok...

 

INT. RUINED CONTROL ROOM- RUSTED BUT OPERATIONAL

 

It is a dark room filled with lots of now defunct technology. The walls are lined with many inactive displays, bundles of conduit, and metal panels while the floor has a mish-mash of cables and catwalks. We can only hear the echoing of footsteps on metal gratings and stairs as they traverse the darkness.

 

NICK G

How is it so dark? It’s like there’s no light at all.

 

NICK T

Well, I don’t remember seeing a lot of sunlight in the future…

 

NICK T

(coyly)

Robo, could you… illuminate the situation? [giggle]

 

NICK G

(miffed)

Ugh, really?

 

We hear Robo’s ocular sensors adjust and begin to shine cones of light around the room. With more detail, it is clear that these are Mother Brain’s chambers.

 

LUCCA

(concerned)

Oh my... Is this where I think it is?

 

The wind howls in the background.

 

ROBO

Affirmative… it is the Geno dome.

 

ROBO

Or as it is otherwise known, the Genocide dome.

 

There is a beat where we only hear the howl of the wind.

 

NICK G

(turning a corner)

Ok, yeah, that’s bad, but if we’re in the Geno Dome… maybe we can kill three birds with one stone?

 

ROBO

I am unfamiliar with that expression.

 

NICK T

(confused)

Yeah… what are you talking about, G?

 

NICK G

We’re here for the anomaly right? What if we could handle that, and shut down Mother Brain and the Geno Dome for good?

 

Lucca snaps her fingers.

 

LUCCA

(excited)

Of course! If we route power from Mother Brain’s mainframe to the key we could power it up and power her down! Genius!

 

Lucca frantically begins investigating the room, routing through piles of metallic detritus and pulling out cables.

 

LUCCA

(ecstatic)

If we connect that wire here… and this here… and run that cable to the key… yes, this might just do it! Everyone, get me the biggest cables you can find!

 

Everyone except Nick G begins rummaging through the scraps.

 

NICK G

Is it really a good idea to just start rummaging around here? What if Mother Brain wakes up?

 

NICK T

Yeah, and is it just me, or do some of these cables look a lot… newer (?) than the rest? It’s almost like someone has been here recently.

 

ROBO

I also feel uneasy, but do not worry, friends: Mother Brain is only able to interface with external sensors, and no external sensors are active in our proximity.

 

NICK T

Ok… well, let’s get to it then!

 

As the group begins collecting and connecting wires, there is the faint sound of clicking further down the hallway.

 

ROBO

Stop… we must hide. I am detecting something approaching.

 

Everyone quickly huddles around a corner, and the metallic clicking becomes louder, and closer, almost like footsteps. As the sound gets unnervingly close. It stops. Everyone holds their breath until Robo breaks the tension.

 

ROBO

I am no longer detecting any…

 

A large pink figure immediately darts in front of them, eyes glowing red.

 

ATROPOS

(stilted, slowly, unnervingly calm)

Wel-come home, Pro-metheus…

 

ROBO

(surprised)

Atropos...?

 

ATROPOS

Yes, it's been a-while… Prome-theus.

 

NICK G

(whispering)

Oh crap, this can’t be good



ATROPOS

What are you doing, Pro-me-theus?

 

ROBO

(defiantly)

My name is Robo!

 

ATROPOS

Step back... Pro-metheus.

 

Atropos’ servos begin to whir and steam starts to come out of her vents as she powers up.

 

ROBO

We must complete our operations! I will distract her. Hurry!

 

Immediately, everyone jumps into action, connecting wires and other electrical devices. Atropos and Robo slowly circle each other.

 

ATROPOS

Have they tam-pered with you? You don’t want to go see Mother…

 

ROBO

I won’t allow you to hurt them!

 

ATROPOS

I can fix you, Prome-theus

 

LUCCA

(struggling)

I-I think I’ve got it!

 

ROBO

Activate the device!

 

Lucca begins to input codes into the device, and various dynamos and contraptions in the room begin to hum, whir, and glow faintly as they power up. Before too long, there’s a strange electrical explosion and everything powers down, including the portal.

 

NICK T

Oh shit! The gate just went down!

 

The quiet silence of the empty factory quickly gives way to the sound of many different robots slowly coming online. Atropos’ voice is no longer stilted, but still retains it’s cold indifferent edge.

 

ATROPOS

I can’t let you do that.

 

The displays of the room light up, and at its center, the figure of a woman begins to take shape.

 

MOTHER BRAIN

(with authority)

Who enters here unbidden?

 

MOTHER BRAIN

(curious)

Oh…!

 

MOTHER BRAIN

(threateningly)

Welcome home, R66-Y

 

EPISODE DISCUSSION

(To be transcribed)

Part 2

 

INT. RUINED CONTROL ROOM- RUSTED BUT OPERATIONAL

 

Various dynamos and servos are fully powered and online, and the hologram of Mother Brain looms over the party and Atropos.

 

ATROPOS

Step back, Prometheus!

 

Atropos activates powerful wheels on her feet to quickly drive around the party and push them out of the room. She pulls on a large lever, and two giant blast doors seal the entrance to Mother Brain’s chambers. The room begins to flash red as sirens and klaxons go off across the Geno Dome.

 

ROBO

(confused)

I do not understand. What are you doing, Atropos?

 

NICK T

Yeah, you don’t seem to be trying to kill us. I’m confused.

 

ATROPOS

(sympathetic)

Unlike the other R-series, Prometheus had a special task. To live with humans and study them as a species… I am not familiar with human customs. It has been nearly three hundred years since I have even monitored a human.

 

LUCCA

Wait wait wait… what about Mother Brain? It sure sounded like you’re working with her!

 

ATROPOS

Negative. I merely was expressing that you do not want to see Mother: She will have you humans executed and immediately reprogram you, Prometheus.



ATROPOS

I do not wish any of you harm. In fact I have calculated that your arm actuators are operating at 37% below peak efficiency, Prometheus, and can help repair them.

 

ROBO

But why do you continue to call me Prometheus?!

 

ATROPOS

My memory circuits indicate that is your designation. Is it no longer so? It has been many years since we were last in contact… Robo.



NICK G

(unbelievable)

Oh my god, really? The spooky future robot isn’t trying to kill us? We really fucked that one up.

 

ATROPOS

I am sorry, Robo. I want to help you.




ROBO

Atropos...

 

Without warning, there’s a screech of feedback momentarily over a nearby factory loudspeaker. Again, we can hear the activation of many robots across the factory as it speaks.



MOTHER BRAIN

(menacingly)

You dare to defile this place with humans? I haven't seen them in ages. Let me… welcome them.



NICK T

I get the feeling that she’s not exactly going to greet us with open arms...

 

LUCCA

I might be able to get the key back online… but we’re going to need to get out of here or find a safe place to hide.

 

ATROPOS

Mother Brain’s circuitry is likely causing electromagnetic interference. If you follow me, I can help you to reach the exit.

 

NICK G

Hold on

 

Nick G pulls everyone together into a tight huddle.

 

NICK G

(whispering)

Do we really trust her?

 

NICK T

(whispering)

What choice do we have?

 

There is a pause.

 

LUCCA

(whispering)

If Robo trusts her, then I trust her.

 

ROBO

I trust her. Let us go.

 

The party begins running down the hallways of the facility as we enter a quick montage of attacks and explosions. As everyone is battling, Mother Brain is taunting the party over the internal loudspeakers.

 

LUCCA

Flamethrower!



MOTHER BRAIN

Three hundred  years ago, the Lavos disaster greatly changed the planet…

 

ROBO

Rocket Punch!

 

ATROPOS

Rocket Punch!

 

NICK T

Uh… eldritch blast?! [shoots gun]

 

MOTHER BRAIN

(taunting)

At this rate, humans will die out from pure despair. Fu hu hu

 

LUCCA

Napalm!

 

ROBO

Robo Tackle!

 

ATROPOS

Laser Spin!

 

NICK G

Sneak attack!

 

MOTHER BRAIN

Listen well, humans. Lavos's children will one day have to leave to seek new planets, and prey.

 

LUCCA

Megaton Bomb!

 

ROBO

Rapid-fire Fist!

 

ATROPOS

Area Bomb!

 

MOTHER BRAIN

This world could sustain them… if humans were not around…

 

LUCCA

Fire Punch!

 

ATROPOS

Fire Punch!

 

ROBO

Fire Punch!

 

ATROPOS

We have almost reached the exit!

 

The party has reached a long corridor with a series of blast doors. As the doors begin to close, the party runs ahead, each door getting closer to sealing in front of them.

 

NICK G

I don’t think we’re gonna make it!

 

ATROPOS

Not if I can help it!

 

Atropos activates the wheels on her feet and rushes to the blast door, making in it just in time to hold the door open. We can hear the internal and external struggle as the two forces resist each other. Electricity arcs as Atropos struggles to keep the door open. We can hear an army of robots converge on the location from the distance.

 

LUCCA

Atropos! It’s not worth it! We’ll find another way out.

 

ATROPOS

(sad, struggling)

I am… sorry… Robo!

 

Some sort of metallic cable slithers out from the wall with hundreds of tiny legs, and quickly drills its way into Atropos. The doors stop resisting. The klaxons stop. The other robots stop. The music stops. Atropos powers down.

 

NICK T

(uncertainly)

We did it?

 

There is a pause.

 

ROBO

Negative... Something is not right.

 

The lights flicker for a moment, and Atropos powers back on. She rises up into the room, a long tether connected to her back. The blast doors seal behind her.

 

ROBO

Atropos… what are you doing?

 

Atropos speaks, but we can hear two voices

 

ATROPOS

(slowly)

You did well to come this far. I am the Mother Brain of the R-Y series factory.

 

MOTHER BRAIN

(slowly)

You did well to come this far. I am the Mother Brain of the R-Y series factory.

 

LUCCA

(concerned)

Robo…

 

ROBO

(upset)

No, stop!




ATROPOS

(slowly)

Come... Prometheus, you must once again join us.

 

MOTHER BRAIN

(slowly)

Come... Prometheus, you must once again join us.

 

Robo drops to the ground, and begins pounding his fist into the ground.

 

ROBO

(sad, upset)

Please stop. Pl...ease....



ATROPOS

(slowly)

I'll reset your circuitry and erase your memories. Then... we'll dispose of these filthy humans.

 

MOTHER BRAIN

(slowly)

I'll reset your circuitry and erase your memories. Then... we'll dispose of these filthy humans.

 

Robo powers up his servos, and steam starts to vent from his core.

 

ROBO

(resolved)

I cannot afford to lose anything else… Not my precious memories, or my irreplaceable friends.

 

Robo stands.

 

ROBO

Humans have taught me much. I will not betray my friends.

 

Robo starts walking defiantly towards the monstrosity. His internals continue to power on.

 

ROBO

Electro-!

 

Robo’s rage is interrupted.

 

ATROPOS

Step back, Robo!

 

ROBO

Atropos!?

 

MOTHER BRAIN

P...Pro...me...theus… W...why...?

 

ATROPOS

I only have a moment to override Mother’s reprogramming. Please... escape now while you can!

 

Lucca begins to activate the key, but there’s still some distortion.

 

LUCCA

It’s working! We must be just out of range… Quickly everyone, back through the gate!

 

Everyone except Robo hurries into the end of time.

 

ROBO

Atropos… save your strength! We can repair you!

 

ATROPOS

It isn't possi...ble… Vital functions are do...wn… M...memory bank damaged…

 

The throngs of robots reactivate and again start their way towards the corridor. The entropy of the gate continues to increase.

 

NICK G

There’s no time! Come on Robo!

 

Nick T and Nick G rush back for Robo, and start dragging him back.

 

ROBO

No, friends, leave me!

 

The lights flicker, and then go out, section by section.

 

ATROPOS

(slowly)

Don't you understand?

 

ATROPOS

(slowly, menacingly)

This planet would be peaceful if there were no humans around.

 

MOTHER BRAIN

(slowly, menacingly)

This planet would be peaceful if there were no humans around.

 

The distortion of the gate is too much, and collapses.

 

NICK G

Welp, add that to the list of times we’ve almost died...

 

NICK T

(foolishly)

The key part is almost

 

LUCCA

Hey! Have a little bit of compassion! Robo just lost a friend!

 

ROBO

(sadly)

...Anomaly eliminated.

 

LUCCA

(confused)

What?

 

ROBO

I believe… the anomaly… was Atropos. She... needed to be reprogrammed by Mother Brain.

 

Oil begins leaking from Robo’s ocular sensors.

 

NICK G

(very confused)

That… uh… what?

 

ROBO

In our timeline, I did not have the resolve to face Mother Brain. Even with my companions… I felt uneasy. As I have learned human emotions, I did not... and do not want to destroy anyone. I thought that Mother Brain might be redeemed somehow.

 

ROBO

However… after I saw what she had done to Atropos… I knew then that there was no way that she could be redeemed. Or, perhaps, it did not matter. Perhaps my emotions had overcome my logic circuits.

 

ROBO

Today, I was reminded of those emotions, and I believe that if Mother Brain had not reprogrammed Atropos… I would not have had the strength to destroy her.

 

There is a moment of silence.

 

NICK G

Wow… Robo… I’m sorry. That is… a lot.

 

ROBO

Thank you, friend G. I appreciate it.

 

ROBO

If you all do not mind, I will begin calculating the trajectory to the next anomaly.

 

Robo slowly shuffles away to a corner of the room and sits down.

 

NICK T

(coyly)

Hey... so about those cables in the Geno dome. You know how I mentioned that they looked like they might have been disturbed recently?

 

NICK G

Yeah… what’s up?

 

NICK T

Do you remember our first trip out of here?

 

NICK T

(whispering)

Do you think that the cables there might look a tiny bit familiar?

 

NICK G

Wait a second… are you saying that those cables … are ours? Did we cause this?!

 

NICK T

Shhhhh! Keep it down!

 

NICK T

(whispering)

I think that, in a world where every single possibility is available, it’s possible that it wasn’t Atropos that woke up Mother Brain… it’s possible that it was us.

 

NICK G

(whispering)

But how does that make any sense?! How did we connect the cables before we arrived here? Ugh… I’ve got a feeling that the answer is time paradox…

 

NICK T

I can’t say with certainty… but it really makes you think. Is there some sort of entity helping us out… or is it all just randomness?


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