Welcome to NA-SUNDI

part 8 of NEON RUN

Since we all need some extra entertainment right now, this week I’m doing a serialized release of my screenplay NEON RUN. This is Part 8. 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7


INT. THE REDACTED - COCKPIT - LATER

It's as if the lights were switched back on.

Howie SCREAMS—

They're headed straight down into the surface of a dark planet.

VEDA

PULL UP!

Zoe pulls on the steering as they gain speed—

VEDA

PULL! UP!

ZOE

What do you think I'm doing?!

Zoe stands, pushing against her chair to get more leverage as she pulls on the steering.

CACOPHONY as the ship shakes, alarms sound, people yell—

CRASH! They hit the dark surface of the planet.

INT. THE REDACTED - COCKPIT - MOMENTS LATER

The gang coughs as the sparking navigation board illuminates them. The steam around them dissipates.

VEDA

Have you ever landed, or do you just crash everywhere you go?

AGNEZZ

Shut up.

ZOE

Any major injuries?

HOWIE

I bumped my head, does that count?

ZOE

We don't need your head, Howie, we'll be good. Everyone present and accounted for? Messy?

CROAK.

ZOE

Agnezz, check Howie for a concussion. Let's see if we can get some power back.

Zoe flips some switches and then BANGS on the control board.

With a HUM some light returns, though dim and flickering.

HOWIE

Where are we?

She pushes a few buttons and examines the screen.

ZOE

All of our systems are down. I'm not getting anything about this trash heap of a planet. Lyllywight, can you try on your tablet?

VEDA

Maybe we've landed somewhere wonderful. We shouldn't rush to judgement.

AGNEZZ

Now is the time you stop being judgmental?

VEDA

I thought I'd try a new attitude.

ZOE

It's not a good look on you. Stenz, you got a read on the ship's damage?

Stenzrood tosses over a tablet. Zoe glances at it.

ZOE

Ok, well, that's not great.

The ship suddenly LURCHES.

VEDA

Neither is that.

ZOE

Everybody get down!

The ship stills and the lights flicker back on.

LYLLYWIGHT

I think I've got a signal!

ZOE

What is it?

LYLLYWIGHT

A neutral spaceport about a day's walk from here. It says we're on a planet called Na-Sundi. I've never heard of it.

VEDA

Neither have I. It can't be part of the Galactic Assembly.

ZOE

Ok, we'll head to the port. I'll make sure the coast is clear. Is the atmosphere safe?

LYLLYWIGHT

It seems like it, but with our sensors down there's no certainty.

ZOE

I'll chance it. Everyone stay down.

Zoe climbs out of the hatch.

EXT. NA-SUNDI SURFACE - NIGHT

Zoe opens the hatch and carefully climbs out. She waves away smoke coming from the ship.

The world is mostly dark. The ship is caught in a pit of vine-like cords. Surrounding them are banyan-like trees, formed out of electrical cords.

Caught in the cords are flickering old televisions, neon tubing... and bodies.

Mountains of electronics and trash spread across the landscape.

Zoe climbs across the roof of the ship, looking for a way down—

VOICES.

Zoe drops flat against the ship.

Approaching, lit by the glowing green of their orb-like lanterns, come two Na-Sundians. Their heads, arms and shoulders look near-human— but their bodies end at the bottom of their ribcage. From their backs are rows of armored tentacles, which suspend the torsos as they come forward.

NA-SUNDIAN 1

I hope they are alive. Tork likes fresh meat.

The Na-Sundians come up to the ship, banging on the outside of it, trying to find an opening. Zoe lowers herself back into the ship.

INT. COCKPIT - CONTINUOUS

Zoe gestures for everyone to be quiet.

ZOE

Not to be dramatic but I think the reason we've never heard of this place is because no one makes it out alive.

AGNEZZ

What's out there?

ZOE

Some dangerous-looking sentients, but look, we don't have time. I need to distract them before they search the ship. I've got a plan. Give it 5 minutes and head to the port. Don't wait for me.

LYLLYWIGHT

Are you sure—

AGNEZZ

You'll die.

ZOE

Look, this is bigger than us. Get Veda home. She's got people depending on her.

Zoe and Veda meet eyes.

HOWIE

Let me come with you!

Zoe turns around and sighs. She gets down to Howie's level and grasps his shoulders.

ZOE

Look, kid. I need you here.

HOWIE

You always say that—

ZOE

Howie. I can't have you next to me, upstaging me. Why do you think I make you stay behind?

Howie's suspicious.

ZOE

You stay here and be me while I'm gone. I'll catch up soon.

Zoe takes a long look at Veda, and then heads back up.

EXT. NA-SUNDI SURFACE - CONTINUOUS

Zoe watches the Na-Sundians circle the ship. She braces herself, and then jumps off of the ship and onto the surface.

ZOE

Howdy.

She puts her hands up. The Na-Sundians aim their guns at her.

INT. THE REDACTED - COCKPIT - CONTINUOUS

There's a few more BANGS and the sound of SHOTS FIRED from outside the ship.

HOWIE

What did she do?!

LYLLYWIGHT

The best thing we can do right now is keep quiet.

Howie nods solemnly and moves in closer to Lyllywight and Agnezz.

EXT. NA-SUNDI SURFACE - CONTINUOUS

Zoe wriggles as the Na-Sundians tie her arms behind her back.

NA-SUNDIAN 1

The queen will reward us for finding you.

ZOE

Can I meet her? I've got a thing for queens.

NA-SUNDIAN 2

You will be fed to Tork.

ZOE

Tork probably won't like me. My insides are all macerated, they sat in the wrong kinds of juices for far too long—

The Na-Sundians push her forward toward a large bomb shelter-like structure in the distance, lit by unnatural light.

ZOE

You guys like dancing? Music?

NA-SUNDIAN 1

Hush, Tork-Food.

EXT. NA-SUNDI SURFACE - CONTINUOUS

Veda watches as the Na-Sundians walk Zoe away. The others huddle behind her on the top of the ship.

HOWIE

Where are they taking her?

AGNEZZ

Judging by the look of this place they'll probably stick her on a barbecue.

Silence. Suddenly, Veda starts climbing down.

VEDA

Let's get moving or we'll lose her.

LYLLYWIGHT

Veda... You heard Zoe. This might be our last chance to get you home.

Veda considers for a moment, and then shakes her head.

VEDA

I'm not going without her.

AGNEZZ

Good. Neither are we.

A SCREECH from across the darkness— and then a HUM. A large ship approaches.

LYLLYWIGHT

They're probably going to scavenge the ship. Let's get going.

They slip down and hide in the darkness of the trash, and begin walking through the eerie forest.

HOWIE

Are we there yet?

LYLLYWIGHT

Howard, now is not the time.

AGNEZZ

Shut it if you want to keep your teeth.

HOWIE

Geez, just trying to lighten the mood!

They keep walking into the darkness.

EXT. NA-SUNDI FORTRESS - CONTINUOUS

ZOE

Are we there yet?

The Na-Sundians push Zoe ahead. She stumbles, dirty from the long walk across the trash-ridden landscape.

ZOE

Are we there yet? Oh. We're here.

The door to the fortress slowly rises.

INT. NA-SUNDI FORTRESS - NIGHT

The Na-Sundians push Zoe along a long, dark hallway. Zoe SINGS, narrating what she sees... Other Na-Sundians hiss at Zoe as she passes.

The utilitarian building is covered in recycled tech. They pass a window which looks over a giant pit just outside, which is covered in colorful, vine-like cords and neon tubing. Surrounding it is stadium seating.

NA-SUNDIAN 1

The feeding place.

Zoe glances to the other side of the hallway—

Outside of that window is THE REDACTED, getting lowered into the hangar.

She tries to get a better look at it, but they wrench her forward.

EXT. PLATFORM OVERLOOKING PIT - CONTINUOUS

They toss Zoe onto a platform overlooking the feeding pit.

Beyond the platform hangs a cage.

The smaller Na-Sundian finds Zoe's garter-holster and snaps it off, and then pulls some other hidden weapons off of Zoe's person.

Then they toss her into the cage.

ZOE

Come on, a pit and a sacrificial feeding? Tsk. Behind the times.

NA-SUNDIAN 2

You will wait here until the feeding.

ZOE

You know, I'd kill for a drink right now.

The Na-Sundian looks at her strangely and closes the door, leaving the cage swinging over the pit.

ZOE

See? Keeping me sober! You're my friends after all!

Zoe puts her arms around her knees, glancing down at the pit.

She takes a breath and her worry shakes her body. When the Na-Sundians leave, she's left in the dark.

EXT. NA-SUNDI FORTRESS - LATER

The gang, dirty from their walk, waits outside of the fortress, which glows from the neon tubing lining it.

Veda nervously paces.

VEDA

How do we get in?

Silence. Veda turns back around.

VEDA

What, no ideas?

AGNEZZ

Do you have any?

VEDA

I'm a politician, my idea of a plan is creating a policy proposal. Howard, you've been quiet.

No answer. Howie kicks some trash.

LYLLYWIGHT

Zoe usually makes the plans.

VEDA

You are all lost without her, aren't you?

AGNEZZ

Speak for yourself.

Agnezz walks ahead, Stenzrood following, scavenging through the trash.

LYLLYWIGHT

You know, we've been in bad situations before.

VEDA

I can't say I'm surprised by that.

Veda shakes her head. She looks up to Lyllywight (and Messy on his head).

VEDA

Did she change? Or has she always been like this?

Howie, lagging behind, pulls a metal tentacle from the trash.

LYLLYWIGHT

Both.

Lyllywight gently clasps Veda's shoulder.

Howie, holding the metal tentacle, skids to a stop in front of them.

HOWIE

I've got an idea!

INT. PLATFORM OVERLOOKING PIT - LATER

Two Na-Sundian Guards pull Zoe out of the cage and onto the platform, throwing her onto the ground.

In front of her stands the NA-SUNDI QUEEN. Unlike the others, her body doesn't end at the torso. Her legs hang, suspended from the tentacles coming from her back.

NA-SUNDI QUEEN

Fresh meat for Tork.

The queen nods to the guards and they pull Zoe up.

The queen slithers around, inspecting Zoe.

NA-SUNDI QUEEN

It is scrawny. But it will do.

ZOE

You know, I've got money. Loads. And I'm willing to do... basically anything.

NA-SUNDI QUEEN

It is intelligent. It will provide much entertainment for us.

The queen grabs Zoe's neck.

NA-SUNDI QUEEN

All of Tork's servants will gather to praise Tork. You will be digested in glory.

ZOE

If your digestion is glorious you must be doing something right.

NA-SUNDI QUEEN

Put it back in the cage. Tork will feed tonight.

Zoe grabs the cage's bars as it swings over the pit.

The queen and her guard retreat back into the fortress.

EXT. NA-SUNDI FORTRESS ENTRANCE - NIGHT

Agnezz, her legs detached, hovers a few feet above the ground, her jet-pack buzzing.

The tentacles attached to her back drag against the ground— she looks a bit like a Na-Sundian.

She carries a hover-cart behind her, heaped over with other trash and electronics from the landscape.

She jets toward the guarded entrance of the fortress.

AGNEZZ

If I get too much closer they're going to notice.

HOWIE (O.S.)

(over comm) Just a bit farther.

Agnezz inches forward, trying to keep herself steady.

A few yards away from the guard, a small hand pops out of the trash heaped on the hover-cart—

It's Howie. He tosses a plasma ball toward the guards.

It rolls toward them.

The guards stare at the blue plasma ball and then look up at Agnezz, ready to attack—

The plasma ball explodes, covering the guards with blue gunk. They drop to the ground, asleep.

Agnezz rushes into the entrance.

INT. FORTRESS ENTRANCE - CONTINUOUS

In the dark entrance Agnezz powers off her jetpack and starts ripping the tentacles off of her back.

The others emerge from the pile of trash on the hovercart. Lyllywight hands Agnezz her legs, which she quickly reattaches.

Howie glances over to Veda— whose white clothes are covered in grime.

HOWIE

I like this look for you.

He hands her some plasma balls, and then distributes them to the others. Stenzrood takes one in each tentacle.

They run into the fortress.

INT. PLATFORM OVERLOOKING PIT - MOMENTS LATER

Zoe looks down at the pit. Na-Sundians gather around it, ready for the ceremony to start.

An explosion of blue plasma in the hallway—

Veda rushes over to Zoe.

VEDA

(into comm) I've found her! Top floor.

ZOE

What are you doing here?!

VEDA

I needed to tell you that your plan was terrible.

The rest of the gang appears at the door, and rushes over to the balcony—

ZOE

How did you guys get in here?

HOWIE

It was my plan!

AGNEZZ

A good plan. Unlike yours.

ZOE

In my defense I was lying when I said I had a plan.

LYLLYWIGHT

Let's get you out of this—

ZOE

No, wait! Leave me here!

VEDA

I'm not leaving you here.

ZOE

They salvaged The Redacted and we need it to escape. There's a hanger on one of the lower levels. But you'll need a distraction.

VEDA

Letting you get eaten doesn't seem like a good distraction to me.

ZOE

All of those things are coming here to watch this, it's like a ceremony or something, so it will be a distraction. When the show starts you guys should be able to open the hangar doors and get out of here. You can grab me on your way out.

No other solution presents itself.

ZOE

Get moving!

Lyllywight grasps Zoe's hand before he, Agnezz, and Stenzrood rush out. Howie stands at the edge of the cage.

ZOE

Don't worry about me, punk.

Howie nods, struggling.

HOWIE

I brought you weapons.

He reaches out and drops a few discs into her hands. The transformer guns.

ZOE

Proud of you, kid. Go kick some tentacled ass.

Howie nods and follows the others out. Veda remains frozen next to Zoe's cage.

ZOE

You better get moving.

She reaches out and holds Veda's hand.

VEDA

You were the first person I thought of when I got into this mess.

Zoe kisses Veda's hand. Veda reaches through the bars and pulls Zoe close to her.

VEDA

And you are such an idiot.

ZOE

At least I know it now.

There's a HISS from behind them.

NA-SUNDI QUEEN

GUARDS!

They look up to see the queen, her tentacles lifted and arched, ready to attack.

ZOE

Blast, we really are idiots.

The guards come in and grab Veda.

NA-SUNDI QUEEN

More fresh meat.

The queen wraps one of her tentacles around Veda's throat.

NA-SUNDI QUEEN

Tork will thank us for this feast.

She drops Veda, leaving the guards to grab her.

The queen walks to the edge of the platform, looking at the pit and the writhing throng of Na-Sundians surrounding it.

NA-SUNDI QUEEN

HAIL TORK! LET HIM FEED!

A horrible screeching HISS comes from the crowd.

The queen pulls a lever— the bottom of Zoe's cage opens—

Zoe falls into the pit below.

To be continued…