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Story Summary - Part 2

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PART 2/4:


"Thirteen-year-old Ellie is the new kid at a military boarding school in one of the last remaining quarantine zones sheltering survivors from a deadly fungal outbreak. Ellie hasn't made any friends yet, but has taken an interest in fellow student Riley. When Riley sneaks out beyond the school walls one night, Ellie joins in..."

Ellie and Riley move over several roofs which notably exhausts Ellie. Riley asks her if she's ever thinking about her future, about what she's going to do with her life. Ellie says she doesn't and Riley tells her that's exactly what the QZ's military prep school wants kids to believe and that she's not about to live a life in which you're supposed to become a soldier for the city at the age of sixteen. Riley turns sixteen in three months, so that's a bit of a problem.

They move into an abandoned shopping mall where Ellie notices an old arcade. She's pretty excited about the 'Triple Phoenix' arcade machine but Riley tells her it's just a game for kids. She moves to 'The Turning', a fighting game with 'insane' final boss fights. As Ellie moves out of the arcade she visualizes it with kids playing all the games before and after the Cordyceps outbreak.

Still inside the mall, Riley and Ellie soon enough reach a tent with an old man named Winston; Riley introduces Ellie and the man asks if they've brought something for him. She's brought fine booze for him and he gladly accepts it, although he's still edgy about Riley bringing Ellie. Riley asks him if he can teach Ellie how to ride a horse. As Ellie's petting the horse she asks Riley whether she's trying to get kicked out of the QZ, but Riley tells her that's not the answer. You'd just get a shitty job outside of the QZ along with too few rations.

As Ellie and Winston go round the mall, Riley sneaks into Winston's tent, clearly looking for something. Meanwhile, Ellie asks Winston what the place was like before the outbreak. Winston tells her he used to skip school, failed to make out with a girl he had a crush on and assures her the mall was always packed with people always looking to buy stuff.

When they get back to the mall, Winston tells them to go back to the QZ when ... BOOOOM! Smoke and fire rise from a distance and Winston quickly gets on his horse saying he has to find his unit and commanding Riley and Ellie to get back. When he's gone, Riley grabs a (stolen) walkie-talkie from her pocket and Ellie is about to get furious as she realizes that she's been used as a distraction when all of a sudden a voice breaks out of the device. Riley wants to use the walkie-talkie to find the Fireflies! Ellie tells her she's nuts, Riley runs off and Ellie - after a brief moment of hesitation - runs after her anyway.

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