Chapter 2:

The Girl who was Saved

The Forbidden and the Gifted

[12:03 a.m. August 8th, 2048; Seoul, Korea. The shot pans to a jet black Toyota Sienna, driving along low-lit Seventh Street; Drift is driving with Naomi in the passenger seat, Shin and Electra sit in the middle and Ashe and Yuki sit in the back]Bookmark here

Yuki [To Ashe]: So, what’s your name?Bookmark here

Ashe: Ashe. [Pauses] Ashe Yoshino.Bookmark here

Shin: [Surprised] Yoshiro?Bookmark here

Yuki [To Shin]: No idiot, Yoshino. Yo-She-NO. Bookmark here

Shin: Aw shit.Bookmark here

Yuki: What, you thought she was related to him eh?Bookmark here

Shin: Well, maybe?Bookmark here

Yuki: Yoshiro’s common around these parts. Even if it was a ‘Ro’, I don’t think you’d be finding his cousin or whatever. Especially not one with Scandinavian blood like her.Bookmark here

Shin: Guess you’re right.Bookmark here

Yuki [To Ashe]: So, where do you want us to drop you home?Bookmark here

[Ashe doesn’t respond]Bookmark here

Electra: Hey missy, you falling asleep? Where do you wanna be dropped off? You’re surely from around these parts, no?Bookmark here

Ashe: I am, yeah.Bookmark here

Electra: Then tell us before you fall asleep eh?Bookmark here

Drift [To Electra]: Eh, easy there big fella, she’s been through a lot, ya know?Bookmark here

Electra: Yeah, yeah. My bad.Bookmark here

Drift: I know we do a ton of reckless shit, but I still feel for bystanders who get caught up in the mess that is our line of work. We – you especially Elec – need to be more sympathetic.Bookmark here

Electra [Thinking]: Easy for you to say, Mister Perfect. There’s a reason you’ve always been the better half of us two. Always been such a self-righteous guy, unlike me. Bookmark here

Ashe: Oh no need to defend me. Bookmark here

Yuki: Well though Ashe, where are you from? Downtown?Bookmark here

Ashe: No, I’m from a little while out. If you guys know where Jeong is…Bookmark here

Naomi [To Ashe]: You’re from Jeong?Bookmark here

Ashe: Yeah. [Pauses] Well, I don’t stay there anymore.Bookmark here

Naomi: Where do you stay?Bookmark here

Ashe: Downtown now. It’s quite busy. I can’t stay with my family though.Bookmark here

Naomi: Why not? Did something happen?Bookmark here

Ashe: No. My families always been really nice – they’re really simple people. My dad, Oskar, used to drive into Seoul every day to work as an office man, and my mom was the usual, stay-at-home.Bookmark here

Naomi: Sounds pretty nice.Bookmark here

Ashe: I also had two brothers and a sister; we all attended the west end school.Bookmark here

Naomi: Hyon?Bookmark here

Ashe: No, that was the other one we could’ve gone to. We went to Ryouk instead. Honestly, reminiscing about it makes me miss my time there.Bookmark here

Naomi: Why’d you move though?Bookmark here

Ashe: Because a lot of people aren’t all that good. Hanging with the wrong crowd nearly put me in the state that I am right now three years ago.Bookmark here

[Yuki looks downwards]Bookmark here

Ashe: I thought I could trust him, he was just another guy in a group that I was so close with. But I guess… [Pauses] I guess people aren’t good.Bookmark here

Naomi: But you’re here now, no?Bookmark here

Ashe: Yeah, because they thought it’d be a good idea to try and break and enter our house to get the girl from the beauty pageant and sell her off at 3 a.m. Luckily… [Pauses]… luckily my dad… [Hangs her head down].Bookmark here

Yuki: [Pats her side] It’s okay. [Pauses] It’s okay.Bookmark here

Ashe: He didn’t die, and he held them off long enough for the cops to get there. Obviously, they ran off by then, but my dad’s injuries were too much. [Pauses] Fractured collarbone, fractured leg, broken right foot, concussions, the list went on. [Pauses] Before long, he was fired, and my mom had to find work, but you know how work is for uneducated women in these parts. Even in Downtown Seoul, she couldn’t find anything. And worst of all, those pieces of trash kept coming after me. We had to spend money that we didn’t have on security and other garbage, until I realized that they kept coming after me, cause I was the apparent ‘beauty’ of the area. I thought that I could keep my family safe by moving away from them and into downtown Seoul, and for a while it did. They lived happily, and so did I, even though I missed my life there dearly. I attended school and all, but today reminded me that I’ll never be able to leave that past behind. Cause the shadow of the hideous hell that is the shitty black market will always follow me around. [Pauses] Oh sorry, sorry, not you guys. I just hate the people that thrive off of corrupt shit in these parts.Bookmark here

Shin: [Grits teeth] Damn people like that.Bookmark here

Electra: Easy now Shin. There’s a reason we are who we are. Because people like that exist.Bookmark here

Yuki: Do you want some of our security from back home? We know some people; we’ll give you some help to you for nothing.Bookmark here

Ashe: I really can’t accept. We’ve just met, that’s way too much. Besides…Bookmark here

Yuki: Don’t worry, don’t worry! We don’t mind at all, right Shin?Bookmark here

[Shin nods in agreement]Bookmark here

Ashe: No, no. You see…Bookmark here

[Naomi looks back at her]Bookmark here

Ashe: I don’t wanna just be the protected delicate girl anymore. The truth is, I hate living fearing what someone could do. I hate being scared. I hate being the way I am. I want to do something against that can help against those creeps.Bookmark here

Naomi: But…Bookmark here

Drift: Listen girl. Being like one of us takes a lot of sacrifice. We aren’t police. We aren’t the military. We aren’t detectives. We’re fugitives, who’re playing with our lives like it’s a part of a game. It’s risky business, all things considered. Bookmark here

Ashe: Even then…Bookmark here

Drift: Are you really prepared to sacrifice everything? There’s times where you’ll hate yourself. There’s times where you won’t be able to comprehend why you’re doing what you’re doing. Because we aren’t the law. We’re our own embodiment of justice, however different it may be from the true form of justice. What we are, and what we believe in, none of that’s absolute you know?Bookmark here

Naomi: Drift…Bookmark here

Drift: Don’t Drift me. I know too well the struggle with a life like this because I know you, Naomi.Bookmark here

Naomi: Don’t do that… please. I’m not like everyone else.Bookmark here

Drift: You are. Us four [looks at Electra, Shin and Yuki]… we’re the oddities. Cause we can take shit and move on. We’re the weirdos here. Not you. But because you’ve been surrounded by weirdos you think you’re the weird one, even though you’re more human than any of us.Bookmark here

Ashe: What are you talking about…Bookmark here

Drift: Naomi… [Points to Naomi], she couldn’t shoot a soul. Not even when her life depended on it. She could’ve been pushed against a wall, with a gun in her hand, and she’d choose to die. Even if the person in front of her had killed everyone she had known. Bookmark here

Shin [Sternly]: DRIFT.Bookmark here

Drift: Sorry, sorry Shin. I didn’t mean it as a slight against her. I meant it as a compliment. She’s a human, and even when she eventually was able to pull that trigger, she remained far more human than the rest of us.Bookmark here

Naomi: But it cost you…Bookmark here

Drift: My losses, no matter what they are, don’t matter. Bookmark here

[Ashe looks forward towards the driver side door, and sees Drift’s metallicized hand on the steering wheel; the metal extends down his arm, to her shock]Bookmark here

Ashe [To Yuki]: Is that?Bookmark here

Yuki [To Ashe]: Yeah. His arm was severed back then…Bookmark here

Drift [To Both]: You don’t need to explain. All I’m saying is, if I’m not there, or the others aren’t there, and you can’t pull the trigger, what’s to make of you?Bookmark here

Ashe: Even then… even then… I want to be there.Bookmark here

Drift: But you don’t have to do this. Why choose the path of no return, like we all have?Bookmark here

Ashe: Because I should’ve been taken it back then. Because I shouldn’t be here right now. Because my life is just a mishmash of so much bullshit that it makes me sick. I hate everything about life. Classes don’t give me the same uplifting feeling they used to, where I’d actually be interested in what I was studying… hell, the major I’m in is only what it is because it’s the easiest at the Uni.Bookmark here

Drift: But does that really warrant throwing your life away? If you take our security personnel and protect your family, you might find that flame of hope again; you might…Bookmark here

[Naomi taps Drift’s metallic right hand and shakes her head]Bookmark here

Naomi: It doesn’t work like that. Once that flame’s gone, it takes legitimate miracles to stir it back to life. Bookmark here

[Electra clenches his teeth in the background]Bookmark here

Naomi: You know well enough Drift, that you’re the miracle that caused my flame to be set ablaze again. It doesn’t come from taking people’s handouts. I know it all too well, because I thought I’d be happy by just accepting the things that were thrown at me. But it was working with you guys that gave me the confidence to shoot that gun back then… and that’s what changed everything. It started because of you – don’t try and fan out the embers she has left because you think it’s right.Bookmark here

Shin: [Interjecting] Even so, even so, what’s your plan girl? To team up with us? I love the idea that you have, but you gotta know, we’re a pretty elite batch. Even her, [Taps Naomi over her seat], she’s easily one of the most wanted people in the world, despite how innocent she looks and acts. We can’t be babysitting you, you hear?Bookmark here

Yuki [To Ashe]: And besides, not to be rude, but do you have any experience in any sort of fighting, martial arts or anything of the sort?Bookmark here

Ashe: Yeah. Kind of had to do something to try and ward of the weirdos at least. I’m a black belt in Karate, and I’ve done some archery, so I’m not awful with a bow, but I’ve never used a gun of any kind before.Bookmark here

Yuki: Black belt? Holy shit. [Looks at Shin] That’s higher than you, sadist.Bookmark here

Shin: Screw off, will ya?Bookmark here

Yuki [To Ashe]: Still though, what Drift said was right. Him, the sadist, Elec and myself are the oddities here. Naomi’s found a purpose, and that’s why she can stay on in this gutless field, but us four are so used to death that it doesn’t faze us anymore. Cause we know, everyday, we’re being hunted without remorse, and we know we could possibly die without seeing the sunset even if we’ve seen the sun rise. Can you do that? Can you put your life on the line, every day, without consideration? Not even for other people, but to actively do a job?Bookmark here

Ashe: I don’t know. I’m not gonna bullshit you and tell you I can right now. I know it’s not cliched, but I don’t know my own capabilities, both mentally and physically.Bookmark here

Electra: It’s good to hear that, you know? But what we do is taxing I’ll tell you. There’s not too many of us who are members of our little association, hell, those security personnel would’ve just been contracted by us. We’re like a little family, but that doesn’t mean we have time to look after each other and babysit, as they said before. We’ll have jobs that we have to work together to finish, some more brutal than others. If you choose to join us, you likely can’t see your family ever again, because you’d be too much of a wanted person, and you’d be putting them in danger, which I know you don’t wanna do. Bookmark here

Ashe: It’s not like I see them anyway. I told them when I was leaving that I’d distance myself, and maybe send some texts or letters occasionally. I haven’t seen them in person since I left the house that day. [Pauses, then laughs] You probably think that’s overdramatic right? [Laughs] To never see them again, just because of one incident? [Laughs] I know right, it’s so stupid.Bookmark here

Shin [Thinking]: But we know that wasn’t the last of it. Once you left, they kept coming. And so you shut yourself in, to never disturb your family. And you let them know that, but played it off as you moving somewhere far away, and that’s why you barely see them anymore. It’s written so plainly on your face, even your laugh can’t wipe it away.Bookmark here

Yuki [Thinking]: It’s written on your face that you’ve been through so much, and you want to throw yourself into this hell as well? I don’t know what you’re thinking, but at the same time, I think Mi has a point with her needing to find that flame. I don’t know if it’s here, but I don’t know if it’s anywhere else either. Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know!Bookmark here

Electra [To Ashe]: So, are you sure you wanna do this?Bookmark here

Ashe: If it was any other group, I’d be having second thoughts. But you guys, I don’t know what it is, I feel even more inclined to join you guys. I’ve only ever felt such a strong sensation towards people when my dad saved me that one time. I haven’t felt this way otherwise.Bookmark here

Electra: Hm. And you’re sure you don’t want to do it legally right? Like through the police, or feds or military, or whatever?Bookmark here

Ashe: I couldn’t. I know a bunch of people who’ve joined. They do nothing but sit on their asses and punish the people who don’t even need to be punished. And they’re just lapdogs for all the higher ups… they’ll never do shit to change the shadows, cause what goes on in the shadows isn’t affecting any of them anyway.Bookmark here

Electra: Hm.Bookmark here

Ashe: Believe it when I say it. I want to help more than anything. I want to work with you guys. Even if some of the shit you guys do is beyond me, and even though some of it doesn’t feel right, you guys give off a different aura. There’s no reason for people working in the shadows to offer to return me home, let alone offer security personnel and willingly think about rgar person’s best interests before letting them join. You guys may not do the right thing all the time, but it’s clear that you guys have your hearts in the right direction, and I want to do whatever I can.Bookmark here

[Naomi looks at Electra, who nods at her]Bookmark here

Shin: Well, well. You certainly have the heart, wouldn’t the rest of you agree?Bookmark here

[Yuki nods her head]Bookmark here

Shin: I’ll ask again though. You’re prepared for everything that’ll come with doing this. You don’t have to do this. Don’t think it’ll be easy. But I’ll say one thing… [Pauses] you’ll feel more alive than you’ve ever felt with us.Bookmark here

[Drift smiles]Bookmark here

Shin: I don’t want you to think we’re all doom and gloom, and that we’re pushing you away. In fact, we love people like you with spirit like that. It’s for that reason that we try to push you guys away, to use your talents somewhere else, where you don’t have to be living in darkness. But if you truly believe that spending your life with us is the best choice for yourself and is the only way to set your heart ablaze again, then I won’t stop you. Right guys?Bookmark here

Drift: I said what I could before. But I don’t want to stand in your way, and I’ll gladly accept someone with that kind of attitude on our team.Bookmark here

Electra: Yeah, for sure. Only reason I was so hesitant is because I didn’t think someone who looks like the next Miss Seoul would be willing to get her hands bloodied.Bookmark here

[Ashe blushes, then laughs]Bookmark here

Yuki [To Electra]: Flattery doesn’t work, dipshit. It’s why Nina left you.Bookmark here

Electra [To Yuki]: Oh, could you forget about her? [Sighs, then laughs] Damnit!Bookmark here

Yuki [To Electra]: Like hell I could! [Laughs]Bookmark here

Naomi [To Ashe]: Well, I guess with that, I think it’s safe to say: Welcome aboard, Miss Yoshino! I hope you’ll come to love us, your merry band of idiots. Go on, go on, introduce yourselves properly you lot.Bookmark here

Yuki [To Naomi]: Aw Mi, why can’t you do it for us?Bookmark here

Naomi: I’m not doing everything you know! Plus, even though I’d probably get the point across better than most of you, especially you Drift… [Drift smirks], it’s better for her to hear it from your own mouths, you know?Bookmark here

Yuki: Fine, fine, fine. Who’s going first? I vote for Shin.Bookmark here

Electra: Vouch.Bookmark here

Shin: Fine bastards. You two gotta get us dinner in Shanghai before we fly out, ya hear?Bookmark here

[Yuki and Electra both sigh]Bookmark here

Shin: Well, if you couldn’t already tell, or if I haven’t said so already, I’m Shin Taiki, from Japan. These guys call me a sadist, and well, I can’t really oppose that sentiment, cause I’m in the same boat as you. I hate most of the asshats who are part of these underground chains and enterprises of the sort. So, after two years of secondary, me and her, that bitch Yuki, partnered up to make this little gig. We both, as well as Mi there, were from the countryside, so we knew that nothing exciting was gonna happen anyway if we just stayed the course – how were we gonna get into Tokyo or Osaka or any of those metropolises anyway? So, we decided on doing something to help people, even if it wasn’t in the most legal way.Bookmark here

Yuki [Thinking]: He purposely omitted the real reason for it eh? Man.Bookmark here

Shin: Anyway, I’m basically the head of operations and shit in this whole gig ya know? I’m not the most skilled fighter or martial artist or gunman or practically anything, y’hear? But I can make some pretty useful plans, and I’m pretty good with technology too. These guys sometimes call me a wizard, although you’ll never hear Yuki admit it [Yuki scoffs in the background], but I like to think of myself as a backbone in many ways. Even if I’m not overly strong, I like to plan, I like to scheme, I like to torture the bastards who I’m up against, and I love what I do. If you ever need anything really, just hit me up. I may seem like a complete ass at first, but after a while, you realize I’m only like that to Yuki. [Pauses] Oh yeah, Drift…Bookmark here

Drift: Yo, you want me to go next?Bookmark here

Shin: You can if you want, I don’t mind. But I wanted to use your phone.Bookmark here

Drift: Huh? Why? Bookmark here

Shin: I wanna call Karina.Bookmark here

Drift: And you… don’t have her number?Bookmark here

Shin: I brought my 18 instead of my 20, cause I didn’t wanna use the 20 and get roaming charges and all that other garbage.Bookmark here

Drift: But… won’t it apply to your 18 as well?Bookmark here

Shin: Nah mate, I got this tapped. I don’t have to pay international coverages or nothing and works like a charm. You should swing me your 18, it only works on them anyway.Bookmark here

Yuki [To Shin]: Why have I never heard of this?Bookmark here

Shin [To Yuki]: Because you don’t deserve to. Simple enough answer?Bookmark here

Yuki [To Shin]: God, I really do hate you.Bookmark here

Shin [To Yuki]: Oh, oh, the feelings definitely reciprocated!Bookmark here

Ashe [Whispers to Electra]: Uh… how did these two?Bookmark here

Electra [To Ashe]: They’re a lot closer than they act. They love teasing each other. Bookmark here

Ashe [To Electra]: It’s only teasing?Bookmark here

Electra [To Ashe]: Yup. They’re like brother and sister those two, they could tease night and day but they’re one of the most badass duos I’ve ever seen when they’re on their game. Even if it were their families, their friends, anyone really, if it came down to it, they’d choose to die for each other over any of them.Bookmark here

Shin [To Electra and Ashe]: Huh? What are you two talking about? You already owe me lunch, Elec, don’t think it’s just Yukes.Bookmark here

Electra: Yeah, yeah, I know.Bookmark here

Shin [To Drift]: Anyway, anyway. Hand me the phone, Drift.Bookmark here

Drift: [Tosses the phone] Here, dipshit.Bookmark here

[Shin calls Karina, to which she responds]Bookmark here

Shin: Oh Karina, thank god you picked up! [Pauses] It’s late? [Pauses] Huh? [Pauses] How is 12:41 late? [Pauses] WHAT? You’re calling me a lowlife with a messed up sleep schedule? [Pauses] Who was the one who watched seventeen episodes of anime in one night, starting at 10? [Pauses] Yeah, you’re real quiet now, eh?Bookmark here

Yuki [To Ashe]: God he’s annoying, isn’t he?Bookmark here

Ashe: [Snickers] Hahaha, I guess so. Bookmark here

Shin [To Yuki]: Buzz off you stupid witch! Stop trying to corrupt the poor newbie! [Pauses, then talks to Karina again] Oh yeah. Yeah. We got a newbie. The hot girl we were talking about? [Pauses] Yeah, her. [Pauses] I know right? It’s crazy! [Yuki slaps him, to which he hits her]Bookmark here

Yuki [To Shin]: I’m telling you; you won’t be able to woosh her off her feet you prick!Bookmark here

Shin [To Karina, ignores Yuki]: When you get back, slap the shit out of Yuki for me? [Pauses] You will? Oh delightful, delightful! [Pauses] Oh yeah, what I was calling for. I wanted you to contract some security guys from Tokyo. [Pauses] Yeah, yeah. [Pauses] Yeah, yeah, don’t worry. Send em into Seoul for next week, alright? [Pauses] Perfect. Yeah, that’s perfect. Okay, thanks Karina, thank you! [Hangs up]Bookmark here

Ashe [To Shin]: Wait, wait, you really don’t need to, you know?Bookmark here

Shin [To Ashe]: It’s the least I could do to show my appreciation, you hear? Don’t think to much of it. They won’t be noticeable to your family at least, so don’t worry. Think of it as a welcome gift from your crew here. Bookmark here

[Yuki, Naomi and Electra all smile]Bookmark here

Electra: Well, who should go next? Naomi, you want… [The car comes to a stop]Bookmark here

Ashe: Wait, why’d we stop?Bookmark here

Drift: Save the intros for a little bit. We’re here. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.