Chapter 3:

Higuchi Ren & The Hassle of Travelling to Shanghai

The Forbidden and the Gifted

[12:44 a.m. August 8th, 2048, Seoul, Korea. The shot pans to a desolate storefront, at which the red Sienna is parked. Flickering tube lights are visible from the adjacent stores, as the front sign of the store appears to be falling off its hinges, while dust smudges the majority of the front window]

Shin [To Drift]: This? This shithole? [Steps down from the car] Why?

Drift: [Steps down from the car] Don’t ask me, this is what the GPS input gave me. It’s not my fault if its wrong, you hear?

[Naomi and Electra get down from either side of the car, followed by Yuki and Ashe shortly after]

Ashe: Where are we?

Yuki [To Ashe]: Ask our beloved driver. [Yells] Drift! What the hell man?

Electra [To Drift]: I knew it was a bad idea to trust you with directions mate.

Drift [To Electra]: Not like you could drive though, so why are you complaining?

Naomi [To both]: Wait, wait. [She looks to her right] This place… I think it’s right you know?

Electra: How in God’s name could this place be the right place? Hell, I’d believe one of the stores next to it even, not the one he parked right at.

Naomi: You know, there’s a reason this place is as decrepit as it is, eh?

Electra: Well, yes, but really, this bad?

Naomi: Considering I have old friends from here, if my bearings are still right, which I think they are, this looks like the same place which people used to talk about way back when. I’ve never been here though, so yeah, maybe it’s wrong, but from the skyline that I can see in the distance, and the way the alleys look, this is definitely the place where the rumors were from.

Ashe [To everyone]: Can someone fill me in on what’s going on here?

Shin [To Ashe]: Basically, there’s supposed to be an airline ticketing agency here for our types, and they sell tickets for flights out of Seoul, but not through Incheon, through a remote area on the outskirts that no one can really find. Even if you do find it, if you don’t go through the rigor of buying the tickets from them, from this place, they’ll likely just kill you, no questions asked.

Yuki: So yeah, it’s best to just go through these guys, if we can find them at least.

Shin [To Yuki]: Like, I think we can both agree that we’d rather go through Incheon, but with the load we have, clearly, we can’t go through there anymore.

Yuki: I mean, you know what we could do?

Shin: What?

Yuki: Send this shit through the airport back into Japan, and then we just fly regularly through Incheon without carting most of this stuff.

Shin: Karina would pick it up?

Yuki: I’ll text her. She’ll probably be able to. And it’s not like we need a lot of this stuff anyway.

Shin: Wait, did Nats and Dais take the private?

Yuki: Yeah, they did. They’ll have enough shit for us, and if we don’t, I don’t know what to say.

Ashe [Interjects]: Wait but, aren’t we going to Shanghai first? Won’t we need something for those guys? Or do you think we can take em fist-to-fist.

Yuki: [Pauses] You’re right, I friggin forgot that we weren’t just transiting, we need to beat the shit out of some people there eh?

Shin: So ya know, we could send most of this shit, the money, most of the weapons, most of the cartel shit, back to Karina and them, and we take some of this stuff and fly out from the same airport, just to Shanghai instead?

Yuki: Yeah, I think that’s our best bet.

Shin: I know these guys are said to charge a ton for shit though. [Pauses] Speaking of which, have any of you three figured out if we’re even in the right spot? [Looks at Electra, Drift and Naomi]

Drift [To Shin]: Yeah, yeah, it’s definitely this place. Have your shit ready though.

Ashe [To Shin]: We’re goin in here? But it looks abandoned, no? I’ve heard some rumors of this place, but not enough to know if this even is right.

Shin: Just follow behind us and be careful. As much as it looks run-down, I think Drift’s right on the money about this.

[Ashe, Yuki and Shin walk towards Electra, Drift and Naomi, who walk towards the door, which Drift pushes]

Drift: Yeah, it’s open.

Yuki: [Points towards the motion sensor light] Look up, it’s got no cobwebs on it. This place isn’t as bad as it’s made to look like.

Drift: There’s also light from the basement. Maybe down there?

Yuki: Yeah probably, let’s…

[A voice is heard from the darkness in front of them]

Higuchi: Hmph. Didn’t think we’d get visitors this late eh?

Shin [Whispers]: Oh you’ve gotta be shitting me. Why does everything have to turn into a fight?

Electra [Whispers]: It’s okay. They shouldn’t shoot if we’re customers, right?

Higuchi [To Electra]: Yeah, but what kind of customer comes through when the clocks struck one? Only people that come to mind are pigs.

Shin [To Higuchi]: Listen mate, listen. You don’t wanna screw with us, eh? We’re from Japan…

Higuchi: Japan eh? Foreigners? We hate those types around here, other than Shin’s lot, eh? Oh, are you gonna go out of your way to claim to be him too?

Shin: If you’d turn on a damn light maybe you’d see for yourself, wise guy.

Higuchi: Nonsense, nonsense, I can tell perfectly well that you guys are Japanese, but you guys sure as hell aren’t those guys. Why would they come to us in Seoul anyway? At 1 am? Without even calling first?

Yuki [To Drift]: You could’ve called??

Drift [To Yuki]: Does it look like I know that I could have?

Shin [To Higuchi]: Alright, what about this? Let me turn on a light.

Higuchi: No dipshit. I don’t wanna see your hands move. I can see em shaking on the side of you right now. You’re nervous, and you’re itching to make a move.

Naomi [Thinking]: Wait, a guy who can tell Japanese apart from Koreans, has apparent night vision, is in the black market…

Naomi: Excuse me!

Shin: Naomi!

Electra: Don’t!

Higuchi: Oh, so you want to move, eh? What, little girl, are you a decoy? With your tiny ass voice? The middle guy with his hand still trembling is still my target, ya know.

Shin: Mi, don’t make any sudden movements. Please.

Drift: We don’t need bloodshed here, cause we’re probably gonna use this place more.

Higuchi: Eh wise guys, I can hear you, ya know? Can’t y’all drop the bluff? It’s stupid.

Shin: You’re beyond ignorant, dumbass. Can’t you call one of your guys from downstairs to come and turn on a light so neither of us has to move?

Higuchi: And take away my devoted attention from you? Hell no.

Shin: What do you think I’m gonna do in the split second you call for backup?

Higuchi: Hell, if I know, rat.

Naomi [Interjects]: Oh I’ve had it with both you idiots. How can’t you tell?

Higuchi: Little missy, you should probably shut up.

Shin: Mi, don’t provoke. Please, Mi.

Naomi: Are you both tone-deaf? Higuchi, are you?

Higuchi: [Pauses, then regains his cool] Ha, almost had me. You just know my name through records searches. Well, it wasn’t like you were gonna stay alive anyway.

Electra [Thinking]: Wait, that’s Ren? Oh, for Christ’s sake, that’s why it’s so hard.

Electra: Eh Ren?

Higuchi: Whadya want, shit for brains? Saying my name isn’t gonna provoke me, eh? Her saying it the first time was enough. You wasted your chance.

Electra: Bloody dumbass. You don’t remember working with me and Drift three years ago before we started this shit with Yukes and Shin? When you nearly missed your flight back into Heathrow because you wanted a picture with Klaudia? Even though Drift was yelling at you the whole time, and when you finally got the pictures, they looked like shit? Tell me, what friggin rat would know that eh?

Higuchi: Wait. No. No. No. [Pauses] No. I can’t fall for it. You can’t persuade me.

Drift: You’ve always been garbage with telling people apart, you know Ren? Then riddle me this. [Pauses] Fuckin’ hell, cause you’re not gonna believe me otherwise. Why would Wilhelm really tell you his own name, eh?

Shin: [Shocked] Wow, that’s a shocker.

Ashe [To Shin]: Even to you guys?

Shin [To Ashe]: Yeah. Ren was always stubborn as hell, and I think Drift realized it would be of best interest to not prolong shit, even if it meant for him to spill the beans on info like that.

Higuchi: But that’s…

Drift: That’s not the full thing, right? Well yes. But why would I tell anyone my full name now, eh? Only you and Elec know it, and I’d like to keep it that way. [Pauses] Now turn the lights on, damnit.

[Higuchi, still shocked and visibly shaking, turns on the lights, despite his own fear, and reveals five other men, standing still with firearms drawn. Higuchi looks at the faces of Shin and Electra and immediately signals at his men to lower their guns]

Drift: You stubborn, slow, sack of shit. You’re never gonna change, are you?

Higuchi: [With more enthusiasm] This is still on you though, dipshit. You should’ve called.

[Yuki elbows Drift]

Drift: Ow! Damnit!

Electra [To Higuchi]: So, ever since you left Japan to try and do more for yourself, you ended up coming here, eh? The market that we created ain’t ever gonna leave you alone to be at peace?

Higuchi [Chuckles]: For real. I thought I could leave and start a life here, but I’m such a paranoid guy that I could never be at peace. And I didn’t wanna come groveling back to you lot and see the looks and your faces, so I chose to stay here. And hey, it’s pretty good you know.

[Higuchi walks down the dimly lit stairwell, followed by Yuki, Ashe, Drift, Shin and Naomi, and then the five other men, followed at the end by Electra]

Drift: You live around these parts I assume?

Higuchi: Well, close enough, I guess.

Drift: Feds ever busted you guys, or clear so far?

Higuchi: So far, so good. Would’ve thought they’d be closer on our asses, but I guess not. That’s why I was paranoid when you lot showed up, we hadn’t ever been busted on job and I’m not tryna be the sack of shit who has it on his record that the feds fucked up the place while he was on duty.

Drift: So, you’d opt to kill them? Cause let’s be real, the cops aren’t gonna give in to your demands.

Higuchi: Well, I wouldn’t have my hands tainted with blood, but yeah, I’d order my men to do it.

Drift: So, you’re in charge of a group around here? Would’ya look at that, you’re going places in this world… you ain’t just a shitty lackey eh?

Higuchi: [Laughs] Guess not, ha.

Drift: And to think, you’d be the one giving kill orders? Was funnier when you were the wuss back with Elec and myself, and we had to do the heavy lifting.

Yuki: To be fair, he did grow a pair when he joined us for the short time that he did.

Higuchi [To Drift]: Yeah see, even Yukes is defending me.

Drift: Yeah, you did change when we joined up with them, but you can’t deny that you weren’t always like that.

Higuchi: I wasn’t as weak as you make me out to be though.

Drift: Eh, yeah you were. [To Electra] Whad’ya say Elec? Was he as big of a wuss as I say he was?

[Electra shakes his head to regain to focus, and looks towards Drift]

Electra: Huh? The hell are you talkin about?

Naomi [To Electra]: He’s asking if Higuchi was as much of a wuss back before he joined up with us, or if he’s just exaggerating.

Electra: Oh nah, Higuchi was more of a wuss than most regular people I’d seen, ha. Hell, you [looks at Naomi] were so much easier to help than his sorry ass.

Higuchi [To Electra]: Eh suck it ya old goon. You couldn’t do anything besides fight anymore, shit-for-brains.

Electra [To Higuchi]: Huh? What was that? You wanna scrap, asshat?

Shin [To Both]: Both of you, screw off for a second. Higuchi, the hell’s down here?

Higuchi: Oh this? This is our main base of operations and all.

Shin: Why run it in this shitty basement when the whole place is shitty as is?

Higuchi: It’s one-way up and down, so anyone who comes down here unauthorized will probably be killed by our guards. You heard the staircase too, shit’s not safe and creeks with the smallest amount of weight placed on it.

Shin: So basically, if y’all don’t want someone here, they just die, eh?

Higuchi: More-or-less. But really, we do all of this for safety reasons, and we really haven’t gotten many unpleasant visitors.

Yuki: Tight security eh… dang. We should invest in some, no?

Shin: Eh, Karina and Hachiro are pretty good at what they do. And the van squad, Naomi, Drift and Elec are normally in the area, so it makes for pretty good security, even if it isn’t always there.

Yuki: That’s true, that’s true. Speaking of van squad, Ashe, you wanna join em?

Ashe: Huh? What’s the van squad?

Naomi: It’s us three! [She points to both Drift and Elec]

Ashe: Oh no, no, I really couldn’t. Shouldn’t I just be one of your average workers or guards? Like I know you just said you don’t have high security, but surely you guys have some just lay workers?

Yuki: Oh nah. We’re a small group. There’s ten – oh, forgot myself – eleven of us currently. We’re a small group, but we get the job done. I think you’d work with the van squad, you know?

Shin: Why discuss this now though Yuke?

Yuki: We’re probably gonna break off either in Shanghai, or whenever we fly into Europe. We should discuss all these management details while we still have the chance.

Shin: Fair, fair.

Yuki [To Ashe]: So whad’ya say? You up for it?

Ashe: I don’t wanna be a hinderance.

Drift [To Ashe]: Don’t stress, you’ll be just fine.

Electra: Yeah, you can’t be much worse than the bastard over there. [Points at Higuchi] Wait, I remembered, she’s a black belt eh? Yeah Hi, you’ve already been bested. Ha.

Drift: Hate to say it, but Elec’s probably right.

Higuchi: Can’t either of you give me a break for like two seconds? Damn. [Sighs, then laughs]

Naomi [To Ashe]: Trust me, you’ll love it with us. That Navy Odyssey’s been through a lot of mileage with us, and I don’t think we’ll stop when you come on board. Whad’ya say?

Ashe: Well, well, if you all say so, I can’t really refuse, can I?

Naomi: [Smiles] Aye, let’s go!

Higuchi: [Cheers] Yay for the new member!

Electra: Screw off, ditcher.

Higuchi: I didn’t ditch, you bastards gave me the green light to try and change my ways!

Electra: And look where you are. In basically the same shithole which you started.

Higuchi: [Grimaces] Eh, you have me there. [Pauses] Anyway, anyway, here we are. This is where a bunch of our regular laymen work to make these tickets.

Drift: [Whispers] You call them laymen, but if they were ever caught, they’d be treated as felons, right?

Higuchi: Bingo!

Drift: Dang, that’s tough.. How’d you guys even recruit guys like this?

Higuchi: Don’t know. I haven’t asked the boss, and don’t really plan to. I just let him do whatever the hell he wants and don’t really care to dig around. Digging around’s what’s often left me in the ditch before, so I guess I choose to not do it anymore?

Drift: Eh, I guess. Don’t need paranoia racking your brains.

Drift [Thinking]: Although, I’d like to know what the hell he’s doing, and how unethical that shit is.

Higuchi [Calls across the room]: Yo Hidekai, you wanna help these guys out?

Viktor: Yeah, yeah, I will.

Higuchi: This new guy’s great… he’s probably my favorite. He only came here two weeks ago, but he’s been on a roll. Vik, what’s your typing speed?

Viktor: 117.

Higuchi: Friggin hell, where’d you learn like that? Shin, can you even beat that?

Shin: My fastest is 121, I think. So yeah, guess the sucker’s got some experience to get under his belt before he beats me.

Naomi [Thinking]: This child, he can’t be older than sixteen, no? Seventeen maybe? At the max? And he’s already in this? I mean, he isn’t killing anyone or causing a ruckus, so maybe it’s okay? I mean, we did start earlier than that, but still, we’re supposed to be oddities, or at least, the others are. Not everyone’s supposed to jump into this line of work this early! Ahhh, I think it’s okay though. Maybe he has extraordinary circumstances? Who am I to judge, and who am I to ask? Yeah, yeah, just leave him, I think.

Higuchi: Vik, they’re tryna fly out to Shanghai tomorrow? Think you can get that done?

Viktor: Shanghai, eh? [Pauses] Yeah, that’s fine. I should be able to schedule you guys in for an early morning tomorrow.

[Viktor starts typing into his PC]

Higuchi: So, why’re you flying into Shanghai?

Shin: Got some shit to deal with. Idiots from Europe, specifically.

Higuchi: Oh man, oh man, sounds like fun. [Turns to Ashe] This your first time?

Ashe: It is, it is.

Higuchi: Good luck out there! I won’t be rude like those two [points to Drift and Electra], but I think you’ll be able to do well!

Ashe: Thank you!

Viktor [Looks up towards Ashe]: Say, you’re the Yoshino girl?

Ashe: [Shivers as she turns towards him] Yes. I am. Why do you know?

Viktor: Oh no, I’m just from the Jeong area. Didn’t go to school much though, and wasn’t from your area, but you’re still a headliner regardless. I’ll wish you the best in your future with these guys too, wouldn’t want your beautiful face to be tainted.

Ashe: [Sighs of relief] Thank you, thank you, I think I could use as much good luck as possible.

[Another worker walks in]

Viktor [To the worker]: Oh Reina, would you mind turning on that PC?

Reina: Yeah, for sure. You wanna use it, or you need me on it?

Viktor: I’m gonna forward you some stuff, just go through it and then help me out. We got six tickets to make here, so the more hands the better.

Reina: Fair, fair.

Naomi [To Viktor]: Is she…

Viktor: Yea, she’s my girlfriend. I know she looks about my age and shouldn’t be in this line of work, but we didn’t have much choice, since I haven’t had a stable home since forever, and she’d been cast away from her school after being a victim – similarly probably to you, Yoshino.

Ashe: Oh no. I’m so sorry – Reina is it?

Reina: No, no, don’t be, you’re the prize of Jeong, you must’ve had it harder. I feel sorry for you, but I’m glad you found a nice family. Vik here is all I need, even if I’m a convict for working in these parts. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Higuchi: [Brushes at his eye] Dang…

Drift: Oh, you wuss, stop crying.

Higuchi: I’m not crying, damnit!

Viktor: Okay, Reina, open your mail. [Looks at the group] We should be done in a minute or so.

Drift: Aye, big thanks to you two for doing this so quickly.

[Reina moves to her PC and boots it up, opening up her Hotmail account]

Reina: Vik, this the file?

Viktor: [Moves over to look at her screen] Yeah, it is. Just finish it up and give the final administration go-ahead and you can print it for them.

Reina: Gotcha!

Yuki [To Viktor]: So, when do you think our plane should leave?

Viktor: So far, I’ve been able to schedule a 6:35 flight, but its flight time is a bit long, so it’ll probably land by 7:30 Shanghai time. We could get you on a quicker flight, but that means you’d only arrive by nine at the earliest. I don’t know why the flight route is set the way it is for that early morning one.

Yuki: That’s fine, that’s fine. Our original flight – or these guys’ original flight – was supposed to only take off at 7:30 anyway, so we would’ve landed at nine anyway. I don’t know how they were planning to fly out of Incheon though.

Higuchi: I’m telling you, those European mongrels do things differently, eh Drift?

Drift: Not like I paid much attention while we lived in those parts, but yeah, shit was always going down, and they found ways to do whatever they needed, no matter how scummy the methods.

Yuki: But realistically, how do you get shit through security like that?

Drift: Beats me.

Yuki: Dang. I mean, that type of stuff could be useful in the future for us, you know?

Drift: We have the private though, we barely need to actually use these international airports anymore. Besides, even when we go through them, we don’t have this type of haul.

Higuchi: Hey, hey, can I see the haul?

Drift: No.

Higuchi: Aw, why not?

Drift: Why do I need to tell you why I won’t show you? Matter of fact, why do you even need to see in the first place? Screw off.

Higuchi: Just lemme see, damn straight-laced asshole.

Electra: Nah mate, we don’t need you idiots here getting ahold of our information. We’ve told you where we’re going already, and that’s only cause it’s you…

Higuchi: I mean if you don’t tell us where you wanna go, we wouldn’t be able to create the tickets.

Naomi [Whispers to Electra]: He’s got you there.

Electra: Oh, shut up Mi. And nah [Looks at Higuchi], I know you too damn well you trickster.

Higuchi: Huh?

Electra: Don’t even lie, if we told you anything, it would just into your information bank, and you’d sell it to a highest bidder. Even if it’s us.

Higuchi: Well –

Shin: Eh Elec, you saying that could lead to those two [Points to Viktor and Reina] reporting him to the higher ups, no?

Electra: Oh –

Viktor: Don’t worry about it. He’s the one who helped us out, we kinda already have a feeling for how shady he is, ha. We could always rat him out, but we’re on his side.

Electra: Ah, that’s good to hear at least. Ha, I didn’t even think of the possible ramifications of saying that type of shit. Eh, either way, you’d weasel your way out of it, sucker.

Higuchi: But, but…

Electra: Nah if there’s one thing that I’ll give your annoying ass credit for, it’s being able to get out of shitty situations like its nothing, cause as dense as you are, you’ve got enough of a brain. That’s why you ran ops when you were back with us – although Shin does a better job with it, can’t lie.

Higuchi: That’s fair, yeah. And yeah, to be honest, I wouldn’t have sold you guys out, but I would’ve passed the information of the goods along a chain. I’d make pretty good bank, you hear? Just let me know, you lot could probably deal with whoever comes after y’all.

Electra: No can do.

Yuki: Didn’t you leave us to become a better person? The hell happened to that?

Higuchi: Well, you see…

Yuki: Nah. No excuses from you.

Naomi: See, see Higuchi, we’re doing this for your sake. It’ll be better for you to start doing things the right way, even if it’s little by little.

Higuchi: Fine, I guess you’re right.

Electra: Of course, he listens to Mi.

Naomi: Everyone listens to Mi!

Electra: Pun intended?

Naomi: For the most part.

Electra [To Higuchi]: Well, for the most part, I agree with her. You wanted to change, and we can’t do that in one sitting. But cutting that stuff little by little should be able to help, y’know?

Higuchi: Eh….

Electra: Then again, knowing you, you’ll probably just be craving that even more later on.

Higuchi: Hey, that ain’t completely true you hear?

Electra: Yeah, yeah, keep feeding yourself lies. But for real, try to be better man.

Higuchi: I will, I will.

Drift: [Throws a paper at Higuchi] Here’s Mi, Shin and my numbers. Keep in touch more often, don’t just ghost us for over half a year, you hear?

Higuchi: Yeah, yeah that’s my bad. I changed my official contact to Korean six months ago and got rid of my old Japanese phone, so I really didn’t have a way to find your numbers. And anyone around these parts would think you’re crazy for asking for you guys’ numbers.

Shin: Oh, we’re famous?

Higuchi: Yeah, over the last six months, you guys have kinda been taking the East Coast by storm. I think a couple weeks ago my boss was mentioning something about your ventures into Singapore?

Shin: Oh yeah, I sent Hachiro and Yuki down there a while back for some work. I think you guys created quite a scare, no?

Yuki: It’s all Hachiro’s fault. He’s such a menace with his snipers.

Shin: I mean, he told me you held your own.

Yuki: I should be able to hold my own! He just steals the spotlight every time.

Higuchi: Yeah, and even before that. You guys had taken all of Japan’s underworld by storm, and even made noise here and on the Chinese coast. Your influence has flooded far south, even before the Singapore fire-sale, cause you guys have a lot of backers.

Yuki: Oh, is that so?

Higuchi: Yeah, definitely. I’m glad you guys are doing well. And I’m glad no one’s found about my own identity here. If they did, I’d probably be in a ton of shit.

Yuki: How so –

Viktor [Interjects]: Sorry to interrupt your talk, but here’s the tickets. I got you guys six for the 6:35 departure.

Yuki: Oooo, okay, that’s perfect. Thank you again… what’s your name?

Viktor: Vik. Vik Hidekai.

Yuki: Ah, okay. Thanks Vik.

Viktor: No problem at all.

Yuki: Oh yeah, Higuchi, can you tell us where this place is?

Shin: Oh yeah, yeah, how the hell do we even get there?

Drift: They aren’t gonna flag us down when we get there, right?

Viktor: They won’t do that, if you present the tickets without saying anything. Don’t ask them if they wanna see anything, just show them. But the location… sir, you told me a couple days ago, but I’m hazy as hell right now, you mind telling them?

Higuchi: Yeah, yeah. Just take the main freeway north into Seoul, and take the exit onto the 193 West from Downtown. After that, it gets a bit confusing, so just input the address on this sheet of paper into your GPS, and you should be able to find it. [He hands Drift a paper]

Drift: Damn, this is deep, eh?

Higuchi: Didn’t say it would be close.

Drift: Do you guys have to go down there frequently?

Higuchi: Nah not really, we’re just the headquarters. We don’t do much with dealing with them.

Drift: You ever flown out of there?

Higuchi: Nah, why would I need to?

Drift: Fair, fair. I’d just like someones actual opinion of the place.

Higuchi: They do decent enough work. They’re flown on small Bombardiers though, so you guys are likely gonna be the only lot flying. That’s why it’s gonna cost you a pretty penny for each.

Drift: Oh yeah, I can tell. Shin, you got the tab right?

Shin: Yeah, it’s on the group, Karina will get notified soon enough.

Drift: She’ll freak when she sees the total.

Shin: Eh, I wouldn’t count on it. She doesn’t get surprised by much anymore. [Gestures to Higuchi] Pass the machine.

Higuchi: Oh, you use card?

Shin: Yeah, and it’s an actual banks card. I was surprised when I looked through things, but my original account under my legitimate name isn’t blacklisted, so I can still do stuff. This one’s just under some fake name though, it just serves as our group card.

Higuchi: Wait, you guys aren’t blacklisted as yet?

Shin: Surprisingly not. There’s a ton of evidence, but – at least according to whatever sources I’ve gathered – they can’t officially blacklist us, and only China’s really got a sniff of us legitimately. In Japan we’re surprisingly fine.

Higuchi: Shit man, you guys are really killing it.

Shin: Group effort on that. It’s nice that we can all pull our slack and no one’s really every able to tail us, no matter what we do.

Higuchi: Although going into Europe may spell some other shit for you guys.

Shin: Yeah it might. We just gotta trust whatever we’ve got though. Them coming over to these ends can’t just be for her. [Points at Ashe] There’s definitely some other shitty reason, cause they can do their trafficking wherever – hell, Europe’s a prime hotspot for that shit. They shouldn’t be going foreign to get a single girl, and if, in some miraculous way, that’s their only reason, then we’ll beat the shit outta them anyway, because you don’t do this shit on our turf.

Higuchi: East Block, eh?

Shin: That’s what they used to call us, back when you were around.

Higuchi: What, you guys changed the name?

Yuki: You didn’t hear?

Higuchi: No!

Naomi: We’re just Eastern now. Most of Japan refers to us by that name, I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten across the sea.

Higuchi: Dang, alright. Not gonna lie, it sounds less intimidating.

Naomi: But it rolls off the tongue faster!

Higuchi: That’s true, that’s true.

Shin: Anyway man, it’s nearly 2:00 now, we’ve been chatting for quite a bit, we should probably head out. Let’s get upstairs.

[The group heads upstairs with Higuchi, Viktor and Reina follow slightly behind. When they get outside, Drift leans on the driver side door, and the rest of the group stands in front of the van]

Higuchi: Well, hopefully you guys get everything done safely. Come back in one piece, you hear?

Electra: Yeah, yeah, we will, we will.

Higuchi [Whispers to Drift]: Take care of em all, you hear?

Drift: Yeah, I know. You take care of yourself out here alright?

Higuchi: Don’t worry. I’ll shipshape myself. Hopefully these new kids can help me out with that.

Drift: Don’t rely on them, they’re just kids. You’ve got your own problems, fix ‘em yourself.

Higuchi: Yeah, you’re right. I’ll do this myself.

Shin [To Higuchi]: Good to hear mate. I’m expecting big things from you.

Higuchi: I won’t let you down, Cap. [Shin chuckles]

Naomi: [Waves] Well we’re off, see you hopefully!

Higuchi: Yeah! Safe drive and travels!