Chapter 5:


The Forbidden and the Gifted

[7:27 a.m., August 8th 2048, approaching Shanghai, China. The shot is within the small Bombardier tri-jet, panning between the six individuals – Shin, Yuki and Drift are all seen sleeping, while Electra, Naomi and Ashe are seen playing a round of card. The pilots voice can then be heard over the loudspeaker, as the outside view pans to the rising sun over Shanghai downtown]

Pilot: Just a quick heads up to you six, we’re going to be beginning our descent into Shanghai now; if you guys don’t mind just fastening your seatbelts as we’re gonna be expecting a bit of turbulence.

[Yuki and Shin both wake up, and Naomi nudges Drift, to which he also wakes up]

Pilot: As well, just a heads up, we’ll be arriving at the charter terminal, and all of your baggage has already been pre-scanned in Seoul, so you can walk out straight to Airport Road, and get your way to the main International Terminal if you wanna get into Shanghai or need to catch a connecting flight. Otherwise, the rental garage is just outside the terminal at 1473 Airport Road, and you can pick up a car there if you so require. In any case, thanks for booking your flight with us, and hope that you’ll be able to finish whatever business you so need to in Shanghai.

Yuki: That’s nice, isn’t it?

Naomi: What is?

Yuki: We’re pre-scanned from Seoul.

Naomi: Oh yeah, that’s true. I mean, if we weren’t pre-scanned, aren’t we screwed?

Yuki: Yeah probably, but I mean, hey, no immigration, customs, or any of that shit either. With or without the shit we’re carrying, that’s pretty big.

Shin: Yeah, customs is always such a hassle.

Electra: It’s not even like it’s customs itself, it’s just the queues and how strict everything is. Like the process at the desk isn’t even that hard.

Shin: Issue is you always arrive at the same time as like four other international flights.

Electra: Exactly. It’s never just your flight, there’s always some other dipshits. [Sighs] Whatever, at least we got lucky with this.

Naomi: It cost a pretty good amount though.

Electra: Eh, Shin put it down, it’s fine.

Ashe [Interjects]: Wait, did you guys have to pay for me? Oh, you didn’t have –

Shin: It’s fine, it’s fine. It’s on the groups tab anyway, so paying for you isn’t coming out of any of our pockets directly.

Ashe: Still, I only just got here. I don’t know how useful I’ll even be. Don’t you think paying for me is a bit too nice?

Shin: Eh, who knows, but we’re fine with it, don’t sweat the little details. Just stay safe, alright?

Ashe: Okay, will do.

[The plane touches down, and taxis to its gate at the Charter Terminal. Behind the docked plane, in the distance, is the International Terminal, which appears quite small due to relevant location. The main door opens, connected to a tube which allows access to the terminal]

Shin [To Pilot]: So just head out through here and then hit a right, and we should find our way out of here?

Pilot: Yup.

Shin: Alright. Thanks for a good flight as well.

Pilot: My pleasure, don’t mention it.

[The group heads down the tunnel and turns right at its end, entering the terminal. They follow the straight-ahead signs for the exit to Airport Road]

Yuki: Yo, Shin.

Shin: What’s up?

Yuki: Should we text the number that we found?

Shin: Nah, don’t.

Yuki: Not now?

Shin: They weren’t supposed to arrive for a little bit. We’ve got to keep it as legitamate as possible, cause we don’t need a mad goose chase in one of the biggest cities in the world – especially considering we barely actually know the ins and outs of Shanghai.

Electra: This guy really went and said ‘mad goose chase’.

Shin: And what if I did?

Electra: I didn’t think that normal people would actively say shit like that, ha.

Naomi: To be honest, I don’t think normal people actively say shit like that.

Electra: So you’re calling Shin abnormal?

Naomi: Precisely.

Electra: Great! And now that Mi’s said, it has to be true. So I can say it too.

Shin: You lot are insufferable.

Drift: What should we do for this little bit though?

Electra: We should probably get a car for now, no?

Shin: Yeah. I don’t think they’re gonna meet us in the airport, cause I don’t think they’re man enough to do that. If they text us saying they’re already at the airport, we just gotta tell em our flight landed early and we’re out. We gotta meet ‘em somewhere quiet.

Electra: Why, you wanna do something to them?

Shin: Well, when they see three Japanese people alongside two Europeans and you Ashe, they’re gonna think somethings up. Regardless of what we try and say.

Electra: You don’t think we can bullshit our way into saying that you three are just extra prizes?

Shin: Don’t think they’ll bite, you friggin dipshit. Besides, what if they know the faces of those two lackeys?

Electra: You really think they would?

Shin: Probably not, but who knows with Europeans eh – no offense to both of ya.

Electra: Eh, you’re kinda right tho. I wouldn’t trust ‘em much and wouldn’t be surprised if they knew everyone by name and picture. I guess I’ve got so acclimatized here that I’ve forgotten all about the stuff that went on in those parts.

Shin: You both are Greek, right?

Electra: Well, I am, and Higuchi was. We met Drift there, but Drift you’re from…

Drift: I’m Albanian, just beside there.

Shin: Really, eh? Wow. I heard that they were having a tough time before the war broke out and lost a ton of land to their neighboring countries, although I can’t even remember their names. Their ruler was definitely a really smart man, until everyone around him started to backstab him, or at least I’ve heard so at least.

Drift: Yeah. The stuff that happened wasn’t pretty. That’s why I chose to leave for Greece, and when shit hit the fan there, we found our way out of there to here, thanks to Mi.

Naomi: You know I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I left you guys stranded there right? When Elec gave me the call, I knew I’d be able to find a way, and here we all are.

Electra: That’s true. I’m glad things worked out at least. Even for Higuchi.

Naomi: Yeah, definitely. [Pauses] Anyway, where’s that garage place? We gotta get a car for ourselves before we can do anything.

Electra: What was the address again?

Naomi: Uhhh… shoot, I can’t remember.

Electra: Yukes, you probably remember, right?

Yuki: Yeah, it was 1473 Airport, so I think we just go left when we’re out the terminal doors and we should see it on our left.

Electra: Alright.

[The group heads outside, and turns left, approaching the garage. As they arrive, they see a man waiting outside]

Electra [To the Man]: You from around here? Is this where we can rent a car?

Man: Yes, yes, this is the garage for weekly car rentals. If you need one, just talk to me. I’ll set you up with something.

Electra: Cool, you think you can get us something for the six of us?

Man: Sure thing. How many days you gonna need it for?

Electra: I’m undecided right now, but we’ll do three to be on the safe side, although we may return it tomorrow.

Man: I’ll have to write it down as three then.

Electra: Yeah whatever, that’s fine. How much you looking at charging us?

Man: So I can get you the Odyssey in the back, brand-new model. If we’re talking three days, I can do… uh, 1k?

Electra: 1k? Are you out of your mind?

Man: No, this is pretty standard around here y’know. I can go down to 850 tops if you want.

Electra: Holy this guys absurd… [Pauses, then turns to Naomi and Drift] might have to…

Drift [To the Man]: Say bud. We’ve just had a hard layover, we’ve flown across from the States to Japan, and from Japan to Korea, and we’re only into here for a short bit, before we head out. But we’re gonna come back here on our way back, so if you’re charging this type of horseshit, we just won’t show up here, we’ll just go somewhere else. Drop it to 550, and we’ll do it.

Man: 550? No can do man. 700 minimum.

Drift: I’d do 700 when we come back, so long as the cars good. You’d be getting 1300 from that, you know? Think about it. I know you’re charging through the roof cause we’re charters, but we’ve spent a lot everywhere. Cut some slack and we’ll come back man.

Man: 650.

Drift: 550, or we’ll go somewhere else.

Man: [Grimaces] Fine, 550. Sign these papers, and here’s the key. [He hands a car key to Drift, while Electra signs off on the papers and Shin pays in cash] Bring it back in 3 days, tops. Anything more, and I’ll call to bill it to 800.

Drift: Yup, yup. [The group walks towards the car and hops in, with the same seating arrangement as in Korea]

Naomi: You’re good at that, you know?

Drift: Have to be, in order to keep his temper in check [He glances at Electra]

Electra: Hey there!

Drift: What, you know it’s true.

Ashe [To Yuki]: I’m surprised he can lie through his teeth without flinching at all though.

Yuki: He’s used to it by now, or at least I’d hope he’d be.

Drift [To Yuki]: Hey, I can hear you, y’know?

Yuki: Yeah, yeah I know, you damn liar.

Drift: It’s a useful skill though, you can’t deny it.

Yuki: Yeah, in circumstances like this. Like, if you were way off, there’d have been no way he would’ve agreed to 550. That’s basically just half off.

Drift: His original ask of 1000 is just an easy scam for tourists, especially for people with wads of cash coming through this terminal.

Electra: To be fair, we have wads of cash.

Drift: Yeah, but do we like spending it?

Electra: Yeah… no. (Laughs)

Ashe: Isn’t he gonna charge us though?

Electra: How so?

Ashe: Didn’t you sign off… wait…

Electra: Ahaha, you’re only catching on now? Nothing we do legitimately is in our real names, or we’d be goners for real.

Ashe: Oh man, that’s gonna take some adjusting for sure.

Electra: No kidding, I remember when we started, Yukes signed some garbage with her full name before passing it on to me.

Yuki: I did?

Electra: Yeah, that investors release from our like third expedition or whatever. Don’t even remember the scoundrels name, but I remember you doing it. You’re damn lucky the papers were passed on and it wasn’t handed right back to him.

Ashe: But it was only your third expedition, no? What’s the need for an alias by then?

Electra: Oh, we did some bad shit early on.

Yuki [To Electra]: Thanks to you lot, no less.

Electra: But we’re here now eh? That’s what matters, right Shin?

[Shin is looking out the window towards the Shanghai skyline]

Shin: Huh? Sorry, I missed that.

Electra: You alright bud? You haven’t been so cheery since we scammed that shitbag. You thinking he didn’t deserve it or something?

Shin: Oh nah, the weasel definitely deserved that. I was just… thinking about stuff. [Pauses] It’s alright though. [Pauses] Drift, where we gonna head to?

Drift: Let’s head into the city for now, we can probably get into some less conspicuous getup then the all-black tracksuits we’re rocking now.

Shin: Yeah, that’s fair.

[Drift drives off, towards the skyline which Shin had been eyeing. A time-skip occurs, and the next we see the group in Downtown Shanghai, with Shin looking down at his phone]

Shin: 9:56 already, dang. [Pauses] Oh shit, I felt a ring from this guy’s phone.

Naomi [To Yuki]: Jeez, those guys’ phones were dry.

Yuki [To Naomi]: Yeah, imagine only having texts about work, hahahaha, sucks.

Naomi: I mean, we say this, yet…

Yuki: Shhh Mi, no one needs to know the truth about how dry our phones are.

Electra [To Yuki and Naomi]: Huh? You two say something?

Yuki: Oh, no, no. Carry on.

Shin [Pulls out phone]: Alright, they said they’re at this location…

Yuki [Squints at the phone]: Number One Essential Cleaning Services? And the store titles in English? And we’re in China, and they’re from East Europe? What in the blue hell?

Shin: I ain’t got a clue. I mean, we can plug it into this GPS.

Ashe: That won’t do. Even if the place is in English, everything around Shanghai’s always gonna be in Mandarin.

Shin: So, can’t we just fling this into a translator?

Ashe: Do you even trust those things? The result’s gonna be something completely different from what we want.

Shin: True. So then, how were those two clowns supposed to find this place if they’re from friggin Europe. Like…

Ashe: I overheard the first guy – the guy who y’all killed first – saying he could speak Mandarin fluently, although, his accent was terrible. He could speak a bunch of languages, now that I think about it.

Shin: Well damn. Should we ask a local?

Ashe: I mean, all they speak is Mandarin too, right?

Shin: Shit. Then what the hell? None of you know a word of this shit?

[Naomi, Electra and Drift shake their heads]

Shin: So Yuki, you can?

Yuki: Well, maybe. I know words here and there… wait, yeah, no, I don’t know the first thing about this word. I just know the basics.

Shin: Well then, what the hell do we do.

Karina [From around the corner]: Oh, for shame. And I’d just thought you guys wouldn’t need my help for this. Aw…

Shin [Gasps]: Karina? Ain’t no friggin way.

Naomi [Runs towards her]: Karina!

Karina: Ah, this is why I keep knocking on you guys to learn more languages. I mean those two [Points at Drift and Electra], they’re pretty good at the whole multilingual thing. You three though, you gotta step up. [Pauses] Oh, is this Miss Yoshino? Pleasure to meet you!

Ashe: Ah, likewise, likewise. You’re the one they’ve been calling so frequently, right?

Karina: Yup, that’s me. I’m the brains behind these operations.

Shin: You? The brains?

Yuki: Shut up Shin, you didn’t even speak the damn language we needed like five seconds ago.

Shin: But, am I not the brains behind the operations?

Yuki: The hell, of course not! If anything, I’m more of a brains behind the operations than you are. Wouldn’t you agree Rina?

Karina: I’d have to agree there. Shin, your contributions are always valued, but you can’t be picking up titles that just aren’t yours, y’hear?

Shin: Great, now both of you are here to piss me off.

Karina: I know Yukes did a great job while I was away though.

Yuki: You bet I did.

Shin: I was already getting pissed off with her, and now you’re here too. Dang, like my luck ain’t already in the mud.

Ashe: I mean, isn’t she good to have cause of the language barrier though?

Karina: Aw, Ashe, I already love you. See Shin, no one likes you, you damn sadist!

Ashe: Oh no, no, I still like Shin. He’s been great to me.

Karina: C’mon now Yoshino, you gotta take my side here.

Ashe: Oh, I do?

Shin: Don’t get coaxed by her stupidity Ashe.

Karina: My what?

Shin: You heard me loud and clear, you damn witch.

Electra [Interjects]: Now, now, guys I’d love to…

Karina: Shut up, damn European brat.

Electra: HUH?

Karina: Kidding, kidding. Hahaha, love ya Elec. What were you gonna say?

Electra: Oh, nah, I was gonna say that we should probably get a move on. They sent us that message with expectation that we’re at the airport, right? So, depending on where this place, we should probably get to driving.

Karina: Yeah, that’s true, swing me the location Shinzo.

Drift [Interjects]: Speaking of driving Rina, how’d you even get here?

Karina: Flew in, then caught a cab. Don’t worry, I’m bunking in your car. I’m hoping you lot have some space for me.

Drift: Oh yeah, we just scammed this shitbox of a renter guy, we got an eight-seater.

Ashe: Don’t lump me in with this! It was all you Drift!

Drift: Fair, fair.

Karina: Ah, Drift, never change, you lying bastard.

Drift: Haha, that’s what I’m good for.

Karina: Oh, and we’re lucky to have it. [To Shin] See Shin? That’s a commendable skill to have, you hear. Not your stupid sadism.

Shin: I’m not gonna listen to you, you damn witch.

[Karina pulls her own phone and types something into the maps app, to which a location pops up]

Karina: Got it! [Pauses] Oh, you dimwits, this place is closer to the airport than downtown.

Shin: Couldn’t you have just stayed near the airport? Why’d you cab out here? More importantly, how’d you friggin find us?

Karina: Having that chip in your phone Shinzo, that’s how. Are you stupid, or did you forget?

Shin: Oh, friggin hell. That again, whatever. [Pauses] Oh yeah, where’d you send Hachiro? Why ain’t he here with you?

Karina: Those other two could use someone like him, so I told him to tail ‘em as backup.

Shin: To Estonia?

Karina: Nah, I sent him to England.

Shin: Oh, to meet the Sybil guys as well?

Karina: Yeah, hopefully we can get them to at least somewhat help us.

Shin: Y’think they’d willingly help us?

Karina: Potentially.

Shin: Y’think they’d ask for money?

Karina: You think I wanna pay for their subpar ass services?

Shin: I mean, aren’t they decent?

Karina: I mean, they better be decent, they’re from friggin England. England’s got a god-sent military, so they better have some good ass recruits or people who left them.

Shin: True, but they have such little control over the underground scene in Europe. Them being decent should be a testament, eh?

Karina: A testament? Those bastards from Russia took control of most of the score there and they’re a bloody startup from a couple years ago. Oh, and what have they got for them in England? Wales? The bloody Holland-Belgium border? Like, what?

Shin: Should we really be saying all this, considering that we’re sending all three of them there? Don’t you believe in omens and all? [Pauses] Wait, you’re the damn religious one here!

Karina: Fair, fair. For Hach’s sake, I’ll leave em be.

Shin: Not even for Hach’s sake or even the other two. Don’t you think they’ll be a somewhat valuable partner down the line? Especially in the situation we’re in?

Karina: Eh…

Shin: Think logically for a sec, alright.

Karina: I already am, I don’t need you blabbing to me about logic.

Shin: Alright, alright, anyway, what I mean to say is, since these bastards are an Eastern European front, and Sybil’s a Western European front, and we’re out here on the Asian Eastern Coast … you see where I’m going?

Karina: Yeah, yeah, they’re in the middle, blah, blah. What good is it if they just jump the gun in England though and those guys get pissed at us?

Shin: You think they have the manpower to do that?

Karina: You think we have the manpower to sandwich them effectively?

Shin: With time…

Karina: Eh, I like what you’re thinking, and I get why we should befriend 'em and all, hell, that’s the reason I sent Hach. Regardless though, they’re still just a bunch of shitters, especially considering that they’re Englishmen.

Shin: Call it what you want. Anyway, where we heading to?

Karina: Head towards the airport. Check the GPS, I put it in already.

Shin: Drifto, you know where we’re going?

Drift: Yeah mate. It’s not too far away.

[The car takes off down the highway with the airport in sight at 10:07 a.m. At the next shot, the car is at a stop at 10:28 a.m.]

Naomi: So, this the place?

Shin: That’s what the bitch put in, yeah.

Karina: Who’re you calling…

Shin: You, you stupid hag.

Karina: Sadist. [Pauses] Anyway, have we got a real plan?

Shin: Not really. I mean, we could send in Elec and Drift to pose as the henchmen, right? They work as Europeans.

Karina: But why?

Shin: The hell do you mean ‘but why’?

Karina: Do you a peanut for a brain? You really wanna pull some stupid sham on these guys?

Shin: What? What the hell do you suggest then?

Karina: Break the damn place down!

Shin: HUH?

Karina: Why the hell not?

Shin: We don’t have the slightest clue who the hell these guys actually are, lackeys or not.

Karina: And…? Piece the puzzle together you dimwit, I swear you used to always be good at this kind of stuff.

Shin: Well, I don’t see how barging in accomplishes anything.

Karina: Think of it this way. The guys you met and killed in Seoul were just some street lackeys, probably known by name and number and that’s it. They’re pawns, nothing more to the big guys back home. Now, if they’re doing a deal here to hand over the girl, do you really think the big boss, or frankly any sort of huge entourage is gonna be here? Hell nah. They probably think they can get in and get out like that and are probably minimizing the amount of people that have to be here.

Shin: You really think so?

Karina: I mean, if not for us – who they probably don’t even know about, looking at the way you described em and all – who’s stopping em? The police force? Gimme a break, it’s like stealing candy from a baby. Look at the turnaround speed too, they got her yesterday, flew her into Shanghai today and are getting escort back into Europe tonight. They aren’t bringing the whole fleet for such a quick mission; they’re trying to be in and out.

Shin: Fair point, but still, we don’t know who they are in there.

Karina: Who cares?

Shin: What if it’s the talented guy, or someone of his caliber? Then what?

Karina: It won’t be. He’d come with a whole entourage, and the mission wouldn’t be turned around this quickly. There’s definitely someone with info here, cause they’re reporting to their senior – whoever it was that you told me – and he’s probably turning the girl around in Europe. Him and his couple of lackeys, we can definitely take.

Shin: But why not just go through with my original idea?

Karina: First, it’d waste time and its lame and boring.

Shin: That’s already two things…

Karina: Secondly, if they know what their lackeys look like, its game for Drift and Elec. We could brush em up however we want, but you can’t change their voices or their past knowledge. I doubt they’d kill em cause both of these two are strong [Electra smirks], but they’d probably be hurt pretty damn bad, and we can’t afford that if we’re moving out.

Shin: So, you’re saying you care about them?

Electra: What’s that, I’m hearing sympathy from Rina? I never thought I’d hear the day!

Karina: Oh, screw off both of ya. I’m doing what makes the most logical sense.

Yuki: And also, not going along with Shin’s shitty plans.

Karina: That too, that too!

Shin: Boy do I hate having both of you two together.

Karina: Aw, why love?

Shin: Don’t call me love, you detestable witch.

Yuki: Aw look, he’s mad!

Shin: You’re a witch too damnit.

Drift [Interjects]: Guys… I think we should get moving, no?

Shin: Yeah, fair play. Let’s do this shit.