The Forbidden and the Gifted
[9:31 a.m., August 8th 2048, Shanghai, China. Noise can be heard from outside, as the clock ticks on the wall of a small rundown shop. A large man appears in the scene, raising his fist towards the ceiling, then slamming it towards the empty tabletop. Three shadows then appear from the corner of the shot, against the wall, hands tied]
Aleksander: Hey, hey, hey, hey, who told ya you could move? Eh?
[One of the three shadows moves forward]
Martial: With all due respect…
Aleksander [Walks forward and slaps him]: Huh? Who said you could talk either?
Martial: You think your slap will get me to sh…
Aleksander [Punches him in the ribs, to which Martial gulps]: You think I’m shitting around?
Kohaku [To Martial]: Maki, that’s enough. Please.
Martial [To Kohaku]: How can you say that? I’m the one who put in this shitty situation, I’m the one who’s gonna get us out.
Kohaku: You’re only gonna escalate the situation!
Martial: I won’t, I won’t, trust me. [Looks at Aleksander] I’m not escalating the situation, am I?
Aleksander: You’re being a fuckin’ piece of shit, that’s what you’re doing.
Martial: Ehhhhh? You don’t seem to be doing much of anything though! You should let us out of these, y’know?
Aleksander: God, how I wanna stick a bullet into your damn head right now.
Martial: What, what? You can’t? Why, why? [Inches closer] Hey, hey, tell me why, tell me.
Aleksander [Punches him in the nose]: Shut it, damn it.
Kohauku [To Ryouchi]: Hey, you hear? He can’t kill us.
Ryouchi [Looks at her, then looks down at a bag of chips hes holding]: Cool.
Kohaku: That doesn’t make you the littlest bit hopeful?
Kohaku: Dang. You’re boring.
Aleksander [Approaches Ryouchi]: Hey brat. Gimme that. [Snatches the bag]
Ryouchi [Turns his head towards Aleksander]: NO [Snatches the bag, scratching his arm. A few seconds later, Aleksander’s coat appears with a patch of red in the area of the scratch]
Aleksander: DAMN BRAT! [Swings his fist towards Ryouchi, but Martial moves in the way]
Martial: Ow, that hurt! Dang man. [Shakes it off] Anyway, you gonna tell me? Hey, hey?
Aleksander: The hell you made of, friggin Titanium? Why the hell don’t you get hurt?
Martial: Oh no, no, no. You do hurt, hahaha. But I wanna know, I really wanna know, so I’m not gonna give up, y’hear? If I set my mind to something, I’m gonna do it. [His eyes darken, and he Thinkings] And when I say something, I mean anything. I won’t waver this easily, you damn brute.
Aleksander: So what? You wanna know about why I can’t kill you? You’re that damn interested?
Martial: And if I say I am?
Aleksander: You think I’m gonna tell you?
Martial: No, but you do realize I won’t shut up, right?
Aleksander: You’re tiring. [Looks towards his men] Yaro, Nikita, can y’all handle this shitbag?
Nikita: In the backroom?
Aleksander: Yeah, just fling all three of em there.
Kohaku: Hey, hey, hey, me and Ryou haven’t done anything. I don’t wanna go to a place with no heating, y’know?
Aleksander: Does it look like I care? Maybe you’re dumb boyfriend can learn to shut up next time.
Kohaku: Boyfriend? He’s my cousin!
Aleksander: I don’t give a shit, now move. [Looks at Ryouchi] Hey, shit-sack, move your ass.
Ryouchi: Got it, got it.
Nikita [To Martial]: Come on you annoying brat, move.
Martial: But he still hasn’t answered me!
Nikita: Why the hell does he have to answer you?
Martial: He doesn’t, I just want an answer.
Nikita: Are you cracked in the head?
Martial: Maybe a little bit. But I love doing this kind of stuff!
Nikita: Oh nah, you’ve got a screw loose buddy. [To Aleksander] You sure you wanna keep this one alive as well?
Aleksander [To Nikita]: I told the boss I got three extra pickings, he said they’d all be worth it. He’d lose his shit if even one of em was lost, I’d be sure.
Nikita: But it’s the crazy ones ya know, it’s the crazy ones who always turn something out of nothing. I don’t like the vibe he gives off.
Aleksander: Again with the superstitions eh?
Nikita: Not superstitious, just the truth. You don’t mess with crazy man, I’m telling you.
Aleksander: What, you got with crazy?
Nikita: That, I won’t answer.
Aleksander: So, you did! Ha, dipshit, that’s different.
Kohaku [To Martial]: Uh…
Martial: Don’t look at me, I don’t know what they’re talking about.
Yaro: Hey boss, we should probably get to moving them, no?
Aleksander: Yeah, yeah get on with it. Put em in the back room, two doors back.
[Nikita grabs Martial, while Yaro grabs the other two. They walk down the hall and Nikita opens the door, flinging the three into the low-lit, non-windowed, empty room]
Nikita: Don’t worry, don’t worry. Those other idiots should be here soon enough. Once we get what we need from ‘em, we’ll move. Y’all should only be in here for a couple of minutes, ahaha.
Martial: Heyo, you.
Nikita: Whad’ya want?
Martial: You called me crazy, eh?
Nikita: Yeah. Whad’ya want with it?
Martial: Oh, nothing, nothing. You wouldn’t be willing to tell me anything, would ya?
Nikita: Why would I tell you shit?
Martial: Oh no, I just thought you’d be willing to tell the crazy boy, right? Before I go too batshit, right? [His eyes darken, and his smile gets creepily larger] You sure wouldn’t, right?
Nikita: You tryna intimidate me?
Martial: If I said I was?
Nikita: I’d beat the shit out of you.
Martial: Don’t be stupid. You’re not even close to the level of your boss. Shrimp-arms.
Nikita: HUH? Whad’ya say? You think I’m a weakling?
Martial: Yeah, I do dipshit. You aren’t respectable like your boss. You’re just a shit-for-brains, scummy lackey. I couldn’t care whether I get information from ya or not. You’re boring in every sense of the word.
Nikita: You fucking…
Yaro [To Nikita]: Nik, enough. He’s provoking you, can’t you see?
Nikita [Inhales deeply]: You’re right. [Stares down Martial] Y’know, once we deliver y’all back, you guys should be fair game. I’ll make mincemeat out of you then, damn brat.
[Yaro and Nikita slam the door shut, and the noise of a key turning is heard, followed by silence]
Kohaku [Screams at Martial]: Maki you idiot!
Martial: Huh? What’s this all about?
Kohaku: Why are you like this? Are you trying to get them to kill us? Are you mad?
Martial: What, what, no! A little provoking hurt no one, y’hear?
Kohaku: It very clearly does! Ryou, tell him!
Ryouchi [Looks up]: Huh? What do I tell him? [Pauses] Can’t you two keep it down too. You’re loud as ever.
Martial: Ryou, you know the situation we’re in right now. You think being stubborn is a solution?
Ryouchi: And who exactly got us in this situation, pre-tell?
[Kohaku glares at Martial]
Martial: Ah yes, yes, you can blame me, but you came along with me, no?
Ryouchi: Yes we did… cause we thought you weren’t this stupid to actually execute a plan as flawed as this one.
Martial: Who says the plans flawed?
Kohaku: The fact that we’re sitting with our hands tied up right now in a pitch-black room, you huge idiot!
Martial: Okay, yes, this isn’t ideal. In fact, this is damn far from ideal if I’m being honest.
Kohaku: You admitted it?
Martial: I’m not that much of a self-centered prick you know?
Ryouchi: I’d beg to differ. [Pauses] Besides, why’s this such a big scoop for ya?
Martial: Oh, so you are interested.
Ryouchi [Grimaces then whispers rhetorically]: So, what if I am?
Martial: Oh Ryou, didn’t I tell you? These guys aren’t from around these parts.
Ryouchi: Well, I’d better friggin hope they’re not from these parts if we flew from god-damn Beijing to get this scoop you moron. Besides, they got such a heavy Russian accent, I can tell they’re Russian mobsters or from those parts.
Martial: That’s why we’re here. These guys are precisely the mobsters from Moscow, Petersburg and the Baltic states that are in hell right now. These guys are likely the closest we’ll get to getting information about Katarov.
Kohaku: Katarov? You mean, that Katarov that you keep talking about?
Ryouchi [Quizzingly]: Katarov?
Martial: Oh, did I not mention his name to ya Ryou? He’s the ‘giftted’ guy or whatever. The Russian guy.
Ryouchi: Oh, this the same guy? [Pauses] You really think these guys are gonna have any info on him if he's the main boss though? What’s the real incentive?
Martial: Well, the boss here, whatever the big guy’s name is, he’s not just a bum.
Ryouchi: Really? The hell are they doing sending actual important people to the other side of the world? They tryna take the underground scene here?
Martial: Nah. They were out for their biggest haul in quite a while.
Kohaku: Really? I mean, there’s probably big hauls in Europe too, right? Why come all this way and go through all the trouble?
Martial: Well, the information I have said that they wanted a girl with the surname… [Pauses]… Yoshino, was it? Yeah, I think. Can’t remember her first name.
Ryouchi: One girl? She’s worth all this trouble?
Kohaku [Interjects]: Wait, are we talking about Ashe Yoshino?
Martial: Ashe… hmmmm… Ashe. Sounds familiar. Might be the same name, can’t remember. Why, something up her?
Kohaku: She’s like a super-idol in Korea! How have neither of you two idiots heard of her?
Martial: Well, for one, I don’t care for idols and all that – I’m more into having a commitment.
Kohaku: A commitment to what? Your rag?
Martial: It’s not even that bad.
Kohaku: Oh it is bad, it’s egregious.
Ryouchi [Sighs]: Anyway, anyway. What type of information are we getting out of them now? Aren’t we just gonna get shipped out of here with whoever that Ashe girl is?
Martial: No, no. [Reaches into his back pocket, pulling out a wire] You know I keep everything on me, right?
Ryouchi: But how are we gonna do anything even if we bust out of this room?
Kohaku [To Martial]: Ryou’s right Maki. What are we gonna do? They’re just gonna beat us to a pulp, and it’s not like we have a manpower advantage. It’s 3on3.
Martial: Excuse me, did I say that this was a lockpick only?
Kohaku: What else would it be then?
Martial: A blade.
Ryouchi: A blade? To do what? Stab that meathead?
Martial: No, no. To stab her.
Kohaku: Ashe? What did she do? Huh?
Martial: I’m not actually gonna stab her. I’m just gonna time this well enough that we get out of here at the same time as they get Ashe. As they’re talking with the lackey’s, I’ll swoop in and stick this to her throat.
Kohaku: So, you’ll offer to trade her back to them alive if we’re set free?
Ryouchi: Ain’t this way too flawed though?
Martial: How so?
Ryouchi: I mean, you can make the trade and all, but how do we know they’re just letting us go?
Martial: I’ll hold onto her as long as I need to, and then let her go and run. It’s the best bet we’ve got for getting out of here.
Ryouchi: Odds of us actually making it out of here?
Martial: I’d say for all three of us, maybe not great. But I think at least you two can get out of here. It’s just the big guy with a gun, these two moronic lackeys shouldn’t have anything.
Kohaku: So, you’re okay with being the guy who’s probably going to take the fall?
Martial: Yeah, I am. Hell, I’m not even that against being sold into whatever ring they have out there in Russia. More info for me.
Ryouchi [To Kohaku]: Yeah, he’s crazy.
Kohaku: Batshit. [Pauses] But still... I don't like the idea of you being the fall guy.
Martial: Ah, don't worry about me.
Ryouchi [To Martial]: Okay, we’ll go along with your plan. I don’t want you to die though, alright. Try and make it out though. I’m only agreeing because you seem kind of enthralled by the idea of going to Russia with these guys.
Martial [Smiles]: Oh, I honestly may be, ahahaha.
Kohaku [To Martial]: Please though, if there’s a chance, get out. Their car’s right outside.
Martial: Don’t worry, don’t worry, I’ll try my hardest to get out. I will. I will.
Ryouchi: By the way, what’s the deal with this girl? You know something or the other besides her being an idol?
Martial: Eh, I’ve heard some stuff here and there.
Martial: Well, she is an idol, and she’s popular for what she does. I’ve heard that there’s been people who’ve tried to kidnap her and all when she was younger.
Ryouchi: So, they’re coming all this way for a pretty girl? I mean, who are they selling to?
Martial: One of the Arabian Princes, I’m pretty sure, if what I was hearing from the other people was correct.
Ryouchi: So, great, they’re gonna make a lot of money, I bet. But, really? Couldn’t they have just done this job themselves? Hell, why would Katarov take on such a job with such stakes, especially sending a guy of this guy’s caliber out here.
Martial: Well, there was a rumor…
Kohaku: Ooooo, what is it, what is it? Tell us, tell us!
Martial: Well, to be honest, I don’t know much.
Kohaku: Still, what do you know?
Martial: From what I’ve heard, her father is someone important. Well actually, he was someone important. May not be anymore.
Ryouchi: You probably know something or the other about him, no?
Martial: Well, I tried to do my research, and I remember, he came up as a Scandinavian guy, but nothing out of the ordinary on his record. Came here with his kids but nothing really happened. He had the one kidnapping incident where he fought of some other guys, but that’s really it. But…
Kohaku: But, but what?
Martial: Nah, there’s nothing tangible. I just have my own suspicions and stuff. That’s all.
Kohaku: You think he’s a bad person?
Martial: Bad, good, who knows. There’s definitely something hidden behind his name, that’s all I can say. I want to know more, oh, I want to know more so bad.
Kohaku: You think she’d know anything?
Martial: Who, Ashe? [Pauses] Probably not. Whatever it was he’s done or hasn’t done, it’s definitely before he came here and settled down. He wouldn’t have told her, but these bastards probably know something or the other.
Ryouchi: That’s why you want information so bad?
Ryouchi: You know they aren’t telling you shit still though. And even if you get to go to Russia and be their lapdog, you still won’t get information from the inroads.
Martial [Sneers]: We shall see about that. Anyway… [Looks at Kohaku] You think you can pick this thing?
Kohaku: You really relying on me?
Martial: Well, I’d assume you’d be better than me with these delicate types of things. Am I wrong?
Kohaku: Well, you’re not.
Martial: Neat. We’re counting on you Ko!
Kohaku: Ryou, come help me.
Ryouchi [Annoyed]: Help with what? What am I supposed to do?
Kohaku: See if you can see anything outside the door that’s happening.
Ryouchi: How’s that supposed to help you? Matter of fact, who even is that helping?
Kohaku: Just do it! I don’t need them coming to check up on us and seeing one of us trying to pick a lock.
Ryouchi [To Martial]: Aye, could you do this you shithead?
Martial: Nah, I’ll pass.
Martial: I’m the one risking my life after this goes down. [Sneers] Don’t ya think you should cut me even the smallest bit of slack?
Ryouchi: You are… [Pauses] quite possibly, the biggest pest ever.
Martial: Well, that’s what I’m good for, y’know.
Kohaku [To Ryouchi]: Ryou, come, come. Let’s get on this.
Ryouchi: Fine, fine, I’m coming.
[The shot pans away from the working on the door, and pans towards Aleksander, Yaro and Nikita talking amongst themselves]
Aleksander [Slaps him]: Don’t try and do anything to the damn kids. Boss’s orders from up top.
Nikita: Yessir, I know. [Pauses] Anyway, what’s the deal with the shipment… she coming in soon? And even then, what’s the big deal with her? We’re kinda in the dark here… [Yaro nods his head]
Aleksander: Oh, her? Kat wants her for some reason, I think she’s gonna be sold for a pretty penny to some people who got a bounty on her folks.
Nikita: Her folks?
Aleksander: That’s all he told me.
Nikita: So, it’s safe to assume her family’s done something to piss someone off, right?
Aleksander: That would be the assumption I’m making, yeah.
Nikita: Y’know the people she’s being sold to?
Aleksander: I do, but it’s confidential business. Kat’s already got me on a tight rope.
Nikita: Oh alright, alright, that’s fine then. [Pauses] So, what’s it been like back home for ya? Must be nice in the cushy place you’re in.
Aleksander: Don’t think that we have it that easy. A boatload of shit is tossed on our heads, including sending most of ya lackeys out and doing the dirty work.
Nikita: Still, must be nice not having to come out unless there’s actual tough work to do like this job. Most of the time, it’s us getting our hands dirty.
Aleksander: Eh, not really, hell, I’ve been cast to the side for a lot of shit by Kat. And hell, the situation, even at the top, has been kind of dicey lately.
Aleksander: Although Kat’s got the stronghold over the Empire as it is, there’s been some infighting, especially within the Russian sects and whatnot. Biggest issue is that we hold pretty good power in St. Petersburg, but Moscow’s not all that good lately.
Aleksander [Thinking]: I can't mention anything more than that about the infighting and what I think about Vlar personally... he's just a damn lackey all things considered.
Nikita: Really? I would’ve expected a stronger stronghold in Moscow, no?
Aleksander: That’s what most people think, and it’s part of the reason Kat isn’t so keen on moving there, since any foreigners – especially those British mobsters – would probably think the same and go there first.
Nikita: Why’s Petersburg got such a stronghold anyway?
Aleksander: Close to the Baltic border, I’d guess? If you really wanna know, go talk to Kat himself, he probably has all the answers – at least, I’d hope he does.
Nikita: Yeah, I’ll pass, haha.
Aleksander: Apart from Russia though, the Baltic states probably haven’t been in a better state since the war.
Nikita: [Confused] Really? You actually believe that?
Aleksander: The economy of the combined state is nearly triple when the fighting began way back, y’know? It’s all thanks to what Kat’s done – bastard’s done a lot, as much as I don’t wanna admit it.
Nikita: Have you seen the streets though?
Aleksander: I’ve seen them in Tallinn, they aren’t that bad.
Nikita: That’s cause that’s where y’all have most of your shit holed up. I came here from Vilnius, and every so often I go back there because we’re sent there. Nothing’s changed. The economy’s only moving because Kat’s got the Minister in his left pocket and there’s been the sudden influx of money into the government. Otherwise, everything’s the same.
Aleksander: So, what do you want me to do? Go cry to Kat about it? He’s doing the best he can without letting the underground run loose, even if he’s an asshole y’hear?
Nikita: Sure, sure, but you should know better than thinking that this situation is the best it possibly could be. For the majority of us absolutely nothing’s changed. I’m one of the fewer upper-class lackey’s so I get to see the royalty you guys are treated as. For the ragdolls like – shit, what were their names – [pauses] – shit! – ah, Elias and Mitri, those two scapegoats, do you really think that life’s any better than it was before?
Aleksander: Sure as hell it is. They aren’t fighting with their lives on the line anymore like they were during the damn war and days of poverty. There’s no more bloodshed, it’s just a little dirty work to keep their families afloat and keep the Empire the way it is.
Nikita: A little dirty work? Half of these guys are out there trafficking God knows what across borders and tracking down escapees and traitors for days on end just for their families to get enough to eat the next day.
Aleksander: So what’s your solution? Make them stop doing the dirty work? What’ll that lead to? Another power struggle, followed by military intervention, followed by more bloodshed, followed by another person other than Katarov doing this same shit.
Nikita: But couldn’t…
Aleksander [Interjects]: Couldn’t we what? Increase the damn wages that they get? Sure, we could, but the moment we do, it becomes the same garbage, people complaining about not having enough every two months, more people leaving and rebelling, more bloodshed between us and the escapees, and eventual military intervention, and the same garbage. It’s a no-win street man. Can’t you tell?
Nikita: There has to be something that y’all can do… you’ve got to agree.
Aleksander: Mate can’t ya tell that we’d like to change something and make things better? But we were already in such a shit situation to begin with, to be able to even afford to pay the people at the bottom what they’re getting now is ludicrous compared to what it was back then.
Nikita: Still mate…
Aleksander: Quit living in an ideal fantasy man, that type of shit just ain’t gonna happen, look at what kind of shit we have to do now. Kat may be a fucking hothead, and he may have cast me off to the side for Fet… [Clinches his teeth], but he’s done wonders for this state, you moron.
Nikita: That I won’t doubt at all, Katarov’s been instrumental in everything and has helped repair the state from what it was. My issue is just that we’re still not even close to being finished.
Aleksander: I don’t know if we’ll ever reach that ‘finish line’ that you want, ya hear? Even if we do, things may be changing soon with the new guy and all.
Nikita: New guy?
Aleksander: It’s just rumors and all, but I heard about some guy coming on board with us and leapfrogging a bunch of us, just like that other bastard who gave Kat this idea. All of this shit’s pissed off Fetistof, that much I could assume.
Nikita: Hmph. Interesting, interesting. What di –
[A noise can be heard from the background, sounding like a door opening]
Nikita: Oh shit, is that them? That took quite a while, hopefully everything’s okay.
[Aleksander moves his hand backwards, signaling for Nikita to stop]
Aleksander [To Nikita]: Wait.
Nikita: Huh? Ain’t that the damn door?
Aleksander: It’s the other door. Damn brats. [Runs towards the room] I thought you locked it Yaro, goddamnit!
Yaro [To Nikita]: Didn’t I?
Nikita: I thought ya did.
Aleskander: Find them damnit, stop the idle chitchat.
Martial [From behind]: Yo, yo! You looking for me!
Aleksander [Angrily]: Get him, damnit!
Nikita: But what about the other two? Wouldn’t they be in the room?
Aleksander: I don’t care, get this damn brat for me! Stop asking questions or I’ll do it myself, damnit! [He charges at Martial, who runs towards the main area]
Martial [Thinking]: Wait what the fuck? The girl isn’t here? Oh shit…
Aleksander [Leaps towards him, kicking him into the wall]: Damn brat. Where’d your damn friends go, eh?
Martial [Smirks]: Why should I say? Can’t we go back to our conversation? Aren’t you gonna take me home with ya? Aren’t ya? Come on, come on.
Aleksander [To Nikita and Yaro]: They can’t be far; the door was just picked. Get them two and we’ll go – this one’s too much a nuisance, screw bringing him. [Cocks gun] I’ll kill him myself.
Martial [Startled]: Woah, woah, this wasn’t what we agreed on! I want to go with yo –
[A loud thud can be heard from the main door, and Nikita and Yaro look up towards it]
Shin [With a gun in hand at the door, lowly]: Yeo.