Polis Kruptos: The Blank City
Fade in to the sights, sounds and smells of a stylish street cafe on a sunny day. A fountain produces a pleasant bubbly sound to complement a mood of relaxation. Two casually-dressed young men sit at one of the tables, soaking in the afternoon sun. One of the men, Agent VICTOR, has spiky black hair and a pair of sunglasses that partially shades out his eyes. The other man, Agent NATHAN, has a permanently melancholy expression on his face thanks to the positioning of his eyebrows as well as the dark bags under his empty-looking eyes. Both Victor and Nathan are engaged in conversation. Nathan has the habit of staring into the distance when he's not talking.
Victor takes a sip of coffee.
VICTOR: ...Most people don't realize that blue's actually quite snappy for a color. They think it's all doom, gloom and depressing,
VICTOR: So... we're waiting for somebody, right?
NATHAN: Were you not paying attention in the car? Johnson went over our objectives before we got here.
VICTOR: He did? Do you remember them?
Hazy flashback. Victor and Nathan sit in the back seat of an unmarked black sedan. JOHNSON sits in the front passenger seat, consulting a laptop on his lap. He turns to face Victor and Nathan. His face is nondescript and rather boring. As soon as Johnson turns around, Victor sags a bit in his seat, falling asleep.
JOHNSON: [a string of inaudible gibberish]
End flashback. Nathan uncomfortably shifts in his seat as he struggles to recall those memories. Victor takes another sip of coffee.
VICTOR: Yeah, I thought so. Does that mean we're both screwed?
NATHAN: Don't worry. I think I've got it covered.
Nathan pulls a metal briefcase off the floor and onto the table. He pats the briefcase.
NATHAN: If training has ever taught me anything, it's that briefcases like these are used to exchange something with something else. And the fact that we have a briefcase like this suggests that we're going to participate in an exchange, meaning that at this moment we are waiting for someone to come exchange our briefcase with their goods. Thus, we are in a situation of exchange and collect. Or collect and exchange. Completely interchangeable.
VICTOR: Damn, Nathan, expand your vocabulary. You're boring the crap out of me.
Suddenly, a shady looking man wearing a cloak and fedora walks towards Victor and Nathan, looking down at the ground in a manner that conceals his eyes from view. He sits down at the table between the two men, creating awkward tension. Victor and Nathan stare at the shady man cautiously before taking long sips out of their coffees. The man slowly looks left and right. Realizing the awkward tension he has unintentionally created, he stands up, paces around the table to a spot across from Victor and Nathan, and sits down again. Victor and Nathan relax a bit.
SHADY MAN: Have you brought the money?
Victor leans in towards Nathan.
VICTOR: (whispers) Is this the seller?
NATHAN: (whispers back) I think so.
Nathan does his best to stare at the shady man with an intimidating expression on his face. He fails rather miserably, looking like a constipated individual.
The shady man ignores Nathan and nods towards the metal briefcase on the table.
Nathan opens the briefcase, takes a quick look, and spins it around. Bundle after bundle of one hundred dollar bills are stacked neatly inside the case, giving off a bright glow of wealth.
The shady man leans in, chair creaking as he does so. He inspects the money. Satisfied, he then proceeds to whip out a black briefcase from inside his cloak. He opens the briefcase, revealing a case full of white powder. Victor and Nathan lean in, chairs creaking as they do so. Nathan stares at the powder.
The deal has ended. The shady man closes the briefcase full of money, stands up, and leaves. Nathan and Victor are left sitting at the table awkwardly sipping coffee, staring at the black briefcase lying in front of them.
VICTOR: So...now what?
NATHAN: We report to Johnson for debriefing. That's what.
VICTOR: What- That's it? We give a briefcase to some guy, get a briefcase in return, and go home to receive our paycheck?
Nathan scratches the back of his neck and looks around. A girl wearing a hat and some fashionable winter clothes has approached the nearby fountain, and is feeding bread crumbs to some pigeons.
NATHAN: Not a bad way to earn your living, if you ask me.
VICTOR: (short laugh) You're right! That's good for us! A few more of these missions and then (singsong) Promotiooon!
NATHAN: (grins) Signs of good times to come. All right Victor, let's get out of here.
Nathan stands up, coffee in his left hand. He picks up the black briefcase with his right hand and begins to walk to the side of the street, keying his earpiece on in the process. Victor stands up and follows. They pass the girl at the fountain.
NATHAN: Sir, you there?
Nathan's earpiece comes to life.
JOHNSON: (voice) Agent Nathan, this is Johnson. I see you've made the transaction. We're tracking the seller back to his hideout as we speak. Good work.
NATHAN: We read you and are requesting an extraction. Um, we have a black briefcase full of anthrax powder over here, the fruits of our labor, over.
JOHNSON: (voice) Come again, Agent Nathan, did you say "anthrax powder"?
NATHAN: Yes, sir. One briefcase full of anthrax powder. We bought it from the seller, just as planned.
JOHNSON: (voice, unsettled) Nathan, the seller was supposed to sell a shipment of cocaine, not anthrax powder, over.
Nathan stops in his tracks. Victor stops next to him, confused.
VICTOR: Yo, something wrong?
NATHAN: (under his breath, wide-eyed) Co...caine?
Nathan looks down at the briefcase in his right hand. The sound of his heartbeat can be heard loud and clear. However, at the same time, a faint ticking noise can be heard as well.
NATHAN: (suddenly shouting) VICTOR, GET DOWN!
He tosses the briefcase aside. The briefcase lands in the nearby fountain. Nathan wraps up the only nearby bystander, the girl feeding the pigeons, and dives away from the fountain, bringing the girl with him to the ground. Victor instinctively dives away from the briefcase as well. The pigeons fly away amidst the disturbance.
The briefcase erupts into a giant ball of light, taking the fountain with it. The explosion rips through the cafe setting, shattering windows and sending chairs and tables flying into walls. Innocent bystanders and customers scream as they dive for cover. Victor covers his hair with the back of his shirt as rubble rains down from the sky.
NATHAN: Is everyone all right?!
The screaming slowly dies down, replaced by whimpering and murmuring in the background as people make sure everyone else is all right.
RANDOM MAN: Quick! Someone call the police!
RANDOM WOMAN: Are we under attack?!
Nathan gets up. The girl he shielded is still on the ground. Nathan looks around, coughing and gasping for air.
NATHAN: (turning to Victor) Victor! You all right?
The girl, who is still on the ground, promptly lifts a leg and kicks Nathan in the family jewels. Nathan grimaces and collapses to the ground. Victor, who is in the process of getting back up to his feet, drops his jaw.
VICTOR: (surprised) Oh shit! Nathan, you all right?!
NATHAN: (shedding tears of pain) Owwwww~ Help me, Victor...I think I've turned into a woman...
The girl stands on her feet and brushes dust off her sleeves. Her name is CLAIRE. She is pissed.
CLAIRE: (pissed) Have you no decency, you big moron?! Grabbing me like that and throwing me onto the ground, WHAT WERE YOU DOING?!
NATHAN: (in pain) The explosion...I was shielding you...
CLAIRE: (even more pissed) Oh, so you think I'm just a helpless little girl, now, do you? You friggin' asswipe! I DON'T NEED HELP!
VICTOR: Woah there, that is some nasty, nasty PMS-
Claire abruptly swings her purse into Victor's keepsakes. Now both Victor and Nathan are on the ground enduring some truly legendary pain. Claire stands tall over them with both arms crossed, a triumphant expression on her face. The other bystanders do not dare approach her.
NATHAN: (in pain, to Victor) Who...who is this girl?
VICTOR: (in pain, to Nathan) The devil...
CLAIRE: I heard that!
Claire swings her handbag again, clipping Victor on the head. Victor instinctively clutches his head with his hands. A couple packs of white powder falls out of her purse. They land right next to Nathan's head. Nathan stares at the powder. He sniffs it a few times. Victor does the same. Both Nathan and Victor reach the same conclusion at the same time.
VICTOR: Wait, is this-
NATHAN/VICTOR: (in unison, to Claire) You're the seller?!
Claire's face suddenly turns a pale color as she stares at the two agents on the ground before her.
CLAIRE: You're the clients?!
A beat up old sedan barrels down the old highway, passing factories and industrial warehouses. Claire is in the driver's seat, driving with a rather grumpy look on her face. Nathan is sitting in the front passenger's seat, biting his lower lip and staring at the road ahead. Victor sits in the back, arm resting against Nathan's seat, stealing curious glances at Claire every now and then. A silence fills the cabin. Then...
CLAIRE: Don't expect me to apologize for what happened back there. I keep things strictly professional.
NATHAN: Professional. Right.
CLAIRE: Hey, you're the one who freeloaded all your cash to that shady guy in the hat! My boss ain't a happy man to begin with, but shit, once he finds out how badly you effed up our deal, he's going to go completely apeshit on you guys!
NATHAN: Don't worry. We'll get the money back. Right Victor?
VICTOR: (snaps out of a stare) Oh, right. Of course!
Silence fills the cabin. They continue to speed past industrial complexes.
CLAIRE: My name, you dolt. It's Claire.
NATHAN: Oh. Hi Claire. I'm Ag- Nathan, and that's Victor.
VICTOR: Yo. Pleasure to meet-
Claire shoots a quick glare at Victor.
Silence fills the cabin again. They continue to speed past industrial complexes.
VICTOR: Hey Claire, I have a question. (pauses) Shouldn't you be in school right now?
Claire hesitates before answering. Both Victor and Nathan notice.
CLAIRE: People say that all the time, but I'm really older than I look. (turns and glares at Victor) And just because I gave you my name does NOT mean we're on friendly terms, got it?!
VICTOR: What's your favorite color?
NATHAN: Hey! Hey! Watch the road! Watch the road! (points frantically ahead)
The car stops in front of an old, abandoned warehouse. Nathan, Victor and Claire all get out and survey their surroundings. Nathan's earpiece is activated, with Johnson on the other side of the line. Claire cannot hear what Johnson is saying.
JOHNSON: (voice only; slightly annoyed, but still boring monotone) The signal from the nanomachines embedded in the money is being transmitted from this location...so be careful. The NDEA is still trying to determine the identity of the culprit. We will get back to you on that later...you've already made a large mess, Agent Nathan and Agent Victor, and the NDEA expects the two of you to fix it...retrieve the money at all costs.
NATHAN: Yeah, this is it.
CLAIRE: So how did you track the money here in the first place?
NATHAN: (scratches chin) Our sketchy man in the hat told me he'd be coming back here.
NATHAN: I'm a skilled orator.
CLAIRE: ...what does that have to do with anything?
NATHAN: Oh, you know, like when we were making the deal, I just SQUEEZED that little piece of information from him like a lemon.
Nathan squeezes one hand into a fist with an intense expression on his face.
Victor rolls his eyes, even though his eyes are hidden behind his sunglasses.
CLAIRE: Right. Now walk in there and use your orating skills to win back my money.
Nathan hesitates. Victor bites his lip.
NATHAN: Actually, I think I have a more effective tool of persuasion.
Nathan pulls out a handgun. Victor follows, and pulls out a handgun of his own. Claire stares at the two agents standing before her.
CLAIRE: You...how the...where did you pull those out from?!
NATHAN: Our pants.
Nathan and Victor approach the front door of the warehouse and scan their possible approach options. Nathan runs his fingers along the cracks of the door. Victor checks the bottom of the door for holes. They take up positions on both the left and right sides of the door with their guns at the ready.
NATHAN: All right, we're going to break and enter the old fashioned way!
VICTOR: (to Claire) You might want to get behind us!
CLAIRE: Yeah right! I don't need to be pandered!
Claire suddenly pulls out a military-issued automatic rifle from out of nowhere in particular. Both Nathan and Victor gawk at this sudden absurd occurrence.
NATHAN: Okay...let's go.
Nathan nods to Victor. Victor promptly kicks the door in. The three of them file into the warehouse, weapons aimed and ready. The interior of the warehouse is mostly empty, save for rusty pieces of machinery and floating dust. The roof of the warehouse is partially caved in, filtering in rays of sunlight. The Shady Man stands with his back turned to the three intruders. The briefcase of money is sitting on the ground right next to him.
NATHAN: (pointing gun at the shady man) You, hold it right there!
VICTOR: (pointing gun at the shady man) Turn around with both hands raised!
CLAIRE: (pointing rifle at the shady man) And give me back my money, bitch!
SHADY MAN: Oh? Claire...it's so good to see you again.
A chill suddenly runs down Claire's spine. She slowly lowers her rifle, paralyzed in fear.
NATHAN: (confused) Holcomb? Who's that? A friend?
Holcomb speaks. His speech is rather abrupt, with constant pauses and a certain edginess to it.
SHADY MAN (HOLCOMB): Friends...we used to be such good friends, Claire. And now look at you. Look at me. Look at everybody. Look at the ceiling. Look at the hole in the ceiling. Look at this briefcase. Look at the broken door behind you. Look at the ground. Look at the rifle you hold in your hand. Look at the two people to either side of you. Look at it, Claire. Look at it!
Holcomb, with his back still turned to our protagonists, gestures to the side with a gloved hand. As he gestures, his arm outstretched, he begins to turn slowly to face them. Victor and Nathan both tense up, pistols still aiming at the shady man in front of them. Holcomb completes his turn, and is now facing our heroes. His gaunt face is covered with scars and bruises, a symbol of an extremely rough past.
HOLCOMB: But of course, he who looks is subject to thought, and she who looks is object to thinking. Therefore, as you look at me you must be wondering the very subject of thought that pervades yourselves... "why?"
VICTOR: (bewildered) Yeah. Why? Why did you give us a briefcase rigged with explosives?
NATHAN: And why did the briefcase contain anthrax powder instead of drugs?
NATHAN: But first tell us, who are you working for? What is your aim?
CLAIRE: (quietly) He's a rogue.
VICTOR: (surprised) a rogue? You mean, he's not part of a cartel or anything?
CLAIRE: No. He used to be, but not anymore. Now...
HOLCOMB: Now, I am free!
Holcomb suddenly pulls off his cloak. His chest and waist are strapped with blinking explosive charges. Nathan, Victor, and Claire step back in shock and fear.
NATHAN: Woah there!
VICTOR: Holy shit!
CLAIRE: (in shock) Holcomb!
HOLCOMB: You know very well yourself, Claire, my methods of operation. I take, I steal. Kolzov knew what he was getting when he brought me into the team.
CLAIRE: You went too far, you sick bastard.
Johnson's voice suddenly pipes in through Nathan's earpiece. Nathan had forgotten that Johnson has been listening in this whole time.
JOHNSON: (voice, monotone) Kolzov...that's the cartel leader we're investigating. Keep pressing both these Holcomb and Claire characters for information.
NATHAN: (aloud) Kolzov?
CLAIRE: What?! You don't know who Kolzov is? And yet you were buying from him?
NATHAN: (frantically correcting himself) No, I know who Kolzov is, obviously, or else I wouldn't be buying from him.
CLAIRE: Are you sure? You sound like you really don't know Kolzov.
VICTOR: Cole slaw? I know what cole slaw is. I hate it! It tastes disgusting!
Everyone stares at Victor. Suddenly, Holcomb breaks into long, maniacal laughter.
HOLCOMB: How amusing! Kolzov, are you seeing this? What your cartel has turned into in my wake?! It's pitiful! (to Nathan and Victor) You comedians...I'm rather glad you didn't die when expected. This is a much more interesting end, don't you think?
NATHAN: We don't plan on dying here, Mr. Holcomb. Not until you tell us what's going on here.
HOLCOMB: Okay. I'll be frank with you. That briefcase I gave you, it wasn't anthrax powder. It was baking soda. Pure, unadulterated baking soda. Bought it at the local grocery store a few blocks down. The buyers, you, were foolish enough to buy the powder. Don't you all get what your boss is doing here? I was trying to prove a point, by selling you the powder. Kolzov, he is low on morals, even for a cartel leader. I see what he does, the people he takes advantage of. I saw that he was in the market for anthrax powder, and decided to pounce.
VICTOR: (to Nathan) Holcomb thinks we're Kolzov's men?
NATHAN: (to Victor) He was trying to sell the anthrax powder to Kolzov, but sold it to us instead.
Meanwhile, back at the cafe. Two bald men in expensive suits stand around cluelessly, watching as police and paramedics sort through the scene of the explosion and gather witness reports.
MAN #1: Err...this was the place, right?
MAN #2: Yeah. I don't see anyone with a black briefcase, though.
MAN #1: Maybe we took another wrong turn?
MAN #2: Damn it, I sure hope not. Kolzov will wring our necks if we keep botching our deals.
Back at the old warehouse...
HOLCOMB: That black briefcase full of baking soda, it was rigged to explode and take you all out. That would have been my declaration of war against Kolzov. But it looks like you were all somehow able to survive. How pitiful, but how lucky of me for the boss's own little prize Claire to show up here as well. I couldn't have asked for anything better!
NATHAN: (holds up a hand) Wait. You still need to tell us why. Why do you hate Kolzov so much?
CLAIRE: (downcast gaze) Revenge. Holcomb's looking for revenge.
HOLCOMB: Oh, so you've finally come to your senses? Took you a while. You see, Claire, we used to be such good friends. Good, good friends. But Kolzov, he didn't like that. He tore me apart. Cast me out. Threw me away like a broken puppet. Do you realize how wrong that is?!
CLAIRE: No. You're wrong, Holcomb. Kolzov saved me from you.
HOLCOMB: AS IF! Kolzov is a beast, lurking behind every breathing being, just waiting to catch that one mistake. It's how he runs his business, that monster. He just sits and waits for the opportunity, and discards all those he finds useless.
CLAIRE: Shut up! Shut up shut up shut up! You are not one to talk about those kinds of things!
HOLCOMB: (grins) It's true, Claire. It's true for all of Kolzov's minions. (to Victor and Nathan) That includes you comedians. Hmm, suddenly I am intrigued. How did the two of you join Kolzov's fold anyway? I have doubts that even Kolzov is stupid enough to let the two of you into his cartel.
CLAIRE: They're not-
NATHAN: (interrupting her) Well, we were just, you know, two regular thugs out in the streets.
VICTOR: With like, tough reputations and stuff.
NATHAN: And we decided to apply to Kolzov's cartel because we thought it'd be cool, yeah?
VICTOR: (nods) Yeah, we filled out applications at the Academy of...Cartel Minion...Associates...and Friends. Incorporated.
Claire stares at Victor and Nathan like they are the two biggest idiots she has ever laid eyes on. Holcomb suddenly becomes suspicious.
HOLCOMB: Something is nagging at me. The back of my head, it's trying to tell me something. (to Nathan) You...who are you? (to Claire) Claire, you seem to get along with them well. Almost too well.
CLAIRE: What?! Preposterous!
Holcomb's eyes narrow as he analyzes Nathan and Victor. Suddenly, he spots Nathan's earpiece and recognizes what it is. His eyes widen, thinking that the person on the other end of the earpiece is Kolzov.
HOLCOMB: (in delirious panic) You! You're a spy! Damnit, I see you! You've been listening in this entire time! KOLZOV, YOU KNOW EVERYTHING NOW, DON'T YOU?! YOU DAMN BASTARD! YOU WON'T TAKE ME, KOLZOV! NEVER! DIE! DIE!
NATHAN: (aims pistol) Find some cover! NOW!
Holcomb pulls out a detonator and begins to sprint towards our three protagonists, hollering out a savage shriek. Time seems to slow as Holcomb gets closer and closer, detonator in one hand, eyes wide open in crazed panic. Victor and Claire dive to either side. Nathan, standing his ground, fires a single shot. The bullet catches Holcomb right through the middle of his forehead, and the crazed rogue's head and upper body snap back. As Holcomb falls forward, his hand clamps down on the detonator, and his body erupts into a powerful ball of explosive energy. Nathan is thrown backwards, through the doorway that they had originally broken through.
Victor and Claire get up, regathering their wits. They rush outside, over to Nathan, who is still down on the ground.
CLAIRE: Are you all right?!
No response. Nathan's body remains crumpled on the ground.
VICTOR: Shit! Nathan!
No response. Victor and Claire continue to stare at Nathan's body in silence, regathering their breaths. They have looks of hopelessness and despair on their faces.
CLAIRE: (sadly) No...
Nathan suddenly coughs. He opens his eyes, and stares upwards.
NATHAN: (dryly) Good morning.
Brief moment of disbelief as Victor and Claire stare at the recently reawakened Nathan. Claire suddenly grabs her handbag and furiously swings it into Nathan's face.
Just outside the warehouse, at the sedan. Nathan sits on the hood, nursing a burnt elbow with ice. Claire stands next to him, a tired look on her face. Victor suddenly walks out of the warehouse.
VICTOR: Well, looks like the money got evaporated along with our buddy there.
NATHAN: (sighs) Our deal failed.
CLAIRE: (downcast) …
NATHAN: Sorry about the money. Are you wondering if Kolzov will throw you out now?
CLAIRE: Kolzov isn't like that.
She sighs and turns to face Nathan.
CLAIRE: Listen, what Holcomb said back there was not true. Kolzov doesn't just throw out all his spare parts. He's...he's a nice man.
NATHAN: Cartel boss? Nice?
CLAIRE: (nods) Mhm. He's not like the other bosses out there. You should tell that to your buddy on the headset.
Nathan looks at Claire, surprised that she knows about the earpiece.
NATHAN: Well, the circuitry was burnt in that explosion, so I'm going to have to tell him to his face. Um, but you're probably going to have to leave before-
CLAIRE: I know you're with the NDEA.
Victor and Nathan stare at Claire in surprise.
VICTOR: You knew?
CLAIRE: (nods) Yup. Kolzov knows as well. That's how our cartel operates, really. We fight other cartels, steal their drugs, and sell them to the police. Kolzov...he was never into drugs. He knows that any drug he's able to sell to the police will result in less drugs out on the street. A city without addicts... that's Kolzov's dream. (pauses) All of the members of our cartel were once street bums, but Kolzov picked us up and welcomed us into his cartel. He treats us like family, and for almost all of us, it's the only family we've ever known.
Victor and Nathan look at each other. What are they supposed to report to Johnson? Claire remains downtrodden. Her eyes remain fixed on the ground.
NATHAN: And what about Holcomb?
CLAIRE: An anomaly. Kolzov made a mistake recruiting him.
NATHAN: Something happened between you and Holcomb, am I right?
CLAIRE: (turns around so her back is facing Nathan) I don't want to talk about it.
Silence. Nathan looks around, then puts his hand on Claire's shoulder. Claire lets out a yelp, spins around, kicks Nathan in the crotch, grabs his burnt arm, and slams him into the ground. Victor does nothing but watch.
CLAIRE: YOU IDIOT!
NATHAN: (through pain) I know what happened.
A single tear falls out of Claire's eye.
CLAIRE: (softly) You idiot.
Claire is in the sedan. Nathan and Victor stand next to the driver's window.
NATHAN: Our supervisor's bound to arrive with backup after he lost communication with us. You should leave before then.
CLAIRE: Don't tell me what to do, you moron.
Silence. Claire starts up the engine of her sedan.
VICTOR: (disappointed) I guess this is goodbye.
NATHAN: (grins) Right. It was fun. Don't worry, I'll tell Johnson everything you told me about Kolzov. He's a by-the-book supervisor, but he knows right from wrong, and recognizes his morals.
CLAIRE: Don't tell him anything about me and Holcomb.
NATHAN: If you go back to school, I might let it slide.
Claire glares at Nathan. Victor steps back and stifles laughter. Claire's face softens up.
CLAIRE: I'll think about it.
Her car starts to move. Both Nathan and Victor wave. This moment is extended.
VICTOR: Hope we meet again!
CLAIRE: (waving back) Same here! See you guys later!
Her car disappears beyond a corner, leaving Nathan and Victor alone at the warehouse. Nathan looks at the sky. It is getting dark. He turns to face Victor.
NATHAN: Now what?
VICTOR: Well, we did botch our mission and give our briefcase full of money to the wrong person, which probably hurt our chances for that promotion.
NATHAN: Yeah, you're right.
VICTOR: But I think it turned out all right.
Nathan slaps Victor on the back.
NATHAN: (grins) Right again. Man, Johnson's going to have a field day with all this new intel. Let's go, pardner.
Nathan and Victor slowly walk back towards the warehouse just as incoming helicopter sounds grow louder in the distance.