EXT. HOUSEFRONT – DAWN

Lights off. A group of SOLDIERS walks past the house, swiftly. Sounds of shouts in the distance, banging on a nearby door. Shutters open. A WOMAN pokes her head out of the house window and looks down the street. She quickly draws her head back inside and slams the shutters.

INT. KITCHEN

A single candlelight. A man in a suit, JARDIE, sits at the table, nervously twisting his hands. The WOMAN runs down the stairs. She is disheveled, her hair down, dressed in a chemise.

WOMAN
(breathless)
Go! Go!

JARDIE
(looking up)
What?

She tugs desperately at his arm; JARDIE tries to protest; but she is persistent and he does not fight back very hard.

WOMAN
(pushing him toward door)
You must go!

JARDIE
You can't— you just can't—

She shoves him outside.

EXT. STREET – DAWN

JARDIE stumbles out of the house, hatless. He quickly turns around—but the WOMAN shuts the door and locks it behind him. JARDIE stares at it, dumbfounded.

The sound of the SOLDIERS walking down the street alerts him.

JARDIE
(under breath)
That bitch.

He edges into the alley. The SOLDIERS' voices become louder. JARDIE looks up and around frantically. He spots the fire escape above his head, on the neighboring building. He jumps up and tries to catch it—but can't manage to pull himself up; he seems out of shape or something. He drops back down to the ground, panting. Their voices become louder.

JARDIE
(furiously)
Damn it. Damn it.

The SOLDIERS stop at the door of the house, begin hammering on the door. There is no response. Their commander, VEIL, begins yelling harshly. The voice spurs JARDIE on—he jumps and grabs onto the fire escape once again. It makes an audible clanging sound against the wall.

SOLDIER 1 (O.S.)
Did you hear something?

JARDIE hangs on out of pure desperation. He tries to pull himself up.

SOLDIER 2 (O.S.)
—a cat.

With a massive effort, JARDIE drags the upper half of his body onto the fire escape. Sounds of the door opening. The WOMAN is heard, talking sleepily to the SOLDIERS. JARDIE makes slow progress up the fire escape.

WOMAN
Oh my God, there's one of those running around down here?

Suddenly JARDIE slips, causing a much louder metallic crashing as the fire escape swings against the wall. He hangs, feet barely above the ground. The voices stop.

JARDIE's breath is the only sound, rasping loudly. Unable to hold on any longer, he drops back down to the ground. He stares up at the fire escape hopelessly.

[At about this time the sun begins to rise. The scene grows gradually lighter from here on out.]

The SOLDIERS round the corner, spotting JARDIE and raising their rifles. JARDIE turns his head toward them, backing up slowly. He doesn't make any other sign of submission. From the back, VEIL raises his hand, stopping them from shooting for a moment. He steps to the front of the group; his face remains unseen.

VEIL
(to JARDIE)
So.

JARDIE's head snaps away from him. VEIL laughs.

VEIL
(mocking)
Are we done with this little joke now?

JARDIE doesn't answer. He keeps his face averted. His breathing gradually becomes less strained.

VEIL waits.

VEIL
(to SOLDIERS)
Bring him to me.

The SOLDIERS advance toward JARDIE, still keeping their guns raised. JARDIE ignores them. Instead, he raises his eyes to the fire escape. He whispers something, inaudible. The SOLDIERS advance.

JARDIE begins to run; he moves like a different person entirely. Maybe it is the pure adrenaline fueling him—perhaps something else. He jumps and grabs onto the fire escape, pulling himself up in one fluid motion. The SOLDIERS begin to fire; the WOMAN screams.

One of the bullets catches JARDIE in the arm, but he continues to run, climbing up the fire escape and onto the roof of the building. The SOLDIERS curse as he moves out of range. They halt their firing. A few run into the house, in pursuit.

VEIL watches the scene unfold, hands clasped behind his back. He laughs softly. JARDIE pauses on the roof. He screams down at VEIL, an almost unimaginable ferocity in his voice.

JARDIE
Fuck you!

He runs.

The camera follows him up, staying in place as JARDIE disappears in the distance. The SOLDIERS appear on the roof soon after, gesturing and bickering about where to go next. The skyline becomes more and more visible in the morning light: New York City. 1960s or so. Minus a few buildings.

EXT. MAIN CITY STREET – DAY

UDO and ELI walk down the sidewalk, chatting. They are in school uniforms. ELI juggles three balls as he walks; black and white. Many other people move past them on the sidewalk; mostly men, all dressed in suits, wearing hats. A professionally dressed woman or a housewife every once in a while too.

The street is busy too, full of cars and other vehicles. Like horse-drawn carts. Every house with a balcony, without a fail, has a flag draped over it. Bright red.

ELI
(to UDO)
"I like not your cold justice. Out of her eye always gleams the executioner and his cold steel."

UDO
(eyes straight ahead)
I hate him.

ELI
(rolling eyes)
Oh God, shut up!

UDO
(snapping out of it)
Excuse me?

ELI
Shut the fuck up. (throwing ball up high) You're always talking 'bout it.

UDO
What?

ELI
The War. The War. (exaggerated) The Waaar. (catching ball) Can it, already. It's over, already.

UDO looks down at the ground, frowning.

ELI
And your fixation? (spinning ball on finger) It's starting to worry me.

UDO
(looking up)
I don't have a fixation.

ELI
Century already. Nearly all the vets dead.

UDO
Good on them.

ELI
(wheedling)
They fought it so's you wouldn't have to.

UDO
So we should just forget about it?

ELI
Why not?

UDO
Because those who don't remember history—

ELI
(gleeful)
Bullshit.

UDO
(amending)
—I'm not saying we should live in the past. (pause) But we shouldn't be amnesiac either.

ELI ignores him; he seems entirely caught up in his juggling now. UDO watches the balls, dancing around in the air, in increasingly complicated patterns.

UDO (V.O.)
Lost in an amnesiac world. No sense of the epic or heroic. Black, white, black, white, black. In the spot of darkness, there is always light. Yin and Yang.

ELI
(conceding)
Look, I get it. Your type's always obsessed with this thing. You gamers. (smiling) You've got to get in character, or something.

UDO
(softly)
It's only a game.

Suddenly, a group of SOLDIERS pushes their way through the crowd. They seem pissed, yelling at the civilians for not getting out of their way fast enough. One of them shoves ELI as he passes, causing him to drop the balls; they roll away, but neither of the teens make any movement to retrieve them. They press themselves against the walls like the other civs, giving the SOLDIERS a clear berth.

The SOLDIERS pass, talking loudly and laughing, but not in a kindly way. One of them makes a wringing motion with his hands, and they laugh louder.

After they're gone, the civs still remain frozen for a few moments more. Then they begin moving, picking up things slowly. In a minute, everything is back to as it once was. ELI only finds three of the balls, looks at them sadly.

ELI
The hell was that all about?

UDO
(translating)
They're going to find that worm. They're going to—

ELI
(cutting him off)
Poor fucker.

They continue walking, their voices receding into the distance.

UDO
You can't argue, their technological advancements were astounding—

ELI
—their most astounding advancement was the Channel—

UDO
—how they held up under all those years of—

ELI
—and once we got over that….

INT. SECTION 3 HEADQUARTERS

Barely constrained chaos. The room is full of desks, uniformed people carrying papers, talking rapidly, typing (on typewriters). A computer-like system covers the entirety of one of the walls. Head-phoned operators are seated at it, looking up at the monitors, adjusting dials and other controls.

STUMM is in his office, talking loudly—almost screaming—into the phone, despite the fact the noise out there is almost inaudible in here.

STUMM
(incredulous)
What is he doing? What the fuck is he doing now?

GERDA
(on other end of line)
He is still out, sir. He is trying to retrieve the—

STUMM
I don't care!

GERDA
—with minimal loss.

STUMM
Tell him I don't give a fuck! Tell him he needs to get his ass back here! Now!

GERDA
With all due respect, sir—

STUMM
We don't have time for this shit! Tell him to get his fucking pet worm under control—

GERDA
—it is highly inadvisable to agitate—

STUMM
—or have him shot already! Hanged! Drowned! Decapitated! Like he hasn't given us enough fucking trouble already!

GERDA
—especially in view of the Lieutenant-general's visit—

STUMM
(slamming fist on desk)
The General's visit! The General's fucking visit! Like I don't have enough shit going on! They gotta bring this shit up, and everyone in this joint's gotta be retarded and don't know no logic, and my only sane—

GERDA
—it would be highly inadvisable to terminate this project, given how much funding he has already invested.

STUMM
Inadvisable! Inadvisable! I'll tell you inadvisable—

GERDA
—nevertheless, I will pass on your message to the Captain,—

STUMM
Tell him to stop with the bullshit! The fucking mind games! Stop with the cat-and-mouse games! It's enough, you hear me?! Enough!

GERDA
—Lieutenant-colonel Stumm.

STUMM slams down the phone violently. The next moment he is completely calm, looking into the mirror and straightening out his uniform.

SIEG stands outside STUMM'S office, looking absolutely terrified. He clutches a folder full of papers. He peers inside the open door every once in a while, draws back before the Major can spot him.

ULRICH, sitting lazily at a nearby desk, gradually notices SIEG standing there. He pulls the half-written sheet out of his type-writer, wads it up into a ball. He tosses it at SIEG; it hits him in the shoulder. SIEG glances back.

ULRICH
Don't worry 'bout it.

SIEG studies him silently.

ULRICH
(nodding toward STUMM'S office)
He always gets like this. Freaks the fuck out whenever we got to plan something.

SIEG
Plan?

ULRICH
Ya know, there's always the year's anniversary. 'cept this time it's the Hundredth, so it's much worse. (yawning) And now the Lieutenant-general stick-in-his-ass is comin' over—

SIEG stares at him, shocked.

ULRICH
(leaning back)
I haven't done anything for like a month. Haven't held a rifle, seriously, in like—a month. (talking to self) With Veil, you know, you're out on the field, all the time. Why'd I have to get stuck with this ass? (putting new sheet into type-writer) I'm writin' a report! I don't even know what I'm writin' a report on!

ULRICH begins typing again, with one hand, in a half-assed way.

STUMM
(shouting)
You! What are you doing out there!

SIEG jumps. He straightens himself up and hurriedly enters the office.

INT. BERGER APARTMENT – AFTERNOON

After school. UDO's younger brother, JAN, sits at the kitchen table, working on his math homework. The radio is on in the background, blaring the same news report over and over again. About the 'criminal'. His appearance, where he has been sighted last, to report to the Police with any information, the penalty for helping or hiding him... the afternoon sky is visible in a window near JAN; their apartment is quite high up in the complex.

MRS. BERGER is bustling around in the kitchen, turning the sink on in short bursts every once in a while. JAN finishes his problem and looks triumphantly up.

JAN
Where's Udo?

MRS. BERGER
(after a moment)
He has a Meeting today, remember?

JAN
(crestfallen)
Oh. Can I go over?

MRS. BERGER
No.

JAN
(brightening)
Can we listen to it on the radio?

MRS. BERGER
(sighing)
It's not being broadcast, honey.

JAN
Can we just turn it on?

His mother sighs again. JAN refuses to give up, but she no longer responds; except to gently insist that he get back to work. JAN falls silent. But he props his head on his hand, looks out the window. Daydreaming.

RADIO REPORT
...last sighted around 42nd or 43rd street. Civilians in that area are ordered to stay indoors. Repeat: District Nine stay indoors. For your own safety and the safety of the patrolling City Security Forces. All civilians are ordered to stay inside their areas. Repeat: stay inside your areas. District passes have been canceled for this week. City passes have been canceled until further notice. The Criminal is 188 centimetres tall, degenerate male. Twenty-six years of age. Approximately, six feet two inches. Dark hair, dark eyes. The Criminal is extremely dangerous, and armed. Do not approach. Any civilians with information about the criminal are ordered to contact the Security Forces immediately. Any civilians found to be aiding or hiding the Criminal...

A white bird is seen, flying past the kitchen window.

EXT. WESTERN SLUMS – LATE DAY

An armored vehicle in the middle of the street, surrounded by SOLDIERS. VEIL sits in the front, talking down to one of them. He wears a peaked cap. The SOLDIER on the ground listens, nodding every once in a while. He is standing. The other SOLDIERS are waiting by, on motorcycles. No civilians are visible.

While VEIL talks, a messenger pigeon appears in the air. It circles above the armored vehicle, eventually landing on VEIL's shoulder, flapping its wings as it settles. It is a white, a mechanically modified animal. Most prominently, a metal transmitter/receiver embedded in its throat. VEIL continues to talk, ignoring the bird.

VEIL
(finishing)
Search the houses. Anyone helping him is to be shot.

The bird nudges him. The SOLDIER salutes and walks over to the group with motorcycles. VEIL nods to the driver, and the armored vehicle moves off. The bird nudges him again.

GERDA
(from transmitter)
Erwin.

Two children peer out of a glassless window, just a hole in the wall really, from beneath a curtain. They stare at the SOLDIERS, fascinated. VEIL waves at them. They immediately disappear back into the house.

GERDA
Erwin.

VEIL
(lowering hand)
Yes, what is it.

GERDA
The Lieutenant-colonel says to stop with the bullshit. With the cat-and-mouse games.

VEIL
(smiling)
Yes.

GERDA
(mechanical)
He is getting anxious. He is worried about your mental health.

VEIL
He is worried about the parade. He is worried about the color of the flowers at the opening ceremony.

GERDA
(unamused)
Your jokes, Captain.

The bird nudges VEIL more insistently. VEIL rummages around in his pocket, comes up with some crumbs.

GERDA
The Lieutenant-general's visit is a momentous occasion. Especially on a date of such import.

VEIL
(feeding bird)
I know. He is due for promotion soon, no?

GERDA
It would be befitting for you to show some—

VEIL
—more enthusiasm?

GERDA
—respect. He may well be your Leader one day.

VEIL
Politics don't interest me, my dear.

GERDA
I know.

The armored vehicle picks up speed. The crumbs run out; VEIL shows the bird his empty hand; it pecks at his palm anyway.

VEIL
(playing with bird)
It will be good to see him again.

GERDA
Yes.

VEIL
Klaus. (musing) Do you think he still remembers me?

No response. VEIL gently nudges the bird away; it pecks at his hand one more time and takes wing. VEIL settles back into his seat. He pushes the rim of his hat up and looks at the sky.

VEIL
Not to fear. This will be over soon.

EXT. WESTERN SLUMS – SIDE STREET – LATE DAY

A street of houses, most of them built above small shops. Most of them not doing so well—many are full of prominent holes, for example, patched up with random sheets of metal or even cardboard. A few seem to have fallen or burned down recently.

MARGOT, a girl in her late teens, attends the front of her stand; a faded awning stretched over a display of fruits and flowers. It is late in the season and the petals of the flowers are bright, orange, flame-like.

A courier, ZELL zooms by on his bike; a normal pedal bike, with some sort of motor haphazardly attached. It makes coughing sounds, belches out black smoke. He wears goggles, and a messenger bag patched up with duct tape. He stops by MARGOT's stand.

ZELL
Margot.

She serenely places the flower she's holding back into the display, gently pats it back into place.

MARGOT
(not turning)
Yes?

ZELL
Go inside. They comin' round here.

MARGOT
I know.

ZELL watches her; she doesn't move.

ZELL
I mean it. You gotta go inside.

MARGOT
Yes, Zell.

ZELL watches her; she doesn't move. He shakes his head and zooms off.

ZELL
(shouting playfully)
The Reapers are comin'! The Reapers are coming!

MARGOT tilts her head up, watches the sky like she's glad to be alive. She breathes in deeply and closes her eyes.

It's the last warm day of the season. The sky is blue, tinged red by the setting sun. It catches the edge of a building, casting the street into a strange, purplish light.

JARDIE appears on the roof, staggering. He appears extremely tired, disoriented. He has lost the jacket to his suit; his other clothes are torn. He reaches the edge, perhaps blinded by the sun, and tumbles over. He falls without a sound, tearing through the awning, landing in the flower display with a loud thump.

MARGOT opens her eyes at the noise; they widen as she takes in the torn awning, the flower petals floating in the air. She runs over to the destroyed display, leans over and looks down at JARDIE.

Two workers walk by, carrying a large papier-mâché cake; the type a person hides inside during a party, and bursts out of. They talk in a bored tone. Like the other people on the street, they seem to give not a fuck about the courier ZELL'S warning.

MARGOT tears her eyes away from JARDIE, looks over at the workers. She hisses something furiously. The two men look over at her. She waves them frantically over. They walk over to the store, still carrying the cake. MARGOT points. The three of them stand, staring down at JARDIE.

The sound of motorcycles. Not like ZELL'S homemade contraption—the real deal. MARGOT gestures, whispers rapidly again. The workers settle the papier-mâché cake down over the gap in the flowers. The colors of the cake go together with the blossoms, giving the display a plausible—although ludicrously extravagant—aspect.

Half of the SOLDIERS stop at one end of the street. The other three continue on. Understandably, their attention is caught by MARGOT'S display. They halt.

The two workers glance at each other, start to edge away. A SOLDIER barks at them and they freeze, guiltily. Another of the SOLDIERS says something to MARGOT. She smiles sweetly at them.

MARGOT
Flower.

The SOLDIERS shakes his head, pointing.

MARGOT
Fruit.

She picks one up, holds it out to him. He snatches it.

MARGOT
(waving)
No, don't eat!

The SOLDIER looks at her.

MARGOT
(making random gesture)
Is not real. Is made of paper.

SOLDIER 3
(pointing at cake)
Like that?

MARGOT
(nodding)
Yes. It's a confectionary store.

SOLDIER 4
(tossing aside paper-fruit)
Confectionary?

MARGOT
(gesturing)
Sweet shop. Except no sweets. We make these instead.

The SOLDIERS stare at her.

MARGOT
It makes us feel less hungry.

SOLDIER 3 whispers to the others. They laugh. MARGOT turns away and walks over to the display, picks out a flower. She approaches the SOLDIERS, again stepping closer to them this time.

MARGOT
(holding it out)
But the flowers are real.

SOLDIER 4 snatches the flower, again. He grins at MARGOT impudently, kisses the flower and places it in his buttonhole. He nods at the others and the SOLDIERS drive away.

MARGOT and the workers watch them go; they stop by and start harassing another group of people on the street. MARGOT continues smiling.

WORKER
(murmur)
Asshole.

INT. MARGOT'S STAND – MUCH LATER THAT NIGHT

MARGOT finishes zipping the curtain around the outer display. It is plastic, green, barely opaque. Before closing it entirely she glances down the street again—deserted. Satisfied, she closes the flap and approaches the display.

It remains the same as it was that afternoon—even the papier-mâché cake still there. She shoves it aside with a heave.

JARDI is lying in the same place as before, among the flowers, curled up on his side. He makes a sound midway between a whimper and a groan when MARGOT shakes his shoulder. She whispers to him softly.

JARDIE opens his eyes. He sits up suddenly, swiveling his head around, taking his surroundings in jerky movements. MARGOT whispers soothingly—it's okay, it's okay. He looks directly at her; for a moment they just stare. A ghostly smile spreads over her face.

MARGOT
The worm, I presume?

JARDIE
(softly)
Jardie.

MARGOT
(leaning toward him)
They're tearing up the whole City, looking for you.

JARDIE
(holding head)
I know. I know.