Scene 19

0616 hours.

 

− They’re moving, Carvalho tells the team of plainclothes cops he has deployed in the neighborhood around the hotel.

The gang walks up the street, away from the beach. They go several blocks until the street rises toward a steep mountain, part of a ridge that juts all the way into downtown Downbeat City and the bay.

− They’re walking toward Mangueira, 0815 tells Carvalho through her chip-size radio. She is an old lady walking a chihuahua.

Carvalho and Amarelo are walking on the next parallel street.

− Why not just haul ‘em in, boss? Amarelo asks Carvalho.

− Because they haven’t done anything, idiot.

− You know we get paid by the number of arrests. We’re so far from making quota! Amarelo whines. And it’s not like the dark ages, where we needed probable cause to arrest someone.

− If you’re worried about money, go extort some more dushbars from the underground book dealers, Carvalho sneers.

− Relax. You don’t have to get all pissed off. Seriously, if you’re worried they’re gonna do something bad, why don’t you stop them now?

− Because I want to know what they’re up to.

 

0702 hours.

 

Twilight. The sun melts the jungled mountains east of Downbeat City in fire. Golden flames lick the top of Mangueira ridge and roll down the slope.

 

− Pssssst.

− Jules looks to her right, sees a shadow in a doorway.

− Jules!

− Hold on, she tells the gang. She joins the figure. What are you doing here, Bêto?

− I saw you walking up the hill from my balcony. I recognized you with my binoculars.

− I told you to wait at the house, Jules whispers to him.

− You’re being followed. There’s a whole team of whoever around us right now.

− Oh, shit, Get us out of here, quick.

 

− She’s talking to the man who walked toward them and hid, 7681 tells Carvalho.

− They know we’re on them. Pick them up, he says into his chip.

 

The gang runs in single file up a narrow alley between shacks. They follow Bêto through a maze of alleys. They come to a dirt lot. A crescent of men and women stands there, facing them. Nate, at the tail end of the gang, looks back. Two very large men stand at the south end of the alley behind them.

− They’re behind us, too.

− Move. Try to break through them and make the alley at the top end of the lot, Aria says.

The gang disgorges into the lot. They make a run for the alley, but the other group closes in on them. An athletic looking man locks his hand on Jules’s wrist. She elbows him, inverting his nose. He falls backward. A woman grabs Nate from behind and they fall in the dirt. Aria is rolling in the weeds with a pudgy man. A teenage boy backhands X across the face, and X falls backward. Another man and Nel trade furious punches and blocks. Bêto sidekicks a skinny woman in the belly. As she slumps forward, his upper cut knocks her out onto her back. Aria’s opponent lies in the dust, unconscious. The woman on Nate straddles and chokes him. One of the big men swings at Aria; she blocks and punches him in the solar plexus. Then she kicks him in the balls. Flex and the other big man are grappling like sumo wrestlers. Nel’s opponent is out. She moves on and chokes Nate’s tormentor from behind, then drags the unconscious attacker off of him.

The teenage boy jumps on Nate’s back. Aria picks him off, slams him bodily on the ground, head first. Jules smashes a rock over the big man’s head. As Scarface lets go, the man slumps to the ground.

Jules and Aria help X and Nate up.

− Let’s get the fuck out of here! They run into the upwards alley. Carvalho and Amarelo sprint up the downwards alley, stinger pistols in hand.

 

The gang runs into Bêto’s house, a sprawling, three-storey shanty that looks like Peter Pan’s house in Neverland.

Aria takes out her chip.

− You can’t do it now. They’ll be here any moment, Jules pants.

− I can’t wait any more. I have to do it. It’s now or never.

− Give me the chip. I have to open the portal.

The gang are in Bêto’s living room, a large, high-ceilinged room with tropical plants and wooden sculptures depicting animals and monsters. Jules sticks the chip behind her ear.

− Joe.

− Hi, Jules, Joe shouts above the roar. Joe is walking down a lane between giant iron smelters in a steel foundry. The smelters are at full blast.

− It’s time.

− Give me a minute. Then put Aria on. I’ll patch her through.

− One minute, Jules tells Aria, giving her the chip.

Nate looks out the window. X picks up a cane from an urn with a collection of elaborately handled canes, and stands next to the door.

− Do you have any weapons? Nel asks Bêto.

− No. This favela is so overrun with weapons, I’m safer unarmed.

− Is there a back door? Scarface asks.

− In the basement. Bêto points out the stairs leading down. They are at the end of a short ramshackle hallway leading off the living room. Scarface disappears.

− Are there any other access points to the house? Nel asks.

− Windows on the second and third floors; the roof. Nel runs upstairs.

 

− Now.

Aria sticks the chip behind her ear and begins emoting.

Aria finds herself in total darkness.  Slowly, stars begin to shine all around her, even under her. She floats through space, bypassing suns. She passes brilliant nebulae and a nova in the middle of exploding. A tiny yellow dot dead ahead gets bigger and brighter. She passes a rocklike planet, and after a few moments, a giant, tan planet with rings. She veers off the sun-course, traveling at light speed, until she sees a blue planet ahead. She slows down and soon makes out clouds, continents, oceans, ice caps. The moon zips by overhead. Slowing down more, she approaches Earth, which spreads out to receive her. Soon it fills her vision. She begins to have the sensation of falling. The clouds are rising to meet her. Hot wind shoots up, burning her. But she stays whole and slows down more, as if by a parachute. She sees Africa under her. By her feet, Europe. Under her left knee, Asia. She focuses on the land, and as if with super-vision, she sees all the people in their houses, on the streets, in offices, on the land. Their heads are tiny points of light.

− Good morning, Gaia! Aria shouts. She performs her fantasy.

 

− They went into the three-storey on the knoll ahead, 9600 tells Carvalho. He and Amarelo are running up the mountain.

− Where are 0155, 1938, 9332, and 0385? Carvalho spurts between pants.

− They’re off line, 9600 says.

− Something is very wrong.

− We need a plan. Let’s wait for backup, Amarelo says.

− Fuck backup. They’re about to do something big, and I’m not going to let them do it in my precinct. 9600, meet us at the door, Carvalho says.

They run up to the house. 9600 is there, a steely-looking guy in shorts and flip-flops with stun stinger drawn. 9600 and Amarelo stand to the sides of the front door. As Carvalho lifts his leg to kick in the door, three shots ring out from a nearby rooftop. All three cops lurch forward, smashing against the house. They collapse on top of each other in a heap. A moment later, three men drag them off.

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