>>/ Ronin

/ Ronin

: / Ronin.

/ Ronin

A BLOOD RED SCREEN - A JAPANESE DRUM starts to play, softly, but tinged with a desperate edge, growing louder, joined by other DRUMS as a BLACK LEGEND scrolls up: In feudal Japan, the warrior class of Samurai were sworn to protect their liege lords with their lives. Those Samurai whose liege was killed suffered a great shame, and they were forced to wander the land, looking for work as hired swords or bandits. These masterless warriors were no longer referred to as Samurai, they were known by another name: Such men were called Ronin. The words hang on the screen and we hold for a BEAT, and then the DRUMS are cut off by - A SILENCED GUN SHOT: Thwpfft...

FADE IN ON:

INT. A MEDIEVAL CATHEDRAL - NIGHT

It's dark, and so it takes us a minute to realize we're MOVING UP STONE SPIRALING STAIRS, up up up in what we now see is a medieval cathedral. And as we continue MOVING UP something TRICKLES DOWN INTO FRAME - BLOOD. Running thin, then thicker, as we CONTINUE TO MOVE UP the stairs and find - A BODY, sprawled awkwardly across the stones, arms and legs akimbo, not so much Christ-like as victim-like. In one hand the Body holds a GUN he never had a chance to use. In the other - A DARK SHAPE, we can't quite tell what it is. FOOTSTEPS sound from above and - THE KILLER walks into frame, silenced pistol dangling at his side. We don't know him, and it's going to be a while before we see him again, but mark his face because we'll see him again. The Killer now picks up the dark shape in the Body's hand, and we see it's - A BRIEFCASE. The Killer cuffs the Briefcase to his wrist and turns to - TWO MEN standing behind him: subordinates. The Killer shows them the Briefcase.

KILLER God loves me.

THE BODY suddenly twitches -- this guy is not quite dead. The Killer raises his silenced pistol.

KILLER (to his victim) But I don't think he's too fond of you...

SLAM CUT TO:

EXT. A BACK STREET - PARIS - NIGHT

A PHONE RINGS, replacing the sound of the silenced gun shot we expected to hear.

Rain-slicked cobblestones gleam in a twinkling of streetlight.

EXT. A PHONE BOOTH AT THE END OF THE STREET

The source of the ringing. We start to PUSH SLOWLY IN one the phone booth, and as we do we hear the VOICE of an UGLY AMERICAN.

UGLY AMERICAN (V.O.) What is this?

CUT TO:

INT. A DRIVE BAR IN PARIS - NIGHT

A SOCCER MATCH is in progress on a TV which sits above the bar in this smokey, dim dive.

UGLY AMERICAN (O.S.) This is not football...

And now we're PULLING BACK DOWN THE LENGTH OF THE BAR. We see THREE MEN sitting seperately at the bar, paying no attention to each other. One of these men watches the game with real interest. The Ugly American talks on from off screen.

UGLY AMERICAN (O.S.) (continuing) ...Football is three hundred pound guys, they run way too fucking fast, they got helmets made of kevlar they use to spear the quarterback into the next life.

SLAM CUT TO:

EXT. THE STREET OUTSIDE

The phone is still ringing, louder now, and we're MOVING TOWARDS it while looking THROUGH AN UNSEEN PAIR OF EYES, and even as we drink this in we're back in -

INT. THE BAR

AT THE END OF THE BAR - LARRY, the Ugly American. He's got an obvious attitude, all of it bad. But there's something about the guy -- he's not all bluster, and he has the look of a seasoned tough guy who knows how to get rough and tumble. He's big, and yeah he's got a gut, but the rest of him looks solid.

LARRY (talking to the air) You wanna know what football is? It's hitting the other guy dirty and then spitting in his face when he's down. Football is all things American, and American is A-Number-One the absolute fucking best there is. That's what football is... (he points to the TV) ...And that's not football.

The one man at the bar who's been watching the gam turns slowly and gives Larry a long look. This is VINCENT: French, hard boiled and solid. Charming when he wants to be, which isn't all that often. He gives Larry a long look and then speaks -

VINCENT (to Larry in perfect English) Football -- American football -- is a game for faggots.

A BEAT. The other two men at the bar, who seem like tough customers themselves, pretend not to watch too closely, but they're interested: what's Larry going to say? For a moment it seems as if he's pissed, but then suddenly a smile breaks out on his face and he laughs heartily at Vincent's remark. Vincent joins in, as do the others. In particular - THE BARTENDER looks relieved -- he's tough enough to toss a bar drunk, but these guys are in a different league. The Bartender laughs with the others, happy to have avoided a confrontation as we go back to -

EXT. THE STREET OUTSIDE

We're almost ON TOP OF the phone booth, the phone is still ringing as a HAND reaches INTO FRAME and snatches the phone from its cradle.

A WOMAN'S VOICE (V.O.) (a touch Irish accent) Yes?

ANOTHER ANGLE - And we see a woman named DEIRDRE on the phone: striking, dark-haired, Irish. She carries herself with the same professional edge as the men inside the bar. Deirdre listens for a moment to the voice on the other end, and before she speaks she sense something - A SILHOUETTE stands in the shadows of the bar, watching Deirdre. She gives this silhouette a measure glance before speaking, her hand creeping ever so slightly towards her coat.

DEIRDRE Can I help you?

The silhouette steps into a POOL OF LIGHT. This is SAM. Tough, lean, enigmatic. Somebody you might trust, but whom you'd never cross. Sam returns her look before he speaks.

SAM No...

Sam moves towards the bar, and Deirdre returns to her phone conversation.

DEIRDRE I'm here... (a beat, responding to a question) No, it was nothing.

INT. THE BAR - A MINUTE LATER

Sam enters and by now the men inside have all come together at the bar, talking casually, recognizing they're somehow all here for a reason. With Larry and Vincent we see - GREGOR, a man from Eastern Europe. His accent is hard to pin down, but he most definitely has one. Gregor has the air of an ex- spook, and that's exactly what he is. Lastly we see SWEDE -- blonde, muscular, and somehow blank in the face. No, he's not stupid -- he's a sociopath. Now - Sam looks at the group, which grows quiet as he enters. Finally, Sam speaks.

SAM Sorry I'm late...

VINCENT (a challenge) What makes you think we're here to meet you?

SAM (meeting Vincent's gaze) Who else would you be?

Vincent turns towards the others, including them in an expansive gesture.

VINCENT Perhaps the police?

SAM I know cops -- and you're no cop.

Vincent smiles at Sam's answer, satisfied, and makes room for Sam to join them. Vincent takes a pack of cigarettes, shakes them so that one sticks out, and offers it to Sam.

VINCENT Cigarette?

SAM No thanks.

Vincent looks a little disappointed at this as we go -

EXT. BACK OUTSIDE - SAME TIME

THE PAY PHONE makes a sharp noise as it's cracked back into the cradle. Deirdre stands at the phone booth, lost in thought. Then, without warning - Deirdre spins around, pulling TWO GUNS from inside her coat. The move is fast, performed with the grace of a professional killer, as Deridre scans the horizon, but nobody seems to be watching. Deirdre pockets her guns and steps into the shadows of the street, the better to watch -

THE BAR - And as Deirdre watches the bar we watch her. PULLING BACK from Deirdre, UP INTO THE AIR and then MOVING THROUGH TO -

INT. A CHEAP APARTMENT - SAME TIME

LOOKING THROUGH A WINDOW, donw onto the street below. Barely visible we can see Deirdre. And staring at Deirdre - THE WATCHER. Somebody we're going to see periodically through the movie. Right now he's only a SILHOUETTE with a well- defined PAIR OF HANDS. And in those hands - A KNIFE. As the Watcher watches he slowly cleans his nail with the knife, methodically, perfectly. And he watches. First Deirdre, and then turning his attention to THE BAR. He's especially interested in the bar.

A TIME CUT TO:

INT. THE BAR - LATER

The BARTENDER is wiping out a last glass. When this is finished he looks up at -

A TABLE IN THE BACK -

Where our five guys have relocated. Now the Bartender and Vincent exchange a look, and then the Bartender takes out a set of keys and tosses them - THROUGH THE AIR and they SMWACK into Vincent's hand. The Bartender and Vincent speak in rapid-fire French, and then the Bartender is gone. Sam turns to Vincent.

SAM He trusts you to lock up?

VINCENT Let's just say he knows who I am.

Vincent takes out his pack of cigarettes and offer them around the table -- again, nobody takes on. Vincent seems really disappointed by this.

LARRY Anybody wanna tell me what we're waiting for?

VINCENT (lighting his cigarette) The question isn't what we're waiting for... it's who.

LARRY And who the fuck is that?

GREGOR Whoever hired us.

SAM I got this gig through a contractor. And he most definitely didn't know who was doing the hiring, only that they were paying a lot of money...

There's a kind of general look around the table -- a nod or grunt of acknowledgement, indicating that all of these men were hired the same way.

SAM (continuing his thought) So none of us knows who's paying the freight, this is just some anonymous job. For all we know, we're working for different people.

GREGOR Now that is an interesting proposition.

SWEDE How so?

GREGOR Because if there's more than one party involved, if we really are working for different people, then perhaps some of us are on different sides. (with great meaning) Your orders might be different from mine.

LARRY What're you talking about, man? I don't understand.

SWEDE (quietly, but loud enough to be heard) What a surprise...

LARRY I got a surprise for you, blondie...

GREGOR (sharply, as if he's used to giving orders) Why don't both of you shut up?

LARRY & SWEDE (to Gregor at the same time) Fuck you!

SAM Knock it off!

There is a BEAT. Gregor, Swede and Larry look at Sam, who glares them all down. Lastly, Sam turns and looks at Vincent. The two men nod at one another, acknowledging a kind of mutual respect.

SAM The point remains: we could be working for different people. There's a chance for one of us... (looks around the table) Maybe more than one of us -- has been paid to cross the others. I don't know about you guys, but I like to know who I'm working for. It can help prevent a great deal of... (finding the right word) ...unpleasantness.

LARRY (patting the gun inside his cheap suit) Anybody tries to unpleasant me I'll put two between his eyes -- one to do the job and the other to make sure it takes.

From OFF SCREEN we hear a new sound: LAUGHTER. ANOTHER ANGLE -

Deirdre has entered the bar, and she's amused by this last exchange.

DEIRDRE It's good to see you've all got such faith in our little undertaking.

LARRY Who the fuck are you?

DEIRDRE (staring at Larry) The name is Deirdre, and I'm running this show.

GREGOR Who are you? IRA?

DEIRDRE (with a brittle laugh) Not likely. Once, yeah, I was -- but there wasn't an inch of profit in it, and I'm a cash oriented girl, if you take my meaning. I'm a hired gun, same as the rest of you, and that's all any of us needs to know about the other.

Deirdre hands out several thick envelopes. Larry and Swede open theirs and stare at the wads of Franc Notes stuffed inside. Even Gregor cracks his envelope and peaks at his money. But neither Vincent nor Sam takes a look.

DEIRDRE From here on in you want something you pay cash for it: no credit cards, no bank accounts are in place: ten percent up front, the rest when the job is done. (a quick beat, then she looks at Gregor) You. What do you do and what should we call you?

GREGOR These days they they call me Gregor -- and I'm a tech. I do electronic work, surveillance, computer runs.

Deirdre turns to Sam.

SAM Sam. I'm a weapons guy.

DEIRDRE You were a soldier, were you?

SAM Once.

Deirdre gives Sam a look -- and he returns it. Finally, Deirdre turns to Larry.

LARRY I drive -- and my name is Larry. Larry from the States.

DEIRDRE (she turns to Vincent) And who are you?

VINCENT I'm Vincent. And I coordinate.

SAM (sharply) Coordinate what?

VINCENT Things. This is my country, you know.

The two men exchange another look. A pecking order is developing among the group: Vincent and Sam are both natural leaders, and now they're feeling one another out.

DEIRDRE (to Vincent) Coordinate all you want, but make sure whatever you do gets cleared through me. (Vincent doesn't respond for a moment) Are we in sync on this, Vincent?

VINCENT Of course.

Deirdre waits a BEAT, letting Vincent know what she isn't any more intimidated by him than he is by her. Finally, she turns to Swede.

SWEDE They call me Swede.

LARRY Who's they?

SWEDE Everybody.

VINCENT And what is it you do?

SWEDE Me? (with a smile) I kill.

CUT TO:

INT. A WAREHOUSE - DAY

A PAPER TARGET, in the shape of a human being, dances in place as it is riddles with GUNSHOTS, each shot hitting the target in the belly, each shot fired by - Larry, whose been shooting a sleek automatic pistol from which he's just discharged an entire clip. The gun is empty, Larry turns to Sam, who stands next in line.

SAM (looking at the target) You shoot alright.

LARRY Gets the job done.

SAM All in the stomach, though. Your man might live.

LARRY Not for long.

SAM Long enough to shoot back.

LARRY Is that right?

SAM It's been known to happen.

LARRY (a challenge) Why don't you go do better, then...

Without a word, Sam pops a new clip into the gun and SHOOTS THE LIGHTS out of several other human targets, hitting each target in a different place. One he clips between the eyes, the next in the heart, one in the groin, and then the last target - He SPLITS DOWN THE MIDDLE, firing shot after shot from the head to the groin until the target is sheared in half. Larry is impressed in spite of himself.

LARRY Yeah, well... My way works too.

SAM My way is better.

IN A CORNER OF THE WAREHOUSE -

Gregor has set up a table loaded with computers and electronic whizmos. Right now Gregor is holding a particularly high-tech type CELL PHONE in his hands, looking at it almost lovingly.

DEIRDRE (O.S.) Is it alright?

ANOTHER ANGLE - Deirdre sits nearby, looking at the cell phone.

GREGOR It's quite satifactory.

DEIRDRE Good, because it cost enough. There's cheaper phones by far than that one, man: you better fucking use it.

GREGOR (almost caressing the phone) I intend to. This phone is wired like no other: it's got an encryption chip and instant sat-a-link recognition, it can talk to any computer in any language and make it understand. With my custom hardware and this phone I can trace the target's cell phone signature and follow him anywhere he goes...

DEIRDRE You sure about this?

GREGOR I'd stake my reputation.

DEIRDRE But would you stake your life, that's the question...

GREGOR In this business, your life and your reputation are more often than not one and the same.

From off screen we hear MUNCHING. It's - Larry inhaling a sandwich. A malicious look comes over Swede's face, who's cleaning a pistol and sitting near Larry.

SWEDE You should watch what you eat.

LARRY Who the fuck died and appointed you food czar?

SWEDE I'm just worried about your health, Larry. You could stand to shed a few pounds.

LARRY (sensitive about his weight) And you could stand to get a little smarter, ain't that right you dumb blonde fuck?

SWEDE (sensitive about the dumb blonde thing) Who you calling dumb, dickless?

Both men eyeball one another, and then suddenly Larry reaches for his piece, and as soon as he does this Swede does the same thing, but before they can do anything - DEIRDRE'S GUN swings INTO FRAME, smashing Swede in the face and dropping him to the floor. Larry's mouth drops open in surprise, but it's too late: Deirdre kicks him in the stomach and then rabbit punches him in the back of the neck, driving him to the ground.

DEIRDRE (standing above them) Next one of you fuckers plays this game I'm going to do for you myself. I won't say it again: we don't have time for this shit! There's a clock running on this job, gentlemen, and I mean to be on schedule.

A TENSE MOMENT as Deirdre stares down at these tough guys -- letting them know who's in charge. A SOUND from OFF SCREEN interrupts this moment: a DOOR opening, as we see - Vincent, who stands in the door, wearing his coat and hat.

He's been out somewhere, and he looks first at the squabbling men, and then at - Deirdre. She gives Vincent a little nod -- a silent command that makes Vincent turn to Sam.

VINCENT Let's go for a ride.

Vincent and Sam start off, moving towards the door, while Swede and larry slowly pick themselves up off the ground.

SAM Where to?

VINCENT To see a man about a thing.

SAM I can do that.

EXT. THE WAREHOUSE - SUNSET

A DESOLATE URBAN LANDSCAPE - Sam and Vincent walking away from the warehouse, which is housed in what looks to be the toughest neighborhood in the city, filled with CHEAP CONCRETE PUBLIC HOUSING and INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS.

THE SETTING SUN throws a red glow on the street, giving the raw concrete buildings a blood-colored tint, as Sam and Vincent approach a FIAT, a car neither too old nor too new. Before they can reach the car, the two men are intercepted by FOUR TOUGHS, young guys in their early twenties. The LEADER of the Toughs apporaches Vincent.

LEADER (subtitled French) Who gave you permission to park here?

SAM (to Vincent) What's he saying?

VINCENT Pretty much what you'd expect.

SAM (with a sigh) That's what I thought.

LEADER (in French) There's a charge for parking on our block.

The other Toughs add lib a few tough guy remarks (in French, of course).

VINCENT (to Sam) He says this is their block.

SAM As in, they own it?

VINCENT Something like that...

SAM And I suppose he's saying that we oughta give them something for using it, huh?

VINCENT I didn't know that you spoke French.

SAM I don't. But the language he's speaking is universal.

ANGLE ON THE LEADER - Who's smirking at Vincent and Sam. Sam's words make a great deal of sense: the Leader is speaking the universal language of "give me some money or I'll kick your ass."

SAM (O.S.) I guess we oughta give them something...

CUT BACK TO: Vincent and Sam.

VINCENT If you think we should.

Vincent backfists the Leader in the nose -- hitting him so hard that the Leader skitters back on unsteady feet and then sits down on his ass. This blow hurt, but the real damage is to the Leader's pride. Now - One of the Toughs rushes at Sam, only to have Sam perform what looks like a jujitsu throw which savagely jerks the Tough off his feet and flattens him.

SAM (as if it were an accident) Oh man, I am sorry about that... (he sticks his hand out) Let me give you a hand.

Sam reaches down as if to help the Tough, who ignores the hand and totters to his feet. As soon as he's up he turns and runs away, followed by the other Toughs. Now only the leader is left behind. He looks for a second at Vincent and Sam, and then turns and runs after his friends. Vincent calls after him in French, but whatever he says isn't translated. Vincent turns to unlock the car.

SAM What'd you say to him?

VINCENT I asked if we could give him anything else.

By now the two men are in the car, which starts up and drives off, as it does we -

CUT TO:

INT. THE FIAT - SAME TIME

VINCENT That was a nice move you did on our young friend. Judo?

SAM Jujitsu.

VINCENT Same thing, isn't it?

SAM Not at all. Similar, but not the same.

VINCENT What's the difference?

SAM One's a lot more painful than the other.

Vincent laughs, and Sam looks out the window at the city of Paris as we MOVE THROUGH to the outside world of -

EXT. PARIS DRIVING MONTAGE - TWILIGHT

A SERIES OF QUICK CUTS of the car driving through Paris at night. We don't see familiar sights like the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomph, but instead - We travel through the LEFT BANK, down a series of Mazy Alleys which twist and turn, filled with bistros, bars and falafel joints. NEON SIGNS line the streets for as far as the eye can see. Near the end of this trip we hear the SOUND OF A MATCH FLARING, followed by -

SAM (V.O.) Could I get one of those?

INT. THE CAR - STILL DRIVING - SAME TIME

Vincent is driving and smoking a cigarette. He tosses his pack to Sam, but he seems a little surprised at Sam's request.

VINCENT Help yourself. (quick beat) Since when do you smoke?

SAM (lighting up) I have, I don't know, maybe a cigarette a week.

VINCENT A cigarette? As in one? (exasperated, almost to himself) One cigarette a week, who smokes like that?

SAM I do.

VINCENT Christ, I smoke a pack-and-a-half a day, and I tell myself I could be worse. (takes a satisfying drag) It's just so damned pleasurable.

SAM (blowing a smoke ring with great skill) It has it's moments. (stubs out cigarette) Course, you get cancer and die, that's the down side.

VINCENT (with a sigh) There is that.

Vincent stamps his cigarette out, looking vaguely unhappy that Sam has spoiled his smoke.

SAM So, Vincent: why bring me along for the ride? Job like this calls for a warm body, somebody who can stand around and look threatening. A tough guy.

VINCENT Like Larry or Swede.

SAM Exactly. Why not bring them?

VINCENT Let's just say I thought the conversational possibilities were limited. Of course, I might have brought Gregor, but he didn't seem like the right candidate -- for this.

SAM Watch that one, he's an ex-spook for sure, maybe Stasi, maybe KGB. He's smart, Gregor is.

VINCENT So is the woman.

SAM Deirdre? Smart, yeah, and seriously goddamned dangerous.

VINCENT I wonder if she truly left the IRA.

SAM I've wondered that myself. None of this answers my question, though... (suddenly direct) Why bring me?

VINCENT I wanted to see who you were.

SAM Who am I?

Vincent, driving all the while, gives Sam a sideways glance before speaking.

VINCENT You were once some kind of special forces. Airborne Ranger, maybe a Navy SEAL. After that you rode shotgun for the CIA in some place like El Salvador or Afghanistan, a real mercenary. (beat) Only now -- now you're like the rest of us, it's a very competitive market since the end of the cold war. There's a lot of hired guns out here, and not nearly enough work to go around.

SAM That's right: there's not hardly enough work these days, nothing that pays the big money, anyhow. Then along comes this job, paying so much goddamned money I couldn't afford not to take it. Somebody's paying through the nose for this.

VINCENT They certainly are. Whatever it is we're going to steal, it must be quite something.

SAM Whatever it is it must be goddamned priceless.

And on that thought we -

CUT TO:

EXT. A SIDE STREET - NIGHT

The Fiat pulls up to the curb and Vincent and Sam get out. Vincent leads Sam around a corner and they come to -

AN EXQUISITE PARK, a small, perfectly manicured place -- a kind of mini-Luxembourg Gardens in the middle of nowhere. When Sam sees the park, he draws an involuntary breath.

VINCENT Lovely, isn't it?

SAM They'd have to keep something like this under lock and key in New York, and it would still get fucked up.

The two men enter the park, which is, indeed, open to the public. Inside, sitting on a bench in the back, almost invisible from the street, we see - FRANCOIS, a stubble-faced tough with a stained shirt and bad teeth. Vincent and Sam draw near. This next conversation between Francois and Vincent is in FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES.

FRANCOIS That's good right where you are, Vincent.

Vincent signals for Sam to stop. Both Vincent and Sam are still several feet away from Francois.

VINCENT Do you have it?

FRANCOIS Not so fast. (nods slightly to Sam) Who's that?

VINCENT He's company.

FRANCOIS (as if he recognizes Sam) Bad company...

VINCENT What do you mean?

FRANCOIS He's a cop, Vincent, he's French and he's a cop and you better shoot him in the fucking head right now!

Sam hasn't said a word -- he doesn't seem to understand what's been said, but he has noted the urgency with which Francois spoke. Now - We HOLD FOR A BEAT. Neither Vincent nor Francois pulls out a piece to shoot Sam. Instead they wait to see if Sam will respond in any way to what Francois said. The conversation now switches to ENGLISH, which (it turns out) Francois speaks fairly well.

SAM (to Vincent) What's going on?

VINCENT I just wanted to see something.

SAM (that edge creeping into his voice) See what?

Vincent isn't going to answer, but the overbearing Francois chimes in.

FRANCOIS He wanted to see how you reacted when I said that you were a cop.

SAM (he can't believe this) You told him I was a cop?

FRANCOIS He asked me to say it.

SAM (looking at Vincent, truly pissed) He asked you to?

VINCENT I needed to know.

SAM You need to know a lot of shit, Vincent.

FRANCOIS (to Vincent, in subtitled French) Are you ready?

Francois's French words give Sam pause -- he's wondering what's being said, as - Vincent moves towards Francois, leaving Sam several steps away. The conversation is again in SUBTITLED FRENCH.

VINCENT (taking out an envelope) Here's yours.

FRANCOIS There's been a slight problem.

VINCENT (immediately tensing) What's that?

Francois gives the slightest of nods, indicating that Vincent should look towards a place perhaps thirty yards away - A COPSE OF TREES, where we see a SNIPER pointed a telescopic rifle at Vincent.

FRANCOIS (still in subtitled French) If you say a word in English, Vincent, my friend with the high powered sporting rifle will shoot you in the throat. Sorry to screw you over like this, but the information you want might get me killed if I give it to you, and that's a price I'm not willing to pay.

VINCENT (in French) I take it you still want the money...

FRANCOIS (in English, with a grin) Of course.

SAM'S POV: Looking at Vincent and Francois.

The men are talking, and from here we can't really hear them speak. All Sam can see is an earnest Vincent listening to Francois talk, almost as if Francois is giving Vincent instructions. Now - Vincent reaches into his pocket, reaching for the envelope of cash he's carrying. As he hands the money to Francois, Vincent uses his free hand to pull out his gun while - Sam already has his gun out -- somehow he figured out what was going on -- and now Francois looks on in stunned disbelief as -

Sam fires a single shot, hitting Francois in the shoulder, driving him away from - Vincent, who now squeezes off several rapid fire shots at the sniper, while - Francois, bleeding but still very much alive, now has his piece free just as - The Sniper, his gun firing wildly into the air, falls to the ground, shot dead by Vincent, and now - Francois is drawing a bead on Vincent when - Sam hits Francois with a fusillade of bullets in the chest and now - A SINGLE SPENT BULLED CASING flies through the air in SLOW MOTION and lands on the ground, spinning around until it comes to a halt and - A HEAVY SILENCE FALLS, as the last echo of the last gunshot finally dies. Vincent and Sam look at one another, see that they're still alive, and then look back at - The two men they've shot. Francois isn't quite dead. Blood bubbles from his lips as Vincent leans over him. Again, they speak in SUBTITLED FRENCH

VINCENT Where's my information?

FRANCOIS (with a grim smile, pointing to his head) In here...

VINCENT Then you better find it in your heart to tell me, Francois, because while your death is inevitable, it still isn't decided how painful it's going to be.

A LONG ANGLE - Vincent whispers in Francois's ear, whose grin blanches as he realizes Vincent means to hurt him. Francois whispers something back and then - BANG. Vincent shoots Francois in the head, killing him instantly. Then Vincent bends down and retrieves the envelope of money which Francois had tucked inside his shirt. As Vincent does this, Sam comes up from behind.

SAM Now would be a good time to get the fuck out of here.

INT. THE FIAT - LATER/NIGHT

The two men drive in silence for a moment. Vincent lights a cigarette and offers one to Sam, who refuses. Finally, Sam speaks.

SAM You know, what you pulled back there, that was bullshit.

VINCENT I needed to see if you were a cop. (defensively) I'm a popular man with the police, Sam, and whenever they try to catch me they always do it with an inside guy -- some man on some job who seems more trustworthy than all the others put together. And that's the guy you have to watch out for. (beat) I hate cops...

SAM (insulted that Vincent would even consider it) Well I ain't a cop.

A BEAT, the two men driving in silence.

VINCENT How did you know?

SAM Know what?

VINCENT That there was a gun pointed at me.

SAM I saw you look off when Francois nodded his head. I figured he wasn't pointing out a particularly rare shrub, and the rest was easy.

VINCENT But how did you know I would have the presence of mind to pull my weapon when I did?

SAM (as if it's obvious) Because that's what I would have done...

CUT TO:

EXT. AN APARTMENT HOUSE - A LITTLE LATER/NIGHT

Vincent's Fiat is parked at the curb in front of this apartment house. Vincent and Sam exit the car and move towards the house -- a silence hanging between them. Right before they go into the house, Vincent takes out the envelope full of cash that was supposed to have been for Francois. He thinks for a moment and then hands the whole envelope to Sam.

VINCENT You saved my life back there in the park. I know this doesn't begin to make it right between us...

Vincent's voice trails off -- he doesn't know what to say. Sam takes the money out of the envelope -- half he keeps for himself, the other he gives to Vincent.

SAM What I did back in the park I did because we're working together -- we're on the same team. (holding up the money) This is business -- this is work. We did it together, we share the spoils, even split.

Sam opens the door to the house, but Vincent has one last thing to say to him.

VINCENT I owe you a heavy debt.

Sam almost smiles cynically at this: debts of honor don't seem to be something he believes in.

SAM Whatever you say.

They enter the house and the door closes behind them. A second later we hear -

DEIRDRE (V.O.) What'd you do with the money?

INT. THE HOUSE - A LITTLE LATER

Vincent and Sam sit with Deirdre in a room, alone. They've told her about the park, and she seems a little pissed about all of this.

VINCENT We kept it...

DEIRDRE (a little annoyed) Is that right?

SAM Hazard pay...

DEIRDRE (with an exhalation of disgust) The two of you were supposed to go to a simple meet and come back with a simple piece of information, and instead you went to fucking war...

SAM We weren't real thrilled about it either...

Deirdre shakes her head in disgust and rises. We FOLLOW HER INTO -

AN ADJOINING ROOM -

Where Larry, Swede and Gregor are waiting. They look up expectantly at Deirdre, who crosses through the room without stopping -- she's really pissed about this turn of events.

LARRY So what's the deal?

DEIRDRE (barely stopping, very snappish) The deal? The deal is we leave for Nice at first light.

And she exits, leaving these three men behind along with Sam and Vincent, who have entered from the other room. larry looks at the two of them.

LARRY What'd you guys do?

EXT. OUTSIDE THE HOUSE - LATER THAT NIGHT

A CAR sits, cloaked in shadows. Inside sits our friend, the WATCHER. Once again we see the Watcher's knife -- once again he manicures his nails with it, almost delicately, as he watches the House. It's dark -- a single light glows behind a window on the third floor. Sam's room.

INT. SAM'S ROOM - SAME TIME

Sam has pushed all the furniture aside to make enough room to do a martial arts form. Right now he's frozen, one leg extended in a kick, balancing on the other leg. Now - A KNOCK at his door -- seconds later, it opens. Deirdre stands there, watching as Sam holds his position for a BEAT more, and then retracts his leg.

DEIRDRE I feel as if I've wandered onto the set of Enter The Dragon. Could you teach me to do that?

SAM I didn't think to see you again tonight. You were pretty pissed.

DEIRDRE I still am.

SAM Is that right?

DEIRDRE That's right.

Deirdre spings at Sam, throwing martial arts combinations at him: punch followed by kick, elbow strike followed by palm thrust. Sam parries her blows as she drives him across the floor until he's got his back to the wall. Their movements are controlled, but powerful, and there's something almost flirtatious about the whole thing. Now -

Deirdre throws one last punch which Sam ducks. He slips behind her and suddenly they square off in earnest. The previous martial arts stuff was a kind of choreographed exercise, but now - They spar for real -- they never hit one another, but they come awfully close, hands and feet whizzing through the air, throwing rapid-fire combinations and techniques. They're not angry, but they're not kidding, either. Finally - Deirdre feints a punch that distracts Sam's attention from - The KICK she throws right behind her punch, and she smiles as - WHUMP! Sam wasn't distracted at all -- he drops to the ground beneath her kick and catches her standing leg with a sweep which takes her to the ground and now - She's trapped beneath him. The two of them are breathing hard from the exertion, their faces close to one another, shining with sweat and excitement and - We've gone from flirting to an almost primal seduction, and with their faces only inches apart Deirdre leans in to kiss Sam, and he's about to meet her half way when he pulls back.

SAM Part of me says I should just look at this as a perk. You know, a bonus. But then I remember you're you -- Deirdre who used to belong to the IRA -- and it occurs to me that deceit and subterfuge come very naturally to you.

DEIRDRE (kissing him very lightly) Nobody's saying they don't.

SAM (returning the kiss, just as lightly) And when I consider that, I have to wonder if you don't have some ulterior motive for being here, with me, right now.

DEIRDRE I probably do. (pulling him close) But for the time being, I'm willing to forget about it...

They finally kiss, slowly and then building in intensity, and as they start to make love the

CAMERA MOVES UP - THROUGH THE BUILDING, floor by floor, until we've reached -

EXT. A ROOFTOP GARDEN - MEANWHILE

Deirdre and Sam are not the only ones indulging in extracurricular activities. Up here in this rooftop garden we find Swede and Gregor talking in hushed tones.

GREGOR I would imagine that the great satisfaction in all of this will be killing the American.

SWEDE (we know this isn't true) I hadn't thought about it. Understand me, Gregor -- I take no pleasure in killing. It doesn't bother me one bit, but I don't get off on it.

GREGOR A means to an end, is that it?

SWEDE That's it.

GREGOR (he rises to leave) Then I guess we're set.

SWEDE There is one other thing...

GREGOR What's that?

Suddenly Swede pulls Gregor down to the rooftop with a harsh THUD. Within seconds he has his gun pressed to Gregor's head.

GREGOR What are you doing?

SWEDE Don't cross me...

GREGOR Nobody's going to do that!

SWEDE Really?

GREGOR (truly frightened) I need you, Swede, I can't do this without you!

SWEDE (beat, then he puts his gun away) I just wanted to make sure you knew who you were dealing with.

GREGOR I do, I do...

Swede is now on his feet, walking away, back into the apartment house.

SWEDE (this is almost to himself) Just remember it, then.

And he's gone. And as soon as he is, we notice something strange about Gregor: he's not the least bit scared -- he laughs a little low laugh as we -

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. THE HOUSE - DAWN

GRAY LIGHT seeps in from the horizon, while inside in -

INT. SAM'S ROOM - SAME TIME

Deirdre is pulling her dress over her head. Sam seems to be sleeping in his bed as she moves like a cat towards the door when -

Sam's HAND reaches out, gently yet firmly, and takes her by the arm.

SAM (O.S.) No goodbye?

ANOTHER ANGLE - Sam is somehow sitting up, wide awake -- looking at Deirdre with a penetrating glance.

DEIRDRE Look, Sam, don't take it the wrong way when I tell you we won't be doing this again.

SAM You don't have to explain yourself to me, Deirdre.

DEIRDRE (almost surprised by this) I know I don't have to, Sam, it's just that, for once, I want to. when I was a - (almost with a sneer) Patriot, it was a given I'd sleep with any man it was deemed necessary for me to sleep with. You know: any man who needed setting up. Sometimes so we might blackmail him, sometimes so he could be killed. (a quick beat) Sometimes so I could kill him myself. IRA isn't exactly an enlightened feminist organization, Sam. To most of the men I with I was always the girl. "Send the girl to do it." "Tell The girl to take care of it." "Have the girl fuck him." (a quick beat) But I look at you and I get this feeling you take me for what I am: no more, no less.

SAM You're a hired gun, Deirdre -- just like me.

DEIRDRE Exactly. And last night I wanted to be with someone who was just like me.

Somewhere in all of this Deirdre has sat back down on the bed, and somehow now she's only inches away from Sam. They're lips brush and -

A MUTED PHONE RINGS in a nearby room, breaking the moment. A QUICK BEAT, then -

DEIRDRE I better be getting that.

SAM Duty calls?

DEIRDRE (with a trace of a sigh) Just business.

Deirdre gives Sam a light kiss on the lips and then she opens his door. The muted phone is a little louder now. Deirdre closes Sam's door as she exits, but - Sam reaches out a hand and catches the door right before it snaps shut. He watches THROUGH THE DOOR CRACK as - Deirdre cross the hall and opens the door to her room, and now the phone rings loudly until the door shuts, muting the sound once again, shutting Sam out. The phone stops ringing as Deirdre answers and as this happens Sam shuts his door and as the door closes we go to - BLACK. Just for a second. And then - BLINDING SUN hits us in the eyes as we find ourselves above -

EXT. NICE - DAY

A DAZZLING OVERHEAD MOVING SHOT, establishing that we've changed locales, moved to a place filled with sun and blue water and reflective surfaces: the Cote d'Azure. We start to MOVE DOWN TOWARDS -

EXT. A PRIVATE BEACH - NICE - MEANWHILE

A TOPLESS GRANDMA reclines on a beach chair, soaking up rays, sipping a drinnk just delivered by a young stud of a WAITER. Nearby -

AT A ROUND TABLE -

A nice distance from anyone who might try to listen in, we find our group: Deirdre, Sam, Vincent, Gregor, Swede, and Larry. Food and drink surround them. Larry is, of couse, still eating.

DEIRDRE Now then, let's run through it one more time, shall we? (to Gregor) What's your job?

GREGOR I use my cell phone to get computer access to the telecommunications satellite used by our target. I trace his cell phone signature and use it to pin point his location as he moves through Nice, relaying that information to you.

DEIRDRE (to Larry) Next.

LARRY (a sigh, he's done this too many times) You call me with the target's route, I follow along until we've reached the attack point and then I run his squag ass off the road.

DEIRDRE (to Swede) Which leads us to...

SWEDE I ride with fat-boy...

LARRY (under his breath) Eat shit and die slowly...

SWEDE After we stop the target car I get out and use the heavy artillery to kill the driver and his bodyguard.

LARRY I blast the lead car into oblivion...

VINCENT (picking up) While Sam and I take out the back two cars...

DEIRDRE Leaving...

SWEDE (picking it up) ...Leaving me to step in, drop the target in the back seat, and get the package...

DEIRDRE (with a quick look at Sam) While...

SAM (returning her look) ...While I back him up, making sure to get the package if something goes wrong and somebody takes Swede down.

Nobody else seems to notice this look between them, but we should -- if only to note that there's something about the way Deirdre queries Sam about his role, and something about the way Sam answers her without overly reacting -- they're not flirting, but there's a kind of acknowledgment of the history they now have between them. But -- nobody else notices, and Swede's line follows Sam's without breaking the flow of the dialogue.

SWEDE Nobody's taking me anywhere...

DEIRDRE And then...

LARRY Then Swede and I split with the package and meet you back at the rendezvous.

DEIRDRE And then...

VINCENT And then Sam, you and I clean up whatever's left to be cleaned.

DEIRDRE Very good. Now all we have to do is live long enough to get paid.

EXT. A POSH HOTEL - LATER - NIGHT

A ROW OF ROOMS, each one with a light behind a shade. Even as we watch the light in each room goes off: one two three four five six lights -- one for each member of the team. The night before the big event nobody breaks curfew.

ACROSS THE STREET -

A BAR -

Through the bar window we see the Watcher's silhouette. A match flares as the Watcher lights a cigarette, REVEALING his face for the first time: weathered, sharp, treacherous. THE MATCH goes out, and the Watcher's face FADES TO BLACK, and so do we.

FADE IN ON:

EXT. THE HILLS OF NICE - MORNING

A PRIVATE ESTATE IN THE HILLS -

A CARAVAN OF BLACK ARMOR PLATED CARS, all idling, ready to pull out, filled with muscular men in suits with bluges under their jackets, all of them waiting for - THE TARGET. Except we've seem him before and he wasn't called the Target: he was the Killer from the first scene of the film: the gunman in the cathedral who made off with - THE BRIEFCASE. Which the briefcase is still handcuffed to his side. Now the Target gets into his car, a BLACK MERCEDES, and as soon as he's in the caravan pulls out and - The Target takes out his cell phone, punches in a number and starts to talk, and as he does we - PULL BACK, INTO THE AIR, leaving the Caravan behind as we MOVE TOWARDS THE WATER and -

THE PROMENADE DES ANGLAIS, the long roadway that runs the length of the town adjacent to the beach. It's a special place, a huge road for cars, along with a promenade for tourists. Here we come upon -

AN OUTDOOR CAFE -

Where we find Deirdre, a laptop in front of her, wearing a HEADSET. And, lest we think she looks out of place, we get a look at -

THE REST OF THE CAFE -

Where many of the other PATRONS are typing away on laptops, or chattering like crazy on their cell phone. She types a sentence on her keyboard, and as she types she says it out loud.

DEIRDRE Alright, Gregor, I'm...

CUT TO:

INT. A CRAMPED COMPTUER CONTROL ROOM - SAME TIME

GREGOR (finishing her sentence) Ready when you are...

Gregor is sitting behind a console, looking at Deirdre's message, which we can read on his laptop. Gregor also has a much bigger COMPUTER with him as well, and on this screen we see - A COMPUTER GRAPHIC MAP OF NICE. This is a map of incredible detail, a high-tech graphic rendering of Nice. Now - THE MAP starts to shift, randomly moving about the city as it searches for the proper signal. The computer isolates an entire district of the city, enlarges a part of the district, and then locates and enlarges a single street. Now - On screen a FLASHING CURSOR appears on the map, the TARGET. The Cursor starts to move down one of the streets of Nice and as we follow the Curson it TURNS INTO - THE TARGET CAR, driving home the point that Gregor is now locked onto the Target. THE JAPANESE DRUMS we heard in the opening sequence start to play again -- softly, ominously, and we're on -

EXT. A SIDE STREET

Where VINCENT'S FIAT is parked at a curb, Sam and Vincent sitting inside.

INT. THE FIAT

Vincent sits behind the wheel, while Sam sits next to him, loading a small arsenal of weapons.

The DRUMS grow, a little louder now, a little more urgent.

EXT. ANOTHER STREET

A VOLVO idles, waiting for something, Larry behind the wheel of this car, and sitting next to him Swede. The DRUMS continue to play, and their volume is still low, but they're jarring, setting our nerves on edge.

INT. THE VOLVO

LARRY Where is this broad?

SWEDE You should learn a little patience.

LARRY Is that right?

SWEDE It's consider a virtue in some corners of the world.

LARRY Not in mine.

THE CAR PHONE rings, and Swede pushes a button. Deirdre's Voice is heard on the speaker phone.

DEIRDRE (V.O.) Hello gentlemen, are we ready?

EXT. THE CAFE

Deirdre looks at her laptop and relays Gregor's instructions. She speaks over her headset as if she's conducting ordinary business -- as if she's giving someone traffic directs over the phone. The JAPANESE DRUMS continue, quiet and yet intense.

DEIRDRE You want to take a left, then, so that you're going west.

During this next sequence, the DRUMS will continue to play, building with the action as we do -

THE CHASE MONTAGE: A SERIES OF CUTS AS -

The Volvo takes a flying left turn -

Gregor watches the Target on his computer as it moves towards the Promenade des Anglais, typing the results on his keyboard as - The Volvo careens down a steep hill, hits a bump, and flies through the air a good fifteen feet, even as - The Fiat follows close behind and hits the same bump, does the same flight through the air and lands with a thud -

THE CARAVAN of cars -

THE TARGET CAR -

THE TARGET, still talking away on his cell phone - THE COMPUTER MAP tracking the Target's movements, as the Map shifts and moves as it keeps pace with the target, and now -

The Promenade des Anglais is right ahead and the DRUMS build to a crescendo as -

The Volvo SMASHES into the Target Car and they grind together, as -

CARS 3 & 4 in the Caravan are cut off by Vincent's Fiat, which forces them to slam to a halt, as -

Larry runs the Target Car to a halt and the JAPANESE DRUMS stop.

Larry and Swede hop out of the Volvo, and Swede brandishes a MONSTER of a MACHINE GUN, with which he opens fire, a blast of huge guage shells spitting a trail of fire, smashing against THE WINDSHIELD of the Target Car, which is bullet- proof. The windshield doesn't break right away -- but the heavy blast of firepower causes the windsield to buckle.

Sam and Vincent are now out of the Fiat, guns drawn, blazing away at BODYGUARDS, and Christ, there's an army of them, pouring out of Cars 3 & 4. These guys are armed and returning fire as -

Larry gets out of the driver's seat of the Volvo, and he's got some kind of sumbitch weapons himself, a ROCKET LAUNCHER, which he points and fires - And now we TRACK THE MISSLE as it scorches the air, traveling towards -

The LEAD CAR of the caravan which has only now realized what's going on behind it, and as frantic Bodyguards drive back towards the carnage - The Missle IMPACTS, blowing the Car sideways.

Meanwhile - Sam and Vincent are taking out the Other Bodyguards, and these guys are warriors -- they moves as a team, each man with a gun in both hands, using a weapon until it's out of bullets and then discarding it in favor of a new one.

And even as this is going on - Deirdre has joined the fray, firing both of her pistols, taking Sam's place at Vincent's side so that Sam can run towards -

The Target Car, where the Target is seated in the backseat, pulling out his own piece, ready to fight to the death himself as -

Swede continues blasting away at the windshield with his monster gun, and now - The Windshield has started to crack and splinter, and abruptly, it shatters, instantly bursting a bright red as Swede's bullets tear up the body of the Driver.

Now Sam has reaches the Target Car, just as the Target, who is armed and, as we know, not exactly helpless, steps out of the car and sights in on Swede and - ZING! Sam fires, winging the Target, knocking the gun out of his hand and still the Target won't give up without a struggle, he hits Swede with the Briefcase.

THE TARGET Fuck you!

SWEDE Not today.

BANG. Swede puts one shot between the Target's eyes, ending his life. Now - Swede takes out a DAI-SHO, the smaller of the two traditional Japanese Samurai swords. With one slashing blow he hacks off the Target's HAND AT THE WRIST and grabs the briefcase. The SEVERED HAND is still caught in the handcuffs, so that it is carried along for the ride. Now - DISTANT SIRENS sound from OFF SCREEN as Swede moves back towards Larry and the Volvo, and as he goes he raises the briefcase (with its severed hand) in a kind of mock salute to Sam, who starts to move back towards Deirdre and Vincent, who have taken care of the remaining Bodyguards, and now the SIRENS are growing closer as we - START TO MOVE IN SLOW MOTION as Swede approaches the Volvo and - Deirdre and Vincent are already at Vincent's Fiat, waiting for Sam, and so they don't notice that - A VAN has been parked nearby this entire time, and now the van's side door slides open, and unseen by any of the others - Gregor steps out of the Van, a gun at his side, and a predatory look on his face as - Swede reaches Larry and the Volvo just as - Sam has reaches the Fiat, and now he looks back and sees - Gregor, crossing the street, and now - Sam screams a warning to Larry, but it's way too late because - Swede shoots Larry in the neck, hitting him above the protective covering of his bullet proof vest. Now we're MOVING IN REAL TIME as - Larry manages to get his backup piece drawn, a snub-nosed .38, and he fires all six shots into - Swede, hitting him in the stomach -- it's the same way Larry shot the target in the warehouse. Swede is sent flying backwards, where he crashes to the pavement. For a second we think he's dead, but then he gets up, in pain but alive, just as Sam predicted. Swede claws at his shirt to reveal that he too wears a bullet proof vest. By now - Larry has rolled out of the Volvo, crawling away but too weak to go far, and now - Swede has Larry in his sights, he's going to kill him.

SWEDE I don't particularly like killing, tubby, but I want you to know that this one I'm going to enjoy.

LARRY (sees something over Swede's shoulder) I don't think so.

Swede turns to follow Larry's gaze, and as he does - Gregor walks INTO FRAME and puts his gun right beneath Swede's chin. Before Swede can even compute this, Gregor pulls the trigger, firing straight up into Swede's brain. Then, without even looking at Larry, who is lying helpless on the ground - Gregor takes the briefcase and gets into the Volvo, driving off just as - Sam arrives, kneeling down by Larry. The SIRENS get louder.

LARRY (in shock) He just...I don't believe that son-of- a...

Vincent's Fiat comes peeling to a halt in front of them, Vincent and Deirdre inside it as Sam manages to get Larry into the back seat. Sam doesn't get in the car yet as Larry says -

LARRY (still having trouble believing it) We've been crossed...

The SIRENS reach a crescendo as a group of GENDARMES arrive, charging with automatic weapons drawn. Between the French cops and our heroes lies the shot up wreck of the Target Car, and now - Sam takes out a GRENADE, pulls the pin, and rolls it across the ground, beneath the Mercedes, which the cops have just reached. Seconds later - The Car EXPLODES, cutting off the cops, and as this happens, Vincents puts the pedal to the floor and gets the fuck out of Dodge. We start to SLOWLY PULL BACK on the remains of this battle: the dead bodies, the shot up cars, the broken glass, and that flaming, smoking hulk of a Mercedes in the middle of the street.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. THE OLD CITY/NICE - SUNSET

The FIREBALL of the car turns into a BLOOD RED SUN as it sets in the Western sky, tinting the stone buildings of the Old City a coppery red.

We're MOVING THROUGH the Old City, through the twists and turns of what an American would call back alleys but that pass for streets in this place. It is quiet almost deserted, then - A TESTOSTERONE CRAZED PLAYBOY whips his sports car through one of these streets, engine whining, as we - MOVE DOWN yet another side street, and this sucker really is a back alley, you couldn't get a car down here if you tried. Finally, we come to - A RAT TRAP OF AN OLD BUILDING, and we PUSH TIGHT on this building as we hear -

LARRY (V.O.) What is this?

INT. A BACK APARTMENT - SAME TIME

A SYRINGE is plunged into Larry's arm. Sam is tending to Larry's wound. Sam seems to know what he's doing, as Larry is also hooked up to a bottle of plasma hanging on a make- shift stand.

SAM (answering Larry's question) It's a cocktail. Mostly demerol, cut with a little crank because we might need you awake in the real near future.

LARRY Fine with fucking me, we got work to do. I don't care what it takes, we are getting our property back and putting it into the hands of the people who are gonna pay us a great deal of money when we do. I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'm not the kind of guy to just sit back and take it in the ass. (a quick beat) I don't mean that in, like, a literal way...

DEIRDRE Of course.

VINCENT Finding this package is a thing easier said than done. We don't even know what it is. (he looks at Deirdre, and suddenly he's deadly earnest) What did we steal?

DEIRDRE (suddenly defensive) I don't know.

VINCENT When this whole thing started you made it clear: you're running the show. And I don't believe you'd be running this show if you didn't know what was going on.

DEIRDRE Well I don't!

VINCENT And I don't believe you...

Vincent's gun is out in the blink of an eye, at Deirdre's head, but she's as fast as he is and her gun is drawn as well, jammed into his stomach.

DEIRDRE (suddenly feral) You go shoot me if you want, Vincent, but you'll be dead before I hit the ground.

VINCENT (matching her intensity) I don't want you dead, woman, I want the the truth!

SAM (O.S.) (with a dead cool in his voice) Both of you...

ANOTHER ANGLE - Sam has the two of them covered with his gun - an interesting moment, because he can shoot either Deirdre or Vincent, but not both at the same time. The question is: whose side is he on?

SAM (continuing without missing a beat) ...put your guns down and chill out.

A BEAT. And then Vincent and Deirdre lower their weapons, followed by Sam.

SAM Like it or now, we're on the same side: we're here and the package isn't. (looks at Deirdre) You're not the boss any more, you're our partner. So tell us what you know, so we can figure a way out of this mess.

Sam's look isn't romantic, but it implies a level of trust based upon their physical intimacy.

SAM Now, what did we steal?

DEIRDRE (she hates to admit this) I don't know... (defensively, off Vincent's look) Well I don't! It's a goddamned mystery to me just like it is to you. (quick beat, then reluctantly continuing) But I do know who we're working for. My people, and the Russian mob.

LARRY Your people? Who the fuck is your people?

VINCENT Who do you think, Larry? The IRA.

DEIRDRE And you believed me? (passionately) But it wasn't my people who did it.

LARRY How do we know that?

SAM Because if they had she'd be gone along with the package, instead of sitting here with us.

DEIRDRE Exactly. Gregor, he was the Russian's man. It was my people came up with the idea for this run, but the Russians who had the capital to finance it. Gregor, he was their insurance, and I was ours. Everybody else was supposed to be neutral. Gregor must've got to Swede...

LARRY I never did trust that blonde fuck...

DEIRDRE That's why you were riding with him.

VINCENT The question still remains: what do we do now?

SAM (he figures something out) Gregor's cell phone...

LARRY (to himself) What are you gonna do, call him up and ask him to give us back our shit?

SAM (ignoring Larry, to Deirdre) Did he bring that with him?

DEIRDRE I bought it for him -- all the stuff he was using, it was in his contract. Cost a nice penny, too, especially that goddamned phone: Gregor had expensive tastes.

SAM Check this out. (he's thinking on his feet) Gregor's a spook, or he was one until recently. When he was a spy he lived the life -- you know, a prince in some Eastern Bloc country where nobody had shit and Gregor had everything. Then the wall goes down. No more Cold War. And Gregor is out of a job. No apartment, no special stores with Western food and video tapes. I would bet dollars against shit that Gregor liked that phone and he doesn't want to give it up. And I wouldn't be surprised if he's arrogant enough to think...

DEIRDRE (finishing his sentence) That we're too stupid to trace his calls.

Deirdre and Sam share the slightest of conspiratorial smiles as they realize they're both thinking the same thought: they might still win this one.

EXT. AIX EN PROVENCE - TWILIGHT

We're on perhaps the MOST BEAUTIFUL STREET in all of France: the Cours Mirabeau in the town of Aix.

Outdoor cafes line the sides of the street, while a canopy of interlocking trees covers everything. Now we're - MOVING, DOWN THE STREET, towards a CAFE, where a DAPPER GENT sits, sipping a mineral water. The Gent has a SATCHEL at his feet. Now - A JEEP pulls up to a nearby corner and idles in neutral. The Dapper Gent throws some bills on the table and gets up, crossing to - The Jeep. A door opens, and the Dapper Gent, carrying his satchel, gets into the jeep, which drives off as we -

CUT TO:

INT. JEEP - SAME TIME

Gregor and the Dapper Gent drive in silence for minute, down the length of the Cours Mirabeau.

GREGOR (breaking the silence) It's a beautiful street, no?

The Dapper Gent also has an accent, a much thicker one than Gregor's; it's an accent that places the Gent as a resident of what used to be called the Soviet Union.

DAPPER GENT (he can't wait any longer) Do you have it?

GREGOR Always in a rush, you are. All these years I've known you, you could never wait for anything.

DAPPER GENT This is important.

GREGOR Do you really think so?

DAPPER GENT You know it is.

Gregor, still driving, takes out a SILENCED PISTOL, and the Dapper Gent reaches for his own piece.

GREGOR Relax!

The Dapper Gent loweres his hand, leaving his gun in his coat. Gregor pulls the van to a curb.

GREGOR Look over there.

GREGOR & THE GENT'S POV: THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD - A GROUP OF CHILDREN are playing.

GREGOR (O.S.) Do you see that one? The girl in the light blue dress?

We find one particular LITTLE GIRL, around eight, holding the end of a jump rope, wearing a light blue dress. She's breathtakingly beautiful, and now - Gregor raises his silenced pistol, as if to shoot her.

DAPPER GENT What are you doing, have you lost your mind?!?

Gregor pulls the trigger, as he does so the Dapper Gent jogs his arm, and we hear the soft thwpfft of the silenced shot just as the shot goes off - Missing its mark, harmlessly shooting into a tree, causing a SINGLE LEAF to float to the ground behind the playing children. Nobody notices a thing. BEAT. The Dapper Gent is visibly shaken, because there is no doubt that Gregor would have killed the Girl if the Gent hadn't ruined his aim.

DAPPER GENT Why did you do that?

GREGOR To make a point. I don't know her, and I was ready to splatter her brains all over the sidewalk. (giving the Gent a look) I don't particularly like you, so imagine what I'll do if you try anything...

Gregor leaves his gun dangling in the air a moment longer than necessary and then starts the jeep as we -

CUT TO:

EXT. A COUNTRY ROAD OUTSIDE OF AIX - NIGHT

A FULL MOON casts a silver light over a field of wild grass. A soft wind blows, and the grass moves gently from side to side. Now - Gregor's JEEP glides down this road as we MOVE THROUGH TO -

INT. THE JEEP - SAME TIME

DAPPER GENT (squirming) Enough! We've been driving for an hour, where is my package?

Gregor smiles -- he's been waiting for this. He pulls the jeep over and looks at the Dapper Gent.

GREGOR It's under your seat.

DAPPER GENT (incredulous) What?

GREGOR As my American friend Larry would say: are you fucking deaf? It's under your seat.

The Dapper Gent looks down, and sure enough, the edge of the Briefcase sticks out beneath the seat.

DAPPER GENT I can't believe you'd do that, Gregor. I thought I trained you better than that.

With a laugh the Dapper Gent hands his satchel to Gregor, whose eyes literally dance with the prospect of his reward. He can't help himself, he opens the satchel and there it is - COLD HARD CASH in large bills, enough for Gregor to live like a prince for quite some time. Gregor sucks in an involuntary breath and then looks back up to see - The Dapper Gent hasn't reached for the Briefcase. Instead he's taken out his gun, and it's only inches from Gregor's head.

DAPPER GENT I've never particularly liked you either, Gregor.

The Dapper Gent yanks out the Briefcase, and as he does -

THE SEVERED HAND comes whipping out along with it, still attached by the handcuff chain. The Hand flies up in the Dapper Gent's face, and we notice that the Hand is starting to rot -- it's bloated and swelling and horrific and it scares the shit out of the Dapper Gent, who drops his gun and fumbles with the Briefcase as - THWPFFT...we hear the sound of another silenced shot as we -

SMASH CUT TO:

EXT. OUTSIDE THE JEEP - SAME TIME

A DARK STAIN splashes against the passenger side window of the jeep. Seconds later - The door swings open, and the Dapper Gent's body plunks out onto the ground. A moment later, something wet and viscous plops down on the face of the Gent as the jeep drives off. Now - We HOLD FOR A BEAT on the Dapper Gent's dead body, which lies in the silver moonlight, blood running out from beneath him, while the Severed Hand palms the Gent's face, fingers splayed out around his head. Now - We HEAR the sound of PHONE TONES. And not just any phone...

INT. THE JEEP - SAME TIME

Gregor finishes punching a number into his CELL PHONE. We hear a single ring on the other end of the phone before it is picked up.

PHONE VOICE (V.O.) (in Russian, English subtitles) Is it done?

GREGOR (in English) It's done.

BEAT. The Phone Voice doesn't respond for a moment -- whoever this is they didn't expect to hear from Gregor. The Voice switches to English.

PHONE VOICE (V.O.) Gregor, is that you?

GREGOR (with a low chuckle) Much to your disappointment, no doubt.

PHONE VOICE (V.O.) It was a mistake, it shouldn't have happened.

GREGOR (suddenly cold, furious) I'm in the middle of saving you people a great deal of money -- the least you could do is have the decency to pay me!

BEAT.

PHONE VOICE (V.O.) So what do we do?

GREGOR What I do is none of your concern. What you should do is wait for my next phone call. I'm going to find a place where I can tilt the field in my favor. When I'm ready, I'll call you and tell you what I want you to do.

The Phone Voice says something unintelligible in Russian, cut off by Gregor as he angrily snaps off his cell phone and we -

CUT TO:

INT. THE CHEAP APARTMENT - DAWN

Larry snores on the couch, while Deirdre sleeps in a sleeping bag on the floor. Vincent sits in a ratty easy chair, feet propped on an overturned crate, dozing lightly. Suddenly - Vincent's eyes open, warily, as if something has changed in the room. He looks around - No Sam. Vincent gets up, takes out his gun, and silently gets to his feet. He moves down a long hall and - No Sam. Now, like a cat, Vincent moves into -

THE BATHROOM: pitch black. He moves in, swipes the string of the overhead light and - nothing. Nobody's here. The only place left is the front door, and now Vincent approaches. He opens the door, gun still at ready, and moves out into -

INT. THE LANDING OUTSIDE - SAME TIME

This is a small building. There is no other apartment on the floor. At the far end of the landing, there is a small ladder which leads up to -

THE ROOF. And the door which leads to the roof is flapping in a light wind.

EXT. THE ROOF - SAME TIME

Vincent bursts onto the roof, gun straight out, finger on the trigger, only to find - Sam is there, his gun pointed at Vincent. A BEAT, then both men give little laughs and put their weapons away, like Samurai so trained in combat that they know when it's safe to relax.

SAM What's going on?

VINCENT You weren't around when I woke up, I thought maybe something had happened. (off Sam's look) This has been one very fucked up job, Sam, and I'm not taking any more chances on anybody... (a quick beat) Including you...

In answer Sam takes out Vincent's pack of cigarettes and tosses them back to him. Vincent looks almost delighted at this.

SAM I came up here to sneak a smoke.

VINCENT You were smoking?

SAM I hope you don't mind I took your pack. It was on the table.

VINCENT (very sincere, offering the pack) Please, help yourself. Smoke as many you'd like.

Sam considers for a minute, and then takes one. Vincent does so as well, and he searches for his lighter, which he can't seem to find, because - Sam has it, and he lights their cigarettes, and then hands the lighter back to Vincent.

SAM (a shrug of the shoulders) I borrowed that, too...

VINCENT (puffing contentedly) Of course...whenever you feel like it just help yourself.

SAM I have a feeling I'm about to start buying my own.

BEAT. The two men smoke in silence, looking out at -

THE CURVED SHORELINE OF NICE -

Which glitters with thousands of lights from the apartment buildings, and a thousand more from the cars that travel on the road that leads into town: the Promenade des Anglais.

VINCENT (O.S.) That was a bad bit of business, today.

BACK ON Sam and Vincent.

SAM It was at that.

VINCENT A lot of people died.

SAM I've seen a lot of people die before.

VINCENT I haven't. Not like that. How do you get used to it?

SAM You don't. You just learn to live with it.

VINCENT I won't lie -- there have been times when I had to do it, times when the only way to get out alive was to see that the other man didn't.

SAM We live in a singular world, my friend.

VINCENT I never really thought I was part of the world you move in, Sam, to tell you the truth. (off his look) I'm a hood, a thief. Big time in a small time king of way. To the local police I'm a prize, to the local hoods I'm a legend. But to a guy like you I'm just another two bit hired gun.

SAM You might be a hired gun, Vincent, but I got a feeling you cost more than two bits.

This conversation might have gone further, but it is interrupted when Deirdre pokes her head up onto the roof.

DEIRDRE Christ, I was starting to think that the two of you had thrown it in and walked away. (to Vincent) There's someone on the phone downstairs asking for you, and my somewhat limited French leads me to believe that he might have something to tell us about Gregor.

EXT. THE HIGHWAY - LATER - NIGHT

A car we haven't seen before, a CITROEN, hums up the French highway in the night, along on the road. It's a postcard moment, but only for a moment.

LARRY (V.O.) I'm telling you...

INT. THE CITROEN - SAME TIME

LARRY (continuing) That I could be dead and I'd drive better than you.

Deirdre is driving, and Larry -- much to his chagrin -- is in the passenger seat, watching her every move.

DEIRDRE (very curt) Oh shut up...

IN THE BACK SEAT -

Sam and Vincent have a MAP spread out. Vincent is tracing Gregor's route so far, and we follow his RED MAGIC MARKER as it traces a line up the highway.

VINCENT He's going north. (circles something on map) That's Aix en Provence, where he used the phone.

Sam runs his finger along the length of the highway on the map. Destination: Paris.

SAM (making up his mind) He's going back.

VINCENT Not necessarily. He could go off road at any number of places. He might not even be in the country anymore.

SAM It's Paris. The route's too indirect for anything else. A guy like Gregor, he doesn't waste time on this road unless he has to be on it in the first place. Otherwise, he'd be out of the country by now. He's going to Paris. (beat) Now I just hope we can find him before he gets there.

DEIRDRE If somebody else doesn't find him first.

EXT. THE TOWN OF ORANGE - DAY

Orange, pronounced "Au-Ronge", is a mid-sized town of fifty thousand souls. It is small, charming, quaint, and it has one particular thing that no other town in France can claim -

AN ANCIENT ROMAN THEATER that has been painstakingly restored. We see this Roman Theater from the outside, as we MOVE THROUGH the streets of the town, to the TOWN SQUARE. It's packed -- every seat in every outdoor cafe is filled with a tourist having breakfast. This normally quiet place explodes one month out of the year, when an internationally famous music festival is held in the Roman Theater. We come upon -

A TABLE OF AMERICAN TOURISTS: a Family. Dad is angry at Mom.

DAD Opera? This is an opera festival?

MOM I told you that, Henry.

DAD I thought you meant Phantom of the Opera. You know, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Cats, that kind of thing.

Mom and Dad continue their discussion, but we've left them behind, MOVING THROUGH the seats and cafes until we get to a cafe on the outskirts of the Town Square. Here, in the most removed table in the entire Square, we find Gregor sitting in the shadow of the trellis. Unless you're on top of him you can't see him, but he can see everything perfectly. His cell phone sits on the table in front of him -- he picks it up and starts to punch in a number.

CUT TO:

>>>

/ Ronin.
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