“This is all happening too goddamn quickly” Eliza mutters, slumped in her seat beneath the piercing white light of the outhouse lightbulb just overhead. “Let’s not get caught up in that too much” Josh replies, handing the woman a water bottle and taking a seat in a chair opposite Eliza. “All we’ve got to do right now is keep our heads down and wait all of this out” Josh replies, his phone buzzing as Eliza tells him that this has come too far.
“We just saw a man fighting with us get gunned down to keep us alive” Eliza retorts as Josh answers his phone, “we don’t need to keep our heads down, we need to take a step back.” Answering their guardian, Josh places the phone on speaker and lets it reside in the middle of a tiny center table. “What can you tell us right now?” Josh asks, his head hanging with the expectation of straight-forward information, surprised when the guardian answers in a mellow tone.
“It’s a lot of bad” the guardian replies, the exhaustion in his voice telling the tale of a man lacking any confidence in future progression of any master plan. “Give us the best of it” Josh replies, the man on the other end telling him that he’s made the kill list. “I’m sorry” Josh replies, “the what?”, his head dragging sideways as the guardian explains. “The pipeline has a ‘kill list’ of people that threaten their business, you’re on it.”
Wiping his face, Josh thinks about the gravity behind that and comes to the conclusion that he’s most likely been on much worse before and gotten away. “No” the guardian replies, his decline pulling Josh into his following statement, “both of you are on the kill list.” His head lifting to look at Eliza, Josh watches her eyes go dead for a moment as she slowly sits back in her seat, her eyes remaining glued to the phone.
“How do we get her out of the crossfire?” Josh asks, wasting no time in looking for a solution to get Eliza out of dodge, his attempts however, falling short when Eliza refuses to leave. “I’m not taking it, whatever’s offered, I don’t care” Eliza replies, “I started this, I’ll see it to the end.” Telling Eliza that he will not allow her to continue, Josh catches immediate flack from the woman, who tells him that she will not run away from any of this.
“The difference between you and I is that you can get away with just as much as these assholes can” Eliza returns, “I’m risking everything and I have no fallback. You don’t tell me what I can and cannot do.” Asking the guardian to find an option that takes Eliza off the list, Josh feels the heated smack from Eliza’s hand collide with his face. “I’m not running away” Eliza proclaims, “we either see this through whatever comes after, or I die holding my end.”
Refusing to allow Josh any further attempts at directing the conversation, Eliza takes the phone and holds it in her hand, asking the guardian what that means for the plan itself. “It’ll be much more difficult to get inside” the guardian replies, “hell, it might even take it off the table completely.” Eventually, Josh asks for further information on the pipeline, looking for what truly makes them such a danger outside of their trade.
“This isn’t just a bunch of pedo’s trading pictures on the dark web” the guardian replies, “it’s high end criminals tapping into a market that no one else had.” Mirroring it to the first appearances of cartel dealings, the guardian states that the pipeline is the first syncronized group with a ‘product’ that no one else sells. “So what’s the difference?” Josh asks, “what makes this any different other than how many people are involved?”
“It’s pretty easy to get what you want when you’re a celebrity, even when it’s illegal” the guardian replies, “but there’s a big difference between finding out a celebrity does coke and figuring out that they jerk off to kids.” Informing the pair that the majority of the money comes from individuals looking for guaranteed secrecy to come with the product itself, the guardian states that the pipeline guards it’s catalog more than it guards the product.
“They’re selling pictures and videos, which ain’t exactly easy to trace back like it is with any drug” the guardian concludes, “not much to keep track of other than making sure people don’t know which lines to connect.” Nodding, Eliza compares it to that of a spider web. “If their clients are found out, all that has to happen for them to get caught is by the ‘product’ being found” Eliza exclaims, the guardian acknowledging her to have hit it right on the nose.
“They keep security on everything they can to make sure you don’t know where to draw the lines” the guardian states, “all you need to do is draw one line and the web falls apart.” Understanding when put into simple terms, Josh begins to put together why the guardian chose him specifically to head the operation. “I have connections to the people that would be found in that web, don’t I?” Josh asks, the energy from the guardian’s side giving him his confirmation.
“As long as you’re still good to go, we don’t need to put anyone down there” the guardian replies, “the location of their little pedo-ville was needed in the event that you get shot or locked up.” Covering all the bases, the guardian informs the pair that they’re finally reading to start trying to draw lines, only for his excitement to be cut short when Eliza asks for the worst of the news he called to discuss.
“Yeah” the guardian replies, his mood immediately flipping as he realizes the one final piece of information to share. “They, erm…” the guardian begins, both Josh and Eliza looking at the other as they await the follow-up. “They found Deangelo’s body” the guardian replies, Josh turning his look into one of relief as Eliza’s only worsens. “That’s fine” Josh returns, “we expected that to happen eventually, we’re all covered!”
“Not exactly” the guardian replies, “they found him the day after you shot him, they’ve just been hiding it while they identified him.” Looking up to the man, Eliza exclaims “your car”, surprising Josh, who asks the guardian for the point.
Back in downtown New York City, a detective is dispatched to an unfamiliar precinct, where she walks with confidence through the front doors and up to the main desk. “Hi, my name is Hayden Arcnote, I’ve been called for detective work by Officer Holiday?” the woman asks, the man in question overhearing the conversation from afar. “She’s with me!” the man calls towards the desk worker, “I’m Julius Holiday, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Walking past a section of desk jockeys, Arcnote asks why she’s been called into investigate a random drug dealer on such a secretive level. “That’s the thing, ma’am” Holiday replies, the woman already eliciting the response of a veteran despite being twenty-seven with two years of experience in the field. “We don’t believe this is any random drug dealer” the man replies, “we believe he’s one piece in a much larger chain of an underground, child pornography ring.”
Stopping in her tracks, the woman looks towards the man with suspicion, asking him to repeat what he had just said. “I’ve never heard that one before” the woman replies, the man quick to point out that much of the state’s force had been investigating it for years. “The idea is that there are a number of wealthy, powerful figures at the top keeping people blind to it” Holiday continues, “we never really had any solid connection to it until now.”
“So why are you bringing me into this all of a sudden?” Arcnote asks, “other than you’ve finally put a body to a bigger picture.” Stopping beside the door to the evidence lab, Holiday says that she’s going to see something unprecedented. Once inside, Arcnote is greeted by the sight of a bin with pictures of tire marks pinned on the envelope of a case file labeled ‘Underground Ring.’
Glancing at the pictures, Arcnote opens the folder to reveal a list of names, few of which are circled, all connected to a chain of owned vehicles in the state. “Why is this guy circled?” Arcnote asks, Holiday quick to respond, “That’s Eric Devine, he used to serve as our lieutenant.” When asked why he no longer is, Arcnote is informed of his passing and subsequent reputation being made public.
“That’s the Eric Devine guy?” Arcnote asks, having heard of the case in detail over the past number of months. “And who’s this?” Arcnote asks, Holiday reading the name out to be that of Joshua Lane’s. “What does he do?” the woman asks, informed of his former status with VeroSoft. “He was the man that Devine was intending on framing for the murders of a few wealthy businessmen in the city” Holiday replies.
“What am I looking at?” the woman asks, Holiday informing her of the list of four circled names to be those believed to have connections to the underground organization. “In what way?” the woman asks, Holiday taking a deep breath before going down the line. “We believe Devine was a figurehead in their operation until his death, we believe the other two names are of high stature in the organization as well.”
“And what about Joshua Lane?” Arcnote asks, turning towards Holiday, who thinks carefully before saying what he proceeds to. “We believe he’s killing them off” Holiday replies, the look of surprise coming over Arcnote’s face as she questions whether or not he’s the suspect or hero of this story. “He’s committing murder” Holiday replies, his tone not taking that of someone confident in the simplicity of the claim.
“But since most of the people he seems to be killing would just buy their way off of the stands anyway, most of us believe he’s doing more good than bad” Holiday concludes. “You’re telling me the department that let Devine do what he did is alright with vigilante work?” Arcnote asks, watching Holiday struggle to find the right response. “Any work we do to bring these guys down for what they do does nothing if we just take them to court” Holiday replies.
“Do you believe he’s a suspect in this guy’s murder?” Arcnote asks, Holiday responding with a ‘yes.’ “I’m not gonna argue with what’s right and wrong, but I know the law states that you cannot kill” Arcnote says, handing the folder off to Holiday. “Bring him in for questioning” Arcnote demands, “let’s see who we’re talking with.” Leaving the room, Arcnote begins the process of growing accustomed to the precinct she now expects herself to become very familiar with.
= Joshua Lane is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 1 onwards =
“You’re getting too close” Nora cries, reminding Josh that she had called his demise long ago. “I’m not too close, I’m right where I need to be” Josh replies, his eyes glued to the winding road ahead of him. “I used to think the same thing” Nora returns, her eyes menacingly locking onto the waterfront a few paces away. “Care to take a walk with me while we’re here?” Nora asks, the soft, whisper-like pull of her voice convincing Josh to consider it for a moment.
“No, I came here to do one thing and then I’m gone” Josh replies, his vehicle turning towards the exact spot Nora’s eyes had been locked onto. “Familiar territory, isn’t it?” the woman asks, watching the man slow the car to a stop before opening his door. “Vanish, please” Josh requests, rising from his seat and pushing the car closer to the edge of the waterfront.
“The answer’s yes” Nora whispers, her words entering Josh’s ear and wrapping around his brain like a rope. His push slowing to a halt, Josh looks a few feet off to the left and pictures the events of a night he’d been trying to, but never succeeded at dropping from his memory.
-> “It doesn’t have to go like this!” Nora cries, watching Josh pull his gun up from his side and steady his hand. Continuing to plead, Nora’s hopes fall on deaf ears as a shot fires, the burst of light from the gun reflecting in the water as another bullet fires. <-
“No, it doesn’t” Josh replies, continuing to push the car forward until it’s front wheels tip over the edge. Saying goodbye, Josh pushes the car the rest of the way over, watching it collide with the water’s surface and slowly submerge beneath the drink. “You’ll never change” Nora says, stood behind the man now turning around to meet her eyes. “I’ve changed more than you’d ever know” Josh retorts, “just because you can’t agree with the work that I do, doesn’t mean you can torment me for it.”
“You know it’s not your work that I’m with you for” Nora replies, the man wasting no time in shouting back to her, “I didn’t kill you!” Stood there, watching the girl approach him cautiously, Josh stares into her eyes as they turn a silky white. Turned away, Josh refuses her attempt to frighten, turning around to see her returned to her normal form. “I didn’t kill you” Josh replies, “I didn’t kill you, and I will never believe otherwise.”
“Fine” Nora replies with a smile, “you’re doing this to yourself.” Vanishing into thin air, Nora leaves Josh stood on the pier alone, the buzzing of his phone keeping him from dwelling on the encounter too much. “Yeah, it’s me” Josh says, listening in ass the guardian breaks the news to him. “The precinct has put your name to the case” the guardian declares, “they’re onto your work.”
“They’re gonna try to bust me for killing some low-life?” Josh asks, laughing it off and suggesting they’d never waste so much resources on a low-level offense. “They know about the pipeline” the guardian shouts, immediately catching Josh’s attention right back, “and they know about our work, all of it!” On the edge of his seat, Josh asks the guardian for his next move, the only one available to him in the moment is to return to the safehouse.
“What about Eliza?” Josh asks, “have they pinned her to it?” With the knowledge that Eliza’s name is out of the hat for the moment, Josh hurries back to the safehouse. His taxi dropping him off exactly where he needs to be, Josh rushes into his shared room with Eliza and notices something immediately alarming. “She’s not here!” Josh shouts as he calls the guardian back, red flags flying for both parties involved.
Within seconds, a buzzing comes from a random corner of the room, a burner phone lighting up with the guardian’s information in a waste basket. “She left her phone” Josh says, the guardian immediately slamming it’s fist to it’s desk on the other line. “Where the hell did she go!?” the guardian shouts, Josh at a loss for words until he notices something out of place left on the kitchen tabletop.
“It’s a receipt for hair-dye” Josh says, both he and the guardian beginning to fear that they already know where she’s going. “I’m going after her” Josh declares, the guardian immediately suggesting against that. “I’ll take care of her, you just stay put and don’t answer the door” the figure on the other line shouts, leaving Josh stranded in the middle of his room, aware of exactly what happens if Eliza gets where she’s going.
“No answer” Holiday replies, returning to Arcnote with empty hands. “Think we weren’t on the same page time-wise?” Arcnote asks, Holiday admitting that to be a strong possibility. “Is everything alright?” a voice calls out from the end of the corridor, the pair turning around to notice Becca walking gingerly to the door. “Are you here for Mr. Lane?” Arcnote asks, Becca replying with the affirmative, asking the officers of the same thing.
“We were just looking to see if we could ask him some questions” Arcnote replies, Becca immediately wondering whether or not they know anything of use. “Is he hurt?” Becca asks, the officers curious towards the suggestion. “I’ve been coming here every day for the last month” Becca replies, “I’ve called him a few times, but he hasn’t been here anytime he says he has.”
“Do you know where he is?” Holiday asks, jumping on the opportunity until Becca denies it. “I was hoping you would” the woman replies, “is something wrong?” Insisting that everything is fine, Arcnote tells her that the department will inform her if they hear of him turning up anywhere. “Alright” the woman replies, stepping back to allow the officers through. After a few moments, Becca knocks on Josh’s front door and calls out “coast is clear” to the inside.
“Did they suspect anything?” the man asks, Becca, frustratedly, replying in the negative. “What are you doing, Holland?” Becca asks, “what more do you need to let me go back to my shit?” Reminding Becca of the need for evidence, Holland makes it clear to the woman that evidence is equal to her freedom. “He’s a bad guy” Holland begins, Becca interrupting him by mirroring that statement onto Holland himself.
“But only one of us can decide when you’re free or not, ain’t it?” Holland voices, the woman looking to the ground without an answer. “Don’t waste my time with these questions” Holland says, waving for Becca to follow along as if she were a lost dog.
Her car placed into park, Eliza steps out of her vehicle and closes the door behind her, leaving behind a set of folded papers resting on the dashboard. With a deep breath, Eliza walks strolls along to the other side of a dead road and meets her destination at the window of a motel. “Key 14T” Eliza utters, the man stationed at the window immediately lifting his head from his check-in book and pulls a special card from beneath his desk.
“Beneath the mural” the kid exclaims, immediately closing the window as soon as the woman takes the key. Turning around, the woman, now sporting the look of a dastardly redhead approaches the one room cut off from the remainder of the motel’s main exterior. Her eyes briefly taking view of a set of headlights in the distance, Eliza performs a double-take, returning to her view of the vehicle as it speeds up.
Turning into the lot, the vehicle hits the brakes as it lines up with Eliza, who dives out of the way as rocks splatter against the cedar tiles of the building itself. Taking cover behind a wooden pillar, Eliza retrieves a gun from her boot and fires a round randomly towards her attacker’s direction, putting him in the position to duck for cover behind his car. Taking this moment as he opportunity, Eliza hurries for the door marked ‘14T’ as the man pulls his head over the hood of the vehicle.
A firearm brandished in his hands, the man fires one shot directly at Eliza, the bullet fired immediately ripping through her side and planting her into the ground with a thud. “We’ve got her, boss” the figure calls out, hanging up before beginning to assess and bandage the wounds. Having hit her head on the tumble, Eliza fades out of consciousness as the man ties her hands together and begins dragging her back to his vehicle.
Left on the ground, the ‘14T’ room key Eliza no longer had the awareness to hold onto, remains partially buried beneath the pebble-covered ground as the vehicle speeds off with Eliza inside.
“We have one possible suspect possibly on the run, and we have two other figures in the ring as of yet unknown” Holidays explains, “where do you want to start first?” Considering her options, Arcnote wants a team of people finding out the identities between the two alias’ listed on Holiday’s report. “Until we know who’s circled, I want to know where Joshua Lane is” Arcnote says, her prayers seemingly answered as soon as they’re uttered.
“Ms. Arcnote, we have someone with information they say they’d like to share with you” an unnamed officer declares, leading her to the interrogation room where Becca awaits. “Ms. Havish, is it?” Arcnote asks, walking in alongside Holiday. “My officer said you had information to share with us?” the detective asks, Becca confirming that suggestion by placing her phone atop the table.
“What is this?” Arcnote asks, Becca informing her of the photo on the screen being that of which she had taken the month prior. “Why is this important?” Arcnote asks, Becca requesting that they speak about this matter without the presence of those behind the two-way glass. Nodding to those stationed behind, Arcnote listens to Becca explain that a leak coming from the department is that they’re running down a shortlist of potential drivers of a classic, cherry red muscle car.
“The suggestion is that you think whomever was driving it is connected to a murder” Becca continues, watching the eyes of both Arcnote and Holiday glance back and forth to each other. “Take a closer look at the picture” Becca says, pointing out the make and model of the car being imprinted in the leader glove compartment cover. “Joshua Lane owns a classic, cherry red muscle car, and he won’t tell me where he is” Becca concludes, giving the detective’s their tip.
Exiting the station, Becca walks into the waiting arms of Holland, who plays the role of her boyfriend as the detective’s look on. “Is that enough?” Becca asks, the fake smile plastered across the man’s face parting long enough to tell Becca of more work needing to be done. “When he’s behind bars, you’re free” Holland replies, holding the passenger’s door open for the girl and preparing to drive off.
“Let’s put a B.O.L.O out on Lane” Arcnote says, Holiday already putting in the request before Holland’s vehicle can even hit its first stoplight.
“Untie me, assholes!” Eliza shouts, the door to the safehouse swinging open to reveal an aggravated Josh storming inside with his temper heightened. “What the hell was she doing!?” Josh shouts, the woman immediately turning her face away from the man as he looks towards an unnamed man for answers. “All I know is that guardian sent me” the man replies, attempting to suggest they wait before adding anything to the conversation until the door opens again.
With a briefcase in hand, the figure closes the door behind himself and turns towards the trio, his face covered by a metallic-like mask, a gate-like pattern over the mouth the only thing leaving skin visible. “You may leave” the figure orders to the unnamed man, who stares at him with a look of amazement. “Yes, you’ve seen me… Now go” the figure reiterates, watching the man snap from his gaze and do as instructed.
Looking back to the pair, the figure takes a seat before them and directs Josh to a chair near the corner of the room. “Are you the guardian?” Eliza asks, the figure refusing to answer her question, having stripped her of her right to do so. “Are you the guardian?” Josh asks, the figure affirming his suspicions as the attention centers around the woman. From his pocket, the guardian unfurls a folded piece of paper left behind by Eliza and begins reading it aloud.
The suicide note of a woman knowing that this is her final action before her fate is sealed, the guardian continues to read as Eliza simmers without any outlet to relieve. “She was going to infiltrate the pipeline ahead of schedule or die trying” the guardian concludes, “she was looking for a way to be done with this once and for all.” His eyes glued onto Eliza, who refuses to share his gaze, Josh asks why she would do that if she’s begun to come around to the truth behind their work.
“She hasn’t” the guardian replies, making the woman’s mind up for her. “She got dragged into this, it wasn’t her work by choice” the figure continues, standing from his seat and opening his briefcase, “if she can find a way out, she’ll take it or die trying.” Refusing to give the guardian credit, Eliza clarifies that he is only partially correct, speaking ill on her true outlook on the work itself.
“I’d rather die than live in a world where there’s no way out from this” Eliza replies, “this is your work, that’s fine, I understand why you believe that it’s necessary, but it’s not mine.” Her stare turning away from Josh and centering itself on the guardian, Eliza tells him that the fault of her predicament lies solely on his shoulders, only for the guardian to twist that knife right back in the direction of the girl herself.
“You didn’t need to do as instructed” the guardian says, “I never threatened you with anything, I simply stated that I know the secrets you wouldn’t want anyone else knowing about.” His hands folded together at his hips, the guardian tells Eliza that he’s never blackmailed anyone into doing anything, he’s simply stated a fact and let the individuals take it from there. “You can’t blame me for pulling a trigger, detonating a bomb, slicing at a throat” the guardian concludes.
“Let her go then” Josh says, “if you’re not forcing her to keep this up, let her go and move on with her life.” Reminding Josh of the kill list, the guardian tells Josh that any involvement that Eliza’s had has been because of him. “What will you do if she stops then?” Josh asks, closing the distance between himself and the guardian. “If she’s not being blackmailed, what does she have to worry about you knowing her secrets?” the man continues, testing the guardian’s word.
“If she’s free to go, then fine… None of this is on you” Josh continues, eventually getting close enough to the guardian that he matches every step forward of Josh’s with a step back of his own. “But if any of these secrets end up in the wrong hands, then you’re no guardian, you’re just a fucking puppet master” Josh concludes, eventually backing the guardian up against the wall, daring the figure to prove him wrong.
“You’re on a kill list” the guardian replies, his hand sticking out and lightly pushing Josh back with a single finger, “as long as you’re alive, you ought to be thanking me.” Pushed back far enough, Josh pulls the gun from his holster and takes aim at the guardian’s head, the figure immediately raising his hands. “Let her go and prove to me that you’re worthy of trust” Josh demands, the guardian pressing himself against the wall.
“Tell me that she’s free to go!” Josh shouts, one eye narrowed further than the other as the guardian goes silent for a moment. “No” the figure replies, Josh’s lip arching when the answer isn’t one he had anticipated. “Well” Josh replies, “I guess you’re just as responsible as we are” as he lowers the gun, returning it to his holster. “I suppose you’re right” the guardian replies, “but I’m not on the losing… Not anymore.”
“What do you mean by ‘not anymore’?” Eliza asks, the pair looking towards the figure as it stares blankly at the ground. “I used to be part of the pipeline” the guardian admits, the revelation bringing a surprise to both, “before it became what it is now, that is.” Going into detail about the origins, the guardian reveals that the group took a turn when people with power decided that they needed an industry to hold a strangle hold on.
“Once suggestions started turning sour, I called them out on it” the guardian replies, “that’s when I left. They overhauled everything down to their location, and no one was allowed to leave.” Looking up to Josh, the guardian tells him that he’s aware of the conversations he’s had with Eliza, eventually turning to face the woman herself and answer the question often raised by her.
“There’s a big difference between vigilantes and monsters more than just what the public believes” the guardian replies, kneeling beside her. “I’ve been around monsters before, and we are not monsters.” A buzz coming from his briefcase, the guardian retreats to it, checking his phone to find a notification he hoped would never come.
“You’re ‘bolo-ed’, Josh” the guardian says, providing the man with proof of the New York City police department coming after him once again. “Go back to the safehouse’ the guardian instructs, “stay there until I tell you otherwise.” When asked about Eliza, the guardian tells him that she needs to be looked after until he can be assured she won’t do something stupid again.
“No!” Eliza shouts, “let me out of here!” she screams as she further strains her wounds. “Josh, listen to me” the guardian says, “she’s gonna jeopardize everything or get herself killed, probably both, if we don’t do anything.” Accepting the point being made, Josh leaves the room and makes for his ticket back to the safehouse as Eliza stares down the man behind the mask, telling him that he’s going to regret making that decision as Josh departs.