Drones over Vegas

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OUTLINE

A contingent of Chinese Businessmen from the Mainland and Taiwan take advantage of a trip to the US to implement a scheme to increase China's edge in the Computer/Smart-phone economy. When US intelligence services learn of their presence in a Vegas hotel suite, they dispatch Jouni a local female Air Force Reserve Officer to gather information.

Succeeding beyond expectations, the improvised spy gets deeply involved in the case which migrates from Land to Air to Sea and Cyberspace.

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EXTERIOR, HUGH HEFNER SKY VILLA, THE PALMS HOTEL, LAS VEGAS

Playboy Logo

A contingent of Chinese businessmen are meeting in the top suite of The Palms Hotel. They are to discuss ways to counter Western interests hegemony in the computer industry.

Liu Zheng, mid-sixties, is President of Hanovo Holdings (Beijing) and John Wang, early fifties, is Founder and CEO of Han Hoi Industries (Taipei). Both men are leaning on the penthouse's terrace glass walls by a pool bearing the Playboy logo.

Liu
(in Mandarin, looking at The Strip)
We can buy this town, John. We can buy it all.

John
Sure, but why? Why not build one in the Home Land.

Liu
Because it would mean the beginning of the end for us, just as we're rising again. No... this civilization was short lived and is nearing its demise. Look, they're celebrating their prowess', and ignoring ours. Do you see a Forbidden City casino?

John smiles.

An aide walks towards Liu and addresses him discreetly.

Aide
Mr. Zheng. The group of ladies has arrived. May I let them in?

Liu
(looking at John)
But lets forget about our business for a now and enjoy the company of Western ladies.

John
(as the aide walks away)
I think our people as well as those from Japan, Korea, even India and beyond... still buy this model, this illusion created by the Americans. That's what we have to sell Liu. Not just our national pride.

Liu
(pensive)
Maybe you're right... Maybe you're right...

John
(persuasive)
We have to make this dream ours... The American Dream... and control its dispersion. We have to buy into it, the same way your government bought in to this economy.

Liu
But people like you are part of it, own part of it... As much as our government owns part of the American economy.

Pause

Liu
(looking at the sun setting on Vegas)
Our nation deserves more then being only a giant manufacture. Our people are ready for another leap.

The contingent of ladies is being escorted around the pool. Several of them undress into their bikinis and jump in the water.

Jouni Wilson, early thirties, dark blond and athletic, drops her black Arc'teryx Arro 22 backpack on a long chair and walks towards the edge of the terrace just a few meters away from John. She lights a cigarette, blows smoke in the air and realizes that it blows back towards the two men. She addresses the men as the aide rushes between them to intervene.

Jouni
(to John, as she strikes her hair away from her face)
Whoops, I'm sorry. I didn't expect the smoke to blow back... I'm very sorry.

Aide
(walking rapidly towards Jouni)
No, no, no. Only around the pool. Come with me.

John
(in Mandarin, to the aide)
That's OK. She doesn't bother me.

Aide
(looking at both John and Liu)
Excuse me.

Liu
(waiving the aid off, then to John)
Thank you... John, I'm going to rest to be ready for tomorrow. I like you're thinking. Let's continue this in the morning.

John
Ok Liu, good night and thanks again for the evening.

Liu walks away as John turns around looking back towards The Strip, standing by Jouni's side.

John
(in English to Jouni)
Do you have another cigarette, miss?

Jouni
(pulling a Davidoff cigarette from her and purse)
Oh... For sure. I didn't think you'd smoke. No one's smoke here anymore.

John
(accepting the cigarette)
I don't smoke much. Only when I'm abroad.

Jouni
And where is home for you if I may ask, China?

John
Taiwan actually...

Jouni
Oh, I had been told that all you gentlemen were from China, like communist China... You know...

John
(getting a light from Jouni, laughing)
Communist China... It's been a while since I heard someone say that... You're right, most of my colleagues here are from Mainland China. Some from Hong Kong and some from Singapore also. But we're all Chinese.

Jouni
Wow, you guys are everywhere.

John
And what about you? Are you from this beautiful city... Sin City as they say?

Jouni
Naaahh... I'm from San Francisco... We'll the Bay Area...

John
Oh, I know that region well. Palo Alto, Cupertino, San Jose...

Jouni
Actually on the other side. A small town near Oakland.

As the ladies splash each other in the pool, getting more and more attention from the men around who are busy debating about their attributes, a waiter makes his way to Jouni and John carrying several flutes on a tray.

John
(waiving to a waiter)
Would you enjoy a glass of Champagne.

Jouni
Yes, why not. It's a hot night.

The waiter gets to the couple and awkwardly presents the tray directly to Jouni as John's hand nearly hits the flutes.

John
(getting two flutes from the tray)
Here. By the way, I'm John.

Jouni
(accepting the glass and raising it)
Jouni. It's like John in Finnish.

John
Oh, a boy's name... So are you're originally from Finland?

Jouni
My mother is.

John
Nice country. One of our biggest client is based there. Too cold... Always dark. Not like here... And what made you come to Las Vegas?

Jouni
(blowing smoke in the wind)
I don't know. I thought maybe I'd meet the right man in this place.

John
In a gambling city... That's betting all your cards on luck. Success might partly be luck, but mostly perseverance, hard work and a sense of direction.

Jouni smiles, pensive, sipping her Champagne.

Jouni
Want me to show you Vegas!

INTERIOR, NIGHT, PURE CLUB, DANCE FLOOR, LAS VEGAS

Jouni holds John's hand as they are being escorted to a private booth. I Gotta Feeling plays loudly in the background as they sit in the crowded club.

Jouni
(looking at John as the waitress arrives)
What would you like to drink? This time it's on me.

John
(loudly, having difficulty hearing her)
Well then I'll let you choose. No more champagne though.

Jouni
(to the waitress)
Two Stella.

John looks at the crowded dance floor.

Jouni (con't)
(trying to get John to hear her) I guess it's not yet the moment when we tell each other about our lives! Wanna dance?

John
(laughing)
I'll watch you.

They move to the dance floor and Jouni starts dancing while occasionally glancing at John who is standing by.

STK RESTAURANT, THE COSMOPOLITAN, LAS VEGAS

STK Vegas

Jouni and John are sitting in a circular booth as they share a thick steak from the same plate.

John
So you smoke, drink beer and eat red meat. I thought you California girls were all vegans and practiced yoga.

Jouni
Well I do yoga and eat loads of veggies, but sometimes I get lost... When I'm in mysterious company... Like you smoking when you're abroad.

John
Mysterious? You're the one who pulled me away from my party.

Jouni
Still, I don't know who you are.

John
Oh, so I guess it's now the part of the night when we reveal ourselves.

Jouni
(smiling as she sips her beer)
I guess!

John
Well, I'm a 55 year old businessman form Taiwan. I've been married for 22 years and I have 3 kids.

Jouni
(challenged)
Wow... Do you love your wife!

John
That's a secret between me and her.

Jouni
Ok, fair enough... So do you love your kids? And don't tell me that's a secret...

John
Of course I love my kids.

Jouni
Boys or girls.

John
One boy and two girls.

Jouni
So I guess one of the girl is in love with you, the other rebels against everything and the boy is under pressure to be just like his father.

John
Is this the American standard?

Jouni
And your wife, I bet she's beautiful.

John smiles. A moment passes.

John
And you, a glamorous and, as it sounds, very intelligent lady... Where is your prince charming?

Jouni
Still riding I guess.
(waving her hand over the horizon)
Behind dunes where I can't see him.

John
No kids?

Jouni
Not yet.

John
You should. They'll help you find The Way.

Jouni
(smiling)
The way?

John
Yeah. So you won't hit so many dead ends.

Jouni
Like tonight?

John
No, tonight is more like a parallel speedway. I took it, and I have kids.

They look at each other flirtatiously.

EXTERIOR, NIGHT, STRIP, LAS VEGAS

Jouni and John are walking by the Eiffel Tower.

Jouni
(smiling, a little drunk)
Will you escort me to my door.

John
I like the way you flip things around.

John gently grabs her by the shoulder and pulls her towards him as a black SUV make a u-turn from the opposite side of the Strip.

INTERIOR, OPEN LIVING AREA, JOUNI'S HOUSE, LAS VEGAS

Jouni initiates John to Tantric yoga over a yellow mat on the wooden floor. A tall cubic paraffin candle dimly lights the room. Their naked bodies are entangled into Shiva-esque poses as Jouni reaches a deep and silent orgasm.

EXTERIOR, DAWN, RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD, LAS VEGAS

John walks out of Jouni' s house and starts walking on deserted subburban street, enjoying the morning breeze. A black SUV pulls from a side street and start following him from a distance. As he reaches the next intersection, another black SUV joins the trail. John continues walking until he signals one of the SUVs to come closer.

John
(in Mandarin, to the driver and passenger as he climbs on the back seat of the SUV)
Night was good?

Driver
(looking tired as the passenger confirms vocal instructions through his headset device)
Always good boss. Very quiet around here.

John
(looking at the rows of suburban house)
Yes, very quiet...

The SUVs are met by a third vehicle as the convoy accelerates towards a highway.

INTERIOR, MORNING, JOUNI'S BEDROOM, JOUNI'S HOUSE, LAS VEGAS

A ray of sun awakens Jouni from a deep sleep. She notices that her room is a mess. She walks to the bathroom to run water over her face and looks at herself in the mirror. She walks to the living area where she finds a small rock next to a note on the yoga mat.

She sits on the mat, pick up what appears to be an uncut diamond to observe it closely then reads the note.

This rock is like a miniature rendition of you. Waiting for the hand that will unveiled its translucence. I hope you find The Way. John. ps: thanks for the yoga class.

INTERIOR, MORNING, GYM, HUGH HEFNER SKY VILLA, THE PALMS HOTEL, LAS VEGAS

Liu and several older Hanovo Holdings officials are performing Tai Chi as younger execs from Han Hoi Industries run on the treadmills watching TV monitors and wearing headphones.

John walks in the gym...

Liu
(to John, amusingly)
No Tai Chi for you this morning, did you already exercised?

John
(smiling)
I took advantage of the morning desert breeze to stretch my legs.

Liu and the others smile.

John (con't)
I'll take a quick swim and join you gentlemen for the meeting.

John undresses and dives into the pool.

EXTERIOR, DAWN, DRIVE-THROUGH AND HIGHWAYS, LAS VEGAS

Jouni stops her 2010 silver convertible mustang at the pick up window of a Starbuck and orders a double shot tall late with skim milk. She drives away listening to Mazzy Star's Fade Into You. As she heads north on IS 15, she notices the Playboy logo on the side of The Palms Hotel.

EXTERIOR, HUGH HEFNER SKY VILLA, THE PALMS HOTEL, LAS VEGAS

John's gets out of the pool and leans on the railing where he stood the night before to look at the sun now rising over Vegas.

EXTERIOR, NELLIS AFB, LAS VEGAS

Two unmanned drones simultaneously take off as Jouni's car is lead through the gates of Nellis Air Force Base. She drives though the base; A school bus picks up kids as their uniformed mothers kisses them goodbye; A young boy delivers newspaper with his bicycle and an Airman rises the stars and stripes on the lawn of the base's main building.

INTERIOR, UAV COMMAND STATION, NELLIS AFB, LAS VEGAS

Jouni stands in a UAV control room next to a uniformed Air Force Major as a sitting Pilot wearing 3D glasses stares at moving aerial images of the desert. Three other monitors display head-shots of civilians engaging in a video conference with Jouni and the Air Force Major.

Monitor #1 (AF Colonel)
Wang was in Round Rock, Texas yesterday and GVT tower is telling us that his jet is scheduled for SFO at 1400.

Monitor #3 (State Dept)
(interrupting)
Gentlemen, remember that this is a joint agency endeavor and although we all appreciate your efficiency, I like to understand what we're talking about here. Can you translate GVT and SFO in civilian language please.

Air Force Major
Those are actually the civilian codes for the North Las Vegas and San Francisco Airports Sir.

Monitor #3 (State Dept)
Thank you. Please proceed QQQ.

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
(addressing Jouni)
Lieutenant, we need to know what's going on between Wang and Liu Zheng, the man from Hanovo Holdings. We saw that they were together when you made contact last night at The Palms. We have intel confirming that Wang has informed Patrick Bell in Round Rock earlier yesterday of imminent workers wages increases in Mainland China, matching those of Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. He is probably here to notify his biggest clients in person.

Monitor #3 (State Dept)
What we need to know is wether his hand is being forced by Beijing or if he's in on this. You understand that a common wage front in the region could have serious consequences for us.

Jouni
Yes, I understand that. I'd also like to remind you guys that as a reserve Air Force Officer who got the call for this assignment less then 24 hours ago, my knowledge of the operation is still limited. So please cope with my cluelessness while I review this case.

Monitor #3 (State Dept) And we thank you for volunteering on such a short notice and under such circumstances Lieutenant.

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
We actually got intel of Wang and Zheng's presence on US soil less less then 36 hours ago. And here too, we appreciate your dedication Lieutenant. We had one of our men infiltrate the catering group last night but he couldn't get into the main suite and therefore was unable to bug the room in time.

Jouni
Well I thought it'd be wiser to make close contact with the target and pull him away from the party than to pass out on a sofa and try to remain in position until the morning!

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
Very well and you've made some important steps for the long run, but now we need to know what's going in Vegas and what will go on most likely in The Valley this afternoon.

Pause.

Monitor #1 (AF Colonel)
Well, what about the terrestrial vehicles. It seems that everywhere they go, they book 2 SUVs and a sedan. Do we know where they get them from?

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
(looking at the edge of the screen)
It's 5 am here in DC so 8 for you guys... If they take off from Vegas at 2 that means they'll land in Frisco around what 3:30?

Monitor #1 (AF)
More like 1445. They're flying a Citation X and it's just a hump over to SFO.

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
(satisfied)
Well that gives us 6-7 hours before they get in these cars. (to AF officer on Monitor #1) Colonel, do you have resources stationed over there that could rig these?

Monitor #1 (AF Colonel)
(skeptical)
All intel personnel is based in Lackland. Mostly trained at securing networks and communications... There is no way we can get this job done by unskilled personnel. What about Naval Intelligence. Maybe they have some skilled personnel stationed in Alameda?

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
Well, these guys are here in Suitland... Let's not overextend our reach here... Lieutenant, you gotta get back in with Wang. Major, you still have an image?

Air Force Major
Let us put you live on this.

A 4th monitor comes live. A 3D image of The Palms Hotel roof terrace appears....

Pilot
(addressing the monitors before providing 3D glasses to Jouni and to the Major)
Please wear your glasses now.

All 3 men on the monitors put on their 3D glasses as do Jouni and the Major.

Air Force Major
We'll now show you an angle on the main suite.

The image on Monitor 4's switches to a side view of the interior of the suite where John, Liu and several other Chinese men are meeting. Subtitles appear simultaneously at the bottom of the screen.

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
Wow. That's why we enjoy working with you guys colonel. How in god's name do you get that?

Monitor #1 (AF)
(jokingly)
Trade secret QQQ ... Three sets of drones with vertical and horizontal image stabilizers combined with a gradual zoom back converging in a loop around The Palms.

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
And their voices... I mean the dialogue?

Monitor #1 (AF)
A chinese speaking lip reader typing live!

The image on monitor #4 now shows John standing and looking at what appears to be a smart phone. The image disappears then reappears from a slightly different angle.

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
Can we ID his number?

Monitor #1 (AF)
Looking down on his screen. Yes 0843:12 +886255555555 receiving 73 character SMS from unknown source. Probably encrypted through some web based application.

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
We'll good enough, we have his cell... Lieutenant... Any thoughts on what to say to hook the fish?

Jouni
I didn't ask his number... If I text him on his cell, he'll be suspicious.

Monitor #3 (State Dept)
Can't you tell him you peaked at his cell while he was in the shower.

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
That's no way to build trust in a relationship!

Monitor #3 (State Dept)
Love will blind the smartest men...

Jouni
(interrupting)
He didn't take a shower, if your interested in knowing, but he did make a call to the Brazilian Steakhouse to book a table by the grill... As I know the manager and he obviously noticed that, I could have asked the restaurant to look at the nights call log.

QQQ on Monitor #2 (INR)
It's a stretch but it seems to be our only option. (impatient) We gotta move now. We're only loosing minutes.?

Jouni
(not convinced, looking at her cell)
What was that number again Colonel?

Monitor #1 (AF)
We've just transmitted it to you.

Jouni
(still looking down at her cell, pensive)
Yeah I got it....

She presses keys on her cell for a few seconds, presses send and looks back at monitor #4... John is in a conversation with Liu and discreetly pulls his phone from his pocket to look at it.

Jouni
"SORRY FOR INTRUDING. CALLED MY FRIEND AT THE STEAKHOUSE TO GET YOUR NUMBER. COULDN'T RESIST!"

He smiles and looks straight at the incoming drones. Then replies...

John
"PERSEVERANCE"

Jouni
"THANKS FOR THE ROCK, I GUESS I'LL CUT IT MY WAY"

Jouni continues texting with John as people both at her end and John's are getting impatient. Jouni and John can't hide their smiles.

Jouni
(with an air of mission accomplished)
Meeting him for lunch...

All are happy about Jouni's performance.

INTERIOR, ELEVATOR, PALMS HOTEL, LAS VEGAS

John rides the elevator along with 2 aids.

John
(in Mandarin, pressing a send button on his cell)
Look into this number. Her name is June or Genie. Some Finnish name. Jiang (the driver) knows her address. I'll meet you all at the airport.

Aid
Yes sir. The flight is scheduled for 1400 and we got clearance for the private airport by Mr. Cage's headquarters. I'll wait for you at the main entrance.

John exits as the doors open in the lobby.

EXTERIOR, MAIN ENTRANCE, PALMS HOTEL, LAS VEGAS

Jouni pulls her Mustang through the main entrance of The Palms as John exits.

Jouni
(to John exiting and getting adjusted to daylight)
Hey Cowboy!

John
(admiring Jouni and her ride)
Very Impressive.

Jouni
Hop in. I'll show you the countryside.

Jouni steers her Mustang out of the driveway onto Flamingo Road. All wheels on fire.

SATELLITE VIEW, LAS VEGAS

Jouni's Mustang exits the city limits and enters the desert. Wicked Games plays in the background.

INTERIOR, MUSTANG, WESTBOUND ON ROUTE 160, NEVADA

Nevada Highway

As they drive across the Spring Mountains, John admires the landscape and intermittently glances at Jouni busy selecting tracks on her iPod. Both hear the same music through a dual headphone jack.

Jouni
(lowering the volume)
So if we continue straight, we'll reach the Death Valley. Should we head south, we'll get to the Mojave desert.

John
(joking)
Aren't we going to get attacked by Indians.

Jouni
We are the Indians!

INTERIOR, TRUCK STOP, ROUTE 160, NEVADA

John and Jouni are sitting at a booth.

Jouni
I wanted to apologize for last night. Kind of embarrassing for me.

John
You mean teaching meditation to an Asian man?

Jouni
(smiling)
No. I mean the way we met. At you're Hotel... It sounds stupid to say... but, it's not really me. The whole courtesan thing.

John
Well. Will it sound stupid if I say that it's not really me to walk away for the night with a beautiful lady I just met in a Las Vegas hotel.

Jouni
(placing the uncut diamond on the table)
I can't accept that.

John
Sure you can. It's a gift. We had a good time together and I wanted you to have this. As a souvenir.

Jouni
(looking at the rock)
You know, I'm not really what you think I am.

John
(looking up and down her upper body)
Well, what I saw convinced me.

Jouni
(smiling)
You're stupid... Seriously John.

John
No one is really what others think they are. Most of the time you're not even what you think you are. You are what you want to be. That's The Way.

Jouni
Are you what you want to be?

John
I try.

Moment

John (con't)
You want to tag along a little longer?

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