SKELLEFTEÅ ARCHIPELAGO, SWEDEN, 2000 – 2005.
We see two 7-year-old girls playing alongside each other. This is STEEL and TEAL. They don’t play together until they’re joined by MAYA and SAPPHIRE, also 7—wrestling, climbing trees and swimming in the sea—as the seasons turn and the girls grow older. At the age nine, the group of girls is joined by TIFFANY and CAROLINA. And finally, at the age of twelve, SKY shows up. The last girl to arrive on the small island.
Throughout the quick montage, one scene stands out for a beat longer than the rest: The moment when Sky arrives and lock eyes with Steel, then smiles.
BERLIN, GERMANY. WINTER OF 2020.
STEEL (now 27) wakes up disorientated in a dilapidated flat with boarded up windows. She begins to look around, trying to piece together where she is and how she got there. She finds a working radio and turns it on. A German voice reads the news and she half-listens to it while continuing to look around. She discovers a loose floorboard with a hiding space underneath, in which she finds a tablet, an old book of fairytales, a bottle of blue spray paint and a handgun.
Spider senses tingling suddenly, she grabs the gun and flattens herself against the wall next to the front door just as the lock starts clicking. The door opens and a suit in his late thirties walks in. This is GUY, sharp and suave with the smile of a great white shark. When Steel prods the back of his head with her gun, he freezes but keeps smiling.
Steel suddenly flashes back to: a younger Guy, sprawled out in the grass, surrounded by the teenage girls and grinning.
In the present, Guy makes small talk while Steel watches him warily without responding. He glances over at the radio as the news anchor starts talking about the body of a congressman that’s been found, believed to have been murdered by a serial killer dubbed The Avenging Angel by the media, since their trademark wings had been spray-painted in blue on the body. Guy snorts and shakes his head, says: ”It was teal…”
Steel flashes back to: 7-year-old Teal sizing her up, the memory interrupted by a quick flash of disco lights. Another memory of 13-year-old Teal wrestling her to the ground, holding her down, grinning, panting — also interrupted by disco lights, and an adult TEAL (27) grinning back at her from across a table, swimming in and out of focus —
Guy continues commenting on the amount of collateral damage, bringing Steel back to the present. He says that hopefully the new assignment won’t leave as big of a mess, at least not if Steel can get there before Teal this time. Steel finally lowers the gun. Guy watches her, his smile shrinking to a smirk as he tells her the new assignment is just ”a target” by the name of JOSEPH NESCH. The full brief is in her inbox. Then with a glib ”happy hunting”, he leaves again.
Steel starts to pack up, putting her few belongings into a ratty rucksack. She holds up the book and just looks at the cover for a second, then opens it up to the first page. Someone has written ”Belongs to Agnes Klinga” in blue ink at the top of the page.
SÖDERHAMN, SWEDEN. SPRING OF 2000.
It’s the middle of the night and 7-year-old Steel is tucked into bed sleeping, but something wakes her up. Blinking her eyes open, she GASPS and scrambles up to sitting. A WOMAN (30-40s) is sitting on a chair next to the bed, watching her silently. She tells Steel not to be scared, she’s not going to harm her. Steel calms down slightly, but continues watching the Woman warily and asks her if she’s come to take her away. The Woman says yes. Steel asks her if she’s a doctor and again the Woman says yes, but when Steel asks to see her parents to say goodbye she is told that’s not going to be possible.
The Woman then tells her they need to get going, but she doesn’t need to pack anything because everything will be provided for her in her new home — however she may choose one item to take with her. Steel looks over at a stuffed bunny tucked into bed next to her, but picks up a book of fairytales from the bedside table instead. The Woman gives her a small smile and nods. When Steel gets out of bed, she takes her hand and they leave the room together. As they walk down the hall towards the front door, they have to step over the body of Steel’s mother. It’s impossible to tell if she’s dead or merely unconscious.
The Woman leads Steel to a car and guides her into the the passenger seat before helping her with the seatbelt. Steel hugs the book to her chest and looks out of the window at her house as they begin to drive away.
BERLIN, GERMANY. WINTER OF 2020.
Steel puts the book into the rucksack and leaves the flat. She makes her way through the ghost town that is Berlin in a near future.
A block away from the flat, two thugs attack her. She fights back expertly, but slowly — as if getting reacquainted with her own body, strength and skills again after a long time’s disuse. Finally she knocks one of the thugs out and the other one makes a hasty retreat. She crouches down next to the unconscious man and pats him down, retrieving a tactical folding knife that she snaps open and swiftly digs into the man’s wrist, digging out a small metal chip that she pockets. She aims her gun at the thug’s head, but hesitates and in the end decides to leave him alive.
Making her way to the Central Station, Steel blips the bloody chip on an electronic reader to get past the the automated barrier and boards a train to Hamburg. The train starts moving.
SKELLEFTEÅ ARCHIPELAGO, SWEDEN. SPRING OF 2000.
The Woman and Steel drive for most of the night, until they reach a harbour where they abandon the car and switch to a boat. Steel curls up in the front and lets the vibration and noise of the motor lull her to sleep. The next time she squints her eyes open, the sun is creeping over the horizon and she can see THE ISLAND ahead.
The Woman helps Steel off the boat and leads her up a gravel path to the house, where 7-year-old Teal is waiting for them. She looks wide awake, but is still wearing (teal blue) pyjamas and her long red hair hangs in two messy plaits down her chest. She squints suspisciously at Steel, who hugs her book closer to her chest and returns the glare.
The Woman leads Steel into a bedroom with four beds, one that’s clearly been slept in already, Teal trailing after them curiously. Both girls watch with hawk eyes as the Woman walks over to one of the unsued beds and opens the top drawer of the little dresser next to it. She takes out pair of pyjamas that are a slightly different shade of blue and puts them on top of the bed, telling Steel: ”You can be Steel… it’s just the two of you for now, so you girls play nice now…”
Steel and Teal look at each other again, sizing each other up.
TRAIN TO HAMBURG. WINTER OF 2020.
Steel is broken out of her memories when she’s suddenly joined by the grown-up Teal, all hard edges and icy blue eyes. She takes the seat opposite Steel and starts talking like they’re already mid-conversation. There is an air of familiarity between the two of them, yet they watch each other warily, bodies stiff, ready to pounch.
Again, Steel flashes back to: Teal grinning at her from across the table, at the discotheque, swimming in and out of focus —
She blinks and refocuses on Teal in the present again.
”Did you drug me?” she asks (this is the first time we hear her speak.) Teal simply smirks in response, but her eyes flash in triumph.
A soulless voice comes over the intercom, informing the passengers of a routine ID-check. Teal plucks a bloody chip from her pocket and swiftly tapes it to her left wrist. They hear the door of the compartment next to theirs slide open. A ding from Steel’s tablet alerts her to a notification…