Chapter XLVII: The Serpent MovesUpon returning to the Red Dragon, Wong Ho was jubilant, joy making deeper creases in his lined face, his eyes warm and friendly.
'Not a problem', I said. But it would have been, getting her back here in one piece if she opened that irritating mouth of hers one more time...
'Do you have any idea why they took her?'
'What do you mean? It was just a basic ransom wasn't it? They saw you were loaded, had a successful business, thought they'd get a cut for themselves.'
Wong Ho shook his head, scratching his chin.
'But it didn't last, right?'
'They came out of nowhere? Usually some sort of corruption has to happen first...did anything unusual happen beforehand?'
Wong Ho stopped, looking nervously at me, making some kind of gesture with his hand. Warding off evil, probably. I did not know how much exactly he knew of the Kindred, or the Kuei-Jin, or whether he merely assumed Min-Xiao to be some kind of religious figure. I had a feeling his nervousness had something to do with the Eastern witch however, and so I endeavoured to share in his secret.
'Wong Ho, trust me, I'll find out what's going on, and whether the Tong can be forced from China Town. But if I'm going to do that, I need to know. What happened?'
'I'm sure it's all just coincidence', I replied smoothly, my face calm and open. Of course the witch has something to do with it. The more I can find out about her, the better? I had a feeling that Wong Ho would say no more about her however. Instead, I decided to ask about the missing Nosferatu agent.
'Wong Ho, the reason I came to Chinatown is because I'm looking for a friend of mine who seems to have disappeared. His wife is getting a little concerned, so I thought I'd ask around.'
Oh, you know, hideously deformed, won't be seen above ground level due to malformation and disgusting puss probably.
'Well, he's a computer technician, was probably doing some work here for a company involved in networks?'
'Thanks Wong Ho', I replied, shaking the man's hand firmly. He responded to the shake with another warm smile and gripped my hand in both of his.
'No, no need to thank me. You brought my Kiki back to me. For that, I am forever in your debt.'
Leaving the office, I took the elevator downstairs, and headed onto the street. Following the street guide to the warehouses, I searched for Zhao's Imports.
'That wasn't too difficult', I said to myself, running a hand through my hair.
The warehouse was brightly lit, both on the workfloor and in the office up the stairs. I climbed them, knocking on the door at the top.
'Enter', came a voice.
The man in the office didn't turn to face me, his head down low.
'That's right', I responded. 'A man called Barabus, he was working for another man called Gary.' I said this hesitantly, unsure how much detail to provide.
'The Tong...I figured. They seem to be behind most of the trouble around here. Where do I find Johnny?'
'You've been very helpful. Why though? You seem to know a lot of what's going on around here.'
The man's shoulders slumped, and it took a moment before he replied.
As he spoke, the door to the building opened.
'They've come. You better leave now.'
I turned quickly, looking through the window, and down the stairs. Tong members ran into the room brandishing guns, spreading out along the floor.
'We know you told him about Kiki!', one man cried.
'You're dead, rat!' yelled another, opening fire. The glass window shattered, fragments of glass covering the tiled floor.
Zhao turned towards the broken glass, and pulled a colt from his jacket. Holding it up at face level, he fired twice, missing the man with the first bullet, hitting him in the abdomen with the second. The man fell to the floor, screaming as the bullet wormed it's way through his intestines, blood pulsing from the wound. Another man fired, and I could tell the bullet would hit Zhao. Pushing him aside, I took the bullet in the shoulder, grimacing slightly as it penetrated the flesh, was stopped by bone. My innate ability to soak up such damage helped alleviate the pain, forcing the bullet back through the skin and onto the floor, the flesh knitting together. Despite what he had just witnessed, Zhao did not seem surprised.
'Don't try to take them all out', I said to him, handing him some of my ammo. 'Cover me. I'll do the dirty work, you make sure someone doesn't shoot me in the back of the head.' Zhao nodded, and with that I ran through the shattered window, and jumped over the railing onto the cement floor. The Tong in front of me jumped back with a startled yell, firing another shot which hit my thigh, sending blood spraying in a small arc. Not slowing, I leapt at him, my hand closing around his throat. Feeling my vampiric strength flowing through heated veins, I clenched the fingers closed tightly, and despite his struggling, tore meat and cartilage from his neck, the blood splattering against my clothing, flooding to the floor. I dropped him, taking his gun, and turned on the other Tong members who had watched the spectacle in horrified awe.
Zhao took the opportunity to fire again, killing one more of the men. As one of the other three turned to fire at him, I fired instead, hitting the Tong member three times in succession, two in the chest, one in the abdomen. He fell, twitching, as the other two, knowing me to be the greater threat, ignored Zhao. Throwing the now empty gun at one man, hitting him in the side of the head, I turned to the other man, grabbing him by the arm, turning his gun on him, pulling the trigger and watching the brain and gore explode from the back of his head. The man that I had dazed with the thrown weapon I dragged behind the crates, and fed from, draining him until his life flickered and died like the flame of a candle. Wiping my mouth carefully, I returned to Zhao's office. The man looked at me, his features unreadable.
'If you want to save your friend, I suggest you hurry.'
'If you want to live, I suggest you get out of Chinatown. The Tong may come back for you again.'
The man rubbed his eyes tiredly, and sat down at his desk, looking at the shattered glass and the bodies littering his warehouse floor.
'I will not run. If the Tong want me, they know where I am.'
I sighed. Foolish pride. When life is so fleeting, the most desperate goal all could hope to attain is survival. Some, however, seemed to race towards death, seeking it's finality.
'Well, I wish you the best Zhao. Stay alive.'
Walking down the stairs, I decided to help him a little. When I finished with the Glaze nightclub, the Tong wouldn't return for a third time. They'd refer to Chinatown as the dying lands. And if this managed to inadvertently ruin Ming-Xiao's day...well, that would just be a bonus.