Chapter XLVIII: Beheading the Snake
Glaze was an invitation only nightclub, it's clientele skimpily dressed women and Tong members. A large square bar stood in the centre of the room, the barman also wearing the jacket of the Tong, the curled snake and dragon. Eyes followed me carefully as I walked past the bar, several members leaning in closely to whisper to each other, eyes not leaving my face. One man caught my eye, and deliberately pulled his gun out of his jacket slowly and placed it on the table, finger lying almost carelessly across the trigger. His meaning was painfully clear.
Stepping behind a partition screen, a particular figure caught my eye. He leaned across, keeping an eye on the bar, yet the way his companion deferred to him, he was obviously of high standing. I walked up casually, as if I had done this a thousand times before, letting my natural charisma exude from my form in waves.
'I'm here to see Johnny', I responded. 'I'm an associate of his.'
Briefly I remembered what Wong Ho had said about the return of the Tong and the increase of drugs on the street.
'Listen, I'm here to organise the monthly supply. If Johnny doesn't want it, I know lots of guys who do.'
The man struggled with himself, then shrugged, feigning nonchalance.
'As crystal. Keep your gun in your pants tiger, I'm just going to talk.'
Stepping back around the partition, I walked along the side of the room, and trotted up the stairs. Pulling open some large double doors, I came into a spacious, expensive office. Closing the door behind me, and deadbolting it as a precaution, I leaned against it casually.
'Johnny', I called to the figure hunched over by the television set, sniffing loudly. He turned quickly, wiping white powder from his nose, his eyes slightly unfocused.
I stood, smiling under the tirade. I had intended that the Tong's presence in Chinatown would die tonight, and Johnny was doing little to avert his fate.
'Shut your mouth puppy, I'm here for information.'
I straightened lazily, walking forward slowly. 'You're a funny guy Johnny, but I'm just not in the mood tonight. You're going to talk, my friend, you're going to tell me everything you know about a friend of mine by the name of Barabus. You can tell me sooner, or you will tell me later, but you'll definitely prefer sooner.'
'Who the fuck do you think you are, asshole?', the man screamed in a high-pitched voice, reaching for a gun from the back of his belt.
As he raised the gun, the television flickered to life, a shadowy figure on the screen.
'You don't have to tell me man! You're dead bitch!' The Tong leader screamed as he fired, the bullet penetrating my chest under the ribcage, a trickle of blood forming over my clothing, before receding, the bullet falling to the floor. I stood, arms folded, smirking at the Tong as the gun shook in his now-limp grasp.
'That's just it Johnny', the voice cracked with amusement. 'It is dead. The bullet penetrated the chest, of course a fatal blow. He's still standing though, and I assure you, he's not wearing a vest.'
Johnny screamed, firing again. The noise had drawn attention to the room, Tong members banging heavily against the door, shouting for their doomed leader. The bullet hit again, in the abdomen, but I ignored the shock of pain, drawing forwards as Johnny leaned back against the wall, eyes going wide under his ridiculous sunglasses.
I grabbed the man by the neck, ripping his tender flesh open with my teeth, sucking wildly at the blood which sizzled on my tongue. The cocaine had given the blood an exotic taste, life mixed with electricity. Whatever side-effects the drug may have had were quickly counteracted by the interesting immune system that we Kindred possessed. His body crumpled to the floor, drained, as I looked up at the TV screen.
'Alright, you know what I am. Tell me what I need to know.'
'We have the Nosferatu. If you want him back, come to the Fu Syndicate building. Alone.'
The screen flickered, and then the image disappeared. The Fy Syndicate building was a large building at the edge of Chinatown. Now I knew where the Nosferatu was. I also knew that if they wanted me to come, nothing would happen to the vampire. Not, at least, until they had dealt with me. The banging on the door was beginning to try my patience. I turned, unlocking the door with one hand as I gripped the hilt of the katana in the other. I stepped through the door, being met with a wave of gunfire. The small bullets penetrated my skin, causing mild pain, yet nothing debilitating. Maybe if I suffered under several rounds from several men, I may be brought down, but firing as they were, the bullets were but mosquito bites. In one quick motion I drew the katana from it's sheath, drawing it through one of the Tong members, his body falling to the floor, the flesh divided, the throat slit. I turned to the other man, gripping the hilt in both hands, thrusting it forwards to impale the Tong thug, his body prone against a wooden pillar. Leaving the sword in his body, I turned, taking in the three other men who had come to the top floor. The first I grabbed, throwing him bodily over the balcony. He screamed as he fell, his head making a sickening crunching noise as it came into contact with the corner of the bar, his neck twisted at an odd angle, his body unmoving. The second stared at me, trying to squeeze the trigger in his shaking hands. Feeling the bloodlust come over me, the desire to hunt, I let loose the Beast. Jumping, I dragged the man to the floor, my claw-like fingernails digging deeply into his skin as I tore at him, his screaming resounding loudly above the thumping drum beat. Raising my hands in a club-like motion, I brought them down heavily into his face, smashing the bone, destroying the man. I drew myself up in anger as I felt another bullet penetrate my back. Growling, I turned, facing the man who had dared shoot me. Pulling the katana from the dead body, I advanced upon him.
The man danced backwards, continuing to fire futilely. I stopped moving, the Beast raging. Taking control was difficult, yet necessary. That part of me which was human yelled, warning me of the danger that bullets could pose. Raising my hand, I gestured, the arcane Tremere knowledge coming to me instinctively. The man fell to his knees, coughing up blood, gasping and retching as the blood fell to the floor, corroding. I walked past him, not paying attention to his bootheels scraping against the floor, intending to take the stairs down to the lower level. A shot fired at me from the bar led me to change my mind. With a feral smile, I jumped over the balcony, drawing the colt from my belt as I landed on top of the bar. The Tong who had been serving drinks looked up at me in stupefied terror.
'What in god's name are you doing?', he screamed, before the bullet took him in the throat, his body sprawling against the bottles on the display shelf, knocking them to the floor where they shattered. I turned towards the last few Tong members, eyes widening as I saw the shotgun being aimed at me. That was no mosquito. I dove to the side, coming off the bar, crouching behind the countertop.
As I hid, I heard two men coming towards me, one on either side. Crawling to the left, I was able to shoot one as he came around, hitting him in the kneecap. He sprawled to the floor screaming, rolling as he gripped his ruined leg. Turning, I fell to my back, gripping the colt tightly as I fired twice, catching the man in the shoulder. The second bullet missed as he fell to the ground, and so I threw myself at him, my legs pinning him to the floor as I sat on his chest bodily, snapping his neck with my hands. Picking up the gun, I turned and stood, firing at the man with the shotgun.
The man's broken body fell awkwardly against the stools in the corner, his eyes blinking rapidly. He gave a short gasp, then stopped breathing altogether. Catching movement from behind the partition, I smiled, walking around. Johnny's second, the ponytailed attitude, blubbered, his mouthing barely forming words as the front of his jeans became damp, a stream of liquid running down his leg.
'Unfortunately for everyone here, even if I didn't want to play, Johnny did. Guess no-one's getting out of here alive.'
Revitalised, I threw the corpse to the floor. The DJ, who had stayed hidden behind his decks when everyone else fled, looked at me in terror as I walked past him. Barely glancing at him, I spoke over my shoulder.
'I think you'll need to find a new club. Tell the police whatever you want.'
Unlike the shootout at the diner, it was unlikely the police would even bother investigating this place. It was pretty much assured that I'd just cut Chinatown's crime rate by at least a half. Open-shut case of gangwar. I left the building, breathing in the cold air deeply. Oxygen wasn't essential, but old habits die hard. The Fu Syndicate was waiting. Maybe the longer they waited, the more nervous they would get, the more likely they'd make a mistake. The whole setup was a trap, and I had a feeling that I was expected. On the other hand, I'd never been to Chinatown before, and I felt like exploring.
The Fu Syndicate could wait.