“Alright, Mr. Chang. As Mr. Han’s right hand man, I’m sure you would have the inside scoop as to what his plans are for the coming year.”
“Ah yes, Lois the coming year is important to us,” Chang tried to stall, “It is the year of the … you see and…”
“Yes, it will be a year of continued prosperity for the residents of Chinatown,” interrupted Han who was much more the diplomat than his friend, “As China’s economy begins to boom the Han Corporation will continue to act as liaisons for the American government in terms of trade and other economic endeavors. And at the request of the American government we’ve added a very honorable member to the team. May I introduce you to Leonard Meng of PACOPs Consultants? They have a long history of dealings with China.”
Han gestured to his left. Leonard Meng (a.k.a. Lu Meng) was the CEO of Pacific Operations Consultants. The history of the company goes back to the gold rush. They were some of the first Chinese to come to the US. They understood the lore and culture of the Orient and believed profit could be made from their superstitious countrymen. They were the ones who spread the rumor in China about a mountain of gold in California. As soon as their fellow countrymen got off the boat, PACOPS brought them to the railroad companies building the Transcontinental Railroad. They made only a small commission per head. But with the number of Chinese coming to California those days, PACOPs founders soon became very wealthy. Many other profitable schemes followed all at their countrymen’s expense. They have flourished for more than a hundred years. Currently, they advise US companies on how to get the upper hand against Chinese competitors in the growing Chinese economy. The majority of the company’s officers are Chinese and most other Chinese consider them traitors and criminals. None of these officers could walk on a Chinatown street safely.
“Is this your first time at the Mayor’s Gala? Mr. Meng?” asked Lois.
“Yes, this is the first time we’ve been invited,” Meng was careful to say.
"And of course, we have Lady Jade, the star of the Chinatown theater.”
Lois now focused onto the stunning and statuesque woman that approached General Chang and latched onto his outstreched arm. Along with Chinatown’s recent prosperity came some old traditions especially those that favored the wealthy. In Imperial China, courtesans were companions of wealthy men much like Geishas in Japan. They were trained in many arts like conversation, entertainment, and intimacy. Lady Jade was such a courtesan. Indeed, Lady Jade was General Chang’s favorite courtesan, accompanying him to the biggest social events. However, she was never politely referred to as a “courtesan” particularly in the press.
“Lady Jade, are you taking a break from your busy performance schedule?” asked Lois
“I wouldn’t miss this, Lois, no matter how tired I am, especially since Chinatown’s prosperity continues to grow,” spoke Lady Jade confidently without a hint of an accent
Chang was always impressed by Jade’s ability to deal with the press and be his advocate. The only thing that impressed him more about her was her flawless body and how she used it to please him. But Chang’s sinful thoughts were interrupted by a bright camera light in his eyes.
“Now General Chang, you and Lady Jade have been spending much time together this year. Is there a possibility of…”
Lady Jade interrupted, “Oh my gosh. Is that Lucy Lui by the ice sculpture?”
“What?” exclaimed Lois, “c’mon Max”
Lois motioned to the camera man and they quickly departed.
Han, Meng, and Chang gave a thankful laugh to Lady Jade. Chang then realized he had lost track of Wang Chi. He scanned the room. Although many of Chang’s colleagues believed Wang Chi was harmless, Chang had much experience with his kind before. He may have soundly beaten Wang once and the young man has since kept his distance. But Wang was slowly growing in power and, more importantly, courage. It was dangerous to lose track of such a man. He wondered why Wang would bring his fragile daughter to a place with so many enemies. Perhaps Wang believed he could protect her. Something told Chang that was not the reason.
Wang Chi and his daughter stood behind a pillar near the bar close to the kitchen. The lighting was poor in this area and it was busy with wait staff. It was a good place to hide for a few minutes.
“This is fun, Pop,” smiled Zhi, “like a Jackie Chan movie.”
“Don’t have too much fun. We’re going to need to keep on moving otherwise…wait a minute. What’s going on?”
Wang spotted General Chang grab his cell phone then make a slight gesture with his hand. Immediately, a young aid came to his side. Wang immediately noticed his outfit. Even though it was a black tie affair, the young man wore a gold cummerbund and bow tie with his black tuxedo. Chang whispered something to the aid. The aid then bowed to General Chang and gave him the Chang Sing symbol with his hand. Chang nodded him off. The aid quickly walked outside followed by two other young men dressed similarly.
“Tong Elite,” Wang mumbled, “I wonder where they’re going?”
“The abandoned Wing Kong Exchange,” replied Zhi, “and this is a big deal. He’s really scared.”
“There you two are,” approached Eddie staring at the plate in his hand, “This Kung Pao shrimp is amazing. They marinated it in some sort of…”
Eddie caught a glimpse of Zhi, “Ah crap, ‘Carrie’ is at the prom again.”
Wang turned his attention back to Zhi. She was staring off into space. Although her pupils no longer showed, her eyes glowed a bright green.
“Stop it before someone sees you,” ordered Wang.
Zhi blinked and shook her head. Immediately her eyes went back to normal.
When Lo Pan died, Miao Yin and Wang Chi both believed that the magics that Lo Pan had exposed the beautiful woman to had no lasting effects. But Miao Yin had been forever changed. They had hoped that when their daughter was born that she would not have been affected. After many tests, it was found that she was indeed untouched by magic. But Wang Chi knew she had special abilities beyond magic. Even as a child she seemed to know what others were thinking. Her powers have been growing steady ever since. Wang knew that if he wanted to keep his daughter, he would need to keep her abilities a secret. But sometimes she just too tempted not to be discreet.
“But Pop, that’s why you brought me here.”
“Don’t remind me,” sighed Wang, “C’mon everyone let’s tell the others.”