Tech-edge was in a holding cell in the basement of the Dragon of the Black Pool Restaurant. He wondered what events had transpired that warranted the construction of a cage. The cell was about 10 feet by 10 feet. One side was made of 1 inch steel bars. The other three sides were the cement walls of the foundation. The room was about 10 feet by 25 feet. There was a door on the right wall and a table and some chairs a few feet in front of the cage. A single light bulb above the table lit the room. The door had a glazed window. Tech-edge tried to look through the window to see any activity behind the door. He could make out a figure guarding the door but no other activity.
Wang had taken all of his gear including his backpack, weapons, and boots. The cold of the cement floor made it through his socks. Tech-edge was tired and a little hungry. He comforted himself in the belief that this was part of his plan all along.
There was a stool in the cage. Tech-edge put the stool next to the wall. He sat in it, leaned up against the wall and closed his eyes.
The deadliest and most intelligent of the Tong Elite was a young man named Shunyaun Chin, also known as Talon. Seventeen years ago he was an even younger Chang Sing recruit guarding their temple. The assassin that Lo Pan sent to kill Lem Lee was more than a match for the fledgling warrior. The assassin caught Talon by surprise and knocked him unconscious. When he woke up, Lee was dead. He swore he would never allow anyone to harm his new leader Han Ling. Han took notice of Talon’s dedication and soon made him Tong Elite.
A Chang Sing becomes Tong Elite by first attending UC San Francisco’s College of Asian Studies, a school founded and financed by the Chang Sing’s leader Han Ling and the curriculum carefully controlled by General Gonsug Chang. Courses there include business administration, international relations, and finance. Many graduates find jobs at the most prestigious Asian companies. But those that show even greater dedication are additionally educated in martial arts, military science, and psychology. Thus, they become Tong Elite and are typically employed by the Han Corporation.
Talon was the most dedicated of all the students. He excelled in the training and shortly after graduation achieved the rank of Blademaster as well as becoming General Chang’s “right-hand man”. With broad shoulders, a shaved head, and standing more than 6 feet tall, Talon was difficult to miss guarding the doorway of General Chang’s office. Fresh from the New Year’s Gala, he was still wearing his tuxedo.
Talon eyed everyone in the room paying particular attention to the old man wearing clothes that were just slightly better than rags. The old man sat in a chair by Chang’s desk looking down at his shoes. Chin recognized him immediately. He always seemed to make an appearance when Chang needed to discipline his troops.
“Where is specimen 39J, now?” asked Chang.
“It’s on sub-level 3. Under heavy guard,” answered Razor. Blademaster Razor was one of Chang’s high-ranking Tong Elite. His quiet no-nonsense demeanor was sufficient for corporate work but he was more suited for more covert work. He was the head of the Han Corporation’s retrieval unit. If anything was taken, or in this case, escaped from Han Corporation, it was Dwight’s job to get it back.
“I told you to put it back in its holding cell,” snapped Blademaster Onyx, Chief of Security at the Han building.
“Mr. Huong and I still believe that the holding cell to be ‘faulty’,” defended Dr. Ling, Chief Scientist of Han Labs.
“Faulty!” cried Onyx, “My people just fixed it.”
“They REPLACED it,” corrected Razor.
“Mr. Huong and I suspect that the cell was opened by a hacker on the outside,” elaborated Dr. Ling to Chang.
“Impossible!” cried Onyx, “Tiger-heart and the other Chang Sing don’t have that kind of knowledge.”
“Then it’s someone else,” argued Razor.
“Like who?” questioned Onyx, “Tell me just who…”
Onyx’s words trailed off. Razor was confused at first then he saw the distant expression on Onyx’s face as well as Chang’s hand on the shoulder of the old man who was now chanting softly in Chinese. Razor kept silent.
“I don’t have time for your idiotic behavior Onyx,” calmly interrupted Chang moving to stare out the window, “You have one last chance, understand? Or you will find yourself stuck in the Hell of Being Eaten Alive for an eternity.”
The old man began to repeat everything Chang was saying but in Chinese. His voice never reached above a whisper but his words seemed to echo in the room.
The distant expression on Onyx’s face turned to absolute dread. Razor kept still and silent. Dr. Ling chose to turn away.
Chang continued to stare out the window, “It’s much like when you were a young boy living in a slum and found rats gnawing on your crying baby brother, only a thousand times worse. You are drowning in an endless sea of rats, their teeth sinking into every inch of your flesh…fingers, cheeks, scalp, eyes…”
Onyx went to his knees and screamed in agony. Chang waved his hand curtly and the old man spoke no more. A moment later Onyx was silent but for the sound of his heavy breathing. He arose slowly and composed himself.
Chang turned around to face the group, speaking softly but clearly, “I want 39J locked up immediately…locked up tight, understand?”
The three men nodded. Talon opened the door, dismissing the group.
The old man followed. He continued to look down at his shoes but Talon caught a glimpse of the expression on his face. It was an odd combination of shame and relief. Talon couldn’t quite see it but he swore there was a tear in the wrinkle of the old man’s eye.
General Chang gave a heartfelt pat on the old man’s shoulder and announced with a booming voice, “Thank you for your assistance, my friend. Consider your rent paid in full…this month.”
The old man nodded, bowed slightly to Chang, and quickened his pace out of the office.
After old man exited, Talon asked, “Should I watch Onyx, sir?”
“No, Talon,” responded Chang, “Right now I need you to check on our Old Chang Sing friends. Razor might be right and someone hacked into our system. If they did that, there’s no telling what other information they have. I doubt Wang Chi would have the knowledge or even the courage to do so we have to make sure he knows nothing.”
“I’ll see to it, sir,” declared Talon as he began to leave the office.
“Smile, Shunyaun,” urged Chang, “In 24 hours, we’ll have enough power to bring complete order to Chinatown.”