Tiger-heart banged on the steel bars with a pair of nunchaku. The raucous woke Tech-edge with a shudder and he almost fell off the stool. Tiger-heart was accompanied by Wang, Destiny, Longshot, and Grey-wise, also known as Grey-wise. The presence of all five made an imposing presence and a part of Tech-edge was glad there were steel bars between him and the group.
“How do you open this?” Wang asked as he held up Tech-edge’s backpack.
Wang had been trying to open Tech-edge Lee’s backpack for the past twenty minutes to see what was inside. He was superbly unsuccessful.
Tech-edge answered Wang with a yawn, “It’s a bio-metric lock. Only I can open it.”
Tech-edge walked toward Wang and put his hands outside the bars. “Here, let me show you,” he said.
Wang approached Tech-edge. As the backpack came within inches of Tech-edge’s hands, Tiger-heart and the other Chang Sing drew weapons and pointed them toward Tech-edge. Tech-edge tried not to look around as if he was worried. But he did notice a lovely variety of weapons in his proximity – a curved dagger, a katana, and a butcher’s knife to name three. He wondered if his plan might not be going so well.
Tech-edge unzipped the main compartment of the back pack with ease. Wang took back the backpack with a flick of his wrist and poured out its contents on the table. He found a variety of medical tools and implements. It looked like what you would find in a well stocked first-aid kit. But among the items was a camera. The make and model was unknown to Wang.
“Is this bio, bio-met, metric, too.” Wang stuttered as he tried to remember the phrase.
“No,” responded Tech-edge, “It’s voice activated.”
Then without a pause Tech-edge spoke in a loud clear tone that could be heard by the camera’s microphone, “Initiate holographic interface, Security code alpha niner bravo. Engage.”
The group turned to the camera with great interest but nothing happened.
Tech-edge chuckled, “That cracks me up every time! The more ‘Star Trekky’ I sound, the more people expect something spectacular to happen with my gadgets.”
Tech-edge realized no one else was laughing. He composed himself and claimed, “Personally, when it comes to voice activated tools, I prefer to use plain English.”
“Good morning camera,” Tech-edge spoke loudly, “Please show me the pictures.”
The camera sprang to life with lights and mechanical noises. It then projected a 3-dimensional image of a computer screen in front of Wang Chi who noticed a folder titled “Wing Kong” in the corner. A voice in the camera responded, “Good morning, sir. Have a nice day!”
Tech-edge yawned and stretched and said, “Double tap the Wing Kong folder with your finger and it will open up.”
Wang was cautious but curious not only of what was inside the folder but of this strange technology. He double tapped on the hologram with his index finger and several pictures of mutilated and decomposed bodies of Wing Kong appeared. Wang and the Chang Sing were mesmerized by the sight.
“Ewww gross,” exclaimed Zhi.
Tech-edge stopped his yawning, straightened up, and took immediate notice of Zhi who in addition to the dress that she wore to the Gala, had on a denim jacket and had traded her high heels for a pair of flip flops.
“Go back upstairs, Zhi,” ordered Wang.
“Who’s the chump in the cage, Pops?” Zhi asked in a tone that demanded an answer.
“Tech-edge…Tech-edge Lee ma’am,” Tech-edge answered with a traditional Chinese bow, “it is an honor to make your acquaintance.”
Zhi smiled. She had never been treated with such respect by a handsome young man before. Zhi also found his light-heartedness refreshing. All the Chang Sing she knew were always so serious.
Longshot banged the bars with his bow with a loud clang that scared Tech-edge into standing straight up again. Wang handed the camera to Tiger-heart and snaked his way through the Chang Sing to get to Zhi. He grabbed her hand and began to lead her out, “I said, ‘back upstairs!’”
“You were right about the Wing Kong warrior at the Wing Kong Exchange,” remarked Tech-edge sternly. He interrupted the tussle partially because he wanted to get out of the cage and partially because he wanted Zhi to stay.
“Impossible, all the Wing Kong are dead,” scolded Destiny.
“There hasn’t been a Wing Kong in Chinatown or anywhere else for that matter for over 15 years,” added Grey-wise as he found a seat at the table, “And the world is much better for it, if you ask me.”
“The one you saw IS dead,” stated Tech-edge.
Wang stopped and turned around. Zhi stood tippy toe to see over her father’s shoulder to see Tech-edge speak, “He’s a clone created by General Chang. He escaped from the Han labs and we think Chang’s been experimenting on him and maybe others.”
“We think?” Wang asked, “Who do you work for?”
Tech-edge realized he had slipped, “I can’t tell you that. But we’re on the same side. You have to trust me.”
Wang shook his head and winced in disappointment.
“He’s torturing the Wing Kong clones with scientific experiments in the sub-basement labs of Han tower” said Tech-edge.
“What do we care of one Wing Kong?” question Tiger-heart, “Alive, dead, or cloned.”
Wang realized he still held Zhi’s hand. He loved her very much.
“This is over our heads…clones, labs, Han tower. Are you kidding me?”
“I’ve got the blueprints for Han tower,” exclaimed Tech-edge, “I can defeat the electronic security. But I’d never get passed the guards or the Tong Elite. But you can. If we work together we can do this.”
Wang thought for a moment.
“We have more pressing matters,” stated Tiger-heart,
“Matters weren’t so pressing when the Chang Sing exterminated the Wing Kong,” stated Tech-edge to Tiger-heart,
“We didn’t exterminate them,” stated Longshot.
“After most of them died with Lo Pan, you corralled the rest in a Chinatown alley,” reminded Tech-edge, “You had them outnumbered 10 to 1. They refused to surrender to you saying they would rather die. The Chang Sing happily obliged them.”
“The Wing Kong chose their fate. They deserve what they got. They’re animals,” stated Wang.
Tech-edge could see he was not being convincing enough.
Tech-edge then added the cherry on the sundae, “The Han Corporation’s central database is in Han Tower. All the information on his illegal activities is in it…insider trading, tax evasion, everything. They don’t expect a cyberattack from inside the building. Once we reach a direct terminal to the main server, a decent hacker would only need a few minutes.”
“I bet I could do it,” claimed Longshot.
“I’d love to get my hands on that info but Han tower is way too dangerous. We’d never get out alive,” offered Tiger-heart.
“He’s lying,” stated Zhi simply. Wang had come to appreciate Zhi’s mental powers. But Wang didn’t need mental powers to see that Zhi feared for her father’s life and would say anything if she thought it was too risky.
Wang paused and thought.
Then he looked at Tech-edge and said, “We got our own cause to fight for. We don’t need to fight for someone else’s.”
“Wang! Get out here now!” screamed Eddie as he threw open the door to basement. Startled by Eddie, Wang threw the backpack to one of the Chang Sing who understood he was to remain and watch over the prisoner. Wang and the remaining Chang Sing ran up the stairs and through the kitchen. By the entrance of the restaurant, Wang saw one of the Tong elite. In addition to the gold cummerbund and bowtie, this Tong also had a long black overcoat and a gold scarf. Wang recognized him has Shunyuan Chin, an old friend. Accompanying him were two other Tong Elite and two cops.
Wang and Tiger-heart navigated around the tables and made their way to the entrance.
“Long time no see, Tiger-heart…Wang.” Talon said in a friendly but sarcastic tone as Wang and Tiger-heart approached him .
“Kitchen is closed Talon,” responded Tiger-heart as he reached his old friend, “Maybe you come back tomorrow.”
“Closed, huh, it looks like all of the staff is still here.”
Talon was referring to the waiters, waitresses, and kitchen staff whom he recognized as Chang Sing. Each of them had placed themselves in a strategic area of the room, readying for a fight. Talon spotted Grey-wise behind the bar. Ironsage Grey-wise was an elder of the Chang Sing who left the Tong with Tiger-heart. Talon gave him a slight bow in respect. Grey-wise waited a few moments then returned the gesture.
“What do you want, Talon?” asked Wang.
Talon turned to his companions and motioned them to wait outside. The tension in the room dropped but didn’t disappear.
“I want a cup of tea, Dragonsage Wang.” Talon said as he bowed slightly then walked past Wang and sat at the bar. The confused Grey-wise looked at Wang. Wang nodded and the Grey-wise poured some hot water in a teapot and placed the teapot and a couple of cups in front of Talon.