The assailant was still unconcious by the time they hauled him up into the airship and strapped him down on the worktable, and Atlas drew a small set of scaplels and tweezers from below it.
"Tames, I'll need your help with this one," he murmured as he handed her a small syringe and drew a small flashlight from his pocket as he began to wake the man on the bench. "Xǐng lái, xiānshēng."
The man's eyes snapped open and he began to struggle against the straps, but it was no use. Atlas looked him dead in the eyes and grabbed him by the skull.
"Now, I know you can understand English. You're one of the Black Lotus clan, correct?"
"Cào nǐ zǔ zōng shí bā dài!" the captive spat furiously. He nodded to Tames, who injected it directly into the garrotted artery - immediately, the wrestling body relaxed, and his eyes seemed to glaze a little.
"We only want to help you," Atlas continued. "But we can make it an unpleasant experience if you dont help us stop any more innocent lives being lost." He shone the flashlight into his eyes, and the captive began to shriek in pain.
"Stop it, make it stop! I'll tell you anything," he blurted, cringing against the light. Atlas removed the flashlight and offered a bottle of water to the man. The captive nodded, and a trickle of the cool liquid passed between his lips.
"Now," Atlas asked, "tell me what I need to know."
The man's name was Zhong, and he had lived in Manhattan for most of his life - out in Chinatown, helping his father with a small cigarette shop - until the thugs came. It had been the Black Lotus clan that had offered protection, wealth, and hope of a life better than what he had already had.
And over the years, he had trained under the watchful eye of Hanoi Xan-
The tan left Flint's body as he heard this.
"Hanoi Xan? 'Devil of the Orient'? He's real?"
"It would seem so," came the calm crooning of Delacroix. "But the tabloids are all the same about that man - striking out at polticians and activists, trying to get a stronghold on the law. This was a random girl on the street - what did she have to do with it?"
Zhong shuddered, and feebly struggled a little as Atlas turned away and focused his mind.
If Xan did create this poison, he reasoned, then how it was used means that either she has some connection to poltics, or that he is not completely behind all this.
He moved to his notes and checked again over the girl - Maria, 26 years old, flower seller, recently divorced over money issues. The husband was a gambler, and neither had a connection to the upper echelons of the powers that be.
He moved again to Zhong, raising the flashlight close to him.
"When was the most recent transaction between Xan and a buyer?"
"Two weeks ago - I swear."
Just when the murders began - just what I needed.
Atlas took the helm and began to steer.
"We're headed to Manhattan. It's about time we paid the Devil of the Orient a visit..."