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Dark Tongs of Chinatown Part 3 - Pete Sutter and the Stolen Child

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* * *

 

 

 

After they ate lunch, they lost their tail and then returned to Mr. Li’s office. They waited 30 minutes for the others.

 

“Where would your friends be if they were not here?†Mr. Li said. “Do you think something terrible happened down in the sewers? Should we go down in the sewers?â€

 

“I don’t want to go down in the sewers,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“I don’t want to go down in the sewers either. I also don’t have my notebook with the instructions on how to get there.â€

 

“They might’ve went to my house.â€

 

“You have a house?â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“Take me to your house.â€

 

They left the office and headed for Nob Hill.

 

“What were in those cigarettes that you gave that man?†Mr. Li asked on the way.

 

“Oh, just opiates,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Yes. But you said they were … different.â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“So, what is it? Was it poison? Am I going to have to─â€

 

“I call it heroin! It puts the hero in you!â€

 

“Hero? So it is used for war?â€

 

“No. No. No. No.â€

 

“Could it be used for war?â€

 

“Probably not.â€

 

“Then why do you say ‘It puts the hero in you?’â€

 

“I don’t know. It’s just catchy.â€

 

He told him it calmed a man’s breathing and was a depressant for the respiratory system. He figured it might be useful for a panicked man.

 

“If you end up selling that to the tongs in Chinatown─†Mr. Li said.

 

“I’m not planning on it,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Okay,†Mr. Li said. “Good.â€

 

They arrived at Professor Stalloid’s house and found the rest. Chun Zhi Ruo was in the basement with their clothes, washing them as best she could. They also found another man in one of his guest rooms, lying on the bed, apparently in great distress.

 

“Are you all bringing manic homeless men into my house now?†he asked them.

 

“Daddy?†Pete said. “Is that you? You said you were going out for milk, daddy, and you never came back!â€

 

“This is the man that shot Jack West,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“Oh yeah, and Jack West shot him!†Professor Stalloid said.

 

Dr. Weisswald had examined Pete after he had been cleaned and only found a tiny scar on his belly and another on his back where the bullet had passed through. As it had only been a week, the wound seemed more healed then it should have been. Dr. Weisswald didn’t think the man should be up and walking around.

 

“I do really good work,†she quipped.

 

They told the other two men what had happened and then Dr. Weisswald and Professor Stalloid tried to calm Pete, trying to talk him down from the terror and horror of the Chinese water torture. They made some progress in the first hour.

 

Mr. Li helped them in the second hour. That was a mistake. When Dr. Weisswald left the room at one point, he suggested Pete get that memory out his mind.

 

“What?†Pete said, obviously disturbed by the comment. “You mean like ripping a - ripping a photograph out of a memory book? Of maybe a little bright-eyed boy who’s kinda - kinda got big ears. Whose friends and schoolmates would never let him live it down just because he forget to wear his pants to school one day!â€

 

Dr. Weisswald returned during the tirade and pushed Mr. Li out of the room.

 

“I don’t know what I said,†Mr. Li said.

 

It was another hour before Pete came to his senses.

 

“Don’t I know you?†he said to Dr. Weisswald.

 

“Yeah,†she said. “I’m the one that treated you on the train.â€

 

“No one treated me on the train.â€

 

“Yeah, you got shot by Jack West.â€

 

“Where’s he?â€

 

“I … uh …â€

 

“Where’s my piece!?!â€

 

“I don’t know.â€

 

“My piece!â€

 

“I also don’t know that.â€

 

“Oh, I didn’t bring it to San Francisco. I didn’t want to lose it.â€

 

“Ah, that makes sense.â€

 

“They took my other gun.â€

 

“It’s a pretty big city.â€

 

“Where’s Jack West?â€

 

“I have no idea.â€

 

The others entered the room quietly.

 

“I owe him a bullet,†Pete said.

 

“He’s dead,†Otto lied.

 

“Well, I mean …†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“I like to pay back twice what I get,†Pete said.

 

“Pete, he’s dead,†Otto said.

 

“Who the hell are you?†Pete said.

 

“I was with him, remember. I was arguing with you.â€

 

“No you weren’t! Are you crazy? I’m gonna kill him again! Where is he buried?â€

 

“Buried him by the track.â€

 

“Wait! Where the hell am I?â€

 

“You’re in my house,†Professor Stalloid said with a burp.

 

“Who the hell are you?†Pete asked.

 

“Brandon Stalloid! Child savior. Healer of men and women.â€

 

“But men first,†Mr. Li said.

 

Pete wiped his forehead where the water had dripped.

 

“We found you under torture by one of the tongs,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“I remember!†Pete said. “Yeah, they put under that torture, sons of bitches. Just because I didn’t follow through with … well, you know. Stuff. So thanks very much and I’ll be on my way.â€

 

“Oh no,†Otto said.

 

“So, did you take the child?†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“Did they ask you to childnap?†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“What?†Pete said.

 

“A child,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“Oh … maybe,†Pete said. “Yeah. I might’ve done something like that. What’s it worth to you to know?â€

 

“Your freedom,†Jacali said. “We won’t turn you in. Maybe. I shouldn’t have said that.â€

 

She left the room.

 

“Who the hell was that?†Pete said. “That sounds like a good idea though. I’ll tell you what you want to know, but then I get to go on my merry way.â€

 

“I would also like to know about those Secret Service men,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Those damned Secret Service men! To hell with them!â€

 

“Are they actually Secret Service?â€

 

“I dunno! They said I was gonna get a pardon! I don’t see no paper! Do you see any paper? I didn’t get no paper! They said they were gonna pardon me! That’s right. They told me they were Secret Service. Had to stop a train. They knew that only Pete Sutter could actually do it. They wouldn’t give me a boulder! No! They plant some damned thing in the ground and push a button and a whole friggin’ avalanche comes down. The damned thing was like a button! They didn’t pay me. Nothing! Put me in a hospital. Used that newfangled device that they use in hospitals on people now. Damned things. Stupid people! I hate Secret Service! But wait a minute, I’m not tellin’ you nothin’ more … until you promise me my freedom!â€

 

“No, don’t,†Otto whispered.

 

“Hey, shut up, you!†Pete said to him. “You be quiet! I don’t wanna hear from you!â€

 

“You have my word─†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“God damn, he’s ugly,†Pete said, staring at Otto’s face.

 

“He’s also very greedy,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“I’m not greedy!†Otto said.

 

“Oh, Pete Sutter,†Pete said, shaking Otto’s hand. “You ain’t getting it from me. I ain’t got nothing. They were supposed to pay me - Oh! I aint’ sayin’. Not telling nothin’ more until you promise me to let me go.â€

 

“Fine,†Otto said.

 

“Was it 50,000?†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“What? No!†Pete said. “Fifty thousand dollars?â€

 

“That’s how much was on that train.â€

 

“What are you talking about?â€

 

“There was gold on that train.â€

 

“The Secret Service was supposed to pay me two thousand and get my pardon.â€

 

“They were only paying you your bounty?â€

 

“Iunno. I wasn’t gonna have a bounty on me no more, was I?â€

 

“No, I meant … your bounty is how much you get? Oh, that’s so interesting.â€

 

“Who is this?â€

 

“He already introduced himself,†Dr. Weisswald said. “Are you lapsing?â€

 

“Anyway!†Pete said. “Are you gonna let me go? You gonna let me go when I tell you, if I tell you?â€

 

“Why of course,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“I’m going to let you go,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“Why is this man so concerned of letting him go?†Mr. Li said.

 

“Because I’m wanted by the law,†Pete said. “That’s right!â€

 

“He’s wanted by the law?â€

 

“That’s right. Pete Sutter.â€

 

“He’s worth $2,000,†Otto said.

 

“This conflicts with my morals,†Mr. Li said.

 

“Well, you can’t have it both ways, boys,†Pete said.

 

“If the information you provide us will help solve our problem, I will agree to let you go,†Mr. Li said. “Begrudgingly.â€

 

“Well, I can’t do that. I don’t know what your problem is.â€

 

“I am trying to save Chinatown from the demon that … somebody summoned.â€

 

“Demon?â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“Ain’t heard nothing about no demon.â€

 

“Shambler between the stars,†Professor Stalloid said. “I need to write that down. It sounds like a good poem.â€

 

“Are you gonna let me go?†Pete said. “When I tell ya what I know? Or shall I just to quietly to jail and you never find out?â€

 

“I will relinquish the decision to the rest of you, seeing as how you have all met Pete Sutter,†Mr. Li said. “I don’t know how bad the man is but, from first impressions, I’m guessing pretty bad.â€

 

“Why thank you,†Pete said.

 

“He robbed two trains,†Otto said.

 

“I did not ever rob no damned train!†Pete said. “Not in the last six months! I wrecked em! Well, I wrecked one. If they’d have let me use a boulder on the second one, I’d have wrecked it too!â€

 

“The lady did say that he knew about the child,†Otto said. “I’m willing to let him go if that means we get greater justice achieved here.â€

 

“And you can try to apprehend the man later,†Mr. Li said. “I’m sure Pete Sutter would find that very entertaining.â€

 

“Yeah,†Otto said.

 

“How about this, Pete?†Professor Stalloid said. “If we can’t convince our associate completely, he’ll give you a head start.â€

 

“But you’re so good, you’ll get away, right Pete?†Mr. Li said.

 

“One week,†Pete said.

 

“Deal,†Otto said. “Ask him your questions.â€

 

“All righty,†Pete said. “What do you want to know?â€

 

“Who is the girl?†Mr. Li said.

 

“The girl?†Pete said. “What girl?â€

 

“The girl that these tongs are fighting over,†Mr. Li said.

 

“The child,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Oh, the child!†Pete said. “The kid? He’s not a girl, he’s a boy. Look, I was hired to kidnap a Chinese baby from one of the tongs to another. But when I got the kid, I started to feel unsure about turning it over. I thought they would betray me, take the child, and just kill me instead of paying me the $5,000 they promised me. So, instead of handing over the child at the meeting, I ran. Then I handed it over to somebody else. And then they caught me.â€

 

“Who was this other person?†Otto said.

 

“She was another person.â€

 

“Description?â€

 

“She was Chinese.â€

 

“Anything more specific than that?â€

 

“She had black hair.â€

 

“Was it Lin Chou?†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“What?†Pete said. “Who the hell is that?â€

 

“Well what street was she on?†Mr. Li said. “I know this town well.â€

 

“Where was the drop off?†Professor Stalloid asked.

 

“I don’t remember what the street’s name was,†Pete said. “I don’t pay no attention to that.â€

 

“You dropped the child off in someone’s house …†Mr. Li said.

 

“I was running,†Pete said. “I was running for my life!â€

 

“My God, Pete.â€

 

“I stole it from uh … from uh … it was for some old man with a beard. Name of Yin Yang or something like that. Yang Yin? I don’t remember his name. He smoked cigars.â€

 

“Yan Min?â€

 

“Yeah, sounds right. What’s he look like?â€

 

“He is exactly as you have described him.â€

 

“He’s the one that wants the baby. I don’t know what for. Oh. There’s a secret door. I forgot about that. There’s a secret door in that room they had me in. On the other side I noticed it when they opened it, I peeked inside. There was some kind of weird drawing on the ground. A star or something? I don’t know.â€

 

“The child is a sacrifice.â€

 

“Well, that’s not very nice.â€

 

“Ironic coming from you,†Otto said.

 

Pete, unable to think of anything clever, just grunted.

 

“Do you remember anything about where you dropped the child off?†Mr. Li said. “Anything at all? I could find it if you give me any clue.â€

 

“I might be able to find it again,†Pete said.

 

“Look Pete, if─†Otto said.

 

“I don’t want him around!†Pete said, pointing to Otto. “I don’t like him!â€

 

“I could pay you good money to lead me there,†Mr. Li said.

 

“I agreed to leave you alone for a week,†Otto said.

 

“You’ll leave me alone the rest of your life,†Pete muttered. “I’m a much better shot.â€

 

“Yeah, but you’re not as good with a saber.â€

 

“I also heard ‘em talking. That Yin Yang fellow? He said - he said - they were talking about another demon they called up, but he lost control of it or something. Or maybe I imagined that.â€

 

“Oh … no …†Mr. Li said.

 

“It’s still in the city somewhere,†Pete said.

 

The door opened up and Jacali, who had been eavesdropping in the hall, stuck her head in.

 

“Oh God!†she said. “There are two!?!â€

 

They all stared at her.

 

“I’m sorry, I’ll go back out,†she said, leaving the room.

 

Pete told them he stole the child from the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong and it was supposed to go to the Rightful Spirit Tong. When asked to clarify how he had lost the child, he told them he had seen several tong members at the drop off sight, panicked, and fled. They chased him down and, when he lost sight of them for a few moments, he dropped the child off with a Chinese woman and then kept running. When they caught him, not long after that, they took him to the Rightful Spirit lair and tried to torture the information out of him. He bragged they didn’t break him with the torture.

 

“Didn’t feel it at all,†he claimed.

 

He was willing to try to find the place where he dropped off the child.

 

“Do you know why the other tong wanted the child?†Otto asked.

 

“No, I don’t,†Pete said. “Maybe they were going to ransom him back. Maybe they’re gonna eat him. They’re Chinese. I don’t know.â€

 

“No, the one you took the child from.â€

 

“I dunno. I think he’s one of their kids.â€

 

“Okay.â€

 

“Lost two good men on that raid.â€

 

Pete thought about that for a moment.

 

“More money for me!†he said.

 

They decided to let Pete lead them. Mr. Li suggested they disguise him as he was a wanted man in Chinatown. Dr. Weisswald got a bonnet to cover her hair.

 

“What is this?†Pete said when he realized he was wearing the clothing they had gotten at the bathhouse. “Where are my clothes?â€

 

“Getting washed,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

Professor Stalloid left the room.

 

“Have you all been … taking advantage of me!?!†Pete said. “Hmph! I know I’m irresistible but really!â€

 

Jacali stuck her head in the room.

 

“We did find you in a sewer!†she said.

 

She ducked back out.

 

“Who the hell is that!?!†Pete said.

 

Professor Stalloid returned with one of his father’s suits and gave it to the man.

 

“I ain’t going to Sunday preaching!†Pete said when he saw it.

 

“You might want to consider it,†Mr. Li said.

 

Pete put on the ill-fitting suit. Mr. Li suggested a hat and Professor Stalloid got him a bowler. He tucked his long hair up under it. Professor Stalloid found some glasses and gave them to the man.

 

“Ow!†Pete said when he put them on. “Ow! My eyes!â€

 

He refused to wear the glasses.

 

“You should have a fake name just in case any Chinamen ask you who you are,†Mr. Li said.

 

“Something like … you know like … Pete Southland,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Peter Fakename!†Pete said.

 

“Don’t say fake name,†Mr. Li said. “Or Peter.â€

 

“Name?†Pete said. “My whole name is ‘Name?’â€

 

“Do you have another name, Pete?†Otto said.

 

“Leviticus,†Pete said.

 

“Your fake name should be Jack West,†Jacali suggested.

 

“Where is he?†Pete said. “I’m gonna kill him. I gotta kill him again.â€

 

He had reached for a gun in a holster he wasn’t wearing.

 

“I hate him,†Pete said. “I hate Jack West.â€

 

“How about we make you Pete East?†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“What?†Pete said.

 

“Can we just not call him Pete … at all?†Mr. Li said.

 

“I need a gun,†Pete said. “You have a holster?â€

 

Neither Professor Stalloid nor Otto was happy about that.

 

“How am I supposed to defend myself if them Chinese come at me with the death stars of theirs?†Pete said. “Chinese death stars. They throw ‘em. What happens if those death stars come?â€

 

“They’re easy to dodge,†Mr. Li said.

 

“C’mon, for the great Pete Sutherland, I feel they would be very easy to dodge,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Pete Sutherland?†Pete said. “Who’s …?â€

 

“Pete Sutter,†Professor Stalloid corrected himself.

 

“Let’s just go with Leviticus and you lead us to the child,†Mr. Li said. “Please.â€

 

They left the house and Pete recognized streets almost immediately. He seemed pleasantly surprised by that. He went around a corner and led them to the back yard of Professor Stalloid’s house. He went to the basement door in the back on the low side of the hill. Chun Zhi Ruo opened the door to her quarters there.

 

“Oh,†she said. “Who is this?â€

 

“Where’s that baby!?!†Pete yelled at her. “What have you done with it!?!â€

 

“What?†she said. “The baby? The baby is in here.â€

 

“Stalloid, do you not know what happens under your own roof?†Mr. Li said.

 

She led them to a side room where the Chinese baby lay in a bed. Pete picked it up.

 

“I believe that’s the one,†Mr. Li said.

 

“Where did this baby come from?†Professor Stalloid asked Chun Zhi Ruo.

 

She pointed at Pete. He backed up towards the door.

 

“Is this some sort of joke?†Jacali asked.

 

Professor Stalloid walked towards Pete, who backed up towards the door. When Professor Stalloid ran towards him, he turned and ran away. Dr. Weisswald leapt at Pete and grabbed him from behind.

 

“Let go of me you man-woman!†Pete called out.

 

“Now Pete,†Professor Stalloid said. “Pete. Release the baby.â€

 

“Hey, we can get some money for this,†Pete said. “Maybe not from the one but we can get some from the other.â€

 

“Pete. Pete,†Professor Stalloid said. “If you get the money for this, we’re turning you in.â€

 

“I’ll give you the money for it right now,†Mr. Li said.

 

“You better use that head start real quick,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“How much?†Pete said to Mr. Li.

 

“Put the baby down and we can talk,†Mr. Li said.

 

“Give me the baby,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“You have my honor,†Mr. Li said.

 

“All right,†Pete said. “All right. All right. I’ll give you the baby, but I’m in on whatever reward you get for it. Hm? Coming with you.â€

 

“Deal,†Mr. Li said.

 

Pete handed the baby over and then struggled free of Dr. Weisswald. When Professor Stalloid asked if his house was the drop off place, Pete repeated his story of running from the drop off. He said he hopped the fence in the back yard and saw the Chinese lady back there, shoved it into her arms, and then he ran away. They caught him after that.

 

Mr. Li asked if all of it was a joke but Professor Stalloid said it was not.

 

They discussed what to do with the baby. Professor Stalloid wondered if the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong was also going to sacrifice the baby. Otto suggested taking the baby to the Six Companies man but Professor Stalloid was unsure if he trusted him either. Otto thought him more trustworthy than any of the tongs. Mr. Li thought Mr. Chang was trustworthy. Dr. Weisswald noted even if they returned the baby to the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong, they might to steal it back, or steal another baby and sacrifice it. Dr. Stalloid thought it important to find out why the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong wanted the child.

 

When they mentioned killing two of the tong members in the sewers, Mr. Li and Professor Stalloid were shocked.

 

“Wait, you killed people?†Mr. Li said.

 

“It’s the first I’m hearing of it,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“It was self-defense,†Otto said.

 

“Just like the baby,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“We had to get Pete out of his torture chamber,†Jacali said. “They came at us with axes.â€

 

“They had to rescue me!†Pete said. “Good job. Wait, you left two alive? That’s sloppy.â€

 

“Hold on,†Mr. Li said. “So, we killed two people … to rescue a man …â€

 

“Me,†Pete said.

 

“… who brought us back to the house which we’ve been at this entire time … to find a child that was under your very noses?†Mr. Li said. “And what’s in the scroll?â€

 

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

Professor Stalloid asked Chun Zhi Ruo if she had named the baby. The woman said she had not as it was not hers. She noted she had only gotten it the day before and she had not wanted to bother Professor Stalloid with it as he was busy with his guests. She said she had only started to ask around about the baby, trying to find its parents.

 

“I am under the belief that Chang Hai is a respectable man and, if we bring the child to him, if nothing else, he would protect it just to upset the tongs,†Mr. Li said.

 

“What about the demons?†Otto said.

 

“We need to talk to the Clean and Pure Tong too,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“I assume under the same guise of selling them drugs?â€

 

“Why do we need to do that?â€

 

“Well, they’re a brothel.â€

 

“We can just approach them about the child,†Mr. Li said. “We can tell them we know the child was taken from them and ask who is the child.â€

 

“But they may lie to you about why they want the child back,†Otto said.

 

“If they do, that it their choice. But we shall give the baby to Chang Hai in the meantime.â€

 

“I feel my house is pretty safe,†Professor Stalloid said. “We can leave it here for now.â€

 

“I do not think your house is safe,†Mr. Li said. “We do not know if anyone saw Pete Sutter come here a second time. I vote we take the baby to Chang Hai.â€

 

“But will they notice us if we walk through the town with the baby?†Otto said.

 

“Possibly,†Mr. Li said. “But I still trust it over Stalloid’s house. No offense.â€

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

They returned to Chinatown to Mr. Chang’s house and he agreed to see them once again. He was willing to take the baby and they told him the Rightful Spirit Tong had taken it from the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong. Mr. Li asked him to keep the baby safe until they could determine where it belonged. Mr. Chang said he would do his best.

 

“Perhaps you could simply ask the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong and see what they say,†Mr. Chang said.

 

“Yes,†Mr. Li said. “We did not want the baby in our company just in case they were using it for some terrible reason as well. We figure it is safer in your hands than anywhere else.â€

 

“I will do my best to honor this request,†Mr. Chang said.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

They found the brothel of the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong.

 

“Are we going to have some kind of signal in case something goes wrong?†Jacali asked.

 

“Lean out the window and scream like a little girl?†Pete suggested. “That always worked for us.â€

 

“Oh, I’m sure you’re very good at it, Pete,†Jacali said.

 

“Why thank you - wait a minute!†Pete said.

 

He reached for the gun that wasn’t there and then cursed.

 

They continued to discuss the signal with Pete suggested “caw caw†and “hoody-hoo, hoody-hoo.†Dr. Weisswald asked about the whistle Jacali had gotten from He-Who-Waits but she was not happy about using it. She noted she had been told that was an evil thing. Mr. Li suggested if they heard any bird noise, other than chickens, to assume they were in trouble.

 

Professor Stalloid suggested they meet back at the restaurant where he and Mr. Li had eaten. He provided the address and instructions on how to get there to the others.

 

While Wilder, Jacali, Otto, and Pete waited outside, loitering in the street, Mr. Li, Professor Stalloid, and Dr. Weisswald went into the place.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

A man greeted them when they entered the brothel.

 

“Ah,†he said. “Is she for sale?â€

 

“No,†Mr. Li said. “Well, it’s her choice.â€

 

“How might I help you?â€

 

“We have knowledge that we … we have questions but also information that the leader of this tong would like to know.â€

 

“About the Rightful Spirit,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“About the Rightful Spirit Tong,†Mr. Li said. “Yes.â€

 

“The Rightful Spirit?†the host said. “Wait here.â€

 

He left the room, telling two of the hatchet men not to let them leave in Chinese. He soon returned with four more hatchet men and they escorted them to another room.

 

“This tong is treating us more hostile than the other,†Mr. Li whispered to Professor Stalloid.

 

“I think the hundred dollars and opium really helped,†Professor Stalloid sad.

 

They were taken through a door and down a set of stairs that led down to a stone tunnel and into a large room filled with torture instruments and the like. There, they waited. Soon, another gentleman wearing a suit came in. He was Chinese, wore round glasses, and looked both anxious and angry. He was clean-shaven.

 

“What do you know of the Rightful Spirit Tong?†he said.

 

“I know that when we visited them, they didn’t take us down to the torture dungeon,†Mr. Li said.

 

“Perhaps you would like to try out the rack?â€

 

“Which one?â€

 

“Take your pick.â€

 

“I choose none of them.â€

 

The man glared at him.

 

“We were happenstance walking through the alley the other night,†Professor Stalloid said. “As … the … thing from the stars … it was a horrible creature …â€

 

The tong leader turned to Dr. Weisswald.

 

“Do you have anything to say before I start killing all of you?†he said to her.

 

“He means the demon that attacked your men in the alley,†she said.

 

“What about it?†the man asked.

 

“We saw that happen,†Professor Stalloid said. “And we’ve been trying to help you in the shadows because we don’t really …â€

 

“Why?â€

 

“Rightful Spirit summons demons? Don’t like.â€

 

“What help can you give us?â€

 

“We think you have lost something that you are looking for,†Mr. Li said.

 

“My child?†the man said.

 

“Your child?â€

 

“My son!?!â€

 

“Your son?â€

 

The man got within an inch of Mr. Li’s face.

 

“Where is he?†he said.

 

Dr. Weisswald thought the Chinese man was both telling the truth and very, very angry.

 

“Why was your son taken?†Mr. Li said.

 

“I do not know,†the man said. “Anglo Saxons took him! We killed two - we killed two of them. But one escaped.â€

 

“So, your son was taken and you do not know why?â€

 

“I do not know why. But I know by who. There’s only one tong in this town that is stupid enough to cross us.â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“The Rightful Spirit! Which you say you represent?â€

 

“No!†Professor Stalloid said. “No no no no no.â€

 

“No, this man was trying to do a business deal─†Mr. Li said.

 

“Where. Is. My. Son?†the other man said.

 

Professor Stalloid thought the man would be more cooperative if they returned his son to him.

 

“We got into the bottom, under dwellings of the Right Spirit and we have rescued your son,†Professor Stalloid quickly said. “We will bring him to you now.â€

 

“We were not sure it was your son,†Mr. Li said.

 

“We are outsiders,†Professor Stalloid said. “We didn’t want to mess things up further. We wanted information first.â€

 

“These are good white people,†Mr. Li said.

 

The other man spoke in Chinese, telling them to memorize their features. The other hatchet men came forward, taking Dr. Weisswald’s bonnet off. They got good looks at all of their faces.

 

“Very well,†the tong leader said. “I will allow you go and get my son. If he is not here, within an hour, I will send my men out. We will find you. And we will kill you.â€

 

“An hour is a very short amount of time,†Mr. Li said.

 

Dr. Weisswald thought they would have enough time.

 

“An hour shall be sufficient,†the man said.

 

“Will you have tea waiting the next time?†Mr. Li quipped. “Or will we have to come back down to the dungeon?â€

 

“If you have my son, you will not have to come back to this room,†the man said. “If you do not have my son, this room is the last place you shall ever see.â€

 

He told them the address of a house down the alley to bring the baby to and then said “Take them away†in Chinese. Mr. Li translated. The men took them out and escorted them out of the brothel. They were not very gentle about it.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Jacali and Otto were playing rock, paper, scissors, which they had seen some of the Chinese people playing and quickly learned the gist of. They all quickly left the area but just as quickly saw they were being followed by members of the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong. They decided to split up, everyone going in different directions.

 

“I will be the one who go gets the baby,†Mr. Li said.

 

“I will split up and go too,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“I think─†Mr. Li said.

 

“I’m going too,†Pete said.

 

“Pete, how about you just take this chance to leave town?†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Oh no─†Pete said.

 

“I don’t think there’s going to be … the only sort of reward that man is giving, you already had.â€

 

“No, it’ll be fine.â€

 

“He has a bigger torture chamber!â€

 

“If he recognizes you …†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“I got a hat on,†Pete said. “He’ll never recognize me.â€

 

“All right, Pete,†Mr. Li said.

 

“I could recognize you in the darkest room of the dankest cave,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“I want my reward,†Pete said.

 

Professor Stalloid handed the man $100.

 

“Please,†he said. “Pete. He wants to kill you.â€

 

“He’ll be fine,†Pete said.

 

“He knows you did this!†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Stalloid, it is pointless,†Mr. Li said.

 

“It’s fine,†Pete said. “Let’s go.â€

 

They all split up and Mr. Li, Pete, and Professor Stalloid collecting the baby from Mr. Chang’s place. He told them to be careful. Professor Stalloid wanted to hold the baby.

 

“Give me the baby!†Pete said.

 

“You’re the last one that will hold the baby,†Mr. Li said.

 

“Do not give him the baby,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

They all met up near the brothel building. As they approached it, they saw several hatchet men of the Rightful Spirit Tong step out in front of them. Then Pete let out a cry and fell to the ground, a Chinese death star sticking in his back. There were three more behind them.

 

“Well, it’s easy for me to dodge,†Mr. Li mumbled.

 

As they moved towards the group and the baby, hatchet men of the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong also arrived and rushed the other tong members.

 

“Get me inside!†Mr. Li yelled in Chinese.

 

Professor Stalloid held out his hands to take the baby as Mr. Li looked around. Wilder drew his pistol and cocked it.

 

The Clean and Pure Serenity hatchet men rushed the Rightful Spirit hatchet men. They fought viciously, cutting at each other with their hatchets. Two of the Rightful Spirit men behind them screamed and fell, bleeding profusely. Two of the Clean and Pure Serenity men in the front fell.

 

Dr. Weisswald rushed to Pete to find the man breathing his last.

 

Otto drew his saber and charged towards the front of the group and ran one of the Rightful Spirit hatchet men through. He fell with a scream. Jacali drew her hunting knife but was still injured so she followed behind Otto.

 

“Can you fight?†Mr. Li said to Professor Stalloid.

 

“Nope!†Professor Stalloid said.

 

Mr. Li handed him the baby and Professor Stalloid turned and ran heading off to the right and towards the building they were supposed to take the baby, staying behind Otto and Jacali. Wilder moved forward to Otto as well, pistol in hand.

 

One of the Rightful Spirit hatchet men rushed Wilder with a scream and he shot at him but missed. The hatchet man slashed at Wilder, cutting him in the chest. A second one rushed at Otto and slashed him as well. Behind them, the fighting continued as the three Clean and Pure Serenity men attacked the last remaining Rightful Spirit man. One of them was felled while another of them as injured by the man but the man finally fell with a shriek.

 

Dr. Weisswald ran to the front of the group and attacked one of the Rightful Spirit hatchet men who cut her badly on the right hand. Otto swung madly at another of the men, who cut him in turn. Jacali rushed forward and tried to stab the one of the men they fought, cutting him down as he screamed.

 

Mr. Li ran down the alley and flung himself through the air, kicking at the last remaining Rightful Spirit hatchet man who was still standing. He crashed into the man and they both tumbled to the ground.

 

“My spleen!†the Chinese man yelled in his own language.

 

Professor Stalloid ran past the fight towards the building they were supposed to bring the baby to. He continued on to the doorway as Wilder kicked the hatchet away from the man who was tangled up with Mr. Li. The hatchet man leapt up and drew a knife, yelling something in Chinese.

 

“We have to stop them!†Mr. Li understood him to say. “Mr. Yan! Mr. Yan!â€

 

Mr. Yan came around the corner and looked over the situation with a frown. Then he walked towards Professor Stalloid. The man with the knife looked at Mr. Yan, looked at Wilder, looked at Mr. Yan, looked at Wilder’s pistol, looked back at Mr. Yan, and then fled, leaping over one of the bodies and doing a somersault in the air.

 

The Clean and Pure Serenity hatchet men, coming from the rear of the group, moved towards the house.

 

Dr. Weisswald turned to the bleeding Otto and started seeing to his wounds. Jacali ran towards the Mr. Yan, tripping over one of the fallen, who cried out in pain. She fell upon the barely conscious man. Mr. Li ran towards Mr. Yan, who turned towards him and motioned him to come with an outstretched hand. Mr. Li flung himself in the air, feet-first, towards the man, who ducked. Mr. Li flew over him and crashed into the wall. Mr. Yan stood back up.

 

Stalloid opened the door, slipped in, and closed it behind him, kneeling and putting his back to it to hold it closed. Several more Clean and Pure Serenity tong members were waiting in the foyer. One of them held out his hands for the baby and then they hustled him out of the room.

 

“Yan’s outside,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

They spoke to him in Chinese.

 

Outside, Mr. Yan fled, running down the alley and away from the house. The others saw more of the Rightful Spirit Tong coming up the alley.

 

“Run!†Wilder yelled.

 

Dr. Weisswald was torn, not wanting to leave the dying behind, but she saw at least a dozen of the other tong members sprinting down the alley and turned to run away. Jacali has waited for Dr. Weisswald to start running before she followed. Otto did the same while Mr. Li ran to the door and opened it, waiting inside for the rest of them. They all made it safely into the building.

 

Several members of the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong ran out of the building and the two tongs clashed outside.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Professor Stalloid was returned to the man with the glasses who had threatened them all earlier. The man took his son from him and seemed overjoyed that his child had been returned to him.

 

“Thank you,†he said.

 

“It’s my duty,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

He was escorted back down to the foyer where he found his companions and the injured Clean and Pure Serenity Tong members being tended to by Dr. Weisswald.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Eventually the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong drove off the Rightful Spirit Tong from the vicinity. Dr. Weisswald had set up a triage by then.

 

Otto looked out the door after the fight but Pete’s body was gone.


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