* * *
After they ate lunch, they lost their tail and then returned to Mr. Liâ€™s office. They waited 30 minutes for the others.
â€œWhere would your friends be if they were not here?â€ Mr. Li said. â€œDo you think something terrible happened down in the sewers? Should we go down in the sewers?â€
â€œI donâ€™t want to go down in the sewers,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œI donâ€™t want to go down in the sewers either. I also donâ€™t have my notebook with the instructions on how to get there.â€
â€œThey mightâ€™ve went to my house.â€
â€œYou have a house?â€
â€œTake me to your house.â€
They left the office and headed for Nob Hill.
â€œWhat were in those cigarettes that you gave that man?â€ Mr. Li asked on the way.
â€œOh, just opiates,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œYes. But you said they were â€¦ different.â€
â€œSo, what is it? Was it poison? Am I going to have toâ”€â€
â€œI call it heroin! It puts the hero in you!â€
â€œHero? So it is used for war?â€
â€œNo. No. No. No.â€
â€œCould it be used for war?â€
â€œThen why do you say â€˜It puts the hero in you?â€™â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. Itâ€™s just catchy.â€
He told him it calmed a manâ€™s breathing and was a depressant for the respiratory system. He figured it might be useful for a panicked man.
â€œIf you end up selling that to the tongs in Chinatownâ”€â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œIâ€™m not planning on it,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œOkay,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œGood.â€
They arrived at Professor Stalloidâ€™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.
â€œAre you all bringing manic homeless men into my house now?â€ he asked them.
â€œDaddy?â€ Pete said. â€œIs that you? You said you were going out for milk, daddy, and you never came back!â€
â€œThis is the man that shot Jack West,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œOh yeah, and Jack West shot him!â€ 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 didnâ€™t think the man should be up and walking around.
â€œI do really good work,â€ 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.
â€œWhat?â€ Pete said, obviously disturbed by the comment. â€œYou mean like ripping a - ripping a photograph out of a memory book? Of maybe a little bright-eyed boy whoâ€™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.
â€œI donâ€™t know what I said,â€ Mr. Li said.
It was another hour before Pete came to his senses.
â€œDonâ€™t I know you?â€ he said to Dr. Weisswald.
â€œYeah,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m the one that treated you on the train.â€
â€œNo one treated me on the train.â€
â€œYeah, you got shot by Jack West.â€
â€œI â€¦ uh â€¦â€
â€œWhereâ€™s my piece!?!â€
â€œI donâ€™t know.â€
â€œI also donâ€™t know that.â€
â€œOh, I didnâ€™t bring it to San Francisco. I didnâ€™t want to lose it.â€
â€œAh, that makes sense.â€
â€œThey took my other gun.â€
â€œItâ€™s a pretty big city.â€
â€œWhereâ€™s Jack West?â€
â€œI have no idea.â€
The others entered the room quietly.
â€œI owe him a bullet,â€ Pete said.
â€œHeâ€™s dead,â€ Otto lied.
â€œWell, I mean â€¦â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œI like to pay back twice what I get,â€ Pete said.
â€œPete, heâ€™s dead,â€ Otto said.
â€œWho the hell are you?â€ Pete said.
â€œI was with him, remember. I was arguing with you.â€
â€œNo you werenâ€™t! Are you crazy? Iâ€™m gonna kill him again! Where is he buried?â€
â€œBuried him by the track.â€
â€œWait! Where the hell am I?â€
â€œYouâ€™re in my house,â€ Professor Stalloid said with a burp.
â€œWho the hell are you?â€ Pete asked.
â€œBrandon Stalloid! Child savior. Healer of men and women.â€
â€œBut men first,â€ Mr. Li said.
Pete wiped his forehead where the water had dripped.
â€œWe found you under torture by one of the tongs,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œI remember!â€ Pete said. â€œYeah, they put under that torture, sons of bitches. Just because I didnâ€™t follow through with â€¦ well, you know. Stuff. So thanks very much and Iâ€™ll be on my way.â€
â€œOh no,â€ Otto said.
â€œSo, did you take the child?â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œDid they ask you to childnap?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWhat?â€ Pete said.
â€œA child,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œOh â€¦ maybe,â€ Pete said. â€œYeah. I mightâ€™ve done something like that. Whatâ€™s it worth to you to know?â€
â€œYour freedom,â€ Jacali said. â€œWe wonâ€™t turn you in. Maybe. I shouldnâ€™t have said that.â€
She left the room.
â€œWho the hell was that?â€ Pete said. â€œThat sounds like a good idea though. Iâ€™ll tell you what you want to know, but then I get to go on my merry way.â€
â€œI would also like to know about those Secret Service men,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œThose damned Secret Service men! To hell with them!â€
â€œAre they actually Secret Service?â€
â€œI dunno! They said I was gonna get a pardon! I donâ€™t see no paper! Do you see any paper? I didnâ€™t get no paper! They said they were gonna pardon me! Thatâ€™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 wouldnâ€™t give me a boulder! No! They plant some damned thing in the ground and push a button and a whole frigginâ€™ avalanche comes down. The damned thing was like a button! They didnâ€™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, Iâ€™m not tellinâ€™ you nothinâ€™ more â€¦ until you promise me my freedom!â€
â€œNo, donâ€™t,â€ Otto whispered.
â€œHey, shut up, you!â€ Pete said to him. â€œYou be quiet! I donâ€™t wanna hear from you!â€
â€œYou have my wordâ”€â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œGod damn, heâ€™s ugly,â€ Pete said, staring at Ottoâ€™s face.
â€œHeâ€™s also very greedy,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œIâ€™m not greedy!â€ Otto said.
â€œOh, Pete Sutter,â€ Pete said, shaking Ottoâ€™s hand. â€œYou ainâ€™t getting it from me. I ainâ€™t got nothing. They were supposed to pay me - Oh! I aintâ€™ sayinâ€™. Not telling nothinâ€™ more until you promise me to let me go.â€
â€œFine,â€ Otto said.
â€œWas it 50,000?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWhat? No!â€ Pete said. â€œFifty thousand dollars?â€
â€œThatâ€™s how much was on that train.â€
â€œWhat are you talking about?â€
â€œThere was gold on that train.â€
â€œThe Secret Service was supposed to pay me two thousand and get my pardon.â€
â€œThey were only paying you your bounty?â€
â€œIunno. I wasnâ€™t gonna have a bounty on me no more, was I?â€
â€œNo, I meant â€¦ your bounty is how much you get? Oh, thatâ€™s so interesting.â€
â€œWho is this?â€
â€œHe already introduced himself,â€ Dr. Weisswald said. â€œAre you lapsing?â€
â€œAnyway!â€ Pete said. â€œAre you gonna let me go? You gonna let me go when I tell you, if I tell you?â€
â€œWhy of course,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œIâ€™m going to let you go,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œWhy is this man so concerned of letting him go?â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œBecause Iâ€™m wanted by the law,â€ Pete said. â€œThatâ€™s right!â€
â€œHeâ€™s wanted by the law?â€
â€œThatâ€™s right. Pete Sutter.â€
â€œHeâ€™s worth $2,000,â€ Otto said.
â€œThis conflicts with my morals,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œWell, you canâ€™t have it both ways, boys,â€ Pete said.
â€œIf the information you provide us will help solve our problem, I will agree to let you go,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œBegrudgingly.â€
â€œWell, I canâ€™t do that. I donâ€™t know what your problem is.â€
â€œI am trying to save Chinatown from the demon that â€¦ somebody summoned.â€
â€œAinâ€™t heard nothing about no demon.â€
â€œShambler between the stars,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œI need to write that down. It sounds like a good poem.â€
â€œAre you gonna let me go?â€ Pete said. â€œWhen I tell ya what I know? Or shall I just to quietly to jail and you never find out?â€
â€œI will relinquish the decision to the rest of you, seeing as how you have all met Pete Sutter,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œI donâ€™t know how bad the man is but, from first impressions, Iâ€™m guessing pretty bad.â€
â€œWhy thank you,â€ Pete said.
â€œHe robbed two trains,â€ Otto said.
â€œI did not ever rob no damned train!â€ Pete said. â€œNot in the last six months! I wrecked em! Well, I wrecked one. If theyâ€™d have let me use a boulder on the second one, Iâ€™d have wrecked it too!â€
â€œThe lady did say that he knew about the child,â€ Otto said. â€œIâ€™m willing to let him go if that means we get greater justice achieved here.â€
â€œAnd you can try to apprehend the man later,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œIâ€™m sure Pete Sutter would find that very entertaining.â€
â€œYeah,â€ Otto said.
â€œHow about this, Pete?â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œIf we canâ€™t convince our associate completely, heâ€™ll give you a head start.â€
â€œBut youâ€™re so good, youâ€™ll get away, right Pete?â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œOne week,â€ Pete said.
â€œDeal,â€ Otto said. â€œAsk him your questions.â€
â€œAll righty,â€ Pete said. â€œWhat do you want to know?â€
â€œWho is the girl?â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œThe girl?â€ Pete said. â€œWhat girl?â€
â€œThe girl that these tongs are fighting over,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œThe child,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œOh, the child!â€ Pete said. â€œThe kid? Heâ€™s not a girl, heâ€™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€
â€œWho was this other person?â€ Otto said.
â€œShe was another person.â€
â€œShe was Chinese.â€
â€œAnything more specific than that?â€
â€œShe had black hair.â€
â€œWas it Lin Chou?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWhat?â€ Pete said. â€œWho the hell is that?â€
â€œWell what street was she on?â€ Mr. Li said. â€œI know this town well.â€
â€œWhere was the drop off?â€ Professor Stalloid asked.
â€œI donâ€™t remember what the streetâ€™s name was,â€ Pete said. â€œI donâ€™t pay no attention to that.â€
â€œYou dropped the child off in someoneâ€™s house â€¦â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œI was running,â€ Pete said. â€œI was running for my life!â€
â€œMy God, Pete.â€
â€œI stole it from uh â€¦ from uh â€¦ it was for some old man with a beard. Name of Yin Yang or something like that. Yang Yin? I donâ€™t remember his name. He smoked cigars.â€
â€œYeah, sounds right. Whatâ€™s he look like?â€
â€œHe is exactly as you have described him.â€
â€œHeâ€™s the one that wants the baby. I donâ€™t know what for. Oh. Thereâ€™s a secret door. I forgot about that. Thereâ€™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 donâ€™t know.â€
â€œThe child is a sacrifice.â€
â€œWell, thatâ€™s not very nice.â€
â€œIronic coming from you,â€ Otto said.
Pete, unable to think of anything clever, just grunted.
â€œDo you remember anything about where you dropped the child off?â€ Mr. Li said. â€œAnything at all? I could find it if you give me any clue.â€
â€œI might be able to find it again,â€ Pete said.
â€œLook Pete, ifâ”€â€ Otto said.
â€œI donâ€™t want him around!â€ Pete said, pointing to Otto. â€œI donâ€™t like him!â€
â€œI could pay you good money to lead me there,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œI agreed to leave you alone for a week,â€ Otto said.
â€œYouâ€™ll leave me alone the rest of your life,â€ Pete muttered. â€œIâ€™m a much better shot.â€
â€œYeah, but youâ€™re not as good with a saber.â€
â€œI also heard â€˜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€
â€œOh â€¦ no â€¦â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œItâ€™s still in the city somewhere,â€ Pete said.
The door opened up and Jacali, who had been eavesdropping in the hall, stuck her head in.
â€œOh God!â€ she said. â€œThere are two!?!â€
They all stared at her.
â€œIâ€™m sorry, Iâ€™ll go back out,â€ 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 didnâ€™t break him with the torture.
â€œDidnâ€™t feel it at all,â€ he claimed.
He was willing to try to find the place where he dropped off the child.
â€œDo you know why the other tong wanted the child?â€ Otto asked.
â€œNo, I donâ€™t,â€ Pete said. â€œMaybe they were going to ransom him back. Maybe theyâ€™re gonna eat him. Theyâ€™re Chinese. I donâ€™t know.â€
â€œNo, the one you took the child from.â€
â€œI dunno. I think heâ€™s one of their kids.â€
â€œLost two good men on that raid.â€
Pete thought about that for a moment.
â€œMore money for me!â€ 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.
â€œWhat is this?â€ Pete said when he realized he was wearing the clothing they had gotten at the bathhouse. â€œWhere are my clothes?â€
â€œGetting washed,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
Professor Stalloid left the room.
â€œHave you all been â€¦ taking advantage of me!?!â€ Pete said. â€œHmph! I know Iâ€™m irresistible but really!â€
Jacali stuck her head in the room.
â€œWe did find you in a sewer!â€ she said.
She ducked back out.
â€œWho the hell is that!?!â€ Pete said.
Professor Stalloid returned with one of his fatherâ€™s suits and gave it to the man.
â€œI ainâ€™t going to Sunday preaching!â€ Pete said when he saw it.
â€œYou might want to consider it,â€ 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.
â€œOw!â€ Pete said when he put them on. â€œOw! My eyes!â€
He refused to wear the glasses.
â€œYou should have a fake name just in case any Chinamen ask you who you are,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œSomething like â€¦ you know like â€¦ Pete Southland,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œPeter Fakename!â€ Pete said.
â€œDonâ€™t say fake name,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œOr Peter.â€
â€œName?â€ Pete said. â€œMy whole name is â€˜Name?â€™â€
â€œDo you have another name, Pete?â€ Otto said.
â€œLeviticus,â€ Pete said.
â€œYour fake name should be Jack West,â€ Jacali suggested.
â€œWhere is he?â€ Pete said. â€œIâ€™m gonna kill him. I gotta kill him again.â€
He had reached for a gun in a holster he wasnâ€™t wearing.
â€œI hate him,â€ Pete said. â€œI hate Jack West.â€
â€œHow about we make you Pete East?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWhat?â€ Pete said.
â€œCan we just not call him Pete â€¦ at all?â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œI need a gun,â€ Pete said. â€œYou have a holster?â€
Neither Professor Stalloid nor Otto was happy about that.
â€œHow am I supposed to defend myself if them Chinese come at me with the death stars of theirs?â€ Pete said. â€œChinese death stars. They throw â€˜em. What happens if those death stars come?â€
â€œTheyâ€™re easy to dodge,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œCâ€™mon, for the great Pete Sutherland, I feel they would be very easy to dodge,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œPete Sutherland?â€ Pete said. â€œWhoâ€™s â€¦?â€
â€œPete Sutter,â€ Professor Stalloid corrected himself.
â€œLetâ€™s just go with Leviticus and you lead us to the child,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œPlease.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 Stalloidâ€™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.
â€œOh,â€ she said. â€œWho is this?â€
â€œWhereâ€™s that baby!?!â€ Pete yelled at her. â€œWhat have you done with it!?!â€
â€œWhat?â€ she said. â€œThe baby? The baby is in here.â€
â€œStalloid, do you not know what happens under your own roof?â€ Mr. Li said.
She led them to a side room where the Chinese baby lay in a bed. Pete picked it up.
â€œI believe thatâ€™s the one,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œWhere did this baby come from?â€ Professor Stalloid asked Chun Zhi Ruo.
She pointed at Pete. He backed up towards the door.
â€œIs this some sort of joke?â€ 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.
â€œLet go of me you man-woman!â€ Pete called out.
â€œNow Pete,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œPete. Release the baby.â€
â€œHey, we can get some money for this,â€ Pete said. â€œMaybe not from the one but we can get some from the other.â€
â€œPete. Pete,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œIf you get the money for this, weâ€™re turning you in.â€
â€œIâ€™ll give you the money for it right now,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œYou better use that head start real quick,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œHow much?â€ Pete said to Mr. Li.
â€œPut the baby down and we can talk,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œGive me the baby,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œYou have my honor,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œAll right,â€ Pete said. â€œAll right. All right. Iâ€™ll give you the baby, but Iâ€™m in on whatever reward you get for it. Hm? Coming with you.â€
â€œDeal,â€ 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.
â€œWait, you killed people?â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œItâ€™s the first Iâ€™m hearing of it,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œIt was self-defense,â€ Otto said.
â€œJust like the baby,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWe had to get Pete out of his torture chamber,â€ Jacali said. â€œThey came at us with axes.â€
â€œThey had to rescue me!â€ Pete said. â€œGood job. Wait, you left two alive? Thatâ€™s sloppy.â€
â€œHold on,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œSo, we killed two people â€¦ to rescue a man â€¦â€
â€œMe,â€ Pete said.
â€œâ€¦ who brought us back to the house which weâ€™ve been at this entire time â€¦ to find a child that was under your very noses?â€ Mr. Li said. â€œAnd whatâ€™s in the scroll?â€
â€œYou wouldnâ€™t believe me if I told you,â€ 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.
â€œI 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,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œWhat about the demons?â€ Otto said.
â€œWe need to talk to the Clean and Pure Tong too,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œI assume under the same guise of selling them drugs?â€
â€œWhy do we need to do that?â€
â€œWell, theyâ€™re a brothel.â€
â€œWe can just approach them about the child,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œWe can tell them we know the child was taken from them and ask who is the child.â€
â€œBut they may lie to you about why they want the child back,â€ Otto said.
â€œIf they do, that it their choice. But we shall give the baby to Chang Hai in the meantime.â€
â€œI feel my house is pretty safe,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œWe can leave it here for now.â€
â€œI do not think your house is safe,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œWe do not know if anyone saw Pete Sutter come here a second time. I vote we take the baby to Chang Hai.â€
â€œBut will they notice us if we walk through the town with the baby?â€ Otto said.
â€œPossibly,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œBut I still trust it over Stalloidâ€™s house. No offense.â€
* * *
They returned to Chinatown to Mr. Changâ€™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.
â€œPerhaps you could simply ask the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong and see what they say,â€ Mr. Chang said.
â€œYes,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œWe 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€
â€œI will do my best to honor this request,â€ Mr. Chang said.
* * *
They found the brothel of the Clean and Pure Serenity Tong.
â€œAre we going to have some kind of signal in case something goes wrong?â€ Jacali asked.
â€œLean out the window and scream like a little girl?â€ Pete suggested. â€œThat always worked for us.â€
â€œOh, Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re very good at it, Pete,â€ Jacali said.
â€œWhy thank you - wait a minute!â€ Pete said.
He reached for the gun that wasnâ€™t there and then cursed.
They continued to discuss the signal with Pete suggested â€œcaw cawâ€ and â€œhoody-hoo, hoody-hoo.â€ 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.
â€œAh,â€ he said. â€œIs she for sale?â€
â€œNo,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œWell, itâ€™s her choice.â€
â€œHow might I help you?â€
â€œWe have knowledge that we â€¦ we have questions but also information that the leader of this tong would like to know.â€
â€œAbout the Rightful Spirit,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œAbout the Rightful Spirit Tong,â€ Mr. Li said. â€œYes.â€
â€œThe Rightful Spirit?â€ the host said. â€œWait 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.
â€œThis tong is treating us more hostile than the other,â€ Mr. Li whispered to Professor Stalloid.
â€œI think the hundred dollars and opium really helped,â€ 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.
â€œWhat do you know of the Rightful Spirit Tong?â€ he said.
â€œI know that when we visited them, they didnâ€™t take us down to the torture dungeon,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œPerhaps you would like to try out the rack?â€
â€œTake your pick.â€
â€œI choose none of them.â€
The man glared at him.
â€œWe were happenstance walking through the alley the other night,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œAs â€¦ the â€¦ thing from the stars â€¦ it was a horrible creature â€¦â€
The tong leader turned to Dr. Weisswald.
â€œDo you have anything to say before I start killing all of you?â€ he said to her.
â€œHe means the demon that attacked your men in the alley,â€ she said.
â€œWhat about it?â€ the man asked.
â€œWe saw that happen,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œAnd weâ€™ve been trying to help you in the shadows because we donâ€™t really â€¦â€
â€œRightful Spirit summons demons? Donâ€™t like.â€
â€œWhat help can you give us?â€
â€œWe think you have lost something that you are looking for,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œMy child?â€ the man said.
The man got within an inch of Mr. Liâ€™s face.
â€œWhere is he?â€ he said.
Dr. Weisswald thought the Chinese man was both telling the truth and very, very angry.
â€œWhy was your son taken?â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œI do not know,â€ the man said. â€œAnglo Saxons took him! We killed two - we killed two of them. But one escaped.â€
â€œSo, your son was taken and you do not know why?â€
â€œI do not know why. But I know by who. Thereâ€™s only one tong in this town that is stupid enough to cross us.â€
â€œThe Rightful Spirit! Which you say you represent?â€
â€œNo!â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œNo no no no no.â€
â€œNo, this man was trying to do a business dealâ”€â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œWhere. Is. My. Son?â€ the other man said.
Professor Stalloid thought the man would be more cooperative if they returned his son to him.
â€œWe got into the bottom, under dwellings of the Right Spirit and we have rescued your son,â€ Professor Stalloid quickly said. â€œWe will bring him to you now.â€
â€œWe were not sure it was your son,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œWe are outsiders,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œWe didnâ€™t want to mess things up further. We wanted information first.â€
â€œThese are good white people,â€ Mr. Li said.
The other man spoke in Chinese, telling them to memorize their features. The other hatchet men came forward, taking Dr. Weisswaldâ€™s bonnet off. They got good looks at all of their faces.
â€œVery well,â€ the tong leader said. â€œI 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€
â€œAn hour is a very short amount of time,â€ Mr. Li said.
Dr. Weisswald thought they would have enough time.
â€œAn hour shall be sufficient,â€ the man said.
â€œWill you have tea waiting the next time?â€ Mr. Li quipped. â€œOr will we have to come back down to the dungeon?â€
â€œIf you have my son, you will not have to come back to this room,â€ the man said. â€œIf 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 â€œTake them awayâ€ 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.
â€œI will be the one who go gets the baby,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œI will split up and go too,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œI thinkâ”€â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œIâ€™m going too,â€ Pete said.
â€œPete, how about you just take this chance to leave town?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œOh noâ”€â€ Pete said.
â€œI donâ€™t think thereâ€™s going to be â€¦ the only sort of reward that man is giving, you already had.â€
â€œNo, itâ€™ll be fine.â€
â€œHe has a bigger torture chamber!â€
â€œIf he recognizes you â€¦â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œI got a hat on,â€ Pete said. â€œHeâ€™ll never recognize me.â€
â€œAll right, Pete,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œI could recognize you in the darkest room of the dankest cave,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œI want my reward,â€ Pete said.
Professor Stalloid handed the man $100.
â€œPlease,â€ he said. â€œPete. He wants to kill you.â€
â€œHeâ€™ll be fine,â€ Pete said.
â€œHe knows you did this!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œStalloid, it is pointless,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œItâ€™s fine,â€ Pete said. â€œLetâ€™s go.â€
They all split up and Mr. Li, Pete, and Professor Stalloid collecting the baby from Mr. Changâ€™s place. He told them to be careful. Professor Stalloid wanted to hold the baby.
â€œGive me the baby!â€ Pete said.
â€œYouâ€™re the last one that will hold the baby,â€ Mr. Li said.
â€œDo not give him the baby,â€ 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.
â€œWell, itâ€™s easy for me to dodge,â€ 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.
â€œGet me inside!â€ 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.
â€œCan you fight?â€ Mr. Li said to Professor Stalloid.
â€œNope!â€ 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.
â€œMy spleen!â€ 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.
â€œWe have to stop them!â€ Mr. Li understood him to say. â€œMr. 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 Wilderâ€™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.
â€œYanâ€™s outside,â€ 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.
â€œRun!â€ 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.
â€œThank you,â€ he said.
â€œItâ€™s my duty,â€ 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 Peteâ€™s body was gone.