Li Long flies swiftly to an altitude of 1000 feet. He can see the city of Guangzhou ahead. Some of it is on fire. Some is smoking. Some is in ruins. The city center has simply disappeared, with a large smoking crater in its place.
Japanese troops ring the city, with prisoner pens and various vehicles. In the bay are a few warships, including a particularly massive battleship with a peculiar bow section.
The restaurant was fairly near the center of the city. Li Long flies quickly, hoping that…
There it is, not a block or two from the edge of the crater. It’s still standing. There are bodies on the street. A few of them are in Japanese uniforms, but most are simply Chinese citizens.
Li Long lands at the back door. He hears background urban commotion—vehicle noise, some shouts in the distance, the occasional gunshot—but the noises seem far off. It is fairly quiet here. And there are no sounds coming from inside the building.
Looking around to see if he is noticed. Li Long creeps into the house, keeping low and quiet. Thinking “Grandfather I am here!”
The back door leads into the kitchen. Stairs lead up to the living quarters, tight but cosy for a grandfather, father, mother, five boys and five girls. But the father and three of the boys are out with General Chiang now, leaving the younger girls (ages 17, 13, 10, 7 and 4) the oldest son (late 20s, but lame in one foot), pregnant (again) mother and grandfather. Stairs also lead down to the cellar, but someone has moved a tall, wide shelf full of heavy boxes and kitchen appliances in front of the doorway, obscuring the door completely. Swinging doors lead out into the dining room.
The kitchen has been totally trashed. Li Long smells gas from broken pipes. Bags of rice and cans of sauce are spilled all over the floor. Vegetables are tumbling out of broken crates. Shattered glass and pots and pans lie everywhere.
Li Long hear something moving in a pile of vegetables.
Li Long grabs some debris, a stick or something longer, he nudges the vegetables, trying to discover what may be moving under them. He also tries to remember if there are tools in the house he could use to crimp the gas pipes.
There’s some plumbing-type tools in the basement, if Li Long remembers correctly. Maybe one of those would work.
Li Long begins gingerly poking at the big vegetable pile. A bunch of radishes cascades down the pile, revealing an old, gnarled, twitching hand. Presumably attached to a body.
Li Long immediately digs the person out and checks to see that they are alive.
If the person is “with it” he will ask what happened. If not he will get a tool to stop the gas flow then tend to the person, trying to revive them.
Following the hand down to the face, Li Long discovers the face of his grandfather buried beneath the produce.
“Li Long…come…Li Long…” he mutters. He is barely conscious. His eyes are open, but unfocused. His face is bruised, and blood is tricking down from his hair.
Li Long, while trying to stop the bleeding, says, “Yes Grandfather, of course.. but come where? Show me the path.”
“Li Long…you’re here? I can’t see…” Grandfather reaches a bruised hand to touch Li Long’s cheek. “I’m sorry…they came…they’re coming back…we couldn’t move your mother…none of your sisters would leave when the attack started…Your brother tried to stop them…I had to
The old man coughs, and blood comes up. His eyes start to defocus and his fingers tremble. Li Long begins bandaging the scrapes and lacerations he can find.
Li Long, “Grandfather I am here. Who attacked? Is the family dead or alive? I should have been here. Why are they coming back? What did you do to stop them? What should I do?”
Grandfather struggles to focus again. “Soldiers…your oldest brother delayed them…killed him…mother too…upstairs…couldn’t let them get your sisters’ honor…I remember Nanking…hid them in basement…fed them…” His eyes glance over to a pile of boxes in the corner. Empty boxes of rat poison.
“The soldiers beat me…went away…our ancestors…I see them now…say they’ll come back.” Grandfather coughs up more blood.
“Avenge us, Li Long…Avenge your family…Avenge all China…Save all China…Ancestors say…only you…can save China…” His eyes flicker and his breath starts to wheeze.
Li Long is almost speechless, " Save China? Me?"
“Yes…but you need a weapon…a weapon powerful enough…to defeat and humiliate the entire nation of Japan…and drive them from our land.
“You will cross two oceans. You will find and save the weapon before it is destroyed. And you will do it…with this.”
Grandfather shakily pulls out a coin and gives it Li Long. It’s a strange, foreign coin.
“Take it…save China…you will not…be alone…eyes and the dark…”
He gasps. His arm flops onto the floor.
He has become one of the revered ancestors.
He bows,“ancestors give me strength and never leave me, grandfather guide me and show me the true path.”
Li Long takes a moment to mourn his family then says goodbye to his grandfather. He keeps his calm saving his rage for those who have destroyed his family and are trying to destroy his homeland.
In a whisper “Ancestors be with me. I am Li Long Feng. Wind of the Dragon. Zephyr. Scourge to those who oppress.”
Li Long looks at the foreign coin and dreams of revenge against the Empire of the Sun and the animals which inhabit it. He does not know how a coin can make a difference but his grandfathers teachings of Tao say, "From small beginning gs come great things. " He reverently puts the coin in his pocket.
To himself, committing it to memory, “Cross 2 oceans. Find and save the weapon weapon before it is destroyed. Save China. Not be alone. Eyes and dark.”
“In time it will make sense”
Li Long looks up from his moment of mourning. Something is strange about the shadows. There seems to be a dim blue light glowing behind him.
Li Long turns.
“Don’t be sad, big brother.” It is the voice of your 12 year old sister.
In the kitchen you see your sisters. They are just as you remember them—except they are glowing, light blue, transparent outlines of themselves.
The oldest, Yun Zhi (Cloud Princess), 15, always dreamy and wistful, with her legs folded beneath her, shrouded in long, loose hair and melancholy. Qiao Shu (Gentle Sophistication), 12, the sensible one, stands alert and encouraging. Hong Dan (Red), 9, paces a bit more irritably than usual. Hun Jiao (Lovely Charity), 6, sits on a countertop, swinging her legs cheerfully. And Xiao-Xiao, just 3, (Graceful Young Lady), holds on to Qiao Shu’s leg, neither happy nor sad, angry nor excited, just staring at you.
“Being dead stinks!,” says Red, stomping across the room.
“It’s fun!” Charity yells, leaping into the air and hovering there while giggling.
“Don’t worry about us, Li Long,” says Sophie. “We have all joined the ancestors. Mother is here too, and Grandfather, and our oldest brother. The ancestors have plans for you, and we are going to keep an
eye on you.”
Princess sighs. “Your coming journey will be long and difficult. Don’t give up hope. You will recover your sanity.”
Grace watches. Her eyes are full of admiration and trust.
“Your ordeal will be over, and your mission will continue, when you cook in the kitchen once more,” says Sophie. “But for now, I think you have visitors.” She looks toward the door to the dining room.
Feng-Li Long (Wind-Power Dragon) bowing to his sisters and with an odd mixture of feeling; both of loss and gain says, “My dear sisters – I am grateful for your continued companionship. Please give my humble regards to mother, grandfather, brother, and all the revered ancestors.”
He straightens himself and with a smile thinks of simple times. ‘When I cook again’ eh? Ok.
Li Long turns to face the dining room door steeling himself and calling on the ancestors protection. He moves to confront the intruders confidently; expecting murderous soldiers.
Li Long enters the dining room through the swinging kitchen doors.
As he enters from the back, the front door closes behind the invaders. Li Long faces them across the dining room. Tables and chairs seem to have been thrown around in what might have been a mighty struggle; perhaps Grandfather and your eldest brother were stronger than you used to think.
Five Japanese men turn to face you as you enter. They are wearing black fighting robes, like something out of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. They all have straight katanas and have the Chinese number 6 emblazoned on their shoulders in white for some reason. Their leader wears a white headband and his hair has a strange magenta tint.
They all freeze dramatically for an instant. Then the leader shouts in accented Chinese. “Gaijin! Surrender yourself at once! Samurai Squad Six! Seize him!”
Li Long will use Air Control to lift the far right Samurai, throw him around the room to gain momentum and slam him into the other two Samurai.
[The ceiling and floor of the family restaurant are intact and sturdy if gouged and littered respectively. A swinging door to the kitchen is in back, and the front doors are in front, and there is a large window in front looking out onto the street. Or, nowadays, the enormous crater across the street that used to be downtown Guangzhou. Above the ceiling is the family quarters, and below is storage. From what your grandfather told you, you’re none to eager to go either place. If you did, you’d probably have to blow a hole.]
The winds whip around fiercely in the restaurant, grabbing at one of the samurai. He shouts as he twirls through the air, tossed by the gale-force winds. Li Long slams him into one of the other samurai.
The samurai leader cocks an eyebrow at this turn on events. He begins to sit back in his chair and watch intently.
The samurai that was kicked over the table groans and starts to move. The one grabbed shakes his head to clear it, and the one he slammed into regains his balance. The fourth reverses the grip on his sword and attacks! Li Long avoids the slash.
Li Long smashes his captive missile against one of the samurai. The held samurai goes limp, his sword clatters away. Te other looks dizzy.
“You worthless idiots,” the leader says. The samurai are chagrined by their leader’s use of Chinese. “Quit playing around and fight!”
Two samurais facing you warily, winded but ready for more fight. The captive of the winds seems unconscious. The fourth is dizzy. Their leader is still sitting and watching with some interest.
Li drops the unconscious man, ducks behind the table and snaps his fingers causing a conclusive blast centered on a point between the two alert samurai. The samurai are swept off their feet and fall to the floor, swords clanging to the ground.
The fourth samurai, D, steadies himself on a table. He looks at Li Long, then to his commander, then back at Li Long in trepidation. He readies his sword.
“That is enough.” The samurai leader stands up from his table by the front window. He uses his thumb to loosen his katana in its sheath. “Stand down.” The last samurai squad member lowers his sword from the ready position.
“I am intrigued by your power,” the commander says. “You do well enough against menial underlings. What is your name?”
Li Long stands defiantly and states calmly, "You may call me Zephyr. Who are you, who do you represent, and why do you attack me in my home? "
“Zehpyr is an idiotic name for an idiotic gaijin. I am Reiji, Lieutenant of Samurai Squad Six. Thank you for confirming that you live here, because we were sent to capture a surviving family member. First, however, I will show you how foolish you are to oppose the Japanese Empire! Come and attack me! Give me your best shot!”
Reiji draws his katana and stands ready.
Li wonders what this Reiji has up his sleeve and why someone would want to capture him, he has no intention of going without a fight, “You say my name is idiotic and you are a member of Samurai Squad Six?! Ha ha ha! Your name means midnight, exemplification, or curious child. I had an exemplary cat named Midnight once, curiosity killed it.”
Li places palms together, calls on the ancestors for guidance, strength, peace and protection, and releases a blast of air directly toward the smug Japanese murderer, trying to push him through the wall behind him.
A powerful, focused blast of wind channels itself toward the waiting Samurai—but he steps to the side. The blast shatters the front window.
“You should have taken an object lesson from your cat, for I am curiosity itself!”
Reiji charges across the distance and slashes, rapping Li Long hard with the flat side of his sword. Li Long feels the ki pressure behind the blow. It feels like being hit by a truck. He is knocked back into the kitchen wall, cracking the plaster and the brick behind it, but the ancestral vortices cushion the blow.
“Interesting. You’re still standing. This might be worthwhile after all.”
Li flip/stand and calls upon the air shield in addition to the ancestral protection. He will then grab and suspend the is “Samurai” upside down using air control.
“I am curious as to why a Napan monster hunts me.”
Winds rip through the restaurant, swirling around the Samurai Lieutenant. Reiji ducks below the winds and out of their grasp.
“Someone has taken interest in your family, Zephyr. As for me, I came on this mission hoping for a true challenge.”
Reiji swings again, and again hits with the flat side of his sword, with the force of a falling building.
“How disappointing,” he remarks, as Li Long wavers into unconsciousness…
…Li Long wakes. He is bound, with his arms tied behind his back, being carried by one of the samurai squad, who all seem to be awake and recovered. Reiji and his squad are walking down one of the streets of Guangzhou.
Reiji notices Li Long’s eyes fluttering. He chatters in Japanese. Then he switches to Chinese.
“Walk, gaijin. You’ll find out who’s hunting you. You might even find out why.” The squad member carrying Li Long sets him down on his feet, none to gently. Li Long is conscious but only just. Reiji gestures for Li Long to precede him down the street.
Li walks and conserves his strength, appear weaker than he is; listening to the ancestors. He hopes to learn about this enemy and not try to escape… for now.
Li goes along with the gloating samurai. They walk him around the edge of the annihilated downtown area toward the docks.
At the largest pier in the city, a huge battleship is docked. Its sleek gray hull sweeps from the stern to a very unusual prow. Just below the tip of the bow is a round opening, gaping from just under the deck to just above the waterline, like the mouth of the most enormous cannon ever imagined. Steam rises from the muzzle, as if it has been fired recently. Approaching the ship along the pier, Li looks down the gullet of the gun and feels the focused threat of the entire Japanese Empire.
On the other side of the pier is a large ship of some kind, like a large, gray oil tanker, but with an unusual array of antennas. People are swarming around both ships, unloading and performing various maintenance tasks under the rising sun of the Japanese Navy flag. The samurai escort continues to walk Li up the pier toward the ships.
The squad continues along he pier between the cold cargo ship and the steaming naval engine of destruction. Reiji stops at the gangplank leading to the huge tanker. He motions for Li to walk up it.
The deck of the huge tanker is wide and flat, like the great plaza that used to be at the center of downtown. At one end the crew quarters and bridge loom several stories high, with huge antennae reaching even higher. One of Reiji’s men undogs a hatch in the deck by Li Long’s feet. Reiji motions Li to enter.
Li is hesitant, not knowing if this will be an enclosed space, he starts to sweat and looks nervous. He is curious as to why they have not tried to kill him yet. He enters the hatch after trying to memorize the layout above deck.
The deck is flat, crowned just enough to shed water during a storm. There are several big cargo hatches, each nearly as wide as the ship itself, in a row from the bow to the four story conning tower at the stern. Li is descending down a ladder below a hatch into the darkness below.
Below, lit by acid yellow light, is an open hold, wide enough that Li’s claustrophobia is held in abeyance. For now. Stacked in the hold are what seem to be four levels of cement-walled prison cells with barred doors. Catwalks run along each level, patrolled by guards in uniform, providing access to the cell doors, rather like a maximum security prison (like Alcatraz), but much dimmer. The smell is faintly repulsive, as if the sanitary facilities are a bit inadequate.
“I believe this is your room, Zephyr-kun,” says Reiji. “I thank you for your cooperation.” A prison guard hold open a cell. Reiji motions Li Long into it.
Li looks at Reiji and calmly raises his eyebrow at the -kun… he does not bow, “Can you tell me the name of your Master who now holds me captive?”
“I suppose I can tell you,” Reiji says as the door clangs shut. “You are the guest of General Sato Shunji, a doctor of some renown, I believe. I suppose he will be eager to meet you. I don’t think you’ll be quite so eager though.” Reiji sighs. “Well, back to my boring life. I’d say good luck, but there isn’t any of that here on this ship. Or in China, nowadays. I can’t even get a good fight.” Reiji walks off, leaving Li Long in a damp, poorly illuminated cell to contemplate the future.
He contemplates giving him the fight he craves but he does not want to play all of his cards, he may need them to survive.
He examines his cell and sits in the corner to meditate.
The cell is a small, featureless room with a crude cot and a bucket. The confined space raises Li Long’s hackles, but he controls himself with the idea that he could leave any time he wanted.
Time passes. Li has no idea how much. The bleak artificial light stays the same. Footsteps are occasionally audible, along with humans expressions of misery, both soft sobs and sighs in the neighboring cells and harsher cries far removed.
Li settles down to meditate and conserve his strength for the fight to come.
Blue ethereal light coalesces in the corner of the room. It resolves itself into the form of your oldest sister, Princess. She is sitting on the floor, long robes and longer hair spread around her. She sighs, and looks up with sad eyes.
“Brother, do not give in to despair about the times to come. We will be with you and help you bear it until you reach your new home.” Tears begin to sparkle on her cheeks. “I would live the coming time for you if I could. But the Ancestors demand it. Stay strong.”
Princess fades out.
After another apparently long period of time, Li Long hears footsteps coming to his door. A guard appears, who bangs on the bars of the door. Behind him comes a small, wrinkled Japanese man, in a small, wrinkled uniform, stooped and wearing very thick glasses. He gazes in at you with what seems to be excited interest.
Behind the wrinkled man is a tall man in strange, regal clothing. He is wearing what looks like large shoulder pads, elongated and pointed out to either side, made of stiff, black enameled leather. A scarlet cape suspended from the shoulder pads almost covers his military uniform completely. His hair has a subtle purplish tint and he carries a staff, topped by a large metal ring that has four smaller rings dangling from it. His eyes remain closed at all times, yet he moves as if he knows exactly where he is and what is around him.
The winkled man grips the bars excitedly.
“Well! How are you do? Do room fit you? Are you well? I can not wait to look at you!” The wrinkled man’s voice wheezes and his Chinese isn’t so good.
Li ponders the words from her sister, “New home”… and …pain…
From the sounds of the moans and screams he can put two and two together. This man is evil, he is Japanese of course, but eviler …
He asks the ancestors to make him stronger and to help him not despair. He take some solace knowing he will have opportunities to extract revenge in the future. If this is his path to that end he welcomes it.
Li replies, “No. I am not well, I am a prisoner against my wishes, as are my people. It is obvious you will soon solidify my low esteem of the Japanese race as you violate me further.”
Li will remain as calm as possible for now.
“Yes, good, okay, you healthy. But now we ready you. Come to lab now. Then eat, rest. Tomorrow fun begin!” He giggles and unlocks the cell door. He motions you outside. The tall caped man stands aside, moving confidently though he apparently can’t see.
Li steps out of the cage. Steps toward the sleep-walking man and waves his hand in front of his face saying, “Are you awake? How do you see? Do you sense color too or just shapes? What’s your name? Do you talk? Can I touch the rings?” Li reaches to touch the rings.
“You eager. Good! You talk plenty soon enough. It exciting!” The tall man doesn’t speak but smirks in a condescending manner. When Li reaches for the rings one of the nearby guards shoves you further down the catwalk leading past the cell doors.
“You show respect Mr. Zero. He bad enemy,” the wrinkled man chuckles. “And I sorry, I too excited, no introduce me. Doctor General Sato Shunji. Please, this way.”
Li is led down the catwalk to metal stairs and down two stories to the floor of the ship. He is guided into a white corridor. A door is opened showing something like a doctor’s examination room, but instead of a bed there is a large chair with restraint straps.
“Go ahead. You no hurt today. Just easy to talk.” Dr Sato gestures you in to the chair.
Li follows, looking around. He is resigned at this time to see what they have planned. He knows it will not be pleasant. He whispers a quick prayer to his ancestors for strength and guidance.
The wrinkled man sits Li in the large chair but doesn’t fasten the straps. He sits down on a wooden chair facing Li, with the tall man standing behind him. He snaps his fingers at a lab-coated assistant in the room.
The assistant brings a syringe and stabs it into Li’s shoulder. Li’s brain begins to buzz, like the head rush of standing up too quickly. It passes after a few minutes.
Dr Sato begins to talk. Li is pretty sure it’s Japanese, but can’t figure out what he’s saying. He begins to scowl, repeating the same words over and over. He then shouts at his assistant, who brings the syringe over. Dr Sato looks at it, slams it down against the floor, and shouts at the assistant in a high-pitched voice. Li catches the words “nihongo” and “English”.
The lab assistant, terrified, rushes back to a cabinet and brings back another syringe. He administers it the same way, and Li feels another head rush. Then it passes.
“Well, perhaps now we can get on with our conversations without incompetent technicians interfering.” Dr Sato gestures to the lab assistant, who shuffles out of the lab with head held low. “Do you understand me?”
“Do I understand you? No. You and your people’s actions are incomprehensible.”
“Good, good.” Li notices that he himself is speaking more haltingly than usual, and that Dr Sato is much more fluent. Then he realizes they are both now speaking Japanese, and that he understands perfectly.
“You are a very interesting person, Zephyr. Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? Who is your family? What is your occupation?”
Li switches back to Chinese, “Why and how am I speaking in your foul tongue?”
Dr Sato continues speaking in Japanese. "Perfect! The serum is my own invention. You are one of the first test subjects, and from your reaction I can tell you understand Japanese perfectly, and can speak it to some extent. You are experiencing Japanese science at work. This is why we are destined to rule the lesser races.
“You knowing the tongue of your superiors will make our work much easier. Now tell me where you are from, and who your family is, and how you came to have your occult powers over the wind.”
Li continues in Chinese, “You know where I am from. You destroyed my home. You know my family – you killed them all. Why should I be cooperative?”