- May 15, 2017
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Daiyu Fan was traded by her mother to the Luen Lok Triad when she was 14, to cover a heroin debt. Young Daiyu didn’t work out well when it came to generating income. The money spent on her nails and hair was wasted when she pulled out that hair and raked those nails across her chest in front of the webcam. The subsequent beatings left her face black and blue. In the webcam world, girls with black and blue faces weren’t popular and Luen Lok got out of the small market that did years ago. The Chinese authorities frowned upon such things and even made occasional raids. The penalty was death.
The beatings continued for some months until a Thai thug in the triad named Somrak laid eyes on her. Daiyu had earned the nickname “Black-and-Blue” by this time and Somrak was astonished by her ability to stay on her feet. With his lieutenant’s blessing, he started to train her in Muay Thai boxing. After two years of cruel training and abuse, Somrak received permission to take Daiyu with him on a heroin delivery to The Philippines.
The creaky old fishing boat chugged through the warm, foggy night. Daiyu sulked in a dark corner below deck. Her shins and elbows were sore and she wondered how many dregs on the crew she would have to fight off on this trip. For the most part the bruises on her face had disappeared, migrating to her fists, forearms, shins, and ribs. She could pass for pretty. Somrak trained her and beat her, but never once touched her in violation. But he also never lifted a finger to defend her. That was her job. About a dozen eyes watched her, contemplating.
The boat lurched and came to a violent stop. The crew below abruptly tore their eyes from Daiyu and rushed to the deck. Only two men stayed below, babysitting the drums that held over 200 kilos of unprocessed heroin. Daiyu heard frustrated cursing and the motor revved in reverse. The boat lurched and shifted, they were aground. Then she heard screams and then nothing more than the creaking silence of the grounded ship shifting in the wind. A hooded figure seemed to float down the railing below deck. Daiyu knew that somehow her training would be useless against this robed shade. She had time to stand up and assume a defensive stance when a fist struck her in the throat, then a thumb at her temple. She gasped on the floor and heard more strikes, snapping bone, and limp bodies hitting the floor. She heard words whispered in an odd Mandarin dialect, “… whichever of them is still breathing when the sun comes up, that will be the one.”
Eight and a half years later, Daiyu was on that same ship headed back to Hong Kong. She’d activated the homing beacon aboard the ship and a few days later, 8 triad thugs had arrived to investigate. They confirmed the heroin was still on board and got the engine going. They had many questions, which Daiyu ignored. She knew that she’d be questioned by a Little Boss in Hong Kong about what happened. That was what really mattered. She’d be in a room with a Little Boss, his Number Two, and a collection of thugs. Daiyu was counting on this.
It was only 10 minutes into their trip back when the first goon came at her. They had the heroin. Her return back was inconsequential and besides, she’d grown up quite beautiful. There were so many options for the gangsters that were bringing her back… each one of them held a prize: return the drugs – reward, return the girl for answers – reward, press the girl into prostitution – reward. The immediate reward was sitting on the deck, glaring at them all right now.
Daiyu had been planning this since the morning she awoke 8 years ago, gasping for breath and the grim face of a hooded monk staring at her. His forearms were rung with tattoos of a striking serpent. He had struck a pressure point on her shoulder and, with a fistful of her hair in his hand, cranked her head back so she could again draw breath. He told her she’d been chosen to learn Snake Kung Fu or to die. She learned everything she could. She trained, she fought, she bled. Much of the philosophy was lost on her, but she had the natural speed that was necessary for Snake Kung Fu. She learned, she waited.
After around 8 years, she decided it was time to return to Hong Kong. She knew she’d be put in a room with a Little Boss and his crew for questioning. It had taken 8 years… but now she was confident she could kill the Little Boss and everyone in that room in around 4 to 6 seconds. 7 people, she figured. That’s all it would take. 4 to 6 seconds and she would have her own crew and a new life as a Little Boss. She’d leave the Number Two guy alive, of course, because there would be a Big Boss. There was always a Big Boss. The Number Two guy would have to explain to the Big Boss how Daiyu had decimated the Little Boss and a number of his delinquents. The Number Two would have to explain that there’s a new Number One. She’d get what remained of his crew, recruit more, and sell the heroin. The smog-filled sky was the limit.
The first mate leered and clambered toward her. In a blur of her arm, she had snatched out his eye and struck his jugular. He moaned feebly and fell on his face. Daiyu sat on this twitching body and watched as the rest of the crew returned to their duties. A pool of blood gathering under her feet, she wiped the blood from her fingers and reached into her satchel.
The scroll was beautiful. She’d taken it from the Temple of the Yellow Scale just before leaving. It would probably fetch an amazing sum from a collector on the black market. It was a copy, created by Abbot Master Huo. His kung fu was not good, but his calligraphy unmatched. The original was kept by the shifu… and one did not steal from the Master of Four Fangs.
She spread the scroll out over the hull of the lifeboat and sighed. It was almost too beautiful.
“Camera,” she said. No one heard her.
“CAMERA!” she screamed, and the crew all stopped frozen and stared at her. One of the smaller thugs approached carefully and pointed at the coat of the recently deceased face down on the deck. He gave a final twitch as Daiyu dug a smart phone out from his pocket. Small Thug showed her how to unlock it and scan the scroll.
Times have changed, she thought.
Daiyu was amazed and delighted as she saw the scroll replicate across the screen. When the phone scanned the final image, a spear with a wavy blade, it flashed and beeped:
Milwaukee Public Museum, Old World Archaeology Collection: The Spear of Wise Fucanlong – legend calls it the weapon that contains the speed and wisdom of Fucanlong, the oldest serpent who taught the first monk the ways of Snake Kung Fu.
Small Thug smiled and nodded. She had learned a bit of English in the past. He showed her how to translate it into Mandarin Chinese. She smiled and nodded, snapped his neck and threw him overboard. Perhaps, she thought, she could meet the Big Boss after all…