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Prologue - Shadows of the Dragon

"What chance does beauty have in a world full of darkness?"
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The low hum of twenty cement trucks permeated the construction site. Six trucks lined the edges of the pour site, while ten more idled in a long line around the perimeter ready to replace the others as soon as they had completed the evacuation of their mixers. Once the pour started, it would continue without interruption for twenty hours. Laying the foundations of a skyscraper is a very precise and methodical process. Any interruption of the pour could compromise the foundation and result in delays and financial damages into the millions of dollars.

Within the enormous hole, there was a maze of interweaving number eighteen steel rebar, the thickest steel beams available for skyscraper construction. At the bottom of this pit of steel mazeworks, there was a large metal tool box; usually used to store jackhammers. There were six men in expensive suits standing stoically in front of the box, and two well built construction workers standing beside it. The box had been emptied of its contents, and small holes had been drilled all around its sides near its mouth. Inside the box, knelt a Caucasian man with a bloodied face and torn clothes.

“Begin the pour in exactly five minutes,” one of the well dressed Chinese men commanded into a walkie-talkie, “Sync all trucks on my mark… now ,” he said clicking the button on his stopwatch. “Please…” the man in the box said, his voice cracking, “Not like this.”

“In any other circumstance, you would be disciplined, and the girl would be dealt with, but you caused Mr. Cheung to lose face. He has made it clear to me though; that if you decide to co-operate, we should put you on a plane home tonight. That is, of course, as long as you never show your face in this city again. Now where is she?”

“Please…” the man repeated.

“You have three minutes.”

“Okay. Okay. I put her on a freighter for Australia yesterday,” he lied.

“Which one?”

“It was a Merck ship. My buddy got her on board. I don’t know any details.”

“Have men intercept all Merck ships bound for Australia. Bird may be aboard one of them.” He commanded the man standing to his right, “You disappoint me Mr. Young. Your lies are becoming expensive. Lock it up!”

“Fuck you Chan! She isn’t going to tell anybody! She’s just a young terrified girl! Leave her be.”

“Dying for a whore! Fucking Americans. When we find her, and we will; she is going to wish she was put in that box with you,” Chan said.

The two construction workers grabbed Mr. Young by the shoulders and pushed him down on his back; his hands cuffed tightly in front of his body. One of the men in a suit threw a hand held oxygen tank into the box next to him.

“You are going to need that!” Chan said laughing. All the other men smiled as they watched terror flood Mr. Young’s face. The box closed tight, but everyone could hear the short panicked breaths of Mr. Young through the breathing holes. The two construction workers clicked the padlocks shut on either end of the lid and looked back at Chan for further instruction. Chan signaled for them to leave.

Mr. Young closed his eyes and began to pray through panicked thoughts. Dear God! Dear God! was all his mind could muster, and he prayed it over and over again until suddenly his prayers were interrupted by the loud sirens which began to blare all around the site.

He lay in the darkness, small beams of light illuminating the dust which moved violently, with his breathing, above him. His fingers turned white as he clutched the oxygen tank.

The pour had begun.

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