Agent Steele puts a small lead box on the table in front of Agent Holly. “We enclosed the entire birdcage in lead to keep out prying eyes. Take this to Maury Ti in Chinatown on Stockton and California. Also take these copies of Agent Weed’s sketches of the heiroglyphs,” he says, as he places an envelope beside the box. “He will have something to give or tell you as well. He doesn’t like modern devices like mobile phones.” He twiddles with his smartphone and a picture of an eccentrically dressed Asian man appears on their screens. They go down to a storage room to find a cloth birdcage cover and use it to conceal the lead box.
Poison Wing goes over to Chinatown and Agent Amy frees up a parking place. They walk down the block to Maury R. Ti’s Ti Shoppe. Inside are a large number of shelves and apothecary boxes, bins with dried herbs, delicately fashioned room divider screens, jade carvings, fine porcelain, paintings, books in Chinese and languages from shadow, antiques, curios, uncategorizable objets d’art. Wary of the creaking wooden floor, Agent Amy remains outside. The ogre ogles the chocolate shop across the street. A small puddle of drool begins to collect on the sidewalk.
Maury Ti flings open the draperies behind the counter and flounces through them. He is dressed in flamboyant steampunk apparel. “Why, hello, my dears! You must be from Department-7. Mr. Steele said you had something for me to look at.” Agent Holly hands him the lead box. “I’ll just put this in back for now,” he says as he carries it back though the draperies.
Several of them notice the front door open briefly, but only Agent Nico sees an Asian man enter the store with very long straight black hair tied in a pony tail, black leather jacket with a fu dog on the back with Chinese writing underneath. His skin is very gray. He examines one of the display cases. “Get out!” yells Mr. Ti.
“But we just got here,” says Agent Holly, puzzled.
“I didn’t mean you, I meant that thing,” says Mr. Ti as he points at the man in the jacket. Now that he’s pointed him out, everyone can see the man walking away. Agent Nico snaps a picture with his phone. As the interloper saunters out the front door, Agent Weed reads the words “Fu Dogs” written in Chinese on the back of his jacket.
“He’s from some new gang called the Fu Dogs. They’ve been harassing me and some other shopkeepers lately, stealing things. I hear they’re pushing some dreadful new drug called Bad Blood.”
Agent Holly asks what he knows about the crystal. “Oh, the crystal!” he exclaims as he dashes through the curtain. There is a noise of scuffling and a sharp cracking sound, so Holly and Peyote vault the counter and follow after him into the back room. Mr. Ti is lying on the floor with the broken stub of his cane still in his hand. “The ruffian out front was apparently a mere distraction so that a second thug could sneak in here and steal something. Fortunately, he didn’t have time to grab the crystal, or anything else. I gave him a good thrashing with my walking stick, and he absconded out the door. This makes me think I should take the artifact back to Department-7 and study it there. ”
As other agents help Mr. Ti, Agent Holly moves to the door that leads out to an alleyway. The door lock has been broken. The hallway is cloaked in an unnatural darkness. Agent Holly phones Agent Steele, who agrees that bringing Mr. Ti and the artifact back to D7 HQ is best. Agents help Mr. Ti board up the door.
Back to D7.
After dinner, Poison Wing is summoned to Multipurpose Room 1 by Agent Steele. Mr. Ti is still studying the artifact in back. More info on the Fu Dogs and Bad Blood. Another strain of it. Causes addiction and physical changes on third exposure.
Steele shows them photo of Fu Dogs, long hair and jackets. Were in L.A. until relocated to SF.
Ben Hu: Convenience store thug from L.A. missing, seen with Fu Dogs.
Lu Huang: leader of Fu Dogs.
Solid amber eye in Nico’s photo, teeth all pointed, otherwise appears to be Ben Hu. Been harassing Maury. Fu Dogs trying to acquire ‘herbs’ (spell components).
D7 needs more info, assigning Poison Wing to staff and surveil the Ti Shoppe, gather info.