Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu #1 - Seeking the Target pt. 1

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Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu #1 - Seeking the Target pt. 1

Post  Nik Havert on Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:30 pm

The doctor slid his backpack from his shoulders and noticed the worn, smooth rocks hidden among the ankle-high grass and weeds. "Is this a dried-up riverbed?"

Shang-Chi, who had been walking in a slow circle with the calm air of a cat, turned to face the doctor. He pointed south of their position. "The dam is that way. A river flowed through here many years ago, but it was cut off by the government for power. Nothing grows here now." He sat, folded his legs into a lotus position, and smiled up at the doctor. "I thought you would find inspiration here."

The doctor had come a long way to Yang-Tin in hopes of finding the martial arts master who had fought alongside some of the Earth's greatest heroes. He had heard that, despite the deadliness within him, Shang-Chi had mastered his emotions and sought enlightenment over violence. The doctor smiled when Shang-Chi, who was content to spend his days fishing in Yang-Tin, greeted him at his cottage with green tea and not suspicion. Shang-Chi's English was far better than the doctor's travel phrasebook Cantonese, which brought another sense of relief to the doctor. He loved and longed for normal, everyday conversations.

They'd hiked several miles from the fishing village and halfway up a mountain to the riverbed. They could see Yang-Tin and the ocean in one direction and miles of mountains and forests in the other. "I think so," he said "I can see why you stay here." He pulled his sleeping bag from the top of the backpack, kept it rolled, and put it down so he could sit on something more comfortable than river rocks. "It's peaceful."
"I meant you could find inspiration here," Shang-Chi said as he pointed at the Earth, looking like an incarnation of Buddha, albeit a Buddha who could kill you with one punch. "In this riverbed,"

The doctor looked up the length of the riverbed. "But the river is under control. If you let it loose, it will flood everything."

"The dam does nothing but hold back the true nature of this land," Shang-Chi said as a butterfly drifted overhead and toward Yang-Tin. "Do you know the dream Zhuangzi?"

"No." The doctor chuckled. "I don't even know who that is."

"Zhuangzi once dreamed he was a butterfly; but when he woke up, he did not know if he was a butterfly dreaming it was a man."

The doctor looked like someone had thrown cold water into his face. "So, I could be the dream?"

The left half of Shang-Chi's mouth curled up in a smile. "Or the butterfly. You may not know until the dam is broken and the river flows."

The doctor took a deep breath. His fingertips tapped his kneecaps. "I'm not sure about that."

Shang-Chi held up his right hand. A beetle crawled along his index finger. "This beetle does not live in fear of the dam breaking and the river returning. It eats, it rests. When the government arrives to finally destroy the dam, this beetle will move to safety and live and eat while the river is at peace. To live in fear is not to live, doctor."

The doctor smiled. "I could take care of the dam for you."

Shang-Chi returned the grin. "You see, doctor? You are already embracing the river." Shang-Chi laid the beetle back into the grass. It butted against his knuckle a few times until Shang-Chi moved his hand so it could continue on its original path. "Thank you, but I am sure you want to avoid attention."

A streak of fire blazed across the sky above them. They watched the streak zoom down to Yang-Tin where it landed with a roar of engines instead of the crash of wreckage.

"I think attention does not want to avoid you," Shang-Chi said.

The doctor scrambled to his feet and fished a pair of binoculars out of his backpack. He looked to the village to see a man in a gleaming suit of red and yellow armor standing in a circle of wide-eyed children.

The doctor sighed. "It's Iron Man." He squeezed his binoculars until his knuckles went white. "Why? I'm making amends. Why won't they let me do that on my own?"

Shang-Chi, now standing, put his hand on the doctor's shoulder. "There is a temple three miles up the mountain over there. Keep the village at your back and watch to the right. The steps hidden among the trees. Hide there."

"His armor as thermal imaging and other sensor arrays. He'll find me."

"I will keep him busy while you run."

The doctor's jaw dropped. "Shang-Chi, you can't! He can tear apart a tank with that armor. He has enough firepower to level your village. You can't fight him."

Shang-Chi smiled. It was a smile of mischief. "Who said anything about fighting him?"

The engine roar of Iron Man's jet boots could be heard from the village. Shang-Chi and the doctor saw the fire trail lift into the air.

"You should go now, Doctor Banner."

Dr. Bruce Banner ran while Shang-Chi watched Iron Man's arc through the sky. The grass and weeds around his feet flattened with the heat and force of Iron Man's rocket boots. The armored man landed with practiced grace and stepped forward while removing one of his gauntlets. There was a click and a pop and the faceplate of his helmet snapped open to reveal the smiling face of Tony Stark.

"Shang-Chi? Nick Fury told me I could find you here. I'm Tony Stark, otherwise known as Iron Man, otherwise known as the director of SHIELD, otherwise known as the most wanted bachelor on the planet."

Shang-Chi shook his hand. "On which do I congratulate you?" He asked, having a little trouble with "congratulate."

"The first," Tony said. "All the other cool stuff comes with it. Are we alone? Some of the villagers said you came up here with someone."

"He left."

"Good, because this isn't for prying ears. We - " Tony stopped as something chirped inside his helmet. "Just a moment," he said. His faceplate snapped back down and he slowly looked around the riverbed. "Shang-Chi, are you aware there's a weird gamma radiation signature up here? I've only seen that with..."

Iron Man snapped the gauntlet back onto his hand. He took a step back and raised his open hands, which glowed with power from his palms. "The Hulk. You had the Hulk up here?"

Shang-Chi was unmoved by the display of power. "No. Doctor Banner was here."

"Where is he?" Iron Man asked as he looked around the mountain. Shang-Chi could hear what sounded like birds chirping inside the man's helmet.

Shang-Chi looked around the riverbed. "Not here."

"You need to tell me where he is, Shang-Chi. He's dangerous."

"He was quite friendly."

Iron Man clenched one hand into a fist and pointed at Shang-Chi with the other. "We don't have time for games if the Hulk's nearby, Shang-Chi. Tell me where he is."

"Are you a betting man, Mr. Stark?"

Iron Man's servo-motors whirred as his head turned in surprise. "I have private tables at Caeser's Palace, the Venetian, and the Luxor."

Shang-Chi rotated his shoulders forward, then back. He rolled his head in small circles and began bouncing on the balls of his feet. "I will make you a bet. If you can knock me down, I will tell you where Doctor Banner is. If you fall, you will forget he was here."

Iron Man's hands dropped to his sides. "You're kidding, right?"

Shang-Chi stepped back into a Shaolin Cannon Fist stance, one fist held high by his ear and the other hand held out as straight as a gun sight. He beckoned Iron Man forward.

Iron Man's armor hummed with surging energy. "Okay."

Shang-Chi ducked the armored man's first grab. He stood behind Iron Man as he spun around, his red and gold arm swinging like the boom of a tall mast ship at him. Shang-Chi ducked the backhanded swing. His footwork moved him in tight circles around Iron Man's body. He bobbed and weaved each attempted grab. He moved around the armored hero quick as a gecko, popping up to knock on the back of his helmet or on his face plate like he was knocking on a door.

Shang-Chi dove under a heavy, frustrated swing and rolled to a standing position five feet from Iron Man. Iron Man sharply turned, his humming armor seeming to make his growing annoyance.

"I'm done playing," he said and fired a repulser blast from his gauntlet at the martial arts master.

Tony Stark had seen many things in his life. He had seen alien worlds, androids that could mimic the powers of the Avengers, and even a drag queen he truly believed was Reba McEntire for several hours one night in Reno. He had never seen anyone with no superhuman powers or special technology dodge one of his repulsor blasts. The man wearing nothing but simple cotton pants with old fish oil stains and a pair of black slippers side-stepped the blast of energy almost as soon as it zapped from Iron Man's gauntlet. The energy beam flew up the old riverbed and into the darkness. Iron Man was so amazed by this that he lost track of Shang-Chi. He looked around to find him standing behind him and atop a small hill.

"How did you do that?" Iron Man asked.

"You make much noise," Shang-Chi said. "Your armor..."

Iron Man couldn't hear him. There was some sort of static interference. He adjusted the audio controls of his armor, but Shang-Chi had stopped talking. He only smiled and pointed to his left.

Iron Man turned to look in the direction he was pointing. The static interference wasn't static at all. It was a faint roar that had built to massive volume as a wall of water rushed down the old riverbed at him. The river, freed from the dam broken from his repulsor blast, flattened the armored Avenger, knocking him along the riverbed and over the side of the hill. He kicked on his rocket boots and burst from the new waterfall that began its renewed descent toward Yang-Tin. He flew straight at Shang-Chi, who sat meditating at the edge of the river.

Iron Man landed with a boom in front of Shang-Chi. Water sizzled off his armor. "Where is he, Shang-Chi?"

Shang-Chi looked up at him and smiled. "You fell down."

Iron Man stood still as a statue. There was a whirr and a pop. His face plate opened. Tony Stark smiled. "I did."

He sat next to Shang-Chi, who was a bit surprised at how easily the man could sit in the armor.

"How did you dodge that repulsor blast?"

"Your armor makes much noise," Shang-Chi said. "It makes you strong, but not very fast. It makes noise before each movement. It also cannot hide your body language, Mr. Stark. You and your armor told me everything you were going to do."

"I'll have to work on a quieter model. Okay, the Hulk's off the table. I really came here to ask for your help. Have you ever heard of a criminal named Bullseye?"

"No."

"He's a psychopathic assassin who can hit anything with anything. Well, he doesn't hit much of anything now. He's dead. But his DNA has been made available on the black market. We think someone is cloning him. We want you to find his DNA and bring it back to us."

"Why? SHIELD has many people who can do it."

"We do, but we also know you're no stranger to the whole James Bond thing. You've worked with MI-6. We also think that the people who are buying it are worshippers of your father."

Shang-Chi clenched his fists. He took a purifying breath and focused on the sound of the river. His anger swelled in him like an uncoiling octopus.

"My father," he said, his voice weary. "He brings evil even after death." He stood up, and Iron Man, seeing the tensed muscles in his forearms, wondered if Shang-Chi really could've knocked him over without the help of a river.

"Tell me more," Shang-Chi said.

TO BE CONTINUED!

Nik Havert

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Re: Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu #1 - Seeking the Target pt. 1

Post  Craig DeBoard on Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:45 pm

That was really well written Nik. The foreshadowing of the damn being broken when Shang-Chi was having his conversation with Banner, and which later led to Ironman losing the fight, was just awesome. It's as clear as a bell, you were BORN to write Shang-Chi.
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Re: Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu #1 - Seeking the Target pt. 1

Post  Paul E. Schultz on Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:06 am

I bow to the master, Nik! Bravo, brother!
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Re-Shang Chi Seeking the Target Part 1

Post  Eric Nyman on Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:40 am

Standing and clapping for Nik Havert. Awesome work I love Shang Chi

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Re: Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu #1 - Seeking the Target pt. 1

Post  AndyWright on Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:45 pm

Incredibly well executed. Even poiniant (hope I'm spelling that right).
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Re: Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu #1 - Seeking the Target pt. 1

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