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  • Roy Loh

The Dragon Rises | Lee Character Story

Updated: May 11, 2022

“This is the last door you’ll have to kick down, I promise.”

“Is this the place?” Lee asked.

“It has to be,” Boris answered shakily.

Weaving through the unswept piles of fallen leaves, Lee approached one of the broken window panes on the side of the dreary warehouse. Its unsuspecting rectangular stature gave nothing away, and fit right into a landscape of identical-looking buildings used as storage facilities for nearby factories.

“I see two guards and carts full of rusted metal. Maybe we should try that other place,” Lee whispered.

“No, this is it. I’m sure.”

Lee peered in, slowly, through the crack. With both guards turned away, Lee signaled Boris with a simple hand gesture, then dove through the crack with Boris closely behind. They split up, sneaking up swiftly and silently behind the two guards. Within seconds, Lee and Boris had their arms around their necks and the guards quickly collapsed onto themselves.

Vines contorted the inside of this dilapidated warehouse, and fading graffiti on the walls gave way for chipping concrete. A chilling wind echoed throughout the dim interior, with a few grimy windows letting in what was left of the day. Rows of unmarked cardboard boxes formed a labyrinth in the run-down, dingy warehouse. Lee and Boris crept under the precarious wooden beams, treading carefully away from the scraps and red bricks scattered over the uneven floor.

There was an unspoken understanding between Boris and Lee, though they were far from being friends. Their years of unlikely partnership proved only beneficial for both of them, and together they rescued and rehomed many kids from the snares of local gangs. But how did Boris know someone from the inside?

Lee quickly set aside his doubts, and continued to stalk around the mess of lined-up boxes and scraps. As they turned the corner past a row of piled up boxes, a single wooden desk and chair stood uncannily under a dangling bulb.

“It’s been a while,” boomed a heavy, cruel voice from the shadows. Dressed in a dark gray tailored three-piece suit, a man walked out from the chilling darkness. The air grew colder, more still, more suffocating. Boris clenched his fists, seething but paralysed.

“I brought him to you. Where is she?” Boris spit out through his gritted teeth.

“All in good time,” he replied carelessly, “my boy!” while beaming at Lee.

“Tornado!” Lee responded.

The man was the ringleader of a local gang, with many enemies and more allies. Lee nearly crossed paths with him when he rescued some children Tornado was trafficking a few years back. He had heard only whispers and rumors of the man, but never met Tornado himself.

“You are a difficult man to invite to a party,” Tornado continued.

“You sure you want me as your dance partner?” Lee started towards him, but a warning gesture from Tornado stopped him dead in his tracks.

Lee’s attention snapped immediately to the bald man with his arm around the neck of a girl. Towering over her, he shoved her forward. Her head was painfully lifted up by his tree trunk of an arm. As if on cue, two more men approached Lee and Boris from behind. One of them cocked his gun at Lee.

“Amy!” Boris began to dart forward. The bald man forced a squeal from the girl, paralyzing Boris once again.

“You promised! You promised!” Boris was incoherent, with tears hurdling down his face. He was desperate and quickly losing hope.

“You wanted me. Here I am. Let the girl go!” Lee shouted.

“Pardon my manners! I just want to make a business proposal is all.”

Lee stared at him.

“Your angry face is so mesmerizing. I really love that about you. I can totally see why the odds in the arena are 100 to 1 in your favor.”

“I don’t fight any more.”

“And a damn shame that is! Such wasted potential! We should all stick to what we are good at,” Tornado sighed. “But I guess we all have our midlife crises. Look at me. I don’t know where my talent truly lies. For instance, I know I am good at making money. But I am also good at hurting people.”

As if on cue, the girl was made to scream again.

“Let her go!”

“I told you—this is my wheelhouse.”

Lee was incensed. Hurting the innocent and defenseless was something he despised. But he knew that he only had one chance to make his move, so he slowly closed his eyes.

“Giving up already? That’s no fun!” Tornado taunted.

Lee was silent, careful not to move a muscle. When he finally reopened his eyes, he had awakened something deep inside of him; something he had all but forgotten since his arena days.

“We all have to pay for the choices we make,” Lee said. “Though you are right about one thing: I am a good fighter, and that is the one thing you should never forget.”

With his voice still lingering in the air, Lee was in motion. Having two guns pointed at his back, not being able to see the gunmen, unable to gauge their distances, and with but a split second to act before they put a bullet in his brain, would make even the best fighter hesitate. But Lee was monitoring their footsteps. He knew their positions and directions, and where they would strike. A reverse roundhouse disarmed the gunman closest to him. The second gunman reacted quickly and managed to fire a shot. But Lee, flowing forward like water, avoided the bullet just inches from his face, before he knocked the gunman out with a quick chop to the neck.

Amy cried out in pain, jolting Lee into the urgency of his situation. There were but seconds to finish the job before the girl came to more harm. By now, Tornado had wisely retreated behind the bald man. In order to take down that giant of a man quickly, Lee thrust two fingers into his eyes. The wrestler instinctively lifted his arm to protect his face, which created an opening for Lee to free Amy. He then followed up with a knee to the man’s groin. This time it was the man who screamed.

Boris ran forward to protect Amy. Lee hated bullies. He walked slowly towards Tornado, striking fear into him for the first time. Sensing this was not an enemy that could be bought or manipulated, he turned tail and ran.

Just as Lee was about to give chase, he felt the vice-like grip of the arms of the bald man around him. He was bellowing with anger. With his arms paralysed, Lee tried to kick but was promptly lifted off the ground, which nullified all his attacks. He quickly accepted that there was only one chance to escape, so instead of panicking, Lee stayed focused.

“You’re dead meat,” the bald man roared.

Lee headbutted the chin of the wrestler to daze him momentarily. Then he kicked his knee, toppling the big man and loosening his hold. But he was not yet free. He channeled all his life energy within himself into a torrent and then guided it outwards. An amber dragon spiraled out of his body, with chi searing and tearing everything in its path as it slithered upwards. The bald man could not hold on any longer; his arms were broken by the chi force. The hidden art of the Dragon Chi was not something Lee revealed needlessly, but desperate times demanded desperate measures.

“You’ll regret this!” Tornado shouted while fleeing.

Instinctively, Lee ran after him, only to be greeted by a hail of bullets. Ducking and sidestepping with lightning-like precision, he managed to dodge the bullets by the skin of his teeth. Lee took shelter behind a wall, and from the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of Amy and Boris hugging and crying inside the warehouse. There was much to be said about what Boris did to him today, and there was still unfinished business with Tornado. Seeing them happy however, still made him smile. Any day with a happy ending is still a good day.

Story by Roy Loh, Edited by Laura Lau and Jonathan Wong

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