Okay, well here goes then... Please be kind!
Entry 1; Mood: Introspective
I begin this chronicle to clear my thoughts of almost two centuries worth of accumulated hate. I am lost and adrift, not because I cling to my hate, but because my hate has abandoned me in the passing of time. I have lost my purpose, and I seek to find it again. So I try to collect my memories here, in the hopes that I can find some measure of motivation by recollecting the past, and maybe rediscover who I am.
I have been named "The Warlike Manchu" by my enemies, but that is not my true name. The truth is that I am not even a Manchu. I am of proud Han stock, with my bloodline serving in the Mandarinate for generations prior to my birth. My family served the ruling Manchu Dynasty, dutifully civilizing them and turning the wild Manchu northmen into proper and fitting Chinese, worthy of the Mandate of Heaven. My father was a physician and my mother a tutor. It was to have been my fate to have continued that worthy service to the Empire, but for events steering me towards another purpose.
I was born in the Year of the Tiger, of the Yang Earth cycle, in the Gardens of Perfect Brightness, many miles from the outskirts of Beijing. It was the quiet before the storm that would strike my homeland, the scourge of Asia known as the British Empire.
The First Opium War struck my home when I was a little over 2 years old. I have the haziest memories of the terror of British artillery and my kinsmen fleeing in terror. I did not understand at the time that we were being invaded; only that evil had come into my world and brought death and destruction with it.
Three years later, after the fighting subsided and my family took me to see the barbarian invaders as they forced a peace treaty at bayonet-point; I caught my first view of the foreign menace. They were dirty, unkempt savages. Their clothes did not allow them to breath in the summer heat, and they sweated like pigs and stunk so badly, everyone present tried not to flinch and cover their noses with their sleeves. I later learned that the British did not bathe but twice a year, did not wipe or clean themselves after relieving their bowels, and left their bodies to fester and rot in the tropical humidity. They were lower than animals, being barbarians in the truest sense of the word. I have never changed my first impression of these Westerners.
Their peace treaty was humiliating, demanding tribute of silver and gold, along with large swaths of land to satisfy their greed. But most galling of all was their insistence of paying the debts they had racked up over several decades of begging for tea and porcelain, in the infernal currency of drugs, that demon Opium.
My uncle, a learned man who helped keep accounts for the Imperial Treasury, explained to me the invasion had begun because the British had bankrupted themselves in their greed for tea and other goods from the Middle Kingdom. Unable to pay their debts, they had attempted to smuggle opium into our borders and trade it for more of the tea they craved. When the Emperor had their shipments of opium intercepted and burned, their smugglers captured and flogged, the British had invaded with their warships and riflemen. It had been a war of shameful greed, by a people who could not control their own wretched consumption…
Entry 2; Mood: Sullen
The Second Opium War came when I was seventeen years old, already grown to manhood and eager to show my quality. Even at that age, I had shown myself to be of keen intellect and had mastered subjects at a level of men three times my age. But times were tenuous, even for those of us in the Summer Palace. The preceding years had been difficult ones for my countrymen. The Emperor was weakening, and the foreign invaders had carved out many more concessions from scores of my opium-addicted kinsmen. But the tide was turning in my homeland, rehabilitation clinics were being covertly sponsored by the Imperial family, resistance to the drug trade was being encouraged, and men of good character were rising out from the population to become heroes and stop the exploitation of my people.
To this day, I can still recall their names and faces; Fong Sai-Yuk the freedom fighter, Wong Fei-Hong the perfected physician, and Chan Wan-Shun the coin-changer. I wanted to be like these men, great men of valor who protected their people and drove away the foreign devils from their portions of China. But I wanted to surpass their efforts as well. I wanted to protect the entirety of China, not just one city or village, but I wished to cleanse the whole of the Empire of the foreign occupation that had bedeviled my people.
To this end, I applied myself in the study of medicine, human anatomy, alchemy- both internal and external, and hardened my body through martial arts. I was young, yet I was talented and my idealism had no bounds. But the second war that came showed me that even great heroes cannot stand against cannons and explosive fires. My people were devastated by British reprisals, rehabilitation houses were burned down with the patients still inside them, entire towns and communities were flattered with artillery for obeying their Emperor in resisting the drug scourge. But the British thirst for savagery did not end with the crushing of resistance in the opium ports.
The British fleets sailed up our waterways, the lifeblood of our farmlands and fisheries, and destroyed every innocent civilian community in their path, shelling along both sides of our great rivers without mercy. They came to my home, the Summer Palace where I was born and raised, killing everyone they found. My family was slain as they tried to flee, even unarmed as they were. I killed my first man that day. I remember his face vividly, a British soldier I strangled to death in a furious rage, his tongue squirming out the sides of his mouth as I channeled years of revenge into the extinguishing of his pathetic life. But the battle was lost and almost everything I had loved was gone, burning to the ground even as I felt that man's life ebb and dissipate…
Entry 3; Mood: Bitter
The “peace treaty” that followed was a mockery of all that is just and proper in this universe. My people were ground into the dirt and ashes, our possessions looted, tribute exacted from us for a hundred years, my people’s status legally reduced to less than dogs, and the cultural riches of China were stolen away to British museums, never to be returned. I vanished into the anonymity of vagrancy and wandering, taking the occasional satisfaction of revenge in the murder of a British sailor or soldier when I could. But I seethed endlessly within, desiring nothing more than the destruction of the British Empire, the liberation of their colonies, the humiliating execution of their Queen, and the utter subjugation of the pale pasty people of the British Isles. So I began to make a plan.
I remade myself in the image of the Western world. I became a genteel scholar of the west. I spoke the languages of the West. I wore the suits of a Western gentleman. I attended their prestigious universities, such as Heidelberg, the Sorbonne, and Edinburgh. I earned several Western degrees and referred to myself as ‘Doctor’ just as their scholars did. I blended into their society and adopted their trappings as my own facade. The science of the West was a crude and blunt methodology, but they had an innate genius for applied violence. I had to admire that much about them, but I resolved there and then to never use such means as clumsy or as random as their firearms and explosives. No, for me would be the subtle and elegant means of the natural world, the living world. The point of revenge after all is to make the delivery as personal as possible, and only the application of such means would serve to suffice for my vengeance upon the Western world.
While I applied myself to the studies of the West, I must emphasize that I did not neglect the arts of my people, for there was still much to learn. The deadliest arts of hand-to-hand combat were mine to unlock. The taming of the fiercest and most poisonous of nature’s creatures became mine to possess. Foremost of the secrets I pursued were the hidden arts of the Taoist alchemists and sorcerers of the Ancient Middle Kingdom. They had discovered the universal truths of immortality, of transmutation, and applications of the Will into Truth. These secrets would serve me well, and though they eluded me for many years, I was able to unlock them within a single lifespan of men. Now with the luxury of the decades to come, I was able to devote myself to the long-term planning of my enemy’s downfall.
Entry 4; Mood: Nostalgic
"Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, ... one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present ... Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man."
–The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu
The next century’s worth of my exploits were catalogued and documented in the one-sided testaments of Sax Rohmer (may the liar die a thousand deaths in the Hell of the Forest of Knives!), an ally and chronicler of my erstwhile foe, Sir Denis Nayland Smith. To be true, there were other foes and rivals; the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Fantomex, Auguste Lupin, and even my fellow immortal Orlando. But Smith was my truest foe, in every sense of the word. Despite my best efforts and long-laid plans, I was continually foiled by the dogged and unrelenting detective, and odd though it may seem to an outsider, I grew to respect and admire the man, even as we fought to the bitterest of ends. Time after time, we engaged in a war of cunning, wits, and strength, rarely meeting face to face but for a handful of occasions. I savor those memories, for in a strange way, the man was the closest thing to a friend I might confess to. But in the end, he was mortal while I was not, and so as the 20th century came to a close and the 21st century began, I found myself without my arch-rival and free of his interference.
Once again able to apply my unique genius to the long-delayed vengeance of my homeland, I began to recruit and gather resources from all over the world; and I learned to my dismay that whilst I had spent the better part of a century playing cat and mouse with the late Sir Nayland Smith, the world had refused to wait for either of us. Everything had changed.
China had once again risen as a world power, secure in her own strength and unbowed to any outside power. The West of the Old World had collapsed economically and was in decline. Even the mighty America was struggling against the weight of decadence and rot from within. The youth of the Orient, the future power of Asia, felt apathetic in any call for redressing the wrongs of the past. My forays into the “Internet”, in trying to appeal to any and all of the malcontent and underprivileged descendents of my kinsmen, responded poorly to my attempts to call them to arms.
“We’re already strong and powerful. What do we need to prove? The West is falling, China is ascending. The ones who did wrong in the past are long-dead, and their children and grandchildren are poor and struggling in relation to the wealth of our people. They’ve already been punished by the passing of history. What goes around comes around.”
Their response staggered me. Some even began to “Troll” me, thinking I was baiting them. I felt a sudden ache in my chest that caused me to collapse in my throne room. I realized then a sudden epiphany that shattered my world.
I had become obsolete.
Entry 5; Mood Melancholy
It took me days to rouse myself from my malaise. I spent each evening watching and reading the news of the modern media, from both China and the West. It all confirmed what I already knew. I had outlived my enemies and they were gone. Even the cause of vengeance was denied me, as there is no satisfaction to be found in brutalizing an already beaten foe. What was left for me?
Only the efforts of Li-Tao, the youngest of my remaining loyal servants, served to keep me from withdrawing further into isolation. It was he that taught me to use the internet, being of this new generation that had never known a lack for such information at their fingertips. It was Li-Tao that made sure that I was taking my meals and bringing daily updates to me in the hopes that some cosmic reversal of fortune might bring me back to my usual spirits. And it was Li-Tao that suggested what brought an even greater epiphany to the forefront of my thoughts.
“You should start a blog.” he said one morning while clearing my breakfast.
Seeing my confusion, he further explained.
“It’s a journal of sorts, much like the old paper and pen ones that used to be popular. Only a blog is virtual and goes up on the internet, where you can decide if anyone can see it or if only you and your close friends can read it. But it’s really more about putting your thoughts down and then analyzing them after the fact. It’s a good method of catharsis. You might find it useful.”
A few days later, we had finally set up a Word Press kit on a new Asus laptop, it’s a Chinese brand or so I am told. I find a somewhat satisfying irony in that these electronic weapons of the new century are manufactured by my people in the same valleys and riverlands that were once despoiled by the British.
The actual blog software was annoyingly limited, but I was able to rewrite it within a matter of minutes, once I understood the code. Still, I cannot help entertain the desire to mail a poisonous serpent to the developer of the webkit. Only after I checked the dev-notes did I realize it was a community effort and no one person was responsible for the mess. I restrained the desire and consoled myself with the thought that I could log on later anonymously and contribute a superior batch of code, one that would elevate it beyond the simian efforts of the original developers.
Once the blog was set-up it took me several days and aborted efforts to actually start my first entry. The temptation to play towards an audience that isn’t actually there is an old habit, one I attribute to many years of monologue-ing to Smith and his contemporaries. I find that it seems to come with the traditional conceits of hero and mastermind, rival and arch-rival, a personal exchange if you will, one that explains the inner subtleties of a plan to only other person able to appreciate them.
Looking back, I’m not 100% happy with the first entry, but I will leave it as it was written, a paean to the original desire for catharsis.
Entry 6; Mood: Confused.
I’ve had a series of disturbing dreams. The subject of these, have not been pleasant for me to face. This is not an easy thing to admit, but there is one aspect of human endeavor that I cannot claim that my genius intellect and vast resources have allowed me to master… that of parenthood.
I had a daughter. Her name was Fa Lo-Sui.
She was a treacherous, devious little usurper, and she never gave up on trying to take over my Si-Fan network, or aid my many enemies in disposing of me. But she was the apple of my eye, and I continually spared her despite her offenses. I admit it, I spoiled her.
She passed away in 1961, at the age of 56, of a heart attack. She lived dangerously, was a heavy drinker and smoker, and I suspect later in life she engaged in opiates, which no doubt contributed to her early passing. Her life was one of rebellion, lost identity, and ultimately disappointment.
I regret that I was not able to help her find her direction in life; and I cannot help but feel as many parents do, that I tried to make her like myself, when she was better suited to perhaps a life that might have been happier under more normal circumstances. She certainly found more acceptance with the company of Smith and his compatriots, though I suspect she realized later on that they would never truly trust her fully, due to her familial connections with me. And indeed, how could she forget that connection? She spent almost the entirety of her life trying to either be like me or oppose me; and in the end, I think she realized that, and in realizing that she had based her existence and purpose for living on an outside factor, one who would come or go entirely independent of her and outside of her control.
As I say that, I realize that sums up much of how shallowly I have existed as well.
I’ve spent lifetimes dedicated to avenging China, I ignored the passing of time, and the realities of whether or not China needs avenging at all. More to the point, if I cannot protect and nurture that which I love because I am blinded by the desire for revenge, I cannot know if the nation which I love has grown strong and has come into its own. I missed this entire passage of growth, and indeed missed on the opportunity to influence and partake of this, just as I neglected my daughter’s life.
I need to think on this for a time.
Entry 7; Mood: Pensive
I’ve been considering another rejuvenation. I normally undertake the Elixir of Life when I wish to refresh my physical vigor and longevity, but once long ago I had undergone a physical rebirth, when I was very near death. The ritual is a difficult process, one I undertook out of desperation at the time. But the significance of my recent dreams has led me to reexamine the direction of events that has led me to this point, and I have become resolved on a single decision.
I need a fresh start.
I no longer wish to continue the path I have been walking. I need to begin anew. I need to gain a fresh perspective on myself, on China, on the world, and on what role I wish to play.
That being said, a clean break is not entirely feasible. I will require money, resources, and of course protection from enemies who will be seeking me out. But a new identity will aid greatly in seeking a new beginning. So I have been meditating on a variation on the previous ritual I have used.
The new ritual will remake me in a new body, just as my previous incarnation was. But this time, it will not be a copy of my original body, but rather an amalgam of my genetic material, making myself my own genetic offspring with entirely new physical characteristics as if determined by random conception. I’ve also added in certain karmic details to the ritual casting which will aid in the desired new life. It must be one that is as non-threatening as possible, comely even in how people perceive it, with as much possible universal appeal so that people will accept it immediately. It will be of course in the best of health and possess peak human physical potential. And it should have the same innate mystical potential that I currently possess, if not more so. I must say I am somewhat proud of the component research and alterations I have implemented. Nobody has every tried something quite like this before, particularly not when they are already immortal as I am.
But I will need to make further preparations before I go forth with this plan.
Entry 8; Mood: Anticipatory
I’ve discovered a suitable retreat from which to begin again. Not the ritual itself, for that will be held in my secret sanctum with only Li-Tao and a few other loyal servants to assist in the preparations. Once everything is ready, even they will be sent away. The ritual and its details are something I trust only myself with.
But once the rejuvenation occurs, I have made preparations for accounts to be transferred and held anonymously in the Si-Fan underground banking system, as well as several Swiss accounts. Li-Tao and the rest of the inner Si-Fan will be held in reserve, awaiting coded pass-phrases if the need for reactivation arises.
But the new accommodations are a stroke of genius if I do say so myself! There is a new school, an academy for “gifted” students that will be accepting a new class of students soon. I’ve already begun the process of transferring my “new self” to the institution, making the necessary donations and fake documentation from shell schools under my control so that all they will see is a bright young transfer student coming in.
The school will be the perfect place to build anew. They will watch over and protect their students from outside interference and surveillance. The academy staff are all former “heroes” and will not hesitate to put the welfare of a youth before their own. It is there that I can slowly build up the social network and connections for a new life, steadily and patiently seeding this identity to become truly legitimate.
Li-Tao informs me that all is ready. I will dismiss him and the rest of the staff to go underground, and begin the ritual. When next I update here, it will be in my new life!
Entry 9; Mood; Mixed Feelings
Well… …the ritual worked.
I did not foresee certain random variations however. I berate myself in my arrogance for assuming that “magic” would work as reliably as I presumed it would. Some details about this new form are not as I expected.
Firstly… the age. I am far younger than I expected. I had assumed that I would arise newly reborn in the prime of my life, a young adult, perhaps in my late teens.
From the looks of things, I’m ten.
…and I’m a girl.
This is not necessarily a deal breaker. I’m an educated man and I am also a physician, so I am not entirely ignorant of the basic similarities of anatomy that all human beings share, nor am I unschooled in the pertinent differences of male and female anatomy. Thank the gods for small favors though in that this body is prepubescent and hence essentially the same as a young boy’s for practical purposes.
Still… it’s not the form I would have chosen had I the direct input in rejuvenation, which I suppose would have defeated the entire purpose of a fresh start. I confess that I would probably have chosen a form too close and familiar to my original, which would have aided my enemies in determining my new identity too easily.
Now the next few weeks will require some small adjustments to the falsified records and preparations I’ve made. Making my way from my sanctum back to civilization might be difficult, but I am confident my intellect and experience will suffice to make arrangements, and I have plenty of food and water here where I am to last me until I can confirm my place at the school.
When I next post, it will be as a new student at the (Unnamed) Academy!
"Many there are, I doubt not, who will regard the Eastern girl with horror. I ask their forgiveness in that I regarded her quite differently. No man having seen her could have condemned her unheard. Many, having looked into her lovely eyes, had they found there what I found, must have forgiven her almost any crime."
–The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu