Luck of the Dragon
Luck of the Dragon is a serial set in the Spontoon Island universe. It tells the story of the Ni Family, a group of Chinese gangsters (species: red pandas) who live on the notorious Krupmark Island. The series is written by Walter Reimer, with cameo appearances by characters created by Simon Barber, Mitch Marmel, and E.O. Costello.
- Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Setting and backstory
The Ni Clan had been moneychangers in the area around Tientsin, China for several generations, and in 1929 one member of the family, Ni Hei, took his family on vacation in a newly purchased seaplane. While stopped briefly at Spontoon, they learned that a local warlord (General Won Lung Ho) had wiped out the entire clan after they refused to pay the warlord's gambling debts.
With nowhere else to go and denied asylum by the Spontoon Althing, Ni Hei moved his family to Krupmark Island. Krupmark is a pirate haven located about 200 miles west-northwest of Spontoon. It also serves as the headquarters of several criminal enterprises engaged in everything from gambling to slavery. It is noted that there are no laws on Krupmark, but the fact that everyone is armed to a certain extent does make for a generally peaceful (although rather tense) community.
Ni Hei - Ni Family patriarch. As an "indemnity student" following the Boxer Rebellion, he was taken to America and educated at the University of Illinois while living with a missionary family (degree in economics). As a result of exposure to racism and the humiliation of being educated so far from home, he has a deep-seated hatred of Americans. Hei has worked diligently on rebuilding his family's business links and fortune, and appears to be a moderately successful businessman. He can be ruthless in the pursuit of his family's success.
Ni Peng - Hei's wife. She was also an indemnity student, earning a degree from the University of Tokyo. She and her husband were wed under an arranged marriage. She runs the only Krupmark-based family business, the Lucky Dragon Casino (a combination gambling den and brothel). She has the same hard-headed business sense as her husband, but is also dedicated to holding the family together at all cost.
Ni Peng-wum - The oldest son, a graduate of Meeting Island High School on Spontoon (Hei and Peng sent their children to Spontoon for their education). His grasp of numbers makes him a great asset to the business, to the extent that one set of his ledgers are on display at the US Department of Revenue as an example of creative bookkeeping. He also has received an invitation from the Max-Planck-Institut in Berlin to come and lecture on number theory. He is partly responsible (with his father) in creating the web of shadow companies and investments that effectively shield the family from the more illicit trade they conduct.
Ni Shin (Wo Shin) - Hei and Peng's only daughter. She married Wo Fang (q.v.) before enrolling at Songmark Aeronautical Boarding School for Young Ladies on Spontoon's Eastern Island. She is known for being impetuous and is reputed to be a sneak thief (she admitted that she loves gems, a fact that did not count in her favor when the Fire Gem was stolen in 1936). She and her husband also tracked down and killed General Won Lung Ho to avenge the murder of the rest of the Ni Clan.
Ni Hao - The youngest and most ruthless member of the family, effectively the "muscle" of the organization. While only nineteen years old (1937) he has killed more than a dozen people, including several with his bare paws. After a female companion betrayed him by lying to him about her intentions, he physically assaulted her before having her addicted to heroin and sold to a brothel in Macao. Outwardly very charming and polite, his personality could best be described as psychopathic.
Wo Fang - Shin's husband, a tall and muscular Manchurian tiger whom her parents originally disliked because he was "not quite properly Chinese." He used to work as a bouncer at the Lucky Dragon, but since his marriage he has been working as a manager at the Maha Kahuna Hotel on Spontoon South Island (and, not coincidentally, a Ni Family operation). He allows himself to be occasionally bullied by his much smaller wife, who calls him her "widdle kitty."
Nailani Mahoku - Spontoonie native (species - rabbit) who married Ni Peng-wum in 1936. They have one son (so far) named Mikilani. The two met while she was working under contract on Krupmark for a brothel owned by Leonard 'Fat Leon' Allworthy.