Chapter 1 The sun still hadn't crested over the roofs of the stately buildings on the eastern edge of Tiananmen Square when Inspector Liu Hulan of the Ministry of Public Security gazed across a sea of people gathered in the huge cement expanse for the first public assembly of the All-Patriotic Society ever to be held in Beijing. Until today, the All-Patriotic Society's clandestine meetings had taken place mostly in the heart of the country, in towns and villages along the Yellow River. Although the cult had recently gained a foothold in the capital, no one had expected a show as brazen as this. All religious cults were against the law in China, and it was part of Hulan's job to do what she could to eradicate them, but she had learned of this early-morning rally only fifteen hours ago from a man she'd arrested for stealing from his work unit so that he might make a more sizable donation to the Society. After several impromptu discussions at the ministry, it was decided to let the meeting go forward. If a high-ranking All-Patriotic Society member could be drawn out and identified, then Hulan could make a very public arrest, which might prove fruitful in many ways. Hulan had arrived here at three this morning and had supervised the stationing of policemen and soldiers around the perimeter of the square. She had hoped that an official presence would serve as a deterrent to converts and help keep the numbers down, but as far as she could see no one had turned back. The adherents were orderly, polite, obedient, and simply paid no attention to the uniformed men and women with automatic rifles slung over their shoulders. If everyone remained peaceful during the promised qi gong exercises, chanting, and inspirational sermon, then there was no reason for anyone to get hurt. Sure, photos would be taken and a few people held for questioning, but the plain fact was that the Ministry of Public Security wasn't prepared on such short notice to detain more than a thousand people. There had been enough time, however, for the government to request that a camera crew from a state-run television station cover the event, and Hulan felt a certain amount of confusion about this. Five years ago she had made a deal with some of the most powerful men in her country, who secretly guided China from a compound situated across the lake from where Hulan lived. She had been brought before them at the conclusion of the Knight International case, in which more than 150 women had lost their lives in a horrible fire in an American-owned toy factory operating deep in China's interior. The "men across the lake," as Hulan referred to them, told her they would let her marry the American attorney David Stark and give birth to her half-breed daughter-both of which were questionable actions under Chinese law and custom. They told her they would keep her name out of the media for good or bad. In exchange, Hulan had to promise she would follow the party line, obey orders without question, eliminate her eccentric methods, and keep the pact a secret among her, the men across the lake, and her mentor and superior, Vice Minister Zai. Hulan had agreed to the conditions, hoping they would allow her to have the private life she'd always longed for. But of course the game had changed. Her daughter had died and her marriage to David . . . She forced herself not to think of that right now. Instead she turned her attention back to the television crew. They had a good vantage point on the steps of the Great Hall of the People, from which they could survey the entire square. Hulan recognized one of the reporters-a woman with a shrill voice who for many years had been the eager mouthpiece of the government. Her words carried on the humid air like rotting garbage, insisting that the government was not instigating a crackdown against the All-Patriotic Society but showing its tolerance by letting the group meet here today. Hulan sSee, Lisa is the author of 'Dragon Bones', published 2003 under ISBN 9780679463207 and ISBN 0679463208.