The Weight of the Ten Rings

Album cover of Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Soundtrack copyright Marvel Studios

***Warning Spoilers for The Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. You have been warned***

This is a work in progress… not trying to write perfection, the grammar is a bit of a mess, as is the word choice but this is just me playing with words a world that was so fascinating to see on the big screen.

What is this story about? This takes place almost shortly after Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It doesn’t point to what could happen with the rings or his sister specifically since you don’t know where those stories could go. It is a small tale or part of one that I was using to figure out how to make it flow from exposition to action and description. I’m still figuring out how to make it work. This is part of that journey for me as a writer or want to be writer right now. This is a fan fiction, just me playing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to see who these characters from personal perspective.

I am a first generation Canadian, my parents are from the Philippines and although my experience is much different but no less true or authentic. In that you feel invisible, and unseen in many respects. I see the work that this movie does is by increasing the visibility of one group the rest of the cultures can hopefully benefit, even if only to break how the globe likes to put everyone in a continent in one bucket when that is far from the case.

April 6th, 2024 Battle of Tal Lo

In the fight with his father there was a moment when Wenwu launched 5 of the rings at Shang Chi where they acted like a spinning disc and he was able to use the air around him to redirect them as he was thrown into the air spinning with the rings until he hit the ground. When Shang Chi landed something had changed, they hung in space orbiting him, with the pale blue glow of the rings had been replaced with a vibrant fiery orange glow.

The rings had become an extension of his very self, following the very movements his mother had taught him as a child. But Shang Chi had no idea how it happened or why the rings which had been in his father’s possession for a millennium had become part of him in that brief moment of their fight, but he couldn’t help but think of it as the last time they were together as father and son and that he had passed the rings off to him as the monster striped his body of its soul.

May 12th, 2024, Early Morning

Shang Chi hadn’t put on the rings since his father had passed them to him before the mega soul sucker snacked on his soul. He couldn’t, he felt like an imposter even though, intellectually he knew that wasn’t the case. He wasn’t sure what they were capable of but he was in no rush to find out.

He and Katy were working just a few blocks from their old jobs at the Fairmont, Katy had split some of the money she had won in his loss to his sister at the Golden Daggers Club in Macau. She said that it was only fair and he needed the cash, as living in San Fran wasn’t cheap but he didn’t know where he fit in this new world.

Both of them knew that if and when they returned home that they would have to find new jobs. Just getting the last-minute tickets to Macau wasn’t cheap and Shang Chi barely getting by, as is. He was already in debt pretty good since escaping to the States, it cost a lot to get there and by the time he did he didn’t have much. Their boss couldn’t keep them after they bailed but he understood after he told them what happened, their manager still had to let them go but they both knew she would vouch for them if another place asked for references.

Katy was working at the St. Regis San Francisco, an ultra lux, high end hotel just a few blocks from their old jobs. Shang Chi was still interviewing for something, it was all as well as he was still trying to figure out where he fit in the circus as Bruce had said at their meeting with Wong. Katy was a flamethrower, it’s what made her so fun to work with and what got him in trouble half the time. He missed working with her, it was awesome working with a friend, she made the job feel not like a job but he was still coming to grips with everything.

Shang Chi didn’t know what to feel, he was so angry at his dad for not being there, for giving in to the mega soul sucker. Seeing his soul leave his body, where was he now? What happened to his father’s soul when he kamehamehaed the thing, was it destroyed or was it released. Qingming was never easy but he was able to avoid talking about it to Katy or anyone but now that he had no parents left, he felt adrift. He still had his sister but he had to give her space, he had no right to be part of her life after leaving her alone, with no one. He failed her and it would take a long time to heal that wound in particular.

He was glad to go on an early morning run, it was a misty morning and overcast but it felt good to put on some good music and just let his feet take him wherever and the view was always worth the effort it took to run the San Francisco hills. He ran all the way to the memorial of the vanished that was in view of the Golden Gate Park.

Shang Chi had stopped to sit down on a bench at the edge of the memorial, he had the rings in his backpack, he took off his headphones. He gave himself some space, he sat on the bench and closed his eyes. He focused on his breath, and he could feel his heartbeat somewhere in the back of his head still settling down after having run from his place to the park and memorial. After a while he got lost in his own head and it was only then when he could feel the rings, where they were in relation to where he was. He could only feel them when he really focused but when he was in fight against his father it came as naturally to him as breathing.

They were warm, like they were a part of him, that even though he wasn’t wearing them, they were still connected to him. He suddenly felt a drop of rain and then another and another. He opened his eyes and quickly removed the strap of his backpack and unzipped the main compartment, where he had the rings in two small wooden boxes in his bag that his sister sent him. He told Xialing that he was worried about what to do with the rings when he wasn’t wearing them.

She sent him the wooden box which was back at his place, where their dad had kept the rings after his parents were married. When he brought them to Wong, even he didn’t know what it was made from. Shang Chi knew in his heart that they couldn’t be broken or damaged by anything on this planet but he didn’t know why or how he knew that, it’s just something he could feel even if he wasn’t sure how or why.

Xialing also sent a small container, made of rubber that she somehow had made for the rings. He had no idea how old that box was but what his sister had gotten made used each ring as the support for the other, so that they seemed to overlap which made the case longer but at the same time made it thinner. He had to ask her how she was able to get it to fit so perfectly since the rings size seemed to change. She told him that their father had studied the rings extensively and she knew they could change and how.

He was really happy that they could talk, it was more often that not by text because she was trying to figure out how far and deep things went with the Ten Rings organization before she could actually shut it down and he didn’t want to pry. Things were better but he knew he let his little sister down for far too long and although she didn’t need him he wanted to be there for her but didn’t want to pry.

He could feel the cool drops rain begin to come faster, he grabbed the umbrella, zipping up his backpack and putting his arm through the strap before he opened his umbrella which had a surprised looking frog staring back at him, while on the outside the frog looked like it was screaming at the rain. Well it wasn’t actually his umbrella, it was Katy’s, he’d borrowed it one day and kept on forgetting to return it, but she still had his old Switch that he had left her place years ago, it could barely hold a charge and they played a bit whenever he came over to visit.

As soon as he opened the umbrella the rain came full force. It looked like a fast mover and they could always use rain given the years of drought. He thought it was kind of late for this much rain, he’d expect to get this much of it in March or early April but not now. He sought an escape, luckily until he spotted a coffee and tea sign that was just steps away from the park and he made a b-line straight to it, to escape the deluge of wetness that was in his immediate future.

Shang Chi came to America after he killed the last leader of the iron gang. The waves of guilt he felt were debilitating but he knew he couldn’t go back to the Ten Rings. His father had given him every tool he needed and then some to complete his mission and then some. He had been given a lot of time to plan his op. He knew where the man was and he spent the first 2 days figuring out his patterns before finding the perfect time to get the job done.

Every time he thought about the moment he killed the final person that was responsible for his mother’s death, all he could think about was the look on his face, the fear that flashed in his eyes when he plunged the knife into his carotid artery, he was gone bef3ore his body hit the floor and became a corpse. Shang Chi had become so skilled he didn’t get a drop of blood on him, he came out of his mission clean.

For just a moment Shang Chi had a visceral sense of accomplishment that he had finished what his father and he had started. It didn’t really hit him until he was back at the safe house. He had trained for half his life to learn every way he could kill a person, he slit the man’s thought and saw the blood splatter onto the floor of the man’s bedroom. Did he have kids or a family, who was this person. What had he done. All he could think about was

But it was only when he had escaped sight unseen, that he could actually process what he had done, when he could let the mask fall. He just sat on the floor and stared at the wall, he tried to remember what life was like before the iron gang killer his mother. They were happy, he and his Xialing used to love playing Dance Dance Revolution with his parents. He remembers her stories of her home, Ta Lo and he so wanted to see the dragon that’s when the tears started. He couldn’t stop crying, he should be glad the man was dead, he deserved to die. That’s what he and his father had to do… right. It wasn’t revenge it was justice.

That was a lie, he knew it, he couldn’t go back to his father. He couldn’t look at him, without thinking about what he had done. He would forever be stained by this death. The man wasn’t a good person, he deserved to be punished but Shang Chi knew that in his success for his father, he had failed his mom and there was nothing he could do about it. He wouldn’t see his sister again because he couldn’t go back. Maybe he could get her and they could run away together but he knew if he saw his father he wouldn’t be able to leave. This was the only chance he was ever going to get, so he took it and hoped he could live with it.

It was a modern but homely coffee shop, quiet as it was still early with just a few people inside. The place was small but cozy like a warm blanket on a chilly evening which was odd as it was May but the rain had brought a brief flash of a low pressure that would last until the sun began to warm the concrete laden San Francisco. Upon entering he ordered a green tea and decided to sit in the corner on a hard chair and table that looked out onto the park, not wanting to ruin the leather couch that was to his side.

He texted Katy “I had just run to Golden Gate Park when someone decided to turn the rain on.” He could see her writing something by the animated dots. It took a few more seconds “Serves you right for running all the way down there without checking the weather report. LOL” She was writing something else but he decided to send a slightly frowning face to her even though he barely understood what half the emojis meant to him. “Thankfully we are off :/”

He used a small towel from his bag to dry himself off a bit while he waited for the rain to pass. It had been going for a few minutes but it seemed like the system was quickly passing. He was still damp but his feet were squishy now, although the run home would not be fun for Shang Chi but his Air Jordans were going to take awhile to dry, like maybe a day or two at a minimum.

Since they came back from Tal Lo Shang Chi kept the 10 rings in a backpack close by even if he didn’t dare to put them on, he didn’t even know why himself. Was it just that connection between him and his father, that finality of his father giving him the rings as the Dweller of Darkness devoured his soul. Shang Chi wasn’t sure, he didn’t know what any of this meant. Shang Chi knew that he could feel the rings, he guessed that it was because he kept them close by at all times but he wasn’t sure. He wondered about the beacon Wong told him and Katy about. What did that mean, who were the rings calling, was it because of how he used the rings or maybe they were calling home?

What did it mean for the Sorcerers of Kamar-Taj which Wong explained was a place where many learned the mystic arts could feel Shang Chi using the rings from another dimension. Shang Chi didn’t have any answers to the cascading questions that the ten rings had brought into his life. He sat for a few minutes when he noticed an Asian woman come into the coffee shop. She was collapsing her umbrella and he knew she had an alertness to her, she had a small pen clipped to her front pocket. Her eyes seemed to be surveying the entire space, they had a look of purpose. Her hair was done up in a ponytail and she was wearing a black track suit with blue highlights. She was probably just getting out of the rain like he had. He tried not to look in her direction and moved his backpack from hanging on his chair to putting it underneath his table by his still squishy shoes.

What was wrong with him, not everyone was some kind of assassin out to get him, his father was gone, there was no one to watch out after him, he and his sister only had each other. She was working on understanding the Ten Rings organization to take it apart. Or that’s what he kept telling himself. Shang Chi took another sip of his tea, keeping her in his peripheral vision. He had learned from the Death Dealer how to look without looking. He was always surveying his surroundings because you never knew what could happen as the last few years had shown the entire planet.

As she picked up her order, he thought he was being paranoid, his father was gone, his organization would be gone soon enough. He didn’t even know if the iron gang still existed but he couldn’t bear to find out. He could only think about what his mother would think about what he had done. He didn’t have to kill that man, that no matter what happened it wouldn’t have been what his mother would have wanted but he did it anyway. He just had to live with it but he would always hate himself for it. He brushed those thoughts aside when the lady came up to him and asked “are you bus boy?”  

Oh god that damn viral video from his fight with Razorfist and his father’s men. It was still getting a ton of views and he even got a few people reaching out to him to become a stuntman for a local production of some movie. He had just gotten the message from someone on Linkedin and it was something, and he really did need anything or he’s be broke within a few months. Shang Chi was going to say now but she showed him the video, he sighed, gave an embarrassed grin and reluctantly nodded “You can call me Shaun.” She took the closest chair “Where does a guy with a sword for an arm come from.”

Shang Chi would like to know that as well, although did he really want to know what his father’s organization was really like. There was a truce between them at the moment. He didn’t know what to think about what the Ten Rings was at the end of it all. He made sure to keep his backpack within arms reach. The talk was good, she was pretty and it was nice to talk to someone without having to think about the ten rings or everything that had happened. He almost felt normal but there was something about her demeanour that kept in on alert. his number, she gave him her pen and took a little fields notebook out of her pocket. She turned to a clean page and he could see scribbles and some sketches of cartoons. “Do you do art?” he asked. She said no, just doodles during her morning meetings at work.

After giving her his number, he just told her about the fight and how scary it was. The sun had reappeared and she gave him her number. As she was getting up, she bumped into the table, causing her coffee to spill. Shang Chi immediately got up, grabbing his bag. “I’m so sorry” she took the napkins on the table and began to wipe off the coffee. Shang Chi told her “Don’t worry about it, its water repellant, sort of” He smiled but he didn’t notice that she had dropped her pen into the side pocket, but he was too busy cleaning up the spill to notice. “I’m sorry I gotta get going” he said. She gave him a soft smile and asked “what is your name or do you want me just call you bus boy?” He pointed to his name in the notebook which she had pushed to the side away form the spill.

He couldn’t help but chuckle, I’m Shaun and you are?” She gave him a skeptical look and in Chinese asked “你的中文名字是什么 (what is your Chinese name?)” Although Wong called him Shang Chi, Katy called him both, depending on what kind of trouble she wanted to get into but he still didn’t know where the line was between his normal life and whatever he was doing with Wong and whatever was left of the Avengers. “Shaun is fine.” At least it was for now until he decided what he was going to do and where he belonged. She smiled back and went over to another table. The sun had finally made itself known and Shang Chi gave her a nod as he left to run back home but as he picked up his backpack, it felt heavier than ever.

Tai had heard the rumours about Shang Chi from social media, she knew he was in San Francisco and it was the portal at a restaurant that helped her locate him. It was his mother that had killed her uncle and she believed that he had killed the last of the Iron Gang. Tai knew he was the son of Wenwu and it’s because of his family that she had lived a life without anyone besides her mother. She had disappeared when the snap happened and when she returned she didn’t know what happened but her mom was older and so sad. That was when she told her that her brother had died. She said the world was in chaos after the snap and she couldn’t get care for him because the first year after the snap was chaos. She wanted to, no needed to confront Shang Chi but he had kind eyes that made her stop.

2-week after Qingming she received a call, the person’s voice was distorted but they said they wanted someone tracked. They told her that this boy had killed the last of the iron gang. That was all she needed to hear but before she agreed she asked how much would she get. She was shocked by the amount but didn’t question it, she needed the money to help her mom and she would do anything to bring her some sort of peace. She had lived in the shadows for so long but that also meant she knew how to navigate the darkness but also was near invisible even in the light of day.

As Shang Chi left, she checked the app which showed here the it was, the hardware was in the part you would unscrew so it wouldn’t be noticed. It showed him moving from the coffee shop. Tai didn’t expect Shaun to be so nice, she didn’t know what to expect but she didn’t want to like the guy. It was because of his family that her own was destroyed and he deserved to pay. She had heard that his sister, Xialing had taken over the 10 rings so Shaun was her next best option.

Maybe she should confront him but she had taken her first step along this path. She knew she shouldn’t have asked for his number but she couldn’t help it. Part of her knew she shouldn’t send him a message but she was already typing one to Shaun “Here is my number, thanks for telling be about the fight and see you soon?.” She couldn’t help but feel conflicted. She didn’t know who her client was or what he wanted and “Shaun” deserved it for what his family did to her own but did he have to be so god damn nice.

Maybe I’ll continue this one day when I figure out where I want to go.

This was just a chance to see what how Shang Chi’s life would change from being a normal person to someone who was not. The issues he would face and what would it mean when his part of his own actions talked about in the movie come back to haunt him.