Delicate Touch

Chapter 7

"In position," the squad leader reported.

Feng was in the van with two other policemen and a technician. He never took his eyes off the monitor showing the mansion. "Has the signal moved?" he asked.

"Position unchanged," the technician answered.

"Where's the ambulance?" Feng asked.

"It's almost here," one of the policemen said.

Hung and Siu-ma, along with the assault squad, crouched behind the wall of the estate next door to Liang's mansion. The squad leader wore an earpiece. So did Hung, but no one else knew about hers.

"One of the men just took trays of food to the garage," Sue said. "I can't see inside the garage, but I bet that's where the girls are."

Hung turned away from the others and whispered, "Can you input virtual images?"

"Their system's too simple for that," Sue said. "It doesn't have the fancy server like Chow's building. I can make the screens turn to static when you're approaching the house, but then I won't be able to see through them, either. As soon as they know they're under attack, I'll turn them back on again. Then I'll be able to see, but so will they."

"Understood," Hung whispered.

In the van, one of the policemen said, "Sir, the ambulance is in position, hidden around the corner."

Feng nodded. "Move in."

The squad leader gave the signal. Hung, Siu-ma and the assault team leaped over the wall.

 

"I have a request," Liang said.

Bo Shi downed a brandy. "Make it quick."

"I'm not stupid. My wife and I know your name and your face, so it's obvious what our fate is. But our children can't possibly be any threat to you. They're too young. Leave them here, in their beds, safe."

Bo Shi took a moment to answer. "I'll consider it."

Liang looked like he wanted to say more, but simply nodded. He knew better than to push the issue.

The sound of gunfire from outside made them all jump.

The two guards ran to the front door. Two assault team members kicked it down, stormed in, and killed them instantly.

Bo Shi dove across the room, grabbed Liang in a headlock, crouched behind him, and put a gun to his head. "Put the guns down!" he screamed.

"Drop the weapon!" the assault team leader screamed back.

Liang's wife herded her children off the couch and away from Bo Shi. Another assault team member escorted them out the door, stepping over the bodies of the two guards on the way.

 

Hung carefully made her way towards the garage. She was in a corridor when Sue alerted her.

"One in the library, armed," she said. "First door on your left. He's to the left of the doorway."

Hung fired four shots through the wall next to the doorway, in an even rectangular spread.

"Got him," Sue said. But while Sue was concentrating on the man in the library, she failed to see another man. He grabbed Hung from behind.

"Shit!" Sue exclaimed. "Two more coming from the bedrooms, armed, appearing now!"

Hung planted her feet on the wall and pushed her attacker backwards into the other wall. She was now braced horizontally across the hallway. Keeping one foot pressed against the wall to hold her position, she sharply kicked a large ornamental urn off a table. It flew down the hallway and hit the first man to come around the corner right in the nose.

Hung twisted, dropped back to her feet, grabbed the man who had been holding her, and flipped him around behind her to use as a shield.

The two men down the corridor opened fire, perforating their comrade. Huddled behind the dying man, Hung fired back blindly, aiming by instinct.

"Got 'em!" Sue yelled triumphantly. Hung could hear the relief in her voice, and Hung realized that, in a way, Sue was more frightened than she was.

It suddenly made her feel good, to know that she was loved. In that instant, she knew that she and Sue made a great team.

 

"Drop your weapon now!" the assault leader screamed.

"I'll hole this guy!" Bo Shi screamed back, hiding behind Liang as much as he could. "Back off! Now!"

Siu-ma had entered the house through a window, and he now stood on the other side of the living room. The assault team didn't have a clear shot at Bo Shi, but he did, and Bo Shi didn't know he was there.

Siu-ma was a good shot, and he knew it. But if he risked it and missed, this could get ugly and it would be his fault.

It was moments like this that a police officer had only seconds to weigh the risks and make a choice.

Ultimately, Siu-ma was confident in his ability. With Bo Shi and the assault team still screaming at each other, he took careful aim and pulled the trigger.

The screaming stopped.

 

Hung slowly opened the door to the garage. She could hear sporadic gunfire throughout the house.

The door was situated at the left rear corner of the garage, which was about a hundred feet wide by fifty feet deep. All four garage doors were down and the lights were on. The nearer half of the garage was mostly empty; the other half contained four expensive cars stacked two rows deep. Six terrified girls sat chained to worktables along the side wall directly in front of Hung. Plates of half-eaten food lay beside them.

The girls didn't move or say a word. That spoke volumes to Hung. Keeping her gun level, she flashed her badge at them.

One of them jerked her head towards the cars, ever so slightly, and barely extended two fingers, but only for a second. Both actions were almost imperceptible.

Hung immediately broke eye contact with the girl so as not to give her away, but nodded slowly to show that she had gotten the message.

She anticipated that one of the captors might be lying on the floor, prepared to shoot her feet or ankles the moment she stepped into view. That's what she would do in the same situation. There were more worktables along the back wall, so instead of stepping forward, she nimbly hopped onto the tables and slowly made her way along, slightly bent over, carefully stepping over objects, gun extended. There were no CCTV cameras in here, and Sue was keeping silent so as not to distract her.

Hung barely saw the first man in time. She had almost reached the halfway point when he and the muzzle of his gun peeked out from beneath a Rolls Royce, the car nearest to her. She dodged as he fired, and she quickly shot the car's front tires. The harsh cracks of their guns echoed, drowning out the man's cries as the front end of the car fell and crushed him into the floor. The girls began screaming.

A spot beside Hung's feet exploded upwards. She ran further along, chastising herself for failing to realize that the obvious hiding place was beneath the very tables she was walking on. The second attacker was firing upwards through the table top, and he had almost gotten her.

Sloppy.

More bullets through the table top. She reached the opposite wall at the right rear corner of the garage, leaped off the table and sprinted along the side wall, using the Lexus for cover, aware that her feet were vulnerable. She reached the end of the Lexus, which was parked in front of a Lamborghini, and hopped onto the bumpers of both cars, one foot on each, crouched down. Her enemy couldn't see her and she couldn't see him. The girls were still screaming and crying. The man pinned beneath the Rolls Royce wouldn't shut up, either.

Damn, she wished there was a CCTV camera in here!

"You okay?" Sue asked.

"Yes," Hung whispered.

Between the cars beside her, Hung saw her opponent sprint across the open space of the garage, but she dared not shoot, as the girls were directly in the line of fire. The man seemed to be panicking, as he desperately looked over his shoulder at Hung while fumbling for one of the girls. He evidently intended to take a hostage and try to bargain his way out.

He was so intent on watching Hung, and keeping his gun pointed in her direction, that he didn't really pay much attention to the girl he was trying to grab, and that was his mistake. In desperation and terror, the girl wrapped both hands around the man's gun arm and hung on for all she was worth.

Hung scrambled over the cars, desperate to reach them, fearing the worst. As the man tried to fight the girl off, the girl next to her wrapped her chain around his neck. The girl on the other side of the one fighting saw this and immediately did the same. They leaned back and pulled with all their might.

The man dropped his gun and clawed at his neck, his face suddenly turning bright red, his eyes bulging.

The door leading to the house opened and Siu-ma and several members of the attack squad came pouring in. The other policemen swept the garage, looking for anyone else. Hung and Siu-ma gently persuaded the girls to stop strangling the man.

"It's over," Hung told them. "It's all over."

Chapter 6 Chapter 8

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