Delicate Touch

Chapter 11

Hung pushed open the door and walked in.

It was a medium-sized warehouse, about two stories high, with some chains still hanging from the ceiling, tracks designed to hold heavy machinery, scaffolding, and a few pieces of junk which the previous occupants had not bothered to take with them. To Hung's right, a van was parked about thirty feet inside a larger door built to admit vehicles. That door was heavily padlocked.

About a third of the way along the left wall was a set of two connected cubicles; an identical set of cubicles sat directly across from them, along the right wall. A second-story platform, acting as a loft, occupied the rear third of the building; it was accessible only by a ladder near the left wall. There were windows up there as well as at floor level. A few were boarded over; those that weren't were filthy, and some were cracked. There was enough light to see by, but most of the warehouse was in shadow.

Outside the warehouse, a figure dressed in black hung from the roof, suspended by wire. The figure carefully applied a suction cup to one of the upper windows and pulled out a glass cutter.

Mu Jing stood in the center of the warehouse. She held no gun, but a number of men scattered around the warehouse floor, each holding a pistol, made up for that.

Sue sat in a chair a few feet behind Mu Jing and slightly to one side. Sue's hands were bound behind her and her feet were tied together, but she wasn't tied to the chair. She stared at Hung intently, but except for an instant of eye contact upon entering the building, Hung avoided her gaze.

Alex stood a few feet to Mu Jing's right, and Chang stood along the left wall. Hung recognized them as the other two people she had fought in the street that day.

Hung also recognized some of the other men. Half of them had criminal records, and she knew every mug shot in Hong Kong. Immediately, she knew her opponent had hired Xiao Huang He's gang. Xiao himself was in the corner, and he didn't look happy. Hung had no doubt there were more gunmen hidden in the shadows, already taking aim.

Hung took all this in in just a few seconds, after which she had eyes only for Mu Jing. She stopped six feet in front of her.

"Check her," Mu Jing said.

Alex stepped forward. Hung spread her arms wide. "Careful where you put your hands. My girlfriend's watching."

Alex patted her down expertly, then ran a small device with an antenna up and down her body, checking for evidence of a wire. Hung never took her eyes off Mu Jing.

On the platform, a pair of hands reached out of the darkness and one of the hidden gunmen quietly died.

Alex nodded to Mu Jing and stepped away.

"I see the resemblance to your brother," Hung said, putting her arms down. "Although he doesn't really resemble you any more."

Mu Jing's face darkened. "You have no idea how much pain you're going to endure before you die."

A second gunman, lying prone on the platform with a rifle, died without a sound.

Hung shrugged. "I figured. But what I don't understand is, out of all the police who raided your gang that day, why single me out?"

"Because you were the one who attacked me first, and it was your trick with the cell phone that gave us away. Besides, who says I'm going to stop with you?"

Hung snorted. "You're a nobody, always living in your brother's shadow. Liang told us all about your pathetic little gang, and yet I can't even remember your name. What was it, again? It was May, right? Or was it Lynn? Everyone needs a sister named Lynn."

Sue's face betrayed nothing, yet without even looking at her, Hung knew she'd gotten the message.

Mu Jing stepped forward, fists raised, and began circling Hung. "My name is Zhu Mu Jing. You should know it before you die."

Hung shed her jacket, dropped it to the floor, and raised her hands into a fighting stance. She turned on the spot, keeping Mu Jing in front of her. Their eyes bore into each other. Only Sue noticed that Hung's right foot now stood on her jacket. To anyone else, it was trivial, but Sue knew it was deliberate.

Mu Jing continued circling. When she was between Hung and the door, she attacked.

Hung sprang back while simultaneously kicking the jacket up into Mu Jing's face. In that same instant, the rifle shot from the platform killed Alex.

The warehouse erupted into chaos.

By jumping backwards, Hung was now next to Sue. A knife flew down from the platform, seeming to come out of the darkness itself. Hung caught it and cut the ropes around Sue's feet. Every gunman fired wildly up at the platform. Mu Jing ripped the jacket from her face and leaped at Hung. Sue brought her feet up and kicked Mu Jing back while Hung cut the ropes around Sue's wrists.

Sue rolled off the chair to her right, and immediately a belt came sailing out of the darkness above the platform and hit the floor in front of her. She recognized it instantly and snatched it up.

Mu Jing continued attacking Hung in a rage, even though the policewoman now had a knife.

Two more rifle shots from the platform meant two more dead gang members, and everyone except Hung and Mu Jing scrambled for cover. One of the dead was Xiao. Sue picked up his pistol and hid behind a barrel. The barrel was small, but luckily, so was she. She put on the belt as quickly as she could.

The other gunmen hid inside the cubicles on each side of the warehouse and continued firing at the platform. They had no idea how many people were up there or who they were.

Mu Jing didn't care about anything except killing Hung. Even with the knife, Hung was still just barely keeping Mu Jing at bay. Mu Jing aimed a flying kick at Hung's face. Hung dodged. Mu Jing's feet hit the wall instead, but she just pushed off, twisted in mid-air, and punched Hung in the chest. Hung staggered back, slicing twice with the knife to keep Mu Jing away. They circled one another.

Peering around the barrel, Sue saw that Mu Jing was moving too fast for her to get a clear shot. Sue took in the rest of the warehouse and saw something she didn't like.

"Lynn!" she shouted. "One coming up the ladder!"

The man on the ladder, angry that his advantage of surprise was gone, shot at Sue, but she had already ducked back into cover. Just before he fired, Sue had gotten a glimpse of his face. It was Chang.

Lynn leaped off the platform, two silver wires shooting from her waist. Their tips embedded in the ceiling. She swung the length of the warehouse, a pistol in each hand, spinning and firing at the gunmen in the cubicles below. Some ducked in time. Those who didn't were mown down.

Sue's heart soared, and she grinned at her sister with pride. Majestic! It was just such a Lynn thing to do!

Then Sue remembered Chang, and looked. He was now on the platform himself, taking careful aim at Lynn, who didn't see him because she was concentrating on the gunmen below.

Sue shot him dead before she could even think.

Lynn reached the end of her first swing across the warehouse and started her return journey. She again fired at the cubicles, but this time everyone stayed down. Lynn saw Hung and Mu Jing fighting, but they were mostly hidden behind the scaffolding from her point of view, so Lynn could do nothing to help Hung at the moment.

Sue took in the situation. The overall momentum of Lynn's swings would end in a few seconds; Hung had all she could handle with Mu Jing; and there were still gunmen hiding in the cubicles. Sue thought furiously, then snatched up a second gun from one of the dead gang members and sprinted to the van. She saw the keys were still in the ignition.

Lynn arced once more across the warehouse, keeping the gang members pinned down.

Sue ran to the back of the van, opened the doors and jumped in. She turned around and fired two wires from her belt. One embedded itself into the first cubicle on the right, the other on the left. She closed the van doors, which held the wires in place. She disconnected the wires from her belt and scrambled into the driver's seat.

Mu Jing knocked the knife out of Hung's hand, kicked Hung onto her back, and tried to jump on her. Hung kicked her to one side and rolled on top of her, gripping Mu Jing's arms. The wall was a couple of meters from their heads.

Mu Jing got her feet up, planted them on Hung's waist and shoved her upwards. Hung refused to let go, so she suddenly found herself vertical and upside down for a split second, and during that second, her feet made contact with one of the chains hanging from the ceiling.

Hung quickly executed a small swirling motion with her right leg, wrapping the chain around her foot. She let go of Mu Jing, and, suspended by the chain, bent herself double at the waist, reaching up to her own foot.

Mu Jing leaped to her feet, exactly as Hung predicted.

Now holding onto the chain only with her hand, Hung kicked Mu Jing in the shoulder. It didn't really hurt Mu Jing, but it propelled Hung towards the wall. Mu Jing sprang after her. Hung kicked back off the wall, reversing her direction instantly. As she passed Mu Jing, she clotheslined her with the chain. Hung's momentum kept her circling Mu Jing, and with each revolution she wrapped the chain around Mu Jing's neck again and again.

Choking, Mu Jing clawed at the chain, but it was wrapped too tightly to pull off by force.

Hung let her be, plucked a gun from a dead gang member's hand, and took stock of the situation. At that moment, Lynn was alighting onto the warehouse floor from her wires, bodies were everywhere, and the van was pulling the cubicles apart.

The cubicles collapsed. Hung sprinted to join Lynn. The van's rear doors burst open and Sue threw one of her guns to the spot she knew Hung would reach a second later.

Deprived of their cover, the remaining gunmen poured out, firing wildly.

Hung reached Lynn, caught Sue's gun, and spun on the spot.

Hung and Lynn now stood back to back with two guns each.

They stood together, the two women of equal skill who had been born on the same day, their arms fully extended at 45-degree angles, slowly turning clockwise, firing again and again, mowing down the entire gang around them as they advanced.

Sue stood in the back of the van, taking out more of the gang members from behind, determined with all her heart to protect her sister and her girlfriend.

The echoes of the final gunshots faded away. It was over.

Sue hopped down and ran to Lynn's arms. Lynn held her tight.

Then Sue hugged Hung, who also held her close. When they finally pulled apart, Hung held her face and said, "Hey – I love you."

Sue broke into a grin which was full of stress and relief. "You picked a hell of a time to finally say it!"

Hung laughed. Lynn grinned at them.

Sue raised her gun to Hung's face and pulled the trigger.

But Sue hadn't been aiming at Hung. Lynn and Hung were stunned for a fraction of a second, then whipped their heads around to see Mu Jing fall to the floor, a gun in her hand.

They looked back at Sue.

Sue smiled at Hung. "And I love you, too."

Chapter 10 Chapter 12

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