"So," Shina started as she walked over to a pile of luggage sitting on the far side of the alley. "Can you tell me how to find the Marriott Seven East? I fear I made a wrong turn and have lost my way."
Sandra blinked for a second. What would this rather dangerous woman with the ability to neatly crush Triad thugs be doing in a blind alley looking for one of Hong Kong's swankier hotels? "It's..." she began, then stopped. Damn, where the hell was it? "Tell you what, I'll show you the way. You're almost on the other side of town."
Stuff it. Dinner could wait. This was going to be interesting.
"I thank you." Shina Arakawa sling one large bag over her shoulder and then picked up the extended handle of another, setting it on its wheels. "I don't know Hong Kong very well, I'm afraid," she continued, "and thought I could walk. Stretch my legs, get a little exercise. That sort of thing."
"Unhunh." Sandra responded noncommittally, watching as the woman adjusted her luggage and slid her sword into a cloth carrying bag. Her manner of speaking took a bit of getting used to. It was so grammatically correct it smacked of having been learned by tape or some such. She might know contractions, but Sandra would have bet anything Shina didn't know a single swear word. Well... English ones anyway.
With her larger bag trundling along behind her Shina returned to where Sandra stood waiting. "Shall we go?"
Sandra blinked for a second. How did she get herself wrapped up in stuff like this? "Sure," she said. "I don't see any point in hanging around here too much longer." She looked down at the pile of thugs. "Sure as heck I don't want to be around when their friends show up."
"I understand. I would rather be elsewhere myself."
"New in town?" Sandra asked in attempt to make conversation.. "I like walking around the place too. I've got a friend who's shown me a lot of the city, much of it by foot." Boy, am I babbling or what? she mentally added.
"Yes... yes I am." Shina replied. "I don't suppose," she continued in an offhand tone, "you have ever heard of a place called Lu Ch'ian have you?"
Sandra almost stopped dead in her tracks right then and there. Lu Ch'ian, also known as "The Path of Money" was an infamous gambling casino with private (bed)rooms rentable by the hour. Popular with corporate types, street sams and wuxia, Triads, Yak, and just about anyone else who worked the streets, the place was run by a woman named Rinn-Fa, whose breast enhancement went beyond the bounds of common sense or even sanity. And this ridiculously polite, immaculately dressed swordswoman who could neatly crumple Triad mooks in half and needed directions to a swanky hotel was asking after it? On the other hand, Sandra noted, Shina was rather ridiculously endowed herself. Maybe there was a connection.
"Yes, I have." Sandra replied. "Uh, can I ask why?"
"I have business with the owner." Shian replied. Well that sounded completely wrong, Sandra thought.
"And you got lost en route to your meeting." Sandra finished, still trying not to think about the visual image of Shina and Rinn-Fa in the same room together. "That's okay. On foot, Hong Kong can be a little confusing for the first time visitor." She shrugged. "Any idea why they would attack you?"
"I fear my mission has been compromised."
"Mission?" Sandra asked. She figured that this woman wasn't in HK for the sights. She had to wonder if she was some colorful Japanese variation on the "Street Samurai" theme, possibly one who took the title literally.
"Yes..." Shina paused, aparently thinking her answer over. "I have been asked to deliver a package to the proprietor of Lu Ch'ian."
"I see." Sandra replied, trying not to think about the connotations. "I guess those guys may have been sent after you. Good thing they didn't seem to be of the terribly bright variety."
After an uneventful walk (something that surprised Sandra), the pair of them made it to the hotel. No sooner was Shina in her extravagantly furnished, luxurious pre-booked room, then she was on the phone to her contact, setting up a meeting for the transfer of the whatever-the-hell-it-was that she was carrying. Sandra had taken the opportunity to flop back on a ridiculously comfortable bed.
"I am so sorry to keep you waiting," Shina said, returning to the room. "My contact will be here shortly."
"No point in waiting around then," Sandra said. Maybe I can get home to a late dinner then.
For a moment it all looked good. They returned to the hotel's lobby and then entered the connected café and lounge, where Shina's contact was to be waiting. From there, it would be a quick exchange of goods for money.
Shina's buisiness contact was a handsome, clean-cut, yet anonymous-looking man in a respectable three-piece suit and tie. With what Lu Chi'an is reputed to take per night, Rinn-Fa certainly can afford to dress her men up nicely, Sandra thought. I bet he's either an upgrade or a synthetic.
Then something caught her eye. Several men in expensive designer wear and dark glasses were hanging around the edge of the lounge, trying their best to look inconspicuous—and failing. "Shina?" she whispered.
"I see them." the swordswoman replied.
"And the décor looked so nice," Sandra finished as she reached under her coat for her guns. "You've got to avoid Triad mooks. They're no good for you.
"So it would seem." Shina's hand vanished under her coat as well, only to reappear with a massive revolver with a brushed steel finish. "Sandra-san, if you would be so kind as to distract them, I'll try and get my contact to safety."
Sandra's reply was drowned out by the almost deafening report of the revolver being fired. The target, one of the Triad suits, was hurled backwards into a decorative window, a stubby submachinegun spinning from his hands.
"Right." Sandra wasted no time in following up Shina's initial assault with her own. The café was mostly empty, and targeting was easy, simply shoot at anyone who wasn't ducking down screaming and trying to run away. Just to be safe she added "oh, and holding a gun" to that list. No sense plugging hotel security.
Shina's simply shooting one of their number seemed to have rattled the rest of the grunts, allowing Sandra the luxury of actually being able to aim. Diving to one side, in an attempt to take advantage of the cover offered by a nearby table, she pulled the triggers on both of her pistols, riddling two more gunsels. One went backwards over a chair and onto a table, while the other pitched forwards onto the floor.
The remaining mooks weren't taking this threat idly. A pair of them opened fire on Sandra, gouging deep chunks out of the table and sending chunks of wood flying. A splinter whizzed by Sandra's face, nicking it as she ran for a thick couch, firing as she went. She didn't hit anything (save for a single vase that exploded quite spectacularly) but it kept then down long enough.
Another thunderous boom rang out as Shina blew another mook away. She glanced over to see her and the contact lurking behind a couch, closer to the door. Right, she thought. Time for action.
Leaping up, she ran, twisting her body to one side and firing as she went. A Triad thug went down, collapsing on a couch as if dozing. A second one was caught in the arm, dropping his pistol and collapsing in pain.
The remainder fired back, trying their best to track Sandra as she moved. A line of bullets dug into an overstuffed couch that she'd passed moments before, shredding cushions and sending stuffing flying into the air. Sandra returned fire, silencing the mook with the SMG and sending him crashing back onto a table. A second man practically flew backwards, his pistol arcing through the air, as Shina caught him dead center in the chest with her pistol. Sandra wasn't sure what sort of gun the swordswoman was using, but she knew two things: it was big and it put people down. Fast. She wanted one.
"How are you doing?" Shina shouted, crouched down near the door with the contact.
"Great!" Sandra replied as she dropped the clips out of her pistols, then slammed a pair of new ones in. Looking around, she took in the locations of the remaining thugs. Time to go. Leaping to her feet, she spun around, coat billowing out as she opened fire.
Two Triad mooks went down under the hail of fire. Before they were even down, Sandra turned to another one who was returning fire. Bullets whizzed past her, one grazing into her right shoulder while the others dug into the walls. Ignoring the pain, she opened up with her pistols, cutting him down. There was a long silence.
A sickening crack caught Sandra's attention. She spun around, guns ready, to see Shina standing still, her sword out. A Triad mook stood in the middle of the room, doubled over. He remained there for an instant, before collapsing.
"Nice," Sandra said, then whistled.
"We probably should leave now," Shina replied.
"Good plan," Sandra commented as she looked around the devastated lounge. Then a thought struck her. "Just one question?"
"Where were you keeping that sword?" Sandra was positive Shina hadn't come down to the lobby with it.
Giving Sandra a wry grin (and helping the contact up with one hand) Shina simply shook her head. "Trade secret."
Sandra smirked. "I don't think I'll pursue this one any further." She gave the room a quick once-over. No sign of any Triad goons upright, breathing, or at least visible. Maybe they'd had enough for one day. "Let's go," she began.
"Wait a moment, please." Shina opened by the cylinder on her pistol and shook five empty casings into her hand. Dropping them into a pocket, she produced a speed loader and refilled the cylinder.
"What is that?" Sandra asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"Smith and Wesson 50 caliber," Shina replied, placing the revolver in her shoulder holster and the sword into a loop in the lining of her coat. So that's where that came from... Sandra nodded, she'd heard of the gun before. Some of her ex-NYPD officers, always looking for the next best penis substitute, had bragged about using them. On the other hand, it did get the job done. "I have got to get one of those."
"I'll see what I can do." Turning to the contact she sketched a short bow. "I apologize but I fear our meeting will be delayed. If you would come with us, will get you to a safer place for the exchange."
Behind Shina's back, Sandra rolled her eyes. What next? Apologies to the downed Triad goons for shooting them? "We need to get going."
"So, is it always this exciting in Hong Kong?" Shina asked as the three of them left the lounge. They sprinted into the hotel's lobby, not bothering to think how they must look to staff and patrons alike.
"Not usually..." Sandra replied. They stepped out through the main hotel doors and into the street, only to find a trio of expensive black cars waiting there, several men in neat suits standing by them, guns in hand. "Tool," Sandra swore.
"I fear those are Yakuza." Shina added.
"Definitely," Shina replied as she grabbed the contact's hand. The pair of them, with contact in tow, turned and made a break for the lobby. Behind them the Yaks, as one, opened fire. The front windows and doors of the hotel shattered in a hail of broken glass as the three of them ran through.
"This was not supposed to happen!" The contact shouted as he ran, flakes of glass decorating his formerly pristine suit.
"Well, it is!" Sandra shouted back. She was firing blindly over her shoulder, a skill she had practiced while fleeing from Jinsei troops in the Zone. Around her staff and visitors screamed and ducked for cover as the Yaks continued their attack.
"We will need to find an alternate venue for the meeting," Shina added. A potted plant next to her exploded, as if to emphasis the point. Behind them the Yaks charged in through the ruined front of the hotel, still firing.
"Service exit!" Sandra shouted as she vaulted over stand. No sooner was she down, then it, the vase on it and the advertisements for the bistro were obliterated in a hail of gunfire. Swearing to herself, she switched guns and opened fire again. This time she was pretty sure she got someone.
The three of them ducked behind a desk. "Right," Sandra began as a chunk of wood sailed by her. "On the count of three, we run like crazy for the service exit. Everyone good with that?"
"Ahhh..." the contact begain. "Yes," Shina finished, producing her revolver from inside her coat.
"One..." Sandra began as Shina stuck her arm over top the desk and fired two quick shots.
The three of them leaped up and began running, Shina in the lead dragging the contact behind her, followed by Sandra firing wildly. She could have sworn that she saw at least one Yak go down, but she wasn't ready to hang about to be certain.
Shina wove her way through several terrified guests before barging past a luggage trolley and ducking into a half-concealed door in one corner. The terrified suit followed, clearly out of his depth. Sandra tailed the pair of them, firing as she went at the approaching horde of goons.
Ducking behind the trolley and allowing the luggage to absorb rounds for a few seconds, Sandra shoved it into the path of a pair of oncoming thugs. It struck the pair of them, sending them sprawling for long enough for Sandra to get through the door. Anyone trailing them would have to clamber over the luggage and a pair of embarrassed goons, which should buy some time.
A loud crack indicated that at least one unlucky mug had thought about going around the back way. Advancing down the corridor, Sandra had to gingerly step over the crumpled form of a faintly moaning Yakuza thug. Stepping out to the back alley, she found Shina and the contact waiting there.
"Here," Shina flipped something small and metallic to Sandra.
"Yakuza membership pin."
"You're kidding." Sandra stared at the badge, which was of an elaborate kanji character. What sort of gang uses membership pins?
Shina shrugged. "They've worn then for decades."
"Now, we need to set up a new meeting with Rinn-Fa," Shina turned to the suit. "This venue is clearly no longer appropriate."
"Right," Sandra agreed, slapping the contact on the shoulder. "You break out your cellphone and go set something up. We'll keep them busy until you can get a time and place."
"Right." The man started fumbling with his phone. "Give me a minute."
"No, you go now," Shina replied. "Tell your employers what's happened here. We will keep them busy. When you have a time and location for the meeting, let us know." She hefted the bag onto her shoulder. "Sandra, I do apologize for delaying you further."
"Put it down to my strange charitable streak." Sandra replied. The back door of the hotel swung open, a man in a suit emerging. The pair of them turned towards him and both opened fire, knocking him down immediately. "That may have been overkill."
"Can you cover the door?" Shina asked. "I'll take care of any that come around the side."
"Certainly," Sandra replied. "I'm assuming we're not going to stay here forever."
"Just long enough," Shina replied. "Once our friend is gone, we will also leave."
"Fine," Sandra muttered. She turned back to the door. There was a narrow hallway from the back door to the hotel lobby. Anyone who tried to squeeze through would walk straight into her guns. Perfect. Glancing back, she could see Shina standing by the side of the hotel, sword at the ready like some samurai movie hero.
"Here they come," Shina began.
Sandra waited for the sign as the door rattled. The first man in suit stepped through, only to be nailed with both pistols.
"Now we run."
Sandra sat in a small booth in a small Hong Kong bar located off of a small Hong Kong back street. She'd taken Shina here in an effort to escape the Yak, the Triads, and gods-knew-who-else who might be after them today. Staring at the can of Fosters sitting on the table, Sandra remained quiet as Shina ate her way through a bowl of noodles and enthusiastically drank down a tall can of Sapporo. The tall street samurai might have been prim and proper, but she certainly could drink.
Guiding a mass of noodles into her mouth with chopsticks, Shina chewed thoughtfully. "I fear Rinn-Fa's communications are being monitored."
"Oh?" Sandra perked up.
The Japanese woman nodded. "I am fairly sure my employer's are not. They are very secure."
"Unhunh..." Sandra wondered for a moment who Shina's employer might be, and then forgot about it. It didn't matter, really. What did was getting out of this in one piece. She could just up and leave—nothing was holding her to this job, not even the promise of money, but she'd come too far already to just abandon Shina to her fate. Although, to be honest, Sandra really doubted Shina would be in that much trouble without her. "So what then?"
"The supposedly secure meeting place won't be."
"Great... and me running low on ammunition." Sandra shook her head. Too many tools, not enough bullets.
"We will have to make do." Shina took a drink of beer. "Try and use theirs if at all possible."
The ringing of Shina's cell phone made a welcome break to the conversation. Shina flipped the lid up, glanced at the display, and lifted it to her ear.
A pause. Then: "No, but I will find out."
Another pause. "I will be there."
Flipping the phone closed, Shina dropped it in one pocket and then reached for her beer. "Tell me, Sandra-san, do you know where the Hong Kong Royal Botanical Gardens are?"
Sandra had to stop and blink. It was an unlikely thing to say. The Botanical Gardens had been all but abandoned after the Chinese Government left Hong Kong. Today they were a largely abandoned and overgrown mess of parklands with somewhat rundown but still standing buildings. Definitely off the beaten track for tourists.
"Yeah, I know where they are." Sandra replied finishing off her beer. "Why do you ask?"
"The meeting has been moved there." Shina calmly replied.
Sandra nodded. "Unusual. Unconventional. Definitely unexpected." She smiled. "And very unlikely to be somewhere anyone else would think of. I like it."
Shina stood. "Shall we get going then?"
Sandra nodded. "Might as well," she replied as she stood. "It's not like I've got any other plans for the evening." She mentally asked herself again why she was doing this, and then reminded herself that it was because she was really a nice person inside. She mentally added that she needed a good kick on occasion.
The old Royal arboretum had seen better days, Sandra thought. While not totally derelict, it was clearly well in decline. Much of its outside was glass that, while still intact, was covered in grime. As a result, the light that filtered through was often faded or yellowy, giving the whole place a rather odd color. Many of the plants were overgrown, leaving their nice and well organized places behind to intermingle and spread out into one solid mass of green.
Pipes dripped into large pools on the floor while all around were signs of abandoned or unfinished repairs. Spare panes of glass propped against stands, now almost as grimy as the ones on the outside. Gardening and construction tools leaning against walls. Haphazardly patched pipes half covered in creepers.
"Nice place." Sandra muttered as the pair of them moved through it. Getting in hadn't been hard. The garden's security was never more then a fence and a few cameras, and most of those had been out of action for ages. Finding the arboretum itself had proved to be harder, but far from a stretch. She wiped her brow with the back of her sleeve. The temperature and humidity here were ideal for looking after tropical plants. This meant that in her trademark black longcoat, Sandra was sweating. She could only wonder how Shina was feeling. The other woman wasn't letting on.
"Our contact should be about here," Shina stated as she lead them through another row of plants. They emerged into an open area of bare concrete that stood out amongst the riot of green all around it. "Or so he said." she added as the pair of them looked around.
To Sandra it seemed like something out of an old war movie. The jungle all around and seemingly closing in. Darkness that could conceal an unseen enemy. A rescuer that was supposed to be there. It was Hong Kong's own little Vietnam, complete with arbor views.
She slowly, carefully turned, keeping her and Shina's backs to each other while reaching for her guns. "I think we may have been compromised," she began quietly.
"It would appear so," Shina replied.
Great, she thought. And if this was an old war movie, the bad guys would come charging screaming out of the undergrowth about... now.
I hate it when I'm right.
"Good afternoon Miss Arakawa Shina." The voice was soft and cultured, while the English betrayed a trace of accent. But most of all, it was female. After a tense moment, both Sandra and Shina relaxed. It was highly unlikely that either the Triads or the Yak had send a female assassin to greet them.
"Rinn-Fa..." Sandra muttered, as the owner of the voice came into view.
Sandra had once read up on the side effects of genetic upgrading. For women the most obvious was larger than average breasts. Either the upgrade pushed estrogen output to its maximum potential, or the genetic designers had engaged in a little wish-fulfillment. In truth, Sandra expected it to be the former, as male genetic upgrades showed the increased muscle mass and thick hair of augmented testosterone levels. Not to mention the stories about penis size. Thus, upgrades explained the look of such women as Kami, Ling Ling, and even (or so Sandra expected) Shina. Not to mention the so-called "Lovely Angels," who almost put Kami to shame on how they displayed their genetically enhanced bodies when not encasing them in combat-grade hardsuits.
Rinn-Fa, on the other hand, went far beyond the bounds of what could be explained by genetic augmentation. She was blessed, if you could call it that, with a bust line that could only be explained by surgical implants. It was the sort of look you'd associate with pornographic simsense stars, not casino-owners. Of course, this didn't stop hordes of men from virtually drooling over the mere thought of Rinn-Fa in one of her trademark skin-tight cheong-sams, which helped explain why she probably had opted for the look in the first place. But that didn't stop Sandra from despising her. The woman reminded her too much of certain people back in Neo York.
Turning to regard the owner of the voice, Sandra noted Shina cocking one eyebrow for just a moment. She suppressed an inward snort of laughter. The stolid street-samurai pobably hadn't been expecting her contact to look like that.
The owner and operator of Lu Ch'ian stood about five-foot six with a fairly narrow waist, which only served to make her chest seem that much larger. She wore a formfitting black bodysuit with white boots, gloves, and a waist-length cheong-sam, all trimmed in black. Her black hair, which artistically fell over one eye, barely came down past her ears. Sandra thought she looked like a high-class call girl. Considering her rumored appetites, that assessment might not be that far off.
Flanked by two men whose somber expressions screamed "bodyguard" (and followed by what looked like a half-dozen more), Rinn-Fa stepped into the clearing. She barely glanced at Sandra (which was fine with her), but gave Shina a more thorough visual examination. Yeah, those appetites were far more than rumor...
"I thought you were alone."
Sandra rolled her eyes. "I'm with her," she replied, which Sandra quickly realised probably sounded quite different from what she wanted it to sound like. "That is to say, I'm working with her. I've been working as her guide to HK and assisiting in the blood-soaked violence." She sighed. "I've helped her get this far so she can be here to meet you."
Inwardly she wondered if any of that had come out right, and then tried to figure what shape Rinn-Fa's spine would be in within a few years. Probably not that good. "Fortuntely we're all here now," Sandra continued regardless. "So let's get this all over and done with so I can go home."
She blinked. Well that all sounded terrible.
There was a moment of silence as Rinn-Fa sort of stared at her. Her accompanying retinue of well-armed (and probably armored) beefcake joined in, the entire group regarding her as if she was some curious form of insect they'd found smashed on the windshield of their car. Sandra rather wished the ground would open up and swallow her whole. Either that or Rinn-Fa would give her an excuse to start shooting. Nothing like some mindless violence to act as a catharsis for the soul.
Now everyone turned to regard Shina, who had coughed politely into one closed fist. Catching Rinn-Fa's eye, she then bowed from the waist. "Rinn-Fa-sama, I am pleased to finally make your acquaintance. I have come, with Sandra-san's assistance, to deliver the package you ordered." She opened her fist to expose a narrow case.
And that's when the mooks burst out from the bushes and opened fire. Sandra didn't want to hang around for the results. Before either Shina or Rinn-Fa could react, Sandra simply barged into the samurai woman, shoving her out of the way and into an unsuspecting fern. Rinn-Fa's men weren't so lucky, with several of them going down in the first volley.
"Sorry about that," Sandra muttered.
"It appears that we have been compromised," Shina replied, apparently unperturbed about sharing her personal space with assorted fern fronds. "By the Yakuza, no less." She warily eyed the bunch of men in dark suits that were exchanging fire with Rinn-Fa's remaining bodyguards.
"Tool," Sandra stated. Then she noticed the bunch of cheap suits entering from the other side of the room. "I think we have extra trouble."
"And I cannot be paid or leave until Rinn-Fa has received her requested goods," Shina replied.
"So I guess it's up to us to do something stupid again," Sandra said. "Great." She leaped out form behind the ferns, guns in hand, and opened fire on a Yak moving towards the now undefended Rinn-Fa. "And It was looking like such a great day to start with."
Skittering sidewise, Sandra continued to fire at anyone that did look like one of Rinn-Fa's original suits—quite a few of which were still up and active suprisingly enough. A long-coated form to her right indicated where Shina had joined the fray, her sword a blur as she chopped and hacked her way through the crowd.
Sandra ducked for cover as a pot next to her exploded into a shower of ceramics and dirt. Rinn-Fa was still dangerously exposed—no, that didn't sound right, she mentally added—which meant Shina could end up in a heap of trouble if the casino owner got herself killed. The problem was, a lone Yak soldier had spotted her and opened fire with something on full automatic as she ran down a narrow bath behind a screen of plants. Sandra used a rack of pots as cover as she went, and ended up sprayed with dirt, bits of plant, and chunks of pottery as the gunman continued. Apparently his gun came with an endless supply of ammunition. Just peachy.
Then the firing --- at least on her position—stopped. Peaking between two unbroken pots, Sandra saw the Yak, a young, skinny man in an expensive suit and a cheap haircut, sliding a long cylinder into the top of his submachinegun. A Calico. That explained eveything, such as why he could fire forever, and why he wasn't really doing much damage. Leaping out from behind her cover, she opened fire on him with both pistols, knocking him back into a stand of young palms.
A loud shot rang out, indicating to Sandra that Shina was hard at work elsewhere. Right, she thought. Time for me to do something cool and stupid.
A group of Yaks were lurking by a concrete suport pillar, using it for cover to hide from a bunch of Triads. Rinn-Fa was stuck in the middle, trying her best to remain unnoticed, which was proving to be anatomically impossible. However, Sandra had a plan. It was risky and hair brained, which meant that it might just work.
Picking up the now ex-Yak's (for the moment anyway, Sandra wasn't sure if he was dead or just stunned) Calico, Sandra pushed the clip in and snapped the bolt home. The Calico only fired a .22 round, but it did have a lot of them. Like at least 50...
Breaking cover again, she ran towards the Yaks, holding the Calico close to her hip and opened fire. Her target was, however, not them but the fire extinguisher strapped to the pillar they were hiding behind. A couple of them turned to face her, and were genuinely surprised when the extinguisher exploded behind them in a spray of chemicals and metal fragments. Vaulting past the dead, dazed, and wounded Yaks (at least one of which had been pitched towards her by the blast, almost as if he was coming to greet her), Sandra landed next to Rinn-Fa.
"I've bought you some time," she yelled. "Look for somewhere to hide, now!" To emphasize the point, she opened fire on a Triad thug that had popped up, riddling him and the bag of potting mix behind him with bullets. Well, the Calico was good for one thing at least... wasting ammo.
Rinn-Fa gave her a look that mixed equal parts of disbelief, anger, and a little fear. She had a pistol in her hand, but Sandra wasn't sure if the over-breasted woman was planning on using it. The things I do.... Sandra thought as she grabbed the other woman's arm. "Come on!"
At that exact moment a loud click announced the sprinkler system kicking in. Within moments the air was full of water, the sprinkler's hiss only adding to the din of shouts (in both Cantonese, Japanese, and Mandarin) gunfire, screams, and unidentifiable crashes. Sandra wiped wet hair out of her face and looked over at Rinn-Fa. Her silk suit was now clinging to her like a second skin, presenting a view she didn't really need to see. Good thing Alan wasn't here, he'd have lost track of what to do at the mere hint of Rinn-Fa's mammaries. Either that or he'd have bodily born her to the ground... all in the name of shielding her body with his. Which meant he'd have been on top, of course.
Her augmented strength more than enough to get Rinn-Fa up off the ground, Sandra roughly shoved her into a stand of plants, ignoring her squawk of protest. Right now living was for more important than decorum. Sandra followed and promptly tripped over a root, crashing down on top of Rinn-Fa, who then landed on someone else by the sound.
"Get--!" the casino owner started, only to have the someone else clap a hand over her mouth. "Sandra-san!" Shina hissed, "Do not move."
You've got to be kidding. Sandra was sprawled over Rinn-Fa, who was currently tangled up with Shina. Fortunately for Sandra's sanity, Rinn-Fa was facedown, but there was no way she was going to remain in this position. She wasn't acting in one of Alan's lesbian sex fantasies after all.
The buzzsaw rip of a mini-gun on full-auto-slaughter cut off any and all thoughts of standing, sitting, or simply getting the hell out of there. For a moment, Sandra actually tired to push herself lower to the floor as the three of them did their best to make themselves a smaller target. In Rinn-Fa's case, Sandra thought it to be a lost cause. Then something large, leafy, green, and wet fell on them.
The mini-gun's roar went on for what seemed to be forever as the operator tracked across the breath of the greenhouse, sawing off just about everything at a height of four feet. Shrubs and trees collapsed, support pipes bent in two, panes of glass shattered, and old flower pots simply exploded. And the water kept spraying.
Mercifully the gun whirred to a stop before it was able to put a bullet into everything in the room. Not that the gunner hadn't tried from the sound of things. From under her blanket of branches, leaves, and twigs, Sandra shook her head. "Now what?" she whispered.
"He's probably reloading," Shina replied. "Or looking for a new target."
"Great..." Sandra muttered. "What kind of a tool brings a minigun to something like this anyway?"
"The Yakuza," Shina simply stated.
"Shoulda figured," Sandra added. "I guess if you can't see a thing, just take out everything in the general area. Okay, we need to get out from under here and take him out. Then everyone else. Then go home and have dinner."
There was a pause, punctuated by the sound of someone shouting in Mandarin. "Okay..." Sandra muttered. "I have a plan. I am going to make a lot of noise, try to deal with our friend with the minigun and maybe take a few others down as well. It's the sort of insane thing I tend to do a lot." She smiled. "Stupidity is my specialty."
"Sandra-sa." Shina brought one arm up from under the silent and wide-eyed Rinn-Fa. "Here."
Sandra stared at the stainless steel surface of the Smith and Wesson .50 revolver. It was a big gun. A big gun with a lot of kick she figured, but then, she was going up against a cyborg with a mini-gun. "Okay."
"Wait one moment more..." Shina flipped the cylinder out and shook the spent casings in the floor, Rinn-Fa watching them drop with intense fascination. A moment later she slid home a fresh set of rounds with a speed loader. "These are designed to penetrate armor."
Amid the twigs and leaves Sandra smiled. "If I'm going to to do something stupid it always pays to be well-armed."
The spray from the sprinklers meant that visibility had been reduced considerably. The sounds of random gunfire and shouted voices served to be the only guide for most people as to where their opponents were. Most people that is. Sandra had the advantage of various low-light and thermal options built into her artificial eye, which meant that she could make out some of what was going on around her.
Right. Time to act. She ducked in amongst a mess of ferns, heading towards one group. Waiting behind a palm, she counted down before leaping out and spraying the general area around a group of heat blobs with the few rounds left in the Calico. Chunks of greenery flew into the air as the last few rounds shredded a few inoffensive trees, then the gun clicked empty. Throwing it away, she broke into a run, heading towards another blob.
A blob that was hefting a large blob that was probably a weapon.
There was an electric whining sound that Sandra instantly recognized as the minigun's motor warming up. Not wanting to hang around for the results, she leaped to one side as the man opened fire, shouting something in Japanese that she didn't recognize and didn't care to figure out. She landed on her side, dragging at the rubber grip of Shina's revolver as the world exploded around her in a storm of greenery, dirt and pottery.
Not waiting, she fired twice at the man as she fell, the gun kicking back with each pull of the trigger. It was a heavy gun all right and kicked like a mule, but there some something satisfying about the loud report that accompanied each pull of the trigger. She wasn't sure if she hit anything, but something seemed to have happened, as the man staggered backwards, the minigun shooting into the air. There was a sound of shattering glass as the weapon continued to fire, seemingly out of control.
She burst into a run as shards of glass from the roof rained down around her. Getting nailed by falling glass in the middle of a battle like this would be a bit more irony then she could handle, she decided. Ahead of her, the minigunner seemed to have bough his weapon under control. Time to fix that. Leaping over a railing, she jumped down in front of the man, firing the last three rounds as she went.
This time he went down hard.
There was a loud boom behind her. Turning around, she could make out a single form in amongst several others. A single, distinctly female form. An earsplitting crack accompanied one of them collapsing, followed by another one going down following a violent swing of something that wasn't showing up on thermal at all. Whatever that swordy-thing was, Sandra thought, she didn't want to be on the receiving end. Then she glanced at the shattered armor plating sheathing the cyborg at her feet. Then again, she didn't want to be on the receiving end of Shina's revolver either.
Sandra leaned against a railing and looked out over Hong Kong Harbor. There wasn't a whole lot to see, actually, as this part was mostly filled in with a slowly-spreading expanse of artificial island. Much like Mega-Tokyo she'd heard. The quest for more living space had reached a point where the ocean was being reclaimed regardless of the cost. She just hoped a typhoon didn't decide to slam into the place and rip the carefully constructed platforms out of the seabed. Might make things a bit messy, and she'd had enough of messes for one day.
Over to one side Rinn-Fa stood with Shina, snatches of Japanese coming to Sandra's ears as they talked together. Sandra had seen Shina pass the slim case over, while Rinn-Fa has gestured to one of her surviving guards (She had a few, surprisingly enough. Odds were the body count in the gardens was lower than expected, all parties had been smart and worn their armor.), who had promptly handed over a slightly larger case.
Sandra had to wonder what could be so valuable that the Triads and the Yak would want it. Knowing Rinn-Fa it could be anything, but was probably intel of some sort. A case as small as the one Shina had handed over usually held datasticks and the like. And those 'sticks could have been loaded with any number of things. And whatever it was, it was important enough to kill for. No different than Neo York, really.
Finally the negotiations ground to a close and Rinn-Fa pointed her oversized breasts back toward the depths of Hong Kong, and surrounded by her guard, followed them home. Sandra steadfastly ignored her.
Sandra turned to find Shina standing quietly, hands clasped together, her expression solemn. Then the tall samurai bowed suddenly from the waist. "Domo arigato gozaimasu."
Sandra didn't speak much Japanese, but knew enough to recognize a highly formal thank you. She bowed in return. "You're welcome."
"I have nothing to give you as payment for your assistance," Shina continued, "except this." She held out the stainless bulk of the .50 revolver.
Sandra blinked for a minute. "Wow." She muttered as she picked up the gun. "Thanks..." She'd had innumerable guns in her time. She mainly used pistols, but had used a submachine gun form time to time. Nothing she'd ever owned felt like this one. She held it up to the sky for a moment, and looked at it. "It's beautiful..."
She blinked, then turned back to Shina and bowed. "Th-thank you very much, Shina. This is very kind of you."
"I wish I could do more."
"I..." Sandra paused, knowing this would sound strange. "I was wondering, now that you've finished your business here... are you doing anything for dinner?"
Shina smiled at that. "Interesting. Rinn-Fa asked me the same question." She paused and noted Sandra's expression. "I turned her down. So no, I am not doing anything for dinner."
"Well, I was just wondering if, y'know, you wanted to go out for dinner or something before you went back to Japan. I know a few good places in HK to eat--" Sarah had proved to be incredibly helpful here, "--and,well, was wondering if you wanted to get something." She mentally wondered what would happen if she introduced Shina to David or Sarah. It could be fun.
Shina gave another slight bow. "I'd be honored."
"Cool" Sandra smiled and leaned back against the railing. She'd gone out to get dinner. She'd instead met a strange woman, gotten into a series of incredibly violent battles, been chased all over Hong Kong, gotten covered with dirt, and dealt with a woman with breasts bigger then her head. She'd walked away form it with a felling big gun and a friend. And she could tell that introducing Shina to David and Sarah would be... amusing. Definitely. All in all, a pretty good day.
"Yeah, Hong Kong's pretty good. You should come here more often."
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