W/N - Thank you again, everyone. I do appreciate the feedback. I also appreciate ideas and suggestions of what characters you want to see more of and plot ideas. We're back to the action and more skullduggery.
In China Town
Jack Bauer crouched down near the entrance to the warehouse. He and Mandy had staked it out for a time before Jack was ready to make his move. The afternoon sun cast long shadows down the alleyway, shielding them from prying eyes. Bauer ran his hand up and down his cheek, which was covered in three-day whiskers. It was time.
"We've seen three or four of Cheng's men come and go," he said. When the next one opens the door, we make our move."
Mandy nodded. "I'll be right behind you, Jack."
Within a couple of seconds, the door opened and two Asian men stepped out of the warehouse. The taller one put a phone to his mouth and began speaking in Chinese. Jack saw that they were both armed with submachineguns.
"Okay, move," he ordered and he rushed diagonally at them. The man with the phone looked up with surprise in his eyes, but Jack put two shots into him. The crack of his pistol sent a flock of birds fluttering into the sky. The second man raised his black Uzi and Jack turned to face him, but the man was too fast. Crap! Two shots rang out…and the man fell backward. Jack looked back to see Mandy moving with her pistol held out.
"Good shooting, Claire," Jack said and Mandy gave him a cryptic smile. "Come, we've got to move quickly." Together, they rushed to the door and put their backs into the wall. "I'll go right, you go left," he said and then darted in. He crossed through the threshold, hearing shouts in Chinese. The loud pop of weapon fire rang out as he dove for cover.
I hope Claire gets through.
The boom of a forty-five pistol told him that she was fine for the moment and he scrambled behind a car as bullets pinged around him. Where's Audrey? I've got to locate her.
He pushed his face to the cold, concrete floor and saw feet rushing at him. On instinct, he pushed his 9mm forward and began pressing the trigger. Shell casings flew onto the ground and men screamed. Without bothering to see what happened, Jack slapped a fresh magazine into the weapon.
"Claire!" he called, trying to get her attention amid the chaos. As soon as he said it, he knew it was a mistake. He heard a, clink clink clink and knew immediately it was a grenade that they had thrown at the sound of his voice. The deadly sphere rolled under the car and Jack's eyes widened.
At a Restaurant in China Town
I watched my contact stuff the last bit of duck into his mouth and chew loudly. I had to admit, the duck was pretty good. I took a sip of tea and spooned a bit of almond float. "I didn't get your name," I said.
The man, who looked to be about 40, gave me an offhanded smile. "I hope you found the dim sum here to be satisfactory," he replied, avoiding the question. "They usually don't serve it this late in the day. You must have some hold over the owners."
I smirked, knowing that he would answer in his own time. I tried to keep calm despite my fears. "It was excellent. I should come here more often." Then, I decided to go on the offense to put the ball in his court. I had to play the card that Mandy gave me. "I did my part for Cheng and Marwan and it nearly got me killed. I am still awaiting compensation."
He seemed a little put off by this and pursed his lips. "We Chinese don't like to rush business. After all, it's about the relationship," he said, sticking his fork into another piece of duck.
His lack of denial at my information gave me hope that Mandy had told the truth. I nodded in agreement. "I understand guanxi and how it is about the relationship. I apologize for my rudeness, but I am rather short on time."
Slowly, he chewed on his bite and swallowed. Then, he splayed his hands and smiled with crooked teeth. "I accept your apology. There is one thing, however," he added, "Cheng is altering the terms of your agreement. You must come with me to find out more."
I knew Mandy would protest and I started to do so, but my friend held up his hand to stop me. "There is no use in complaining. We have the upper hand in our relationship. You would do best to follow Cheng's instructions," he said and laid two twenty dollar bills on the table. He stood and motioned me like a dog to follow him. For a brief moment, I imagined Mandy strangling him.
With a shrug, I stood and glanced out the window and my blood ran cold. Kim was gone.
In China Town
The grenade exploded under the car as Jack leapt over the hood of another car and slammed into the ground hard. Shrapnel ignited the fuel of the first car and it burst into a roaring cauldron of flame, throwing glass and metal into the air. Jack ignored the pain and rolled to the trunk of the vehicle. He popped up and saw Cheng's men charging the burning car, firing indiscriminately. With a sneer, Jack opened fire and his muzzle flashed, pushing the weapon back as brass flew from his gun. He fired again and again, catching the surprised men in the open. Several of them collapsed, firing blindly at him, trying to stop his fusillade.
Then, a bullet slammed into the metal of the truck, throwing shards and sparks into his face. His eyes were on fire and he cried out in agony, shielding his face. He tried to roll away, but bullets were thumping into the car, tearing it apart. He knew another grenade would be coming.
Then, the booming report of the forty-five rang out and there were panicked cries in Chinese. Jack heard the scrambling of feet and his vision began to return. He popped back up to see Mandy aiming at one man. In slow motion, a long sheet of flame burst from the muzzle of her pistol and the weapon recoiled back as the man pitched over backward and crashed to the ground. Mandy moved up and put two more rounds into the man for good measure.
Damn, this woman is as ruthless as I am.
"Need a hand, Jack," she said, extending one.
"Naw, I'm good. There," he said, pointing to an office with a light on, "Audrey must be in there." His heart was pounding in his chest now. He knew she had to be in there. He hoped she was still alive.
They ran up to the door and Jack kicked it in without waiting. With his pistol held out, he burst in and saw a man holding Audrey. She was tied and gagged and a knife was held to her throat.
"Throw it down, Mister Bauer," the man commanded and pressed the blade hard into Audrey's neck until blood trickled down and she gasped from the pain.