If there was a nice thing about Roanapur it was that minding your own business was almost a religious thing. if a guy was say, fleeing down the street with a screeching reality TV star, a bounty hunter and three minor thugs at his heels people would just shrug and assume that A...it was none of their business and the B...it would work itself out.
Xander had plowed headlong into a group of mid-day city dwellers who would forget he'd passed as soon as they realized he was being chased by someone. Getting involved with someone else's business was not healthy.
Xander glanced back and saw Harmony and company climbing into a rickshaw , what the locals liked to call a tuk-tuk. One of the many motorcycle/taxis that filled the city at all hours. If they had wheels, he'd need them too.
He saw a man loading packages into a tuk-tuk He decided on the fly that his need to stay alive outweighed some strangers need for a quick ride home. He plowed into the guy full tilt grabbing him and spinning him around to take the full brunt of their fall to the ground. Xander left the stunned man on the ground with an apology as he leapt behind the wheel. He gunned the engine and spun the tuk-tuk out into traffic.
He heard deranged ranting in Chinese and he was just about to toss an apology and polite request that the people vacate the taxi when a wickedly sharp blade rested on his shoulder.
"My advice to you friend," said a familiar voice. "is you'd best rethink your plans if you think this will be an easy score."
Xander glanced past the razor sharp blade to take in both its very familiar owner and her companion. "Rotton? ... Shenhua, What the hell are you two doing back there?"
"Xander is that you?" Rotton the Wizard was looking quite amazed to see him.
Beside him was Shenhua, both were freelance killers for hire, well Shenhua was a killer, with a preference for bladed weapons and throwing spikes and a track record of victims that had made the fatal mistake of thinking a melee fighter, no matter how talented, was no danger in a city filled with gun toting thugs. Rotton, if he'd killed anyone at all, had done it most often by mistake. He was more well known for his occasionally quirky behavior and uncanny foresight. Rotton was the only one wise enough to think to wear a bulletproof vest going into a gunfight. He seemed to always be prepared for any eventuality, right down to wearing a protective athletic cup while in combat. Some might have sneered at such a primadonna tactic but then unlike Xander , they'd have not witnessed Rotton survive a kick to the groin that would have left anyone else helpless and a little humiliated. Instead Rotton could now count himself among the very, very few fighters on Earth to survive a direct confrontation with Roberta the hyper-lethal Lovelace Maid.
Shenhua cursed at Xander in her native Taiwanese dialect before reverting to the pidgin English she was forced to use for those without the polite grace to learn proper Mandarin.
"Why Xander steal tuk-tuk, I wanting to go home. .Already had busy day shopping, not needing to be dragged into Surf boy's crazy life today." she ranted , occasionally poking Xander with her still unsheathed knife for added emphasis.
"Trust me honey, Surf Boy wishes his life was a lot less crazy right this second. But you know what they say about interesting times - right?"
Shenhua grimaced, "Know what white boys say," She sneered, "I say talk of Chinese curse is big lie you all tell to make us all look bad. Now...If Surf-Boy plan on getting killed today then drop Shenhua and Rotton home. Once doing that you can have all tuk-tuk chase you want."
Rotton ducked as the back window of the moto-rickshaw exploded, the Sungs were firing weapons. "Shenhua perhaps we might want to help out. Xander has been both a good client and a friend."
"Friends nice but I professional - get paid when I do work. You work for free once, you work for free all the time." She insisted.
"You want me to pay you to kill the guys who are shooting at you ...right now."
"Not shooting at me, shooting at you. I happen to be here. You get out of tuk-tuk they leave us alone."
"I get out of tuk-tuk I get caught or killed, I aint that wild about either of those options thank you very much."
"So you pay 5000 dollars, Shenhua kill dumb asses then we all go home."
"I don't have 5000."
"Shenhua's good friend always have 5000 dollars especially when good friend drag her into fire fight."
Xander cursed as he weaved around a truck scraping paint off the side of the rickshaw. "Rotton, in my right front pocket - my phone, call the Rip-Off Church it will be in the recently called list."
Rotton dug out Xander's phone. and switched it on. It started beeping about his messages. "Xander you have a awful lot of messages from Miss Summers and Miss Willow."
"Rotton, crisis management 101 - prioritize, deal with the here and now - right now. Phone the church yer looking for Eda." he steered the rickshaw around several cars whose loud honking left little doubt what the driver's thought of Xander's daredevil driving.
Rotton obediently dialed the number and Eda picked up, Rotton put the call on Speaker.
"Hey Stud, why's the phone been off? Don't tell me you're really hiding from your little friends cause that would be just so precious."
"Look Eda I'm kind of in the middle of a crisis here and I'm not going to lie, I'll need to borrow some money assuming we're at the stage of our relationship that I can borrow money."
"How much and what for?" Eda asked suspiciously.
"5000 to take out the Sung Brothers."
"You not say you being chased by Sung Brothers," Shenhua cried out defensively, "Why you not say that before you make call and embarrass Shenhua like this?"
Eda cackled loudly, "Shenhua are you trying to bleed that boy for danger pay - to take out a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears-thugs like the Sungs. I can't wait to spread this story around town - Revy will love it."
"He not say who chasing him," Shenhua amended quickly, " ... can be reasonable, 4000 - for rush job and inconvenience."
"Inconvenience my ass," Eda sneered, "2500 cause I know you just lucked on to this and anybody else knows it too."
"3500 he drag me into gun fight besides Rotton with me Needing to look after partner."
"3000 but that's package rate and I'll keep this embarrassing story just between us girls."
Shenhua swore again in Chinese, "Fine we take 3000, only cause Watcher good client. He better not tell Southie or I skin him alive."
"Oh Xander'll be a good boy trust me. Bring him back here and make sure they're not following you. If there's ANOTHER gunfight around here, Yolanda will have all our asses."
Xander might have celebrated the end of the bargaining but he'd been forced to brake hard and skid around a stopped car and the food cart it had almost crashed into. The Sungs pulled alongside.
Shenhua reached out, jabbing her blade throughthe door and into CC who screamed, BB braked rapidly. Shenhua yanked back the blade as the rickshaw fell behind but kept coming.
CC looked at his side gushing blood out on the seat. 'Mother of God was that - Shenhua. What the hell is she doing in there?"
"Harris must have hired her like we got hired," BB growled, "It doesn't matter we're already in this. "Let's just take them out."
"But its Shenhua," GG shivered "B - You've heard all the stories I have."
"She's a chick with a blade." Harmony cried out."You guys have guns, what's the big deal?"
Fate saw fit to answer the vampire's question for suddenly there she was, leaning out the side of the rickshaw. Grinning like death and spinning one of her paired blades by the tether that kept them tied together.
Rotton poked his Mauser out the shattered back window unleashing a hail of gunfire that punched holes in the windscreen of the pursuing rickshaw.
Bernie flinched as a bullet wheezed by him, "Are you sure I should still be filming this - I mean, its getting dangerous."
Hound looked at him like he was crazy, "Don't you dare stop filming. With this footage they could put us up against the Superbowl and we'd still crush them.
Shenhua swept her arm out in a wide arc, the blade in that hand streaked forward punching though the glass and lodging in GG's shoulder. With a snap of her wrist she drew the line taunt and started pulling a shocked GG out the front of the rickshaw. The two rickshaws now raced down the street, the tethered blade stuck in GG forming a grotesque anchor between them. Shenhua pulled all the harder. CC reached out to grab the blade hoping to dislodge it. grabbing on he pulled hard even as his brother BB slammed on the brakes.
Xander however kicked hard at the accelerator. CC was already off balance so he was dragged through the front of the vehicle to bounce a few times down the road as he was dragged behind Xander's fleeing rickshaw. He let go off the line and sprawled on the road. The blade flew back to its owner's waiting hand.
"Nice trick, want to see if you can pick up the spare?" Xander asked.
"No," Shenhua shook her head, "Time for Rotton to earn part of reward."
"Whatever you say milady ..." Rotton said. He quickly reloaded his weapons before pointing them out the broken window. He fired at the already fishtailing rickshaw taxi again and again. Xander took his eye off the road for a moment to see the tell-tale sparking near the gas tank.
"We are going to need an exit - like right now." He shouted as Harmony's taxi continued barrelling down the street after them flames already sputtering and spreading.
"There's a way out up ahead." Rotton pointed toward a narrow alley.
Xander steered toward a gap and let loose a small scream when the rickshaw plunged down an narrow set of steps toward what looked like a high wall.
"I said a way out Rotton." Xander snapped. "That looks a hell of a lot like a dead end."
"There is a way out, at the bottom just beyond the t-junction. I'm usually walking however I've never tried it in a speeding rickshaw with a few hundred pounds of flaming debris at my heel."
Xander heard the rickshaw behind them explode the damn thing was still moving however, making it a firebomb on wheels
Hound tried to get out his side but the door was already buckling with the heat from the spreading fire. He reached across to Harmony's side of the rickshaw shoving at the door. Unfortunately Harmony saw this an attempt on his part to save her so she latched on to him for dear life screaming as she did so. Hound scrambled to escape her clutches but the crashing vehicle made his choices very simple; Save them both or spend the last moments of his life fighting off a panicking vampire; Hound slammed his foot into the door kicking it open, then he shoulder rolled them both out the rickshaw. He saw the other Sungs escape the burning wreck as well and he watched with some satisfaction as the thing pitched over the stairs and started flipping down the same path after Harris.
Bernie pointed his camera and caught the end of the chase.
"Rotton give me your grapnel gun!" Xander shouted as the turn drew closer.
"What makes you think I'd have a grapnel?" Rotton shouted back.
"Rotton quit screwing around, its you - you're practically Batman over there , -always prepared. Now give me the damn thing."
Rotton reached into his long coat and pulled a small grapnel gun from its depths. Xander snatched it away and pressed the firing switch and watched as the line shot out digging into the fast approaching corner. Xander silently prayed whatever Gods he hadn't pissed off lately were in a good mood as he wrapped the line around his fist and then leaned into the hairpin turn holding on for dear life as the bike skidded around the corner. The sides of the rickshaw scrapped the wall removing the last of the paint and putting a scratch in the side that would not be buffed out anytime soon. The fiery wreck of the other rickshaw hit the wall behind them setting off an explosion. Flames chased the tuk-tuk down the narrow corridor until the rickshaw shot out of the alleyway like a cork out of a bottle.
As Xander pulled the rickshaw to a stop with a screeching skid, a small crowd was gathering looking at the chaos. "Thank you, thank you I will be here all week - be sure to tip the wait staff." Xander shouted to the gawkers.
"Yes, yes Surf-boy very funny," Shenhua sneered, "now you drive us to Rip-Off Church for money or Shenhua show you real magic trick."