The gangsters surrounded the owner of the wonton stall, led by a burly man with a large gold necklace and toothpick between his lips. His sleeveless shirt revealed a pair of muscular arms and a tiger tattoo on his body. He slapped the owner on the shoulder and smiled menacingly, "Business is booming, eh!"
The owner turned pale as ash as he forced a grin, "Oh, it's Li-ge. How have you been?"
“Not too bad!” said the gangster, chewing his toothpick.
The boss quickly grabbed a handful of change from his drawer and shoved it into the man's hand. "It’s for this month."
Xiaotao arched an eyebrow, “Looks like they’re gangsters who collect protection fees. What gives him the right?! I’ll remember each and every one of their faces and report them to the public security department later."
Li-ge ordered his subordinate to count the money. When the amount was reported, he spat out his toothpick and snapped, "It’s too little! Are you trying to fuck with us?! This isn’t enough for us to have a meal!"
"Li-ge, won’t you bend the rules this once?” begged the owner. “I haven't made much this month. It’s been really hard on me!"
"Hard on you?” snorted Li-ge. “What about us?! If we weren’t looking after this street, would you be able to do business in peace?"
"A-another day…” stammered the owner. “I’ll make up for it another day!"
Li-ge sneered, "I don't have the time! How about this then? My buddies and I will have a meal at your stall."
"Of course. Have as much as you want!" nodded the owner.
"But just so you know, my buddies are a rowdy bunch!” threatened Li-ge. “They might damage a few tables and overturn your chairs. Make sure you think about it properly!"
Upon hearing this, the owner started begging for mercy. I turned away in disgust, "What a bunch of irritating flies! I’ll get rid of them!"
I grabbed my consultant ID from my pocket and was just about to leave my seat when suddenly I felt a pat on my shoulder that forced me back down. A muscular middle-aged man resembling a body-building coach appeared behind me. He warned, "Stay calm and mind your own business."
Xiaotao and I looked up in surprise. "Who are you?" she asked.
"I’m the captain of the 17th SWAT police team,” said the man. “We’re currently on a mission. The man named Li-ge is a close friend of a mafia boss whose whereabouts are still unknown. It’s very likely that he has contacted this fellow. So don't make any trouble for us!"
I scanned the area and found several suspicious-looking men wandering about–plainclothes officers.
"Sir, do you know us?" I asked.
"Yes,” he replied. “Song Yang and Huang Xiaotao, the stars of the police force!"
My cheeks colored with embarrassment at his words. Meanwhile, Li-ge walked over towards the tables after successfully extorting the full protection fee. The SWAT officer kept his head lowered as he cautioned us, "Just eat your wonton and leave as soon as you’re done. You two are really good at picking places, aren’t you?"
While we didn’t want any trouble, trouble came looking for us.
As Li-ge walked past us, his eyes gleamed with excitement, lips pursing to blow a wolf whistle. "Little lady, you’re a hot one!"
Xiaotao clenched her fists so hard her knuckles turned white but the SWAT officer shook his head almost imperceptibly, reminding us not to be impulsive.
"Oi, are you mute?” shouted one of Li-ge’s cronies. “Li-ge is talking to you."
The SWAT officer looked up with a wide grin and politely said, "We’re just passing by. We’ll leave as soon as we’re done eating! We won't cause you any trouble."
"It’s no trouble at all!” laughed Li-ge. “Two men and a woman late at night–that’s a bit interesting, don’t you think? Look at those slutty clothes. You’re a hooker, eh? How much do you charge for one night?"
As he spoke, Li-ge reached out his grubby paws to touch Xiaotao's delicate face. My eyes were bloodshot with anger while Xiaotao tightly gripped the chopsticks in her hand, holding back the rage. Just when the man’s hand was about to make contact with her skin, she dodged and coldly remarked, "He’s my boyfriend and that’s my father. Dad, why aren’t you saying anything?!"
"She’s right,” echoed the SWAT officer. “She’s my daughter. Please leave us be.”
"Do I look like I’m blind?” scoffed Li-ge. “You don’t look like father and daughter! What, with that face and body?! Yo, little girl, how much do you charge for a night? I'll pay double to sleep with me."
"Get the hell out of here!” Xiaotao rebuked through gritted teeth. “Stop throwing your weight around!"
"Watch how you speak to Li-ge!” shouted one of the gangsters. “Don’t you know who Li-ge is? Why don’t you ask around? This entire area is under Li-ge’s protection. It's your honor to serve Li-ge!"
"Are you all dogs? Do you think pissing on the street makes it your territory?!” retaliated Xiaotao. “Can’t I eat a bowl of wonton in peace? How the hell does that bother you?!"
Li-ge glared at Xiaotao and rolled up his sleeves, anger boiling up inside. He pulled at Xiaotao's collar, ready to get violent. "You little bitch! Don’t think you’re all that!"
Their arrogance and tyrannical ways pushed me past the point of endurance, fury brewing within me like tea in a pot. "Fuck off asshole!" I shouted. Grabbing the chili sauce on the table, I poured the entire bottle on the gangster’s face. The man’s pig-like screams filled the night. Emboldened by my actions, Xiaotao roared, aiming the bowl of wonton soup at Li-ge’s head.
As the saying goes, a show of strength gains you the upper hand! These gangsters never imagined such a display of aggression and their boss’ injury threw them into a panic.
Li-ge’s face was covered with wonton soup while his right-hand man was decorated with scallions and coriander. He stumbled a few steps backwards, his cronies quickly supporting him to stand straight again while they fussed over his face. Li-ge pointed at us, face contorting with a venomous outburst, "Kill them all!"
Two gangsters rushed towards us, overturning the table with a heavy kick. The stall owner came running with tears in his eyes as he cried out, "I’m begging you, please don’t destroy my stall!"
Before the table was overturned, we were already standing up, ready to meet their blows. With a nimble twist at the waist, Xiaotao skillfully raised her leg in a forceful kick that sent one of the gangsters flying a few meters back. Xiaotao swiftly transitioned into her next move, slamming her fist into another gangster’s face, so hard that I could hear the sound of his bones cracking.
The gangsters in the back were taken aback, mind sluggish from the shock. However, I was still worried her two fists wouldn’t be a match for four men. Well aware of my fighting prowess, or lack thereof, I picked up the wooden stool and bashed their heads in. The gangsters who fearlessly charged towards me fell to the ground like a sackful of potatoes.
"How dare you beard the lion in his den! Kill them!" growled Li-ge.
At once, these gangsters drew out their switchblades and butterfly knives. At the sight of those sharp weapons, I had my reservations. Any discerning eye could tell I was no match for their knives. “Do something!" I yelled at the SWAT officer.
"Ugh, thanks for ruining everything!" chided the man before he turned around and shouted, "Boys, let’s get down to business!"
A bunch of ripped men dashed out from the surrounding area, gathering around us. The situation immediately took a 180 turn.
Pale with fear, the gangsters stammered, "L-li-ge, they have backup..."
"Motherfuckers!” cursed Li-ge. “I haven't been afraid of anyone since I started roaming the streets at the age of fifteen!"
Once the identity of the SWAT team was revealed, the mission would be considered a failure. Using my wits, I quickly yelled, "Fellow disciple brothers, don't use the sect’s kung fu techniques!"
The SWAT officers were all adept at fighting. Even if they avoided using the techniques of the armed police, they were still a force to be reckoned with, unilaterally crushing their opponents. Xiaotao and I stood on the side, spectating the commotion. Very quickly, the gang of outlaws was beaten to the ground, and they cried with snot all over their faces. I had to admit being an onlooker was indeed exciting.
The gangsters were taught a lesson, a bunch of burly adult men beaten into submission by the SWAT officers. They fell to the ground like dominoes and moaned in agony. Meanwhile, Li-ge had received so many blows to the head his face was red and swollen like a pig’s head. Voice trembling, he muttered, "Forgive me for my ignorance. May I ask for your identities?"
"What do you think?” I scoffed. “I’ll ask you a question. Is there a Master Li nearby who practices Wing Chun?"
"I-I don't know," he faltered.
"Shixiong, the enemy we are looking for isn’t here,” I said, turning to the SWAT team captain. “We might as well go now!" Before leaving the scene, I deliberately added, "Next time, watch who you’re talking to! Don't even think of going up against the martial arts sects, got it?"
Li-ge nodded desperately.Previous Chapter Next Chapter