The Wing Chun school was not far from Thunder Horse Workshop. Xia Lei arrived in ten minutes.
Before he stopped the car, he saw a group of young thugs standing in front of Thunder Horse Workshop holding metal pipes and bats. Ma Xiao-An and the others were in the shop, holding tools like hammers and wrenches, guarding the shop.
The ground in front of the shop was littered with pieces of brick and broken glass. It looked like some conflict had already happened.
Xia Lei slammed on the brakes and jumped out of the car without even removing the keys. He hurried over, shouting, “What are you doing?”
The group of thugs looked at him, all with aggressive faces.
At that moment, a person walked out of the group. He was bald and had a finger-thick gold chain around his neck; it was Chen Chuan-Hu.
“Oh? Isn’t this Xia Lei… I mean Boss Xia?” said Chen Chuan-Hu in a peculiar tone, “You were moving bricks on my construction sites not long ago and here you are, a boss. You’re really something, aren’t you?”
Xia Lei stared stonily at Chen Chuan-Hu, “What are you doing here?”
After Li Qing-Hua had been arrested, Chen Chuan-Hu was too and Xia Lei had not bothered about their affairs after that. He did not know where they had been locked up but Chen Chuan-Hu had unexpectedly appeared again before him, and with a group of thugs to make a mess of his workshop too!
When Ma Xiao-An and the others saw Xia Lei, they moved to come out of the workshop but the thugs blocked the doorway.
Chen Chuan-Hu sneered laughingly, “How long did you think they could hold me for? Ten years? Eight years? You’d like it if I was locked away for life so you won’t have to pay me back that 10,000 you owe me, wouldn’t you?”
“Does this mean you’ve come for money?” said Xia Lei.
“I don’t care about 10,000. I can win 50,000 and up from just one round of mahjong. I’m here because you’ve offended someone you shouldn’t have. Do you know who you’ve offended, punk?” said Chen Chuan-Hu.
Xia Lei thought of two people - Gu Ken-Wen and He Lao-Qi. However, a person of Gu Ke-Wen’s status would not associate herself with trash like Chen Chuan-Hu. If she wanted to trash his workshop she would have sent her bodyguards and not needed Chen Chuan-Hu at all. If it wasn’t Gu Ke-Wen, it was He Lao-Qi. Chen Chuan-Hu was also part of the underworld but to a big fish like He Lao-Qi, he was just a small fry. It was no surprise that he would be sent by him to stir up trouble.
At that thought, Xia Lei asked inquiringly, “Is it He Lao-Qi?”
“Shit! Is Lao-Qi’s name one for you to speak of?” Chen Chuan-Hu waved his hand and the group of thugs ran over, surrounding Xia Lei.
When Ma Xiao-An and the others saw the thugs surround Xia Lei, they rushed outside. Both sides clashed and Zhou Xiao-Hong was hit in the thigh by metal pipe and fell to the ground.
A thug pointed at Ma Xiao-An with a metal pipe and snarled, “Stay still or we’ll cripple you all!”
Other than Ma Xiao-An and the ones who had rushed out to fight, the others were honest, hardworking people with quiet lives. They had never been in such a confrontation before and were cowed; they didn’t dare to go out again.
“Xiao-An, you guys stay inside. Don’t come out,” said Xia Lei loudly.
Ma Xiao-An stomped his feet in anger, “Damn it! I called the police but they’re not here yet!”
“The police? Hahaha…” Chen Chuan-Hu sneered, “Is the police station your home? Will they come because you call them to come? Don’t worry. They’ve received a tip and they’re going to catch a brothel patron now. They won’t be coming here soon.”
“So you’ve planned everything. What do you want? Speak,” said Xia Lei.
“Simple. Your workshop or your legs - choose one. If you choose your legs I’ll get my guys to trash your workshop. If you choose your workshop, I’ll break your legs personally. What will you choose?” said Chen Chuan-Hu.
“I want both. What shall we do then?” said Xia Lei.
“I knew you’d say that. That’s great - we want both too.” Chen Chuan-Hu shouted suddenly, “Get him!”
The thugs charged at Xia Lei like rabid dogs. Metal pipes and bats came swinging at Xia Lei.
Xia Lei’s Seeking Hand caught hold of a metal pipe which was aimed at his head. He used two to four swinging techniques to push away the metal pipes easily, and blocked the bat that came after in the next second. Then, he took advantage of the thug holding onto the metal pipe, pulling him in front of himself and using his body to block the other metal pipes and bats being used to attack him.
The attacks from behind crumbled and Xia Lei took action first and suddenly punched a thug in the chest. The thug gave a cry and kneeled on the ground, clutching his chest.
Xia Lei took a leaping step forward onto the shoulders of the kneeling thug, then leveraged on him and flew up, kicking a thug to the ground.
Bam, bam, bam! Bam, bam, bam…
Xia Lei shifted left and right like a fish moving through water. The thugs were beaten out of shape by Xia Lei and lay scattered about, noses bruised, faces swelling and unable to peel themselves off the ground.
A group beating had turned into the group getting beaten. Though Chen Chuan-Hu had brought a group of young thugs, they had not been in many actual fights and had been bullying regular people. It was their first time running into someone who knew martial arts like Xia Lei. These young thugs were no match for Xia Lei, who was able to defeat Lu Sheng, a three-year Wing Chun student and retired special forces. Furthermore, there were more opponents but none could be faster than his left eye!
Bam! A piercing Long Bridge punch hit the thug guarding Chen Chuan-Hu in the lower abdomen and he keeled over, clutching his stomach. Xia Lei’s Seeking Hand grabbed him by the hair and he smashed the thug’s head to his knee. Bam. A muffled bang sounded and the thug collapsed to the ground, his face full of blood. He held his bleeding face and rolled on the ground, wailing in anguish.
There was no mercy for these sort of people. If they were fierce, he would have to be fiercer!
They had come knocking and looking for trouble so if he did not scare them off, they would just keep coming!
Chen Chuan-Hu stared at Xia Lei, dumbfounded. Cold sweat beaded his forehead. The Xia Lei he knew was not this Xia Lei before him. It was as if Xia Lei had become a whole other person while he’d been in jail!
The only underlings Chen Chuan-Hu had left were those blocking the doorway of Thunder Horse Workshop. They were also looking at Xia Lei and at the rest of their group on the ground in horror. They’d imagined Xia Lei to be beaten half to death like a poor little dog but he was still standing unharmed before them.
Xia Lei walked towards Chen Chuan-Hu, his eyes ice-cold.
Chen Chuan-Hu hurriedly backpedalled, shouting, “Shit! What are you guys standing around for? Get him!”
A thug bit the bullet and charged, lifting the bat in his hand and aiming for Xia Lei’s head.
A second later, he was on the ground and so was his bat. A size 41 footprint was on his crotch. His family-making facilities would not function normally for at least a month.
“You! Go!” Chen Chuan-Hu grabbed a thug by the arm and pushed him towards Xia Lei.
Xia Lei swung his arm and the thug dropped the metal pipe he’d just raised with a clank, then turned and ran away.
The remaining two thugs looked at each other, then suddenly threw aside the weapons in their hands and fled. The money Chen Chuan-Hu gave them was only enough for cigarettes, alcohol and internet cafes; it wasn’t enough for them to sell their lives to him.
Just Chen Chuan-Hu was left now. He’d backed himself into Thunder Horse Workshop’s doorway. Angry employees were at his back with hammers and wrenches in their hands, and they were ready to greet him with blows at any moment.
With wolves at his back and a tiger in front, Chen Chuan-Hu had no place to escape to.
“You bastard!” Ma Xiao-An had held a grudge against Chen Chuan-Hu for a long time. He cursed, then raised the wrench and swung it at the back of Chen Chuan-Hu’s head.
Xia Lei was faster. He kicked and his foot went glancing past Chen Chuan-Hu’s cheek to strike Ma Xiao-An’s wrench from his hand.
“Lei, you…” Ma Xiao-An did not understand why Xia Lei had done that.
“This is between me and him. You stay out of it,” said Xia Lei.
He did not let Ma Xiao-An attack to stop the workshop employees from involving themselves in a grudge with a character such as Chen Chuan-Hu. They were all regular, hardworking folk with elders and younger ones to take care of. They would not be able to handle it if Chen Chuan-Hu came after them. This was also why he had told Ma Xiao-An to keep them in the workshop - he could take responsibility for this matter all by himself!
Chen Chuan-Hu froze, then laughed all of a sudden, “You don’t dare to hit me? Afraid that I’ll take revenge…”
Before he could finish his sentence, Xia Lei slapped him in the face.
Pa! A shockingly crisp sound rang out. Chen Chuan-Hu staggered, then fell to the ground.
Xia Lei kicked Chen Chuan-Hu’s waist and he screamed, then curled up like a shrimp.
“Xiao-An, call the police again,” instructed Xia Lei.
Ma Xiao-An went looking for his phone but found that its screen had been broken by a thug’s metal pipe earlier.
Cui Yong got his phone out and dialled 110.
Xia Lei squatted next to Chen Chuan-Hu and reached to grab him by the hair, “Chen Chuan-Hu, you said I didn’t dare to hit you, huh?”
Pa! Xia Lei didn’t give him a chance to finish speaking and slapped him. He’d slapped him twice; once left and once right. Chen Chuan-Hu’s fat face had become rounder and fleshier.
“Who sent you? Tell me,” said Xia Lei.
“It’s…” Chen Chuan-Hu suddenly covered his face, afraid that Xia Lei would slap him again.
Xia Lei did not slap him again this time. He’d guessed that it was He Lao-Qi but it was just a guess - he wanted a definite answer.
“Speak!” Xia Lei raised his hand.
“It was myself!” Chen Chuan-Hu was suddenly forthcoming, “It was myself! What can you do to me? Beat me to death? Come! You dare beat me to death?”
Xia Lei suddenly reached and used his fingers to hook onto the bottommost rib of Chen Chuan-Hu’s rib-cage, then yanked upwards.
“Argh-” Chen Chuan-Hu screamed.
Xia Lei did not stop. He continued pulling that rib upwards.
It hurt so much for Chen Chuan-Hu that he was sweating and his face drained of colour. He held on for less than ten seconds before he crumbled and cried piteously, “Yes, yes… He Lao-Qi!”
So it was He Lao-Qi.
Xia Lei let go of Chen Chuan-Hu’s rib. He looked at Chen Chuan-Hu, curled up on the ground like a dog, but felt no joy.
He’d been worried about Gu Ke-Wen and He Lao-Qi coming to make trouble for him after the visit by Lin Bo-Wen and Lin Ya-Ru. That was why he had gone to Liang Zheng-Chun’s Wing Chun school to learn Wing Chun. It had been a very shrewd decision. If he had not learnt Wing Chun techniques and suddenly increased his power, the one crying on the ground now could have been him.
However, Chen Chuan-Hu was just a small fry. The real bigwig had not appeared yet. Gu Ke-Wen and He Lao-Qi, no matter which of the two it was, still put great pressure on him. How could he be happy in a situation like this?
The police finally turned up, asked questions and squashed Chen Chuan-Hu and the beaten-up thugs into police cars. Xia Lei, however, could guess at the outcome. People such as Chen Chuan-Hu would be walking on some street again in under two weeks.
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