Jie launched himself at Mac, throwing out a low snap-kick with his foot while his fist went for Mac’s face. Mac took the kick to his knee like it was nothing and blocked Jie’s one-two punch with his forearms. Then Mac came at Jie with a haymaker that would take the boy’s head off. Jie quickly leaned back and the big fist merely brushed against his nose as it went by.
Jie moved in again and Mac and Jie traded fists. Jie parried away a jab and responded with a backfist that Mac blocked. Then Mac body-bocked a low-hook and shot back with a feint that set him up to throw a hook at Jie’s head. Jie ducked under the swing and struck out with a hook to Mac’s ribs and an eagle-claw strike to his torso, inputting the first two macros of his paralysis attack.
Mac responded to this by barging into Jie with his elbow. Jie caught Mac’s arm before it could smash into his face but Mac’s overwhelming momentum forced the youth to jump back and away from his opponent.
From where he sat, tied to the chair, Wu offered what corner advice he could. “Don’t rely on fancy tricks, pay attention to your opponent.”
Jie kept his eyes on Mac, but the easy confidence had finally abandoned him.
Mac came at Jie again. He faked a low kick and threw out a jab that caught Jie by surprise, Jie took the hit and pulled back before Mac could take his head off with a hook.
Jie composed himself and took on a more determined set to his features.
Mac changed tactics, he stepped in with a high feint and then immediately dropped low and shot in to tackle Jie to the ground. But the nimble youth skipped around the back and side-kicked Mac further down the path he started and head first into a bank of storage lockers.
Seeing his chance Jie rushed in and hammered out three quick spearhand strikes to Mac’s wrist, elbow and upper arm. The nanohack macro forced Mac’s left arm to shut off and hang limply at his side.
Jie grinned hungrily, right before Mac spun around and cracked him across the face with a back-fist.
The hit rocked Jie back a few steps, but he brought his hands back up to protect himself.
Mac pulled himself away from the dented lockers and right before Jie and Wu’s startled eyes began to strike repeatedly at his limp arm, until he had completed a nanohack macro of his own and disengaged the paralysis.
Jie’s face fell as Mac smiled grimly at him. “You think I’d keep a moon-brained crazy like Brook on my ship if I didn’t have a few tricks up my sleeve.”
With that Mac threw himself at Jie again. He wasn’t in the mood for toying with the kid anymore, Mac’s big fists had a speed behind them they’d lacked before. Jie kept his guard up and tight, backing off slowly as the blows came in. But even blocking Mac’s punches was knocking him about.
Mac stepped in and threw a wide hook at Jie’s head and Jie saw his chance. He ducked under the swing and took a big step past him so he could pivot and throw out a spinning back kick into Mac’s side and send him barrelling into the pilot’s console. Wu got his feet down and quickly pushed his chair out of the way of the wildly flailing Mac, who caught himself on the console before he could crash into it. The impact shook the whole control panel and Wat’s pint glass fell forward onto the ground at Mac’s feet, smashing into a dozen curved shards.
Jie went back into his stance and glared at Mac. The split lip and bruised eye gave him a seriousness he’d lacked before.
Mac reached down and closed his fingers around the glass’ handle and picked it up. Brandishing it like a knuckle duster, Mac stepped in and swung with the broken glass.
On pure instinct Jie tightened up his guard like a turtleshell, until the broken glass slashed his forearms and the youth jumped back out of the way.
Mac stepped in again and swung with the bloodied glass. Jie steeled himself, waited until the last moment and ducked under this swing again, catching Mac with the same low-hook and eagle-claw strike as before.
Back at the console Wu bit his lip, and fidgeted with his bonds.
Just as Jie was recoiling the eagle-claw Mac swung low with an elbow. Jie quickly pulled his head out of the way and stepped back. Mac rushed forward with a lunging punch with the glass to cover the distance. Jie ducked one more time and went for the last few strikes.
But Mac snapped both his hands onto the back of Jie’s head and rammed his knee into the youth’s face.
Jie’s bloodied face rocked back from the impact. Mac let the boy go, only so he could get in low and snatch him up off the ground and hurl him into lockers.
Jie crashed into the same dent Mac had made earlier and fell to the floor in a crumpled heap.
The colour drained from Wu’s face. He could see blood on one of the padlocks. Jie lay sprawled out on the deck like a rag doll. A pool of blood already beginning to form beside his head.
Mac looked down at Jie for a moment, got his face in real close to the boy. Then he spat on him.
Mac straightened up, turned to Wu and casually tossed the mug handle over his shoulder.
“Shoulda taught your boy to keep his hands up.” Mac smirked. “Rookie mistake.”
Wu looked up at Mac, a determined tug pulling at his lower lip.
Then the screen above Wu’s console lit up. The ship was being hailed. Mac accepted the call by accessing it through his nanoputer.
“Ravenwing.” Mac answered.
“If you still want to get paid.” Came Lin’s voice. “Get your ship in the air and follow the tracks out. That damn Ranger’s on my back.” Then Lin hung up.
“If you still want to get paid?” Mac roared. He pushed Wu aside and fired up the pilot’s console. Mac glanced at Wu. “Little runt thinks he can stiff me on a deal does he? Let’s see how he likes this!”
Behind his back, Wu desperately tried to cut through his bonds with a broken piece of pint glass.
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