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Lorena's Mission

Author's Note: This story is not yet completed.

A Writing.com member (escaping1) e-mailed me with a Lara Croft-type story idea and we hashed out the outline to an exciting adventure. My love of martial arts movies is being put to good use here.

I haven't finished writing this one, yet, so if you hate being left hanging, don't read on.


Lorena Fong crouched in the violent columns of air passing through the plane's open cargo door. She thanked God it was the South Seas and not over Greenland, her last ops mission. The pre-dawn air still sliced cold blades across her face, but her goggles protected her eyes, and it wasn't cold enough to freeze the lining of her lungs or require a heavy protective jumpsuit.

Her pilot flipped on the green "GO" light and she launched herself earthward, diving headfirst like a bullet through the tropical wisps of clouds. As the ocean below drew closer, she opened her parachute and felt the jerk and glide as it slowed her descent.

She disconnected the apparatus on her back when still several feet above the water, shuddering upon impact with the cold water. Although warmer than Greenland, it still wasn't bathwater.

Her lightweight jumpsuit pulled at her as she swam, so she unzipped it and shimmied out of the folds of nylon. She retained the waterproof bag strapped to her lower back, but kicked loose the hampering cloth before starting off with long, strong strokes toward the island just barely seen in the distance: Dr. Einar Garrick's private island fortress.

The water warmed as she swam and her body generated heat from her exertions. It was taking longer than expected, but she doggedly continued swimming. She didn't have time or energy to waste; they'd had to drop her off miles away so as not to be detected by the fortress' high-tech security system.

The sun lay still sizzling a few inches above the horizon as Lorena drifted serenely over the sharp, intricately patterned coral reefs surrounding the island. Beautiful and deceptive, in more ways than one: the reefs hid torpedoes aimed outward in all directions, and also housed a series of metal detectors that would have picked up anything as small as a pistol on her person. So her weapons and equipment lay in her shielded waterproof bag, and a special arm wrap covered her right arm and hand. She made herself as still as possible while drifting toward the beach, in case there were other detectors unknown to the CIA.

She avoided the white sands and instead landed on sharp lava rocks that jutted out to protect a small bay. Her gloves protected her hands and her rubber surfing socks cushioned her feet, but she acquired a few scrapes on her bare knees, below her quick-drying bike shorts. A stumble also caused a scrape across her shoulder blade, but was mostly protected by her tank-top.

She crawled across the hot rocks toward shore, scuttling over the sharp edges like a sand-crab. She felt the sun panting its hot breath upon her back, drying her clothes but causing the sweat to run into her eyes.

She reached the shade of a few coconut trees and scraggly azalea bushes. Undoing her waterproof sack from her back, she replaced her rubber booties with socks and custom-made combat boots. She also tucked porcelain-alloy knives in her boots and hidden pockets, but she reluctantly kept her pistol in the bag in case other detectors lay hidden in the forested area surrounding the fortress. Despite the sweat running down her neck, she also kept the shielded wrap around her right arm and shoulder, for the same reason. The bag sagged a bit with the other equipment stashed inside, but she hooked it round her waist and it fit snuggly against the small of her back.

Hugging the shadows, she made her way around the edges of the beach and into the underbrush. Once in the trees and bushes, she slowed. It would be stupid to trip a wire after finally getting onshore.

The sun cut through the overhead branches in slits and splotches, while light mists of steam rose from the damp ground. Sweat trickled down her arm under the shielded wrap, but she plodded on.

She saw a trodden path ahead of her, snaking through the trees. She avoided it like the plague, striking out on a tangent from the twisting road.

She had avoided a few camoflaged pitfalls when she heard a rustling--too heavy-footed for a small animal, and it hadn't come from her. She froze a moment and immediately heard the rustling again.

She heard them coming--three of them, wearing boots, not bothering to hide their trek. Smoking cigarettes, muttering in low voices. There was no place for her to hide in the scraggly underbrush, no tree tall or strong enough to support her. So she stopped and calmly waited for them to appear.

They emerged from the bushes, dressed in fatigues, no weapons visible. Their start of surprise told her everything she needed to know about them--amateurs. Probably just a routine patrol.

The leader stood 6'4", blonde and heavily built, sporting a pock-marked face and an unintelligent sneer. "Lookee here, boys," he chortled. "Watch--one punch."

Lorena knew what they saw: slender build from her Asian father, 5'6" from her Spanish noble mother, dark hair and exotic eyes that could pass for caucasian, hapa--"half"--looks that were common in Hong Kong and all of Southeastern Asia. Blondie had at least 100 pounds on her and almost a full foot height advantage.

No problem.

As Blondie approached, Lorena noted his arrogant swagger, suggesting a poor sense of balance. Her eyes travelled up to the broad shoulders, gorilla-length arms, slim hips and narrow stride--definite balance problems.

His fist drew back, almost in slow-motion, then paused before shooting toward her. Lorena nearly yawned waiting for it.

Before his fist invaded her personal space, Lorena unexpectedly stepped forward into her attacker and pivoted 180 degrees, bringing both hands down his arm to lock around his wrist. He stumbled as his momentum drew him forward, bumping his chest against her back. Taking advantage, she swung his arm up over her head, then pivoted back around as she brought his arm down again. With his arm now helplessly twisted, he stared at her with glassy eyes for a moment before she brought her knee up and snapped his arm in two at the elbow joint.

She felt the pain shudder through his body, and his bellow came out as a thin wimper. She shot her right fist into his grimaced face; it sounded like metal crunching bone, and had the same impact as the butt of a lead pipe. He crumpled.

The other two approached more warily than Blondie. She glanced at their eyes, but they hadn't noticed the strange sound of her finishing punch. They were either unobservant, or they had never met any of Yinghui's altered assassins.

One man, sporting a rather ridiculous moustache, circled to her right, while the other, with a toss of his long brown ponytail, veered left. Lorena straightened and watched them with flickering glances. Her unwary stance confused them; they paused, shot each other questioning looks, surveyed her still form, then resumed their advances.

They were not yet within arms' reach of her when she suddenly leaped into a split kick that staggered Moustache and felled Ponytail. She landed, then immediately spun into a roundhouse kick that caught Moustache square on the temple. He toppled like a tree.

Ponytail had immediately jumped to his feet and stood tense and prepared, bouncing lightly on his toes. His eyes darted over her, trying to predict her next move.

He suddenly took the offensive and swung a nasty left hook that she only just narrowly avoided, feeling his knuckles graze her cheekbone. Following her momentum, she raised her leg and pummelled him with a swift boot to his ribcage. He doubled over but didn’t fall. Still on one leg, she followed with sharp, lightning kicks to his forehead, cheek, jaw, nose, chin. Her next blow to his ribs sent him reeling backwards.

She heard the rustle of leaves behind her and as she lowered her leg, she swung the other up and pivoted in an arcing swipe that caught Moustache on the chest. She followed her momentum and brought the other leg up in a 360-degree whirling kick that connected her heel with his jaw where it met his neck. She heard bones crack.

She watched his face crumple in agony and felt sorry for him, so she followed with a left-right-fist combination that threw him to the ground. She turned and saw Ponytail still writhing; she applied a swift boot to his temple and he lay still.

Then her attention darted to the small black com unit hooked to the side of his belt. A tiny red light was flashing.

She was had.


Deep inside Dr. Einar Garrick's Facility in the middle of the island, Dr. James Tong dispassionately watched the monitor. No detected invasion forces. Why the red alert? Garrick was even more paranoid than he was.

His lover, Dr. Yinghui Li, slithered into the room--he heard her slow, sinuous gait and the click! of her high heels behind him. "Done with surgeries for today?" he asked without turning around.

She yawned, and he felt her hand lightly rest against his shoulder. "This bunch had better be more successful than the last."

"Why the obsession?" Tong asked her, not because he wanted to know, but for the thrill of testing her wild temper. "All the males you experiment on have no complications. Why do you need to succeed on a female?"

The hand on his shoulder curled into a claw that dug into his muscles. Tong smiled, but she couldn't see him.

"Red light?" Yinghui kept a better rein on herself today--she didn't often change the subject.

"One of Garrick's newer recruits sent a signal from the north quadrant." He gave a cynical snort and raised a disbelieving eyebrow as he twisted around to glance at her.

But Yinghui's face was taut and set. "It might be her, then."

"What do you mean? Who?"

"Garrick mentioned to me yesterday that he expects the Ziang to send Lorena back to us." He lips curled in a blood-red smile, while her eyes glittered. Tong had never seen her so happy.

"Lorena?!" The last he had heard of Lorena Fong had been a year ago, when he learned she had escaped the Facility and joined the Ziang, a covert branch of the Hong Kong Secret Intelligence Service. She was the only one of Garrick's assassins that Yinghui would most want to see--the only woman to survive Yinghui's surgeries.

When Tong had formed his alliance with Garrick, over 5 years ago, Tong had introduced to him brilliant arthroscopic surgeon and wanted felon Dr. Yinghui Li. She had immediately begged to perform surgeries on Garrick's assassins--a legend in the underground.

Started twenty-five years ago by Garrick and infamous geneticist Dr. Oswald Herric, the Facility had performed pairings of select "parental strains". Sperm and ova were bought or stolen from athletic, intelligent individuals, paired in the laboratory, and implanted into women "carriers" stolen from the streets of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore--all along the Asian rim. Babies who failed the health exams were killed. Children who failed rigorous intelligence and athletics tests were killed. The small percentage of those remaining were highly educated and trained in various martial arts and weaponry.

Genetically-selected, specially-trained assassins. Lorena was one of the first waves of children "created". Garrick had already sold several of Lorena's fellow assassins to wealthy international groups.

Intrigued by Garrick's newly developed metal alloy, Yinghui worked with him and eventually replaced the bones and joints of ten assassins' right arms and hands with specifically-crafted alloy bones. But of those five men and five women, only four men and one woman survived the numerous surgeries, fatal infections and immunological rejection.

And now that one woman was returning "home." How convenient.

Yinghui had performed more surgeries and still met with no success on females. Garrick had placed a strict limit on the number of assassins she could experiment on, since he hadn't many of his valuable children old enough to sell profitably. But if Yinghui had Lorena, Tong could analyze her DNA patterns for her.

Tong knocked her hand off his shoulder. His genetic experiments had met with little success. When Dr. Oswald Herric died, Garrick had hired Tong to replace his geneticist and take over the newer work Herric had been doing--namely, altering the human genome to develop stronger, smarter assassins. Garrick wasn't satisfied with his current method of breeding children like a gardener breeds orchids--they weren't superhuman in their athletic or intellectual abilities, as he had hoped.

"So when can we expect her?" Yinghui's voice cut through his meandering analysis of the last failed experiment this morning.

"In a few hours. Too bad he moved all the assassins out--a couple of them could have taken her down."

Yinghui granted him a condescending look. "He wouldn't risk any more escaping," she reminded him.

Tong gazed down at her heart-shaped face, her jade-green eyes flashing scornfully at him. Strange, her eyes. As strange as the psychotic, brilliant brain behind them.

"Then, we just wait for her. Where is Garrick, anyway?"

"With Stephanie," she yawned as she sauntered out of the room. The door closed with a snap.


Lorena kept to the forested areas; there was no reason to think Garrick would know where she was, only that she was there. As far as she could see, there was also no evidence that Garrick had infrared sensors set up--she saw small animals scurrying about, and the tropical heat still emanated from the forest floor like a sauna.

She needed to stay undetected. If Garrick sent a couple assassins after her, she was a goner.

She didn't know if she wanted to see any of them again. None of the assassins had been friends. With no one to instill moral values, they developed into either nasty characters, or submissive personalities, or loners. But after the grueling physical therapy finally enabled her to use her right arm, and the doctor settled on an effective dose for her pain meds, no one messed with Lorena. Which was what enabled her to set in motion her plans and escape.

And now she was back. Was she stupid? No, just following orders. She always wondered if she should just leave the Ziang.

After this mission. She owed it to them for rescuing her, exhausted from days of swimming, when she had escaped the Facility nearly a year ago. It was around the same time prominent, controversial geneticist Dr. James Tong had disappeared from Hong Kong.

She had purposefully planned her dropoff to the north of the island, intending to swing west to enter a little-used western door. Garrick had twelve major exits which his soldiers--not assassins--used to patrol the island. Two parallel mountain ranges ran north to south on either side of the Facility, resulting in frequent flooding at the east and west entrances. The land sloped down to the ocean at the north and south, keeping those entrances clear while bog surrounded the east and west sides.

She had done thorough explorations of the Facility, memorized guard duty shifts, and investigated all possible exits before making her escape. She had escaped through an east entrance, but didn't think Garrick realized she knew the locations of the other entrances.

She was going slowly, stealthily through the underbrush, which enabled her to hear a com unit buzz.

"She's right in your area."

She saw the group of six men before they saw her. Quick survey of the area--too many bushes and scraggly short trees. Find a better position.

She ran.

Lighter area ahead. She erupted into a clearing and whirled to face them.

The first two rushed her. She surprised them by stepping forward into them, then to the side, flicking their outstretched arms aside with flicks of her hands against their forearms. Following her twisting momentum, she arced her leg high up into another man's temple, knocking him to the ground. Her other leg came up in a continuing circle, catching another man in the torso, cracking his ribs.

She leaped back as a fifth man swung a koa wood staff at her. One of the men who had rushed her now came from behind--she stepped back into him and jabbed her elbow into his gut, hearing his whoosh! of air. A hammering fist backward broke his nose.

The sixth man came at her, swinging a roundhouse punch, and she stepped into him to move his target. He started as she came up against his chest, and she only needed to give him a sharp nudge that sent him off-balance onto his heels. A fast right jab knocked him out cold.

Three men circled her, one with the bloody nose. Two of her attackers were unconscious, and one tried to rise while holding his painful ribs.

The staff attacker came at her with sharp swings that had her ducking and dodging. She saw Bloody Nose launch himself at her as she somersaulted backwards. Grabbing handfuls of dirt and leaves, she threw them up in his face as she landed on her feet. She elbowed his forehead as she scrabbled blindly toward her.

She saw the staff only a milisecond before it descended. She brought her arm up to block it and felt the bone-numbing impact against her left forearm. She darted into his body while pivoting counter-clockwise, snatching the rod from his hands. She dropped the tip down, then snapped it up even as she continued her pivot to face him.

The staff whistled through the air as he leaped back. She jabbed it forward, then twirled it up and down, continuing her advance. She brought the butt end flinging around and finally caught him in the jaw.

She twirled the staff again and jabbed backward, forcing the last attacker to duck. He grabbed the staff but couldn't leverage it out of her hands--not with her right hand near the fulcrum. His face jerked in shock as he pulled but met with resistance. Lorena snapped the end back toward him, loosening his hold.

Then with the staff held only in her right fist, she cracked him sharply on his temple and he dropped.

Broken Ribs lay staring at her in stunned disbelief. Strange--didn't Herrick prep them before sending them out against her? A blow to his head laid him back onto the ground.

None of them had weapons. None of them had tranquilizer guns.

Lorena crouched down in the center of the clearing, surveying the unconscious men. Tranqs would have complicated her pain meds. Herrick knew that she was on analgesics for the rest of her life, because of the surgeries, and that an anesthetic might have killed her. He didn't want her wounded, either--for some reason he needed her healthy.

Why send raw recruits after her, without telling them about her arm? To wear her down? What a waste of human effort.

What kind of man was Herrick? She had never met him, although she had always been aware there was a shadowy director of the Facility. She had heard Herrick's name for the first time when the CIA explained to the Ziang why they tracked her down, what they had learned about Herrick, and why Dr. Tong had disappeared.

She had never met Dr. Tong, either. She had only known Yinghui.

Lorena's teeth clenched and she felt her nails digging into her palm. No, focus. She forced her tight lungs to draw deep, and expelled her breath slowly, forcing her muscles to relax. She couldn't let her own personal vendetta against the sadistic surgeon hinder this mission.

She glanced again at the circle of men. Herrick had an agenda she simply couldn't fathom.

She had to keep moving. Suddenly this mission had become more dangerous.

Next installment still being written. E-mail me to nag me if you want it sooner.