Three days later, Jing Du, China.
In a nameless building on 101 Jianguo Road.
This high-end office building was the headquarters of Bureau 101. It was Xia Lei’s first time here.
“Haha!” In an office, Shi Bo-Ren laughed heartily and clapped Xia Lei on the shoulder.
This was a show of appreciation but Xia Lei frowned. “Boss Shi, are you trying to smack me to bits?”
“Oh, excuse me.” Shi Bo-Ren smiled. “The relevant departments and professionals have looked over the drawings and processes you’ve brought back. It is very valuable information indeed. Your mission has been a great success. Tell me, how would you like me to reward you?”
“Give a copy of the drawings and processes to Elder Mu. This should count as me keeping my promise. I don’t want anything else other than that,” said Xia Lei.
Shi Bo-Ren looked at Xia Lei and said meaningfully, “From what I’ve gathered, your company was established by relying on the purchase orders from China Industrial Group. Aren’t you worried that they won’t give you purchase orders anymore after getting these lathes? Can your company survive without purchase orders from China Industrial Group?”
Xia Lei smiled. “My company is just a small existence. If our manufacturing industry can develop and catch up to the standards of Europe and America, I will not regret the collapse of my little company.”
An old, patriotic man like Shi Bo-Ren liked nationalism most so Xia Lei made his words pretty on purpose. He was actually not worried at all about China Industrial Group not giving him any more purchase orders after they manufactured Josef’s intelligent lathe. China Industrial Group had to have him first to copy the first intelligent lathe!
If Thunder Horse Manufacturing was still going to be relying on purchase orders from larger companies to survive further down the road, why keep it running?
Shi Bo-Ren broke into a grin and he patted Xia Lei on the shoulder lightly this time. He spoke with eyes full of expectation, “I’m glad you think that way. Our country lacks young people like you. Our nation will not forget the contributions you have made. If Elder Mu doesn’t give you purchase orders in the future I’ll go to his house and flip his table.”
“Heh heh heh…” His words made Long Bing, who was standing next to Xia Lei, laugh.
Shi Bo-Ren glared at Long BIng and she shut her mouth. She didn’t dare laugh.
“Boss Shi, my mission is complete and I have to go home. It’s been over a month. I have to hurry back and see how my company is doing too,” said Xia Lei.
Shi Bo-Ren opened a drawer in his desk and threw a red document to Xia Lei.
Xia Lei caught the document and asked curiously, “Boss Shi, is this the identification document that Bureau 101 is giving me?”
“I’ll give you the proper document when you properly join Bureau 101. This is a perk I’m giving you. It’s a national travel pass. You can use this pass to get on any domestic flight or high-speed train, anytime, anywhere,” said Shi Bo-Ren
Long Bing added, “This pass has your identification number on it. You just have to tell them your number when booking a plane ticket via phone. This pass will also allow you to bring two passengers with you.”
Xia Lei opened the document and looked at it; it had his picture, name and identification number. He smiled. “I’ll be able to travel the country for free. Not bad.”
“Rascal, I’m giving you this so that it’ll be more convenient for you to do your missions. Don’t forget that you’re a consultant for Bureau 101,” said Shi Bo-Ren.
“I won’t forget. Goodbye, Boss Shi, Big Sister Long,” said Xia Lei.
“I’m the same age as you. The stated birth date on my identification says I’m a month younger than you. Why call me ‘Big Sister’?” Long Bing looked dissatisfied. “Just call me by my name.”
Women were strange. If you called a woman ten or twenty years older than you ‘Big Sister’ when she was already an ‘Aunt’, she would be happy. Call a woman two or three years older than you ‘Little Sister’ and she’d be even happier. If you called her ‘Big Sister’, however, she would be unhappy. Long Bing was an extraordinary woman but she was still a woman and was not exempt in some things.
Xia Lei just smiled. It was just a greeting and he didn’t think it was important.
Shi Bo-Ren suddenly said, “Eh, I’ve got to remind you both that romantic relationships are banned in this bureau.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
Long Bing shoved him before he could explain himself. “Move. I’ll send you to the airport.”
A few minutes later, an unmarked military vehicle exited the compound of Bureau 101 and headed to the airport. Xia Lei activated his phone in the car. He’d received a ton of missed call alerts and messages and he scanned through them. Liang Si-Yao had called him over 70 times; an average of two a day. Jiang Ru-Yi called him over a hundred times; an average of three a day. It was understandable that Liang Si-Yao would call him twice a day because of company matters but Jiang Ru-Yi had called so many times… What did she want?
“Want to go see your sister?” Long Bing broke the silence in the car.
“Nah, she has to be independent sooner or later. It’s good to let her get more practice,” said Xia Lei.
“Mm, I’ll go straight to the airport, then,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei thought for a bit and said, “I’ll have to ask a favour of you.”
“Speak.” Long Bing was curt.
“You know, I have many enemies. I can’t be by my sister’s side so I’d have to trouble you to take care of her and not let her come to harm.”
A faint smile appeared in the corners of Long Bing’s mouth. “Don’t worry. You’re Bureau 101’s consultant now. Your family members will be under the protection of professionals. Those enemies of yours had better not touch your sister or they’ll die an untraceable death.”
“Is there someone protecting my sister in the shadows?” Xia Lei was surprised.
“Your sister was put under protection from the day we went to Germany. A specialised department is in charge of her safety so you can be at ease,” said Long Bing, “If a family member of a person like yourself were to be harmed or used to blackmail you, then how can you feel secure enough to risk yourself for the nation?”
That was true. How could he feel secure? A country was like a huge machine made up of numerous parts and these parts are the departments which help run everything. Bureau 101 was just a part in this huge machine. A department in charge of protecting important targets was also another part and both departments have different functions.
Xia Lei was curious about the other departments but he did not ask; he was sure that Long Bing wouldn’t tell him even if he did.
As expected, Long Bing changed the topic. “Keep a low profile after you’re back. Do not mention our activities in Germany to anyone. It will cause an international uproar if it leaks.”
“Don’t worry. I know the nature of this matter and I won’t tell anyone,” said Xia Lei.
“And…” Long Bing paused. “Don’t contact that Annina. You’re dead in her world now.”
“I won’t.” Xia Lei’s answer was quick but Annina appeared in his mind. Her sexiness, her beauty and her teasing, her tempting… He’d always have a sense of guilt about Annina.
Xia Lei suddenly thought of something when they were close to the airport. “I want to buy some gifts. Do you know any place where I can get genuine cultural items as gifts?”
Long Bing responded by turning the steering wheel and they went further away from the airport with one step on the accelerator.
In the evening, Xia Lei came to a small neighbourhood with several large bags of gifts. He went up to the Liang family door and pressed the doorbell. Back from Germany, the person he had missed and should visit was his master, Liang Zheng-Chun - and his senior disciple Liang Si-Yao, of course. Liang Zheng-Chun and Liang Si-Yao had become family in his heart and coming to the Liang household was like coming home.
The person who opened the door was Liang Si-Yao and she stood, dumbstruck.
“What, you don’t recognise me anymore?” Xia Lei laughed.
Liang Si-Yao suddenly punched Xia Lei. She was over the moon but displayed angry behaviour. “You rascal! Why didn’t you answer my calls? I called you every day, morning and night, and you never picked up! Do you know how worried I was? And my dad too, he kept asking me every day if you’d come back. I didn’t know what to say to him.”
“I changed my phone in Germany. They didn’t let me call home either… I’ll explain it to you later. Where’s Master? Is he home? I’d like to see him,” said Xia Lei.
As soon as he finished speaking, Liang Zheng-Chun walked out of his study. “You’re back? Have you eaten? Si-Yao was about to make dinner. Let’s eat together.”
These words were like those a father would say to a son who’d come home after a trip - normal and mundane but deeply caring.
“I’m back, Master. I’ve brought you some presents.” Xia Lei greeted him.
“If you’re back, you’re back. Why buy presents?” Liang Zheng-Chun’s words were gruff but he couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face.
Xia Lei took out one gift after another. “Master, I know you enjoy drinking tea so I’ve brought you Taiwanese Icy Peak oolong tea, Jinjunmei tea from Wuyi Mountain and Iron Goddess of Mercy tea from Anxi. Oh, I also got you a Yixing clay teapot. You must have a good teapot for good tea.”
“Wow, you even bought a Yixing teapot. Let me see.” Tea enthusiasts wished most to have a good clay teapot. Liang Zheng-Chun used a ceramic teapot for his daily tea and that teapot was miles apart from an Yixing teapot. Hearing that Xia Lei had bought him an Yixing teapot made his heart leap in excitement.
Xia Lei handed the teapot to Liang Zheng-Chun. He held the teapot and examined it closely, rubbing his fingers over the delicate surface and muttering to himself. “A good pot, good. This is a real Yixing teapot. I bought a few in the past but they turned out to be fakes. Didn’t dare buy any more after that. These things can be expensive and fake. The pottery work on this is excellent, such smooth grain… How much is this teapot? It’s expensive, isn’t it?”
Xia Lei smiled. “Don’t ask about the price, Master. It’s not expensive. I asked someone I trust and I wouldn’t have bought it if it weren’t for her.”
The teapot had come from a teapot collector whom Long Bing had brought him to. That person had not asked for money so He had no idea how much it cost. Xia Lei was sure that it cost over 10,000 yuan even if that person hadn’t asked for money and this teapot wouldn’t even be on the market, at that.
“Sure, sure. I won’t ask.” Liang Zheng-Chun chuckled and took the teapot away. “I’m going to brew some tea.”
Liang Si-Yao pursed her lips and looked unhappy. “You got my dad a whole load of gifts. What about me?”
Xia Lei smiled as he handed her a shopping bag. “I bought you a dress from Uniqlo. Try it on. I don’t know if it fits.”
“I’ll hit you if it doesn’t fit.” Liang Si-Yao smiled and took the Uniqlo bag with her as she walked to her room, saying, “I’ll go try it on. You go cook dinner.”
Xia Lei was speechless.Previous Chapter Next Chapter