Xia Lei was a consultant for Bureau 101 but it was his first time coming to the headquarters. It was an old building which looked to be fifty to sixty years old but it was vastly different from the other buildings of its era in terms of sturdiness. It seemed strong enough to withstand bombardment.
And seemingly by coincidence, this old building of five storeys was also numbered ‘101’. There was a yard before the building and a sports field behind it, but the people doing activities on it were not agents from Bureau 101 - they were old folk in their seventies and eighties.
Xia Lei’s first impression of the place was that it was an elder-care facility, not a mysterious government facility.
“Surprised?” said Long Bing as she led him towards the old building.
Xia Lei smiled. “I get it. This must be a cover.”
“Yep, it is. I’ll take you on a tour since you’re here. You’re half Bureau 101 already anyway,” said Long Bing.
“It’s just this place. What’s there to tour?” said Xia Lei.
“Follow me and you’ll find out.” Long Bing led him in and they walked into the lift. She put her head close to the numerical display and entered six numbers - 101005.
No normal person would use a lift like this. Xia Lei was curious and was just about to ask her what she was doing when the lift suddenly moved. However, it did not move up, but down.
Long Bing glanced at Xia Lei and said evenly, “This lift requires an ID and code to activate a secret mode, otherwise it can only go up and not down. There’s only some logistics staff upstairs and one department responsible for acting as our cover.”
“Is ‘101005’ a universal password?” asked Xia Lei curiously.
“No. It’s my personal password. Every person has his or her own password. I am 005. If you do join Bureau 101 officially, you will get a password which belongs to you. The password and retina scan will allow you to enter the real Bureau 101,” said Long Bing.
So her going close to the numerical display was to scan her retina.
Xia Lei laughed and said, “Don’t keep telling me to join Bureau 101 officially. I think I’m better off being a consultant. Aren’t I working hard for the country now? Rank is not important.”
The lift stopped and the doors opened. Xia Lei was eager to walk out. A huge arched space entered his field of vision - it looked like an enlarged bunker. This space was divided into several zones and every zone had a different function. The work done by the agents in each zone was also different. Some worked with computers, some tested weapons, some did fighting training, some operated pilotless machines and some were in simulators flying different types of aircraft.
There were several doors on the circular walls of the arched space. Some of these doors were open and it looked like there were offices within.
Long Bing brought Xia Lei past the work area and to a door.
Xia Lei saw Shi Bo-Ren and a middle-aged man dressed casually sitting in the office before Long Bing knocked on the door. The man looked to be in his forties with a square face and an imposing manner.
‘Shi Bo-Ren knew I was coming to talk about the military production plant but he still let this person stay in his office. Does this mean that he’s also here for the same reason?’ thought Xia Lei.
Long Bing reached out and knocked on the door.
Shi Bo-Ren’s voice came from inside. “Enter.”
Long Bing pushed the door open and led Xia Lei in. She bowed as soon as she entered the room but did not greet anyone.
Xia Lei was about to begin with greetings but Shi Bo-Ren said quickly, “Come, come, come, Xia Lei. Let me introduce you - this is Mr Tang. Tang Tian-Long.”
Xia Lei put a smile on his face and said politely, “Hello, Mr Tang.” In his head, he thought, ‘Surnamed Tang? I wonder if he’s related to Tang Bo-Chuan or Tang Yu-Yan?’
Tang Tian-Long stood and shook hands with Xia Lei. He also spoke politely, “I’ve long heard about how capable Mr Xia is and have long wanted to meet you. I finally get the opportunity to meet you today. Well met, well met.”
“You’re too kind, Mr Tang,” Xia Lei said probingly, “And I’m not sure, but Mr Tang, what…”
Tang Tian-Long smiled and said, “I work for the government. As for what I do - it’s best if you don’t ask.”
Xia Lei did not probe again.
“Go about your duties, Long Bing. This doesn't involve you now,” said Shi Bo-Ren.
Long Bing turned and left without a word.
“Come, have a seat, Xia Lei.” Shi Bo-Ren called Xia Lei to sit and went to the water dispenser to pour him a cup of water.
Xia Lei stood to receive the cup. “Don’t be so polite, Boss Shi. Please, just tell me what you have to say.”
“Then I’ll be frank.” Shi Bo-Ren sat opposite Xia Lei and looked straight at him. “I believe Long Bing has mentioned our plans. What is your opinion?”
Tang Tian-Long looked at Xia Lei’s face, as if he could look into Xia Lei through his eyes.
Xia Lei had already guessed that this Tang Tian-Long must be related to the military production plant project and he had an answer long prepared for Shi Bo-Ren’s question. “Our country just so happens to be developing its expansion into the global market. It is not rich, and one could even argue that it’s difficult. How can I ask for money from the country in this situation? I’ve decided that I don’t want the country’s money. I can invest in it myself and do production myself. I can definitely produce sniper rifles which can match the world standards. Oh, and better firearms in the future.”
Shi Bo-Ren and Tang Tian-Long exchanged glances. Both had no expression on their faces and they were silent too.
Xia Lei put on an awkward face. “Did I say something wrong?”
“Hah hah hah.” Shi Bo-Ren laughed three times, then suddenly pointed at Xia Lei. “Just say it if you want to keep everything for yourself, boy. Why pretend at patriotism?”
Tang Tian-Long took a sip of water and said slowly, “Mr Xia, our country is not poor. It has the world’s second largest economy and holds trillions of dollars in American Treasury Bonds. You want to build a production line so you’ll have to come up with hundreds of millions, won’t you? You say pretty words but how can we keep talking about the plan like this?”
“Are you the one negotiating terms with me, Mr Tang?” asked Xia Lei investigatively.
“Yes, I am responsible for negotiating.” Tang Tian-Long answered readily this time.
“Speak, Xia Lei. What are your thoughts on this? I don’t want your flowery words,” said Shi Bo-Ren.
“All right, I’ll say it,” said Xia Lei, “My reasoning is simple. I don’t want anyone interfering with my own company, much less having you guys send one of your own to supervise me or tell me what to do. This is not beneficial for the company’s production and operations either. I shall be responsible for all investment and I will make the best sniper rifles or other firearms.”
Tang Tian-Long wrinkled his brows. “Know this, boy. What you’re going to manufacture are weapons, not toys. How can we let you make such dangerous things without supervision?”
“Of course you’ll need to. You can send troops to guard the gates and the warehouses. The weapons produced have to meet your standards before they leave the the factory area. Is this not enough? You guys supervise these and I’ll manage the company. This is my only condition,” said Xia Lei.
“You really… Boy… Do you have that much money? It’s almost a billion,” said Shi Bo-Ren.
“I do,” said Xia Lei, “I borrowed a billion from Shentu Tian-Yin. It should be enough.”
Tang Tian-Long and Shi Bo-Ren exchanged glances again. “Little Xia, can you reconsider…”
Xia Lei cut him off, “I just have this one condition. If this condition cannot be met, I’ll just give up on this investment.”
“You…” Tang Tian-Long was pissed beyond words.
Shi Bo-Ren glared at Xia Lei and looked ready to bite him, but he could not do anything to him. It was simple - the domestic rifles were just too old and their Chinese Special Forces had to borrow the might of foreign rifles when they went on overseas competitions. Xia Lei could modify a rifle for Long Bing and make it into something which exceeded the world’s most advanced with his own two hands, and that stubborn German woman would only work with Xia Lei. This situation, plus the punk’s god-like skill - how cold this not drive someone crazy?
Xia Lei softened his tone. “Dear sirs, I am not antagonising you on purpose. Think about it. Don’t you want the most advanced sniper rifles? You will also be able to control this military production plant, so why do you need shares? I don’t believe that our country is interested in this little bit of money. I have this condition because I have the interests of the company at heart. The company is mine and I’m investing so much money into it, so of course I’ll do my best to make everything run smoothly. If the company belonged to you, then why would I have to work so hard? Don’t you think I’m right?”
Tang Tian-Long and Shi Bo-Ren exchanged glances yet again.
“Ai, you’re an amazing little fellow. I thought we’d be able to persuade you but you’re unexpectedly stubborn, like that German woman.” Tang Tian-Long sighed. “Never mind. What you said is logical too. Our country has many military production lines but none are able to produce sniper rifles with the most advanced standards, and the management style of the company is not related to the product standards sometimes. If you do well and have good results, more private capital will enter the arms market in the future. Are you confident?”
Xia Lei smiled and said, “Of course. Rest assured, Mr Tang. Remember, I am putting a billion into this project and it’s money I’ve borrowed. I am shouldering all the risk so how can I not do my best to make sure everything goes well?”
“Hoh hoh hoh…” Tang Tian-Long laughed. “Let’s sign the contract. I’ll take you to see the land when we’re done signing. I’ve prepared several plots of land and you can take your pick from those.”
“Deal.” Xia Lei grew even more curious about this Tang Tian-Long. From the way he spoke, his rank could possibly be higher than Shi Bo-Ren’s!
The contract was a stack of paper over thirty pages thick, covered with hundreds of article sections. Xia Lei’s reading speed was godly, however, and he read the whole thing in ten minutes. He signed after reading.
Tang Tian-Long signed too, and exchanged contracts with Xia Lei.
Shi Bo-Ren pressed the pager on the table.
In under a minute, a woman walked in without knocking.
Xia Lei stared blankly at her when he saw her face.
It was Tang Yu-Yan.
Tang Yu-Yan was dressed in loose training clothing but the clothing did nothing to cover her graceful curves. She was rounded in all the right places and smoking hot.
Tang Yu-Yan shot Xia Lei a smile and said, “Can I take him away now, Dad, Godfather?”
Xia Lei turned to stone.Previous Chapter Next Chapter