Tang martial arts were not passed on to outsiders and one had to enter the Tang family doors to learn. The problem was - how? Xia Lei felt like he had been duped somehow. An adopted son was still not a true member of the Tang sect.
There seemed to be just one path to take if he wanted to be a true member of the Tang, and that was to court Tang Yu-Yan, become the son-in-law of the Tang sect and have a chubby child with her or something. That was the way to get the true Tang techniques.
However, Tang Yun-Hai did not explain his words and Xia Lei didn’t feel comfortable asking him about it either.
The Tang sect was much more powerful than the Gu clan. The Gu clan was at most considered nouveau riche but the Tang sect was an ancient clan with hundreds of years of history. Entering a clan like this was like a great chance to upgrade oneself for many men, and they would agree without hesitation. What’s more, the bride in question was an exceptional woman; Tang Yu-Yan. However, Xia Lei had no such inclination. The Tang sect was rich, true, but he was rich too!
The Tang’s chef had prepared a feast for their table, and Xia Lei stayed too for lunch.
“Who do you have in your family, Mr Xia?” asked Zhang Yu-Mei during the meal.
Xia Lei was a little embarrassed and he said awkwardly, “There’s just…”
Tang Yu-Yan cut Zhang Yu-Mei short. “Mum, your son is a special agent and your daughter is one too. You might as well just ask either of us. Don’t ask. I’ll give you a file later and you’ll know everything about him, from the time he went to kindergarten to now, no details spared.”
Zhang Yu-Mei glared at Tang Yu-Yan. “You terrible girl. You’re over twenty and still acting like a child. Mr Xia is your saviour - how can you investigate him like that? How impolite.”
The main point of her words was actually this: You’re well into your twenties and you’re not anxious, but Mum is!
Tang Yu-Yan stuck her tongue out and didn’t interrupt anymore.
Zhang Yu-Mei picked up a piece of roasted duck for Xia Lei with her chopsticks and smiled as she said, “Come, Mr Xia. Eat, eat.”
“Thank you, Aunt Zhang,” said Xia Lei politely.
“How is your company doing, Mr Xia?” asked Zhang Yu-Mei.
Xia Lei was speechless.
Zhang Yu-Mei finally let go of the topic but Tang Yun-Hai took up the baton.
“Boy, I hear you can modify guns and the ones you modify can reach an effective range of over 3,000 metres. You’re also producing sniper rifles like these in your military factory, is that right?” Tang Yun-Hai’s topic of interest was different from womenly topics.
Xia Lei nodded. “That’s right. But the mass-produced rifles are probably going to be worse than my personally modified rifles. I think they will reach an effective range of just 2,500 metres but there’s benefits of mass-producing too and that’s the automatic functions. The magazine can get to ten shots and it’ll be faster to fire.”
“Haha, nice, Boy.” Tang Yun-Hai was all smiles. “You really are an indispensable talent of our nation. If the sniper rifles you make can really reach an effective range of 2,500, and be automatic too, then it’ll undoubtedly be the best sniper rifle in the world. Our country can stand proud in the light weapons field now and piss off those western bastards who initiated the technology blockade.”
“You praise me too much, Grandfather.” Xia Lei was as polite as ever.
“Grandfather, you think it’s impressive that Xia Lei’s modified sniper rifle can hit a target at 3,200 metres?” said Tang Yu-Yan with a smile, “You haven’t seen him go up against those Americans agents and the CIA yet. It was one shot, one kill! Those so-called elite soldiers and CIA agents ran away with their tails between their legs. They didn’t even dare to look back.”
Zhang Yu-Mei kicked Tang Yu-Yan under the table.
Tang Yu-Yan looked at Zhang Yu-Mei.
Zhang Yu-Mei rolled her eyes at her daughter and hissed, “You talk roughly like a man! This is worrying.”
Oh, poor parents. Those with sons want them to get pretty girlfriends, get married and have children. Those with daughters want them to get the best boyfriend they can find - gentle, caring, successful in his career and for them to have a blissful life. However, the sons and daughters never seem to notice their parents’ efforts and always seem to think that they haven’t had enough fun yet.
“I didn’t get a chance to fight those American Special Forces soldiers and the CIA, or I would’ve killed them all dead too! Haha!” Tang Yun-Hai got more and more excited as he spoke. He didn’t seem like an old man but like a hot-blooded young man.
“Xia Lei,” said Tang Tian-Long, “Be strong but also don’t hesitate to tell us if you have any difficulties. You must produce those sniper rifles. This is a good opportunity to gain some glory for the nation.”
“Uncle Tang, you make me want to ask you a favour when you talk like that,” said Xia Lei.
Tang Tian-Long paused, then said, “Speak, what help do you need?”
“I would like my company to take our sniper rifle to the light weapons exhibition in Moscow and I don’t know who I’ll have to ask for the approval to participate since I have never done something like this before. Could you help me with the approvals?” said Xia Lei.
“Sure. I can settle this for you. You can go to the exhibition but you must give a good showing,” said Tang Tian-Long.
Xia Lei gave a laugh. “No problem. I will surely bring honour to the nation. Thank you Uncle Tang.”
“Ah, why are you still standing on ceremony?” Tang Tian-Long gave a mock-offended look.
Zhang Yu-Mei interrupted, “Yes, that’s right. No need to be so formal; just treat this like your own home.”
Tang Yu-Yan kicked her mother under the table.
The meal went by in a lively fashion and Xia Lei accompanied Tang Yun-Hai for some tea before finding an excuse to go off.
It was great if he could learn martial arts and no skin off his nose if he couldn’t. Xia Lei was no martial arts maniac. He had this mindset when he came to the Tang home and the same mindset when he left.
Tang Yu-Yan sent Xia Lei to the door, chatting as they went.
Two generations of Tangs were chatting by the second floor window too.
“This Xia Lei looks decent. He’s a self-made man of millions, unmarried, good temperament and character. He’s quite handsome too. More importantly, he saved the life of our Yu-Yan. I think he’s the one!” Zhang Yu-Mei looked at Xia Lei’s retreating back with a smile beaming on her face.
“The boy’s all good except for one thing. Humility. He’s too humble,” said Tang Yun-Hai with a smile.
Zhang Yu-Mei rolled her eyes at Tang Yun-Hai. “Dad, isn’t humility a plus?”
“Hahaha, yes, yes, it’s a plus. I like this boy. I almost wanted to pass on some Tang martial arts to him earlier.” Tang Yun-Hai laughed jovially.
Zhang Yu-Mei quickly said, “He hasn’t married into our family. There’s no rush.”
Tang Yun-Hai looked at Tang Tian-Long next to him and said, “Why have you been so quiet? And that serious face - you don’t like Xia Lei?”
Tang Tian-Long was quiet for a while before he replied, “What I’m about to say cannot be repeated to Yu-Yan or Bo-Chuan, much less outsiders.”
Tang Yun-Hai and Zhang Yu-Mei exchanged glances, then looked at Tang Tian-Long quizzically.
Tang Tian-Long lowered his voice. “There’s something fishy about this guy.”
“Huh?” Tang Yun-Hai and Zhang Yu-Mei were at a loss for words.
Tang Tian-Long continued, “A year ago he was just a wage-earner working on construction sites and moving bricks. He had to support his sister so that she could study and was living at the bottom-most rungs of society. But in one year he became a self-made millionaire, and even became an important, indispensable person in Bureau 101. Don’t you think this is very strange?”
“It is strange but isn’t it good so long as he doesn’t steal or rob? He’s earning money the legal way and also doing things for the betterment and glory of the nation. Isn’t this good? Is him being too good a shortcoming?” Tang Yun-Hai was of a different opinion.
Tang Tian-Long sighed. “I’ll be frank. Someone in the higher ranks is keeping an eye on him. If there’s nothing wrong with him, then great. But if there is something wrong, then it’s big trouble. Our Tang sect has stood for hundreds of years because we were cautious and careful, isn’t that right?”
Tang Yun-Hai was silent. He had taught Tang Tian-Long those words.
“Tian-Long, you say that something’s wrong with Xia Lei but what is it? He’s a good person - why is there someone higher up keeping an eye on him?”
Tang Tian-Long shook his head. “I don’t know either but intuition tells me that he’s hiding a lot of secrets.”
Zhang Yu-Mei pursed her lips. “Forget it, I’m keeping out of it. You worry about our daughter. It was so difficult to find a match and you guys are pulling this now. Don’t come looking for me later when she’s 30 and still unmarried!”
Tang Tian-Long laughed dryly. It seemed like Xia Lei and Tang Yu-Yan had already gone some way with each other to him.
“No need to send me off,” said Xia Lei, “I can just take a taxi back.”
“How can I let you do that? It’s better if I send you back,” said Tang Yu-Yan.
“I’d like to go to Angel Wings Building for a bit. I do feel quite bad for not even saying hello when I’ve been back for so long,” said Xia Lei.
Tang Yu-Yan understood what he meant right away. “Oh, so you’re going to see Shentu Tian-Yin. No problem, I can send you there too.” She then smiled. “I’ll leave right away after I drop you off, don’t worry. I won’t interrupt your date.”
Xia Lei just laughed and didn’t explain himself. He wasn’t even sure what relationship he had with Shentu Tian-Yin himself, so how was he to explain it to Tang Yu-Yan? Besides, there was no need for explanations either.
Tang Yu-Yan drove towards Angel Wings Building. She broke the silence in the car. “My mum likes to prattle on, so don’t take anything she said to heart.”
Xia Lei gave a laugh. “Nah, Aunt Zhang is a cheerful person. I like her.”
“I’m sorry, we said we would teach you Tang martial arts but it didn’t come to that,” said Tang Yu-Yan apologetically.
“It’s all right. Your family has its own rules. Besides, I wasn’t planning on getting to a high level in martial arts or anything. It’s the age of weapons now and martials arts will lose out to guns no matter how strong you are, right?”
Tang Yu-Yan laughed. “Makes sense, but you can come look for me if you want to learn. I can teach you some.”
“Nn, thank you.” Xia Lei didn’t seem very interested.
The car came to Angel Wings Building and Xia Lei alighted. Tang Yu-Yan said goodbye and drove off.
Angel Wings Building was connected at the bottom, and it was separated into two sections from the middle on. The sections were at a slight tilt and did look like a pair of barely-open wings. This building was no less impressive than the Vientaine Building in Haizhu.
Xia Lei stopped looking up at the building and started walking to the lobby.Previous Chapter Next Chapter