Xia Lei was brought into a workshop in the early morn of the next day. This workshop was newly built, and there weren’t any machine installed in the workshop. It was spacious, and big enough for Xia Lei to build the XL2500 sniper rifle and Gust assault rifle production lines. It was also had space to accommodate the super composite intelligent lathe which weighed up to five hundred tonnes.
There were already a group of workers from Rheinmetall AG waiting in the new workshop. They were all highly-skilled senior machinists and electrical engineers, and Josef was amongst them, playing the role of supervisor.
“Mr. Xia, these are the helpers our company have assigned to you. They do any machine processing, electrical engineering, anything, as long as it falls within their scope of work,” said the CEO of Rheinmetall, Mark Armin, to Xia Lei in the workshop. “We have prepared all the staff and supplies. You may start your work now.”
“Well, we still need some other equipment sent from our side. The freighter carrying them departed while I was making my way here, so it will arrive here in about two weeks,” said Xia Lei.
“Do you mean to say that there is nothing we need to do on our end?” Discontentment flashed in Mark Armin’s eyes.
One could only get a true grasp of the technology if one had first-hand experience in building it. It was not beneficial for them if Xia Lei was having a production line shipped over.
“No, no,” said Xia Lei. “Of course there are things which you need to do. Zhengnan, hand him the list of materials which need to be prepared and processed.”
Liu Zhengnan, who was standing behind Xia Lei, opened his briefcase and took out a large, bound list. He went up to Mark Armin and handed it to him with both hands.
Mark Armin did not reach out to take the list. He did not even spare Liu Zhengnan a glance. To him, the only one from the Chinese side who was qualified to talk to him was Xia Lei, and no one else.
Xia Lei had beaten down some of Mark Armin’s arrogance yesterday, but it was not something he would change immediately.
Liu Zhengnan was a little embarrassed, and he glanced at Xia Lei.
Mark Armin spoke before Xia Lei did. “Josef, take a look at it.”
Josef walked over and took that thick, bound stack of paper from Liu Zhengnan’s hands. The list had been written in German, a product of Liu Zhengnan’s hard work.
Josef flipped through the list, and quickly gave a frown. “Why aren’t there any parts for that lathe?”
“Your German side is unable to process those parts. A portion of the parts for Thunder Dragon Intelligent Lathe will be shipped over, and the rest shall be processed by me here,” said Xia Lei.
Xia Lei had named his composite intelligent lathe before coming to Germany. It was the Thunder Dragon Intelligent Lathe.
The ‘dragon’ part of the name represented the Chinese people. He was a descendant of the Dragon, and Thunder Dragon Intelligent Lathe would conquer Europe! *
“Thunder Dragon Intelligent Lathe? What a strange name.” Josef did not get the reference to Chinese culture in the name, and a faint smile of disdain appeared in the corners of his lips. “Mr Xia, do you mean to say that we Germans cannot process the parts you need?”
“I didn’t want to say it that way, but yes, that is the case,” said Xia Lei casually.
“Haha!” A highly-skilled machinist from the Rheinmetall AG team laughed. “Is he joking? When did a country which has always imported precision-processed parts from Germany surpass us?”
“It’s probably because they cannot afford our precision-processed parts,” drawled an electrical engineer. He found it rather humorous.
Xia Lei was calm in the face of all this ridicule, and he was unconcerned.
Annina, on the other hand, could not take it anymore and said, “What are you laughing about? I am a highly-skilled machinist too, but my abilities are not even a tenth of our Director Xia’s capabilities. Our Director Xia is the best machinist and electrical engineer in the world. You cannot be placed on par with him, much less surpass him. If he says you can’t process the parts, you can’t.”
“Annina!” thundered Josef. “Are you sucking up to your boss?”
Annina harrumphed. “What I said was the truth.”
She wanted to say more, but Xia Lei nudged her elbow. “All right, enough. Don’t argue with them. This sort of argument is meaningless.”
Annina closed her mouth, but she looked like she was still seething. Long Bing and Tang Yuyan were silent, just standing to one side and watching, not saying anything. Their orders were to protect Xia Lei, and create a safe environment for him to carry out his work. As for the building of the machine production lines, and the Thunder Dragon Intelligent Lathe, they were strangers to these fairly technical things, and were not able to comment. Furthermore, their German language ability was only at the level of simple conversation, and they could not even pronounce some of the technical terms. There really wasn’t anything they could comment on.
“I know you are capable, Mr Xia. You would not have been able to design and build excellent weapons such as the XL2500 sniper rifle and the Gust assault rifle otherwise. However, I dare not believe what you say about us Germans not being able to process the precision parts you need for your machine.” Mark Armin continued, “In fact, you Chinese had always been importing precision parts from Germany before this, and we ended the exchange on our end because of some politics. You’re now saying in front of so many German machinists and electrical engineers that we Germans are unable to process the parts you need? Are you kidding me?”
“I have no intention of disrespecting you. I am just stating the facts. If your machinists and electrical engineers want to prove themselves, you can have them process similar parts, and assemble your own Thunder Dragon Intelligent Lathe. You’ll know if I have spoken the truth then,” said Xia Lei.
“Why wait till then?” A woman suddenly stood forward. “I am Rheinmetall’s Chief Machinist. My name is Sylvia. Mr Xia, I don’t believe a word of what you’ve said. I do believe, however, that what people say of the Chinese is true — they like to boast.”
Xia Lei wrinkled his brows.
Sylvia walked over to Xia Lei.
She was small, petite, and looked to be in her twenties, young. She had a head of wine-red hair, and it was tied up in a simple ponytail. Perhaps it was her small size, but her facial features seemed to have the delicate beauty of an Eastern woman, and the defined lines of a Western woman.
The sight of Sylvia made Xia Lei think abruptly of Szlamy. This Sylvia seemed to be an European version of Szlamy.
Xia Lei had not gone back to meet Szlamy after leaving Afghanistan. One reason was because it was too chaotic, too dangerous. He did not want to have to fight with the CIA and American Special Forces for a rendezvous with Szlamy. The other reason was that he was a married man, and his love life was complicated enough. He did not need more mess in his life.
Szlamy had become a beautiful memory to him. This Sylvia, however, had reignited his beautiful memories for some reason. Xia Lei’s first impression was that Sylvia was version of Szlamy with her golden hair dyed red.
However, this Sylvia was not Szlamy. She was forceful from the get-go. “Mr Xia, Miss Annina over here says you’re the world’s best machinist, and that no one can surpass you. It’s not that I don’t believe in your capabilities, but I don’t believe that China would have someone like this.”
The way she phrased this hurt him more.
“I am Rheinmetall’s best machinist. The government acknowledges my ability, and my colleagues do too. My ability is quite real. How about this — you give me one of the parts you need precision-processed for your Thunder Dragon Intelligent Lathe, and we process this part at the same time, using the same type of lathe. If the part you’ve processed is better than mine, I’ll admit that you are the world’s best machinist. Also, I, and my people will follow your orders in the future.” Sylvia’s eyes were full of challenge, doubt and disdain.
Xia Lei thought for a bit. “All right. I need a pure titanium rotor for the lathe. It’s cylindrical and needs 128 gear-teeth to be processed on its circumference. It is ten centimetres long, and every tooth’s thickness and height must be within one millimetre of each other, at an accuracy of 0.001 microns. Keep this in mind — an absolute of one millimetre, and every tooth must be the same. The precision required for this is 0.001 microns. If you have the confidence to process this, I will hand you the drawings and relevant data later.”
“Hold on…” Sylvia stared straight at Xia Lei, and her gaze was odd. “What was the precision for this again?”
“This part has a precision requirement of 0.001 microns.”
“Haha… 0.001 microns? Are you kidding me?” Sylvia guffawed, and her breasts shook in quite an exaggerated fashion, like jiggling pudding.
“I’m not kidding.”
“You’re not kidding me, Mr Xia? Do you know that the most precise lathe in the world now has a precision accuracy of only 0.005 microns? Even the measuring instrument for that sort of precision you want has not been manufactured yet!”
“That’s why I said I can build the Thunder Dragon Intelligent Lathe, but you can’t. Do you still want to try now?” said Xia Lei flatly.
“Of course! If I can’t process a part like this, you can’t either!” Sylvia was not daunted by Xia Lei’s precision requirements at all, and the way he had spoken fanned the flames of her competitiveness even more.
“All right, then. You people provide the place and the lathe. I’ll provide the drawings and the data.”
“That’s decided, then.” Sylvia stretched out a hand to Xia Lei, and curled it into a fist.
Xia Lei stared blankly at that fist for a bit, then he stretched out his own fist and knocked hers gently. Her first was so soft it didn’t seem like it had bones. The skin on her hand was tender too, not like a machinist’s skin at all.
A fist bump. Something Western youths liked to do. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. This fist bump also meant that the competition between the best machinist in Germany and China’s Father of Rifles had begun.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
*Hur hur. Conquer Europe with a lathe. Sure, why not?