Zhongzhen Wukui sent someone over with the pardon order the next afternoon. This was a turning point in Xia Changhe’s life, allowing him to step out of darkness and into the bright, outside world.
An old van stopped in front of the office building. The driver was someone from Bailu Town. Xia Changhe sat on the tattered sofa backseat, and next to him were two dirty bags filled with clothing and bedding. He had all these prepared to build a “returning vagabond” image.
Not many knew of Xia Changhe’s true identity, but many knew that Xia Lei’s father had been missing for many years. Some pretences still had to be made though it looked very fake.
Xia Xur dashed forward before the door to the van opened. However, she stopped in her tracks after running a few steps, not daring to go closer. She was afraid that this was all a dream, and that she would wake up if she drew close.
Xia Lei walked up to her. “Go on. He wants to see you the most.”
Xia Xue then walked to the van.
The door of the van opened just then, and Xia Changhe stepped out with the two bags in his hands. He was tall and sturdy, his hair was greying, and he looked like he had been through a lot. He looked a lot like a migrant worker who had been rescued from working for years in the darkness of mines.
“How could he be Director Xia’s father?”
“Yeah, he looks like some migrant worker coming back from work.”
“That’s right. His hands are full of calluses. How would anyone who lives like a prince have such rough hands?”
“Keep your voice down. Don’t let Director Xia hear you, or he’ll be upset.”
“Yeah, Director Xia’s father has been missing for years and he’s only just been found. Don’t you make Director Xia angry.”
A group of the upper management of Thunder Horse Military Factory had come to welcome Xia Changhe with Xia Lei, and they stood whispering in front of the office building.
Xia Lei felt like laughing when he heard all that. He couldn’t help but wonder — if these people knew what his father did, and how he had come back, would they still talk about him like this? They would probably be frightened if his father so much as glanced at them, won’t they?
“Dad—” Xia Xue could not hold back her emotions anymore. She cried out loud and threw herself into Xia Changhe’s arms.
“What are you crying for? Stop crying, silly girl.” Xia Changhe patted Xia Xue gently on the back. He told her not to cry, but his own eyes were welling up with tears.
He was finally home. He had waited for this day for too many years.
Up in the office building, Ling Han watched Xia Changhe and Xia Xue below. His eyes were cold.
Beside him was Song Baicheng, who scoffed. “One of the leaders of the FA Organisation. Murder, arson, treason. Someone like him who has done all evil can actually enjoy his old age. What a joke.”
“All thanks to that successful son of his. That pardon he managed to negotiate is enough to wash the father of his sins,” said Ling Han flatly.
“Do we just leave it be?” said Song Baicheng. “He has some secrets about him. I also suspect that he and Xia Lei have some secret that can’t be made known. Chief Zhenzhong also said that this Xia Changehe is a big point of penetration in Xia Lei’s defences. Are we going to give up just like this?”
A faint sneer appeared on Ling Han’s lips. “Give up? This does not exist in my dictionary.”
“Do you have some sort of plan?”
“Hold your horses. Settle the matter with the German first. Xia Changhe has just received the pardon, so we can’t make a move against him right away. You be sharp too. Don’t cause any mess.”
Song Baicheng nodded. “I understand.”
Under the office building, Xia Lei nudged Liu Zhengnan with his elbow. “What are you standing dumbly here for? Go on, introduce yourself.”
“I…” Liu Zhengnan looked nervous.
Xia Lei laughed. “What are you afraid of? He’s not a tiger. He won’t eat you up.”
Liu Zhengnan gave an awkward laugh. He still didn’t move; he felt like his legs were weighed down by sandbags. He also found it odd, because Xia Changhe looked like a frumpy farmer type, but he had an aura of power, and his eyes were like that of a hawk, sending chills into one’s heart. He was afraid of this old man he was meeting for the first time for some reason.
“Come over here, Zhengnan.” Xia Xue was calling him now.
“Nn.” Liu Zhengnan responded, lightning-quick. He lifted his feet and walked over.
Xia Lei smiled wryly. The might of him, the Director, was less than a third of his sister’s. He’d told Liu Zhengnan to go over, but he had hemmed and hawed. Xia Xue said just one line, and Liu Zhengnan had walked over without hesitation.
Liu Zhengnan came up to Xia Changhe with a smile on his face. “H, Hello, Uncle.”
“You are…?” Xia Change looked Liu Zhengnan up and down.
Xia Xue laughed and said, “Dad, this is my boyfriend. His name’s Liu Zhengnan. He is a very capable assistant to Brother.”
“Good, good, good. Hehehe.” Xia Changhe chucked happily. He actually lived close by and knew about Xia Xue’s boyfriend, but he had to put on appearances and appear normal, or he’d scare others.
“What are you standing there for? Quick, help my Dad carry his bags.” Xia Xue nudged Liu Zhengnan.
“I’ll take those for you, Uncle.” Liu Zhengnan sprang into action, and grabbed the bags from Xia Changhe’s hands before he could say anything.
Xia Changhe walked over, and he stretched out a hand to rest it on Xia Lei’s shoulder.
“You’re back, Dad.”
“Mm. I’m back.”
Father and son said nothing more. There was no need.
Xia Lei brought Xia Changhe in the direction of the villa. Xia Xue and Liu Zhengnan followed, and Yelena brought up the rear.
“He’s actually putting Xia Changhe in the villa.” Song Baicheng’s eyes were icy. He’d wanted to stay in the villa, but Xia Lei had told him that there were no more rooms. He’d forgotten about that incident, but his face heated up again when he saw Xia Lei take Xia Changhe to the villa.
“This is his territory,” said Ling Han.
“But that is the site of the Alloy X Project! What about Xia Changhe’s identity? How can he be allowed to be close to the Alloy X Project? Xia Lei is just too unethical! He does have some measure of capability, but he cannot be allowed to do as he pleases, right?”
“If the Heavens want a death, that person must first be driven mad. Some things cannot be collected upon now, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t collect later. We’ll see who has the last laugh,” said Ling Han.
Just then, Sylvia walked out of the stairwell with a phone in her hand, looking about.
“Isn’t she the machinist from Rheinmetall AG? What is she doing here?” Ling Han’s gaze went to Sylvia.
“I’ll go ask.” Song Baicheng went over.
“Meesta, herro.” Sylvia greeted Song Baicheng with heavily accented Chinese.
“Is there something you needed, Miss Sylvia?” asked Song Baicheng.
Sylvia shook her head. “I don’t understand.” She then typed German into her phone, and drew close to Song Baicheng to hold up the screen of her phone to let him see the translated text.
The text read: Mr Xia is an unreasonable person. He promised me that we would have a technology exchange but nothing has been done so far. I want to talk with someone in charge. Can you tell me who is in charge?
Song Baicheng read the text, then said to Ling Han, “This German woman says Xia Lei is unreasonable and has not done any technology exchange with her. She wants to talk to you.”
Ling Han frowned. “The official German delegation has not arrived yet. What does a little machinist like her want to talk with me about? You handle her.” He walked off after saying that.
Sylvia typed on her phone in German again, and drew close to Song Baicheng. She moved very close, and was shoulder to shoulder with him. Her cheek almost touched Song Baicheng’s face. She was also wearing a V-neck cotton tee, and a generous amount of flesh was exposed through her collar. That deep crevasse of her cleavage was put on display for Song Baicheng’s eyes.
Song Baicheng would not have been moved if it were a regular woman, but Sylvia was a bombshell — blonde, blue-eyed, hot figure, and an exquisite doll-like face. She was very attractive indeed. Close up, she smelt real good, and that youthful energy of hers… Song Baicheng didn’t know where to direct his eyes.
But he still saw what was on the screen of the phone: Mister, can you take me to the person in charge? I want to talk with him.
Song Baicheng took the phone from Sylvia’s hands and typed in Chinese: I am he. What do you want to talk about?
Sylvia read his response, and a sweet smile bloomed on her face. She typed in German: I didn’t think that the person in charge of the technology exchange was you. You’re so young and so handsome. You’re awesome.
“Heh heh…” Song Baicheng chuckled.
Sylvia typed in German: I’d like to treat you to a cup of coffee. May I?
Song Baicheng typed in Chinese: There are no cafes here.
Sylvia typed: Xia Lei gave me an office. I have coffee in my office. We can drink coffee as we talk.
Song Baicheng couldn’t be bothered with typing anymore. He smiled and said, “Sure, I’ll go to your office.”
Sylvia smiled, and gave Song Baicheng a hug.
Oh, to be enveloped in the arms of a blonde beauty… Her fragrance, and that firm bounciness pressing against his chest… Song Baicheng felt like he had returned to youth in an instant.
But unbeknownst to him, in the security room of Thunder Horse Military Factory, E’er Demutu stared at a video feed with a small smirk in the corners of his lips.
Half an hour later, after Xia Lei had settled his father in to the villa, he went to find Ling Han.
“Brother Ling, my branch company in Sichuan has some problems now. I have to go to Sichuan for a bit.” Xia Lei went straight to the point.
“The official German delegation will arrive soon. You’re going to Sichuan at this point of time?” said Ling Han. “Put the problems at the Sichuan branch company aside for now. The matter here is most important.”
“I heard from Philip that the official German delegation would still need about two more days to get here. I also need just two days to go to Sichuan and back. I’d have returned by the time the official German delegation arrives,” said Xia Lei.
“But…” Ling Han started to say something, then stopped. He obviously didn’t want anything to go wrong when this matter was so important.
Xia Lei patted Ling Han on the shoulder and said with a smile. “Don’t worry, Brother Ling. That’s decided, then. I’m in a rush so I’ll have to make a move now.”
Xia Lei turned and left without waiting for Ling Han’s response.
The trip to his branch company was just a cover for his trip to South Korea.
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