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Bureau 101 Headquarters, the underground shooting range.
Bang bang bang…
Deafening gunshots rang out as the bullets flew from the muzzle and hit the target’s centre 50 metres away. Long Bing’s hands were steady the entire time she was firing, without the slightest tremble. She fired consecutively, and the handgun in her hand shook slightly — the gun’s recoil was almost negligible.
After emptying the clip, Long Bing reached up, took off the protection earmuffs and said in praise, “Lei, the handguns from Thunder Horse Military Factory are far better than before. Give this one to me. It’s really good.”
Xia Lei smiled as he said, “No problem. If you like it, keep it.”
Tang Yuyan spoke up. “Xia Lei, your invitation for us to try the firearms is only profiting Long Bing. This doesn’t seem right. What about me?”
Xia Lei threw the gun in his hand to Tang Yuyan. “I’ve only brought two over here this time, so I’ll give you this one.”
Tang Yuyan smiled a small smile upon receiving one of the Thunder Horse Military Factory’s improved guns. “What do you think about coming over to my house to eat tonight?”
Xia Lei paused. It wouldn’t be good to refuse right away, but it also wasn’t good to agree.
Long Bing turned to look at Tang Yuyan with a strange look in her eyes.
‘He’s a married man, and you’re inviting him to your home for a meal? Isn’t this method of seducing him away from his wife too obvious?’
“You can also take your wife along,” added Tang Yuyan.
Xia Lei shook his head and said politely, “It’s better not. Next time, I’ll invite you next time.”
Tang Yuyan smiled. “I knew you wouldn’t dare to come. You already have the late-stage symptoms of a henpecked man.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
Xia Lei definitely would’ve agreed if it was Long Bing inviting Shentu Tianyin and himself to a meal. He would also bring Shentu Tianyin along since he wasn’t at all worried about Long Bing. However, Tang Yuyan was different. She was like a ticking time bomb which could explode at any moment. He had always operated very cautiously in his love life. There was some helplessness and some irritation, but for the most part, it was in peaceful harmony. He didn’t want to wreck this delicate balance because of Tang Yuyan.
Just then, a few people walked into the firing range. Shi Boren and Ling Han led them in, then Tang Bochuan and another person they had never seen before.
It was an old man with a frail and withered body. He had a head of long white hair that reached his shoulders and the first impression he gave was that of an artist. For some reason, his eyes appeared a bit dull, giving others the feeling he wasn’t really paying attention to them. In short, he gave others a strange feeling.
Tang Yuyan and Long Bing straightened up and saluted on reflex when Shi Boren, Ling Han and the old man appeared.
Xia Lei was a little slower, but he also straightened up and lifted his hand. His salute was quite sloppy, but the intent was there although it was not quite perfect.
If Long Bing and Tang Yuyan had saluted like his, they would definitely be punished by Shi Boren. Xia Lei wouldn’t get any punishment even if he didn’t salute at all, one of his privileges in Bureau 101.
“That’s him.” Shi Boren pointed casually at Xia Lei. “It’s this youngster who single-handedly established Thunder Horse Military Factory, and brought back the Eurofighter Typhoon assembly line from Germany, all by himself.”
“The young really is surpassing us with time!”
“What a genius, a rare talent found only once in a century!”
“You’re just what the nation needs to revive our country!”
All of this were said by the old man, and not in one breath either. He had spoken with pauses in-between, giving one the impression that several people had spoken.
Xia Lei thought, ‘Who’s this? He looks like he’s mad.’
Ling Han seemed to have guessed Xia Lei’s thoughts and he moved to whisper in Xia Lei’s ear, “He’s the department head of the Academy of Science, Mr Fan Yiming. He’s a national treasure. He is very proficient in guided missile and fighter engine technology. He was also the one in charge of the Eurofighter Typhoon engine project, where the Germans came and built the production line. You must learn from him when you get the chance.”
Xia Lei was filled with respect for him, and took the initiative to go up to shake his hand, smiling as he said, “Hello, Elder Fan, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Fan Yiming and Xia Lei shook hands and his aged face filled with a smile. “Little Xia, I’ve heard your story long ago, and always wished to meet you but I was always just too busy to meet. I had Ling Han help me fulfill this wish of mine today by bringing me here. Haha, you’re not bad. I like you, young man.”
The way he had spoken earlier was as if several people were talking but now, his way of talking was completely normal. A scientist’s world really wasn’t one that could be understood by ordinary people.
Xia Lei spoke politely, “You flatter me, Elder Fan.”
“I came here today to thank you for fixing a problem we’ve really been struggling with, the fighter plane’s engine. Another reason I came is to invite you to join our Academy of Science,” said Fan Yiming.
“Huh?” Xia Lei was stunned.
What sort of place was the Academy of Science? If you took a country and likened it to a plane, the Academy of Sciences would be the engine of the plane. Its power directly influenced the overall power of the plane. Every person who could enter the Academy of Sciences had to be at least a leading scientist in their field, and have contributed something significant to their field of study.
Since the founding of the Academy of Science, they’ve never had a single member younger than fifty and right now, Xia Lei was only in his twenties. If he became a member of the Academy of Science, he would be the youngest Fellow of the Academy of Science in the whole world, and not just in China!
An invitation such as this stunned Xia Lei.
“What is it? You don’t want to go?” Fan Yiming appeared somewhat anxious.
Xia Lei snapped back to his senses. “Elder Fan, it’s not that I don’t want to go, but… How could I have be qualified to enter the Academy of Sciences?”
“You’ve long been qualified to enter,” said Fan Yiming. “You created the world’s very first Thunder Dragon intelligent lathe and you are also the producer of the world’s leading XL2500 sniper rifle and Gust assault rifles. Just these three accomplishments are enough to enter our Academy of Science. If such a genius like you can’t enter the Academy of Science, us old antiques wouldn’t have the gall to continue holding onto our titles as Academy of Science Fellows.”
Xia Lei was a little hesitant.
Enter the Academy of Science? The offer was definitely very alluring. Just having the title of an Academy of Science Fellow was something which was hard to refuse. It was a lifetime honour, and it would be written down in history. Plus, if he entered the Academy of Science, he would gain access to a lot more resources, making it a lot easier to conduct research on the ancient alloy.
Shi Boren felt a bit worried when he saw that Xia Lei was tempted. “Old Fan, Xia Lei is one of ours at Bureau 101. What would we do if he went over to your place?”
“Little Shi, your father and I have a pretty good relationship, yet you’re trying to compete with me for manpower? Your department can easily find as many soldiers as you want, but for me, just finding a single person is even more difficult than scaling the Heavens. If Xia Lei comes to the Academy of Science, he would be able to make ten times, even a hundred times the contribution he would make here!” said Fan Yiming.
“Yuyan, Long Bing, Xia Lei, don’t you guys still have missions? Go, go, don’t hide here to goof off.” Shi Boren kept blinking at Tang Yuyan and Long Bing, shooting them looks.
How could Long Bing and Tang Yuyan not understand what he meant? The women grabbed Xia Lei, one arm each, and dragged him off.
“Hey! Where are you taking him?” Fan Yiming’s beard bristled in anger. “Get him back here!”
Shi Boren put an arm around Fan Yiming’s shoulder. “Elder Fan, please stop with your plans of taking Xia Lei away. Let’s go have a chat in my office. I’ll make you some tea, all right?”
The sight of Shi Boren acting all gentle gave everybody goosebumps.
“Hmph!” Fan Yiming’s beard puffed up.
Ling Han couldn’t help his wry smile. On one side was a powerful member of the country’s Bureau 101 and on the other side was the driving force behind the Academy of Science. It was difficult to say which was more important than the other. Both of them were indispensable. Unfortunately, there was only one genius like Xia Lei. Fan Yiming wanted him, but Shi Boren didn’t want to hand him over. This was completely understandable. It wouldn’t be good for him to interfere.
Long Bing and Tang Yuyan did not let Xia Lei go after they exiting the underground firing range. The many agents who had come down to train stared strangely at the two Section Chiefs, with their consultant squeezed between them. Nobody said anything, but their imaginations ran wild.
“Let me go. There’s a lot of people watching.” Xia Lei was very embarrassed.
Long Bing let go of him but Tang Yuyan did not. She clung still to Xia Lei arm. She didn’t care about her soft chest touching Xia Lei’s arm intimately. “What’s a big man like you being shy for? I don’t even care so why do you mind it? I’m telling you, you’re not allowed to go to the Academy of Science. It’s all old men there, and very boring. If you stay in Bureau 101, you’ll have two beautiful women accompanying you. Don’t you know how well off you are?” she said.
Xia Lei was speechless.
However, he was still rather tempted by Fan Yiming’s proposal. It wasn’t just for the glory of becoming the Academy of Science’s youngest Fellow, it was also because of the resources he would get there. Thunder Horse Military Factory needed to expand quickly, so it was very important for him to get those resources.
A very simple example was that he had the entirety of Rheinmetall AG in his head, but he alone was not enough if he wanted Thunder Horse Military Factory to become a large scale, international military company like Rheinmetall AG. It was impossible. He needed resources — resources on a national scale.
“You still really want to go?” Tang Yuyan seemed to have sensed Xia Lei’s thoughts.
“I’m considering it,” said Xia Lei.
Tang Yuyan let go of Xia Lei’s hand. “Long Bing, you go persuade him. I’ll give you two some space.” She really did leave after saying that.
Long Bing smiled wryly. “She’s even more anxious than me. Do you know why?”
Xia Lei also had a pained smile. He had known from the beginning that Tang Yuyan liked him, but the problem was that he was already married.
“I won’t try to persuade you, but regardless of what you decide to do, I’ll always support you,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei was touched. “Let’s not talk about going to the Academy of Science for now, I have something that I need your help with.”
“What are you being so polite with me for?” Long Bing rolled her eyes at Xia Lei. “Just speak, what is it?”
“Someone is secretly purchasing Vientiane Group’s stocks, targeting Tianyin. Can you help me find out who did it?” said Xia Lei.
“What’s so difficult about that? Bureau 101 has enough power to investigate that so just leave it to me. I’ll get somebody to help you find out which bank account bought the Vientiane Group stocks,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei smiled at her. “Then I’ll wait for your news.”
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