“This is not the place to talk, Mr Xia. Could we move somewhere else? We, Lockheed Martin, are also participating in this exhibition. The exhibition centre management has given us the use of an office, and it is quiet there. We can go there to talk,” said Beryl.
Xia Lei shook his head. “I’m very busy now. I’m sorry but I won’t be going with you.”
“Mr Xia, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed,” said Beryl.
‘This woman and her father are Japanese, and he has the special identity of captain of the Self Defence land troops. I might bring trouble to myself if I interact with him… But it sounds like there is some other meaning in her words. Is she hinting something at me?’ thought Xia Lei.
Curiosity was a curious thing.
“Please come with me, Mr Xia.” Beryl was especially polite today.
Xia Lei hesitated. “Okay. I’ll go with you guys, but my time is limited so I won’t stay for long.”
“No problem. This won’t take much of your time.” Beryl smiled, and turned to lead the way.
Xia Lei’s gaze went to the pocket of Beryl’s suit. The listening device he had put in there was activated. It was part of the Zodiac Team’s equipment and Amanda would be receiving transmission once it was activated. He would be able to listen in on Beryl’s conversations with others after Amanda set up the receiver for him.
But now was not the time to use the receiver.
Xia Lei followed Beryl to another zone of the exhibition hall where the American arms giants were. Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman. These five leading companies were giants in this exhibition hall, and even the likes of Barret had to stand respectfully aside.
The top American arms dealer took up almost a third of the exhibition hall. Various light weapons could be found in their booth, as well as heavy equipment. There were Apache helicopters, large helicopter transport aircraft, armoured vehicles, mine clearing vehicles, heavy machinery vehicles and anti-missile systems and so on; the number was dizzying. And all these were just Lockheed Martin’s army weapons, not including their naval or air weapons. Lockheed Martin was the manufacturer of both the F22 and the F35, and these fighter planes were the most advanced!
Xia Lei was struck by this sight. He had an ambition to turn Thunder Horse Group into the best weapons manufacturer in the world, but when he saw the weapons and technological prowess on display in the Lockheed Martin booth, he discovered that he had a long, long way to go to realise his dream.
Xia Lei could not help remembering yesterday. He had looked down on Lockheed Martin in the French Foreign Legion military base yesterday, and the memory made him flush.
They walked past the Lockheed Martin exhibition booth and to the office area. Beryl led Xia Lei to an office door and stopped. “This is the place. We’re here. Please come in, Mr Xia.” She reached out a hand and opened the door.
Xia Lei had already used his X-ray vision to see inside before she opened the door. It was just a very ordinary office.
Xia Lei walked into the office.
Hattori Masai also walked into the office, and he closed the door behind himself. All their subordinates were closed behind the door.
Xia Lei did not stay polite with the two Japanese people. He sat casually on the sofa. “Speak. What do you want to talk with me about?”
Hattori Masai sat opposite Xia Lei but did not speak. He looked quietly at Xia Lei, as if thinking about how he should start the conversation.
Beryl said nothing either. She went to the wine cabinet and brought out a bottle of French wine and three glasses. She put the three wine glasses on the coffee table between the sofas, then poured wine into them. She did not even glance at Xia Lei during the whole process.
“Don’t pour wine,” said Xia Lei. “It’s working hours for me now. I won’t drink.”
“Mr Xia, are you afraid that I would drug your wine?” Beryl looked at Xia Lei then. Her tone was polite but her eyes held a trace of contempt.
“Yes, you got it right. I don’t trust you guys,” said Xia Lei flatly.
Beryl suddenly lifted a wineglass and downed the wine in it in one go. She then drank the second glass and the third glass. She licked her lips after downing the third glass. “There’s no problem now, is there, Mr Xia?”
Xia Lei still shook his head. “You could have taken the antidote beforehand.”
“It’s fine if you don’t want wine.” Hattori Masao smiled flatly. “Mr Xia, I know you are prejudiced towards us Japanese and I know it’s because of history, but I hope we can look past that and into the future!”
“Well said.” Xia Lei gave a laugh. “But I don’t agree with what you say. I am not prejudiced towards most Japanese. The farmer who toils in the fields, the metalworking smiths, manga artists, or those women who sell their bodies to make films. I have no prejudice towards these Japanese people.” **
Hattori Masao and Beryl exchanged glances. They were not slow on the uptake, and they could sense the hidden meaning in Xia Lei’s words. He was not willing to talk business with them.
“All right, Mr Xia. I cannot hope to have you change your impression of me through just one or two interactions. I do not want to keep you either, so I will be straightforward.” Hattori Masao said, “You said yesterday that you will exchange your technology for Japanese electronics technology. I called the relevant departments in Japan to ask for opinions, and they said they would consider it. Now let me ask you, Mr Xia, what kind of electronics technology do you want?”
Xia Lei was stunned.
He had said yesterday that he wanted to exchange his technology for their electronics technology but he had only said that as an excuse to make them go away. He’d never really intended to get any technology, much less expect that this Hattori Masao would get the approval of his government to make this offer to him now.
“Don’t hold back, Mr Xia. Tell me what you want,” said Beryl. “Our Japanese electronics technology is excellent, especially our microelectronics. We are more advanced than America in this field.”
“More advanced than America? You mean in the 80s?” said Xia Lei. “Your Japanese electronics technology did use to be the world’s best, but this is the 21st century. You guys were left in America’s dust long ago. What do you have now other than some home appliances? What computer uses a Japanese-made CPU these days? What computer uses a Japanese operating system? Also, electronics are an open market. We can buy what we need in the international market, and we also have our own investments and research. We will catch up soon. Why would I need to exchange anything with you in this situation?”
“Hmph. Must you say all that about Japan’s electronics? America is indeed ahead of us in several fields but we are also ahead of them in others,” said Beryl. “The precision of our electronic components are the best in the world. One good example is our robots. Which other country can rival us when it comes to robotics? ***”
Xia Lei gave a laugh. “Heh. There are lots of electronic components out there. You’re not thinking of exchanging semiconductors for my technology, are you?”
“Of course not. We will trade with you most sincerely. Mr Xia, you don’t need to make a decision right away. You can consider it for a while before you tell us what you need. We will do our best to fulfil your requirements,” said Hattori Masao.
“Sure. I’ll head back and think about it. Goodbye, Mr and Miss Hattori.” Xia Lei stood and walked off.
Beryl stood to send him off. She escorted him to the door and watched him walk away before shutting the door.
“Father, this man is an ass. I was ready to slap him,” said Beryl angrily. ****
“*****He is indeed frustrating, but he has something which can become a threat to us. We must have his technology. We also have to find a way to interfere in the growth of Thunder Horse Group or the military and technological advantages we hold now will disappear. I’m afraid that we would have to live in fear of stepping on China’s toes.” Hattori Masao’s brow was locked in a deep frown, and he looked very troubled.
“Do you think he will be fooled, Father?”
“Only if we are patient. Let’s take it step by step. He won’t be able to escape our trap.” Hattori Masao scoffed. “Electronics technology? Ha. Not one bit of technology from The Land of the Rising Sun will land in the hands of the Chinese.”
“Father, Ms. Fosen gave me a call…”
Hattori Masao cut Beryl off. “I know what she wants. We will place orders with Lockheed Martin.”
Beryl smiled. “Then let’s discuss how we’ll deal with that man.”
“We need the help of someone to realise our plan.”
“The chief of CIA Asia, Gu Kewen,” said Hattori Masao. “I have contacted her, and she is willing to work with us. Her target is Xia Lei, and our target is Xia Lei’s technology and Thunder Horse Military Factory. We each have our own targets, and it will be most advantageous for us if Xia Lei dies by her hand.”
“Heh heh heh…” Beryl couldn’t help laughing. “Even the CIA wants him dead. He really is a hated man.”
“He is indeed. But what I want you to do is…” Hattori Masao leaned in to Beryl’s ear and spoke in a low voice.
Beryl’s mouth opened slightly, and a look of embarrassment appeared on her beautiful face. She hesitated for a bit but still nodded. “I am willing to make the sacrifice for the Empire of Japan.”
Meanwhile, Xia Lei was cursing silently in his head. ‘Damn it, it’s just the two of them in that office so why the hell are they whispering? I should have hung about in the doorway if I’d known.’
He’d activated the receiver to listen in on them when he left the office, but he was frustrated to discover that Hattori Masao had whispered to Beryl at that crucial moment!
But that didn’t matter.
He had already decided that he was definitely going to give these two Japanese people a surprise.
And Gu Kewen.
She must die!
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