Chapter 16: A Game of Prestige [16]

----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

----- THIS TRANSLATION BELONGS TO konila.com -----

----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

“A smartphone with 4D holographic display? You gotta be kidding me. There’s no way such things exist.”

“I’m not joking. It’s on the afternoon news, on the central television channel. Since when does the central television channel publicize hoaxes?”

“I saw that on the news too. It’s real. My friend got one. Its functions far outstripped the rest of the smartphones we saw in the market.”

“I must be dreaming. A gadget only thought possible in sci-fi movies is now really up for sale?”

It was not long after its unveiling that Patriot Lites became out of stock. In just one single month, the sales of Patriot Lites outdid all other brands and models. Moreover, retail stores all around the country were begging for new restocks as the waiting list for more Patriot Lites reached an astronomical figure.

Major tabloids and websites offering reviews on electronic gadgets never stopped heaping praises after praises about the revolutionary innovation known as the Patriot Lite.

With its superior functions and technological innovations well beyond this age’s, the Patriot Lite dwarfed over all other competing models in the gritting battle royale of the smartphone industry, defeating them all to become the most sought-after smartphone.

For a price hardly different from most models offered in the market today, the Patriot Lite offered a better price-performance proportion with its greater and improved utility as compared to most of its recent counterparts.

Even so, despite having more experience being long-time players in the field, the rest of the other smartphone brands took quite a beating with the advent of the Patriot Lite as their consumer market share plunged. However, the good fundamentals and pristine reputation they had managed to keep them afloat.

But the same could not be said for the Qi Group.

Qi Ze had begun a new revolution since he took the reins of the Qi Group. During Qi Wang’s tenure at the helm, the Qi Group was mostly involved in physical industries – chain stores, supermarkets and malls, and food manufacturing among others. But Qi Ze, who was never too happy about changing how things were run and deviating and stepping out of Qi Wang’s shadow, wanted to build a legend and legacy of his own. That prompted him to look towards real estate investments and frontier technology industries.

Yet despite his burgeoning ambition and plans, Qi Ze lacked the brains nor the skills to properly realize them into fruition. Right after his ascension to the throne of the Qi Group business empire, he removed many of the department heads and executives loyal to Qi Wang, replacing them with lackeys of his own. These perfidious sycophants lacked the abilities to assist Qi Ze, but that did not deter them from conniving against him for their own personal gain. Without experience and ability to manipulate them, coupled with his intransigence to not place trust in Bai Qiujiang, Qi Ze embarked on a downward spiral of ruin. He did all this in his misguided belief that he was doing what was right for the company.

With his first few projects all flushed down the drain, along with the cash Qi Ze had invested, Qi Ze came to terms with the fact that Qi Wang would not be helping him. For this, he bought over a cellphone manufacturing firm that was on the brink of closing shop. With the firm’s original science and technology data as the bedrock of his new endeavor to prevent any more mishaps, Qi Ze injected more money into the company to improve and remodel the firm’s original designs, propelling its products into few of the best in the market.

Filled to the gunnels with aplomb, Qi Ze chose October the first as the date of his unveiling.

Unbeknownst to him, the Patriot Lite would also be launched on that exact same date. With its advent into the fold, no consumer would be interested to put stock in a smartphone that only has renewed aesthetics but no substantial innovation.

What Qi Ze expected to be a springboard to success turned out to be a massive letdown.

Qi Ze’s new smartphone model sold not more than eight hundred sets since the day of its unveiling.

He did not realize this until his secretary brought him the latest figures for the sales.

The failure of his previous projects has had Qi Ze treading on eggshells. As the newly-throned leader of his company, Qi Ze wanted to quickly build his name and the anxiety hardly helped save to hurl more difficulties and troubles into his face. The purchase of the smartphone manufacturing firm had cost quite a lot of money and once again, he had ignominiously bungled another new venture.

Like a trapped beast, Qi Ze began running in circles. He mulled not on his own mistakes and faults, but instead blamed everything on Hope Apex Technologies Co., Ltd., the start-up which had chosen the same date for the launching of its new flagship smartphone. Why else would my product fail to sell, he thought bitterly.

“Find out who’s behind this Hope Apex Technologies! I want to know who dares defy us the Qi Group!”

Qi Ze dispatched his lackeys to dig what they could about Hope Apex.

It did not take a genius to guess that this company was barely a fledgling fresh into the fold. Yet what had helped a start-up so new and so small pull off a David-versus-Goliath against a business empire as strong and mighty as the Qi Group?

Qi Ze planned to buy over the start-up. With infinite amounts of money at his disposal, business capital and connections were the next best things in business, and without them both, new fledgling start-ups can collapse as quickly as they appear. ⭐️

For the sake of its survival, Qi Ze was certain that an unknown rookie firm like Hope Apex would only be too eager to be a part of the Qi Group.

Qi Ze diverted his focus elsewhere. Having delegated that task to his assistants, he was sure that the terms he offered were attractive enough to make the buyout a virtual certainty.

The assistant left Qi Ze’s office. Even as he shut the doors behind him, he managed to put up a professional and suave appearance even though he was doubled over with ridicule and scorn on the inside.

As it turned out, even this assistant had bought a Patriot Lite of his own. Despite his earlier revulsion at the name of the phone, he could not resist being captivated by the sleek and futuristic smartphone he had just purchased and the holographic projection display of the device – a feat heretofore only seen in sci-fi movie flicks – as well as the unique capabilities of the device’s AI.

The Patriot Lite shall sit atop the throne of the best smartphones in the industry for at least a half-decade, thought the assistant. So long as the Patriot Lite kept up its record-breaking and limits-defying standards, there was no way it would lose its hegemony in the market.

For this reason, there’s no way that a firm with such cutting-edge technology would agree to a buyout, mused the assistant.

The Qi Group might be a leviathan in the business domain in its own right, but not to the breadth of dominating the entire economic spectrum of Yanjing. Is Mr. Qi mistaking himself as one of those CEOs in fiction where they have limitless cash and power?!

Nevertheless, in spite of his mental ramblings, the assistant put up the straight face of a professional and dutiful staffer and with the files in hand, he returned home to begin gathering whatever information he could about Hope Apex.

On the surface, Hope Apex Technologies Co., Ltd. looked every bit the infantile start-up barely six months old, backed by a capital of two hundred million and headed by Qi Wang with a Zhang Liang as corporate legal counsel.

Wait a minute. Qi Wang?!

The assistant could not believe his eyes. He stared deeply into his computer monitor at the information he just saw and sank into a surrealistic stupor.

Suddenly, a crisp rapping of the wood on his door woke him up. The secretary got up from his chair and strode to the door.

“Who is it?”

Right after the question, a deep masculine voice came from the other side.

“Courier. You have a package.”

Without any suspicion, the man unlocked the door and opened it. But right before he knew it, he found himself falling down and something – or someone – had already pinned him to the ground.

“What the—” gasped the assistant.

“Suspect neutralized. Canvassing the house now.”

The assistant struggled to raise his head even though the weight behind him was still keeping him prone on the ground, and all he saw were several jet-black army-issue boots passing around him.

Oh, Heavens… Wait a minute!? What have I done?! What’s wrong with these people and who are they!

Utterly dumbfounded from the beginning until the end, the assistant had his house utterly turned upside down before he was brought away by a special team of armed MSS agents.

“Wait, wait! Wait—” he cried feebly.

I did nothing! I did nothing at all! Why am I being taken by a courier company!

Meanwhile, Qi Ze waited for days for reports from his assistant, only to find out later that his assistant had been missing from work for two days.

That left him in a bad mood. He sacked the assistant from his job and employed another assistant and gave him the same task of investigating Hope Apex.

It did not take long for his second assistant to go AWOL.

“What on earth—” hissed Qi Ze, utterly exasperated.

How is it that all the assistants I employed turned out to be irresponsible idiots!?

Just when Qi Ze was about to assign the same task to the next assistant in line, a courier came looking for Qi Ze, citing a package delivery. Qi Ze was then taken in, completely shocked and stunned in his pajamas, to the headquarters of the Special Security Division for questioning.

“Speak! What is the purpose of investigating Hope Apex Technologies, Qi Ze? You will speak the truth and only the truth!”

It was the first time Qi Ze was subjected to such harsh interrogation methods.

Wait a minute!? I only want to buy over Hope Apex Technologies! What’s wrong with doing some homework before I commit to a takeover!? In what way does this warrant such an arrest and interrogation?!

No matter what reasons he proffered, the MSS agents were hardly satisfied. They kept him on remand for almost a week and after a background check with a fine-tooth comb that included even the review of every member in his family and his past generations, Qi Ze and his two former assistants were released.

They were speechless when they were finally freed.

What on earth had we done wrong?!

Zhang Liang looked very grave after Qi Ze’s departure as he continued poring over the dossier about the detainees. In fact, his whole team looked sullen and apprehensive. Everyone looked as if they had a knot in their gut.

They did not expect that the thorough background check would yield such a shocking revelation, in spite of the fact that Qi Ze spoke truly: he intended to execute a malicious takeover of Hope Apex Technologies. That’s all.

Nevertheless, despite the relatively juvenile motive Qi Ze had in mind pertaining to Hope Apex, the agents of the Special Security Division of the MSS were rather fidgety about another secret – a secret about Qi Ze’s person.

Nothing is ever a secret before the great and mighty reach of any government apparatus and the background check executed on Qi Ze had uncovered a repugnant truth.

Qi Ze was not Qi Wang’s biological son, and the latter appeared to not have realized that.

Zhang Liang and his men had been with Qi Wang for quite some time, and his team could still remember the conversation Qi Wang had shared with Qi Ze at the little restaurant just two months ago.`

Qi Wang had asked Qi Ze for two hundred million, in exchange, he would offer Qi Ze four million original shares of Hope Apex Technologies.

Qi Wang never needed the money. With the Huapatria government funding him, Qi Wang was rolling cash and the four million original shares were obviously intended as a present for his son.

Yet Qi Ze had practically spat into his father’s face despite the loving gesture shown to him, readily and adamantly refusing to accept the offer.

He had shown only scorn and ridicule for his father then. Yet after two months, here he was, trying to execute a buyout of his father’s start-up! He must be nuts!

The MSS agents could not believe that with Qi Wang’s extraordinary gifts as a genius, he would have a bumbling buffoon like Qi Ze as his son. But now that the truth has been uncovered and Qi Ze had never been Qi Wang’s son from the beginning, they perceived Qi Ze’s lack of skills and brains as nothing out of the ordinary.

“How do you think we should settle this matter, Captain?” asked one of Zhang Liang’s men.

The agents did not know what to do with the piece of information and Zhang Liang was the only person they believed to be sensible enough to know the answer to that.

Should they break the bad news to Qi Wang or should they not?

Zhang Liang bit hard and came to a quick decision.

“It’s not right that Mr. Qi has to be kept in the dark, and nothing could be more wrong than him continuing to devote love and concern for an ingrate who would never see him as father.”

Zhang Liang immediately went to Qi Wang and told him everything about how Qi Qiuyu had been unfaithful to him.

Qi Wang took the news with a deadpan expression, “I see. Thank you. Now, please. I need some time alone.”

Qi Wang kept himself to himself for one long week. He did nothing at all every day, neglecting his work, and ate only one meal per day. The rest of his time he would be staring at the wall as if he had drifted off into Neverland.

By the time he came to Zhang Liang again, everyone thought he had just been through the wilderness.

“Oh my God, Mr. Qi…”

Zhang Liang wanted to say something, but Qi Wang held up a hand to stop him. “I’m fine,” said Qi Wang, “I’m okay. I have discovered a new concept to improve Patriot One. I’m off to the lab now.”

Nothing precedes the importance of his research.

Even so, Zhang Liang and his team felt very bad for Qi Wang, knowing how he had been wallowing in grief and pain,

How could they do this to him! Mr. Qi’s such a nice and gentle person! How could they!

****

At Qi Wang’s request, the information about Hope Apex Technologies was opened to the public. It did not take long for everyone to recognize the name of the President of this start-up which product, the Patriot Lite, had taken the world by storm.

Qi Wang’s name once again became the talk of the town.

Hardly anyone expected that Qi Wang, having left the Qi Group in ignominy and ruin, would rise up again, stronger and better than ever. In fact, according to whispers from within the company, Qi Wang appeared to be working in tandem with the government, and parties that formerly harbored unfriendly designs upon Hope Apex were quickly subjected to aggressive strong-arming by the local authorities, and promptly discouraged from laying hands on Qi Wang and Hope Apex ever again.

The Patriot Lite enjoyed tremendous sales locally until a certain event catapulted the smartphone into worldwide scrutiny.

It was January twenty-third, the year 2009, and a thousand Huapatria citizens were trapped in wartorn N Nation in its strife against insurgents.


Author's Notes:

Thank you all for your support! I'll be sure to keep on going!

New update! Do stay tuned if you like this story! Thank you!

Scribbles of TheBrokenPen:

I appreciate feedback of all kinds, and monetary donations go a long way in encouraging our journey together into this story!

-

----- This translation belongs to konila.com -----

growing tree

Help Us Grow

Read. Donate. Experience.

Buy us a coffee