Chapter 12: A Game of Prestige [12]

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

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

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

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

Qi Xiaoyu might merely be a foster child adopted when Qi Wang and Qi Qiuyu were just fresh off their marriage, but they had always looked after her as one of their own, never sparing any expense when it came to feeding and clothing her.

If not for one inopportune moment of outburst, Qi Xiaoyu would never have discovered that she was not Qi Wang’s and Qi Qiuyu’s trueborn daughter. From that moment on, Qi Xiaoyu began plotting. A scheme to ensure her lifestyle to prevent losing all the luxuries she currently enjoys as the Qi grew more prosperous with the growth of the Qi Group.

As daughter of the Qis, it was only expected that she would have to meet someone and be married to him. But if she could stay as a daughter-in-law, then she could stay here forever! Forever basking in comfort and affluence!

Thus began her intricate plot to seduce Qi Ze. They grew up all their life together and they were close. Knowing all his different likes and dislikes, she made short work of him and they became lovers.

Qi Wang could have hit the roof when he discovered their dalliance, and Qi Xiaoyu was so worried that this might spell her downfall and the failure of her plans. Little did she expect that Qi Qiuyu would demand a divorce with Qi Wang and this rounded off in Qi Ze assuming the throne as the new head of the Qi Group.

Qi Xiaoyu could not have been any more pleased and satisfied with the outcome.

Qi Wang loved her like a daughter. But nothing that he gave her meant anything to her. In fact, she preferred the current status quo where, as girlfriend and lover to the President of the conglomerate, she practically showered in wealth she deemed her own, as opposed to being daughter to Qi Wang when he still ruled. For this reason, she sat on her hands as she watched the divorce went on, and she made no attempt to contact Qi Wang after his banishment from the family.

Qi Wang was gone. As far as she was concerned, Qi Wang is as good as an old senile with hardly any uses at all and that gave her no reason to look for him at all.

As soon as Qi Ze became President, Qi Xiaoyu set herself back into conniving once more.

She had thought of joining showbiz a year ago. With her position and the might of the Qi Group as her backing, she was confident that she could carve out a dazzling career in entertainment.

But Qi Wang was adamantly against her idea. He insisted that she should continue her studies, in his attempts to keep her as far as possible from the sordid hodgepodge of showbiz.

Qi Xiaoyu agreed that he was right at the time, but only on the surface. Deep inside her heart sprouted the sapling of her hatred and grudge towards Qi Wang. Becoming a star was all she wanted and she was sure Qi Wang could have realized that dream of hers if he so wished. Yet why did he refuse to indulge her?

Now with the biggest stumbling block – Qi Wang – out of the way and sight and with the Qi Group now fully grasped by Qi Ze himself, Qi Xiaoyu made known of her wish to join the entertainment business. In a prodigal streak, he spent five hundred million just to slot Xiaoyu into a film featuring an ensemble cast.

The movie was an adaptation from a science fiction authored by a famous writer. The director assigned was also a highly-decorated maven in the business. So were the lead actor and actress who were also the cream of a highly-acclaimed crop of performers and at first glance, everyone knew that the film would be a huge success.

Without the five hundred million that Qi Ze contributed, it was virtually impossible for Qi Xiaoyu to even bag herself the fifth female role of the film.

But Qi Xiaoyu was nowhere near contented; she wanted the lead role at first and not the fifth female role, for she wanted a sensational entrance into the fray. It was Qi Ze and his specially-handpicked agent enlisted to help her who had painstakingly persuaded her to agree to the role, promising her that the role would be the best position for her to win a prize.

And even though it was only the fifth female role, Qi Xiaoyu would have a lot of dialogue in the film, and the role would be one of the most pivotal characters after the lead roles. If performed well, she could well win herself fans numbering in legions.

But many failed to realize the fact that Qi Xiaoyu grew up a pampered minx, all thanks to the Qi’s who adopted her. Little did anyone know that entering showbiz was but a short-lived and adolescent fantasy that she was never truly devoted to. To make things worse, she believed that since Qi Ze was the film’s investor and sponsor, the entire crew and cast should treat her with the majesty and respect befitting royalty. Instead, the hardships and troubles of acting easily chipped away every speck of interest and passion she had.

While Tier-One actors and actresses were willing to stick their hands into the mud and personally performed stunts and dangerous scenes themselves, Qi Xiaoyu expected everyone to mollycoddle her like a princess.

By the third month into filming, the progress was moving at a glacial pace all thanks to Qi Xiaoyu. She single-handedly managed to stall all headway by at least half, making the date for ending production nowhere in sight.

The film was scheduled to hit the screens by summer, and the delay was only making the schedule look more like a Christmas wishlist by the minute. Not only would they fail to make the summer season, but the Tier-One actors and actresses would also have to drop this film and move on to the next itinerary in their scheduling.

Not even Qi Ze’s five hundred million would be able to cover for all those losses.

The director quickly contacted Qi Ze and pleaded that Qi Ze speak to Qi Xiaoyu. She could either buck up and keep up, or she could just pack up and leave. They could no longer afford to accommodate her.

The director behaved as irascible as a boot camp sergeant – after all, he had been a long-time veteran in the field with a great network and relationship with virtually everyone in the trade. This made him so influential that he was hardly daunted even by the clout and prestige of the mighty Qi Group.

That filled Qi Ze with enough rage for the film director’s audacity in defying them that he gave him an earful. Then he made another offer: he would be willing to contribute another one hundred million, on the condition that Qi Xiaoyu must be retained as one of the film’s cast.

Yet before he could finish elucidating his offer, the film director slammed the phone shut and Qi Xiaoyu came the next day, sobbing tearfully like a little child who had lost her Christmas present.

“Please, Qi Ze! You must do something! That Li Zhenggang is such a bully!”

Li Zhenggang, the highly-extolled and widely-worshipped film director who ousted Qi Xiaoyu from the cast had told her that she should forget about a career in the entertainment trade. Not only that he saw no potential in her – zero talent, zero finesse, zero diligence, and not even the charms – and the business also had no need for another excess piece of scrap like her.

It was the first time Qi Xiaoyu had suffered such humiliation and ill-treatment. She vented every bit of her frustration to Qi Ze and begged him to avenge her. To further substantiate her point, she did not neglect to include certain elements of exaggeration while slandering Li Zhenggang to have solicited her to be a lover in exchange for remaining in the cast and how she had refused him, causing her to be expelled.

Known to be a short fuse, that did just enough for Qi Ze to turn as angry as a rampaging bull and he called the film director, threatening to withdraw all funding.

Without the five hundred million, Li Zhenggang would have to come and apologize or the film production could come to a standstill.

But things did not work out as Qi Ze as expected. Li Zhenggang not only returned every dollar of the Qi Group’s funding, but he had also given Qi Ze a fierce reprimand, warning him to not become a nasty plutocrat. He openly decried Qi Xiaoyu as a recruit with no finesse or skill with even abysmal work ethics. Virtually no film would ever want to accept her, no matter how much money Qi Ze is willing to contribute.

“Be a star? Tell Qi Xiaoyu she would have a better chance counting them off the sky. The doorway to stardom will never open for the likes of her.”

On that note, Li Zhenggang slammed the phone shut into Qi Ze’s face – again. When Qi Ze tried to call him again, the cantankerous film director had blacklisted his number.

Qi Ze became so angry that he smashed his phone.

Qi Xiaoyu was present and she had been listening to the exchange. She wailed and moaned incessantly, never stopped reiterating how she had been unjustly wronged and bullied.

Feeling so sorry for her, Qi Ze quickly consoled her and promised that he would move mountains to make Qi Xiaoyu a movie star.

Whatever Qi Xiaoyu’s dreams were, Qi Ze vowed to fulfill them for her.

He was sure that his money would perform wonders and there was no way that any other film production crew could ever afford to refuse his sponsorship. This is the entertainment business, he said to himself. So long as I have money, I’ll have the Midas touch that could turn anyone into a movie star.

Still, Li Zhenggang was right – despite many fruitless endeavors, no production crew wanted to work with Qi Xiaoyu.

So ended Qi Xiaoyu’s aspiration for fame and glory.

***

Meanwhile, Qi Wang listened to Zhang Liang’s reports and nodded before he dove right back into his lab to continue his research.

“Captain Zhang, do you know why Mr. Qi wanted to stonewall Qi Xiaoyu from entering showbiz?”

That earned the squadmate a glare from Zhang Liang. Exasperated, he explained, “That’s not stonewalling. That’s love. Mr. Qi only wants to spare her the ugliness that pervades the entertainment trade. A naive lass like her will never survive the squalid grotesqueries of that trade. All Mr. Qi ever wanted is for her to complete her studies and strive to be a good person and serve the nation and the country in the future – just like him.”

In just six months, Qi Wang had discovered many new innovations with every one of them redefining again and again the limits of today’s science and technology. That made Qi Wang a bona fide, national treasure and everything he wished – so long as it doesn’t break the law – would be carried out with utmost obedience and compliance.

He only wished for Qi Xiaoyu to be barred from entering entertainment and it was a request absurdly easy for the government to perform.

In the lab, Qi Wang performed his final checks with meticulous attention to detail. He only needed to finish the most crucial parts and he could leave the rest to the other tech staffers

For almost a half-year Qi Wang had been cooped up in here like a hermit. It was time he saw the sun again outside.

****

Summer holidays came in the blink of an eye and Chen Yang, with his things fully-packed, was riding a train to head home.

The trip back to his home at Yanjing required a night’s worth of journey. Fortunately for him, he managed to procure a ticket for a cabin onboard the train. The firm and hard mattress was a far cry from his soft and plush bed at home, but he would gladly choose it any day over the uncomfortable upright seats of the train’s other coaches.

The hours passed swiftly into midnight. The rowdy and boisterous revels all around the train swiftly abated into silence as the passengers withdrew piecemeal to retire for the night. When the passengers were well slumbering in their dreams, a dark, cloaked figure materialized from an unnoticed corner of the final car and he began creeping into the cabins one by one and emerged from each of them with booty. In just a short time, he has managed to relieve many a number of passengers of their cell phones and personal devices.

It turned out to be a night of rich returns for the thief. As he had expected, the passengers sleeping in their cabins at the sleeper cars were more affluent than their counterparts spending the night in the usual passenger cars. From the expensive models of the cell phones he had pilfered tonight, unloading them would yield him three to four thousand, to say the least.

The passengers sleeping as dead as logs in their bunks encouraged the thief to be more brazen, compelling him to ransack his victims’ belongings more quickly and before long, he reached the middle of the sleeper cars.

Finally, he stepped out of a freshly-looted cabin, looking down to survey the prizes he just found, and what he saw left him stunned.

What in the world is this?! It’s as thin as a mirror?! Is this a phone or what?!

As he dithered uncertainly, his fingers inadvertently brushed on the flat side of the glass – the screen of the cell phone.

Two soft beeps rang out and a little blue man – a Smurf – appeared on the screen. The little man opened his eyes and stared at the thief, their eyes meeting. As if with a sentience of its own, the little Smurf recognized that he was staring into the face of a stranger and he opened his mouth wide.

“THIEF! THIEF! THIEF! I’M BEING STOLEN!”

The shrill cry pierced through the silence of the night like a keen knife. The first impulse registering in the thief’s mind was to throw away the phone. Instead, two metallic clicks rang out and when he looked down, the phone had latched itself around his wrist like a cuff!

“I’M BEING STOLEN! I’M BEING STOLEN! THIEF!”

The caterwauling screams from the little Smurf roused the entire sleeper car, that even the conductor and the railroad police officer on duty were alerted. They rushed this way quickly and they apprehended the thief before he could escape.


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!

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

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