Chapter 534: Pull the trigger, then take aim
It was good if one had intelligence and keen foresight. Besides that, though, one still had to have a sufficiently strong heart. Otherwise, just making a few of those hard decisions would pretty soon send one to meet their maker.
Such people were actually not cut out for these kind of decisions. After hearing out old Mr Fang’s heartfelt words, Xu Tingsheng’s first thought was: I’m not cut from this kind of cloth.
What this meant was that if he were in his shoes, he would never be able to steel his heart like this however pressing the situation.
Now that he thought about it, before the old man had pulled the trigger on those five brats from the families of his old war buddies that year, he must have been conflicted too. Still, in the end, he had steeled his heart and resolutely pulled the trigger.
Before a battle’s victory and defeat, what were five mere lives amidst the bloodied struggle of tens of thousands?
Xu Tingsheng thought that if it had been his three own sons who had forsaken their fellow soldiers and turned tail and run, the old man would probably have done the same. He might even have been even more resolute in pulling the trigger.
And now, when the Fang family was like a ship out at sea facing a severe incoming storm, the old man who was at its helm had once again made another difficult decision. How difficult was this decision for him? He would not let others tell.
Still, he was sacrificing eighty to ninety percent of the vast Fang family with this, allowing even his own sons and daughters to be cast into the tides, their fates left to the heavens.
Xu Tingsheng could not know how much consideration had gone into this, how many things it concerned. Still, there was one thing he could be very sure about- those of the Fang family’s second generation were probably all guilty of underground transactions. Thus, in sacrificing them, whilst being calm and brutal, it was probably the only choice available to the old man.
With its remaining strength, the Fang family already could not protect them. Therefore...the effort should simply not be wasted.
Even he himself, in the end, was actually a discarded piece. In discussing with Fang Yuqing previously, one thing Xu Tingsheng had mentioned was guaranteeing a peaceful burial for the old man. From the looks of it now, however, the old man had already cast himself into the storm.
“Of the three I spoke of earlier, if even they must be sacrificed in the end, do it in the order that I said,” The old man seemed to have hardened his heart to the max today, fully treating everyone as pieces even though they were actually all of his flesh and blood.
The order that the old man had spoken of? Xu Tingsheng recalled: The righteous, cousin. The devilish, Fang Chen. The wild, Fang Yuqing.
So the one the old man prized the mostly greatly was actually Fang Yuqing whom everyone previously believed the Fang family had already more or less given up on.
Sadly, Xu Tingsheng could not tell Fang Yuqing about this. It was not something to be happy about at a time like this anyway. As for why Fang Chen was ranked behind Fang Yuqing, Xu Tingsheng speculated about it but could not say for sure if this was related to her being a girl.
He was far from able to guess at the considerations of an old man who was used to looking at life and death and had once been in a high position.
“Yuqing’s cousin is in the Vice squad. You know about that, right?” The old man suddenly switched to the casual tone used when ordinarily discussing family matters.
“Yes, we’ve met. I’ve also been helped out by him before,” Xu Tingsheng also used a normal tone.
“It’s like this...he can be removed from the picture for the time being,” The old man coughed, like there was phlegm in his throat.
Xu Tingsheng got up to call the nurse, but the old man raised a hand to stop him, saying, “Two days ago, he suddenly received an urgent assignment on the squad. They said it wasn’t major, so he just brought two people over. In the end, just having gotten there, he was shot.”
“What?! An ambush?”
“Luckily, he was agile and the bullet only hit his shoulder. Knowing that they were targeting him, he was not rash either as he returned fire while retreating, escaping safely. Afterwards, he went to the hospital and got the bullet removed. Those from my family inquired, but they actually said that the bullet was nowhere to be found…”
Everything was clear with that.
“He didn’t remain in Yanzhou. Now, he’s already at Jiannan City First Hospital.”
“I heard that your family is in Jiannan. In your family, your father…”
“My family will not be participating in this matter.”
The old man laughed, “I was just saying. I’ve had many proteges and underlings, but I didn’t help them much. Most of them won’t take sides now. One of them who can be counted on and has great prospects is from Jiannan. He went to the Ministry of Defence a few years ago, but he said something wrong there and broke off his chances of advancement. He’s also in Jiannan now. I’ve left the child under his care for now.”
“He said something wrong?”
“Externally, he was too uncompromising in his words. It would have been fine if he had said that a few years earlier, and perhaps fine too if it were a few years later. So, I’m thinking that at his current age, he might still have a chance for a comeback...all that is needed is for the hawk faction to preside over politics, and then remember that there is such a person.”
Here, the old man gazed probingly at Xu Tingsheng, who could only feign ignorance and surprise as he asked, “Could it be that there’s a hawk and dove faction in China too?”
The old man smiled, “No, I was just kidding with you.”
“Oh. That person, what’s he called?” Xu Tingsheng asked ‘casually’, pricking up his ears.
“...” The old man said a name.
Xu Tignsheng was rendered dumbstruck. While others might not know of this name, with his ten years of foreknowledge, there was really no way not to know about it. He would be the greatest topic for those for Jiannan to boast of in the future. How would this person simply be making a comeback?
A large tree, a great shade! Yes, he definitely had to lean on it, grab onto it.
“What is it?” The old man asked curiously.
Xu Tingsheng composed himself, “It’s nothing. I’m just thinking that I should go visit cousin sometime. Is there any message you would like me to deliver to that Uncle on your behalf?
“No need. I got someone to send the child to Jiannan. His car was waiting at the hospital’s entrance...that was our conversation.”
“Fine, you’re freaking great, tacit, you can communicate without words…” Xu Tingsheng inevitably felt a little bit down as he thought this.
“I suddenly remembered. When we were battling the Vietnamese monkeys that year, he was by my side, helping me to carry a flask of water. That flask helped block a bullet for him once,” The old man seemed able to tell something from his expression as he now said, “The flask is at my house. I actually kept it as a souvenir, but I have no use for it now. I’ll get someone to bring it here, and you can deliver it to him for me.”
“Alright,” Xu Tingsheng tried not to let his happiness show too plainly.
With the relationship between the old man and that person, were this to have happened a few years down the road, what the Fang family was facing might not be considered a crisis then.
“Now, tell me what you think,” If what was said earlier was the strategy, the old man had now begun discussing tactics at long last.
“Not me acting as per your instructions?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
While it should logically be the experienced old man setting up the tactics, he might already have thought up a hundred tactics over the past three years and found all to be lacking. So, such was the justification behind his words to Fang Yuqing’s father. Xu Tingsheng had never made a single misstep thus far. He wanted him to take a step for the Fang family...optimistically, treating a seeming lost cause as a potentially salvageable affair.
The old man said nothing. His intent could not be any clearer as he gazed at Xu Tingsheng.
“Well then...I’ve already sorted out my cards very cleanly. I’ll say them out now,” Xu Tingsheng did not hide anything as he told the old man about everything he could and everything he was willing to take out, including the ‘suicide warrior’ Chen Jianxing. He also frankly spoke of what he was unwilling to part with.
Then, he finally said, “I want to take a look at your hand.”
The old man nodded, “I have two last big cards. The first is that I am still alive. While I may look like I’m almost gone, I can actually still hold on for some days. Even if I really do die, you’ve got to make me alive when I have to be. Remember, it’s all fine even if I’m left to rot to nothing. The next card is to see if there is a funeral after I die, and who will come then.”
“Who will come?”
“We’ll only know after we do it. Wait, no. You might know then, after we do it. I almost forgot, I’ll already be dead then. It’s me who will be buried.”
As they spoke of doing, Xu Tingsheng took out the piece of paper that he had organised the previous night, saying very frankly, “I don’t know what I should do, where to plunge the knife, how to retaliate, how to untie the knot...I can’t find that line, that point.”
The old man glanced at that piece of paper which was dotted densely with points.
“I can’t teach you that. You’re the one who will be fighting this battle. Still, from what you say, isn’t it that you are at a stand-off on the battlefield, yet do not know where your enemy is and where to aim?”
“More or less.”
“Pull the trigger, then take aim.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter