Chapter 639: Extortion

Chapter 639: Extortion


“What’s your name, bro?” Xu Tingsheng asked the research student who was gazing puzzledly at him, not knowing which expert might have brought him as an assistant.

“I am surnamed Zhao, Zhao Gongzhi. My friends usually like to call me Young Master Zhao.”

“Oh, hello, Young Master Zhao.”

Xu Tingsheng chatted with him quite a bit during the remainder of the journey.

When they were about to reach their destination, Young Master Zhao suddenly raised his voice and said, “My Dad is a higher-up in the bureaucracy at the neighbouring county. You can look for me if there’s anything. Also, if you want to go out to play or whatnot, I can be your bodyguard and guide.”

From this tone and level of voice, as well as bodyguard and whatnot, Xu Tingsheng knew that these words definitely weren’t meant for him. They were meant for the girls on the bus.

The bus stopped at the excavation site. There wasn’t a forest of steles or tall hills as there was only a small earthen slope and a few narrow caves. The students, the reporter squad included, were all a bit disappointed.

Still, this matched with the description of Cao Cao in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It seemed more reasonable that the suspicious Cao Mengde did not want to make his mausoleum too conspicuous.

In truth, some of the experts had already come over beforehand to review the site. The initial preparatory phase had already long since begun too.

The locally employed workers and personnel had already cleared the surrounding area of extraneous things and erected a big metallic structure around the entire mausoleum, to protect it while making it convenient to work on rainy days.

There was a very large difference between the excavations of Cao Cao’s mausoleum in this life and Xu Tingsheng’s previous life: They had money.

In his previous life, the excavation of Cao Cao’s mausoleum had been carried out by a local organisation, funded by the local county government.The highest-ranking officer in charge of overseeing the matter had only been a village secretary. As the excavation had taken too long, they had even run into financial problems a few times.

In this life, however, money was no problem at all. Unprecedentedly, as a private enterprise, Xingchen Technologies had sponsored this archaeological excavation.

While the dig had yet to begin, people on the internet were already joking that this had to be the most extravagant archaeological excavation in history. This could be seen from the food, lodging, transportation, team and also the two housecars parked in the parking lot.

A private enterprise could actually spend money on supporting academic research, injecting much-needed power into a mausoleum’s excavation. Xingchen’s image was really too positive.

The team of experts took a group photo outside the mausoleum before preparing to return to the hotel to rest.

This was at Xu Tingsheng’s suggestion. The old men were all not young. They had to be a bit more careful...otherwise, if Cao Cao hadn’t yet been dug out but a few members of their team were sent into their graves first, it would really be no laughing matter.

The student reporter squad gathered together.

This time’s live broadcast was planned to begin at the excavation’s commencement. Yet, from what they could see of the live situation now, it clearly lacked appeal and was insufficient to serve as any substantial content.

Someone proposed that they first shoot some local things, such as culture, geography, history and humanities...at the same time, they would also introduce the situation in the vicinity of the mausoleum and understand some tales of the past through interviews.

This was a common narrative method used in documentaries. The reporter squad quickly reached an unanimous agreement.

The chance Young Master Zhao had been waiting for arrived.

“How about this. Leave it all to me...just let me get a car,” Young Master Zhao said, “I can take care of the rest, ensure that everything is smooth-sailing. If you need some departments to coordinate with you, I can just have my Dad make a call. He has many friends over here.”

“How about I bring you all to eat first?” He continued, “Also, let’s exchange numbers. That way, it’ll be more convenient for you all to look for me if anything crops up.”

Just as Young Master Zhao was displaying his rather desperate yet lousy skill of picking girls up, an employee who had come with their team was conversing with two policemen as well as three people who claimed to be from the nearby village.

“With such a large site, won’t you need security?” A policeman looked up and asked.

“Right, we were thinking of liaising with the relevant authorities locally,” The employee said.

“What need is there to liaise? The two of us are from the local police station. These three bros behind are from the nearby village...this being our territory, rather than looking for anyone, we are the most wieldy, you know?” Another policeman interrupted.

 

“What do you mean?”

“What I mean is that there is no need for you to go to so much trouble. For security, we’ll just form a police-civilian cooperation patrolling squad. It’s guaranteed to be safe.”

“I really have to thank you then. Thank you, thank you,” Speaking of these employees at the governmental research department, there was really a big gap between them and people of other departments in the bureaucracy as this employee had still yet to understand even now.

“Don’t be so eager to give your thanks,” Knowing that he had met someone inexperienced, a policeman lit his cigarette and laughed, saying, “Since you have no objections, let’s talk about the wages.”

“Wages? This, the local…” That employee had still yet to react.

“What, because you’re bigwigs from up top, us locals have to supply you for nothing?”

The employee hurriedly waved his hands in denial, saying, “That’s not what I mean. What I mean is that we’ve coordinated on this matter with the local government…”

“Coordinated? Who’s coordinated with us?” This is our territory,” The three who looked like villagers clamoured, looking like the rowdy, loafing kind.

“How much do you want then?” The bombarded employee caved in a bit.

“How much? Twenty thousand per day then. After all, there’ll be a few dozen of us going at it day and night,” The other side said.

He was really giving a sky-high asking price and expecting a low bid in return in what was essentially a bargaining process. Still, the employee did not understand that as he grew emotional as soon as he heard the price, “Twenty thousand per day? This is obviously extortion…”

After saying that, he was immediately pushed.

“What extortion? I’m warning you. You can do whatever, but you can’t run your mouth off.”

The employee staggered backwards, “What if we don’t want your help then? It’s fine, right?”

“Fine.”

The two policemen retreated to the side to smoke. Those three loafers stepped forward, looking around and declaring loudly.

“This bunch of old men all look quite old. Ask them not to wander about! One misstep and they’d probably be goners.”

“Wow, so many young ladies...you’d better watch over them well! We’ve got many bachelors over here. It’s rare to see so many pretty girls in one’s lifetime. Who knows? One might be reckless and forget about everything else. It’s none of our business if anything happens.”

These were blatant threats.

With that, everyone’s attention had already been drawn over. That employee was called back and asked about the situation.

After listening to the employee’s narration, some old professors with bigger tempers whose justice meters had overloaded were determined to go over and speak reason with them.

Xu Tingsheng hurriedly pulled them back. This was not something that they could handle. Knowledge and reputation were of no use here. If they really went to face the corrupt policemen and rowdy loafers, they might just be angered to the point of fainting.

While people were more used to hearing news or rumours about ordinary civilians being oppressed by authority, the truth was that most who were doing business away from their home location would have seen, experienced or heard of enterprises being extorted when investing in other cities before.

As for some places where people privately obstructed or charged fees, that would not even make it into the papers these past few years.

Let alone individuals, even an architectural company owned by a big corporation in a certain country had landed themselves in a great deal of trouble due to not giving sufficient benefits when building a certain bridge locally. Also, the local government had not been able to do anything about it in the end as the bridge project had ultimately been indefinitely delayed.

When Xu Tingsheng had been studying in Jianan University in his previous life, the academic city had still been under construction. Just because they had not chosen the locally produced, low-quality expensive products, construction workers and transportation workers had frequently been beaten up at the construction site. The materials that they used had also been stolen and damaged etcetera. After a few lockouts and investigations...the academy city had given in and purchased the other side’s expensive sand. Only then was the matter resolved.

As compared to the aforementioned matter, what they were currently facing was actually only something minor.

Xu Tingsheng persuaded the old professors to restrain themselves.

Yan Zhengyu tugged at him, asking, “Tingsheng, this is a public affair. And they still dare do so?”

“Yes, they do,” Xu Tingsheng smiled, saying, “First, we are neither personnel from local organisations nor people from powerful units. In the eyes of some vile citizens somewhere, however important you may be, you are still less effective in status than those sent by local authorities. Second, we appear too rich in all aspects this time...so, in order to profit out of it, they’ve got to try no matter what. On one hand, they’re used to being shameless and arrogant, having a bit of courage and not being afraid of trouble too. One the other, they’re betting that we won’t mind this bit of money.”

“This bit of money? Twenty thousand per day...we won’t be able to complete matters in just a few days here. If it takes longer, wouldn’t that amount to several million already?”

“It’s not that frightening. If I really were to pay, two, three thousand per day would actually already be enough to leave them fully satisfied,” Xu Tingsheng said.”

“Are you going to give it to them then?”

“No need.”

As Xu Tingsheng pacified a few experts, the sounds of conflict suddenly escalated on the other end.

He turned to look and saw that Young Master Zhao and Xiao Yanxu had already come to stand off against the other side at some point in time.

Young Master Zhao had his phone raised as he hollered, “I’m calling my Dad right now! Just you wait. Just you wait…”

Xiao Yanxu was carrying the camera and recording footage as he righteously reprimanded the other side, “I’m afraid that you’re not the one who gets to decide everything here! This is a lawful society. When you’re on the news...we’ll see who is able to protect you then. Just you and the policemen? Don’t forget, you guys were the one who threatened our personal safety earlier.”

The two policemen had long since retreated to the side. The remaining three were cursing as they advanced. It seemed like they were ready to resort to violence.

One pushed Young Master Zhao while saying, “Hit me. Come on, hit me however you like...I want to see who you can call.”

One made to snatch Xiao Yanxu’s camera.

One sent a kick flying at his knee.

If they went to blows here, they would definitely lose out. Even if Xiao Yanxu really reported the incident afterwards, it would merely cause a few days of detention for the other side at worst anyway. Meanwhile, if they were repeatedly targeted in an underhanded manner, it definitely wouldn’t be very pleasant for them.

If they really locked horns, it would not be a good thing for the entire excavation project too. After all, what they had said was actually not wrong. This was their territory. In one’s territory, even a grass snake was a local snakehead that could cause trouble for you at any time.Xu Tingsheng hurriedly pulled Young Master Zhao and Xiao Yanxu back, one with each hand.

“If you’re going to make a call, do it at the back,” Xu Tingsheng pushed Young Master Zhao into the crowd.

Fortunately, Young Master Zhao was discerning and knew that he would lose even more face if he was stubborn. He pretended that he had been pushed very hard by Xu Tingsheng as he stumbled into the back of the crowd.

“You go to the back first too,” Xu Tingsheng pulled Xiao Yanxu.

“Why?” Xiao Yanxu turned and howled loudly, venting his anger on Xu Tingsheng.

Xu Tingsheng smiled wryly, “Let’s not lose out.”Xiao Yanxu said, “Lose out? I want to see if they have the courage.”

“They do. This is definitely not their first time doing this sort of thing. They know they can withstand the price and the consequences. That’s why they are this bold,” Xu Tingsheng said, “Talking about law and morality with them is useless. It’s not the same where you come from.”

“Really?” Xiao Yanxu chortled, “Sorry, I really don’t believe it. There’s no need to trouble Boss Xu too. A few policemen, a few unreasonable, vile citizens…”

“It’s like this. If it were a bureaucrat in front of your camera, he would definitely be afraid...they, though…” Xu Tingsheng indicated at the three lawless men whose clothes were fully unbuttoned, “They’re actually not so afraid of all this...so, it’s better if I do it.”

Xu Tingsheng forced Xiao Yanxu to step back a little.

“In that case, what does Boss Xu plan on doing?”

“I’ll try my best to resolve this problem in a satisfactory manner lest there are any future troubles.” 

“Hire bodyguards over or smash them with money?”

“Giving money is an option too, actually.”

“Ha, and I thought what great idea Boss Xu could have. Giving money is fine too? If you ask me, it’s people like you that abet this kind of culture.”

“...Could I trouble you to tuck away your elite philosophy for the time being and stand at the back.”

Seeing that Xiao Yanxu wasn’t cooperative at all, a rather impatient Xu Tingsheng put on a stern face as he said this. Then, he ignored Xiao Yanxu and turned to walk towards the five men.

In truth, Xu Tingsheng was not the best kind of person to negotiate in this sort of scenario. If it were Old Jin or Huang Yaming present, just their auras alone would tell the other side that the person before them was not good to provoke. That would make negotiations much smoother.

As compared to them… Xu Tingsheng was too much like a nice guy. Sometimes, this actually wasn’t a good thing too.

It was just that in this scenario, with a bunch of old researchers and a bunch of students, there was no one more suitable than him.

“What? You’re the one negotiating now?” A policeman walked back into sight with a cigarette in his mouth, saying, “Get that kid to turn off the camera first.”

“Alright,” Xu Tingsheng turned and indicated for the people beside Xiao Yanxu to help turn off the camera before asking, “Can I take a look at your police ID?”

That policeman looked at Xu Tingsheng and smiled, saying, “Looks like you still haven’t given up yet. Alright, look all you want,” With that, he really fearlessly took out his police identification.

Xu Tingsheng took a look at it.

“So, I wasn’t deceiving you, right?”

“It’s real,” Xu Tingsheng said.

“Then, can we start talking about money now?”

“How about we wait a while longer.”

“Wait?” The policeman spread his arms apart,” Wait for what? You wouldn’t be as foolish as those two kids, right? What, you don’t get it too?”

He was hinting: Since I even dare to take out my police identification, could it be that you still don’t understand? Without people backing us, we wouldn’t dare to be so unbridled...since we dare to do so, we aren’t afraid of you calling the police or anything.

This felt just like what tourists had faced at some ‘renowned tourist destinations’ during a certain few years. Calling the police had never been of any use.

“I get it. Still, we should wait.”

“Your mother, who are you waiting for?”

That person pushed Xu Tingsheng in the chest.

Xu Tingsheng retreated a few steps, “When the higher-ups of your county are here, we can discuss it then.”

The other party was taken aback, “The higher-ups of the county, you say? Is there something wrong with your brain? You bypassed the locality in doing everything this time. There are many people who are dissatisfied, you get what I mean? Have I made myself clear enough?”

“Otherwise, did you think we’re fools? Another policeman chimed in.

It looked like something had gone wrong in coordinating with the locality. It would be one thing if the locality grit their teeth and did it themselves like in his previous life, but if they directly went around the locality and didn’t give any benefits or face at all like they were doing now, not even saying hi to them, that was a different matter altogether.

Meanwhile, the excavation team was no powerful organisation themselves...the locality would naturally not be too respectful of and take good care of them.

Indeed, when scholars handled affairs, they did not know how to consider the sentiments of the parties involved at all. Xu Tingsheng sighed to himself.

“I can understand your meaning. Still, they will still come...let’s wait for a while longer,” Xu Tingsheng smiled.

The five laughed loudly, mockingly and lost for words.

Wu Yuewei pulled Xu Tingsheng, asking softly, “Will they really come? Young Master Zhao’s Dad asked us to approach the city. How about we call the police on the city level?”

“For the time being, there’s no need for that. I believe that they will come. So long as they are not silly, they will definitely come,” Xu Tingsheng said.

Even as he said so, a vehicle team comprising two sedans and a van appeared on the public road in the distance.

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Mehxistence's Thoughts

Having high fevers.