Chapter 10: Causing Trouble
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Translation
The driver, Xiao Zhao, drove the car all the way to Tong Yan, Li Sui was shocked when he got there. This place didn’t have its normal orderliness anymore, in exchange there were a bunch of elderlies at the entrance. They had banners with words like, “Black hearted merchants, return our hard-earned money”, “God will punish liars” or “Die, Tong Yan liars” … There were all sorts of banners, and around them were scores of reporters with cameras.
Li Sui had never seen something like this before, in that instant he was mortified. When their car drove in, some elderly people surrounded them, some threw things, some hit their car. Some even lay prone on the ground, blocking their car from driving forward. They only managed to drive in after the guards pulled them away.
During the commotion, Li Sui wanted to get out of the car, but Xiao Zhao stopped him. Xiao Zhao said Lu Shang specifically told him not to let Li Sui out of the car, he also asked him to bring Li Sui safely to the parking lot on the second floor. Li Sui felt warmth and worry in his heart at the same time. On one hand, he felt warmth from the fact that Lu Shang worried about him even when he was so busy; on the other hand, he was worried about these people here, they seemed hard to deal with, but at the same time Li Sui couldn’t help Lu Shang.
On the way, Xiao Zhao explained what had happened to Li Sui. Tong Yan corporation had a subsidiary company that did P2P finance, that company was under fire. That company’s investors heard news of its problems and came here protesting today. For people working in finance, just hearing P2P would explain everything, but Li Sui didn’t know what that was. Xiao Zhao didn’t really know how to explain it fully either, so he tried to give a basic explanation.
P2P finance was something like a platform, people who lacked money to start a business will put their cases up the platform, while those with money would invest. Because the turnout was quick and high, a lot of retired elderly people liked it. Amongst these people, many were unable to differentiate between good investments and bad ones. They heard someone got a lot of money after investing, so they put all of their savings in the platform, ignoring the fact that high turnouts always had high risks.
At the beginning, when they invested, they might have gotten some money out of it, so even those who were skeptical jumped all in too. However, that didn’t persist. Just recently this month, many who invested in P2P companies found that the interest wasn’t paid back to their account. The platform gave all sorts of explanations to calm the masses, but they couldn’t stop the situation from deteriorating. In the end, some people who invested in other P2P companies didn’t even get their principal value back.
Tong Yan’s subsidiary company was called Tong Xin, it was established by Liu XinTian. Lu Shang didn’t see a future for this business, so he never took part in it. A subsidiary company was different from a branch company, they did business separately, their debts weren’t connected to each other either. Hence this should have nothing to do with Lu Shang, Tong Yan also didn’t have the responsibility to deal with Tong Xin’s problems. However, all of these in the ears of the elderlies were like excuses.
Actually, there was a lot of news saying the economy this year was bad. Plus, a lot of P2P companies bailed this year, so the elderlies were all very worried to begin with. Tong Xin was already one of the better P2P companies, even though the amount of bad debts were rising, the company was still functioning smoothly. As long as they got through this period of time, and the economic slumps were over, everything should return normal.
But just last night, someone spread the rumor that Tong Xin was going to shut down, the higher-ups were making preparations to take the money and flee. It was as if the rumor grew wings and spread across all the elderly people.
At five this morning, the guards found the windows of a car broken in Tong Yan’s parking lot. Less than an hour after that, scores of elderly people went to the company door, saying they wanted their money back.
Xe WeiLan was quick to react, he “greeted” all the major news companies out there, making sure that even if these reporters filmed anything, they wouldn’t get out easily. When Lu Shang arrived, the people outside already protested for a long time. They were still old people, so there was a limit to their strength. Plus, the weather was bad, it was about to rain, so the atmospheric pressure was low. Everyone sat on their little plastic chairs, looking like they would commit suicide if they didn’t get their money back today.
“Let’s not talk about howTong Xin is doing now, but even if the company went bankrupt, it had nothing to do with director Lu. Why are they protesting here at Tong Yan?” Xiao Zhao drove the car while saying, “Also, let me tell you, these people gathering here, they have everything prepared, even huge banners and chairs. No matter how you look at it, they have been prepping this for a while already.”
Li Sui didn’t know what Liu XinTian had planned, but Lu Shang knew very clearly. The only thing was, Lu Shang didn’t expect Liu XinTian would rather side with an outsider to attack him.
“Is director Liu not here yet?” Lu Shang’s face was dark, everyone in the conference room fell silent.
Things had escalated to this point, even if no one said it, everyone knew who was behind this.
“Director Liu probably won’t come, he asked Li JinYao to ship some stuff early on this year, I heard those sank with the ship as well.” A new lawyer they hired said.
Xe WeiLan looked like he was about to explode, “From what I see, Liu XinTian withheld the money himself to trip us!”
Only Xe WeiLan dared to say that, even though everyone knew so in their hearts.
“How did they know the relationship between Tong Yan and Tong Xin? They even came here in the morning of all times; someone must be directing them.”
“Liu XinTian knows Tong Yan is trying to get clean, our reputation is especially important now. He deliberately chose this time to cause trouble, the problem with the ship could be resolved so easily, but now…”
“Say, you don’t think Liu XinTian really took the investors’ money away and ran, right?”
When Li Sui walked into the conference room, it was to the chaos of bickering. He brought a sandwich and yogurt, but seeing the atmosphere, he didn’t take them out, he hid them behind his back.
Outside the windows, a huge storm was brewing. The people downstairs began moving and rioting again. Lu Shang frowned, he knew things couldn’t stay like this, he discussed with a few others to calm the protestors first. All of the protestors were elderlies, if any of them got hurt or worse, they would have a bigger problem in their hands.
Li Sui sat quietly on a chair by the door, outside the conference room. He didn’t say a word; he couldn’t help either. However, staying here, guarding here, it made him feel better. After Li Sui visited the company a few times, a lot of people knew him, some employees even greeted him.
Li Sui tilted his head to look inside, he saw Lu Shang talking with some people, he was frowning and had a serious look on his face. After a while, it seemed like they had reached an agreement, they walked out of the room in a hurry separately, Li Sui naturally followed.
Lu Shang assigned duties to four people, one of the higher-ups who was close to Lu Shang was assigned to control the situation inside the company. Xe WeiLan and an executive director went to negotiate with the protestors. The lawyer who bravely pointed this incident as Liu XinTian’s doing was to talk with the police. Apart from them, Lu Shang called Zuo Chao’s people to mix into the protestors just in case.
The police dispatched people to the scene very early on, but they couldn’t do anything to the protestors either, they were elderly people after all. So after they talked with the protestors and failed, they were just standing around, doing nothing. But you couldn’t really blame the police, after all if anything happened, they didn’t want to be held responsible.
Lu Shang left the conference room, that was when he saw Li Sui. The two of them weren’t far from each other, but not very close either, just about at half-an-arm’s length from each other. When the lift opened, Lu Shang waited for a while, after all the people were gone, Lu Shang turned around to face Li Sui. The seriousness on his face were gone, it was replaced by a light smile, “Were you scared?”
Li Sui shook his head, he took the sandwich and yogurt out, “You should eat something.”
Lu Shang’s gaze went to the food in Li Sui’s hands, he took them. Lu Shang wondered how long Li Sui had been waiting there, even the yogurt was a little warm. After working for the whole morning, he should be hungry, but for some reason looking at food right now just made him dizzy and nauseous. Seeing Li Sui look at him with wide eyes, he forced himself to take a sip of the yogurt.
“I’m not hungry, you have that.” But the sandwich, that he couldn’t handle, so he just pushed that to Li Sui.
Seeing that Lu Shang really couldn’t eat it, he didn’t force him. Li Sui quickly finished the sandwich.
When they got out of the lift, Li Sui stood a few steps behind Lu Shang. His hands were in his pockets, arms were a little distance away from his body, defending with his arms in front. Of course, Lu Shang noticed that, but dealing with this was more pressing, so he didn’t put much thought in Li Sui’s movements.
“Disrupting normal business, this is illegal, do you people know that?” The moment they walked out, Xe WeiLan’s voice could be heard. Xe WeiLan had worked as a defender in court for years now, he had a very loud voice, plus he was great with his words. The female executive director was behind him, one playing the good cop, and one playing the bad cop. For the ones who were rash, they calmed them through being sympathetic; and for those who were calm, they reasoned with them. That was actually quite effective in the long run.
The old lady in front was tired, after being reasoned with like that, she began to calm down too. She conversed with some of her comrades, after all the only thing they wanted was money, it wasn’t like they wanted to cause trouble.
But at that moment, a bald old man stood up, screaming, “Stop your stupid stalling tactics, they might work on those women, but it won’t work on me. I checked on the internet, Tong Xin’s boss is your company’s huge shareholder. Call your company’s higher-ups out, if we don’t get the money today, we will sleep here!”
“Yeah! We’re not scared of them!”
“How could you guys scam us old folks’ money, do you people have a conscience?”
Xe WeiLan was furious how all his efforts seemed to be foiled, the fury was about to boil over. Lu Shang, who was on the sides, seemed to have saw something, he stopped Xe WeiLan, “Allow me.”
Li Sui’s face changed, he rushed up to Lu Shang, following him closely. Lu Shang on the other hand was a lot calmer, he walked down the stairs slowly. His voice was deep, it was also magnetic, it sounded even deeper listening from afar, “Everyone, please let me have a few words.”
The old bald man who jumped out early narrowed his eyes and looked at Lu Shang. When their gazes met, a speck of evasiveness were in his eyes.
“When all of you invested, you signed a contract, remember? It clearly stated when the contract will be over, when the interests will be given, and when the principal value will be returned. Yes?”
When Lu Shang began speaking, everyone quiet down subconsciously. Even the elderly sensed it, they sensed that this person was different; he sounded like a leader of sort. All of them stopped talking and listened attentively.
“What about the money? Where is our interest this month?” The bald person screamed again, this time however, no one followed suit.
“Tong Xin is an upright and legal company, even if it went bankrupt, it will still return all of your money and clear up all the debts. Moreover, it’s still properly functioning now.” Lu Shang continued in a steady pace, “Everyone came here today wanting your savings back. I understand your plights; that was the money you earned from an entire life of hard work.”
Just a few simple sentences, and one of the protesters began crying, maybe what Lu Shang said was dead on.
“How about this, actions are worth a lot more than words.” Lu Shang continued, “Everyone come in and register. Today I’ll do right by all of you, I’ll give all of you the outstanding interests first.”
Everyone paused at the sentence, even Xe WeiLan was shocked. Lu Shang was going to take money out of his own wallet to deal with Liu XinTian’s mess? They never talked about this during their conference.
Perhaps it was too sudden, none of the protesters budged.
A sharp ray of lightning came slashing down across the sky, thunder roared, it was going to rain soon. All the protestors were discussing amongst themselves, Lu Shang signaled Xe WeiLan and the executive director secretively. Li Sui was tall; it didn’t take him long to see that the bald man was gone.
The female executive director walked up while everyone was in a panic, “Everyone, please don’t be in a rush. Even if you want to get the principal before the contracted date, you will need to do it according to the system. You guys won’t accomplish anything by causing trouble. Now that director Lu had promised to give the money back, we won’t leave anyone out. Since it’s going to rain soon, I invite all of you to come in. Let’s sit down and talk, we will have a look at your contracts and register them. Let’s see how much money Tong Xin owed you, we will go negotiate with director Liu. Everything will be done in accordance with the law, how about that?”
Everyone satisfied when they heard contracts and legal procedures. They looked around and found that the leaders were nowhere to be seen, so they were all like leaking balloons, they all looked disheartened.
From what had gone down, Li Sui understood what happened, just vaguely, but he understood—— These people didn’t have contracts, they probably weren’t even Tong Xin’s investors.
Li Sui felt a fire like discomfort in his heart, the fire was raging in him. Lu Shang walked up the stairs and said something to his assistant. The latter nodded and turned left the building.
After a while, a few police cars drove to the building. They first asked all the reporters to leave, then they brought the old people to the police cars.
When the people began to clear out, a black Mercedes-Maybach drove slowly to the company, it stopped outside. The timing was just so exact.
Liu XinTian looked like he was in a hurry, he rushed up the stairs and said, “I heard there was a problem here in Tong Yan, what’s wrong?”
Life was truly like a drama, acting was everything. If Li Sui had fangs, he’d be baring his fangs, readied to bite right now. Sadly, he could only channel all of his anger into his eyes, he stared at Liu XinTian furiously.
Perhaps Liu XinTian sensed Li Sui’s unfriendly gaze, he looked back at Li Sui. Lu Shang butted in and said, “Director Liu, you have two options. One, sell Tong Xin to me, and I’ll invest in Chan Zhuang. Two, invest in Chan Zhuang in the name of Tong Xin.”
Liu XinTian’s face changed, the fake nervousness was gone, instead a layer of darkness surfaced. Liu XinTian had calculated this though, but he didn’t think Lu Shang was even clearer in this plan than he was. Liu XinTian wanted to threaten Lu Shang with Tong Xin, but instead Lu Shang used it to blackmail him.
Liu XinTian wanted money and control over Tong Yan, but neither of those were easy to obtain. He cooperated with Li Yan and did this just so that he could milk money out of Lu Shang. Tong Xin had billions of investor’s money in it, selling the company was like cutting Liu XinTian’s flesh, he’d never agree to this. However, he knew what situation Chan Zhuang was in, so he also knew that he shouldn’t get involved with it.
“What if I refuse both?” He asked with a deep voice.
Lu Shang made a regretful expression, “Well, the merchandise on the ship will probably go on the newspaper.”
Liu XinTian didn’t argue any longer, he smirked a little and scanned Lu Shang. His expression was dark but at the same time glad, “Grandson Lu (i), you’ve grown a lot in recent years. You even dare intervene with my business now.”
T/N: (i) They are not related by blood, but Liu XinTian might see himself as Lu Shang’s father’s god brother, hence Lu Shang could be considered his grandson.
Lu Shang stared at Liu XinTian with an expressionless face; no emotions were in his eyes either.
“Very well, you are way stronger than your father.”
Lu Shang’s eyes were dim, he didn’t reply.
“Humph.” Liu XinTian glanced at him, laughing coldly, he turned around and left.
Rain finally fell from the sky, it was weaker than expected, just loud thunder but light rain (ii). The protestors who were here just a while ago were all gone, only leaving behind a few laughable banners on the muddy, wet ground covered with shoe marks.
T/N: (ii) It is a saying in Chinese, it usually means that something or someone sounded big and strong but in fact was weak and not threatening. Here, I believe it’s hinting that Lu Shang might put on a brave face in front of his enemies, but he was always weak and frail.
“Li Sui.” Lu Shang suddenly called out to him.
Li Sui raised his head, seeing Lu Shang standing in front of the stairway with his body leaning slightly forward. Lu Shang didn’t budge from where he stood. Li Sui rushed towards Lu Shang when called, the latter abruptly turned around to Li Sui and quickly placed his head on Li Sui’s shoulder.
Li Sui froze, he stood with his back straight, not daring to move. Li Sui was taller than Lu Shang by about a head’s length, it was just the right height for Lu Shang to lean on.
“Yesterday, you said you were willing to do anything, was that true?” Lu Shang said with a meek voice.
Li Sui’s eyes widened in distress; he felt the weight on his shoulder increasing. Subconsciously he took a step back, but quickly, he stood back straight again. It was as if Lu Shang couldn’t stand up, and he had to put all his weight on Li Sui’s shoulder.
Li Sui reached out his hand to Lu Shang’s, his brain shocked; Lu Shang’s hands were trembling. Li Sui listened carefully; it didn’t take him long to realize how erratic Lu Shang’s breaths were. Li Sui calmed down as quickly as humanly possible, holding Lu Shang’s ice-cold hands, he said, “Yes?”
“Are they all gone?” Lu Shang’s voice was shaky.
Li Sui looked around, there were a few people looking at them, Lu Shang’s female assistant wanted to come over too. Li Sui raised his head to look at those people, all of them pretended they saw nothing and disappeared with umbrellas in the rain.
“They are all gone now.”
Lu Shang was putting almost all of his weight on Li Sui, his tone had a hint of laughter in it, “I can’t walk, let me lean on you.”
“You… What’s wrong?” Li Sui held him in his arms in a frenzy.
Lu Shang closed his eyes, the last bit of blood left his face, it was pale. He only said two words, “… heart hurts.”