Chapter 312: How to choose
From Nice to Shenghai, then to Yanzhou. Switching from a plane to a car, Xu Tingsheng slept throughout the journey.
Before he could even put down his luggage at the riverside residence, Xu Tingsheng was directly driven by Fang Yuqing from the station right over to Starry Splendour Nightclub.
Everyone was waiting for him there, all clenching their teeth with unfriendly looks on their faces.
Xu Tingsheng said shamelessly, “Oh, you’re all here, I see? What a coincidence.”
The Black Horse Club had lost two people, and the remainder all had some grievances against Xu Tingsheng somewhat. Hu Shengming and a few others who were used to messing around just directly lunged over and knocked him down. They probably would not be any more riled even if it was instead a female artiste there.
After finishing mucking around, there was not the cheerful laughter of normal friends as the atmosphere still remained rather repressed.
They sighed, saying despondently, “Xu Tingsheng, you’ve set us up real good.”
While this might sound like a joke, it actually wasn’t. This virtually represented the collective thoughts of everyone present, finally being vented in a single breath. Over this period of time, virtually everyone who had managed to hold on had been resisting a great amount of pressure.
That KTV that Hu Shengming ran with a few business partners had been wrecked several times by some people looking for trouble. The police came by for random spot checks every couple of days. It was not just once or twice that Chen Yan’s lot had been called out for a discussion with some higher-ups.
Virtually everyone else was also resisting either internal or external pressure.
The more powerful and influential one was, the greater the pressure exerted on them.
In the meantime, Xu Tingsheng who had launched their ‘rogue ship’ had run off overseas on his own.
After respectfully apologising to everyone twice, Xu Tingsheng took out a bunch of wallets and belts and placed them on the table, saying earnestly, “I know that it’s been tough on everyone recently. I’ve brought you some souvenirs from overseas. These are all real leather, French branded goods. Help yourself…we’re all family, don’t stand on ceremony. Take it like I’m presenting you some tokens of my apology.”
As these were all piled up into a mini-mountain, their quality probably weren’t all that good. Everyone was well aware of this. Still, he had at least painstakingly carried them all the way back from France, right?
The sincerity was there.
While no one here lacked this money and would probably not be using these things even if they took them, at least…this showed that Xu Tingsheng still had a bit of a conscience. The key was this attitude of his. Seeing his sincere gesture, everyone would naturally feel that they had to reciprocate and give him a bit of face.
Taking it was a gesture too, a response. It expressed that they blamed him and could not understand his rationale but were still willing to listen to him explain himself rather than immediately ‘abandoning ship’.
“So you still have a bit of conscience…let me have a look,” Jiang Jin said as he walked over.
Hu Shengming and the others took the lead, with the remaining people, including the habitually serious Chen Yan’s lot, all being prepared to walk over and receive Xu Tingsheng’s sincerity too.
Sitting in a corner, Fang Yuqing hid his face behind Huang Yaming with an expression which indicated that he just couldn’t stand this. As Tan Yao leaned in and asked about this, he said, “He, just now, he asked me to stop the car…and bought all these at the roadside stall by the station. He got a big discount by buying these many, 20 yuan a piece.”
“…too shameless,” Huang Yaming muttered, “You wouldn’t know, but he was also like this back before twelfth grade. He’s never taken face seriously before. I still thought he already changed.”
“Is this enough? How about we three act a bit and help him out?” Tan Yao asked.
Fang Yuqing shook his head, “How’s that possible?!”
Indeed, Chu Lianyi and the other few ladies present now stood up and took a few steps over, glancing at the dimly lit bunch of goods a distance away. They immediately stopped with wry, helpless smiles on their faces, shaking their heads as they went back to sit.
Women need but a single glance to tell the quality of these things.
Jiang Jin who was a bit slow held up a wallet and sniffed it. He felt that something was wrong. He turned to look at the ladies…seeing their reaction, he understood.
“Xu Tingsheng, just go die already!”
Xu Tingsheng leaned against the sofa as he was pelted with a whole mass of wallets and belts.
The guys kicked up a storm.
Comparing this with that previous gathering and Xu Tingsheng’s vibe of having everything in his grasp…it really felt worlds apart.
Standing with a wineglass in hand, Ye Qing said softly to the other ladies as they watched on, “Have you all noticed? It’s like right after he pulled this, the atmosphere’s really eased greatly.”
“They feel like a bunch of very close friends and bros just mucking around together. In truth, everyone here isn’t actually this close, and…even less so with him, right?” Chu Lianyi smiled.
“He wants to create a relatively more relaxed environment, making it easier for some things to be voiced out. After all, all of us actually have many things weighing on our minds with various thoughts of our own and quite a few things hidden, right?”
“Let’s wait and see what he has to say then.”
Wu Kun was also watching from the side, smiling as he waited.
“Well, you’re all clear on my situation too. I seem to have had the most trouble. A while ago, our education license was even taken away as our training institute almost can’t operate anymore. I won’t go into the details,” After things had calmed down, Xu Tingsheng smiled, “How about…you talk about your situations? A bucket of tears and a noseful of snot as you say it-however is fine.”
Some time passed. Yet, no one had spoken, pouring out their grievances.
If Xu Tingsheng had returned a few days ago, there would have been a bunch of people pouring out their grievances without him even having to ask, saying that they nearly couldn’t hold on any longer and asking him to say something even if it was just for appearances.
But now, even though the pressure on them was still great and they were still suffering, the tides had actually already been changing these past few days.
There were some things that everyone present was fully aware of. What had really enabled these people to hold on up till now was not their trust in Xu Tingsheng. It was impossible for them to have such great, unwarranted trust in Xu Tingsheng.
The current Xu Tingsheng did not possess such qualifications.
The crux of the matter was that Xu Tingsheng had been right about something. Having survived that pressure, tiding through the ‘defiantly resisting death’ period, things would be different then.
Xu Tingsheng had not said what would follow that. Still, everyone had already encountered this now. They were ‘benefits’, conditions, enticements, promises…having survived Xu Tingsheng’s so-called ‘defiantly resisting death’ period, virtually all of them had been promised some things.
Meanwhile, all the other side had asked was that they give up on this venture.
The logic therein was strange indeed. Apart from them partying together and resisting a wave of pressure, they had actually not invested anything into this at all. Even if they gave up on this venture now, they would actually not have lost anything they had possessed at the start.
Yet, they would be able to receive a whole bunch of benefits.
Baiting bare-handedly, netting a profit.
Such as Hucheng.
One. Xu Tingsheng had gathered a group of people to participate in the acquisition of the No. 1 and No. 2 plots of land, next also demonstrating the capabilities and determination to succeed.
Two. Hucheng had faced threats and pressure from various entities. While it had been tough, they had still defiantly resisted this pressure and held on, gritting their teeth and not letting go.
Three. When the threats and the pressure had been ineffective and they also could not really give a killing blow, hence did enticements come. There was a vast plot of unused land behind their training institute that Xu Tingsheng had previously tried but failed to acquire a few times. Now, those bigwigs were respectfully offering it to him with open arms, promising to give it to Hucheng to expand their training institute at a low price.
At the same time, there would also be a series of preferential treatment and care from a few agencies, such as the education department who could bestow endless glory upon Hucheng’s training institute in Yanzhou. At the same time, Hucheng could also enter the list of enterprises that were specially supported by Yanzhou City, enjoying a series of beneficial, helpful policies.
And the sole condition was that Xu Tingsheng and those of the Black Horse Club agree on giving up on contending for the No. 1 and No. 2 plots of land.
This was the entire process of ‘baiting bare-handedly, netting a profit’.
The boundless power and ‘sacrificial’ spirit of these local snakeheads really had to be admired. After all, as compared to Xu Tingsheng unrelentingly raising the price of the land by two whole units…this was nothing at all, really.
Not hiding anything at all, Xu Tingsheng reported all the ‘enticements’ that Hucheng had received before saying, “Look at how smart it was for me to go into hiding for a while. What about you guys? Come one, what enticements have you received?”
Everyone had originally been hiding things, afraid that others might learn what they had been offered. Xu Tingsheng spoke candidly about the enticements he had received at once, breaking that deadlock.
Smiling, the beautiful Ye Qing was the next to speak, “Jinxiong, Dacheng and the companies under them will all use the ships of our shipping company the import of construction materials and some other items in the future. The three year contract is right there, just waiting for me to sign it. This matter is actually very important to me. Actual monetary gains aside, this concerns my importance in shipping and my voice in my family. After all, I advocated and am in charge of my family’s shipping business.”
“Vocation, office chairman. I just had a chance to compete for it before. Now, it’s more or less a guarantee.”
Chen Yan was the third to speak as he got straight to the point. Still, for him who worked in a government department, this was actually not a minor enticement at all. On the contrary, it was very enticing indeed. With the vocation of office chairman that was connected to both above and below…it was an ideal springboard to a higher position.
Following their example, everyone soon honestly reported the ‘promises’ and ‘enticements’ that they had received. Some were related to business, others connections and vocations, and some were even more direct…
“They just offered me money. The sum isn’t that big, but it’s still fine. If we take it, us guys will be able to open a branch for our KTV,” Hu Shengming smiled.
Hu Shengming’s words caused Xu Tingsheng to recall an incident in his previous life. Once, his cousin who ran a business had suddenly looked for him and asked him to sign up to participate in some auction thing run by a government body, assuring him that she would help him with the guarantor fee.
Not knowing what was going on, Xu Tingsheng had just went. In the end, having done nothing at all, he had claimed 800 yuan and returned.
Actually, he had received the least out of all the bidders…the final bidder who had succeeded had used different amounts of money to take care of all his competitors of varying strength. In this auction, he had still ultimately profited quite a bit, whereas everyone else had also more or less received some benefits.
The main reason behind things conceivably ending like this, resulting in a situation where ‘everyone is a winner’, was this: The target of the auction was owned by the government.
Now, those plots of land were owned by the government.
Besides the enticements offered to these individuals, the local real estate companies had even given the Black Horse Club a collective promise: If they agreed to give up on those two plots of land, they would be able to acquire Plot No. 4 at a low price. No one would compete with them or make things difficult for them.
The reason was a simple and clear one. They had already internally agreed on how to split the first three plots of land, this being their own matter. So long as Hucheng stayed out of this and did not mess things up for them…claim away all those benefits. Plot No. 4-you can have it too.
This was equivalent to accepting they of the Black Horse Club into the real estate business. Of course, they would just be a mere accompaniment.
The problem that remained was: How do we choose?
Everyone collectively looked at the one person who had orchestrated the current situation, Xu Tingsheng.