It was 100% opposite to the speed train we took from Beijing to Shanghai. It was slow, very slow. The train stopped every ten to twenty minutes, and it was very crowded. Besides, there were no empty seats, so we had to fight our way through the crowd from coach to coach when we gave up and decided to stay in the coach with no seats at all.
Professor Silicon was happy. He said that Ming has always been a master of disguise, and his idea for us to blend with the crowd on this train to Wuhan was brilliant. Here we could at least have no worries about being followed, seen, or heard. This old almost dying something was the best we could wish for. Well, I would happily disagree, but as usual, Lextor Anderson was right. After what we saw in Shanghai, we have to be more careful. Trust no one. That was what Ming told us in Chinese before he drove us to the railway station in Xiangyang.
Trust no one. Indeed, now we could only rely on ourselves with some help from Professor’s friends.
Even though it was hot like hell with no air conditioning, Professor Silicon was very happy. He said that the piece of paper Ming gave him was the map, the one many people would die for. And those from SilSic Corp. were among them. This map will guide us to the secrets of Silicon Dragon. Another great thing about the map was that you could not tell it was a map. This was just a piece of old paper or parchment; you could easily confuse it with a napkin or wrapping paper.
But this piece of paper would reveal the map when you enter the temple where it was written.
Professor said that Wuhan was the place where we would learn more about the SilSic Corp. On top of that, according to my meeting plan, there was a very important power electronics company in Wuhan ready to learn more about TSemics. I could even check the name, but the train after several stops turned from completely full to ‘let’s check who can survive the whole ride’ full. Stuck in this train reminded me of the Indian railways and the pictures I saw many times, when people trying to get to their final destination, climbed the roof of the train. I felt like one of those Indians in the middle of China.
Closer to Wuhan our ‘Wuhell Express’ started to speed up and after another couple of stops, it got much emptier. Finally, I could hear Professor speaking, not yelling. Since we still had time till we reach Wuhan, Professor decided to tell me the incredible story of semiconductors and how they changed and continue to change our everyday life – from the early 1900s versions of diodes to transistors invented at Bell Labs to the modern power semiconductors used in various power electronics applications. When Professor was telling the story you could literally see him glow with joy.
When we arrived at Wuhan, Lextor Anderson said that Ming booked a very nice hotel for us where we will not be living. Just when I thought we could have some good rest and sleep in a quiet luxury hotel, Professor broke all my dreams. He said that this night we should spend in one of the shelters used by some poor and homeless people. There will be food and a bed. And tomorrow before the meeting we can go back to the railway station and check the cloakroom number 0721. Ming gave Professor the password to open it, and promised that we would be happy to open it. It always surprised me how all Professor’s friends knew beforehand that we will be needing their help, and that they always had a solution to any problem.
The shelter was very close to the station, and in ten minutes we were enjoying some doubtful-looking but incredibly tasty food. I decided not to ask what it was made of to keep my good memories of this moment. The shelter turned out to be a very nice place like a hostel with everything a random traveler would need.
With the sounds of guzheng, we started to fall asleep. The music of this traditional Chinese instrument was like a magic healing your soul and your body.
The guzheng has various accounts for its origin. An early guzheng-like instrument is said to have been invented by Meng Tian, a general of the Qin dynasty, largely influenced by the se – an ancient plucked zither. Some believe the guzheng was originally developed as a bamboo-tube zither as recorded in the Shuowen Jiezi (an ancient Chinese dictionary from the Han dynasty), which was later redesigned to be more like the se and made from larger curved wooden boards and movable bridges. A third legend says the guzheng came about when two people fought over a 25-string se. They broke it in half, one person receiving a 12-string part and another the 13-string part. Strings were once made of silk. During the Qing dynasty, the strings transitioned to only wires such as brass. Modern strings are almost always steel coated in nylon. The nylon steel strings, steel strings, silk strings, etc., are used for various music genres. Nowadays, the most common guzheng is 21 strings guzheng.
The next morning, we went back to the railway station to check the cloakroom Ming kept for us. There was a small suitcase inside with new clothes, money, something like a flashlight, and a book. We changed our clothes and were ready to go.
The company’s headquarters we had an appointment with was located in the heart of Wuhan. They were producing power supplies for induction heaters. They built thousands of them annually and were looking forward to expanding production in the future. That is why they wanted to have another supplier of fast thyristors.
To my great surprise when we reached the HQ of Heatronic Power, Professor Ming was waiting there for us. He asked if we enjoyed our new look. As it turned out, that shelter belonged to him. And he had more information to share, but we had to hurry to the meeting.
Unlike our previous negotiations, the representatives of Heatronic Power were dressed less official, and their office was completely different from what I’ve seen before. It was like a huge playground for the adults. Heatronic’s CEO said that he spent a lot of time in the USA, he lived and studied there for a long time. So, he borrowed the style from several American companies.
The meeting went well. Almost everyone in the room knew English, so this was our official language that day. Heatronic Power planned to open two new factories within the next 3 years – one in China, and another one in Poland. They calculated that if everything would go as planned, they will need additional 25 000 fast thyristors per year to what they already had. And to approve TSemics they needed to start preliminary tests within the next month. This was good news for us. And we agreed that the sample batch will be delivered to them within the next four weeks.
They offered us a short tour of their headquarters before we leave. We were accompanied to the showroom where they showed their guests several short clips about the company, its history, and production. In one of the short films, I thought I recognized a face I saw before. Professor Silicon made a slight movement to keep calm, meaning that he recognized the man in the film as well.
After that, we were invited to have lunch in the company’s restaurant. This is when Professor Ming commanded us to run. Heatronic’s people did not expect that, and it gave us some extra time to lose them. I also noticed that Professor Ming did something with his hands that made our followers slow down like they were trying to get through some invisible barrier.
Outside the building, Ming’s ELLO1 electric car was waiting for us. We jumped in, and in a few minutes, we were quite far away from Heatronic’s HQ. ELLO1 was the first electric car built by Ming himself. It was a compact 300kW lightweight five-door hatchback that started like a rocket. Ming was proud of his invention and said that soon the whole planet will switch to electric cars.
When we all calmed down a bit, Professor Silicon asked if I recognized Drayton Dense in that video about Heatronic’s history. And then it clicked in my head that I had already seen him in several articles, however in the video, he looked much younger, though the video was shot only several years ago. Professor continued by saying that when I first mentioned Heatronic Power he had some bad feelings, but he wanted to check it himself. He already knew that Drayton Dense and his SilSic Corp. started to corrupt many companies around the world, and his network spread far beyond Semcity.
Professor Ming said that he had to share more information, but first we had to make sure we were safe. And ELLO1 drove us to another shelter outside Wuhan.