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    Silence suddenly enveloped the surroundings.

    Lin Shuicheng looked up and smiled at Yan Zi. "Auntie, please sit down and have something to eat. Why is everyone standing?"

    Yan Zi seemed to awaken from a dream and quickly took her seat.

    Due to Fu Xue's initial intention to join in the conversation with Lu Shengwen, she had no choice but to sit as well.

    Her face alternated between flushes of red and paleness. She was on the verge of having a pleasant conversation with Lu Shengwen, which would have served as a warning to the Su family. Yet, Lin Shuicheng unexpectedly intervened!

    Why is it Lin Shuicheng again!

    On the other side, Dong Shuoye and Fu Luoyin approached as well. Upon seeing Lin Shuicheng, Fu Luoyin's throat constricted, and he immediately turned to leave. Dong Shuoye grabbed him, "Minus Two, if you leave now, Su Yu will laugh at you endlessly in the future. He'll tease you for being afraid that he'd steal your man. It's just Lin Shuicheng, are you scared you can't catch him?"

    Fu Luoyin murmured, "Yes, it's just Lin Shuicheng."

    They also approached and sat down. This time, Fu Luoyin didn't sit beside Lin Shuicheng; instead, he positioned himself diagonally across from him, lifting his gaze to fixate intently upon him.

    Su Yu whispered, "Sister-in-law, do you feel like Second Bro's gaze is like a laser beam? I feel like I'm being pierced through..."

    Lin Shuicheng let out a barely audible sigh.

    Lu Shengwen was incredibly warm towards Lin Shuicheng, seemingly delighted by his unexpected presence: "When you called a few days ago, we were thinking of inviting you over for a chat. And here we are, meeting at Doctor Yan's place! Oh my, what a coincidence, isn't it? Mr. Lin, are you currently working with Doctor Yan?"

    Lin Shuicheng smiled in return: "Not really. I haven't been taking on many projects lately. Su Yu is a friend of mine, and the Yan family has been very helpful. I'm here today to celebrate Doctor Yan's birthday. But I didn't expect the world to be so small – turns out Mr. Lu is also a friend of Doctor Yan. I had no idea before. How have you been, Mr. Lu? Any new developments in your company's organic exploration efforts?"

    Su Yu, nervous as he devoured the steak that Lin Shuicheng had cut for him, strained his ears to continue listening to their conversation.

    Lu Shengwen's expression was somewhat peculiar.

    Lin Shuicheng's casual question had hit the nail on the head.

    They were a pharmaceutical company, and their development was currently thriving. Their recent competition with the Su family partly stemmed from their desire to expand into Star City's market. Backed by the Han family from the former Middle East division, they lacked neither funding nor suppliers. Their financial prowess surpassed that of the Su family, and if they wished, they could secure exclusive agreements with all raw material suppliers and clinical trial sites on the market.

    Money was not an issue, but the most crucial shortage they faced was top talent.

    Two centuries earlier, organic synthesis relied on AI-generated pathways, large reaction matrices, and brute-force simulations of reaction conditions. Robots and machine learning had already replaced 95% of the workforce in this industry. Automation had scaled up, forming a closed loop in experimental processes, both physically and data-wise. In short, pharmaceutical factories might once have relied on formulas and reactions as their competitive edge, but that was no longer feasible – the composition of drugs was no longer the benchmark for industry leadership, as every company's system could now brute-force screen drug components. Speed of research and development, effectiveness in clinical trials, and successful market launch were the lifeblood of the industry.

    Lu Shengwen was a decisive and visionary man. He had foreseen the current trend years before the advent of quantum computers, downsizing the organic synthesis team and pushing for digitalized pharmaceutical systems. This wise decision propelled Lu Pharmaceutical to unparalleled heights, but he was also confronted with a problem: while the middle and lower tiers of researchers who could be replaced by machines had left, there was no influx of outstanding talent to fill the gap, and the future direction of the company seemed unclear.

    The AI's performance in synthesizing new drugs wasn't as terrible as anticipated, but neither was it as promising. The root of the issue still lied in the existing theories. Organic chemistry was replete with indirect methods and creative successes, while direct approaches were scarce, and reaction flaws were inadequately documented. The AI had replaced most human labor, but when it encountered defects, no one was there to correct them.

    Lin Shuicheng had first interacted with them during his sophomore year. At that time, Lu Shengwen had hit a roadblock in a study on an antidepressant's reaction with neurotransmitters in the human body, and even their specially appointed expert couldn't identify the cause.

    Out of desperation, and considering Lin Shuicheng's affiliation with Yang Zhiwei, as stated in his resume, they invited him to give it a try.

    After spending just one day in their lab, Lin Shuicheng vanished for a whole two weeks. Lu Shengwen was disheartened, assuming that the overambitious young student had been intimidated and fled. Surprisingly, Lin Shuicheng returned.

    He could still recall Lin Shuicheng's appearance that winter. He dashed over in his lab coat, carrying the pungent smell of solvents – not exactly pleasant, but Lin Shuicheng's demeanor made one overlook these odors, his messy hair, and his exhausted look.

    With a boisterous laugh, he embraced them and announced, "I did it!"

    Their special consultant, disbelief etched on his face, asked, "This can't be true, Lin. We've consulted all available literature, and there's no—"

    "Yes, I did them all! Some documents were wrong, some didn't mention the concentration of the reactants!" Lin Shuicheng waved a USB drive in his hand, his eyes sparkling with a radiant smile like the dawn of spring.

    For a full fifteen days, this student with no background in organic chemistry had retraced every single documented experiment to verify the reaction, working tirelessly without much sleep. Most importantly, he had actually succeeded.

    Lu Shengwen had a particularly deep impression of Lin Shuicheng, and they had collaborated once before. When the company encountered new issues this time, Lin Shuicheng was the first person that came to mind. However, he had been unable to get in touch with him.

    The reason why it took Lu Shengwen so long to recognize him today was that Lin Shuicheng's entire aura had changed.

    His appearance remained the same, but his demeanor had become more subdued, even cold and distant, as if he were detached from the world. This was different from the young man who had burst into the company with laughter in Lu Shengwen's memory. Even if they looked identical, his initial reaction would be that he had merely encountered someone who coincidentally resembled Lin Shuicheng.

    Yet, it turned out to be Lin Shuicheng himself!

    Lu Shengwen gave him a meaningful glance, pursed his lips, and shook his head. The answer was well-known among industry insiders.

    He asked, "Teacher Little Lin, are you really not taking on any projects lately?"

    As a seasoned CEO who had accepted his fate, he respectfully addressed him as "Teacher Little Lin." Despite the fact that the people at the table already recognized Lin Shuicheng's capabilities, they were still taken aback by the honorific.

    Fu Xue's expression could no longer be described as merely "unpleasant"; it was now laced with an obsessive jealousy and an indescribable awkwardness. Why did Lin Shuicheng have to intervene right now?

    He had just cut a steak for Su Yu, making it clear which side Lin Shuicheng stood on. Although Lin Shuicheng hadn't mentioned the unseen mediation that had just occurred, his presence made it obvious that he was here to help the Su family regain their footing!

    Had his relationship with Su Yu truly reached such depths?

    The key was that he could actually hold his own!

    She wanted to leave the table in a fit of desperation, but that would be improper etiquette. Instead, she forced a smile and continued listening, stiffly.

    Lin Shuicheng chuckled. "I've been quite busy lately, so I might not have the time. However, since you and Aunt Yan are partners, perhaps I can offer some suggestions and see if they can be of assistance to both of you. I didn't expect to run into you here. Had I known you were affiliated, I wouldn't have held back. The book I gave Dr. Yan might come in handy; it summarizes recent trends and field knowledge in medicinal organic chemistry. If there are any further questions, feel free to contact me."

    Lu Shengwen glanced at Yan Zi, his thoughts racing. "Ah... Of course, of course! As partners! Our desire to collaborate is very strong!"

    The stubborn Lu Shengwen, who had refused to budge just moments ago, now seemed to acknowledge their "partner" status with the Su family?

    Su Yu's eyes widened.

    Yan Zi, too, was stunned. Only after Lin Shuicheng's words did she remember to check the book he had given her—there were simply too many items for her to examine them all. She had yet to thoroughly look through what Lin Shuicheng had sent.

    Flipping through the first two pages, she immediately realized—it was an invaluable industry gem!

    The book was bound by hand, with beautiful handwriting indicating that it was all done by Lin Shuicheng himself. On the front page, he had scribbled a few lines: "This book attempts to explore potential research directions for the current state of medicinal organic chemistry, combining AI-based production planning analysis under bottleneck conditions... and conducting feasibility verification. Originally intended as my undergraduate thesis, its completion was suspended due to a change in my major focus to analytical chemistry and atomic assembly."

    "Post-Graduation Supplement: Due to a shift in focus to quantum analysis, the progress of this book has been discontinued, and the publishing contract has been terminated. The completed content will not be publicly released. Apart from a few unperformed experiments, the feasibility of the rest has been verified. I now bequeath all creative works and experimental achievements to the legal representative of Su's Pharmaceutical Company, Dr. Su Yu. Additionally, I wish Dr. Yan Zi a joyous 53rd birthday."

    This is an industry Bible, clearly outlining the current shortcomings and future prospects, detailing feasibility, research methods, and potential challenges. Each point reflects a young student's earnest exploration and reflection on a sunset industry, a discipline transitioning from science to technology.

    This is a true grand gesture. Lin Shuicheng knows that the entire birthday celebration was orchestrated to pave the way for Su Yu, and he has essentially presented all avenues to the Su family!

    Su Yu exchanges a glance with Yan Zi. Although innocent, Su Yu understands everything from Lu Shengwen's reaction.

    Unable to sit still, Su Yu pulls out his phone, sending a question mark to Lin Shuicheng. Simultaneously, he receives a message from Yan Zi, containing a picture of Lin Shuicheng's thesis cover.

    Taking a look, Su Yu continues messaging Lin Shuicheng, "What are you doing, why are you giving such a valuable gift? We can't accept this; it's your academic achievement, a thick volume! How can you give it away so casually?"

    "It's a gift for you. I said today is about you. I believe there's no better present for Aunt Yan Zi," Lin Shuicheng replies, even though Su Yu is sitting right next to him. "Moreover, the book isn't complete, only about 75% finished. I've decided not to continue or publish it. If it can be of any assistance, I'm glad."

    Years ago, he eagerly proposed this topic to Yang Zhiwei, who remained noncommittal. His ambitious plan met with a tepid response: "Go ahead. It'll be challenging, but that's not the most crucial thing."

    He proceeded, and looking back now, he finally understands what Yang Zhiwei meant by "challenges."

    His thesis would undoubtedly disrupt the entire pharmaceutical industry, functioning as both a Bible and a blade. Once published, it would bridge the gap between major corporations and small businesses, potentially leaving many in a declining industry jobless. He aimed to expand the pie and distribute it equally, but inevitably, more people would resent their smaller slices rather than appreciate the increase.

    And he was no longer the ambitious youth of old, having chosen a path of failure that was now reaching its end.

    Confused, Su Yu continued firing off messages to Lin Shuicheng. Before he could finish one text, Lu Shengwen noticed their exchange: two young men texting each other back and forth, obviously seated together yet secretly engaged in a sweet little game.

    Lu Shengwen's attention shifted to Su Yu. "Little Su and Mr. Little Lin...?" He glanced at them with a knowing smile.

    Again, Su Yu was caught off guard. Mustering a forced laugh, he said, "Oh no, not at all, hahaha, though I wish it were true."

    Both Fu Luoyin and Dong Shuoye looked up from across the table.

    Realizing his joke had gone awry, Su Yu quickly corrected himself. "Hahaha, actually, she's my sister-in-law! Yes, sister-in-law!"

    Lin Shuicheng shot him a glance.

    Finding the laughter bitter on his lips, Su Yu continued, "I mean, she used to be my sister-in-law! Hahahaha..."

    Fu Luoyin set down his glass.

    "Everyone, enjoy the food, enjoy the food..." Su Yu urged.

    For some inexplicable reason, Su Yu felt like crying. He would rather stand at the entrance for another week in the freezing cold than continue to stay here!

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