235 HUO KANG
"What do you think so far?" Dr Huo asked as they were heading to the last floor of the building.
Hu Lei smiled with approval. "It is a great place."
Though she had not been able to look into each nook and cranny, she had understood the type of work that was done in the institute. The primary focus was developing new medical techniques, equipment and solutions for treating diseases.
She could see where her father had gotten his passion for pursuing the limits of medicine. Based on Dr Huo's explanation, the research institute had been responsible for solving a lot of crises both locally and internationally.
Once they stepped out of the elevator and onto the last floor, a lounge was revealed. This space looked like a beautiful living room in an upscale home. On the walls were old paintings and photos of austere men. Hu Lei was immediately attracted to these pictures.
"These are former important members of the Huo clan who contributed to the mission of furthering the way of medicine. The list is quite long because the clan has been in this field for more than three hundred years."
Hu Lei was shocked. She could not believe that her father had come from such a great background. Still, she could understand that based on Hu Ming's personality of wandering and doing whatever, this type of family might have felt a bit suffocating.
She walked around the room looking at her apparent clan members, starting from the old paintings to the more recent coloured photographs. She did not find anything remarkable about them. After all, she had no true interest in medicine. She forgot them as soon as she looked at them.
However, when she reached the newest photographs, she found a face that looked familiar. There was a gentle smile and intelligent eyes which made the man look handsome and distinguished. But for some reason, Hu Lei felt a rejection in her soul against the man.
"Who is this person?" She asked Dr Huo.
Dr Huo frowned. She felt that it was strange for her niece to pick out this photo.
"That's my uncle. He was your grandfather's brother. Why do you ask?"
"He just seems a bit familiar to me, but I can't remember where I saw him." Hu Lei was baffled.
"Oh, I doubt you have met him. He died when you were less than ten years old." Dr Huo paused. "May be your father had a photo of him. They were quite close before Ming left."
"Really?" Hu Lei was shocked. She did not think her father had good relations with any relative.
"You could say that Huo Kang was Ming's mentor. After your father completed his residency, he gained an interest in medical research. Huo Kang was the most promising member of the clan at the time."
"What about grandpa?"
"Your grandfather is more interested in traditional medicine. He believes in holistic healthcare, and he has made a lot of contributions to the industry. But he is a conservative person and could not be compared to a visionary like Kang. While there is a place for this form of treatment, it is not a practical choice for large-scale use. So, everyone at the time thought Kang was going to be the next head of the family."
Hu Lei nodded in understanding. She had already noticed that her grandpa was opposed to the excessive use of pharmaceuticals, even going as far as to warn Dr Huo not to give her psychiatric drugs. She could see that he would definitely not get along with a fanboy like her father.
"Anyway, I was telling you about your father. When he returned to the Huo family, he connected with Huo Kang because they were both willing to explore all the possibilities in medicine. And your father was a genius, so Huo Kang was willing to teach him everything. Together, they came up with surgical techniques, new treatment protocols and even a couple of pharmaceutical formulas." Dr Huo sighed.
"What happened?" Hu Lei asked.
"Your father began getting braver, and he started coming up with his own ideas. Most were pretty good, but some would have been dangerous in the wrong hands. For instance, his perspective on organ transplants, from what I heard from grandpa, was ground-breaking. But if his work was presented as is, it would cause more chaos. So, his research was always edited."
"Your grandfather asked Huo Kang to stop Ming from coming up with crazy ideas. Instead, his brother said there was nothing wrong with coming up with new ideas. If necessary, they could just keep the research under wraps until the world was ready for it. After that, the brothers fell out."
"How did my father end up leaving the family?" Hu Lei asked something that had bothered her since she had found out about the Huo can.
"Ming's ultimate interest was in genetics. And he always wanted to crack the code and find a way to heal the body by hacking it. Unfortunately, this is not an easy undertaking. His research trials were a little out of the norm, and the results seemed like they were from hell. I once saw the deformities that formed on the test rats, and I could not sleep. The more he failed, the more he wanted to succeed. He kept pushing and pushing in spite of your grandfather's warnings."
Hu Lei remembered the test subjects in the Antarctic lab and shivered lightly.
"Finally, he was given an ultimatum. He needed to stop with his experiments, or he could leave the family. It was supposed to be a small threat to give him a wake-up call, but it didn't work as expected. At the time, he had already met Lu Liang. I don't know what happened, but they left and went to Supreme City."
Hu Lei could not believe that there was such drama in the family. She knew what happened next from the story Lu Liang had told her. At least, he had not made her into a botched experiment.
"Unfortunately, that was not the end of the story. Huo Kang was deeply angry at your grandfather for forcing out Ming who had been helping him with his neuroscience research. He also packed up and left. No one heard from him until some years later when his body was sent to Herb Town." Dr Huo sighed as she remembered these matters. She had also left the family after that because she could not bear everything that had happened.
"I'm sorry." Hu Lei stretched her hand and touched her aunt's arm.
The older woman laughed. "No, I am the one who should be sorry. I ruined our excursion with such morose tales. Come, let me show you the greatest secret of the Huo Clan."
With that, she grabbed Hu Lei's arm and dragged her. After walking for a while, they stopped at a dark hardwood door with ornate designs of herbs. There was a regal feeling to it.
Dr Huo smiled at Hu Lei mischievously. "Open it."
Hu Lei's lips twitched, but she opened the door.
"Welcome home!" There were loud shouts and cheering from the large room full of people.
Hu Lei looked at Dr Huo in question.
"It's your welcome home party. It's time for you to meet your countless cousins, aunts and uncles."