The first transport aircraft returning from Berlin landed at the US military base in New York around 8 p.m.
The New York military base was brightly lit. As the aircraft landed and the cabin doors opened, thunderous applause erupted from the tarmac outside the plane.
As the frontline officers disembarked one after another, it was Kyle, dressed in a black combat uniform, who stepped down the aircraft stairs last. The applause became even more intense and exuberant when the soldiers saw him.
As Kyle walked forward, scanning the surroundings, he saw dozens of military officers and officials in suits serving as the welcoming party. General Chester, who had led the campaign, was also present here.
Beyond the restricted area guarded by US soldiers, a group of reporters and photographers held up their vintage cameras, vigorously capturing the moment with a constant flash of blinding white light.
“Thank you all for your hard work!” General Chester greeted the people who had disembarked from the aircraft. He then walked up, to the surprise of many officers and officials, and affectionately patted Kyle’s shoulder, smiling. “Kyle, well done! You are truly a war hero!”
“At least I can live up to the rank of Brigadier General that you bestowed upon me,” Kyle shrugged and pointed to the insignia of his rank on the left shoulder of his uniform— a temporary addition he had put on just before disembarking.
Many officials from both the military and the government shook their heads and smiled wryly. Perhaps only Kyle dared to speak so casually to a five-star general like that.
General Chester didn’t mind, smiling as he said, “You’ve worked hard fighting on the front lines for over a month. Take a few days to rest first.”
“After a few days of rest, will there be another campaign for me to join?” Kyle asked casually. After all, with the recent capture of Germany, signifying the end of the war in the European theater, there shouldn’t be any major battles left.
“There’s a plan…” General Chester began to speak but quickly paused, casting a meaningful glance at Kyle before softly saying, “When the time comes, I’ll have the soldiers notify you. For now, go home and get some rest. As the nation’s hero, you can’t afford to collapse from exhaustion.”
Although the last sentence was said in a teasing tone, it still carried a hint of genuine concern.
Kyle nodded and said, “Then I’ll take my leave. Fury will handle the matters regarding our time in Germany.”
At some point, Fury had become his exclusive spokesperson.
As soon as Kyle started to leave, Fury, with an eyepatch over his left eye, walked ahead on the tarmac, accompanied by armed soldiers who were escorting the hostages.
The attention of the officials shifted toward the hostages. Defeating Germany was one thing, but acquiring German scientists and military intelligence was equally important.
Taking advantage of their distraction, Kyle made a slight wave, signaling Logan, who had blended in with the soldiers disembarking, to follow him. The two of them left the military airport.
Seeing Kyle’s departure, many journalists and photographers quickly picked up their camera equipment and hurriedly chased after them, hoping to conduct an interview.
After all, unlike Steve, Kyle hadn’t been exposed to interviews and publicity before going to the battlefield. As a hero who had been fighting on the front lines, he had numerous documentaries, but he had never been interviewed before.
Any media agency in New York dreamt of getting firsthand interview material from Kyle.
The journalists, carrying their camera equipment, increased their pace and chased after them. Just as they were about to catch up at the main entrance of the military airport, a luxurious extended car suddenly stopped outside.
Kyle and Logan opened the car doors, got in, and the car immediately started, leaving behind a trail of exhaust for the breathless journalists.
Inside the extended luxury car, a professional bodyguard acting as the driver sat in the driver’s seat, while the middle and rear sections of the car were hollowed out, providing ample space. Luxurious sofas were placed on both sides of the car doors.
Under the comfortable lighting on the roof of the car, Kyle and Logan sat on one side of the sofa, while on the other side sat a well-dressed gentleman with a small mustache— none other than Howard.
“It’s a good thing you didn’t get caught up by those reporters. Otherwise, it would have been hard to get away,” Howard said, patting his chest with lingering fear. Obviously, he was accustomed to dealing with reporters.
The extended luxury car drove away from the military base, and Kyle gave a faint smile. He asked, slightly surprised, “Do you think they would have been able to stop me if I wanted to go away? Forget that, what have you been up to?”
Howard replied, “I came back from the base in Europe to help out at the scientific research institute here in the United States about two weeks ago. But it just ended a few days ago, otherwise, I wouldn’t have had the time to come and pick you up.”
“Is the current project at the research institute related to nuclear weapons?” Kyle asked directly.
Howard didn’t give a direct answer but nodded slowly, indicating that he was right. “The research and technology are in the final stages. It won’t be long before we can produce physical objects for experimentation.”
“It seems like the war is really coming to an end,” Kyle mused, leaning back on the sofa, slightly lost in thought.
Once the war ended, it was time to start planning for the arrangements of private forces!
“Oh, by the way, who is this?” Howard looked at Logan, who had been sitting next to Kyle without saying a word since they got in the car.
“Just call him ‘Logan.’ I met him on the battlefield. He’s…,” Kyle hesitated, unable to find a suitable description, and finally simply said, “My bodyguard.”
The national hero, symbolizing conquest and power, the top-tier soldier in the US military, needed… a bodyguard?
Howard’s eyes widened in disbelief. He looked at Logan, who remained silent, and then at Kyle, who had a serious expression, as he asked, “Really?”
“I’m not lying to you,” Kyle smiled and said, “When Logan reveals his abilities in the future, you’ll see. I’m sure you’ll be very interested in him then.”
“To be chosen as your personal bodyguard, he must be no ordinary person,” Howard said with a hint of anticipation. He introduced himself warmly, “Hello, I’m Howard Stark.”
Logan nodded coldly, not saying much. He still wasn’t very good at interacting with others.
Feeling a bit awkward, Howard stroked his beard and made a suggestion to Kyle, “Last time at the training base, we said we’d have a drink when we got back. If you’re free tonight, how about going out for a few drinks together?”
“Sure,” Kyle nodded in agreement. He had just returned to New York and didn’t have anything to do at the moment.
The luxury car left the area of the military base and entered the bustling city center of New York, finally stopping in front of a tall building.
“I thought you were taking me to a bar. Why the change?” Kyle got out of the car and looked up at the high-rise building that stood in the center of the New York City streets.
It was a modern industrial building, about sixty-something floors high, constructed with sturdy reinforced concrete. The windows on each floor were brightly lit, and glimpses of busy workers could be seen inside.
In the middle of the high-tech building, a giant sign with the words “Stark Industries” was constructed using illuminated lighting fixtures.
Howard walked into the open space in front of the building, opened his arms toward Kyle and Logan, and confidently exclaimed, “Welcome to Stark Industries! The dream factory of future technology!”
(End of Chapter)
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