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Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
James didn’t know why he did it. Perhaps it was because he felt even more indignant about what his coworkers said. Or maybe it was too hot, so he was feeling very irritated and broke his own pattern by talking back to Sean, nearly quitting on a whim. But reason told him he couldn’t impulsively resign, so he only took half a day off. He wanted to go to the beach and relax, then go back to the job that gave him increasingly less satisfaction.
Last year, the Hua Xia Imperial Deputy Minister of Secret Services, Bai Yusheng, had been subverted into betraying his own nation and was killed as a result. The CIA punished James by taking away his credit, since he was originally supposed to be promoted to director. His promotion was halted, and Sean, who emerged from nowhere, took his prize. James wasn’t satisfied, and although he didn’t voice it, he knew it in his heart.
Drifting aimlessly on the street, he didn’t know how many blocks he walked before turning onto a sidestreet. James saw a familiar figure not too far from him… It was a strapping man dressed casually in a simple white shirt with sleeves rolled up, khaki trousers, white leather oxfords, and a head of black hair. When the man turned around, James could see he wore sunglasses that covered half his face. Although he was dressed simply, he had a unique way about him.
James squinted. His 20 some years in intelligence work had honed a sharp intuition. Though he may have lacked in some areas compared to Sean, his age and experience were irrefutable. That wasn’t something a high intelligence could substitute for. Age and experience required time to develop, and the only thing he had over Sean was probably just a few more years of life experience. This wasn’t something to celebrate, and James felt depressed as soon as he thought about it. However, he still abided by his professional ethics and went up to the man. As the Deputy Director of the Asia Branch of the CIA, this was his job and he must do it.
Huo Shaoheng walked ahead leisurely, perusing his surroundings. He purposely revealed himself in front of James in order to go with the flow and root out the traitorous mole within the Hua Xia military. To find this mole, Huo Shaoheng pondered it for a long time and finally decided to give them a taste of their own medicine. He would pit a mole against another mole and dig up that person. After careful observation and consideration, Huo Shaoheng determined that James was a good candidate for a mole. James had the same thought as he approached, and the two men moved closer to each other with the same ulterior motive.
They were in the villa area in Long Island, and everyone there was rich or famous. There were many recreational centers by the seaside parks, so people went there to escape the heat. Huo Shaoheng sat down first at a pavilion by the sea. All of the pavilions were reminiscent of Hawaiian-style huts. James looked around habitually to make sure there was no ambush before slowly walking over and sitting down on the other side of the pavilion.
They looked at the ocean quietly for a while, then James was the first to greet the other with a friendly smile. “May I ask where you’re from? You look quite familiar.”
Huo Shaoheng acted surprised. “Really? I don’t know you at all. Why would you think I look familiar?”
“Haha, maybe some people are similar…” James grinned. “There was a kidnapping a few days ago. Did you see the news?”
“Who watches TV in this day and age?” Huo Shaoheng also smiled. “I only go online. I’m not interested in TV.”
“Oh, there were videos online, too. Did you see them?” James took out his phone and tried to covertly take photos of Huo Shaoheng, but Huo Shaoheng seemed to turn around naturally so James could only capture his back. Before James could take the photo, Huo Shaoheng had already turned to look at his phone. James could only give up and open the video for Huo Shaoheng.
Rubbing his chin, Huo Shaoheng watched it calmly and chuckled. “Very good, that’s pretty interesting.”
“Not only was it interesting but also very valuable.” James smiled knowingly. “I actually think this person is very remarkable and amazing. If he stayed in America and worked for us, his value would be magnified…”
Huo Shaoheng stiffened internally. He didn’t think James would still want to subvert him. He really underestimated CIA agents’ loyalty to their nation… But so what? Neither of them knew who would win just yet… Huo Shaoheng rose with his arms crossed and gazed down at James. He replied casually, “Really? Then has your worth been maximized?”
James’ face fell instantly. He glared at Huo Shaoheng and finally grimaced after a long moment. “I don’t understand what you mean. I was referring to your value. Not mine.”
“Right, I know. My English is not any worse than yours.” Huo Shaoheng spoke with an authentic Oxford accent, which was night and day from James’ Southern drawl. Like a British noble standing before an American peasant from the southern states, he was reserved and refined, polite yet distant.
James had difficulty composing himself and finally shook his head with a small smile. “Then do you want to consider it? You see, I am sincerely discussing the possibility with you.”
Huo Shaoheng also smiled. “I’m even more sincere. Mr. James, are you sure you want to do this, then have someone else take the credit as a stepping stone for their climb up the ladder?”
The words hit James where he was feeling the most indignant. As long as he was indignant, then he would seek change. Huo Shaoheng zeroed in on how James claimed satisfaction yet was feeling internal dissatisfaction. James started to hesitate. Just like last time, he had gone to the pains of subverting of Bai Yusheng, the Hua Xia Imperial Deputy Minister of Secret Services, but for what? Nothing! This time it might be even more credit, but with Sean above him, it’d have nothing to do with him! Sean, that nasty man, would take it for his own! Sean had just arrived at the Asian Intelligence Branch and was hell bent on establishing his reputation. If James could really subvert this most mysterious Hua Xia Imperial Major General, then it’d just be another credit to Sean’s name…
Huo Shaoheng carefully observed James’ reaction. Although the older man remained expressionless, Huo Shaoheng could almost tell what he was thinking. Someone nearly 50 years old and at the end of his career, what would he desire?
Huo Shaoheng continued leading him on. He lured James like a devil that could read his soul. “But if you want to cooperate with me, not only could I help you eliminate the biggest obstacle in your branch but also help you get the position you want so much. Also, believe me, your value is much higher than what you can even imagine right now!”
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