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Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Huo Shaoheng felt a trace of impatience in his heart but still held himself back. He replied quickly, “There’s no time. I only wanted to tell you that if someone brings a letter for a Mr. Gu in a few days, please accept it for me.”
Tan Guiren was shocked. “A Mr. Gu? Who is that?”
“Please help me accept it, and I’ll forward it to him.” Huo Shaoheng didn’t explain and only asked Tan Guiren to do as she was told. “Mr. Gu” was the secret code established between Huo Shaoheng and James; it was Huo Shaoheng’s alias.
Tan Guiren pressed her lips together and answered obediently, “Ok, I’ll remember to.”
Huo Shaoheng sighed with relief when she stopped asking questions, then continued to say, “We successfully found you because someone back home provided us with accurate intelligence. It’s part of the plan that I’m still here, and that person is your true savior. I hope you return to the Empire as soon as possible and stop worrying your parents.” He nodded at Tan Guiren before briskly leaving.
Tan Guiren stiffened and hadn’t even reacted before Huo Shaoheng disappeared from the iron gates outside her courtyard. His voice was very beautiful… He spoke clearly and with a perfect accent. His tone was even and relaxing. The sound was so deep and alluring that she knew it was a rare and beautiful voice. Tan Guiren studied music, so her ears have always been more sensitive since she was a child. The positive traits in Huo Shaoheng’s voice seemed to amplify in her ears. Even though he had already disappeared, Tan Guiren still stood clutching the railing by the door to stare steadily ahead. It was a summer afternoon, the courtyard was lush with greenery, and the sea breeze was gentle in the air. A branch of purple wisteria blossom fell from the planter above, swaying unsteadily in the wind like her heart.
Just as Huo Shaoheng expected, his conversation with Tan Guiren was recorded by the bugs planted by the CIA. In the CIA’s New York headquarters, Sean listened to the conversation with a grim face. He barked at James, “Go investigate what is going on with our informant in the Huaxia Imperial military!”
James also stiffened. He hesitated for a second before saying quietly, “…Sean, I don’t even know who the informant in the Huaxia Imperial military is…”
“You don’t know either?! Didn’t you plant him there?!” Sean was flabbergasted. “There’s something that even you don’t know?”
“Of course.” James grimaced. “That informant is planted deeply. He’s never made direct contact with us.”
“Is that so?” Sean was very surprised. “Then how do we know that the intelligence is accurate?”
“…Because this came from above.” James felt a wonderful thrill in his heart to see this almost omnipotent young man appear shocked.
Sean understood—that informant must have been at a very high level. Or, in other words, he had been planted by agents even higher up and strictly interacted with them.
James found some psychological advantage and began lecturing Sean. “You also know that it’s always been easy to infiltrate the Huaxia Imperial military, but many of the informants we bribe aren’t actually core personnel but low-ranking ones that only have limited reach. We wasted lots of money in those years, and afterward, we met Bai Yusheng, who was considered an especially successful subversion in all these years. Unfortunately, we couldn’t protect him properly.”
“It’s good that you know that.” Sean recovered his confidence. “If I had come a bit earlier, Bai Yusheng wouldn’t have died for nothing. Did you investigate thoroughly to see who killed him?”
“We think it was a Huaxia special agent, but we don’t have an inkling of evidence. The murder method was very generic, and without special characteristics, it was impossible to determine who did it. For a very long time, we all thought he’d had a diving accident…”
James looked down. The incident was a thorn at his side—he didn’t hate Bai Yusheng’s killer but the upper CIA bureaucrats. They had shifted all the blame to him when it happened and totally neglected the one who had subverted Bai Yusheng in the first place, refusing to give him any credit. If it hadn’t been for the incident, James was certain to get the position of the director of the Asian Intelligence Branch.
“Very well, then. We need to be even more careful. I’ll report this to the higher-ups to have them investigate the informant providing them intelligence from the Huaxia Empire so they don’t fall into the trap.” Sean finished speaking and pointed rudely at the office door. “Get out!” This attitude was the last straw, which pushed Sean over the edge from wavering at the edge. Clenching his fists, he turned to leave.
It was another weekend, and Gu Nianzhi was packing her suitcase in the Huaxia Imperial B University post-grad dorm. The silk scarf Huo Shaoheng had sent her was carefully tucked in her backpack. Then she went to Huo Shaoheng’s official residence to spend the weekend after telling Ma Qiqi she’d see her next week. She hadn’t been back for a long time, and this time, she planned to stay for two days and help clean Huo Shaoheng’s room. She called Yin Shixiong to ask him to send a car to pick her up. Yin Shixiong agreed and set the time for her to wait at her dorm entrance.
When Gu Nianzhi came downstairs, she saw a silver BMW sedan with a military license plate that must have been sent by Yin Shixiong. However, Zhao Liangze was the one to come out of the opened door!
Gu Nianzhi was very happy and ran over to ask, “Brother Ze! When did you come back?!”
“I’ve been back for a few days now.” Zhao Liangze smiled with open arms to hug Gu Nianzhu. “Let Brother Ze see. Hmm, very good. You look rosy and seem to have gained some weight—ow! Why did you step on my foot?!”
Zhao Liangze didn’t even finish his sentence before Gu Nianzhi fiercely stomped on his toes so hard he nearly cried.
Gu Nianzhi wore strappy sandals with small high-heels that could double as weapons. “That’s what you get for calling me fat!” Gu Nianzhi pretended to look away angrily. “If you say it again, I’ll do more than step on you!”
“Fine, fine. Brother Ze said the wrong thing and pissed off Miss Gu!” Zhao Liangze bowed jokingly and giggled with Gu Nianzhi.
After they got in the car, Gu Nianzi finally remembered what he was saying and pouted. “Brother Ze, stop calling me Miss Gu. That’s someone else, and it might make others misunderstand.”
Miss Gu was obviously Gu Yanran now. They made plans to see Gu Xiangwen the next day, and since it was on the way, Gu Nianzhi had decided to go earlier and stay a night at Huo Shaoheng’s official residence.
Zhao Liangze giggled. “Then what should I call you? Little Miss Gu? Yeah, you have a little brain…”
“You’re the one with a little brain! Your entire family has little brains!” Gu Nianzhi got even more upset. “Don’t call me Little Miss Gu, either.”
“Then what should I call you?” Zhao Liangze joked purposely.
“Nianzhi, of course, you’ve always called me that. Why did you change today?” Gu Nianzhi rolled her eyes at him. “Fine, stop joking around, and I won’t ask you about that.”
She had been lectured constantly over these past few days, so she already understood that she couldn’t ask about Huo Shaoheng. She couldn’t hold back from asking Yin Shixiong and Chen Lie before, but not only did they not tell her anything, but they lectured her, too. Gu Nianzhi learned from her mistakes, so she stopped herself from asking Zhao Liangze, who went abroad on the mission with Huo Shaoheng.
Zhao Liangze nodded with a smile. “Actually, I wouldn’t even know what to say even if you asked me. Mr. Huo is still on a mission, but mine is already complete.”
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