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113 Fat Chance

 Yin Shixiong turned right from Cambridge Street and entered the Harvard University campus. He walked north, along Massachusetts Avenue, to Harvard Law School, where Gu Nianzhi was having her classes.

He walked around the building housing the law department. The instrument in his backpack made no noise, indicating that there was nothing out of the ordinary here.

Unlike science students who had to rely on specific equipment and instruments, the students at Harvard Law School worked only with their brain and ready wit.

Yin Shixiong stood in the avenue near Harvard Law School and took a few selfies with his phone, angling his shots to get a perfect 360 record of the surroundings.

The place was inundated with similar selfie-takers, obnoxiously waving their selfie sticks about. Yin Shixiong, with his unassuming clothes and plebeian approach to taking selfies, had not caught up with the latest selfie trends.

He chuckled, and adjusted his sunglasses. He looked at the map in his hand, and discovered that just opposite of Harvard Law School, on the east side, was Harvard University's famous School of Electronic Engineering.

Yin Shixiong's interest was piqued. He slowly walked over to the School of Electronic Engineering.

He was still acting the part of a tourist. He had an iPhone headset on, and appeared to be listening to music. His sunglasses made it impossible to tell what he was looking at.

Yin Shixiong had been giving his full and undivided attention to his headset from the moment he entered the School of Electronic Engineering.

His headset was actually connected to the instrument in his backpack. It wasn't really an iPhone headset, it had only been modified to look like one on the outside.

In a few moments, his headset crackled to life. Beneath all the crackling and buzzing was a series of rhythmic ticks and beeps.

This was the sound of electromagnetic and radio signals.

The special instrument in his backpack was capable of capturing, analyzing, and recording sounds beyond the human hearing range.

Yin Shixiong stood at the entrance to the School of Electronic Engineering for a long moment. He made sure not to get too close.

He had to be careful; he did not know what sort of equipment was being kept here.

This was Harvard, after all. They were probably working with the latest cutting-edge technology.

He had heard that the top colleges and universities in the United States shared the results of their technological research with the US army.

And besides, this was the School of Electronic Engineering-there was nothing surprising about the tangled mess of electromagnetic signals coming out of the building.

Yin Shixiong hung about and took a few selfies, before leaving with a wide grin on his face.

It was evening when he was finally back at the apartment.

Gu Nianzhi had been waiting for him to return so they could have dinner together.

"I bought pizza, Brother Xiong. Come have some!" Gu Nianzhi did not know how to cook. She had never learned to cook her own meals, because it had never been necessary.

Back when she lived with Huo Shaoheng at the Special Ops base, all the cooking had been done by the orderlies in the canteens.

It was the same when she had gone to C University for her undergraduate studies; there were so many school cafeterias and restaurants nearby to choose from.

She had never prepared anything more complicated than instant noodles topped with an egg or two.

Yin Shixiong looked at the greasy Philly cheesesteak pizza. It was horribly unappetizing.

He put down his backpack and went to the bathroom to wash his face and wipe his hands. Once he was done, he said to Nianzhi, "Don't eat that junk. It's nasty, and full of calories. C'mere, I'll cook dinner for you. I'm a man of many talents-you'll see!"

Gu Nianzhi clapped enthusiastically. "Yippee! Need an apron, Brother Xiong? I have two lovely aprons, my roommates gave them to me."

"I'll take 'em." Yin Shixiong was already acting the part of a head chef. He opened the refrigerator and took out a chunk of beef to thaw on the table.

There was a distinct lack of green vegetables in the refrigerator. He picked out a few bell peppers, cut up the beef, and sautéed them together. He made a simple cold dish by mixing thin slices of tofu, cucumber, and omelette together. He followed this with a plate of stir-fried potato strips, and a soup made of seaweed, shrimp and egg.

Gu Nianzhi's stomach rumbled at the tantalizing aroma. She scurried about, helping Yin Shixiong with the smaller tasks.

She set the table according to his instructions, and opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the first dinner in this apartment.

It took only half an hour for Yin Shixiong to prepare all the dishes.

Yin Shixiong seated himself at the dining table, and said wistfully, "I'm not really that great a cook, actually. Now Mr. Huo, on the other hand-he's a true magician in the kitchen, a culinary god..."

"Well, duh!" Gu Nianzhi had just stuffed her mouth full of sautéed beef and bell peppers when she heard Yin Shixiong bring up Uncle Huo's cooking. It stirred up the unspeakable longing for him in her heart, so violently and suddenly that she choked on her food. She gagged, red-faced, and began to cough and sputter.

Yin Shixiong rushed over and thumped her on the back with all his strength. The accursed slice of beef she had been choking on flew out of her mouth.

Gu Nianzhi grabbed her glass of water and gargled. She sputtered, "Brother Xiong! Why did you have to bring up Uncle Huo and his cooking? Are you trying to kill me?!"

"What are you talking about? I said Mr. Huo knows how to cook, that's all-what's so strange about that?" Yin Shixiong muttered under his breath.

Huo Shaoheng and his men were often forced to camp in barren land and desolate mountains when taking on missions abroad. To survive, it was necessary to know how to adapt and cook with what they had on hand.

Everyone in the Special Operations Forces knew how to cook. It wasn't worth mentioning, really.

Gu Nianzhi pouted. She grumbled, "...I only got to taste Uncle Huo's cooking a handful of times."

In her first year living with Huo Shaoheng, he had cooked for her a few times to humor her.

Yin Shixiong was amused. His eyes swept over her small, indignant face as he refilled his rice bowl. "You've never gone on a mission with us. Why would he cook for you every day? And can you think of anyone who actually cooked for themselves, back when you were living with us at the base?"

They had had their meals at the canteen most of the time. They could probably count on one hand the number of times Huo Shaoheng had personally cooked for his men while at the base.

"You have a point." Gu Nianzhi nodded thoughtfully. "I get it now-you guys are all lazy and try to avoid work whenever possible."

"Hey now, what do you mean by that? We're not that lazy!" Yin Shixiong was practically breathing fire through his nostrils. "We have to conserve our energy whenever we can, all right? No point wearing ourselves out on trivial things like cooking. We're elite soldiers, not lowly cooks! I may know how to cook, but that doesn't mean I'm going to cook for you every day. Fat chance of that!"

Gu Nianzhi's eyes flickered to the food on the table. "What's all this, then?"

"...I only cooked all that because I can't stand American food. I have a Chinese stomach, it'll only take Chinese food," said Yin Shixiong without missing a beat. "Oh, and I know how to roast muskrats, by the way. Want to try it some time?"

"Ugh, that's so gross! I'm still eating here, okay?" Gu Nianzhi stopped pressing Yin Shixiong for more details about Huo Shaoheng's cooking, and hurriedly changed the subject.

Yin Shixiong chuckled inwardly. Then he imagined having to cook for Gu Nianzhi for the next six months, and his heart sank.

After dinner, Gu Nianzhi put her plates in the dishwasher, and returned to her room to study and do her homework.

After some deliberation, Yin Shixiong ran the video call software on his laptop that would connect him with Zhao Liangze. He would give them an update on the current situation, and also ask Huo Shaoheng for permission to teach Gu Nianzhi how to cook...

He couldn't very well cook all her meals for her.

Gu Nianzhi was all grown up now. She would marry, eventually, and a good housewife had to know how to cook!

Yin Shixiong inwardly gave himself a pat on the back for his quick-thinking.

He waited for almost half an hour on his laptop for Zhao Liangze to take the video call, but nothing happened. There was no response from Zhao Liangze.

"What's going on? Is something wrong with the connection?" Yin Shixiong narrowed his eyes at his laptop. He stared at it for a long moment, before turning to look in the direction of Gu Nianzhi's room.

All was silent. Gu Nianzhi was still studying quietly.

If the internet connection had gone, Gu Nianzhi would have said something by now.

Gu Nianzhi had grown up with the internet at her fingertips, and was hopelessly addicted to it. Yin Shixiong knew this very well.

Gu Nianzhi had not raised a fuss; that meant there was nothing wrong with the apartment's internet connection.

So why couldn't he get ahold of Zhao Liangze?

Yin Shixiong began to feel uneasy.

He found Zhao Liangze's email address and sent him an encrypted email.

A chime sounded over the laptop's speakers, indicating that the email had been sent out successfully.

He waited for the system to notify him that the recipient had opened the email, but it never came.