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119 Failure Is Not an Option

 Yin Shixiong smoothed his disheveled hair with his hands. His eyes were glued to the thick red lines zigzagging wildly on Gu Nianzhi's laptop.

"Can we really trust this thing?" He walked over, put his hand on the mouse, and opened up her source code to check it.

Yin Shixiong was outclassed by both Zhao Liangze and Gu Nianzhi when it came to computers, but that did not mean he was computer illiterate. He was just as educated in the subject as an individual with a master's degree in computer science.

Yin Shixiong read the source code, line by line. He let out an impressed whistle. "I should have known better than to doubt you. How do you do it? You spent less than six months learning programming languages from Little Ze, as I recall."

Gu Nianzhi tilted her head. She clasped her hands behind her back, and winked at him. "The programming languages are easy to pick up, actually. Once you know one, you know all of them-they have the same underlying structure and logic. And the languages are constantly evolving, so someone with a lot of experience may not actually be better at coding than a total newbie!"

"Yeah yeah, I'm an old fart, I get it." Yin Shixiong pretended to glare at her; deep down, however, he could hardly contain his excitement. He had a feeling that Gu Nianzhi had unintentionally solved the problem that had been plaguing Huo Shaoheng and his men.

"What do you want me to do?" Yin Shixiong sat on the chair in front of Gu Nianzhi's laptop.

Gu Nianzhi pointed at the screen and said, "Get in touch with Uncle Huo, but don't use instant messaging-use the local Wi-Fi to send an encrypted email instead. Tell them to cut themselves off from the Nandou Global Satellite Navigation System."

Now that the Nandou System had been breached, it would actually be safer to use the local network.

Gu Nianzhi had thought of a simple analogy for their situation: the Nandou System was the "house" they had painstakingly built, and it had kept them safe. But now the roof was broken, riddled with holes, and rain was pouring in; under the circumstances, it was safer to take refuge in the neighbor's house-the local network.

Yin Shixiong nodded. "I'll send the email right away."

He sent an email to Zhao Liangze then and there, with Gu Nianzhi's laptop.It was seven in the morning in Vienna, Austria, when the email was delivered. Huo Shaoheng and his men were already awake; they were accustomed to getting up early so that they could not sleep in even if they'd wanted to.

Zhao Liangze had gotten out of bed and was tinkering around the kitchen while making coffee. After that, he called room service and ordered breakfast.

Huo Shaoheng stood before the window, smoking a cigarette.

Suddenly, a chime sounded from Zhao Liangze's computer: an urgent email had arrived.

Huo Shaoheng flicked the ash from his cigarette into a nearby ashtray. He walked over to Zhao Liangze's computer, his cigarette still in his hand, and glanced at the screen.

It was an email from Yin Shixiong. After a brief second's deliberation, he opened the email and read it.

As soon as he saw what was written in the email, he discarded the cigarette in his hand and said, in a grave voice, "Little Ze, are you still connected to the Nandou System?"

Zhao Liangze poked his head out from the kitchen. "I'm still hooked up to it, but the connection isn't open right now."

In other words, the router was on, but the computer was off.

Huo Shaoheng let out a small sigh of relief. His fingers deftly flew over the computer keyboard. He turned off every connection between their system and the Nandou Global Satellite Navigation System.

"Call Yin Shixiong. Use the hotel Wi-Fi." Huo Shaoheng motioned for Zhao Liangze to come over, and moved aside to make space for him. "Ask them what's going on."

Zhao Liangze hurried over. He paled when he saw Yin Shixiong's email. "There's something wrong with Nandou? But that's impossible!"

It was only natural for him to be skeptical; anyone who had helped design Nandou and understood how the system worked would have found the idea difficult to swallow.

Huo Shaoheng was just as perplexed, but he had always kept a tight lid on his emotions, never allowing them to betray his thoughts and concerns. He nodded calmly. "If the idea seems ridiculous to even you, then it must be true-something's up with Nandou." This was the only explanation. They had been stumped for days, but had never suspected the Nandou System, having believed it to be unassailable.

The Imperial Army had launched a top-secret investigation to find spies who may have leaked the mission, but a week had gone by and they had made zero progress. They needed to eliminate the four remaining mercenaries within the next two weeks, or their deal with Gu Yanran would be off the table.

If Gu Yanran retracted her offer, that would mean that the 6th Military Region had failed.

Huo Shaoheng was not about to let a failure of this scale taint the reputation of the newly established 6th Military Region.

Zhao Liangze re-checked all his equipment and operating systems. Once he was sure all links to the Nandou System had been cut off, he turned on the computer and connected to the hotel network.

A moment later, Yin Shixiong's computer began to beep: this meant Zhao Liangze was trying to contact him.

Yin Shixiong heard it, and returned to his room with Gu Nianzhi's laptop.

Gu Nianzhi followed him.

Yin Shixiong set Gu Nianzhi's laptop down. He sat at his desk, turned on his computer, and opened the instant messaging software that was beeping for his attention.

Zhao Liangze's face appeared on the computer screen.

"Big Xiong, I just got your email. Oh hey, Nianzhi-you're still up?" Zhao Liangze had noticed Gu Nianzhi's small, delicate face in his video feed.

"I have something to tell you, Brother Ze." Gu Nianzhi's expression was solemn, her face drawn tight with worry. "Is Uncle Huo there?"

"I'm here. Go on." Huo Shaoheng appeared behind Zhao Liangze, his arms folded across his chest.

Gu Nianzhi composed herself. She explained to them about her program and the experiments she had conducted, and then presented her laptop to the camera. "Look, these are the reflected signals my receiver picked up. They're a lot stronger than the signals I tried to bounce off the satellite myself."

Zhao Liangze wasn't an expert for nothing. He had barely glanced at her laptop screen before realizing the truth of the situation. He brought his fist down on his computer desk and shouted, "I'll be d*amned-there is a problem! Who's messing with us?! The daring of it! How did they do it?"

"This means that whoever's sending these signals to the Nandou System is doing it near where you live, right? Can you find out where?" Huo Shaoheng had seen at once what was important about these signals, and was now asking the crucial questions.

Gu Nianzhi nodded vigorously. "I think it's from nearby, too, but we still don't know exactly where-"

"I know just the place!" Yin Shixiong had a sudden epiphany.

He had visited the area in question, not too long ago, while he'd pretended to be a tourist.

"Where?" Both Zhao Liangze and Gu Nianzhi asked at the same time.

"Harvard University's School of Electronic Engineering," said Yin Shixiong, carefully. "That's the only place in the vicinity with the equipment and the brains to send the sort of probing signals we're talking about."

"That may be it!" said Gu Nianzhi in a hushed voice. "The School of Electronic Engineering is just opposite Harvard Law School. I can head there tomorrow morning and see what's up, if you like."

Zhao Liangze and Yin Shixiong objected to this. Zhao Liangze said, "No. You're out of your depth. Let Big Xiong go instead."

Huo Shaoheng ignored them; he took hold of the mouse and opened a few programs on Zhao Liangze's computer. He spent a brief moment looking at the screen, before saying to Gu Nianzhi: "Nianzhi, go check out the School of Electronic Engineering, but don't bring any equipment with you. See if there's anyone suspicious, and ask what kind of experiments they're running. Remember not to draw any attention to yourself."

This was the first time Huo Shaoheng had asked Gu Nianzhi to do something as important as this for him. She nodded, giddy with excitement. "Understood! I'll go tomorrow. You can count on me!"

"Stay on guard, and be quick about it." Huo Shaoheng looked at his watch. "You only have 24 hours. I expect you to find out what's going on by this time tomorrow-can you do it?"

Gu Nianzhi did not hesitate. "No problem!"

Once the video call was over, Zhao Liangze voiced his objections. "Sir, Nianzhi isn't part of the Special Ops. This is too dangerous for her, surely."

Huo Shaoheng had tapped out a new cigarette, and was now idly toying with it with his fingers. He said expressionlessly, "It's fine. It would be more risky for Big Xiong to do it."

Gu Nianzhi was not only an exchange student at Harvard University, but also a young, innocent-looking girl.

If something fishy was going on over at the School of Electronic Engineering, Gu Nianzhi would have an easier time spotting the signs.