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 "You can crack it in a day?!" Zhao Liangze and Yin Shixiong exclaimed at the same time. "The Europeans changed the channel encryption key for the Copernicus System after the Americans announced that they had cracked it. You'll have to crack it all over again-are you sure you can do it in a single day?!"

The password for something as secure as a sat-nav system could only be cracked by a computer with a massive amount of processing power.

The Harvard School of m Engineering had cracked the channel encryption for the Nandou System with the help of a supercomputer running 24/7. They would have been waiting for years by the time Gu Nianzhi's dinky little laptop managed to do the same.

Huo Shaoheng had lifted his head in surprise upon hearing what Gu Nianzhi had said, and was now watching Gu Nianzhi calmly with his dark eyes. They were separated by a computer screen, but Gu Nianzhi could feel his gaze bore through her, all the same.

Gu Nianzhi forgot how to breathe. She lowered her eyes, not trusting herself to look at Huo Shaoheng again, and said, softly, "Miss Xin's website has the original record of the signals from the Copernicus System. The amount of data seems overwhelming at first glance, but that's only because there's a lot of clutter and noise in it. If we can eliminate the noise, the amount of data we need to process will be massively reduced, which means the computing power required will also be reduced. My laptop..." At this point, she paused, raised her head, and looked directly at Zhao Liangze, who was sitting in one corner of the video feed on her laptop. She said, laughing, "Brother Ze modified it. It has nothing on an actual supercomputer, but it's still a lot more powerful than the average computer."

Huo Shaoheng looked sideways at Zhao Liangze, who was sitting beside him. "You modified Nianzhi's laptop? Why didn't I know about this?"

Zhao Liangze wished he could run over and clamp a hand over Gu Nianzhi's mouth.

She had promised him she would keep it a secret from Huo Shaoheng!

How can you just snitch on me like that?! Zhao Liangze's thought anxiously.

He should have known better than to trust Nianzhi to be able to keep a secret from Mr. Huo. She had readily spilled the entire can of beans, without even waiting for Mr. Huo to ask her about it! The child was utterly spineless in front of Mr. Huo.

Zhao Liangze inwardly swore at both Gu Nianzhi and Huo Shaoheng as he shook his head vaguely and said, "Me dumb dumb, me know nothing..."

"Pfft!" Yin Shixiong scoffed at Zhao Liangze's ridiculous attempt at playing dumb. Did he really think that would be enough to get Mr. Huo to let him off the hook?

Huo Shaoheng gave Zhao Liangze a cold, withering look. He rose from his seat and said, "You'll stay up with Nianzhi and help her crack the encryption. You're not allowed to sleep, not until you have the password." With that, he left the room.

Zhao Liangze immediately replied with a loud "Yes, sir!" He made a face at Gu Nianzhi. "My dear Nianzhi, you sold me out." He laughed wearily.

Gu Nianzhi saw that Huo Shaoheng had left, and was immediately a lot cheekier than she dared to be in his presence. She returned Zhao Liangze's funny face with one of her own. "Yup, I betrayed you. What're you gonna do about it? I have no secrets from Uncle Huo. You should have known better, Brother Ze."

Gu Nianzhi's cheeky act was endearing; Zhao Liangze could not find it in him to stay angry.

"Oh forget it, I forgive you. So what do you want to do?" Zhao Liangze smiled, shook his head, and quickly got down to business.

Gu Nianzhi's eyes lit up. She quickly explained to Zhao Liangze, with the help of a chart, what she had in mind. "I've studied their decryption methods. I think we should concentrate on how to eliminate all the noise-that's a much bigger problem than our current lack of computing power."

Signals that had been bounced off high-orbit satellites were full of noise and interference.

Cracking the channel encryption key was simple, in theory: they had to first eliminate all interference, capture the relevant signals, and then reverse-engineer the encoding in the predetermined order.

There were many ways to achieve this.

Xin Xinggao's team had found the underlying pattern to the channel encryption through the use of a supercomputer and an "insider" to steer them in the right direction. They had essentially brute-forced their way to the password, by throwing everything at their supercomputer and exhausting every possibility.

Gu Nianzhi did not have a supercomputer; even if she had one, it would take too long to get results she wanted with it.

They had to come up with some other way to quickly and easily decipher the password, and Gu Nianzhi had immediately thought of filtering the signal. They would first eliminate all the noise and interference, thereby reducing the amount of data they had to process. It was a shortcut that would save them a lot of time.

Satellite signals were transmitted via a three-step process: source coding, encryption coding, and channel coding.

Cracking had to be done in reverse; they would have to start by decrypting the channel coding.

Xin Xinggao's team had only gotten as far as cracking the channel coding, which was the outermost layer of security. They had not been able to go beyond that.

Gu Nianzhi's program would filter out the background noise in advance, leaving only the relevant signal codes behind.

Zhao Liangze's eyes grew wide with excitement. He thumped the table and shouted, "Bravo! A shortcut is exactly what we need! How are you going to get rid of the signal noise coming from the Copernicus System?"

Gu Nianzhi navigated to the folder with the computer program she had written the day before. "Brother Ze, can you take a look at this program? Would this serve our purpose?"

Zhao Liangze accessed Gu Nianzhi's laptop and opened the program. He looked it over, making a few tweaks and optimizations along the way, but left the bulk of it untouched.

He was thoroughly impressed, and made sure she knew it. "Nianzhi, you should ditch law school and be my student instead. You'd be the greatest hacker in the world! I, the great Zhao Liangze, offer you my giant shoulders to stand on-you'll surpass me in no time!"

"Pfft!" Gu Nianzhi rolled her eyes. "Humble, much? Okay, enough chit-chat, let's get started."

"Ready when you are. Have you backed up your data?" Gu Nianzhi nodded. "Okay, now feed it into the computer; go." Zhao Liangze turned on his desktop computer and began transmitting to the Copernicus System to intercept the latest signals.

The two of them worked tirelessly at their computers for the rest of the day.

When they were hungry, they ate bread and drank water to sustain themselves.

They stayed at their computers the whole time, only leaving their seats when they had to go to the bathroom.

Needless to say, they did not sleep a wink.

With Zhao Liangze helping her, Gu Nianzhi successfully cracked the channel coding for the Copernicus System, and had even breached the second layer of encryption, all within 20 hours. They had cracked the password in record time and made more progress than the American team had, to boot.

Now that they had the password, Zhao Liangze was able to use the Copernicus System without fear. He could do whatever he wanted with it, and the gatekeepers for the Copernicus System would never know.

Huo Shaoheng had just returned from his morning exercise when he heard from Zhao Liangze that they had successfully cracked the password. He pat Zhao Liangze on the shoulder and said, "Get some sleep. We act tonight."

Zhao Liangze immediately rose from his chair, saluted him, and wobbled back to his room. He collapsed onto his bed and was out like a light.

He and Gu Nianzhi had worked under intense pressure for 20 hours. Most other people would have succumbed to the pressure and fatigue hours ago.

Huo Shaoheng watched Gu Nianzhi valiantly fighting to keep her eyes open. His voice was warm when he said: "Nianzhi, you should go to bed, too." He paused, and asked gently, "Aren't you tired?"

"Nope, I'm not tired, not at all." Huo Shaoheng's concern had sent Gu Nianzhi's heart racing. "I'm not done yet! I'll protect you, Uncle Huo!"

The corners of Huo Shaoheng's mouth curved upwards ever so slightly. He shook his head and said firmly, "Be a good girl now."

He looked at Gu Nianzhi in silence. He did not know it himself, but his eyes were no longer cold, ruthless, and intimidating-there was instead a warmth and tenderness in them.

His gaze was as intoxicating as wine to Gu Nianzhi-hypnotic, even. Her eyelids fluttered close, and she laid her head upon the computer desk, already asleep.

Yin Shixiong clicked his tongue when he saw this. He scooped her up, and carried her to her bedroom.

Huo Shaoheng watched from his end of the video call, his lips compressed into a straight line. He reached for the mouse, and ended the video call with a light tap of his finger. Out of sight, out of mind...