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125 A Big Gif

 "'London International Telecommunications Conference'?" Gu Nianzhi looked at the message Zhao Liangze had sent her. She opened up a browser, navigated to a search engine, and looked it up. "It's in two days; there isn't much time."

She propped her chin up with her hand as she looked over the program for the London International Telecommunications Conference, her finger tapping lightly on the mouse as she read. She texted Zhao Liangze a moment later.

"Call me as soon as the conference begins. I have a big gift for you."

"What gift?"

Gu Nianzhi briefly explained her plan. Zhao Liangze, with his knowledge and expertise, instantly understood what she was up to. He could hardly contain his excitement.

"You clever girl! You never cease to amaze me! Send me the program-we'll give 'em a show to remember!"

...

Huo Shaoheng and his men arrived in London. Once they were settled in and ready, they contacted the Huaxia delegation, who was also in London to attend the International Telecommunications Conference.

The delegation was led by Deputy Minister Yan, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Deputy Minister Yan met and spoke with Huo Shaoheng behind closed doors. As soon as the hour-long discussion was over, Deputy Minister Yan dispatched an urgent report to the Huaxia Empire.

He received a reply from the Empire on the opening day for the International Telecommunications Conference, at five o' clock in the morning: he was to listen to Major General Huo, and do exactly as he was told.

Both parties had been careful to use a codename for Major General Huo in their communications, to avoid leaking his identity.

Deputy Minister Yan immediately informed the delegation that there had been a change of plans: they would be under direct command of a special military task force from the Empire on this day.

Huo Shaoheng did not reveal himself to the other members of the delegation. He stayed behind the scenes while Zhao Liangze and Little Xu from Squad B made the necessary preparations.

"Get a persuasive speaker, and make sure they're prepared to speak on the commercial value of the Nandou System at the conference today." Huo Shaoheng personally gave the order to Deputy Minister Yan, but did not elaborate. He was keeping his cards close to his chest, as a precaution: Zhao Liangze was the only other person who knew what was really going on.

At six o'clock in the morning, London time, someone knocked on the door to Huo Shaoheng's hotel room.

Zhao Liangze opened the door and saw a tall woman with fair skin standing before him. She was beautiful.

"Bai Shuang, first secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reporting for duty." The beautiful woman introduced herself and nodded to Zhao Liangze with a smile on her face.

Bai Shuang had large, doe-like eyes and a strong, prominent nose. Her lips were full and her smile was wide. She was tall, but her natural height had not deterred her from wearing high heels. She had on a light gray pencil skirt and a fitted white blouse that hugged her figure in all the right places, accentuating both her slender waist and ample bosom. Her buttocks were unusually full and round for an Asian woman.

Zhao Liangze's eyes gleamed with interest as he looked her over. This woman probably had some Caucasian blood in her, he guessed.

He opened the door and stepped aside to let Bai Shuang in. "Welcome Miss Bai. Come in, the chief is inside. I'm his secretary." After closing the door behind her, he asked, "Are you perhaps from H province?

H province had the highest percentage of people with Caucasian ancestry.

Bai Shuang was caught off-guard by his question. Her large eyes widened in surprise. "How did you know I was from H province? How should I address you, by the way?"

"My surname is Zhao, you can call me Mr. Zhao." Zhao Liangze led her to Huo Shaoheng's room, and knocked on the door. "Sir, Bai Shuang-the first secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs-is here."

Huo Shaoheng opened the door and walked out of his room. He glanced at Bai Shuang. "You heard from Deputy Minister Yan?"

"Yes. How may I serve you?" Bai Shuang asked respectfully. "The conference will begin at nine o' clock. Deputy Minister Yan told me there's been a change of plans. What are your orders, sir?"

"Don't worry about it. Just make sure you know the Nandou System like the back of your hand; you're going to have to think on your feet later."

...

The International Telecommunications Conference opened its doors at exactly nine o' clock, London time.

Manufacturers of various satellite positioning and communications systems had come from all over the world to attend the conference. State-owned enterprises and private companies alike were here for one reason: to find suitable products, and to learn of the latest technology and research in the satellite communications industry.

This was the largest and most prestigious trade show in the industry. Few countries on the planet had the technological know-how and resources to provide global satellite navigation services.

The United States of America had been the first, followed by the European Union.

Huaxia Empire was the third country, but it had not been always been smooth sailing for them. They had initially asked to collaborate with the European Union on their sat-nav system, but the EU had unceremoniously kicked them off the team after taking their money.

It had been a bitter pill for the Huaxia Empire to swallow, and they had never forgotten the taste of it. None of the other countries could be trusted-they had learned this the hard way, and had gone on to develop their own global sat-nav system without any outside help.

And that was how the Nandou System had come to be.

The Nandou System had turned out to be superior than both the EU's Copernicus System and the USA's Global Positioning System in terms of technology, performance, and cost.

But it was at a disadvantag by being a latecomer to the scene-the international community had been slow to recognize the technological sophistication and commercial value of the Nandou System.

Zhao Liangze followed the members of the Huaxia delegation to the conference venue.

Huo Shaoheng walked beside Deputy Minister Yan. He had put on a simple disguise: a casual khaki suit and a pair of brown non-prescription glasses. He ignored everyone around him as he walked, his expression solemn.

The conference was being held at the Oriental Hotel in London this time.

As soon as they stepped inside the conference hall, they were faced with a massive LED screen. It was showing a video feed of blue sky, white clouds, and a sea that stretched away into the horizon.

Seagulls hovered above the surging waves. Fishing boats dotted the surface of the sea. Sunlight shone through gaps in the white clouds to dance on the boundless sea. The surface of the sea looked as though it had been spread with gold confetti; the sunlight played on the waves, brilliant and coy.

A semi-circular podium had been set up before the screen. It looked out upon rows of red velvet chairs, arranged in sloping tiers.

The chairs had been allocated to the delegations beforehand; the guests had only to identify their seats by looking at the names on the back of the chairs.

The delegation from the Huaxia Empire had been given two rows of seats in the middle, near the front.

Zhao Liangze sat beside Huo Shaoheng. He took out his phone and started a video call with Gu Nianzhi.

He was using the Copernicus System's encrypted channel. The people in charge of the Copernicus System were still blissfully unaware that their system had been breached.

"Nianzhi, check out the venue; everything's so shiny here." Zhao Liangze chuckled as he raised his phone and turned to capture a full 360 view of the venue.

Nobody paid any attention to Zhao Liangze; many of the other guests were also busy taking photos with their mobile phones.

Gu Nianzhi could not care less about the venue decorations. Her eyes were fixed upon Huo Shaoheng, who was sitting in one corner of her video feed, calm and dignified.

From the way Zhao Liangze angled his phone, Gu Nianzhi could only see part of Huo Shaoheng's face.

It was no more than a quarter of his profile, but it was evidently enough for Gu Nianzhi: she stared at him, entranced.

"Did you get a good look?" Zhao Liangze lowered his phone once he was done showing off the venue. "Are you ready? Grab your popcorn, it's going to be spectacular."

Gu Nianzhi smiled. She cupped her face in her hands and said, "I got up early today just to catch this. Don't let me down!" She pointed at her screen and winked at the camera. "Check your inbox. I sent you something, so remember to put it up on the conference's official website before you do anything else."

Just then, Jenny-the blond-haired, blue-eyed host of the conference-appeared on-stage to announce that the conference was now officially underway.

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today as we inaugurate the 18th International Telecommunications Conference." Jenny was all smiles as she gave the opening speech.

The large LED screen behind her cut to a video montage.

Planes were taking off, painting white, criss-crossing lines across the sky.

Fishing boats sailed in the vast, open sea-almost too small to see from the camera's viewpoint, up in the sky.

Back on land, pedestrians hurried about, a mobile phone in every hand. Everyone was either talking on their phone, or sliding their fingers across their phone screens.

"It is thanks to our very own Copernicus Satellite Navigation System and the United States' Global Positioning System that we are able to move freely about the world today, without fear of running into uncharted territory," said Jenny as she turned to look at the LED screen behind her. "Look, here's a fishing boat, navigating the Atlantic Ocean. They've been at sea for 500 hours now. Hi there, can you hear me?"

It was clear that Jenny was about to contact them via the Copernicus System.

Zhao Liangze surreptitiously launched the interference software that Gu Nianzhi had uploaded beforehand.

The interference software was already inside both the Copernicus System and the Global Positioning System, ready to go. It immediately cut off all local signals, quick as lightning.

Without warning, colorful lines of varying lengths burst onto the real-time video feed on the LED screen. The fishing boat on the screen dissolved into a mess of pixelated squares and symbols, impossible to identify.

"Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?" Jenny was extremely embarrassed. She immediately adjusted her headset, but it was no use: the conference's electronic system had lost the satellite connection.