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127 Hogging the Limeligh

 The manufacturers, scientists, and technicians in attendance had been watching the events unfold in utter bafflement, but now they erupted into raucous laughter. They could not help it.

The Americans had messed up, big time. How ridiculous and shameless of them to have claimed that they had cracked the password, when it had already been made public for a good 15 minutes!

Even if the Americans had actually cracked it by themselves, they could no longer prove it. They should have swallowed their pride and kept quiet.

Instead, they had offered themselves up for a very public smackdown.

"How do we know they cracked it? Maybe they just copied the password..."

"Copied it? Plagiarized it, you mean!"

Gu Nianzhi quickly posted all that had happened to social media, using an anonymous account.

All at once, satirists from all over the globe pounced upon this piece of juicy news; they began to ridicule the US and their "cracking" methods.

The Americans were, understandably, fuming with rage. They had not expected the Huaxia Empire to be this cunning: the Huaxia delegation had not only refused to acknowledge the breach by the American team, they had turned around and milked it for publicity and exposure.

The Americans were not about to let the Huaxia delegation steal their thunder. The Harvard University press conference was still being broadcast live, all over the world; they immediately seized the opportunity to turn the spotlight on Xin Xinggao.

The massive LED screen at the International Telecommunications Conference was still showing the Harvard University press conference, which was now building up to the show-stopping climax.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is our honor to introduce you to the leader of the team that cracked the password for the Nandou System. She is an exceptionally talented student, hailing from the Huaxia Empire-we could never have done it without her."

Xin Xinggao's pretty, dignified face appeared on the LED screen; this was also broadcast, live, to every corner of the world.

A hush fell over the guests at the International Telecommunications Conference. Everyone stared at the young woman on the screen, unsure of what to think.

Gu Nianzhi had turned on the TV and was watching the live US coverage of the conference.

She felt a chill run down her spine when she saw that the Americans had deliberately directed all attention to Xin Xinggao. She clenched her fists, her palms sweaty with dread.

She looked at Xin Xinggao's proud face on the TV screen, and shook her head sympathetically.

The Americans had stealthily removed themselves from the equation by doing this. They had pushed all responsibility onto Xin Xinggao's shoulders.

The Americans no longer cared whether Xin Xinggao admitted to treason, plagiarism, or shamelessly attempting to take credit for information that had already been made available for free; whatever she did, she had done it herself. The "true" Americans had had nothing to do with it.

Xin Xinggao had come to the United States on a Huaxia Empire passport. She was still a citizen of the Huaxia Empire, and was legally nothing more than an international student in the US.

Every single face in the Huaxia delegation to the International Telecommunications Conference had turned gravely serious. The scientists, especially, were trembling with rage.

At that moment, Xin Xinggao received a phone call, and finally realized she was in big trouble.

At the awards ceremony that followed, Xin Xinggao defended what she had done with an agitated speech: "Science has no borders! I never wanted all this attention-I just wanted to do my research in peace, and scale the summit of science!"

After hearing this, Gu Nianzhi no longer had any sympathy for Xin Xinggao.

Scale the summit of science? Watch out, you may have just slipped and fallen to your death.

Gu Nianzhi silently swore at her as she skillfully hacked into Xin Xinggao's computer once again. She found the PowerPoint slides Xin Xinggao was about to present to the world, and stealthily made a few changes.

Xin Xinggao put up her elaborately crafted slideshow on the screen behind her as she continued with her speech. She was about to tell the world how she had cracked the Nandou System.

Treason? Plagiarism?

She was not about to let such ugly accusations put a stain on her reputation!

"Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to show you how my team cracked the code," said Xin Xinggao as she turned, a laser pointer in her hand. She looked at the screen behind her, and froze.

The entire world collectively held their breaths as they looked at the screen behind her.

There were only four sentences on the screen: a single phrase repeated in Chinese, English, German, and Russian. The letters were large and bold.

"Science has no borders! But, scientists should be loyal to their motherland!"

"Science has no borders! But, scientists should be loyal to their motherland!"

"Science has no borders! But, scientists should be loyal to their motherland!"

"Science has no borders! But scientists should be loyal to their motherland!"

...

"Holy sh*t!"

The staff running the Harvard University press conference inhaled sharply.

"Cut to a different feed! Switch it out, now!"

All around the globe, media employees in charge of the live broadcast scrambled to censor the words on the LED screen with a mosaic filter. It was complete chaos.

However, the large, bolded letters practically took up the entire screen. The mosaic filter was next to useless, under the circumstances.

Many of those watching the live broadcast quickly uploaded screenshots to social media.

The screenshot of the "science has no borders! But, scientists should be loyal to their motherland!" PowerPoint slide instantly struck a chord with the younger crowd, who promptly set it as their profile picture on the internet.

Xin Xinggao was absolutely enraged. She rushed over to her computer and tried desperately to close the PowerPoint file, but the operating system was now completely unresponsive.

She was eventually forced to pull the plug on her computer. With that, the PowerPoint slide finally disappeared from the screen, ending her nightmare, for now.

...

Over at the International Telecommunications Conference, Zhao Liangze smiled proudly as he watched the press conference by the Harvard School of Electronic Engineering end in total humiliation, live on the LED screen. He folded his arms and said softly, "Good job, Nianzhi!"

Huo Shaoheng looked at him. "Nianzhi?"

"Who else?" Zhao Liangze turned to look at Huo Shaoheng, a wide grin on his face. "That clever girl, she never fails to surprise me!"

Huo Shaoheng could not resist smiling, but soon he quickly composed himself. He stared fixedly at the LED screen, expressionless and silent; he could almost see Gu Nianzhi's large, doe-like eyes curve into crescent moons as she smiled sweetly at him.

...

Harvard University's press conference ended amidst shame and ridicule, a complete and unmitigated disaster. Bai Shuang seized the opportunity to get on the podium and introduce the Nandou System's superior performance and unbeatable price tag. She made sure to emphasize that the Nandou system was entirely compatible with the Copernicus System, which meant that the cost of switching over was negligible: all anyone had to do was adjust the frequency. She ended her explanation with the Nandou System's killer feature: unlike the Copernicus System, which could only be used in the European region, the Nandou System offered coverage for the entire globe.

The Nandou System had exceeded all expectations, and had immediately become the highlight of the conference. Manufacturers from all over the world jostled to place their orders.

The International Telecommunications Conference had turned into a massive publicity event for the Huaxia Empire's Nandou System. Thus, the Huaxia delegation had secured a great victory at the conference. They returned to the Huaxia Empire, triumphant.

It was late at night when the delegation landed at the Imperial Capital Airport; nevertheless, the airport was full of people, young and old, waiting to give them a hero's welcome.

After stealing the show at the conference, Bai Shuang now had countless adoring fans.

"Bai Shuang! Bai Shuang! Bai Shuang!"

"Shuang Shuang! We love you!"

She had skyrocketed in popularity among the younger crowd.

Her witty "my bad" at the conference quickly became the hottest, most popular catchphrase among the Huaxia millennials.

The internet was flooded with "my bad" memes and parodies. Nothing came close in popularity.

Bai Shuang walked out of the airport terminal, hugging the bouquets of flowers given to her by her fans. She looked around to see where Mr. Zhao and his boss had gone.

She was acutely aware that she had only barely managed to turn the tables and save the day because of the message Mr. Zhao had sent her.

She looked about her, but did not see them. There was only a large group of cheering fans, waving their autograph books in the air as they clamored for her signature.

Deputy Minister Yan chuckled. "Don't bother looking, they've already left." He winked at her before leaving in the car specially reserved for members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.