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157 Windfall

 He Zhichu turned to glare at Gu Nianzhi. The girl was a real piece of work: she had been throwing money in his face a minute ago, eager to be rid of him, and now she was nonchalantly ordering him about like she owned him...

The cheek of this girl!

He Zhichu sneered as he stood up. His handsome, dignified face was icy cold. He looked around the courtroom contemptuously, before lifting his chin arrogantly. "She's right. I'm filing a counterclaim, on behalf of my client, against Xin Xinggao, who has fabricated evidence and defamed my client with false accusations. I am also suing the US military and the CIA-they falsified evidence, and are guilty of perverting the course of justice."

Gu Nianzhi stood beside He Zhichu and shamelessly waved her slender arms about in a great show of unearned arrogance: she was a tiny yapping dog riding on the fearsome reputation of the lion behind her. "You heard him! You all know who this man is-the super famous lawyer, He Zhichu! He's never lost a case, and now he's beaten you, too! Admit it!"

Lieutenant Colonel Peter was purple with rage. He screamed: "We haven't lost yet!"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Gu Nianzhi crossed her arms and coolly looked him over. The arrogant expression on her face was an exact copy of He Zhichu's. "Go suck an egg!"

"What the f*ck?!" Lieutenant Colonel Peter flew into a fit of uncontrollable rage at the haughty expression on Gu Nianzhi's face. Her words did not help, either. He leapt towards her, his mind set on beating the living daylights out of her.

The courtroom immediately degenerated into complete chaos.

Gu Nianzhi deftly stepped away, putting He Zhichu between herself and Lieutenant Colonel Peter.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter reached for her, but his arm was seized in mid-air by He Zhichu. "Lieutenant Colonel Peter attacked my client in court. That will be an additional charge of assault. I will be adding Lieutenant Colonel Peter's name to my list of defendants."

In the midst of all the chaos, Chen Lie secretly activated the camera hidden in his glasses. He calmly recorded everything that was happening with a completely straight face, fully intending to show the recording to Huo Shaoheng once he was back in the Empire.

He turned the camera upon Gu Nianzhi, and made sure to record from an angle that would show Gu Nianzhi and He Zhichu standing together.

He Zhichu was slender and handsome. His demeanor was frosty and aloof, but he was clearly protective of Gu Nianzhi.

Gu Nianzhi was tall and beautiful. She was bursting with energy and life as she fearlessly prodded her enemies. Her confidence had come from He Zhichu, and it was evident that she felt safe with him by her side.

Chen Lie watched the scene in front of him, and tried to imagine Huo Shaoheng's reaction to this recording. Chen Lie's round face was solemn and grave, but deep down, he could feel his intestines ache from suppressed laughter.

"Order! Order in court!" Judge Judy hurriedly picked up her gavel and slammed it viciously on the sound block.

The bailiffs rushed in and separated everyone.

Following that, a few men from the US military and the CIA quickly wheeled Xin Xinggao out of the courtroom.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter glowered menacingly as the bailiffs forcefully dragged him away from He Zhichu. He gave the middle finger to the Huaxia diplomats and spat out: "Xin will be an American soon! You have no authority over her!"

"Yeah? So what if she's an American, big deal! Did you think we'd be too afraid to sue her, just because she's American? I'll bankrupt her, and send her to jail with a snap of my fingers!" Gu Nianzhi seemed intent on waging war at this point; she poked her head out from behind He Zhichu as she continued to provoke Lieutenant Colonel Peter. She was only one step away from returning his middle finger...

He Zhichu turned to look at her, his expression cold. "...Oh? You can send her to jail with a snap of your fingers? Impressive."

"Oh no, I can't do that, but you can, Professor He, you're so amazing!" Gu Nianzhi shamelessly clasped her hands together and looked up at him with her large, starry eyes. She was laying it on thick now: "You'll send her to jail, bam, just like that!"

He Zhichu had been furious with Gu Nianzhi when she insisted on paying his attorney's fee. Now, however, faced with her adorable, cheeky act, he found that he could not stay angry at her. He tousled her hair and said: "Good answer."


By the end of the day, Xin Xinggao had received her US nationality, which meant it was no longer possible to extradite her. At the same time, she had to drop all allegations of aggravated assault against Gu Nianzhi.

It was painfully evident that Xin Xinggao had tried to frame Gu Nianzhi over non-existent injuries, and He Zhichu was not about to let Xin Xinggao and her legal team walk away unpunished.

It did not take long for Gu Nianzhi's counterclaim to be submitted to the Boston Federal District Court. This time, Gu Nianzhi was suing Xin Xinggao for false charges, and also suing the US military, the CIA, and Lieutenant Colonel Peter specifically for collaborating to falsify the evidence against her.

Gu Nianzhi was still a minor. He Zhichu made sure to report Judge Judy's brazen abuse of authority to both the US Department of Justice and the Bar Association. As a result, her qualifications as a judge and lawyer were currently under review.

The situation did not look at all promising for Judy. She would most likely be stripped of her qualifications as a judge, in addition to losing her lawyer's license.

Once news of what happened to Judy got out, most of the other judges were too afraid to take up Gu Nianzhi's counterclaim. The judge who finally accepted the case was He Zhichu's former professor, from his days as a student in law school.

With a neutral, unbiased judge presiding over the case, Gu Nianzhi's counterclaim moved along quickly.

Xin Xinggao was now an American. Although she was no longer under the jurisdiction of the Huaxia Empire, the laws in the US still applied to her, and actually made it a lot easier for Gu Nianzhi to sue her.

A week later, the US military and the CIA folded. They sent someone to He Zhichu to beg for mercy, and to settle out of court. They offered 10 million US dollars as compensation; their only condition was that He Zhichu and his team abandon the case, once and for all. Xin Xinggao's file would be sealed-forever.

Gu Nianzhi sucked in a breath when she saw the proposed amount. She asked He Zhichu: "Professor He, would this be enough to pay your attorney's fee?"

"Attorney's fee this, attorney's fee that-is that all you ever think about?" He Zhichu tousled her hair. "It's only 10 million dollars. You can't be satisfied with that?"

"...What would you consider to be an appropriate amount, then?" Gu Nianzhi cheerfully made a cup of coffee for He Zhichu and placed it in front of him. "You can have it all, as compensation for your legal services, Professor He."

He Zhichu snorted. "Very generous of you. No, you don't have to give me the whole amount. I'll take 10% of the settlement proceeds."

"Fine by me." Gu Nianzhi shrugged. "I don't mind giving you the whole amount, really-this was a total windfall, I wasn't expecting to get money out of this."

In the end, He Zhichu proposed to the US military and the CIA to settle out of court for 100 million dollars. If they did not agree, he would take his lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court.

The US military and the CIA were worried that further trials would expose even more of their secrets. After many discussions-and a few words of advice from several US government officials who sided with He Zhichu-they were finally forced to give in to He Zhichu's demands. They paid Gu Nianzhi 100 million dollars to settle out of court.

Gu Nianzhi paid He Zhichu 10% of the settlement money for his attorney's fee, or 10 million dollars. The remaining 90 million dollars went into her pocket; she decided she would transfer the money to a savings account in the Huaxia Empire, as soon as she had the chance to do so.


Chen Lie waited until Gu Nianzhi had won her counterclaim, before returning to the Huaxia Empire.

Before leaving, he secretly met up with Gu Nianzhi at a banquet the consulate had thrown for the Harvard University Huaxia students.

They pretended not to know each other in front of the other guests.

Once she was inside Chen Lie's private room in the consulate, however, Gu Nianzhi immediately dropped her act and gave him a big hug. "Brother Chen! I missed you so much!"

Chen Lie was also deeply moved by their reunion. He patted her on the back and said, "We've missed you too, Nianzhi. How are you? You seem to be doing great. Professor He has been treating you really well, I see."

Gu Nianzhi nodded. She led Chen Lie by the hand to the sofa, where they both sat down. "Professor He has been very kind to me. I'm really grateful to him."

"That's it? You're just 'grateful'?" Chen Lie's round eyes twinkled behind his glasses. "Looks to me he thinks of you as something more than a student."

He Zhichu had made a valiant effort at concealing his affection for Gu Nianzhi, but it was clear as day to someone as perceptive as Chen Lie.

Gu Nianzhi frowned. "...Brother Chen, when did you become such a gossip? What about Sister Zitan? Are you two together yet?"

"Don't bother changing the subject. And no, I still haven't gotten her to go out with me..." Chen Lie scowled at Gu Nianzhi. "You cheeky girl, you're a master at evasion now! You haven't answered my question!"

Gu Nianzhi's large, lively eyes blinked a few times. She said sheepishly: "Actually, I promised Mei Xiawen I'll be his girlfriend, if he's still in love with me when I return to the Empire in six months..."

"Oh? I see..." Chen Lie tilted his head in some surprise. He settled comfortably into the sofa and began ticking off her suitors with his fingers: "So there's Mei Xiawen-you promised to be his girlfriend after six months. And then there's Professor He, living so close to you... tsk tsk... I bet a certain someone won't be able to sit still when he finds out."

"Someone? Who?" Gu Nianzhi asked quizzically. "Brother Chen, are you keeping something from me?"

"No, no, of course not..." Chen Lie could not stop laughing. He handed a yogurt drink to Gu Nianzhi. "Here, this was your favorite when you were a kid, I remember."

The yogurt drink from the Huaxia Consulate General in Boston had been made by a chef flown over from the Empire. It was delicious, and tasted exactly like the yogurt drink Gu Nianzhi had loved as a child.

She inserted a straw and sipped the yogurt drink loudly as she wondered how to ask Chen Lie about Huo Shaoheng.

She thought of Huo Shaoheng smiling at the mystery woman on Zhao Liangze's video feed the other day, and felt as though her heart had been raked over by a vicious cat. She could barely keep herself from grabbing Chen Lie by the collar and shaking him until he told her who that woman was...

Chen Lie looked Gu Nianzhi over.

He had not seen her for two months. She was noticeably taller now, and a lot curvier.

The little girl was slowly but surely transforming into a young lady. She was a woman now.

Chen Lie sipped wistfully at his Coke. Children grew so quickly.

Gu Nianzhi finished her yogurt drink and finally summoned the courage to ask hesitantly: "Brother Chen, did Uncle Huo recently get a girlfriend?"

"What? Who told you that?" Chen Lie narrowed his eyes, and surreptitiously began recording Gu Nianzhi with the camera hidden in his glasses.

Gu Nianzhi knew she had to bring out concrete evidence if she wanted Chen Lie to treat the subject seriously. Otherwise, he would probably treat her like a child and say whatever she wanted to hear, just as Yin Shixiong and Zhao Liangze had done...

After a fierce battle with herself, Gu Nianzhi finally gritted her teeth and said: "Uncle Huo went to the after-party for the International Extraordinary Women's Commendation Conference, right?"

"Yeah." Chen Lie was immediately reminded of how Huo Shaoheng had been forced to attend the party by General Ji, the top commander of the military. He slapped his thigh and burst into laughter. "Oh man-bad news travels fast, they were right about that! How did you know Mr. Huo had been forced to socialize at a party? Hahahaha..."

Gu Nianzhi was so surprised her jaw almost fell to the floor.

In the next moment, she had pounced on Chen Lie. She clutched his arm and shook it savagely as she screamed: "Socialize? What?! Brother Chen, explain what you mean, now! Or else!"

"Oh? So you know he went to the party, but didn't know he had been forced to go?" Chen Lie was laughing so hard now tears streamed from his eyes. He rubbed his chin and said earnestly: "Let me explain. You remember his mission abroad? You know the one-you helped them deal with the Nandou satellite and all."

Gu Nianzhi nodded. "Yeah, I remember, but what does that have to do with Uncle Huo going to the party?"

"It has everything to do with it." Chen Lie rose from his seat to get a bottle of Coke. "That mission was for Gu Yanran, a wealthy lady from Barbados. Mr. Huo went to the party to socialize only because this woman wanted to thank him personally. She also promised to donate a large sum of money to the military, to set up a pension fund for the families of soldiers who are either dead or retired."

"Gu Yanran?" Gu Nianzhi frowned. "Who's that? Why haven't I heard of her?"

"I don't blame you, we hadn't heard of her either. She's a rich lady who suddenly appeared on the scene two years ago." Chen Lie smiled. "You're both Gu's, but she's so much more mature and generous than you are."

"Sheesh! There are so many people with the Gu family name-what, are you going to compare me to all of them?" Gu Nianzhi rolled her eyes at Chen Lie dismissively. "So this woman wanted Uncle Huo to attend the party? And she said she'd donate her money to a military pension fund if he went?"

"Exactly!" Chen Lie tousled Gu Nianzhi's hair. "My dear Nianzhi, you're so clever, so quick to catch on. That's exactly what the woman meant. Anyway, your Uncle Huo had his arm twisted. He was forced to go socialize with her at a cocktail party-he absolutely hates those-and all because she dangled her filthy money like a carrot on a stick."

Gu Nianzhi recalled the smile she had seen on Huo Shaoheng's face, and muttered: "...Was he forced to go? Really? But I saw him smile..."

Chen Lie: "You saw that? How? Anyway, so what if he smiled? He can't put on a half-assed show-he has to look like he actually wants to be there, you know? But I know for a fact that he left almost immediately. Little Ze stayed behind to represent him. Hey, isn't Little Ze with you now? Why didn't you ask him about it?"

Gu Nianzhi had not dared to ask Zhao Liangze-she had been afraid she would not like his answer.

But now, as she sat listening to Chen Lie, it finally occurred to her that Chen Lie was right: Huo Shaoheng would never attend a party if he could help it...

But that did not explain the way he laughed at the party.

Gu Nianzhi had to admit that she was feeling somewhat jealous. It was inappropriate for her to feel that way, but she could not help the sour, unpleasant feeling within her.

Uncle Huo had always been hauntingly beautiful; it was the sort of beauty that stole one's breath away. When he smiled, he was utterly irresistible.

Gu Nianzhi bit her lip and said in a low voice: "That Gu Yanran sounds absolutely shameless. If she wants to help the soldiers, she should just go ahead and do it. Why does she need Uncle Huo for that? What does his presence at the party have to do with her donation?"

"My thoughts exactly. She was only using her donation as an excuse." Chen Lie followed Gu Nianzhi's lead and lobbed insults at Gu Yanran. He did not have a good impression of Gu Yanran, either.

So what if she was rich? She was completely shameless, using her money to coerce the military into sending Huo Shaoheng to meet with her.

Chen Lie would rather have Huo Shaoheng get together with Gu Nianzhi, than allow Gu Yanran to get her dirty paws on him.

"Gu Yanran is quite attractive, actually. She may seem plain and ordinary at first glance, but look at her a second time, and you won't be able to look away." Chen Lie said with a sigh, "She's extremely wealthy, too. She's going to move her entire family fortune over to our country. I'm sure you'll see her, eventually, once you're back in the Empire."

Gu Nianzhi crossed her arms as she leaned backwards into the sofa. She said, fuming: "Being super rich is not an excuse! I don't care who Uncle Huo chooses to be his girlfriend, that's none of my business-but I won't stand idly by and watch him be coerced!"

"What are you going to do?" Chen Lie smiled as he teased Gu Nianzhi. "Go up to Gu Yanran and spit on her?"

"Hey!" Gu Nianzhi glared at him. "I have my methods."

The next day, Chen Lie left Boston and returned to the Huaxia Empire.

As soon as he was back in his country, he learned what Gu Nianzhi had meant by her "methods."

By the time Chen Lie returned to the military base, Gu Nianzhi had already remitted the remaining amount from her settlement-all 90 million US dollars-to General Ji of the Huaxia Imperial Military, and asked him to set up a charitable fund for both fallen and retired soldiers. She had requested that the fund be established in Huo Shaoheng's name.