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159 A Match Made in Heaven

 "I, too, believe that Gu Nianzhi is a normal human being, and not some Frankenstein monster," Bai Yueran said humorously as she placed the bone china teacup in her hand on the coffee table. "What we're really interested in is her background, her origins. General Ji, General Huo, I hope you haven't forgotten what we found in the backpack she was carrying when we first found her. Those documents and charts have proved to be extremely valuable."

Huo Shaoheng did not reply.

General Ji nodded. "We only achieved our breakthrough with the engine for the Gray Shadow supersonic fighter jet because of those documents."

The Imperial fighter jets would still be running on sub-par engines, if it had not been for Gu Nianzhi and her backpack.

"Exactly. Our intel tells us that we beat the United States to the punch-they're still trying to develop their version of our engine." It was clear that Bai Yueran's words were directed to Huo Shaoheng. "So Mr. Huo, in light of all that, do you still want to be rid of Nianzhi? Do you still think she's a burden to you?"

General Ji sat up straight on the sofa. He was old, but his majestic, domineering aura had not decreased over the years. He patted Huo Shaoheng on the shoulder and said solemnly, "Shaoheng, this task was assigned to you by the state and the military. I know it hasn't been easy for you, having to play nanny and raise a little girl on your own, but Yueran is right. We're interested in her background, her origins, and not who she is, as a person. You cannot abandon your duty, not before we find out where she's from. This is an order. Understood?"

Huo Shaoheng nodded. "I won't abandon my duty, but I still think it isn't right for us to pin all our military R&D hopes on her. We have to do it the hard way, make our own breakthroughs. Nianzhi has given us a significant leg up with her documents, but we shouldn't expect anything more from her. I'll try to find her family, of course, but not because I think it would benefit us. I want her to be reunited with her family-she may have lost her memories, but that doesn't mean she doesn't miss her family."

Bai Yueran laughed out loud. "Oh dear, has the ruthless General Huo grown soft? I've said this before, but Gu Nianzhi is your mission, your target. She's not your friend, and definitely not your family. Mr. Huo, you're too emotionally invested in your target, and that can be dangerous. You shouldn't do that."

"Colonel Bai, I don't think it's up to you to decide what I should or shouldn't be doing," Huo Shaoheng said impassively. Bai Yueran's words had not affected him in the slightest. "You're out of line."

Bai Yueran felt a surge of resentment, but she quickly realized that Huo Shaoheng was right: she had been out of line, and deserved the scathing rebuke. She hastily got to her feet and saluted him. "General Huo, please forgive me, I spoke out of turn. I will accept whatever punishment you think is appropriate."

General Ji waved at Bai Yueran. "Sit down, sit down. We're just having a casual conversation here. Shaoheng, Yueran isn't being unreasonable. Don't forget, you're a major general, working for the Empire. Every action you take has serious consequences. Of course, I have absolute faith in you. I know you're not the type to be reckless."

Bai Yueran sat down uneasily. She watched Huo Shaoheng's face carefully as she said in a subdued voice: "...Mr. Huo, I didn't mean to be disrespectful. I only want what's best for the military, and I understand your concern for Gu Nianzhi. Once she's of age, she'll get a boyfriend, get married, and have children. As long as she stays within the Empire, I don't think there'll be a problem."

Huo Shaoheng ignored her. He stood up and saluted General Ji. "General Ji, is there anything else you would like to discuss?"

"No, we're done. Get your men to set up the Army Dependents' charity fund, and make sure they do a good job of it-it'll be established in your name, after all." General Ji pushed the documents over to him. "We don't actually need the money, to be frank. It's just like with Gu Yanran-I didn't send you to meet with her, just because she promised to donate her money. It was much more than that, you understand?"

The military had been after the blueprints in Gu Yanran's possession; those specific blueprints were extremely valuable, even more valuable than the jet engine blueprints in Gu Nianzhi's backpack. Gu Yanran's blueprints had been the reason why the military had agreed to her conditions.

But it was in the military's best interests to keep Gu Yanran's blueprints a secret, which was why they had made a show of sending Huo Shaoheng to the party for Gu Yanran's donation money.

Huo Shaoheng was well aware of it: he would not have agreed to meet with Gu Yanran for a lesser reason. Still, the rumors of his attending the party in exchange for a donation had been wildly distorted and exaggerated by a few of his enemies. The military had made no effort to set the record straight, which meant the scandalous gossip had dealt a blow to his reputation.

But Gu Nianzhi's donation had effectively squashed all the rumors.

Huo Shaoheng thought of Gu Nianzhi, and how she seemed to be getting cheekier and bolder with every passing day. The corners of his mouth quirked into a smile, and his expression softened. "General Ji, this fund cannot be established in my name."

"Why?" Bai Yueran and General Ji asked in unison.

"Mr. Huo, don't be too modest," Bai Yueran said anxiously. "Setting it up in your name means you'll get credit for it!"

He would be able to put it on his list of achievements, and use it to his advantage when securing a promotion, or during an election.

Huo Shaoheng smiled. He picked up the documents and waved them. "That's Gu Nianzhi's name on the remittance slip. She's underage, she needs her legal guardian to sign for her if she wants to donate her money. Little Ze signed for her when she transferred her money from the US, but I still have to sign for her for the donation to be official. What do you think that'll look like to everyone else? My reputation is bad enough as it is, after what happened with Gu Yanran."

He was the legal guardian to a young girl, and the young girl had suddenly-for no discernable reason at all-donated all her money to a charity fund that would be set up in his name.

Those who did not know better would automatically assume he had swindled his young charge out of her entire fortune.

Neither Bai Yueran nor General Ji had considered this. The two of them exchanged a look, before turning to Huo Shaoheng to say, "What are you going to do?"

"I'll handle it," Huo Shaoheng replied evasively as he slipped the documents into his briefcase. "I'm going back to the C City military base. I'll move into the headquarters for the 6th Military Region, here in the capital city, once they finish building it next year."


After Huo Shaoheng had left, General Ji solemnly returned to his desk. He asked Bai Yueran in a grave voice: "You've been with the 6th Military Region for a month now. What do you think?"

Bai Yueran immediately said, "The 6th Military Region is an unassailable fortress with Huo Shaoheng at the helm. I don't think it would be a good idea to replace him with someone else."

"Oh? So you agree that Shaoheng should be the commander of the 6th Military Region?"

"Yes, he's the only one qualified for the position." Bai Yueran paused. "Uncle Ji, I know that you're worried the Bai family will be angry with Mr. Huo over what happened with my second uncle. I assure you that all of us in the Bai family are extremely upset about my uncle's act of treason-we've excommunicated him from the family, and also asked our relatives and friends around the world to help track him down. Once we find him, we'll turn him over to the military, ASAP. He's no longer one of us."

The Bai family was a large and powerful family; they held sway over the upper echelons of the Huaxia Empire.

The Bais were everywhere. There was at least one Bai in a leadership position in politics and in the military, to say nothing of private enterprise, mass media, and academia.

The Bai family was simply too powerful, and collective punishment-the old tradition of punishing the entire family for one man's mistake-was no longer appropriate in this day and age. In the end, Bai Yusheng's defection had not affected the Bai family in any significant way.

The only one who had been affected by his actions was his daughter, Bai Shuang.

Her father's scandal meant that she was no longer qualified to be the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, the alternative presented to her-a transfer to a small, insignificant department where she would be quarantined to a meaningless, dead-end job-did not appeal to her either.

She had resigned from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was no longer engaged in public office.

General Ji was relieved to hear what Bai Yueran had said.

He intended to pave the way for Huo Shaoheng to succeed him. In order to do that, he had to make sure that Huo Shaoheng remained in the Bai family's good graces.

Fortunately, there was too much evidence pertaining to Bai Yusheng's defection for the Bai family to even think about sweeping it under the rug. The Bai family had had to excommunicate him, and volunteer their efforts to help arrest him instead.

Nevertheless, a few members of the Bai family were displeased with Huo Shaoheng. They felt that he should have talked to them in private beforehand, instead of immediately conducting a raid. He had not cared to preserve the honor and dignity of the Bai family, and they were insulted by his actions.

General Ji could only hope that Bai Yueran would be able to persuade the Bai family to reconcile with Huo Shaoheng.

Bai Yueran's father was the current leader of the Bai family. Her family was the main branch of the Bai family, and usually called the shots.

"Good. I hope you'll find Bai Yusheng soon." General Ji was not afraid of the Bai family. If the Bai family turned out to be a threat to national security, the military would not hesitate to get rid of them.


That very night, Huo Shaoheng returned to the C City military base on a private jet. When he arrived, he found that Chen Lie had already returned from the United States, and was now sitting in Huo Shaoheng's living room snacking on lychees.

As soon as he saw Huo Shaoheng come in, Chen Lie immediately rose to greet him, a cheeky smile on his face. "Welcome back, Boss. I heard Nianzhi donated a large sum of money to the military, is that true?"

"Where did you hear it?" Huo Shaoheng tossed his gloves onto the table next to the front door. "Only four people in the whole Empire know about this."

"Hehe, I heard from Little Ze. I received a call from him, soon as I got off the plane-he said something about needing your signature because you're her legal guardian." Chen Lie handed him an agate plate stacked with lychees. "...Want some?"

"No thanks." Huo Shaoheng pushed the plate away. "I have things to do. If there isn't anything else to discuss, go home and rest up. Aren't you jet-lagged?"

Huo Shaoheng could not help marveling at Chen Lie's appetite. Chen Lie had just disembarked from a long-distance flight from the United States, and the first thing he had done was hop over to Huo Shaoheng's place to see what was in his fridge.

Huo Shaoheng eyed him. "You've gotten even fatter, haven't you?"

"Hey now, that's a low blow, you can't just go around calling people fat." Chen Lie slapped his belly. "Eh, whatever, I've long since given up on myself. I'll eat whatever I want."

Huo Shaoheng was no longer paying any attention to him. He went to his study and summoned a few of his subordinates to help him establish the charity fund.

"The fund will be named the Jin Zhi Xin-Today's Heart-Army Dependents' Charity Fund. All donations will be anonymous, and it will be managed directly by the military." Huo Shaoheng issued his instructions to his subordinates. "You'll have to work with the Legal Department on this, because with Jin Zhi Xin we will effectively be setting the ground rules for all future military charity funds. The rules are as follows: One, contributors to the charity fund have no say regarding how the charity fund is managed. Two, there will be honorary directors, but this position will only be granted to contributors who donate 90 million US dollars in a single donation. Three, contributors will receive a financial statement every year in exchange for their donation, but that's it-any other requests from the donors will not be entertained. In fact, they will be illegal."

Huo Shaoheng wagged a long, slender finger. "Got it? That's our policy. We welcome all donations, but it will be up to us how we want to use the money. Those who don't agree will have to take their money elsewhere."

His conditions were extreme, and for good reason: the military was directly involved in the charity fund. If he did not set his foot down now, the military would slowly but surely be compromised by external forces trying to buy their way in with money.

This was how Huo Shaoheng did things.

He was always the one to make the rules. He was not the type to blindly follow the rules that had been set by others.

Huo Shaoheng's subordinates could barely contain their excitement when they saw the astronomical figure in the bank account. "Understood! But sir, can you at least tell us who's being so generous with their money? Is it that rich Barbados lady?"

They looked at Huo Shaoheng eagerly, looking for all the world like gossip-hungry paparazzi.

Huo Shaoheng glanced at them. His face was entirely deadpan. "No, it wasn't her. But now that you mention it, inform Miss Gu to transfer the money she promised to the bank account for the Jin Zhi Xin Charity Fund, once it's up and running. Tell her that someone else already donated 90 million US dollars anonymously, which means that her 50 million isn't enough to make up the majority of the charity fund. Also, she does not qualify to be an honorary director."

"Yes, sir!" His subordinates had been eager for some juicy gossip, but immediately lost interest when they heard the money had not come from Gu Yanran at all. They collected the documents and hurried to the Legal Department to make the necessary arrangements for the charity fund.


Once his subordinates had left, Huo Shaoheng walked out of his study to discover Chen Lie was still there, sitting on his sofa.

Chen Lie had evidently made himself at home: he had pulled out his laptop and placed it on the small coffee table, and was now working on it as he continued stuffing his face with lychees.

Huo Shaoheng sat on the sofa opposite him, frowning. "Is there something else you want to discuss? Why are you still here?"

"I forgot to show you this." Chen Lie waved him over cheerfully. "Look, a behind-the-scenes recording, fresh from the oven. 100% raw footage-I guarantee it hasn't been edited in any way!"

Huo Shaoheng rolled his eyes. He shook his head and got to his feet. "Knock yourself out, I'm not interested. I'm going to take a shower." He turned away.

"Oh? Not interested? Huh, I thought you'd want to see what happened in the courtroom..." Chen Lie grinned at Huo Shaoheng's back. He wanted badly to take out his stopwatch and time how long it would take for Huo Shaoheng to turn back around.

He was disappointed-this time, Huo Shaoheng did not hesitate, not even for a second. Huo Shaoheng immediately turned back around, seated himself beside Chen Lie, and pulled the laptop closer towards him. "This is a recording of Nianzhi's trial?"

"Yup." Chen Lie gleefully hit the Play button, then moved aside to give Huo Shaoheng some space. He crossed his arms and began to hum an old song: "I laughed happily... I laughed happily..."

The laptop speakers crackled to life. Huo Shaoheng's attention was immediately drawn to the beautiful girl standing in the middle of the screen.

He did not know if it was just the camera angle, but Gu Nianzhi was even more beautiful than he remembered. Her lively, intelligent eyes shone from her exquisite face as she fearlessly provoked her enemies-while shamelessly leeching off the authority and influence of the tall, elegant man beside her.

Chen Lie boldly leaned over to ask: "Look at them-a match made in heaven, eh?"