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178 The Forces At Play

 Gu Nianzhi ran into Zhao Liangze during breakfast. "Come sit here." Zhao Liangze dragged a high-backed chair over. "The breakfast is pretty good. Have some clam chowder, and there's also crab bisque."

Gu Nianzhi eyed the food and her stomach growled. Zhao Liangze pat her head with a smile. "Eat. You're so hungry you can't even speak." After breakfast, the pair left to say goodbye to He Zhichu.

He Zhichu was handling business in his office, so he didn't greet them, sending instead the housekeeper to have the driver take them home. After Gu Nianzhi and Zhao Liangze left, He Zhichu had someone call Wen Shouyi over. Wen Shouyi still wore the loose, white striped gown she had changed into on the naval warship. Her face was pale and her right cheek still carried the imprint from when He Zhichu had slapped her. Her round face appeared haggard, the skin on her lips was cracked and her eyelids were bruised from a lack of sleep. Only her slender eyes remained calm and steady. Heavy emerald and gold curtains draped over the windows in the office, shutting out the morning light. The room was only illuminated by a blue Tiffany lamp on He Zhichu's desk. His face was concealed behind the lamp as he glowered at her without saying a word.

Although Wen Shouyi had prepared for this, his cold glare still made her anxious. She tried to compose herself and spoke after a long silence.

"Professor He, you asked for me?"

"What happened on the cruise ship yesterday? Where did the pirates come from?" He Zhichu leaned back on his large black leather seat, a silver revolver spinning in his hand. "Don't tell me that you don't know anything."

Wen Shouyi's eyes suddenly turned red, brimming with tears, and she closed her eyes and sobbed. "I really don't know anything. If Professor He doesn't believe me, please just kill me. My whole family belongs to the He family anyway, so no one will say anything even if you do."

"You think that I won't?" He Zhichu spun the revolver once and aimed at Wen Shouyi as he coldly spat out, "Who do think you are? Don't think I'm scared to hurt you just because my father sent you here."

Wen Shouyi's tears streamed down her face, but her eyes remained closed and she remained silent as she awaited her sentence. He Zhichu kept the muzzle aimed at her for a long time, but didn't shoot. "Remember this, if Nianzhi hadn't put in a good word for you, you'd be dead by now." He threw the gun back into the drawer and leaned back against the seat. "Tell me then, if it wasn't you, who was it? Who dared to mess with my ship? Who wanted to kill them?" He Zhichu had bought the cruise ship especially for Gu Nianzhi's 18th birthday, but it had unfortunately destroyed by the pirates.

Wen Shouyi's eyelashes quivered as she slowly opened her eyes and touched the wound on her chest. She thought about it and spoke in a hushed voice. "Professor He, I really don't know who's responsible for this. But I did find something very interesting."

"What's so interesting? Don't try to change the subject. " He Zhuchu gazed fixedly at her, his voice toneless.

Wen Shouyi looked down and the entire episode replayed in her head. "It's about Gu Nianzhi."

"Speak."

"Everything happened so suddenly that I thought we were done for, but Gu Nianzhi and her guardian opened my eyes with their incredible shooting skills. You had just invited them for a birthday party on a cruise ship, but they had actually brought sniper guns and assault rifles! Just think about it! What kind of people would bring these kind of things when they travel?"

He Zhichu froze. "Those were their own weapons?" He had seen Gu Nianzhi and Zhao Liangze carrying guns yesterday, but he had assumed they had seized them from the pirates. All the weapons were American and so he hadn't thought anything more of it. It wasn't surprising to him that Gu Nianzhi and Zhao Liangze played with guns; shooting was a sport after all, and many people enjoyed it. Of course, not everyone could afford this past time.

"Yes, I saw them take it out from their luggage with my own eyes." Wen Shouyi finally relaxed. "Also, her CV said her parents passed away so she grew up with her guardian. But a different guardian came in such a short period of time. What kind of family would have two grown military men as guardians to care for a girl like Gu Nianzhi?"

He Zhichu leaned forward and clasped his hands together, his brow furrowed.

"Also, we investigated her according to her CV and found that everything was seamless from the time she was born. Nothing was out of the ordinary and everything had supporting evidence and alibis to corroborate anything we inquirer about . Don't you think that's unusual? All those things couldn't be true, but were actually fabricated to look just like the truth. If we didn't take her blood sample to fully investigate her, we would've never known all the evidence was fake. What kind of people would be able to fake an entire life to that extent?" Wen Shouyi finally showed a hint of contempt, but she quickly concealed it and resumed a respectful manner. "I just wanted to remind Professor He to not be blinded by the past. There is an unimaginable force at play."

"So what?" He Zhichu was unperturbed. "With someone like Nianzhi, can an ordinary person protect her? I actually have to thank this force for taking care of her. If not for them, I don't want to even think about what would've happened to Nianzhi in the last six years."

Wen Shouyi hadn't expected He Zhichu to be so compassionate and understanding towards Gu Nianzhi to this extent. A great bitterness surged in her heart and seemed to make her chest wound more painful. She pressed her palm to her chest and forced a smile. "Naturally. I know she's very important to you, so that's why I did everything to protect her, even if it meant getting shot myself. I have no qualms. Professor He, you don't have to worry about me framing Nianzhi; she's never liked me anyway and has always assumed that I have an ulterior motive for everything I do. I'm used to it now."

"Is that so?" He Zhichu's eyes dimmed as he watched her, as though he were trying to see through her facade and determine what her heart was truly thinking. Wen Shouyi forced herself to stay calm and grimaced from the pain of the wound.

He Zhichu gazed at her for a while more, then finally waved his hand in dismissal. "Go back home and rest for two months. Don't go to campus anymore. Send me all the files you have on hand, and I'll have the school find me another teaching assistant."

Wen Shouyi was too terrified to object. She was also gravely injured and needed to recuperate; she didn't want to become disabled from this incident.

...

Gu Nianzhi and Zhao Liangze returned to their apartment and could finally speak freely again. "What a shame, all my favourite things are under the Caribbean sea now." Gu Nianzhi said with pity as she opened a cup of yogurt from the fridge.

Zhao Liangze rolled his eyes at her. "What are those compared to mine? I was the one who lost good things." He snapped his fingers suddenly. "Right, that reminds me. I have to get in touch with Big Xiong and have him send me a new set over. Without my equipment, it feels like I'm going online naked."

They only had their cellphones left, everything else was gone. Gu Nianzhi giggled and pointed at Zhao Liangze. "You're already used to being a hacker, so of course you're afraid of someone spying on your computer." Her eyes quickly darted to his computer.

"Don't even think about it." Zhao Liangze smacked her head. "Go shower and sleep; you obviously didn't sleep well."

"How could I sleep well in a stranger's house?" Gu Nianzhi shook her head tiredly. "I'll go now." She went back to her room and closed the door, but didn't go to the bathroom right away. Instead, she took out her phone and called Huo Shaoheng.