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215 You Should Worry About Yourself

 Huo Jialan staggered backwards, white as a sheet. Gu Nianzhi had cut her like a sharp razor.

Bai Jinyi shook her head in disapproval. She said to Huo Guanchen, "Guanchen, we've waited for so long for Jinning to get better. Are you going to stand idly by and let this opportunity slip away? We have to double down on our efforts to cure her now that her condition is improving-who knows when our next opportunity will come, if we end up missing the boat on this one..."

Huo Guanchen pursed his lips. He glowered at Huo Shaoheng as he commanded, "What are you doing? Take your mother upstairs, now! Don't listen to the nonsensical babblings of outsiders."

He had used "outsiders," in the plural, but it was obvious that he was referring to Gu Nianzhi specifically.

The cogs inside Gu Nianzhi's head were turning at full speed. She was still trying to think of a way to convince Huo Guanchen when Huo Shaoheng calmly spoke up. "Nianzhi is speaking on my behalf. I want to take my mother to another doctor."

"Nonsense! I won't allow it!" Huo Guanchen stepped in front of Huo Shaoheng, blocking his way.

Seen from a distance, both father and son appeared to have been cut from the same cloth, but the similarities were superficial: Huo Shaoheng was taller, more heavily built, and a lot younger.

"You won't allow it? On what grounds?" Huo Shaoheng put his hands in his pockets. His posture was relaxed and leisurely, but the aura around him was just as fierce and indomitable as Huo Guanchen's. "You already divorced her. You have no right to decide whether she stays or goes. I, on the other hand, am her son, and also a major general, commander of the 6th Military Region. I have complete authority to take her away, and I advise you not to mess with me."

Huo Guanchen's hands trembled. "How... how... how dare you?!"

"I had to listen to you, all these years. You made my decisions for me, and I had to accept them-but that ends today. From now on, I do what I want. I don't have to ask for permission from anyone, not anymore," Huo Shaoheng continued calmly.

Huo Guanchen's face had gone purple with rage.

He was happy to have a strong-minded, capable son, but his son was now proving too much for him to handle: Huo Shaoheng had vaulted over him in terms of rank and authority, and was now keeping him pinned to the ground, underfoot. Huo Guanchen did not like being stepped on by his son.

Bai Jinyi hurriedly cut in. "Cool it, the both of you!" She turned to Huo Shaoheng and said, "Shaoheng, don't provoke your father, he has high blood pressure. As for your mother, she's extremely important to the military, because of her role in their experiment. You know how sick she is, so don't be rash-if you take her away, and something happens to her, well, you can kiss goodbye to your future prospects!"

Gu Nianzhi was quick to pick up on the underlying implication.

Bai Jinyi was actually threatening to sabotage Huo Shaoheng's "future prospects."

Gu Nianzhi was not about to let Bai Jinyi get away with it, of course.

Gu Nianzhi was thinking rapidly. This old hag clearly has too much time on her hands. She's a husband-stealer, and now she's trying to tell Huo Shaoheng and his father what to do. Well, I'll just have to find something to keep her busy...

Gu Nianzhi rolled her eyes, and said icily to Bai Jinyi: "Physicist Bai, you should worry about yourself." She paused, and waited for everyone in the living room to focus their attention on her before announcing slowly, in a clear voice, "I've decided to sue Bai Jinyi for practicing medicine without a license, her malpractice has clearly led to the aggravation of her patient's condition. I am also suing her for intentional assault, attempted murder, and for wrecking the marriage of a member of the armed forces, which as you all know is a crime in this country. You'll be receiving a summons from the court very soon, just you wait!"

She had deliberately chosen to exaggerate the crimes to give Bai Jinyi a good scare. Gu Nianzhi knew the heavy-handed approach was necessary; the physicist probably thought of herself as the next Einstein, someone so invaluable to the scientific community she could get away with anything.

Bai Jinyi did not take Gu Nianzhi seriously. She forced a smile and said, "That's a lot of hot air coming from you, young lady. You're just setting yourself up for humiliation, don't say I didn't warn you. If you want to sue me, I suggest that you go online and do some research on the Bai family first."

"Oh, I don't have to do that, I already looked your family up before this." Gu Nianzhi tightened her hold on Song Jinning as she threw Bai Jinyi a disdainful look. "I know the Bai family is well-connected. I even drew up your family tree once, and what a tangled web that turned out to be-your family sure enjoys sticking their fingers in every pie. But let me assure you, when I take you to court, I will personally go to the online forums and tell everyone that you threatened to use your family connections against me, to stop me from suing you. Watch out, you'll have to face the wrath of the public then!"

Gu Nianzhi knew that families as powerful as the Bai family had numerous skeletons in their closets.

A public scandal would result in the family losing all their precious "inside" connections.

Gu Nianzhi arched an eyebrow. "The Bai family would sacrifice a pawn if it meant saving their king. And make no mistake, you're just a pawn." She smiled pleasantly as she made a gun with her right hand, and pretended to shoot Bai Jinyi with a "bang."

Anger, surprise, frustration, and fear flickered across Bai Jinyi's face in quick succession.

Gu Nianzhi was an unparalleled genius when it came to unnerving other people.

In two succinct sentences, she had effectively warned Bai Jinyi to stop interfering with Song Jinning's mental illness, and also to abandon the idea of using the Bai family's influence to sabotage Huo Shaoheng's future.

The Bai family had to play it safe for the moment; they were still recovering from the damage dealt to their reputation by Bai Yusheng's scandal. Gu Nianzhi was certain that the heads of the Bai family weren't stupid enough to allow Bai Jinyi to rock the boat just then, not when the previous scandal was still fresh on everyone's minds.

If Huo Shaoheng was willing to go along with it, Gu Nianzhi fully intended to take Bai Jinyi to court. It would be an excellent case to take on for her post-grad work; she would be able to test her skills and prove herself in the legal field.

Gu Nianzhi's threat proved to be extremely effective. The living room was suddenly as silent as a tomb. There was a conflicted expression on every face-except Song Jinning's.

Her eyes had grown dim and listless. She could no longer focus on what was going on.

She hadn't had anything to eat for the entire day. She swayed unsteadily on her feet; she would have collapsed by now if Gu Nianzhi hadn't been supporting her.

In the silence, Huo Shaoheng's phone began to ring.

He got out his phone and looked at it. When he saw the call was from Chen Lie, he took the call with a swipe of his finger. "...You got my message?"

Chen Lie's voice was solemn. "Why the sudden rush? Didn't you say we'd do it after the New Year?"

"We'll talk later. You've shipped all your things over?"

"Dr. Ye brought most of the equipment with her to the city. I have a few highly sophisticated instruments and samples that I'll have to carry myself, because of how valuable and important they are. Don't worry, I'll be getting on the plane in a minute. I'll be there before you know it." With that, Chen Lie promptly hung up and boarded the private military plane that Huo Shaoheng's personal secretary, Yin Shixiong, had secured for him. It would be a direct flight from C City to the Imperial Capital.

Huo Shaoheng put his phone away, his expression inscrutable. He looked entirely nonchalant, as though he had merely ended a casual, unimportant conversation with a good friend. In actual fact, he had been planning for this exact moment for the last six years.

It was impossible for anyone to know that from his stoic, impassive expression; not even Gu Nianzhi had been able to pick up on it.

At that moment, the key player in the unfolding drama, Bai Jinyi, was still reeling from the blow dealt by Gu Nianzhi. Her brow was heavily furrowed as she tried to come up with a counter-attack.

Huo Shaoheng turned to look at Gu Nianzhi. "Shall we go?"

"Let's go." Gu Nianzhi put an arm around Song Jinning to steady her. "Mrs. Song, we'll go sit in a car, if that's okay with you?"

Song Jinning nodded. "I'm hungry. Do you have something to eat in the car?"

"Yes, we do." Gu Nianzhi looked at Huo Shaoheng, "Huo Shao, what about our luggage?"

"This is our home. We can come back whenever we like," replied Huo Shaoheng without breaking his stride. "We need to get Mrs. Song away, first."

Gu Nianzhi took Song Jinning by the hand and said to her soothingly, "We have delicious food in the car. Once we're done eating, we'll go tour the city. I've never been to the capital. What about you, Mrs. Song? Have you been to many places in the city?"

Song Jinning had been born and bred in the Imperial Capital. Her brow crinkled at Gu Nianzhi's question. "Oh, there are so many interesting places in the city. Where would you like to visit?"

As they spoke, they walked out the main entrance of the Huo family house, and were greeted by the sight of four cars waiting outside. It was a small motorcade.

They boarded the second car: a black military-use bulletproof limousine that looked sleek and stylish.

Huo Shaoheng entered first. He moved to the left end of the back seat, followed by Gu Nianzhi, who sat in the middle, and then Song Jinning, who sat on the right end.

Song Jinning look about curiously as soon as she entered the car. Every so often, she threw a thoughtful, wondering look at Huo Shaoheng, who sat unsmiling on Gu Nianzhi's other side.

Huo Shaoheng did not look at her. He looked straight ahead as he said to Fan Jian, his orderly, "Drive."

The car began to move. Gu Nianzhi found a small carton of fresh milk in the small refrigerator inside the car. Huo Shaoheng extracted a packet of macarons from the small compartment on his side of the car, and handed it to her.

This was one of Gu Nianzhi's favorite pastries. Huo Shaoheng always instructed his men to prepare macarons for her in sealed packets, and keep them in the door compartment.

Gu Nianzhi hurriedly opened the packet and took out a macaron. She placed it on a paper napkin and handed it to Song Jinning. "Here, have some. Here's a box of milk, too-these should be enough for the time being."

"Thank you." Song Jinning accepted the food. She sipped the milk demurely as she ate a macaron.

She ate in a dignified and elegant manner. Macarons were fluffy pastries, and notoriously difficult to eat without leaving tiny crumbs all over the place.

Gu Nianzhi had heard that some of the Western countries used macarons to test whether a woman ate like a proper lady.

Song Jinning passed the test with flying colors. She was evidently a lady among ladies.

Song Jinning had retained her demure manners, despite suffering from a serious mental condition and not remembering anything from before the age of 18. This was proof that her ladylike manners were deeply ingrained within her subconscious; they were already part of who she was.

Song Jinning ate silently. No one who wasn't already watching her could tell she was eating: an incredible feat considering the limousine's excellent sound insulation, which generally meant the tiniest sounds inside the car sounded louder than usual.

Gu Nianzhi sighed wistfully at Song Jinning's perfect eating manners. "Huo Shao, remember when you taught me proper eating etiquette? Well, now I know who taught you..."

Huo Shaoheng sat in the car, his arms folded across his chest, his expression as calm and placid as a windless lake. He ignored Gu Nianzhi's musing.

Gu Nianzhi didn't mind. She was just rambling, and she already knew by now he wasn't the type to join in on meaningless conversation. She was just talking out loud because she enjoyed it, and wanted everyone to relax.

Ever since getting into the car, she had felt a palpable, indescribable tension in the air. She could tell something else was going on behind the scenes.

Huo Shaoheng had lapsed into a brooding silence. Fan Jian, up front, was too focused on driving to talk to her.

Gu Nianzhi decided to strike up a conversation with Zhao Liangze, who was sitting beside Fan Jian. "Brother Ze, what have you been up to these days? Did you miss me?"

Zhao Liangze: "..."

The hair on the back of his neck stood on end. He felt as though a cheetah was behind him, ready to pounce and rip his jugular vein out.

He hunched his shoulders, withdrew his neck like a turtle, and slid his body lower into the seat, not daring to say a single word.

Gu Nianzhi waited in vain for a reply. Not only did Zhao Liangze refuse to answer, the back of his head had, for some inexplicable reason, disappeared entirely from view. She gave up on any kind of conversation after that.

Luckily for her, she did not have to endure the silence for long. Half an hour later, they arrived at the new headquarters for the 6th Military Region, located within the Imperial Capital.

Half a year had passed. The place was now markedly different from what it had looked like six months ago.

The place was now protected by a top-of-the-line security system. The high walls were dotted with numerous infrared cameras and laser weapons; anyone who tried to climb the wall would quickly drop like flies.

500 meters away from the gate was a sign that said "Restricted Area: Military Site." This meant that any unauthorized entry to the base was a criminal offense; trespassers could be fired upon and killed on the spot if necessary.

The drivers in Huo Shaoheng's mini-procession stopped at the gate to scan a code that was invisible to the naked eye. A guard came out to verify their passes. He raised his hand in a salute and let them enter.

Gu Nianzhi looked around. The layout of the headquarters was largely similar to the Special Ops' base in C City, but the similarity ended there. Most of the finer details were different.

She wanted to talk to Huo Shaoheng, but he continued to ignore her. They got out of the car and entered Huo Shaoheng's official residence in the headquarters.

Ye Zitan was already waiting for them inside.

She saw them come in and saluted Huo Shaoheng. "Good day, sir!"

Huo Shaoheng nodded. "Chen Lie will be arriving any minute now. Get ready. We'll begin the operation as soon as he arrives."

"Yes, sir!" Ye Zitan was too busy to stop and say hello to Gu Nianzhi; she immediately turned away and strode into the temporary operating room that had been set up in the residence to prepare for the operation.

Gu Nianzhi was puzzled. Her eyes shone with curiosity as she asked Huo Shaoheng, "Chen Lie is coming? Who's he going to operate on?"

Huo Shaoheng gazed at her. He reached out and tousled her hair. His voice was uncharacteristically gentle when he said, "C'mere, Nianzhi. I have something to tell you."