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229 Awake

 "What data? I'm surprised you need my help, Brother Chen," said Gu Nianzhi eagerly as she seated herself before Chen Lie's computer. She opened his folder and checked the contents.

"It's all inside that folder. There's just too much data for my usual software to process. Help me write a simple program that will be able to quickly retrieve and analyze the data. My main beef is with the ACCESS command, it's just too slow for my needs." Chen Lie sighed and shook his head as he pointed out what he needed on the computer screen.

Gu Nianzhi quickly skimmed through the data, and came up with an estimate for the size of the file, the amount of computing required, as well as the actual processing power available, amongst other things. She had to estimate all that to determine the best approach to the problem.

"Brother Ze is the expert. Why don't you ask him for help? I'm just an amateur." Gu Nianzhi's slender fingers deftly flew over the keyboard as she typed out line after line of code.

Chen Lie poured himself a cup of tea, and sipped it with a satisfied smile as he relaxed on the sofa. "He's always busy with work as soon as he's back from a mission. I don't want to bother him."

He wasn't being entirely honest. In actual fact, he had turned to Gu Nianzhi for help because the data he was analyzing had come from her in the first place: the numbers were from her vital signs and DNA. The data was top-secret; no one else could see the numbers, not even Zhao Liangze.

Gu Nianzhi, on the other hand, was different. It was her data, after all. Besides, she was, as she had admitted herself, an amateur when it came to data analysis and programming. She did not completely understand what she was doing, which in turn meant she did not have the necessary knowledge to process what she was seeing.

Chen Lie wasn't about to risk letting Zhao Liangze anywhere near the data.

Zhao Liangze's computer was a beast, a state-of-the-art machine. He could easily make a copy of all the data without Chen Lie knowing about it. If that happened, Chen Lie would be in deep trouble, and he wouldn't even know what had hit him...

For the next minute, Operating Room B was quiet, save for the brisk tap-tapping of Gu Nianzhi's fingers on the keyboard.

Chen Lie was just about to shut his eyes for a short nap when a siren began to wail.

"What's wrong? What happened?" Gu Nianzhi looked up from her computer screen in confusion. She froze.

She had a clear view of Song Jinning's operating chair.

The sleeping beauty who had been soundly asleep a moment ago had sat up, and was now watching Gu Nianzhi, unblinking, with her hauntingly beautiful eyes.

"B-Brother Chen..." Gu Nianzhi pointed at Song Jinning with a trembling finger. "Didn't you say she won't be awake for a week?"

Chen Lie had been caught off-guard by the alarm. He turned, and saw Song Jinning sit up in her operating chair, looking lost and confused. He shouted, "Holy moly! Why is she awake? It's only been three days!"

He shot across the room like an arrow loosed from a bow. Gu Nianzhi openly gaped at how swiftly he ran-who knew a round, portly body like his could move so quickly?

Chen Lie rushed to the operating chair and turned off the alarm, barely able to contain his excitement. He checked the data print-outs from the testing equipment, laughing like a madman the entire time.

Song Jinning stopped looking at Gu Nianzhi, her attention now arrested by Chen Lie's maniacal dancing. She smiled and shook her head at his display of uncontrolled excitement.

Gu Nianzhi hastily typed out the rest of her program before walking over. "Mrs. Song, are you feeling better?"

Song Jinning looked at Gu Nianzhi and said politely, "Hello. My husband's surname is Huo, actually, but you can call me Jinning. Who are you?"

She silently appraised Gu Nianzhi: the young lady's large, doe-like eyes were lively and enchanting, but also misty and enigmatic. Her evocative eyes seemed full of unspoken secrets and heartache; Song Jinning could not resist feeling protective towards her. She guessed that she was very young, probably not yet 20.

Gu Nianzhi was taken aback by Song Jinning's reply. Her large eyes widened further in surprised, but she quickly recollected herself. She said, smiling, "My name is Gu Nianzhi. Madame, are you feeling better? Do you feel uncomfortable?"

Song Jinning smiled. "Are you a nurse?"

She looked at Chen Lie in his white coat, dancing like a madman in front of the medical equipment. She turned to Gu Nianzhi and asked: "...He's a doctor? I... I..."

She was suddenly hit by a splitting headache, and could not finish her sentence.

She felt as though someone was stabbing relentlessly into her brain with a sharp knife, chipping away at the vault that had kept her memories sealed for 16 years.

Her memories burst through the cracks, washing over her. Her body, just recovered from the operation, could not withstand the sudden stress; she held her head and fell backwards into the operating chair, her skin clammy with cold sweat. The pain almost made her bite her tongue, but she controlled herself.

Gu Nianzhi saw her shiver all over. The older woman's face was suddenly white as a sheet; even her lips had turned pale and colorless. Her eyes grew dim, and her toes curled from the pain. But Song Jinning did not say a single word.

"If it hurts, say it." Gu Nianzhi wrapped her arms around Song Jinning, and gently rubbed her back. She turned to call for Chen Lie. "Brother Chen, do you have painkillers? We should give her some!"

Chen Lie poked his head out from behind his equipment. His eyes were glazed over-it was obvious his attention was elsewhere. "...Give her what?"

"Painkillers, duh!" Gu Nianzhi gave a small snort. "Focus! She just woke up, she probably isn't feeling well. Look..."

She pointed to Song Jinning with her mouth.

Song Jinning was still watching Gu Nianzhi, however.

The older woman felt a certain kinship with Gu Nianzhi. She could not resist lecturing her like a friendly aunt.

"...Don't point with your mouth, that isn't very ladylike." Song Jinning's voice was very soft. Gu Nianzhi only heard what she had said because the two of them were practically huddled together.

Gu Nianzhi: "..."

She lowered her eyes and looked at Song Jinning, who was leaning against her shoulder. The older woman had not forgotten her ladylike manners, not even when she was in terrible pain. Gu Nianzhi felt ashamed of herself, and mumbled sheepishly, "...Sorry about that. I won't do it again."

"Good." Song Jinning let out a soft sigh. The throbbing pain in her head gradually receded.

She felt better already, just by resting her head against Gu Nianzhi's shoulder.

There was something about the young lady that lifted Song Jinning's spirits.

Chen Lie reluctantly left his medical instruments and handed two painkillers and a glass of water to Gu Nianzhi. "Here, these are for her."

Gu Nianzhi put the painkillers on her open palm and held them out to Song Jinning. "Madame, you should take these."

"What's the brand name for these painkillers?" Song Jinning carefully inspected the pills. "Which factory are they from? What are the active ingredients? How long do they last? Are there any side effects?"

Gu Nianzhi: "..."

She suddenly felt as though she were a student who had been caught daydreaming in class, and was now being ruthlessly grilled by her professor.

Chen Lie was even more nervous than Gu Nianzhi. He automatically responded to the grilling with a textbook reply: "This is a high-dose aspirin, 100 times more powerful than the consumer brands on the market. The main ingredient is ultra-refined salicylic acid. There is no risk of addiction. The effects from a single pill last for two hours. Two pills, taken together, will extend the effects to three hours. Side effects include an upset stomach, and perhaps nausea."

Song Jinning frowned at the white pills. "I've never heard of this aspirin..."

She pushed Gu Nianzhi's hand away, and politely refused the medicine. "Thank you, but I'm fine. I'll just grin and bear it. Can I have a glass of warm water, instead?"

Gu Nianzhi: "..."

Chen Lie's forehead had broken out in beads of sweat. He nervously pulled a handkerchief from his trouser pocket and mopped his forehead. He said, stammering, "Madame, this... this... this aspirin has been out for four, maybe five years. You need a prescription for it, you can't buy it over the counter. It's aspirin, I swear!"

Song Jinning looked up and quietly watched him for a moment. Finally, she asked, "Who are you? Where am I?"

"I'm Chen Lie, your doctor." Chen Lie breathed a sigh of relief. He pointed in the direction of the door. "This is the official residence of the commander of the Special Operations Forces, located with the Special Ops HQ."

Song Jinning looked a little lost, but she quickly concealed her confusion. She watched Chen Lie attentively as she politely waited for him to finish his explanation.

Gu Nianzhi suddenly realized there was something strange about the situation. She tugged at Chen Lie's sleeve to interrupt him.

Chen Lie turned to look at her. "What is it, Nianzhi?"

Gu Nianzhi nodded to him, then turned to Song Jinning. "Madame, do you remember what happened before you fainted?"

She wanted to know whether Song Jinning had recovered.

Song Jinning frowned as she thought about it. Her head began to hurt again. She said, lightly gasping, "...An explosion. I remember that right before I fainted, there was a massive explosion in my laboratory..."