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279 Love’s Sacrifice

 The atmosphere in the reception room immediately turned icy cold.

General Ji and Chairman Long did not look happy.

They had just extended an olive branch to the Prime Minister on account of the fact that Dou Qingyan's slip-up had had "no serious consequences"-and now they were forced to eat their words!

The two of them glared at Prime Minister Dou.

They had been thoroughly humiliated, and it was all because of the Prime Minister!

Huo Shaoheng's face grew solemn. He bowed politely to General Ji, Chairman Long, and Prime Minister Dou, before saying gravely: "Please excuse me, I have to deal with the loss of two of my soldiers. I will report to both the military and the parliament once I finish my investigations."

The Special Operations Forces was part of the military. Huo Shaoheng had to report to the military Supreme Council and the Senate, but he did not actually have to report to the Prime Minister.

He had only addressed the Prime Minister to be polite.

Prime Minister Dou could not keep his embarrassment from showing on his face.

He had prepared a little speech, but had been interrupted by the news of the death of two of the Special Ops soldiers.

Prime Minister Dou's face darkened. He slammed a fist into the coffee table. "Yes, you have to run a thorough investigation! We can't have our own men killing and backstabbing each other. You know very well that-"

Huo Shaoheng frowned as he interrupted the Prime Minister. "Prime Minister Dou, my Special Ops men only act upon external threats. We would never try to kill our own. Please, have a seat. Now, if you'll excuse me..."

He turned and left without another word.

General Ji and Chairman Long got to their feet. "Now that we have a situation on our hands, we have to go back to our office and make the necessary preparations. Please excuse us, Prime Minister Dou."

The two men nodded slightly to the Prime Minister, before walking out of the room together.

Prime Minister Dou narrowed his eyes at their retreating backs. He was feeling uneasy.

The day before, he had called the two men and begged them to help him put in a good word with Huo Shaoheng. They had been reluctant at first, but had eventually agreed to help him. Now that there were casualties, they had immediately turned their backs on their promise to him. He seethed inwardly, but consoled himself with the thought that neither of them would be able to win against him in an election. He was the Prime Minister, while General Ji was just the commander of the military, and Chairman Long was just the chairman of the Senate...


The Special Operations Forces had a dedicated department to deal with the deaths of their soldiers.

Before Huo Shaoheng arrived at the Imperial Capital Airport, the men from that department had already placed the entire airport on lockdown and brought all the passengers who had been on the same flight as the deceased to the airport's special reception room for questioning.

Half an hour later, Huo Shaoheng's car arrived at the Imperial Capital Airport.

He was wearing his black officer's uniform and a military cap pulled over his eyebrows. He had put on a pair of sunglasses, obscuring the upper half of his face. All anyone could see of his face was his nose, which looked like it belonged on a handsome Greek sculpture, and his perfect lips, which were now tightly pressed together.

He strode through the airport's VIP passageway, unhindered by the usual crowds. However, the ground crew at the Imperial Capital Airport instantly became his fans the moment they laid eyes on him. They had seen famous celebrities from all over the world, but they were nothing compared to Huo Shaoheng's breathtaking beauty. The ground crew ran after Huo Shaoheng, clamoring for his signature and a selfie with him.

Huo Shaoheng's retinue comprised of Zhao Liangze, Yin Shixiong, and five orderlies, all dressed in plain clothes. They were all taken aback by the behavior of the ground crew, and had to yell at them to keep them away. "What do you think you're doing? Where's your manager? Look at yourselves-you're an embarrassment to our country!"

They had to yell at the stubborn "groupies" several times before they finally went away.



Huo Shaoheng walked into the airport's special reception room, and gestured for the Special Ops members saluting him to be at ease. "Where are they?"

"Still on the plane," replied the Special Ops officer overseeing the operation. "Do you want to see them?"

"What about the other passengers?"

"They already disembarked from the plane and were already waiting to go through customs when the flight attendants discovered what had happened. Our men had been sitting apart, one near the front of the cabin and one near the back, and the flight attendants thought they were asleep. They shook them to wake them up, and found their bodies were already stiff..."

Huo Shaoheng stroked his chin thoughtfully. He turned to Yin Shixiong. "Interrogate the passengers, especially the ones sitting near the two soldiers. Little Ze and I will investigate the plane."

Zhao Liangze and Yin Shixiong responded with a "Yes, sir."

Yin Shixiong hurried off to interrogate the passengers. Zhao Liangze followed Huo Shaoheng as they made their way to the plane.

"This is the Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger airliner. It has a seating capacity of up to 853 people, and can flying at speeds from 559 mph to 634 mph, with a maximum range of 8,500 nautical miles, or 15,700 kilometers." Zhao Liangze rattled off the specifications for the plane as he walked behind Huo Shaoheng. "The plane costs 400 million US dollars." He paused, before adding: "It's more or less comparable to Professor He's private jet in terms of function, performance, and size."

Huo Shaoheng did not reply. He stepped through the aircraft door and into the First Class cabin.

The flight attendants had discovered the bodies before they had had time to clean up. That meant that the scene of the crime was virtually untouched.

The seats in First Class were strewn with blankets and magazines. There was also the occasional headset hanging from the back of the chairs. There was a solitary slipper lying in the middle of the aisle, its companion nowhere to be seen.

Huo Shaoheng calmly made his way through the First Class cabin and into the Business Class cabin.

It was, strictly speaking, cleaner than the First Class cabin, but the smaller space made it look more cluttered.

The Economy Class cabin was behind the Business Class cabin.

The two Special Ops soldiers had been sitting in Economy Class on their return flight to the Empire.

They had bought seats in the Economy Class cabin in order not to attract attention. They had also made sure not to sit together, but their precautions had been in vain-someone had figured out their true identities.

Huo Shaoheng stood at the entrance to the Economy Class cabin, his eyes fixed upon the two men still in their seats. They both had their headset on, and were leaning into their seats with their eyes closed. They looked like they were asleep. Their complexion remained rosy, instead of a lifeless white-no one would have guessed they were dead.

Zhao Liangze looked upon the scene from behind Huo Shaoheng. He felt a sob rising in his throat.

He hastily lifted his head and desperately blinked back the tears in his red eyes.

"You've taken photos?" Huo Shaoheng asked impassively. "Investigated the crime scene?"

The questions were directed to the man standing behind Zhao Liangze, the Special Ops personnel in charge of the investigation. He hurriedly replied, "Yes, we've checked everything, and taken the necessary photos. We were going to take the two men away, but we heard you were coming, sir, and decided to wait."

Huo Shaoheng took off his cap and bowed his head as he said a silent prayer for his fallen comrades.

His fingers tightened around his cap. He closed his eyes, and put the cap back on his head. "We'll take them back with us in the military vehicles. Remember to drape a flag over their coffins."

This was the only way they could show respect to their brothers-in-arms who had given their lives to the country. The Special Ops men, as a general rule, could not receive a proper military funeral due to the covert nature of their work.

As soon as he disembarked from the plane, Huo Shaoheng received a phone call from Yin Shixiong.

"Sir, we found the culprits..." Yin Shixiong's voice was subdued. He did not sound happy.

"What's wrong? Are they dead?" Huo Shaoheng calmly asked.

"Yes." Yin Shixiong was so frustrated he felt like crying. "I'm sorry, I should have taken the necessary precautions. As soon as I interrogated them, they killed themselves with some kind of poison. It looks like the same poison they used against our men."

The poison killed instantly, but preserved the bodies for 10 hours.

"It's fine. It's a good thing they're dead, now we won't have to kill them ourselves." Huo Shaoheng shoved his free hand into his trouser pocket as he walked towards the airport exit. "Bring their bodies back to the base. As for the other passengers, detain them for 48 hours. Continue your investigations, and make sure to pay special attention if someone tries to put a good word in for any of them. I want a complete record of their names, and what they said."

The men in the Special Operations Forces did not point their guns at each other, but that did not mean Huo Shaoheng would stand idly by if it turned out one of his men was trying to sabotage the Special Ops.

By the time they walked out of the airport, the weather had turned gloomy. Gray clouds had gathered in the sky, blocking out the sun.

Zhao Liangze stood behind Huo Shaoheng. He kept a close watch on their surroundings, but did not say anything.

Huo Shaoheng clasped his hands behind him. His gaze swept across the open space before him, before resting upon the bare trees in the far distance. The naked branches of the trees, clawing desperately at the sky, seemed to blink in and out of existence in the foggy, gloomy weather. Everything seemed unreal.

"...Mr. Huo? Are you feeling all right?" Bai Yueran had immediately spotted Huo Shaoheng as soon as she got out of her car. "Is everything settled? Where are our colleagues?"

"They've been carried off." Huo Shaoheng calmly added, "Go look for Big Xiong, he may need the assistance of the Legal Department."

"Yes, sir!" Bai Yueran saluted him. She sighed. "When the photos were leaked I thought nothing of them. I thought it was just a silly romantic dispute... haha... who would have thought our colleagues would end up sacrificing their lives on the altar of Miss Dou's unrequited love for you..."

Huo Shaoheng lowered his eyes. "Director Bai, you should save that for when you testify in court."