Fantasy Romance Xianxia Anime Sci-fi Historical WNMTL
Home > Hello Mr Major General

297 An Open Book

 Before Gu Nianzhi could launch her counterattack, the judge rapped his gavel against the sound block. "Request granted. Court will be adjourned while we wait for both parties to agree on a neutral third party for a second autopsy."

Huo Shaoheng nodded in agreement. "I have no objections to that. I just hope that it won't take too long."

Once the court had been adjourned, Gu Nianzhi followed Huo Shaoheng and his men out the courtroom, where they got into a military-use minivan and returned to the Special Ops base.

In the car, Director Wang, who had remained silent throughout the hearing, suddenly spoke up. He praised Gu Nianzhi. "I had my doubts about you at first, Miss Gu, but I was wrong. You truly are as intelligent and as quick-witted as they say you are. You have what it takes to be a good lawyer, and I believe that you will help us win this lawsuit."

Gu Nianzhi's reply was modest. "Oh, I was just winging it, throwing out whatever came to mind. I'm an inexperienced chick learning how to fly-I still have a long ways to go."

She sounded humble, but the haughty look in her eyes betrayed her.

Huo Shaoheng shot her a disapproving look, before turning to Director Wang to say: "She's just a young girl. Don't praise her too much, Director Wang."

Gu Nianzhi immediately snuffed out the arrogance showing on her face. She lowered her face in embarrassment, revealing her slender, snowy-white neck. The elegant curve of her delicate neck was enough to cause Huo Shaoheng's breath to catch in his throat. He lapsed into silence after that, not trusting himself to be able to speak in his usual impassive tone.


As soon as they were back at the military base, Gu Nianzhi rushed into her room for a quick shower. When she stepped out of the shower and into her bedroom, she saw Huo Shaoheng sitting on the sofa in her living room, his eyes fixed upon her laptop. He seemed to be lost in thought.

"Huo Shao, I... I locked the door." Gu Nianzhi scratched her head, feeling utterly confused and helpless. Had she somehow forgotten to lock the door again?

Huo Shaoheng did not look up from his computer. "You did. I opened the door with my key."

Gu Nianzhi was speechless. How was she supposed to react to that?

She awkwardly seated herself beside Huo Shaoheng. She shook her head slightly when she saw that he had opened up her folder on Director Wang and was now going through the photos of the evidence inside it.

"This case happened too long ago. Most of the evidence have already been destroyed. What we're looking at now are the second-hand-or even third-hand-evidence."

"It really is a pity." Huo Shaoheng sat up straight and stretched his legs; they were long enough to reach under the coffee table. "The scene of the crime, Luo Xinxue's bedroom, has since been subjected to a complete makeover. Everything has been refurbished-we can't use anything in it as evidence now."

Gu Nianzhi remembered Huo Shaoheng's soundproof suite in the Huo Residence. "Huo Shao, was your suite refurbished around the same time?"

"Yeah, it was right about then." Huo Shaoheng began toying with a gold coin. "After I left home, the Huo Residence underwent a series of renovations."

"In that case, we may not have direct evidence, but circumstantial evidence would serve our purpose just as well," Gu Nianzhi said thoughtfully as she rubbed her chin with a hand. She grasped her mouse with her other hand and quickly looked up a few legal documents. "I remember someone once won a lawsuit even though they had no direct evidence or witnesses."

"What kind of circumstantial evidence are you referring to?"

Gu Nianzhi found the record of the case she was thinking of, and opened it. She quickly looked it over, and muttered half to herself: "For example, who asked for the deceased's room to be refurbished? And who took the job? Any kind of renovation done in the Huo Residence would have to be carried out by military staff-it's against military protocol to have a civilian construction team take on something like that."

Huo Shaoheng understood what she was getting at. "I'll get Little Ze to look up the construction team and send the information over to Director Wang. He's the expert when it comes to appraising evidence."

Gu Nianzhi smiled. She looked at the evidence displayed on her computer monitor, and said cheerfully, "These evidence may not be first-hand evidence, but they help explain many things. You're right about Director Wang being the expert-the first thing he did was look up Luo Xinxue's psychiatrist."

"Oh? Is that right?"

"The medical records from her psychiatrist show that Luo Xinxue relied on sleeping pills to sleep after the death of her husband. She was a habitual user of sleeping pills." Gu Nianzhi opened up Luo Xinxue's medical record. "But the prescription records also tell us that only a small amount of sleeping pills were prescribed to Luo Xinxue. Of course, it's possible she saved her sleeping pills with the intention of eating them all at once to commit suicide."

"And that means that this lawsuit is a lot more difficult to win than most." Huo Shaoheng straightened himself, the frown on his face deepening with every passing minute.

They already had their hands full trying to prove that Luo Xinxue hadn't voluntarily swallowed the sleeping pills. The autopsy report had proved that was the case, but Bai Jinyi's legal team had delayed the proceedings by asking for another autopsy.

And now they had to prove that Luo Xinxue, who had a long history of using sleeping pills, was A) not suicidal, and B) had not saved her sleeping pills with the intention of killing herself. That was virtually impossible to prove.

And even if they were able to pull off the two aforementioned "mission impossible"s, they still had another obstacle to clear: they would have to prove that Bai Jinyi had something to do with the sleeping pills. It was one hurdle after another, each one more difficult than the last.

Gu Nianzhi looked at Huo Shaoheng with sympathy in her eyes.

It was a lot easier to prove that Bai Jinyi was guilty of delaying Song Jinning's medical treatment, aggravating her condition almost to the point of incurability, and thereby causing massive damage to the interests of the nation, than it was to prove that Bai Jinyi had murdered Luo Xinxue.

But the former crime wasn't serious enough to give Bai Jinyi the punishment she deserved.

"...Huo Shao, who were you counting on to be the chief defense lawyer when you first thought of charging Bai Jinyi with the crime of murdering Luo Xinxue?" Gu Nianzhi asked quietly.

"One of the lawyers in the military," replied Huo Shaoheng as he casually rolled the gold coin across his knuckles. "Luo Xinxue was my uncle's widow. Her death is related to my uncle's death, which makes sense for the military lawyers to take up the case."

Gu Nianzhi thought of someone. "What about Director Bai? She's the director of the Special Ops Legal Department, but she's also Bai Jinyi's niece. That makes things very awkward for her, doesn't it?"

"That's right. So I decided not to rely on anyone in the Legal Department, and have you take on both cases instead."

So Gu Nianzhi had been their second choice, after all.

Gu Nianzhi nodded slowly, feeling a little insulted. "...I see."

She lapsed into a sullen silence after that. Huo Shaoheng looked at her, and smiled. He tousled her hair, and said teasingly, "What kind of internal drama are you starring in now?"

Gu Nianzhi maintained her poker face, but did not know what to say to that. She should have guessed that Huo Shao would be able to read her like an open book...

"Huo Shao, I need to borrow a witness from you for the next hearing." Gu Nianzhi, feeling a little embarrassed, decided to change the topic.


"Huo Jialan." Gu Nianzhi pointed to the evidence displayed on the monitor. "She's the keeper of her parents' belongings. Her testimony is of paramount importance."

Gu Nianzhi was absolutely sure they would be discussing the evidence in the next hearing.

She had the utmost confidence in Medical Examiner Zhu. She knew that every competent forensic doctor out there would agree with Medical Examiner Zhu's findings.

If the forensic doctor actually disagreed and tried to cast doubt on Medical Examiner Zhu's conclusions, Gu Nianzhi knew what her next step would be: she would suggest that the doctor wasn't a neutral, disinterested party, and question his qualifications as a doctor.

Huo Jialan had not appeared in public for nearly a month now-not since she had been taken away by Huo Shaoheng's men on New Year's Eve, to be kept under supervision and subjected to polygraph tests.

"Did you use the lie detector on her, Huo Shao?" Gu Nianzhi asked with genuine concern. "What did the polygraph test say? Is she telling the truth?"

Huo Shaoheng sighed. "We tested her, but the lie detector turned up no anomalies."

Gu Nianzhi: "..."

Had Huo Jialan found a way to cheat in the test?

Or was she simply telling the truth?

"...We can't draw any conclusions just yet," Huo Shaoheng said slowly. "Maybe we've been asking her the wrong questions. Besides, she is neither a criminal nor an enemy of the country. The Special Ops have many ways to get someone to talk, but we can't use them on her."

There were many ways to check whether someone was lying, but the tests were all inherently subjective. The results could not be submitted to court as direct evidence, only as a point of discussion and perhaps circumstantial evidence at best.

Still, Gu Nianzhi had to admit she was impressed. It was quite the feat to be able to stay calm and composed before the Special Ops' lie detectors, even if the questions posed had not been the right ones. That meant that Huo Jialan was tough as nails inside-even if she was no match for someone like Huo Shaoheng.

Gu Nianzhi nodded vigorously. "I understand. In that case, I won't see her beforehand-we'll leave her in the dark for now. The less mentally prepared she is to face us, the better."


The Bai family wasted no time in finding an independent forensic doctor. Huo Shaoheng checked the doctor's background, and agreed that the doctor was a neutral party with no vested interests. This time, the autopsy report would face no objections from the plaintiff, the defendant, or the court.

As the matter was urgent, the forensic doctor rescheduled all his other work and concentrated on performing the autopsy on Luo Xinxue instead. He quickly submitted his autopsy report.

One week later, the Imperial Intermediate Court was back in session again.

The report submitted by the independent forensic doctor was essentially the same as the one submitted by Medical Examiner Zhu: the victim had suffered from muscle spasms in the esophagus, and there were obvious scratches and abrasions on the esophageal walls.

This proved that Medical Examiner Zhu's report was entirely correct: it was more likely for Luo Xinxue to have been murdered, than for her to have taken her own life.

Lawyer Jin had only succeeded in delaying the trial for a week.

At the second hearing, both parties knew that it was pointless to argue over the autopsy report, now that a 3rd party had independently verified it. They quickly moved on to the next topic.

Gu Nianzhi asked the court for permission to summon a key witness to the stand: Huo Jialan.

Gu Nianzhi knew she needed every advantage she could get, and had therefore chosen to keep her distance from Huo Jialan before the trial, even if it meant forgoing the opportunity to ask her questions related to the case. She knew that the inexplicable silence and seeming lack of interest on her part would keep Huo Jialan uneasy and on edge.