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

299 Remembered It for 16 Years

 At the same time, in order to preempt Huo Jialan from coming up with even more excuses, Gu Nianzhi summoned the military's logistic personnel to court to give their testimony: were they absolutely sure they had delivered the mobile phone to Luo Xinxue?

The logistic officer who appeared in court to testify was the exact same officer who had personally handed Huo Guanyuan's belongings to his wife, Luo Xinxue, after his death.

"We can prove that the mobile phone was inside the box when we handed Colonel Huo's belongings to his wife 16 years ago." The officer had been a lowly-ranked soldier when he had been tasked with returning the items 16 years ago; he was now a senior colonel in the Logistics Department.

Lawyer Jin chuckled dismissively. "I beg your pardon, Colonel, but I would like to ask how you are able to remember such a trivial detail from 16 years ago."

"It isn't a trivial detail at all." The senior colonel from the Logistics Department paused. "Senior Colonel Huo Guanyuan's mobile phone was his private phone, for personal use. Apparently, the battery for the phone had been custom-made for him by a genius scientist working in the Institute of High Energy Physics."

"A genius scientist working in the Institute of High Energy Physics? What was his or her name?" Lawyer Kim immediately asked.

The senior colonel from the Logistics Department shook his head. "We don't know. Colonel Huo never mentioned the name to us. He only said it was the scientist he respected most."

Bai Jinyi abruptly looked up upon hearing that. There was the unmistakable flame of anger in her eyes. Her mouth opened and shut repeatedly; she looked as though she wanted badly to say something, but had to control herself.

Gu Nianzhi had been casually watching everyone in the courtroom, and she saw the state of fury Bai Jinyi was in. Her eyebrows shot up, and she knew the question she had to ask the witness: "Was that 'genius scientist' a man or a woman? Do you know?"

She was disappointed when the senior colonel shook his head a second time. "I don't know that either. Back then, Colonel Huo was close to the scientists working at the Institute of High Energy Physics because of the nature of his mission, but it was rare for him to talk to us about it."

Gu Nianzhi knew that the joint experiment between the military and the Institute of High Energy Physics was most likely the main reason Huo Guanyuan had been close to the scientists.

She had a hunch that that specific experiment was the key to the case.

She looked thoughtfully at Bai Jinyi. She watched as the older woman slowly recollected herself; when the color finally returned to Bai Jinyi's cheeks, Gu Nianzhi turned her attention to Lawyer Jin, who was still in the middle of cross-examining the senior colonel at the witness stand.

"Well, I'll have to take your word for that, then. Still, I find it incredible that you remembered an off-hand remark like that for 16 years," Lawyer Jin said dubiously. He was implying that the senior colonel was conspiring with the plaintiff's lawyer to give false testimony.

The senior colonel knew at once what Lawyer Jin was insinuating. He said angrily, "There's a reason I remembered what he said. I'm still in the middle of my explanation, but you keep interrupting me, and now you're accusing me of being dishonest. How am I supposed to give my complete testimony if you won't let me?!"

"Perhaps Lawyer Jin is late for an appointment with God himself. That would explain why he's being so impatient..." Gu Nianzhi's lips curved into a small smile as she mocked the lawyer. She turned to placate the senior colonel. "Please continue. What was special about the mobile phone, for you to remember it for 16 years?"

"Miss Gu is an intelligent and considerate lawyer, I see-unlike a certain someone." The senior colonel shot an angry glare at Lawyer Jin, before quickly turning to the judge to continue his explanation. "That phone was special because of the custom-made battery I mentioned earlier. It's supposedly a really powerful battery-so powerful, in fact, that you can charge it once and not have to recharge it again for 10 years. I was Colonel Huo's orderly back then, and often saw him fiddling with the phone. A few of us discussed the incredible battery in private, and we joked that Colonel Huo was either exaggerating its capacity, or that battery was some kind of alien technology that had suddenly appeared in our country. We even said we'd keep an eye on Colonel Huo and make sure he never gets to recharge his phone, because we wanted to see exactly how long the battery would last."

"How long did the battery last?"

"I know that he did not recharge it for at least three years," the senior colonel said with absolute confidence. "I'm sure of it, because I had a bet with the other orderlies regarding how long the battery would last. But three years after we started the bet, Colonel Huo lost his life in the accident. We were never able to see the bet through."

"We were unable to recover his remains after the accident. How is it that his mobile phone is still around?"

"That's perfectly logical. That mobile phone was his private phone, and it's against military protocol to bring your private phone with you during a mission. Colonel Huo left his personal belongings in his dormitory room. We took turns cleaning his room back then, and I remember it like it was just yesterday."

Lawyer Jin frowned. He did not like where this was going. "And you are absolutely sure that the phone was inside the box when you handed Colonel Huo's belongings to his wife? Who's going to prove that? You? This is meaningless-we only have your word for this, we need a third party to corroborate what you've just said!"

But 16 years had passed. How were they going to find yet another witness to prove that the senior colonel was telling the truth?

Gu Nianzhi's expression darkened. She was about to launch a counterargument when the senior colonel said, with an expression that spoke of his complete disdain for Lawyer Jin, "We have an established procedure when handing over the belongings of our brave men who lost their lives serving the country. A special team hands the belongings over to the fallen soldier's family, and personally go over the items checklist with the family members to make sure nothing is missing. The belongings are only released to the family after they sign on the list, confirming that everything is in order. I don't know what kind of work environment you're used to, Mr. Lawyer, but you seem to have a serious misunderstanding of how we do things in the military."

Lawyer Jin was so angry he couldn't speak.

This was the first time he had heard someone talk to him in that disdainful tone in court.

He seethed inwardly. He knew he should have declined to take the case once he saw the military was involved.

He had, in the course of his career, wondered where all the sharp-tongued, quick-witted men and women had gone, and now he knew-they were in the military!

Gu Nianzhi's spirits lifted after hearing what the senior colonel had said. She smiled sweetly. "It wasn't a misunderstanding. How can it be a misunderstanding, when Lawyer Jin is entirely ignorant of how our military works?" She pulled out a copy of the list of Huo Guanyuan's belongings-signed by members of the Huo family-and passed it around the court, allowing everyone in attendance to look at it.

"As you can see, Luo Xinxue was not the only one who signed on the list. Huo Guanyuan's father, Huo Xuenong, and his younger brother, Huo Guanchen, both signed on the list too. Back then, Huo Xuenong was the deputy chairman of the military's Supreme Council. Huo Guanchen was only a captain at the time, but he is now a general, and also the director of the military's Political Department."

"Lawyer Jin, I believe all these signatures should be enough to dispel your doubts. Surely you concede now that every single item on the list had been handed over to Luo Xinxue?" Gu Nianzhi quickly said before Lawyer Jin could raise any objections. She turned to the judge to put in a formal request: "Your Honor, we would like to ask the court to send a subpoena to the telecommunications company, and have them hand over the communications record for this mobile phone to aid in our investigation."

"Agreed." The judge brought his gavel down upon the sound block.

The court clerk began typing up a subpoena to send to the telecommunications operator.

It would take some time for the telco to comply with the court order and hand over the records.

Gu Nianzhi looked at Huo Jialan. "Huo Jialan, you said that you were unable to find the mobile phone. Let's assume that you lost it-do you at least remember the exact moment you realized it was missing?"

Huo Jialan frowned as she thought about it. She shook her head. "To be completely honest, I've never seen the phone, not even once. After my mother died, I inherited all of her belongings, which included what my father left behind. All of his belongings were in a box, and I've sorted through the items, but I've never seen the mobile phone described on the list."

"Did you check to see whether everything on the list had been handed over to you?" Gu Nianzhi suddenly asked, catching Huo Jialan by surprise.

Gu Nianzhi did not really know Huo Jialan. But she had seen how Huo Jialan had been excessively particular about who owned her parents' belongings, and her instincts told her that Huo Jialan must be a miserly person.

How would a miser behave when receiving her inheritance?

Gu Nianzhi guessed that someone like Huo Jialan would be extremely careful with her parents' belongings. She seemed like the type to go through the list herself and put a check next to every item to make sure it was there.

Then again, it was just a mobile phone. It was hard to believe that Huo Jialan would be upset or concerned if it was missing.

The phone wasn't exactly a priceless artifact. If it was gone, it was gone. No sense worrying about it.

Gu Nianzhi had tossed out the question carelessly, not expecting it to be important. To her surprise, she saw Huo Jialan hesitate for a moment, before shaking her head. "...No, I did not."

She's lying.

The thought flashed across Gu Nianzhi's mind.

Gu Nianzhi was sure that Huo Jialan had checked the list of items and knew that the phone had gone missing for some time now.

But why was she hiding it? For what reason?

Gu Nianzhi calmly made a note of this mystery on her laptop, before moving on to the next question.

"Director Wang said that there's also a birth certificate in the bank safe that you did not hand over to the court. Care to explain?"

Huo Jialan shook her head again. "I couldn't find it. How am I supposed to hand it over?"

"This again?" Gu Nianzhi frowned. "Why is it called a 'bank safe' if it isn't even safe? We should ask the bank for a copy of the surveillance camera tapes, and see who removed the birth certificate from the safe."

Panic flickered across Huo Jialan's face, but she quickly collected herself. She said calmly, "After my mother's death, I inherited all her belongings, and took out everything that had been in the bank safe."

"So you're saying that the document is with you?" Gu Nianzhi had to stress the importance of the document's current whereabouts, and who it belonged to. "So why didn't you hand it over? Are you deliberately choosing to go against the court order? That counts as an obstruction of justice."

"Oh no, I wouldn't dare." Huo Jialan lifted her chin slightly. "I'm saying that when I went to the bank to remove the contents in the safe, I didn't see anything resembling a certificate. There were only jewelry and deposit receipts inside."

Huo Jialan insisted that the birth certificate had not been in the safe because she knew that Gu Nianzhi had no way of proving otherwise.