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336 Matchmaking

 "But to really investigate Zhang Feng, your grandfather... wouldn't he lose face?" General Ji asked politely. The situation was too complicated. Grandfather Huo had been the second-in-command of the Supreme Military Council prior to his retirement and now held the rank of General. He had numerous contacts within the upper class of the Empire, so there were too many people and interest groups tied to this. Huo Shaoheng frowned as he contemplated the benefits and risks.

General Ji secretly approved of Huo Shaoheng's decision and knew he was truly a good candidate. He had chosen the right successor after all. He knew when to take action and understood his priorities. "Also, the Xie's, have you considered their feelings?" General Ji reminded him again in case Huo Shaoheng was too young and reckless. He may be casting his net too wide and make too many enemies, General Ji worried.

"I've already considered it." Huo Shaoheng appeared to have made up his mind and looked up to reply calmly, "Only the Zhang's will be affected, as well all companies affiliated with them. No one else will be implicated." He wasn't a rookie and had considered all aspects long before. Afterall, he couldn't have risen to the rank of Major General from 2nd Lieutenant in merely 10 years without a good head on his shoulders.

"Very well." General Ji nodded with satisfaction and reminded him, "Cast the net narrowly in the beginning, but if other truths surface during the investigation, you may always look into them at a later time."

"Roger, Chief!" Huo Shaoheng fully understood and immediately have a military salute to indicate his obedience.

General Ji was very pleased with Huo Shaoheng's response and understood Huo Shaoheng was asking for his favour. He smiled and leaned back against his chair. "Shaoheng, you're 28 this year?"

Huo Shaoheng nodded in silence.

General Ji continued on, "You've been single all this time. This isn't good for your career." It was important that someone climbing the ranks had a stable family, because it was crucial to have a positive and normal public image.

"I'm currently considering my personal situation." Huo Shaoheng knew he couldn't get out of this. Perhaps he would've agonized over this before, but he was now able to ask promptly since he had a satisfactory candidate.

"Oh? Is that right?" General Ji leaned forward with interest, his piercing eyes relishing with the possibility of getting in on some gossip. "Who do you like?"

Huo Shaoheng paused.

"What? Why aren't you speaking? Are you being shy with me?" General Ji was amused. "Just say it, or at least let me give you my opinion?"

It seemed like General Ji would let him off he gave him a bit of information. Huo Shaoheng answered vaguely, "I said I'm considering it, but I have no specific target yet."

"Is that so?" General Ji nodded with a knowing look. "Shaoheng, I've already spoken with you about this before. Your marriage is very important to the military: you have to do it right and not make a single mistake."

Huo Shaoheng froze, but his expression remained unfazed. "I understand. Thank you for your advice."

"I know that you've always followed the military's arrangements, but it's not as if we'll force you to marry someone. What day and age is it now anyway? We don't get involved with planning weddings." General Ji chuckled dryly. "However, this doesn't mean that you can choose just anyone, got it?"

"Roger!" Huo Shaoheng instantly replied. He knew General Ji would overanalyze it if he showed even an ounce of hesitation. This was not the time to publicly announce his relationship with Gu Nianzhi.

"It's good that you understand." General Ji said with satisfaction. "Today there are several young women here who are close to your age: there's the daughter of the Deputy Chief of Staff Xu of the Tactical Operations Department, Xu Piaohong--she's the one who just apologized to you. Just look at you, she clearly stopped your car but you insisted it didn't happen. It's good that you're looking out for her, but don't make it so obvious!"

Huo Shaoheng found himself unable to think of a rebuttal and could only stay silent.

General Ji saw his silence and grew even more interested. "There's also the daughter of the 1st Military Region's 8th Regimental Commander Mao. She's quite pretty and has enlisted for three years now. She's a Lieutenant. Also, there's the granddaughter of the 5th Military Region's deputy commander. She's four years younger than you are and so, the same age as Xu Piaohong. She saw you before when she interned at the Senate and is very interested in you. What do you think? Do you want to get to know them?"

Huo Shaoheng chose not to say anything.

"You can get to know them one by one." General Ji wanted him to find a match immediately. "My wife and I like Xu Piaohong the best; she's a headstrong girl and didn't want to use family influence to pursue her goals. She was accepted into the Police Academy on her own merit and took initiative to be a entry-level police officer. Think about it: you will be popular with the public with a wife like Xu Piaohong as you move up in your career ."

If Huo Shaoheng was to become a public facing figure, much like the politicians such as General Ji, Speaker Long, or Prime Minister Dou, his family would be scrutinized under a magnifying glass with the constant public exposure. A marriage to Xu Piaohong would be undoubtedly well received by the public. She had been born into a high class family but was willing to work like a common person.

Huo Shaoheng chuckled. "Chief, I think I'm going to try solving this on my own. I have to report my marriage anyway and it will go through background checks. Why don't you take a look then?"

"Ok." General Ji thought about it and agreed, but still reminded Huo Shaoheng, "You have to also report when you are dating, and can only make it publically known once the Supreme Military Council approves it. Understood?"

"Roger, Chief." Huo Shaoheng went on to agree. He had no choice either way. As someone working behind the scenes in their line of work, they were not allowed to have secrets from the Supreme Military Council. Huo Shaoheng even suspected that General Ji seemed to be testing him-a warning against being together with Gu Nianzhi. Of course, Huo Shaoheng only thought this to himself and would never expose his secret to General Ji. Although Huo Shaoheng completely understood General Ji's concerns, he disagreed. He had his own thoughts and methods, but the time was not right. Telling the truth now would just ruin everything, so he remained silent.

General Ji stood up to see Huo Shaoheng off when he finished speaking and placed a hand on his shoulder as he continued to praise Xu Piaohong. "Consider this young woman carefully; she's a good person, has strong abilities, and is very pretty too. I've heard her father say that she's never dated before, so she's as pure as snow!"

Huo Shaoheng couldn't' keep quiet anymore and implied his opposition by saying, "I've considered it. Thank you for your concern."

"Very well!" General Ji patted his shoulder forcefully. "It's perfect that everyone is free during the new year, so you can ask her out to a dinner and movie in the next few days and get to know her better."

"I'm afraid the next few days won't work." Huo Shaoheng refused him resolutely. "I'm busy with dealing with the case against the Zhang's, and probably won't have that much time. I still have to explain the situation to Speaker Long later, otherwise it'll be trouble when the Senate starts asking questions."

"Ah, that's not a problem. You still have to "eat" no matter how busy you are, right?" General Ji folded his hands behind his back and smiled. "It's fine that you don't have time for a movie, but you have to at least treat the young lady to dinner. You embarrassed her today so this can be compensation."

Huo Shaoheng smiled faintly. "General Ji likes Miss Xu that much? Is she really not related to you?"

"Of course not! You think I would be matchmaking if I had a daughter?! I would've married her to you a long time ago!" General Ji was very fond of Huo Shaoheng and regretted that he only had two sons but no daughters. His relatives' daughters weren't good enough for Huo Shaoheng, so he had never thought about matchmaking. It was only recently that he realized it was about time that Huo Shaoheng should get married.