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Home > Hello Mr Major General

381 Pleasure To Meet You

 Gu Nianzhi's nervous feelings finally found ease. Huo Shaoheng's tone was almost devoid of emotion, as if he were simply telling her a fact. But even the most simple words carried a different meaning when spoken by a lover. She agreed quietly. "Ok. Then, I'll wait for you to come back."

"Ok, be good." Huo Shaoheng hung up the phone before passing it to Yin Shixiong in the front passenger seat. Huo Shaoheng sat alone in the back with an elbow propped against the arm rest, lost in contemplation. They had been searching for information about people named "Gu Xiangwen" without rest for the last few days, but the investigation had hit a dead end. After receiving the joint authorization from the Supreme Military Council and Senate a few days before, the Special Operations Forces had sent personnel to find the several dozen people with the name "Gu Xiangwen." They then used various excuses to obtain their blood samples to bring back to the Imperial Capital for DNA testing. The results were disappointing-there was not a single sample DNA that matched with Gu Nianzhi's within the group of men named "Gu Xiangwen" around the target age. There wasn't even a single person that was slightly related to her. Could we have missed an important clue along the line? Huo Shaoheng thought. He had repeatedly thought about the name Gu Nianzhi had called out while she was unconscious; there was no way this had nothing to do with her. But, if there was some connection, then what was it? Could it not be a blood relationship? However, Gu Nianzhi had clearly said that it was her father's name... A father without blood relations, perhaps? His thoughts a mess, Huo Shaoheng massaged his forehead and sighed quietly. He could vaguely sense that the truth was hidden nearby, but it was cloaked by a layer of fog. If the fog didn't lift, they wouldn't be able to see the truth. Thinking about it over and over, he was certain they had missed an important element. He had to grasp that, no matter the cost.

...

Yin Shixiong played around on his phone for a while before turning back to say to Huo Shaoheng, "Mr. Huo, what does Speaker Long want to talk with you about it? Should we make preparations?"

Huo Shaoheng turned to look at the scenery flash by outside the window. He replied calmly, "What else? We're the military and they're the Senate. We all have our own regulations."

"That's true." Yin Shixiong nodded. "We've always had a good relationship with the Senate and our annual military funding is approved through them."

Huo Shaoheng looked at him. "We request for funding according to regulations and they approve the funding as governed by the law. There's no such thing as 'asking anyone.'"

Of course, he would never purposely strain their relationship with the Senate. The truth was, there was always a solution to every problem in the world-it just depended on whether one chose to see it or not, and address it.

Half an hour later, Huo Shaoheng's car finally parked in front of Speaker Long's home. Because it was a weekend evening, everyone was relaxing. Speaker Long's home was teeming with people and expensive cars filled the parking lot nearby. Music and laughter filled the air, as if it was a party. As soon as they stepped out of the car, Huo Shaoheng immediately caught whiff of the delicious aroma of barbecue. He had been eating irregularly the past few days and the the temptation of food now was the hard to bear. His hand covering his face, he coughed and said to Yin Shixiong, "Go ask what's going on." He had thought it would be a matter of business, but it looked more like a personal gathering. Slightly irritated, Huo Shaoheng leaned against the car door and lit a cigarette.

Before he could even take two puffs, someone walked up to him and said gently, "Sir, this is a non-smoking zone. You can't smoke here. Please put it out."

The voice was strangely similar to Gu Nianzhi's-it had an alluring tone that Huo Shaoheng fully expected her to grow into. Huo Shaoheng looked up. The light filtered through from the main entrance and the woman stood with her back to it. Her face was shrouded in the shadows but it wasn't completely indiscernible. Like a soft filter, the light from inside the house illuminated the woman's skin into white jade and her features somehow resembled Gu Nianzhi's in a certain way. Or perhaps this was how Gu Nianzhi would look like after fully maturing? Huo Shaoheng looked at her more closely.

Speaker Long's voice rose up from behind them, "Shaoheng? Shaoheng!You're here! Why aren't you coming in?" Speaker Long stood next to the woman and greeted Huo Shaoheng as he smiled at the both of them. "Hmm? You're already chatting? I was just saying how I'd introduce you to each other!"

Huo Shaoheng bowed slightly. "Speaker Long."

Speaker Long pat his shoulder and introduced the woman to him "This is my niece, Xie Qingying. Her father's surname is Xie. Speaking of which, he shares the same ancestor as your grandmother! It's the same Xie family." He then continued to say to Xie Qingying, "This is Huo Shaoheng. He's the youngest Major General."

Xie Qingying could finally see Huo Shaoheng clearly. She had only thought he was tall and mysterious when he was smoking earlier; though he was especially handsome when he smoked, even the most handsome man could not be permitted to smoke in a non-smoking zone, she had thought; it was a matter of principle. However, when he looked up now, Xie Qingying could only think about how a man with such an extremely handsome face could be forgiven no matter what he did. Xie Qingying chided herself for being so childish and managed to shake his hand graciously. "You are Major General Huo? It's a pleasure to meet you."

Huo Shaoheng stared at her. "It's a pleasure to meet you as well."

His large hand was warm and the palm seemed to contain a scorching heat that she felt instantly. After a short moment, she finally said, "Major General Huo, have you been feeling feverish lately? You're quite warm. You should maybe have some cooling soups to balance it out."

Huo Shaoheng smiled faintly. "I'm ok; work's just been busy lately." He looked at the chuckling Speaker Long. "Speaker Long, should we speak in the study?" He wasn't here to attend the party and expected Speaker Long to have business to discuss with him.

Speaker Long scratched his head, at a loss for Huo Shaoheng's prompt manner. "Yes, yes. Let's go talk in the study." He winked at Xie Qingying. "Qingying, please bring some barbecue meat for us. I'll have it in the study with Shaoheng as we chat."

"Ok, Uncle." Two dimples appeared when Xie Qingying smiled, quite similar to Gu Nianzhi's smile.

Huo Shaoheng remained silent and followed Speaker Long to the study. People kept following him on the way or greeted Speaker Long. He merely nodded and smiled without speaking, then finally arrived at Speaker Long's study on the third floor. This was where Speaker Long conducted business as well as entertainment and it took up the entire floor. The entrance was guarded by personnel from the Secret Service, as the security protocols were very strict. Of course, Huo Shaoheng didn't require further security checks as one of the people with the highest clearance within the Huaxia Imperial Security System. There were only four others who held the same clearance as him in the entire Empire. He sat down in Speaker Long's study and the older man personally steeped a cup of tea for himself "Here, have a cup. This is authentic Dahongpao tea made from leaves of the Dahongpao tree in the southern part of the Empire. I waited five years and only received a hundred grams of the leaves. I didn't even give it to my wife when she asked to try it."

Huo Shaoheng took the cup but set it down with a wry smile as Speaker Long spoke. "Speaker Long, don't set me up here. If you let me drink what even your wife can't have even when she'd asked for it, how much would she resent from now on?"

"How could that be? I didn't allow her to drink it and only gave it to you-why would she get mad at you?" Speaker Long joked heartily as he sat across from him and took a sip happily. He closed his eyes to enjoy the sweet richness of authentic Dahongpao tea.

Huo Shaoheng replied, "You'd better not mention it. If you do then your wife will not get angry at you, but at me. She'll hate me for drinking what she wanted but cannot have."

"I can't win against you." Speaker Long laughed freely. "Fine, I was only joking with you. It was an exaggeration! Did you really believe me?"

Huo Shaoheng finally raised the cup again to sip from and smiled. "Good thing that's a joke. It's an honour earned from three past lives that I can drink Speaker Long's Dahongpao."

"Look at you, making jokes now too!" Speaker Long guffawed loudly, the full sound echoing throughout the room.

Huo Shaoheng raised the cup to him, "Speaker Long, then I'll toast with tea in lieu of wine. A full cup."

"A toast is just a sip, what do you mean a full cup?" Speaker Long ribbed him playfully. After chatting some more, the older man finally delved into the main topic.

"Shaoheng, I called you in all of a sudden because it's the weekend and you should relax. Eat and drink with everyone instead of only focusing on work!" Speaker Long urged passionately. "You know that the Senate is assessing next year's budget, as well as personnel promotions and demotions. Among the numerous high ranking military officials, you're the only one who's still single. That's not good! It will negatively impact your future career prospects."

Huo Shaoheng carefully set the cup back on the coffee table. He replied calmly, "I'm currently considering my personal situation. I ask that Speaker Long not worry."

Speaker Long didn't get to reply as someone spoke through the intercom. "Is Speaker Long inside? General Ji is here."

"Let him in!" Speaker Long rose from his seat.

The study door opened and General Ji strode in. "Old Long, you secretly called Shaoheng in? Why didn't you wait for me!"

General Ji's voice was especially loud; the whole room seemed to shake as he spoke.

Huo Shaoheng also rose and gave him a military salute. "Hello, Chief!"

"Ok, ok, sit down. Don't be too courteous." As he spoke, he sat down with Speaker Long to face Huo Shaoheng.

Huo Shaoheng remained impassive as always.

Speaker Long glanced at him and then said to General Ji, " I was just saying-Shaoheng's not even 30 yet but has a maturity rare for his age. You must have mentored him well!"

"Of course, I don't need you to tell me." General Ji was extremely pleased with his judgement and took an envelope from his pocket; he placed it on the coffee table. "Look, this is also a result of my judgement: Shaoheng, I had chosen you, out of all the other officials, to execute special assignments all those years ago and you completed them successfully. You rose within the ranks in no time. How could my judgement be wrong?"

How could Huo Shaoheng even answer that? However, he could only force himself to try. "You certainly didn't judge me mistakenly."

Speaker Long chuckled again. "Ok, you two can stop putting on a show now. Old Ji, let's get to business."

"Business has to do with the photos here." General Ji tipped the envelope to spill out numerous photos of women. They were all very beautiful and elegant.

Huo Shaoheng took a cursory glance. "Are these missing persons?"

"What?!" General Ji couldn't stand Huo Shaoheng's obliviousness. "You only know how to be contrary with me! I'll be direct with you today: the military wishes for you to get married; these are just a portion of the suitable candidates for you. Choose well and then we will hold a matchmaking event with the remaining ones to get the single men in the military to participate. What do you think?

Huo Shaoheng's eyebrow twitched as he picked up the teacup to sip from. "I'm already considering my personal situation so no matchmaking is necessary. However, there are indeed many single men in the Special Ops who need to sort out their own personal situations. I'll make sure they attend the matchmaking event."

"Shaoheng, that's rich coming from you! You're trying to get out of this at the expense of your fellow soldiers?" Speaker Long snickered. "Sly! You're too sly!"

Huo Shaoheng merely smiled. He set down the teacup when he heard the door open again. Xie Qingying came in carrying a large platter of barbecued meat and bowls of side dishes. " I'm sure three must be hungry?"

"Qingying, come here! Greet Uncle Ji." Speaker Long introduced her warmly to General Ji.

Xie Qingying greeted him respectfully and divided the meat into three plates for the men. She set down the cutlery and sauces, arranging everything neatly on the table. "Please enjoy your dinner. I'll be going now. Uncle, you can call for me if you need more. I'll ring it up." Xie Qingying bowed before she left the study. She didn't look at Huo Shaoheng, yet he stared at her retreating back thoughtfully.

General Ji and Speaker Long detected that the younger man seemed to react differently to Xie Qingying, so they shared a glance that said there might be something more. General Ji deliberately brought her up with Speaker Long. "Old Long, I don't remember you telling me that you had a niece with the surname Xie? And she's all grown up too!"

Speaker Long picked up his cutlery to spear a piece of meat and ate a whole skewer before answering, "She's not actually my cousin's biological daughter."

"What's with that?"

"Her father is from a distant family branch of the Xie's. When all the Xie's emigrated many years ago, his branch went too. Xie Qingying was born abroad and her biological mother died early. Her father only remarried my cousin recently, so Xie Qingying is my cousin's stepdaughter. See, this is their family photo." Speaker Long finished detailing the complicated relationship and finally took out Xie Qingying's family photo. He had clearly prepared for this.

Huo Shaoheng took it. There were two photos, one with Xie Qingying's biological parents holding a little girl and the second one of Xie Qingying's father and her step-mother-Xie Qingying was an adult in this one and sat with a polite smile next to her father. Huo Shaoheng's eyes were drawn to Xie Qingying's biological mother; it was apparent that she resembled her mother almost exactly.

Gernal Ji frowned as he tried to understand. "Oh, so the cousin who remarried was the one whose husband died a few years ago?"

"Right. Her husband died before they had children. Later, she went traveling abroad and met Qingying's father. They fell in love and got married." Speaker Long looked over at Huo Shaoheng. "Shaoheng, Qingying grew up abroad and only came back to the Empire with her father and stepmother not long ago. Do you have some time to take her around?"

General Ji quickly chimed in, "Why not! How about you also take Piaohong and Miss Xie around the Imperial Capital?"

General Ji and Speaker Long's age combined was over a hundred years old; Huo Shaoheng didn't want to entertain the tasteless matchmaking of these old men. He said to Speaker Long, "Miss Xie grew up abroad and holds foreign citizenship. According to regulations, I can't interact with foreigners privately." The Huaxia Empire truly had such regulations. Someone with Huo Shaoheng's rank required the presence of a third party and had to make a post-interaction report to the related departments if he wanted to interact with foreigners holding non-Huaxia citizenship.

Speaker Long coughed. "Their family already gave up their foreign citizenship to return to the Empire. You don't have to worry about that part."

"I'm not worried. I merely don't wish to violate national regulations," Huo Shaoheng said calmly as he returned the two photos to Speaker Long. "What's the name of Miss Xie's biological mother?"

"I'm not sure." Speaker Long shrugged. "Qingying will be back soon with more food though. Why don't you ask her?"

"That's ok. I still have business. Thank you for the tea and food today, Speaker Long. I'll make sure to treat you next time." Huo Shaoheng stood up and saluted General Ji once again.

"Fine, fine, you can go." General Ji waved with a little smile. "You have to put more effort into your personal situation, understand? Otherwise us old men will have to step in."

"Roger, Chief." Huo Shaoheng nodded to both of them and turned to exit. As he left the study, he ran into Xie Qingying again. She was carrying another platter of meat.

"Major General Huo, aren't you going to eat some more?"

"No thanks. I still have some business to attend." Huo Shaoheng nodded to her but suddenly brushed her shoulder gently. "Sorry, there was a bug there."

Xie Qingying jolted in fear, nearly dropping the tray of meat. She stood there completely rigid. "A bug? Major General Huo? Did you get rid of it?"

"Yes, it's gone." Huo Shaoheng retracted his hand and tightly gripped a strand of her hair in his palm. He bowed his head at her but just as he started to walk away, he remembered something and stopped in his tracks. Huo Shaoheng turned back to ask Xie Qingying, "Miss Xie, what's the name of your birth mother?"

"Gu Tian." Xie Qingying replied, blinking at the sudden question.