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386 Birth of the Male Idol

 "They just met by chance right? How's that officially meeting each other's parents?" Xu Piaohong was unaffected. "If their parents were really meeting, then it should happen at home. What's the deal with meeting in a cafe? Was there something wrong with their home?"

"Cousin, you're more argumentative than a real lawyer. I can't win against you!" Miao Yunxiao muffled her giggles. "You're right, the way things look now, it's not very sincere even if it's a real meeting between parents."

"That's right! My dad always says not to judge people or things from the surface: everything depends on the true essence." Xu Piaohong laughed as she sat down at a table by the window with Miao Yunxiao. Through the window, they caught a clear view of the outside.

Huo Shaoheng, Xie Dezhao, and Xie Qingying hadn't left yet. They stood at the small tree-lined path by the cafe entrance. The golden street lights filtering through from the tree branches illuminated their faces. The beautiful couple complemented each other like a stunning oil painting. Xu Piaohong remained quiet and looked down at the menu, while Miao Yunxiao discreetly took out her phone and took a photo of the warm and harmonious scene. Huo Shaoheng cast his eyes down to gaze at Xie Qingying quietly while Xie Dezhao smiled gently on the side. Although the streetlights were dim at night, Xie Qingying's blushing face was apparent. Her eyes were unnaturally bright.

...

Huo Shaoheng said goodbye to the Xie's as his own car arrived. He nodded at them before getting inside and saying to Fan Jian, "Let's go." They quickly left the European-style cafe and headed towards the Special Operations Forces headquarters. Huo Shaoheng texted Zhao Liangze as soon as he got in the car to ask him to look up "Kevin Ku" online.

Zhao Liangze saw the message and called right away. "Mr. Huo, is that the genius scientist Xie Dezhao told you about?"

"Yes, that's him. His Chinese name is Gu Xiangwen and his English name is Kevin Ku." Huo Shaoheng calmly sent the details over. "Look him up right now."

Zhao Liangze immediately used his own search engine to look for the man. When Huo Shaoheng returned to the Special Operations Forces headquarters, Zhao Liangze had already placed the results on his desk. "Mr. Huo, is Gu Xiangwen really Kevin Ku? Is this real?!" Zhao Liangze followed Huo Shaoheng excitedly to his office. "Oh my God! This is crazy!"

"Is he really that famous?" Huo Shaoheng removed his coat and hung it on the coat rack on his office wall before turning around to see a red-faced Zhao Liangze. He shook his head. "So what if he is? What are you getting so excited for?"

"Mr. Huo, how can I not be excited?" Zhao Liangze walked closer and whispered frantically, "Mr. Huo, did you forget the previously abandoned Project B?!"

Huo Shaoheng froze. A conflicted look flashed across his face but he quickly composed himself and went to sit down at his desk to read the information Zhao Liangze had gathered. He didn't look at the details but quickly browsed through the main points and nodded. "So it's him. This person is indeed famous. Although, he doesn't publish papers as Kevin Ku but with the initials K.X.W."

"Right, this seems more like a code than a name." Zhao Liangze pointed to the information gathered as he explained to Huo Shaoheng, "This K.X.W. is the most famous and mysterious figure in foreign military history. His patents not only include the core technology used in the most advanced military aircraft, but also various patents on semiconductors and superconductors. In material science, he also owns several widely used patents." Even someone as well experienced as Huo Shaoheng was shocked to see the list of patents owned by "K.X.W." Beside all the military patents, there were many others that involved technology widely used by civilians, such as the core processors used in the chips of Apple phones. In other words, Apple had to pay the owner of the patent everytime it sold a phone in the world. Even if Apple only paid him 1 RMB per phone, it would be an understatement to say that Gu Xiangwen was a man of humble wealth just from the astronomical sales numbers by Apple.

"Our department had previously thought that this name represented a team and that their research results were collective efforts. If Xie Dezhao's words are true, that means we have to completely rehaul our intelligence work." That was the reason for Zhao Liangze's excitement.

Huo Shaoheng nodded thoughtfully. "I knew about the code name K.X.W. He was the key to our Plan B." It turned out that he had been so close yet so far away.

"But Mr. Huo..." Zhao Liangze scratched his head anxiously and then said, "I checked online for all published and unpublished news on Gu Xiangwen and found that other than published academic papers and patent applications, there is basically no information about him."

"What do you mean?" Huo Shaoheng set down the papers. "In what aspect?"

"For example, I wanted to search his resume, photos, or even biography, but there is very little information," Zhao Liangze said as he broke into a grin. "But then, I thought of something."

"Say it."

"Gu Xiangwen disappeared from the public after he became famous and all his information was wiped out, but what about before he became famous? When he was still in school?" Zhao Liangze pointed to the bottom sheets in the stack, "In order to find his school records, I had no choice but to use certain means to get inside the MIT intranet."

"I don't understand what you're talking about. I had just wanted you to get the information for me."

"Roger, Chief!" Zhao Liangze was secretly elated because he understood Huo Shaoheng wasn't going to pursue the matter. The Special Ops had an unwritten rule of "Don't ask, don't tell." In other words, not everything had to be spelled out.

"From here you can see a clear timeline of when Gu Xiangwen was in school." Zhao Liangze placed a chart in front of Huo Shaoheng and pointed. "Look at the timeline. It goes on until the year Gu Tian died and that's when all the evidence ends. I can't find out where he went after that, and there's nothing apart from an earth shattering paper he published as 'K.X.W.' several years later."

Huo Shaoheng looked at Zhao Liangze's timeline and nodded. "Interesting. Little Ze, you've done a good job."

"Thank you Chief!" Zhao Liangze was so pleased he flushed beet red, "What other information do you need? Please tell me!"

Huo Shaoheng stared at him, thinking it over.

"Mr. Huo, you don't have to tell me. Looking at Gu Xiangwen's CV and thinking about our Nianzhi, he's the only man fit to be her father without a doubt!" Zhao Liangze knew Gu Xiangwen could only be Gu Nianzhi's father. Now that it was apparent he was such an important figure in the academic world, he was so excited that he nearly rubbed his palms together and got ready to escort Gu Xiangwen to the Imperial Capital. He would be able to reunite with Gu Nianzhi and work with the military.

Huo Shaoheng smiled faintly. "That's wishful thinking."

"What do you mean? Although we can't directly find out his address right now, we already have so many clues. It will take no time at all!" Zhao Liangze licked his lips. "Do you want me to go try again?"

"You can try, but I don't think anything will turn up." Huo Shaoheng set the information aside with a stony face."Gu Wenxiang chose to live in isolation 26 years ago. How can you find him so easily? Also, he's Nianzhi's biological father, but why has there been no word from him for six years? Doesn't he know his daughter is missing?"

This realization dawned on Zhao Liangze like a bucket of cold water to the head and he deflated instantly. "You mean that something could have happened to him? Zhao Liangze considered it for awhile and his expression changed when the worst possibility went through his head.

Huo Shaoheng closed the file and closed his eyes. "I don't know. Everything remains to be seen and it's too early to make a conclusion."

"But it's not entirely unknown." Zhao Liangze waved his arms. "At least we have a direction and goal now. We won't be fumbling in the dark like the past six years!"

"That's true." Huo Shaoheng picked up a glass of water and licked his dry lips. "Alright, we have some progress with this so you don't have to worry too much. Let's just keep working away. If we can't find out anything I'll go to Xie Dezhao again. I don't believe that he has no way of contacting Gu Xiangwen."

"Roger, Chief!" Zhao Liangze answered loudly as he saluted more politely than usual.

Huo Shaoheng glanced at him. "Tell me, what do you want? The more polite the person, the more likely there is some request."

"Mr. Huo, how can you say that? You're my superior so why can't I be polite to you?" Zhao Liangze chuckled. "But you are right. I do have something to ask."

"Tell me."

"Tomorrow is Saturday and also Valentine's Day." Zhao Liangze blushed as he continued, "I want to take tomorrow off and shut off my phone for 24 hours. Will you allow that?" According to the nature of their work, they must be on standby 365 days a year and 24 hours a day. Zhao Liangze in particular was responsible for maintaining the Special Op's central control system. Even when he had gone home for Lunar New Year, his work phone had remained connected in order to deal with unexpected events immediately. His request implied that his work phone was to be shut off.

Huo Shaoheng glanced at him and didn't ask anymore before nodding. "Fine, you can shut your work phone off for 24 hours tomorrow. I'll take over the central control system."

"Thank you Chief!" Zhao Liangze was so happy he nearly jumped. "Then, I'll be counting on you tomorrow!"

"Go on." Huo Shaoheng waved his hand. "Close the door when you leave."

Zhao Liangze saluted loudly before running out and shutting Huo Shaoheng's office door. Huo Shaoheng finally was able to carefully read over Zhao Liangze's search results and found some suspicious points he went on to investigate on the dark web.

...

Friday night, the B University Faculty of Law female dormitory was engulfed in an atmosphere of relaxation and cheerfulness; pink bubbles were practically floating in the air. The girls gathered in small groups to prepare for Valentine's Day the next day. This was the time to covertly compare against each other. Comparisons of whose boyfriend was the tallest, most handsome, wealthiest, most powerful-the girls wanted nothing more but to put their boyfriends' credentials in a rank and post on the hallway entrance for all to see. A male idol was born from being the tallest, most handsome, wealthiest, and most powerful.

Gu Nianzhi and Ma Qiqi each held a box of popcorn and sat cross legged together on the sofa to watch an old movie in the living room. The two girls could practically recite the lines by heart now and the film score echoed throughout the room. Neither of them were actually listening because they were lost in their own thoughts. It didn't take long for Gu Nianzhi to finish her popcorn. She looked at their pantry and stood up to say to Ma Qiqi, "We're out of food. Should we go buy more?"

"Yeah! Let's go right now!" Absent minded all night, Ma Qiqi immediately perked up. "Where should we go?"

"The campus shops, where else?" Gu Nianzhi put on a down coat and left the dorm room with Ma Qiqi. The door to the room diagonal from them was ajar; waves of laughter sounded form within.

Miao Yunxiao's voice was especially crisp and melodic. "Don't grab it! This is my cousin's future husband! Don't break my phone!"

"Will he really be her husband? But why is he with another woman?!"

"I already told you he's my cousin's future husband, but not right now. He's the youngest Major General in our nation and my uncle is the Deputy Chief of Staff. My cousin's background is befitting for him and the military has already promised to step in and set them up." Miao Yunxiao said smugly, her voice dripping with pride.

Gu Nianzhi's expression changed instantly when she stopped in front of Miao Yunxiao's dorm room. Miao Yunxiao felt an inexplicable satisfaction as soon as she caught a glimpse of Gu Nianzhi at her door. She waved her phone at her roommates. "See for yourselves, isn't he so handsome? I say, what's the point of ranking male idols? Those guys put together are nothing compared to even Major General Huo's one finger!"

At first Gu Nianzhi was merely dubious, but at this point there was no doubt that Miao Yunxiao was talking about Huo Shaoheng. She had spent the last week in torment. Huo Shaoheng had brushed her off last weekend and she had come back to campus instead of calling him to ask what happened. The whole week Huo Shaoheng only called her once and had hurriedly said a few words before she could even feel sorry for herself. Now it was Friday night and he still hadn't called her or told her about where she was staying for the weekend. Her mood was like a volcano that had been dormant for years, now at the final bursting point.