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526 Swift and Ruthless

 Speaker Long and Deputy Minister Bai followed behind, flanking General Ji. They curiously surveyed Gu Xiangwen lying on the stretcher.

"Yes, he hasn't awakened, so he must be immediately transported to the ward for emergency treatment." Chen Li did not leave the stretcher's side at all and nodded to General Ji, Speaker Long, and Deputy Minister Bai before quickly ordering someone to push Gu Xiangwen away. Huo Shaoheng stayed behind to report to the three chiefs about the Barbados trip.

"In other words, someone in Barbados wanted Gu Xiangwen dead?" Speaker Long furrowed his brow. "What happened, exactly? Did your men figure it out?"

"No, there wasn't enough time, and our mission was to escort Gu Xiangwen back, so it didn't do to cause more trouble." Huo Shaoheng proudly sat in front of the three Imperial leaders. "Also, I will report about the situation in Barbados."

General Ji nodded, his hands folded on the conference table. Wearing reading glasses, he peered up from the lenses at Huo Shaoheng. "Tell us, what happened when you nearly ran into danger in Barbados?"

The call he'd gotten in the middle of the night asking for an emergency request to borrow a helicopter from Cuba had been shocking enough to the older man. Huo Shaoheng was the protege he had painstakingly trained, so there was no way he would allow him to suddenly perish in a tiny place like Barbados.

"That incident had a lot to do with Gu Xiangwen." Huo Shaoheng began explaining the electric fence in the blue hole's waters near the Gu's island. "...The Huaxia Empire and the United States are considered the most advanced countries when it comes to electric fence research, but neither of us compares to Gu Xiangwen's technology. In other words, there is no comparison."

"How far off are we?" Deputy Minister Bai asked gravely. "We shouldn't be self-deprecating."

"It's not a matter of self-deprecation. Let's just say that the electric fences we are developing represent the peak technology in cold weaponry, while Gu Xiangwen's electric fence is considered nuclear weapon technology in hot weaponry. That's the difference."

As soon as Huo Shaoheng finished speaking, the entire conference room was plunged into silence.

After a long moment, Speaker Long asked raspily, "Are you certain? There was no exaggeration?"

"The electric fence is still on the blue hole's waters. You may go experiment on it yourselves if you don't believe me."

Huo Shaoheng didn't continue explaining because the power of weapons could only be personally witnessed by individuals. Someone who had never seen it could not be convinced by using words or their imagination. General Ji and Speaker Long shared a glance but didn't continue questioning it.

Deputy Minister Bai rapped the conference desk and replied, "We should send personnel over to take a look. Since it's that groundbreaking, that's all the more reason we cannot give up on Barbados."

Huo Shaoheng continued without agreeing or disagreeing. "Gu Yanran finally agreed to let us escort Gu Xiangwen back to the Huaxia Empire while she verifies Gu Nianzhi's history in Barbados. The Barbados government has provided proof of identification, but Gu Yanran wishes to investigate it herself, as well."

"That's understandable. It's normal that she's being cautious about such an important thing." Deputy Minister Bai said softly, "But has Gu Nianzhi's identity been confirmed?"

"Yes. She's the youngest daughter of Gu Xiangwen, and we already obtained medical and dental records from Barbados for Gu Xiangwen's youngest daughter, Gu Nianzhi. We also performed a DNA test against the blood sample she left with her family physician in Barbados to prove that the DNA matches. We've proven that she's the youngest daughter of the Gu family from Barbados who went missing seven years ago."

Huo Shaoheng took out the government-issued proof of identification and passport signed by the Barbados government. "Gu Nianzhi is now a citizen of Barbados, but given that she and her father have made great contributions to our Huaxia Empire, I recommend allowing her to gain Huaxia citizenship."

The Huaxia Empire was not a country for immigrants, so it was very difficult for foreigners to naturalize or gain citizenship. In the past several decades, the Huaxia Empire had accepted fewer than 500 foreigners to become Huaxia citizens. Most of them were foreign talents who had made great contributions to the Huaxia Empire and were also of Chinese descent.

"You may put in a request regarding this, and we will consider it." Deputy Minister Bai was now in charge of the cabinet, so granting citizenship to foreigners was within his jurisdiction.

Huo Shaoheng leaned against the back of his seat with a smile as he looked at Deputy Minister Bai leisurely. "How long will consideration take? I recall that if the conditions are met, such situations are eligible for special processing timelines."

Deputy Minister Bai shook his head. "There are established procedures for these things. Shaoheng, I really can't give you a concrete timeline."

Huo Shaoheng glanced at General Ji, but the older man shook his head slightly back at him, so he decided to drop the subject.

Once they were briefed on the situation, Speaker Long and Deputy Minister Bai left the Special Operations Forces base first. General Ji stayed behind. As the Special Ops were directly under the command of the military, General Ji had more jurisdiction and responsibility.

"General Ji, please urge them regarding Nianzhi's situation."

Huo Shaoheng and General Ji walked to the medical building of the Special Operations Forces base together. It was almost summertime, so the path to the medical building was completely shaded by foliage. The trees along the path were heavy with emerald leaves. Small flowers of unknown species scented the air with sweetness, and little birds sang refreshing melodies from time to time to break the serene silence of the base.

General Ji teased Huo Shaoheng with a chuckle. "Director Bai didn't refuse your request. What are you so anxious about?"

"We risked our lives to bring Gu Xiangwen back. You can't allow those government officials to delay precious time." Huo Shaoheng stopped and noted suggestively, "Gu Yanran is not someone who will let things go easily. She is still verifying Nianzhi's identity, and once it's confirmed, she will certainly come to the Huaxia Empire to stake her claim."

"You're saying that she'll ask for Gu Xiangwen and Gu Nianzhi to return to her family?" General Ji understood what Huo Shaoheng was implying and immediately replied, "That's very serious. I'll discuss this with Old Long right away. As for the citizenship, the Senate has special privileges. If the Senate approves, then Old Bai's cabinet can't do anything about it."

Huo Shaoheng needed this to be a quick battle. Confirming Gu Nianzhi's identity had been dragged out for too long, and if he didn't nip the problem in the bud now, countless troubles would be coming their way in the future.

General Ji left the Special Ops base for Speaker Long at the Senate, then had a private discussion spanning nearly two hours.

By evening, when the cabinet was about to finish for the day, they received a phone call from the Senate informing them that they had just held a special vote to accept two foreigners' requests for citizenship. The cabinet's respective departments were to immediately process the request without delay. The department overseeing the granting citizenship within the cabinet was completely shocked. They had never encountered such a situation before, and although the Senate had the ultimate power, they had never exercised it before. This was the very first time, and the exception was made for Gu Xiangwen and Gu Nianzhi. Gu Xiangwen was far too valuable, and as for Gu Nianzhi, the blueprints she'd brought seven years ago made her eligible as a person of

"special contributions."

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The respective department in the cabinet immediately entered overtime as they processed the citizenship request for Gu Xiangwen and Gu Nianzhi. Documents were sent and stamps applied. By the time it was all compiled at Deputy Minister Bai's desk, it was early morning the next day. Deputy Minister Bai saw the special request sent by Speaker Long and signed in a flourish without any objection. Thus, Gu Nianzhi and Gu Xiangwen became Huaxia citizens and possessed Huaxia Imperial passports and identification.

...

Gu Nianzhi was extremely exhausted from the trip to Barbados. She went to her room to rest after returning home and slept for nearly 24 hours. When she finally woke up, the morning sun was starting to rise outside the window, and she almost confused about what time and day it was. She had gone to sleep in the early dawn, so she hadn't expected to also wake up at dawn. How long had she been asleep for?

Stretching her back lazily, she removed her blankets to get off the bed and put on slippers. A small burgundy booklet at her night table caught her eye. Reaching to grab it, she saw it was a passport-a brand new one issued by the Huaxia Empire. It had her name and photograph. Underneath the passport was a brand new identification, different from her previous one. What did this mean?

Gu Nianzhi turned the passport and identification in her hands over and over again to study them.

Huo Shaoheng knocked before coming inside and saw that she had finally woken up. "Get up now, if you're awake. Are you hungry? Breakfast is served in the dining room downstairs."

Gu Nianzhi lifted up the passport and identification for him to see. "Huo Shao, what does this mean?"

"Yeah, that's your new passport and identification." Huo Shaoheng sat on the single-seater sofa by her bed. "Your identity has been reinstated, and you're now a citizen of our nation."

So her old passport and identification were voided. Gu Nianzhi gasped, scratching her head and smiling sheepishly. "I didn't think that I would have a new identity just after one sleep."

"You don't like it?" Huo Shaoheng was a bit taken back. "Your current identity is the real and legal one."

"Then I've been using a fake passport and identification before..." Gu Nianzhi pouted. "Why didn't you wait for me to wake up and ask first?"

"You slept so peacefully, so I didn't wake you."

Huo Shaoheng also planned to tell her that as soon as the new passport and identification were issued, he had sent in the marriage request. He'd just received news that the military was beginning their background check on Gu Nianzhi. But seeing her listless expression, he swallowed the words back down.