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674 Low Profile

 Huo Shaoheng wanted to keep a low profile. He used the charade of arriving in Cuba with the military craft from the Hua Xia Empire for the sole reason of having an official reason for appearing there. So after a brief meeting with the Supreme Military Council of Cuba, he told General Ji that he wanted to return to the Hua Xia Empire immediately.

However, General Ji did not approve as he smiled in his office like the benevolent Buddha Maitreya. "Shaoheng, think about how suspicious it would look if you left so soon after arriving. How would others perceive that? What would the people watching you think?"

That made sense. He had to complete the charade he had started. His hands were already wet, so he didn't want to miss the last part and waste all the previous efforts. Huo Shaoheng knew that because of the mole's betrayal, intelligence agencies from all over the world were carefully watching his movements. "Ok, the Chief is right." Huo Shaoheng didn't object. "Then I'll wait some more."

"You're in Cuba, anyway. You should take the chance to properly learn from your contemporaries there. You're currently visiting Cuba as official military personnel, so you can also look at the Cuban signal radar system while you're there. Since Cuba is so close to the US, they've got to have some interesting things, hahahaha..." General Ji couldn't help laughing when he spoke of something positive.

Huo Shaoheng agreed. "Ok, I'll make a note to."

"Yes, the special military aircraft is there, anyway, so you can stay as long as you like. It's best you stay longer, and there'll be an important political assignment for you after that." General Ji's tone grew stern. "You already know that the nation is rather tense right now with the election happening in a few days. It's not appropriate for you to return yet, so just wait a bit, and then you can come back after the election results are announced."

Huo Shaoheng was silent for a moment but still answered, "Roger, Chief." Because he couldn't return to the Hua Xia Empire yet, Huo Shaoheng didn't contact Zhou Qiyuan again.

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Zhou Qiyuan wasn't in a rush. They were beginning to individually interrogate everyone who had been detained. Although Zhou Qiyuan didn't know why Huo Shaoheng asked him to detain all these people, he had to complete the routine interrogations. It was just a matter of asking about their resumes and daily responsibilities, as well as social relations. It was like a background check but at a more strict level. Every question had to be supported by concrete evidence, whether it was in the form of documents or the testimony of a witness.

...

Huo Guanchen sat in the office of the Special Operations Forces headquarters base. He looked at the especially grim-looking Deputy Commander of the Special Ops, whose eyebrows hadn't relaxed even once. It was only a simple field mission, how could the personnel disappear? Did they run off? Turn into traitors? Or... had something happened to them? It had already been two days since the field personnel left for Germany, and the base hadn't been able to contact them again.

Typically, such a situation meant an accident had occurred. Although accidents were expected, since it was commonplace in this line of work, the more important thing was the measures and means to take after the accident. It must be swiftly and cleanly resolved. However, Huo Guanchen didn't have a background in intelligence work, so he had no experience with remedial measures or what to do in order to prevent more losses. "Missing? What should we do, then? What about Gu Nianzhi? Was she found?" Huo Guanchen raised his voice. "This is how you botch an assignment from your superiors?"

The Deputy Commander was secretly enraged but couldn't show it to General Huo. He could only hang his head and silently bear Huo Guanchen's shouting. Huo Guanchen slapped the desk in anger. "What do you mean by that?! Hurry up and send more personnel there to look!"

The Deputy Commander finally looked up at the furious Huo Guanchen as he replied evenly, "General Chief, we can't simply send more personnel there without first figuring out what happened."

"Why not?"

"Because at the moment, we can't determine if the real Miss Gu was at that location, or if it was the enemy's trap." The Deputy Commander didn't want to send more of his personnel to certain death, and also those two missing men were a problem whether they were dead or alive. They had already sacrificed two field personnel for one Gu Nianzhi. Could their personnel be merely cannon fodder, ready to be used and expended? The Deputy Commander believed the matter should be thoroughly thought out first.

Huo Guanchen slowly sat down again at the Deputy Commander's words. There was no doubt they made a lot of sense, and Huo Guanchen also thought it was a good idea. They hadn't stopped searching but were merely unable to continue due to the Special Ops field personnel running into trouble. "Ok, do what you need to. I fully authorize you to resolve this."

Huo Guanchen took out a pen and wrote a memo for the Deputy Commander. "General Ji has made special note of this situation to not disclose this to your Chief for now. You must remember that anyone who reveals this to your Chief will be subject to military punishment. I will give no concessions and believe General Ji feels the same way."

"Roger, Chief." The Deputy Commander had no objections, nor did he dare to. But who would he assign to resolve this, if Huo Shaoheng couldn't know about it? If Huo Shaoheng was in the Hua Xia Empire, then the Deputy Commander could personally go there. But Huo Shaoheng was abroad right now, so the Deputy Commander couldn't go, since one of them had to always remain in the Hua Xia Empire. If the two of them flew somewhere, they also had to take separate flights at different times.

After much consideration, he could only think of Yin Shixiong and Zhao Liangze. They were Huo Shaoheng's personal secretaries and extremely capable themselves. Also, they had always been there with Huo Shao in regards to Gu Nianzhi. The two field personnel disappeared because of Gu Nianzhi, and any way he saw it, personal or business, it was reasonable they should know about the incident and investigate if it was related to Gu Nianzhi's disappearance.

Also, General Ji gave orders not to let Huo Shao know of the incident for now, but he didn't say anything about other people. Additionally, this incident was no secret within the high-ranking officials in the Special Ops. In order to locate Gu Nianzhi by satellite, all the personnel involved modifying the satellite's orbit knew about it. Yin Shixiong and Zhao Liangze both happened to be sent abroad on missions right now. Zhao Liangze had just been assigned to Cuba to assist Huo Shao on the official visit, so the only option was to immediately summon Yin Shixiong back to deal with the matter.

...

Yin Shixiong had been sent to Japan and had only completed half the mission when he received an urgent order to return to the Hua Xia Empire. Even the flight had been booked so he could board as soon as he had his suitcase. As a soldier, it was Yin Shixiong's duty to obey his superior's orders.

Yin Shixiong immediately boarded the plane without question. It was only a three hour flight from Tokyo to the Imperial Capital. Yin Shixiong boarded at 5pm and landed at the Imperial Capital International Airport at 8pm Tokyo time. With the time difference, it was already 9pm local time. The adjutant picking him up opened the car door grimly to usher him inside.

Yin Shixiong nodded and got into the front passenger seat before asking his adjutant, "Tell me, what's going on?"

His adjutant started the car and answered simply, "There has been an accident with two people out there." In their professional terminology, "people out there" referred to field personnel and "accident" meant death in the line of duty.

Yin Shixiong's heart sank. Although this situation was not uncommon, he still felt horrible every time he got such news. Those were all his fellow comrades, and no warrior remained indifferent when they heard about the death of their comrades, unless he didn't see them as one of his own. "Ok, let's talk when we get back." Yin Shixiong answeredly succinctly and didn't ask any other questions.

They headed to the Special Ops base, and instead of going Yin Shixiong's home, they drove directly to Yin Shixiong's suite in Huo Shao's official residence. Both he and Zhao Liangze had their own rooms with studies and conference rooms like small individual suites. He showered in the bathroom and came out in a change of clothes. After he dried his hair, he went to the kitchen to look for some food before notifying his team members, "We'll have a meeting in ten minutes. All officers on duty and personnel with a rank of colonel or above must attend."

After notifying everyone of the meeting, Yin Shixiong went to his safe to take out his domestic phone. It was dead, so he took it to the conference room to plug in as he waited for everyone to arrive. Because he was early, the phone had time to charge and turned on after he had waited for a little bit. He unlocked it with a swipe and saw an important voicemail. It was sent from Gu Nianzhi's external contact number.