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712 To Appoint by Favoritism

 "You want to promote Big Xiong and Little Ze?" General Ji had a hard time holding back his laughter. "Shaoheng, Shaoheng... You really are appointing by favoritism, hahaha..."

Huo Shaoheng was rendered momentarily speechless. He waited for General Ji to finish his chuckle before replying with a smile, "I've amused Chief. Neither Big Xiong nor Little Ze are my relatives, so it's not quite right to say it's 'appointing by favoritism.'"

"But they're your personal secretaries..."

"Right, and I used to be your subordinate..." Huo Shaoheng raised a brow slowly. "You supported me greatly, but did anyone say you 'appointed by favoritism?'"

"Haha, very right! Actually, we promote talent, and that's the key word, 'talent!' As long as we know he's talented and didn't make mistakes, then why shouldn't we promote him? It's good you know this. As long as you can answer to anyone that it's only for national interests, then there is no need to worry about the minor traditions and about gossip."

"I worry about gossip least of all." Huo Shaoheng gave a half smile as he nodded. "Also, in our line of work, we don't need fame and perhaps can't be exposed at all." He discussed it with General Ji some more before finally making one last request. "General Ji, these two last prime minister candidates have made our work extremely passive. It could be said that the loss we suffered this time was entirely due to their unreasonable request. Also, I have reason to suspect that there are moles planted by the enemies by their sides."

General Ji instantly grew stern and stared at Huo Shaoheng as he replied gravely, "Shaoheng, that's a very serious accusation. Tan Dongbang is now the Prime Minister, and I also heard that he will appoint Bai Jiancheng as the Minister of Domestic Affairs. Although these two men were at each other's throats during the election, they've obviously reconciled now. Your accusation that they have moles by their sides means extremely serious consequences."

"I know, so I wanted to discuss it with you. We are only suspecting it at this point, but this is not unfounded. This logical conclusion was derived from their recent activity, the resulting loss we suffered, and the consequences caused." Huo Shaoheng paused and looked at General Ji to make sure he understood before continuing, "Originally, I thought the most difficult thing was that we would be helpless even if there are moles planted by the enemies at their sides, because our Special Operations Forces cannot get involved in domestic affairs."

General Ji suddenly understood and chuckled as he slapped the desk. "Shaoheng, Shaoheng! You never take a loss with any trade! Tell me, what do you want to do? Give them a taste of their own medicine?"

"The Chief is wise!" Huo Shaoheng broke into a smile. "See, I was truly promoted by you from the beginning. You know everything I'm thinking." According to their mission statement and regulations, the Special Ops certainly couldn't get involved in domestic affairs. This was the bottom line determined by the military elite all those years ago. But this bottom line had been breached by the two prime minister candidates under the guise of "public will." The Special Ops had already been involved in domestic affairs, so for Huo Shaoheng, he might as well go with the flow. Not taking advantage of the so-called "public opinion" would be a disservice to the nation, military, and public will.

Even if the enemy learned of this, the Special Ops would still have a legitimate reason to defend themselves with. It's not like the candidates were the only ones allowed to use "public will" as an excuse to request the Special Ops' help. The Special Ops could also follow the "public will" and begin to monitor them. Didn't they trust the Special Ops more than anything else? If the Special Ops had been appointed to monitor the voting and balloting process, then what would be wrong with the Special Ops monitoring their behavior? The Special Ops was merely taking responsibility for "public will," since they had monitored the election on behalf of "public will."

"Ok! We did suffer a great loss this time, so they should pay a price. Also, they were the ones to break the rules first by borrowing our guns. Of course we're going to give them a taste of their own medicine." General Ji nodded with approval. "You want to monitor the people at their sides?"

"Excellent idea, Chief!" Huo Shaoheng appeared totally convinced. "I didn't even think of that point yet, and you've already mentioned it. It's true that the older the knife, the sharper its blade! You're my role model!"

General Ji grinned widely at Huo Shaoheng's words and inclined his head in laughter for a while before saying, "Ok, then carry out the plan as you wish. As for their people, you don't need to notify them. Can you do that?" In other words, Huo Shaoheng was allowed to monitor the cabinet, but he couldn't be discovered before he obtained actual evidence. Otherwise, General Ji wouldn't be able to quell the resulting trouble from such actions.

Huo Shaoheng had been eavesdropping on foreign intelligence agencies for many years and now had no choice but to deal with a domestic institution. All signs pointed to the possibility that the mastermind behind harming Gu Nianzhi was located within the Hua Xia Empire. If he still rigidly abided by the Special Op's original code of conduct and mission statement of refusing to react to domestic affairs, then what awaited him and Gu Nianzhi would be even more fierce backhanded traps and murder attempts. He couldn't sit idle or simply watch Gu Nianzhi fall into the enemy's seemingly omnipresent traps. The enemy had misjudged him by assuming he was someone to never intervene in domestic institutions, so they had burrowed themselves there. But nothing was ever certain in the world, and now it was the enemy's turn to be caught off guard.

It was the early hours of a brand new morning when Huo Shaoheng left General Ji's home. He hadn't slept for two full days and nights, but he was still energetic and not sleepy at all. Huo Shaoheng returned to the Special Operations Forces headquarters and immediately called for a special meeting to console all the base personnel's unease. He also announced that the Deputy Chief had violated the Special Operations Forces' mission statement and regulations by intervening with domestic affairs, so he accordingly should be sent to the military court for sentencing. However, because he had been jointly vouched for by both prime minister candidates, he wouldn't be sent to the military court but only dismissed from his duties immediately and transferred to the back office as office director.

The Deputy Chief was still locked up in the detainment center by the Disciplinary Committee, and dismissal of his duties did not require anyone else's permission because Huo Shaoheng had complete personnel rights. But in regards to a high-ranking position like the Deputy Chief's, Huo Shaoheng would never be the only one to make the call, even if he had the power to do so. Therefore, he also obtained General Ji's support because with it, Huo Shaoheng would have a legitimate reason for his actions. Also, the Disciplinary Committee had struck like lightning, so everyone had already mentally prepared for the Deputy Chief's dismissal, and thus it didn't cause very much commotion.

However, Huo Shaoheng's next announcement to appoint Zhao Liangze and Yin Shixiong as the new Deputy Chiefs was a pleasant surprise for everyone. These two men had much more experience within the Special Ops compared with the previous Deputy Chief who had been an external promotion. Also, they got along very well with their peers, so nearly everyone was happy with their promotion.

"Congratulations!"

"Big Xiong, you've got to treat us!"

"Little Ze, you're looking especially good with this great news!"

The conference room was suddenly abuzz with a joyous atmosphere that completely wiped out the suffocating pressure within the Special Operations Forces headquarters from the last few days. Everyone was in high spirits and felt that they had a renewed sense of motivation to support the organizational backbone again.

Yin Shixiong and Zhao Liangze were both extremely excited because they never thought Huo Shaoheng would help them obtain such an important position and good treatment! It was known that as soon as someone was promoted to Deputy Chief, they would also rise to the rank of colonel, and subsequently, the rank of senior colonel was no longer unattainable.

Huo Shaoheng smiled at everyone cheering inside the conference room and gave Yin Shixiong and Zhao Liangze a look before discreetly leaving alone. Without him present, everyone celebrated even more excitedly. Yin Shixiong and Zhao Liangze knew that Huo Shaoheng was purposely giving them a chance to better get along with the group, so they agreed generously. "Ok! Where should we go eat? We're treating you all today!"

...

Huo Shaoheng stood in the hallway for a while and mindlessly took out a cigarette to light. Inhaling deeply, he glanced at his watch and saw it was already past 7am. He left the building and headed to the base cafeteria to buy two breakfasts to take to Chen Lie's office. There was a special private room outside Chen Lie's office, and that was where Gu Nianzhi was currently staying.

Huo Shaoheng knocked on the door but got no response. He turned the door handle, and discovering it was unlocked, pushed it open. There was now a large, white, four-sided screen in the middle of the room, and on the other side was a single bed. Huo Shaoheng walked past the screen and saw Gu Nianzhi sleeping on the bed, her tiny face milky and luminous, lips pink and lush. She was looking much better than she had two days ago. Huo Shaoheng wasn't happy to see Gu Nianzhi recover so quickly, and he sighed deeply because he pitied her. Setting the breakfast on the small table by the bed, Huo Shaoheng sat at Gu Nianzhi's bedside and adjusted her blankets before also checking her forehead to see she didn't have a fever and that her temperature was normal.

Chen Lie heard the noise and walked out from his office. His expression was bitter. "Boss? You finally came over. Nianzhi is fussing about getting discharged. I don't think I can hold her back anymore."

Huo Shaoheng nodded. "You've worked hard. Here, did you have breakfast yet?" Huo Shaoheng passed one of the breakfasts he bought to Chen Lie. "Beef buns, millet porridge, boiled eggs, and milk tea."

Chen Lie didn't hesitate accepting it. "I worked an all-nighter, so I'm starved."

"An all-nighter? Doing what?" Huo Shaoheng saw that Gu Nianzhi was still sleeping, so he didn't wake her but followed Chen Lie to sit down in the office.

Chen Lie chewed on the beef buns as he said to Huo Shaoheng, "I was reading the medical papers we obtained from Dr. Ye."

Huo Shaoheng understood. "That's the bait those people gave her?"

Chen Lie nodded and gushed, "These people were dumb, too. They should've just given such good papers directly to me instead of buying off Dr. Ye."

Huo Shaoheng sneered. "Careful with what you say. Is it that amazing?"

Chen Lie's smile faded as he replied sternly, "Luckily, you caught Dr. Ye. Otherwise, Nianzhi would've been a goner."

"The papers have something to do with Nianzhi?" Huo Shaoheng was even more surprised, because he hadn't read the papers.

"Strictly speaking, it has to do with her body constitution. The papers and data those people gave Dr. Ye are about cutting-edge studies on the rapid repair of cells." Chen Lie tapped a pen on the paper. "Don't worry. I'll burn it after I read it. Truthfully speaking, although it's very advanced, it's not as advanced as Dr. Ye believed." Chen Lie smiled and was now very calm when he spoke about Ye Zitan. "We're already doing many of these studies ourselves. Dr. Ye... did lack talent. Otherwise, we would've invited her to join our research group."