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723 The Only Stain

 "What do you mean? You haven't been home for so long, and the moment you're back, you want an interrogation session?! Do you still regard me as your father?!" Huo Guanchen was extremely angry at Huo Shaoheng's attitude. The son that he was so proud of could not get along with him all this time.

"General Huo, we are talking about work-related things as of now. Please do not stray from the topic and jumble private and work issues." Huo Shaoheng tapped on the table, indicating for Huo Guanchen to cool down.

Huo Guanchen's mouth twitched. He took a couple of deep breaths before being able to calm down.

Someone knocked on the door, and it neutralized the tense environment a little. It was a soldier sending some snacks over. Huo Guanchen raised his voice in acknowledgement. "Come in."

Huo Shaoheng did not say anything until the soldier left. "The Special Forces has already begun investigating this. General Huo, please let me know if you have any reasons not to do so. This is the most I can do for you as a son. Otherwise, you'll be sentenced by the military court."

"You're threatening me?" Huo Guanchen's eyes narrowed. "Shaoheng, you're treating your biological father like this because of a girl? Your future will be ruined if this gets out as well!"

"General Huo, I've said time and again that I'm talking to you about work-related things. Since you insist talking about personal matters, sure, let's talk." Huo Shaoheng placed both hands on the table and leaned forward. "Gu Nianzhi will be your daughter-in-law. This is how you'll treat your family? You can't wait for her to die? Is that it?"

Huo Guanchen slammed his palm on the table and stood up. He looked Huo Shaoheng in the eyes and boomed, "Daughter-in-law?! Did you think of asking for my opinion at all?! Are you going to marry her, even if I am against it?!"

Huo Shaoheng stood up straight and put his hands in his pockets. Smiling, he said, "I don't have to ask for your permission or opinion if I want to marry her. I'm merely informing you. Alright, since you're unwilling to talk about personal matters, let's talk about work-related matters again. May I know why you went against General Ji's commands and did not save Gu Nianzhi using the highest order of operations?"

Huo Guanchen looked at Huo Shaoheng for a while. When he realized that Huo Shaoheng would not be giving in, he had no choice. He sat down again and spat, "How did I not save her using the highest order of command?! Whatever I did was according to the book. It was just that our men disappeared. Therefore, we had to put it to a halt. Even if the military court were to question me, there would be nothing they could do!"

"Does that mean that you admit not doing anything for Gu Nianzhi's rescue operation on purpose?!" Huo Shaoheng's voice became louder. His voice was low, therefore, when he became fierce, his voice sounded rather intimidating.

Of course, Huo Guanchen wasn't intimidated by Huo Shaoheng. However, he was surprised at how firm Huo Shaoheng's attitude towards Gu Nianzhi was.

"How can you put it that way, Shaoheng? You're really not giving a damn about anything anymore, are you?! All you want is to get married to Gu Nianzhi, right?!" Huo Guanchen felt heartbroken. By now he was about to beg Huo Shaoheng. "Wake up! You're not a good match." His good son would be ruined in his stupid relationship that should not even have happened in the first place.

"Sin! Such sin!" Huo Guanchen sat down and held his head in his hands. "Shaoheng, think about it. You were her guardian! She has been with you since she was 12! How could you not know... not know how others would be talking about you behind your back?! I am embarrassed the moment I think about it!"

Huo Shaoheng snorted and replied slowly, "General Huo, what you did in the past was even more embarrassing. Since even you could live with it, why should I be embarrassed over such a small matter? This should be our family tradition. Even if it got spread around, it would be a good topic of conversation."

"You're still blaming me for the divorce?" Huo Guanchen looked up at Huo Shaoheng. His eyes were already red. "It's not like you don't know what happened! When I saw the letters between your mother and eldest uncle... I almost went mad! I am human, too! A man, at that! Any man wouldn't have been able to take it!"

Huo Shaoheng did not pity him one bit. "You believe anything people say? You have a brain to listen to hearsay? Have you even considered mother's feelings? Mother was so sick then and could not defend herself. However, you had already sentenced her. Generai Ji and perhaps others were able to badmouth Nianzhi and I, but you cannot. You can even abandon such a sickly wife, and you want to lecture me now?"

"I have never given up on your mother! Had it not been for me, you think she'd be able to wait until the day she got treated?!" Huo Guanchen was beginning to choke. "Shaoheng, I'm sincerely telling you. Don't get married to Gu Nianzhi. I can understand your feelings towards her. The men from the Huo family are all loyal. We cannot help it. You like her, love her, cannot bear to leave her, fine. You can keep her by your side for your entire life. I will not stop you. When she has children, I'll allow them to take our surname. They will be my grandchildren. But just promise me, never marry her. The one you should officially marry should be a lady from an influential family. Not someone like Gu Nianzhi!"

Even if she was Gu Xiangwen's adoptive daughter, Huo Guanchen did not care one bit for her. Even if they did not talk about the position of an adoptive daughter versus a biological daughter, all he needed to look at was when she went missing when she was 12, and no one from the Gu family actually tried looking for her. That, to him, was enough to know her position in the family.

"The people from the army did not care about your future all for Gu Xiangwen's copyright. You think they're doing it for you?! Has it not occurred to you before, that if you marry Gu Nianzhi, your future will stop?! You'll be a major general forever! They will also have one less strong opponent!" Huo Guanchen's eyes had turned red by now. "I'm the only one who will truly think about you. Only biological parents think about your future for your sake!"

Huo Shaoheng's brows furrowed. "General Huo, don't stray from the topic. I came back to question you, not to listen to you spout nonsense."

"How is this nonsense?! I'm telling you the truth!" Huo Guanchen punched the table. "I will not allow Gu Nianzhi to be the only stain on your career progression!"

"So you have admitted, in a way, that you intentionally did not do your best in rescuing Gu Nianzhi because you wanted others to kill her off for you, so that she couldn't come back, am I correct?" Huo Shaoheng looked even colder. His gaze was like sharp knives, slicing Huo Guanchen's conscience.

Huo Guanchen clenched his jaw. "Don't put words into my mouth. I have never wanted Gu Nianzhi dead and would never want others to kill her off for me." He merely wanted Gu Nianzhi to leave Huo Shaoheng and never come back...

"General Huo, objectively, you have a motive. Subjectively, you took action. It's too tough for me to cover up for you. When they begin their investigation, I can only tell them the truth." Huo Shaoheng saluted. "I'll take my leave."

"Stay there!" Huo Guanchen was not worried about the investigation from the military court. He called out to Huo Shaoheng, "Your grandfather and Jialan will be coming back to attend the new Prime Minister's inauguration. Go and pick them up from the airport!"

Huo Shaoheng merely left the mansion without even turning back. Huo Guanchen wasn't sure if Huo Shaoheng had heard him.

...

Huo Shaoheng went back to his car. His mind was so much of a mess that he opened all the car's windows. Autumn nights in the Capital were cold. The chill wind finally managed to calm Huo Shaoheng down.

Huo Shaoheng supported his head with a hand and admired the night view outside the car, thinking about his next move. In Germany, the person, Als, who tortured Gu Nianzhi has already been put in place. Reinitz is rather weird. Even though he is indebted to Gu Nianzhi, he was the mastermind of the entire trap. However, in the end, Huo Shaoheng still could not understand why he would let Gu Nianzhi go. Moreover, his rank was too high, so Huo Shaoheng still couldn't do anything to him.

In America, the head of the Security and Intelligence Department of Southeast Asia, Thomas, was already his spy. As long as there were people from Hua Xia who attempted to contact anyone from America, Huo Shaoheng would know almost immediately as well.

As for the Hua Xia Empire, he had already fixed all types of devices to listen in on people's conversations. As long as the opponent had the intention to strike, he would be able to catch them red-handed.

He had made up his mind to put the person to death immediately after he arrested them. No one should survive from this. Therefore, before that could happen, he had to observe everyone carefully. He wanted to see who would be able to not wait any longer first, so that when the tides were low, he would know who was, or were, the masterminds...

Only after walking through the entire plan in his mind and ensuring that it was perfect did Huo Shaoheng close his eyes and massage his temples.

He couldn't stop thinking about Gu Nianzhi. He yearned for her. However, she was so near yet so far. He couldn't even go near her. He thought about the scene at the real estate bureau lobby. Gu Nianzhi was so against him hugging her. With that thought, Huo Shaoheng's gaze became darker. It looked like a long and dark night without any stars.

...

When he arrived at his mansion in the Special Forces headquarters, Zhao Liangze took an invitation from General Ji to him.

"Mr. Huo, General Ji invites you to attend the inauguration of the new Prime Minister, which is two days from now." Zhao Liangze placed the invitation on Huo Shaoheng's study desk. "Big Xiong and I also received invites."

Huo Shaoheng took it and looked it over before putting it aside. "You'll represent the Special Forces and attend the ceremony. Big Xiong and I will be busy."

"Yes, sir." Zhao Liangze accepted the command. However, he continued, "If General Ji asks about you and Big Xiong, what am I going to say?"

He had thought that Huo Shaoheng would say that they had a lot of work on hand or that he was required to attend to some urgent mission. He just wanted a confirmation so that he could reply General Ji confidently.

However, Huo Shaoheng gave it some thought before folding his arms and saying calmly, "Yeah. I'll be down with a fever, and Big Xiong will be down with diarrhea two days from now. Just tell him that."

Zhao Liangze was speechless. Can he really be so willful?! Zhao Liangze had turned purple. Finally, he couldn't hold it in anymore. "Mr. Huo, then everyone will know that you merely don't want to attend the ceremony..." The moment anyone heard about the reasons, they'd know. It was that obvious.

"Let them know. I have no intention of hiding it." Huo Shaoheng's lips curled up. He did not intend to continue the conversation. "You and Big Xiong have to start doing the job of the vice presidents of the Special Forces as soon as possible. When I'm not around, you and Big Xiong will have to share the burden. The three of us will never be able to leave the headquarters at the same time. Something like that should never happen again."

"Yes, sir!" Zhao Liangze saluted to acknowledge. Putting down his hand, he said angrily, "Mr. Huo, are we going to just let whatever happened go?"

It was clear that luring them away was a trap. If any one of them had been in the headquarters at that time, Gu Nianzhi would not have been in such danger and would not have almost died in another country.