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852 Comparable to the Price of Gold

 "Work-related things? Could I really be of help to you?" Song Jinning was elated to hear that. She felt guilty toward this son of hers.

From the moment he was born, she had not taken care of him. It was mostly Huo Shaoheng's grandmother, Xie Ziyan, who had raised him.

Song Jinning's love in this life was her research work. Her son came in a close second. Her ex-husband used to be ranked third, but that place had been empty since the divorce.

"This should be within your area of work." Huo Shaoheng patted his suitcase and continued as casually as possible. "This might have certain connections to maternal grandfather as well."

Song Jinning turned serious. She took Huo Shaoheng into her laboratory for highly classified experiments and locked the door before enabling the security function that included another bulletproof gate. With that, she separated the office into two rooms. They would have as much privacy as they needed. "Okay, you can tell me what the matter is right now."

Although the Institute of High Energy Physics was a research facility, it did not have many secrets. But because Song Jinning's institute had collaborated on research with the army, the security system here was better than at similar research institutions.

Song Jinning activated the system to avoid distractions from the outside world. Anyone could see that she recognized the high importance of the present matter.

Huo Shaoheng sat opposite Song Jinning at her work desk, placed the suitcase on the table, and keyed in the code to open it.

He turned the suitcase around and let it face Song Jinning. "Take a look. Do you happen to recognize what this is?"

Song Jinning looked at the open suitcase in front of her. Two transparent plastic bags contained black metal pieces, which she did not recognize.

Song Jinning looked at Huo Shaoheng suspiciously. "Where did these come from? Why would you ask me if I knew what they were?"

"Don't ask where they're from. I just wanted you to take a look." Huo Shaoheng took out a plastic bag from the suitcase and pushed it lightly toward Song Jinning. The bag skidded on the smooth surface of the work desk and landed in front of Song Jinning. She used a finger to stop it from sliding onto the ground.

Her hand to probed the metal piece in the plastic bag, and she was curious about the texture of it.

"I will have to run some tests." Song Jinning's interest piqued, and she took out a new pair of gloves from her desk. She carried the plastic bag to her workbench.

Huo Shaoheng followed her and watched from the side with folded arms.

Song Jinning used tweezers to remove the metal piece from the plastic bag and place it in a case before she put it into a machine that was able to break down the materials.

Huo Shaoheng noticed the label: Magnetic Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy Machine (MICP-AES).

Song Jinning explained while turning the machine on for the test. "This machine can use plasma to interact with materials to make them evaporate layer by layer, to atomize the material's components. The atoms are triggered and begin to release light. Then, the machine uses the spectroscopic system to analyze their different components and eventually comes up with the material's chemical formula."

Huo Shaoheng listened intently. "Isn't analyzing compounds more in the chemistry area? Would you have the relevant machine here?"

Song Jinning was the head of the Institute of High Energy Physics-not chemistry.

Song Jinning laughed. "I think this material is abnormal. It looks like a high-energy material. Therefore, it would require physics to analyze it."

Huo Shaoheng understood. "I came to the right place, indeed."

Song Jinning fell silent. She turned her full attention to the machine for the analysis results.

Huo Shaoheng waited. Two hours in, the machine was still analyzing. Huo Shaoheng had gone to take a seat on a chair nearby and began checking his emails. Song Jinning also returned to her desk to look at journal articles.

There was silence in the office. The rays of the afternoon sun poured down into the office from the windows and made the entire laboratory feel as warm as it was in the spring.

After completing an entire journal, Song Jinning realized that two hours had passed, but the machine was still analyzing. She got an idea and asked Huo Shaoheng again. "Where did you get that from?"

"Is that important?" Huo Shaoheng kept at his mobile phone and looked at Song Jinning. His expression was calm, and she couldn't tell what was on his mind.

Song Jinning nodded. "Yes, it is important, so that I can at least have a clue to where it came from. Perhaps our analysis method is wrong."

Huo Shaoheng contemplated that. Of course, he could not tell her the entire story, but he could briefly explain its use.

Huo Shaoheng chose his words carefully: "It is like this. This thing came from a weapon. We have no idea how this weapon came about, but we only know that it puts forth a huge amount of power, almost equivalent to or more than a cannon that can fire armor-piercing grenades. But it was fired from a gun. This was what was left after that gun exploded."

Had it not been that special, there wouldn't have been anything left after the shooter decided to self-destruct.

The gunman had not seemed worried that they would discover the scraps as well; most likely, the important things had been destroyed.

Huo Shaoheng's eyes were deep and dark.

Song Jinning furrowed her brows upon hearing that. She tapped her head with her fingers and wondered."Now that you mention this, it feels familiar...Now, what could it be?"

Huo Shaoheng straightened. "Would you think again? Was it from an experiment in the past? Or was it a product from the laboratory?"

Song Jinning's fingers froze. She remained in this position for an entire minute before gasping. She stood up. "Let me take a look again."

Who would not use a computer to check for things in this era?

Song Jinning would not. She entered a small study room in the laboratory and rummaged around for some time. She found an old notebook. It looked ancient.

Huo Shaoheng walked over and asked, "What are you looking for?"

"Your grandfather's notes during his experiments." Song Jinning flipped through it quickly. "All his notes were destroyed during the explosion. I had taken this by mistake to the Huos, and that was why it did not get destroyed along with everything else."

Huo Shaoheng was speechless.

"There it is!" Song Jinning had gone through this notebook countless times since she had recovered from her illness. This was the only memory she had of her father, Song Haichuan. She had almost memorized everything in this notebook.

"What is it?" Huo Shaoheng moved closer to Song Jinning and looked at the notebook with her.

"This. Here. It had recorded that my father had discovered a high-energy material by accident when he was experimenting one day." Song Jinning placed the notebook into Huo Shaoheng's hands. "Look here. I guess this material should be it." She returned to the desk excitedly and turned off the machine.

If the material was that type of high-energy one, then these normal atomizing machines would never work on it.

As expected, when she opened the machine, the piece of scrap was still lying peacefully in the box. It had never evaporated. No wonder the machine could not manage to analyze anything even after two hours. Normal materials would require only half an hour for their atomization records along with diagrams of the materials.

Song Jinning smiled and stroked the material lovingly. "Such a playful little thing. But don't be too glad so soon. I am sure I will be able to find out your components."

She took the scrap out from the machine and walked to another experiment table. She pulled out a small and strange-looking device and used a pair of tweezers to place the scrap into that machine.

She turned the machine on for another round of tests.

This time around, it took her only one minute before the results were out.

"Yes, it is the material that your grandfather discovered! He named it X-1." Song Jinning mumbled, "But how did this thing manage to enter the market? Shouldn't it still be in the testing process?"

The material was not stable. Moreover, its manufacture was expensive.

Seventeen years ago, its manufacturing price was a thousand times more expensive than gold of the same weight.

Song Jinning was unable to imagine that someone would be able to get their hands on the stable form of X-1 and could even manufacture it into a usable weapon! Song Jinning almost passed out just thinking about the manufacturing price.

Such a high amount; if the price went according to how it was 17 years ago, that gun would be worth more than a decade of their research funds in the institute! And that didn't even take into account the improvements in scientific knowledge that a stable compound like that would bring for the development of society.

Huo Shaoheng listened calmly and patiently to the functions of the material. He took the scrap and placed it back into the plastic bag. "Perhaps it would not be that expensive. Technology improves every day. Its price would surely drop. Now our problem would be, other than grandfather, who else knew about this new material?"

Song Jinning looked longingly at the scrap material in Huo Shaoheng's hands. She shook her head and said, "Not many people knew about this. My father even kept it from me. I only got to know about it after looking through the notebook. However, my father collaborated with the army during those years for a number of highly confidential experiments. I do not know if the people from the army would know."

They both thought about one person simultaneously, and it was Huo Shaoheng's elder uncle, Huo Shaoheng's father's older brother, Huo Guanyuan.

However, Huo Guanyuan had passed on at his post 17 years ago during the explosion as well. Had he reported on this high-energy material to the army before he passed?

Huo Shaoheng asked softly, "When grandfather worked with the army for those highly confidential experiments, do you happen to know the direction they were heading toward?"

This experiment was not within Huo Shaoheng's control, so technically, he should not be asking about it.

However, he had this scrap as a bridge. He could ask a little.

Song Jinning smiled as she looked at him, and said while avoiding key words, "The main experiment was not to create materials like this. This new material was a by-product of the experiment."

The people from the Institute of High Energy Physics had ethics to abide by as well. She could not release information regarding highly confidential experiments to Huo Shaoheng merely because he was her son.

Huo Shaoheng understood what Song Jinning meant and stood up to bid her goodbye. "Thank you for your help. I have to go back now."

Song Jinning sent him all the way down to his car before waving and going back.

Huo Shaoheng reported to General Ji the moment he exited from the Institute of High Energy Physics. Then, he followed General Ji's instructions to get to the headquarters of the Special Forces for an urgent meeting.