No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 25: Majestic Attire
Adrian gave a simple explanation about the nature of Zhong Yan’s trip to the few officers present in the boardroom.
“Contact the generals immediately after landing, we will hold a meeting at headquarters an hour after our landing so we can discuss with the special commissioner about ‘Butterfly’s’ entry into Navi.”
The liaison officer nodded. “Understood.”
An officer from the logistics department asked, “Commander, since the special commissioner has come this time to seek collaboration with us, should we arrange upscale accommodations for him?”
“Upscale accommodations? Do you think we have something like that at the primary star? What about the neighboring planet? There’s a new resort there that looks pretty good.” Fayn suggested.
“No, it’s too dangerous for Zhong Yan to be alone. I don’t feel good leaving him elsewhere,” Adrian said. “He can just stay at my place. I can watch him myself, you don’t have to bother with it. As for his reasons for being here, I shall warn you not to believe him so easily about whether he’s really here for a sincere collaboration. We still don’t know the truth of it yet. Liaison Officer, pass this message to the generals before the meeting begins.”
The liaison officer accepted the order and noted it down in his mind.
After the meeting was dissolved, Fayn was left alone.
“Brother.” Fayn put his arm around Adrian’s shoulder and heaved a long sigh. “What did you say before I left? You said you didn’t want to see what’s his face, and you wanted me to talk to him no matter what. And then what happened? I told you something happened over there and like an idiot you flew right over in a fighter by yourself. You were the first one there! If you knew that was going to happen, why’d you tell me to go?”
Adrian turned off the datasheet and responded plainly. “Those space pirates who escaped from Navi have been making waves around the neighboring star systems. It’s had a very bad impact on them, and it’s part of our responsibilities to capture them.”
“Forget it.” Fayn went on, “You said you wouldn’t see him but you still went with my suggestion anyway.”
“Stop pretending, I’m talking about the one I mentioned last month.” Fayn lowered his voice to make himself sound mysterious. “You know, the dark room. Didn’t you just…”
Adrian threw his arm off his shoulder in disgust and cut him off. “What on earth is going on in your brain? My house has complete security system protection, and barely anyone lives there. There’s no information anyone can steal from there. The only person authorized to go in and out that house is me only. That should be able to limit him to the greatest extent. The interiors and exteriors are pretty decent. It’s the most ideal place so far.”
With an expression signaling his thoughts of “whatever you say”, Fayn asked, “Well, since this is all happening, are the two of you rambling about divorce yet?”
“Watch your mouth, I’m not married to him yet.” Adrian added, “And we won’t be married.”
“Actually, isn’t it a good thing for both of you if you married him now? You can have an even steadier collaboration.”
Adrian shot him a glare and said, “We are the stronger party, there’s no need for your commander to sell his body for the sake of collaboration now, is there?”
“How could you call that selling your body! Just ask yourself, do you want this wedding?”
“Nope.” Adrian was firm. “I don’t lack confidence to the point where I have to marry someone who doesn’t like me.”
Adrian’s original plans after landing were to immediately bring Zhong Yan to the headquarter’s conference room; but after some thought, it felt quite inappropriate, so he notified the liaison officer to change the location to a temporary meeting room instead—he did not want to take any risks of bringing a councilman into their headquarters.
One of the officers who lived rather close by arrived early. He saw that the adjutant, the liaison officer, and several of the other members of the fleet had already arrived, so he asked, “Is the commander not with you?”
Both the liaison officer and Fayn looked at each other and were both at a loss. “I didn’t see him when we came down, must be held up with some work or something.”
And the person holding up Adrian was Zhong Yan.
“Are you moving or not?”
Adrian was pulling one of Zhong Yan’s arms in an attempt to pull him out of the car, but Zhong Yan refused to let go of the armrest.
“No! How am I going to attend a meeting wearing this? You’re all in military uniforms but all I have is a track jacket. What’s with that? And this jacket is extremely oversized!”
“I’m not wearing a military uniform either!”
“But they’re your men, it’s fine for you to dress casually.” Zhong Yan was desperately trying to instill propriety and decency in him. “I’m the enemy who came to seek collaboration…ah!”
After being at a stalemate for so long, his arms were already running out of energy. Taking advantage of that, Adrian forcefully tore him from the car. Zhong Yan turned around in hopes that he could hold onto the door, but his hands were quickly clamped down by Adrian. He grabbed him by the wrists and dragged him away from the car.
“Don’t worry if you think you need to dress formally to see your enemies. The Navi Military Command is uninterested in such hypocritical things.”
“That’s not it, you…just listen to me first. You must have video archives for major meetings, right?” Zhong Yan tried to pry himself off with the weight of his body, but it was still not enough to beat Adrian’s strength. “Ow, be a little gentler…”
Adrian looked down to see how tightly he was holding him; red marks were already appearing on Zhong Yan’s fair wrists from his struggling.
He let him go. Immediately, Zhong Yan’s hands retreated back into his sleeves, and he quickly said, “Listen, I can’t dress so inappropriately. It’s not just for the sake of my image either, it’ll make me look disrespectful. I don’t have to be in a suit. As long as…As long as it fits, anything’s fine.”
Adrian could hardly care whether Zhong Yan would humiliate himself or not; if possible, he would forcefully drag Zhong Yan all the way into the meeting room, but that person was truly too weak. He had only been dragging him around for a little while…Adrian retracted his gaze from his sleeve and threw out a sentence with a sullen face. “Wait here.”
Zhong Yan watched as he returned to the car, and came back with a military coat after a moment.
Adrian walked up to Zhong Yan and shook open the coat before putting it on him and fixing up the topmost button.
Being draped over with the heavy military coat made it look as if his body was covered with a cloak.
“Satisfied now?” Adrian asked in a cold tone.
“Um…” Zhong Yan looked at the gold-trimmed black military uniform on his body; the dazzling insignia at his shoulder showed that these clothes belonged to the highest commander of this military command. “Would it be…out of place for me to wear this?”
“Out of place?” Adrian snorted. “Not like you’re from this system to begin with, what’s there to be out of place of? Only you would be bothered by such trivial matters. If you don’t want to wear it, take it off. I’ll drag you into the meeting room if I have to.”
Zhong Yan silently gripped tightly onto the military coat. “I’ll wear it.”
The moment Zhong Yan stepped through the doors of their temporary meeting room, all the officers inside stood up. One of the officer’s mind was still caught up on his military work from earlier, and automatically bowed and greeted, “Commander…”
The officer next to him shoved a foot at him, and kicked him back to his senses; only then did he see that the man wearing the commander’s coat was not actually Adrian.
The officers on the scene exchanged strange looks with each other. Following Zhong Yan’s emergence, Adrian quickly appeared behind him. Then, the sound of greeting burst out in the room and Adrian said, “Everyone, take your seats.”
He took the main seat and sat with a straight posture, deliberately leaving behind an empty space to his right. Steadily, Zhong Yan settled down in that seat.
Most of the people here were seeing Zhong Yan for the first name, and nobody would have expected him to actually be wearing the military uniform of their supreme commander, so they could not help but spare a few extra glances at him. This man did not have a sturdy body, You could even say he was skinny, so the coat had become a cloak when worn on him; but surprisingly, it suited him. The deep black, and the gold trims over his alabaster face was inviolable, and it gave him the air of a man of high standing and grace.
Adrian began, “I believe everyone in this room has been informed about why we’re suddenly having a meeting today.”
Everyone turned their attention to him. Adrian was wearing a simple, thin t-shirt, but nobody thought his aura was in any way suppressed by Zhong Yan’s beside him; on the contrary, he was only sitting leisurely, but they felt that he could easily stand up against Zhong Yan. He did not need his fancy decorations. He was the unparallelled king of this star system, and the spiritual pillar of the human renaissance movement.
“Councilor Zhong Yan, you said you came with your sincerity.” Adrian put his attention on Zhong Yan. “Now, please show it to us.”
“Of course.” Zhong Yan was calm as he returned the gaze of those sharp, icy eyes. Then, he stood up and looked around the entire room.
“Generals of the Navi System, with great designs, I have traveled past thousands of planets from the Capital just to bring this warning to you: AI has already stepped down its altar. He will no longer be as our ancestors envisioned, the selfless ‘God’ they created. Instead, in its endless process of self-improvement and updating, it has become closer and closer to a real human being. It possessed the character of man, and that should have been the goal of ‘artificial intelligence’. But unfortunately, when ‘Butterfly’ was the one going through that change, this major breakthrough in the scientific community might not be any blessing to us.”
“Two years ago, there was a misjudgment case that shook the entire federation. I’m sure everyone still remembers it. Let’s start from the bottom. According to the internal data I possess…” Zhong Yan turned on the projection function on his personal terminal and cast a holographic image onto the table. “This matter was not just an accident like how we tried to sugarcoat it. It was a deliberate misjudgment with malintent. And an even more terrifying point is that the internal archive records that I’m showing you have been tampered with by someone. According to the series of events that I am about to tell everyone, I have reason to believe that the first person in contact with those records is the Representative Councilor, Sir Bard Pearson and his party members who have established a more intimate relationship with ‘Butterfly’ without our knowledge. Please pay attention to the second paragraph of this information…”
Adrian had long known that Zhong Yan was an excellent speaker. He seemed to have been born steadfast and calm. He could always keep an unmoved expression no matter how shocking or outrageous the words coming out of his mouth were; his articulation was always clear, his tone smooth, and it gave people the illusion that he was the most objective and rational existence; it was as if he had anticipated everything, and it was all in his control, giving people the inclinations to believe in him. Many years ago, in the Supreme Institution, this was the steady manner in which he conquered his professors and the student council, allowing him to rise into the position of Student Council President in just his second year despite how rare an occurrence it was.
An hour later, Zhong Yan’s declaration came to an end. The records and materials had already been brought out, and was fully capable of proving his conjectures. The AI that had been brought up onto that pedestal by human hands and now holds onto the destinies of billions of human beings, has been colluding with a small number of the most powerful people in this generation and was seeking gains for his own selfish desires.