No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 34: At Midnight
The intelligence report from the Capital had taken an entire day and night to be transmitted.
Adrian was woken up by the notification bell of his terminal. When he saw that the caller was Fayn, he reached out to accept the call.
“Boss, I just received a confirmation letter from the Capital.” It was two in the morning, but Fayn’s voice sounded very alert. “The information provided by the Special Commissioner, including the ‘Honor Decree’, is indeed true. Our AI has changed, and he is no longer satisfied with the status quo.”
Adrian was not very surprised. In fact, the evidence Zhong Yan showed that day when he arrived was enough to prove things. This was just too big an issue. A readjustment in the deployment and planning for the entire Navi Military Command was required, so he had to confirm it for insurance.
“Alright, we’ll have a meeting tomorrow.”
“Got it. We only need a word of approval on this matter, but this isn’t the reason I called you.” Fayn continued, “The signal officer responsible for keeping an eye out for the Capital’s movements contacted me urgently. Just ten minutes ago, there was a big change in the Lebor Star. The top rung of the region’s council, a total of three high-ranking members including the current council head have been convicted as guilty by ‘Butterfly’ and are now in jail.”
Adrian finally realized why Fayn sounded so sober. All the sleep drained from his body the instant he heard that news.
“Guilty?” Adrian sat up from bed, fully awake. “Guilty of what?”
“Quite a lot. Two of them were convicted mainly for corruption, while the council head was not only convicted for corruption, but also for the long-term misuse of his authority for personal reasons.”
“Misusing his authority for personal reasons, for the long term?” Adrian felt like he was still in a dream. “The current Council Head of Lebor? The one we know?”
The Lebor System’s council’s performance in the White Aegis incident was unsatisfactory. But to be precise: it was not to the Capital’s satisfaction. Before this incident, the council house had been in a constant dispute over the problems with the old residents of White Aegis, and they argued for an entire year. Later, White Aegis’ Regional Council announced that they would separate from Lebor System and enter the Navi System instead. The regional council had been letting it slide, not even making any movements to suppress them with the might of Lebor’s residential army; they only said they were threatened by the Navi Military Command, and the disparity in strength was too daunting, so they did not make a move, and instead were waiting for the rescue of the Capital.
Both the Capital and Navi were far away from each other, and they were way too far to be of any help. By the time the Capital arrived, Navi’s army had already occupied White Aegis, and even the new border had been established.
Only a few senior executives in the Navi Military Command knew that they had never threatened Lebor’s Council at all. Lebor’s Regional Council was lying with their eyes open, and the Navi Military Command was just silently accepting it. The handover of White Aegis was quick and peaceful with no conflicts whatsoever.
Since then, the relationship between the two adjacent star systems had quietly improved by a lot. Therefore, whenever someone had an issue concerning both parties in these recent years, they were both willing to concede in a tacit agreement to give face to the other.
Due to his identity, Adrian had never been in direct contact with the Council Head of Lebor’s Council, but from the perspective of how the other man worked, he had to be a good official who was very compassionate to his people. His reputation amongst the residents of Lebor was also very good, but now…
“It’s the same one we know. Look at the news. It’s the headlines right now and the public is in an uproar. There are some saying he hid it well, but also those who don’t believe it.” Fayn continued, “Things have gone chaotic at our neighbor’s. The three remaining high-ranking members have temporarily become the ones in charge. I saw some photos of the scene. There are already military troops out on their primary star’s streets. They may have to go under martial law for a while.”
Adrian coldly remarked, “It seems like the Capital knows we’ve been getting too close to each other. Is the emergency department on standby?”
“Yes, the signal officer sent them a warning before calling me.”
“Pass on my order. Inform the borders now that if anyone escapes from Lebor to Navi to avoid the disaster, extend our help to them. After they enter our borders, verify their identities and inform headquarters.”
“The Capital will definitely do a follow-up, so begin sending more people to watch the situation. Tell the intelligence department to set up a team just to investigate this matter. Tell them right now. Don’t wait for the sun to rise.”
Adrian had also added a few precautions before hanging up. Then, he opened the news interface. Without even the need for the search bar, the headlines were already filled with this case. All the mainstream media were criticizing the Lebor System’s Council Head—Or rather, the former Council Head, for corruption, praising the AI for pulling out another weed for the humans.
He felt nauseous. Just as he was looking through the comments, someone knocked on his door.
“Come in,” said Adrian. It seems that Zhong Yan had also received the news.
As expected, it was the first thing Zhong Yan brought up. “Did you know that—Oh, you’re looking at it. I just received the notice from my assistant. We will be holding an emergency round table meeting to discuss the vacancy of Lebor’s Council House later in the afternoon, Capital Standard Time.”
Zhong Yan was faintly gasping; it seemed he had run up the stairs. Adrian said, “Sit down and talk.”
Zhong Yan pulled op the chair from his desk and sat down. He had obviously been woken up from his sleep as well, as he was still wearing the new pajamas bought for him by Adrian. He did seem to have patted it down properly after getting up from bed, but he forgot to tidy up his hair. At the moment, his black hair was a tousled mess atop his head.
He rarely appeared in such a sloppy appearance. Adrian looked quietly at him for a while, then asked, “Are you going to participate remotely?”
Zhong Yan shook his head. “I won’t be participating, but I’ll receive the results as soon as the meeting ends. The general rules state that since I am in ‘poor health’, I am not required to attend. After all, I am currently in Navi System, and within your sphere of influence. They’re worried about eavesdropping, and they will certainly not allow me to attend the meeting remotely. Earlier, Sir Yate…”
When he said this, Adrian was stunned. He thought he was calling his name, but he quickly realized that Zhong Yan was talking about his grandfather, Stalvern Yate.
“Sir Yate contacted me and he told me he was very dissatisfied with the matter. His original words were, ‘I didn’t raise you up to that position just for you to not be able to attend a meeting!'” Zhong Yan laughed. “With Bayer gone, and me away from the Capital, the news he has been receiving has been very late, so he is starting to get anxious.”
“Speaking of which,” Adrian asked, “I’m curious. How are you going to explain the matter when you return? You can tell them you were ‘injured’, but Bayer wouldn’t lie to his master. When that time comes, my grandfather would, at the very least, find out that Bayer has not been hurt at all, and that it was us who forced him under house arrest.”
Zhong Yan widened his eyes at him, seemingly a little surprised.
Even if it was not the right time for it, Adrian had still let his mind wander. Zhong Yan had a small face, so he would appear very young every time he widened his eyes; not to mention the pajamas Adrian bought were of ill taste—dark blue starry sky print with a large beige-colored rabbit on the front. In order to distinguish it from an ordinary rabbit, the cartoon pattern was usually matched with a starry sky in order to indicate that this was a giant space rabbit.
Zhong Yan was wearing the cartoon-print pajamas with his hair in a mess; Adrian suddenly felt as if he had gone back to that time ten years ago. It was as if they were still the seventeen-year-olds chatting the night away in their dorms, and not two adult men who held power and authority at opposing ends.
“He already knows, I told him,” said the man whose appearance at this moment could look no purer. In an inquisitive voice, he asked, “You…You wouldn’t think I haven’t been contacting him after so many days have you? I told him you separated me and Bayer, and I couldn’t get in contact with him, so I don’t know his current situation.”
Clearly it was this person in front of him who proposed to put Bayer on house arrest at that time, but he had completely cleaned his hands of the matter. But no matter how he considered it, Zhong Yan really should not be falling out with Stalvern right now. There was nothing to be gained from it for either of them. So, Adrian could only carry the blame in silence.
“You’ve been in Navi for a while, and you’ve always been in contact with him. Did he ask about me?” asked Adrian.
“…He did.” A flash of anger flitted through Zhong Yan’s pupils. “He asked about your personal life, and also about our marriage contract.”
“Oh. What did you tell him?”
“I didn’t say anything.”
From the information Adrian had about the Capital, it seemed at the very least, that Stalvern’s control over Zhong Yan should be very strong; Zhong Yan appeared almost obedient to his every word. Thus, he could not help himself from asking, “You didn’t? Wouldn’t that be considered as rebelling against him? He took it without getting a heart attack from anger?”
“He’s used to it,” Zhong Yan told him. After some consideration, he added, “Not only him, I think everyone in the Supreme Council should be used to it.”
Only then did Adrian recall that he had also watched one or two of Zhong Yan’s interviews where Zhong Yan was asked about the “Twin Stars Falling Out Incident” that was the hot topic within the Federation at that time. Whenever that happened, Zhong Yan would always remain silent without attempting to brush over things with his skills as a means to fight against it. This move was interpreted by the public at the time as him drawing a clear line between himself and Adrian, who stood on the side of the anti-AI, and was not keen on bringing up the three years where they had gotten too close with each other.
“And what would you say to your subordinates if they ask in private?” Adrian asked. “Speaking of which, why have you always been silent whenever they asked about me?”
“I didn’t want to talk about you with those people.” Zhong Yan looked at him. “Especially not with your grandfather. Whenever he mentions you, it’s…not pleasant.”
Not pleasant was a tactful word to use. Adrian had grown up next to Stalvern all those years. He understood too well what his own grandfather was like; ever since he made clear his political stance, Stalvern had always been furious with him and regarded him as a stain. All kinds of terrible words had been said from his mouth. Unfortunately, he could not meddle in the affairs of neither the Institution Star nor the Navi System. Otherwise, he might have taken things into his own hands long ago and cleaned up his doorstep with force.
“You’ve always been ignoring me. There was still news about you the first few years, but then you became the commander and Navi closed its borders. Sometimes, I wouldn’t hear a single word about you for months, and in those times, I wished there were people I could talk about you with as well.”
Zhong Yan paused abruptly as if he had suddenly realized he had misspoken. He turned his eyes away from Adrian’s face, and muttered, “I…I should be returning to my room. You should sleep. You’ll definitely be busy tomorrow…”
“I’m hungry,” Adrian suddenly announced.
For a moment, Zhong Yan was still caught in a daze as he subconsciously asked, “What?”
But for some reason, Adrian would not go further no matter what. Stunned, Zhong Yan looked at him for two seconds, then, an unbelievable wave of ecstasy washed over him. For reassurance, he carefully asked, “There’s still leftovers from the ingredients I bought a few days ago, how about I cook you some noodles? It’ll be difficult to sleep at night if you’re hungry…is that alright?”
“Two bowls,” he responded. “Eating alone is too dull.”