No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 37: Nest
After having his meal, Adrian asked, “Have you figured out when Gines is going to pick you up yet?”
“He’s setting off tomorrow and taking the official route, so about four days? It depends on where we meet.” Zhong Yan brought out the dessert. There was no oven at home, so the small cake was bought from a nearby dessert shop. Casually, he said, “I’ve only mentioned his name once, but you already remembered it.”
Adrian’s heart jumped. Quietly, he accepted the small matcha cake and said, “It’s quite a common surname, but I don’t recall his first name. I had thought to send both you and Bayer to the Lebor System and have them pick you up, but with the changes in Lebor, it might not be safe.”
Zhong Yan held his own slice of cake. There was a layer of syrup on top, and it was very sweet. Adrian did not like this kind of cake. He sat down opposite of Adrian, and just when he was about to speak, he was interrupted by the notification bell of his terminal. He opened it up to check, and his expression changed. “Speak of the devil, the person responsible for gathering news for my subordinate has just come back with something. The results from the round table meeting two days ago are out.”
“The one about Lebor? It only ended just now?”
“It is quite rare. ‘Butterfly’s processing speed is many times faster than that of a human’s, so he can generally make decisions on the spot in a round table meeting, but this time…I heard that the plan had already been decided long ago. They wanted to send one of the councilors from the Supreme Council to the Lebor System to become their Interim Head of Council, replacing the three councilors who had just been convicted, thus helping Lebor out with its…’difficulties’ until the situation is stabilized.”
Of the three convicted counselors, one was the Head of Council, while the other two were high ranking members, so they were all from positions of power. Now, the powers of three people were going to be in the hands of a single person, so you could almost say this one Head of Council would have the entire Lebor System under their grasp.
“The problem lies in the candidate. Pearson wants to send one of his assistants to the Lebor System to become the Interim Head of Council.” Zhong Yan sneered. “He’s getting anxious. It’s like he’s afraid people won’t know that he’s the one pulling the strings behind this entire fiasco. But with ‘Butterfly’ at his side, there was no need for him to cover up his tracks. Unfortunately, he has really gone overboard this time. Lebor may not be the most populated star system, but they are the source of nearly one-sixth of the Federation’s minerals. Did he think the others would just sit quietly and let him swallow the whole pie? I wasn’t present, and besides the other three councilors who are in on this with him, the remaining seven were in opposition to the idea. That’s why they were in a deadlock until now.”
If seven of the twelve representative counselors opposed a bill in the round table meeting, even ‘Butterfly’ would have to reconsider its decisions. In other words, any major decisions carried out by ‘Butterfly’ will require the votes of at least six other members to be passed. The original idea of the round-table system was to select twelve of the most capable human beings to become the protective barrier for the remaining billions of their compatriots. And in the last few decades, where everyone was in agreement to the usage of AI, those in opposition would only deal a great blow to their own political image, so the barrier had been ineffective. And in this current time, there were people who could hardly even wait, and they weren’t even trying to maintain this “image” any longer.
While Zhong Yan was talking about business, he had almost never brought his own personal feelings into the mix; just like when he was in a meeting with all the military officers that day. He was calm and unnerved, even while bringing up such sensational news. Probably due to the fact that he was more relaxed today, he had forgotten about maintaining his mask. From his words, Adrian could pick out a hint of his…distaste for that man called Pearson.
“I heard you used to be one of Pearson’s subordinates for two years.” Adrian put down his cake. “I’m curious, with your acuity in politics, did you not see the ambition in him at that time?”
Zhong Yan looked calmly at Adrian. “His ambitions were exactly the reason why I entered his command.”
“That’s what I guessed.” Adrian went on, “Then why did you leave after that? Were you the one who initiated it?”
Zhong Yan looked deeply into his silver eyes.
Why did he take that step back? How should he answer that question? He was about to leave. Adrian no longer liked him. They were only seven days away from that one-month deadline. Adrian had said he would pay the fine himself before the expiration date, so their marriage contract would be dissolved soon, and they will no longer have any personal connections after that happens.
They were two men in antagonistic positions. There was no chance for them to be together anymore.
“We had a difference in opinions,” Zhong Yan finally let out.
Adrian raised a brow at him. “What kind of differences could make you give up on your future?”
“If there is a suitable opportunity in the future, I will tell you about it,” He thus responded. Zhong Yan curved his lips up into a smile at Adrian; it was such a gentle smile, but Adrian felt a strange sense of sorrow.
But before he had any time to think about that unusual feeling, Zhong Yan had already put away that fleeting smile, and that impeccable mask was returned to its place. He continued on, “Earlier, ‘Butterfly’ announced the candidates for the interim position of Head of Council in the Lebor System. It’s a high ranking counselor who had been responsible for handling the reports from the Lebor System all this while.”
Adrian’s attention was drawn back to the current situation. He frowned, “And what sort of person is this Interim Head of Council? Do they have any private dealings with ‘Butterfly’ as well?”
“That’s not possible, his ranking is too low,” responded Zhong Yan without any hesitation. “In the past millennium since the activation of the second generation AI, the only people within the Federation that could have direct contact with ‘Butterfly’ were only the twelve representative councilors. I know that person. He sat neighboring my desk when I was still a high-level councilor. His name is Qu Yongyi, and he’s about…forty or so. Anyway, he was considered young amongst the high-ranking councilors. The impression I had of him was that he was a man of little words, and did his work in silence. He’s not someone with a lot of presence. But impressions aren’t always accurate in the Supreme Council, I immediately started to investigate him, and you would do well to start your own arrangements as well. I know you have your own men in the Capital, so we can check from both channels. We may be able to get a more accurate result if we compare our findings.”
“So he was the one in charge of governmental affairs for the Lebor System?” Adrian said, “Then that’s just the proof of their inability to settle their internal differences. In the end, both of them had to take a step back and follow the logical choice of finding a man that fits neither sides.”
“There’s no harm to being cautious.” Zhong Yan had already sent out the message he was typing. “If this was not the result Pearson was hoping for, then there would also be the problem that the councilor might not be able to successfully reach the Lebor System.”
Adrian turned on his own terminal. Sitting across from each other, the two chose to issue their commands through text.
Since the terminal screen was a one-way display, you could not see what the terminal’s owner was doing from the back. So, Adrian did not know that after instructing his men to gather information on Qu Yongyi, Zhong Yan added another command: Find out if Pearson has any plans to target Navi in the future. On the other end, Zhong Yan was also unable to see that Adrian had not given the command to investigate Qu Yongyi to the intelligence department. Instead, it was: investigate Zhong Yan’s relationship with Pearson again.
After their dinner that evening, Zhong Yan’s heart was itching to see that rabbit again but the only person with the authority to open the backdoor was Adrian. It was already dawn, so he would feel bad if he called Adrian out to stay up and play with the rabbit with him, so he could only look out from the window.
While standing up, the kit’s head could reach over the trees, but it was laying down now, so the only thing you could see through the trees was a faint, seven to eight meter long pile of snowy white fur on the ground.
When Adrian was about to go upstairs to sleep, Zhong Yan was still happily looking away at the rabbit through the window. His feet stopped, and he brought himself over to Zhong Yan’s back.
“Is it that nice to look at?” Adrian asked.
Zhong Yan responded with great enthusiasm, “It’s snow-white! It’s the first time I’ve seen one with this color!”
Adrian, who had no knowledge whatsoever about rabbits, wondered, “Aren’t rabbits generally white?”
“Are you talking about normal white rabbits? They’re not the same breed. The normal white giant space rabbits are those with erect ears, which looks a bit like this.”
Zhong Yan stuck out an index finger on each of his hands and placed them at the top of his head, gesturing to him the type of ears you would normally see on a normal giant rabbit.
…Just looking young was enough, but why did even his behavioral patterns regressed to that of a young boy when he sees rabbits? When he saw how he was looking up at him, with his fingers on his head, pretending to be a rabbit, Adrian could not help but gulp. With a straight face, he reached out his hands to grab the two “bunny ears”
“I know what it means, you don’t have to show me.” Saying that, he took Zhong Yan’s hands down.
“Oh. Well, lop-eared giant space rabbits are rare to begin with, where did you find it?”
Adrian looked out the window as if he had a newfound interest in the trees, and he pretended as if he did not hear him.
If he did not wish to talk about it, then Zhong Yan would not pry. It wasn’t as if he could really report him to the proper authorities. Even though he was obsessed with giant space rabbits, if he compared them with Adrian…Might as well just raise it secretly for now. He figured that Adrian would probably get sick of it after a few days, then he can try to persuade Adrian to send it to an animal protection agency before he leaves.
After a good night’s sleep, the first thing Zhong Yan did was to go over to the window to look at the rabbit, but unexpectedly, he found the back door open.
Adrian was the only person with the authority to open the door. Zhong Yan went out, and the first thing he saw was the rabbit kit. It was too big, so it was hard not to notice it.
The kit had already woken up, and its body was half-raised. He could not tell what it was looking at, but its tail was facing towards the house. Zhong Yan stood behind it and stared at the big, round, fluffy bunny tail for a moment. Without holding back, he rubbed it softly.
The rabbit ignored him. At this time, Zhong Yan heard a loud banging noise coming from the front.
He walked past the rabbit and went deeper into the field, and finally saw what the rabbit was looking at. A pile of artificial wood planks were scattered on the ground, as well as an artificial wooden wall fixed to the ground that was about as tall as two people. The clinky banging noise was coming from behind that wall.
Zhong Yan continued on to the back of the wall. Adrian was only wearing a sleeveless black tank and was sitting atop a three meter high ladder, hammering a piece of artificial wood on top with his hand-held multitool. With his clothes on, he appeared to have a rather slender figure, but with the sleeveless top he wore for the job, the beautiful muscles on his arms were revealed.
Zhong Yan raised his hand over his eyes to block out the morning sun and looked up to ask Adrian who was on top of the ladder, “What are you doing?”
“Making a hutch,” Adrian responded. “If there’s no cover, people will see it when they pass over in the sky. This planet is full of people from the military command. I don’t want them to find out that I’ve got a rabbit in my backyard.”
Still struggling to look up, Zhong Yan asked, “Why?”
“This thing is too detrimental to my image.” Adrian lamented, “If I ever get a pet, it probably has to be a wolf or something.”
“Then, I’ll help you hold the ladder,” Zhong Yan volunteered himself.
“Forget it. You?” Adrian stopped his work and mocked him from above, “I’ll have no troubles at all even if I really fell from this height, but you’ll definitely be half-dead if the ladder crushes you.”
Being given the cold-shoulder to his self-recommendation, the only thing Zhong Yan could do was to sit down with his back against the front feet of the fluffy bunny kit, joining it as they watched Adrian work together.