No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 45: Informant
As expected, several mainstream media outlets that were in close contact with the Supreme Council began to criticize the remarks Zhong Yan made during the day.
Saying that he could not afford the fines implied that he was prepared to refuse to begin with. For a councilor, this was a rather unusual statement.
Adrian called out to Zhong Yan when he was passing by the living room, ready to go to bed.
“Why did you say that today?”
“What?” Zhong Yan responded casually, “Didn’t I say it? Giant space rabbits are illegal, but normal rabbits aren’t.”
Adrian turned off his terminal screen and looked at him. “You know what I’m talking about. You were busy earlier. I bet you were trying to appease the forces behind you and also using this to test your colleagues, right?”
Zhong Yan did not deny it. He nodded, “This is a good chance to test them. I’ll get to re-examine the cards in my hands and decide which ones can be used, and which ones to discard.
“There’s no turning back once you start,” said Adrian, words laced with intent. “Are you trying to show your sincerity?”
“Naturally, it’s good if this is of any reassurance of you. If I defect after my return to the Capital, and turn towards the AI side in the oncoming changes, you can easily destroy my reputation since you have recordings of me leaking private information during the meeting. There was no turning back for me in the first place. I still haven’t planned to exit the stage of history yet, so you don’t have to be worried about my sincerity.”
“Then why did you decide to choose a road so different from what you chose in the beginning, after so many years?”
“We’ve already discussed this issue.” Zhong Yan evaded the question.
“To protect your seat?” Adrian asked. “I’ve always felt that this wasn’t enough motivation to push you towards gambling everything. I know how you are.”
Zhong Yan opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something, but he just shook his head in the end. “You can’t ask me to disclose my full plans to you. You’ve never revealed your military secrets to me either, right? Our current demands are the same, so this is enough to achieve a cooperation. There’s no need for us to share everything. That there is the real risk.”
Adrian still felt uneasy, but he managed to overcome his desire to ask—He himself was also clear that he would never ask his partners to reveal their full decks. He did not even care about a secretive organization such as “Specimen”, but it was only because it was Zhong Yan; that brand of betrayal was engraved deep in his heart, so subconsciously, he felt the desire to demand it.
“I don’t trust you,” Adrian said. But he did not have any intentions of asking further.
Zhong Yan could feel a dull throb in his heart. It was not a strong sting, but it was just like Adrian’s tone; it only existed. Without any change in his countenance, he nodded calmly. “As you should. Goodnight.”
Three days later. White Aegis.
Intron walked down the gangway and looked curiously around at the legendary planet. The guards led him to the front passenger seat of the car sent over to receive him. After getting in the driver’s seat, the guard looked curiously at the young man from the corner of his eye.
Intron had short, curly brown hair, and he wore a pair of glasses. On the surface, he looked pure and harmless; but the guard knew full well that this young man was not just a simple assistant to a councilor.
And he knew because he was the newly appointed personal guard to Navi’s military commander.
The person this young man was about to meet was the leader of Navi System who had come secretly himself, Adrian Yate.
“Intron Gines?” A third voice suddenly sounded from the back seat of the car.
Intron was startled. He raised his head to look at the rear-view mirror; a man was seated at the back. From the darkness, the view of his face was blurred, but his silver eyes were glowing.
Intron quickly reacted and spoke with great respect. “Greetings, Commander Yate.”
“Hello, Mr. Gines,” Adrian spoke. “Must have been a terribly long trip.”
“No no, it was fine,” Intron responded humbly. Following that, he asked curiously, “Where…are we heading to?”
“Nowhere in particular. You’ve taken a long trip here as Councilor Zhong Yan’s right-hand man, so we’ve arranged for you to have a tour of White Aegis to enjoy the scenery. We’ll bring you back to your ship after we take a look around.”
Intron understood, he intended to talk to him in the car. Indeed, it would be quite suspicious to bring him anywhere at all. The survival of “Specimen” relied on being cautious and low-key. Intron was grateful, “I appreciate your thoughtfulness, this is the best arrangement. In that case, let’s not waste time and get right into it. I have two main purposes for coming here today.”
Adrian responded, “I am listening.”
“Firstly, it is about the information requested by the Navi Military Command half a month ago, regarding ‘Butterfly’s’ changes.” Intron turned on his terminal and pushed up his glasses. “We have verified it urgently with our informant. Regarding the plans with Navi, including next year’s…oh, sorry, it’s this year now. Including the ‘Glory Order’ that was going to be implemented this year, it’s all real. But it’s too difficult to pass information outside of the Navi System. We could not pass on some of the information we collected on the Supreme Council, so I had to come over myself. I’ve already written everything down on paper while I was on my way. I’ll hand it to you personally when we return to my ship.”
Adrian responded, “Alright. Intron—you don’t mind me calling you by name, do you?”
Intron quickly shook his head. “It is my honor, Commander.”
“I’ve always wanted to ask you some personal questions. If it goes against the rules of your organization, you do not have to answer.” Adrian slowly began, “You’ve been with Zhong Yan for about…two years now?”
“About to be, sir.”
“Was it by chance that you picked him?”
Intron hesitated for a few seconds before responding, “No. He has a high enough position and was young enough. Only by his side am I able to achieve the highest possible position and access as much information as possible.”
Adrian tried to probe, “No other reasons? For example…did you know that he had a live broadcast on the day you departed?”
“I did know. I still had signal then, so I watched it. I headed to a service area on the way here and caught up with the follow-up news. What are you asking for?”
“He seems to have changed his position,” Adrian said.
“We have not conducted any personal investigations against Sir Zhong,” Intron said cautiously, “In my opinion, he has never privately disclosed his thoughts on the current setup either, so I can not make any judgments.”
“Zhong Yan is one of the twelve representative members of the council. Did you actually not collect any intelligence on his position at all?” Adrian asked, “What if he could be won over?”
“Our founders and leaders are very cautious,” Intron responded.” It’s dangerous to contact a council member. As for information collecting, investigations, and influencing the public opinion…that is up to our leaders to decide. We will not act arbitrarily before receiving any orders. Even if I get along well with Sir Zhong, I still will not do more than I am asked if the order is not given.”
Adrian sighed, “No wonder you were able to hide so well. It’s been two years. Does the Capital not know of your existence?”
Intron looked at the rearview mirror, and a faint change could be seen in his countenance, but he did not make any retorts.
“It’s been more than two years?” Adrian was able to catch the faint change in his expression.
Intron smiled politely to him. “That specimen shop you went into in Institution Star nearly a month ago…I was working there when I was in my third year. Sorry, I shouldn’t say anything more.”
“I was the one asking too much,” said Adrian. Intron was three batches below him and Zhong Yan; so to say, ‘Specimen’ was already formed three years after their graduation. It has been more than four years now.
In less than five years, their members were able to penetrate into the top positions of various important institutions…The founder of the organization himself definitely would not be low either, and he most likely held a high position within Capital Star.
Could he be among the Twelve? Zhong Yan had once told him very honestly that those who had direct contact with “Butterfly” were the successive members of council; and what Intron brought him just happened to be some of the most secretive information regarding “Butterfly”.
“With your rank in the Supreme Council…are you able to access the contents of the ‘Glory Order’?” Adrian asked.
“Of course not,” Intron let out a chuckle “There are no more than ten people right now within the Supreme Council that know the general contents of the ‘Glory Order’. I suspect that not even Sir Zhong knows about this matter. After all, he is not one of Sir Pearson’s confidants.”
Intron actually believed that Zhong Yan had no idea about the “Glory Order”? Adrian’s mind started to churn; Bayer was the eyes and ears of Stalvern. Zhong Yan was averse to him, and it was understandable that he hid many things from him, but Intron was his own after all; he was the right-hand man Zhong Yan chose himself, so it was reasonable to say that he led all the other men beneath him, and also did the intelligence work. In other words…the source of Zhong Yan’s news was not his men from the Supreme Council?
He temporarily brushed off the question and continued to ask Intron, “So, have any of your members reached…the position of representative member?”
“This is the second purpose of my trip,” Intron explained, “Not everyone willing to help our cause are our members, this is not realistic. Take for example, lecturers and teachers all have jobs. They are only providing us with some information when we request it, so they are our informants. But of course, they could also be members, but there are rules. It is forbidden to ask each other about their identity even if it was someone above or under them, just like how the ones under me may also believe that I am just an informant working within the Supreme Council, but I am in fact, one of the earliest members.”
Adrian said, “So you have a representative member as an informant. At least he is one.”
“Yes,” Intron admitted. “And he wishes to see you.”
Adrian raised a brow, “How?”
“He is in Navi right now.”
Adrian’s heart suddenly jumped. A representative member in Navi? But Intron had clearly just said that Zhong Yan…
“Commander Yate,” Intron said solemnly. “Councilor Vahl Cayman is on the ship, and he hopes you can take the time to see him.”