No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 59: Lifting the Ban
Zhong Yan picked up the small bunny and placed it on his lap before touching the giant space rabbit beside him. Unexpectedly, he ended up with a handful of dust. He was at a loss for words as he looked up at the big white rabbit, and decided to wait for Adrian to come back to tell him that it’s time to wash the rabbit.
Then, he steered his wheelchair one circle around the backyard, completing the task of “getting fresh air” as Adrian ordered before heading back to the house. Thinking about how dirty the big rabbit was and how the small one had also been kept in the backyard for so many days, it was probably in just as bad of a condition. He touched the small rabbit’s fur and returned to the kitchen to fill up a basin of water before rolling up his sleeves, and washed the rabbit.
After washing it, Zhong Yan went to the bathroom to bring out the hairdryer to dry it. However, the rabbit was too small, so as soon as he turned on the hairdryer, the strong winds blew the rabbit away and made it tumble backward. Zhong Yan quickly turned off the hairdryer. Since the room was warm anyway, there’s no need to worry about the rabbit catching a cold. So, he wiped it dry with a towel.
The little rabbit was sick of being tossed around by him since long ago, so as soon as it was returned to Zhong Yan’s lap after cleaning up, it immediately laid down and shrunk into a ball, continuing to sleep.
Zhong Yan petted the rabbit with one hand, and seeing that it was just about time, he turned on the live broadcast.
Lebor’s former Council Head and the other two council members have already been taken out of prison by Navi’s army. They were now holding a joint conference with the senior officials of the Navi Military Command. Everything they spoke about in the conference were things Zhong Yan had already seen prior to this. While listening to it, he followed the sweeping robot around the house in his wheelchair, supervising its work.
More than a year ago, the incident where “Butterfly” made a false judgment against the civilian girl caused a frenzy throughout the entire Federation. If you were to say that the incident led to a sharp decline in the credibility of the Capital and AI among the people, then this incident that involved people from various different forces was confusing in the eyes of the people. The attention this matter garnered was actually less than the clear and simple misjudgment incident from last year, but the people at the top of the pyramid, especially the various council members who held power, couldn’t help but feel the people’s loyalties shake.
The AI that was said to be “absolutely just” actually involved itself in mankind’s power struggles. Moreover, this struggle had already spread out of the Capital and even involved the distant Lebor System. With just one judgment, it had almost ruined the lives of three high-ranking council members, and even the council head of a star system was powerless to resist. If they didn’t chance upon the matter where the Navi Military Command’s leader was attacked, and forcibly intervened in Lebor’s regional administration for the sake of seeking out the wanted criminals, then they may never have gotten to see the light of day again.
The former Council Head of Lebor was a gentle person with a good reputation amongst the people. But no matter how gentle a person was, there were still limits to their temper. When he was imprisoned, he had completely lost all his tolerance towards the AI.
At the press conference today, the top rung of Lebor’s council, the ones in charge of its military command, and the person in charge of Navi Military Command gathered together. But the main event was not to clear the names of the three who had been wrongly accused.
Zhong Yan followed slowly behind the cleaning robot while the reporters were exclaiming in the shrunken window on his terminal. The smart floating cameras were able to recognize the face that was highlighted in the database and had swarmed the man that had just entered the press hall, madly photographing him from all angles.
Zhong Yan’s wheelchair stopped in the living room. Even though the cleaning robot had already slowly moved away, Zhong Yan didn’t bother with it any longer. He enlarged the window on his terminal and concentrated on watching Adrian who had entered the hall.
Adrian was dressed in his formal military uniform today. This was the first time Zhong Yan had seen him attending an event in his formal attire since the celebration at the Supreme Institution. The fitted black military uniform was lined with gold accents, while the rank of the star system’s supreme commander was displayed on his shoulder. Compared to his rank, his appearance was so young, but there was no clash. He strode to the front seat at the press hall with a fierce momentum, and on that handsome face were a pair of rare silver irises. When he was not smiling, his eyes looked cold enough to burn, and it made it hard for anyone to dare to look straight at them.
Zhong Yan looked at him in infatuation for a moment. He snapped a few photos, but then realized that it was unnecessary. This person was already his. He could just ask Adrian to wear it for just him to see once he came home.
Thinking about it, that was simply too extravagant. Zhong Yan suddenly felt like he had turned into some kind of nouveau riche and didn’t even bother to save the photo anymore. He just steadily sat down to watch the broadcast.
Several people from the Navi Military Command stood up to make way for Adrian in the center. He sat down. Lebor’s Council Head stood up. He carefully examined the scene, and when he saw Adrian, Adrian gave him a firm nod.
Adrian was only twenty-seven years old. For federal citizens, this was the age at which your family and career were just getting started. For Lebor’s Council Head who was already in his fifties, twenty-seven was very young. But strangely, it seemed like Adrian was able to make others forget his age with just his presence alone. Once he entered the scene, it felt like everyone’s backs straightened. After he nodded, the council head felt like he had been infected by his firm expression. His heart that was pounding madly calmed down in an instant.
He announced a decision that was destined to be written down in the history books with a firm and steady voice.
On this day, Lebor’s Council House united with the Lebor Military Command to announce their separation from the Federation’s Supreme Council and joining of the Navi System. They no longer owe their allegiance to AI, and no longer accepted the leadership of the Capital. Like the Navi System, they will reinstate the human autonomy system, regaining free will for marriage and career choice.
The person in charge of the Navi Military Command announced their plans to the public, and the reporters on the scene turned silent in an instant. All the reporters were focused on listening about the follow-up measures taken after the dethroning of artificial intelligence. They were quickly typing out the main points on their terminals at light speed.
Zhong Yan minimized the live broadcast and clicked on an inconspicuous software icon on his terminal. After a few seemingly random strokes, he waited quietly for a few seconds and received a message from his confidant in ‘Specimen’.
“They’ve already made the announcement, begin the plan.” He ordered the person on the other end. “Add on a few more people to watch the major platforms. Make sure the general direction of the public’s opinion is favorable towards the Navi Military Command’s side.”
After processing, the gender of the voice on the other end could not be distinguished. “Rest assured, everything is prepared. As for the Lebor System’s Council Head, Sheng Ping’s manuscript, we already had the writers from our shop add on the embellishments. It’s too touching, I wanted to cry after seeing it. Do you want to read the final draft again?”
“Don’t send that out first. We’ll look at the situation after a few hours before deciding. Send the final draft to me again.” Zhong Yan said, “Alright, go do your work, contact me again if you need anything.”
The person on the other end was clearly a young person, and they quickly acknowledged his orders.
After Zhong Yan read the Lebor Council Head’s pity script, he circled out a point that was inconsistent with Adrian’s follow-up plan before sending it back to that person from “Specimen”. Then, he brought up the live broadcast again. The Q&A session had already been going on for a while.
It seems that the key issues of Lebor System have already been asked several times. When Zhong Yan went back to it, the reporters had already turned their attention to the Supreme Commander of the Navi Military Command who rarely showed his face in public.
“Commander Yate, you were attacked in the Lebor System a few days ago, so how is your physical condition now? And what about Councilor Zhong Yan?” One of the reporters who had been chosen stood up and asked.
A few of the senior officers from the Navi Military Command who were sitting on stage sucked in a breath of cold air. Even though news had been going around these past few days in the Navi Military Command that Adrian and Zhong Yan had already reconciled, the imprint left behind those past years by Adrian was too deep, so everyone’s fear of that banned word had already sunken deep into their instincts. To think this reporter would actually say that to Adrian’s face in public, everyone in Navi who was watching the broadcast broke out in cold sweat.
But the real shocker was, Adrian actually didn’t seem angry at all. He responded casually, “Thank you, everyone, for your concern. Councilor Zhong Yan is in the midst of recovery. As for my status, everyone can see it with their own eyes.”
Zhong Yan was very clear that this was also one of the reasons he showed up in public today. He was Navi’s leader, and also the poster child for the entire anti-AI movement. He could get hurt, but he must never fall. When he’s standing, he can bring infinite encouragement and courage to all those who struggle on the same side.
But Zhong Yan knew that Adrian had only removed all his bandages yesterday. People only cared about whether the Commander was fit to act, and whether he could work again in full state. Only Zhong Yan had caressed the scar left behind by every knife wound, enduring the pain with his own heartbreak.
At that time, Adrian regretted not having done the laser scar removal surgery. When he saw how dispirited Zhong Yan was, he scooped him up into his embrace and joked, “I’m still a man with a fully functioning body. You’re playing with fire if you touch me all over in bed like that, don’t you know?”
Zhong Yan responded with a sullen hum, but his mood was still down. Adrian had to coax him for a while before he could bring his mood back up, and immediately decided that he would have to find some free time to get those scars removed in the headquarters’ hospital.
At the press conference, the next reporter that had just been picked stood up and asked, “Commander Yate, you’ve spent a lot of reward money on obtaining the variant blood a few days ago, can you disclose the specific amount?”
“No,” Adrian responded without any grace.
But the reporter was not discouraged either and tried to probe again. ” In any case, it must be an astronomical sum. So why did Councilor Zhong Yan claim that he could not refuse the marriage proposal because of financial difficulties prior to that?”
Adrian said, “He is indeed quite poor. It’s normal if he can’t afford it.”
“But you have money, right?” The reporter asked.
Adrian responded matter-of-factly, “We weren’t related before our marriage, my money had nothing to do with him at that time.”
He was able to circumvent the reporter, and the reporter actually couldn’t find any problems with his logic so quickly either. Dazed, the reporter asked, “Then, now that you’re a family, do you have any plans for divorce?”
“No, no money, can’t afford it,” Adrian responded simply and directly. “Alright, let’s give our other media friends a chance.”
Since they’ve already started asking questions like these, it seems like there’s nothing important left at the end. Zhong Yan shrunk the broadcast window and stroked the clean rabbit on his lap. Then, he rolled over to the cleaning robot and continued reviewing its work.