No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 88: President
Zhong Yan followed Vahl into the smoking room silently.
“I know you don’t smoke, and you know I don’t either.” Vahl walked over to his side. “But the building is crowded with people these days and this is one of the more quiet spots here.”
If you needed quiet, then a meeting room would be best as they were less likely to be interrupted, but all uses of meeting rooms must be registered. Vahl did not tell him what he needed to speak with him about, but Zhong Yan had a hunch. Both of them shared the tacit understanding that neither of them wanted to make this conversation public.
Zhong Yan locked the door from the inside and sat down on the sofa opposite of Vahl, smiling. “Well, I just thought you were used to talking in the smoking room.”
What he meant was the talk the two of them had before one of those round table meetings they had before Zhong Yan left the Capital. During that time, Vahl had no idea that Zhong Yan was the creator of “Specimen”. He had also seeked him out just to enquire about Adrian.
Hearing what he said, Vahl laughed. “It isn’t on purpose, really. It’s just a coincidence.”
The memories shared by the two of them were still considered amicable, and this also helped to ease the atmosphere between the two of them. But the situation on hand waited for no one. There was no longer any time to slowly ease into the main topic. Vahl spoke up directly, “The situation right now is extremely tense and complicated. We have to take control now before things grow out of order. In my opinion, it would be best if the both of us are to take up the positions of both the president and the vice-president. What do you think?”
Zhong Yan did not respond to him directly. “Butterfly” will stay asleep for a total of seven days and it was already the third day today. They really couldn’t delay things any further. His question was even more direct. “Are you here to persuade me to accept the position of vice-president?”
“That’s right,” Vahl admitted frankly. “Both of us have points where we prevail, and though the age distribution for civilian support is varied, the proportion is almost the same. Since we’re talking about this in private, I’m not going to bring in all the principals and nonsense. Because both you and me know that none of that exists. Let’s skip the part where we decide who is going to step back, we’ll settle this today.”
“Sure,” Zhong Yan responded calmly, “I won’t be the first to step back.”
Vahl seemed to have expected this answer from him as he did not show any hint of surprise. Instead, he hesitated for a moment, seemingly considering whether it was proper for him to ask the question he wanted to bring up. But with how urgent the matter was, this wasn’t the time to care about that. He asked, “Have you spoken with Adrian about this?”
Unexpectedly, Zhong Yan did not look displeased at all. Instead, he nodded. “I have. And it seems like you have as well if you’re asking me this question.”
His guess was correct. Adrian did contact Vahl the day that the impeachment bill was passed. A look of awkwardness and hesitation emerged on Vahl’s face. He was trying to consider whether telling Zhong Yan the contents of his conversation with Adrian would have an impact on their relationship. Right as he was trying to think of a good way to word things, Zhong Yan brought it up for him “You are the candidate he supports to become the president. So to say, the person with Navi Military Command’s support is you. We have already spoken about this before our marriage and it has also been brought up after, so it’s fine, no need to feel so tense. If you feel the need to make this public then please do so, and I’m not speaking out of spite either. I’m being sincere.”
Vahl was surprised. Then, after a few minutes, he seemed to have thought of something. Even the look in his eyes was different when he looked at Zhong Yan now. While Zhong Yan was puzzled over the fact, he heard Vahl say, “It’s an ancient saying that a father knows his son best. I may not be Adrian’s father, but I can still say that I know him better than his real father does, and I also care about him more than anyone related to him. So, it’s reasonable to say that it’s not my business to step in between your affairs…But Zhong Yan, Adrian has spoken to me several times after your marriage and I can tell, he really likes you a lot. Even though you may have decided to run with the relationship out of your need for cooperation…”
Zhong Yan was confused when he began, but he finally understood near the end. He quickly interrupted him and said, “Councilor Cayman…Ah no…” They were speaking of their private affairs and Vahl did not greet him by title, so he would do better to avoid it as well. A hint of red finally emerged on Zhong Yan’s unshakable facade. Biting down the bullet, he said, “Un…Uncle. You’re mistaken. We did not get married for the sake of cooperating. Me and Ade, we don’t usually interfere with each other’s work, and we give each other a great deal of freedom when it comes to it. This is the way we decided would be best for each other after going through many twists and turns. He will not stop me from running for president, nor would I mind whichever candidate he supports, but that doesn’t mean that I do not…” love him.
But speaking up to that point was already Zhong Yan’s limit when it came to speaking with outsiders. He paused and was unable to say the latter half of his sentence. Half of his mind felt embarrassed, but the other half was shocked. Didn’t they come to discuss with each other about the position of president? Why did he end up talking about this to Adrian’s senior…
Fortunately, Vahl looked even more embarrassed than he was. Quite clearly, he wasn’t someone who enjoyed interfering with the private lives of his juniors, so he quickly added in immediately after Zhong Yan stopped. “It’s alright, you don’t have to tell me. I was overstepping it a little. Cough, well…About the position…where were we just now?.”
“We were talking about the Navi Military’s support for you,” Zhong Yan reminded him.
It wasn’t as if Vahl had truly forgotten either, he just needed Zhong Yan’s response to pull the conversation back to a more natural point. So, he went on with Zhong Yan’s words and said, “Ah, right. The Navi Military Command. Since you already know, it won’t hurt to say it. Adrian asked me yesterday whether I needed him to make a statement of his support for me, and to tell you the truth…I do need it. But I wanted to confirm it with you first. If I really had the Navi Military Command do so…Will you continue to follow-up?”
“Of course,” Zhong Yan responded without hesitation, “and I will go all out for it.”
They had already said they were going to settle this today at the very start, so Vahl did not doubt the authenticity of Zhong Yan’s words. Right now, they should be spending all their time, energy, and resources to build up momentum for themselves, to attack and wipe out their opponents…
Vahl thought over it for a long time and sighed in the end. “Well, I’ll give my response to Adrian. I’ll tell him not to make the statement.”
Zhong Yan heard the implications of his words and his expression changed slightly. Seriously, he said, “What do you mean?”
“Have you heard of an old allegory?” Vahl said, “Once, there was a child, and two women claimed that child to be their own. The dispute ended up escalating to court and the judge told the two women to snatch the child. Whoever managed to snatch the child gets him, he said. Each one of them took one of the child’s hands and pulled the child to them, and the child was in so much pain from their pulling that he cried. And so, one of the women let go, allowing the other woman to take him away. But the judge ruled the woman who had let go as the child’s mother instead.”
This fable could not be more straightforward. Zhong Yan did not answer and waited for Vahl to go on.”
“There is no time for us to fight between ourselves, and I am prepared to be the first man to let go. However,” Vahl said sullenly, “Before I go out there and announce that I support you as the candidate for the interim president, I must say, quite frankly, that I’m very worried. I have no doubts whatsoever about your abilities, but I am worried about your character.”
Zhong Yan was very sure that Adrian was the only person in this world that understood his thoughts and saw his true self. But in their conversation, when Zhong Yan insisted that he would “go all out” to fight for that position despite the crisis they were in, Vahl had already caught onto the clues, but this was such a pressing situation that Vahl could do nothing else but step back. However, he still had to make an implicit comment on his concerns.
“What you worry about will not happen,” Zhong Yan promised.
Just one sentence was not enough to assure Vahl, but Zhong Yan was not going to say more. He respected Vahl for what he did for Adrian, but that did not mean he would give himself to him like Adrian would.
“Let time be the witness, then,” Vahl said as he stood up. He reached out a hand to Zhong Yan and said, “Let me congratulate you in advance, Your Excellency the President.”
Zhong Yan accepted his handshake. “May we work together in harmony, Your Excellency the Vice President.”
On the third day of the AI’s impeachment, they had suddenly discovered that they could not shutdown “Butterfly”, and that it also had the sufficient authorities to launch weapons that could destroy humanity. Though this news was temporarily confined to a small group of people, the huge sense of burden could almost fry the brains of those standing at the top of the human pyramid. It was today that the first captain of this era was born.
Vahl was the first to formally mention the position of president, and most everyone thought he was going to recommend himself, but they never expected him to choose Zhong Yan after having a talk with him outside.
The two most powerful competitors, the ones with the power, have now reached an agreement. No matter what the others were thinking, it would be difficult to turn over the storm.
What’s more, not everyone would want to take that position in such a situation. If things were not handled properly, then the consequences were not something the current human federation could afford to suffer. It may seem like a position destined for endless glory right now, but there was also the possibility to become the greatest sinner through the ages.
With all factors combined, the time that it took for the interim president’s proposal to be passed was rapid. On that day itself, the council announced the birth of a new president and his vice president.
“We will have a simple appointment ceremony tomorrow, just inside the council. Since you did not bring your military uniform, I bought you a formal suit. It’s in the living room.” Zhong Yan had been arriving home at daybreak for many days in a row. After quickly cleaning himself up, he would lay languished in Adrian’s arms to tell him about his next plans. “Rumors of the crisis have already begun to leak. Right now, rumors are flying and people are getting worried, so it would be better for us to give them an open statement. As it happens, there’s no need for us to prepare an inaugural speech. I will just explain to everyone the situation myself at the inauguration ceremony tomorrow.”
Adrian was surprised. “You’re going to declare a human crisis as the first thing you do in office? Is that really alright? You’ll definitely be criticized. I’ll be attending tomorrow anyway, so you might as well let me do it.”
“No. Whoever brings up the news is going to be scolded, so I definitely have to be the one to say it.” Zhong Yan was so tired that he could barely keep his eyes open and his voice was growing softer, and more muffled. “That’s right, I’ve already drafted your new position…”
“What? The spouse of a president? So the ‘First Partner’ or something?” Adrian joked, but the person in his arms did not respond. Puzzled, he looked down. Zhong Yan had already fallen asleep on his chest.
He lowered his head to plant a light kiss on Zhong Yan’s smooth forehead.
“Good night, Mr. President.”