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No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 47: Different Paths
Adrian had originally planned to stay the night in White Aegis before returning to Navi's capital the next day to pick up Zhong Yan, but he rushed back home in the middle of the night.
Zhong Yan wasn't in the house, so Adrian walked out into the back yard.
The giant s.p.a.ce rabbit kit was laying on its side on the gra.s.s, while Zhong Yan was sitting on its back. There was also a small rabbit bun on his shoulder, which was the normal rabbit kit from before.
Both the rabbits were sleeping, and Zhong Yan was daydreaming with his head raised to gaze at the stars in the sky.
Hearing his call, Zhong Yan who sat atop the rabbit's back lowered his head, and with an expression as calm as spring water, he said, “Have you met up with Cayman? Didn't you say you weren't coming back tonight?”
He had already found out. But that was normal. Before he left in a hurry, when he was confirming about the prohibitions with Intron, his actions were pa.s.sed onto Zhong Yan through several people, so naturally, Zhong Yan had already known.
“Your information moves fast,” Adrian said.
Zhong Yan lowered his head. “It is directly proportional to the time and money I've invested in it.”
Adrian had a lot of things he wanted to ask, but when he saw the rabbit bun curling up on Zhong Yan's shoulders, his gaze suddenly focused, and he asked, “Where did that rabbit on your shoulder come from?”
Zhong Yan chuffed softly. “Don't worry, this is something I asked the steakhouse owner to help me buy.”
“When did you pull the steakhouse owner to your side?”
“Don't make it sound so bad. When I went back to get my scarf, I had a talk with the boss that day, and we stayed in contact with each other is all.” Zhong Yan took the little white bunny from his shoulder, holding it in his palms, and stroked its fur. “I don't have anyone in Navi. As far as I'm aware, none of the people sent by the Supreme Council have succeeded either, so don't worry.”
“I know. They told me today. ‘Specimen' has a special rule not to touch Navi.” Adrian stood a few steps away from the giant rabbit kit, and though his voice was not loud, it could be heard unusually clear in the quiet night. “Why?”
“‘Specimen' is an organization dedicated to overthrowing the rule of artificial intelligence. Its key direction was naturally to infiltrate the Capital where the AI's main body resided. Why would I snoop around for my friendlies' information?”
Adrian stood quietly on the ground as he looked up to observe him. After meeting his gaze for a few seconds, Zhong Yan said, “Fine. It's because I know you hate things like that. Once you find out that somebody has been planting people by your side, there's no way they'll ever be able to work with you in the future.”
“So it's not a coincidence that we met outside of Specimen.” Adrian went on, “it was you who bought the store after the juice shop closed down.”
“The juice shop did not close down, I bought it over at a high price.” Zhong Yan moved his gaze away, looking straight ahead. “It's been seven years, I couldn't contact you, but I finally had a chance to meet you in person, so I went there to wait for you.”
“And if I didn't accept the invitation? If I didn't attend?”
“You would. If you didn't accept the invitation, you would have soon received ‘Specimen's' message, informing you that we hope that you will come personally to take the name list. If you refused, I would have arranged for one of the core members to head to the school's stronghold and tell you that the organization's senior members would like to personally meet with you. If you were still hesitant, I would continue to increase the bargaining chips until you agree to partic.i.p.ate in the celebration.”
“Just to see me?”
“Just to see you.”
Adrian asked, “So why didn't you tell me after we met?”
“For what purpose?” Zhong Yan looked at him once more, and asked in turn, “So that you can cut off your contact with ‘Specimen'? I understand you too well. You don't like when people set up the winds from the back. The only reason you tolerated those illegitimate means is because you felt that the starting point of the organization was right. People who accomplish big things don't trip over the small things after all. But if you find out that the leader of this underground resistance organization was me, and since I don't care whether humans are free or not, would you still continue working with us?”
“This is exactly what I came back to confirm with you. I asked you why you came to Navi before, and you said it was because ‘b.u.t.terfly' and Pearson are working together to threaten your position, but ‘Specimen' was established many years before you even discovered the changes with ‘b.u.t.terfly'. You have been plotting to overthrow ‘b.u.t.terfly's' rule since a long time ago. Why?” Adrian enunciated each word as he asked, “What are you trying to achieve?”
Zhong Yan did not respond to him immediately. He returned the sleeping rabbit bun in his palm back onto his shoulder, while he stood up on the back of the giant rabbit. He turned his gaze to the starry sky above him and sighed almost tenderly. “The stars are so beautiful, only when you stand this high can you see the beauty of the scenery.”
Adrian's pupils constricted. He asked in a heavy voice, “Are you not standing high enough?”
Standing atop the giant rabbit's back, Zhong Yan lowered his eyes down to look upon Adrian from above. He held up a hand to his ribs—Adrian knew, right there was a shameful scar, and it was something left behind from Zhong Yan's unfortunate childhood.
“It's not high enough. The so-called twelve people at the peak of power aren't even standing on equal grounds. Even if we were…that is still not the peak. The peak is when you stand beneath just one, but above all others.” Zhong Yan's voice was very gentle. If the picture at this moment could be fixed in time, n.o.body would ever be able to think that what he was revealing at this moment, with that peaceful smile on his beautiful face, were words that contained human's greatest ambitions in this great era, in the vast Federation that consisted of thousands of planets. “It's too crowded for twelve people to stand together. I want the highest position that no one else can have.”
Even if it was Adrian, he was still caught speechless for a moment. With the giant rabbit laying on its side, Zhong Yan walked down from its hind legs and walked around the rabbit towards the direction of the house.
“Let's talk inside,” Zhong Yan said as he pa.s.sed Adrian.
Adrian followed silently behind him. When the two returned inside, Zhong Yan put the sleeping little rabbit from his shoulder lightly into the box. Then, he sat on the sofa opposite to Adrian.
As soon as he sat down, Adrian started to revolt, “You tricked them.”
“I've deceived everyone in this world besides you. Who are you talking about?”
No remorse could be seen from him at all. Adrian pressed down his anger and said, “Those pa.s.sionate people from ‘Specimen'. You used them to achieve your own selfish desires! They work so hard because they think they're overthrowing the AI, but they're actually helping you climb the ranks!”
“I do wish to rise up, but the premise of that is that the position can be taken up by humans in the first place. This isn't about deceiving them or not, ‘Specimen' has been established for more than four years, everything they've done was for the sake of pus.h.i.+ng towards human autonomy. And once that dream is realized,” Zhong Yan said, “Someone will have to rise up.”
“And it shouldn't be you.”
“Why can't it be me?”
“Because you're not fit for it!” Adrian spat out sharply, “You don't have the world in your heart, no righteousness, all you have is your own selfish desires!”
Zhong Yan was silent for a moment, but he suddenly said, “Don't you think you're being too harsh on me?”
“What?” Adrian repeated incredulously, “I am too harsh on you?”
Zhong Yan took a deep breath and said, “I've been in the Supreme Council for seven years, and I've never done anything to betray the world. I've never done anything unrighteous. If one day, I could sit on that position, I would definitely work hard for it. A saint is crowned for the work they do, not their desires, and you're asking me to be even more of a saint than a messiah! As long as the leader can manage his territory well, and benefit his people, what's the difference if the leader's heart is filled with his love for the world or for power? What difference is there whether his motives are for the sake of humanity, or just to consolidate his position?”
“It's different,” Adrian said coldly, “That's everything that's different about it.”
The look in Zhong Yan's eyes had also cooled. Sitting there, the expression on his face gradually faded, leaving only a flawless mask behind. He spoke softly, “And so what? You'll be the only one to know in this world. If big things can be achieved, and it comes time to count the merits, I would naturally…take it as an obligation.”
Adrian sneered, “Zhong Yan, you once told me I was naive, but I don't know which of us is worse in that regard—Do you really think that you can overthrow the system that has ruled human society for hundreds of years with just your play of intrigue alone? And then safely transition yourself into power? What we're talking about is to completely subvert an era, not the position of Student Council President that you and those senior brothers and sisters contended for in the Supreme Inst.i.tution! Didn't you come to investigate Navi's military? It seems that in any case, we are on the same boat for the following, limited period of time. Since you've come clean with me, I will come clean to you as well. Not long ago, Navi System has already ceased to exist.”
Zhong Yan was shocked. He asked, “What? What do you mean the Navi System does not exist anymore? Aren't we in the Navi System's capital right now?”
“This is the Navi Military Command, not the Navi System.”
The Federation currently consisted of a total of fifty-three star systems, and each of them would at least have one or more militarized planets. Such planets stationed in the federal army are called military commands.
Originally, the Navi System's militarized planets were some of the other planets in the system, but since Adrian occupied its council, the general headquarters were moved to the primary star, Naviland. As he thought about this, Zhong Yan slowly said, “Your current headquarters are now here, and this place is called a military command…makes sense.”
Adrian was still looking at him, but he did not speak.
This was the Navi Military Command, not the Navi System. Navi System…had long ceased to exist.
Zhong Yan gradually absorbed the information, and bit by bit, surprise floated up in his expression. He began slowly, “Navi System…The 53rd system…What about the other planets?”
Adrian did not answer directly, but instead revealed a cold smile. “The Capital has made the correct choice of not starting conflict with me.”
Zhong Yan murmured incredulously, “All the planets are now cla.s.sified as military commands?! How many troops and weapons do you have?”
“Aren't you overstepping your boundaries asking this, Mr. Councilor?” Adrian dwelled on the trivial matters. “Why don't you tell me what information or plans you have in your terminal instead?”
“How long do you think you've been the supreme commander for? I was just wondering why I'm the only one driving public opinion. Did you pour all your energy into developing your military power? The entirety of Navi, the entire star system, is filled with military troops?! What are you trying to do?”
“Mr. Representative Councilor, can't you tell what the signals mean with your keen political nose?”
Zhong Yan ignored his mocking tone, and couldn't help but stand up, shouting, “Adrian Yate! Are you crazy? Are you trying to start a coup?!”
Compared to Zhong Yan's agitation, Adrian was clearly the calmer one. He also stood up and took a step towards Zhong Yan. He looked down into Zhong Yan's furious eyes, and asked, “So, will you stand down?”