No Money to Divorce
First Published on Chaleuria
There was only half a month to go before the official implementation of the “Honor Decree”, and Zhong Yan has decided to return to the Capital before then. In the days he spent packing his luggage, both real-life society and the virtual community was in a mess. Every entrance of Lebor’s borders had long lines of private spacecrafts waiting to enter. The Navi Military Command had to double the troops in Lebor to prevent any problems from rising up in this mess.
Naturally, when the voices of opposition emerges in the implementation of new laws, there are going to be supporters as well. Only this time, the only people who can truly support the new law were all people who either held rights or those who could find benefit in the decree. Otherwise, they would be the extremely conservative who have their mind set on the AI. Unfortunately, the number of these groups were not large. Zhong Yan found that he barely needed to put any effort to control the public’s opinion.
From the second day on, protests began to start in various places. On the third day, the Supreme Institution finally spoke up. They announced on their homepage that the Federation’s Supreme Institution will never allow their graduates only two choices of only accepting their proposals, or going to jail. With immediate effect, all faculty and students will go on strike. The day of the “Honor Decree’s” implementation will be the day they announced their official merger with the Navi System.
This was definitely a serious threat. It caused a great uproar as soon as it was issued. However, no matter how resounding the Supreme Institution’s name was, it was still just one school. But in the following minutes, the top universities in each star system issued similar noticed. It did not take very long for more than half of the top 100 universities within the Federation to issue strikes and statements about leaving the Capital government’s jurisdiction.
The entire world was broiling in chaos. Mankind has kept peace and prosperity going on for so long that there was no need to mentioning anyone currently living having not experienced such turbulence in the past, they had never even heard of such happenings. Not even from their own seniors. These were things they would only hear their teachers mention in history class when they talked about the distant wars in ancient history. Everyone thought that it was such a faraway thing, and only ever related to their coming exams.
Intron walked down the hallways of the Supreme Council’s main building in a hurry.
In these past two days, everyone in the Supreme Council had been flooded with work. However, the atmosphere was strange. The new “Honor Decree” announced by “Butterfly” turned the Supreme Council into a target for public criticism, and two of the Twelve had also clarified their stance on the “Honor Decree”, even going as far as issuing blatant accusations against the AI. There was no need to mention the people, even the members within the council working inside this building couldn’t help secretly whispering to each other, and watching the scene unfold with their own different opinions.
“Councilor Gines, heading off?”
Just as Intron was about to leave through the front door, he bumped into Bard Pearson and his two bodyguards who had just returned to the council house from outside. He was already seventy this year but he still looked hale and hearty. He had a humble-looking square face, but his small slanted eyes added a bit of fierceness to it.
“Councilor Zhong Yan is away and his no.1 assistant seems rather free. You’re getting off this early?” Pearson had on a shallow smile as he spoke and the way he said that hinted at his superiority complex, which felt very unpleasant.
Normally, when you’re only dealing with paperwork, you’d rarely have to come around personally to hand in the documents. What’s more, with the recent addition of the frequent protests, everyone was busy working overtime or going to meetings. Ths building would constantly be brightly lit even though the nights. Moreover, it’s a sunny afternoon right now, so there was practically nobody in the lobby.
“Of course I’m free,” Intron said matter-of-factly. “Isn’t everyone on overtime working on the ‘Honor Decree’? Sir Zhong has already issued a statement that he has nothing to do with this new law. I’m his assistant, so how would I have any overtime?”
To think that this bespectacled young man with short curls could face Pearson without any fear. It is truly as they say, young calves fear no tigers. Even Pearson’s two bodyguards couldn’t help but throw a glance at him.
Pearson had only seen him as Zhong Yan’s assistant prior to this and wanted to take a jab at him, but he never expected to get a comeback from this youngster who had graduated just a few years ago, and so calmly at that. However, if he were to bicker with this blonde brat right in front of the council house with his standing, that would be too unsightly. He observed Intron fiercely for a moment before spitting out the words “You’ve really learned from Councilor Zhong Yan” and left proudly with his men.
Intron rolled his eyes at him and walked out of the council house.
While on the road, his terminal suddenly rang. He cut off the connection until he reached home before connecting the shielding device to his terminal. Then, he dialed back the number that could not be displayed.
Intron had just greeted him with “Sir Zhong” when the other side cut straight to the point. “Who told them to leave the Capital’s jurisdiction? Didn’t our lecturer get the plans from the store?”
“He did. The lecturer brought up your plans as his own, but…” Intron knew Zhong Yan was going to ask him this. He was put into a difficult position, but he still had to explain. “They, the professors, the student union, and the leaders and student leaders have all thought that your plan was too…prudent.”
“Too prudent?” Zhong Yan scoffed. “We have to be prudent if we want to keep our skins! They want to transfer over to Navi just as soon as the ‘Honor Decree’ is implemented? I’ll give them props for having that idea! Let’s not mention the other schools, even the Institution Star alone is separated 6 entire star systems away from Navi! How are they going to handle things if the Capital wouldn’t compromise no matter what? Do they really think that the Capital’s attitude will be the same as they are towards Lebor who’s just at the border of Navi? Who is the current Student Council President in the Supreme Institution? He can’t even think about the consequences of his actions, how did he become…”
Zhong Yan rarely ever spoke in such a harsh tone. Intron knew that he was only worried that if the Supreme Council takes the lead in these radical protests, that the Capital will only try to use even more radical tactics against them. Therefore, he had prepared a sufficiently smooth plan ahead of time that made sure they could easily pull out whenever they needed to. But these hot-blooded youngsters wouldn’t look quite so far ahead as Zhong Yan did. For them, they were struggling for themselves, their school, and the freedom and dignity of all of humanity. They will regret none of this even in death. This is the passion and spirit of youth.
Intron had been working for Zhong Yan for nearly two years. He understood Zhong Yan’s concerns very well, but he was also a young man who had just left school for just a few years and devoted himself to the resistance movement. So, he could fully understand why the students made this decision. He could only listen to Zhong Yan’s rare bout of yelling with a bitter smile on his face. But before Zhong Yan could finish, he heard the voice of another man with a deeper voice interrupt him. “Just talk business if you have to. What are you tearing up their Student Council President for?”
Intron froze for a moment. What’s this? Someone’s beside Zhong Yan? But before he could react to who that familiar voice belonged to, he heard Zhong Yan turn the muzzle at the man and asking, “What, do you admire that Student Council President so much?”
“No, not at all,” that man quickly denied. A hint of amusement could be heard in his voice. “It’s not like I have any special complexes for the Student Council President. But love a man, love his house too…right?”
Only then did Intron realize that the owner of the voice was Adrian. That made sense. Intron glanced over to the clock. It was already late at night in Navi. It’s normal for Zhong Yan to be with his partner…
…As if! How many people in the Federation actually believes that Adrian Yate and Zhong Yan actually sleep together at night? Even Intron himself believes that they had only come to some kind of mutual cooperation agreement at most. After all, the two of them have been clean after staying under the same roof for three whole years. And they had been kicking up a fuss with each other for so many years too. Not to mention, Intron has been fully committed to the anti-AI camp since his days as a student. Naturally, he held deep admiration for the poster boy Adrian and knew about his personality to some extent. Intron believed that he was a good judge of people. It’s not very likely that someone with Adrian’s personality would like someone as proud as Zhong Yan—Of course, Intron has no idea that Zhong Yan was the very opposite of proud when he was with Adrian.
But the fact is that the two of them were still together at this hour. Then there was only one possibility…
“Are you spending the whole night discussing the countermeasures with Commander Yate?” Intron asked, feeling touched.
“Discussing for the whole night?” Zhong Yan was confused to hear him mention this and felt that something was not quite right with that sentence. “Indeed, we were talking about that just now…That counts, right?”
Adrian asked cheerfully, “What counts?”
“Don’t interrupt,” said Zhong Yan helplessly.
Intron suddenly felt that something was not quite right here. Adrian could only hear what Zhong Yan was saying, but not Intron. Zhong Yan obviously wasn’t such an open person, meaning that Zhong Yan had to keep the terminal’s speaker by his ear. Even though the terminal could receive audio inputs from all around, you could still hear a difference in distance even if two people were sitting shoulder to shoulder. But why did Adrian’s voice sound…so close?
“Intron,” Zhong Yan’s voice dragged Intron back from his thoughts. Adrian had interrupted them twice, but Zhong Yan seemed calm. “Keep a close eye on the Supreme Council, see if they have any signs of conceding to the schools. If they still haven’t done so by tomorrow, then contact Vahl. Tell him to bring up a delay…No, I’ll do it myself. I’ll bring up the idea of postponing the decree. Tell them to prepare the first draft tonight, and send it to me tomorrow morning.”
“Yes, Sir Zhong.”
Zhong Yan hung up the call. Adrian had been holding him in his embrace this whole time, so he relaxed his body and leaned back on Adrian’s chest.
“Can we sleep yet? I’m dead tired.” Adrian moved his head down and spoke by Zhong Yan’s ear. When he spoke, his lips rubbed against Zhong Yan’s ears, causing the sensitive Zhong Yan to flinch in his arms.
“I said I’d make the call in the study so you could sleep, but you said no.”
“That won’t do, I can’t fall asleep if I’m not holding you.”
Zhong Yan knew that he was worried he would catch a cold in the night away from the warm blanket and that he was just fawning over him with his words, but he felt sweet inside. Then, his quiet voice began, “I’m afraid I’ll have to leave early with all this going on.”
“It’s fine.” Adrian could hear the reluctance in his voice. He comforted him, “We have to be separated for a short while now, but it’s all so we can stay together for the long-term after.”
But they did not expect that the only one to leave temporarily would not just be Zhong Yan on the next day.
Before Zhong Yan’s proposal to postpone the “Honor Decree” could be edited, he received a secret report stating that the Capital has decided to use force to suppress the protests in the universities.