Guo Chunfeng suddenly shivered. “Young brother, why did you say that?”
Lu Zui, who was crouching in the corner with eyes closed like a monk, suddenly widened his eyes, with disbelief beaming out.
“Very simple. My experience!” Li Yao sneered. “I have travelled in the sea of stars for more than ten years. After bloody battles, large and small, and mysterious schemes, I have concluded an incontrovertible law of nature, which is—
“Wherever I go, as long as I’m involved in a scheme, the one behind it is always the local leading person of the righteous forces, one that always seems frank and outspoken!
“When I went to Iron Plateau, I was involved in the assassination of a chief and the internal strife of the six tribes. The one behind the curtain was Yan Xibei, the previous leading person of Iron Plateau!
“When I went to Heavenly Saints City, I was involved in the schemes of Iron Plateau and the coup of the Second Imperium. Eventually, it was Xiao Xuance, the leading person of the six sects of Heavenly Saints City and the strongest expert of the Flying Star Sector!
“When I was in the Blood Demon Sector, from the perspective of the demon race, the hiatus of the Red Tide Plan and the destruction of the Eye of Blood Demon was sort of a scheme, too, and it was planned by the leading person, Jin Tuyi, the nominal commander-in-chief of the demon army!
“Now, I’m already back in the Heaven’s Origin Sector, and I’m involved in the incident of the Patriots Partnership again. Isn’t it obvious who is behind the curtain? It’s certainly the leading person of the Star Glory Federation, the Speaker ‘Jiang Hailiu’!”
“…” Guo Chunfeng.
“…” Lu Zui.
Guo Chunfeng wiped off his sweat. “Young—young brother, you do have a marvelous way of thinking. However, do you have any valid proof?”
“Of course, I don’t suspect anybody randomly!” Li Yao replied confidently. “First of all, since the guy is capable of making Lu Zui sacrifice for him willingly, he must be on par with Lu Zui in position, if not higher! In the entire federation, few are qualified, but the Speaker is an exception!
“Secondly, don’t you think that Speaker Jiang woke up too uncannily, Brother Guo? It was exactly the moment when Lu Zui was revealed, and everything was settled. As a result, it was only natural for him to clean up the mess that Lu Zui left for him!
“Also, Speaker Jiang’s political career began from the Grand Desolate Plateau, but the city that he operated for more than ten years was demolished in the beast tide! Therefore, Speaker Jiang hates the demons’ guts, and he certainly has a motive to join the Patriots Partnership!
“In conclusion, the assassination of the Speaker was a show directed and starred by Jiang Hailiu himself. He cleared all suspicion in such a way! It would be best if Lu Zui’s plan went well. But if it didn’t, he could still jump out and proceed with the backup plan!
“Now, Lu Zui has thrown out a batch of nests of the Patriots Partnership, which distracted most of the experts in the federation to the south and the East Ocean. The forces near the capital city are weaker than ever. All the representatives and experts are suspecting whether or not someone else is a remnant of the Patriots Partnership. It is a mess!
“At this point, if Jiang Hailiu has an unexpected force under his control, he will be able to do whatever he wants!
“As expected of the Speaker. What a well-played game. He can’t possibly fail either way!”
Guo Chunfeng nodded quickly. “Very reasonable. Very reasonable. You are truly… Wait! There’s a minor problem. Suppose Speaker Jiang is truly another leader of the Patriots Partnership, why would he go through the unnecessary trouble?
“If he and Lu Zui were the leaders of the Patriots Partnership, since Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao has always been a simpleminded hawk, they would’ve been able to wage a war three months ago when the capital city suffered a beast tide? Why the fuss?
“At that time, most of the representatives voted for the war. It was because of the insistence of the minority, including Speaker Jiang, and the endorsement of the allies from the Flying Star Sector that the two parties were at an impasse. Eventually, Lu Zui was forced to set a trap and assassinate the Speaker!”
“Well, the question—” Li Yao smiled and blinked, his face rigid. “—is a good one! How could I have neglected such a loophole!”
“…” Guo Chunfeng.
“…” Lu Zui.
“Wait!” Li Yao’s nose flapped, as if he smelt something unusual from the air. His eyes shone as he asked suddenly, “Brother Guo, you mentioned a name just now… Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao!
“Right! Right! Right! I finally know why I always felt that something was off now!
“Before I returned to the Heaven’s Origin Sector, Jin Tuyi told me that there were three key people for the peace negotiation, namely Speaker Jiang Hailiu, Director Lu Zui, and Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao!
“But during the incident, after Lu Zui and Jiang Hailiu both played their roles, Lu Zui being the villain, and the Speaker being blown up the moment he showed up, which was not his fault, where was Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao?
“The capital city was a total mess a while back. Why did the seasoned general not come here and calm everybody down? He didn’t seem to exist at all, did he?”
Guo Chunfeng thought for a moment and said, “The entire federation was anxious after the Speaker was assassinated. The federal army was seething, too. To stabilize the military, the Iron Commander flew to the Grand Desolate Plateau in person that night to supervise the large-scale joint drill with the code name ‘Furious Fist’.”
Li Yao squinted. “The Speaker was assassinated during the day, and the Iron Commander went to the Grand Desolate and planned a drill at night? That was quite efficient!”
“Not exactly.” Guo Chunfeng explained, “The ‘Furious Fist’ drill was planned three months ago after the incident in the capital city. Four crystal suit legions and more than twenty general legions were involved. For the drill, several war bases have been established on the Grand Desolate Plateau.
“Real soldiers and real bullets were used in the drill. The scenario of the drill was that, after a large-scale war broke out, the federal army would march through the Dark Desolate Domain into the Nine Voids in the Blood Demon Sector, where they would establish a base and a beachhead for the follow-up troops.
“Therefore, the drill had long been prepared. It was only activated several days earlier because of the attack on the Speaker.
Li Yao swallowed and felt that his throat was burning. “Four crystal suit legions plus twenty general legions? Real soldiers with real bullets? Supervised by Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao in person? It means that the drill can be transformed into… a real attack at any minute, right?”
“Not likely.” Guo Chunfeng shook his head. “Although the drill is highly simulative, the ammunition and supplies that they bring will not be as many as in a real war. More importantly, the logistics department and the follow-up troops are not prepared at all.
“Even if so many legions march into the Blood Demon Sector, they don’t stand any chance of winning without reinforcements.”
“Is it possible that there are no reinforcements?” Li Yao looked at Guo Chunfeng gloomily. “Suppose the ‘simpleminded’ Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao really leads twenty legions into the Blood Demon Sector without caring about anything, will we simply wait and watch them to be killed?”
Guo Chunfeng shuddered and sweated hard. “Zhou Hengdao is truly a big shot in the military who enjoys unparalleled prestige, but the federal army is not his personal troop. It is the country that the soldiers pledge loyalty to but not a certain individual! All the soldiers know that it is a drill. How can Zhou Hengdao command all the legions to march into the Blood Demon Sector? Won’t that be a mutiny?”
Li Yao scratched his head hard. “It does make sense, but I still feel that something is wrong. Right. You mentioned that it is a ‘joint drill’. Who’s joining the drill?”
“Burning Prairie, the best warship of the three Sectors! One of the purposes of the ‘Furious Fist’ drill is to hone the teamwork between the warship of the Flying Star Sector and the army of the Heaven’s Origin Sector, as well as to integrate the two hundred thousand Grand Illusionary Soldiers into the federal army.
“Also, most of the marines on Burning Prairie are rookies as well, and the performance of Burning Prairie is not very steady itself. Both the crew and the warship have to be polished in a live drill!”
Burning Prairie used to be ‘Heavenly Phantom’, a crystal warship co-produced by the six sects of Heavenly Saints City and the Star Fighters’ Alliance only to be taken over by Xiao Xuance, the leader of the Immortal Cultivators.
Heavenly Phantom was Xiao Xuance’s biggest reliance in the insurgency. Naturally, he spared no efforts infiltrating Heavenly Phantom.
When the insurgency broke out, most of the marines on Heavenly Phantom had been Immortal Cultivators. The critical posts were almost exclusively controlled by them!
More importantly, the ‘star brain’, which was the mainframe crystal processor of Heavenly Phantom, had been under the control of the ‘star child’ from the Imperium of True Human Beings!
Therefore, after the insurgency was suppressed, the Heavenly Phantom left to the Flying Star Sector had been a mess. The mainframe crystal processor had been completely ruined, and most of the marines had been arrested and trialed. It was truly a sorry scene.
Heavenly Phantom was not recovered, repainted, and renamed as Burning Prairie until several years later.
However, it was much easier to repair a warship than to raise marines. It was also significantly more difficult to get a mainframe crystal processor that could replace the ‘star child’!
To resist the Imperium of True Human Beings’ invasion a hundred years later, the hundreds of sects of the Flying Star Sector united and established a new armed force named ‘Burning Prairie Fleet’, prepared to bring up a batch of best warriors from scratch!
Burning Prairie, as the first-generation flagship of the fleet, was naturally responsible for the education of the new soldiers.
Right now, half of the marines on Burning Prairie were veterans recruited from various space zones of the Flying Star Sector. They were experienced, but their cooperation was not yet flawless.
The other half of the marines were the boy scouts of Burning Prairie, who would grow up together with the super warship in the decades to come.
To match the computational ability of the ‘star child’, the mainframe crystal processors from the Star Ocean Imperium were moved out of the Star Prier’s House below the ground of Spider Den and made into a super computation array with more than ten state-of-the-art crystal processors produced in the Flying Star Sector.
Although the specifications were as good as the star brain, the stability was still a serious problem, and faults were occurring every now and then.
Therefore, Burning Prairie today did not have as a high combat ability as when Xiao Xuance was alive, especially in terms of stability and manipulability.
In light of that, the citizens of the Flying Star Sector delivered Burning Prairie to the Heaven’s Origin Sector, hoping that it could be polished and regain its top combat ability as soon as possible.
“Brother Guo, I have a feeling.”
Li Yao squatted slowly and scratched his hair hard. Staring at the expressionless Lu Zui in the corner, he mumbled, “Putting such a super warship, which is not stable enough and has half a crew of rookies, next to the veterans like ‘Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao’ who have been fighting bloody battles for two hundred years…
“… is like putting an ignorant, newborn tiger and a scarred, cunning wolf together. The former is definitely going to be tricked by the latter!”