Guo Chunfeng’s sweat congregated into two pools below his feet, and he seemed to lose several pounds all of a sudden. He tapped on his portable crystal processor quickly, projecting more than ten light beams.
“Take a look, young brother. After the ‘expedition motion’ was paused, the Speaker issued an ‘ultimate order’ as the supreme commander of the federal army, ordering all troops on the Grand Desolate Plateau to quit the preparation for war and stand by in their respective garrisons. The troops from the south of the Grand Desolate Plateau to the Giant Blade Pass are now being summoned. Those participating in the drill from the north of the Grand Desolate Plateau to the Dark Desolate Domain will finish the drill and return to the bases soon.”
“How are you certain that the military will follow the ultimate order?” Li Yao asked.
“The ultimate order is directly sent to Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao and the commanders of every legion,” Guo Chunfeng explained. “The Iron Commander expressed his shock and replied that Duanmu Ming—the commander of the Dragon Horse Legion, who is also a Child of the Nether World—was already arrested. The commanders of the legions all indicated that they would obey the order and not attack easily.
“Powerful as the Patriots Partnership might be, and high as Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao’s prestige is, they are not enough to make dozens of commanders disobey the ultimate order at the same time!”
Li Yao thought quickly and asked, “How does the inland communicate with the Grand Desolate Plateau nowadays? As I recall, the Spiritual Nexus on the Grand Desolate Plateau has never been steady, has it? After the burn-everything-to-the-ground strategy was implemented, there are barely any towns on the Grand Desolate Plateau now. The only establishments left are military camps. How do you ensure the connection of the Spiritual Nexus?”
The communication between the inland and the Grand Desolate Plateau had always been a headache for the federation.
The Spiritual Nexus counted on the spiritual waves that were released by the spiritual towers, a type of special magical equipment.
The Grand Desolate Plateau had been given such a name because it was both ‘grand’ and ‘desolate’. On such a vast, unpopulated desert, it would consume astronomical resources to set up enough spiritual towers to build a network and maintain their daily operation.
To make matters worse, the Grand Desolate Plateau was also plagued by disasters, such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, earthquakes, and beast tides. Any disaster might cause serious damage to the spiritual towers.
Therefore, the Spiritual Nexus on the Grand Desolate Plateau was intermittent and unstable.
Ever since the federal army implemented the burn-everything-to-the-ground strategy, deciding to trade space for time, the Grand Desolate Plateau had essentially been abandoned, and the coalition army of demons had galloped on it without any obstacles.
The first things that the coalition army of demons destroyed were, of course, the spiritual towers, which were the most important nodes of communication.
Now, although the coalition army of demons had retreated to the Blood Demon Sector, the spiritual towers on the Grand Desolate Plateau had mostly been ruined and would not be reconstructed so easily.
In the north of the Grand Desolate Plateau, at the Dark Desolate Domain, which was the point of impact for the two worlds and boasted the most chaotic magnetic field, the situation was even worse.
Due to the tremendous spiritual waves that the spiritual towers released, they were like natural lightning conductors and always tended to attract all kinds of violent spiritual energy. Few spiritual towers were able to survive one month in the Dark Desolate Domain.
Therefore, the further one went north, the more difficult it would be to communicate. The Dark Desolate Domain was often off the network all year round.
Once upon a time, Li Yao had been trapped in the Thunderous Sound Mountain in the Dark Desolate Domain. It was exactly because of the absence of signals that he had needed to travel on his own for ten days and ten nights before he finally fled from the hunting squad of the silver-blood demons.
“For the joint drill, and to march into the depths of the Blood Demon Sector later, the federal army has developed a batch of highly-powerful, super-large spiritual towers on their own,” Guo Chunfeng said. “Such spiritual towers have been established on the Dark Desolate Domain and the north of the Grand Desolate Plateau as ‘communication bases’. Now, sixteen communication bases are working and responsible to relay messages.”
“It means that, controlling the sixteen bases will be grabbing the throat of communication between the capital city and the frontline, and whoever controls the bases can block all messages sent to the troops performing the drill or fake the replies of all the commanders of said troops, right?” Li Yao asked.
Guo Chunfeng pondered for a moment and said, “It is very difficult even in theory. All the commanders of the legions in the drill have their unique identification code. Other than them, the only one—”
“The only one who knows it is Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao, right?” Li Yao’s voice was cold.
Guo Chunfeng was silent for a long time. He shook his head slowly. “I don’t believe that Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao is a schemer. It’s not about his attitude but about his character.
“Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao is most famous for his valiance and straightforwardness in the federal army. He is definitely not sophisticated enough to prepare such a delicate trap!
“Don’t say that he has pretended to be ‘simpleminded’ for a hundred years to realize his ambitions. It must be noted that, until one year ago, he couldn’t have foreseen that the Imperium of True Human Beings would arrive at all or that a truce between mankind and the demon race would be struck. Was it necessary for him to hide his really personality for more than a hundred years?”
“The Iron Commander doesn’t have to be a schemer.” Li Yao nodded at the corner of the prison with his chin. “Because there is already a super schemer in the Patriots Partnership.
“Lu Zui is responsible for planning, and Iron Commander is in charge of the implementation and the desperate resort when the scheme is unveiled!
“For the two of them, one is good at thinking, and the other is good at fighting. They have their own disadvantages and advantages. Together, they are the two cores of the Patriots Partnership and the real guys behind the curtain!”
Guo Chunfeng’s face was even more awful than before. “An hour ago, about the time you woke up, Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao just sent back a message from the Dark Desolate Domain, claiming that the troops in the drill were engaged in a rarely-seen super thunderstorm. Three communication bases were destroyed, and most of the spiritual waves were jammed. He said, they wouldn’t be able to reach out to the inland for a long time. He asked us not to be anxious. The bases would be repaired soon. He would be sending signalmen to contact the rear in the meantime…”
Guo Chunfeng could not talk any more. They looked at each other and saw the shock in each other’s eyes at the same time.
“If what you said is truth, we are now in a bad situation!” Guo Chunfeng gnashed his teeth. “Right now, no towns or sects are left on the Grand Desolate Plateau. The Cultivators scattered on the Grand Desolate Plateau almost all belong to the military. We don’t know which of them work for Zhou Hengdao and which ones don’t at all!
“All the elite forces inland have been dispatched to the south and the East Ocean. It will take some time for them to return even if they are summoned immediately!
“The communication with the troops in the Dark Desolate Domain might be under the manipulation of Zhou Hengdao. Because of the super thunderstorm, we cannot even reach out to Burning Prairie. Our message cannot be sent at all!
“It is very possible that the thunderstorm is the work of the ‘weather troop’ under Zhou Hengdao’s command, which will last however long he wants it to last!
“Even if we send someone over right now, it will still take at least two to three days before they reach the troops—that is if the Iron Commander is not blocking them!
“Two to three days is enough for the Iron Commander to do a lot of things!”
Both of them trembled. They eyed Lu Zui as if he were a viper that had become all the more dangerous in its dying struggle!
Guo Chunfeng could not help but bellow, “What—what are you up to exactly?!”
“Hehe…” Lu Zui turned his face to them again. Cold brilliance was focused in his eyes again as he said casually, “Everything is just your speculation without any proof. I will not acknowledge anything. If you are capable enough, why don’t you ask Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao on the Grand Desolate Plateau?
“However, as a mind game, I would like to infer what will happen next for you, assuming that what you said is true.”
Lu Zui stood straight and stretched out his arms. He had freed himself from the craziness, desperation, and frustration yesterday and regained the calmness, nonchalance, and resolution of the old days. His level did not plunge. Instead, he was even more unwavering than before. Walking to Li Yao and Guo Chunfeng, he smiled.
The smile made Li Yao’s and Guo Chunfeng’s pupils contract violently.
“First of all, as you said, the elite forces in the world of Cultivators have been dispatched to the south and the East Ocean, with no way of coming back in one to two days.
“The messages from the Grand Desolate Plateau have been blocked, too. It is impossible to contact the troops via the Spiritual Nexus.
“The only solution is to send someone with an ‘ultimate order’ to catch up to the troops in the Dark Desolate Domain, but how many days will it take?
“Before that, Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao might have found a suitable excuse to march into the Blood Demon Sector!
“He doesn’t need too many troops. He doesn’t need four crystal suit legions and twenty general legions. All he need is one or two legions that obey his order!
“For whatever reason the one to two legions march into the Blood Demon Sector, what will the follow-up troops do when they are engaged with the coalition army of demons? Will they wait and watch their brother troops get surrounded and annihilated by the enemy?
“No, they won’t. Not a single federal soldier will sit and watch their brothers get butchered by demons!
“The follow-up troops will have no choice but to reinforce them. Even Burning Prairie will march into the Blood Demon Sector to rescue the compatriots who are trapped!
“Alright, after the four crystal suits legions, the twenty general legions, and the strongest warship of the three Sectors all enter the Blood Demon Sector, what will the federal army in the rear do?
“It must be noted that the troops in the drill don’t have many supplies. Without the support from the back, they will certainly be wiped out after they run out of ammunition and food!
“Therefore, the rear has no options except to reinforce them!
“Hehe. It’s like a giant that is mired in a swamp. Perhaps only one of his legs is trapped in the beginning. But the more he struggles, the more he is swallowed, until he is completely drowned in the end!
“My dear misters in the capital city, what can you do after you know all this, even if you are well aware that it is a scheme of the Patriots Partnership?
“The war has begun. Tens of thousands of soldiers have been killed. On the Blood Demon Sector’s side, many villages and towns might’ve already been demolished by us, with even more casualties. By then, can you still bring about a ceasefire and shamelessly offer condolences, claiming that everything is just a misunderstanding?
“Believe me. Even the calmest, most prudent Speaker Jiang Hailiu won’t make a second choice under such circumstances. He can only curse loudly in his heart but cover up the truth with a seemingly honorable reason, finishing the rest of the world war!”