“At 1:22 p.m., Vulture Li Yao was detected by the first blockage squad. The two parties were engaged three minutes later. Li Yao executed seven and heavily wounded nine before breaking through the defense line!
“At 1:39 p.m., Li Yao reached the second defense line and turned the temporary mobile air defense bastion into an ocean of fire. Twenty-five crystal tanks were destroyed. Unable to estimate whether or not Li Yao was wounded!
“At 1:55 p.m., Vulture Li Yao and the ‘Wild Sandstorm’ crystal warship of the third blockage squad encountered. ‘Wild Sandstorm’ was pierced through from the head to the rear. All the parts from the bridge to the engine compartment to the warehouse were seriously wrecked. It lost all the moving and fighting abilities!
“Up to this point, in only half an hour, Li Yao pierced through three defense lines and has reached the edge of the Dark Desolate Domain!”
The messages sent back through the secret communication channel of the Patriots Partnership cast the three of them in silence. Looking at each other, they all saw a shadow that was as scourging as fire in each other’s eyes and how it was rushing unstoppably, slaying everything in its way in the middle of the lightning and clouds!
Nothing seemed able to stop the shadow from marching into the Dark Desolate Domain!
As the captain of the guards for the Chief of the General Staff of the federal army, Zhou Tieyi was an expert in the Core Formation Stage, too. Over the past few decades, he had experienced hundreds of battles large and small and survived all of them. He was definitely an out-and-out tough man!
Even so, thick sweat was still popping out of the forehead of the tough man as he watched Li Yao’s accomplishments so far. His face pale, he asked, “Major Jiang, how—how is it possible? He penetrated through the three defense lines that we carefully prepared in only half an hour?”
“Exactly!” Major Jiang, who was the liaison officer sent by Lu Zui, nodded gloomily. “According to the latest intelligence, Vulture Li Yao is now only one step away from the Nascent Soul Stage. Also, he boasted an ultimate flying sword that is amazingly fast. Our armed shuttles and Exos couldn’t catch him. He took them all unprepared and rushed through all three defense lines!
“Now, he is rushing at the edge of the Dark Desolate Domain. Although his speed might be lowered because of the super thunderstorm, it is possible that he will find us in the next two to three hours if we don’t stop him.
“By then, whether a fight takes place near Burning Prairie or he successfully delivers the message to Burning Prairie and the legions nearby, it will be quite a nuisance!
“Thankfully, his companions are not as fast as him. According to our men on the Grand Desolate Plateau, he was leading the vanguard on his own, and those behind him are three to four hours away from him. The time gap should be enough!
“He is certainly not unharmed after breaking through the three defense lines. As long as he is killed, there will be enough time for Burning Prairie to perform a jump. Our plan is definitely going to work out!”
Zhou Tieyi opened his mouth. He looked at Major Jiang and Zhou Hengdao, only to come up with nothing.
Zhou Hengdao smiled. “Yes, as long as Li Yao is killed, everything will be back on track—that is what you’ve been saying since the beginning!
“However, in the Federal Square, in the wasted factory, and in the East Ocean, when we still had two Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators and more than ten Core Formation Stage Cultivators, was he ever killed?
“Now, he has broken through the three defense lines. Our strength is running low. Most of the ‘patriots’ need to control the troops and jam the communications. Who do we have to kill Li Yao?”
“Iron Commander!” Major Jiang narrowed his eyes, with intimidating aura leaking out of his every pore. He gnashed his teeth. “Don’t forget that we still have several boxes of cannonballs of the Demon God Virus that are applicable to real battles!
“Activate the last plan! Move a legion to block Li Yao. When the two parties are engaged, bombard the legion with the Demon God Virus immediately and transform all the soldiers into ‘uncontrollable mutants!
“Then, Li Yao will also be corrupted by the Demon God Virus!
“Even if he is lucky enough not to be corrupted by the virus, he will still be harassed by the thousands of ‘uncontrollable mutants’. There’s no way that he will be able to free himself in only a few hours!”
The proposal was like a gale from the deepest depths of hell, chilling both Zhou Hengdao and Zhou Tieyi.
Zhou Hengdao looked at Major Jiang in a daze, full of anger, disappointment, and disgust, as if he had seen clearly Major Jiang’s true face as well as the true face of all the ‘patriots’ including Lu Zui and even himself, for the first time.
Zhou Hengdao stepped back and murmured, “You—you want me to attack thousands of brothers of the federal army and transform them into ‘uncontrollable mutants’?”
“There’s no time to hesitate, Iron Commander!” Major Jiang slashed his hand down. “They are the last sacrifices. We will win as long as Li Yao is stalled for a few hours! We can blame it on the demons later! After all, we are very close to the Blood Demon Sector. Everybody will believe it if we claim that the Demon God Virus has leaked from the Blood Demon Sector!”
“I will not do it.” Zhou Hengdao seemed to have struggled out of a prolonged nightmare. Taking a long breath, he shook his head. “Major, you have gone too far no matter how you look at it.”
“Iron Commander, are you going to abandon our cause at the last moment?” Major Jiang took off his hat and shouted, “So many brothers have paid with their sweat, blood, honor, and life to make us arrive at the edge of the war. Now, with this last insignificant price, our cause will succeed! Are you going to back off at such a moment and let the traitors such as Li Yao and Jiang Hailiu laugh to the end?”
“Major!” Zhou Tieyi stepped forward and stopped between him and Zhou Hengdao, roaring, “Watch our your attitude! You are speaking to a general!”
“Yes, General. Please reconsider!” Major Jiang’s face was red. Like an animal that was pushed to a dead end, he was roaring crazily, “There is no going back now. The future of the federation is on our shoulders! If we pity the lives of thousands of soldiers right now, billions of our compatriots will die tomorrow! Give the order. My men are preparing the Demon God Virus. We can definitely stop Li Yao. Definitely!”
Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao looked at Major Jiang quietly. His eyes were more and more indifferent and tranquil. Half a minute later, he shook his head slowly but resolutely before he said, one word after another, “No, Major Jiang. I cannot give such an order! Now, as the Chief of the General Staff of the federal army, and the leader of the Patriots Partnership, I order you to stop preparing the Demon God Virus and to refreeze the cannonballs that contain the virus!”
Major Jiang stared at him for a long time. He bit his lips so hard that black blood was flowing out. His anger was obvious in his silence.
“Major, carry out the order!” Zhou Tieyi roared from the side. “Are you defying the general?”
Major Jiang laughed in his fury. He gradually put on a scornful smile, and there was unmistakable disappointment in his eyes. “I didn’t know that, at the critical moment when the fate of our motherland is about to be decided, what Iron Commander cannot let go of are still his integrity and position! Fine then. The Iron Commander may care about those things, but we who have sworn to follow Director Lu don’t!
“Iron Commander, prepare the space jump now. Your hands need not be tarnished by the accident. The ‘patriots’ of the Secret Sword Bureau will see that everything is done!
“Later, all the curses will go to us, and all the glory will be yours and the federal army’s!”
He did not even salute before he turned around and opened the door angrily.
“Captain Zhou!” Zhou Hengdao asked subconsciously. Before he called, Zhou Tieyi, the captain of the guards, had already lunged out!
Everything happened in just half a second.
Zhou Hengdao lunged forward barehanded. Perhaps he only meant to get Major Jiang under control.
But Major Jiang, who was at his wit’s end, was like a heavily wounded animal that was highly dangerous.
Realizing that somebody was attacking him from behind, Major Jiang unsheathed a dagger out of natural instincts and stabbed at Zhou Tieyi’s ribs from below!
Qualified to be the liaison officer of the ‘patriots’ in the Secret Sword Bureau and the federal army, Major Jiang was one of Lu Zui’s most trusted subordinates. He was also an expert who had received the harsh training of the Secret Sword Bureau for decades. The attack was soundless and aimed directly at the heart.
Maybe, his attack was merely a deterrence, and he did not really want to pierce through Zhou Tieyi’s heart but only hoped to push him back.
After all, they were both ‘patriots’, and they were at a critical moment!
But it was impossible to find out the answer now because the moment he picked up the dagger and stabbed backward, Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao appeared next to him as fast as lightning, clutched his jaws with the pair of iron hands, and twisted.
His vertebrae exploding, Major Jiang’s head was turned by 180 degrees and reversed to his back, staring at the Iron Commander and the captain of his guards in devastation.
Gulu! Gulu! Gulu!
Pink bubbles of blood were flowing out of his open mouth. A lot of questions seemed to be popping up from the bubbles as the guy berated the Iron Commander’s betrayal.
Zhou Hengdao held Major Jiang from falling down. He closed the guy’s eyes and then twisted his head to the normal direction. In the end, he patted his shoulder and said, “Take a rest, brother. Maybe we can all use some rest.”
The dead body cramped and collapsed to the ground.
Looking at the body, Zhou Hengdao and Zhou Tieyi were caught in silence.
The portable crystal processor on the wrist of the body was still displaying messages about Li Yao nonstop.
Vulture Li Yao was getting closer and closer.
Lost for words for a long time, the captain of the guards asked with a bitter smile, “Iron Commander, what do we do now?”
Zhou Hengdao gazed at the unstoppable red spot on the light beam.
For a moment, his aura was so unprecedently weak that Zhou Tieyi almost thought that he was going to surrender.
But the next moment, the most dazzling brilliance beamed out of his artificial eye and his natural eye at the same time. His aura flooded out like a torrent and established an invisible realm that felt like an indestructible pillar around him!
“Help me prepare my crystal suit, Ah Tie,” Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao said casually. “Prepare my ‘Basaltic Fighting God Battlesuit’!”