Zhou Tieyi was dazed. His breath was scorching as he stammered, “Iron Commander, what are you going to do?”
Although Zhou Hengdao was a seasoned warrior in the Nascent Soul Stage, although he had made his way to the commander of the federal army from a bottom-level private after two hundred years, seventy percent of his organs had been replaced by artificial ones. His veins and nerves had almost all been damaged, too, which resulted in the poor circulation of his spiritual energy. Also, he had worked in the office for more than ten years!
How good was Zhou Hengdao in fighting at this moment?
“I am tired. I’ve never been more tired.”
Zhou Hengdao sat back in his chair and gazed at the parade of the veterans in the capital city again. Touching the bloodstained dog tags in his hands, he said, “You know, Ah Tie, I have never been a man good at plots and schemes. Even after I was nominated as the Chief of the General Staff of the federal army, it has always been my ideology to fight straightforwardly in head-on clashes, breaking before bending!
“If I’m faced with a demon beast, I will crush it with my army.
“If I’m faced with a demon army of millions of demons, and I have only several remaining soldiers with me, I will still lead them to crush over the enemy!
“This is the path of me, Zhou Hengdao!
“Over the past few months, there have been so many plots and schemes, so many lies, betrayals, and deceptions, and so many traps that were linked with each other… all those things made me feel awful!
“Ah Tie, at this moment, do you still believe that our ideology is correct?”
“Of course!” Holding his chest high, Zhou Tieyi replied resolutely, “It is impossible, and unnecessary, for human beings and demons to live in peace! Now that we’ve been given a rarely-seen opportunity to wipe out all the demons, why shouldn’t we seize it? We are absolutely correct. Everything is for the national interests of the Star Glory Federation!”
“Yes.” Looking at Major Jiang’s body on the ground that had not gone cold yet, Zhou Hengdao’s eyes were firmer and firmed. “Like you, at this moment, when I sort through the whole thing in the most rational and the calmest way, I still persist in the answer—we are right! Our endeavor will ensure the national interests of the federation to the largest extent!
“But then, I’m baffled by one question.
“If we are right and the real patriots, Jiang Hailiu is an idiotic, incapable chicken, and Li Yao is a vicious traitor, why…
“Why are we hiding ourselves like rats in a sewer? Why can’t we set our plans to the public? Why do we have to achieve our purpose through lies, deception, and schemes?
“Why can Li Yao, a guy who is naïve enough to be fooled by the demons, show up in public openly, demonstrate his stance openly, and receive the applause of the people openly?
“What is it that has gone wrong? Must our belief be clandestine?”
The question was too complicated for Zhou Tieyi, who was nothing more than a warrior. Lost for words for a long time, he managed to reply, “People are fooled by Li Yao and the lies of the demon race!”
“But at the very least, Li Yao didn’t kill so many innocent victims, or rather, he killed none!” Iron Commander Zhou Hengdao waved his hands sadly. “Forget it. The question is too sophisticated. Not just you, even I don’t know where we went wrong in retrospect now that I am mired deeper and deeper in this.
“I’m just thinking about one thing. If we hadn’t played so many plots and tricks since the beginning and simply proposed our plans openly, would the situation have been different?
“Or maybe, when Li Yao returned to the Heaven’s Origin Sector, I should’ve marched over and had a duel with him immediately. Wouldn’t it have been better than this?”
“Iron Commander! What…” Zhou Tieyi asked anxiously, “What are you planning to do?”
“As I said, I feel awful because of the ruses of the previous months. This is Lu Zui’s path, not mine!” Zhou Hengdao opened his right hand. Spiritual energy flowed out of his body and turned into scarlet fire after being enhanced by the crystals in his artificial limb.
However, the fire seemed to have been mixed with a lot of impurities. It was bouncing up and down in creaking noises, as if it would perish at any moment.
“Look. The fire is like my belief, which has been corrupted by too many distracting thoughts and is about to collapse.” Zhou Hengdao smiled with a pale face. Suddenly, he crushed the fire of spiritual energy into pieces!
In a moment, he seemed to be somebody else and was nothing like before. A brand-new fire of spiritual energy, one that was more dazzling, scorching, and unwavering, as if a whole army was residing inside, rushed out of his palm!
Zhou Hengdao clenched the new fire of spiritual energy, which entangled his body like a slippery snake and enshrouded him in the most brilliant halo. He waved his hands brutally and bellowed, “Damn all the schemes and tricks! I am not a spy of the Secret Sword Bureau; I am a soldier of the federal army walking in the daylight! Let me finish the whole thing once and for all with Li Yao in a soldier’s way!
“Prepare my ‘Basaltic Fighting God Battlesuit’. Then, bring your men and control Major Jiang’s subordinates. Seal all the cannonballs that store the Demon God Virus!
“In an hour, I will slay Li Yao and return to Burning Prairie. Then, we will march into the Blood Demon Sector and annihilate all the wretched demons!”
“Iron Commander!” Zhou Tieyi found it difficult to breathe. Pondering for a long time, he said, “Ye Changkong and Diwu Jian, two Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators, have been defeated by Li Yao. They are all the top-tier experts of the Heaven’s Origin Sector!”
“Are you suggesting that I’m no match for him?” Zhou Hengdao said coldly. “Yes, because of the tremendous wounds I suffered in my early life, my capability in the recent decades is not half as good as before. If I am engaged in a head-on fight with Ye Changkong or Diwu Jian, I may be no match for them!
“But what is Li Yao’s condition right now?
“Don’t forget that, according to our intelligence, however strong Li Yao’s so-called ‘superlative height of the Core Formation Stage’ is, it cannot be higher than the middle level of the Nascent Soul Stage! He has been invincible in the three Sectors only because of the enhancement of the super Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit!
“His crystal suit is made of the body scraps of Skeleton Dragon, which was a deadly demon from forty thousand years ago; the weapon system of the Dragon King Battlesuit, which is the best crystal suit of the Flying Star Sector; and the biochemical technology of the Blood Demon Sector!
“His crystal suit can at least improve his combat ability by thirty percent!
“The crystal suit, however, was already seriously worn in the battle with Diwu Jian before it suffered a full-strength strike from the Three Stars Slant Moon Cannon! He definitely didn’t have time to repair it in the urgency!
“He rushed for tens of thousands of kilometers, broke through three defense lines, and blew up a crystal warship. How could he be utterly unharmed?
“Li Yao at this moment is definitely running out of spiritual energy and suffering from heavy wounds. His crystal suit must be on the verge of destruction, too!
“Didn’t you say that evil never laughs to the end? Didn’t you believe that the heavens’ will is on our side? If that is the case, is there any reason I cannot defeat Li Yao?”
Zhou Hengdao’s aura almost ripped the captain of the guards apart like roaring tides. Zhou Tieyi panted for a long time and gnashed his teeth. “Iron Commander, we will go with you!”
“Don’t you see, Ah Tie?” Zhou Hengdao said in a sad smile, “This is the ‘competition of the righteous path’ between me and Li Yao! If our belief is correct, I will certainly be able to execute him!
“On the contrary, if I do not have the courage to face Li Yao, who is heavily wounded and who is running out of spiritual energy, and I have to ask someone else to attack him together, will I still be qualified to insist that ours is the correct path?
“Besides, Cultivators from the Flying Star Sector are no fools. How can you explain if so many high-ranked officers are moved away at once?
“Without the ‘patriots’, it is impossible to control the soldiers. Should there be anything wrong, they will immediately be disorganized!”
Zhou Tieyi wanted to say something more, but Zhou Hengdao simply waved his hands and stopped him. “That’s all for now. Time is all that matters here. Say no more!
“Prepare my crystal suit now. Then, tell Luo Xingzi that I will brief the defense plans in the legions nearby while there is still time!
“After that, control Major Jiang’s people and seal all the cannonballs that carry the Demon God Virus. If anything goes wrong, destroy the cannonballs immediately! Do you understand?”
“Captain, this is an order!”
Four eyes that were as tough as iron collided in midair, raising invisible sparks. Zhou Hengdao smiled in relief. He took out a jade chip from his pocket and handed it over to his nephew.
“If our belief is the correct one, I will certain win the ‘competition of the righteous path’ and execute Li Yao!
“Then, along with our hundred thousand brothers, we will stomp on the Blood Demon Sector with our iron feet!
“However, if I am executed by Li Yao…”
In tears, Zhou Tieyi bellowed, “Iron Commander, it’s impossible!”
“Why are you crying if it’s impossible? Are you not confident in our path at all?” Zhou Hengdao scolded. “Listen up. If I am killed by Li Yao, you can… do things as you see fit! The general principle is that none of our brothers are to attack each other, and no innocent ordinary people are to be involved anymore!”
“Understood!” Zhou Tieyi stood at attention and saluted so hard that his finger almost pierced into his temple.
“Also, try to deliver the jade chip to Director Lu through the secret channel.”
Zhou Hengdao gave the jade as well as the eight bloodstained dog tags to Zhou Tieyi. They were so heavy that the captain of the guards almost couldn’t hold them up.
“Director Lu? He is hopeless now! What’s this?”
Zhou Tieyi was greatly baffled.
Of course, the Patriots Partnership still had underground forces in the capital city, but the price would still be very high to deliver a jade chip to the most heavily guarded prison in secret.
What was the item that deserved such a price?
“It is hope.” Zhou Hengdao looked toward the south. There was no telling whether he was staring at Li Yao or someone even further down south. “Maybe, this will be the last hope for the Patriots Partnership to rise again and stand at the peak of the new federation in daylight!
“Alright. Carry out the orders. I can’t wait to block Li Yao’s path now!”