However, even if the surrender agreement was truly signed, it was just the first step of an expedition to light years away.
The federation in the past only had hawks and radical hawks. Even Speaker Jiang Hailiu, who was often considered the most prudent, hated the demons’ guts and was in no way a pacifist who was scared of war.
The two parties had been fighting each other brutally for hundreds of years. The hatred could not be resolved easily by an agreement. For the leadership of the two Sectors, or maybe the three of them including the Flying Star Sector, how the people should live together in peace was quite a headache.
Other than the politicians, the specialists in the universities, think tanks, and research facilities, not restrained by their identities, had more freedom to propose their revolutionary ideas.
Whether human beings should live in peace with the demons or fight them, how human beings could live in peace with the demons, and how human beings should fight the demons if they decided to… all kinds of opinions were put forward and debated. Everybody seemed to be back to the period when the Flying Star Sector and the Imperium of True Human Beings had just been discovered, if not even more passionate.
After all, the arrival of the Imperium of True Human Beings would be a hundred years later, but the assimilation with the Blood Demon Sector was imminent.
At first, most of the people were hostile to the demons. Even after the truth about the explosions in the Federal Square were out and the Patriots Partnership surfaced, their attitude barely changed.
However, after the ‘same-origin’ theory was publicized, especially after the free transformation between human beings and demons was proved by Jin Xinyue, the Children of the Nether World, and the soldiers of the Flying Tigers Legion, even the most stubborn ‘human extremists’ had to lie low for a few days, reorganizing their defense and preparing new cannonballs for the debate.
Faced with the paradigm-shifting theory, all kinds of interesting thought experiments were invented.
“Now that the ‘same-origin’ theory has been proven, and some Cultivators can display the features of the ferocious animals after they practice certain techniques, what is the essential difference between human beings and demons?
“If there are two individuals, one being a human being who has been turned into the appearance of a human being by the Demon God Virus, and the other being a demon who now looks like a human being after being injected with excessive Divine Blood of Chaos, which of the two is the human being, and which is the demon?
“If the former is still the human being and the latter is still the demon, it means that the difference between human beings and demons lies in the heart but not the appearance. Then, here comes the question—how do you determine one’s heart?
“Since human beings and demons are of the same origin, and there is no ‘reproductive isolation’ between the two parties, they can be married if they want. Then, are their offspring human beings or demons?
“Let’s say that a ‘half demon’, who is a child of a human being and a demon, is married to a human being. Then, his descendent will be a ‘quarter demon’. If his progeny all marry human beings, the blood of the demon race in their veins will become less and less. After how many generations can they be considered real human beings?
“Or maybe, are they not human beings at all as long as there is one billionth of the lineage of the demon race?
“With our advanced medical knowledge, the Heaven’s Origin Sector is able to perform the ‘foreign limb replantation’ procedure. If a human veteran has the arm of a demon transplanted, will he be a human being or a demon?”
The bizarre questions seemed to be absurd, child-like chatter, but they raised unabated debates in the most high-end think tanks and academic forums. Since most of the debates were livestreamed, the mind-troubling thought experiments were transmitted to every corner of the federation.
Citizens of the federation, after five hundred years of bloody battles, all paid attention to national affairs, some more than others. As for the Cultivators, they were almost all reflecting on the questions that concerned their beliefs because of the responsibility on their shoulders.
In that moment, it suddenly occurred to the people of the Heaven’s Origin Sector that ‘executing demons’ meant something vastly different in the new era.
Although such ‘thought experiments’ were not enough to eradicate their hatred, the voice that demanded an immediate battle to slaughter all the demons with the virus had been significantly weakened, if it still existed at all.
Even the most obstinate extremists, when faced with the newborn babies of the demons who were identical to those of human beings and knowing that they could be transformed into human beings, were not brazen enough to call for a ‘slaughter’ now.
That was basically the situation among the politicians and in the academic circle.
However, for the general students and citizens, their focus was not the fancy ‘competition of beliefs’ but things that were more mundane, concrete, and practical, such as…
“How touching. How touching it is!” Si Mao, the little fat boy, sobbed and went to Guo Xiaohe. “Xiaohe, my heart is melting. Please give me a hug!”
“No problem. Come on!”
Guo Xiaohe opened her arms, too, and turned to the fat boy, only to crawl below the fat boy’s arms the moment before they reached each other. She also kicked his big, fat bottom hard.
Behind the place where Guo Xiaohe was standing was a bearded, muscular man.
The muscular man was also sobbing hard. Seeing that the fat boy was staggering at him, he opened his arms and shouted, “Our heroes are finally home. They’re home now!”
Being bearhugged by the muscular man, the fat boy nearly vomited the food that he had eaten last night.
Guo Xiaohe and the other few girls burst into laughter. Dodging other boys who were asking for hugs, they took each other’s hands and ran out of the crowd.
The boys whose scheme had been seen through were not in the least embarrassed. They shrieked and chased after them. After going through all the trouble to free himself from the arms of the muscular man, Si Mao ran up again like a bear who was trying to steal some honey. The bunch of young people were laughing and playing in the middle of the layer of golden leaves.
A moment later, they sat in one row on the steps next to the square, drinking beverages, shaking their legs, and watching the clouds in the sky.
Guo Xiaohe pouted her lips and said, “Anyways, the war is not going to happen for now. The emergency mobilization of the federal army has been aborted. Our dream of joining the army is now at a dead end. We can only study dutifully and go to college now. How boring that is!”
“In fact…” Si Mao scratched his hair for a moment and hesitated before he said, somewhat in embarrassment, “It is not very bad. My dad came home yesterday. He said that he will be staying at home for half a month. I hadn’t seen him for a long time. He was so thin that I could barely recognize him. It was quite pitiful.”
“Huh?” Guo Xiaohe pointed at the fat boy’s nose and observed in amazement, as if she had discovered a new continent. “Si Mao, you have always been the most radical of us all. Wasn’t it you who came up with the idea to join the army together? Didn’t you say that your father is a battle hero and you would be, too? Father and son slaying the demons together, wasn’t it your dream?”
“Hehe…” The fat boy chuckled in embarrassment. He scratched his head faster and faster. “I stand by what I said. However, after learning that my father’s troop was going to take part in the drill on the Grand Desolate Plateau and would probably be among the first echelon to march into the Blood Demon Sector, my mom didn’t sleep well for quite a few days. She found my dad’s photo and looked at it time and time again. One night, I even overheard her crying in the room.
“Starting from that day, I began to think that, if the demons insisted on a war, we should of course beat those son of bi*ches, but it wouldn’t be half bad if the war was no more and my father could return safe and sound to my mother.”
Guo Xiaohe was suspicious. “That is not what you said before!”
“I didn’t know that it would be like this before!”
“Si Mao is quite right,” another girl who had two ponytails said in a gentle voice. “My dad is not in the same troop as Si Mao’s dad, but he was in the drill, too. After he set off, my mom was praying at home day and night. She got hundreds of statues of deities, buddhas, and the experts of the past. My house was essentially a factory of statues, with smoke popping up all day long! My dad is coming home tomorrow, too. My mom was so excited that she cleaned every statue carefully and even asked for my help. We spent the whole night doing that. She thinks that it’s the deities’ credit!”
“All in all…” Another boy took a long breathe in relief and said, “A martyr is glorious, but it’s best to not be one if possible. Don’t you agree?”
Guo Xiaohe touched the Rising Dragon of the Nine Stars tattoo on her cheek and suddenly thought of something. She nodded. “I suppose so. I suffered some minor wounds a month ago, and my mom and dad were already devastated. I can’t imagine what would happen to them if the war really broke out, and I… died on the battlefield!”
Her words cast all the teenagers into silence. They were all at a carefree age and had only decided to join the army to fight the demons because of their hot blood. After a month of calming down, they had all more or less learned something else.
“Hey, hey, hey. Why so serious?”
Si Mao jumped up to his feet like a meatball. He glanced at everybody in great excitement, and his eyes stopped on Guo Xiaohe for the longest time. Suddenly, as if he were doing a magic trick, he took out a pile of cards from his back.
“Hey! My lackeys, look at what’s in Brother Si Mao’s hands! Do you know why Brother Si Mao summoned you today? Yes, we are here to watch the heroes, but it is not just the heroes of the Flying Tigers Legion that we are watching. There is an even greater hero that I would like to introduce to all of you!”
Everybody’s eyes shone and took a card from him. Reading the card, they discovered that it was a VIP card for a fan meeting. With the card, they could have a close-distance communication with a Cultivator, get their autograph, and even receive one-on-one enlightenment!
In the Heaven’s Origin Sector, all the Cultivators considered disseminating the training culture and raising the young people’s interest in Cultivation as their responsibility. Such fan meetings were often the best approach to encourage young people.
All the boys and girls jumped to their feet, their eyes shining so brightly that they looked like lanterns. Even Guo Xiaohe could not help but cover her mouth.
“That’s right. The hero that I would like to introduce to you today is a legend of legends; a miracle of miracles; an unparalleled training genius in the Heaven’s Origin Sector, the Blood Demon Sector, and the Heaven’s Origin Sector. He is the man who reversed the situation in the chaos a month ago and demolished the Patriots Partnership—Wu Mayan, the Eagle of Iron Plateau!”