Dwelling in her own world, Tang Qianhe was talking colloquially, when Li Yao suddenly threw such a tricky question at her and caught her unprepared. She was dazed for a moment, not knowing what to say.
“The Imperium of True Human Beings is the peak of the civilization of mankind. Of course, we have a thorough law system to protect the interests of every citizen of the Imperium.”
Su Changfa had approached the two of them at some point. With his hands behind his back, he said casually, “According to the penal law, the civil law, and the maritime law, if the clauses regarding the ‘act of rescue’ are invoked, you will probably be charged with ‘unjustifiable self-defense’ and ‘insulting bodies’.
Li Yao was dazed. “Unjustifiable self-defense? Insulting bodies?”
“Exactly!” Su Changfa replied confidently. “The Imperium boasts a vast territory. Thousands of starships are cruising in cosmic storms every day. Naturally, a lot of accidents have happened. We are very experienced in dealing with such issues.
“Based on the experience of the Imperium in the past, nobody is innocent in such an extreme environment. Once realizing the limitation of resources, anybody can be an attacker, and anybody can be a victim. It’s just that some of them take action earlier than others do. Fellow Cultivator, what do you think?”
With a hint of fear and panic flashing in his eyes, as if he was reminded of the miserable days again, Li Yao nodded quickly and said, “Exactly. Exactly. I wasn’t the one who attacked first!”
“Precisely so. Since you were attacked, you were merely trying to protect yourself. So, your action was a self-defense or unjustifiable self-defense at worst. Isn’t it a reasonable conviction?
“As for the bodies, in the eyes of the Immortal Cultivators, they are just shells and nothing too important. Accusing you of insulting the bodies would be good enough!
“After discretional evaluation of evidence, with consideration of the unjustifiable self-defense and the crime of insulting bodies, you would be probably sentenced to a few years of penal servitude. You may also be exiled to a certain dangerous legion to fight against the enemies of the Imperium!
“However, for every citizen of the Imperium, if you want more training resources and plan to crawl higher up the ladder, you will have to seek military credits in a battlefield anyway. The more dangerous a battlefield is, the more rewarding and the more tempting the trophies there will be!
“Therefore, such a sentence is just the bite of a mosquito. It doesn’t really hurt.”
Li Yao clicked his tongue. “I can get away so easily?”
Smiling gently, Su Changfa patted Li Yao’s shoulder. “Fellow Cultivator Li, you are too young to understand the designing principle of the laws of the Imperium.
“The designing principle of the imperial laws is to sustain the immortality of the civilization of mankind, to facilitate the evolution of human beings, and to pour fuel on the fire of humanity!
“This is the first and foremost clause in the constitution of the imperium. All our laws have been drafted with this principle at the center!
“Then, how can we facilitate the evolution of human beings and pour fuel on the fire of humanity?
“It’s simple. Survival of the fittest. Give the most excellent genes the most abundant resources so that they can pass on, while all the foul genes will be filtered, eliminated, and destroyed by nature!
“You were the only survivor in the cosmic storm. You may have resorted to ruses and schemes, you may have robbed other people, and you may simply have been more fortunate than the rest. But none of that changes the fact that you defeated countless enemies in the harsh environment and survived!
“The ‘fact’ proves that you were the most smart, sordid, agile, or strong person on board!
“In other words, you boasted the most excellent genes!
“Then, your survival means the survival of the most excellent genes. Making the carrier of excellent genes live on is in the best interest of mankind!
“Therefore, from the perspective of the imperial constitution and human beings as a whole, of course, you will not be punished with too harsh penalties, at least theoretically.”
Li Yao immediately grasped the key word. “Theoretically?”
“Fellow Cultivator Li, you are indeed quick-minded enough to have noticed the key part. Yes. I was merely talking about theories!” Su Changfa said with aplomb. “In reality, when such things do happen, it is usually difficult to find concrete evidence. So, the cases are not often addressed in a court. Even if they are filed to the court, the judges are generally not fond of such messy cases because the scarce evidence can barely from a chain. In the end, the suspects are often acquitted of any charges due to lack of proof.
“The family of the victims know the practice clearly, too. Therefore, the plaintiffs rarely go to the court, too. They usually appeal to the local ‘arbitral tribunal’ deployed by the Imperium. Such appeals do not require any evidence. As long as they are proposed by the immediate family of the victims or their friends in the same sect, with reasonable doubt, the appeals will be accepted quickly.”
Li Yao was getting more and more shocked. “What then? How are the appeals going to be handled without evidence?”
“They are not going to be handled, of course. There’s no evidence after all!” Su Changfa smiled. “The so-called arbitration is just a fair duel between you and the family of the victims hosted by the arbitrator!”
“Huh?” Li Yao was dumbfounded. Was it really possible?
“Do you remember what I just said? The designing principle of the imperial laws is to ensure the succession of the best genes. Therefore, if your enemy wants you to be punished, they must prove that the genes of their family are more excellent than yours!
“They will be able to prove it as long as they defeat you in an arena! By then, you will be guilty of not cannibalism but ‘destroying the possibility of genes more excellent than yours being passed on’!
“By the logic of the imperial laws, this is the most appalling crime that jeopardizes the continuity of the civilization of mankind. It is the most severe felony. Of course, you will be punished as heavily and as quickly as possible!
“Then, you will be arbitrated to be guilty. If the families of the victims accuse you again in court, you will be found guilty even if there is no evidence and be sentenced to more serious penalties than what are due!
“Of course, most of them wouldn’t go through such trouble. You will be taken care of by the family of the victims directly in the arena!”
Unrecovered, Li Yao said, “What if I win?”
“If you win, it means that your genes are indeed excellent enough to be passed on! Even if new evidence shows up later, the family of the victims will not be allowed to trouble you again in any way!
“Such arbitration is a one-time thing. Only one arbitration can be filed for a specific accusation. The result of the arbitration will stand in effect permanently. If they can’t kill you this time, they will never be allowed to kill you again!
“If the family of the victims continue harassing you after you crush the challenge from them in public and prove the superiority of your genes, you will not need to do anything yourself. The law of the imperium will be on your side. Your enemy will suffer the heaviest punishments, to the point that the entire family may be executed!”
After thinking for a long time, Li Yao nodded. “I got it now. As long as I am strong enough, I will not be guilty of whatever I do!”
“The winner is the king while the losers turn into bandits. Isn’t it the universal truth?” Su Changfa said coldly. “However, in the world of the Cultivator, such a truth is decorated into an ‘unspoken rule’ that is often expressed implicitly, but in the world of the Immortal Cultivators, it is the most frank and explicit rule, fair and square for everybody!”
Li Yao took a long breath and mumbled, “Then, wouldn’t the society be in chaos if all the strong experts murder and plunder at their will?”
“Why would it?” Su Changfa smiled. “If you are strong enough to be, say, a Sector Master, you will be able to draft the rules of the game yourself. You will receive stable, incessant benefits through open, legal approaches. Why do you have to resort to the violent and inefficient methods such as murdering and plundering?
“If you have to murder and plunder, it only means that you are not strong enough to be rule-makers. Then, the local Sector Master and experts will soon find you and kill you, or they may also suppress you and recruit you into the game, making you part of the system.
“How can such a society not be stable?”
“I totally understand now!” Li Yao slapped his head and bowed deeply to Su Changfa and Tang Qianhe. Delighted and fully convinced, he said, “Thank you for your enlightenment, seniors. Your words have been a great eye-opener for me. I feel that I have found a brand-new world. It’s like that I’ve been living in a smothering case for decades and never found the real world until I broke out of the shell today!
“However—” Rolling his eyes, Li Yao hesitated. “I seem to have one last question that I cannot find an answer to!”
“Please speak, Fellow Cultivator Li!” Su Changfa smiled. “This is far from enlightenment. We are simply discussing and exchanging ideas with each other!”
“Alright. This is my confusion. Your amplification on ‘true human beings’ and ‘hominoids’ is truly spectacular and instructive for me. However, on second thought, I seem to notice that the true human beings are not necessarily born by true human beings, are they? And their offspring might not be true human beings, either, right?
“It is the case in the Flying Star Sector anyway. Many Cultivators’ parents are not Cultivators, and although their children have higher chances of becoming Cultivators, not every one of them can awaken their spiritual root!
“If a true human being, or an Immortal Cultivator, has parents and children that are all hominoids, doesn’t it mean that the parents and the children are different species? Isn’t it a little bit… inexplicable?”
“What’s inexplicable?” Tang Qianhe sneered. “When a horse and a donkey mate, they give birth to a mule. The horse and the donkey are parents, and the mule is the child. Are they the same species?”
Li Yao was immediately rendered speechless, his neck reddening!