The mental devil jumped up and down while shouting.
But Li Yao simply frowned. “Karan was caught in the dilemma where the problem had to be resolved through a complete explosion because of Wuying Qi’s own scheme! If it were a general who was righteous, unselfish, and willing to sacrifice himself for the country, such a dilemma wouldn’t have existed in the first place!
“The Star Ocean Republic and the Covenant Alliance had been at war for more than ten years. If I were the commander of the border defense army, and I had already grown a deep understanding about the potential threat of the Covenant Alliance, I would certainly have made the country enter the highest state of war through whatever means possible. The most elite troops such as the ‘central army’ would be mobilized to the frontier. We would attack and let the fire of war burn in the territory of the Covenant Alliance so that the enemy would be exterminated while in their cradle!
“If an expedition was unrealistic because the Covenant Alliance’s situation was ambiguous for us, at the very least, after a general mobilization, the Star Ocean Republic, as a traditional superpower, certainly had the ability to construct the most solid defense line on the galaxy arm in the border space zones. The loyalty of the vassal worlds would be better ensured, and the central government’s control over them would be higher. Also, the civilians in the borderland would be evacuated soon!
“As long as such actions were taken, nobody would need to face such a cruel choice!
“It is exactly because Wuying Qi was selfish enough to hide part of the information from the capital, and even the fickleness of the vassal worlds might be under his manipulation, too, that everything ended up like that!”
“Stop smearing his great name!” the mental devil shrieked. “Everything is just your speculation. You have no evidence that Blackstar the Great was behind it! What if the Star Ocean Republic’s parliament was truly that shortsighted, incapable, and arrogant? What if the vassal worlds were truly idling by because it was not their problem?
“Assume—let me repeat, we are assuming right now—that an incapable parliament was hamstringing you, and the vassal worlds were not willing to contribute at all but gladly watching you to fight on your own. Nobody believed what you said. Nobody was willing to offer you the slightest assistance. Everybody distrusted you, misunderstood you, and framed you, until eventually you were pushed to the point where you had to choose between killing ten million and killing ten billion, what would you do?”
“Even if parliament was truly as stupid as swine and as greedy as dogs, I wouldn’t have been pushed to the point, either. I still had a hundred ways to avoid such a dilemma!” Li Yao sneered. “I can come up with a solution in only five minutes to fool the parliament around. There’s no reason why Wuying Qi couldn’t with his remarkable planning abilities, right?”
“Hahahaha!” The mental devil burst into laughter. “Stop bragging. At that time, it was impossible for the commander of the border defense army to interfere with the policies made in the capital.
“All in all, the parliament would choke your throat. They did not give you enough assets and troops, and they did not believe your warning. Whatever you said to them, they thought that you were merely exaggerating to scare them. For the sake of economic development and the stability of politics, they were unwilling to conduct a general mobilization! What could you do? What could you do?”
“I surrender,” Li Yao said slowly after a long sigh.
The mental devil was even more delighted. It declared gloatingly, “See? You have no choice but to surrender, don’t you? Our Blackstar the Great was the same. He was forced to do it because he wasn’t given other options!”
“Wait. You seem to be mistaken. I’m not saying that I give up on the topic and surrender to you,” Li Yao said unhurriedly. “What I’m saying is that, as the commander of the border defense army of the Star Ocean Republic, after the capital refused my requests time and time again, distrusted my judgement, and even criticized me, I would surrender to the Covenant Alliance in my fury!”
“Huh?” The mental devil was immediately dumbfounded.
“Of course, submission could be an extremely complicated job, especially so for an elite troop to surrender to the enemy who they had been fighting against for ten years. The whole thing would be certainly be a prolonged project!
“Therefore, I would have to send my trusted subordinates to get in touch with the Covenant Alliance, hinting that I would like to jump to their side with the entire border defense army. Also, I would negotiate with them on the terms of surrender.
“Considering the contributions that I was about to make, it would be inappropriate not to give a few Sectors to me, wouldn’t it?”
The mental devil narrowed its small eyes that were rolling fast, like a mouse that had smelt the odor of rat poison.
“In the border defense army,” Li Yao continued, “other than my trusted subordinates who were loyal to me, naturally, there would be a lot of soldiers of integrity who were loyal to the country and parliament. Therefore, when I ‘accidentally’ leaked out the message that I was preparing to surrender, news would certainly be sent back to the capital faster than light and raise a riot in parliament and among the Cultivators!
“Also, my appetite was quite huge. Not only was I going to defect with the border defense army, I would also instigate the vassal worlds behind me to join the enemy’s side!
“Haha. Once the plan was carried out, the elite border defense army and the ten or so vassal worlds of the Star Ocean Republic on this galaxy defense line would change their banner overnight. The place would be the Covenant Alliance’s territory!
“The Covenant Alliance’s capability would soar. The frontline would push forward significantly. There would be a lot of excellent soldiers who were familiar with the intelligence of the heartland of the Star Ocean Republic. The vanguards would be able to stab into the internal organs of the Star Ocean Republic!
“Oh, right. From the starships, crystal suits, and magical equipment that I brought to the Covenant Alliance, and from the heads of the excellent soldiers, it wouldn’t be hard for the Covenant Alliance to retrieve the most valuable Cultivation arts, techniques, and technologies, would it?”
The mental devil was gnashing its teeth so hard that it looked as if it would lunge at Li Yao at any moment!
With a smile of victory, Li Yao said, “Do you think that, when such news got back to the capital, the big shots in parliament would still consider the threat of the Covenant Alliance as dermatitis and choose to ignore it?
“Even if there were hundreds of pigs that were sitting in parliament, they should know that it was no good, shouldn’t they?
“The general mobilization might take a while, but at the very least, the most elite, most loyal troops would certainly reach the borderland as quickly as possible to control the situation and to construct a solid defense line, intimidating the vassal worlds into not messing around!
“Okay, problem solved!
“Of course, the real process wouldn’t be so simple. Many details had to be fixed and perfected, but that’s the general idea!
“With my weak commanding ability, it might be impossible for me to put the plan into practice, but Wuying Qi certainly should’ve realized it perfectly with his intelligence, couldn’t he?
“I came up with the solution after three minutes of thinking. It is of course childish, violent, immature, and deeply flawed. I wonder, what are your comments and suggestions, Immortal Cultivator?”
The mental devil was seething in fury. Pacing back and forth inside Li Yao’s brain, it shouted angrily, “If so, you would lose your reputation and be cursed by everyone!”
“No need to worry about that! When the central army had everything under control and started an investigation, they would find that the message that the commander of the border defense army intended to defect was purely ungrounded. It was a set-up and a shameless scheme of the Covenant Alliance! After all, after years of struggles with the Covenant Alliance, their blood covered my hands. I was probably the biggest problem for them. It’s quite reasonable that they would try to frame me!”
The mental devil was lost for words for a long time. Then, after a long silence, it replied, “What if other people didn’t believe the conclusion?”
“Then, there’s nothing I could do,” Li Yao said calmly. “At the very least, the border had reinforcement of troops, the defense line was more stable, the vassal worlds would no longer act recklessly, and the capital came to understand the aggressiveness of the Covenant Alliance! I achieved all my goals. As to what would happen to me, that would be a different story!
“After all, that fits the profile you gave me. Have you forgotten? We are talking about a righteous, unselfish soldier!”
“O—okay. You got me!” The mental devil stomped on the ground hard. Scratching the messy hair, it gnashed its teeth. “You’ve worked your way out of the problem through tricks again, but you simply do not have the courage to face my question, do you?”
“It has nothing to do with my courage. Your question is one that doesn’t need to be answered.”
While replying to the mental devil’s tricky question, Li Yao was sorting through his own thoughts, too, and began to feel that his head was clearer.
“Choosing between ‘killing ten million’ and ‘killing ten billion’ is a question like ‘which one will you save when your wife and your mom both fall into the river’, ‘which rail should the trolley run on when there are kids on both rails’, or ‘you are forced by your kidnapper to kill one of the two kids who are kidnapped together with you’. Such questions are not real questions but venomous traps. For anybody whose head is normal, it is unnecessary to step into them.
“I can answer your malicious traps with a ‘no comment’. However, seeing that you are utterly unconvinced, let me give you a straight answer as a Cultivator!
“As a Cultivator, under any circumstances, for whatever purpose, I will not kill anyone innocent. One or ten million, I will kill none of them!
“I will not press the button to detonate Karan. I will not even allow such a button to exist!
“This is my choice. Are you satisfied?”
The mental devil, thinking that Li Yao’s weakness had finally been grasped, jumped to its feet in excitement. After a snap of fingers, it shouted, “A-ha. So, you will be killing ten billion ordinary people!”
“Su Changfa might’ve been exaggerating. It remains unknown whether or not the invasion of the Covenant Alliance would have caused the death of ten billion people,” Li Yao calmly replied. “But even if ten billion innocent people died in the war, I was not the one who killed them. I would not carry such a moral burden on my back.
“If a firefighter rescued ten people who were trapped in a building that was on fire with his best during a mission, but a hundred more who were trapped were killed in the fire, would the firefighter be blamed for the death of the hundred victims?
“If a policeman protected ten innocent citizens while stopping bandits, but the bandits’ fierce firepower caused the death of another hundred innocent citizens, would they have been killed by the policeman?”