“This is pure sophistry!” the mental devil countered. “Killing ten million and killing ten billion are in a chain of causality. It’s black and white! It is because of your petty kindness and your hypocrisy that you are unwilling to shoulder the blame of ‘killing ten billion’! That’s why the ten billion people were killed! It’s entirely different from the example you put forward!”
“How are they not different?” Li Yao asked back coldly. “For example, if a policeman sees a fully-armed criminal who has already raised his gun, he has no time to activate his own gun, and he does not have a second solution except to pick up an innocent little girl and throw her toward the criminal’s gun so that he will have time to tame the criminal!
“But because he doesn’t do that, because he doesn’t toss the innocent little girl over, will the policeman be to blame for everybody that the criminal kills?
“If you think that I’m merely arguing irrationally, how about the next example?
“Some fanatic zealots have captured a hundred innocent elementary school students as hostages. They demand the authorities to hand over one—yes, only one—adult who has ‘sullied’ their religion!
“If the authorities do not hand over the adult, they will kill the hundred innocent children!
“But in the end, if the authorities insist on not handing over the adult, and the fanatic zealots do kill the children, are the children’s deaths the authorities’ fault?
“The choice between the life of an adult and the lives of a hundred children are in a ‘chain of causality’ anyway, right? If the adult dies, the children will be spared. If the adult doesn’t, the children will certainly be killed. This is what you call ‘black and white’, right?
“Then, just because of that, the authorities who are unwilling to concede are murderers, are they?
“Damn you! What kind of bullsh*t logic is that?
“What kills the victims are the fire, the criminal, and the fanatic zealots, not the firefighter, the policeman, and the authorities!
“Therefore, even if I didn’t choose to detonate Karan, I was simply making a choice that any firefighter, policeman, and government with a normally-functioning head would make. If the defense line collapsed later, and ten billion people or even more were killed, it would be the invaders from the Covenant Alliance that killed them, not me, who had been trying to resist the enemy with all I could!
“If I were truly in Wuying Qi’s place, no matter how harsh the environment I was in was, I would not cross the line. I would fight like a real Cultivator. If I failed, I would retreat, regroup, and continue fighting! If countless ordinary people were killed in the war during the process, I would blame the Covenant Alliance for all the casualties and settle the scores with a hundred times more interest later! If I couldn’t achieve that, the only reason would be that I was killed in battle on my way!
“I believe that, other than the Immortal Cultivators with ill intentions and the few people who were bewildered by them, anybody who had basic intelligence and thinking abilities would know who was to blame for the disaster and who the real murderer was!”
The mental devil sneered while scratching its face.
Taking a long breath, Li Yao declared resolutely, “There’s no need to cover your fear with a cold smile. Do you know the biggest problem of your so-called choice?
“The biggest problem is that lives are immeasurable and invaluable! For something that is already infinitely great, the result will be the same even if you multiply it by a thousand!
“The lives of two people combined are not necessarily more important that the life of one person. The life of a big shot who is smart, handsome, and born in a rich family is not more valuable than the life of a little guy who is born in a poor family living a mundane life!
“The 8.2 million innocent victims on Karan were as valuable as the ten billion civilians in the rear!
“If you deny that, today, you can ‘sacrifice’ 8.2 million people for ten billion; tomorrow, you can sacrifice ten billion for a hundred billion; the day after tomorrow, you can sacrifice another hundred billion for a hundred billion plus one. After all, the latter are always a bit more valuable than the former!
“As a result, the foundation of society will be gone. Eventually, far more people than 8.2 million or even ten billion will be killed!”
“Stop your alarmism there!” the mental devil sneered. “Your jibber-jabber is just your ungrounded presumption. I don’t believe any of it!”
“You don’t?” Li Yao put on a cold smile, too. “I’m disappointed. I’m truly disappointed! You are my clone anyway. Our intelligence should be similar despite our different stances, shouldn’t it? Why is your wisdom declining so fast? It is also a landslide! Can’t you even see through Su Changfa’s fancy talk?
“Is it possible that one will become dumber when one becomes an Immortal Cultivator?
“Having such an idiotic clone like you… I feel sorry for myself!”
“What did you say?” The mental devil burst into fury and climbed to the top of Ou Yezi’s memory tree like a monkey, raging and roaring. “Let’s get everything through! What fancy talks have I not seen through? You are not going to get away with it if you don’t explain it to me!”
“It’s simple,” Li Yao said calmly. “Su Changfa said that by detonating Karan and sacrificing 8.2 million people, Wuying Qi rescued ten billion people, which sounds like a fair deal, doesn’t it?”
The mental devil nodded its head hard. “It is doubtlessly a fair deal!”
“Then, did he tell us how many victims were killed in the war that the Imperium of True Human Beings waged against the Covenant Alliance and the ‘legal government of the Star Ocean Republic’?”
“It was a super civil war that a hundred Sectors were involved in. The death of hundreds of billions of people should have been unavoidable, right?
“But how exactly did the civil war break out? How did the Covenant Alliance break into the country?
“Because Wuying Qi’s coup seriously tore apart the stability in the Star Ocean Republic and led to the conflict of the Cultivators and the Immortal Cultivators!
“How did the coup work out? If we get to the bottom of it, it had a lot to do with the explosion on Karan, too!
“So, can we say that, by detonating Karan, Wuying Qi sacrificed 8.2 million civilians for ten billion people, only to cause the death of hundreds of billions more eventually?”
“You understand it, too, don’t you? This is a messy ledger that you can never get a clear result after calculation because lives shouldn’t be calculated in the first place! As a Cultivator, as long as I abide by my belief and do my best, I will not feel regretful whatever the final ending is!
“How about it, Immortal Cultivator? Are you satisfied about my straight answer?”
The mental devil crouched on a twig, and its eyes shook for a long time. Suddenly, it chuckled and said, “Forget it. You have successfully tricked me again. I shouldn’t have debated with you in the first place!
“Theoretically, you may be right. Lives ‘should’ be invaluable and ‘shouldn’t’ be compared or measured!
“But that’s only theoretical!
“However you put it, in the real world, lives do have a price. Some lives are more expensive than others. Lives can be, and often are, compared and measured!
“Hehe. The lives of two are indeed not necessarily more valuable than the life of one, but the lives of the big shots and the young masters of noble families are definitely more valuable than a poor boy from a humble family!
“Every life has its price, except that some prices are higher, and some are lower!
“It is certainly the case in the Imperium of True Human Beings, but what about your most beloved Star Glory Federation? What a free, democratic, and equal place! You have a parliament, you have elections, you have the Constitution of Cultivators, you have the core belief to protect the ordinary people, you have the Cultivators who are willing to be the sabers of mankind. What a f*cking heaven on earth!
“But is it otherwise here?
“For you, who was born and raised in the magical equipment graveyard and have struggled to survive and grow up through all kinds of trouble only because of luck as a scavenger, do I need to pick a few examples from your memories and throw them at your face?
“You are fortunate enough to be a Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator right now. As a high and mighty big shot, you have the privilege to chat with the Speaker of the Federation casually on equal terms. Of course, it is easy for you to spout theoretical cr*p like that!
“If you hadn’t had your fortuitous encounters, if you were still the scavenger who struggled to make a living in the magical equipment graveyard, could you still make such proud declarations faced with the cruel, brutal reality? Would you still have absolutely no doubt about the Cultivators’ ideology?
“No. You would certainly have turned into an Immortal Cultivator!
“You and I are both clear that it is not a vicious assumption but the truth!
“I am the amalgamation of the negative emotions, dark memories, and cold realities deep inside your soul in the first place. I am a half Li Yao! My choice is part of your choice!
“Admit it. Part of you has realized the cruelty of the real world and become an Immortal Cultivator!”
The words hit Li Yao’s critical spot precisely.
Li Yao was silent.
The mental devil burst into laughter after its counterattack. “That is the problem of all you Cultivators! You do not have the courage to face reality at all! Everything that you’ve been talking about, however touching and perfect it sounds, is just an ungrounded theory! The Immortal Cultivators are the real warriors who are brave enough to face the miseries of the real world!”
“You are wrong.” Li Yao was surrounded by invisible flames. Streams of golden brilliance emanated from deep inside his brain and glowed like sunlight piercing through the clouds. An impenetrable golden fortress was rising slowly inside his brain!
One word after another, he said softly, “The Cultivators have never been too cowardly to face reality!
“Of course, we know clearly how dark, cruel, and heavy reality is!
“But we will never be slaves to reality under the heavy burden like the timid and unprincipled Immortal Cultivators are!
“No matter how dark, cruel, and heavy reality is, we will transform it bit by bit with our belief according to our ideals!
“As long as everybody works together, an ideal can become reality!”