Long Yunxin had heard about the Battle of Karan before.
It was the most crucial procedure on Wuying Qi’s rise to the peak of power. All his accomplishments later were based on the event.
In the battle, Wuying Qi ‘sacrificed’ eight million civilians and wounded soldiers on Karan, blew up the supreme command center of the invaders from the Covenant Alliance, took over the military assets from Covenant Alliance, and seized more than ten border worlds.
Whether or not it was worthwhile to sacrifice eight million to save eight billion was a tricky question. It was also a heated topic that often appeared in the debate matches in Flying Star University.
Long Yunxin had once given it some thought herself.
But at that time, she had been sitting on a couch comfortably, enjoying the finest food, and chatting with several good friends. They had been viewing the event from the perspective of the representatives of the Star Ocean Republic, Blackstar the Great Wuying Qi, or even the unbiased offspring beyond the leadership of the Star Ocean Republic and Wuying Qi. Their discussion had been pure empty talk.
She had never tried observing the whole event from the perspective of an ordinary person that was living on Karan at that time.
No. She was not ‘observing’ the event; she was ‘experiencing’ the event in person as a witness of history.
Long Yunxin swallowed hard, feeling that her throat was both smelly and cold. Her soul seemed to have fallen into an icy cave, and her internal organs were entirely frozen.
Her body, however, was scorching, and her skin was in excruciating pain, as if the scourge of the electric arcs in the virtual world was still lingering inside her bones.
Her hands shivering, she selected characters of different identities.
Those characters were either the miners who had been living on Karan and devoting their lives to the excavation of the raw crystals silently, or the teachers, doctors, nurses and waiters who were the family of the miners and the refinement specialists, or even the soldiers and the battle heroes who had not been transferred yet because of the heavy wounds they suffered in the previous battles.
Although they were all the most unremarkable cells in the civilization, there were still countless marvelous and extraordinary stories to them.
The ordinary young people who were the bottom-level miners, after the invaders from the Covenant Alliance occupied Karan, picked up their spades and raw crystal shredders and became unpredictable guerilla soldiers deep inside the interconnected tunnels.
The doctors, nurses, and waiters who used to work in the living area, on the other hand, went behind the invaders’ back, hid a lot of assets, and secretly brought the assets into the tunnels.
The battle heroes who had suffered heavy wounds held each other’s hand, supported each other, and charged at the overwhelming starships of the Covenant Alliance.
What left the deepest impression on Long Yunxin was a young female teacher on Karan.
After the tiny planet was scourged by the fire of war, she stood up and protected the twenty-odd elementary school students in her class.
She hid a flag of the Star Ocean Republic in secret and taught the children to sing the national anthem of the Star Ocean Republic time and time again.
When the deafening fulminations of starships echoed outside, the young voices were the last wall of defense.
When she was singing the national anthem, she would sometimes burst into tears and say, “Wherever we end up in the universe in the future, do not forget your hometown. Remember that we are from the Star Ocean Republic. We are from Karan. We are people of Karan!”
However, everything they did—
The stubborn resistance of the guerilla forces, the valiance of the disabled soldiers, the persistence of the civilians, the crisp sounds of the teacher and the kids… None of that mattered.
Whatever the specific ‘victory conditions’ of a character were, it was impossible for them to survive to the arrival of dawn.
Everybody’s outcome was the same. They were swallowed by the storm of lightning from the underground and blown to smithereens together with their home!
No miracles, no superheroes, no twists and turns and counterattack in desperation. Doom was their only future!
It was a game that could never be won. Or rather, it was not a ‘game’ at all, but a certain highly simulative and intriguing ‘computer graphics’.
Yet, something uncanny about the game attracted Long Yunxin to play it time and time again, making her experience the last feelings of the residents on Karan, their hope and their desperation, before the final doom!
The last CG was focused on the female teacher.
When the crystal bombs that Wuying Qi planted deep inside Karan detonated all the Purple Thunder Crystals on the planet, triggering an overwhelming hurricane of lightning on the horizon, the female teacher was the first one to discover it.
She immediately jumped to her feet and opened her arms toward the tides of lightning, while she roared and asked all the children to stand behind her.
It was like a ‘Chicken vs Eagle’ game that they often played, where she was the hen protecting all the ‘chicken’ behind him.
In such a posture, the female teacher competed with Blackstar the Great, who was to establish the Imperium of True Human Beings soon.
Although the dazzling light made her blind for a moment, glamorous fire was still raging inside her eyes.
Against the thunderous tides, she was absolute and would not give in. She maintained the same posture when both she and the children were ripped into shreds and vaporized into smoke, as if she were a statue made of certain mysterious materials.
“Hu… Hu… Hu… Hu…”
Long Yunxin covered her face hard, but her tears were flowing out of the gaps between her fingers. She quivered inside the game cabin for a long time before she was finally more or less back to herself.
It was almost a poisonous game!
But she could not wait to try more content about the game now.
Even for a girl who was not interested in games where military strategies were involved, after experiencing everything on Karan, she was eager to play the full content of the game, hoping that she could stop Wuying Qi, Blackstar the Great, and the Imperium of True Human Beings with everything she could as a representative of parliament in the Star Ocean Republic, a general of the central army, or a Sector Master in a border world!
Taking a long breath, Long Yunxin felt that her brain was slightly aching. She knew that it was a sequela because her sense of time had been seriously twisted after spending too much time in the game time.
I shouldn’t play any longer.
She glanced at the time and prepared to exit the game cabin.
Huh? Half a day has passed!
Long Yunxin secret clicked her tongue.
She was a woman of self-control, and it was her habit to be addicted to any game.
However, the game ‘Civilization’ indeed boasted indescribable charm that made anyone who started playing reluctant to leave.
After she dizzily left the game cabin, she discovered that many students nearby had finished the test, too. But they were no longer as noisy and excited as when they first arrived. They were all crouching in the corner and thinking in silence. There was a mixture of deliberation, confusion, and enlightenment on their faces.
Some of the emotional girls were also weeping like Long Yunxin did.
Perhaps, they also played the DLC ‘Rise of the Imperium’, yet what they witnessed was not the ‘rise of the Imperium’ but the doom of the smallfolk!
Seeing Long Yunxin walking up to them, the girls surrounded her as if she were a life-saving straw in the fierce currents.
“The game is too scary. Is the continuity of a civilization really so difficult?”
“I—I really don’t know what I should choose! When I played the Martial Meritocrats civilization, I felt that the Sand Primitive natives were all scoundrels while the people of the Martial Meritocrats Sector were overly kind! But after my role was changed to a woman in the Sand Primitive Sector who was born and raised in a burning desert, and my ten children were either swallowed by demon beasts or killed by diseases, I began to feel that, as long as my children could live a life as the people of the Martial Meritocrats Sector did, I was willing to pay any price, do anything, and worship any god!”
“Karan! Karan! Is the destruction of Karan truly unavoidable? Before, I had no idea what ‘eight million people’ meant exactly, but now I do. Maybe…”
The girls were all sobbing.
Usually, when they were sobbing, the passionate guys would have long come to the aid of the damsels in distress. They would have comforted the girls joyfully, probably hoping to win one of the girl’s affection.
But today, the guys who had just finished the test were sitting next to their game cabin, their eyes hollow and their mind absent, as they were pondering in silence.
Long Yunxin felt that she was about to be inundated with questions. With the excuse that she needed to discuss something with Li Yao, she fled from the game center with the guidance of the staff.
Li Yao was chitchatting with an unworldly, elegant-looking senior in a fine cottage right behind the game center.
Seeing Long Yunxin walk in, he immediately stood up to greet her.
“Why did you develop such an enticing game?” Without bothering with any courtesies, Long Yunxin cut right to the chase. “It isn’t a ‘game’ at all, is it? All the civilizations in the game once existed in the real world and have all been destroyed, right?”
“Yes,” Li Yao admitted frankly. “After seizing the war base of the Imperium of True Human Beings, we have dismantled and studied every unit. The secret chamber that was used to brainwash the Cultivators and transform them into the Immortal Cultivators was a focus of our research!
“We discovered that there was much more than the history of the decline of three civilizations that was stored inside the ‘brainwashing room’. The history of dozens of different civilizations of Cultivators had in fact been saved inside.
“Perhaps, with the abundant ‘educational’ material, the Immortal Cultivators would be able to select the ones that were most suitable for the features of the subject being brainwashed!
“Based on the brainwashing material, and the material where the Immortal Cultivators bragged about Blackstar the Great’s feats, we perfected and built up the files. Eventually, ‘Civilization’ and its first DLC ‘Rise of the Imperium’ were developed!
“But if you ask me whether or not the game content is real, of course, it is not entirely real.
“On one hand, the original data of the Imperium of True Human Beings must have a lot of overstated parts, which can’t be completely trusted.
“Also, when we adapted the files into the game, we hoped to add more personal content into it and make the reasons for every world’s ‘destruction’ more abundant and of more general significance.
“Therefore, the game is not ‘real’ in the sense of perfectly replicating their history.
“However, all the computational logic and the reactions of the virtual figures are infinitely close to ‘real’, which means that such things can ‘possibly’ happen somewhere in the boundless sea of stars in reality!”