“Win-win?” The brilliance in Meng Chixin’s eyes was swirling quickly. “You mean that we will both benefit from our cooperation, right? But the way I see it, your intention in the beginning did not seem to be a… win-win. You were planning to suppress and conquer the entire Ancient Sages Sector and fool the experts of the Ancient Sages Sector such as us to sell our lives to the Black Wind Fleet as cannon fodder, weren’t you?”
“Yes!” Heiye Lan did not deny it at all. Breathing quickly for a moment, she bellowed, “There was indeed a time when my main purpose was to summon the Black Wind Fleet, conquer the Ancient Sages Sector, and turn all of you into slave soldiers! It is the right of the strong to prey on the weak. What’s wrong with that? The weak deserve to be suppressed, conquered, and enslaved. Isn’t it a well-tested truth on the prairies, in the central plateaus of the Great Qian Dynasty, and also the bloodstained sea of stars?
“If you are foolish and idiotic, it is your destiny to be conquered and enslaved!
“But given how things progressed, you have proved yourselves strong enough. Also, you were smart enough to discover my scheme, and you have gathered so many… Colossi. So, it is no longer a profitable action to attack the Ancient Sages Sector in a head-on clash.
“Then and now are different. Now that you have already proven the formidability of the Ancient Sages Sector, of course, we will be able to carry out our cooperation on relatively equal terms. You can even join the Imperium with dignity and part of independence. Isn’t it only reasonable?
“The Imperium of True Human Beings has acquired hundreds of Sectors and thousands of planets large and small after only a thousand years. Naturally, not every Sector and every planet was taken by brute force through bloody battles. Such a way of expansion is too stupid, low-efficient, and costly! The cost of war and the cost to maintain the reign, suppress the resistance, and collect resources are all shockingly high. It is an action whose profits cannot cover the investments!
“Quite a large number of Sectors voluntarily join the Imperium after realizing the power of the Imperium and the possible gains that the Imperium could offer them, including the Black Wind Sector. That’s exactly what happened to us in the beginning! So, there’s no need for the Ancient Sages Sector to worry about that. This is a tradition of the Imperium!”
Deep in thought, Meng Chixin pointed at Li Yao and asked, “Are you suggesting that the Imperium of True Human Beings treats the… remote Sectors such as ours like how the Great Qian Dynasty treats the local tribes in Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture’s Southland of Sorcerers? Because the cost of invasion and garrison is too high, they simply decree the local leader to be a chieftain, who is nominally a subject of the central dynasty but in fact governs the local region on their own, right?”
Heiye Lan’s eyes suddenly shone, and she nodded quickly. “Yes! Yes! Just like that! If the remote worlds are extremely weak and inhabited by uncivilized barbarians, the imperial fleets will naturally occupy them without any trouble! However, for the worlds such as the Ancient Sages Sector, where there are tremendous experts, some of whom are even in the Divinity Transformation Stage, the Imperium of True Human Beings will often declare the local experts as Sector Masters and grant autonomy to the local world, as the arrangement for the Southland of Sorcerers. The best that the Imperium can do is nominate a few officials who are similar to the ‘Appeasing Ambassador of the Fifth Prefecture of the South Land of Sorcerers’ as correspondents between the remote Sectors and the capital city!”
Meng Chixin and Wu Suiyun looked at each other. Chuckling, they said, “The court will have to bring tremendous rewards to the local leader of the Southland of Sorcerers during the declaration. I wonder, what benefits will the Imperium of True Human Beings give us if the Ancient Sages Sector is willing to join the Imperium?”
“There will be too many benefits to count!” Heiye Lan replied in a hurry. “The spiritual energy in the Ancient Sages Sector is extraordinarily dense. You have not been troubled by the extraterrestrial devils in the past tens of thousands of years, either. So, a great number of Cultivators in the Core Formation Stage, Nascent Soul Stage, and Divinity Transformation Stage have been born in this Sector.
“However, your training system and your techniques are still at an extremely crude and underdeveloped phase. Even crystal suits, the well-acknowledged ‘king of magical equipment’ in the universe today, have not yet been grasped by you, not to mention the Colossi!
“As long as you join the Imperium, it’s very likely that you will receive the assistance of techniques, resources, and magical equipment from the Imperium. Your civilization will realize a leap of thousands of years in only decades!
“The ever-emerging new techniques and magical equipment invented in the modern civilizations of the Immortal Cultivators are utterly unimaginable to you! Training with those techniques will further improve your Cultivation, even if it’s been stagnant for years! Using the latest magical equipment will allow you to demonstrate your extreme potential in the most violent ways!
“In short, the Imperium is definitely able to make you reborn. You will set foot in amazing levels that no one in the history of the Ancient Sages Sector has ever visited!
“Moreover, if you accumulate enough military credits, you will be given a chance to further study in the Empyreal Terminus Sector, the capital of the Imperium. It is the center of the universe and a sacred sanctuary that all Immortal Cultivators in the sea of stars dream of visiting! You will be promoted and awarded by the Imperium there, becoming earls and generals of the Imperium of True Human Beings. You will be supreme existences ruling over hundreds of Sectors, thousands of planets, and billions of creatures!”
“All that you said is about our personal gains,” Wu Suiyun coldly interrupted. “What will the Ancient Sages Sector as a whole benefit from the cooperation?”
“The gains are even more!” Heiye Lan licked her bloodstained lips and smiled. “The Ancient Sages Sector has been enveloped by the dark nebula for hundreds of thousands of years. You are like a bunch of prehistoric animals on a lone island that have stopped evolution. Faced with fewer and fewer resources, you don’t have any choice except to fight each other.
“Do you not want to communicate with the other worlds out there? Do you not want to conquer more Sectors to mitigate the crisis within your own?
“Hehehehe. The internal contradiction of the Ancient Sages Sector has been aggravated to the point that it is already irresolvable today. Han Baling, Qi Changsheng, and Wan Mingzhu, I believe that the three of you must have a profound understanding about that, mustn’t you?
“I can tell you honestly right now that, based on the history of the three thousand Sectors in the outside world, there isn’t a way out for a single Sector no matter how hard you struggle and strive on your own! The dual pressure of population booms and technological bottlenecks will crush every self-secluding world! The only option is to march outward and break into the stars, turning the planetary civilization into a universal civilization!
“The Ancient Sages Sector has been deprived of the opportunity for spontaneous evolution because of the dark nebula enveloping you. But right now, the Imperium can generously give you a hand. As long as you seize the opportunity and break into the space, there will be a good chance for you to save your world!
“For remote Sectors such as yours, the Imperium normally does not have any interest in governing them directly. It is very possible that one of you will be nominated as the Sector Master, and your world will be run under autonomy!
“If the relationship among yourselves… isn’t very good, and you cannot accept a single leader, the twelve of you can also be granted the title of founding members. You will be knighted and reign over the Ancient Sages Sector together in a curia!
“Moreover, other than the Ancient Sages Sector, the Imperium will also grant you the power to expand your territory. You will be conscripted as a Gamma legion of the Imperium and granted tremendous military assistance that will enable you to wage wars across the universe. The resource planets and Sectors that you conquer will all be governed by you!
“Think about it!
“Right now, the situation in the Ancient Sages Sector is unprecedently tense, and the contradiction between the Great Qian Dynasty and the Ghost Qin is sharper than ever. The Heaven Battering Army, the White Lotus Cult, the six major sects, and all the other forces are all causing trouble. Isn’t the source of all the pressures the insufficient resources?
“If you are willing to join the Imperium, you will be able to sweep across all the space zones in the thousands of lightyears nearby together with the Black Wind Fleet. You can conquer a few vassal worlds for yourself. After that, what’s there to be worried about?
“By then, Han Baling, Qi Changsheng, Wan Mingzhu… and everybody else will each have your own planet. You will have countless slaves to collect resources for you as the ‘Sector Master’, a dominator of the remote worlds. Won’t it perfectly solve all the problems in the Ancient Sages Sector?”
Heiye Lan was not a well-trained negotiator.
She spoke too earnestly and straightforwardly. She was even a bit anxious, like an impatient cardplayer who threw in all the best cards at the very beginning of a game.
But it was also for the same reason that her words sounded awkwardly genuine and convincing.
The two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators and the ten super Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators looked at each other, all deep in thought.
“You are highlighting all the benefits that we can possibly get, but does anything in the universe come free?” Li Yao’s eyes were bloodshot. “The Imperium of True Human Beings certainly demands an extremely high price for all the benefits that it offers us, doesn’t it? What is the price? Tell us!”
“It’s true that there is no free lunch in the universe despite its vastness,” Heiye Lan said. “This is a fair deal. When you enjoy the privileges in the Imperium, you will have to fulfil the responsibilities as a citizen of the Imperium and a noble warrior!
“The responsibilities are very simple. Military credits!
“All the Cultivation arts, techniques, magical equipment, and intelligence in the Imperium can be exchanged for contribution points, which can be accumulated by earning military credits in the battlefield. Accomplishments as great as conquering a brand-new world and discovering a resource planet and those as insignificant as slaying a hostile Exo and releasing a new Cultivation art that you have invented to public will all be considered military credits, which can then be exchanged for contribution points.
“Therefore, after you join the Imperium, as long as you are willing to help the Black Wind Fleet capture Firefly and the ‘government-in-exile of the Star Ocean Republic’, and then clean up the local force—the Star Glory Federation—lurking in this area, you are guaranteed to earn tremendous military credits. It will be the first bucket of gold for the development of the Ancient Sages Sector!
“After you earn the first bucket of gold, you will be able to redeem a great number of contribution points with which you can purchase advanced starships, crystal suits, armed shuttles, Cultivation arts, techniques, and even slave soldiers from the homeland of the Imperium. You will be able to upgrade your expedition fleet and conquer more worlds. After making more military credits, you will have more contribution points for you to purchase the magical equipment and Cultivation arts that are even more advanced, which will allow you to conquer more and more worlds. Your world will grow stronger and stronger like a snowball. This is the typical path for a rising Sector in the Imperium of True Human Beings!”