Seeing that the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators and the Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators were all listening very attentively, Li Yao could not help but grew anxious. He chuckled in amusement and said, “Stop beating about the bush. You are just asking the Cultivators from the Ancient Sages Sector to sell ourselves to the Imperium of True Human Beings!”
“Exactly,” Heiye Lan admitted frankly again, making Li Yao wonder whether she was honest or downright shameless. “It’s true that you will be sold! However, who isn’t struggling to survive in the middle of the bleeding stars in the dark universe, fighting for a slim chance of survival at the risk of their lives? The Cultivators of the Ancient Sages Sector are selling yourselves, but are the Cultivators of the Black Wind Sector not?
“It’s actually not bad that you are qualified to sell yourselves because it means that you are at least worth a penny. The most terrible situation is where you don’t have anybody to buy you when you want to sell yourselves, in which case you can only wait to die!
“Mark my words. In the universe that we are living in, individuals are not pricey assets. The ‘experts’ who are qualified to sell themselves are few. The majority are pitiful creatures who don’t even have a chance to sell themselves!”
Li Yao furrowed his eyebrows greatly.
At first, he had thought that Heiye Lan would be relatively easy to deal with. It had never occurred to him that the woman’s innocent candor that bordered on shamelessness would nearly render him speechless.
Meng Chixin’s eyes suddenly shone. “If—I’m just saying if—we truly surrender to the Imperium and help the Imperium conquer many new planets, will all the places belong to us without any interference from the Imperium?”
“That depends,” Heiye Lan replied dutifully. “If the Ancient Sages Sector or the new worlds that you conquer contain strategically important resources—say, super fuel that can bring up the cruise speed of the starships or rare metals that can improve the hardness of crystal suits and Colossi—the colonies will certainly not be devoured by you exclusively. Most of the resources will still go to the Imperium.
“However, the odds of such things are not particularly high. You people don’t strike me as lucky dogs, either.
“Under normal circumstances, all you need to do is submit a certain amount of resources as taxes to the Imperium and ensure the constant and stable output. As long as the requirements are met, the Imperium will generally leave any trivial issues in the remote Sectors alone. After all, our archenemy is the Alliance of the Holy Covenant!”
“We’ll have to submit taxes?” Meng Chixin nodded. “That makes sense. It is impossible for a tribe not to offer tributes to the court after it surrenders. I wonder, what are the taxes in the Imperium? What’s the rate?”
“It all depends on the specific Sector,” Heiye Lan said. “The environment and characteristics of every Sector are different, and the resources that they yield aren’t the same, either. So, the tax officers sent from the capital will have to measure, calculate, and rank the resources first. In general, the taxes include crystals, minerals, slaves, and such. Compared with the benefits you can gain from the Imperium, the taxes are certainly not high!”
“Good heavens!” Master Bitter Cicada’s voice sounded cold. “Does the Imperium want us to capture the folks of the Ancient Sages Sector like piglets and ship them off as slaves?”
Observing his face, Heiye Lan quickly responded, “Not necessarily. Not necessarily at all. All the taxes can be exchanged and adjusted based on the real situation. For example, if your Sector have tremendous crystals and a small population, it won’t matter at all if you submit more crystals and do not provide any slaves. Later, after you have accomplished great military credits, you will be able to offset your taxes with the military credits directly! Also, for the underdeveloped Sectors in remote areas, the Imperium has a lot of tax reduction policies that are in your favor. There will even be oriented investment on you to better help your development!
“After all, the Imperium is the most powerful country of mankind that is ready to live on for millions of years. Sustainable development is highly valued. We will certainly not foolishly kill the goose that lays golden eggs!”
Master Bitter Cicada finally lowered his eyes and stepped back.
Meng Chixin observed Heiye Lan with great interest. He appeared to be more and more curious about the Imperium. “I don’t find too many fallacies in everything that you’ve told us so far. I do not reject the notion of cooperating with the Imperium, either. However, I do have one minor question.
“The first bucket of gold is a very vivid phrase. As long as we secure great military credits, we will be able to exchange them for starships, crystal suits, and techniques from the Imperium. Then, we will expand like a snowball and eventually be a dominator in the infinite sea of stars!
“However, as of right now, we don’t even have a starship of our own. How are we going to collect our first bucket of gold? Will we not be at your mercy and simply work as your cannon fodder?”
“You can apply for a loan if you don’t want to be cannon fodder!” Heiye Lan said quickly. “The Black Wind Sector has our own bank named ‘Black Wind War Bank’. One of its main businesses is war loans. After the Black Wind Sector was occupied, the headquarters of the bank was moved to the fleet and marched all the way to this place, too!
“You can apply for a loan from the Black Wind War Bank. After various evaluations, the bank will present you a tailor-made ‘cross-universe expedition proposal’. However many starships, crystal suits, and small assault shuttles you need, they can all be offered to you in a package deal!”
Everyone listening, including Li Yao, had the same reaction. “Huh?”
“I am not a specialist in bank loans, but I do know a thing or two about fighting!” Heiye Lan said carefully. “Although the civilization and the technologies of your Sector are underdeveloped, and you are short of cross-universe warring abilities, your personal combat ability is very high, and you have a great number of Cultivators in the Nascent Soul Stage and even some in the Divinity Transformation Stage. Your war potential will certainly prove to be impressive after a general evaluation. I believe that you can definitely receive a huge loan from the Black Wind War Bank.
“If you purchase tremendous starships from the Black Wind Fleet, or hire some of them, as vehicles and employ some Black Wind Cultivators as tutors, it is certainly possible for your Cultivators and soldiers to undergo drastic changes in only a year and a half. They will be truly reborn as modern war machines!
“If you choose such a path, the ownership of all the starships will be yours. You will be able to constitute your own ‘Ancient Sages Fleet’, which will be a partner of the Black Wind Fleet. The most threatening thing that we can do is send a team of tutors to guide you through the battles. There will be no concerns that you might end up as cannon fodder, right?”
“Wait,” Meng Chixin said. “My head is dizzy. I need to think about it.”
“Y—Yes,” Li Yao agreed. “I need some time to think about it, too.”
Wu Suiyun, Han Baling, Qi Zhongdao, and the rest of them murmured similar comments. “We all need some time to think carefully!”
The two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators and the ten super Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators were all in a trance, deep in thought.
After five minutes, Meng Chixin took a deep breath and mumbled, “If we apply for a loan, we will receive a certain amount of money in advance, right? Arming ourselves quickly through a loan and robbing somebody else to pay it back… This is truly an unprecedented and extraordinary methodology!”
“It is exactly through such a methodology and the support of the mighty armed forces that the Imperium of True Human Beings has been able to recover most of the territory of the Star Ocean Imperium after only a thousand years!” Heiye Lan declared proudly.
Meng Chixin frowned and said, “However, in the Ancient Sages Sector, you have to pay interests for your debt, and the interest can generate interest, too. If you borrow one guinea, you may have to pay ten guineas in the end. If the interest rate is higher, you will never be able to get away from your debt!”
“You will certainly have to pay interest. It’s not like the Black Wind people is doing charity here. If we get to the bottom of it, this is just another deal!” Heiye Lan said. “However, the interest rate is certainly not as unbelievable as usury, and it will most definitely be bearable for you. You can even pay back the debt in a span of decades if not centuries. We have a special term named ‘mortgage’. You can purchase a batch of starships, crystal suits, and modern Cultivation arts through a mortgage first, and after you conquer new planets, you can pay the mortgage back slowly with your trophies.
“One other thing. The remote Sectors such as yours that have volunteered to join the Imperium are the best examples for all the Sectors in the universe. You will enjoy a lot of war privileges in the Imperium.
“According to the blanket agreement that the Central Bank of the Imperium and the local commercial banks such as the Black Wind War Bank reached, there will be subsidies for the interests of your loan. So, let’s say that you have an interest rate of ten percent in the beginning. Now with the blanket agreement, the Central Bank of the Imperium will cover three percent of that. As a result, your interest rate will essentially be discounted. It will be an even better bargain for you!”
The locals of the Ancient Sages Sector including Meng Chixin were all in a daze.
They were tilting their heads in confusion for a long time despite their wisdom in the Nascent Soul Stage and the Divinity Transformation Stage.
It took Heiye Lan forever to explain the terms such as mortgage, central bank, and annual percentage rate to them.
Meng Chixin frowned deeply. “Why is this… Central Bank of the Imperium such a good Samaritan?”
“Isn’t it simple?” Heiye Lan replied. “The Central Bank of the Imperium is not established for profit but for the prosperity of mankind and the peace of the Imperium!
“It is doing that because it wants to motivate the remote Sectors such as yours to apply for more loans and purchase more arms so that you will further expand the territory of the Imperium!
“At this moment, the prosperous land of the Star Ocean Imperium has all been developed by the Imperium of True Human Beings. The expansion of territory has become a dirty, exhausting, and unpromising job. The Immortal Cultivators from the central regions are reluctant to take it. Besides, they are responsible for coping with the Covenant Alliance, which is an even more arduous task.
“So, the remote Sectors such as yours can be conscripted into ‘Gamma troops’ and continue the expansion!
“That’s why the Imperium issued such a policy. It’s meant to expand the territory of the Imperium at the lowest cost. Everything is open to the public. There are no tricks or schemes. Just like what I said in the beginning, it’s a win-win!”
Meng Chixin narrowed his eyes and sniffed. “It appears to me that the Imperium of True Human Beings is a country born for wars. All the policies serve the single purpose of wars!”
“Wars mean survival.” Heiye Lan faced the Divinity Transformation Stage unwaveringly. “Wars mean evolution. Wars are everything to every civilization!”