His words woke everybody up from their thoughts. The super Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators at the meeting were extraordinary people after all, and they had spent three days digesting all the information. However astounded they were, they had to accept the cruel, cold universe beyond the sky and try everything that they could to ensure the survival of themselves and their world!
“Of course. You are quite right, Fellow Cultivator Meng.” Master Bitter Cicada recited a paragraph from the sutras to calm everybody down. “The safety of all the people of the Ancient Sages Sector depends on our decision. There is no time for us to feel shocked. We must come up with an agenda as soon as possible!”
“Well said!” Meng Chixin looked around. Seeing that everybody had regained their serenity and determination, he said solemnly, “I can tell that everybody’s head is already clear now. So, let’s just cut the cr*p and begin our discussion immediately!
“However, before everybody proposes your own opinion, let me reiterate what I said before. The twelve of us should abandon our previous prejudices and contradictions and be as united as one!
“We have only two foes ahead of us. One of them is the boundless, dangerous sea of stars, and the other is the sordid, shameless, greedy major sects and other ambitious forces who are better saboteurs than helpers apart from the Great Qian Dynasty and the Cloud Qin!
“Only if we are highly united and agree upon the same decision completely can we expect to compete with the two foes and hold the future of the Ancient Sages Sector in our hands!
“Therefore, if any fellow Cultivator has different opinions later, you will be free to say whatever is on your mind, no matter how whimsical it may be. After the disagreement is spoken, we will study it together and convince the dissident with logic. We will not start any action until everyone has been persuaded! Do not keep anything to yourself because you may be haunted by those thoughts in the future! Also, don’t judge any fellow Cultivator because their speech may sound ridiculous! We must bear in mind that everything we are doing right now is for a common purpose, which is survival, the survival of our home!
“Do you agree, everybody?”
Looking at each other, the ten Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators all nodded.
“Alright. Let’s start to make a decision, then!” Meng Chixin said, clearing his throat. “In the past three days, everybody has read all the intelligence provided by Heiye Lan, a female warrior of the Imperium of True Human Beings. We have gained a basic understanding of the general situation of the universe as well as the politics, economy, culture, military, and other aspects of the Imperium. I believe that we are now able to make some judgements based on the information. What’s your question, Fellow Cultivator Wan?”
“Senior Meng, all the judgements we make will be based on Heiye Lan’s intelligence. I wonder, is there any chance that Heiye Lan has been lying to us?” Wan Mingzhu said in a high-pitched voice. “If the intelligence that she has provided is false and intended to mislead us into wrong judgements, what should we do?”
“That’s not very likely,” Meng Chixin said casually. “When Heiye Lan provided the intelligence, she was under the thorough scrutiny of Wu Suiyun and me. Judging from her spiritual waves, the vibrations of her soul, and the changes of her facial expression, what she said should generally be true.
“On the other hand, if she is capable of telling lies unhurriedly under the monitoring of two Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators, how terrifying must her Cultivation be? If a random warrior of the Imperium of True Human Beings is already so horrible, can we expect to resist the entire Imperium at all?
“Therefore, there is no need for us to worry about whether or not she was telling lies. Let’s just consider everything that she said a fact!”
After pondering for a moment, Wan Mingzhu nodded and said, “Thank you for your enlightenment, senior. I have no further questions.”
“Then, I call for the first decision of this meeting,” Meng Chixin said. “We have all learned the vastness of the universe and the shocking number of species and forces in it, but the question is, how are we going to face everything? Is it possible for the Ancient Sages Sector to compete with the universal forces entire on our own, or should we simply hide inside the dark nebula, never to be discovered by them?
“If it is possible, we will kill Heiye Lan right now and pretend that nothing happened. Our life will be exactly the same as before!”
Looking at each other in bewilderment, the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators all shook their heads subconsciously, knowing that such a childish fantasy could not be true.
“It’s impossible,” Qi Zhongdao said bitterly. “When there is a first, there will always be a second. Now that Heiye Lan has found the Ancient Sages Sector, somebody else certainly can. It is destined that we can’t stay hidden for long!
“Besides, if we hide in the Ancient Sages Sector like tortoises forever, we will be doomed to social involution. Each generation will be worse than the previous generation. We won’t be able to sustain our current prosperity!
“For the future of the Ancient Sages Sector, we must walk out and embrace the entire universe!
“It is impossible for us to compete with the entire universe on our own. To assimilate with the universe, we can only find a certain force as a partner… or surrender to it. At least in the beginning, when we haven’t learned the details about the universe, that’s what we should do.”
Qi Zhongdao’s speech seemed to have drained all his strength. The nominal leader of all the Cultivators of the Great Qian Dynasty sat down in frustration.
Perhaps for him, the decision of ‘surrender’ was truly heartbreaking.
“Fellow Cultivator Qi does have a point. Great minds think alike!” Without further ado, Meng Chixin stared at everybody else, his eyes glittering. “The Ancient Sages Sector must walk out and embrace the grand universe! Does anyone have any objection to that? If not, we will consider it a consensus and proceed to the next topic!”
The decision was only reasonable. Even the most conservative Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator would not be content being a mouse hiding in its own hole. Besides, the deities’ realm, or the universe, was the ultimate destination for every Cultivator!
Deep down their hearts, they all craved to appreciate the landscape on the other side of the universe!
The ten Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators nodded simultaneously!
“Alright. We all agree that the Ancient Sages Sector must rush out of the dark nebula and embrace the grand universe. In that case, we must depend on a superpower in the universe!
“There are two superpowers at war in the universe today, namely the Alliance of the Holy Covenant and the Imperium of True Human Beings!
“The second question. Is there anybody who believes that we should work under the Alliance of the Holy Covenant?”
Everybody was slightly dazed. They all shook their heads.
Meng Chixin smiled. “Just as I speculated. It seems that none of us want to be puppets that are deprived of feelings and self-awareness. Besides, even if we do want to cooperate with the Covenant Alliance, it is still a distance away from the Ancient Sages Sector, with thousands of stars in between. We don’t even know where to look for them!
“Then… it appears that we are left with only one choice, which is to join the Imperium of True Human Beings as Heiye Lan said! What do you think, Fellow Cultivators?”
It was the only topic that mattered in the meeting.
All the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators immediately sat up straight.
Meng Chixin’s eyes were both firm and clear. He changed to a mild and peaceful tone as he casually said, “You can say whatever is on your mind without any concern. I’ll declare my attitude first, but it doesn’t mean that you have to concur with my opinion!
“I believe that, because the Imperium is too powerful and the Ancient Sages Sector is too weak, a head-on clash will be no different from hitting a rock with an egg. The current situation dictates that we hide below the wings of the Imperium and slowly develop ourselves. After we grow strong enough, and when there are new changes at the center of the cosmos, we will come up with other plans!
“Therefore, I agree with joining the Imperium of True Human Beings!
“What’s your opinion, Fellow Cultivator Qi?”
Qi Zhongdao was sitting next to Meng Chixin. He did not seem to have entirely recovered from his earlier frustration. After coughing for a while and staring at the metal stripes at the center of the tale, he said softly, “I’ve been studying the system of the Imperium of True Human Beings over the past couple of days. I discovered that, despite the general aggressiveness and the incessant wars, strict laws have been implemented in the country, and rules are followed from the top to the bottom. According to their rules, even the humblest slave can be knighted, nominated as a general, or even become the master of a Sector as long as their spiritual root is awakened and they practice techniques that are powerful enough!
“It is based on the ‘rules’ that the Imperium of True Human Beings ensures the order of hundreds of Sectors in its territory.
“Any rules are better than no rules. I—I—I agree with joining the Imperium of True Human Beings!”
Li Yao’s heart felt cold.
Before the meeting, he had considered how many of the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators would choose to surrender to the Imperium.
Qi Zhongdao was a critical person whose stance could be ambiguous according to his calculations. He did not expect that the guy would simply lower his head because of ‘rules’!
Han Baling was sitting next to him. He rasped, “The Imperium of True Human Beings has acquired a great territory in the universe with iron and blood, which fits my appetite quite well! The Imperium is the best choice we have right now. It is better than the Covenant Alliance anyway, isn’t it?”
Han Baling believed in ‘classical militarism’, and the Imperium of True Human Beings was based on ‘modern militarism’. Li Yao was not surprised by his choice at all.
“I don’t like how the Imperium of True Human Beings treats the ordinary folks, who are not even considered human beings,” ‘Mother White Lotus’ Wan Mingzhu, who was sitting behind Han Baling, said drily and coldly.
Li Yao suddenly saw a glimpse of hope.
Keep it up, Mother White Lotus, you are one of the legendary leaders of the peasant rebellions. You can’t betray your principle so easily, right?
“However…” Wan Mingzhu suddenly changed the tone. “According to the intelligence Heiye Lan provided, many remote Sectors in the Imperium of True Human Beings are fully autonomous. As long as sufficient resources and taxes are provided for the capital, the capital doesn’t care how the local area regulates itself!
“Therefore, some of the remote space zones do have a lot of bizarre, messy systems.
“If we can fight for autonomy and are allowed to govern the Ancient Sages Sector on our own, we will be able to establish rules as we see fit and won’t have to keep them the same as the rules within the homeland of the Imperium, right?
“It’s not entire unnegotiable if the Ancient Sages Sector can be kept safe in such a way.
“I also agree to join the Imperium of True Human Beings, on the condition that we must stress the importance of ‘autonomy’ during the negotiation. We must not allow anybody else to lay their fingers on the Ancient Sages Sector or even kidnap our folks as slaves. I will never concede when it comes to that clause!”
Wan Mingzhu sat down, or rather, sank down, quickly.
Li Yao’s heart seemed to have sunk into a well in December, too. It was colder than ever!