Li Yao glanced at the faces of all the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators and the Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators, observing their complicated and mysterious expressions. His eyes stayed particularly long on Long Yangjun’s seemingly frank face. Finally, he made up his mind and slowly shook his head. “I… I’m not sure. It seems necessary to join the Imperium of True Human Beings. However, I do feel that this is too important an issue for us to reach a decision so quickly!
“Even if the Imperium can offer us the greatest benefits in the world, it seems to me that we have to carefully consider our other options. However ridiculous and impractical those options are, we should at least give them a fair amount of time for discussion!
“After all, we are certainly not the first Sector to choose to surrender to the Imperium of True Human Beings. The fact that the Imperium has stood in the universe for a thousand years without falling suggests that it certainly has methods to keep the local forces in check. It will not be easy for us to rebel later even if we want to!
“It’s easy to join the Imperium, and maybe there is very favorable treatment in the beginning, but after we are too deeply mired in the swamp, it will be difficult for us to get free from it. What do you think, fellow Cultivators?”
Meng Chixin nodded quickly. “Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture does have a point. It’s true that we cannot regard the Immortal Cultivators of the Imperium of True Human Beings as idiots that we can take advantage of casually. We must consider them as the most cunning, cruel, and terrible opponents!
“To fight for the autonomy of the Ancient Sages Sector is probably not going to be as easy as Heiye Lan said. Rebelling after surrendering will be hard to do, too. One moment of carelessness, and the Ancient Sages Sector will be devoured by the Black Wind Fleet without leaving any residues. Such cases where a mediocre troop is swallowed by an ace troop are very common in any dynasty and in any place!
“Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture is truly insightful enough to give all of us a warning.
“However, getting back to the original topic, we do know the dreadfulness of the Imperium, but exactly like Fellow Cultivator Wang just said, the expedition army of the Imperium, which is too strong for us, is now knocking on our door. If we are determined not to lower our head, what can we do? Fight a bloody battle to death?”
“Fighting a bloody battle to death under siege will just be suicide. Such a choice is too reckless.” Li Yao gritted his teeth and finally said, “However, we do have a potential ally. Why hasn’t anybody given any thought to the Star Glory Federation?”
“The federation?” The many Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators and Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators all looked at each other in bewilderment.
“The insignificant country at the edge of the cosmos according to Heiye Lan?” Wan Mingzhu said impatiently. “If Heiye Lan was speaking the truth, the Black Wind Fleet is marching toward the Star Glory Federation aggressively right now and will reach the destination in three to five years! That country is on the brink of destruction and can barely protect itself! It’s not like we should just shut the door on such a behemoth as the Imperium of True Human Beings and join this unknown country that is in peril, right?”
Emotionlessly, Li Yao pretended that he was not involved and calmly analyzed the situation. “The Star Glory Federation may not be as useless as Heiye Lan described. Otherwise, her fleet wouldn’t have suffered a crushing defeat, and she wouldn’t have been forced to flee to the depths of the dark nebula in a hurry.”
“Didn’t Heiye Lan say that hers was just an insignificant ‘claw fleet’, which equaled to a scout squad?” Wan Mingzhu snorted. “Is it a big deal for an army to lose a scout squad when a great war is about to begin?”
“Stay calm, Fellow Cultivator Wan,” Meng Chixin said. “We agreed to say whatever is on our mind freely, didn’t we?
“Now that Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture has proposed the option of ‘Star Glory Federation’, I believe that he certain has his reasons. Let’s just hear Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture’s enlightenment first and discuss it later.”
“I can’t say that it is enlightenment. It’s just something that I’ve been reflecting on lately.”
Narrowing his eyes, Li Yao cautiously said, “The Imperium of True Human Beings has hundreds of Sectors. The participation of another Sector won’t be anything significant. Even if we do join them sincerely, we will merely be the icing on the cake for the Imperium. Will the Imperium of True Human Beings really appreciate us and grant us the most powerful magical equipment and techniques?
“Let’s be honest here. For the leadership of the Imperium of True Human Beings in the Empyreal Terminus Sector far, far away, the Ancient Sages Sector will merely be a dog that has approached them wagging its tail and begging for mercy. If they are pleased, they will throw their leftovers to us. If they are not, they might kick us. If they are hungry, they can butcher and devour us. We are nothing better than that!
“Although we are not omnipotent and invincible, we are certainly dominators of the Ancient Sages Sector who are basically free to do whatever we want. Are we really in such a hurry to work as somebody else’s dog?”
Qi Changsheng bashed the table heavily. He said gravely, “Why are you saying that, Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture? Who would be willing to be somebody else’s dog if they had a choice? We are simply forced to do that under the pressure!”
“That’s why I’m pondering whether or not the Star Glory Federation can be another choice,” Li Yao said solemnly. “Think about it. If the Star Glory Federation is an insignificant country at the edge of the cosmos like Heiye Lan described, it will have only a handful of Sectors at best. Also, it is faced with the threat of the expedition army of the Imperium and in dire need of powerful reinforcements!
“Joining the Imperium means that we will be the icing on the cake. However, if we join the Star Glory Federation at a time like this, we will be firewood in a cold winter!
“It goes without saying that firewood in a cold winter will be much more appreciated than the icing on the cake!
“Also, if we join the Imperium, we will only be one of hundreds of Sectors and among the weakest ones. We won’t have any say at all but can only wag our tails hard, waiting to be manipulated and exploited!
“However, considering that the Star Glory Federation may have less than just ten Sectors, if we join them, we will probably be one of the five or six giants in the country. With the Nuwa warship and so many Colossi, we can even become a highly influential force within the federation. Not only will we be able to maintain the independence and autonomy of the Ancient Sages Sector, we will also even have the chance to influence and control the future of the Star Glory Federation!
“Is such a future not attractive at all? Is it not worth considering carefully?”
Li Yao’s speech raised rounds of whispers around the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators.
However, they were not convinced by him.
The Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators and Divinity Transformation Stage Cultivators were not idiots. What Li Yao had thought of had occurred to them, too.
“Fellow Cultivator Spiritual Vulture, you do have a point,” Han Baling said solemnly. “We will have a larger say if we join the Star Glory Federation than if we join the Imperium of True Human Beings. It is even possible that we can be a guest who supplants the host and controls the federation one day!
“However, the Star Glory Federation is in peril right now and will soon be destroyed by the Black Wind Fleet. What do you have to say about that?”
“Long expeditions are discouraged in the military because the army will be exhausted.” Li Yao frowned. “Who can guarantee that the Black Wind Fleet will surely defeat the Star Glory Federation?
“In the Ancient Sages Sector, an expedition after several months of journey is practically impossible to win. Even the strongest and most well-trained army will lose their combat ability and morale after staying in a harsh, remote area for a year and a half, eventually being defeated by the locals who are not strong at all!
“The Black Wind Fleet has voyaged in the sea of stars for a hundred years. A hundred years! Who can guarantee that they will absolutely defeat the Star Glory Federation instead of being crushed by the locals at the edge of the cosmos?
“Fellow Cultivator Han, in the eyes of the people from the central plateaus, we are both such ‘locals’. You should know how the war between the ‘locals’ and the ‘invaders’ should be fought more clearly than anybody else, right?
“If we join the Imperium right now, only to find that the Black Wind Fleet is crushed by the Star Glory Federation later, won’t we be in a dilemma?”
Han Baling was rendered speechless. Deep in thought, he shook his head after a moment. “Even if the Black Wind Fleet fails, the Imperium still has hundreds of Sectors that can send countless fleets over!”
“That’s right.” Li Yao smiled bitterly, “It’s true that the Imperium of True Human Beings can send a second fleet over, but who can guarantee that before the second fleet arrives and destroys the Star Glory Federation, the infuriated federation won’t have already annihilated the Ancient Sages Sector?
“Besides, for the Imperium of True Human Beings, the Star Glory Federation is just a skin disease, and the Alliance of the Holy Covenant is still their nemesis! Maybe, if the war in the frontline is too heated, they will simply leave the ‘ulcer’ on their buttock aside for a while, say thirty to fifty years or even longer?
“Thirty to fifty years will be enough for the Star Glory Federation to destroy the Ancient Sages Sector dozens of times!
“Therefore, not only do we have to consider the dominance of the Imperium and the weakness of the federation, we must also note that the Imperium is too far away from us while we are right under the nose of the federation!
“If the Black Wind Fleet is defeated, they can ways retreat, but can the Ancient Sages Sector grow a pair of wings and fly to the heartland of the Imperium?”
Li Yao’s words raised even more fierce discussions.
Some were saying, “Yes. We must consider the possibility that the Star Glory Federation defeats the Black Wind Fleet temporarily and shifts its attention to the Ancient Sages Sector. Let’s be honest here. Even if the Star Glory Federation can’t defeat the Imperium of True Human Beings, it is certainly strong enough to annihilate the Ancient Sages Sector, isn’t it?”
Some others were saying, “That being said, we don’t know the first thing about the Star Glory Federation. Who knows how developed the small country at the desolate area is exactly? Is it good enough to be aided at all? If they are too worthless to be helped, it is better to ‘hit it when it is down’ than to ‘give it firewood in the cold winter’!”
Somebody else was also saying in a hurry, “So what? About the Imperium of True Human Beings, we have managed to capture one Heiye Lan and elicit relevant information from her. But what about the Star Glory Federation? Where can we find a scout of the federation, hypnotize and interrogate him, and exploit all the information in his head? It is still a safer option to join the Imperium!”
Right when everybody was discussing without any result, stable and rhythmed knocks echoed from one side of the table.
Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock!
The discussions gradually petered out. Everybody looked toward the source of the knocks, only to discover that Long Yangjun was tapping the table confidently with a smile.