Chu Chongjiu was dazed for a long time before softly saying, “It was an accident.”
“Uncle,” Professor Tang replied, “an ‘accident’ shouldn’t be found in the dictionary of a refiner. There are no accidents in the world; there are only problems and the odds that they take place!
“We have drifted in the sea of stars for a thousand years. All the components on Firefly have rusted, eroded, and aged. Also, they cannot keep pace with the development of our new technology anymore. It is only a matter of time that an ‘accident’ takes place. As time goes by, similar ‘accidents’ will only happen more and more frequently until our civilization is entirely destroyed in a world-blighting ‘accident’!”
Chu Chongjiu was silent for a long time before he said after a long sigh, “You’re right, miss.”
“Therefore, the Star Glory Federation is our last hope. Although they have yet to reach our height in the fields of certain critical technologies, it does boast seven Sectors and Kunlun, which was left by the prehistoric civilization. Their resources, population, and territory are all a thousand times larger than ours!
“I believe that changes in quantity will eventually lead to a change in quality. The Star Glory Federation boasts infinite potential. Even if they are not as good as us right now in some fields, they will certainly catch up with us at lightning-like speed!
“Uncle Chu, did you know how many mixed feelings I had just now when I was studying the Azure Thunder devised by Wu Yaxuan? I don’t know how I should put it. When did such experts of refining like Wu Yaxuan emerge at the underdeveloped area at the edge of the cosmos, who are capable of producing a crystal suit that is as distinguished as our mainstream equipment? What—what terrifying potential they have!”
Chu Chongjiu could not help but observe, “You are being too modest, miss. Wu Yaxuan’s expertise in refining is nothing worth mentioning compared to yours. Didn’t you resolve the problem easily just now? You were even able to trigger a better performance of the crystal suit through adjustment. Your adjustment was truer to the meaning of ‘flawlessness’ than Wu Yaxuan’s techniques were. Not just Wu Yaxuan, even if his mother Master Xie Anan were here, she wouldn’t have done a better job than you.”
The girl smiled but shook her head. “There is no need to exaggerate, Uncle Chu. I know my own refining level. Besides… there’s only one me on Firefly, whereas Wu Yaxuan is just a rising star in the Star Glory Federation and only invincible in the younger generation. In the upper class of the society of refiners, there are bound to be many more specialists who are more excellent than him!
“All in all, I believe that geniuses can only be found when the population is large enough. They are the tip of a pyramid that has to be supported by an enormous foundation! Right now, the foundation is missing on Firefly, which means that we are doomed to decline. In comparison, the population of the Star Glory Federation is large enough to support a civilization with infinite potential!
“We have cutting-edge technology in our hands, but we lack the industrial infrastructure and necessary population. The Star Glory Federation’s foundation is solid enough, and it has sufficient population and resources, but it does not have too much reserve after all. Some of the cutting-edge technology and techniques might not be developed for hundreds of years!
“If we can truly be merged, it will be beneficial for both parties. Only such a brand-new, complementary civilization can expect to defeat the expedition army of the Imperium and even march back to our hometown at the center of the sea of stars one day!
“This is the wish of both my father and myself. However many difficulties we may run into in the future, I will walk to the end of the path. Uncle Chu, we can count on your support, right?”
Chu Chongjiu smiled bitterly and said, “I have been under Captain Tang’s command since I was eleven. At that time, we were merely two students in the engine compartment. Even my life was saved by Captain Tang in the explosion of the engine compartment at that time. Who else can I support if not Captain Tang and you after all these years?
“However, it is not an easy path to walk on. People on Firefly do not necessarily object to the merger with the Star Glory Federation. After all, we are two of the few civilizations of Cultivators in the sea of stars, but the question remains—who will be the leader in the new alliance? Those people in our parliament demand that they should enter and manage the parliament of the Star Glory Federation. Even the name of the ‘Star Glory Federation’ must be changed directly into the ‘Star Ocean Republic’!”
Professor Tang bulged her eyes, her courtesy and meek aura just now entirely gone. “Is—is there something wrong with those people’s heads? Our population is only one thousandth of theirs. We do not have a single resource planet. All we have is a broken starship that is riddled with holes! The only leverage we have for the negotiation are the techniques, technology, and intelligence from the center of the cosmos that we’ve held onto since a thousand years ago. Nothing more!
“If they are determined to develop our techniques and technologies independently, they will certainly get all of them after a few hundred years!
“Just based on that, those people on Firefly are hoping to dominate their parliament and even force them to change the name of the country? Isn’t it even more hilarious than a snake that tries to swallow an elephant?”
Chu Chongjiu hesitated for a moment. After thinking, he still said what he wanted to say nonetheless. “Maybe their heads are absolutely fine. It’s just that they are viewing the question from a different perspective because of their different stance.
“Miss, you know that the ‘competition of routes’ has been going on for hundreds of years on Firefly. It’s mostly the argument between the ‘technical staff’ and the ‘administrative staff’.
“People like you, me, your captain father, the chief mate, the navigator, and others who are dedicated to specific technical work naturally do not attach much importance to the slogan of the ‘rightful government of the Star Ocean Republic’. Many of us even believe that, if we get to the bottom of it, Firefly right now is more like a starship than a ‘rightful government’. So, all the affairs should be managed according to the rules and regulations of a starship. There is no need for a ‘rightful government’ to meddle at all!
“However, don’t forget that the starship was fully loaded with the MPs and their family members of the ‘rightful government of the Star Ocean Republic’ when our ancestors escaped from the Empyreal Terminus Sector a thousand years ago. Those people are deeply connected with each other and boast unparalleled influence. After a thousand years, they are still maintaining the daily functioning and management of the parliament.”
The girl sniffed and said, “What parliament? They are redundancies, if put nicely, or cancer, if we are being honest!”
“Miss,” Chu Chongjiu said, “the technical staff such as you certainly regard the parliament as a redundancy if not a cancer. However, in the eyes of the MPs, they are the last hope that sustains the rightful government and the national elites who are much more important than the technical staff!
“In the last few hundred years, the competition between the technical staff and the administrational staff has been quite fierce. Now that the Star Glory Federation has popped up out of nowhere, hasn’t the contradiction between the two parties significantly intensified?
“Let’s be honest here, miss. Your father is the captain of Firefly; you are the youngest lecturer in Star Ocean University and the youngest Level-A researcher in the Star Ocean Institute. As for me, I can more or less provide technical support in terms of refining, too.
“For the technical staff like you and me, even if we join the Star Glory Federation, our position will not be any lower than it is now.
“Your father can continue working as the captain of Firefly. It is even possible for the Star Glory Federation to offer some resources and support him to establish a fleet of which he will be the general commander. For the specialists from Star Ocean University and the Star Ocean Institute, you can establish larger educational and research agencies in a certain Sector, or you can be hired by the eighteen supreme academic institutions in the federation with a high pay and participate in the more in-depth and profound studies. Even for myself, I can easily find better privileges in the federation than what I am enjoying right now.
“The bottom line is, for the technical staff like us, joining the Star Glory Federation has all kinds of merits and absolutely no harm.
“However, what about the MPs and even the Speaker? What benefits can they get after they join the Star Glory Federation?
“The last thing that the Star Glory Federation is short of is politicians. They are doing their job quite fine. Every MP has accomplished their place after earning countless military credits, and yet you are asking them to share the power with the lords in our parliament? Is that fair?
“There can’t be two tigers in one den, and there can’t be two Speakers in one federation, can there? Miss, tell me about it. How can our parliament support a comprehensive combination? After the combination, we can make a living with our knowledge, but what can the MPs do?
“Management? Yes. They claim to be best at management! The problem is, as you said just now, miss, there is only a population of a hundred million on Firefly. The best that our MPs can expect to handle are the issues of a hundred million people! The Star Glory Federation, on the other hand, has a population of almost ten billion people in the seven Sectors! The poor experience in management that our MPs have is not worth mentioning in their place!
“Even a random city in the federation may have a population of hundreds of millions. Is our Speaker willing to demean himself by working as the mayor of a city? Even if he is willing to, it’s not like the original mayor of the city will voluntarily clear the post for him!
“That’s the Speaker we are talking about. What about the officials of the idle bureaus? When we evacuated years ago, we kept the hundred departments we had before. Those officials have been doing nothing for a thousand years. What can they do after the merger, work as an insignificant official at the bottom level of the corresponding department in the federation? Why would they agree to that?
“All in all, it is a very complicated issue to join the Star Glory Federation. Even if your father is the leader of the captain, it is impossible for him to rush into anything faced with such tremendous obstacles. Let’s make thorough plans and preparations first!
“The Black Wind Fleet will arrive in no time. How can we make thorough plans and preparations?”
Professor Tang could not help but clench her fists. “If we cannot finish the assimilation before the great war begins, then—”
While she was talking, Chu Chongjiu’s portable crystal processor suddenly buzzed in a low noise. Somebody had sent him a message.
To speak with Professor Tang, Chu Chongjiu had already adjusted the settings on his portable crystal processor. Except for those from a few most important people, the messages from the irrelevant people were all blocked.
Chu Chongjiu was dazed and frowning hard after he read the message.
“What happened?” Professor Tang looked at him concernedly. “Anything wrong, Uncle Chu?”
“Something weird has happened,” Chu Chongjiu said in confusion. “Nie Siyuan, the manager of the Maintenance Department of this place, asked me for help. He said that something happened to the Azure Thunder that we both adjusted just now!”