Li Yao extended his right index finger, which was still wearing the ring of mystic rays that he had used to cut the wall of the oxygen tube. The bluish rays that the ring shot out turned into a sharp, continuously growing icicle that was slowly reaching Professor Luo De’s eyeball.
The bluish rays were ‘growing’ so slowly that Professor Luo De could see every jumping fire clearly.
In the meantime, Li Yao pierced a vivid, life-like picture into Professor Luo De’s brain, which was the whole process of someone’s eyeball being stabbed, dried, and thrown away.
Professor Luo De’s pupils suddenly widened. It was the only movement that he could make right now. Other than that, he could not even tremble or perspire.
“I don’t know,” Professor Luo De said feebly. “I don’t know anything. You’ve come to the wrong person.”
“How can you not know anything?”
Smiling, Li Yao pushed his finger forward. The bluish rays immediately penetrated into Professor Luo De’s left eyeball. As a helical drill, it went further toward Professor Luo De’s brain, bringing excruciating pain to the victim!
“Wu!” Professor Luo De meant to scream, but it was insignificant moans that his throat uttered. He blinked his left eye out of natural instinct, only to find that his eyesight was perfectly normal despite the excruciating pain. The bluish rays were still lingering one millimeter away from his pupil, rotating slowly.
The horrible scene was merely an illusion and a mental attack that Li Yao had launched on him.
“I’ve given you an opportunity, and I hope that you’ll cherish it. Next time, when it pierces, it won’t be an illusion.”
Staring at Professor Luo De’s eyes carefully, Li Yao’s eyes were even sharper than the bluish rays. He then slowly moved them to the professor’s smooth and fresh hands.
“You have two eyeballs. So, you can still give a wrong answer twice. If I still do not get a satisfactory answer after both your eyes have exploded, I’ll have to work on your hands. I believe that, for a seasoned refiner and a specialist of super-minute carving, your hands are even more precious than your eyes. You must’ve nurtured your impeccable hands with all the vitality and spiritual energy in your body, and you do not want to them to end up in a pile of meat one finger after another, do you?”
Professor Luo De maintained his casual, rigid voice, but the fear and desperation in his voice was audible even for a deaf person. “What do you want to know exactly?”
“I want to know whom you work for,” Li Yao said coldly. “Who has given you what benefits to make you betray your student and craft the magical equipment that is enough to get your student killed?
“Tang Xiaoxing is your most distinguished student. You two get along with each other quite well. You are best known for your nonchalance and unamiableness on Firefly. In the past few decades, not many people have entered your personal refining workshop. But Tang Xiaoxing was an exception. She once worked as your assistant for three years.
“In regard to whether or not to join the Star Glory Federation, although you have never declared your stance publicly, I believe that you should be in favor of the ‘technical staff’, Captain Tang Dingyuan’s side, as a master of refining. There have never been rumors that you are close to the parliament. On the contrary, you once berated certain MPs in a meeting and labeled them ‘illiterate’, which was quite an embarrassment for them.
“Therefore, I find it difficult to understand why you did all this. Who asked you to produce the tracking and localization magical equipment, and what benefits did they promise you? Or rather, what were the reasons that they used to convince you?”
Professor Luo De’s eyeballs shivered quickly. “It—it was Cheng Xuansu who asked me to produce them!”
Li Yao slightly raised his eyebrow. “Speaker Cui Lingfeng’s most trusted subordinate and the head of the secret police of the Internal Affairs Division, who were responsible for investigating and capturing Captain Tang?”
“Exactly!” Professor Luo De breathed heavily. “I don’t know anything. I only helped Cheng Xuansu craft a batch of training and localization magical equipment!”
“But you knew at that time that the magical equipment could only be applied to Tang Xiaoxing, right?” Li Yao said casually.
Professor Luo De closed his eyes painfully. “… Yes.”
“You do not look like the kind of person who would listen to the parliament and the secret police obediently. Not only is Tang Xiaoxing your most intimate student, her father is also the captain of Firefly. You should understand the dire consequences of the incident.
“You clearly knew that Cheng Xuansu wanted to arrest Tang Xiaoxing because Speaker Cui Lingfeng was dealing with Captain Tang Dingyuan. It was the life-and-death competition between the ‘No. 1’ and the ‘No. 2’, which was likely to be an event that would completely tear Firefly apart! For you personally, ‘betraying your student’ would also be a stain that was never going to be erased! However, when Cheng Xuansu came to you asking you to craft a piece of magical equipment to deal with your student, you simply accepted the task without questioning it?”
“I—I didn’t have a choice!” Professor Luo De’s eyes and lips were shivering. The wrinkles on his face seemed ten times deeper instantly, making him look like a burnt dry tree. “Cheng Xuansu said that… Captain Tang and his conspirators were guilty of high treason. For the future of Firefly, I had to cooperate with them to serve the country and the fate of our hundred and thirty million compatriots!”
“High treason?” Li Yao frowned. “Just because Captain Tang is in favor of joining the Star Glory Federation, he is a traitor?”
Professor Luo De’s eyes suddenly turned very weird. “What federation? It has nothing to do with joining the Star Glory Federation. Cheng Xuansu said that Captain Tang has defected and degenerated into an Immortal Cultivator. Apparently, he was trying to contact the Black Wind Fleet in secret, hoping to send our coordinates to the expedition army of the Imperium so that it could teleport over instantly!”
“What?” Li Yao was dumbfounded. Thousands of thoughts were bursting out like fireworks in his mind. Calming himself down, he asked, “Captain Tang is an Immortal Cultivator? How is that possible? How does Cheng Xuansu know? What evidence does she have?”
“Naturally, I was not in a position to see the specific evidence,” Professor Luo De said. “However, according to Cheng Xuansu, Firefly is in peril. Captain Tang lost the firm belief to restore Star Ocean Republic a long time ago and slowly degenerated into a pessimist and a capitulator. For his own life, he wouldn’t hesitate to join anybody.
“Then, if he has to choose a target to rely on, of course, the more powerful the target is, the better. Although the Star Glory Federation boasts some influence at the edge of the cosmos, how can it be compared to the Imperium of True Human Beings? Captain Tang intends to resolve the problem once and for all. Naturally, surrendering to the Imperium is the better option!
“Therefore, a long time ago, Captain Tang’s belief was corrupted, and he turned from a Cultivator into an Immortal Cultivator. Not only that, he also raised a huge batch of Immortal Cultivators on Firefly in secret. He planned to completely seize the super starship for the Imperium of True Human Beings when the time was right!
“Also, Cheng Xuansu also claimed that the ‘Election Observation Delegation’ that Captain Tang sent to the Star Glory Federation was mixed with a lot of Immortal Cultivators. If their scheme worked out, it was very possible that the expedition army of the Imperium would immediately show up right in front of us! Therefore, my cooperation would save not only Firefly but also our ally, the Star Glory Federation!
“It was exactly because of the dire consequences that she described that I agreed to cooperate with her and helped her craft a batch of super-minute magical equipment.”
Li Yao widened his eyes and stared at every wrinkle on Professor Luo De’s face without blinking, trying to find a hint of deception, but he found absolutely nothing.
If Professor Luo De was not an actor that was even more professional than Li Yao, he was very likely to be speaking the truth.
But Li Yao was still confused about one thing. “You believed everything Cheng Xuansu said when there was no proof at all? Did it never occur to you that it was possibly a setup that the parliament imposed on Captain Tang Dingyuan? After all, your parliament and your technical staff on the starship haven’t been in the best relationship!”
“Of course, I didn’t believe what Cheng Xuansu said!” Professor Luo De said. “Everybody knows that she is Speaker Cui Lingfeng’s lackey. The technical staff who are devoted to technology have always thought little of the paranoid secret police.
“However, Cheng Xuansu didn’t come to me alone. She was here with Chief Mate Ding, who endorsed her every word.”
“Chief Mate Ding?” Li Yao thought for a moment. “You mean Ding Zhengyang, the general commander of the deck floor of Firefly; Captain Tang’s trusted subordinate, assistant, and first agent; and the No. 3 person on the starship only secondary to Speaker Cui and Captain Tang?”
“Exactly,” Professor Luo De said. “Everybody knows that Chief Mate Ding is Captain Tang’s most loyal comrade. He has helped Captain Tang fight against the parliament for decades. During the few conflicts between the bridge and the parliament, he always led the charge!
“After we discovered the Star Glory Federation, Chief Mate Ding was the first one who proposed joining the Star Glory Federation. He was even earlier and more resolute than Captain Tang!
“Also, Chief Mate Ding belongs to the technical staff. He was promoted to the general commander of the deck floor step by step from a sailor at the bottom level in the engine compartment. He knows every detail about every corner of Firefly. He is a real expert commander of starships. The technical staff have always been quite fond of him!
“He personally told me that Captain Tang had defected and degenerated into an Immortal Cultivator!
“He dislikes the fellows in the parliament, but whether or not to join the Star Glory Federation did not matter. What mattered was to immediately eradicate the internal Immortal Cultivators on Firefly!
“I didn’t trust Cheng Xuansu, but I couldn’t find any reason not to trust Chief Mate Ding. That is why I helped them produce the batch of tracking and localization magical equipment!”
Li Yao took a deep breath. The brilliance inside his eyes was shining like mysterious stars. “Let me guess. Captain Tang Dingyuan has been arrested by the special investigators for secret interrogations, and it’s not like that the MPs can pilot the starship. Therefore, the guy who has assumed Captain Tang’s post and power is ‘Chief Mate Ding’, right?”
“Yes,” Professor Luo De said. “The chief mate is the first agent of the captain after all. According to the Space Voyage Regulations, when accidents happen to the captain, the chief mate should immediately fill in for him. It is true that Chief Mate Ding Zhengyang is controlling Firefly as the acting captain!”