Li Yao opened his hands and said, “As you can see, I am a refiner. It was really a coincidence that I ran into Tang Xiaoxing in the magical equipment store. I did not know her identity back then and merely discussed the arts of refining with her for a while. Then, after learning that a batch of your rare materials was on sale, I went to your warehouse with her to check the goods, only to suffer an assault while we were on the way.
“As a Cultivator, naturally, there was no way that I would allow her to be killed. Rescuing her was as coincidental as rescuing you. However, after I saved her life, she told me some more inside information about Firefly. She also said that her father is the captain of Firefly.
“Then, I immediately thought of something.
“Right now, what we are short of is a legal identity to enter the federation, but if we can save the captain of Firefly from the bad guys and help the ‘bridge faction’ completely crush the ‘parliament faction’, chances are that he will appoint us as the special envoys of Firefly, in which case, we will be able to swagger into the federation on a red carpet!
“After all, what happened to us is similar to Firefly’s experience. We have shared the same suffering. If we also save Captain Tang’s life, we believe that he definitely won’t hesitate to help us.
“Therefore, after thorough planning, I was asked to sneak in first. I infiltrated Professor Luo De’s place and pretended to be Professor Luo De.
“My original purpose was merely to deliver the metal cylinder which stored the scarlet ball to the person behind the scheme. Naturally, devices were installed in the cylinder to help us scan the terrain, eavesdrop on secrets, and deduce where Captain Tang was caged. Then, my partners would be able to sneak in more precisely and rescue Captain Tang.
“According to the original plan, I should’ve been sitting comfortably in Professor Luo De’s refining workshop. But as it happened, I was summoned you and saved you in the end before we saved Captain Tang.”
Cui Lingfeng stared at Li Yao. “You didn’t hurt Professor Luo De, did you?”
Li Yao was slightly dazed before shaking his head. “Of course not. Professor Luo De was tricked and did not know the whole story. As a Cultivator, why would I hurt him?
“All in all, this is about everything. Although it sounds like a tale, I guarantee that, well, ninety-five percent of what I said is true,” Li Yao calculated solemnly.
It was the latest identity that Long Yangjun and him had fabricated carefully after thorough consideration. Ninety-five percent of their background was indeed true. Unless the listener was prophetic and omniscient, it would be practically impossible for them to locate any loopholes.
Cui Lingfeng gradually recovered his original calmness and shrewdness. Instead of pursuing whether or not Li Yao was speaking the truth, he asked a different question. “How many people do you have out there? How strong they are?”
Although he could refuse to answer, Li Yao still replied quickly. “There are twelve other than me, all between the Core Formation Stage and the Nascent Soul Stage!”
“So strong?” Cui Lingfeng was rather shocked despite his preparation.
“It can’t be helped. We fought for too long against the army of the Imperium on our mother planet. Those who were not strong enough either died or surrendered,” Li Yao said. “Only those who were strong enough were able to run to this place across the sea of stars.
“However, although our Cultivation is not low, our training resources are highly insufficient. We can barely make ends meet right now, which is also why we are in a hurry to look for Captain Tang’s cooperation.”
Cui Lingfeng’s eyes suddenly glittered. “So, your companions are already on their way to rescue Captain Tang?”
“I don’t know.” Li Yao tapped his ears and said, “I deployed some one-way communication magical equipment on the starship, but we travelled in the vacuum tubes for too long just now. This is an unknown area. The signal is intermittent, and I cannot reach out to them.
“Judging from the pieces of information that I received, they must’ve already snuck in. However, because of the chaos on the starship, and since we do not want to hurt any innocent folk, we have to keep a low profile in our operation. I don’t think that they can rescue Captain Tang so quickly.”
Cui Lingfeng nodded slowly and said, “Alright. Assuming that you have been speaking the truth, what should I call you, fellow Cultivator from the Red Lotus Sector?”
Li Yao blinked and said, “Lin Jiu.”
Cui Lingfeng did not care about whether it was a real name or a false one at all. He said solemnly, “Thank you for saving my life, Fellow Cultivator Lin! You said that it was only a coincidence that you saved me. I wonder, what are you planning to do right now?”
Li Yao scratched the back of his head and said, “Continue our original plan, of course. We will rescue Captain Tang, win his trust, help the ‘bridge faction’ completely crush the ‘parliament faction’, and drive the Speaker away!
“Do excuse us, Speaker Cui, but this is nothing personal. After all, we are more inclined to join the Star Glory Federation, although we want to observe it first so that we will be able to defend our interests as best as possible. Captain Tang seems to be thinking exactly the same way.
“As for you…
“Forget it. There’s no need to talk about that now. Despite our different opinions, based on the series of events just now, I believe that you are a true Cultivator. Now that I’ve saved you, I’d better make sure that you are properly taken care of. Are you going to the ‘No. 1 Fortress’? Or maybe, do you have other secret troops that are more loyal than Cheng Xuansu? I’ll escort you to them!”
Li Yao looked at Cui Lingfeng very sincerely.
Cui Lingfeng’s face, however, grew dim again. He thought for a long time and finally said gloomily, “Fellow Cultivator Lin, the bodyguard sealed in his crystal suit cannot overhear the conversation between us, can he?”
“Of course not.” Li Yao smiled. “I am not a rookie. When I destroyed his crystal suit, I naturally turned off the crystal cameras and the soundwave sensors on the crystal suit. He can’t see or hear a thing.”
“Alright. Can you do me one more favor?” Cui Lingfeng said. “Open his facial cover and then give me five minutes. I’ll give you a… satisfactory answer.”
Li Yao’s smile was even more brilliant. “Sure. It’s very smart of you. No wonder you are the Speaker.”
The bodyguard who was confined to his crystal suit unable to move was the leader of Red Phoenix Group, which was responsible for the Speaker’s safety.
It was also why Li Yao had kept him alive. Based on the positions of the four bodyguards and their body language before they lunged forward, Li Yao had already concluded that he was the leader of the four of them.
When the guy’s facial cover was lifted, his face was completely pale after being soaked in darkness for so long. He was almost drowned by his own sweat.
“Cheng Bin,” Cui Lingfeng said expressionlessly. “Do you see it now? Everything was within my expectations. I knew that something was wrong with you, and I intentionally set up such a trap to fish you up.
“Everything is under my control. Cheng Xuansu has committed suicide for fear of her punishment. Ding Zhengyang is also surrounded by my men in the bridge and about to be captured. Are you going to follow their example, or are you going to grasp the last chance to do the right thing?”
The spine of the bodyguard ‘Cheng Bin’ was unlocked by Li Yao. Hardly had he turned his head when he noticed Cheng Xuansu’s headless body on the ground. His face was even paler than before, and his sweat was as red as blood. He cried, “Speaker, I—I—”
“Aright. Cut the nonsense. Now that you are willing to repent, I’ll give you an opportunity to correct your mistakes,” Cui Lingfeng said calmly. “How many people do you have? Other than Cheng Xuansu and Ding Zhengyang, who else among the leadership of the starship are with you? Speak now! One more name means one less charge for you!”
“I—I don’t know!” Cheng Bing shook his face hard, his face pale. “We always maintained one-way communication. Leader Cheng was the commander for the few of us. I only met some other fellow Cultivators during the ‘Immortality Orientation’.”
“Immortality Orientation?” Cui Lingfeng frowned. “Tell me about it.”
“It is a secret seminar where we explore the true path of immortality,” Cheng Bin said quickly. “At first, Leader Cheng gave us some leaflets on the truth path of immortality. She claimed that it was very popular on the starship nowadays and asked us to find out who was behind all that, declaring that such evil, addictive thoughts must not disseminate and contaminate on our starship.
“It was the job of the secret police of the Internal Affairs Division after all. At that time, we were not suspicious at all but simply read the leaflets critically.
“However, after I studied what the leaflets said, the more I thought about it, the more I felt that it—it did have a point and that it could not simply be summarized as ‘evil’. I was quite bothered by my new finding.
“During that time, Leader Cheng often came to us to communicate with us. One day, I couldn’t hold myself any longer and told her my trouble.
“After that, she often visited me and talked to me. After a few sessions, she brought me to one of the Immortality Orientations, introducing me to the true path of immortality interpreted by Master Lu in person. Then, I was—”
“Wait, Master Lu? Lu Qingchen?” Cui Lingfeng narrowed his eyes. “Lu Qingchen—president of the CIFA, the most wanted criminal of the federation, grandson of the leader of the Patriots Partnership in the past, and the leader of the local Immortal Cultivators of the federation—has been hiding on our starship the whole time? Did you meet him?”
“Not exactly.” Cheng Bin shook his head and said, “We only watched videos and communicated about the ideas remotely. Even so, Master Lu, no, Lu Qingchen was so persuasive that we were all bewildered without us knowing.”
Cui Lingfeng sniffed. “What exactly did he say that puzzled and perplexed all of you?”
“Too much.” Cheng Bin sighed sorrowfully. “Speaker, I really did not want to betray the ideology of the Cultivators and degenerate into an Immortal Cultivator, but Master Lu said—he said that the classification of Cultivators and Immortal Cultivators is groundless. There are always two parts, namely ‘Cultivator’ and ‘Immortal Cultivator’, inside every individual, except that sometimes the ‘Cultivator’ part is greater, and sometimes the ‘Immortal Cultivator’ part is greater.
“He also said that Cultivators and Immortal Cultivators can be transformed into each other freely. Therefore, the issue must be viewed objectively according to actual circumstances.
“For example, the policies in ‘troubled times’ on Firefly hundreds of years ago did not look like something that Cultivators should do, but they helped us weather the difficulties and darkness!
“Then, were the leadership who made the decisions at that time Cultivators or Immortal Cultivators?
“Master Lu also said that the entire civilization of mankind is in ‘troubled times’, too, like Firefly hundreds of years ago. So, we have to resolve the problems with the Immortal Cultivators’ system. This is not about exploiting the ordinary people but about dealing with the troubles together.
“As soon as the Alliance of the Holy Covenant is defeated and the universe is unified, there will be a technological leap, tremendous resources, and no more wars. Naturally, the ordinary people will gradually be given more rights.
“They—they’re only part of Master Lu’s views. Because our level was too low, we had no access to the truth path of immortality of a higher level. All in all, Leader Cheng told us that Master Lu’s ideology was different from the true path of immortality that we knew in the past. It was perfect, advanced, dialectical, and objective. In short, he is the Immortal Cultivator 2.0!”