“Wow…” Li Yao exclaimed in amazement again and changed his form of address. “Sir Speaker, you have changed my view of you time and time again. I didn’t know that you were so sober regarding the issue.”
“I don’t want to be so sober, either.” Narrowing his eyes, Cui Lingfeng said gloomily, “When you are placed in an endless hell, the more sober you are, the more painful it will be.”
“However, the first reason alone does not seem to be persuasive enough,” Li Yao said. “What’s the second reason?”
“Secondly,” Cui Lingfeng said coldly, “like your fellows from the Red Lotus Sector, even if we do join the Star Glory Federation, I must fight for the fundamental benefits of my compatriots and for the respect and historical influence of the name ‘Star Ocean Republic’ that it deserves.
“But Captain Tang can’t. The only thing he is capable of is piloting a starship and controlling the hundreds of units. You’re asking such an operator to brazen himself to negotiate with other people and fight for benefits ruthlessly? He can’t. He is too unsophisticated. The federation and Jin Xinyue will only play him like a toy!”
“Well, you don’t seem to be particularly fond of Jin Xinyue, Sir Speaker. Just now, you appeared to be quite hostile when you thought that I worked for Jin Xinyue.”
Cui Lingfeng sniffed and said, “After you first rescued Tang Xiaoxing, you were engaged with a mysterious tactical squad who got her away from the hands of the Four Sectors Chamber of Commerce and the secret police. The tactical squad was likely the ‘Dim Moon Squad’ under Jin Xinyue’s lead.
“Let me ask you. Cheng Xuansu has been acting so surreptitiously. How exactly did Jin Xinyue learn of the arrest in advance even before the Secret Sword Bureau of the federation took action, and why did a fully-armed Dim Moon Squad happen to be nearby?
“It was definitely not a coincidence. Jin Xinyue must be greatly related to the issue. As for exactly how deep she is involved and what kind of role she plays in the whole event, I don’t know it yet.
“But you can figure out the logic if you think about it more carefully. Who will earn the greatest benefits if there is major chaos on Firefly? The Star Glory Federation, of course!
“Firstly, they move away the smelly, stubborn diehard—me—by the hands of the Immortal Cultivators. Then, they will take over everything on Firefly. Chances are that Tang Dingyuan will even be grateful for the ‘selfless help of the fellow Cultivators’. This seems exactly to be Jin Xinyue’s style.”
Scratching his head hard, Li Yao observed, “Well, according to what you said, Speaker, this Jin Xinyue is not a good guy.”
Cui Lingfeng glanced at Li Yao, somewhat in confusion. “I’ve noticed that your wisdom is rollercoasting, Captain Lin. Did the two-hundred-year hibernation wreck the thinking area inside your brain? Do you not know what Jin Xinyue’s job is? President of the Dim Moon Fund! There are two intelligence agencies in the Star Glory Federation. One of them is the Secret Sword Bureau, which is responsible for homeland security, and the other is the Dim Moon Fund, which is responsible for external strikes. To put it in a simpler manner, the former prevents the enemy from sabotaging their home, and the latter tries to sabotage the enemy’s home.
“A good guy? Is a good guy even qualified to be the director of the external intelligence agency?”
Li Yao was rendered speechless. Pretending to be highly alert, he lowered his voice and said, “We’ve heard a lot of rumors about Jin Xinyue in the Dragon Snake Space Zone, too, and we are highly wary of the Venomous Witch. We are unwilling to publicize our real identity and enter the federation openly mostly because of her, too! I’m told that she is truly brutal and ruthless! Sir Speaker, do you think that it is possible that she has also defected and degenerated into an Immortal Cultivator?”
“I do not think that Jin Xinyue is an Immortal Cultivator,” Cui Lingfeng replied. “But why do you think Cultivators are doubtlessly good guys?”
Li Yao was slightly dazed. “Can Cultivators be bad guys?”
“Of course,” Cui Lingfeng replied. “There are two types of Cultivators. Good Cultivators and bad Cultivators.”
Li Yao frowned. “I don’t understand. What’s the difference?”
“The good Cultivators do what Cultivators should do, and the bad Cultivators do the things that the good Cultivators are unwilling to do but have to be done nevertheless,” Cui Lingfeng said casually.
“It’s… still a bit confusing for me.”
“Is this important?” Cui Lingfeng frowned. “Do we have to waste our precious time with me explaining this to you?”
Li Yao nodded and solemnly said, “It is very important. The locals of the Red Lotus Sector are Cultivators, too. We have our own beliefs and boundaries. Naturally, we cannot help any random guy. We can only make a deal if you do have a point!”
“Fair enough.” Pondering for a moment, Cui Lingfeng accelerated his speech and said, “There’s no time for thorough explanation. Let me put it this way. Two candidates in the federation are campaigning for the Speaker of the Federation, a post that has never been more important in the past hundred years. Of them, Ding Lingdang is the good Cultivator, and Jiang Shaoyang is the bad Cultivator.
“This is not unique in the federation but ubiquitous in every place. On Firefly, generally speaking, the captain is the good Cultivator, and the Speaker is the bad Cultivator.
“Don’t be hasty. You’ll understand what I’m saying after I give you an example.
“Did you know that Firefly suffered quite a number of disasters that could’ve wiped us out in the past hundreds of years? The cabins in which we planted crops and raised livestock suffered destructive strikes of meteor showers. We were once seriously short of a critical material, which led to the delay in the production of certain special drugs, and many patients died because of that. Severe plagues once flooded the starship, but there was nothing we could do about it.
“Let me ask you, after the artificial ranches and greenhouses on the starship are seriously wrecked by the cosmic storms, and it is calculated that there will be serious famines in the hundred years to come that will only grow worse if the population rises, under such circumstances, can the good Cultivators make the decision that natural conception and birth are forbidden for everyone, that whoever wants to have children must freeze their sperm and egg and wait in line, in which case, many people will die with regrets because they failed to watch the birth of their children with their own eyes for their entire life?
“Can the good Cultivators really make such an inhumane decision?”
Li Yao was lost for words, not knowing how he should answer, but Cui Lingfeng did not let him go. He simply went on.
“Let me ask you again. When we were seriously short of one material, which disrupted the production of a special drug targeting a certain heart disease, and when our stock is running low after every bottle used, then, for the young people and all the future generations, is it possible for the good Cultivators to make it a rule that the seniors above the age of 150 are forbidden from using such a drug after they contract heart disease, even if it is the only way that their life can be saved, so that the drugs can be spared for the young people?
“Can the good Cultivators really make such a cruel decision? Can they watch the seniors above 150 die slowly while doing nothing?”
Li Yao swallowed and swallowed again.
Staring at him, Cui Lingfeng’s eyes felt like two cold torches. “Alright. The rule has been made that all the seniors above the age of 150 will be banned from the special drug for heart disease indiscriminately. However, as it happens, a specialist of power rune arrays, who is of paramount importance for Firefly, suddenly has a heart attack when he is 151 years old. He will certainly die if he is not given the special drug.
“His death will be a serious blow for Firefly. It may even mean the complete loss of a special extreme turbo boosting technology, which has been the key for us in getting rid of the army of the Imperium in the past! Under such circumstances, can the good Cultivators tamper with his identity files and change his age to 149, making him qualified to enjoy the special drug?
“Later, a reporter accidentally finds out the issue and intends to expose the great scandal, which could lead to a great riot on Firefly. Can the good Cultivators coerce the reporter with carrots and sticks and bury the scandal?
“Do you get it, Captain Lin? Good Cultivators shouldn’t do those things. Such things are dirty, nasty, smelly, and cruel. They should be despised by all ‘real’ Cultivators!
“The captain of Firefly must not do any of that!
“O captain, my captain! The captain of Firefly, the greatest universal exploration starship in the Star Ocean Republic that explores the places none have ever set foot on! He should be a good Cultivator of brightness, justice, and perfection without any dirt! He should lead everyone on board from one victory to another and from brightness to greater brightness with a brilliant smile and with his confidence and fearlessness!
“The captain’s hands can’t be dirty.
“But as for the parliament that is as useless as the appendix and the Speaker who is fat, selfish, merciless, unsympathetic, things are different. He is a bad Cultivator. He is free to make all the decisions that the good Cultivators cannot make!
“It is why Firefly still adopts a ‘dual-head’ system after a thousand years of voyaging. It is also why Firefly was able to persist in the voyage for a thousand years! The captain and the Speaker, the good Cultivators and the bad Cultivators. The former is responsible for the part of the work that is upright, blood-boiling, and passionate, whereas the latter is in charge of whatever is left. That’s all.
“Tang Dingyuan is a very dutiful captain. He is also a standard good Cultivator, just like Ding Lingdang, the other candidate in the Star Glory Federation, the God of War in the federation. Hehe. Yes. They are the most perfect warriors walking in daylight!
“However, warriors walking in daylight are only suitable for fighting during the day. Tang Dingyuan can shake hands, sign his name, hug Ding Lingdang, and put on the sunniest smile in front of the public and under the spotlight. But he cannot play the game with Jin Xinyue like a wild dog in the places where people cannot see. He is absolutely no match for Jin Xinyue!
“Only I can fight for more benefits for Firefly with the name of ‘Star Ocean Republic’ under Jin Xinyue’s sharp tusks, because Jin Xinyue and I are the same type of person. We are both bad Cultivators who defend the path of the Cultivators in darkness!”
Cui Lingfeng declared, one word after another, “Therefore, I must have full control over the negotiation. As for my own outcome when the negotiation is over, it doesn’t matter. But right now, I have to work as the Speaker. I must show the power and resolution of the supreme leader of the Star Ocean Republic!”