Glancing at Tang Dingyuan who was already slightly stunned, Cui Lingfeng interrupted Ding Zhengyang’s speech. “Enough. Is this the so-called ‘Immortal Cultivator 2.0’ proposed by Lu Qingchen?”
“This is only part of it,” Ding Zhengyang said. “There is more, concerning the relationship between the Immortal Cultivators and ordinary people.”
“Relationship?” Cui Lingfeng said coldly. “What relationship can there possibly be other than slavery and exploitation?”
“Then you are wrong, Speaker Cui,” Ding Zhengyang said. “The ultimate purpose of the true path of immortality is to facilitate the continuous evolution and development of mankind, not to bring pain to ordinary people. For the ‘true human beings’, the ‘hominoids’ are more like kitties and puppies. Other than perverts, who would intentionally torture kitties and puppies every day?
“No. Enslaving and exploiting ordinary people is not the original purpose of the Immortal Cultivators. It is just a measure that has to be taken because of the shortage of resources and the invincibility of the enemy! Didn’t we say that ‘unusual times require unusual approaches’ a lot on Firefly, too?
“In fact, a lot of slavery and exploitation targeting the ordinary people is for the purpose of obtaining more resources. However, as the technological boom takes place, the civilization of mankind has been rising exponentially. The clumsy labor work such as mining can be replaced by machinery and automatic systems.
“It means that if the Imperium of True Human Beings completely crushes the Alliance of the Holy Covenant one day and unifies the entire universe, after the very advanced system of automatic machines driven by spiritual energy is developed, the ordinary people will no longer be enslaved or exploited. Their quality of life quality will be greatly increased. It will be much better than the lives of the citizens of the Star Glory Federation, not to mention the ‘hominoids’ in the past!
“However, for the day to arrive sooner, the ordinary people living within the Imperium must work hard and devote themselves for the future of the civilization of mankind. They should try to collect more resources so that the Imperium can win this war!
“Firefly and the Star Glory Federation should stop competing with the Imperium, too. Our ill-considered resistance will only diminish the Imperium’s strength and delay the day when the Imperium unifies the entire universe. The later the day comes, the more tantalizing the good days of the ordinary people will be!
“If the Cultivators on Firefly and from the Star Glory Federation really consider protecting ordinary people to be their responsibility as they claim, they should surrender to the Imperium, join the Imperium, help the Imperium unify the universe, and try to improve the ordinary people’s treatment in the Imperium from the inside. That is the real solution!”
Cui Lingfeng had been listening quietly the whole time. While he listened, he carefully observed Ding Zhengyang’s face. At this moment, he suddenly said, “Ding Zhengyang, tell me about it. Do you really believe everything that you said just now? Do you have absolute faith in the true path of immortality?”
Ding Zhengyang was talking excitedly and enthusiastically, but Cui Lingfeng’s question that was mixed with feeble spiritual energy halted him as if he were a toy whose spring had broken. He was dazed for a long time, and he resumed his half-dead appearance in the beginning. He mumbled, “I don’t know. In the past, I had absolute faith in the true path of immortality, but I found that I’ve been fooled. Lu Qingchen talked about his true path of immortality as if it were a real thing. But who cares? I believe everything now, and I believe in nothing. I only want to survive. I only want to live to see my offspring to live on!”
“It is a miracle that your belief has still not collapsed even with such controversial thoughts,” Cui Lingfeng remarked.
Ding Zhengyang smiled miserably. “Perhaps my belief collapsed ten years ago when I was told that my entire family had been killed in the battle. Right now, my belief is simply to survive. As long as I can live on, as long as my bloodline can be passed on, I can confess anything. As for exactly whether the Cultivators or the Immortal Cultivators are right, and which of them will win eventually, I don’t give a f*ck about that right now.”
Cui Lingfeng nodded. “Alright. If it is proved that you are not lying, we will allow you to live on and may even consider allowing you keep your bloodline. Now, talk about the rebellion. Tell me your specific plan. What did you plan do you exactly?”
“Our original purpose was simply to get rid of Captain Tang so that I could control the bridge,” Ding Zhengyang said. “Then, with me in the bridge and Cheng Xuansu on your side, we would be able to completely control Firefly and play a vital role in the war between the Imperium and the federation to come.
“But later, you grew suspicious about the whole event and noticed the tricks we played on the polygraph. We were left with no choice but to get rid of you, too. Although a lot of trouble would be raised when you were killed, it would better help us gain control over Firefly.”
“What kind of ‘vital role’ did you want to play in the war between the Imperium and the federation?” Cui Lingfeng continued asking expressionlessly.
“To lead the way for the Black Wind Fleet and help them jump over smoothly as their lighthouse, of course!” Ding Zhengyang said.
Cui Lingfeng glanced at Tang Dingyuan and Li Yao again.
Hearing such a piece of astounding news, even Tang Dingyuan had to put down the sophisticated upgraded version of the true path of immortality. He pricked his ears and listened carefully.
“Is the Black Wind Fleet truly here?” Cui Lingfeng asked.
“Yes, it is already here,” Ding Zhengyang replied. “It is lurking in a mysterious space zone not far away from the Star Glory Federation, waiting for the best opportunity to launch a critical strike!”
“However, due to the lack of a ‘space gate’ made of an enormous number of star beacons to provide navigation, they can’t directly jump over, right?” Cui Lingfeng asked.
“Exactly,” Ding Zhengyang said. “Without the navigation of a super large ‘space gate’, the best they can do is project some minor infiltration fleets, spies, and special agents into the country. The main body of the fleet cannot be teleported as a whole. If they jump recklessly without considering everything, it will take at least one day for the fleet to recover from the weakness and disorder after the jump and to unfold into the battle formation.
“The capabilities of the Star Glory Federation are slightly higher than the Black Wind Fleet’s expectation. One day’s time will be more than enough for the federal fleets to assault the Black Wind Fleet, which has yet to stand on their feet. They can even prevent the jump of the subsequent starships by projecting the bombs that will release space ripples. That way, the Black Wind Fleet will be divided and devoured one piece after another!
“If the battle goes on, it will most likely become a protracted attrition war. For the Black Wind Fleet, which does not have a base in the rear, even if it secures the final victory, victory will certainly come with a great price, which is not the future that they are looking forward to.
“What the Black Wind Fleet wants is a quick, neat victory, a battle that is finished instantly. They hope to crush and annihilate the main force of the Star Glory Federation all at once!
“Therefore, the Black Wind Fleet is still waiting for the special agents that they sent into the federation earlier to collect intelligence and guide the way together with the ‘CFIA’, the organization of local Immortal Cultivators, so that they can find an opportunity to strike a telling blow!”
“Are you implying that not just Firefly and the Dragon Snake Space Zone, even the seven Sectors in the homeland of the Star Glory Federation have probably been infiltrated by a lot of agents of the Imperium of True Human Beings, who are looking for the federation’s weaknesses and trying to establish secret ‘space gates’?” Cui Lingfeng asked. “How did you believe such important intelligence without valid proof?”
Ding Zhengyang hesitated for a moment before saying, “At first, I did not want to raise a rebellion on Firefly at such risk. So, Lu Qingchen told me the information to convince me that the Imperium was a sure winner and the federation was doomed to failure! Although he did not show me any concrete evidence, I carefully studied every piece of information that he told me, and there did not seem to be apparent loopholes. If you don’t believe me, I can repeat exactly what he told me.”
“Sure…” Cui Lingfeng, Tang Dingyuan, and Li Yao looked at each other in bewilderment, all aware of the importance of the new intelligence.
They were about to urge Ding Zhengyang to continue, when Tang Dingyuan’s mini crystal processor suddenly buzzed. He raised his wrist to check it, only to put on an even weirder expression.
Cui Lingfeng frowned. “Something’s wrong?”
“Yes. The bridge just sent me a message about the federation,” Tang Dingyuan said. “A federal fleet is currently having a regular drill of ‘secret submerging’ near the Dragon Snake Space Zone. However, they were unfortunately caught in a space storm. It is said that they have suffered grave losses. Most of their fuel and supplies are lost, and a lot of the soldiers are seriously wounded. Not allowed to enter the Dragon Snake Space Zone for medical treatment and maintenance, they are requesting to stop by our docks to run simple maintenance and to refill the supplies so that they can return to the federation.”
The Star Glory Federation and the government-in-exile were allies now. Since they had been caught in an expected cosmic storm, it sounded like a reasonable request.
But Cui Lingfeng sneered. “Is it a coincidence that a federal fleet ‘happened’ to arrive the moment after a large rebellion of the Immortal Cultivators took place on our starship? Let me guess. This is what the screenplay should be next…
“After the federal fleet really enters our docks, it is only necessary for the commander of the fleet to talk to the highest commander of Firefly to express his gratitude. Then, the commander of the fleet will discover, ‘to his surprise’, that the highest commander of Firefly is neither Tang Dingyuan nor Cui Lingfeng, but either Ding Zhengyang or Cheng Xuansu.
“After that, he will certainly investigate what happened on Firefly. Through a series of ‘fortuitous incidents’, he will see through the Immortal Cultivators’ scheme.
“Since the federal fleet is now out on a drill, it must’ve brought a lot of weapons and ammunition with them, and it is ready to go into battle anytime.
“In the end, the brave Cultivators of the federal fleet will march into Firefly and take care of all the Immortal Cultivators on our side, turning into great heroes who have saved Firefly!
“As a result, not only will they figure out the internal conditions of Firefly, the new administration of Firefly will also be grateful to them, just like we are grateful to ‘Team Red Lotus’ right now.
“If such a thing does happen, Firefly will definitely join the Star Glory Federation without any suspense, and it will have absolutely no leverage during the negotiation.”
“Speaker Cui, what—what are you suggesting?” Tang Dingyuan frowned deeply. “We are allies with the Star Glory Federation. I think you should have more trust in them!”
“More trust in them?” Cui Lingfeng smiled and said unhurriedly, “Let me guess. The federal fleet that has appeared out of nowhere must have a lot to do with Jin Xinyue, the leader of the Ministry of Equality and Development and president of the Dim Moon Fund, right?”
Tang Dingyuan was dazed. “How did you know? It is the Big Bai Fleet, commanded by Bai Xingjian, a notable general on Jin Xinyue’s side!”