On the star map behind Tang Dingyuan, the icons that represented the starships of the Black Wind Fleet suddenly vanished and turned into golden lines, stabbing into the heartland of the federation like lightning.
More starships popped up from the golden swirls and directly attacked the bases of resource collection and magical equipment production in the federation!
All the leadership of the government-in-exile were silent and deeply concerned by the scene.
That was how a war in the sea of stars went, which was nothing like a war between countries living on the same plane and planet as in the ancient times.
For countries whose main territory was on the continent, they often had clear national borders. The enemy could also break the border and slowly push forward to the inland or even center from the border.
Even if they had various kinds of flying magical equipment, they would have to fly in from the border. Other than the special forces with high Cultivation, it was difficult to reach the central area directly.
However, a three-dimensional war in space was definitely not the same.
The universe was too vast and boundless a place, and the Sectors suitable for mankind to develop civilizations were too few. Every Sector was a lone island, connected to each other by the bridge of space jumps that crossed four-dimensional space.
What the Star Glory Federation governed was not the entire space among the seven Sectors but seven tiny ‘lone islands’ in the universe. It was hard to distinguish the real border from the central areas. The enemy could certainly bypass a few Sectors and launch an unexpected assault on the weakly defended, vulnerable parts. It was not hard to imagine the difficulty of defense.
“In fact, we have been calculating the situation with the federation for ten years, but it was never disclosed to you until today,” Tang Dingyuan said. “The conclusion has also been verified by the confessions of Ding Zhengyang and the many rebels. Should their insurgency have succeeded, they would’ve created chaos inside the federation in cooperation with the CFIA and the special forces of the Black Wind Fleet who had snuck into the federation, making an opportunity for the Black Wind Fleet’s attack.
“The war between the Imperium and the federation began a long time ago, and victory has probably been preordained at this moment even before the Black Wind Fleet shows up!
“There are Immortal Cultivators inside the federation, not just those on the surface such as the CFIA, but more critical persons in higher positions and hiding deeper. While the intelligence could’ve been made up by Lu Qingchen to tempt Ding Zhengyang to begin the rebellion, we believe that it’s likely true!
“The person is influential enough to create the best opportunity for the Black Wind Fleet’s attack. At the very least, the person can send precious intelligence, such as where exactly the Burning Prairie Fleet will be hiding, to the Black Wind Fleet.
“On the other hand, if we find the person, we may uncover the jump point of the Black Wind Fleet in advance, and the war will be half won!
“This is the latest situation. The fact that Ding Zhengyang, Cheng Xuansu, and the rest of them initiated a large-scale rebellion at this point also suggests that the Black Wind Fleet is almost prepared. Whatever scheme they have, it will be activated very soon! Given the perilous situation, it is necessary that our oath of alliance with the Star Glory Federation move to the next step!”
Tang Dingyuan paused and looked at Cui Lingfeng next to him.
Cui Lingfeng coughed. “Everyone, according to the latest news, the Star Glory Federation will enter the highest warring state after the new election, which is unprecedented in the history of the federation. Even in the war against the Uranian Ring Sector thirty years ago, they only went into the ‘Level-I warring state’.
“This time, the federation is about to elect a Speaker of wartime, who will have greater powers in every respect than a Speaker in peacetime does.
“Before, we sent an Election Observation Delegation to investigate how the latest Speaker of the Federation is nominated, but they were disrupted by the insurgency of the Immortal Cultivators. Right now, in light of the recent updates of the situation, the scale of the Election Observation Delegation should be expanded accordingly. Moreover, it should not be restricted to the observation of the election but make preparations for deeper cooperation between us and the federation in military, economy, politics, and all other aspects!
“The expedition army of the Imperium will arrive before us any second. I hope that everybody bears that in mind and reconsiders our relationship with the federation and our mutual future!
“Therefore, after discussing the issue with Captain Tang and communicating with the federation, I have decided that the name of Election Observation Delegation will not be changed, but the scale will be tripled!
“The first stop of the delegation will be the Uranian Ring Sector. A group of our high-level officers will stay there and meet with the military leadership of the federation in the Second Mother Port of the Burning Prairie Fleet to discuss the details of establishing joint headquarters.
“The second stop will be Hundred Flowers City, a space jump center in the middle of the Uranian Ring Sector, the Forest Ocean Sector, the Nether World Sector, and the Water Crystal Sector. It is the intersection of the sailing routes of the federation and the most prosperous trade city. Our business and commerce commission will meet with high-level officials of the corresponding departments in the federation to discuss how the economic system on Firefly can be fully integrated into the economic system of the federation, as well as the unified currency, tariff removal, distribution of taxes, and all other subsequent issues.
“After the high-level officers are left in the military center and the commission of business and commerce stay in the trade center, the rest of the delegation will directly go to the Heaven’s Origin Sector, capital of the federation. According to the timetable, they will arrive right when the results of the election are out. By then, they will learn the latest policies of the federation in the highest warring state, and they will discuss… the issues of integration with the new administration.
“Everyone, with everything coming to this point, let’s give up our fantasies. We have run for a thousand years. There’s no retreat anymore. Here and now, we will fight back until we return to the center of the cosmos, the home of our ancestors!”
By the standard of the federation’s time, it was already midnight.
However, on the hundreds of ‘child starships’ of Firefly, and in different cabins, because there was not a fixed time of sleep, the enormous fortress in space was still ablaze with brightness, as if thousands of fireflies had gathered together and unleashed their feeble, flickering light.
The Meditation Platform in a core cabin, which was covered by a crystal dome and allowed those on it to observe space directly, was the only place of peace and quiet under the illumination of the brilliant stars outside.
Following Cui Lingfeng, Li Yao paced back and forth on the spacious Meditation Platform. They were the only two in the glowing starry light.
“In three days, the delegation will set out.”
Staring at Cui Lingfeng’s back, which was soaked in the light of the stars, Li Yao asked, “Is there anything you want to talk to me about, Speaker?”
“Nothing much. I only want to say ‘thank you’ to you. Whoever you are, and whatever purpose you have, at the very least, you have brought… new hope to the Star Ocean Republic.”
Looking at the starry light outside of the crystal dome which looked like a rippling ocean, Cui Lingfeng suddenly said, “If you are truly a simple native of the Red Lotus Sector who has fled to this place to seek revenge against the Immortal Cultivators, and you have finally found some other Cultivators after so much trouble… are you disappointed after discovering the ambitions of Jin Xinyue and that the so-called ‘rightful government’ is not as perfect as you imagined but has dark sides such as the ‘Rebirth Plan’?”
Li Yao was slightly dazed. He thought for a moment but shook his head. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m disappointed, but I do feel a bit pitiful. With a great foe in front of us, we are still wary and suspicious of each other when we are all Cultivators. It is indeed a bit…”
“It can’t be helped. Perhaps this is the part of humanity that can never be completely removed however hard one trains oneself.” Cui Lingfeng smiled and asked, “Captain Lin, do you know about porcupines in winter?”
Li Yao blinked. “Porcupines in winter?”
“Porcupines are a type of large rodent. They have long, hard thorns on their body that can be pricked like a hedgehog to resist bigger predators,” Cui Lingfeng said. “In a cold winter, the porcupines will cram together to keep themselves warm. If they are too spread out, the cold wind will still blow among them, but if they are too close to each other, they will be hurt by each other’s thorns.
“In the end, this is what happens. The porcupines move to their companions until they are hurt by their companions’ thorns. Then, they jerk back abruptly. But very soon, threatened by the cold wind, they move toward their companions again, craving a tiny bit of warmth, until they are stung by their companions one more time.
“We and the Star Glory Federation are probably two such porcupines. Under the pressure of the cold wind, we want to hug each other to get warm, but we will be hurt by each other’s natural-born thorns. It can’t be helped. The thorns are the weapon that we used to protect ourselves from ferocious animals in the past. Without the thorns, we would’ve been killed long before the wind arrived!
“I believe that even stupid porcupines eventually find an appropriate distance where they can share each other’s warmth without hurting each other. Otherwise, the species would’ve gone extinct a long time ago!”
Li Yao could not help but remark, “Human beings will only be the same. I don’t believe that the leadership of the Star Glory Federation is not even as good as porcupines.”
“You don’t understand. Sometimes, it is not the Star Glory Federation that scares me but… us.” Cui Lingfeng sighed gloomily. “After all, the monster ‘Blackstar the Great’ Wuying Qi was not born in the Imperium of True Human Beings but in our country, the Star Ocean Republic!
“It was the Star Ocean Republic that bred the Immortal Cultivator Blackstar the Great. After such a monster was made, our ancestors fled in a hurry. During the thousand years when we were running in the sea of stars, we experienced too much darkness and desperation and toed the boundaries for normal human beings time and time again.
“Yes. I can shamelessly announce that ‘bad Cultivators’ and ‘Immortal Cultivators’ are different.
“However, after Ding Zhengyang raised the question, I’ve been thinking more than once on it. Is it possible that everything is really decided by the environment and has nothing to do with our will?
“I am lucky enough not to have met any tough choices while working as the Speaker.
“However, if I and Firefly were not as lucky, and the resources on board were only enough to sustain the survival of one tenth of the population due to heavy losses after a disaster, would I be brave enough to activate the Rebirth Plan and randomly kill ninety percent of the population?
“If I had really done that, would I be a ‘bad Cultivator’ or an ‘Immortal Cultivator’?”