Bai Xinghe tore off the metal membrane on a high-nutrition drug’s bottle and chugged all of it. He licked his lips and burped in great satisfaction. Then he asked back, “What about you? What’s your purpose?
“The style of your crystal suit is totally different from the few most advanced crystal suit centers of the Cultivation world. The materials it is made of are extremely precious, too. My three full-strength punches did not even blow apart the breastplate of the crystal suit!
“The organization behind you that can produce such a suit and raise such an expert like yourself must be tremendously powerful.
“As a representative this mysterious organization, Li Yao, what are you doing on Spider Den in such time of troubles? You did not come here to persuade me to do the right thing and cooperate with the Cultivators against the Immortal Cultivators, did you? Haha. Hahahaha!”
Li Yao was silent for a moment. Then he shook his head. “I did not.
“Boss Bai, in the circle of space pirates, you are among the more rational ones. During the decades as the Pirate Potentate, you barely went on hunting jobs yourself. All you needed to do was simply exploit other pirate gangs.
“Compared to rabid dogs such as Fengyu Zhong, you are almost a man of integrity.
“However, decades before your rise, you still committed endless unpardonable crimes. Your hands are soaked in the blood of the innocent.
“It is true that you would not kill anybody if the victims did not resist. But why would they not resist when you were looting the goods that they purchased with their own money, sometimes even with loans?
“Boss Bai, I only respect you as ‘Boss Bai’ because I admire your strategies and audaciousness. But after all, there is not much difference between Fengyu Zhong and you. You are both scumbags.
“If a scumbag like you can be washed clean and reembraced by the community of Cultivators, wouldn’t it be terribly unfair to the innocent victims who were butchered by you miserably?
“I don’t want to lie to you, and you won’t be fooled anyway.
“The enemy of an enemy is not necessarily a friend. Although the Immortal Cultivators are the greatest threats right now, I will try my best to kill you when the time is appropriate for the revenge of the victims of your crimes!”
“Well said!” Bai Xinghe laughed. “I’m growing more and more fond of you from the bottom of my heart, Li Yao!
“Do you feel that you are a man of honor and veracity?”
Li Yao stood straight and replied coldly, “I’m indeed a man of honor and veracity compared with a lawless space pirate like you. More importantly, I’m willing to pay a price for the justice that I believe in at any time!”
“Very good.” Bai Xinghe clapped his hands and observed, “Many people in the world who call themselves mature do not believe in justice. They think that justice is just a joke for little kids. But in fact, they are just scared of justice. They are weak deep down in their bones. They do not want to pay the price to realize their justice.
“Although what you believe in is just ignorant justice, your persistence is still very touching.
“Compared with such an ethical, justified, and persistent Cultivator, we selfish, merciless, and lawless space pirates as well as the inhuman Immortal Cultivators are truly out-and-out scumbags!
Bai Xinghe suddenly put on an extremely weird expression. He blinked and asked mysteriously, “Do you want to know where space pirates come from and how the Immortal Cultivators originated?
“Why did the Cultivators who were supposed to protect humanity and sacrifice themselves degenerate into space pirates and even the Immortal Cultivators in the darkness of the universe?
“Let me tell you. It’s simple. Really simple.
“One second, one snap of the fingers, and a Cultivator will be transformed into an Immortal Cultivator. And once they are transformed, there is absolutely no way that they can turn back. Haha. Hahahaha!”
Li Yao thought of something and asked earnestly, “Do you know the truth about the Immortal Cultivators?”
Smiling, Bai Xinghe pointed at his feet. “Yes, I do. The truth is right here.”
Li Yao was amazed. “Here? You said just now that this place was an observatory.”
“Correct,” Bai Xinghe replied. “We are indeed in an observatory. More specifically speaking, an observatory that studies the ‘apocalypses’.”
Li Yao was confused. How was an observatory that studied the apocalypses related to the Immortal Cultivators?
Bai Xinghe smiled and continued. “Have you ever heard of a theory named ‘dark forest’?”
Li Yao had heard the term before from Huangpu Xiaoya, who was the heir of a noble family of refining, on the carrier of the Temple of Immortals.
At that time, Huangpu Xiaoya had declared that if the universe was truly nothing more than a bloody, shadowy dark forest
Later, when he was on Iron Plateau, he had also heard Xiong Wuji stating that, if the universe was truly a dark forest of dead ends, he would set a fire and make a road himself!
Back then, Li Yao did not think too much of it. He had thought that it was a coincidence that the two of them made the same metaphor.
As it turned out, it might not be a coincidence. Was ‘dark forest’ a proper noun?
“The apocalypses have always been the greatest mysteries in the world of Cultivators since forty thousand years ago to this day,” Bai Xinghe explained. “Countless Cultivators have dedicated themselves to the studies of the apocalypses. They proposed many theories to explain the apocalypses. The ‘Dark Forest Theory’ was one of the most perfect, plausible theories.
“The Dark Forest Theory was coined with in this very palace by the great scholar Liu the Prier ten thousand years ago.”
The apocalypses were the uncanniest phenomena in the universe. They were almost the most unpredictable field in the modern Cultivation world.
Some people even said that those who understood the apocalypses understood the whole universe!
Li Yao found himself deeply attracted to Bai Xinghe’s words.
Sitting cross-legged, Bai Xinghe treated his wounds while he talked unhurriedly. “Ten thousand years ago, when Spider Den was just discovered, countless Cultivators who were adept at prospecting came to this place to explore the mother lodes.
“According to the laws of the Star Ocean Imperium, when a new mother lode was discovered, part of the ownership of the mother lode would be given to the discoverer as a reward. The deeper the mother lode was and the more difficult it was to be located, the more ownership would be transferred to the discoverer.
“At that time, a Cultivator whose surname was Liu was extremely gifted in utilizing the spiritual energy of the earth class. He was also good at the Earth-Escaping Technique, which allowed him to roam the underground of Spider Den freely. In the end, almost half of the mother lodes below Spider Den were discovered by him.
“Therefore, when the large-scale exploitation began, he became wealthy all of a sudden. He turned out to be one of the most famous magnates in the mining industry and controlled the biggest mining corporate on Spider Den. In his prime years, his personal wealth almost equaled the money in the national treasury.
“Capital Nest above our head used to be headquarters of that Cultivator’s mining corporation. Half of the city was built by him.
“The Cultivator had an only son, but his son was the very opposite of him. His son hated entering the underground and enjoyed exploring space. After studying in the few most famous cities of the Star Ocean Imperium, he became a specialist in apocalypses.
“At that time, the study of apocalypses was a well-respected subject.
“That time was the renaissance of mankind. The territory of the Star Ocean Imperium covered thousands of constellations. During its expansion, besides dealing with the demon race, our old nemesis, it also conquered countless alien species.
“It was the most magnificent era of humanity. Everyone was ambitious and craving to march forward into the deeper universe!
“Naturally, a lot of alien species were met during their march toward the universe. As a result, the studies on the other civilizations of the universe became a very popular field of research.
“How many civilizations are hidden in the vast universe? Compared with the civilization of human beings, are they strong or weak? Do those civilizations know each other? If they do, what is their attitude toward other civilizations?
“Those questions were exactly what mankind at that time was eager to find out.
“Many scholars believed that the apocalypses were related to the civilizations beyond. As long as the mysteries of the apocalypses were cracked, the truth of the universe would be found.
“On the other hand, the civilization of human beings suffered multiple apocalypses both in the era of the ancient Cultivators and in the Star Ocean Imperium. They had a profound understanding about the power of the apocalypses.
“Therefore, some other people also wondered whether or not they could turn the apocalypses into some sort of weapon since they were so powerful.
“Study the apocalypses, block the apocalypses, capture the apocalypses, and hack the apocalypses. In the end, the apocalypses would be ‘weaponized’ and ‘manufactured’. They would be the indestructible, invincible ultimate weapon of mankind!”
Li Yao was dumbfounded.
He was truly awed by the all-conquering ambitions of his predecessors of the Star Ocean Imperium.
Trying to turn the apocalypses into weapons was exactly what the ‘strongest fighting species in the universe’ should do!
“Driven by the two motivations, the smartest brains of the Star Ocean Imperium were all devoted to the studies of the apocalypses.
“However, the unpredictable, mysterious apocalypses were barely observable, and the difficulty in capturing and studying them goes without saying. It was an unbelievably costly project. Most of the scholars could only work for the Star Ocean Imperium under the leadership of the twenty Guilds of Provenance and the military in order to conduct their research.
“But it was different for the only son of a magnate.
“The father was the wealthiest man alive. The studies of apocalypses were a noble research field. Since his son was talented and interested in that research, naturally, he gave his son his full support. If the mysteries of the apocalypses were successfully cracked, not only would they secure fame and fortune, their names would also be passed on in the history books of generations to come!
“Therefore, the father and son spent tremendous wealth purchasing the most valuable Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures and the crystal processors that boasted the highest computational ability in the Flying Star Sector. Then, they established an enormous observatory, or a ‘center of apocalypse studies’, if you will, under Spider Den’s surface, based on their abundant experience in underground construction!
“Of course, it was not an easy task to build such a palace of stars with the efforts of a single family. The construction process took several decades. Quite a lot of changes happened during the time. Even the magnate of the mining industry died of old age.
“But his son remained unwavering. After he inherited his father’s corporation, he devoted even more capital to the job as if he were possessed by a devil. Finally, the ‘Star Prier’s House’ was successfully built!”
“‘Star Prier’ was exactly the ambition of the son. Therefore, all the following generations have called him ‘Liu the Prier’, because he meant to pry into the secrets of the stars!”