The two sentences stabbed into Li Yao’s heart like sharp, icy daggers.
Li Yao felt that his head was dizzy while his mind drifted to an unknown corner in the universe where two broken, rusted starships had floated a hundred years ago along with Bai Xinghe’s narration.
Glancing at him coldly, Bai Xinghe said, “The Flying Star Sector is a large place. Natural disasters such like cosmic storms happen on a daily basis in space. There are too many people that are lacking resources because of natural disasters every day. I believe that my parents couldn’t have been the only victims of such tragedies. There are bound to be more people that are trapped in the ‘dark forest’ like the Fire Stealers years ago or my parents!
“When a Cultivator abandons their belief because there are no options, it is unlikely that they can return to the normal society.
“Even if they hide everything in their daily life, they would be scared and living in fear until they die.
“No matter how magnificent the throne you sit on is, how big the organization under your control is, and how strong you are, as soon as anybody discovers traces of your crimes, the only outcome for you is that you will be demeaned and will fall from the clouds into an abyss.
“No sects, no towns, and no normal societies will ever tolerate such things.
“The only place that embraces them in the entire Flying Star Sector is Spider Den!
“Now, do you see why the space pirates could never really be uprooted in the past hundreds of years as if they were wild grasses?”
Li Yao took a long breath and said, “That explains a lot. What about the Immortal Cultivators?”
“It’s simple,” Bai Xinghe replied.
“The thing about human beings is that they will always try to find excuses for themselves no matter how unforgivable or inhuman the crimes they’ve committed were.
“Asking those high and mighty Cultivators, who consider themselves the living embodiment of honor and integrity, to acknowledge that they are timid, sordid, lawless bandits?
“That would be even more miserable than killing them directly!
“Liu the Prier lived in the last years of the Star Ocean Imperium. With the heated, prolonged civil war, his research did not receive much attention.
“Although the Flying Star Sector was home to Liu the Prier, nobody had a deep understanding about his research. Most of the space pirates had only heard the tales about him and his studies, but no more.
“That was so until five hundred years ago, when Yan Xinjian, the supreme space pirate, arrived in Spider Den. In order to deal with the coalition fleet of Cultivators, he excavated the underground fortress on a large scale and found Liu the Prier’s belongings by accident.
“From then on, the Dark Forest Theory gradually spread out among the leadership of the space pirates.
“Those space pirates felt that they’d got the ultimate treasure.
“If the universe was truly a dark forest where the strong preyed on the weak and where the fittest survived, everything they had been doing would be perfectly justified.
“It is not me but everybody else that is wrong!
“The universe is exactly like that. Everything we are doing follows the rules of the universe.
“We boast enormous strength. We represent the direction of evolution. Of course, we are more qualified to survive and to utilize tremendous resources than the ordinary people are!
“It is purely a waste when the precious resources in the sea of stars are consumed by ordinary people. They should only be controlled by us so that we can strive to break the limits of evolution with the resources and make the civilization of mankind strong enough to survive in the dark forest!
“Therefore, robbing the ordinary people of their resources is justified, reasonable, and necessary. We are the new human beings that originate from old human beings but have surpassed them. The new human beings, who are stronger, fiercer, and crueler, are the only direction that the civilization of mankind should strive toward!
“That was exactly the ideology of the Immortal Cultivators.”
Li Yao took a long breath in relief.
After Bai Xinghe’s explanation, most of the questions that had been haunting him had been answered.
He thought the whole thing through from the beginning to the end and found that there was still a minor problem that he did not understand. He asked, “Is it a coincidence that the underground fortress of Spider Den overlaps with Liu the Prier’s center of apocalypse studies?”
Bai Xinghe smiled. “Of course, it’s not.
“Soon after Liu the Prier came up with the Dark Forest Theory, the ‘Armageddon Rebellion’ took place. Bewildered by the extraterrestrial devils, the Blood God, commander-in-chief of the expedition army of the Star Ocean Imperium, turned into the ‘Mad Armageddon’!
“The civil war of the Star Ocean Imperium broke out, and the Flying Star Sector was soon involved. Despite the vastness of the Flying Star Sector, there was not a place peaceful enough to keep a research center.
“At that time, the situation was quite chaotic. Many Sectors lost contact with the Empyrean Terminus Space Zone, where the Supreme Emperor was located. The military stationed in the Flying Star Sector had prepared for the worst. They built quite a few permanent fortresses that were deeply buried in the ground. Spider Den was among them.
“The Star Prier’s House was commandeered. The reasons were simple.
“Firstly, the Star Prier’s House had three hundred super crystal processors with high computational abilities.
“After inheriting his father’s tremendous wealth, Liu the Prier had established the Star Prier’s House with all his assets because of his addiction to academics. The three hundred crystal processors he purchased were all civil models. But after they employed the special algorithms, their computational ability was even higher than many crystal processors in the military.
“The three hundred super crystal processors were extremely valuable. How could the military ignore them? They were utilized to control part of the defense rune arrays and the magical equipment.
“Secondly, although the Star Prier’s House was built to study the apocalypses, it was essentially an observatory that could monitor the situation in space in all directions.
“After slight modifications on the space-monitoring array of the Star Prier’s House, it could be added to the air defense network and monitor the situation throughout the Spider Den Space Zone. Should the rebels march close, they would be locked onto earlier.
“Therefore, the Star Prier’s House became the pivot of the underground fortress.
“It was a shame that the air defense network never played an important role during the civil war, even after the Supreme Emperor and the Mad Armageddon heavily wounded each other.
“However, Yan Xinjian, the supreme space pirate five hundred years ago, discovered the Star Prier’s House and activated part of the defense arrays that remained on the surface of Spider Den via the crystal processors. In the battle of Spider Den, the invading fleet of Cultivators were greatly frustrated by the defense arrays!”
Li Yao nodded quickly.
Every word that Bai Xinghe said matched flawlessly with the information that he knew. The man could not have been lying.
But if so, everything seemed to make less sense.
Li Yao’s eyes suddenly turned sharp as he stared at Bai Xinghe’s forehead. He said, “Boss Bai, thank you for your generosity. A lot of my questions have been solved. It appears that you are hoping to cooperate with me sincerely.
“However, there is one thing that is still bothering me.
“Boss Bai, you believe in the Dark Forest Theory, don’t you?”
Bai Xinghe nodded. “Yes. I have no doubts about the Dark Forest Theory whatsoever.”
Li Yao continued. “And you admit that you are a merciless and lawless space pirate?”
Bai Xinghe replied casually, “You don’t need to be so polite. I will admit it even if you say that I’m repugnant, shameless, inhuman and that I will die a miserable death.”
“Then it is quite odd.”
Scratching the metal chin of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit, Li Yao mumbled, “You are a lawless bandit, and you are an avid believer of the Dark Forest Theory. Then
“Why are you not an Immortal Cultivator?
“Isn’t it very weird when you think about it carefully?
“With Boss Bai’s birth, life experience, and social position, you should’ve been a real and hardcore Immortal Cultivator. It is the greatest shame for the Immortal Cultivators that you are not one of them!
“Not only did you refuse to be an Immortal Cultivator, you are also challenging the Temple of Immortals, the organization of the Immortal Cultivators. Why?
“Some say that you were not willing to work under other people. That was why you ended with the Temple of Immortals on bad terms. I thought about it carefully and realized that it did not make any sense.
“During Boss Bai’s rise, you worked as the muscle and a lackey for other people countless times, and you even called quite a few people your foster fathers. But in the end, you killed all of them when the time was right.
“With Boss Bai’s personality, if you were not satisfied that you were merely one of the four kings of the Temple of Immortals, the most reasonable choice would’ve been to join the Temple of Immortals first and then to kick out all the dissidents so that you could’ve gathered all the power and become the sole ruler of it. Isn’t it so?
“Besides, the four kings of the Temple of Immortals are not in a chain of command.
“Yan Xibei, the Mountain King, was in charge of the affairs on Iron Plateau. Dark Empyrean, the Black King, is the supervisor of Black Spider Tower. The other two kings must have their special duties, too.
“Even though you joined the Temple of Immortals, your independence wouldn’t have been affected at all.
“Then, what was your purpose for turning against the Temple of Immortals completely at the cost of the entire Abyss Pirate Gang?”
Li Yao remembered his first encounter with Bai Xinghe on the carrier of the Tiger Teeth Pirate Gang. The conversation between Bai Xinghe and Luo Jinhu was still echoing beside his ears to this day.
The contempt in between Bai Xinghe’s words did not seem to be faked.
Now that he thought of it carefully, there vaguely seemed to be sorrow behind the contempt.
Bai Xinghe was silent for a long time, as if Li Yao had asked something he would rather not talk about.
Li Yao said, “So, my guess is correct.
“Even though you are not lying, you have kept something to yourself, something that is very important, which is your real purpose to attract the Immortal Cultivators into the underground fortress by making such a sophisticated plan!”
Bai Xinghe smiled bitterly. “My young friend Li Yao, I’ve underestimated you again. It’s been decades since I last ran into such a formidable opponent like you!
“You’re right. By logic, I should’ve been an Immortal Cultivator. My fate was arranged in such a way that it appeared implausible that I would refuse to be an Immortal Cultivator.
“However, just like most choices in the world, you know a certain road is right, but you have a perfect reason not to walk on it.
“My reason, on the other hand, has nothing to do with you personally.
“Now, everything I need to say has been said. I only ask you one thing. Would you like to give me a hand to make the Temple of Immortals pay a miserable price in the depths of the underground fortress?”