After a few hours of calm consideration, Han Tuhu was wearing an entirely different expression from before. He gave Li Yao the feeling that he was trying to suppress part of his brain and forcing himself to become a precise machine without emotions.
“I’m sorry, Major Li.”
Han Tuhu held the military hat in his hand and touched the red star medal that was already glittering because of rubbing with his thumb. “I was too sentimental just now and lost the calmness that a commander of the federal army should have. Meaningless passion and fury can only lead to misjudgments and the eventual doom of the troop. I must apologize for my loss of control.”
Li Yao did not know whether Han Tuhu’s change in attitude was good or bad.
Looking at the shining red star on the medal, which turned into two sparks in his deep eyes, in a daze, Han Tuhu hesitated for a long time before he said, “In fact, many of our brothers have speculated much of what Major Li said just now. After all”
His long tail that looked like a hammer extended to his head across his shoulder and tapped his ugly skull like a thick arm. “Who would not be suspicious after they saw what a wretched appearance they had been turned into?
“At first, we thought that it was just the enemy’s scheme and that our change resulted from a new virus.
“But we were not the only guys who mutated. Very soon, we got in touch with the silver-blood demons such as Suo Chaolong who were locked together with us.
“While we were becoming more and more like demons, Suo Chaolong was getting more and more similar to a human being. If an unknown Cultivator was faced with Suo Chaolong and me right now, could he say for sure which one of us is a human being and which is a demon?
“What was the change all about? I’m afraid that Suo Chaolong must’ve been questioning himself like I did every night. I felt as if ten thousand ants had found their way into my brain and were biting it every second!
“I wanted to find out the answer, but I was scared of the real answer. I could only fool myself by coming up with all kinds of impossible reasons. I hate Suo Chaolong so much right now not because he is an officer of the demon race but because I am jealous of him. I’m jealous of his appearance right now. I’m jealous that an evil demon possesses the face of a human being!
“I believe that he is more or less the same. I can read his eyes when he looks at me, which are exactly the same as mine!”
Han Tuhu’s countenance was indescribable. “Major Li, did you know, although you saved us, you have proposed the trickiest conundrum in the world for us?
“Before, neither I nor Suo Chaolong thought we could really escape that dark island of horror. We merely wanted to die a hero’s death before the devastating answer popped up and drove all of us mad as glorious soldiers of the federation or pure silver-blood demons!
“But you showed up and rescued us. You have also clearly displayed the answer that we were unwilling to confront before us!”
Li Yao listened quietly.
He had a feeling that Han Tuhu did not need a reply. The guy only needed to release the darkness that had filled his heart for half a year.
As he expected, after finishing everything, Han Tuhu stared at the ceiling for a long time in a daze. Then, he took a long breath and turned into a completely different person from a moment ago. “Major Li, if you want a ceasefire, or even a collaboration, with the Blood Demon Sector, technically speaking, you will have to solve a few critical issues.”
Li Yao was dazed. “Major Han, are you willing to let go of your hatred and work with the demons?”
“I am not willing to.”
Han Tuhu seemed to be crawling out of the swamp that had trapped him for half a year. An officer of the federal army that was so shrewd that it was almost cruel was waking up in himself. He shook his head and said, “Even if everything you said is true, and human beings and demons do share the same origin, so what?
“Forty thousand years is enough to make the same race evolve into two different branches. Besides, even within the same race, irreconcilable conflicts might break out, too.
“Race is never the sole reason for a war. It is never even the most important reason.
“Take the Imperium of True Human Beings, the greatest threat for us right now, for example. It is a nation of human beings and shares the same language and origin as us, but it will not show any mercy when it destroys us.
“Therefore, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid that I cannot let go of my hatred for the demon race. I believe that the other soldiers of the federal army will not let go of it in a couple of years, either.
Han Tuhu’s eyes were sharper and sharper, as if a scalpel was ripping apart the gloomy cloud that had been covering his brain.
“I am a soldier, and it is my responsibility to defend our homeland, the Star Glory Federation, and every citizen of our nation.
“I will fulfil my duty through whatever methods possible.
“If I can achieve the purpose by destroying the Blood Demon Sector, then I will destroy it even at the cost of my life. I will kill every demon in my way, no matter who their ancestors are.
“However, if the federation can only be saved if we cooperate with the demons, I will also make the right choice without any hesitation. Even if the choice will be despised and disparaged, and even if I loathe it myself, I will still do the right thing nonetheless.
“So, please tell me something first. How good is the Flying Star Sector’s war capability?
“You mentioned that they once attacked a planet named ‘Spider Den’. Does it mean that their starships are advanced enough to bombard a planet? If we have the reinforcement of the Flying Star Sector, can we conquer the Blood Demon Sector quickly in one to two years?”
Han Tuhu added, “Believe me, every general and politician of the Star Glory Federation will ask the same question.”
Li Yao pondered for a long time before he replied.
“According to my observation, it’s very difficult.
“The Flying Star Sector and the Heaven’s Origin Sector are vastly different. Human beings there are basically in a ‘starship civilization’. Their troops exist in the form of ‘Exo Societies’. There is not a regular army that is large in size and directly under someone’s command. Besides, the ‘Spider Den’ that they dealt with was also just a base of disorganized space pirates.
“It was exactly because of the lack of a regular army that they had to activate such a dangerous weapon as the ‘Grand Illusionary Soldiers’.
“Besides, the Flying Star Sector has just gone through a war that lasted several years. They are still recovering from their losses.
“It is one thing to ask the Flying Star Sector to send a fleet to help the compatriots of the Heaven’s Origin Sector defend their home, but it is a whole other thing to ask them to send hundreds of starships across the universe to attack a world of demons where the environment is harsh.
“After all, the Blood Demon Sector is not a small resource planet like Spider Den, and it is not some unruly mob like the space pirates that dominate the place; it is a well-functioning, highly-efficient government with a strong regular army!
“A powerful fleet of starships can indeed suppress a planet, but ‘suppression’ and ‘conquer’ are very different. You must understand it better than I do, Colonel Han.
“More importantly, the technology to support super long-distance space jumps is not mature yet. Every starship from the Flying Star Sector must consume tremendous resources.
“To teleport the enormous fleets of the Flying Star Sector to the Heaven’s Origin Sector will be unbelievably costly, at least in the few years to come. Even if the citizens of the Flying Star Sector bring out every penny in their pockets, it might not be enough.
“On the other hand, the demons of the Blood Demon Sector, brainwashed by the ‘Four Pillars System’, believe in the Pantheon of Demons and their theories of ‘Obliteration, Rebirth, and Immortality’. Their fighting will and combat ability are both very high. If they are defending their home, they will be at an even greater advantage.
“Even if the enormous fleets of the Flying Star Sector jump to the orbit of the planet and even bombard the earth into wasteland, so what?
“Don’t forget that the environment of the Blood Demon Sector is very rough in the first place. Demons here are already used to the badlands. When that happens, they can always hide themselves below the ground or in the ocean and start a guerilla warfare. The army of the Heaven’s Origin Sector and the Flying Star Sector will be stuck in the Blood Demon Sector at the cost of tremendous resources and casualties of soldiers and Cultivators.
“Crystal suits, crystal warships, and Cultivators who are in the high-intensity battles are all money guzzlers. They will consume astronomical resources on a daily basis!
“The resources, the soldiers, and the Cultivators will all be of paramount importance for us in the war against the Imperium of True Human Beings!
“I believe that the federal army must’ve drafted plans of total attack, too, and calculated how many resources and lives we would have to pay in order to conquer the Blood Demon Sector, didn’t it?”
Han Tuhu smiled bitterly. “The General Staff of the federal army has indeed come up with several war proposals against the Blood Demon Sector. By the most optimistic estimation, the Heaven’s Origin Sector, after resisting the enemy in home defense for five to ten years, will be able to establish fifty legions fully equipped with crystal suits by exploiting all the resources in our territory. Then, we will launch a counterattack with the fifty legions as the main force and march into the Blood Demon Sector. It is predicated that we can annihilate the main force of the coalition army of the Blood Demon Sector in five years and conquer the Blood Demon Sector in twenty years!
“At that time, the General Staff estimated that all the soldiers that will be lost in the twenty years of war is
“In other words, the entire federal army will be buried in the war and replaced by new soldiers!
“By the most optimistic estimation of the General Staff, the total war will set the national economy of the Star Glory Federation backwards by fifty years. It is predicated that the GDP will hit rock bottom in the eighteenth year of the war, which will be 65% of the present day. Also, after we completely occupy the Blood Demon Sector, the descending curve will not go up again until it lingered at the bottom for ten years. We will not get any positive benefits from the war until at least fifty years after.
“That is why I want to confirm with you whether or not we can significantly shorten the time with an ally who boasts a powerful fleet.”
“At the very least,” Li Yao said, “it is impossible for us to conquer the Blood Demon Sector in one year, annihilate all the rebellions in another year, and collect the resources of the Blood Demon Sector to make up for the losses in the far in yet another year, even with the help of an ally.”