Holding the bowl of noodles that Li Yao had made for her just now, Long Yangjun gazed at Li Yao for a long time. Then she suddenly burst into such laughter that she could barely catch her breath.
"So, you've seen through everything since the beginning. Why didn't you tell me earlier? I was worried for nothing."
She eyed Li Yao, somewhat in dissatisfaction. "I was concerned at first that you and your disciple were going to turn against each other, and the federation would also fall apart under the scourge of the expedition army of the Imperium!
"I didn't know that everything was within your calculations. Han Baling and I must've looked like idiots to you. As expected of Monster Li. This nickname came as a joke, but it seems more and more fitting!
"I might have been joking just now, but I'm seriously considering if I should cling to your thigh for the rest of the trip!"
Li Yao chuckled and devoured the bowl of noodles that were all swollen because they had soaked for too long. He then raised the bowl and drank the soup. In the end, he burped and patted his belly in great satisfaction.
His face was glowing. Every pore on his body was opened, releasing a daunting aura to the outside world. The demeanor of 'Monster Li' was fully revealed.
"Well, I didn't mean to be pretentious," Li Yao explained dutifully. "It was not until last night that I finally calculated everything. When the data and charts are listed here, it is certainly easy to reach the conclusion, but I had nothing in the beginning, and I didn't intend to raise any suspicion by asking for someone to retrieve the relevant files. Therefore, I had to find the pieces of information myself, sometimes even by searching for the news decades ago, in order to slowly complete the puzzle.
"The job alone took me more than half a month.
"Thankfully, the result is not bad at all. Despite the lack of conclusive proof, the data is enough for me to prove that the 'CFIA' is not really an evil organization. It does make sense, too. Jin Xinyue is a smart person. Even if I don't trust her integrity, I should at least trust her wisdom. If she intends to control the federation forever, how could she do such insane things and turn herself into a 'second Lu Zui', offering a weakness for her opponents to attack her?
"Since she never crossed the lines, and she made such great contributions and sacrifices for 'Li Yao's group', I might as well be generous as her master now that she has proved her loyalty. Is it a big deal at all to let her run 'Li Yao's group'?
"Disciples should cater to their master's needs. With my reputation and influence today, isn't it too cheap for me if I deal with the trivia in the group myself? Isn't this what we recruit disciples for?"
Seeing that Li Yao talked and laughed casually, Long Yangjun put on a bitter smile for real. She shook her head and said, "You are such a puzzle. Sometimes, you make me think that the one hiding in the magnificent statue of 'dominator of three Sectors, Vulture Li Yao' is an idiot, but sometimes, I feel that the idiot is ten times more horrifying than what Han Baling described. What kind of person is the real Vulture Li Yao, and what is he planning to do?"
Pausing for a moment, instead of waiting for Li Yao to reply, she smiled, "Ha. But forget it. It will be a happy ending after all. Jin Xinyue appears to be taking full control of the situation. So, the guests from the Ancient Sages Sector can just enjoy the drama jovially."
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Weird brilliance flashed in Li Yao's eyes, as he shook his head and said, "No, I don't think you can."
Long Yangjun was slightly dazed. "How so?"
"So far, everything has been going on too well," Li Yao said solemnly. "But things shouldn't go so well where I am involved."
Long Yangjun chuckled. "There, you are starting again. What kind of bizarre theory is that? Do you really believe in 'destiny' or 'luck'?"
"Not destiny, and not luck. It is some sort of law that exists in reality." Li Yao frowned, his eyes deep and dark. His mind seemed to have drifted to a long, long time ago, and his voice sounded like the moans in his uncanny dreams. "I don't know how I should explain it to you. Even I haven't entirely figured it out yet. But you may consider me as a person, or a foreign object, that is rejected by the whole world, like a thorn that has stabbed into the flesh.
"When a thorn impales the flesh, the body will react out of natural instincts, trying to squeeze it out. Chances are that my body and soul have gone through subtle mutations during the many s.p.a.ce jumps in which they are torn apart and re-condensed between the third dimension and the fourth dimension. Therefore, this world regards me as a certain foreign object and has a 'rejection reaction'. It is not going to allow me to enjoy the fruit comfortably without doing anything."
Long Yangjun was amused. "Too many people have performed s.p.a.ce jumps repet.i.tively, but I've never heard of any of them having such weird mutations. Since you are so certain about the uncertainties in the future, I believe that you must've found something more than the so-called 'rejection reaction'?"
"Yes." Li Yao nodded. "Since Jin Xinyue has planned for a hundred years, her whole plan can't be just what we are seeing right now. She must have calculated everything to help Li Yao's group rise unstoppably and to make herself grasp the power of Li Yao's group and the Star Glory Federation someday.
"However, the most critical problem right now is the imminent invasion of the expedition army from the Imperium!
"If the Black Wind Fleet is not crushed, and the Star Glory Federation cannot secure a 'regional hegemony', her plans will be a great joke however marvelous and meticulous they are!
"Therefore, the abrupt changes in the past half month are just appetizers. What is about to happen next will be Jin Xinyue's most crucial plan!"
Li Yao did not disguise his att.i.tude. Observing his face, Long Yangjun immediately understood it. "But you do not have much hope in your disciple's 'crucial plan' to deal with the Black Wind Fleet?"
Li Yao sighed and said, "Yes. I think that her plans are not perfect enough. On one hand, she is too greedy. She is trying to take Li Yao's group, the traditional conglomerates, the Star Glory Federation, the Black Wind Fleet, and many other factors into consideration while making her plans for the purpose of taking advantage of all of them!
"If anything goes wrong in such an interlinking scheme, she will lose the entire game immediately. Even her father Jin Tuyi might not have been capable enough to calculate so many things. I think that it's too challenging for her!"
Long Yangjun smiled. "Maybe, young people prefer challenges."
"More importantly, as you said just now, by repackaging common mine accidents as terror attacks and fabricating a false evil organization named the 'CFIA', she has indeed kept her boundaries, but it can also be her greatest flaw."
"Are you worried that… the Black Wind Fleet may see through her?" Long Yangjun asked.
"Who knows?" Li Yao replied. "Normally speaking, the Immortal Cultivators from the Black Wind Fleet who are unfamiliar with the Star Glory Federation wouldn't think that way. However, if somebody enlightens them and explains the whole thing, it will not be too difficult for the Black Wind Fleet to draw the same conclusion with the same curve."
Long Yangjun blinked. "It seems that you already have suspects?"
"No. I cannot accuse anyone with the little information I have." Li Yao paused for a moment but went on. "However, I do feel ill at ease about one of Jin Xinyue's subordinates."
"Who is it?" Long Yangjun asked.
"Lu Qingchen," Li Yao replied.
Long Yangjun was slightly dazed. "According to your speculation just now, Lu Qingchen is not a real 'most wanted criminal of the federation', and he did not plan any terror attacks. He is just a 'magnet' that Jin Xinyue unleashed on purpose to attract all the Immortal Cultivators. Then, his loyalty to the federation must be unquestionable. Otherwise, Jin Xinyue wouldn't have picked him at all with her wisdom and keen eyes."
"But his 'Immortal Cultivator 2.0' gives me a very bad and creepy feeling," Li Yao said. "Even if it is fake and made up on purpose, I don't believe that a guy who can come up with such a theory is a counterfeit Immortal Cultivator."
Long Yangjun sniffed. "Even if he is an Immortal Cultivator, so what? The Immortal Cultivators are not necessarily loyal to the Imperium of True Human Beings. Isn't 'freedom of thought' highly valued in the federation? Before the rise of the 'CFIA', theories on the true path of immortality were openly published. Lu Qingchen can be both an Immortal Cultivator 2.0 and a loyal patriot of the Star Glory Federation. That is not contradictory.
"His special qualities were discovered by Jin Xinyue with her sharp eyes. It can't be more suitable to ask such an Immortal Cultivator who loves the federation to play the role of the leader of the CFIA!"
Li Yao nodded solemnly. "Yes. I thought so, too. 'Freedom of thought' is one of the doctrines of the federation today. Believing in the true path of immortality is not against the law at all. Since Jin Xinyue was bold enough to employ Lu Qingchen in such a critical and dangerous post, it means that he must've pa.s.sed multiple tests and proved himself to be the firmest patriot who would never surrender to the Imperium of True Human Beings."
Long Yangjun was truly dazed by what Li Yao said. She thought hard for a long time but still failed to get things straight. "If you think that Lu Qingchen is an unwavering patriot who will in no way betray the federation and surrender to the Imperium, what are you worried about?"
Li Yao smiled bitterly. "If Lu Qingchen is truly a determined Immortal Cultivator who believes in the 2.0 version of the true path of immortality, and a resolute and devoted patriot who loves the Star Glory Federation and is willing to sacrifice himself for the federation with the curse of 'most wanted criminal' on his shoulder for decades…
"Then, how on earth will he stand by and watch his motherland walk further and further away on the path of the Cultivators that he deems wrong?
"He will absolutely not betray the federation or surrender to the Imperium, but it doesn't mean that he will not reform the federation at the most critical moment with his own methods, ideology, and path that he believes to be absolutely correct!"