In the distant Holy City…
An ad hoc meeting was in progress.
Ma Dong — who had been promoted to the Holy City's Financial Affairs Manager due to his status as the Chairperson of the Star Stone Company — several bosses from the Patriarch Society, and the leaders of the various families in the Holy City were all gathered.
At that moment, the atmosphere in the meeting room was somewhat tense and hostile.
Recently, the finances of the Holy City were in extremely short supply. The taxation from the Star Alliance had reached the limit that the Earth civilization could endure. For the past two years, they had been able to deal with this as they had accumulated resources over a long period of time. But this year…
"It has only been three years since we joined the Star Alliance, but the finances of the Holy City have reached a stage where we can no longer make ends meet!" The elder of the Karon clan stared at Ma Dong. As a member of the Patriarch Society, as one of the most powerful Sacred Teachers in the Holy City, and as the elder of one of the most ancient families in the Holy City, Hebre Karon had always been the facilitator of such meetings. At that moment, he had a solemn expression on his face. "Joining the Star Alliance has not brought about rapid improvements but has instead harmed us with its heavy taxes. Is this the result that everyone wanted?"
"I suggest that we reduce all the Star Alliance welfare options that can be chosen from, including the applications for immigrants every year and the provision of civil identities. These are a rather heavy burden for us! Most importantly, there are no gains from these contributions!"
"This time, I support Karon. Most low-leveled civilizations need a rather long buffer period after joining the Star Alliance," spoke another noble member of the Patriarch Society. He was typically celebrated for his fairness in the Holy City. If even he supported this idea, then this would represent the opinion of the majority. "The Earth has too little foundation. If we want to develop in the Star Alliance and achieve our goal in the shortest time possible by trying every method, we will eventually be delayed and collapse as a result. We should focus our energy on developing the Holy City and the Earth and use our resources toward this. For now, the advantage of joining the Star Alliance is the exchange of some information and knowledge. If we use this knowledge well, I think that it is more than enough for the current Earth."
Voices of support could be heard all around them. Aunt Shea and Wang Zhanfeng furrowed their eyebrows slightly.
Only a part of the Star Alliance taxes was compulsory, but the various great civilizations could choose to contribute in many areas, such as maintaining a certain number of immigrants headed towards the Land every year and sustaining the civilian applications annually. However, the price for these was rather high. After all, the Land was only so large, and people from the thousands of civilizations in the Fifth Dimension wanted to go there. Were the 100 spots that the Star Alliance provided the Earth with really free? The Holy City's investment in this aspect was almost equivalent to an entire year's worth of taxes for a level-4 civilization.
Back then, the Patriarch Society had gritted their teeth and continued the expenditure in this aspect. They had wanted to take a shortcut and hoped that the experiences in the Land could help the Earth to nurture some super experts. However, it was obvious that the results were not good. Other than some vague information about Wang Zhong, the others were either slaves or doing bitter work. It was difficult for them to even survive, let alone stand out. This meant that they had spent a huge price for an insignificant return. Furthermore, the burdens of the Holy City were increasing by the day. Reducing expenditure in this aspect had been brought up in the agenda several times and was well-supported.
"I disagree." Ma Dong stood up. "If we don't enter the Land in the divine territory and simply maintain our status as a member of the Star Alliance, it looks like we can reduce a large part of our expenditure, but in reality, it will be killing the goose that lays the golden eggs! It will only infinitely delay our plans of integrating in the Star Alliance. Furthermore, once we announce that we have ceased the investment in immigrants, this means that we will cut off all the previous immigrants! As Earthlings, they will immediately lose their legal status in the divine territory. Do you want all of them to die?!"
"Ma Dong, watch your words! All those who have gone to the Land in the divine territory are the most outstanding talents among us humans. Among them are many descendants of those present today. Absolutely no one hopes that they will die!" a member of the Patriarch Society chided him. "Are you going to drag the rest of the civilization to our graves because of this? You have to be decisive and make this decision! I believe that everyone present is in much more distress than you arrow-making fellow[a]!"
There was a lot of controversy surrounding Ma Dong. More accurately, everything he did was the focus of debate. There were probably many people who wanted to kill him.
"I have no intention of doing so. As the current Financial Affairs Manager of the Holy City, I simply wanted to say that we can still endure this, with little difficulty, for at least a few more years." Ma Dong was no longer the fatty who had once drowned his sorrows in tears in Tianjing. When faced with difficult questions and rage from many Sacred Teachers, he simply said calmly, "We should not change the strategies and policies that we have decided on because of a temporary crisis, let alone cut off the paths of our brothers and sisters in the divine territory! I am willing to donate all of the wealth from the Casadin family…"
"Heh heh. A donation?" Hebre Karon laughed coldly. "Indeed, the Casadin family is very wealthy, but is it enough to cover the Star Alliance for one year? Even if it is enough, what about the next year? And the year after that?"
"Difficulties are only temporary. This is something that our entire civilization is facing. If those present are also able to give generously…"
"Are you joking? Are you going to make all your people pay the price of their entire family's welfare for a dead end that has no hope at all? You're crazy and want everyone to be crazy with you!"
"Ma Dong, don't take us for granted!"
The meeting room was in an uproar. Was he asking everyone here to pay from their own pockets just to send more children from the families to the divine territory to become slaves or to be bullied?
"It is not an absolute dead end! Has everyone forgotten about Wang Zhong? More than half a year ago, he had already established a foothold for us in the Heavenly Treasures Street. We have to believe in him…"
"Ma Dong, are you joking?" There was a glint in Hebre Karon's eyes. It was fine if Wang Zhong was not mentioned, but when Wang Zhong was mentioned, Hebre was simply filled with rage. "What do you mean he established a foothold in the Heavenly Treasures Street? Back then, we almost thought that his verbal communication was true, but what were the results? He was just lucky to be able to rely on a Void Core from the goblin race without being enslaved. Did you really think he was that capable?"
The Holy City had a weak understanding of the information in the Star Alliance. Other than getting some information through the Starship Company, it had been very difficult for the humans there to communicate with the Holy City for almost 1.5 years. They had no choice. After all, the Earth still did not have the qualifications to construct a standard communication pathway. There were no transmission areas that were specifically for the Earth either.
Everyone only had the information from when Wang Zhong had just established a footing in the Heavenly Treasures Street. Back then, Lao Wang had sent some information to the Patriarch Society. Since Lao Wang did not want Earthlings to feel as if they could do as they wished in the Heavenly Treasures Street, the information in the communication had been very vague. Meanwhile, some humans were two-faced and had the habit of making guesses on their own.
"Let me tell you about Wang Zhong's circumstances!" Hebre Karon coldly said, "A genius from the Karon family, Wales Karon, went to the Heavenly Treasures Street to seek asylum with Wang Zhong because he heard about these self-glorifying rumors. Guess what the consequences were? Because of a small matter, Wang Zhong handed him over to the Machinery race, and Wales was sent to work in the Heavenly River Sandpit!"
Everyone went into an uproar.
"I don't believe that." Wang Zhanfeng finally spoke. His voice was unusually cold. Unlike Ma Dong, who had strong arguments, a wave of powerful Sacred Teacher aura filled the room. He did not object if Hebre wanted to cause a revolution in the Patriarch Society. Their financial problem was a crisis that was hard for the Holy City to overcome. However, he had spoken about Wang Zhong in this way. Wang Zhanfeng understood the boy he had raised very well. Sacrificing his people to seek favor from others? He would not believe this even if he was beaten to death. "Hebre, produce the evidence. You cannot speak carelessly here!"
"That's right. Hebre, you cannot speak carelessly here. Can you communicate with the Heavenly Treasures Street? Where did you get the information from? Also, why didn't you say so earlier?"
"There's no need for suspicion. I heard about this when I was trading with the Bowler Starlings some time ago. If you need it, I can provide the audio recording from then." Hebre Karon coldly said, "Back then, I did not raise this matter as I cared about the overall situation. It is not that the sons of the Karon family are not willing to make sacrifices for our people. But since we have reached this topic today and it involves the future decisions of our race, I had no choice but to raise it!"
"This Wang Zhong, I think that his verbal message back then was fabricated. What accomplishments could he achieve in the Heavenly Treasures Street? He is just tricking more humans to go there so that he can make use of them! Heh heh. He doesn't protect his people but instead uses his own people to help him boost his reputation and sacrifices their lives and prospects to seek favor from other civilizations so that he can continue to climb higher. Do you dare to shout that we should believe someone like this? Today, he has dared to sacrifice one fellow human to seek favor. In the future, he will dare to trick the entire human race for his own sake!"
"Did that really happen?"
"Hebre is not someone who speaks carelessly."
"How could that Wang Zhong dare to do so?!"
"If that's the case, I suggest that we immediately stop all the assistance provided to the divine territory immigrants and immediately stop all expenditure in the immigration sector!"
The meeting room instantly went into an uproar. Meanwhile, Wang Zhanfeng and Shirley's expressions were very ugly. They did not believe that Wang Zhan Feng would do such things, but Hebre had said so with such certainty, and they were afraid that it was true. Perhaps there were some secrets behind this, but at the very least, there was no running away from the surface truth. Recently, the voices asking to stop the immigration plans were very loud. Only the two of them and Ma Dong had insisted on continuing their plans. At first, there was a significant group of people who remained neutral in this matter, but now, looking at the public enthusiasm in this meeting room, no matter how the three of them tried, it would be difficult to influence the situation.
Amidst this public enthusiasm, a hurried knocking was heard from the door of the meeting room.
The bosses who were expressing their opinion without restraint all furrowed their eyebrows. Who dared to knock on the meeting room door during such times?
Everyone was quiet. They saw the door open, and an ordinary messenger from the Patriarch Society came in with unfathomable realization on his face. He had completely forgotten that he had no right to disrupt a meeting with so many bosses.
Just as Hebre was about to chide the messenger, the messenger anxiously said, "Masters, the Star Alliance has issued a new notice! The Earth civilization has leveled up by 0.5 levels and will enjoy the treatment of a standard level-5 civilization! The taxes will be reduced by 10%, and the information privileges will be increased to level-5. The trade privileges will also be increased to level-5, and all the costs for one hundred immigrants will be waived!"
The clamoring in the meeting room instantly fell silent.
A civilization upgrade? Their taxes would be reduced; their information and trade privileges would improve, and the immigration costs would be completely waived?!
What, what was this?
Everyone was dumbstruck. They had just been debating the problem of immigrant expenditure, but since the costs had been waived, what else was there to talk about?
Level-4 civilizations had to pay an expensive fee to provide access for 100 immigrants every year, but level-5 civilizations could enjoy this welfare for free. Of course, if they wanted to send 200 or 300 immigrants a year, they would have to pay additional fees according to the number of immigrants.
As for the increase in information and trade privileges, this was what the Earth civilization currently needed most urgently! Why did they join the Star Alliance? Wasn't it to enjoy the public information among the level-4 cultivations and have fair trade rights with other civilizations? The Earth could learn a large majority of the technology and some simple yet restricted civilization techniques that had been publicized by other level-4 civilizations. This had allowed the Earthlings to make rapid improvements in technology and cultivation in the short span of three years. Now, they would be able to enjoy level-5 privileges with more advanced technology and more cultivation methods. This simply meant that their entire civilization could advance immediately!
Meanwhile, the reduction in taxes, as well as the advancement in trade rights, would allow the Earth to have more initiative and speaking rights when engaging in trade with other civilizations. Thus, the speed at which they obtained resources would be 100 or even 1,000 times the current speed! Their current financial problems could be solved easily!
However, had the Star Alliance suddenly gone mad? Why did they increase the Earth's civilization level for no rhyme or reason? The Patriarch Society did not even apply for this! Furthermore, what qualifications did they have? With the Earth's current bottom-dwelling status in the Star Alliance, raising their civilization level was something that they would not even dare to dream about!
If they did not know that the messengers would not dare to lie, everyone would not have believed these ridiculous words.
Everyone was dumbstruck as they looked at the messenger and could not speak. The messenger simply continued speaking, "The appointment was directly passed down from the Heavenly Gates! It's Wang Zhong! Lord Dhomiguer from the Mizobudapi civilization said that it was Wang Zhong. A genius has emerged from the human race and received the acknowledgment of the Heavenly Shell race superintendent. We have hope!"
Wang Zhong? The Heavenly Gates? The superintendent?!
Regardless of how limited the information in the Earth civilization was, at least everyone knew certain phrases such as the Heavenly Shell race, the Heavenly Gates, or even its superintendent.
After a brief few seconds of silence in the meeting room, sounds of people gasping in shock could be heard. The bosses, who were typically not shocked by anything, seemed to have lost their self-control.
Ma Dong fiercely clenched his fist, but there was a cold smile on his face. "Humans cannot go back to where we have come from. Everyone present here is clear that we only have one choice in front of us. We will either succeed or be destroyed. During these times, there are still people holding us back. Lord Hebre, let's go back to our question just now. How did that good-for-nothing from your family almost destroy what Wang Zhong and the others have built up after much difficulty — the glory of us Earthlings…?"
Was the truth really important?
In reality, there were no fools present. They simply had different views. Today, Ma Dong clearly understood the importance of unity. However, black sheep like Hebre definitely could not stay behind. Life had already taught him to make a decision when it was time to decide.
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