1923 Six Billion Virtual People

    "An interior world and an exterior one, two different Earths?" Li Yao replied. "It does make some sense. Then, what kind of being created such a strange world, and for what purpose?"

    "We will have to take our time to explore to find out the answer." The mental devil smiled. "Maybe the blue planet on the surface, the Earth that has developed a brilliant, glorious civilization, with skyscrapers, streams of cars, and infinite exuberance, is nothing more than the Spiriters' Realm, the virtual world that Extraterrestrial Devil Mo Xuan established. It is just a game, an illusion, and a ridiculous joke.

    "If by 'destroy Earth' it means deleting a game, formatting a crystal processor, or shattering a virtual world, you did a lot of such things during the fierce fight against Extraterrestrial Devil Mo Xuan, didn't you? However strong one's sense of justice and integrity might be, they wouldn't think that deleting a game is an unpardonable crime, right?"

    "Seems so." Li Yao thought for a moment. "If the blue Earth is just a virtual world and a joke full of malevolence and schemes, it will be easier to understand why we must 'destroy Earth'. But what about the six billion earthlings? I vaguely recall that the earthlings have their feelings, emotions, and independent will, too. They are all real people!"

    "Who told you that?" the mental devil argued, not thinking that it was a big deal. "When you play the game 'Civilization' and enter a new DLC, is every individual you meet-including the dealers on the street, the waiters in the restaurants, or the enemy's minions-a real player? Of course not. A lot of them are 'virtual people' that are randomly generated. To quote Extraterrestrial Devil Mo Xuan, they are 'Deviant Spirits'!

    "The 'Deviant Spirits', under the support of an enormous database, function according to all kinds of sophisticated rules and can vividly simulate all the feelings and operations of human beings, as if they were exactly real persons. But they are still fake nonetheless!

    "When you were lost in the Spiriters' Realm, were you not trapped in a virtual village named 'Peach Blossom Village' where you met Extraterrestrial Devil Mo Xuan's virtual granddaughter 'Ah Luo'? When you broke 'Peach Blossom Village' in the end, that 'Ah Luo' was naturally disintegrated into the most basic data. Does that mean you killed an innocent woman?"

    "Nonsense," Li Yao replied immediately. "Of course I didn't!"

    The mental devil grinned hideously. "Therefore, even if your memories in the virtual Earth are as clear as can be, on what grounds are you certain that the six billion earthlings all exist for real? Have you seen each and every one of the six billion people? The best you could've met and gotten in touch were the several thousand people around you, right?

    "No. Even if you have seen them in person, it still does not prove any point. The virtualization technology in the federation is already enough to create 'Deviant Spirits' that can almost deceive people into thinking that they are real. It is needless to mention the powerful being that is capable of creating a virtual Earth!

    "Therefore, of the six billion earthlings, it is very possible that 5,999,000,000 are fake. They are all 'Deviant Spirits', and deleting those 'virtual earthlings' does not violate any moral code, does it?"

    Li Yao thought carefully for a long time, frowning. He shook his head slowly and said, "In that case, destroying a virtual Earth and deleting 99.99% of the six billion people who are 'virtual humans' indeed do not seem to violate any moral code. However..."

    He hesitated for a long time, and his eyes seemed to have pierced through the immeasurable dark nebula and projected to the blue virtual planet. "Even if what you said is true, and 99.99% of the earthlings are false as virtual humans generated by databases and programs, do they realize that they are fake? When the Earth is destroyed and they are truly deleted, will they feel painful or struggle in desperation?

    "If the virtual world is advanced enough, there should be some sort of data, program, and rule to make them sense pain and desperation, shouldn't there? It is almost like in some of the war DLCs of 'Civilization', even the randomly generated soldiers on the enemy's side will put on the most miserable expression when they are killed."

    The mental devil apparently could not care less. "However, no matter how painful and desperate they are, that is still fake, virtual, and meaningless! I know that you are a hotblooded middle school student whose ignorance borders on idiocy, but you aren't hypocritical enough to care about some virtual humans, right? I didn't see you show any mercy to the Deviant Spirits when you fought Extraterrestrial Devil Mo Xuan's army!"

    Li Yao smiled, somewhat in embarrassment. "Seems so. After you point it out, I indeed feel that I am being too naïve."

    The mental devil's eyes glowed as it rubbed its fists and declared, "In that case, if the 'blue Earth' is really a virtual game, and 99.99% of the earthlings are virtual, 'destroy Earth' will no longer be unacceptable, right? Then, what are we waiting for? Let's find it and destroy it already. Hehehe!"

    Li Yao frowned again and eyed the mental devil carefully up and down. "Wait. Can you please stop laughing creepily like that? Why do I always feel that you have ill intentions and are not a good guy?"

    "Oh, how wronged I am!" The mental devil covered its head with both hands and shouted, "From the moment I was born to right now, although I have indeed said some outrageous things, tell me truthfully, have I really done anything wrong?

    "Elder Nether Spring had his Spore Stratagem, Jin Tuyi had his Red Tide Plan, Lu Zui had his Patriots Partnership, and even the seemingly frank and dutiful Professor Mo Xuan had one side that was an extraterrestrial devil. Even you, Vulture Li Yao, who have always been an embodiment of integrity and justice, have the mysterious destiny to destroy Earth on your shoulders!

    "So many people have exposed their evil ambitions, but I have been staying here dutifully all the time. Why do you call me a 'mental devil'? Tell me honestly, what kind of 'devil' am I?

    "Right now, it is you who wants to destroy Earth, but you cannot pass the test of your own heart. You asked me to brainstorm with you, so a storm I have given to you. But after all the possibilities that I help you come up with, you accuse me of having ill intentions again?

    "Why is it so difficult to be your mental devil? I'm trying to help you fulfil your destiny and destroy Earth. Why do you not believe me?

    "Even if you do not trust me, you should at least trust yourself. Look at you. Dominator of three Sectors, Black Wind King, Vulture Li Yao. What a man of brightness and uprightness you are! You are the epitome of justice! Now that you are a symbol of justice, the things that you destroy are certainly evil. Even if you do not understand it right now, you will soon realize the necessity to destroy Earth during your exploration!"

    "I'm going to stop you there." Li Yao stopped the mental devil from rambling on. "I know what I should do very well, and I will not be manipulated by you or any goddamn 'destiny'.

    "All in all, we must find 'Earth' first and find out the secrets behind it before we make any plans."

    "That makes sense." The mental devil could not have agreed more. "However, the universe is a vast place. We do not have any clues at all. Where should we begin?"

    "Who says we do not have any clues? We clearly have the most important clue, which is our language!" Li Yao said. "The most widely used language on Earth is very similar to the prevalent language in the three thousand Sectors today. They are ninety-five percent identical. Such a language is obviously in line with the language of the Pangu Civilization from the primeval age.

    "Moreover, I vaguely recall that there are tales where Pangu established the universe and Nuwa created human beings on Earth, too. They are quite similar to the many legends in the three thousand Sectors.

    "Therefore, Earth must be deeply associated with the primeval civilizations including Pangu and Nuwa. As long as we crack the many mysteries left from the primeval age, we will certainly be able to crack the mystery of Earth and find out where it is exactly!

    "We have to seize every second to go to the center of the cosmos!

    "In the royal library of the Imperium of True Human Beings that is as vast as an ocean, all the classics and files in the past ten thousand years or even dating back to the Great Dark Age are stored. Even Long Yangjun thinks highly of their value. Chances are that clues about Earth are hidden among them.

    "Boss Bai left for the center of the cosmos three years ago to excavate the mausoleums of the Supreme Emperor and the Blood God. The Supreme Emperor claimed to have three volumes of the Book of Revelations, in which a great amount of the heritage of the Pangu Civilization was stored. The Blood God, on the other hand, was not only a reincarnation of the Supreme Emperor but also had the enhancement of the extraterrestrial devils. He was definitely the most powerful devil lord that history had ever seen.

    "Did the two of them know something about the primeval age and even learn of Earth? If we can really find their mausoleums or residences, we may have some interesting discoveries.

    "Also, after we go to the Imperium of True Human Beings, we will have a chance to get in touch with the people from the Covenant Alliance. The Covenant Alliance has developed and thrived to this day based on the relics of the Pangu Civilization. Their studies on primeval civilizations must be far better than the knowledge of the federation or the Imperium. It is even possible that 'Earth' is concealed in the realm of the Covenant Alliance, which would be interesting!

    "All in all, I have vaguely figured out who I am, and there is no reason for me to quit halfway in confusion. Everything in the Star Glory Federation has been set on the right track. I don't think that I am too indispensable here. In the next hundred years, I should fight more for my own destiny and find Earth whatever it takes!"

    A vague smile flashed at the bottom of the eyes of the Blood Devil. "What then? Will you really... destroy Earth?"

    "I cannot give you an answer to that question yet." Li Yao pondered for a long time, but he eventually shook his head and said, "Let's find Earth first. I believe that all the problems will be solved after the truth about 'destroy Earth' is revealed. By then, I will naturally know how I should fulfil my 'real destiny'!"
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