Chapter 724: The Flotilla Arrives

Meng Zhiming paused for a moment, and then continued to set up the chessboard, “Not yet. What’s the matter?”

“What’s the matter?!” Zhao Xinggang set the newspapers on the chessboard and huffed angrily, “Hell has just released news about their plans to support the light industry and the manufacturing industry!”

Meng Zhiming continued to arrange the pieces on the chessboard, “Old Zhao, I recall that you’re part of the second batch of Yin spirits that had entered Hell. We were both founders of rather prestigious companies back in the mortal realm, even if I have to say so myself. After all, our profits were easily in the hundreds of millions. We’re not like those hot-headed fools out there who have set up a company without much thought of the circumstances around us. Have you forgotten about the true problems faced by Ashmound Right now?”

“No raw materials. Furthermore, the source and lifeblood of the manufacturing industry and the light industry are both truncated from upstream. No matter how many times Hell attempts to stimulate our economy with these stopgap measures, it’s all going to be useless unless the root of the problem is addressed. Entering the market now is no different from starting a dying business.”

“It’s not the same!” At once, Zhao Xinggang pointed to the news and barked at him, “Take a look for yourself! Hell’s 18th decree. 11 more days, and Hell will be officially launching its seaport live on national television! All raw materials will be auctioned off on site! 20 ships have already arrived from the Alkebulan Underworlds, and the full inventory list of their goods have been announced! This is today’s special edition of Hell’s Weekly! Even if Hell only releases half of the imports for domestic sales, we’re talking about a revitalization of most businesses that can last us a few months!”

Meng Zhiming’s gaze shone brightly.

All businessmen were the same, and they could smell profit from a mile away. Sure, these activities might last only a few months, but what about next time?

What was more important was the fact that the seaport was finally opening up. As businessmen, they knew full well the importance of networks. The greater the network and connectivity of the port, the higher the returns. This was the true nature of running a business predicated on demand and supply. Besides, who is to say where the equilibrium of demand and supply for such raw materials would lie in just a few months’ time?

He no longer had the mood to play chess. At once, he stood up and began to pace about with his hands behind his back. Admittedly, the transport company that they were thinking of setting up wasn’t directly predicated on raw materials. That said, it was still indirectly related. After all, the lack of raw materials would directly implicate production capabilities, thereby implicating the transport business!

Furthermore, he knew full well that the state was directly involved in some of the sectors out there. How deep were state resources? Take a look at the state-funded enterprises out there in the mortal realm. Could private enterprises truly compete with those giants and behemoths out there? No! They could easily price them out on the pretext of governmental policies! In other words, the pie to be divided was only going to shrink as time went by, because the government would no longer need any boost offered up by the private sector!

This was an opportunity of a lifetime that would close its doors to the world in no more than a decade or two! The more he thought about it, the more Meng Zhiming’s eyes narrowed. Who doesn’t desire to own a business empire of his own? Besides, he knew full well that there were a number of less-experienced businessmen out there who would be worried about the state of the industry in just a few months.

In other words, now was the best time to enter the industry and secure themselves the first movers’ advantage! Meng Zhiming’s pace quickened, and his breaths grew ragged. Ten minutes later, he finally stopped and picked up the papers once more.

Ghostflower: Recreational use, largely used in the food and beverage industry. Cargo: 500,000 tons. Carrier: Black Mamba III.

Divine Crane Plume: Tropical specialty trees, can be used to replace rubber. Cargo: 500,000 tons. Carrier: Headless Hyena I.

Sun Steel: C-grade mineral ore, used as a substitute for iron ore. Can be combined with Silvermoon Steel to forge alloys. Cargo: 500,000 tons. Carrier: Black Pearl.

Morningstar Beans: Recreational use, coffee substitute. More aromatic than the ones in the mortal realm, and brings about warmth to its users. Cargo: 700,000 tons. Carrier: Moses IV.

Dragonblood Mothertree: Gum substitute, one of the key constituents in plastic creation. Cargo: 1,000,000 tons. Carrier: Golden Rhino III.

So many… Meng Zhiming skimmed through the inventory list of the ships and identified over 20 key materials that included gum, steel, recreational use goods, cloth, seedlings, and so on and so forth. It wasn’t hard to see that Hell’s efforts were finally paying off. The influx of these goods was most certainly going to stir the lukewarm hearts of the Yin spirits once more.

Finally, he looked up at Zhao Xinggang once more, “Care to take a bet?”

“Given our mortal realm resume, we’ll probably be given top priority when it comes to our business. This is a huge opportunity, Old Zhao!”

“That’s exactly what I mean!” Zhao Xinggang shot up, “Come, those who are willing to hedge their bets and take the plunge now cannot possibly be ordinary folks either… I’m sure they’re all aware that these millions of tons of goods aren't going to last long in this city of over 20 million Yin spirits. Sure, there might be those who will be worried and suspicious about what comes next, but… I’m willing to bet that Hell would never let this flame go out if it can help it at all!”

“Entertainment supplies, raw materials, factory equipment, shipping routes… Hell has done far too much to kickstart the whole manufacturing industry! And this is the final cog in the machinery! They’ll never let these gears stop turning!”

Both men glanced at each other, and then said nothing more. At once, they rushed straight to the central bank, explained their intentions, and spent the next hour completing all the paperworks for their business.

The total loan came up to 50 million HL!

Meng Zhiming had been a CEO for his entire life, while Zhao Xinggang had been the chairman of a board of directors of a large company! Each of them knew their roles. Meng Zhiming immediately rushed to the docks, while Zhao Xinggang immediately approached various human resources departments and Hell’s Media Group to recruit more manpower. The plans that they had shelved for the longest time were finally being put to play.

Meng Zhiming arrived at the docks in no time. As soon as he did, he immediately saw the Yin spirits that the government had summoned to the docks. What’s more, he could see the monarch beasts bowing deeply on the ground with great respect. Meanwhile, the rest of the Yin spirits around were all doing the final cleanup work and clearing up any construction garbage in sight for the grand opening.

Not a single ship was in sight. But, even then, he could sense the sparks of excitement buzzing in the air! He immediately rushed towards the Yellow Springs Pavilion, only to realize that… there were already four people there.

That said, he was relieved.

At least there weren’t more.

Hell had truly outdone themselves this time. Unfortunately, this was also the classic case of the boy crying wolf, and there were too many past instances when Hell promised much, but delivered a lacklustre performance, including the Qin Gardens, the distribution of entertainment amenities, the Hungry Ghost Festival, and so on and so forth. Each of these instances had stirred up great hype among the citizens, only to become a huge letdown when the dust settled.

Huh? Another big event? Let’s wait and see.

Those who were here were probably the wheat among the chaff who were able to discern an opportunity when they saw one. In all likelihood, they might even end up becoming rival companies in future as well. Thus, after a brief moment of eye contact, nobody said a word.

The fact that there were few people around meant that the queue moved quickly. Soon, it was Meng Zhiming’s turn. He took a deep breath, and then handed his documents to the officer at the other side of the booth, “Excuse me, could I inquire about the tender--...”

But before he could even finish speaking, a group of people suddenly rushed into the pavilion. Everyone froze at once, and then scattered to the sides.

They were Yin soldiers.

Hell’s military force. The ancient-style armor on their bodies made them easily identifiable. In less than five minutes, the Yellow Springs Pavilion was completely cleared of all people, and the ones who had earlier been processing their documents were all taken to the second floor for the time being. Following that, a second group of people entered the Yellow Springs Pavilion.

It was Qin Ye’s second time visiting the Ashmound Port.

There were still 10 days until the grand opening of the port, when international sea trade would officially be launched. The Ministry of Communications was already in full swing, preparing for the grand festivities to take place at the launch event. Right now, Ashmound Port was of the top priority, not only because it would trigger a revival in the languishing industries of Hell, but also because it would form the foundation upon which Hell’s negotiations with the mortal realm would take place.

Wang Chenghao and the Harken followed Qin Ye into the hall. Qin Ye sat nonchalantly in the main seat. Zhao Yun and the Harken took their places at his left and his right, followed by the other scholars, including Zu Chongzhi, Li Chun and the others. There were a large number of people in this second group of people, but everyone could easily tell that these were all Yin spirits who formed the core group of Hell’s government.

They sat on both sides of the room, while their scribes sat behind them. Following that, Xu Changan sighed softly, before walking down the long aisle with a hexagonal crystal in his hands and offering it gingerly to Qin Ye with both hands.

“This is a piece of Film Jade personally crafted by Ghost King Zhao Zilong. This piece alone can record one hour’s worth of moving images. Unfortunately, it’s not feasible having a Yama-King continually forge such artifacts. Therefore, Hell will still have to find other means to transmit images in future.” Qin Ye toyed with it gently as he made some brief introductions. And then, he swiftly infused it with his own Yin energy, causing the Film Jade to crack in several locations before exploding into smithereens.

At once, the shattered bits coalesced into a circular frame, upon which the Yin energy in the room converged. Three seconds later, a screen appeared suspended in mid-air, on which a projection was displayed.

Nobody said a word as they watched on intently.

It was the image of the seas, filled with raging waves. But right there, in the middle of the waves, was the silhouette of a behemoth with eyes blazing with golden netherflames. Most of the behemoth was hidden underwater, but the surface of the seas continued to be illuminated with splendid netherflames, making it difficult to see beyond the reflections on the surface of the water. Apart from that, one could vaguely see a group of buildings hovering above the waters, spanning a thousand meters from end to end, and lit brightly with netherflames as well.

A multitude of unknown creatures appeared to surround the behemoth and the buildings on its back. They looked like crows, but were clearly far larger than the average crow. All in all, it looked no different from a mobile fortress.

This was the arrival of the Russian flotilla!

“This is the Russian Underworld’s mothership, Pyotr.” The Harken’s eyes narrowed, “This is the cargo ship that they sent? What are they trying to do here? Wage war?”

“What’s this?” Qin Ye frowned. Mothership? An aircraft carrier? No… It looks more similar to an amalgam of Yin energy, a biological lifeform, and artificial construction. It almost appears to be something right out of one of the animes I’ve seen. Besides, if the Harken knows of it, then it must mean that this thing has existed since a hundred years ago! I guess my understanding of the might of these first-rate underworlds is still far too lacking…

The Harken sighed, “The Pyotr… is a mobile fortress constructed on a massive Yin beast known as the Anglo. Only the Russian Underworld and the Argosian Underworld own a combat mothership like this. You can think of it as an existence similar to the aircraft carriers that appear in the mortal realm, from which hundreds of thousands of Yin soldiers and Yin beasts can be launched in an assault on enemy territory. It’s also equipped with many cannons and other forms of weapons of mass destruction. It’s pretty much a moving city in and of itself.”

Zhao Yun adde, “As far as I can recall, the Pyotr is 50 kilometers long and 18 kilometers wide, larger than most of the main Cathayan cities back in the mortal realm! It was one of the main reasons the Russian Underworld was even propelled into the ranks of first-rate underworlds to begin with. In fact, I recall that in the last international weapons development conference I’d attended, the Pyotr was ranked joint first together with the Argosian Underworld’s mothership. This… can practically be considered a deployment of their strongest military force.”

“What are they trying to do?” Zu Chongzhi stroked his beard and snorted coldly, “They’re the ones who agreed to war reparations, and then in the next breath, they send their strongest military force sailing against us like that? Are they trying to declare war on us?”

“No.” Qin Ye crossed his legs and sipped his tea placidly, “The collapse of their plans to develop Forbidden Arts must have caused the nameless god of death to face terrifying pressures back in the Russian Underworld. The overflowing wrath and rage in his heart must already be sufficient to fill the ocean several times over. Add war reparations to the equation, and it’s not difficult to understand why he would be doing what he’s doing.”

“Sailing Pyotr against us serves two purposes. For one, it’s a demonstration of force, declaring that the Russian Underworld is still powerful despite not having any Forbidden Arts. They’re trying to dissuade us from making any further plans against them. But beyond that...”

He raised his hand, and the image in the air vanished at once, causing the shattered crystal to once again reunite together to form a hexagonal crystal. He held up the crystal in his hand as he continued to explain, “Their war reparations are probably also loaded on this flotilla. They’re daring us to take it from them. After all, Hell has only sent a single Yin spirit to deal with them over the course of the entire Forbidden Arts incident, so they’re still suspicious of our reserve might. So… they’re trying their luck.”

The Harken snickered, “They need to learn to be a gracious loser and know when to cut their losses. To think that they even dare to pull a stunt like this right now… I guess Hell's absence from the international arena has truly left everyone wondering…”

Just then, Qin Ye suddenly looked up at the Harken, “Are you able to sink the Pyotr?”

The Harken paused. Then, a split second later, it glared back at Qin Ye, “Of course now! The Pyotr is covered with a multitude of Yin Talismans, as well as hundreds of thousands of well-trained soldiers backed by the might of their best military formations! And that’s not even to mention the weapons at their disposal. Do you think I’m a god?!”

Qin Ye nodded, “I thought so. If this had happened just a little while ago, then we might really have no choice but to abandon our war reparations. After all, this thing can probably come and go in our territorial waters, and there wouldn’t be anything we could do against it. But now…”

He glanced at Zhao Yun and smiled faintly, “They’re simply courting death.”

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