Chapter 106 - Thunderstorm
Li Yao traveled aboard the slowest green passenger train; it was an ancient model which had been in circulation since 150 years ago. It had a low-efficiency spiritual conversion, and a tremendous amount of heat was released when its powering array glyphs were in operation.
Therefore, at the front of the train's engine stood huge towering chimneys which were puffing steam.
The train engine was directly attached to a battle compartment equipped with powerful magical equipment, giving off an image as if it were a cold and majestic, giant beast covered in iron armor.
"One, two, three, four!"
A squad of federation soldiers dressed in black uniforms with a murderous look on their faces lined up; they were in a full battle array, awaiting orders to set out. The battle coach was then followed by a luxurious coach, a 1st class coach, a 2nd class coach, and as well as ten 3rd class coaches. At the very end, another battle coach was attached.
Many federation soldiers climbed up and down the battle coach, wiping the cold, glittering magical equipment one after another.
The train engine roared as the steam puffing out from the chimneys significantly increased, forming extremely dense clouds of steam above the train.
A clear and melodious ring rang in the platform, and in turn, the passengers who had yet to board the train increased the pace of their footsteps.
The roof of the battle coach was lifted open, and the huge, powerful crystal railguns rose from the gaps one by one.
Squeezing his way to his seat with difficulty, Li Yao stuffed his backpack, which carried toiletries and the black wing sword, onto the luggage rack. As for the package containing the Dark Star Rock, he had no choice but to throw it under the seat since it was too heavy. An ear piercing noise coming from the floor attracted everyone's attention.
Driven by powerful array glyphs, one after another, invisible ripples began to spread out.
The wheels gradually started moving as the scenery outside the window kept changing. Soon, the scenery of the Giant Edge Pass was quickly flung behind them, and replacing it was a vast piece of yellow-brown land where one was only able to find a few patches of green once in a while.
Seeing that the train was on the move, the passengers started up their mini-crystal processors one by one and sent messages to their families and friends.
"Mother, I'm already on the train. Yes, it has left the station. You don't need to worry, I have enough money. Wait till I have arrived at school, I will message you again then! Ah! Everything's fine! The school is inside the city and is surrounded by the army as well as cultivators, so how could demon beasts appear? Can you stop nagging!?"
"Juan'Er, wait for me. I will definitely make a name for myself in the Demon Beast Wasteland. After I make a lot of money, I will return and marry you!"
"Little Gang, you better listen to your mother. Dad is going to find a good job in the mines of the Demon Beast Wasteland. Every month, I will send money back. You better study well, and do not trouble or anger your mother and grandma, do you understand? If you listen to your dad, then dad will buy you a flying sword model when he returns at new years. But if you don’t listen to your dad… Dad is going to spank you!"
Upon hearing the reluctant farewells of the passengers, an inexplicable emotion burst forth from Li Yao's heart. Opening the spiritual crane messenger, he sent messages saying he was safe and sound to Grandpa Wang, Meng Jiang, and his other close friends.
Only after exchanging words with everyone did he finally heave a deep sigh of relief. Once again, he directed his gaze outside the window, looking at the vast world and the boundless blue sky.
In the distance were the desert that extended as far as the eyes could see and the billowing sand that made the setting sun look incredibly huge. Not so far away, a small oasis dotted the landscape in the desert. At a glance, the spring appeared much like a crescent moon, next to which stood a towering, lone barrack. Standing before the entrance were two new teen recruits, who stood straight like pine trees.
Next to the barrack was a sizeable mine, beside which was a few dozen meter tall crusher that was as big as a prehistoric behemoth. Constantly engulfing lumps of ores from under the ground, it screened out the precious crystal powder, and through some mysterious technique, it once again compressed it back into crystals which could be directly used by humans.
This was the Wasteland—a paradise for the brave and an ocean of hope!
Despite the harsh environment, the limitless billowing sand, the brutal demon beasts, as well as the lack of warmth from the four season, which was present in the inlands and was suitable for the survival of humans...
The ground underneath this boundless wasteland bore immeasurably precious treasures; the Wasteland had 90% of all the crystal ore reserves of the entire federation. Here, a variety of rare metals as well as heaven and earth materials that were beyond imagination could be found!
Needless to say, demon beasts themselves were priceless materials. Even now, many of the materials harvested from demon beasts could not be artificially synthesized by humans; they could only be obtained through hunting demon beasts.
In the Star Glory Federation, after five centuries of development, the social classes in the inland had basically already become fixed. This made it hard for the economically poor and the culturally blank, ordinary people to get ahead through sheer effort, and even more so, making it impossible for them to pave a path in the world without having a powerful background.
But in the Wasteland, everything was possible; perhaps even a silly boy who knew of nothing else would be able to find an undiscovered mine as long as he was lucky, allowing him to acquire shares of the mines that were worth several cities and becoming rich overnight!
It goes without saying that even a new guy who had just entered the cultivation world would be able to become famous overnight as long as he hunted some powerful demon beasts, thus having a meteoric rise in success and setting foot onto the peak!
So, no matter how bad the Wasteland's environment was, no matter how brutal the demon beasts were, fearless men would continue to come here one after another, using their blood and sweat to irrigate this dry land. Regardless of whether they were an ordinary person or a cultivator, in their eyes, this land wasn’t some desolate wilderness—it was a glorious hope for a happy life!
The wheels of the train were spinning as if they were flying; the train was galloping at full speed. After more than two hours, they were already deep within the backwoods of the Wasteland, crossing an approximately 6,000 meter long bridge that was completely built from steel.
Under the bridge was a thousand meter deep canyon; the magnificent scene below was a sight to behold, causing every passenger to hold their breath.
The journey was tiring. After crossing the bridge, the rest of the journey was through the monotonous wasteland. Many of the passengers had closed their eyes; Li Yao too had sunk into the land of dreams, assimilating the memory fragments of Ou Yezi.
Only god knows how much time had passed when Li Yao was suddenly jolted awake by the intense shaking of the train and the intense waves of screams that came from all directions.
Turning his gaze to outside the window, he was surprised to see that the environment had undergone a tremendous change.
Just a while ago, the sun that was as red as blood was setting, and the world was basking in twilight. In contrast, the sky, at the moment, became completely dark, and layer upon layer of dense dark clouds, much like fiends baring their fangs and brandishing their claws, had covered the sky. Round after round of lightning, like a stretching claw, rained down from the sky. From time to time, lightning would strike in the vicinity of the train, bursting forth with large groups of streaks of lightning in the air.
"Pitter-patter! Pitter-patter! Pitter-patter!"
Next came the rain. The world that was completely dry just a moment ago had, in the blink of an eye, transformed into a carnival of a violent storm as raindrops the size of beans struck at the glass windows. Their powerful momentum made the windows clatter, giving a kind of feeling as if the raindrops would pierce right through them.
Along with the ravaging storm, even the crystal train swayed slightly; it appeared as if it was a little boat struggling in the turbulent waters.
Accompanied by lightning, thunder, the howling wind, and the torrential rain, the starless night had a dreadful hell sketched upon it!
"It's the Thunderstorm Zone." Li Yao frowned.
Sure enough, from the broadcast array glyphs installed on the roof of the train came a sweet and melodious voice:
"Ladies and gentlemen, please note that we are traveling through a Thunderstorm Zone. We expect that it will take us one and a half hour to travel through the Thunderstorm Zone. Please pay attention to your safety, and please try not to use the spiritual crane messenger, lest attracting the lightning and destroying the crystal processor."
The Demon Beast Wasteland was riddled with gravitational and magnetic field anomalies and changing climates. Often, a lot of strange weather conditions would appear in the Wasteland. The Thunderstorm Zone was one such weather condition.
In the range covered by the Thunderstorm Zone, a storm would burst forth within a short span of time and would be accompanied by lightning and thunder. The sky would be filled with incredibly tyrannical lightning spiritual energy, and not only would all means of communication be completely cut off, even the cultivators' telepathic thoughts could not be transmitted.
Ordinary cultivators simply did not dare to ride their flying swords in the Thunderstorm Zone. Even if the experts of the Core Formation Stage insisted on rushing through the Thunderstorm Zone, they would first have to carefully consider and prepare again and again.
In the event that they attracted lightning, they would be struck, which was nothing to joke about.
However, for cultivators who were proficient in lightning spiritual energy, the formation of a Thunderstorm Zone also meant a rare opportunity for cultivation.
Therefore, many lightning cultivators would especially chase the clouds and the lightning in the Demon Beast Wasteland; these cultivators were also known as "Thunderstorm Chasers".
Although the Thunderstorm Zone was fierce, defensive arrays had been installed all around the crystal train. In normal circumstances, it would not cause any harm to the passengers.
As long as the train was out of the Thunderstorm Zone, everything would be calm and tranquil, and the sky would be bright and clear.
However, today's situation seemed to be somewhat different, as the lightning amidst the dark clouds was exceptionally fierce. The frequency of lightning rumbling through the sky was also much higher than the usual Thunderstorm Zone.
Sticking his face so close to the window that his nose stuck on the glass, Li Yao gazed outside. Just a moment ago, the vast expanse of desert had, in the blink of an eye, turned into a boundless black ocean.
And in the sky, dark clouds billowed, surging with a large number of air bubbles. Like a boiling pot, something was brewing in a speed that was visible to the naked eye, congealing as it rose to the surface.
It was as if strange insects were gnawing a big hole in the sky, but at the same time, it also seemed as if the fearsome eyes of a fiend were gradually opening.
Li Yao faintly saw some fierce-looking black silhouettes zipping its way out from the dark clouds. Just as he wanted to look carefully, round after rounds of ripples suddenly propagated on the window. Soon, the window turned into an opaque hologram, displaying a clear blue sky and white clouds; a scenery with oasis everywhere.
"Has it been closed?"
Li Yao secretly wondered if the situation was moving in an unpredictable direction.
Obviously, some kind of strange development was taking place outside the window, one which could very well cause large-scale panic among the passengers, thus the conductor could only start the hologram, covering the windows and sealing off the train.
It was clearly not just a thunderstorm.
The Thunderstorm Zone was a common weather phenomenon in the Demon Beast Wasteland. Even if the passengers had not experienced this before, they would have heard of it, thus it would not cause any panic.
But clearly, it was something… more terrifying than just a thunderstorm!
"Ta ta ta ta!"
A dozen federation soldiers in black battle uniforms holding spiritual energy boltgun with a chainsword hanging on their back, one by one, rushed from the front of the train to the back as they gnashed their teeth while their murderous aura soared into the sky.
"What rotten luck! We have encountered demon beasts!" Li Yao was a little frightened in his heart.
Not long after, a weak burst of tremors was transmitted from the rear end.
Ordinary people might not perceive it, but Li Yao keenly felt it.
Pulling away the carpet, he laid down on the ground and stuck his ear to the floor to listen carefully.
This slight sounds of vibration were released because the defense array of the crystal train had been pushed to the limit. In this mode, the majority of the crystal train's spiritual energy would be directed to the defensive arrays, which in turn would create a solid spirit energy shield that covered all around the crystal train.
"Boom! Boom! Boom!"
Something fiercely collided with the crystal train.
It was the sound of an explosion.
"Kacha kacha, kacha kacha!"
Several coaches at the rear end of the train were torn!
The numerous passengers were all puzzled by their actions, pointing at them in succession.
At this point, a large number of passengers from the rear coaches were driven by the federation soldiers to Li Yao's coach.
The passengers still could not understand what was happening. Many had even shouted in anger. "What's going on? Why are you driving us out of our coaches in the middle of the night!? Tell me where should I sit!?"
The federation soldiers that were driving them out had a pale complexion. As if they were statues, they did not utter a single word.
Cold sweat constantly trickled down their forehead, clearly showing the worry in their hearts.