After God knows how long, Li Yao felt that he had turned into a drill pushing forward helically in the sticky darkness.
After each rotation, he would move forward one centimeter; another rotation, he'd move another centimeter. He kept moving forward, forward, and forward, until the thick darkness was broken through and he saw vague brightness in front of him again.
His consciousness hadn't regained control over his brain yet, but he heard whispers beside his ears, as if many mice were talking,
"The technology of the Star Ocean Imperium is indeed impressive! 95% of the power rune arrays are no strangers to us. But look at their construction model! With the same spiritual runes and energy intensity, the impetus that their power rune arrays can provide is dozens of times greater than ours!
"The mustard-level maintainers are amazing, too! The Heaven's Origin Sector has only just started studying the mysteries of the mustard-level world. Although we can also manufacture mustard-level magical equipment that is one billionth the size of sand, we are not capable of carving so many rune arrays to endow it with such amazing repairing ability!"
"Treasury! Sparkle is truly a boundless treasury! If we can scrutinize everything on board, the development level of the refining techniques of the Heaven's Origin Sector will leap forward by at least thirty years!"
The voices turned into earsplitting noises in Li Yao's muddled brain, giving him a headache instead of actual meanings.
Li Yao blinked his eyes hard. After each blink, the blurry picture in front of his eyes became somewhat clearer. After hundreds of blinks, he finally realized that it was the cracking ceiling in the cockpit that he had been staring at the whole time.
Sparkle still existed!
'I'm not dead? I'm still in the cockpit? Sparkle didn't explode, either?'
Pictures popped up in Li Yao's brain like fist jumping out of the water. Li Yao remembered everything.
He remembered that more and more meteorites hit through the cockpit and brushed past him, whacking the mainframe crystal processor into garbage.
He punched at the cosmic storm and the cascade of meteorites, but the vacuum took all his attacks.
Until in the end, a gold meteorite the size of a fist rushed close and hit his chest brutally…
Li Yao was great alarmed. He lowered his head and examined his chest in a hurry.
The Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit was already on the verge of destruction. But there was a lot of silver brightness on the cracks in its chest. The mustard-level maintainers seemed to have mended it in time.
His ribs were still aching, many of which must've broken. There was also a large area of bruising on his chest, as if it had been burnt by purple fire.
Li Yao was baffled. The gold meteorite had been travelling at an incredibly high a speed yet dealt such little damage. It didn't even pierce through his body?
Quite a lot of silver powders were left on the skin of his chest. Several silver scraps even stabbed into his chest, but not very deeply. Therefore, he didn't feel much pain.
It appeared that some silver metal object had exploded in front of his chest and resisted the catastrophe for him.
"It was my Soul Condensing Pendant! My Soul Condensing Pendant is gone!"
Li Yao felt that his neck was empty. Extending one of his spiritual threads to sense the situation, he found that the pendant hanging on his neck had disappeared.
Three years ago, on the very first day of his life in the Grand Desolate War Institution, the test of the super-compressed crystal reactor had failed, leading to a calamitous explosion in which almost all of the professors and students of the Refining Department perished. But there was not a single spectral Cultivator that survived the disaster. The only thing left on the spot was the remnant of a half-melted Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit.
However, a year and a half later, Li Yao had perceived weird spiritual waves from the remnant of the crystal suit. It was then that he'd learnt that not everyone in the accident had been burnt into nothingness. Some professors and students had fled to the interior of the crystal reactor at the critical moment, but only ended up being Phantom Entities, a life form that was even more queer than regular ghosts!
Phantom Entities were scraps of ghosts in the two-dimensional universe. They had no self-awareness and no memories. The only thing that they possessed was the last bit of the perseverance that motivated them to never give up!
That day, Li Yao had vowed to the Phantom Entities that he would let them resume their past and consciousness, let them remember who they were and where they were going to, and let them be unfolded from the two-dimension to the three-dimension, so that they would turn from Phantom Entities to spectral Cultivators that could Cultivate again!
The source of these particular Phantom Entities' perseverance was the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit.
Therefore, Li Yao had refined a Soul Condensing Pendant and hidden all the Phantom Entities within. He had been wearing the pendant through all the fierce battles that he had been engaged in with the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit.
Although the reactions from the Phantom Entities were more and more intense, the crucial leap never happened.
When one died, one would be gone for all eternity. It was an arduous task to regather the souls when they had already dispersed.
Never did he expect that the Soul Condensing Pendant would block a meteorite and save his life one day.
However, the Phantom Entities residing inside the pendant, his professors and Senior Brothers, were probably truly gone this time without the slightest race left, were they not?
Li Yao sighed and extended his arm, trying to touch his chest where the pendant had been hanging, only to tear one of his wounds open. The pain was so excruciating that he gasped.
The whispers which sounded like mice drifted into his ears again.
"Excellent! Li Yao has woken up!"
"Great! How long till the med bay is ready?"
"65% has been repaired. But I haven't figured out the mechanism of many rune arrays yet. I need more time!"
This time, Li Yao heard them loud and clear, which creeped the hell out of him.
In a supposedly empty warship floating in the depths of the sea of stars, so many weird voices were speaking, some of which even sounded familiar.
What was even creepier was that the owners of these voices even knew his name!
Cold sweat immediately drenched Li Yao. He bellowed in a low voice, "Who? Who's there?!"
The cockpit was illuminated. Five clusters of round liquid metal wriggled close like five lovely newborn animals. Four of them were relatively smaller, surrounding the bigger one in the center.
They had previously been the mustard-level maintainers on Sparkle. But right now, they seemed to be blessed with their own will.
The five clusters of liquid metal flowed slowly. One bump protruded out on each of them and was stretched out until it became a metal membrane that was almost transparent.
The metal membrane vibrated at a high frequency, creating soundwaves that were audible to human.
The biggest cluster of liquid metal started 'talking', somewhat in delight. "Mr. Li Yao, you've finally woken up! We were afraid that moving you might aggravate your injuries and therefore simply left you there. How about it? If you feel that you are able to walk, let's head over to the med bay!"
The more he listened, the more he found the voice familiar. Despite the shrill, metallic sound, he was certain that he had heard the same coarse voice somewhere else.
The liquid metal then continued speaking. "Although we can communicate with you telepathically, it would be great burden for us to do so. Our souls have just been unfolded from the two-dimension and can't suffer too much fatigue yet. Therefore, we'd prefer to talk with you in such a way. Are we good? Can you understand me?"
Unfolded from the two-dimension… Unfolded from the two-dimension…
Li Yao's eyes were bulging wider and wider. Thousands of lightning bolts were brewing in his eyes, while he felt like shouting to the sky in joy.
He finally remembered whom the voice belonged to!
Once upon a time, in so many days and nights, he had been receiving the enlightenment of the master of the voice through the teaching videos and learnt so much invaluable knowledge from him!
A messy-haired, red-eyed figure who was dancing with glee as if he were a patient of epilepsy seemed to have appeared above the cluster of metal liquid!
It was Professor Mo Xuan, the unquestionable leader of the grassroots refiners of the Heaven's Origin Sector, and the previous dean of the Refining Department of the Grand Desolate War Institution known as 'lunatic' who had challenged the elite refiners alone, led his department to pioneer the Project Mystic Skeleton, and eventually sacrificed himself for what he believed in!
Li Yao's eyes were red. He was more thrilled than ever as he asked, "You—You finally unfolded yourself from the state of Phantom Entity and turned into a spectral Cultivator? Great! This is just great!"
"And me! And me!"
The four clusters of liquid metal that were relatively smaller all vibrated violently one after another.
"My name is Shi Tengfei. I was a final year student, and I'm best at the refining and research of power rune arrays!"
"My name is Gao Yang. I was in my final year, too. I like the magical equipment and technology related to teleportation arrays best!"
"I am Hua Yuanjia. My research field is defense rune arrays and spiritual shields. My dream is to build the strongest spiritual shield in the Heaven's Origin Sector!"
"I am Xiong Qili. Material science and structural planning are my specialties. To put it more simply, I study how to finish the manufacturing and assembling of super-large magical equipment with the most suitable materials in the most delicate architecture!"
"Hohohoho. We were the legendary four top experts of the Refining Department of the Grand Desolate War Institution. We are the 'Four Kings' of the grassroots refiners!"
Li Yao couldn't help but grin.
He had read a thing or two about the combination of 'Four Kings' in some notes and files of the Refining Department before. They were indeed four remarkable students before he'd arrived there. Although their research fields were very broad, they were the best experts in their respective research fields.
It was with their collective work that Project Mystic Skeleton was nearly accomplished.
But it was a pity that there were no experts in crystal reactors among them. Therefore, no one had been able to foresee the tragedy.
However, as it turned out, they'd all survived the disaster as Phantom Entities and now restored their self-awareness and memories!
Although he was in the middle of nowhere, he felt good knowing that his professors and senior brothers were with him and that he wouldn't be walking down the path alone.
It was a marvelous feeling!
"Mr. Li Yao, thank you very much. I do appreciate everything you've done for us and the Refining Department of the Grand Desolate War Institution!"
Professor Mo Xuan's metal membrane vibrated and spoke solemnly.
Then, the 'Four Kings' each spoke one after another.
"Senior Brother Li Yao, thank you very much!"
"Although our senses were very weird when we were Phantom Entities and we couldn't perceive much except for some information pieces, we could feel a hundred percent the furiously-burning fighting will of yours when you were in the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit every time."
"It was the fighting will that nourished and protected us so that we didn't disperse over the passage of time, but instead became stronger and clearer!"
"Just now, your fighting will suddenly increased to five times what it had ever been before. It was like the detonation of a giant bomb and helped us unfold instantly!"