The mining site was now a secured site for the Sang Family Village. To prevent wild animal attacks, almost all the villagers were sent here to sweep the area. A security ring was also formed around the perimeter of the mining site, showing just how much the villagers cared about this mining site.
"Sir, this way please." Sang Pu led Ye Chong to one of the dugout holes of the lavagold mining site.
This mining site was now much larger and deeper than when Ye Chong first inspected the area. He could smell the wet earth, hear the metallic clangs from the mining work further away. The villagers did not stop working because of his arrival. They were using very primitive tools, mostly made of everthorn wood. While everthorn was not as resilient as bitterwood, it was much tougher and, considering the lack of other metal instruments, a good choice of material.
Ye Chong approached the mining dugout, and the village miners quickly made way for him.
The dugout was quite deep, and at the bottom was smoke-gray soil. This was odd. Ye Chong remembered clearly that the soil was brown when they first started mining. He had never seen gray soil like this before, and it was quite strange.
Ye Chong said nothing as he leaped straight into the dugout.
He bent down and dug up a handful of the gray soil. It felt heavy and tightly packed.
"We came up to this layer of gray earth today. The layer is too hard. We only managed to dig slightly deeper after a whole afternoon, so I thought you should see it, sir." Sang Pu explained. Ye Chong did not expect there to be such a layer of hard gray soil deep under, mixed in with the lavahold ore. The gray layer was extremely hard. Metal instruments might make work easier, but the villagers only had everthorn wood instruments, which made progress harder and much slower. Besides, the everthorn instruments were already quite worn out, slowing their progress even further.
Ye Chong did not seem to hear Sang Pu, his eyes staring straight at the soil beneath. Ye Chong almost choked himself! He did not hear a word from Sang Pu, his eyes completely focused on the thumb-sized gray crystals mixed together with the gray soil.
He carefully picked out one of the gray crystals and put it on his palm, studying it closely.
It was nonlinear cobalite! He recognized it immediately, and was positively overjoyed by the discovery. This was one of the materials he had been searching for. Nonlinear cobalite was an important material to harvest energy from teardrop mineralite. With this mineral, the teardrop mineralite would be more than just a decoration. A teardrop mineralite powered mech or warship was truly terrifying - that was the conclusion that Ye Chong, Mu and Shang had arrived at after detailed calculations!
However, Ye Chong’s mood quickly dampened. While he was indeed searching for nonlinear cobalite, this was not what he needed the most right now. Ye Chong smiled wryly as he casually picked out a few of them. He had only three teardrop mineralites; they would not need so much nonlinear cobalite. Just as he was about to leave, Ye Chong suddenly had an epiphany.
Abruptly, Ye Chong stood up, his eyes widened.
He pulled Sang Pu to him and gave a few instructions before running back to the village. Sang Pu was worried that Ye Chong might come across any danger, and so ordered a few men to follow him back.
Sang Pu watched helplessly at Ye Chong’s quickly disappearing figure. The problem before him was still unsolved.
It seemed that it was up to him in the end.
Ye Chong ran like the wind, and finally arrived at his laboratory. The helpers stared at his rushed entrance. To them, the man was always calm and collected, to an eerie degree. Many times they wondered if he would have any other expression on his face.
Ye Chong ignored them and went straight to his workbench.
Sang Fan was the second last person to leave the lab, leaving Ye Chong alone. As he left, he quietly closed the laboratory door behind him with deference. Ye Chong was completely engrossed in his experiment, and did not notice Sang Fan’s exit.
As he stepped outside the lab, Sang Fan finally felt fatigue overtaking him. The intense work every day left him sleepy by the end of the day. It was dark outside, and aside from the patrols, everyone in the village had slept. During the day, everyone worked long and hard. All the villagers knew that the Sang family was undergoing a transformation, one they had waited for centuries. There was no need for further motivation. Everyone did their part earnestly.
A breeze swept by. The Sang Family Village was like a youth, full of hope for the future as it fell silent at night. Sang Fan finally reached home, and went to bed straight away.
There was a loud explosion. The violent explosion woke up the entire village. People began to run towards the explosion site. They were the village’s elites, and responded the fastest, running out without even taking off their sleeping gowns. Soon, the entire Sang Family Village came alive, as the villagers lighted up their homes.
All the villagers were shocked. They had never heard such a loud sound before. With their primitive ways, there was never an explosion to begin with. However, none of the villagers showed fear.
Soon, they found the source of the explosion. It was Ye Chong’s laboratory!
The villagers got worried. The man was very important to them, the only hope for their future.
Thick, white smoke was coming from the laboratory. The smoke was so thick, it looked solid. Was the lab on fire? Old Sang De was startled. He ran towards the lab, ahead of everyone else despite his age, and shouted, "Pu, put out the fire!"
Sang Pu acknowledged, his expression unchanged, but his eyes betrayed his emotions. He waved, and the villagers around him began to fetch water containers.
Before he reached the lab, Old Sang De ordered, "Cheng, go have a look."
A dark and athletic man beside Old Sang De acknowledged, and made to run into the smoke.
Just then, out came a man from the white smoke. It was night time, but all the villagers knew it was Ye Chong.
Seeing Ye Chong unharmed, Old Sang De was overjoyed. "You alright, sir?"
Ye Chong waved slightly and said, "I’m fine." He was a sorry figure, his clothing covered with holes, with some places burnt into crisps. His hair was all ruffled like a bird’s nest, and his face was covered with soot.
The villagers were curious. Just what experiment was he up to, to lead to such a violent ending?
Ye Chong may look pitiful, but his eyes were shining with a rare glint of joy.
He had a breakthrough! He had finally found the solution! He could now harvest the energy from the mildstone. The discovery of the nonlinear cobalite had urged him to consider, if the mineral could be used to harvest energy from teardrop mineralite, could it also be used for the mildstone?
Ye Chong had returned to the lab and began experimenting immediately. His suspicion proved to be true! He had finally found the key to the mildstone problem, but the explosion had occurred since he could not control the energy release well. Fortunately, Ye Chong reacted in that split second and avoided the explosion. Even so, he was still completely covered in soot.
It was only an accident, with no casualties. However, when villagers entered the lab, seeing the mess inside, they found that the solid rock workbench was reduced to rubble, and gasped in surprise! What powerful destruction! Their first impression of this unknown power was mysteriousness and invincibility. They also associated this impression with the man who created this power. Ye Chong could see the villagers looking at him with reverence.
Ye Chong was relieved to find that the photon processor was safely sitting in its corner. This was his most advanced "weapon". Ye Chong’s helpers had arrived, and were shocked to see the state of the lab. However, they took a glance at Ye Chong and realized immediately that it was his handiwork, and so began to clean up the lab.
In the coming days, Ye Chong stopped his training routine and worked on the mildstone. Now that he found the key, research progressed smoothly. Sang Fan and others did not know what Ye Chong was doing with the mildstone everyday, but they knew that the tasks assigned to them were important. They must analyze all the native plants and ores, and record the results in the photon processor to build a complete database. While they did not understand the bigger picture that their tasks were leading towards, they still continued to work earnestly, including the elderly Sang Rubei.
The way Ye Chong was, it would only be weirder if he explained his intentions to them.
Every member of the Sang Family Village were put to use, and the military discipline had raised their efficiency. When Ye Chong was done with the most important experiment and left the lab, he was surprised to find that everyone was already equipped with a metal weapon. They were all jubilant and excited, and the atmosphere was a cheerful one. Not only that, even the tools in the women’s hands were made of lavagold.
With the exception of Ye Chong, no one knew what an uproar their primitive and simple lavagold tools would cause if they ever made their way to the Five Galaxies!
Ye Chong’s expression did not change, but he was moved inside. All of a sudden, he recalled the times when he dug out some useful treasure out of the trash mountains on the trash planet. Back then, he would be so happy and excited from his findings, but as he learned more and more, these treasures became fewer and fewer. Given that he had seen even the rare minerals like the Do Kun stone and the teardrop mineralite, there were not many things left that he could be excited about.
"Sir, the database is about complete!" Sang Fan came to Ye Chong’s side and reported.
Ye Chong was surprised. "So soon?" He had expected the work to be dry and time-consuming.
Sang Fan explained, "Grandpa Bei joined us, so we finished faster than expected." Ye Chong realized then. Sang Fan stood at attention, hands at his sides, looking like a completely different person. He was now more mature, only his eyes would sometimes betray his once youthful liveliness.
In theory, he had already found a workable solution. The main experiments were completed, and it was time to build the final product. If the engines worked, then he would be able to build flying machines. He would then be one step closer towards saving Mu and Shang.
"How are they doing now?" Ye Chong wondered to himself, and was for a brief moment, lost in thought.
Sang Fan looked strangely at Ye Chong. Melancholy looked odd on the face of a man who was usually cold and expressionless. "Sir must have his own stories to tell," Sang Fan thought to himself. The world outside must definitely be more interesting than here.
"Where can I find wild animals nearby?" Ye Chong asked abruptly.
Sang Fan broke off his thoughts and answered reflexively, "Turn left from the village exit, and go past two hills. There are plenty there."
"Let’s go. Lead the way," Ye Chong spoke crisply.
"Oh, alright," Sang Fan answered almost instinctively. He took a step forward, but quickly realized his own confusion. "Why do you want the animals, sir?" He groaned inwardly. Wild animals were always the Sang family’s greatest enemy. In the past five centuries, all members of the Sang family had fought against the beasts. Even though they were all equipped with metal weapons now, it was still not enough to give them a definite advantage.
The man might not know of the ferocity of the wild animals on Archipelago, but Sang Fan would, having grown up here himself. He decided to advise the man against meddling with the animals. However, he was not sure if he would succeed. If the man was determined, then he would have to ask the village head to assign him with guards.
"I need skeletal material," Ye Chong answered succinctly.
"Skeletal material? You mean animal bones?" Sang Fan asked, curious. It was the first time he heard of the bones being referred to this way.
Ye Chong nodded. "Yes."
Sang Fan heaved a sigh of relief, and his expression relaxed. "I see, I know just the place!’