One month later, in the edge of a cold, bleak wasteland, a sliver-glittering scrap from a piece of ancient magical equipment was spinning and floating.
Sparkle snuck close from behind without making a sound. Two ropes that had been refined out of Skeleton's skins and veins extended from the front of the starship, and when they arrived at the scrap, the ropes snatched at it quickly with the two metal claws at their ends.
Several rune arrays on the scrap were still intact, with feeble spiritual energy left. Sensing a threat, it immediately formed two bright gold shields.
However, the blue and purple electric arcs on the two metal claws crumbled the defense of the scrap instantly, before they pinned the scrap and took it back to Sparkle.
"Another scrap of ancient magical equipment has been retrieved. ID number, 14734. Preliminary analysis suggests that it belongs to an ancient shield of which 79% has been collected. If we combine them into our defense system, the defense ability of Sparkle will be improved by 3.2%!"
Sparkle today was entirely different from a month ago.
The Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures and demonic energy that had burst out from Skeleton Dragon had almost all been gathered by them, who immediately made a great fortune.
Most parts of the shell too damaged to be repaired were ripped off, refined into raw materials, and replaced by silver bones, scraps of ancient magical equipment, and Skeleton Dragon's flesh.
Since time was of the essence, all the maintenance work was done in the most practical way without the least consideration of aesthetics. All the bones and scraps were piled up in a what looked like a careless mess, making Sparkle look like a ragged remnant of a starship, if not a heap of garbage that had been floating in the cosmos for thousands of years.
But on the mainframe crystal processor inside Sparkle, the specifications in various aspects had been greatly improved.
Strengthened by the silver bones and the body tissues of Skeleton Dragon, many parts of Sparkle had an overall hardness that was even higher than previously!
Inside the maintenance workshop at the rear of the starship
"Based on the seven spiritual runes that we just analyzed, and with the remaining Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures, I can totally improve the eight power rune arrays in the most classic Eight Trigrams distribution, which will make Sparkle's ability of instantaneous acceleration at least 80% higher than before!
"If so, the power of the mystic ray drill will be able to be fully demonstrated. However formidable my enemy is, I can just give 'em a spiral thrusting and simply drill a hole in their heart!"
Li Yao's face was flushed as he slapped the desk hard with his hands wide open.
"Instantaneous acceleration is just nonsense! The Eight Trigrams distribution is indeed classic. But the power rune arrays in such a distribution can only maximize the impetus when the vehicle is moving linearly! You want to move in a straight line when we are engaged with strong enemies in new worlds? We will only wind up being walking targets!
"In my opinion, we should think more carefully and refine twelve power rune arrays with less impetus. The Twelve Stars Chain distribution is the plan that we ought to adopt!
"Although the distribution guarantees less instantaneous acceleration and overall impetus, the agility of the vehicle will be greatly enhanced. Our course will be mysterious and unpredictable. It is best for small-scale dodging movements and will significantly improve our odds of survival when we are attacked by unknown enemies!"
Shi Tengfei, the expert in power rune arrays, was waving his two liquid-metal arms in the air crazily. To express that he was also 'flushed', the surface of the liquid metal was covered in a layer of redness.
Li Yao chuckled.
"Of course, it is a well-known disadvantage of the Eight Trigrams distribution that direction changes are awkward and linear acceleration is what it's best at.
"But I have analyzed more than ninety-five kinds of similar rune arrays from the ancient Cultivation world and come up with seven upgrade plans inspired by the control rune arrays of fifteen ancient flying swords. By revising the traditional Eight Trigrams distribution, the powerful linear acceleration is kept, and the agility in turning and dodging is greatly improved to the extent of the Twelve Stars Chain's, if not higher.
Shi Tengfei couldn't help but sneer.
"What a coincidence. I've made a lot of revisions to the Twelve Star Chain, too. The essence of the Seven Stars Asymmetric distribution, the Sweeping Wind distribution, and the other seven classic power rune array distributions have been melded into it now!
"Not only does the Twelve Stars Chain distribution perfected by me boast extraordinary dodging and mobilizing ability, its instantaneous acceleration is also as good as the Eight Trigram distribution's!"
Li Yao was suspicious.
"Are you exaggerating? Show me your distribution design!"
Shi Tengfei smiled assuredly.
"Of course. I would very much like to see how far you can go with the obsolete Eight Trigrams distribution!"
The hundreds of light beams floating around them all started blinking, where countless complicated structure designs manifested.
With his cheeks puffed up, Li Yao stared at the light beams and studied them carefully.
Shi Tengfei fell silent, too. The body of liquid metal was trembling violently as he was analyzing Li Yao's distribution plan.
A moment later, both of them were too astounded to say anything.
This was a regular scene that had been happening every day over the past month.
Professor Mo Xuan, Shi Tengfei, and the rest of the 'Four Kings' of the Refining Department had represented the top of the grassroots refining methodologies in the first place.
In the years when they were Phantom Entities, they were troubled by no trivia and only maintained their lives with their computational ability.
At the critical moment, they inherited the computational ability of other Phantom Entities.
It was not overstating it to say that they were the best experts of the Heaven's Origin Sector in the arts of refining right now.
In comparison, Li Yao was a professional in ancient refining techniques. Brilliant sparks immediately burst out when the two parties collided.
They were having furious arguments every day, as if two meteor showers crashing into each other.
Li Yao was often awed by their unbelievably amazing modern refining techniques.
They too were often so shocked by Li Yao's insane notions that their computational ability was almost frozen.
Together, they were like six top experts in martial arts who were practicing with each other every day. Greatly enlightened by the different ideologies, they found that their training efficiencies were hundreds of times higher than when they were alone.
It was because of these sparking collisions that Sparkle was being repaired at an inconceivable speed and renovated toward a monster-like starship blended with bones, flesh, and scraps which boasted unparalleled performance despite its grotesque appearance.
While Li Yao was scratching his head in great admiration, Professor Mo Xuan's unusually excited voice echoed in the broadcasting rune array in a corner of the cabin.
"Li Yao, I've made new discoveries. Come to the cockpit now!"
Inside the cockpit, Professor Mo Xuan was glittering at a high frequency, indicating that he couldn't be more thrilled.
Over the past few days, the maintenance and modification of the shell had been close to completion. Professor Mo Xuan was occupied by the recovery of the mainframe crystal processor.
"I've found a crystal chip deep inside the mainframe crystal processor which had been burnt before being smashed into pieces by a meteorite. After three days and three nights of maintenance and reverse engineering in the mustard level, I've finally decoded some information pieces, including the coordinates of a star beacon!"
Professor Mo Xuan's words raised tides thousands of meters high in Li Yao's heart.
The coordinates of a star beacon marked the location of a teleportation array. As long as they typed the coordination into the space jump system, it was very likely that they would be transported to somewhere near this particular star beacon!
Since star beacons were clearly man-made establishments, it was very likely that other worlds of Cultivators might be around this particular star beacon!
Professor Mo Xuan continued saying, "I cross-checked the coordinates of the star beacon with other information pieces that I gathered from the mainframe crystal processor. My conclusion is that the coordinates probably represent an interstellar dockyard of the Star Ocean Imperium.
"According to Senior Gao Xingce's journal, Sparkle underwent tremendous modification during their last stop, in which the main gun of the starship was replaced by a drill of mystic rays.
"Therefore, it is safe to infer that the interstellar dockyard must be a large-scale fleet base with abundant maintenance and refining facilities that can allow such an advanced starship like Sparkle to be modified and transformed.
"What do you think we can get from such a base?"
Li Yao was greatly interested. But he shook his head after thinking for a while. "Senior Gao Xingce said in his journal that they lost contact with their base after they reached Boneyard. It's very likely that the base was demolished in the 'Armageddon Rebellion'."
"It doesn't matter."
Professor Mo Xuan added, "For a base with extraordinary repairing and modifying abilities such as this one, it must've been built in a place where there were abundant spiritual energy and Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures. Even if the military has been destroyed, the world where the star beacon is located must still be very richly endowed. At the very least, we can definitely acquire much more resources there than we can in this wasteland. After we teleport there, we will be able to acquire ample spiritual energy and materials!"
Considering the situation carefully for a moment, Li Yao realized that it was a very reasonable assumption.
With any luck, he might be able to visit a logistic base of the Star Ocean Imperium. He was sure that he could dig out something useful there!
Ten days later
The door of the training room was wide open, spurting out bitter cold wind.
Inside the room, gravity was increased to twenty times normal and the temperature was minus a hundred and fifty degrees.
Li Yao was practically naked, wearing nothing but boxer shorts. He strode out of the room. There was not the tiniest speck of frost on his skin; it was red, shining, and elastic.
"My strength has fully recovered."
Clenching his fists and sensing the majestic strength flooding inside his flesh and blood, Li Yao smiled in satisfaction.
The sequela that he'd suffered from the fierce battle against Skeleton Dragon was completely gone now.
Because of the detonation of the spiritual seed, his limbs, veins, nerves, and internal organs had all been cleansed to the extent of being entirely reborn. During the seed explosion state, he had experienced the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators' feeling of dominating the entire world with nothing but their own hands.
The large quantity of Flowing Brightness Crystals he had consumed in a hurry were not entirely digested yet. Some of the leftovers which also contained immense spiritual energy were stored inside his body, which would certainly be of great help in his future training.
Although he was only at the middle level of the Building Foundation Stage, Li Yao was very confident about his future path of Cultivation, because he had seen clearly what he was pursuing instead of running around like a headless fly.
Taking a deep breath, Li Yao strode to the cockpit in high spirits.
Inside the cockpit, all preparations for the space jump had been completed. The five spectral Cultivators had manipulated the liquid metal and melted into the key units of Sparkle, monitoring the functioning of all the magical equipment on board.
Inside the operation menu, the coordination of the star beacon had been typed in.
There was still an important thing to do.
Sitting on the captain seat, Li Yao dabbed his fingers on the operation menu swiftly.
On the brand-new shell of Sparkle, an ensign as red as blood, as airy as fire and as brilliant as star replaced the Red Dragon Swallowing the Sun emblem of the Star Ocean Imperium. It gradually revealed itself and was clearer and clearer until it was shining.
A scary dragon was crouching on a giant pearl in which there were nine glittering pentagrams.
It was Rising Dragon of the Nine Stars, the national flag of the Star Glory Federation and the battle emblem for the Cultivators of the Heaven's Origin Sector!
Gazing at the dark universe in front of him that looked like a night sky, Li Yao smiled and put his hand on a sliding spiritual rune on the light beam. Then he pushed it forward and bellowed, "Go forth, Sparkle!"
Hi, guys. Welcome to the grand finale of Forty Millenniums of Cultivation. Li Yao was lost in the space and never heard again. End of story.
Haha. Just kidding. But this chapter does mark the end of Volume I of FMC. For me personally, it is also a 200-chapter (give or take) milestone. I was reluctant at first to pick up a novel that had already been translated (by multiple persons, lol), because it involved a lot of additional work of familiarization with the pervious plots and terminologies. But as it turned out, I began to fall in love with the novel as more and more chapters are translated (although collaboration with another translator could be indeed exhausting, if you know what I mean).
Admittedly, many plots in the book may be a bit incondite, and there are quite a few "filler" chapters that you might regret buying. But generally speaking, I think most characters in the book have been making sensible choices based on their background knowledge and current situation, which makes the story more logical and convincing.
The "filler" chapters actually help a lot in the world-building and make the book feel less like an "EXP-level up, EXP-level up" game but more like a real-life experience. The male protagonist is smart and strong but not overly so; the female protagonist plays her own role instead of just being a decorative vase. Also, the theme of the novel is devotion and sacrifice(in my opinion). Most characters in the book (at least the good ones) actually bear their companions and compatriots in mind, unlike many other Cultivation novels where the insignificant lackeys will simply die for the protagonist's cause without a good reason. I quite like that.
As the translator, I have to read the raw novel every day, and if I am being completely honest, I would say that it is not very elegantly-written, with quite a lot of conspicuous ill-formed sentences, not counting the many expressions and metaphors that are repeated in almost every chapter (sometimes even appearing twice or even more times in one). It's quite understandable because writing the novel was only a part-time job for the author at that time who had regular work during the day. In fact, he had been writing 6,000 characters (roughly equal to 4,000 English words) every day after work for more than two years. Demanding that he offer perfectly-written sentences when he already offered an excellent story seems a bit fastidious. Anyways, as his translator, I've been trying to render his novel into better-composed literary works through apposite translation methods. However, sometimes my vocabulary fails me, sometimes I make mistakes (like when I confused meter with kilometer), and sometimes there's just no way that I can work around certain parts (you may have noticed the recurring metaphor "volcanic eruption". If you haven't, you'd better get used to it since it will still appear a lot in the future =.=). The bottom line is, although I try to make my translation perfect, I know it isn't and probably will never be. Many of you have pointed out the errors in my translation in the comments. I try to fix them up but sometimes I can't find them again or forget which chapters they are in. Therefore, I would really appreciate it if you guys can post the errors in the Webnovel Discord sever. Just @flycrane01 or @millman97 in the #suggestions_bug_feedback channel or PMing us will be fine. Alternatively, you could join the FMC server and report mistakes there: https://discord.gg/WqFxTZx.
Thank you for your tolerance and support. If you haven't left a review for the novel yet, the team of FMC invites you to rate the novel and drop your opinions for the reference of our future fellow readers.
Li Yao's life in the Heaven's Origin Sector will take a half-time here. He will embark on the journey to a brave new world where he will meet interesting persons and incidents. Let's explore the unvisited universe together tomorrow. See you then!