Su Changfa did not reply but simply coughed.
Kou Ruhuo—the tall, bald, muscular guy—stepped forward and said briefly, “Fellow Cultivator Li, as the chief of arms of the exploration team, I am responsible for deciding the gear and the tactics in the exploration and the battles later. Do you have any objections?”
Li Yao quickly shook his head.
Of course, he did not have any objections. In fact, he was quite curious about how advanced the magical equipment of the Imperium of True Human Beings really was.
Kou Ruhuo tapped on his wrist crystal processor for a moment. Soon, four spiritual puppets dragged an enormous crystal suit.
With the sound of air being spurting out, the crystal suit case blossomed like a lotus flower, revealing a shining, magnificent… Rockman!
Li Yao’s face suddenly turned extremely weird.
That pile of garbage was his, was it not?
It had only been repaired and repainted with a golden, cheesy-looking lacquer!
“We have studied your crystal suit carefully and discovered that the crystal suit technology of the Flying Star Sector is still in a highly underdeveloped phase,” Kou Ruhuo said solemnly. “Since you are used to such underdeveloped crystal suits, even if we gave you the most advanced crystal suit of the Imperium right now, it would be impossible for you to operate it proficiently any time soon. If your integration is not good enough, the crystal suit may prove to be a burden instead of an aid.”
Li Yao scratched his nose. He seemed to be a victim of his own scheme now.
The Rockman was an ancient crystal suit invented hundreds of years ago in the first place. In the Flying Star Sector, it was only used as a civil, engineering suit.
He had chosen the Rockman as his crystal suit in order to make the Immortal Cultivators misjudge the overall capability of the Flying Star Sector. However, it did not mean that he was incapable of manipulating the more advanced crystal suits!
Had he seen that coming, he would have equipped himself with a more advanced battle crystal suit, at least on par with the MP Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit. Chances were that he would have been able to fool a better crystal suit out of the Immortal Cultivators!
“In order to begin our exploration as quickly as possible, we decided to repair your crystal suit and perform a full upgrade with super alloy materials. Also, we have installed some critical magical equipment units, which should have increased the combat ability of the crystal suit to the maximum that you can take advantage of!”
Kou Ruhuo seemed like a battle maniac. He was taciturn most of the time, but when it came to battle-related topics, his eyes were glowing, and he almost could not stop talking.
Pointing at the weird unit on the back of the Rockman that was full of holes, he explained, “Of them, the most important one is the superstring shield generator, which can construct an extremely tensile membrane of light on the surface of your crystal suit. The shape and range of the shield can be controlled by your telepathic thoughts. Its efficiency is five times higher than that of the spiritual shield you activate with your underdeveloped technologies!”
“Superstring shield!” Li Yao’s heart was pounding again. The hot blood of a refiner was surging inside his body!
He had observed the crystal suits of the Immortal Cultivators carefully before. They were not much more advanced than the top crystal suits to his knowledge. The gap was visible!
The super, limited-edition crystal suits such as his own Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit might have comprehensive specifications that were even higher than the crystal suits of the Immortal Cultivators!
However, the spiritual energy technology of the Imperium of True Human Beings was apparently much more advanced than the Heaven’s Origin Sector, the Flying Star Sector, and the Blood Demon Sector combined. It was one to two hundred years ahead of theirs!
If he could learn such technology… Li Yao’s eyes immediately became bloodshot with greed.
Looking at the bald, brawny, bearded man Kou Ruhuo, he began drooling.
Never would Kou Ruhuo have dreamt that he was considered by a bumpkin from nowhere to be a target of hunting. He explained patiently, “Are you aware of string theory?”
“String theory?” Li Yao scratched his head. He was better at the realistic operations and could not say that he knew much about the mysterious, cutting-edge theories.
“I’ve noticed that the technology of your spiritual shield is still restrained to the fields of the classic fundamental particles,” Kou Ruhuo said. “Your spiritual shields are generated by the mystic rays triggered with spiritual energy, but you don’t have any research or utilization on the photons that constitute the mystic rays.
“Such a fundamental mechanism decides the low-efficiency of your spiritual shields. Too much spiritual energy is consumed, and it is difficult to control the spiritual shield while it is in shape. Also, tremendous photons are dispersing from the spiritual shield every second, making you unable to hide yourself from the scanning of the enemy!
“All in all, in terms of spiritual energy consumption, manipulability, stealth, and various other aspects, the technology is quite underdeveloped. Yours can be called the first-generation spiritual shields at best!”
Li Yao coughed, blushing. “Is the Imperium’s spiritual shield technology any different?”
“Of course it is!” Kou Ruhuo declared proudly. “The Imperium has long surpassed the classic theories of fundamental particles and is marching on the ultimate path of the ‘string theory’!
“We believe that the fundamental particles that make up all the objects in the universe, including electrons, photons, neutrinos, and so on, are not the most basic unit in nature!
“The fundamental particles can still be explored and divided!
“If you continue dividing the fundamental particles, you will be able to get… extremely tiny ‘strings’. Such strings are existences between energy and materials. Their incessant vibrations at certain frequencies raise ripples known as ‘membranes’. When the ripples overlap, they make up the fundamental particles, and the fundamental particles form all objects in the universe!
“So to speak, our understanding of the universe is one level deeper than yours! You have only perceived the level of the ‘fundamental particles’, whereas we are already in the ‘string’ level!”
Li Yao’s mind was greatly stirred.
String theory was only just beginning to be explored in the Heaven’s Origin Sector, the Flying Star Sector, and the Blood Demon Sector. It was merely a hypothesis!
He did not know that it was already a noteworthy science in the Imperium of True Human Beings and even applied to real battles!
“Our spiritual shield technology allows a special force field around the crystal suit where the photons will be crashing at a high speed,” Kou Ruhuo declared proudly. “During the collisions, there are certain odds that the photons will enter the Superstring state, which will completely alter the structure and the nature of the spiritual shield!
“The Superstring shield that adopts such technology is the second-generation spiritual shield. It is so vastly different from the first-generation spiritual shield that they are essentially two different things!
“Of course, our understanding of string theory is still in the preliminary phase, too. No more than 0.01% photons will enter the Superstring state during the collisions, and their Superstring state lasts less than 0.01 seconds before they collapse. Still, they are enough to make our Superstring shields twenty times better than your shields of mystic rays!”
Li Yao secretly chuckled. This Kou Ruhuo was too honest to keep the shortcomings of his technology to himself.
If it were Su Changfa, he certainly would have bragged about the technology and described it as the best in the universe.
It appeared that Kou Ruhuo was a serious technology enthusiast. As long as technology was involved, he would not tolerate any falsehood or embellishment.
To some extent, Li Yao was such a type of person, too. When it came to magical equipment and refining, he disliked exaggeration.
Su Changfa coughed and smiled. “What ‘our’ and ‘your’? We now all belong to the Imperium!”
“Right. We are all on the same side!” Kou Ruhuo slapped his bald head. He then pointed at two small cannons on the shoulders of the Rockman and said, “Other than the shield, I have installed two Erratic Light Cannons, which are the products of the same technology. The efficiency of such cannons is five times higher than that of regular cannons. Every cannonball is covered in a controllable membrane whose shape can be changed freely!
“Fellow Cultivator Li, are you satisfied with my upgrades?”
“Yes, of course. More than satisfied!” Drooling, Li Yao rubbed his hands, his eyes glittering. “Is there any stronger magical equipment? Won’t it be better if I have more weapons?”
“There is, but I’m sorry to tell you that…” Kou Ruhuo said solemnly, “Fellow Cultivator Li, you already have an overdraft in your contribution points.”
Li Yao was dumbfounded. “Huh?”
Kou Ruhuo tapped the light beam and sent a message over. “Now that you are satisfied with my upgrade, this is the bill. Please leave your spiritual stamp and sign your name as confirmation!
“The bill includes the maintenance cost of the crystal suit, the cost of the super alloy materials, the prices of the Superstring shield generator and the two cannons, and my personal wages and maintenance fees. All have been listed clearly. The charges are all within the price range as dictated by the authorities of the Imperium. Later, if you have the chance to go to the Imperium, you can verify it yourself!”
“…” Li Yao.
“Fellow Cultivator Li, you are in the Core Formation Stage and have joined the Imperium through the ‘Oversea High-Level Talents Introduction Act’,” Kou Ruhuo said. “So, you have your own initial contribution points. Also, as a native of the planet, you can be considered a ‘local expert of the original planet’, too. For such local experts to integrate into the Imperium as soon as possible, the Imperium gives you a ‘welcome package of contribution points’ as a special privilege when you become a subject of the Imperium!
“All magical equipment that involves string theory is marvelous and costly even in the Imperium. Taking all your contributions into account, you can only redeem them for the modified Rockman. With the new plugins, not only have your contribution points been drained, you are now even in debt. We cannot offer you any more weapons for now.
“The detailed data is all on the bill.
“This is not a forced deal. All the magical equipment is necessary for the overall safety of the team after my thorough evaluation of the operation as a professional!
“As the chief of arms, for the interests of the team, it is my right and responsibility to choose the most appropriate magical equipment for the team!
“This is a matter of life and death that cannot tolerate any negligence. Fellow Cultivator Li, you must not be a penny pincher!”
Li Yao was dazed for a long time before he stammered, “I—I wasn’t worried about the money. It’s just that I didn’t know that… I would have to pay for the gear.”
Tang Qianhe stepped forward and said with a smile, “If you were our slave, you wouldn’t need to pay for your gears. However, as a result, you would not have a share of our findings after the exploration, either!
“Or, if we had malicious plans to kill you after the job is done, we would certainly not charge you and would provide the equipment for you promptly.
“But right now, Fellow Cultivator Li, you are a companion who is equal to us. When the job is done, everything will have benefits, and we are not going to swallow yours. So, should we pay for your gear?”
Li Yao scratched his hair—it did sound quite fair!
Such respect for rules inevitably gave the feeling that the Imperium was a country where law mattered.
Together with the procedures of flag-raising, anthem-playing, and the granting of the green card, they contributed to the sense of ceremony that was solemn, grave, and just.
For a Cultivator living in a desolate area at the edge of the universe who was not backed by a strong civilization, they probably would have been fascinated by the Imperium and earnestly pledged their loyalty!