Su Changfa smiled. “The war base is not as useful as it appears to be. Do not be intimidated by the super high efficiency.
“Since you are a refiner, you should know that nothing can be produced without the necessary ingredients. The war base has simply achieved high-level automation, but the rest of the requirements are the same as any other magical equipment factory. A lot of water, air, spiritual energy, raw materials, and various other resources must be consumed on a large scale.
“Only in a place full of assets such as the relics of the Pangu civilization can it function at such a high efficiency and produce as many spiritual puppets so shortly. If the war base had landed on a regular planet that had insufficient resources, we might have had to hibernate for another twenty years before it produced a troop of the minimal scale for our exploration!”
“That’s not a problem.” Li Yao stared at him, his eyes shining. “You only need to tell me how to operate, dismantle, and maintain it.”
Pondering for a moment, Su Changfa said, “I can tell you the operations of the war base slowly. But as for dismantling and maintenance, I will have to say sorry. Even I don’t know how to dismantle and maintenance a lot of units inside the war base, much less figuring out their mechanism and duplicating them.”
“Senior Su, you are the captain of Flourishing Sun. Shouldn’t you know everything about it?” Li Yao found it strange.
“You may not know this, Fellow Cultivator Li, both the war base and the Colossi are the strategic magical equipment of the Imperium of True Human Beings.” Su Changfa smiled bitterly. “The greatest feature of such magical equipment is that they have adopted tremendous rune arrays and work units from the Star Ocean Imperium, the age of ancient Cultivators, and even the primeval era.
“The ancient magical equipment was all excavated from different relics. We only came to understand their performance, functions, power, and operations after thousands of experiments!
“For us, all the units are ‘black boxes’!
“Do you know what ‘black boxes’ are? It means that we know that inputting a certain command into the unit will lead to a certain result.
“However, as for exactly how the command is translated into the output and what the specific process and mechanism are, we don’t have the slightest clue!
“Even if we dismantle the ‘black boxes’, we still can’t figure out what exactly is going on inside. Also, it’s possible that we will never be able to assemble the parts again after we dismantle them. If so, a precious unit of ancient magical equipment will be wasted!
“Therefore, even if you have received one war base, it will be almost impossible for you to duplicate it because even in the Imperium of True Human Beings, such ‘national treasures’ are also manually made and cannot be manufactured on a large scale. Their total number is limited!”
Li Yao was dumbfounded. “How so?”
“In the Imperium of True Human Beings, we like to explain the phenomenon with a metaphor named ‘monkey and gun’,” Su Changfa explained. “Let’s assume that the civilization of mankind has been extinct for tens of thousands of years and monkeys have taken over the world. At this moment, a particularly smart monkey accidentally discovers a storm bolter that was deeply buried underground but is still of use.
“Because the monkey is very smart, or maybe because he is especially lucky, he accidentally pulls the trigger and shoots out a bullet. When the bullet blows a giant tree up, he learns the usage of the gun.
“Pulling the trigger is something that even monkeys can learn. Do you agree, Fellow Cultivator Li?”
Li Yao pondered for a moment and nodded.
“Pulling the trigger is not difficult. If the monkey is extraordinarily smart,” Su Changfa continued, “perhaps, he can even go one step further and learn to shoot precisely through the scope. As a result, he will be the dominator of the forest.
“However, learning to pull the trigger is one thing, becoming a gunslinger is one thing, and dismantling the gun and duplicating it is yet another thing, right?”
“Yes,” Li Yao agreed. “Even if the monkey turns into a great gunslinger and is smart enough to dismantle the gun into different components, it is impossible for it to duplicate the gun because it lacks the entire industrial system from metal purification to crystal refinement!
“To build such a system from nothing will take thousands of years!”
“Fellow Cultivator Li, you are truly insightful,” Su Changfa complimented, not entirely meaning what he said. “Let’s assume that the monkeys build an intact industrial system after thousands of years, allowing themselves to duplicate the components without any error and assemble them. There will still a long distance to go before they completely understand the concept of ‘spiritual energy’ and the mechanism of a storm bolter. They know how it works, but they don’t know why it works. Do you agree?”
Li Yao nodded. It was self-explanatory.
It was not just so for monkeys. He had been an expert of magical equipment maintenance when he was still a teenager, but he had merely been copying what was written in the textbooks.
Even if he could repair a crystal processor, it did not mean that he understood all the mechanisms behind a crystal processor.
“Now, imagine us to be monkeys and the Pangu Clan to be us. Fellow Cultivator Li, you should be able to understand what phase we are in regarding the exploration of primeval treasures.
“Yes. Many experts among us can pilot a Colossus skillfully. They can even kill a member of the Pangu Clan with a Colossus like you did!
“But it’s like a monkey pulling the trigger of a gun and killing a human being, which might not necessarily be a coincidence but does not mean much.
“Just because we can operate the Colossi doesn’t mean we can certainly maintain and duplicate them. We can modify the Colossi, but it doesn’t mean that we understand the mysterious mechanisms that support them! Many questions carry no answers right now with the underdevelopment of our civilization so far.
“The same logic applies to the war base. Therefore, you might as well give up the fantasy of duplicating it—it’s impossible!”
Li Yao took a long breath, not without regret.
His intuition told him that Su Changfa was not lying.
When he was faced with the magical equipment from the primeval era, he truly felt that he was a monkey with a gun. It was not difficult for him to learn to use it, but it would be unbelievably troublesome to figure out all the mechanisms.
“One thing off the topic…” Su Changfa said casually. “Have you ever wondered, Fellow Cultivator Li, why there were so many top experts and such powerful magical equipment in the age of ancient Cultivators forty thousand years ago? The splendid views and the terrifying damage of many interstellar wars are still major eye-openers for us even to this day.
“One inevitably has the feeling that the more ancient, the stronger. It’s as if we have been retrograding after generations.
“Hehe. Of course, the ancient people were not necessarily better than us. The real reason is simple. In the age of ancient Cultivators forty thousand years ago, the magical equipment and Cultivation arts left by the Pangu civilization were still scattered in the universe. The ancient people were simply adorning themselves with borrowed plumes by taking advantage of the powerful magical equipment of the Pangu civilization!
“It is like an unintelligent son who happens to receive his father’s fortune after his father passes away. He seems to be really rich and magnificent on the surface!
“It’s also like the monkey that we talked about earlier, except that it is not one gun that the monkey has discovered but a whole arsenal!”
Li Yao was greatly enlightened; Su Changfa’s explanation truly answered the unresolved question that had haunted him for a long time!
Sighing, Su Changfa said, “It’s a shame that it is particularly easy for a rich son to go bankrupt because he only knows how to spend the money but doesn’t know how to earn it. Even if he has a mountain of gold in his house, it will be exhausted one day!
“It’s needless to mention the monkey who has acquired an arsenal. They may have great fun shooting the guns, but they never consider the industrial system behind the arsenal and how exactly the civilization that supports it was built! The bullets will run out one day, and the guns will be total-losses eventually!
“As a result, forty thousand years ago, the ‘mountain of gold’ was finally gobbled up, and all the weapons in the ‘arsenal’ were wasted!
“Thus began the doom of the ancient Cultivators!”
“I understand what you are getting at now, Senior Su,” Li Yao said. “Today, we may not have as many experts as the age of ancient Cultivators did, and there may still be a gap between the most powerful magical equipment that we make and theirs. However, we and the ancient Cultivators are fundamentally different!
“Our everything has been built from scratch through hard work. After we find secret treasures of the primeval era, we will try our best to figure out their structure and mechanism, unlike the ancient Cultivators who were already content when they only learned how to use them!
“The ancient Cultivators were the wasteful sons and monkeys who dominated the forest with an arsenal. However invincible they appeared to be, it was their fate to decline generation after generation until their eventual doom.
“As for us, although we cannot compete with the ancient Cultivators, or even the Pangu civilization, in many fields as of now, we are exploring, studying, and making progress every day. We have never stopped. Then, it will only be a matter of time before we surpass the ancient Cultivators, the Pangu civilization, and all other alien species in the sea of stars!”
When Li Yao said that, Su Changfa gazed at him without blinking, trying to analyze what was truly on his mind through the twitching muscles on his face.
There was no telling which of Li Yao’s words touched him. The old Immortal Cultivator finally sighed and waved his hands. “Invite Director Guo here. I’ve thought everything through. Perhaps we can negotiate more on some of the details!”
Li Yao was overjoyed.
Su Changfa’s life was not important, but the information in his head was very important!
As an expert in the Nascent Soul Stage, if he was unwilling to share information, it was barely possible to elicit the information from him through torture.
Elder Nether Spring was a perfect example. Despite the cruel exploitation of the soul-searching techniques, Elder Nether Spring had still been able to conceal the secret of Abyss deep inside his brain and even kill himself at the crucial moment.
Torture was the most idiotic choice. It would be best if Su Changfa was willing to cooperate!
“I’m going to bring Director Guo here right now!”
Li Yao suddenly rose up, but he thought for a moment and sat down again.
In embarrassment, he scratched his hair for a long time before he asked awkwardly, “Senior Su, there is still one question that I would like to seek your enlightenment on. It’s not a big deal if you don’t know her, but have you ever heard of a woman named ‘Li Linghai’?”