Yuan Manqiu paused and said slowly, "There are three critical problems that are yet to be resolved.
"First, the technical problem.
"Over the past year, I've done a lot of research and thoroughly studied thousands of designs. Everything is fine, except for the Super Compressed Crystal Reactor, which we underestimated before."
"The most distinguished characteristic of Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit is its avoidance of using Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures. As a result, its stability and durability are greatly undermined. For other parts, this shortcoming can be fixed by enhancing the structure. But that won't do when it comes to Crystal Reactor.
"Condensing violent spirit energy, as destructive as the vast sea, into a head-size Crystal Reactor while asking it to output spirit energy stably according to the battle status was putting too much pressure on the Crystal Reactor.
"It was simply overwhelming for the common alloy materials."
"Last time, it was because the Crystal Reactor had a crack and released the extremely-condensed spirit energy that the tragedy happened.
"I haven't figured out how to address this problem yet. If we turn to Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures, our cost will increase a lot because they're essential to the Crystal Reactors for most of the crystal suits. Copying them would be contradictory to our original purpose.
"In the days to come, together with other experts, I will try my best to overcome this barrier.
"Li Yao, take this jade slip. All the documents concerning Project Mystic Skeleton are inside. You can see if there's anything you can do when you're free.
"Although you have only just started your career as a Refiner, you always have amazing ideas that are not restrained by the doctrines we live by. Maybe you'll find a new way and shed some light for us."
Yuan Manqiu then handed over the jade slip with a string of unique 'thought', which is the key to activate the jade slip.
Files of Project Mystic Skeleton were invaluable. Therefore, the jade slip required a special thought to activate it. It also had a self-destruction rune within. Should it be lost, Li Yao could erase all the information easily using telekinesis.
Seeing that his professor trusted him so much as to share all of her top secrets with him, Li Yao felt warm in heart and nodded his head solemnly.
Yuan Manqiu continued.
"The second problem is money.
"When I said that the funding is adequate, I was referring to the rebuilding work for the Refining Department. Actually, the school had different opinions about Project Mystic Skeleton."
She paused and laughed self-deprecatingly. "It is understandable. I'm afraid that no one else in the entire Star Glory Federation is a hundred percent confident that Project Mystic Skeleton will succeed apart from the two of us.
"The budget that the school allocated is for recruitment of experts, purchase and modification of the floating mountain, and the education of students. Very little is at our disposal. However, by my estimation, to complete Project Mystic Skeleton, the money we need ranges from 5 billion to 10 billion."
Li Yao nodded, not surprised by the figure.
Although the cost of a Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit had been claimed to be under 100 million, that was only so during mass production. Reinventing the first Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit required much more than that because of the preliminary investments, the experimental cost, and the research funding.
Sometimes it would cost 3 to 5 million, or in some cases even 10 million, to conduct a single experiment.
And dozens of experiments were not unusual to perform optimizations.
On the market, one crystal suit specially designed for Cultivators of Core Formation Stage and Nascent Soul Stage would cost more than 10 billion. It was quite amazing that the entire budget for the research of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit was controlled within 10 billion.
Yuan Manqiu continued, "The technical and money problems are directly related. It is because we can't fix the issue regarding the Crystal Reactor that the investors feel inconfident.
"As long as it is fixed, with our current funding, we will be able to build a prototype, even though there's nothing but our bare hands.
"Everything will be easier when we have the prototype. Not only will the school increase our budget, we will also be able to look for investments from celebrities and the military. I'm sure someone will be interested. When that happens, getting 10 billion wouldn't be difficult, even 50 billion would not be a dream either."
Yuan Manqiu stopped again and eyed Li Yao carefully. "The last and most important question is who will wear the prototype of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit?"
Li Yao realized that it was indeed a big problem.
The prototype would have a lot of defects and deeply buried problems. Not everyone would have the capability to wear it. The wearer must be an experienced Exo who was also good at refining in order to detect the problems during the trial.
They were similar to the test pilots in Li Yao's previous life who were a hundred times more skilled than ordinary pilots.
Yuan Manqiu shrugged and smiled bitterly.
"I can't find a suitable candidate to wear the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit. After all, the failure last time is already common knowledge to everyone in the entire federation. The Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit, a cursed crystal suit that is doomed to explode, has killed hundreds of people even before it is fully developed.
"As such, which elite Exo would be willing to risk their life to wear a prototype Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit that might be full of bugs?
"If we increase the reward, some desperados among the ordinary Exos might be interested. But these people would never have received professional training in refining. They wouldn't be able to describe the problem clearly even if they meet one. Also, many things in the prototypes are secrets of Project Mystic Skeleton which I don't want to reveal to outsiders."
"Therefore, Li Yao, do you want to be the wearer of the prototype of Profound Bone Battle Armor?"
Li Yao dazed. He pointed to himself. "Me?"
He was a little overwhelmed.
Yuan Manqiu nodded and said seriously, "I've put a lot of thought into it. You're the best candidate.
"Firstly, Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit is designed to be a low-cost crystal suit for mass production, which means its users can only be Refinement Stage Cultivators. Building Foundation Stage Cultivators have far better choices.
"Therefore, we're targeting Refinement Stage Cultivators as our potential users. All the structures and parameters are designed for them.
"So, it will be for the best if its first user is also a Refinement Stage Cultivator.
"Secondly, you are a Hybrid-type Cultivator and you have talents both in battling and refining. If you wear it, not only will the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit's potential be fulfilled, you will definitely discover the majority of the problems during the trial. Our communication after will be easier too, as we'll use terminologies that we are both familiar with.
"Lastly, you are my own disciple. The leaking of secrets will no longer be a concern, and the trials will not just take a day or two. Other Exos might be unwilling to stay at Grand Desolate War Institution for a long period of time. But if it's you, there won't be a problem."
Li Yao's eyes sparkled as he listened.
It's perfect to join Project Mystic Skeleton in such a way!
"But, the thing is, I don't know how to wear a crystal suit," Li Yao said hesitantly.
Different from Battle Armor, a crystal suit was an ultimate weapon condensed by countless magical equipment controlled by the Crystal Processor. It was as difficult to forge as it was to wear. Only those who were formally trained would be able to control it and become an Exo, another awesome profession in the world of cultivation.
"It's no big deal."
Yuan Manqiu clicked softly on the virtual keyboard. Tons of data were displayed on the light beam.
Li Yao scanned it carefully. It was all detailed information about Exo training camps.
Yuan Manqiu said, "There are many ways to become an Exo. The top 10 sects in the federation, Deep Sea University, and First Military Academy of the federation all have their own crystal suit forging departments and corresponding training systems.
"In the military, there are troops entirely made of elite Exos whose strength can be really intimidating.
"But it's difficult to find a way into such systems.
"Things are different with personal Exos training camps. They welcome anyone who has a decent amount of money."
Exo and Refiner were the two most popular professions in the world of cultivation. Organizations established to train Exos were too many to keep track of.
Most of them only aimed for your purse. They wouldn't teach anything useful.
However, the four personal Exo training camps listed by Yuan Manqiu were the best ones. They had been created by top-tier, expert Exos. Although the tuition fees they charged could make your heart stop beating, their tutors did boast real skills and were not hesitant to teach them.
Yuan Manqiu highlighted the file of one of the four training camps. She said, "Thunder Training Camp is going to start a 3-month preparatory course for middle and high level Cultivators in the Refinement Stage. It's perfect for you.
"Thunder Training Camp, one of the four personal Exo training camps in the federation, was founded by Lei Tingwei, a Cultivator in the Core Formation Stage, and hence have produced thousands of strong Exos. It is best known for its crazy and cruel training style.
"If you are willing to be the test wearer for the prototype of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit, the school will pay the tuition fees for you and you will be trained in Thunder Training Camp for three months before becoming a strong Exo!
"But there's one thing you need to know. Lei Tingwei is a harsh and mean man. He values tough training more than anything. The principle of his camp is 'easy to get in, hard to stay in'. You can get into it as long as you have money, but you'll have to pass tests after tests. Only the few that survive until the end will be approved by him.
"Are you confident?"
Li Yao's glanced through the files of the Thunder Training Camp. His mouth spread and a smile appeared on his face.
"Cruel? Harsh? Only few can survive until the end?
"I love it."
Five days later, deep down the Grand Desolate Plateau, a well-worn carrier with patterns of thunder splash on both sides was flying at a low altitude.
Over the dull sand hills, a small oasis lay in front.
Around the oasis was a block of silver buildings.
Many firefly-like lights were chasing, charging, and colliding with each other.
But with a careful look, one would discover that they were all Cultivators in crystal suits!
Although it was just a simulation, the Cultivators were not the least bit sluggish. The cracking of spirit energy echoed like thunder hundreds of meters away.
Now and then, a critical part on someone's armor would be hit, dying the sky in glorious colors while they fell to the ground.
This was the Thunder Training Camp.
 Exo - The crystal suit is like a exoskeleton, or in other words, like the mechas in the Japanese anime. As it is a sci-fi term and the translation of the comes as armorer, which do not confer with the correct meaning of the trade; the pilot of the crystal suit. As such, we redefined the translation to suit our needs and used Exo to give a sci-fi and unique feeling; differentiating from the rest.