At the corner of the carrier, Li Yao focused all his attention on the Crystal Processor's screen, trying to make the best use of whatever time he had left to learn more about the Thunder Training Camp.
The more he read, the more he furrowed his brow.
After a long silence, Li Yao grinned and mumbled, "It's really hard."
Among the four major personal training camps, Thunder Training Camp was the most punitive one. It was also known as 'Death Training Camp'.
'Death' had two meanings. One was that many courses in the training camp were imitations of real battles and thus were extremely dangerous. Chances were that the trainees would get crippled or killed, as was duly written in the contract they had signed before enrollment.
Thunder Training Camp was only open to the brave warriors, not cowards.
The other meaning was the high fallout rate.
Thunder Training Camp could be further divided into Inner Camp and Outer Camp. The Outer Camp was designed for the Cultivators in the Refinement Stage, and for the 100 students that it admitted every time, only ten would remain three months later.
That was a fallout rate of 90%, which was even higher than most of the classes of the Combat Department in the Grand Desolate War Institution.
The cruel training style and the super-high fallout rate, on the other hand, had boosted the cachet of the Thunder Training Camp. Many desperate Cultivators were actually willing to pay a large sum of money just to get a glittering 'Thunder Exo' badge.
Their effortlessness in paying the tuition fee indicated that they wouldn't find it difficult to buy a crystal suit worth billions in the future. As a matter of fact, they were either from the younger generations of noble families or future stars of major cultivation sects. They had both resources and capabilities that far exceeded Li Yao's previous opponents.
"The hundred students are all real experts. They are totally different from freshmen like Zhao Tianchong or Lu Tieshan.
"Many of them must've already worn crystal suits before. Unlike them, I've never touched one before. I'm a complete novice.
"It's going to be troublesome to make it to the top ten."
Li Yao's thought was interrupted by the impact of the carrier landing on the desert beside the oasis.
Li Yao walked down together with a few other students.
It was noon, the hottest time of the day. There was no shade in the bare desert. The sunlight was so strong that their skin constantly felt as if it were going to explode.
The oasis was not very far in front. Yet the students had to wait underneath the scorching sun.
The carrier took off, leaving a small sandstorm where it previously landed. But there was still no sign of a receptionist.
A few other carriers had come and gone. More students joined the crowd in the desert.
Li Yao observed the other students carefully and noticed that most of them were older than 25 and apparently had experienced bloody battles in real life before. The determination on their faces was far different from the green college students.
Although everyone was hiding their capability with the Soul Converging Technique, Li Yao knew that many of them were already at the high-level Refinement Stage seeing that they had no sweat at all after standing under the hot sun for so long.
He might be the weakest among the hundred students.
Most students were wary of those around them, and when they felt that their classmates were of similar level to themselves, they did not hesitate to demonstrate their hostility.
A training camp was different from a school or a sect.
For the students in a school or a sect, they belonged to the same community. No matter how intense their competition with each other was, they had a sense of "collective honor".
For example, although Zhao Tianchong, Lu Tieshan, and Li Yao always challenged each other, they knew that they were all students of the Grand Desolate War Institution. When something serious happened, they would stand together and get it over with first before sorting out the issues among themselves.
But things were totally different in a training camp which was all about money-making. No one was anything to anyone else other than a direct rival.
Only ten out of the hundred students would be able to laugh in the end. Every one of the rest was an enemy-to-be and had to be eliminated at the first chance!
That was what all the students had in mind.
While Li Yao was thinking about it, a shadow covered him as if the sun had been eclipsed by a giant cloud.
Li Yao blinked and took a closer look. It was a tall, young man with grey eyes and a sharp face that looked like it had been carved from a rock.
The young man was wearing a strange smile. His eyes were sparkling, just like those of a cat that had decided to play with the rat it had just caught instead of killing it immediately.
The grey-eyed, young man raised his eyebrow and asked coldly, "Grand Desolate War Institution's Li Yao?"
Li Yao felt a scent of hostility. He stood straight and made eye contact with the young man, "And you are?"
"From Deep Sea University's Battle Suit Department, Yuan Yeshi," the grey-eyed, young man said casually.
Li Yao frowned. The name didn't sound familiar.
"You don't know me. But I know a thing or two about you."
Yuan Yeshi smiled indifferently, "My sister, Yuan Yexue, is a disciple of Jiang Sheng, the Supernova, and one of the Novem Stellae. I accidentally came across your file due to her. I knew you're a genius at magical equipment refining whose popularity has been on the rise and you humiliated Deep Sea University in the Refiners' Registration Examination.
"However, the Thunder Training Camp is the domain of us Exos. Why did you, a Refiner, come such a long way here?"
"To enjoy some sunbathing," Li Yao replied lazily to the aggressive question.
There was lightning in Yuan Yeshi's eyes. He was about to speak again when he felt a disturbance behind him.
It was a shuttle that looked like a scary skeleton.
"Here comes our instructor!" someone called out.
Yuan Yeshi changed his face and said grimly, "The past of you Refiners is none of my business and I don't care.
"However, I don't like the way you talk.
"You may be a genius in magical equipment refining, but it doesn't mean that you can be as arrogant in the world of Exos.
"I've got my eye on you and I'll eliminate you as soon as I have a chance!"
He retreated into the crowd as he stabbed Li Yao with his sharp glare.
At that moment, a strong, middle-aged man jumped out of the shuttle, leaving two deep footprints on the ground before he'd even landed, causing a cloud of smoke. It was as if a 10,000-ton rock just fell from the sky.
"What a grand entrance!"
"He's at least in Building Foundation Stage!"
Many students were whispering.
When the air cleared again, a short, stout, extremely ugly, muscled man appeared in everyone's sight.
The man could almost be called bald, except that he had a cluster of hair in the center of his pate. He also had a forked moustache, which was like two black crescent blades.
His hair and moustache drew so much attention at first glance that everyone failed to see what he really looked like.
Some students almost laughed out aloud.
Yet, when the muscled man looked at them with a glare resembling lightning, they felt that their backs were cold and their throats seemed to have been grabbed, which immediately stopped them from laughing.
"My name is Mao Feng, the manager of Thunder Training Camp's Outer Camp. I will also be your chief instructor for the next three months, and I will become the person that you fear the most, resent the most, and want to cut into pieces the most!"
Mao Feng put his hands behind his back and started to pace around the students.
Whenever he stopped in front of someone, he would stare them in the eyes.
Within five seconds, the student would groan and admit defeat.
Mao Feng would be satisfied and move on to the next student.
His voice was not loud, yet it reached every student's ear clearly despite the wuthering wind.
"I've read all of your files. You're all men of privilege, one-in-ten-thousand, talented Cultivators. Your backgrounds are profound, and so are your own abilities.
"Many of you have touched crystal suits before. Some of you are even students majoring in battle suits at well-known colleges who want to improve themselves in the Thunder Training Camp during the summer vacation.
"However, everyone must start from scratch here.
"I don't care who you are. You might be a badass in school, you might be the pillar of your sect, you might be a battle hero, but it all means nothing here. Your identity, position, and past mean nothing!
"In the Thunder Training Camp, you are just an ordinary student who doesn't even need a name. What you need is just a number, ranging from 1 to 100.
"I will enforce the toughest, harshest, and cruelest training onto you. If you're sluggish or hesitant for even a single second, you will be eliminated without mercy!
"However, in my experience, most students begged to quit long before they were eliminated.
"Remember, a crystal suit is a treasure of treasures. An Exo is the Cultivator of Cultivators!
"An Exo always leads the charge and is always ready to face the enemies' attack. An Exo who isn't killed a couple of times a day is not a real Exo.
"And a real Exo is what the Thunder Training Camp will train you to be. If you're not prepared, get your ass out of here and now!"
While speaking, Mao Feng stopped in front of Li Yao. His lightning-like eyesight pierced into Li Yao's head.
'What a strong spiritual power!'
Li Yao could feel that the spiritual power of his instructor was hundreds of times stronger than the Three-Eyed Ape on the Devil Flood Dragon Island.
Had his soul not been cleansed and strengthened by Ou Yezi, it would've been impossible to even survive half a second.
Li Yao gritted his teeth and stared back.
One second, two seconds, three seconds, five seconds, ten seconds!
Ten seconds later, Mao Feng smiled and asked fiercely, "What's your name?"
Li Yao held his head as high as possible and answered loudly, "Sir, my name is Li Yao!"
Mao Feng grinned and looked around. He remarked, "Like I said, students of this class are all men of privilege with profound background. Even this seemingly Mr. Nobody actually has a long story behind him.
"You may not know of him yet. Let me introduce him to you. He is the youngest and weakest student in this class.
"But he is also a man who's cruel to himself."