Led by their instructors, the ninety-nine students vanished into the desert.
Li Yao and Mao Feng were the only two left in the empty testing field now.
Audacious as Li Yao may be, he felt uneasy under the chief instructor's murderous look.
Mao Feng shouted, "There's no need to wonder why you don't have an instructor. It's because your performance was so crummy that it has created a new lower limit of the Thunder Training Camp! Over all the years as manager of the Outer Camp, I've never seen a second weirdo such as yourself! You are not half qualified to receive regular training like the rest of them!
"Now, I'm giving you two options.
"Option one, get your ass out of here as fast and far away as you can, and stop wasting my time.
"Option two, stay in the training camp and start learning the most rudimental basics.
"During your training, I will crush you, torture you, suppress you, and spite you without any mercy. When I discover that you make a mistake, small as a needle as it may be, I will let you know what 'being dead is better than living' means and eliminate you ruthlessly!
"You'd better choose option one. If you wait here for a while longer, someone will pick you up and send you home. 95% of your tuition fees will be refunded.
"But if you have completely lost your mind and decide to see if I was joking, then just follow me!"
Mao Feng finished his words without any pause. He jumped on his skeleton shuttle and moved off like lightning, never looking back.
Li Yao dazed. He cursed in his mind, 'This guy is outrageous. It's true that my performance hasn't been very satisfactory. But that's because I've never touched any crystal suits before!
'The reason why I'm here is exactly because I don't know the first thing about crystal suits. If I was already good at it, I'd be applying to be an instructor!
'The more you look down upon me, the more I will prove you completely wrong!
'Want to eliminate me? It's not that easy!'
Li Yao gritted his teeth and followed the skeleton shuttle at the fastest speed he could.
After more than half an hour's running, they'd already covered almost 100 kilometers. Finally, the two of them stopped at a rugged area crowded by a lot of rocks in bizarre shapes.
Under the bare rocks stood a giant, rusted, steel gate which looked like an entrance to a semi-underground warehouse that assumed the place of the original cave.
Mao Feng waved his hand. The rune arrays on the gate lit up dimly. After a long cracking sound, there were sounds of gears grinding and hinges stretching on both sides of the gate.
The gate opened. A strong moldy smell, resembling that in a tomb, hit their face.
Mao Feng looked back with obvious disdain and walked directly into the warehouse.
Li Yao tried to hold back the thought of kicking Mao Feng in his ass and followed.
It was not a big warehouse. One could tell that with a single glance. Metal wreckages that looked like decayed bones were scattered all over the place. They were scarred, battered, and in all kinds of shapes.
It took Li Yao a long time before he recognized that they were all crystal suit leftovers.
Then he realized that this was not a warehouse of crystal suits, but a graveyard for them!
Mao Feng glanced at him and said, "146 crystal suits reside in this place. All of them were too seriously damaged to repair. We could only retrieve the crystal stones and Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures from them and declared them to be a total loss.
"Look, most of them have been corroded by the poisons of the demon beasts before they were left in the open air for decades. Therefore, their components have all rusted together.
"Your talent is lousy and you don't know anything about crystal suits. If you've made up your mind to learn about being an Exo, this will be your start point.
"This jade slips contain all the structural designs and maintenance manuals of the crystal suits here. What you're going to do is to dismantle them, clean up their components, and assemble them together.
"The time you have finished your maintenance for all 146 crystal suits lying here with absolutely no rust on them anymore is the time when I will consider assigning an instructor to you for you to receive regular training like everybody else does."
Li Yao was stupefied. "This is the basics?"
Mao Feng replied coldly, "Of course it is. As an Exo, you must have knowledge of how to conduct fundamental maintenance on crystal suits. Such training is best for you to learn the deep structure of crystal suits. Very suitable for an idiotic newbie like yourself!
"However, it is indeed a little bit difficult to do the training on 146 total-loss crystal suits altogether at the same time. You can say no and get out of here now!"
Li Yao blinked. There was sharp light in his eyes.
Mao Feng grinned hideously.
"Your guess is correct. I am purposely making things difficult for you. This is a simple game that I just came up with. It won't get any easier as you walk further down this path. There's no way that you can complete it."
Li Yao looked at him in the eyes and asked carefully, "Will I be able to learn some real crystal suit skills after I tear down all the 146 crystal suits, remove their rust, lubricate them, and make sure they can work again?"
Mao Feng gave an affirmative by a grunt.
"Alright. I'll start now!"
Mao Feng stared at him coldly. He said, "You're going to stay here for some time. Maintenance tools and materials will be sent here in a moment, together with food and water for the next month.
"Contact me again when these crystal suits are as fresh as when they were first produced.
"Naturally, you can also contact me when you feel you can't bear it any longer and wish to give up."
"I won't," Li Yao replied with a thin smile.
"Very good. Let's see how long you can persist."
While saying it, Mao Feng took two pieces of magical equipment that looked like shining shells out of his pocket and handed them over.
"Besides, you'll need to stick these to your temples."
Li Yao accepted the magical equipment. He weighed them in his hand and pinned them in his temples.
The magical equipment seemed to become magnetic all of a sudden. They were attracted to each other and wouldn't let go no matter how hard Li Yao tried to shake them off.
For a moment, the sky and ground were swirling before Li Yao, who completely lost balance and fell to the ground. He felt like vomiting.
"The magical equipment is called 'Balance Breakers'. They're particularly useful in the training of balance control."
Mao Feng smiled, "We Cultivators often need to fly on a sword, or fight in the sky. When you're in a crystal suit, your speed will be greatly enhanced, which makes balance control all the more important.
"Like back when you were in the testing field, you could barely walk after you put on a crystal suit for the first time. Although you moved quickly enough to create a sonic boom, you weren't able to control your direction.
"They're all because of the same reason: you couldn't maintain your balance.
"Balance of a human being depends on their vestibular apparatus.
"Balance Breakers possess a strange magnetic power that can disturb the functioning of your vestibular apparatus, which will put you in a constant state of imbalance.
"And you're going to find the subtle balance in the overwhelming imbalance. During this process, your vestibular apparatus will be stronger and you'll have better balance control, so they'll help prepare you for the high-speed combat to come when you're in a crystal suit.
"Stop fiddling with them. Their switch is in my hands. You'll never dig them out.
"While you maintain the wrecked crystal suits, you'll always be in instability and you will find yourself hardly able to stand.
"How about it? Want to give up yet?"
Li Yao closed his eyes, breathing heavily. He lay on the ground, with all his limbs stretched out. Still, he felt like a chestnut that was being fried in a pan. Just spinning, spinning, and spinning!
"Instructor, I have a question for you."
After a long time of adaption, he finally regained the ability to talk. There was not the slightest hint of blood on his face. His skin was drearily pale. But his eyes were deeper and darker than before.
"Will I be eliminated if I use profanity to an instructor?"
"Good, that's my boy. However, I hope you are as bold as today in ten days' time, instead of begging me to eliminate you!"
Mao Feng snorted and went out, slamming the gate of the warehouse.
His angry expression disappeared in no time. He hurriedly turned on his crystal processor and reached out to Xu Tianyou, the experienced Training Planner.
"Mr. Xu, the boy has accepted the challenge.
"According to our deal, as long as he can survive 5 days and 5 nights in the scrapped crystal suits' warehouse, you'll design a set of training plans for him. Let's start the countdown now, shall we?"
Mr. Xu nodded. He answered, "Of course. I've already started reading his profile in order to write the best training plans possible for him.
"But whether or not he'll have the opportunity to use it depends on himself.
"Not that I'm being pretentious. It's just that my training plan is harsh enough for even a Building Foundation Stage Cultivator. A Refinement Stage Cultivator will never be able to make it without strong determination and an ultra-solid soul.
"So, 5 days and 5 nights. No less for even a single second."
Mao Feng grinned. "There's something special about the boy. I'm very confident in him. But just to be clear, our deal was meant to test his willpower and persistence, and it is okay as long as he makes it to the end of the fifth day even if he fails to renew a single crystal suit, correct?"
Mr. Xu smiled. "Of course. Those crystal suits are pure scraps. They're nothing but piles of garbage which would demand a hell of a lot of time to be fixed up. What's more, he has the Balance Breakers on him that have basically crippled him. All in all, I don't have any requirements as to the number of the crystal suits that he recovers. Suppose he does recover eight or ten of them miraculously, then he will have earned my true respect."
"I reckon it's going to be more than that."
Mao Feng beamed. "Something tells me that this boy will make miracles. It's possible that he will renew"
He raised two fingers, then added one after thinking for a moment.
Mao Feng said, completely seriously, "30 of them!"