Three days later, at a frontier base of the federal army located north of the Grand Desolate Plateau and hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest town.
In a well-guarded military base where crystal railguns could be seen everywhere, 25 Exos were doing last minute checks for their journey.
They were the twenty winners of the second elimination match of the Thunder Training Camp and five top instructors in the camp who were going on a field trip to the depths of the Grand Desolate Plateau.
"The northern defense line, consisted of thousands of military bases, is the furthest frontier of the Star Glory Federation. The territory beyond this defense line, although claimed to be the federation's domain, has a harsh natural environment with a lot of unexpected dangers and strong demon beasts. No humans could ever live there, nor could any ordinary armies station the area. We Cultivators are in charge of cleaning the place regularly."
Mao Feng paced to and fro. His eyes were wide while he roared, "Make sure everything's in working order with your crystal suit. Once we're into the depths of the Grand Desolate Plateau, there will be no supplies or reinforcements. If something happens to your crystal suit, you will be in serious trouble!"
Li Yao tested in his crystal suit. He activated every rune array on the suit and check the data reports on the screen.
This would be the first time that he left the northern defense line to train in the lonely wilderness.
He was both anxious and excited.
He'd chosen the Bloody Blade Battlesuit as before.
After one month of maintenance and modification, the parameters of the Bloody Blade Battlesuit couldn't be a better fit for his physique and combat style.
In light of the real battle to come that was bound to be different from the elimination matches, he'd added a lot of attack magical equipment modules to the suit which was now armed to teeth.
The Shattered Star Bombarder specially designed for crystal suits was wrapped in a chill air of blood. It could destroy high-level demon soldiers with a single blow.
25 crystal suits were standing dazzlingly in the middle of the military base. Five hundred soldiers of the base formed two rows beside them.
The five hundred soldiers stood at attention and performed a perfect military salute.
The Rising Dragon of the Nine Stars, the national flag of the Star Glory Federation, was fluttering on the flagpole dozens of meters tall.
Soldiers of the federal army were mostly ordinary people. They could only station in the military base and defend their country in shelters.
The task of attack could only be shouldered by Cultivators.
Therefore, the soldiers paid their sincerest homage to the Cultivators.
Under their warm stares, the 25 Cultivators got on four heavy-type crystal tanks and embarked on their quest together with four wagons which contained enough crystal stones and supplies for half a month's use.
One of the wagons could be transformed into a battlefield workshop where simple crystal suit maintenance could be performed.
Besides the 25 full-armed crystal suits, they also carried more than fifty beast puppets with strong firepower.
More than half an hour later, a glittering and translucent high tower appeared in front of them, which was the first man-made architecture they'd come across during their ride to the north.
Led by Mao Feng, all the students jumped down from the crystal tanks and stood around the tower in a circle.
The tower had been carved out of luminous crystals with hundreds of rune arrays on them. Eight small round towers stood around the tower in the middle, bringing a strong sense of mystery.
When they closed their eyes and observed through their spiritual roots, they discovered that countless colorful spiritual threads were embroiled around the high tower and stretched forwards in all directions to the end of horizon.
They were like a big net with rainbows weaved in, expanding around the entire world.
The high tower was a Spiritual Beacon which could send telepathic thoughts as a cell unit of the Spiritual Nexus. Only when one was in the coverage of a Spiritual Beacon and had signal could he use the Spiritual Nexus normally to receive or send telepathic thoughts.
"This is the last Spiritual Beacon you'll see, which marks the boundary of human civilization. Later, we'll enter the world of darkness where there is no network at all.
"I'll give you five minutes. Whatever you want to say to your family or friends, say it now while there's still network!"
Mao Feng's words caused a minor turbulence.
Spiritual Beacons were THE greatest magical equipment in history.
The boundless spiritual network that allowed people worldwide to communicate with each other instantly was the foundation of the prosperous modern cultivation civilization.
For the students, they'd always been in the coverage of the Spiritual Nexus, even when they were fighting on the Grand Desolate Plateau.
Although the signal was sometimes intermittent, it was usable to communicate with the outside world, and if they came across danger, they could ask the Cultivators nearby or the military for help.
However, they'd met the last Spiritual Beacon at the edge of the human world. Further ahead, there would be no network at all. They wouldn't be able to ask for help when they were in trouble.
Indescribable loneliness suddenly grasped them.
"We're about to lose signal."
"We're going to be out of network for an entire month. That's terrible!"
Everyone hurriedly contacted their family and friends while they still could.
Li Yao thought for a while. He took a selfie with the splendid view of the Grand Desolate Plateau as background and sent it to Ding Lingdang with a message that read,
"Before I enter the Dark Desolate Domain."
Dark Desolate Domain was the collective name for the dangerous zones beyond the northern defense line that were never touched by human civilization.
This was the end of the world, the closest spot in the Heaven Origin Sector to the Blood Demon Sector, a chaotic land where spiritual energies were unfathomably fierce, home to countless strong demon beasts, as well as a place that boasted infinite Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures and mother crystal lodes.
Inside the Dark Desolate Domain, the spiritual energies fluctuated like surging tides, which had no pattern at all.
For a moment, it was sunny without the slightest hint of cloud. The next moment, lightning was already brewing behind heavy clouds and the rain was pouring down at any moment.
The lightning was rolling over in the clouds like vigorous dragons, which snapped at the ground every once in a while.
The power of Cultivators was completely overwhelmed by the rage of nature.
Mao Feng's face turned pale as he screamed, "Disperse! Disperse now! Raise your spiritual shield output to maximum!"
The other experienced instructors had already dragged the students almost 100 meters away.
The moment they ran in all directions, a thunder resembling a golden dragon dashed down from the clouds and went directly for the Spiritual Beacon.
The defense rune arrays on the eight small round towers around the Spiritual Beacon were instantly activated, which formed a transparent shield over the Spiritual Beacon.
But it was not strong enough to withhold the frenzy of nature. A moment later, the eight towers exploded and the shield was gone. The thunder went on without stop and ripped the Spiritual Beacon into pieces.
Shattered crystals, accelerated by the lightning, was thrown to every direction like screaming bullets.
Luckily, everyone had already activated their spiritual shields, which stopped the shattered crystals and crushed them into ashes. Nobody was hurt, albeit truly shocked.
"Spiritual waves from the Spiritual Beacon are too intense. Once the natural spiritual energies are on a rampage, the Spiritual Beacon will always be the first thing to be destroyed! It's like the lightning rod which is always hit first during a thunderstorm."
Mao Feng added, "Building a Spiritual Beacon requires huge amounts of money and effort, not to mention the cost of many precious crystals. But it is quite easy for it to be damaged. Besides the lightning which can tear them apart easily, many strong demon beasts will also be attracted by the spiritual waves from the Spiritual Beacon and are willing to destroy it no matter what!
"Therefore, although Spiritual Beacons, as the core of the Spiritual Nexus, are of paramount importance to us, we can't build them unlimitedly. Establishing one at this place is already the best we can do.
"In front of us is the Dark Desolate Domain, a dreary world without network that only the bravest dare to walk in!
"Cultivators, move forward!"
Against thunder and lightning, the squad dashed to the horizon.
Weather in the Dark Desolate Domain was never tranquil. The storm didn't die down until one night later.
The world when everything was peaceful again was different from the outside, too.
The sky was red like blood. Clouds were twisted into colorful swirls. Many of them had giant holes through which one could see stars clearly.
Day and night was indistinctive here.
The land around was no longer barren. On the continuous hills grew demonic plants that none of them had ever seen before, which were extremely large due to the nourishment of abundant spiritual energy. Weeds that had razor-sharp edges were taller than any of them, which were shining weirdly under the violet sun.
In the dense forest, screams of demon beasts echoed; as if crystal bombs had exploded around the tanks they were in, every one of them felt a chill down their spines.
"Dark Desolate Domain is the closest spot in the Heaven's Origin Sector to the Blood Demon Sector. Due to the universal gravitation, the two worlds were attracted to each other."
All the students sat down around Mao Feng and listened to the rules of the Dark Desolate Domain.
Mao Feng had two big demon beast eggs in his hands. He lifted them up, "Let's say this egg represents the Heaven's Origin Sector, and the other egg represents the Blood Demon Sector."
He put the two eggs together and knocked them gently,
The eggshell was thick. There were many cracks on the surface; the eggs didn't break, but they were pinned together.
"The Heaven's Origin Sector and the Blood Demon Sector are like two crushed eggs. The Dark Desolate Domain is the point of impact. The sky on the Grand Desolate Plateau is like the cracks on the eggshell.
"Why do wormholes often appear on the Grand Desolate Plateau? Because there are many cracks due to the impact of the two worlds.
"As for the inland of the federation, the sky there is as intact as a smooth eggshell without a single crack. Naturally, no wormholes will ever show up. It is through these cracks that the demon beasts find their way into our world.
"Observe the two eggs. Isn't the point of impact most crowded with cracks and most likely to crumble?
"It is also the case with the real worlds. The Dark Desolate Domain is the most fragile and perilous place in the entire Heaven's Origin Sector!"