"I'm finally back!"
Three days later, looking at the Wild Waves City not far ahead, Li Yao sighed.
Although he didn't get the title of 'Thunder Exo' at the end of the journey to the Thunder Training Camp, he had grasped enough knowledge about crystal suits to drive the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit in the future. Also, he made a great fortune in the Thunderous Sound Mountain. This trip was definitely worth every penny.
Li Yao was surprised when he got out of the train station.
In the square before the train station, besides Yuan Manqiu, there were some fifty young men carrying the burning gear flag of the Starfire Union, who painted a giant banner with the mystic ray that read,
"Welcome Home, Senior Brother of the Starfire Union!"
Li Yao noticed a few familiar faces in the crowd. They were the bad boys, including Li Sanhao, of the Empyrean Terminus Central High School.
"These bad boys have really been admitted by the Refining Department of the Grand Desolate War Institution?"
Since the competition between Li Yao with the I-type Tai'e crafting furnace and the refiner from the Empyrean Terminus Sect took place, students of the Empyrean Terminus Central High School had been impressed by Li Yao's professional performance and they had kept in touch.
For the students who had better grades, their target was, of course, the Refining Department of Deep Sea University. But for the bad boys, of whom Li Sanhao was a good example, their GPA was far from enough to meet the requirement of the Deep Sea University. Therefore, they decided to give up the thought and come to seek the shelter of their 'Senior Brother Li Yao' instead.
Besides the bad boys stood distinctively another bunch of gloomy, indifferent young men who looked more like assassins than refiners.
Li Yao muttered something to himself. He had no idea who they were.
In a big smile, Yuan Manqiu greeted him and gave him a bearhug. Li Yao felt that if he had not advanced many levels in the training camp, he would surely have been choked now.
The freshmen stood in two rows and started shouting.
The bad boys, led by Li Sanhao, and the gloomy 'young assassins' appeared to be competing. They were trying to shout louder than their counterpart, and even when they were out of breath with flushed faces, they were still looking at Li Yao with such obvious adoration that Li Yao felt the back of his neck was prickling. It was not until Yuan Manqiu explained to him that he finally understood everything.
The Refining Department successfully recruited two classes of students as planned. The bad boys from Empyrean Terminus Central High School made up a large part, but the majority of the new students came from Verdant Tarn City.
Verdant Tarn City was almost obliterated in the beast tide outbreak more than half a year ago, of which many parents of the freshmen were victims. Their studies and training had been severely affected because of the accident.
Therefore, the federal government had issued an act, allowing the students of the Verdant Tarn City taking the university entrance exam this year to be admitted at a lower score.
The students, especially those who lost their parents in the accident, naturally preferred the Grand Desolate War Institution, the local academy.
The Grand Desolate War Institution made a great contribution in the battle of the Verdant Tarn City. The performance of its staff and students left a deep impression on them, who hoped that they could become strong Cultivators in the Grand Desolate War Institution so that they could avenge their parents one day.
The number one goal for most of the students was the Combat Department.
But beyond everyone's expectation, the Refining Department received the second most applications, which was even more than the Medical Department and the Liberal Arts Department did.
The reason was simple. Li Yao's accomplishment was too brilliant in the battle of the Verdant Tarn City.
With ten Hellfire-Lightnings, Li Yao killed a preliminary-level demon general despite the fact that he was only at the middle level of the Refinement Stage. After details of the battle were revealed, many young men considered Li Yao to be their role model from whom they learnt the strength of magical equipment.
"If I go to the Combat Department, I don't know how long it will take before I can break through the barrier of the Building Foundation Stage. Maybe it will take the rest of my life.
"But with strong magical equipment, even a Refinement Stage Cultivator can be capable enough to blow a demon general into pieces!"
For the young men who were desperate for revenge, joining the Refining Department might be a more direct and suitable path for their vengeance.
Li Yao's recent achievements were more astonishing.
Although he didn't receive the title of 'Thunder Exo', he did survive the three months' training in the Thunder Training Camp. Moreover, he travelled for ten days far and deep inside of the Thunderous Sound Mountain in the Dark Desolate Domain and returned safe and sound.
Born and raised in the Grand Desolate Plateau, the young men knew exactly how intimidating the Dark Desolate Domain was. The fact that Li Yao could explore, fight, and cultivate in the place for ten days was evident enough that he was a man worthy of respect.
Therefore, before he returned, he had already become a legend among the freshmen.
Now that they'd seen him in person today, of course they would shout as loudly as they could to express their excitement.
During the hundred days, the Refining Department had undergone dramatic changes.
Not only had the students been recruited successfully, many teachers and researchers were in position as well.
The modification of the floating mountain for the refinement of crystal suits was finished a month in advance. It had been towed to the above of the Refining Department.
The Project Mystic Skeleton had been officially restarted. Many refiners had started working on it.
Supported by Xiong Baili, principal of the institution, Yuan Manqiu filed an application to the Refiners' Association and the Ministry of Education, hoping that, in light of the special situation of the Refining Department of the Grand Desolate War Institution, the stipulation that there shall be at least one student passing the Refiners' Registration Examination annually could be waived for the next three years.
After all, Li Yao had proved irrefutably the teaching quality of the Refining Department of the Grand Desolate War Institution to be excellent enough with his unparalleled performance. The staff had to focus on teaching for a few more years. It would be unreasonable to ask the freshmen to pass the Refiners' Registration Examination every year.
The application was still pending approval. Xiong Baili was also taking part in the issue actively with his connections. It was unlikely that there would be a problem.
The shuttle that drove the students to the station was also upgraded. The wrecked, decrepit vehicle had been replaced by a sharp-lined, green, large-scale shuttle of the latest model that was as light as a dragonfly.
"This is just the beginning."
Noticing Li Yao's astonishment, Yuan Manqiu smiled, "This is just the beginning of the glory of the Refining Department of the Grand Desolate War Institution."
When the dragonfly shuttle carried them back to the Refining Department, Li Yao almost failed to recognize the shambles where he had been training crazily for the past year.
Most of the ruins had been carefully cleaned. Useless garbage had been cleared, whereas useful magical equipment components were transferred to a few temporary warehouses where they were piled up neatly.
Surrounding the ruins, a few simple teaching buildings and dormitory buildings were under construction, many of which were half complete. A lot of semi-automatic construction magical equipment were floating around them. An impressive scene of rebirth from devastation.
In the sky, a delicate floating mountain was spinning silently. It was round and looked like a silver waterdrop.
The freshmen who came to greet Li Yao were dismissed. Yuan Manqiu brought him to the front of the silver waterdrop, which sucked them in with a mystic ray.
The designing purpose of this floating mountain was to refine crystal suits. Although it was not large in size, its layout was much more scientific than the previous one. Strong defense rune arrays and alarm systems were installed, which would send out warnings once they detected an abnormal spiritual tide.
Yuan Manqiu and Li Yao toured the floating mountain floor by floor.
Inside the spacious laboratories and refining workshops, a lot of refiners were focusing all their attention to the work at hand.
The white hair on their heads and the intense spiritual waves around their bodies, as well as the hundreds of magical equipment components flying in air at their disposal, suggested their seniority in the trade.
Li Yao even recognized a few faces that he had seen in the magical equipment magazines he used to read. They were all famous masters.
After a hundred days of insane training in the Thunder Training Camp, Li Yao was no longer a crystal suit newbie. It didn't take much time before he realized that many refiners were making great progress in their research and the framework of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit was beginning to take shape.
He felt his blood was boiling and his hands were itchy. He couldn't wait to join in with such an amazing team.
Seeing through what was on his mind, Yuan Manqiu handed over a jade slip.
"Li Yao, this is my formal invitation to ask you to join Project Mystic Skeleton as a researcher associate.
"I'll give you a few research fields that you can work on. But your primary job is to explore all the possibilities in designing. There's no need to worry about whether or not they can be implemented. The crazier, the better. We hope that you can broaden the horizon of the project team.
"After the crystal suit is refined, you'll be in charge of the testing as its very first driver.
"Your name will be on the list of participants of the Project Mystic Skeleton. All the future revenues of the Project Mystic Skeleton will be shared by all participants in proportion to their contribution.
"The detailed progress of the project, possible research fields and the job contract are all in the jade slip. You can think it over before you make the decision."
Holding back his excitement, Li Yao took the jade slip and shook his head.
"I don't need to think it over. I accept it!
"However, the progress of the Project Mystic Skeleton is much faster than I expected. There are more researchers than we planned, aren't there? Is our department rich enough to attract so many experts to this place now?"
Li Yao was a little confused.
Yuan Manqiu thought for a moment and said, "You have been secluded in the Thunder Training Camp for the past hundred days. It's understandable that you are not familiar with the latest news outside. Over the past three months, a lot of things have happened. Come on, let's go to my office and talk about it.
"In short, a magnificent era is coming!"
After an hour of chat with Yuan Manqiu, Li Yao finally understood everything now.
Three months ago, the capital market was the first to respond. The stock price of the sects that focused on combat or combat magical equipment refining soared. The medical board and spiritual beast board also experienced rapid growth.
Then, the federal government announced that the military budget for the next year will be increased by 50%, and that it would be increased by three times in three years.
The unprecedented military budget indicated that the giant war machine of the Star Glory Federation, after laying low for decades, was speeding up and ready to unleash ferocious power again.
After that, the federal government implemented a series of measures, including repairing underground fortresses, honoring the disabled veterans, promoting Cultivation techniques in schools and communities, and increasing the subsidies for the sects that worked on new models of war-related magical equipment.
A rising wind forebodes a coming storm. Even the most inert citizen could hear the footsteps of war drawing near.
In the Cultivation world, intelligence that the well-informed Cultivators gathered was much more appalling.