After Li Yao finished his talk, the refiners didn't start discussing immediately. They were staring blankly ahead with their eyebrows knitted together.
A weird silence was hanging over the conference room.
Li Yao's plan was very simple. Valve design was a mature technique in the Star Glory Federation too. However, since all the previous crystal suits had highlighted the importance of stealth and disguise, the professors and experts had never thought that they could be refined otherwise.
Now that the old doctrine was broken, everyone felt that they had entered a new world.
"That's a good idea. Although a valve system will bring additional costs, the total cost will still be significantly reduced compared with refining the crystal reactor with Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures. I estimate that the cost of the new plan will be less than one fifth of that of the previous one. Besides, since the new plan will not be bound by raw materials, we can refine however many crystal suits we want with a magical equipment factory that is large enough."
"We don't need to worry too much about stealth and disguise. After the accident, we have redesigned the crystal reactor and reduced its likelihood of explosion in the normal state to minimum. Only when it suffered intense impact and corrosion in a battlefield from concentrated shellfire and raging spiritual energy will it risk exploding."
"However, since it is a battlefield of face-to-face confrontation, stealth and disguise abilities will not be that important."
"More importantly, with the new plan, we don't need to change too much about our previous designs. The project will be able to be pushed forward at a faster speed. We might be even able to produce a prototype within a month!"
"Guiding the escaping spiritual energy of the crystal reactor into the magical equipment that needs to be refilled is an amazing idea. We can even design a crystal cannon that uses the escaping spiritual energy as the power source. It's going to be formidable!"
Li Yao's proposal was like a window for the refiners. The professors and experts had much more expertise than Li Yao did. Enlightened, they came up with countless complicated follow-up plans.
Several impatient refiners even activated the light beam and started drawing blueprints while they were arguing with their faces flushed.
The discussion remained unabated for more than three hours until it was midnight, but all the refiners were still in the highest spirits.
Eventually, Yuan Manqiu had to stand up and concluded the meeting with a smile.
"It seems that Li Yao's idea has indeed shed a lot of new lights for us. However, it's not likely that the final plan can be settled in such a short time. Let's just go home now and examine thoroughly the part of the project that each of us is in charge of. We'll continue the meeting tomorrow!"
Bai Yede smiled as he was drawing and comparing the new designs of the crystal reactor with pressure valves and asked Li Yao, "Li Yao, how exactly did you come up with such an idea? It's brilliant!"
Li Yao exchanged an eye look with Yuan Manqiu. Pondering for a moment, he said frankly, "Actually, the idea is not my own creation, but the collaborative work of my professors and senior brothers."
"Professors? Senior Brothers?"
Bai Yede and the other refiners were all dazed.
All the professors of the Refining Department were here, and apparently, none of them had ever seen such a design before.
As for Senior Brother, Li Yao was the only student in the Refining Department that was not in the freshman year. How come he had senior brothers?
Li Yao smiled and continued, "Professors, I need to tell you something"
Three days later, early in the morning, inside Li Yao's No. 2 Laboratory.
After a long discussion, Li Yao and Yuan Manqiu decided to tell everyone about the discovery of the Phantom Entities.
Whatever the result was, Professor Mo Xuan and the other staff and students who passed away in the big explosion were all heroes worthy of their names and martyrs who had died for a great cause.
Their bodies were gone, but their work was not lost, nor were their fighting will and spirit.
Even if they were going to vanish one day, at least they deserved to let the world know of their hard work.
However, observation of Phantom Entities had always been a tricky problem in the Cultivation world.
Everyone else, including Yuan Manqiu, had been trying to adjust the frequency of their brain waves in order to perceive the existence of the Phantom Entities but to no avail.
Li Yao remained their sole Observer.
And the intensity of his observation had been weakening.
It was like there were two mountains thousands of meters away from each other looming in darkness and fog, with thunderstorms pouring down, and Li Yao was climbing on one of the mountains, holding a perishing torch in his hands, while Professor Mo Xuan and the other Phantom Entities were climbing on the other mountain with a few perishing torches, too.
Blocked by darkness, fog, thunderbolts and storm, it was extremely difficult for them to communicate.
However, as long as he knew that they were still there climbing the peak of infinity, it would be enough!
After the problem of the crystal reactor was fixed, Project Mystic Skeleton rapidly advanced. All the participants of the project were working day and night and had made major breakthroughs in a few critical magical equipment units.
As for Li Yao, he went to the No. 1 Refining Room where the Type-I crafting furnace was located and spent three days and three nights refining a piece of ancient magical equipment.
The innermost layer of the magical equipment was made of Flowing Silver Powder and Ice Soul Grass, which could reflect most of the spiritual waves like a mirror.
The medium layer was Smoke Mica, a kind of marrow crystal that Li Yao found in the Cosmos Ring. It was soft and mild with the special ability of nourishing souls. Scratching some powder off it was more than enough to mix a dose of mind-settling medication.
Li Yao didn't hesitate. He took out half a piece of Smoke Mica and almost emptied it.
As for the shell, he used an ordinary material named 'Star Eye Lead', which could block part of the spiritual waves. In the meantime, it looked like a beautiful black jade embedded with pentagrams. It was most common to be used as raw materials of jewelries.
Melding the three layers of materials together, with hundreds of spirit-stabilizing rune arrays in between, Li Yao had successfully refined a Soul Condensing Pendant.
It was a piece of magical equipment in the books of the Hundred Smelting Clan that could nourish the soul and spirit.
Solid as the shell of the crystal reactor may be, it was not the perfect shelter for the safekeeping of Phantom Entities after all.
Besides, there was a crack on the shell, through which electromagnetic storms and cosmic radiation could still affect the Phantom Entities inside.
Therefore, Li Yao specially refined the Soul Condensing Pendant to be the Phantom Entities' new home.
With a telepathic thought, a small hole appeared on the surface of the pendant. Li Yao pressed the hole to the crack of the crystal reactor and started calling.
His communication with the Phantom Entities had always been intermittent. He hadn't found a reliable way to reach out to them, except for trying his luck time and time again.
More than half an hour later, when he felt that he was in a trance, he saw many translucent fireflies flying out through the crack.
Compared with three days ago, the size of the fireflies had all shrunk by more than a half. The green light that wreathed them had become much duller, too.
It must have been because the Phantom Entities spent too much energy on transmitting the message to Li Yao three days ago.
Li Yao started enchanting the formula of the Soul Condensing Pendant in his brain.
A moment later, a gentle wind seemed to be breezing in the room, pushing the shaking Phantom Entities into the pendant in a neat line one by one.
Li Yao carefully locked the Soul Condensing Pendant with a barrier and only left a tiny hole which was large enough for one of his spiritual threads to pierce in.
Hanging the pendant on his neck, Li Yao touched it and immediately felt that his palm was being burnt, through which a weak yet firm power flowed into his limbs and organs.
"Now, professors and Senior Brothers, let's make a miracle together."
It was 1:00 a.m., yet the floating mountain of the Refining Department was still ablaze with lights.
Everyone was doing their work in high spirits.
But when Li Yao walked into the floating mountain, he felt the atmosphere was different from usual.
It was like a bucket of boiling oil had been added to a burning fire.
"Professor, is there anything wrong?" Li Yao asked Yuan Manqiu curiously.
He had been focusing on refining the Soul Condensing Pendant and wasn't aware of what was going on outside.
"Probably because of the stimulation of Deep Sea University, the Star Nebula University and the three major sword-training sects have held their own press conferences and showed the world their MP crystal suit models."
While she was talking, Yuan Manqiu turned on the crystal processor and played two video clips.
"The Star Nebula University and the three major sword-training sects are the two potential competitors that Zuo Feijing mentioned in his press conferences, aren't they?"
Li Yao felt refreshed.
"According to the introductions on the press conferences about the crystal suits' performance and designing purposes, they indeed have their own specialties and are no worse than the Tiger King!" Yuan Manqiu said.
Li Yao was delighted to hear that. He studied the profiles of the two crystal suit carefully.
The MP crystal suit model provided by the Star Nebula University was named 'Mournful Mist'.
He had thought that it was going to be a light crystal suit that gave up all the heavy equipment in exchange for extreme agility.
But now that he'd read the instructions, he noticed that besides speed and agility, the most distinguished characteristic of the crystal suit was that it employed a lot of jamming, decoy, and tampering magical equipment, which allowed it to interfere with the demon beasts' brain and launch mental attacks from thousands of meters away.
It was a rarely-seen crystal suit that specialized in mental attacks and brain interference.
"When faced with the Star Nebula University's crystal suit, the enemies will feel that they are trapped in a dense fog, not knowing where they are or whom they can turn to. Therefore, we have named the crystal suit as 'Mournful Mist'!" the spokesman of the Star Nebula University declared proudly.
The crystal suit co-developed by the three major sword-training sects was very different.
Li Yao had known that they would make best use of their advantage in flying sword refining, but he still underestimated their craziness. There were so many flying swords on the crystal suit that it looked like a giant iron hedgehog.
The name of the crystal suit was straightforward, too; it was 'Sword Torrent'.
"Our enemies are impressive!"
After watching the two video clips, Li Yao felt energized just like the rest of his companions.
The Soul Condensing Pendant hanging in front of his chest seemed to have turned into a burning soldering iron that was going to pierce into his heart.
He seemed to have heard the roars of the Phantom Entities. He felt he was on fire.
"Tiger King? Mournful Mist? Sword Torrent?
"I can't wait for it any longer!"