A firecracker shot up into the sky and exploded, causing a crimson smoke the color of blood.
Below the bloody smoke, the competition of the 21 crystal suits had begun.
"Tiger King! Tiger King! Tiger King!"
Deep Sea City was the home field for Deep Sea University.
For the game today, the Refining Department of Deep Sea University had gathered thousands of students who wore the same uniform to cheer up for their team.
Their thunder-like roars were almost as impressive as the solemnness of the military delegates.
The Tiger King Battlesuit didn't let them down.
The moment it got its turn, it easily put down three beast puppets with an astonishing advantage and secured an unbelievably high score in the melee combat test.
Zuo Feijing seemed to have been stimulated by Li Yao's performance yesterday. He was extremely vigorous right now.
Immediately after the melee combat test, he walked on the platform for the long-range attack test and hit 999 targets without a single miss in less than 10 minutes, before he went on to the agility test without any rest.
The rarely-seen high scores lit up one after another on the light beam, triggering rounds of exclamations.
The Tiger King Battlesuit was like a majestic king and a rising sun; its glaring brilliance eclipsed all the other crystal suits and made them its background.
The scores of the Tiger King Battlesuit were almost the highest in every test, except for the long-range attack test and the stealth test, in which the Sword Torrent Battlesuit and the Mournful Mist Battlesuit got the highest score respectively, but only with a tiny advantage.
The glamorous performance of the Tiger King Battlesuit made every member of the audience at the scene its fan. The students from Deep Sea University were shouting so excitedly that their throats were going dry.
"Tiger King! Tiger King! Tiger King!"
In the overwhelming atmosphere that was as hot as fire, Li Yao stayed calm without being the least disturbed. He looked up at the light beam when he completed the long-range attack test.
The 21 crystal suits had all finished the long-range attack test. The Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit ranked 8th, neither very good nor very bad.
Li Yao was greatly relieved.
The long-range attack was what he had been worst at. He was quite satisfied at the 8th place in a test that was most likely to drag him down.
In other tests, his performance was very stable, and he was ranked among the top five in each of them.
The Mournful Mist Battlesuit and the Sword Torrent Battlesuit, on the other hand, were terribly lopsided. They could score the first in the long-range attack test or in the stealth test, but their rank sometimes fell beyond 10th in other tests.
Li Yao believed that the military wouldn't choose a crippled duck as the main force of a major war.
What came next was
"BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!"
In the testing field, thousands of crimson crystals with sharp spikes dashed at Li Yao like solidified fireballs and didn't explode until they reached Li Yao's face.
The Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit was hardly able to stay stable. The intense blasts hit Li Yao's stomach one wave after another like giant hammers.
Li Yao gritted his teeth and walked forward slowly yet firmly.
Greenish corrosive venom rained upon the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit. A giant cluster of greenish mist rose up from its surface. But Li Yao continued walking on.
"Pa! Pa! Pa! Pa! Pa! Pa!"
Dozens of alloy bullets hit the critical parts of the crystal suit at the sonic speed. The crystal suit was almost ripped open under the attack.
But Li Yao took them for mosquito bites. He ran faster and faster against the stormy attacks until he passed the finish line.
The rank of the resistance test was displayed on the light beam. 'Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit, Grand Desolate War Institution' appeared like ghost sitting on the top of 'Tiger King Battlesuit, Deep Sea University'.
There was a double-digit gap between the two scores.
This was the first time that the Tiger King Battlesuit had been exceeded by such a huge difference.
Cheers from the students of Deep Sea University stopped abruptly.
Li Yao opened his ragged helmet, clenched his fists and started roaring.
The thousands of students of Deep Sea University were looking at each other in dead silence, their confidence suppressed by Li Yao's astounding shouts.
All the other Exos forgot their own tests and gazed at the light beam in bewilderment.
They knew previously that the defense ability of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit was amazing, but they didn't expect it to be so good.
Subconsciously, they glanced at the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit's other test results.
They were shocked to discover that in all the other tests except the resistance test, the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit was never the best, but it never fell beyond top five, either. It seemed that the crystal suit had no shortcomings.
Taking all the test results into consideration, in the perspective of comprehensive capability, the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit seemed to be even better than Mournful Mist and Sword Torrent and was closely behind the Tiger King Battlesuit.
Considering the difference of price of the two crystal suits, it was not hard to say whose price-performance ratio was better!
The delegates of the military were discussing its performance amongst themselves.
"Who's the wearer of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit of the Grand Desolate War Institution? I never heard that there's such an excellent Refinement Stage Exo. Li Yao? Who's that? I want all of his files!" Shangguan Ce said to a staff officer beside him. Then he turned to Guan Chao, the incumbent captain of 'Red Lightning', and smiled.
"Which crystal suit do you think better meets the demand of the federal army?"
Red Lightning had been established by Shangguan Ce. Guan Chao was his favorite soldier when he was the captain. They had saved each other's lives multiple times in the battlefield, and they trusted each other more than anybody else.
Guan Chao observed, "If we are choosing a crystal suit for Red Lightning, Mournful Mist and Sword Torrent both have their advantages. I would say we need to purchase several sets of both of them.
"However, if we're going to equip every Cultivator in the main troops with a crystal suit, I think Tiger King and Mystic Skeleton would be a better option. Honestly speaking, I didn't expect that the sword that the Grand Desolate War Institution had been whetting for twenty years could be so sharp and perfect.
"In the aspect of price-performance ratio, I'm more in favor of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit. After all, we only have a limited budget.
"Many people in the government and in the military are still insisting on the route of railguns and warships. They maintain that more advanced crystal warships are the key to victory and have been criticizing crystal suits. If the crystal suits we purchase are too expensive, they're definitely going to kick up a fuss about it."
Shangguan Ce sighed. "Everything about the Tiger King Battlesuit is perfect, except that it is a little bit expensive. You've seen the report, too. The final battle is likely to happen earlier than we expected. Before the day comes, we have to equip every Cultivator in the military with a crystal suit, otherwise"
Guan Chao nodded his head, "However, such tests can only partly demonstrate their performance.
"Maybe the more intense competitive test later can better reveal their actual performances."
At 2 p.m., the 21 crystal suits finished all the tests.
The comprehensive performance of Tiger King was unquestionably the best. Mystic Skeleton, Sword Torrent and Mournful Mist followed closely behind, with an almost indistinguishable gap amongst themselves.
Other crystal suits were far away from them.
However, in the eyes of real experts, such rigid tests could only be used as a reference for the performance of the crystal suits. They could not really prove that a crystal suit was good or bad.
The competitive test coming next was the more convincing one!
The 21 Exos were in too much a hurry to have lunch. They each had a high-energy nutrition dose in order to refresh themselves faster.
After the series of tests in the morning, especially the resistance test, their crystal suits were scarred with holes here and there, and therefore had to be maintained immediately.
The organizer gave the Exos half an hour for the maintenance of their crystal suits.
19 crystal suits were sent down to the workshops below the testing field.
But two crystal suits remained on the testing field, the Tiger King and Mystic Skeleton.
Li Yao and Zuo Feijing stared at each other. Their equally sharp eyes clashed in the middle of the air with invisible sparkles.
It was the tranquility before an earthshaking hurricane.
Li Yao took out a silver-grey glove and put it on his left hand.
The glove was made of seven different marrow crystals and took him an entire month to refine. It could magnify the sensitivity of fingers by up to ten times, allowing the wearer to better perceive the problem in the magical equipment and the direction of the spiritual energy flow inside it.
In the meantime, a dagger that had been refined out of the bones of the mutant lion dragon was already dancing in his right hand.
Zuo Feijing had put on a pair of bizarrely shaped gloves which were emitting intense spiritual waves, suggesting that it was also a piece of marvelous magical equipment.
Both of their hands waved up and down like butterflies and started maintaining their crystal suits.
Guan Chao was amazed and said in a low voice, "In a real battle, a workshop and a mechanic are not always readily available. When faults occur, it sometimes counts on the Exo to solve the problems.
"The two Exos know the logic very clearly. They are very confident in their crystal suits, too."
The vast testing field went into an odd silence. Everyone held their breath, fearing that they might disturb the fluent and professional actions of the two Exos below them.
The students of Deep Sea University put on an affectionate expression.
They knew very well about Zuo Feijing's amazingly fast hand movement and super professional maintenance skills. But when they saw it with their own eyes again, they still felt that it was dramatic and incredible.
But when they glanced at Li Yao who was standing in the opposite side of Zuo Feijing, they noticed that not only were Li Yao's hands as fast as Zuo Feijing's, his knowledge and maintenance skills of the crystal suit were also as good as Zuo Feijing's.
"Where is this monster from?"
"No wonder he could drive Jiang Shaoyang, the Tenth Star, away and was bold enough to challenge the Refining Department of Deep Sea University."
"He is indeed arrogant. But he is truly strong, too!"
Half an hour passed in no time.
The two crystal suits were reborn in the hands of Li Yao and Zuo Feijing.
Although their surfaces were still well-worn with bumps and hollows, they looked brutally charming on the other hand.
Meanwhile, the other 19 crystal suits rose up slowly from below the testing field.
'I'm going to beat you all with an indisputable performance in the final competitive test!'
All the Exos gritted their teeth and clenched their fists.