Leaning against the window, Li Yao gazed at the scenes on the ground. An indescribable feeling suddenly surfaced in his heart.
Since they were arriving at Red Lotus City and the spiritual shield and plate armor of the crystal airship were too weak for the demon clan's surface-to-air attacks, the crystal airship was flying at a very low altitude in order to avoid the detection of the demons.
The eyesight of the Cultivators was far better than that of the ordinary people. Li Yao was able to clearly see old men, women, children, wounded soldiers, nurses, and teachers who were leading a bunch of kids like a hen which was protecting the chicken.
Everyone's blackened faces, ragged clothes, and scary injuries were as heartbreaking as his own in his eyes.
There was a little girl in the crowds whose right arm was covered in thick bandages while her left arm was holding a burnt teddy bear tightly.
Mimicking the grown-ups around her, she bulged her eyes as wide as she could, her cheeks puffed up. The teddy bear was lifted up and waved high and hard.
Li Yao's eyes narrowed.
Thousands of thoughts were congregating and condensing inside his brain, turning into something entirely fresh and extremely firm.
The little girl's figure gradually shrank. She melted into the long, black line and was indistinguishable anymore.
But in every line, a redness that appeared once in a while still glittered in his eyes stubbornly.
It was Rising Dragon of the Nine Stars, the national flag of Star Glory Federation, which was flying in the surging hot waves.
Li Yao retreated his eyesight and looked at his hands.
Two spiritual fires took shape in his palms and were clenched deep inside his fists, to the extent that they were almost frozen.
He had never felt luckier that he was a Cultivator, and that he hadn't wasted a single second in the past three years but dedicated all the time he had to fighting, training and refining, for nothing else other than to break his own limits with all he could and arrive at his own peak.
During countless exhausting, sometimes miserable, nights, he had many a time questioned himself about the significance of Cultivation and why he was torturing himself so crazily.
Before he became a Cultivator, the reason was simple.
For fortune, for fame, for the fondness of thousands of people, for the fulfillment of his adoptive father's last wish to become the strongest refiner in the world.
However, after he did become a Cultivator and somewhat a celebrity with more wealth than any ordinary person could earn for their entire life, he was lost again.
Maybe, the ultimate significance of Cultivators had to be sought out in the depths of the infinite sea of stars.
But, at least at this moment, as a strong Cultivator, his fists could punch the head of a demon beast into pieces easily.
This was enough for now.
Inside Li Yao's brain, his new perception turned into transparent crystals, which exploded into immeasurable black holes unleashing intense desires to all his body parts.
Peak of the Refinement Stage was still too weak!
Stronger, stronger. He wanted nothing other than to be a stronger Cultivator with even more dazzling brilliance.
His body was hotter and hotter. The spiritual gas inside his body parts was absorbed by the black hole inside his brain and gradually compressed into an utterly different energy form.
It was the sign of the Building Foundation Stage.
Building Foundation, building the foundation to embark on the journey to the middle of the sea of stars.
Only after one stepped into the Building Foundation Stage could one expect to open the mysterious gate to the starry sky.
Li Yao had a vague feeling that he would arrive at the Building Foundation Stage perfectly in the battle to come.
Li Yao mumbled to himself, "My hard training over the past half a year shall be tested by the flesh and blood of the demon beasts in the seven fallen cities, before I march into the Building Foundation Stage!
"After I enter the Building Foundation Stage, I will have the opportunity to explore secret treasures and arts on the Occult Orbs and prepare myself for the sea of stars with a faster Cultivation speed!
"Even if I'm to be sacrificed, I shall leave the name 'Vulture Li Yao' in the sky of both the Heaven's Origin Sector and the Blood Demon Sector!"
Right now, the crystal airship of the Grand Desolate War Institution was less than 15 kilometers from Red Lotus City.
Three other crystal airships were coming close, which belonged to three combat sects of the Grand Desolate Plateau.
Dozens of crystal airships were following closely behind them, with even more coming from the horizon.
In what seemed to be a response for the respect that the ordinary people and the soldiers paid for them, the four crystal airships in the lead, after a shiver, turned their spiritual shields to maximum. The emblems on the shell of the crystal warships gradually vanished.
Fist of Fury, the emblem of the Grand Desolate War Institution, disappeared, and so did the green fire emblem of Emerald Sun Hall, the crystal heart emblem of Spirit Resonance Union, and the triple-headed dragon emblem of Mystic Dragon Sect.
Half a second later, in the same place where the emblems vanished, a crimson color deep like blood spread out and formed a new pattern.
The Rising Dragon of the Nine Stars Flag!
In the sky, on the ground, countless Rising Dragon of the Nine Stars Flags fluttered in the wind.
At this moment, Grand Desolate War Institution, Emerald Sun Hall, Spirit Resonance Union and Mystic Dragon Sect were no more.
All of the people on board had but one identity right now.
Cultivators of the Heaven's Origin Sector!
"We will be entering the battleground in five minutes!"
In the cabin, Xiong Baili, principal of the Grand Desolate War Institution, roared in a voice of metal, rock, and blood.
Xiong Baili had suffered serious injuries in the early years of his Cultivation and changed from a battle-type Cultivator to an admin-type Cultivator. He was not obliged to come to the frontlines in person.
But he came anyway.
Red Lotus City was within ten kilometers.
The full picture of the city was very clear now.
The entire Red Lotus City was enveloped in a large cluster of dense black fog. One mushroom cloud after another was expanding crazily like a malformed monster which was growing at an inconceivable speed.
The black fog was partly because of the explosions, and partly because the demon clan had released it on purpose. It could jam and even block the Spiritual Nexus of human beings, as well as the detection of Nine-by-Nine Mystic Rays, so that the long-range magical equipment would not be able to lock onto targets.
In the middle of the black fog, many ivory, bright pillars were shooting into the sky and piercing through the clouds. A splendid temple seemed to have been built between Heaven and Earth.
Xiong Baili bellowed, "The bright pillars are the teleportation arrays that the demon clan constructed with the abundant spiritual energy in the mother lode under the ground.
"The space barrier between the Heaven's Origin Sector and the Blood Demon Sector was already full of holes and on the verge of breakdown. It tends to be ripped open by the bright pillars when they focus on one point, and if so, more wormholes will come into being, through which more demons will crowd into the Heaven's Origin Sector.
"The current situation is like a beach landing in ancient wars.
"The purpose of the demon clan is to occupy the seven cities and build them into beachheads, while they create more wormholes and let in more reinforcements of the demon clan.
"Our purpose is simple, then. Kill every demon within our sight. But more importantly, we need to destroy their teleportation arrays!
"Behind us, it's our family, compatriots, and home.
"Before us, it's the vast Dark Desolate Domain and Blood Demon Sector waiting to be conquered!
"Let's fight and show our enemies the true strength of the Cultivators of the Heaven's Origin Sector!"
Li Yao turned on his mini crystal processor, logged into the Nexus, and opened the war mission system.
Some of his files were already saved in the system, including his performance in the Devil Flood Dragon Island, Verdant Tarn City, the Thunderbolt Cup Competition, and the Flying Crystal race in the Magical Equipment Exposition.
As for the sham battle of the military bidding meeting, it had not been input into the system because it was classified as 'confidential'.
The war mission system summarized Li Yao as followed, "Li Yao, junior year student of the Grand Desolate War Institution, nicknamed as 'Vulture', a hybrid-type Cultivator who is talented both in battle and creation, one of the youngest Cultivators at the high level of the Refinement Stage in the Star Glory Federation, and one of the youngest registered refiners in the Star Glory Federation.
"Adept at maintenance and modification of magical equipment, especially the refinement and usage of explosive magical equipment.
"Adept at wearing and modifying crystal suits.
"Adept at attacking and ambushing in complicated territories single-handedly. Personal combat ability exceptional. Collaboration and command skills inadequate. 'Infiltration', 'Assassination', 'Maintenance', and 'Sabotage' missions recommended."
Li Yao hesitated, before he gritted his teeth and typed something on his mini crystal processor.
A moment later, a reminder popped up.
"Li Yao of the Grand Desolate War Institution has arrived at the peak of the Refinement Stage and thus becomes one of the youngest Cultivators at the peak of the Refinement Stage in the Star Glory Federation!"
The strength of the applicant would determine the missions that were recommended to them.
Missions for the Cultivators at the peak of the Refinement Stage were definitely much more dangerous than those for the Cultivators at the high level of the Refinement Stage.
But Li Yao didn't care. If anything, he desired more danger.
His battle saber was moaning inside the sheath; it couldn't wait any longer to drink the enemies' blood.
In a heavily guarded military camp a hundred kilometers from Red Lotus City.
More than ten magnificent crystal warships were floating in the air. Defense rune arrays and large-scale flying sword zones were deployed everywhere around the military camp.
Other than them, the most eye-catching buildings here were the enhanced Spiritual Beacons circling the military camp.
Spiritual Beacons were the core of the Spiritual Nexus.
This was the command center for the battle of Red Lotus City.
Many advanced large crystal processors surrounded a spacious room, in the middle of which 521 admin-type Cultivators were seated. Countless crystal wires extended from the crystal processors all the way to the specially-designed crystal helmets on their heads.
The computational ability of the 521 admin-type Cultivators and the 37 super crystal processors was fully activated.
The enhanced Spiritual Beacons, like tentacles, transmitted spiritual waves into the black fog doggedly to ensure that every corner of Red Lotus City was covered in the network.
The soldiers, Cultivators, and beast puppets would then send the real-time battle images to the command center through the Spiritual Nexus with the help of the crystal cameras that they carried.
Based on the images taken by thousands of crystal cameras, as well as the reports that countless soldiers and Cultivators submitted via the communication channel, the command center would draw the details into a big picture and draft a strategic goal, before breaking the strategic goal down into tactical operations.
Then, it would send the tactical operations to the most suitable soldiers or Cultivators nearby for them to carry out.
It was basically how the war mission system worked.
Soon, Li Yao received three missions recommended by the system, which were the most suitable ones for him according to the five hundred admin-type Cultivators in the command center in light of the latest progress of the battle.
In the Western District of Red Lotus City, a Taiyi Lightning Railgun that had been deployed in the artillery positions was seriously damaged in the furious combat.
Li Yao's mission was to break into the Western District, repair the Taiyi Lightning Railgun, and destroy a teleportation array of the demon clan one block away!