The central constellations in the sea of stars were often the ancient battlefields of the wars between the Demon Beast Empire and the Star Ocean Imperium, or the Cultivators and the demonic Cultivators.
Here, many worlds had been entirely shattered and broken into billions of world fragments.
Even the intact worlds were sometimes plagued by furious cosmic storms, spiritual tides, space turbulences, and even aggressive magical equipment left by past Cultivators, demonic Cultivators, or demons.
These places were places of perils.
One of these places was an exceptionally unfertile world, without a planet or a fragmented continent that was suitable for the survival of intellectual creatures. Even the star of this particular world had become dim and lackluster due to countless brutal, bloody wars over the past forty thousand years. It was emitting its last bit of brightness exhaustedly.
The edge of this world was a frozen hell. There were no planets, satellites, comets, or world fragments.
As far as one's eyes could reach, there was nothing but an overwhelming purple-red cosmic storm, which was raging and rushing in its orbit like a giant animal that was about to consume everything in its way.
The cosmic storm which was as vast as an ocean was mixed with a lot of meteorites. The smaller ones were only the size of fingernails or fists, but the bigger ones were more than a hundred meters in diameter. All the meteorites were shaped bizarrely with sharp edges, emanating brilliance of weirdness.
Maybe a long time ago, they had all belonged to the same planet. But the planet had been unfortunately captured by the cosmic storm, making its fragments the teeth of the cosmic storm.
Right then, a peculiar black swirl appeared in the way of the cosmic storm, like an invisible giant beast had opened its bloody mouth, spurting out dazzling brightness.
In the center of the brightness was something that couldn't be more ragged and twisted.
It was Sparkle and Skeleton Dragon!
Sparkle seemed to have been crumpled by a devil and then straightened carelessly. The previously streamlined shell was riddled with folds, fractures, and holes, from which air currents of red, orange, green and various other colors were spraying out nonstop.
Many metal scraps had broken up and exploded, like parasites which were desperate to run away from a dying host.
Skeleton Dragon was in an even worse state.
Sparkle had the last bit of its spiritual shield as well as its metal shell for defense, but Skeleton Dragon held back the tearing force of the space jump with nothing but its flesh-made body which had already fallen to its weakest point before the incident.
The majority of its silver bones had been battered. Seven out of its nine arms were broken. Two of the nines arms had been entirely blown to smithereens. There was only one last functional arm floating poorly in the vast space, trembling violently like the tail of a tadpole.
Its transparent body was now dirtier than ever. The strength that supported its body had been drained.
Crimson liquid flowed out of the red core in the center of its body which looked like a rotten apple right now.
The wounds were too heavy for Skeleton Dragon despite its amazing vitality. While it was struggling, it sensed the cosmic storm behind which was rushing close. Desperate mental waves burst out from its body.
"Die! We are all going to die!
"This cosmic storm is going to swallow us both! We can't run away! We can't!"
The lights inside the cockpit of Sparkle were all blinking. Most of the light beams were gone. Some ten crystal wires had cracked. Large clusters of sparks were bursting out from the mainframe crystal processor every once in a while.
The blood beside Li Yao's feet had gathered into a lake. His eyes were deeply hollowed and looked like two burning coals embedded in his head. With a smile of craziness, he ushered the remaining four power rune arrays to fully speed up without caring about Sparkle's extremely fragile state. Stunning brilliance burst out from the drill of mystic rays again!
There was no gravity in the space. Pushing Skeleton Dragon forward, Sparkle reached the limit of its speed in the blink of an eye and charged at the cosmic storm which had been blended with a cascade of meteorites.
"For the last time!
With Skeleton Dragon in its front, Sparkle crashed into a seven-colored meteorite almost a hundred meters in diameter like a lightning!
The meteorite exploded!
Skeleton Dragon let out a dying scream. It was drilled through by Sparkle from the center of its body. The red core shaking in fear in the beginning was punctured and split into multiple parts, dispersing into the universe!
Sparkle turned into a streak of gold and continued drilling through Skeleton Dragon's body and into the meteorite until that was dug through, too!
Losing the enhancement of the red core, Skeleton Dragon's body parts finally couldn't stay together any longer. It collapsed magnificently like a tower built by sand being blown by savaging wind.
The silver bones with extraordinary defense ability which had been created based on the bones of countless strong demon beasts exploded!
Many pieces of the ancient magical equipment exploded!
The body tissue of Skeleton Dragon which was almost transparent exploded!
The remaining demonic energy that Skeleton Dragon had turned into intense demonic gas which spread out to form a blood-red cloud due to the loss of the demonic soul.
Skeleton Dragon, the ancient deadly demon from forty thousand years ago, had finally been slain by Li Yao and gave away a lot of precious Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures!
The silver bones, the scraps of the ancient magical equipment, its body tissues, and even the giant cluster of demonic energy were all ultimate treasures that every Cultivator craved for.
However, Li Yao had no time to collect all that stuff, because he was in the middle of a great crisis!
Sparkle had been completely devoured by the cosmic storm.
The purple-red cosmic storm was a result of the collision, absorption, and division of countless spiritual tides. It could invade the spiritual energy network of a warship easily and sabotage the spiritual energy circulation system, not to mention that the swarm of meteorites in it was at its top speed, the potential damage of which was no less than the full-strength strike of a Core Formation Stage Cultivator!
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Sparkle's spiritual shield, which was already as thin as paper, was torn apart by the cosmic storm instantly. Most spiritual energy routes had been jammed or entirely cut off. Three of the four power rune arrays had broken down. The one that was still functioning seemed like it could join them at any moment.
The cascade of meteorites tore open Sparkle's weathered shell effortlessly and mauled the cabins and paths to its heart's content.
Li Yao's legs suddenly lost strength. He collapsed to the ground and gazed at the blinking ceiling in a trance.
"The damage of Sparkle has reached 62%, and is still soaring.
"The last bit of spiritual energy has been used up. The mustard-level maintainers are the only magical equipment that work right now. The spiritual shield and the power rune arrays are all unusable at this moment, let alone another space jump!
"The structure of Sparkle is in the worst state, too, and is not enough to support a second space jump. Even if there is enough spiritual energy, I will probably be ripped apart in the four-dimensional space and end up being a speck of dust in the universe if I perform a space jump recklessly!
"My own situation is much worse. The sequela of detonating the spiritual seed is attacking. My soul is dry, my body heavily wounded, and I need to summon all my strength just to lift one of my fingers. There is no way that I can repair Sparkle right now.
"What can I do even if I miraculously fix it up?
"Based on the lackluster sun of this world, I am certain that no habitable planet or world fragment can be supported by such a star, let alone one that is suitable for Cultivators!
"I am hopeless now.
"Even if I'm lucky enough to survive the cosmic storm, I can't repair Sparkle or embark on a new journey just by myself.
"I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept faith There's really nothing I can do now except to listen to the call of fate now."
Li Yao took a long breath. His eyes dimmed. Like a dying drowning person, he stopped struggling and simply stretched out his arms, allowing his body and soul to be consumed by the warm water, while he sank to the deep, dark bottom of the ocean
The moment he was about to close his eyes, Ding Lingdang's vigorous roars suddenly rumbled beside his ears.
"Promise me that you won't die!"
Li Yao's eyes bulged open again. He gnashed his teeth.
"I can't die!
"I promised Ding Lingdang that I won't leave her in any case. I have to return to the Heaven's Origin Sector splendidly with stellar magical equipment under my feet one day!
"I can't give up. I can't give up as long as my heart is still beating! One more second of life means another second of hope!"
By this point, Sparkle had entered the zone where the meteorites were densest. It seemed to have been tossed into the bloody mouth of a space beast which was chewing it thoroughly.
Most of the cabins had been pierced through by the meteorites. Even the cockpit had been hit by one. The temperature inside was plummeting, and a huge amount of air was escaping.
If it were an ordinary people in such a harsh environment, they would've died instantly with their blood being forced out of their body a long time ago.
Li Yao found it hard to breathe even though he was a Cultivator. He felt that somebody was scraping his body with tiny knives, and he couldn't have been in more pain.
Thankfully, the meteorite which breached through the cockpit didn't hit him directly. Otherwise, nobody in the entire universe would have been able to save him.
Li Yao gritted his teeth and summoned the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit with whatever strength he had left.
He put on the crystal suit, activated the internal circulation system, and injected a dose of strengthening drug that could stimulate the central nerves. Taking a moment of breath, Li Yao started making his last attempts!
With the remaining functional modules of the mainframe crystal processor, Li Yao moved all the mustard-level maintainers to the cockpit.
From the outside, mustard-level maintainers looked like clusters of slowly-flowing silver liquid metal. They wriggled and covered the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit, quickly mending the cracks on the surface of the crystal suit.
Sparkle was too large, and the mustard-level maintainers were too few. It was impossible to fix it up in such a short amount of time.
Therefore, it might be a better idea to focus them on his own body to repair the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit first.
Once the crystal suit was damaged by a meteorite, they would crowd over and fix the cracks.
The odds of survival would be relatively higher this way.
As for how he could survive in a barren, desolate vacuum with nothing but a crystal suit after Sparkle was shattered, Li Yao hadn't really considered the question yet.
He concentrated his full attention on the crisis at hand and tried his best to make himself live one second longer and another second longer
Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
The crystal processor of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit and the mainframe crystal processor of Sparkle both sent out warnings.
Both of them had detected that intense spiritual waves and a meteorite shower were coming at Sparkle unstoppably from the front.
Taking a deep breath, Li Yao rested for a moment on one of his knees. Then he struggled to his feet stubbornly. His right arm was dangling from his shoulder softly because of the bone fractures, but his left arm had been placed beside his waist; it was the preparation posture of the Chaos Gale Hammer Technique.
He was waiting patiently to fight the last battle with the cosmic storm!