Somewhat embarrassed, Li Yao scratched his hair and changed the topic.
"Are your memories and self-awareness fully back? I remember that there were more Phantom Entities than yourselves. Have the other Phantom Entities disappeared?"
Mo Xuan sighed and said, "Spectral Cultivators are already a very mysterious life form that is entirely made up of spiritual energy; Phantom Entities are hundreds of times more mysterious than them. From humans to ghosts, from ghosts to Phantom Entities, and from Phantom Entities to spectral Cultivators. What happened to us is too implausible. Even we find it hard to describe our current status.
"Our self-awareness has been restored. But our memories stop at the moment of the crystal reactor's explosion. The prolonged time we spent as Phantom Entities is like smoke in the wind for us. The memories of that period are mottled and fragmented. It's hard to get through all of them.
"After we became Phantom Entities, our consciousness and memories were both lost. The only thing left for us was the thinking and computational ability, as well as the connection to magical equipment.
"Maybe it was the persistence and the thinking and computational ability that kept our souls from completely dispersing.
"But, I'm afraid that we are not technically spectral Cultivators yet, because real ghosts are able to leave the puppets and float in the air freely as long as the environment is favorable."
Li Yao nodded. Back when he had been searching for Wei Qingqing's broken soul in the battlefield, he had discovered her floating in midair.
Metal bodies were but clothes for spectral Cultivators. They could be changed to new ones at any time.
Later, Wei Qingqing had chosen a crystal green bird as her shell.
Mo Xuan mumbled, "I remember vaguely that I was floating in the black ocean where a lot of transparent numbers, lines, runes, and structure maps were glittering in octagonal gold brightness. They were spinning, bouncing, and colliding quickly, and I subconsciously calculated, contemplated, and created new structure maps with all my computational ability.
"I had no idea why I needed to calculate these stuff, nor did I know what it was that I'd been calculating. I only had a vague feeling that it was my most important mission, and that if I stopped calculating, I would collapse and be gone forever!"
"Me, too!" the Four Kings agreed.
Professor Mo Xuan continued speaking. "Then, the black sky was torn by something, through which countless gold rays beamed in. Bathed in the brightness, I immediately remembered who I was.
"My soul was consolidated, but my head was still in a mess. I didn't have any clue where I was. I merely swam toward the gold rays out of instinct.
"These gold rays seemed to boast endless attraction force; they pulled me into the hole in the sky effortlessly.
"Later, my soul suddenly felt heavier than before, as if it had been stuffed into a new body. Abundant spiritual energy and electromagnetic waves of weird attributes were dashing and dancing from my soul to my new shell.
"After a long time, I finally realized that I had melded with the mustard-level maintainers, or rather, the warship, into one!
"Gao Yang and the rest of them had similar experiences.
"We discussed it for a long time. Based on the mottled memories pieces, we inferred that we'd been existing as Phantom Entities over the past few years, until we were discovered and brought away by you. In the end, for reasons we didn't know, we were caught in the middle of an overwhelming cosmic storm and meteor shower.
"With the boost of your soaring fighting will and the countless kinds of foreign electromagnetic waves inside the cosmic storm, our self-awareness was restored, but with additional qualities that are not present in common ghosts.
"It may sound unbelievable, but the unfolding of Phantom Entities is an extremely rare event that might only happen once in a thousand years due to billions of favorable coincidences.
"Maybe, some sort of special energy contained inside the cosmic storm and the meteor shower made us what we are right now. Haha. Maybe we shouldn't call ourselves spectral Cultivators, but 'Star Spirits'; we are the spirits wandering among the stars!
"At first, we had almost a hundred companions. But most of them have dissipated due to corrosion of time. Many of them didn't survive the great outbreak of the cosmic storm and were obliterated in the dark sea of stars.
"However, the way that Phantom Entities exist is quite different from that of humans or ghosts. The most precious thing for us is the computational ability and the thinking patterns.
"Before other Phantom Entities perished, they copied their computational and thinking ability to our thinking models in a way that we can't comprehend.
"You may understand that they have handed over their ember of wisdom to us so that their will and mission could be passed on in such a way!"
"Yes, indeed. I feel that my computational ability is dozens of times higher than before. Many complicated problems can be solved easily. The optimized solution of many algorithms that I used to spend hours thinking about can be calculated within several seconds right now!"
Gao Yang condensed two arms that looked like matches with the liquid metal and danced airily.
"Me too, me too! Before I turned into a Phantom Entity, I'd been reflecting on the optimization of the structure of 253 commonly-seen power rune arrays. But just now, ha, I devised more than 325 brand new optimization plans for 74 of them in only ten minutes!"
Shi Tengfei twisted in excitement, too.
Li Yao took a long breath in relief. He finally realized what had happened. "So, it was you who repaired Sparkle?"
The cosmic storm had passed. It was peaceful outside. Although the cockpit was still riddled with holes, at least it had stopped trembling and was sealed again. The temperature and oxygen concentration were in an acceptable range, too.
Countless runes were jumping on several light beams, indicating that more than fifty components and units were being examined at the same time.
Sparkle had stabilized, however dangerously.
Mo Xuan smiled. "Correct. Death is indeed scary. But when we discovered that we had been melded with a powerful starship from the Star Ocean Imperium and had become its 'soul', we were immediately grabbed by excitement. As a refiner, you must understand the feeling as well!
"We wasted no time investigating every corner of the starship and discovered that it was on the verge of collapse. Therefore, crazy maintenance work was immediately initiated. Based on the amazing computational ability that we accumulated when we were Phantom Entities, we managed to make it survive the cosmic storm and the bombardment of the meteor shower!
"Right, we have been very curious. What exactly happened to the Heaven's Origin Sector after we 'died'? Where did you find the starship? Why are you steering the empty starship without a second crew member?
"You are a refiner and an Exo of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit. But in any case, you shouldn't be the one that is piloting a starship. Aren't there a lot of seasoned Warship Connoisseurs in the military?
"Where are we right now? A new world?
"Although we don't know how far away we have moved, our observation is that the star here is ten times dimmer than the sun of the Heaven's Origin Sector, which is far from enough to support a world of Cultivators. Therefore, this area should be a barren wasteland. What are we doing in a wasteland?"
The senses of Phantom Entities were quite different from those of human beings. When Mo Xuan and the rest of them were in the state of Phantom Entities, they could only perceive Li Yao's intense spiritual waves and his calculations, creations, and questions concerning the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit.
They had no idea what was happening in the outside world just as much as Li Yao had no idea what was happening to them.
Li Yao thought for a while and told them the most important events after the explosion of the Refining Department as briefly as possible, including the invasion of the Blood Demon Sector, the competition of MP crystal suits, Occult Orbs Fellowship, and the exploration of Boneyard.
Although he had left many enticing details, the five spectral Cultivators were still greatly impressed.
Xiong Qili, one of the 'Four Kings', extended one narrow, long arm of liquid metal and patted Li Yao's shoulder. "In order to extinguish Skeleton Dragon, you decided to jump into the depths of the sea of stars? Mr. Li Yao, that was awesome!"
Hua Yuanjia also smiled. "When I was told that a freshman set up his goal as challenging the Refining Department of Deep Sea University and taking their title of 'Holy Land of Refiners', I thought that he must've been another big-mouthed idiot. But as it turns out, he was a real hero!"
Li Yao coughed in embarrassment.
He had no idea that he would be connected with the word one day.
But it felt truly incredible thinking about the changes that had happened to him over the past few years.
When he was in high school, Fiend Blade Peng Hai's visit to the No. 2 Crimson Nimbus High School taught him the first lesson about the formidability of Cultivators.
At that time, he had wanted to be Cultivators. But his biggest motivation had been the rumors that Cultivators such as Peng Hai all lived in villas, drove limos, and earned tens of millions every year easily.
Then, on the crystal train north to the Grand Desolate Plateau, the picture of the seven Cultivators who fought side by side and sacrificed themselves without hesitation had been etched in his memory and allowed him to awaken his spiritual root the next day and embark on the path of Cultivation.
Later, he'd trained himself continuously with the success of Project Mystic Skeleton as his target. But his ultimate desire had still been fame. He had never planned to be a hero one day.
Nevertheless, after the Battle of Verdant Tarn City, the War of Seven Cities, and the countless missions in Occult Orbs Fellowship, after witnessing Cultivators and ordinary people who had dedicated themselves to the bloodshed battlefields together and their choices between life and death, his personality had been gradually altered.
Then, on Boneyard
Reading Senior Gao Xingce's journal and envisioning the future catastrophe descending upon the Heaven's Origin Sector due to Skeleton Dragon's mental attack, he didn't have a second thought.
Li Yao was sure that he was not a hero, and he didn't want to become any hero.
He simply wanted to be what he had always tried to be, a Cultivator!
A Cultivator just like Ding Yin, Wei Qingqing, Guan Xiong, Gao Xingce, and so on. Nothing else!
Li Yao's eyes glittered. He said, "Now you have learnt everything: the six of us are floating god knows where in the sea of stars in a boat that is close to garbage.
"What can we do to find our way home?"
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