It was always easier to destruct than to construct.
'Stormy Sword' was a robbery tutorial that Fengyu Zhong had written for his only son. Naturally, not many sophisticated theories were involved. Just understanding the phenomena and how to act in response would be good enough.
For Li Yao, who had barely any background knowledge about starships, 'Stormy Sword' was apparently much more suitable than Level 6 and beyond of the starship maintenance manual offered by Xiong Tao.
Therefore, in the following few days, after finishing the debris cleaning work during the day, instead of resting, Li Yao dedicated most of his spare time to 'Stormy Sword'.
While he memorized the basic structures of starships of hundreds of models, he also learnt thousands of sneaking and sabotaging strategies to deal with them.
Later, he even came up with a very interesting mind game that combined both mauling and maintenance.
Li Yao split his telepathic thoughts into two sides, both having equal computational ability.
Part of his telepathic thoughts would stand from the perspective of the guardians of a starship and try to defend and maintain it with the knowledge he had learnt from the starship maintenance manual.
The other part of his telepathic thoughts would be intruders trying to breach into the starship and destroy it in the shortest amount of time possible.
Attacking one's shield with one's own spear. Li Yao dwelled in the 'self-brutalizing' mind game and greatly enjoyed it.
Every starship of a different model would be a brand new 'game map'.
In less than five days, Li Yao had played thirty-four such 'maps' in a row.
Most of the time, the 'intruders' won the game and demolished the imaginary starship in his brain successfully.
But as he played more, his understanding of the structures of different starships grew deeper. Gradually, he was able to repair the starship at a crazy speed while under the bombardment of the 'intruders' and defend the starship during the designated time.
Li Yao buried himself in the fascinating game and completely forgot the passage of time.
Without him knowing it, he had stayed in the remnant of Ghost Jail for seven days.
Gold Horn had drifted into the depths of the sea of stars and entered the cruising state.
For every refiner on Gold Horn, the past seven days had been more miserable than death.
Master Xiong Tao's mood seemed to be getting worse with every passing second.
His bloodshot eyes were apparently as enlarged as humanly possible. But when he noticed a few minor problems with the magical equipment, they could always be widened even further.
Like two nail guns, his eyes were shooting nails carved with freezing rune arrays and pierced thousands of holes in the refiners and mechanics.
In the beginning, the old man sometimes yelled and burst out in fury several times. No one felt too bad at the time.
But lately, several major problems happened to the starship. Ever since two very important units had been declared total losses, the old man's dry lips had been kept shut. Every day he was thinner than the previous day, as if his vitality had been sucked up by Gold Horn.
Whenever a fault occurred, he would always gaze in utter silence at those responsible with his bull eyes that were almost jumping out of his head.
When the refiners who were gazed at by the old man in such a way gathered and talked, they all agreed that they would rather put on a maintenance crystal suit to repair the broken shell of the starship in the bleak, dark space than to be stared at by the chief refiner.
Xiong Tao was very anxious.
Gold Horn's status was much worse than he had expected.
They had only just set off, and they had already met with serious faults. A lot of standby components had been consumed with barely any left.
There was still a long way ahead. Quite a few parts of the route were very dangerous. Cosmic storms and stone belts were almost inevitable.
The thought of sailing into the most threatening stone belts of the Flying Star Sector in a starship bordering on destruction made Xiong Tao's blood freeze and his back prick.
However, they had no other options.
To return to the central space zone through the safest route meant travelling triple the distance, with seven additional world fragments and five space zones to go through.
Those places were all relatively barren. Some of the world fragments were even uninhabited. They wouldn't be able to get enough supplies.
In order to come back to the center of the Flying Star Sector before their supplies ran out, they had to take the shortcut even though it was much more dangerous.
In devastation, Xiong Tao thought of the newcomers who were working on the remnant of Ghost Jail.
Those newcomers were either young apprentices raised in the Great Horn Exo Society who were still in lacking expertise, or the civil mechanics recruited in Star Lord with unclear backgrounds who knew a thing or two about maintenance but had never received professional training.
Xiong Tao demanded that they clear the debris and collect assets not because he didn't trust them, but because he wanted to know more about their personalities and capabilities.
Xiong Tao always believed that such rudimental work was the best mirror to reflect the characteristics of a refiner.
Rash or sloppy, careless or prudent, and what kind of posts they were most suitable for could all be seen through by how they polished a small component of magical equipment.
One week had passed. The newcomers must've cleaned up enough components for him to inspect.
If some of them did have the potential, Xiong Tao would definitely hand over the more important tasks to them without any hesitation.
After all, Gold Horn had too many vacancies for maintainers!
Thinking of that, Xiong Tao summoned several experienced refiners and asked them to dock the asset transmission tube of Gold Horn to Ghost Jail in order to transport the components.
Half an hour later, a folded soft tube more than ten meters in diameter stuck out from the tail of Gold Horn and gradually expanded to the front end of Ghost Jail. Attracted by the electromagnetic force, it was attached to the head of Ghost Jail like a giant, gaping mouth.
Several refiners walked through the sealed tube in maintenance crystal suits and replaced the shell of Ghost Jail with a trapdoor that could automatically open or close.
The asset transmission tube was thus completed.
An hour later, standard storage boxes were transported to the main maintenance workshop of Gold Horn through the tube one after another.
Xiong Tao and four other experienced refiners opened the boxes of components and started evaluating.
"The first two boxes of components were collected and polished by 'Lan An'. Not bad. He has gathered more than 37,500 components. The quantity is remarkable, the quality is very acceptable, with barely any flawed ones.
"Lan An is an apprentice raised in the Great Horn Exo Society, is he not? I remember that his spiritual root has awakened, too. He is at the third level of the Refinement Stage.
"He is quite talented, but he is a little careless. Look. The corners of the runes are still stained. He didn't finish the job well."
"However, he is good enough to be responsible for the maintenance of the regular magical equipment of the living zones. Let him take charge of the living zones and reassign the previous refiners there to more important posts."
Xiong Tao picked up almost a hundred components from the box and glanced at them shortly before making the conclusion.
The other four refiners had no objections, including the mentor of the apprentice 'Lan An'. Everybody agreed that Master Xiong Tao had made the most appropriate arrangement.
"Miao Fei was a newly-recruited refiner from Star Lord Temple. He is eighty-eight with abundant experience in the trade. The area between the No. 1 turret zone and the No. 4 turret zone of Ghost Jail was cleaned up by him.
"The components collected by him are immaculate without the slightest trace of explosions or flaws. They could be applied to other magical equipment without any further processing. Indeed, not bad.
"However, he only sorted out about 17,300 components in one week. The speed is not very satisfactory. It appears that this refiner is a perfectionist who favors quality over quantity.
"I think that we can ask him to maintain the artificial gravity system. After all, the artificial gravity system is in the center of the starship. Normally, there won't be unexpected accidents. The most important thing about the job is carefulness. It does not demand quick wits."
Half an hour later, Xiong Tao had neatly distributed dozens of newcomers to appropriate posts, so that the skilled, experienced refiners originally doing the jobs could be spared to manage the more important tasks. He was finally greatly relieved.
There were only three newcomers left.
But the components of the next newcomer startled Xiong Tao, whose brush-like eyebrows scrunched up into two clusters.
"Li Yao, who was in charge of cleaning up the training zone of Ghost Jail, has gathered 137,455 components?
"You've got to be kidding me!"
Most of the components were broken after they were dug out from debris. Their strength and hardness were both greatly compromised. Some of them were seriously corroded by acids and explosions and could only be put to use after thorough refurbishment.
One only had limited time and energy. Cleaning a component was an extremely arduous task.
There could only be one explanation for collecting more than one hundred thousand components within one short week: that this guy, Li Yao, had not polished any components judiciously. It was even possible that he didn't even bother to distinguish the damage level of the components and had taken in a lot of scraps that were too twisted to be repaired!
Xiong Tao thought of the young man named 'Li Yao' again.
His first impression of the guy was not very good.
He always believed that the best personality for a refiner was honesty and integrity.
The young man named 'Li Yao' might indeed be somewhat talented and had experienced some fortuitous incidents, but the fact that he didn't recognize the simplest Space Gyroscope despite his claim to be an expert in magical equipment maintenance had given Xiong Tao the feeling that he was a haughty, immodest man.
However, since they were seriously short of hands, and the young man had a pair of extremely fast hands and an awakened spiritual root as a Cultivator, Xiong Tao decided to let him stay anyway.
After that, he specially asked Bai Kaixin to encourage the young man and even lent his own starship maintenance manual to him because he wanted to give the guy a second chance to fully demonstrate his potential.
Maybe he was truly talented in maintenance and had wasted his time in the desolate border of the sea of stars.
If he indeed had the gifts to be a better man, Xiong Tao wouldn't hesitate to give him a hand.
But he didn't anticipate that Li Yao would still be so short-tempered!
Had he thought that, the more components he offered, the better they would think of him?
Xiong Tao sighed and opened Li Yao's storage box while holding back his disappointment.