Chapter 2426: Mysterious Orders
As the fully-upgraded, brand-new “Heavenly Crystal” gradually took shape, the evaluation of the workers of the Great Iron Plants and their families also approached the end.
With the new Nepenthe whose ideology had been changed as the foundation, countless “seeds” had been sprayed to dozens of underground towns, and they would certainly drift further and further like burning dandelions and illuminate more dark places.
New magical equipment, new ideas, and new hope would perhaps arrive at the sunless world sooner than expected.
The time had come for Li Yao and his lot to leave.
They discussed with Xu Zhicheng on the ways to stay in touch and the coping policies should the Immortal Cultivators attack on a large scale.
However, Li Yao estimated that the possibility that the Immortal Cultivators besieged the underground towns comprehensively was not high.
It was exactly the issue he talked about earlier—the cost.
Right now, the reformists and the four Kurfürst families were engaged in fierce battles. Both parties were trying hard to prove that they were the legitimate ruler of the Imperium and to annihilate the enemy.
But since the reformists were backed by Blackstar the Great, and the four Kurfürst families had dominated the Imperium for five hundred years, neither party was likely to swallow the enemy in one bite.
On the other hand, not counting Li Yao and his partners, the riot of the underground locals was just a minor issue that was not worth mentioning. It was hard to imagine that Blackstar the Great would mobilize tremendous elite troops to the underground world tunnel after tunnel with all the dirty work just in order to capture a few ordinary people when he was faced with the overwhelming armies of the four Kurfürst families.
“I hope you can persist on below the ground and remember our promise. In a year and a half at most, a shocking war will certainly break out on the capital planet, and the Immortal Cultivators of the two parties will fight until only one side stands. We will return at that time, with a real fleet.
“That will be the time when the underground locals see sunlight again!”
Li Yao assured Xu Zhicheng as well as all the Nepenthe believers and ordinary people.
They had planned to directly go back to the surface of the planet and search for the last few spaceports occupied by the four Kurfürst families.
After all, the situation on the capital planet was getting more intense after each day. The reformists were about to completely control the capital planet. By then, it would be very difficult to find a suitable starship for a space jump.
They had to take advantage of the final retreat of the four Kurfürst families and blend in so that they would have a chance of escape. Then, they would be able to contact the important men in space and accumulate their strength.
However, Xiaoming and Wenwen discovered some anomalies on the mainframe crystal processor of the Great Iron Plants, which they had taken away during the evacuation and played as a toy.
“Dad, Dad, what is this design? The component it depicts is rather huge!”
When Li Yao and his companions were about to leave the underground world, the kids brought a design to Li Yao.
The design was found in an order after they conquered a secret firewall on the mainframe crystal processor of the Great Iron Plants and diagnosed a deeply-hidden database.
Because of the accurate and complicated structure of the firewall and the concealing modes of the database, the two kids had studied it for a long time before they finally breached the defense. They couldn’t help but grow interested in what was inside the order.
“Isn’t it a disc on the shield tunneling machine?”
Li Yao recognized it after a quick glance.
A shield tunneling machine was exactly a piece of large magical equipment used to establish tunnels and expand the living space below the ground. In the underground world, which was made of concrete everywhere, such machines were naturally indispensable daily necessities.
In order to expand the living space, people had been producing and controlling countless shield tunneling machines every second to dig downward incessantly, creating new factories, towns, and tunnels that connected those places.
According to their different mechanisms, the shield tunneling machines could be classified as mechanical ones, water-pressure ones, hybrid ones, and very advanced mystic-ray ones. Normally speaking, their front ends were like huge millstones that were installed with abundant drills and sawtooth. When they were operating at full efficiency, not only would the independent drills be revolving fast, but the sawtooth would be vibrating at a frequency of thousands of times per second. Even the millstone itself would be spinning quickly. The rocks could be dug through only when all the measures were taken.
In such head-to-head clashes, the erosion rate of the drills, the sawtooth, and the millstone was astonishingly high, and the relevant parts had to be replaced often.
Therefore, the magical equipment factories below the ground mostly boasted a blanket assembly line of the backup components of the shield tunneling machines. It was also the case in the Great Iron Plants. Not only could they produce the backup components, but even the complete shield tunneling machines could also be crafted too. It was one of the specialties of the factory.
It was really not to be surprised that the designs of the components of shield tunneling machines were found in the order of the Great Iron Plants.
However, Li Yao knew why the kids came to him with the design after glancing at the scale of the components.
The sawtooth on the shield tunneling machine was more than five meters in length and width!
While Li Yao was not very familiar with the large civil magical equipment like shield tunneling machines, he had the basic common sense. Recalling a few most classic models of shield tunneling machines in the federation and the Imperium, he realized that if the vibration sawtooth was longer and wider than five meters, the whole working surface of the shield tunneling machine, i.e. the millstone at the front of the machine, would be at least a hundred meters in diameter!
In other words, after such a shield tunneling machine pushed forward, a tunnel a hundred meters in diameter would be left behind in the rocks!
No. If it was a hundred meters in diameter, could it even be called a “tunnel”?
“Is this possible?”
Li Yao mumbled. He hurried to take over the order that the kids found and examined it carefully.
He immediately discovered that it was not a simple order but also included a whole set of production procedures, the secret recipes of new alloy materials, and the transfer agreements of cutting-edge military technologies.
For example, the vibration frequency of the sawtooth of the regular shield tunneling machines was usually between three and five thousand times per second. If the frequency were higher, the material hardness of the sawtooth and the structure of the shield tunneling machine itself would not be able to support it, and the part would be blunted and blown apart soon.
However, the demand on the vibration sawtooth of this ultra-huge shield tunneling machine was that it must be no lower than twelve thousand times per second!
The production environment for such a component was naturally unavailable in the Great Iron Plants.
Therefore, the secret database contained a lot of ways of production and even the files of a few specialists. If it weren’t for Li Yao and the rest of them, those specialists would’ve arrived at the Great Iron Plants soon to modify the workmanship in person and guide the work of the local refiners and workers.
The harder the vibration sawtooth was and the higher the frequency was, the easier it would be to shatter the solid rocks and increase the efficiency of excavation.
It was already an extremely complicated technology to increase the vibration frequency of a saber two meters long to ten thousand times per second, let alone the sawtooth more than five meters long, which was going to work under harsh conditions.
It was the most advanced military technology, something that a habitual traitor like Li Minghui wasn’t qualified to have.
Li Yao moved quickly and opened the technology transfer agreements and the production flowcharts. Besides the vibration sawtooth, certain blast drills and the components of a hydraulic system were also going to be produced in the Great Iron Plants.
Li Yao was an out-and-out “specialist of drills”, but he was still deeply astounded by the mechanism and the production methods of the type of drill.
Although the secret database only included the orders and production authorizations of only a few components, Li Yao was able to infer from the tiny details how magnificent and horrifying the ultra-huge shield tunneling machines to be assembled in the end would be!
They were not shield tunneling machines but iron beasts that would devour the core of the surface!
“Look at the time of the secret orders and the production agreements. It seems to be soon after Li Minghui betrayed the Dongfang family and joined the Li family.”
Wenwen said, “After the three experts in the Divinity Transformation Stage including Yue Wushuang came to the underground world, a lot of critical data flowed into this secret database again. They seemed to be planning to produce a lot of similar components here!”
Li Yao ran a quick estimation. If all the production methods and technology transfers mentioned in the database were completed, the whole Great Iron Plants would’ve been producing abundant vibration sawtooth and blast drills at full efficiency, which would’ve been enough to support more than ten ultra-huge shield tunneling machines to work day and night.
More than ten ultra-huge shield tunneling machines, with a working surface of a hundred meters in diameter, pressing forward at the same time?
What were the Immortal Cultivators, or to be more exact, Wuying Qi, trying to do?
Li Yao immediately went to discuss with Long Yangjun and Li Jialing.
“So, Wuying Qi and Li Linghai’s people occupied the Great Iron Plants not just to make it an advance base to capture us but also because they were really in need of the Great Iron Plants to produce the critical components for them?”
After hearing Li Yao’s analysis and reading the files that the kids found, Long Yangjun summarized.
“Exactly. If their purpose was only to hunt us and capture Li Jialing, there wouldn’t have been the need to bring the elite Imperial Guards.”
Li Yao said, “The advantage in number is only meaningful in a spacious battlefield where everybody can fight. The Immortal Cultivators couldn’t have foreseen that the final battle would be in the Great Iron Plants.
“If the hunting was conducted in the zigzagging, suffocating tunnels, the crowd would only be redundancies that consume assets and block the channels.
“Yue Wushuang’s devilish huntresses were adept at stealth and assassination. They were more or less of help. But the Imperial Guards were better at head-on battles. It would’ve been unnecessary for them to bring so many people if they were only chasing after us.”
Long Yangjun was deep in thought. “If they were carrying out two missions—one being to chase after us, and the other being guarding the Great Iron Plants and supervising the Great Iron Plants to perform the technological upgrade—it would make much more sense!”