Chapter 329: Minefield (Part 1/3)
Six tentacles extended once more from the miniature rhombohedron within the workshop. Next came the second level, which were even more fine tentacles. Six tentacles served as the main trunk, and thirty were secondary branches. They extended far from the core of the rhombohedron. Several dozen tentacles floated and rippled in the air. Were it not for the rhombohedron leaving a fixed impression early on, the mass of tentacles would have people neglecting its existence.
The situation within the device cavity wasn't very different from before. At most, the tentacles extended slightly further out. However, the expressions of the three people in the workshop were much more solemn than before.
Luo Nan squinted his eyes, calibrating the radiance of his heart lantern of the eyes orifice. Crag Burst shifted his feet to adjust his viewpoint to and fro. As for Worker Zhai, he carried a portable microscope on him. He changed its lens from time to time, seeking a suitable focal distance.
"Has there been any changes?" Xue Lei was restricted by his distant viewpoint. He couldn't distinguish the details clearly. He blinked a dozen times, but was unable to see anything of note.
In the end, it was Worker Zhai who responded. He said, "Wait a moment."
He fetched a piece of foil from atop the workbench. He rolled it up and carefully probed with it. The foil's pointed end streaked across the empty space within the mass of tentacles.
The tip of the foil was soon obstructed. It bent a bit. Under the illumination of the workshop's lighting, a thin sheen streaked across the 'empty space'. It was unremarkable, but it didn't escape their attention.
"There's something!" Xue Lei immediately understood. The empty space in the tentacle structure likely possessed an even finer structure, but its components already exceeded the limits of the naked eye.
Worker Zhai slowly retracted the strip of foil, but when his elbow had merely pulled back a bit, the tip of the foil inexplicably tore. It was as if an invisible blade had slashed across it. A section at the front was first severed off, before it shattered into pieces. They could see that the thirty-six tentacles didn't have any particularly vivid changes during all this.
Instead, a fine vibrating cry rang in the workshop. The source was none other than the tentacle structure.
"Careful now, careful." Crag Burst gestured with his hands, indicating to Worker Zhai to do things with care.
Worker Zhai thought for a moment and simply flicked the remaining half of the foil up above the tentacle structure. The foil was now in free fall. It tumbled a few times in the air, which was within expectations. However, before it could touch any of the visible tentacles, it was ground to fine dust by invisible killer threads.
Not even the sound of breathing could be heard in the workshop, making the trembling cry of the tentacle structure more distinct.
Worker Zhai turned to look at Luo Nan. Luo Nan's gaze still rested upon the rhombohedron in the center. Worker Zhai whispered, "Did you catch everything?"
Crag Burst's lips twitched. "He has superior mental powers. Dogs should make way!"
Worker Zhai smiled wryly. He understood what Crag Burst meant. He was a mentally enhanced ability user who hadn't even awakened. He wasn't even at the level of a dog. Luckily, he had an engineering expertise. He could rely on equipment for aid to do more than what he could normally do.
Kachunks rang out from below the workbench, and a round white board came out. It looked like a rough sepal. It gathered the tentacle structure halfway inside, and it pressured Luo Nan and Crag Burst into moving backward. The several lights up above lit up. They calibrated their angles one after another, causing rays of light to penetrate the tentacle structure that contained both tangible and invisible components, and casting the shadow of the structure onto the white board.
"Hot damn!" Crag Burst was caught by surprise.
The snow-white board caught the shadow, and atop the board roamed and slithered thousands upon thousands of live snakes. They endlessly shifted and changed along with the changes in the angle of lighting.
They could see clearly now. The thirty-six filaments of tentacles, which were thinner than hair, turned as thick as a thumb atop the shadow board with this special projection of lighting. And between these tentacles was a densely packed shadow web.
Everyone was able to confirm that there was a layer of finer filaments invisible to the naked eye among the thirty-six filaments. They were densely woven like a net, forming a more complicated and refined structure.
Worker Zhai worked with the computer and spliced together the several different angles of the projected shadow web. Soon, a complete three-dimensional structure was formed. Worker Zhai projected it on the workbench.
Luo Nan's gaze darted between the material object and the three-dimensional projection as he compared them. Crag Burst couldn't get the knack for it. He simply asked, "How many filaments are there in total?"
"The current statistics say 1276." Worker Zhai skimmed through the data as he let out a sigh. "I need to completely replace the previous structure, and I need to completely redo the material analysis…. The resources allocated to me may not be enough nor suitable."
Crag Burst didn't understand. "What?"
"There's a supercomputer in this electronic city. It's called 'Cross Borders'. I can apply for a portion of its resources with my privileges. Right now, it's primarily being used to analyze the dynamic structure."
Worker Zhai pointed at the hologram. Pages and pages of diagrams flashed through at high-speed. They were all structural diagrams of the shadow web captured just now. Over a thousand of them flashed by while he spoke.
"It looks to be quite fast?"
"It's meaningless. I can't provide it with the effective parameters, so it can only rely on brute force. It is impossible for the computer to understand how to distinguish between the thousands upon thousands of tentacles in varied thickness from this glass-like object. It's even more impossible for the computer to understand how to analyze the way it stores energy, what kind of state the tentacles have when they twine and wind, what sort of applications the tentacles have when they spread apart…."
Worker Zhai sighed as he reached this point, "Most notable is the fact that the stimulating element involves the mental plane. Mainstream engineering of mankind has yet to do proper preparations for this. I am powerless to do anything about this in a short period of time."
Xue Lei went, "Oh." He was a bit disappointed.
Crag Burst shook his big, bald head and let out a sigh. However, his mental state was much more confident than the others’. He turned to face Luo Nan. "It's a big discovery. How ‘bout it? Do you want to transfer it to the Society for them to take a look?"
Luo Nan didn't react immediately. He just faced Worker Zhai and asked, "Is it okay if I have it retract back?"
Worker Zhai was a bit reluctant, but he couldn't find a reason to refuse. He nodded with a wry smile.
Luo Nan squinted his eyes slightly, isolating the effects of his heart lantern of the eyes orifice. The three levels of tentacles all retracted, regardless of their visibility. No clear changes could be seen in the volume of the miniature rhombohedron.
Worker Zhai was unwilling to put away the workbench. He used a hand to operate his portable microscope, and he gathered close to the rhombohedron. He clicked his tongue in wonder.
Luo Nan made way for him. Crag Burst understood, and the two walked to the side and whispered to each other.
"What's the difference with Jack's Deep Sea Type IV and this one? Was it also a three-level structure that extends out little by little?"
"Three levels? I don't understand this. I only skimmed through the report a bit." Crag Burst did his best to remember, but was unable to retrieve the main points. He simply said, "It's best to make contact with the branch laboratory. You were one of the people involved in that operation, and your evaluation was one of the best. You certainly have the access and inquiry privileges. Just don't leak the information. Ha ha. How do I say this. Not many people really cared back in the past…."
"Yeah, no one really cared." Luo Nan smirked.
Crag Burst was a bit embarrassed. Rumors spilling all over was the Society's tradition, and Luo Nan was the person who was most harmed by this tradition. Crag Burst hesitated because of this. "If the branch laboratory handles it, you will certainly need to explain the entire sequence of events to them. Is that all right?"
"Leister, what's your opinion?"
Luo Nan looked at Xue Lei, who was slightly hesitating.
Xue Lei didn't understand the significance of the dynamo core, but he was able to see that this toy wasn't so simple. He just didn't expect that repairing this device would cause side issues to arise, and it seemed to involve pretty big things.
"Don't overthink it. First notify the gym master, then listen to what he has to say." Luo Nan saw that Xue Lei found difficulty in deciding and put on a straightforward stance. "This is the gym master's personal object. We snuck it out from the daoguan. Although we have good intentions, if we pass it on, we'll be leaking personal secrets. How can we explain this to the gym master?"
Xue Lei let out a sigh and nodded repeatedly.
Luo Nan looked toward Crag Burst and Worker Zhai once more. Crag Burst performed a zipper gesture in front of his lips, while Worker Zhai returned back to reality from his researcher's state. He smiled and said, "Protecting a customer's secrets is the fundamental doctrine of a technician."
"That's good." Luo Nan nodded to express his thanks.
Xue Lei asked, "Then let's go talk to the gym master?"
Luo Nan hesitated for a moment, and he cast his gaze at the miniature rhombohedron. He turned his gaze to the three-dimensional projection and the simple diagram on the hologram a few seconds later. It took a long while before he spoke again, this time with an irrelevant answer.
"This diagram... I don't understand it."
"Huh?" The other three were all dumbfounded.
Luo Nan stepped forward. He extended a hand to swipe on the hologram to look at the previous diagrams that had flashed past. The results deduced by the supercomputer's resources allocated to Worker Zhai endlessly showed simple diagrams of the dynamo core and amendments done to the diagrams. From the perspective of an amateur, the diagrams were quite concise, but the specialized symbols were akin to obscure writings. They were hard to understand.
Luo Nan was originally going to use coupling, configuration, and similar methods to deconstruct and reconstruct the diagrams. But a few thoughts flashed by in his mind, and he gave up on this for now. He turned to ask, "Worker Zhai, these diagrams are too specialized. Can you teach me about them?"
"All of them."
Worker Zhai was a bit startled, but he soon laughed, "This will take some time."
The rate at which Luo Nan swiped with his finger was far from that of the analysis speed of the supercomputer. He soon gave up and let the simple diagrams flash across. However, the thoughts that had formed just now grew clearer, then solidified. "I want to learn from the beginning. I'm not as good in physics as I am in other subjects, let alone electrical engineering and mechanical design. If I can get some tutelage, that is naturally the best."
Worker Zhai studied Luo Nan for a moment, and suddenly realized that this member of the Society, who had already stepped to the next level, was still a student. He skimmed through the relevant information. The age of sixteen years old was quite conspicuous.
"What year are you in high school?"
"Are you interested in engineering?"
"It's useful." Luo Nan was quite honest. He looked at things from a practical point of view. "I want to understand these structural diagrams. I want to have the concepts down at the very least."
Worker Zhai shook his head. He emphasized once more, "This is impossible to do in a short period of time."
To the side, Crag Burst had already been tripped by Luo Nan's flying train of thought. He simply rolled his eyes. "Weren't we talking about the issue with confidentiality? You said that you were going to speak honestly with that gym master.”
"After we fix it." Luo Nan interrupted Crag Burst's words. He looked at Xue Lei once more. "I am uncertain of the gym master's reaction based off his temperament. If we carelessly ask, he may not even give us room to talk. Xue Lei, let's keep this matter in the dark for now. Wait until I understand the principles inside before returning the object back to its rightful owner. Is this okay?"
Xue Lei was stupefied. This especially happened when he faced Luo Nan's eyes directly. Though there were contact lenses separating them, and the eyes were a reconstruction from optical and electrical signals, Luo Nan's gaze blazed so fiercely that it induced fear.
He never saw this side of Luo Nan before, as far as he could remember.
"Hold on, hold on!" Crag Burst raised both his hands, trying to calm a certain someone down. "You said that you need to fix it. How are you going to fix it? Are you going to ask the branch's laboratory? This contradicts what you said before! Let me tell you, even though this is the branch's laboratory, they may not wield the necessary technologies."
Luo Nan didn't speak. He just swept his gaze around the room. He turned from Worker Zhai to Crag Burst, then to Xue Lei, and finally to his own hands.
Everyone was involved.