Li Du and his group worked for another two days. When it was close to the middle of May, the tunnel in Li Du's mine was finally close to the location of the gemstones in the number 114 mine.
When they were close to the location of the first piece of gemstone, Li Du went down, took over from Brother Wolf, who was digging the tunnel, and operated the machine himself.
For the past few days, the three of them, Li Du, Brother Wolf, and Godzilla, had been taking turns digging the tunnel while Lu Guan settled the shattered rocks that were dug up. Consequently, no one was suspicious when Li Du went into the tunnel.
After Sophie gave Li Du her usual reminder to be careful, he put on a hardhat and entered the tunnel. Seeing this, Ali jumped into his arms and wanted to enter the tunnel with him.
As Ali could very easily get hurt by the occasional shattered rocks falling in the tunnel, Li Du did not want to bring it along.
However, this time around, Ali was extremely persistent in wanting to go into the tunnel as Ah Ow, Ah Meow, and Crispy Noodles had become bored again and were searching for something to play with.
Needless to say, Ali was the best plaything in their eyes.
The conditions in the tunnel were horrid, and the tunnel's ventilation was very poor. Even though Li Du utilized tools such as tunnel fans and ventilators, it still felt rather suffocating in the tunnel.
The tunnel had an electric wire hanging from above and four metal frames placed all around for support. As there were light bulbs hanging on the metal frames, and those light bulbs produced heat, the tunnel's temperature became even higher.
Since this was the first time Ali had been in such an environment, it was taken aback and clung tightly to Li Du's calves.
A piece of rock fell from above with a crumbling sound. Taken aback by the sound, Ali jumped three feet up while searching its surroundings for danger with wide, horrified eyes.
Li Du smiled and patted Ali on its head. "It's ok, it's safe down here."
After releasing the little bug and finding the location of the nearest piece of gemstone, Li Du carefully lifted the rock hand drill machine and started drilling the area where the piece of gemstone was.
With the fragile nature of black opals, the strong vibrations of the rock hand drill machine, and the rock layers being excellent at transmitting vibrations, the gemstones might be shattered if one was not careful when drilling the rock layers.
After first drilling a hole with the rock hand drill machine, Li Du changed to using a small hammer and chisel. This was because through the little bug's vision, Li Du saw that the gemstone would be affected by the rock hand drill machine, and it would be shattered before long if he continued using the machine.
This was a common conundrum that one would face when digging for black opal. As other people did not have a little bug that could move around in the rock layers, they would not know where they would find a black opal.
Consequently, during the digging process, they had to be extra careful. Once traces of a gemstone were found, they would need to quickly put down the rock hand drill machine and change to using tools such as pickaxes, hammers, and chisels.
There were many gemstones that had been unintentionally shattered. In Lightning Ridge, the miners who were frequently seen running to a bar and getting drunk were doing so for this reason.
They could have worked for several or even dozens of days without harvesting a single thing before finally finding a gemstone. However, if they failed to change to using small tools, the gemstone would be destroyed.
It was very easy for black opals to shatter into smaller pieces. After shattering into smaller pieces, the black opal would no longer have any value. Black opals that were made up of smaller pieces adhered together had no value in the market.
Li Du hammered the chisel as if he were carving a piece of art while he slowly approached the gemstone's location.
After chiseling once around the location of the gemstone, Li Du finally chiseled out a piece of rock the size of a papaya.
The black opal was inside the piece of rock. A change in tools to something sharper and more accurate, such as a waterjet and a levigator, was required before continuing the harvesting process.
Wanting to place the rock inside the black hole, Li Du called the little bug.
The little bug flew out once again while Ali was still hiding behind Li Du's calves. Instead of waiting for Li Du's command, the little bug burrowed speedily into Ali's head!
Seeing this, Li Du confirmed a speculation of his, and sort of knew how the little bug chose which animals' brains to modify and also which animals' energy to absorb while within their bodies.
The little bug would only choose animals who truly trusted Li Du such as Ah Ow. Ah Ow had seen Li Du right after first opening her eyes and had been raised by him. She treated Li Du like he was her parent.
As Li Du had been constantly protecting Ali from being bullied by Ah Ow, Ah Meow, and Crispy Noodles for the last few days, Ali's fondness and trust in Li Du kept increasing.
Finally, when Ali went into the tunnel, those feelings it had for Li Du had reached the threshold level. Having sensed this, the little bug began modifying Ali.
When the little bug re-emerged a few seconds later, it had a slightly larger size than before and seemed to be a little more evolved.
With a pair of large eyes that had become even more lustrous, Ali tilted its head and looked at Li Du. Li Du also looked at Ali and felt that its eyes had become more lively.
After the human and animal stared at each other for a few seconds, Ali hopped in front of Li Du, and then hopped up and down vigorously in an attempt to get Li Du to carry it.
Li Du smiled, touched the kangaroo's head, and said, "Behave. I will bring you out later. Go have fun by yourself, ok?"
After blinking its eyes, the kangaroo hopped over to a section of the tunnel behind Li Du.
When Li Du picked up the rock hand drill machine and continued drilling, a few pieces of shattered rocks flew out. Earlier, as the kangaroo had no idea what was going on, Li Du had to use his legs to cover and protect Ali.
This time around, the kangaroo took the initiative to hide behind a large piece of rock and would pop its head out from time to time to look around. Having confirmed that Li Du was still around, it would continue hiding behind the piece of rock and wait calmly for him.
The black opal vein was very localized, and the black opals were all in nearby areas. Li Du called for Godzilla to come down and help him. With two people working together, Li Du would be able to retrieve the black opals at a much faster rate.
Both Godzilla and Brother Wolf had a bonus point in their favor. No matter what they saw, they would not care or ask and would immediately carry out Li Du's orders.
As for the results? It was not something that they needed to be concerned with.
After spending a week's time digging his way to this location, Li Du only spent a day to dig out all the gemstones that were in the vein.
In this location, Li Du dug out a total of 55 gemstones. As the gemstones were encased in rocks, which took up a lot of space, half of the space in the little bug's black hole was used up.
Having dug out the rocks, all that was left was backfilling.
Li Du went back to the surface and said, "Have a good rest tonight. Starting tomorrow, we will backfill the tunnel."
Lu Guan asked curiously, "Not digging anymore? We still haven't gotten anything."
This was where Lu Guan and Big Quinn differed from Brother Wolf and Godzilla. Both Lu Guan and Big Quinn were fond of asking Li Du about matters that they were uncertain about.
Li Du replied, "The purpose of me digging this tunnel was not to find gemstones but to annoy that bastard, Blanchett."
Lu Guan asked, "How does that annoy him? Unless we manage to dig out gemstones, he will not be annoyed."
Li Du smiled. "Even though we were not able to dig out any gemstones, there are lots of people here who have. Just wait and see. When we go back to town today, you will spread the news that we have dug gemstones out of the number 115 mine."
Lu Guan still wanted to ask more questions. As Li Du did not want to explain anymore, he said, "Just spreading the news will do. I will find gemstones to help in your story. In time, not only will we be able to annoy Blanchett, we might also be able to find someone to buy the number 115 mine and take it off our hands.
"Also, Sophie, call Harry Winston's President Cole and ask him if he needs high-quality black opals."