Book 1 Chapter 1 - Time Machine
The shrill screeching caused by braking resulted in the friction between the tyres and the road sounded right in front of the city’s most popular ‘Black Leopard Bar’. The jeep that belonged to Team 7 of the army’s special unit, regarded as the best of the best, suddenly stopped.
Amid the cheers and laughter, Xiang Shaolong and his three teammates grabbed the grills and jumped down from the car. After three months of intensive training in body and warfare in the Gobi desert, they finally have three days of leave. If they do not thoroughly enjoy life now, they would be letting down their parents who gave birth to them.
Xiang Shaolong is twenty this year. His skin glowed with a healthy tan because of his long hours under the sun. He may not be considered a handsome young man, but with his height nearing 2 meters, broad shoulders, trim waist and long legs, firm muscles with not an inch of excess fat, agile and smart eyes, pencil straight nose, perfectly rounded cheekbones, square face, matched with a lazy smile that seems to flirt with women, he definitely has the qualities that will pique the interest of any girl.
Just as they were about to enter, there was chaos and a mess of bodies landed on the ground amidst claps and curses. It was their team mates Xiao Zhang and Man Niu (Stubborn Cow) who came earlier being thrown out of the door and landing in a heap. They were groaning to get up and although this is usually a very simple act, but now to these two top agents of the special unit, it’s a very difficult task.
The expression on the four’s faces changed and they rushed forward to help the two of them up. Rhino, who has a growth on his forehead, exclaimed, “How many people?”
This question is very logical. Xiao Zhang and Man Niu, like them, belong to Team 7 Special Unit. They are picked amongst the best in the whole army to receive special training as a crack team, and specialized in handling all kinds of dangerous situations like anti-terrorists missions, entering hostile countries to carry out assassination attempts or saving lives, protecting important political people etc. Their training includes the use of various weapons, unarmed combat, resistance training, survival training, various spying techniques, in fact the aim is to train them into becoming supermen. Even ten odd brawny men may not be able to harm even a single hair on them.
But since other teams have always been jealous of them, they find it an honor if they are able to take down members of Team 7. So it’s quite normal for fights to break out whenever they’re on leave and having drinks, but this is the first time that they have actually been thrown out of the door.
Xiao Zhang regained some of his senses, opened his bruised eyes and when he saw it’s Xiang Shaolong helping him up, he exclaimed with joy, “Brother Long, go and back us up quickly!”
Everyone in the team addressed Xiang Shaolong as Brother Long, not because he’s older, but because he’s the sharp shooter of the team, champion of freestyle boxing, and the fittest among them.
Man Niu panted and pointed towards the inside of the bar and said, “It’s Team 841’s instructor Black Faced Deity, he actually had the guts to harass our ice beauty.”
The four of them flew into a rage. Ice beauty Zheng Cuizhi is the secretary of their team’s instructor, so how can they allow other teams to touch her when none of them have managed to woo her?
Xiang Shaolong’s hands started itching once he thinks about fighting, so he puffed up his chest and shouted, “Help them in and let me how off my skills!” With that, he led them into the bar.
The spacious bar was filled with smoke and the noises and music deafening. Half of the crowd was from the army or police and foreigners and civilians numbered only about thirty. It was crowded and the mood spirited.
They had just appeared at the door when the bar suddenly became quiet.
The well built and muscular Black Faced Deity and about a dozen of his men were wearing civilian clothing and drinking and laughing with a few sexily clad ladies. Black Faced Diety was holding Ice beauty Zheng Cuizhi by her tiny waist and when she saw Xiang Shaolong, who usually ignored her coming in, she deliberately turned her sultry body towards Black Faced Deity and even kissed his cheek.
Black Faced Deity saw Xiang Shaolong and his face shone. He moved his hands lower towards Zheng Cuizhi’s voluptuous butt and slapped it twice, saying with a smile, “One against one, or everyone charge!”
There’s an unwritten rule in the army, which is all fights are to be fought only with fists, unless there’s some great enmity, or if blinded by rage, they will not use things that can hurt like knives or broken bottles, in case things get out of hand and they get apprehended by the military police.
Xiang Shaolong saw the queen of the bar Zhou Xiangmei leaning against the table and looking at him with a smile and felt a boost of bravado. He replied with a smile, “Against someone like you, it doesn’t really matter to me. Up to you.”
Everyone in the bar, regardless of male or female, all cheered and added fuel to the flame, the atmosphere reaching a burning high.
Xiao Zhang moved to his side and warned with a low voice, “Be careful! That fellow’s extremely good.”
Someone shrieked with a strange voice, “Someone’s afraid!”
The onlookers watching the show laughed even harder.
Man Niu walked over as well and whispered, “That two men Black Faced Deity are the best two champion boxers at the local martial arts school. They are prepared for a fight today with the intent of making us lose face.”
Xiang Shaolong noticed the two murderous looking men long ago. ‘Taking note of your surroundings’ is the second rule out of the seven in the special task force. The first rule is ‘to be well prepared’ and the third is ‘remain calm’. This is exactly what he is going to do now. He instructed quietly, “Tell them to stay clear, I’m confident of settling those three alone.”
By now Black Faced Deity has removed his jacket and handed it to ice beauty. He took two steps forward and said coldly, “Xiang Shaolong! I’ve put up with you for a long time. The last time you injured dozens of my men at the Wild Cat Karaoke, today I will settle those old scores with you.”
Xiang Shaolong told his five friends to stand back and spread out, and he took two steps forward as well and were within four paces of Black Faced Deity. He called out calmly to the bartender, “Give me some fresh milk, I need to quench my thirst after I deal with this Black Faced Deity.”
This sentence immediately caused a roar of laughter from everyone.
Someone from Black Faced Deity’s group called out, “This lad is going to use his strength for drinking milk as well.”
Black Faced Deity leaned towards the left and made a fake move, while he deviously kicked with his leg, aiming at the position 5 inches above Xiang Shaolong’s calf.
Xiang Shaolong moved to the side and avoided the attack effortlessly.
When the crowd saw that they’re finally fighting, the started cheering and adding fuel to fire.
Black Faced Deity roared and rushed forward with the speed of lightning, crouched when he got near and both his fists struck out towards the chest. Xiang Shaolong took another step back and avoided the enemy’s fists.
When the crowd saw that he’s only dodging but not retaliating, they jeered. Black Faced Deity’s men also ridiculed him loudly.
Black Faced Deity thought that Xiang Shaolong is afraid of him and became even more conceited. He suddenly stuck out his middle finger and taking advantage of his lead, rushed forward and aimed a punch at his nose.
Xiang Shaolong was thinking to himself how good that he’s coming. When the fist was only a few inches from his nose, he suddenly stumbled backwards, as if that punch has thrown him far back.
The crowd went mad and started shouting.
Man Niu and the rest naturally knew that he was not hit, and were perplexed why he only dodged but did not attack. That lad stumbled six steps back, leaned back and actually fell into the arms of the queen of the bar Zhou Xiangmei, who was sitting on the chair.
Zhou Xiangmei was so shocked that she screamed.
Black Faced Deity leapt forward like a crazed tiger.
Xiang Shaolong yelled and straightened his body, his right hand taking the chance to touch Zhou Xiangmei’s creamy bosom, and sprang up using the strength from his waist. He shot towards Black Faced Deity like a cannon, ignoring the fact that his opponent’s fists are clenched and coming down hard on his back, and his head hit his opponent right on the stomach.
Before Black Faced Deity has a chance to hit Xiang Shaolong, his opponent’s head caused his almost 100kg body to stumble back like a toy with an unstoppable force and fell right on to the middle of the dance floor.
The two hundred odd people in the bar gasped in unison. Immediately the place became from being extremely noisy to being extremely quiet, leaving only the speakers at the corners of the bar playing a very groovy song.
Xiang Shaolong was like a ferocious tiger being released and leap towards Black Faced Deity who is still on the ground.
The two professional boxers who were invited by Black Faced Deity saw that the situation was amiss and both rushed out at the same time, going around Black Faced Deity who is still on the floor and attached Xiang Shaolong while sandwiching him between them.
His friends Man Niu, Xiao Zhang and the rest were all cursing and calling them shameless, but they did not help at all. No one can be more confident of Xiang Shaolong’s abilities than them.
The battle ended in the blink of an eye.
Xiang Shaolong dodged a few times and avoided his enemy’s attacks and squeezed in between the two of them, elbowed the person on his left under his armpit, his right hand pushing away his enemy’s fist and before the man on the left fell to the ground, he gave two quick knocks with his knee on the person on his right’s stomach. Black Faced Deity had just struggled to stand up but Xiang Shaolong has already given him a wicked punch on his nose just as the boxer on his right was kneeling down in pain. Black Face Deity cried out as fresh blood poured out and collapsed onto Cuizhi who was just rushing over and the two of them tumbled down.
Xiao Shaolong laughed heartily, and pointing Black Faced Deity’s men, taunted them, “Come! All together now.”
Man Niu and the rest rushed up, rubbing their fists and palms.
Cuizhi climbed up and shrieked, “Xiang Shaolong! You’re good! Just you wait and see!”
Xiang Shaolong can’t be bothered with her but walked towards the queen of the bar Zhou Xiangmei, pulled her up and walked out of the bar.
Zhou Xiangmei exclaimed, “Where are you taking me?”
Xiang Shaolong carried her up and deposited her on the passenger seat of the jeep and said with a laugh, “Home of course, I don’t have enough money to pay the exorbitant price for a hotel room.”
Xiang Shaolong, who is used to strict training, woke up immediately and disentangled himself from Zhou Xiangmei’s slender limbs and grabbed the phone.
Cuizhi’s clear voice traveled to his ears, “Captain Xiang, you have 15 minutes to wash up, the Ministry of War’s armored vehicle is waiting for you at the main door.”
Zhou Xiangmei moaned and said, “Baddie! Come quickly!”
Xiang Shaolong rubbed his aching back, caused by the numerous rounds of ‘fights’ with this seductress, and exclaimed hoarsely, “Are you trying to scare me? Would a fight cause such a big trouble?”
Cuizhi said icily, “Who said it’s got anything to do with the fight, it’s the Science Institute who wants the fittest among our special task force for an experiment. I saw that you were so brave last night and your stamina was so surprisingly good, so I recommended you to the instructor. The instructor has given his orders!”
Naturally Xiang Shaolong knows that she’s making use of the opportunity to take revenge and said with irritation, “But I’m still on leave today!”
Cuizhi laughed, “Oh my Captian Xiang, you only have leave when there’s no mission. A soldier belongs to the country 24 hours a day.”
Xiang Shaolong can’t wait to strangle her, but he sighed instead, “Hai! I was so brave last night, all because of you. Do you really not know or are you just pretending?”
Xiangmei wriggled out from under the blankets naked and asked, “Who are you talking to?”
Xiang Shaolong hurriedly signaled her to keep quiet.
The other end of the line was silent for a moment, before a soft voice said, “You’re lying!”
Xiang Shaolong covered Zhou Xiangmei’s tiny mouth with one hand, and glibly replied, “Why would I lie to you. I, Xiang Shaolong, thinks about you day and night, I just did not say it out! Do you know! You…”
Cuizhi interrupted him, “All right! We’ll talk about that later! You’ll only be a lab mouse for one day maximum, I’ll find someone else the next time. Get changed quickly.”
“Pak!” And she hung up.
The armored vehicle stopped outside the main door of the heavily guarded Science Institute and Xiang Shaolong was escorted inside like a prisoner by 4 soldiers and passed over to the security at the research department. He was immediately brought to a hospital ward filled with medical equipments and after going through a thorough body check-up, the doctor signed the papers with satisfaction and the nurse pushed him out of the room.
Lying on the hospital bed, Xiang Shaolong objected, “I’m not sick, I can walk on my own.”
The nurse is obviously very interested in him and smiled as she walked and said, “Be a good boy, I know you’re not sick, in fact you’re stronger than a bull.”
Xiang Shaolong could not change his character and he immediately flirted, “Hey! What’s your name and how can I find you.”
The nurse rolled her eyes at him and did not reply.
Doors opened one by one in front and the nurse pushed him deep into the building until they reached a lift.
8 security guards were standing guard next to the lift door and they took over Xiang Shaolong.
Xiang Shaolong felt a shiver in his heart and wondered what kind of experiment could this be? Why would the laboratory be in an underground cell at the Science Institute?
The lift descended by more than 10 floors before it stopped. Xiang Shaolong was pushed out by the guards and after passing a few heavily guarded doors, came to a spacious hall.
Xiang Shaolong looked around and sat up in shock.
He saw on one end of the 30 meters hall a huge metal object that looked like a iron furnace right in front of him.
All sorts of equipment filled the hall, and it looked like the cabin of a huge spacecraft.
A hundred odd male and female researchers dressed in white coats were busy working with various equipments.
The two sides of the hall were split into two levels, the top level separated by a full length glass and inside there were countless researchers busy working on many types of unnameable equipment, and some were pointing at him through the glass.
Xiang Shaolong was confused. God! What is this all about? The serious atmosphere and the huge weaponry is not funny at all.
A male and a female researcher walked to his side, and the man smiled, “I am Professor Fang Ting, she is Professor Xie Zhimei. We’re the assistants to the head engineer of this time-space project, Director Ma Ke.”
Xiang Shaolong stood up and exclaimed, “What is this all about? At least tell me why I’m here!”
The average looking female professor Xie Zhimei who looked like a spinster said seriously, “Don’t worry! Everything is safe, as for the details, Director Ma will tell you personally.”
Professor Fang Ting added, “It’s a soldier’s duty to serve the country, Captain Xiang should feel honored to be the first human experiment for the time-space project. Come!”
Xiang Shaolong shook his head and smiled bitterly, and helplessly followed them towards that huge object. Hai! What kind of luck is he having today?
Xiang Shaolong lay down in a human shaped gold box, his hands, legs, waist and neck all secured by straps and became an experiment target at their mercy.
He was just cursing Zheng Cuizhi, thinking of how he will get her after the experiment, how he will take revenge on the bed, when a bespectacled old man with white hair appeared from the top of the box and smiled at him, “I am Director Ma Ke, Captain Xiang, how do you feel?”
Xiang Shaolong snorted coldly, “I feel like an animal being sent to the slaughterhouse, and am still wondering if this slaughterhouse is for pigs or cows.”
Director Ma laughed dryly, “Captian Xiang sure knows how to joke.” He paused and asked, “Which period of our country’s history are you more familiar with?”
Xiang Shaolong was surprised, “What has this got to do with the experiment?”
Director Ma was displeased and said, “Answer my question first.”
Xiang Shaolong can only blame it on his bad luck, and wanting to end this quickly, he replied after a thought, “I’m not familiar with history, but recently I saw that movie ‘Emperor Qin’, and was really envious of his Epang Palace and his indulgence in life, and I read a few books about the warring states and Emperor Qin…”
Director Ma interrupted impatiently, “Hey! That’s enough, so it’s the Qin dynasty, 246BC, the first year Emperor Qin ascended the throne.” Then he repeated the year into the intercom clipped on his white shirt collar.
Xiang Shaolong exclaimed in shock, “My god! What are you saying?”
Director Ma became excited and his old face glowed. He reached out and touched Xiang Shaolong’s cheek and said with a smile, “Friend! You don’t know how lucky you are, to become the first man in history to go back in time.”
Xiang Shaolong did not understand him and said, “You…”
Director Ma was not interested in what he has to say at all and interrupted excitedly, “Did you watch that show ‘Time Tunnel’ on television. Look! In front of you is the great time tunnel, this is no longer a dream, but a reality. Very soon I will change humankind’s perception about time and space…”
Xiang Shaolong was lying in the box so naturally he could not see anything at all. He struggled and said, “Stop joking, tell me what experiment am I here for?”
Director Ma’s excitement was undiminished, and he continued rambling, “Later you will be sent into the time furnace, and once I press one button, the hydrogen reaction furnace fixed at the bottom will gather enough energy within 36 hours to produce enough thermoneuclear in the furnace to make a black hole to go past time and space. By then the magnetic field conveyor will send you back to the world of the past, how marvelous do you think that is.”
Cold sweat broke out and Xiang Shaolong looked at this mad scientist who is not much different from a lunatic and said, “Are you joking.”
Director Ma said, “Of course I’m not joking. I have successfully sent 20 white mice and 2 monkeys back and returned them safely. But a pity they could not tell me where exactly they have been, and how they felt. That’s why I asked the army to provide us with the fittest warrior to experiment, and that person is you, Xiang Shaolong.”
Xiang Shaolong was scared out of his wits and he cried out, “I don’t agree, I want to quit the army immediately.”
Director Ma said unhappily, “Don’t be nervous, you’ll be there for less than 10 seconds, just like a short dream. I only want you to remember what happened in the dream. You can give the injection now.”
Xiang Shaolong was still protesting when one of the staff came and gave him an injection. As he gradually lost his senses, the cover was lowered and became a sturdy metal box. It was moved and pushed into the round entrance of the time furnace.
All the equipment in the laboratory immediately started working and numerous indicator lights lighted up. Close to 400 researchers were at work, concentrating on working and observing the equipments.
Time passed on slowly, and a few hours passed.
Director Ma who went to the main control centre became more and more excited, his eyes gleaming.
The final moment will soon arrive, the laboratory began a countdown from 100.
“60, 59, 58…”
The alarm suddenly went off.
The researcher in charge of supervising the energy field inside the furnace cried out in alarm, “The energy level in the time furnace is rising abnormally fast, Director Ma please advise if we should switch off the energy source immediately.”
All the staff had their eyes fixated on Director Ma.
“39, 38, 37…”
Director Ma looked at the readings on the machine showing the energy level in the furnace, his forehead breaking out in cold sweat. He hesitated for a moment and suddenly waved his hand and ordered, “Implement the fifth emergency procedure now!”
A thunderous sound could be heard from within the furnace, and the whole laboratory started shaking, intense and hot white rays of light shot out of the cracks in the time furnace.
Before anyone had a chance to scream, the whole hidden underground laboratory was shattered into pieces by the strong explosion, and not a single thing remained. Naturally no one was left alive.