Chapter 18: First Match [Volume 1 – Between Daybreak and Evernight]
The airship began to noticeably descend in altitude. It would soon arrive at its destination.
A ray of morning sunlight traveled through the window and shined onto Qianye’s face. He had actually woken up a long time ago. Nimbly jumping out of the pilot’s cabin, he walked to the ship's window and looked out.
In his eyes were the sloped ground and the city of steel that submerged the horizon, seeming as though it would flip upside down at any time.
A tall tower, positioned in the heart of the city, was the most eye-catching feature of the view. The entire structure was colored a dazzling silvery-white, as though it were the summit of a tall mountain. A cloud of white colored steam spewed from the tower’s peak. The foundation of the tall tower was incomparably massive, covering three or four city blocks.
That was the first time Qianye saw the heart of all human cities, the Perpetual Dynamo Tower. The cheapest black stones, the most inexpensive steel, but what they constructed was the miracle-like Perpetual Dynamo Tower that operated non-stop around the clock, supplying energy for the entire city to run on.
The freight ship flew slowly across the city’s south-west side, as the number of vessels in the airspace ahead slowly increased. Their styles varied greatly, and there was actually several lightweight boat styled ships, with exquisite and complicated relief sculpture on their bows.
As expected, there were too many airships applying for port entry, and they were forced to wait in line. The freight ship started hovering in the sky. From the pilot’s foul language and grumbles, Qianye learned that other than public transportation vessels and freight ships, many private airships had come today. Each and every family insignia on the many ships was a symbol of monstrous authority and wealth.
Xiangyang was one of the usual recruitment grounds for the Empire’s Ministry of Military Affairs. Every year, thousands upon thousands of youths would flood in from all directions. The attendance this year was unusually great, and there was no lack of upper class youths either. This was because two colossi had appeared on the list of recruiters: Broken Winged Angel and Red Scorpion.
The great Qin Empire emphasized military merits. Even for young kinsman of grand households and influential clans, gaining achievements in the military was still a shortcut to success. To be able to enter the special corps was almost equal to having one’s fame skyrocket.
Broken Winged Angel and Red Scorpion had always ranked within the top five among the hundreds of special units in the Empire. It was precisely their recruitment which spurred many grand households and clans into action, unsparingly sending their most outstanding youths here from distant lands to participate in the evaluations.
Because the airship Qianye rode on belonged to the military, it obtained a port entrance that was relatively far ahead. Only after he descended, did he feel the grand occasion of the recruitment day.
The airship base ought to be only one of the many traffic nodes, yet it was unexpectedly filled with streams of people of various colors in the early morning. Most were youths around twenty or so years old, each and every one of them brimming with confidence, vitality and hope. Outside the base, various types of ground transportation were already lined up like a long dragon.
Shi Yan started up the heavy truck, and whizzed out of the military thoroughfare. Even among the numerous vehicles, it stood out, larger than the rest. Xiangyang was the third highest ranking military industrial city in the entire Empire. Not only was half of the city under military control, military dedicated thoroughfares were set up in both the ground roads and airways.
Qianye stared out the window on the entire ride there, his eyes bedazzled. The route they traveled was through the Military Affairs Zone. Compared to the Yellow Springs Training Camp that cared only about practicality and not aesthetics, the buildings on both sides of the roads had more of a decorative feeling, yet still retained an air of dignity.
The recruitment camp was at the end of the road. The registration line was so long that it had already gone past the arched gate, and one could see it from a long ways away.
Within the clamorous crowd, Shi Yan spoke to the registrar officer in a loud voice, “I request to directly enter the reexamination area!”
He flashed his ID, took Qianye straight into the camp, handled the registration process for him, and then passed an engraved bronze identification plate to Qianye. The words “Lin Qianye” were stamped onto the plate by machines.
Looking at the character “Lin” on the plate, Qianye had an indescribable feeling in his heart. For the first time since birth, he felt that he had a place he belonged. Not only was the character “Lin” engraved on the plate, it was also engraved in his heart.
Next, Qianye was brought to the inner camp by a military personnel. The inner camp was the examination area, where even Shi Yan could not enter.
Only after walking into the inner camp, did Qianye discover that it was much bigger than it appeared from the outside.
Several thousand youths who had already passed the first selection of basic constitution were arranged into various barracks. Tomorrow was when the official test would begin. Today, they would rest in order to perform at their best.
Many youths came by car or even public transportation vessels. These public transportation tools were all driven by the power of black stones and steam; noise and unsteadiness were their shared characteristics. Such a journey like this was extremely hard on their stamina, and naturally would affect their performance on the exam.
Regarding examinations of the military, the Empire had always been very fair and almost never gave special treatment to children of aristocratic families.
This was also the foundation that the Empire was built on. Otherwise, if a useless young master took troops to the field, that would be a disaster. The dark races killed regardless of one’s identity and status.
There were a total of three subjects in the recruitment exam. They were origin power, combat skills, and firearm handling.
After the examinees finished dinner, they were chased back to the dorms to sleep. Qianye was already accustomed to following orders, so he went on his bed fell into a deep slumber soon after the lights went out. However, some of the other examinees in the dorm were excited while others were nervous, none of them being able to sleep at all. Two youths who came from the same faraway city simply began chatting quietly.
Unaware of how much time had passed, Qianye who was already soundly asleep suddenly felt his heart jump and instantly opened his eyes. There were no movements on the surface of his body, but all his muscles were already taut, with him ready to burst out and kill at any time. His eyelids also only opened a crack, discreetly observing his surroundings.
Right at this moment, Qianye was shocked to discover that at some point, a middle-aged man’s face had appeared at the room’s small window and was looking expressionlessly at the sleeping youths.
But other than Qianye, no one actually took notice of this middle-aged man! One of the examinees had clearly looked past the window, but it was as though he saw nothing at all.
That middle-aged man suddenly looked toward Qianye for a bit, then turned around and left.
Only until he vanished did Qianye finally recover from the shock. But this time, he couldn’t fall back asleep no matter what.
Moments later, a nondescript middle-aged man left the dorm building and walked into another. After he went through all the dorms, most of the names on the thick list of names in his hands had an X marked on the side, while only a minority had numbers marked varying from one to nine.
However, an asterisk was marked beside Qianye’s name. In that thick stack of lists, only fourteen names had an asterisk marked on the side.
Qianye did not know that he had unwittingly passed the first trial.
In the morning of the second day, an ear-piercing alarm woke the examinees from their dreams. Qianye rushed out of the barracks along with the stream of people, and stood in formation on the drilling grounds. Here, the examinees were split into three groups, and respectively underwent different exams.
Qianye’s group would participate first in the shooting exam of origin firearms.
The origin guns given to examinees were all specially made for the exam; their power was greatly lowered, and their origin power consumption was also lessened, so that even a rank one Fighter could shoot six or seven shots consecutively. This was the only way that they could complete all the exam subjects. If standard origin firearms were used, the most basic rank one firearms would make it difficult for even Qianye’s rich origin power to finish all the shooting subjects.
After inspecting the origin gun, Qianye and the nine other examinees stood before the shooting line together. Ten fixed targets rose up from a hundred meters away, all of them in the figure of man-faced arachnes.
While familiarizing themselves with the weapon and awaiting the order to shoot, a young man to Qianye’s left looked at him, suddenly grabbed his own trousers’ crotch, whistled and said, “Kid, ever played with a gun before?”
Together with the passes he was making with his eyes, this was an extremely vulgar double entendre.
Qianye looked at him, and said with indifference, “Never played, but I’ve crushed a few to bursting before. Want to try?”
That young man instantly belly laughed in an exaggerated manner, “Oh man, I am so scared! Kid, do you know who I am, to dare speak to me like this?”
“No matter who you are, not a single point will be added to your score, yeah?” Qianye answered with a question, unperturbed.
That young man instantly flushed red and spoke angrily, “Pretty arrogant, kid! But don’t make irresponsible remarks, the Empire’s aristocrat families aren’t that shameless yet, to the point of meddling in this kind of examination! Since your daddy here thinks you’re an eyesore, of course I will beat you with perfection and skill!”
“Beat me? You have no chance.” Qianye was still indifferent to the point that it could drive one crazy from anger.
That young man’s expression instantly sunk, “How about a bet then?”
Qianye lifted his brows, “Bet on what? I’m not interested if it’s too trivial!”
The young man ripped the necklace around his neck off, and dangled it in front of Qianye. The necklace was silver, with a thumb sized square plate at the end. An eagle’s head was engraved on it.
The young man said, “We’ll bet this on the results of this exam! If I lose, this thing’s yours!”
Qianye reached out his hand, curiously twirled that small plate in his hands and asked, “How do you use this thing?” Seeing his manner of expression, he had clearly considered the necklace to be something already in his pocket.
That young man was right away ticked off quite a bit, as he sneered, “You really think that you’re going to win?”
Qianye earnestly nodded, “Naturally,” Then he added on, “How do you use this thing?”
The young man was so pissed that the gums of his teeth itched, and spoke in anger, “This is my keepsake! With this thing, you can make one request to my family. As long as it’s within my authority, you can ask for anything you want!”
At this time, other examinees also noticed their dispute and looked over one by one. They all noticed the eagle head on the square plate, and instantly their faces changed color. Clearly, they had recognized that insignia.
“It’s actually someone from the Wei family!”
Hearing the murmurs of the surrounding people, the young man instantly pulled himself together, perking up his chin flippantly like a little rooster.
But Qianye didn’t react like he expected, and only let out an “oh”. Instead, now there was suspicion in his gaze as he sized up the young man. The hidden meaning was too explicit: Just looking at that birdbrained manner of yours, how big can that so-called authority be?
That young man was once again maddened as he shouted loudly, “Bet or not?”
Qianye finally nodded, “I’ll bet.”
The young man also said no more. Instead, he picked up his origin gun and silently waited for the exam to begin.
The examination began. After a whistle, all ten of the examinees raised up their origin gun and began to aim earnestly.
The accuracy of the majority of these origin guns wasn't that great. Hitting a target over one hundred meters away was easy, but hitting the bullseye would be hard. The bullseye region was one hundred points, but it was only the size of a fingernail. If the shot landed outside of the bullseye it would at most receive eighty points. The various kinds of targets were all scored like this.
Not long after, the sound of gunfire echoed. A stream of thin red light hit the target as the metal target swayed. A small hole was opened near the mid-top of the target that was one person tall in height. This shot was quite powerful, but its accuracy wasn’t that great and could only be counted as barely on the target.
“Twenty points!” an examiner reported the score with a loud voice, while another examiner recorded the score.
The sound of gunshots rang in order. All eight people had hit the target, but even the highest was merely 50 points. In the blink of the eye, the only ones who hadn’t shot were Qianye and that young man.
The young man aimed for a long time, while Qianye kept on staring at him from the side. The young man couldn’t help but feel somewhat restless under Qianye’s gaze, and he instantly cursed in his heart the moment he pulled the trigger!Previous Chapter Next Chapter