"How is this guy so strong this early on?" Halls said as he could not help but frown.
Even though Halls already knew someone who tossed common sense out the window, he also understood that it was a unique case. However, it was not as if Halls had not met any top-level or elite players while within RML.
But even compared to those players he met, Izroth was still on a level all by himself. He did not know if Ruin was as strong as Izroth since he could not accurately judge the limits of his strength, but he knew one thing; Ruin was strong.
It was a bizarre kind of power that players this early on should not be able to possess. He learned from Zi Yi that the members of Heaven's Law were strong, but he did not think that one of the members would be this difficult to fight.
What bothered Halls the most was that even if Ruin was at level 40, which was highly unlikely, he should not be able to handle the five of them at once. After all, they had a solid party and none of them could be considered weak.
"What's going on?" Halls furrowed his brows as he tried to come up with a reasonable explanation to everything, but he was unable to peak past the surface.
However, Halls was not the only one with these questions floating about in his mind. Luna, Zi Yi, Valentine, and even Guan Yu who usually gave such things no thought started to grow curious about the same things.
"Now, it's time I stop playing around and end things, inferior trash!" Ruin said with a merciless look in his eyes. At the moment, there were a total of eighteen weapons floating around within his vicinity!
"Remarkable." A man wearing glasses with messy hair uttered as he just finished analyzing some data. It was the same man that Scarlet handed over the information she collected to. At the moment, he was stretching his arms and released a long sigh.
"Who would've thought that after all these years..."
25 years ago...
A young man who appeared to be somewhere between his late teens to early twenties was casually walking towards a large academic-style building. His hair was neat and well-managed, he wore a pair of glasses and had an average build.
As the young man walked, he muttered various things to himself as if he were going over a complex problem in his head. However, as he passed by others, they gave him a strange look like he was a crazy person.
But, the young man did not notice these looks and stayed deep within his own thoughts as if he was operating on some sort of auto-pilot mode.
"Professor! Professor Shen Tai!" A voice called out from behind the young man. However, the voice did not get a response as the young man was too locked in on his thoughts.
"I said, Professor Shen Tai!" This time the voice was right next to the young man's ear which caused him to jump from the sudden fright and made his glasses tilt in an uneven manner from the sudden movement.
The young man finally snapped out of it and straightened up his glasses as he looked over next to him.
"You frightened me, Kang Min." The young man known as Shen Tai said.
"I've been calling out to you this entire time and you didn't answer." The one who called out to Shen Tai was also a young man, but he appeared to be in his mid-twenties. His black hair was cut short and his eyes were hazel in color. He was the one Shen Tai referred to as Kang Min.
"Me? That can't be right. You were calling for someone named Professor Shen Tai. I'm not yet a professor." Shen Tai said with a confused expression on his face.
"Haven't you already heard the talk about you becoming a professor? It's only a matter of time. You'll be the youngest professor in our university's history and even tie the world record for the youngest professor, how can you not be excited?" Kang Min said in an excited tone of voice as if he were the one becoming a professor instead of Shen Tai.
Shen Tai gave a weary smile as he responded, "I just turned 18 this year, it's a little too soon for me to become a professor. Besides, who wants to listen to someone younger standup and give a lecture?" He shook his head.
"I think you're underestimating how popular you are in your field, Dr. Shen. The real question is, who would be so foolish as to miss a single lecture you give?" Kang Min said with a large grin on his face as he playfully elbowed Shen Tai a few times.
Shen Tai and Kang Min continued their conversation as they entered into the main building. It was a large structure with a very refined appearance to it. It gave one the feeling of reaching for the stars and whatever drifted around beyond them.
The strangest thing was that this building was usually busy and always had a flow of people constantly wandering about, but it was completely empty at the moment. However, Shen Tai and Kang Min were locked in on their conversation and so they did not pick up on this.
"So, have you decided the topic on your next research paper?" Kang Min asked curiously.
"I have a general idea. However, I was thinking that-" As Shen Tai as speaking, around ten men in black suits and shades approached and surrounded him from all directions. As for Kang Min, he was grabbed by one of the men that approached them and immediately felt something sharp pierce into his next.
At first, he panicked and tried to break free, however, he started to grow sluggish and eventually became unconscious. The man who grabbed him removed the needle from Kang Min's neck, but by this point, Shen Tai was terrified. He had no idea what was going on.
But, Shen Tai did not allow his fear to be shown. He remained calm and tried to keep a clear mind despite the overwhelming level of fear he was currently experiencing.
"Pack Leader, the variable is detained. We can safely proceed to extract the package." The man who apprehended Kang Min said.
One of the men in black suits made a slight gesture in response. He was the one the man called Pack Leader. From their appearance, it was safe to say that they were using codenames to protect their identities.
"Dr. Shen Tai, please come with us." Pack Leader said.
"And if I refuse?" Shen Tai said. However, he knew that he would have no choice but to go along with them. He was not a fighter nor was he confident in his ability to escape. Also, they had his friend captive and these men seemed well trained.
"I'm afraid we must insist. If you come calmly, then I can guarantee that no harm shall come to you." Pack Leader responded.
Shen Tai saw that the best course of action was to take the one called Pack Leader's word. He did not want to risk his own life and the life of his friend by doing something reckless.
"I'll go." Shen Tai said reluctantly.
"Pack Leader to Carriage, we have successfully secured the package. ETA twenty seconds." Pack Leader had his wrist placed in front of their mouth as he spoke. There was most likely a small device he used to communicate with others located at that spot.
"Let's move." Pack Leader ordered as one of the men in black suits carried Kang Min and Shen Tai followed quietly went along with them.
Exactly twenty seconds later, Shen Tai was led into a vehicle and blindfolded.
"Where are they taking me?" That was the main thought racing through Shen Tai's mind at that moment.
After driving around for what felt like hours, the vehicle finally came to a stop.
"Watch your steps." Pack Leader said as he guided Shen Tai who remained blindfolded.
"Where is Kang Min?" Shen Tai asked.
"Your friend is safe. No harm will come to him. He was given a strong sedative so think of it as him taking a small nap." Pack Leader responded.
As they were walking, Shen Tai could hear the number of footsteps increasing around him. Then, he heard voices discussing various complex issues that ranged from biology all the way to physics.
"I told you all that there was no need for the blindfolds. Come, take them off of him already." A gentle voice drifted into Shen Tai's ears. For some reason, it sounded soothing.
"Apologies, but we must follow the proper protocols when it comes to such sensitive information." Pack Leader said as he removed the blindfolds from Shen Tai.
When Shen Tai opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was a state of the art lab with everything most scientist would kill to obtain. There were even some items he was unfamiliar with.
"Welcome, Dr. Shen Tai. You'll have to excuse their forceful methods for bringing you here. However, as they've stated any information about this location is highly classified. Therefore, I hope that you are willing to forgive them." That soothing voice sounded out again.
When Shen Tai looked up to see who it was, he was shocked. He had seen this woman many times before, be it on TV or in some magazine. She was considered to have a brilliant mind that came along only once every hundred years, Dr. Wang Xiu Lan.
She had long scarlet red hair that stopped halfway down her back with a pair of eyes to match. She was incredibly beautiful in a refined and almost artistic kind of way. She wore a long white laboratory coat and seemed to be full of life.
"What is this place?" Shen Tai asked. He had just been taken against his will so he would not bother with pleasantries. Even if he admired her work, it was still against the law to kidnap someone.
Wang Xiu Lan giggled as she said, "Alright, then I'll skip the pleasantries as well. Right now you're in a secret research facility, though I suppose you've already come to that conclusion given your current circumstances. However, this is not just any facility. This place was built for one thing only, Project: New Genesis."
Shen Tai frowned. Project: New Genesis? That was something he never heard of before. Though from the meaning of the word alone, he made a guess that it had to do with the beginning of something.
If they went through all this trouble to bring him here and from the look of the amount of money that went into building this place, it was definitely not a small matter.
"I've read your work. You have a beautiful mind, Dr. Shen Tai. I believe that with you here, things will proceed at a faster and smoother pace. That's why I personally requested for you to be on my research team, despite certain concerns about your age." Wang Xiu Lan said.
"How do I know that you all aren't up to something illegal in this place?" Shen Tai asked.
"If it makes you feel any better, we are funded by the government. If you want something more official, I'm afraid that won't be possible. You see, we technically do not exist. Therefore, you will not find any information about us in any official government document." Wang Xiu Lan explained.
Shen Tai furrowed his brows as he took a moment to think. He then decided that it was time to know what this was all about.
"What is Project: New Genesis and why do you need my help?" Shen Tai got straight to the point.
"As I've said before, you have a beautiful mind, Dr. Shen Tai. As for Project: New Genesis, I suppose it will be easier to show you rather than tell you. I believe you'll put in the most effort once you see what we are trying to accomplish here." Wang Xiu Lan said as she began to walk towards the back of the laboratory.
Shen Tai silently followed after her. A few moments later, they came upon thick metal door made from titanium and outlined with some kind of unknown material to increase its durability.
"Dr. Wang Xiu Lan. Authorization code alpha-six-gamma-five-eight-three. Clearance level five." Wang Xiu Lan said as she moved her face in front of a small panel next to the titanium door. A red light scanned her entire face two times before disappearing.
"Security clearance accepted. Welcome, Dr. Wang Xiu Lan." A computerized voice that came from the panel said as the titanium doors opened up.
Wang Xiu Lan entered into the room with Shen Tai following right behind her. The moment they entered, the titanium doors closed shut. The room was lit to a bare minimum as if it was trying to keep a low light intensity level.
"This, Dr. Shen Tai, is Project: New Genesis." Wang Xiu Lan said.
In a vat filled with some type of cyan colored liquid, a man with long hair that went down to his ankles floated around inside. It was difficult to make out any facial features due to the mask that was on his face which most likely provided oxygen along with some kind of sedative.
"A human...?" Shen Tai was shocked. Why was there a man placed inside of a stasis chamber down here? He began to take a few steps forward to take a closer look.
"Wait, don't move too close!" Wang Xiu Lan warned, but she was too late.
All of a sudden, Shen Tai felt an overwhelming amount of killing intent wash over him. It was as if he were being drowned in a vast ocean and lost in an endless storm of death. Then, all he could see was eternal darkness.
"...ai- ...en Tai-... Dr. Shen Tai!" Wang Xiu Lan voice sounded a bit panicked.
"What...?" Shen Tai had collapsed and everything was fuzzy as he started to regain his consciousness. He set one of his hands onto his head, he felt as though his head was going to burst from the pain.
"What was that...?" Shen Tai spoke in a weak voice. He was covered in sweat and his heartbeat was erratic.
"My apologies, I should have warned you not to get too close. We are not yet sure what it is. But, we believe it's some kind of defensive mechanism. The person in that stasis chamber may seem like a human, but he is not truly the human we know of. His origins are completely unknown." Wang Xiu Lan said as she helped Shen Tai to his feet.
She managed to pull him back to a safe distance just in time. But, even though she did so he still paid a small price for it.
"Not the human we know of? Then, what exactly is he?" Shen Tai had a look of disbelief on his face.
"We have only scratched the surface. At the moment, he is known as the Prime Genesis." Wang Xiu Lan replied.
"Prime Genesis..." Shen Tai muttered silently to himself as if he were carving the name into his mind.
"Tech freak, are you still not going home yet? You've already been here for an entire day straight." A young woman with bright red hair said. She had come here to check up on him because she knew that this would happen.
"Eh? That long? Hm, I suppose I should get some rest. I just finished analyzing the batch of data you gave me a while back. The results are quite interesting." The man with glasses said.
"Yeah, alright it's interesting, but you can go on about it after you've rested." The young woman with bright red hair said.
"Ugh, I wonder where you learned such manners from... You act just like her..." The man with glasses mumbled under his breath.
"Did you say something?" The young woman with red hair glared at him which caused him to avoid eye contact.
"No, nothing at all." The man with glasses then left out of the room with the young woman. As he closed the door behind him, there was a nameplate on his door with the words "Dr. Shen Tai" inscribed into it.
"Eighteen Arms of Wushu: Steel Paradise." Ruin roared as all eighteen weapons formed a perfect circle in front of him.
"Luna, now!" Zi Yi shouted as she gave the signal for Luna to act.
"Go." Luna said softly, but her voice carried a powerful force along with it as it headed straight towards Ruin. She used the Silverline's Imprint version of her voice magic.