In the fall of 1939, archaeologist Chuan-Jay (CJ) Hoo is captured in a rescue mission of a downed Russian volunteer pilot, two years after returning to China from Boston to defend his country against Japanese invasion.
As a POW, CJ is forced to take part in a top-secret Japanese tomb raid. To his surprise, this Japanese special task force is led by Hikoichi Akagi, a fellow archaeologist, his best friend, and roommate at Boston University. With time, CJ discovers that Akagi is looking for the tomb of the First King of China. Akagi’s real objective is a mythical device buried with the King – the Ninth Cauldron, which Akagi believes can change the outcome of the war for Japan. To protect China’s national treasure, CJ tries to sabotage Akagi’s mission but fails miserably. With the help of the Dragon Stone, a gem said to be the amulet of the First King, Akagi finds the tomb of the First King in the Dragon Mountains, a barren mountain range in Central China.
Unexpectedly, the Japanese tomb raid is violently defeated by a ruthless force sealed in the tomb. They are the Launtjas, the royal guards of the First King. They are aliens from planet Shah across the galaxy. 4000 years ago, they crash-landed on Earth with the First King. The most elusive first dynasty in China, the Xia Dynasty, is actually established by some strayed aliens. The Launtjas let CJ live because they find CJ a direct descendant of their inter-marriage with the human.
Astonished by the Launtjas’ firepower, CJ begs the Launtjas to fight for China, but they refuse, citing a more pressing mission to accomplish: the First King is still alive but in critical condition. Five Launtjas, Chee, Black-Fish, Tiger, Bell, and White-Goat, have to continue guarding the tomb in hibernation, waiting for rescue from their home plane. Under an oath of not talking and not returning unless the Launtja’s rescue fleet arrives, CJ leaves with the Dragon Stone that he recovers from Akagi’s dead body and rejoins his rescue unit in the Chinese Army.
Thirteen months later, CJ leads a mission to rescue General Zi-Zong Zhang, the highest ranked Chinese officer killed in combat during WWII. However, General Zhang refuses to abandon his trapped troops. The only thing CJ is able to bring back is General Zhang’s last letter to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, the supreme commander of China.
Weeks later, CJ is summoned to Chungking, the temporary capital of China. He explains General Zhang’s heroic action to Generalissimo Chiang and his wife, Madame Chiang. Madame Chiang likes CJ and appointed him as the translator for American Colonel Claire Chennault, Madame Chiang’s friend and the commander of the Flying Tigers. CJ and Chennault hit it off right away. Chennault takes CJ to a New Year’s Day party at Madame Chiang’s country house. There CJ meets an American archaeologist and adventurer, Dr. Harry Jones, who is invited by Madame Chiang to report the Japanese plunder of archaeological treasures in China. CJ offers to assist Dr. Jones to accomplish his mission.
On a Sunday morning, CJ is working on some archaeological treasures recovered from the frontline when a Japanese bomb explodes near him. He wakes up in a hospital the next day. CJ discovers the Dragon Stone is no longer with him. He suspects the gem is still in the old cloth that has been removed from him when he is admitted to the hospital. He asks a nurse named Lei to look for it. However, the Dragon Stone is not in CJ’s old cloth and appears to be lost.
Dr. Jones admits that he has taken the Dragon Stone after witnessing the gem saving CJ’s life from the explosion by forming a glowing blue shield over CJ’s chest. Dr. Jones agrees to return the gem to CJ on one condition, telling him the true story about it. CJ is under oath and cannot tell him the story. Dr. Jones does not return him the gem. CJ becomes extremely upset and refuses to accept any help from Dr. Jones.
Feeling guilty, Dr. Jones asks Lei to help CJ during his recovery. Every day, Dr. Jones drives Lei to CJ’s apartment. One thing leads to another. Lei and CJ fall in love. Several weeks later, CJ gets the Dragon Stone back by sharing part of his journey to the Tomb of the First King with Dr. Jones. Engulfed by his curiosity, Dr. Jones triesto persuade CJ to return to the tomb in the name of saving the Chinese people, but CJ refuses. He knows that the Launtjas are on a different mission. Dr. Jones insists that his connection to the president of the United States can tip the balance in China’s favor. He asks for a chance to find out what can motivate the Launtjas. CJ is tempted but still rejects Dr. Jones’ proposal.
On a Friday, CJ finds out that Lei is killed during the Japanese’s strategic bombing of Chungking. Her bomb shelter’s entrance is hit by a Japanese incendiary bomb, and Lei suffocates to death with over one thousand people trapped in that shelter. Heartbroken, CJ returns to the tomb with Dr. Jones for a chance of vengeance.
The duo successfully convinces the Launtjas to fight for China by offering them American heavy water, the fuel that the Launtjas desperately need for their fusion drive. Chee, the commander of the Launtjas, decides to come to Chungking with White-Goat to meet Madame Chiang and her husband while three other Launtjas, Black-Fish, Tiger, and Bell stay put, guarding the tomb.
On arriving Chungking, the Launtjas convince the Chinese leaders and the U.S. Ambassador Johnson by shooting down almost an entire Japanese strategic bomber battalion. A three-way treaty among the Republic of China, Xia, and the U.S. is established. Dr. Jones leaves for Washington D.C.and gets the treaty endorsed by President Roosevelt. The U.S. starts building a heavy water supply chain for the Launtjas. Under the treaty, China retakes the area around the tomb militarily and establishes a protrusion in the Japanese-occupied area.
Under Chee’s command, defensive fortresses, weaponry research institutions, and manufacturing facilities are being built. The goal is turning the Dragon Mountain into a training base for a New Army. Once fully established, the New Army, which fights with Launtja’s weapons and tactics, will defeat Japan with a decisive blow.
In Tokyo, the Japanese high command examines the aerial disaster in Chungking and the recent defeat in the Dragon Mountains. Prime Minister Tojo thinks that America is behind all that and tries to strangle Japan’s war against China. He ordered Admiral Yamamoto to attack Pearl Harbor on December 7th if no agreement of ending American embargo can be reached before the deadline. War breaks out in the Pacific Ocean, while President Roosevelt declares war on the Axis Powers. He officially assigns “Project Manhattan” as the name for America’s cooperation with the Launtjas. In the Dragon Mountains, CJ gives Chee an overview of world geopolitics on a map, on which Chee marks many cities of the countries from both sides of the war.
In a few months, resources and supplies from America start to arrive. Led by General Leslie Groves, several prominent scientists, Oppenheimer, Manley, and Fermi visit the Dragon Mountains. During their stay, they learn many advanced technologies. They also help the Launtja improves their fusion drive. Most importantly, they help to repair the Launtjas’ mast antenna, a device that allows the Launtjas to restart sending calls for rescue to space.
Ten months later, Madame Chiang informs President Roosevelt that the Launtjas have made contact with their rescue fleet. She optimistically hopes that the war can end sooner with less blood spilled once the Launtja’s rescue fleet joins the war for the Allies. However,the fleet still has a long way to travel based on Chee’s estimate. President Roosevelt asks the Allies to keep fighting and take control of their own destiny.
In mid-1943, the U.S. starts counter-strikes in the Southern Pacific. The casualty is extremely high as Japanese soldiers often fight to their last blood. President Roosevelt asks China to start an offense from the Dragon Mountains, but the New Army is not ready yet. Dr. Jones proposes “Operation Windsor:” abducting Emperor Hirohito to denounce himself as a living god on Japan’s own radio. He believes this can reduce Japanese soldier’s will of fighting to the very end. The Launtjas agree to hold their end of the deal.
Black-Fish, White-Goat, Tiger, and CJ arrive Japan via an U.S. submarine. Immediately, they identify a perfect opportunity to execute “Operation Windsor.” Meanwhile, they learn that their rescue fleet has shown up around the Moon, much sooner than Chee’s previous estimate. The celestial coordinates of the rescue fleet were probably mis-transmitted. Commanded by General Tio, a descendant of someone they used to know, the fleet will land in the Dragon Mountains before “Operation Windsor” can be finished. Three Launtjas in Japan will have to witness the historical event via a telecommunication device, broadcasted by Dr. Jones.
The flagship of the rescue fleet landed in Dragon Mountain. General Tio meets with Chee, Madame Chiang, and other representatives of the Allies. After Chee hands over the First King’s body, Tio suddenly attacks Chee and kills him. His troop also opens fire and kills Madame Chiang, Bell, and everyone in the Dragon Mountains. Dr. Jones runs back to the tomb and hides a memory stick. Tio comes into the tomb and kills Dr. Jones. He orders his subordinates to “find the eggs and destroy the evidence.”
The Launtjas in Japan watches in disbelief. They do not understand why Tio will attack the Launtjas he is supposed to rescue. They hear Tio’s order with their own ears, but they have no idea of the eggs Tio is referring to. Black-Fish does recognize that General Tio is actually his old apprentice. The Launtjas realize that their time has been shifted back 4000 years when the wormhole they travel in collapses during an ambush. To scare the Earth into submission, Tio’s mothership opens fire from the Lower Earth Orbit. Tio decides to destroy the cities marked on the map that he retrieves from Chee’s dead body. After obliterating cities from both the Allies and the Axis Powers, Tio’s fleet lands in China. His mothership resides in Shanghai, busy enriching heavy water from the sea while his battleships and dragons fly all over China, looking for the eggs that the Launtjas brought to Earth without knowing what they are.
Facing annihilation, the Allies and the Axis powers are forced to stop military actions. WWII essentially comes to a stop with more blood waiting to be spilled. The leaders of both sides agree to meet in Bermuda. After aborting “Operation Windsor”, CJ and the surviving Launtjas travel to Bermuda as part of the Chinese delegation. On their way, their plane flies over Manhattan. CJ witnesses the aftermath of Tio’s destructive power. In Bermuda, the Allies and the Axis powers decide to put history behind and fight for the survival of mankind. They form a battle plan, “Operation Mad Cow,” with the help of the Launtjas. The main goal is to destroy Tio’s mothership before she enriches enough heavy water to turn Earth into an inferno.
Commanded by Tiger, Germany and Soviet tanks take on Tio’s army in Northern China. Tiger is killed in a close-range combat with Tio’s dragons. In East Shanghai, Chinese and Japanese infantry attack Tio’s mothership on land while the U.S. and Japanese Navies strike from the sea. Tio is tricked into concentrating all his forces in Shanghai to defend his mothership. Human’s final striking force, 1500 B-17 heavy bombers, arrives from the Japanese islands. Among them are three Mad Cows: Thunderbird, Memphis Belle, and Enola Gay. Each B-17 carries an atomic bomb.
In the final battle, Thunderbird drops the Fat Man into the ocean, and Memphis Belle is shot down without releasing the Trinity. At the edge of human extinction, the commander of Enola Gay, Colonel Paul Tibbets, calls all surviving B-17 heavy bombers to dive with him towards Tio’s mothership simultaneously. Tio realizes that he underestimated the power of human’s weapon. He orders his mothership to take off and deploy a defensive energy shield in space, but it is too late. Enola Gay crashes into its target and detonates the Little Boy. A massive mushroom cloud rises. CJ believes Tio’s fleet has been annihilated. However, he is wrong. Black-Fish comes back with a video showing that Tio’s fleet is not completely destroyed.
The next day, Black-Fish goes undercover into the remainder of Tio’s troop. He finds out that Tio’s mothership can no longer take off. However, Tio still has a functioning army, and he has nowhere to go but stay on Earth and kill. After burning the bodies of his fallen soldiers, Tio heads east to retaliate. He is determined to destroy the islands where the Mad Cows take off. Trapped with Tio, Black-Fish is on the way to Japan.
CJ and White-Goat come back to the Dragon Mountains. The tomb is guarded by a small army of Tio’s. They find the memory stick that Dr. Jones leaves behind. In the video, Dr. Jones explains his discovery. The Dragon Stone is a key to the Ninth Cauldron, which can manipulate time. However, he does not have the opportunity to figure out how to control the destination time. Tio’s army surrounds CJ and White-Goat. White-Goat is killed defending CJ. Three thousand miles to the east, Tio enters the Japanese Imperial Palace. He kills his teacher, Black-Fish, in a final showdown. Tio steps in front of the divine ruler of Japan, ready to behead Emperor Hirohito. At the last moment, CJ activates the Ninth Cauldron and shifts time back to the point before returning to the tomb with Dr. Jones. To protect the Earth, CJ pretends not being able to locate the tomb.
History happens as we know it. CJ becomes the only person in the world with the memory of that dark time. After the war, he retires from the Army and devotes the rest of his life to protect the secret of the tomb, preventing the Armageddon from reaching Earth again.