Chapter 273: Starlord.
Thunderclap’s explanation was delivered with cool indifference. “His Discipline is too balanced, too calm. Mine, though, has been specialized.”
Mo Xiao looked interested. “I see. You’re called the Voltaic Wraith because of your unpredictability. You sure seem to have faith in your abilities!”
The one called Thunderclap didn’t answer.
Mo Xiao turned away from him, and walked the short distance to the front of the stage. “Are we feeling anxious for the Four Divine Monarchs yet? With these four challengers, how could we not? Already their total power isn’t far below our defending champions. Not to mention, they’ve been specifically chosen as counters. Even then, though, I feel it would be very difficult for the Star Alliance to achieve victory. At least, that would be the case if there were only four of them. After all, the Divine Monarchs have been friends and brothers-in-arms for years. They know each others’ tactics, and have become a finely tuned combat machine. Group battles are very different from solo challenges you know – cooperation is everything. Here the Star Alliance is at a disadvantage, since they don’t have the same symbiotic relationship.”
“But lest we forget, the Star Alliance is not a four-man team. Five members will enter the arena to face off against the Monarchs. We have one still to introduce, and it just so happens to be their leader. When I tell you who it is, you’ll understand why I have such dismal hopes for Poseidon and his friends!”
A final, enormous column of dazzling golden light shot down from overhead. It was easily twice the diameter of the other spotlights. The other pilots, despite their fame and arrogant personal, retreated from the column and allowed it to take center position upon the stage.
The shadow of a tall man appeared within, partially hidden. Then something strange occurred, for as they watched the golden light was infiltrated by twinkling dots of starlight. On the outset the twinkling spots were golden, like the light they inhabited. However gradually they became an alluring silver. They grew in number and luminescence until it seemed the whole world, much less the stage, was a sea of starlight.
Mo Xiao’s form disappeared in the blaze of silver, but her gentle voice still cooed in the ears of the billions of audience members.
“In the world of mecha pilots there is a special group of men, who they call Gods. They are living legends, who have abilities that transcend mere mortality, who ride in on machines that are like gods themselves. They stand at the peak of humanity, visions of perfection who command terrible power. Among these elite few, there is one; a legend among legends.”
“There is one who has never been defeated in combat. Whenever he appears, a madness consumes DreamNet. Once, in full view of the public, he defeated five terrifying challengers all alone. Before the rise of the Monarchs, he dominated the listings. Even with the arrogance to face a team on his own, he has never lost a fight.”
“That is until ten years ago, when he mysteriously disappeared without a trace. According to the rules of Sanctuary, a pilot who is absent for more than five years has his rankings removed. Any information we have is ancient history. As the Monarchs rose to prominence, they took over as the top God Team… because the top spot was suddenly left open. But there was one list no one dare tamper with. In fact, the keepers of DreamNet came together to decree, that his name will forever live at the top of this one, special list. It’s a list he still dominates to this day, a list that all of DreamNet, Dreamburg, Sanctuary, even real-world pilots agree is the only list that really matters. Total Combat Prowess.”
Already there were many in the crowd who had begun cheering raucously. In their hearts, and especially in the hearts of the older generation of pilots, one name was written.
Lan Jue, Hua Li and Chu Cheng spoke, all in unison.
“It can’t be…”
Even Lan Qing, a man who routinely stared down armies with the calm of a Buddha, clenched his fists.
Mo Xiao’s voice rose in a crescendo of emotion. “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the powerhouse of the Star Alliance. The invincible warrior of DreamNet. First under Heaven 1, the Starlord Deimos 2!”
The Starlord! A simple name that raced through the crowd like a nuclear weapon. The audience erupted in to insanity.
The name had already surpassed legendary status. In the world of mecha piloting the Starlord was practically inhuman, no less storied and respected than the greatest Paragons. Perhaps even more so.
Since the creation of the first mecha suit to now, no one has ever come close to his level of power and mastery.
Deimos. The name was an intrinsic part of the cultural zeitgeist. No one knew who he actually was, which only lent an element of mystery to his domineering story. There had never been any sightings in the real world, either. His mecha, also called Starlord, was as famous as he was.
There were countless pilots who complained that he was a glitch in the system, when he first appeared. Recordings of his fights were worth more than one’s own life. For most in the world of mecha piloting, this was their idol.
Never once since he achieved it had Starlord’s position as most powerful pilot ever been usurped. It has been twenty years, but the name remains.
This was the leader of the Star alliance, and their opponent: The Invincible Starlord.
His figure slowly came in to view. He wore a white robe which reflected the light from a host of multi-colored stars that followed him. His face was concealed by an unadorned mask, white as driven snow.
With his appearance, the DreamNet server array was immediately in danger of overheating from the strain. Their backups kicked in to mitigate some of the insane response DreamNet users were throwing their way.
Could they be blamed? Who could have imagined the Four Divine Monarchs would be facing the uncontested master of mecha pilots, a man who had vanished for a decade?
Now their true enemy was revealed. Starlord, God among gods.
Now the truth was revealed, with the Monarchs facing five exceptional God-ranked pilots, led by a living legend. Mo Xiao’s determination made far more sense now. Even a thirty percent chance of victory seemed generous.
Not even thirty percent! The Knave’s pompous threats were disregarded by many in the audience, but their hearts sank with the appearance of Deimos. Few doubted the clown now. Now, ten percent seemed like a fair estimate.
Still others had suspected this fight would be dull. While the Star Alliance was good, the Monarchs were an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. The challengers weren’t strong enough to compete. But with their leader revealed, no one could underestimate the Star Alliance. They were terrifying.
Anyone who was capable of landing their name on Sanctuary’s combat prowess top ten lists was a hero for mecha pilots. Reality was a different matter, considering the addition of Disciplines, but here they stood on the shoulders of humanity, elevated as celebrities.
Those who achieved such high status were rarely encountered in DreamNet. Any news of one of them appearing was a source of great excitement and gossip among fans. This was taken to insane degrees with Deimos, who no one had heard hide nor tail of for ten years.
The Star Alliance had chosen their name well. Indeed, this was a team of superstars, where only the greatest were summoned. All five of them boasted a top twenty ranking on the charts.
Of the Monarchs, Prometheus was third 3. Zeus was ninth, Hades seventeenth, and Poseidon nineteenth. However, as a team their totals were far less impressive, not to mention they were short a man.
Until this moment, no one has been able to upset Deimos’s one on five record. As the Knave might say, legends are legends. For those in the audience, the Starlord’s appearance was already worth the price of admission.
Once again the number of subscribed users surged. The number jumped to five hundred million in no time at all 4
Lan Jue turned his head to face Hua Li and Chu Cheng. The look in their eyes said more than words could ever express. Never in a million years had they anticipated facing Deimos.
“Mr. Deimos, thank you very much for agreeing to participate.” Mo Xiao stood at the man’s side. Her voice was full of respectful deference. Even though she herself was a god-ranked pilot, this man was the best of his generation, possibly the best to ever have lived. The Starlord was an idol to innumerable pilots, and deserved the respect that entailed.
Deimos responded with a laugh. His warm, magnetic voice flowed from the mask. “And a very hearty thank you to our beautiful hostess.”
As Mo Xiao spoke, her hand pressed against the swell of her chest. “You know, my heart is racing. When I was little you were my hero. If you would have asked me then, I would never have believed one day I’d be sharing the stage with you in DreamNet.”
This earned another chuckle from the man. “Indeed! I’m quite old now, and this will probably be my last appearance in DreamNet as a combatant. After today, I will be announcing my retirement. The future of Sanctuary will be absent the Starlord. I will be submitting my demands that my name be stricken from the records so that the younger generation can have their shot.”
“You’re retiring?” she asked in surprise. “Why did you choose to return for this fight, and as their leader? Unless I’m mistaken, this should be your first time in this position.”
Deimos huffed. “No one is strong forever. Just as life wanes as we near the winter of our days, the same is said of mecha pilots.”
Mo Xiao nodded. “I really must know, why did you choose this fight to come back after such a long hiatus, especially as team leader? Unless I’m mistaken, this is your first time taking on the role.”
“When I chose to fade out ten years ago, it was because I felt that DreamNet had no further need for me.” Deimos began. “I was also too old to represent it like I had. As everyone knows, controlling a mecha sets quite a strain on the body. This is just as true for the simulations as it is for the real thing. As I am now, I’m perhaps only a third or fourth of where I was during my peak. Already I find it difficult to remain in DreamNet for very long. As for why I’m here, there are two reasons. The first is to bid farewell to my fans and friends. The second, is so that I can see what constitutes excellence in today’s world. I’m here to see just how powerful the new generation is.”
- A phrase used for ancient emperors. ↩
- Naming note: The name TJSS has given him is 月空, literally translated as ‘Moon Void’. Interesting as that is, it doesn’t fit the epicness of this guy. Unable to find a closer equivalent, I decided to name him after one of the many moons that dot our solar system. I settled on Deimos, which is the name of both the Greek God of Terror (due to his terrifying prestige on the battlefield, and keeping with the Greek naming theme) and a moon for Mars ↩
- In the previous chapter they claimed he was first. After double checking, the list names were the same, so it was likely just a mistake by the author. This number should be his actual ranking. ↩
- Potentially confusing. Chinese numbers are weird in and of themselves – to the point where my assistant teachers and I would have to argue and write out any numbers we were trying to teach kids. The reason for this is because they don’t go in to the ‘ten-‘ whatevers, like ten thousand. Instead they call that 一万, or ‘one ten thousands’. So one hundred thousand would be ‘ten ten thousands’. One billion, you can imagine, gets tougher. To compound the issue there are VIP fees you can pay to get a special video feed, which he’ll occasionally delineate separate from total viewership. So for clarities’ sake, there are one hundred billion people from all the alliances watching the show. Five hundred million of them are payed in to the VIP stream. I think. It did say more than that before, so who knows really. A lot, is what we’re trying to get at. ↩