Chapter 274: Wheel of Fortune
Mo Xiao let out a sigh. “Only a fourth! I must admit, this eases my mind greatly. I’m sorry, Starlord – I must watch what I say, but you must understand that this involves our beloved Poseidon.”
Though you could not see his face, Deimos’ voice sounded as though it were coming from around a smile. “I wouldn’t expect anything less. But you know, I was quite handsome myself, in my younger years.”
Mo Xiao tittered flirtatiously. “If we were born in the same generation I’d be very interested! But despite your humble assurances you’re not at your peek, I do believe any team with you in it is unlikely to fail. Even though I want to stand by Poseidon, I can’t see how he and his team have any chance at victory.”
Deimos shook his head. “Not so, of course they have a chance. Combat isn’t as simple as a contest of pure might. How your power is used, what tactics you employ, those are more important. Prometheus is a young pilot I respect greatly, and I hope he surprises me today. I greatly look forward to losing to his team.”
It was a strange sentiment, and one that would likely be considered arrogant if it had come from anyone elses mouth. Coming from Deimos, however, it was simply fact.
Mo Xiao responded by offering Deimos a low, respectful bow. She then returned to the front of the stage.
“Very well. Now, all of today’s challengers have been revealed. But where there are challengers, there are protagonists! And our heroes for today have dominated the Sanctuary top lists for years. I’m sure we’re all very familiar with who they are, so I’ll waste no further time with introductions. Please welcome your Divine Monarchs!”
“The God of Wisdom, Prometheus and his mecha, Coeus! He is our Monarchs’ commander and strategist.”
“The Lord of Hell, Hades, riding his mecha Cerberus. His explosive power is as frightening as his Discipline!”
“Lord of Lightning, Zeus, the legendary King of Mercenaries. Mecha: Thor. The perfect combination of speed and power, with a head as cool as a veteran commander. He is the only Monarch who is in the top ten of three lists; combat prowess, god-team battles, and hand speed.”
“Saving the best for last, our final hero is a man I love as much as I hate. Poseidon, if you don’t come home after this competition, I will announce to the world precisely where you’re hiding. You will drown in a flood of frenzied fans!” Mo Xiao’s pretty voice had adopted a decided vicious undertone.
“Poseidon. Mecha: Triton. His specialty is control and defense. Ghost of the battlefield, and your God of the Seas!”
Four identical columns of golden light descended from the heavens. Four figures appeared as dark silhouettes in the blazing light, eventually revealed to the masses. Prometheus, with his black and green mask; Hades, in red; Zeus in gold; and Poseidon, in a mask of sea blue.
The four men were all of approximate stature, tall and imposing. Though they were hidden behind masks, their appearance nonetheless set the crowd to roaring.
Mo Xiao’s voice rose to overcome the din. “Ladies and gentlemen, this much-anticipated fight is about to begin. Pilots will be given ten minutes to warm up and prepare. Then, let us witness what promises to be one incredible fight – what DreamNet has dubbed the Miracle Battle! The Star alliance – lead by their terrifying and powerful commander – facing off against the legendary Divine Monarchs. This is the wonderful spectacle we have in store! Beyond any doubt, this battle will forever be burned in your memories. It will go down in history as the greatest DreamNet battle ever recorded.”
Suddenly the world around them shimmered, and everything became illusory, like a dream. A few moments later, and the simulated world was clear once again.
Dark green, crimson, violet and sky-blue, the Monarchs dashed across the screens in their mechas. The various sim enemies around them violently exploded under their assault. Their earthshaking power was magnificent to watch.
Such was the performance whenever the Divine Monarchs competed. They were once the perfect team, a powerful force of destruction. Despite the fact that they were always a man down, they dominated every obstacle in their path. Their fighting style was elusive and confounding, with tactics as dissimilar as their Disciplines.
Swift as the wind, static as a forest. Simple, but masterful.
God-ranked battles like this were never broadcast, available only to those who could enter Sanctuary and afford to pay the fees. It was only due to the organizers’ special approval that this holographic video was made available. The battle hadn’t even begun, but already the emotions of the crowd were high. Countless figures in countless sim pods waited with baited breath. The whole of DreamNet seemed to buzz with excitement.
Practice only lasted ten minutes, but every second was a wonder. As the Monarchs dispatched of their final opponent, the screens blazed with light and then went dark.
“With the warm-ups concluded, the Miracle Battle will begin shortly. This historic battle of the titans will be the best of five. The first team to reach three victories is catapulted to the top of the charts. To maintain the integrity of the games and their reputation, DreamNet has ensured that none of the contestants are aware of the arena map beforehand. However, they are certainly all familiar with each of the potential maps. All of them are classic maps employed daily in the simulation, with their own special characteristics in play. Combatants will need to adjust if they wish to most effectively employ their abilities. Five maps have been arranged, carefully selected for advantage and disadvantage.”
Without further adieu, the first Miracle Battle combat map with be… “ Mo Xiao let the suspense hang for a moment as she looked over the crowd.
“The Wheel of Fortune!”
The world of gloomy darkness flashed, and filled with light. The terrain that was revealed expanded farther than the eye could see in all directions.
Group battles were different from one-on-one fights. Pure combat arenas weren’t suitable. After all, with the combatants being god-ranked pilots an empty arena couldn’t play to their respective strengths. It’d be over in a matter of seconds, and what enjoyment would be found in that?
For this reason, all god-battles were performed in a variety of complicated environments. Every pilot would, therefore, have to adapt to ensure maximum cooperation and capability.
The Wheel of Fortune was one of DreamNet’s oldest and most widely used arenas.
The maps’ topography consisted largely of rocky terrain. Looking at it from above, the world looked like a hilly landscape with strange discrepancies.
There were eight spawn points here. What that meant was, for two teams of five there would be a pair that spawned together. Whether you spawned with a friend or an enemy was luck of the draw. Everything was determined randomly by the program.
Further, defeating your enemies wasn’t the only point of this map. The real prerequisite for victory was maintaining control of the area in the map’s center: The Wheel of Fortune.
The Wheel was a concrete, gear-shaped structure – the only such building in the simulation. In the center of the wheel was a depression, wherein pilots could inject energy from their mechas.
Whichever side saw themselves in control of the wheel had their entire team’s capabilities increased by thirty percent. Of course, the pilot who was responsible for controlling the wheel couldn’t participate in the fighting.
The team that holds the wheel for a total of five minutes, wins the match. Contending for control of the Wheel was, therefore, paramount to success, and the focus of most of the fights.
The map was circular, like a massive verdant wheel. The spawn points were evenly distributed along its edges.
“Preparations for the battle are complete, and we’re nearly under way! We wish luck to both sides – because as we know, luck plays a big part in the Wheel of Fortune!”
“All combatants are present, and have entered the map. Ladies and gentlemen, let the first round of our Miracle Battle commence!”
“Five. Four. Three. Two. One!” The computerized voice counted down, and punctuated by the cries of a billion spectators, the fight began.
The Wheel of Fortune appeared on the screens. The spawn points were displayed in a separate area. Those same spawn points were suddenly illuminated, revealing the competitors from both teams.
“The fight has begun. Let’s see how they decide to approach.” Mo Xiao’s voice was faster, higher, more excited than before. Her voice, however, was still as clear as a bell.
“Well, how interesting! Both teams are scattered. The only exception is Skyshade and Thunderclap, who luckily spawned together. Their specialties are air control and speed, respectively. They aren’t moving for the wheel, though – they’re headed for the map border.”
“Remember, viewers, there are no specific starting points. They’re generated randomly so, no one knows where they are. They also have no idea where their enemies are. Their tactics are very smart: with the two of them, their prepared for whatever they encounter. If it’s an enemy, they have the numbers to succeed. If they find a friendly, there are then three on the hunt. Let’s see how they run in to!”
“Ah! It’s Hades, one of the Four Divine Monarchs! But what is he doing? He hasn’t moved from the spawn point.”
It was indeed as Mo Xiao noted. Hades’ Cerberus hadn’t moved an inch from where he spawned in to find friend or foe. On the contrary, he looked to be hiding behind a nearby rock. All of Cerberus’ systems appeared to be shut down.
It wasn’t just him. The golden dots on the overhead map indicating the Divine Monarchs all showed the same. None of them had moved, or even turned on their mechas.