Chapter 275: Ingenious Tactics
Thunderclap and Windbreaker were very familiar with this particular map. As a result, they knew the best way to approach the wheel. I no enemies were encountered, the next stop were spawn points.
Hades, meanwhile, was expertly hidden from view. In god-battles such as these, timing was everything. Thunderclap and Skyshade swept by with their scanners and, finding nothing, left just as quickly. They were heading for the Wheel of Fortune.
The other members of Star Alliance had gone for the wheel directly, without stopping to search other spawn points. Their primary objective was to hold the structure.
Mo Xiao narrated the scene. “From what we’re seeing now, Star Alliance’s tactics are simple. Because they had five people, their chances of two spawning together were higher. With their numbers advantage, they sought to take out an enemy quickly. The job done, or failing to find any enemies, it looks like they were instructed to join their companions at the Wheel. It’s a simple strategy, but effective, especially when it’s five on four.”
“What’s strange is the Divine Monarchs’ decision. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen them hide like this. Let’s see how their tactics develop as the fight continues.”
Roughly ten seconds later, the first Monarch to move was Prometheus. The dark green Coeus sprang to life, quickly launching clockwise o the next pawn point. It didn’t take him long to connect with Poseidon. As they joined up, they quickly continued along the map’s border to the next spot. When their circle was complete, all four Monarchs were together.
Four imposing mechas turned in mid-air. Their next target was clearly the Wheel of Fate.
“Well, what an interesting gambit! They hid themselves in the beginning so they could join us when the coast was clear. The trade-off is they give up early control of the wheel for more power as a unit. They have a great deal of faith in their capabilities as a team… Ah! I understand. They’re taking advantage of the time delay. As I’m sure our viewers know, you must inject energy in to the Wheel for two minutes before you gain control. From what we’re seeing, it’ll take the Divine Monarchs around forty seconds to reach the Star Alliance’s location. Three of the Star Alliance’s members have already arrived at the map’s center, with two still missing. They’ve already started injecting energy.”
“This is a very common situation we experience with the Wheel of Fortune. Since they aren’t aware of their enemy’s location, the Star Alliance chose to wait and watch. If the Monarchs were to execute a sneak attack while they were taking the Wheel, the loses would certainly outweigh the gains. The Monarchs, meanwhile, anticipated this and are positioning to turn it to their advantage. By the time they arrive, they’ll have more than a minute to wrest control, likely facing off four-on-four 1. Consider who their fighting, it’s an ingenious tactic. It must have been Prometheus’ call, a man worthy of being called the master tactician!”
Mo Xiao’s explanations were thankfully received by many viewers. Prometheus’ plans were subtle, and her ability to figure it out so quickly was no easy task.
During their ten-minute warm-up, both teams were told the maps they would be using. Those ten minutes were integral to allow them time to hammer out a plan of attack for each confrontation. What they did not know, though, was the order in which these maps would be employed.
So it was that the moment the simulation changed to the Wheel of Fortune, Prometheus was calling out orders. Hide! Advance clockwise, and regroup.
So far it’s worked well in their favor.
After the Four Divine Monarchs had joined up, they raced ahead with Thor at the forefront. Coeus, Hades and Poseidon followed. The Wheel of Fate came in to view.
Four members of the Star Alliance had taken up positions on the edges of the hovering cog. They peered in to the distance, vigilant for their opponents.
The wheel was itself one hundred and fifty meters in diameter. A single high-speed dash was enough to reach the center.
Zeus and his allies could see the defenders from a distance. Starlord, Thunderclap, Phantom 2 and Skyshade stood watch whilst Yu Honghu’s Bahamut took control of the Wheel.
Opportunity and risk often manifests side by side. Prometheus’ plans were successful, getting them the upper hand by diminishing their opponent’s numbers. But the risks were high: if the Star Alliance should succeed in gaining control of the Wheel, their thirty percent power increase would mean a Monarch victory was highly unlikely.
Mo Xiao continued to analyze the fight while switching between camera feeds of the two teams. Before long the Monarchs were nearly at the Wheel. Any closer and their figures would be visible to the enemy. The Wheel of Fate hung suspended in the air, hovering over the ground below. It’s position in the high-ground made a concealed approach impossible.
Coeus, Triton and Cerberus broke off, launching out in different directions while Thor pressed onward. They hid themselves behind rocks and other terrain.
Zeus’ sapphire mecha never slowed, instead gaining speed as he dashed forward. He was completely exposed.
The Wheel of Fortune was in constant motion, spinning on its central axis like a clock. The four members of the Star Alliance, perched on the edges of the structure, spun with it. The first one to spot Thor’s approach was the man who shared his Talent – Thunderclap.
“Thor. We’ve got Zeus’ Thor on the horizon!” Thunderclap cried over the coms to his compatriots.
“Hold your ground. Don’t initiate combat.” Deimos’ charismatic voice replied.
They did as commanded, not simply because he was their team leader, but because it was as Mo Xiao had said: Any pilot from this generation venerated Deimos like an idol. Regardless of the fight’s outcome, they get to fight alongside this respected veteran of their trade. That was enough.
Beyond that, none of these pilots were new to the game. They had an intimate understanding of the map, and knew the appropriate strategies to use.
It had only been a scant few minutes since the match had begun. Why was it Thor was by himself, they wondered? It stank like a trap.
But Thunderclap was itchy. After all, he was here specifically to deal with Zeus. One was seventh on the aggregate power boards, the other ninth. Both their Disciplines dealt with the lightning element. He sat within his sim pod, eyes flashing with the excitement of battle. He was looking forward to this battle, a fight he’d been anticipating for a long time. Their clash would determine who would become DreamNet’s master of lightning.
Thor’s advance wasn’t exceedingly fast. By Thunderclap’s estimate, he was still about five hundred meters out.
Thunderclap stood in a cloud of bluish-black light, a strange corona of energy that matched the mecha’s painted surface. Clearly, the power that crackled around him was like Thor’s own, but there were differences.
As Thunderclap watched, fighting his desire to engage, Thor burst in to motion. In the space of an instant the dazzling blue mecha was racing forward at break-neck speeds, while simultaneously emitting blinding rays of powerful light. The purplish blast sprang out, and hung over Thunderclap like a net.
By the time the light dimmed enough for Thor to be visible he was practically on top of them, shimmering spear in hand.
Five hundred meters was crossed in the blink of an eye. Staggering waves of power barraged Zeus’ competitor. Thunderclap wasn’t taken aback by the blitzkrieg – on the contrary, he was disappointed. Such a brazen assault wasn’t a demonstration of the powerful opponent he was anticipating!
The blue-black mecha stood steadfast. Its mechanical arms rose, and as its metal hands met, a gun barrel appeared from the machine’s chest plate. Without ceremony it belched a shimmering bolt of electric blue light directly toward Thor. As it reached its target, and with a roar of thunder, the beam erupted in to a ball of explosive energy that stretched ten meters in diameter. A cry of surprise and alarm went through the crowd.
The eminence of violet light disappeared. The waves of energy dispersed. Only the blue-black orb surrounding Thunderclap remained.
And yet Thunderclap’s eyes were sharp, and worried. For he knew that his strike didn’t land.
There was a flash, and almost before he could react the blazing golden tip of Thor’s electric spear was lunging for his chest.
Both of the pilots were masters of the lightning Discipline, with an emphasis on speed. Thunderclap’s weapon – a sizzling electric halberd – helped facilitate his defense. He unconsciously coaxed his mecha in to action, and the halberd shot up to deflect the spear’s attack. Then, with a flick of his wrist, Thunderclap caught Thor’s spear in the opening between the blade and the haft.
In truth Thunderclap was surprised his block and grapple had been so successful. But he capitalized on the situation without hesitation. With Thor’s spear caught against it, Thunderclap pulled his halberd close while simultaneously rushing forward to collide with Zeus’ suit. As they met, a bloom of staggering electric energy exploded around them with Thunderclap at its heart.
The difference between Thor and Thunderclap was simple. Thunderclap’s specialties lay in thunder and lightning. As in the real world, lightning preceded the sound. All of his weaponry centered around this.
Thor, meanwhile, was a more balanced machine. Although it was named after the god of thunder, it’s use of electricity or thunder was limited. This was DreamNet, after all – Zeus couldn’t empower those strikes with his Discipline. A well-rounded approach was his preference.
Because of this, Thunderclap was sure his own mecha superior to Thor.