Chapter 277: Strongest Under Heaven
Skyshade’s thick, mechanical arms rose in to the air. A dazzling white light came to life between them, which caused the air between him and Poseidon to shimmer ominously. A deep, threatening roar of power filled their ears just as a blade made of blue light slashed outward.
Among his fans, Windbreaker was known to suppress powers of vacuity. He was a master of air, a quality his mecha shared. In reality, Windbreaker was stronger than both Thunderclap and the Knave. This was, of course, due to the addition of his own Discipline in conjunction with a mecha suit.
Poseidon wasn’t aiming to face Skyshade directly, though. Triton’s trident fired several bolts of blue energy that crashed down on to the enemy mecha from all directions. The strikes were designed to contain Skyshade, and limit his combat capabilities.
Poseidon saw the white light, and watched as the world warped. The beams of light that crashed around Skyshade deviated from their paths. Then the strange power extended further, threatening Triton’s position.
The orb of gentle light around Triton rippled, as a vibrant but soft light exuded from its chest plate. Waves of energy undulated outward like crashing waves and eventually collided with Skyshade’s warped air. The meeting of the two emulsions resulted in a staggering release of energy, that fired off every which way.
The world shook as battle raged on either edge of the Wheel. The most important fight, thought, was occurring in the center.
The God of Wisdom was facing off against the Starlord. The thirst and first most powerful pilots faced each other in full view of the Alliances and their people.
One was the undefeated, irreplaceable idol of DreamNet. The other, an indomidable rising star. As Prometheus and Deimos met on the field, it was as Mo Xiao said – everyone collectively held their breath.
Although the two other encounters nearby where wonderful spectacles to behold, this meeting of two living legends was far more important. It was a battle of the old guard versus the new generation, and spectators were anxious to see who would come out on top.
For some, there was little anxiety over who would emerge victorious. The Starlord’s reputation was itself a force of nature, but by Deimos’ own admission he was less than half the pilot he used to be. A strong case could be made for Prometheus’ eventual success. He was, after all, the master of control, Supersoldier of An Lun, and hero of the Eastern Alliance. For many of the younger pilots, he was the supreme mecha pilot, and no crotchety old man was going to say otherwise.
Still others felt differently. They would wait, and believe what they saw more than what one’s reputation would have them believe. This was a fight for the ages, and no one really knew what the outcome would be.
Prometheus’ dark green mecha shone with a cyan light, that surrounded it like a shell. It’s moonblades glinted in each metal hand. Coeus did not advance, but instead remained at a distance and stared – waiting for Starlord to make his move.
Starlord, too, was in no rush to engage. He stood steadfast, with Starblade’s point pressed against the Wheel beneath its feet. He was a mountain, a statue – some insurmountable obstacle blocking Prometheus’ path.
Both tacticians silently weighed the situation. Mechas weren’t Adepts, so they could not sense the abilities of their opponent’s suit. Still as they were, no indication of their abilities was made evident.
“Come on then, let’s see what you really got.” Deimos’ voice echoed from Starlord, calm and without animosity. But while his address was tepid, everyone could hear the self-confidence thick in Deimos’ tone.
Prometheus was on the move, as though accepting the old hero’s invitation. Before Deimos even finished, Prometheus was closing the gap.
Within a few moments, only a few meters separated them. Without warning, Coeus’ figure shimmered and vanished. Before anyone could blink, it appeared once more, directly in front of Starlord. However, where before there was only one Coeus, now there were three. They lashed out from different directions.
“Three ghost images? My my, since when did Prometheus get so fast! These are new heights for our Supersoldier!”
Mo Xiao’s reaction wasn’t unlike Lan Jue, Hua Li and Chu Cheng’s after discovering ‘big boss’’ improvement. Likely many in the audience felt the same.
Starlord was rooted in place; it didn’t run, it didn’t dodge. There was a flash, and then the Starblade was in motion. Twinkling pinpoints of light danced along the weapon’s length, as though it were itself composed of a million condensed stars. Where it went, a silvery afterglow remained.
Starlord exploded forward with a well-executed lunge and sweep that had its peculiar blade approach obliquely.
Lan Qing glowered at the screen, filled with an intense irritation. This weapon, while not exceedingly dangerous, was like a fish bone in one’s throat – it had to be dealt with, or it would be a nuisance.
The three figures were again reduced to one. Coeus hung in the air, slightly off balance. He seemed in a trajectory to fall directly on to Starlord’s blade.
Both of Coeus moonblades were drawn inward, whistling dangerously as they knocked Starlord’s attack away. With a twist, the Starblade was caught between the cutting edge of Coeus’ weapon and the hilt, locking it in place.
The cyan light surrounding Prometheus’ mecha expanded outward with sudden vigor, and thickened considerably. The suit’s movements grew erratic, elusive.
Starlord’s response was to finally move from its vigil. Deimos juked forward and to the left, twisting his suit. With an ear-piercing ring, the Starblade slipped free of the weapon bind. As the two jostled for superiority, flashes of energy raged around them.
Coeus shook and shimmered, then in a spectacular display erupted in a score of mirror images. They all rushed at Starlord in unison. Now that he’d gotten around Deimos’ defense, there was no further need for caution. Starlord’s form darkened as the shadows of its multiple enemies fell over it.
The twinkling starlight dotting Starlord’s body burned ferociously, then without warning released countless beams of light in all directions like a hedgehog. The beams were thick and powerful, creating lines of condensed energy pulses.
Luminescence! The lost knowledge of Deimos, the thing that made him famous. It was also Starlord’s most powerful focused attack.
Generally speaking, those attacks which were more focused, were also more devastating. Sharing energy among attacks over a larger scale obviously made each weaker. However, this was not true for the Starlord. This particular suit was designed with a powerful soul gem as its energy source, crushed up and distributed all throughout the frame. All of Starlord was a weapon, allowing it to strike out in all directions with the power of a focused strike.
When Lan Qing was just getting his start, Deimos was already effectively retired. He’d never had the opportunity to face this man, and so it was his first time experiencing Luminescence. One by one, faster than you could see, Coeus copies were obliterated. However, the pale blue-green light did not falter, instead growing more prosperous. It was as though it rose to challenge the blinding starlight, refusing to capitulate. Blades of energy lashed out from the undulating orb surrounding the god of wisdom, one after the other. Flashes of radiant light fluttered and flashed as they danced through the air.
Their encounter wasn’t as fast-paced as the ones occurring on either side of them, but their unbridled release of power caused the others on both sides to flee the area as quickly as they could for fear they’d be swept up in it.
“Blocked? The God of Wisdom lives up to his name, folks! He’s never seen Luminescence, but he’s managed to effectively ward it off!” It was Mo Xiao’s first commentary on the team leader’s encounter.
He did indeed block the terrible attack, however not without having to endure some of it himself.
In that instant a beam of light appeared, shimmering with stars like a vision of the Milky Way. It sliced through the heavens, parting the skies.
Hade’s Hellfire cannon was charged to the fullest now, and as the weapon’s depths came to life with red light an ominous sense crackled in the air. It erupted, releasing a condensed beam of energy sizzling with fatal promise. It tore through the air, heading straight for the Wheel of fortune’s center.
Meanwhile the Starblade’s power was sweeping skyward. Starlord saw the opportunity, and took it.
Charging and firing his laser required Cerberus to remain totally still. Where he to do so, not only would the strike be misaligned, Hades’ mecha was likely to suffer some residual blow-back from the power output.
What was he to do? Chu Cheng was faced with a grim choice: either he could continue his attack, which would almost certainly destroy Bahamut but would leave himself open for destruction, or move and miss his opportunity – possible damaging his own mecha in the process.
Face the danger, or interrupt charging the Wheel?
He made his decision. If both he and Bahamut were destroyed, it would bring the playing field back to three on three. It would, however, give his team more breathing room to take control of the Wheel. With Starlord’s focus on him, it may open the field for the big guy. And all Lan Qing needed was one real chance, then the Star Alliance was doomed.
Cerberus did not move. It poured every ounce of energy it possessed in to the Hellfire cannon. Chu Cheng’s face was dark as he watched Starlord’s attack approach. Then his screen went dark.
Boooooommm – Boooom!
The two violent explosions occurred almost on top of one another. The center of the Wheel was a hellscape of acrid smoke and fire, while simultaneously Cerberus was reduced to a molten ball of slag. Starlord’s blade, which struck with the power of ten thousand suns, hit its mark perfectly. With such a strike, and no shields, Chu Cheng was right in his determination. He never stood a chance of getting out alive.
The Star Alliance was no longer pouring energy in to the Wheel. But be it Lan Qing, Lan Jue or Hua Li, the Monarchs’ hearts where dark with anxiety.
Each of them were god-ranked pilots, the best of the best. Their battlefield awareness was meticulous. This high-stakes fight was no exception. True the Wheel’s capture was interrupted, but they were almost certain the charging had stopped early.
The unease they felt heightened as a two-toned figure appeared in the haze. Fires glinted off the red and blue metal as a suit rose from beneath the Wheel, and headed their way.
Impossible! Chu Cheng, alone in his dark sim pod, stared incredulously at the screen. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Somehow, the dragon of ice and fire had not been destroyed by the full force of Chu Cheng’s power.