Chapter 280: Chang’E’s Domain
How could anyone understand what just happened in this battle without a recorded analysis? How could Deimos win after being in such a disadvantageous position?
Lan Jue sat within the dark sim pod, shock evident in his eyes. In that moment, he himself thought they’d won. In the end, though…
Everything that lead up to the explosion flashed through his mind.
In truth once Thor and Triton joined, the attacks hadn’t just been Thor’s hammer or spear. In the moment when Thor’s Hammer burst against Starlord’s protective shields, Triton’s trident was also stretching out in preparation for Hua Li’s strongest attack. He was just waiting for the right opportunity.
But Lan Jue knew he messed up the moment both sides collided.
Thor’s Hammer was definitely strong enough to break through a mecha’s shields. However, it needed time and positioning. Truth be told it was a short time needed, but enough for someone as talented as Deimos.
Thor and Triton’s attacks were already alleviating by the time Starlord pushed its shields out further. That was when Lan Jue saw the real Starblade.
As they watched the sword transformed, seeming to reflect the vast expanse of the Milky Way galaxy in its depths. It exploded, sending out resplendent beams of energy in all directions. Distracted and blinded by the blast, Hua Li and Lan Jue didn’t know it had impaled them until everything was already finished.
Star Alliance had taken the first victory in their contest for the best of five. Consequently, the Four Divine Monarchs – the best God-ranked team according to polls – were the losers.
But what the audience did not know, was that this loss filled the Monarchs with confidence. Starlord’s stunning upset had not been a result of exceptional piloting, but of his mecha suit’s installed components. Shields and swords are what won him that victory.
They were frighteningly effective, but in the end they were things that required triggers. If they could anticipate these things and plan for them, the next time it happens in a fight they’ll be ready for it.
On the other side the Knave, Thunderclap, Windbreaker and Yu Honghu were anxious despite their victory.
The Four Divine Monarchs were much stronger than they’d imagined. It wasn’t just their cooperation, but even their individual strength that the Star Alliance had failed to properly determine. And when it came to battlefield control, Prometheus was far and away superior to Starlord! Where they not already down a man, the Monarchs likely would have come out of that last fight victorious.
Yes indeed the Star Alliance ended up dominating, but their confidence at a route was shaken.
In the final moments Lan Jue shared his final analysis with Lan Qing.
“Very good. Let’s keep it up.” Those six words were all Lan Qing had to say.
With the completion of the first fight, a resting counter had begun to tick down. A complete 360 analysis of the fight wasn’t yet available, but simple recorded playback was enough for them to recap what had happened.
Many of the audience were doing just that, with their eyes glued to a slow-motion playback of the action.
Mo Xiao had to take a moment to regain her composure before continuing her duties as host. “What you just witnessed you will likely only see once in your entire lifetime. I feel honored to have been able to watch, and will forever be remembered fondly as a cherished memory. Really something splendid!”
“If I hadn’t seen it all with my own eyes, I’d never believe it. This fight wasn’t just about power and mecha piloting – wisdom won the day. What a treasure that I got to be a small part of it.”
No advertisements plagued the audience as the intermission stretched on. However, the large screens did have a highlights reel of the last fight on constant repeat. Ad revenue wasn’t likely to be tremendous, but the number of people queueing up to buy CAT copies already had spent enough to feed a mid-sized planet.
The audience knew that it was an historic fight for DreamNet, but since they hadn’t been able to see the conclusion clearly they were yet to feel the excitement. As before they were allured by the charm of the team members, so what was a few dollars to have a permanent record of your hero battling it out? This was especially true for mecha pilots, for having the opportunity to analyze such a high level fight would undoubtedly serve their skills well in the future.
“Our next map for the second fight: Chang’E’s Domain!” Mo Xiao’s silken, alluring voice called out the information.
The Domain had once been DreamNet’s go-to arena, a classic choice. It was suitable for all manner of combat and competitors. It was a simple square map, with highlands in the four corners that doubled as spawn points. The sole decoration was an exquisite statue in the center, of a beautiful woman – Chang’E 1.
Moonlight hung over the statue and its surroundings like a blanket. Any mecha that the light should touch would be granted invisibility. That is to say, the first mecha to reach the center would have a significant advantage.
There have been any number of tactics and strategies developed for this map. The most popular was called the Moonlight Blitz. The idea was to have a team’s most agile suit race for the center and wait in ambush, causing as much damage as possible on the unsuspecting enemy.
When the revelation of the next map was made, any pilot who’d been around for the last five years was filled with a pleasant nostalgia. In such a simple and straightforward map, what would the Monarchs and the Star Alliance show them next?
Four spawn points, nine pilots, and an objective just like the last time. To make matters even more exciting, one of those spawn points was going to be home to three pilots. This was a welcome leg-up for the numerically superior Star Alliance.
“Three. Two. One. Begin!”
The chat boxes became quiet as the match begun. All eyes were diligently locked to the screens. There was a flash, and then all four spawn points were occupied.
The recording cut to the bottom left corner. That was where the three intrepid mechas appeared.
Luck played a large role in this map, especially for god-ranked pilots. The identity of these three pilots usually determined the result of this fight before it even begun.
The three silhouettes, situated at the corners of the spawn point, became more defined. As they appeared they, like the audience, were desperate to quickly discover who shared the space.
They were Windbreaker, Yu Honghu’s Bahamut, and…
In accordance with the rules for Chang’E’s Domain, any time the teams numbered greater than eight this sort of occurrence was likely to appear. So, with this corner revealed, it meant the other three were seeing one-on-one fights.
The Knave’s Skyshade was facing off against Prometheus and Coeus.
Thunderclap appeared with Cerberus.
And Starlord appeared opposite Triton.
Zeus flicked his eyes from one to the other. He would be responsible for at least fending off two of Star Alliance’s powerhouses. Although both challengers were lower than he on the aggregate power lists, that didn’t mean the differences were that spread.
Sitting calmly in the sim pod, Lan Jue was like a statue. However his stoic exterior flashed incessantly with electric power, which congealed behind eyes fervent with bloodlust.
His opponent’s strength was the catalyst for his combat desire, creating a stirring need in him to give his all. He had little regard for the conclusion, victory or defeat ultimately didn’t matter. His interest lay in the process. It was a rare chance to face off against so many high-level pilots.
The first to launch an attack was Bahamut. The hydra-like suit launched itself in to the air, then belched its breath weapons towards Thor. Red and blue intertwined, bathing Thor in ominous light.
Windbreaker wasted no time, and the sounds of compression surrounded it. There was a sudden burst, and the force launched Windbreaker right at the beleaguered Thor. Compared to Bahamut, Windbreaker was much better suited for close-quarters combat. Though they didn’t have a great deal of experience working together, at this level of piloting tacit cooperation was practically scarred on your soul. It took them no time at all to correctly determine the best attacks to use in conjunction.
This time it would be close combat suppression with long-distance assist.
Two on one, with a simple objective: Destroy Thor, then regroup with the others. More so than the last map, a numbers advantage would mean a lot here.
As for the Monarchs, they weren’t pleased with the results, but it certainly wasn’t a death knell. Had Thor been forced to meet Starlord first thing, then things would have been much different.
Thor reacted to the environment, but not by attempting to flee or dodge. Instead, it rose and charged straight in to Bahamut’s elemental breath.
After the first fight concluded, each of their mechas had been returned to their default, one hundred percent condition. Although Lan Jue was just using a simulator, he felt as though he were one with Thor.
Bahamut’s blast of ice and fire had a diameter of about a meter. The elemental attack was different, and not simply composed of the hot and cold. It was the essence of it that the dragon released; rage, and permeation. The moment the strike hits, it first injects itself in to the enemy and spreads all throughout it. Then it unceremoniously detonates them. For Bahamut it was a normal attack, but widely considered among all pilots as one of the strongest non-specialized attacks there were.
The audience watched as Thor plowed headlong in to the stream of energy. Just in time for Windbreaker to catch up.
Just then, Thor’s sapphire figure became somewhat cloudy, as though viewed through dirty water. It’s large mechanical arms lashed outward, and became a massive hand crashing down from the skies. He released no electric energy, only that massive illusory palm bearing down on Bahamut and its breath weapon.
Much to Yu Honghu’s surprise, Zeus’ palm strike felt almost… gentle. Thor, famous for its terrifying explosive power, was suddenly soft as water. Breath and calm collided, but did not explode as one might expect. Instead it blocked it, deflecting the flow of energy away. In the same instant Thor split in to two, and the mirror images raced forward on either side of Bahamut’s breath attack. What’s more, now the ice and fire breath were being deflected backward towards its source.
Windbreaker had gotten within striking distance. Conventional thinking held that he already had his strike waiting and, the moment he collided with Thor and Bahamut’s breath attack, his own strike will seal the deal. With the power of two god-ranked pilots crashing down on it like a wave, Thor would be obliterated.
- Chang’E is a mythical Chinese woman who was sent to the moon with her Jade rabbit. She’s roughly equivalent to the man on the moon in the West, though her story Is much more dramatic. Take a look. They say now that Mid-Autumn festival is the only time Chang’E and her husband can be together, crossing over a river of stars. ↩