Skyfire Avenue, Chapter 431

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Chapter 431: Quarter Finals

Seated beside Metatron, Lucifer was the very picture of calm indifference. He watched the fight with a detached look, as though this was nothing important. Qi Mu and Jiang Yuan’s advancement to the round robin phase was a great display for the Dark Citadel. For the two fighters, however, now was when they started stretching their might. Getting here was a great achievement.

The Pontiff’s Citadel only had Constantine left to represent them in the tournament. He was a powerful symbol and a terrifying Adept. But who knew how strong Satan’s secret warriors really were? They hadn’t seen the breadth of their skills yet.

Skyfire Avenue wasn’t in the best position either. The Pharmacist, Seamstress and Bartender were all in the losers bracket already, making the Avenue’s chances at being washed out uncomfortably high. If they were unfortunate enough to be paired against each other, then a loss for their team was inevitable.

Lan Jue knew the next set of fighters. One was the Conclave representative, the one the Pharmacist had told him about. He was called Titan. Another was an old friend of Lan Jue’s, and one of the few remaining Avenue survivors – the Driver, also known as Thunderclap. He took a minute to appreciate the fact he didn’t have to face him yet – or either of them, in fact.

The fights got under way!

The Driver’s opponent was from the West. He wasn’t a member of either Citadel, but like many from that part Alliance, he was a shifter. It was clear by his aura, which flared drastically when the digitized voice called for the fight to start. A feral roar filled the ring as the Conclave’s man quickly warped in to a three-meter tall baboon. His whole body was covered in coarse, purple-black hair. He beat meaty fists against his chest, then rushed at the Driver.

The god-ranked mecha pilot and Avenue representative watched him come with an arrogant expression. He stepped forward, then was off like a meteorite. The two collided in the middle of the field.

Boom–! The thunderous explosion followed a blinding pulse of light. The shifter was left tumbling through the air. Although his body was covered in a strong field of purple energy, it wasn’t enough to completely protect him from the Driver’s electric blitz.

Now it was time for the Driver to show his skill. Criss-crossing streaks of lightning bounced all throughout the ring, so thick they hid the Driver’s form from view. The bolts of electricity arced through the distance between him and the baboon before viciously blasting at the shifter over and over again. Number 32 – the baboon’s competitor number – couldn’t do anything but hop around and try to avoid the Driver’s assault as best he could. In the face of the Driver’s fierce onslaught he was stuck. It didn’t take him long to realize this, so he forfeit the match. It was the proper decision in this stage of the tournament. There was no sense in breaking oneself against a clearly superior opponent if another chance remained.

Titan’s fight was even faster than the Driver’s. The Convert was like a younger version of the Terminator. He’d walked in to the ring with an expressionless face, but rushed fist-first at his enemy the moment the match began.

The loose fist seemed imbued with crushing power, and the whole arena could feel the shock of the collision. For a moment, it was like all the air in the arena was condensed to a single point, then exploded. Titan’s opponent found himself right in the blast radius.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Three times Titan struck him with those sledge-hammer fists, then the fight was over. No tricks, no strategy – straight steamrolling. Titan didn’t seem any worse for wear after the brief fight. It was the most overpowering display they’d seen yet – and Titan’s opponent was a fifth rank! But to him that didn’t mean anything, apparently.

He left the ring just as he’d entered, without any emotion betrayed on his face. He walked lazily to his sofa in the waiting area and sat.

“Pure physical power… that’s a problem.” Lan Jue muttered to himself. Adepts like him were rare, since the levels and kind of power he was using weren’t a staple of normal human capability. His body had to be fundamentally altered so it could withstand using such power. Otherwise his attacks would more likely destroy himself, rather than his enemies.

Without question, Titan had had to undergo some drastic changes to get where he was today. Now he could control levels of power the human body wasn’t meant to produce. It made for staggering explosive force. Lan Jue figured the man could probably rival an attack-class god-ranked mecha all by his lonesome. He wasn’t a man, he was a living weapon!

About the only way to survive his attacks was to have power enough to block them. And who had that kind of power? Even an Adept his own rank probably wouldn’t have the strength to withstand his blows. He was a peak level Adept! Only a Paragon could stand in his way.

Lan Jue stole a look at the Pharmacist beside him. For the first time since the tournament began, he could see excitement in her eyes. She was looking forward to testing her strength against Titan.

It was difficult to imagine what might happen if these two terrifying fighters were to meet. Lan Jue could understand that. If he were the Pharmacist he’d be excited as well. But if he had to fight Titan as plain old Lan Jue? That was different.

All the fights had been fast, the next was no exception. It was the pretty young girl the Pharmacist had also told him about, the one from the Conclave. Her name was Yan Ningya. Unfortunately, her opponent had been another from her own group, so she was forced to forfeit.

The remaining fights followed expectations. The remaining fights were won by obviously stronger opponents. The one outlier had been the Pharmacist, who gave up her spot in the first round of winners to help give Lan Jue a chance.

Now it was time for the losers to get their shots in. In an hour, the high-stakes battles for a spot in the next round would begin. There wasn’t any reason to hold back now, so the fights promised to be quite a display.

The Pharmacist handily defeated her challenger. With her strength, she wouldn’t have to worry about being voted in to the next round. Her fellow Avenue fighters, though, experienced things differently. The Bartender lost his second fight and was thus removed from the tournament ladder. The Seamstress won her fight, but ultimately failed to be chosen in the votes by the public. At last the final sixteen were chosen, and the next round was set.

The Avenue still had the Pharmacist and Driver as emissaries. The Great Conclave boasted the most with three; Titan, Yan Ningya and a third Lan Jue wasn’t familiar with. The Wolf King Qi Mu and Jiang Yuan the Necromancer demonstrated the Dark Citadel’s power, while the Pontiff had only Constantine to bear his banner. The two Citadels together rivaled the North, and that meant Skyfire Avenue was the least represented of all the Alliances. However, this did not take Lan Jue’s presence in to account, even if he did need the Pharmacist’s help to climb the ladder.

Now that the sixteen contestants had been chosen, the Terminator slowly rose to his feet upon the main viewing platform. The area was so large that he got lost in the chaos when seated, however when he stood it caught everyone’s attention. The air thickened as a quiet but clear indication that he desired everyone’s focus.

“To maintain fairness through the final stages of our tournament, future fights will be determined by random drawing. No fighters will be seeded. Where they end up is where they end up. Tomorrow we will continue, with a single batch every day. Winners will receive three points and losers will get none. In the event of a draw, the competitors will receive one point each. By the end, competitors with the highest points will be entered in to the semi-finals.”

It was a strange sensation, to have their fights analyzed and announced by a Paragon. This wasn’t just about the attention. It was about glory, and profit.

Sixteen pictures appeared in the sky.

“I, the Terminator, swear upon the truths of protogenia that the selection process is equitable. Begin selection!” No one questioned the Terminators assertions. A Paragon’s word was enough.

The portraits began to move, slower than they had before. Lan Jue had his eyes fixed, but his prayers weren’t for victory. To him the champion title meant little. He just hoped the group he was selected to fight in was strong. He was eager to reap the benefits of tougher opponents for his Discipline.

It was a pity, Lan Jue thought, that his brother hadn’t come. Lan Qing hadn’t offered any explanation as to his absence, but Lan Jue thought he might have some idea.

For one, if the North was worried over the encroaching alien threat than the Eastern military must be in chaos. Second, Lan Qing was a high-ranking military official. Who could ensure his safety, deep in Northern territory? Not coming was the right decision.

But he was an ambassador of the Divine Monarchs. His glory was their glory. The next few fights would be crucial, and he had to careful not to tip his hand too early.

Not the Pharmacist! If there was one person he desperately wished not to be paired with, it was the her. He’d never sparred with her, but now was not the time. She was the best hope for the Avenue, and he wanted her to win. Lan Jue still wasn’t sure what he would do if it came to that, if he would have to pull out all the stops.

There was a flash and the pictures stop moving. The fighters had been moved in to their combat groups.

The sixteen remaining competitors looked up, and faces began to change. Some were happy, others less so. After so many days, they all knew each other well. Well enough to know by a picture whether they were screwed.


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