Finally, there was a lull in the action.
The Star Alliance had but one member remaining, the strongest under heaven – Deimos. The Monarchs still had the masters of water and Lightning, Poseidon and Zeus.
All three remained silent, and watched as the remnants of the previous collisions subsided. It was quite an awesome display. Even alien species would have been stunned by the incredible result. And all of it passed in less time than it took to gasp.
One of DreamNet’s functions was called the Competition Analysis Tool, or CAT. For a fee, viewers could download a high-definition recording of the event, calibrated for close scrutiny. It allowed you to speed up and slow down the action, and view it from many different angles.
The set price tag for this session’s video was ten times what spectators paid to be present in DreamNet. The reasoning, according to DreamNet’s advertisers, was that they had to pay out a lot to entice God-ranked pilots to participate. This was a way to recoup losses.
It was due to the steep asking price that, when the battle started, only about a million digital copies of the five fights were pre-sold. If only three fights occurred and a winner chosen, some of the funds would be returned.
By now, however, those numbers had changed. One million had since swelled to over seven million. Further, about a hundred million people had purchased the video for this one fight. The sheer profit for DreamNet was a number too high to fathom.
The one-armed Starlord stood in silence, watching Poseidon and Zeus. Everything was quiet, and yet an all-consuming sense of anticipation filled the audience. It was like a powder keg, the blood in their veins turned to gasoline – they could erupt at any second.
Then, Thor was in motion!
Lan Jue was calm as the surface of a lake, but if anyone were able to peer in to the sim pod, they would see the bolts of electricity snaking across his eyes. An oppressive aura of power surrounded him.
What had started as four on five had changed dramatically with Prometheus’ sacrifice. Now the monarchs had a real chance at victory. The remaining fighters were overflowing with battle fervor.
Thor rushed forward, in what to the untrained eye appeared to be a straight shot. However, closer inspection would reveal that the mecha swayed ever so slightly as it barreled through the air. But as Thor charged, the audience was surprised to discover that its electric spear was nowhere to be seen. Unarmed, when would Thor’s powerful weapon reappear, they wondered?
As Thor moved, so too did Triton. The sea-blue mecha fell in behind his electric counterpart like a shadow. Where Thor went, Triton followed precisely. It was like they were the same person, the same mecha.
One, Poseidon and Zeus were touted as Dreamburg’s greatest duo. There were two-person team battles, but they were rarely done once a pilot reached god-ranked. Still, despite their lack of presence in the arena lately, no one could deny their near-perfect cooperation.
Those who knew the Monarchs realized that it was no coincidence the two of them remained. This whole thing was by design! Prometheus’ best laid plans coming to fruition.
Starlord did not stand idly by, and was moving as well. The Starblade lashed out to the side of him without warning, while the mecha itself once more adopted an illusory quality. The audience looked on as deafening blast of rolling thunder filled the arena.
The skies overhead suddenly burst in to bloom as an orb of writhing lightning came to be. The electric light was contained in a strange, warped corona of energy. Starlord’s sudden movement had been to avoid this while the Starblade – blazing with dozens of twinkling stars – swiped it away.
“This is… Thor’s Hammer!” Mo Xiao’s voice cried in astonishment. “Thor has made his move. Wow! This is the fabled Thor’s Hammer!?”
Each high-level god mecha had its own special moves. Some were more passive, and it defined their explosive capabilities, energy reserves and more. Others were more dominant on the battlefield. Hades, for example, revealed his with the Hellfire Cannon.
Thor was no exception. Aside from his combat abilities from pilot maneuvers, Zeus still had powerful strikes up his sleeves. One such terrifying attack was Thor’s Hammer.
Anyone who looked in to Thor on any level will have heard of Thor’s Hammer. However, the number of people who’ve actually seen it and lived to relate the fact was very close to zero. After all, most of the opportunities where Thor would use it have been hidden behind the blanket spectator ban in Dreamburg. But even now that they see it, the move was hard to describe. All they knew was that after the explosions, the screens went dark.
Outside of specialized mecha analysts and engineers, Thor’s Hammer was likely only used in DreamNet. Science hadn’t caught up enough for a mecha suit to be manufactured in such a way as to make the attack possible. Not only was Thor’s Hammer capable of devastating power, but it also served as an electro-magnetic pulse. The EMP fried any electrical systems it came in contact with, not the least of which being suit controls. No defensive or repair procedures could drain away the current in less than three seconds. It wasn’t long, but in battles like this three seconds was enough to determine victory or defeat.
So it was that Thor finally used his hammer, before the eyes of billions of viewers. It had been intangible, indescribable, and more than any of them expected despite its prestige. But how in the world was Starlord able to foresee it?
Nearly the moment that Starlord cast out his blade again, Thor’s body had begun to glow with a violet aura of energy. In a blink the God of Lightning was before Starlord, punctuating his arrival with an intensive release of explosive power. Three piercing rays of electric blue light fired out like a pitchfork. They were pointed to the precise spot Starlord needed to go in order to avoid Thor’s Hammer.
What Starlord didn’t see was that it hadn’t only been Thor who came in for the kill. Triton was right behind him.
Triton had stuck to Thor’s back, attached like some Voltron-esque monstrosity. The metal construction of the two suits somehow fused during their rush, and now where Thor moved, Triton followed.
Starlord’s reaction to the pining tactic was fast. The mecha’s upper body swept around as it reeled, but Starblade’s positioning was perfect. The three bolts of energy were knocked harmlessly aside.
But suddenly, it slowed. After deflecting the strike it was as though Starlord was suddenly stuck in a bog, making it sluggish.
Deimos was unperturbed. The mechanical wrist of its mecha trembled, and suddenly the Starblade erupted in to countless thousands of shards. They burst out in all directions, with enough force to rival Thor’s Hammer.
But then something strange happened. The three beams of energy deflected by Deimos’ Starblade congealed mid-flight, reducing from three beams to two. One was a peaceful blue, while the other was a deep purple with a coiling bolts of electricity surrounding it.
The blue beam expanded and stretched like a bubble, and rose with the impressive explosion of the Starblade. As the two waves of power met, Deimos’ starburst attack was deflected to the side. The purple beam raced forward like a lance. It struck the hilt of the Starblade, and then proceeded directly in to the mecha that bore it.
Crack! Crash! The staggering sound of thunder and lightning deafened the onlookers. Starlord was instantly covered in snaking bolts of purple electricity. The suit went rigid.
In the same instant, dual threads of golden light exited from beneath Thor’s armpits. They expanded until they were like two golden vipers, and lashed out at Starlord’s chest plate. But Thor wasn’t finished.
The sapphire mecha raised its arms high, and there appeared in its hands a massive deep-blue war hammer. Resplendent contrails of light followed as Thor brought the weapon crashing down on Starlord’s head.
The others who had been defeated – the Knave, Thunderclap, Yu Honghu and Windbreaker – couldn’t help but be struck dumb by what they were witnessing.
At this level of competition, the first thought in a pilot’s mind when encountering a strike like this was whether or not they could survive it. None of them could honestly say that they would.
Was this the power of Zeus and Poseidon?
Of course the frightening series of attacks drew exceedingly high energy costs. Of course, the odds of a god-ranked mecha suit being equipped with s-ranked energy power gems were high. Where that the case, they had nothing to worry about.
Starlord’s chest plate began to glow, with a six-pointed star pattern etching itself therein. A misty golden aura sprang up around the assailed mecha.
Thor’s descending blow was cast aside by the golden aura, and in the same instant the star pattern on its chest fractured and exploded outward. The golden aura ejected further outward, and filled the area with twinkling starlight. The glimmering dots of energy draw together until they were light a chain. It gripped fast to Thor’s weapon and refused to let it move.
The entire arena was cast in to a gloomy darkness, but for the center where gold and purple joined in a spectacular display of chaotic energy. All three remaining mecha disappeared within it.
Mo Xiao, responsible for narrating the scene, gasped audibly. “Starlord really is far below where he was. If our living legend had been at his peak, he’d never have been caught in this reactionary situation. His reaction times, control and battlefield awareness all are not what they once were. He’s still got his knowledge, but is that enough…?”
Before she could finish her thought, a digitized voice called over the simulation.
“Star Alliance: Victory.”
Little by little, the roiling, angry ball of energy that filled the arena slowly faded. When it did, Thor and Triton were still visible.
Starlord was still caught in a prison of snaking electric tendrils, so damaged that its mechanical innards were visible. It’s all-important Starblade was absent.
As the combat came to an end, the statistics were revealed on another screen. This included mecha damage. Deimos suit sat at eighty-seven percent damage, but was still standing after everything it had endured.
The local chat exploded in to vociferous cheers and vitriolic complaints. All the while, CAT sales soared.