Chapter 285: A Mighty Clash

    Chapter 285: A Mighty Clash

    Thor's maneuver seemed exceedingly strange, with him retreating rapidly like a beam of light. This was followed by a headlong rush and, before Yu Honghu could react, the safe distance he'd tried to maintain disappeared. Thor appeared behind the two-headed dragon mecha.

    Impossible, how could this be? His Discipline is speed?

    The three incredulous thoughts set him to scowling.

    The change was too fast. Thor's frightening speed was far beyond what Yu Honghu anticipated. Once again he was forced in to defensive maneuvers.

    But things were different this time. Like his foe, Yu Honghu could use his Discipline.

    He didn't panic. Bahamut released the charged breath attack, but instead of reacting to the enemy behind, Bahamut launched itself directly in to the roiling ball of energy.

    Instead of destroying the mecha as one might expect, as the dragon suit entered the dual-colored orbs they congealed to form a sort of energy shield around it. It was like a giant protective bubble that hung over him.

    There was no denying:Yu Honghu's Discipline was metamorphosis, specifically a Hydra of Ice and Fire - one of the greatest transformational Disciplines known to man.

    With this fact revealed, and protected by its own weapon, Bahamut was able to avoid falling in to a disadvantageous position. Once again, the mecha's hammer-like tail swiped at Thor.

    Thor decided to forgo the use of weapons and simply side-stepped the flailing appendage. It's thick mechanical hand rose to knock it away.

    The general audience determination was that this choice was unwise. Bahamut was a sight larger than your average, humanoid mecha suit, and more powerful. Paired with Yu Honghu's Discipline, it was stronger and more study still. Was Thor being cautious by refusing to use weapons?

    Clunk! Thor was knocked away, tumbling at least ten meters in to the distance as Bahamut's tail connected.

    But as Thor tumbled away, the sky darkened. Ominous peels of thunder rumbled in the distance.

    The threatening sounds set Yu Honghu on edge. Alone in his pod, his  body began to glow with an internal light.

    The other members of the Star Alliance and the Divine Monarchs were quickly closing the gap. Sounds from the battle between Thor and Bahamut urged them onward.

    Thor raised a single metal finger to the heavens. As if in response, the skies split and a bolt of lightning descended from on high to assail the dragon mecha.

    The bolt was a blinding gold in color, and hit like a freight train. It was impossible to tell how much stronger this empowered strike was compared to those from their earlier encounters. Bahamut, still recoiling from the strike on Thor, was too slow to avoid it. Contact was inevitable.

    Bahamut's whole body adopted a golden hue as the bolt found its mark. Arcs of lightning cross-crossed it's metal frame like angry serpents.

    Thor disappeared. A moment later, it was spied high overhead and, leaving behind a golden contrail, descended toward Bahamut at terrifying speeds.

    Boom! Bahamut was once again reduced to slag. Yu Honghu had lost again.

    If he had lost the previous fight from lack of tactical assessment, this time it was purely due to insufficient power. With a slap and a single attack, Bahamut had been given more than it could withstand. But it wasn't the loss that made Yu Honghu feel like there was a boulder on his chest - it was Thor's appalling speed! Even specializing in speed, he was outclassed.

    Mo Xiao earnestly continued her duties, calling out the action as it appeared on the screen. "I've just found out there's no way for me to comment on what we're seeing. Like all fo you, I have no idea what Disciplines these great pilots possess. I haven't the slightest idea how Thor was able to suddenly become so fast. Could it be that Thor's Discipline is actually speed? Perhaps Zeus is able to share speed with his suit?"

    After destroying Bahamut, Zeus stopped trudging the warpath and retreated several meters from the point of collision. His speed was back within expected parameters.

    This fight was now four-on-four.

    The Four Divine Monarchs converged on Zeus' location from all directions. The remaining Star Alliance members were suddenly hemmed in, forced in to a standoff.

    Each of the Four Divine Monarchs' mechas glowed according to their intrinsic powers. Thor's dazzling display was especially prevalent, and it filled the Star Alliance with dread.

    "Zeus, do you dare to meet me solo?" Thunderclap called out over comms. 1

    Most of the time, silence was strictly adhered to in battles such as things. Thunderclap seemed to have no claims parting with tradition. He didn't even finish before his mecha was racing forward to intercept his rival. He didn't seem the list bit anxious about besieging all Four Divine Monarchs.

    Starlord, Skyshade and Windbreaker hung back. Thunderclap was on his own.

    This was the arrogance of high-level pilots. Zeus certainly wasn't under any obligation to face Thunderclap one on one, but choosing sneak attacks over direct confrontation would likely earn the God of Lightning considerable disdain from his fans. None of this violated any regulations.

    "So be it," Lan Jue replied, simple and direct. Thor detached himself from his compatriots. There was a flash as the mecha reached out its ride hand, and then there appeared a shimmering golden spear of lightning caught in Thor's grip.

    "His weapon is a sword. Watch out," Chu Cheng warned over the team channel. He'd learned this the hard way after losing a duel against Thunderclap in an earlier fight. In fact, had Thunderbolt not taken the initiative and challenged Zeus, Hades likely would have proposed one himself. These one-on-one showdowns were  a dramatic display of force. Chu Cheng strongly believed that, with the use of his Discipline now permitted, he'd have had no trouble dealing with him.

    Both mechas and their pilots bore names related to the chaotic force of lightning. This fight was undoubtedly to determine who the strongest Lightning adept really was. It was no different from a real-world fight. Whoever won was the uncontested master of electricity.

    Thunderclap's color, a manifestation of his abilities, was inherently darker than Thor's. It was blue, but a sort of dark blue like peering at the universe through the evening sky. Even the intermittent flashes of electric power were a deep shade of cobalt. The power it represented was palpable.

    The two proceeded as though their duel was pre-arranged. In a single fluid motion, both of them rose in to the air and came barreling toward a collision. The simulated earth below trembled when they met.

    No one was able to see the result. Likely even other pilots couldn't puzzle it out. The two god-ranked warriors were simply too fast. All that could be discerned were two indistinct figures, who would collide and separate again and again. Sometimes there would be more shadows, but they would soon disappear, only to re-appear once more a few moments later. They would engage for a moment, then break. Rinse and repeat.

    Thunderclap bore a navy-blue sword in its hand, with its tip pointed toward the ground and wreathed in lightning. Every collision between the two pilots was punctuated with explosive peels of thunder.

    Violet met deep blue in the skies over the Dark Forest. Artifacts of their fight hung in the air and left a charged residue in their wake.

    The series of feints and attacks were largely exploratory, and neither side employed their strongest attacks directly. Neither of them currently held an advantage over the other, it appeared the two of them were more or less evenly matched.

    Thunderclap lifted its cobalt blade and pointed it at Thor. Thor, likewise, positioned its crackling spear for attack.

    Strangely, in this moment the colorful auras around the two machines began to change. Thunderclap's deep blue blanched until it was a pure, radiant silver. Tendrils of lightning raced across the whole surface of the suit, making it look silver itself.

    Thor, on the other hand, was a magnificent gold. Like his opponent, grasping tendrils of electricity lashed out from Zeus' mecha erratically in all directions.

    Their display of power continued to rise, strengthening until it seemed the entire battlefield was positively charged with electricity. The waves of energy caused the skies to ripple.

    The other six mecha pilots looked on with baited breath, watching as they traded blows. It was an important moment - whoever won here, would grant their team a real and oppressive advantage.

    Thor and Thunderclap launched in to their second round of attacks. They were like two bolts of electricity, one silver and one gold, clashing in the center and sending sparks flying in all directions. Another ear-splitting boom swept through the map. An aftershock erupted and spread out in all directions, a result of their impact.

    Two massive, revolving balls of energy hung in the air where the two mecha met. One was gold, and the other silver, and the majority of the Adepts' raging battle occurred within. Sadly, no one could clearly see what they were doing.

    Mo Xiao exclaimed in joy and surprise. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a god-ranked duel looks like!"

    Boom-boom! Less than ten seconds later, both orbs detonated at the same time. The two indistinct figured within disengaged.

    Finally, the two mechas could be clearly seen. Both were changed by the fight.

    Thor's chest pate had been badly damaged, with a cross-shaped burn splitting it in to quadrants. It was clearly a new addition. Its left arm was worse off, and was broken beyond repair. Tendrils of lightning still raced over its metal frame, both gold and silver.

    Thunderclap wasn't any better off. It had lost its left leg somewhere, as well as it's left hand. Even half the suit's skull was missing, mangled. Electricity surrounded it as well.

    The exchange had cost them both dearly.

    With a flick of its wrist Thor's spear vanished as though it were never there. Then, in a distinct break from traditionally expected, Thor's movements took on a strange quality. In opposition to the hard, fast, explosive nature of its elemental power, Thor now began to move like flowing clouds and trickling water. Every motion was smooth and natural, like a dance.

    "This is..." Mo Xiao trailed off, but the incredulity in her voice was obvious to all. Incredulous and uncertain.

    Thunderclap raced forward, though this time his speed was a sight slower than it had been. With a twist it brought the lightning blade to bear, but the blow was nowhere near close enough to damage Thor. Instead, the sweeping motion spawned a dozen arcing waves of electric light. They spread and grew, until there was a veritable army of screeching electric dragons tearing across the sky. From every which way they approached, converging on Thor's location.

    Thor was suspended in the air, unmoving. Its working hand made a small semi-circular motion, then pushed outward toward its foe.

    The auction coaxed the whole of Thor's aura to migrate to its palm, and congeal therein. Little by little the power consolidated in the small space, until the small spot of light seemed dense enough to obliterate everything around them. The color darkened until the twinkling gold was gone, replaced with a deeper hue.

    1. For anyone uninitiated, this entire exchange is very much like the e-sports phenomenon we're experiencing today, specifically with games like DOTA and LoL. Both these MOBA games are intensely popular in China, so a fair amount of the terminology and design of these fights may look familiar to those of you who also partake. Here, this is equivalent to '1v1 me bro'.
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