Chapter 4: Behold My Ultimate Move!
As a fairly new and unskilled pilot, Shifter66 naturally got matched against a pool of similarly low-skilled players. Iron Spirit featured a sophisticated matchmaking system, and the lowest segment was the Bronze League.
Every potentate who played Iron Spirit started from the Bronze League. Only by winning a sufficient amount of times would one gain the opportunity to promote to the Silver League, which most mech enthusiasts consider it to be the real beginning of the game.
That was because the developers enacted a lot of restrictions to the matches taking place in Bronze. Players could only earn a little amount of gold, though they also had few opportunities to lose it due to simplifying repair costs. Matchmaking in the lowest league also didnapos;t cross star systems, which meant that most low-tier players fought against opponents from the same planet.
Bronze leaguers were also limited from purchasing any mechs rated higher than 1 stars, which really frustrated a lot of kids who wanted to dive right into big and modern mechs.
As for Shifter66, he hadnapos;t been exposed to the world of mechs for long. The mechs he already had access to already occupied his full attention.
His view changed into a preparatory screen. The game found an opponent for him. After confirming his mech, weapon and map preferences, he waited for his opponent to do the same.
After a short wait, the boyapos;s mech landed upon a grassy hill. The first thing he did was to engage his sensors to see if his opponent was in range. One of the few good things about the Fantasia 2R was its fantastic scanning power, courtesy of its hair-like sensor bundle attached to its head.
The mech found an energy signature fairly quickly, which meant his opponent wasnapos;t hiding. The boyeagerly commanded his mech to move forward, only to trip and almost fall backwards his mechapos;s balance fell apart.
quot;Ah what the?!quot;
Only until now did it sink in to him that having a gigantic rear wasnapos;t all that good. He wrestled with his neural interface for several minutes, trying to find a running posture that wouldnapos;t tip him backwards. He finally managed to accomplish a crude stance by bending his mechapos;s torso forwards, which had the unintentional effect of making his rear more pronounced.
quot;Who cares, as long as it works. Letapos;s try the booster.quot;
Upon activating the Geminiapos;s powerful thrusters, the Fantasia practically rocketed forwards. Only through some haphazard steps did Shifter66 manage to keep his mech on his feet and vaguely control his direction forward.
As the boyfurther adapted to the mechapos;s forward momentum, he found himself wild with joy. He could practically feel the wind whipping his mech as he casually broke through his personal speed record.
Unfortunately he neglected one thing. His opponent hadnapos;t been twiddling his thumbs.
quot;Shifter66 eh, too bad youapos;re piloting a light mech. My Groenig-Halman eat light mechs for breakfast.quot; The player known as Triceratopssss boasted.
He had the wins to back it up. KRH Heavy Industriesapos; Groenig-Halman models offered a good balance between weight, energy and armor. They generally suffered against heavier mechs, but anything lighter couldnapos;t go through its armor before the G-H pulverized them.
quot;Huh?quot; The boy groggily wondered as the rewards from the win poured in. quot;It worked? I won!quot;
It had been a complete fluke to eject the redundant extra cockpit. In the final moments, the boy pretty much pressed every neural button he could find, trying to get his mech to do something other than being a sitting duck. Ejecting the cockpit was one of the last options left.
quot;Hahahaha! I knew my wouldnapos;t disappoint!quot;
Shifter66 spent a significant fraction of his newly earned gold to instantly repair his mech. More expensive mechs required manual repairs or payment of real credits to get it done instantly. Fortunately, Iron Spirit didnapos;t bother to milk excessive fees from its beginners, so the boy had nothing to worry about. He threw himself back into the arena.
Triceratopssss, who turned out to be a boy just a year older than Shifter66, simply sat stunned in the simulator. He couldnapos;t believe he got done in by an ejected cockpit. He loaded the replay of the last match, fast-forwarding to the final moment before slowing down the playback to leave him with plenty of time to watch.
The same incomprehensible action happened again, just in a different perspective. Triceratopssss chose to watch the event from the side. He could see the immobilized Fantasia billowing out ejection fire and smoke from its battered rear module. Its left hatch blew apart, making room for the abruptly accelerating metal shell that protected the empty cockpit.
As the predecessor model, the 1R lagged in several areas compared to the 2R. Nonetheless, the 1R the opponent piloted was the stock model, granted him a decisive advantage in agility and short-ranged mobility.
The forest environment also bogged Shifter66 down. His 2R-E couldnapos;t find a clearing to put his substantial boosters to good use. Without the extra speed afforded by the boosters, his 2R-E had been rendered into an overweight mech, clumsily trying to turn its sluggish frame in the direction of his flitting opponent.
The 1Rapos;s pilot played it smart, Triceratopssss noted. The 1R seemed to be wary of Shifter66apos;s mech boosters. It neither faced the 2R-E directly in the front and behind, using its superiority in lateral movement to keep the mech to the sides.
The boy could only grit his teeth as he endured the light laser blasts digging into his Fantasiaapos;s rear armor. He only managed to endure until now because the enemyapos;s Fantasia lacked the capacity to field heavier firepower. However, just its basic pistol possessed enough punch to eventually slag the 2R-Eapos;s armor into a puddle. Shifter66apos;s own pistol had already been shot to pieces and he could only try to make potshots with his heavier but unwieldy marksman rifle.
quot;You asshole! Are you a monkey or a man? Stand still for a moment!quot;
The 1R ignored the complaint, and resolutely kept up its dodging. The boy knew he couldnapos;t let this merry-go-round continue, so he activated his boosters and just rocketed into the trees. His mech crashed through the trees with minor difficulty, though he accumulated internal structure damage with each tree felled. He couldnapos;t keep this up for long.
Nonetheless, Shifter66 managed to retake the initiative. The 1Rapos;s pilot panicked. Allowing the 2R-E to build up distance meant exposing him to powerful laser fire. He hastily followed after the rocketing mech, inadvertently lining up right behind the 2R-Eapos;s Gemini system.
quot;Behold my ultimate move!quot; Shifter66 yelled as he slammed his fist on the secondary ejection button. The Fantasiaapos;s twin cockpit whooshed forward from the Gemini model in another fiery blast. This time the cockpit kept up a straight forward trajectory. Changing that setting was the only thing the boy prepared in advance before he dove into his next match.
The cockpit rocketed backwards with a speedy but avoidable trajectory. The 1R could easily step sideways if it kept its chassis in the correct stance. Unfortunately the stock model chased after the 2R-E with full speed, allowing for very little leeway to dodge immediately. By the time the 1R managed to shift its torso, the blazing cockpit slammed its right shoulder to pieces.
The Fantasia 1R massed much less than the G-H, so the impact this time resulted in much heavier damage even though it occurred off-center. Practically half its shoulder and the entire arm blew apart. The battered cockpit flew off in a random direction with the Fantasiaapos;s gun stuck in its shell.
quot;Haha, youapos;re mine now!quot;
The boy was ecstatic to see his gamble succeed. He stopped the boosters, causing his mech to abruptly slow down and trip. It took an embarrassingly long time to get his mech up its feet, but the kid felt too flushed with success to feel any bother about it. The 2R-E lumbered back to the crashed 1R model.
Mission: Tutorial Part 3 - Mass Production
Prerequisites: Completed Tutorial Part 2
A Mech Designer should not be content at selling a model once. Real designers must have flocks of people begging to purchase their products. Please sell a hundred virtual mechs of your own creation within a month.
Reward: 1 random 10-year combat mech production licence
The System screwed him for real this time. quot;How am I suppose to sell a HUNDRED of them in a month?!quot;
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