Chapter - 13 Qualifiers
“Okay so what happens is you’ll face waves upon wave upon waves of monsters. The waves test you in a variety of ways. If you know a creature has weaknesses or there is a way to make the fight easier then use those tactics. The most effective tactic, it will make your strategy-and-tactics score higher. And while you’re fighting the waves of creatures your overall stats are being measured—you get scored on that too. The last wave is a Gummy Dragon after you beat the Gummy Dragon you have cleared all the waves. On the read-out when I got my results there was also something I was measured on called ‘Fighting a losing battle’. I don’t know what that was, but I fail that.”
Zack speaks up, “Damn that brings back memories. We haven’t fought gummy dragon in a long time.”
Jeff agrees, “I know, now I want to fight one.” He chuckles to himself a little.
With their belly filled and their minds on the task at hand, they all get into Leo’s car and go to the place to qualify. Unknown to Leo, this year’s qualifier exam will be different than it was when he faced it last time.
All the waves will be harder, and the last wave was meant to be a battle you cannot win. But on all the planets except Morin the qualifier exam is set at the presubscribed levels of difficulty: normal or veteran. If the game reads that you are above a curtain power level then it will put you on the veteran exam. The pre-set difficulties have been more than enough for any non-Morin player. In fact, all non-Morin players that do qualify have done so on the normal pre-set difficulty. Normally the pre-set veteran difficulty level would be insanely hard even by Morin standards.
No one on the Morin-server has beaten a Gummy Dragon. Only one group on the Morin-server has ever encountered a Gummy Dragon and that was thousands of years ago. On Morin the qualifier exam is different for each person that enters the exam. Instead of preset levels of difficulties the exam is custom for the player. The stronger you are the harder the qualifier will be for you; and at the same time, the weaker you are the easier the qualifier will be. The artificial intelligence that monitors the Morin-server and the World-server noticed how Echelon passed the qualifier. The A.I. has kept the Earth’s qualifier set at the pre-set levels of difficulties because then any one could qualify if they knew what to do—just like on Morin. However, the artificial intelligence is now monitoring the Earth-server so it can make the exam more challenging should someone who is stronger than the veteran level take the exam on Earth—to get an accurate reading of the participant’s ability.
The three get to the exam and there is one guy, the same guy last year, that greets them.
“Hello it is good to see people from Earth trying out for the championships,” he notices Leo, “Hey I remember you! You’re the first person from Earth to qualify for the championships. I would have watched you, but the championships aren’t streamed here on Earth. How did you do?”
Leo rubs the back of his neck as he speaks, his voice showing his embarrassment, “I didn’t do well.”
“Awww it’s okay. You’ll get’em this year.”
“Damn right we will,” Zack say.
“You,” speaking to Leo, “already know what to do,” The employee looks Jeff and Zack, “You two follow me and I’ll show you guys how to get set-up.” The exam curator leads Jeff and Zack, and Leo is left to take care of himself. The first to log into the exam is Leo.
Instantly Leo notices that exam is much harder. While Leo is fighting the first wave, Zack and Jeff are being instructed.
“First you have to fill out your tag-info. This is what you will be called when in the World-server. Most keep their same name as the one they have in All-World, but you don’t have to.” The man points to a panel, “Once you are done making your name, place you hand on this and the computer will do the rest. Okay, now that you know what to do. I’ll leave you two to it.”
The man walks off. Jeff goes to his own testing cubby and soon enough all three are in the exam. The A.I. is throwing the best and strongest that All-World has to offer at Echelon. The test pushes Echelon to his limits, but somehow, he manages to pass each stage with 100%.
Admittedly, some of the waves he gets lucky on and passes by the skin of his teeth; and then, he gets to the last wave. Echelon knows, this is the last stage, from the very start of the stage because all the currents of life that are always present, go away; and then, he sees it—the current he had witnessed when Zenny had kill the Gen-hulk. No words are said but volumes are spoken. The unknown energy has made it clear you can’t win this fight. But instead of admitting defeat, Echelon meditates. While Echelon meditates, Majesty and Doc go through the same gauntlet that Echelon had to, and they too are met by an empty room. They cannot see what is in front of them like Echelon can.
Doc is the first to complete the last wave. At first, he uses his powers as scientist to make it so he automatically wins the last round. But him winning the last round triggers a bonus round. Doc makes it so he automatically wins the bonus round too. It becomes clear to Doc that winning the fight will continue to trigger bonus rounds endlessly. Realizing his efforts are pointless, He creates an exit and walks out of the last wave; in other words, he runs form the fight—Majesty is the next to complete the last wave.
Finding himself in an empty room, he does like the strongest player he knows would do. He sits down and meditates, and after some time, he gains enough insight. He realizes he can’t win, so he speaks up, “I give up.” And that completes the last wave for him.
Normally the exam would want to see how one performs in a losing battle but in the case of Zack, Jeff, and Leo the exam just wants them to admit defeat. Majesty and Doc have achieved this milestone, but Echelon is not ready to learn the taste of defeat.
The test was so grueling that both Zack’s and Jeff’s All-World personas grew in power by an immense measure. Zack’s Majesty even gained a new skilled that allows him to learn in game creatures’ skills. At first, Jeff and Zack wait for Leo; but after a few hours of waiting, Zack makes the call to leave. He grabs Leo’s keys and drives them to the apartment. While Zack and Jeff wait at the apartment for Leo to call them to pick him up, Melissa is waking up.