As Baron stepped out from the portal he found himself in another room, full of smaller portals. Each had the name of a country next to it. In order, they read: Jordsand, Great Britain, China, Mongolia, and the United States of America.
“Hm, I guess I should head into the China portal? But wait, Jordsand? I’ve never heard of such a country before.”
Baron found this incredibly odd — he’d spend countless hours researching the strategists and generals of every relevant country of the past three thousand years. Yet, he’d never heard of a “Jordsand", nevermind any of its strategists.
Perhaps it was a low-ranked, irrelevant country, then. But then, why was there a special portal for it? He thought about it as he stepped through the portal with China’s name next to it. A bright light flashed, and Baron fell unconscious.
“Ah… what happened?” Baron muttered as he slowly rose from the bed he had been sleeping on.
“Where am I?” He looked around in confusion until his sight locked onto another youth in the room, who was sitting on their own bed. How long had he been waiting?
“Finally, took you long enough.” The youth exclaimed in a dissatisfied voice. He fell backwards onto his bed only to jump onto the floor.
“Hello Baron. As the standard, I’ll give you five minutes to ask questions. After that I’ll conduct some tests to determine whether you are capable enough to remain here. So. Is there anything you want to know?”
Baron started with the simplest of questions. “Who are you?”
“I am Yue Fei, one of the elders of the community.”
“Greetings elder, may I ask where I am?”
“You are in the Chinese community headquarters on planet four.”
“Well at least I'm in the right place. How do I get back to Earth? The counter worker said I had a chance t o return, but she didn’t mention how.”
Yue Fei shook his head. “Ah, so that's your goal? Unfortunately, you’d have to win the Death Match Tournament to receive that privilege. It might be best to set your sights on an easier target. Although our Chinese community is quite strong, within the top three powers on planet four, we’ve never won that tournament.”
“Not once? How many tournaments have there been? How often do they run the tournaments?” Baron asked, disappointed.
“A tournament is held once every thousand years, and there’ve only been thirteen. The next one is in 455 years.”
“If I win the tournament, will I be able to return to the moment I died?”
“Not the exact moment, but I've heard you can be brought back somewhere on the timeline a few months after you’d died no matter how long you spend on this planet. Personally, I've been here for over a thousand years. Here, I’ll give you a piece of bonus information. If you belong to any strong factions like our Chinese, then you have the added privilege of not needing to eat. Unless you want to.”
“You haven’t needed to eat in over a thousand years?!” Baron exclaimed in disbelief.
“Alright, time’s up. It’s time to have a match, now. Be warned though, if you don’t perform up to our standards, I’m going to have to kick you out of here. You’ll be left to fend for yourself out on the streets.” He beckoned towards Baron as he briskly left the room.
Baron mused for a second, then got up and followed in the youth’s footsteps. After a brief period of walking, the two walked reached a door — and there seemed to be a great deal of noise coming from the other side.
The two paused outside the door, then Yue Fei turned towards Baron.
“Your name is Baron Magellan, right? Welcome to the strategy room.” He pushed open the door without waiting for a response.
“Let me show you what happens inside.”
Once they entered the room Baron was shocked, this room contained some of the most model-worthy, beautiful people he had ever seen.
“Haha.” Yue Fei laughed. “Not used to seeing so many attractive people?”
“No.” Baron admitted.
“You’ll get used to it. Everyone in the afterlife looks more or less like a model. Anyway, come over here and put this headset on.” Yue Fei handed Baron a helmet of sorts.
“What is this? And I still have some questions.” Baron quickly said as he held the helmet-like object with confusion.
“I'll answer more of your questions if you can beat me.” Yue Fei said. He put the helmet on, and somehow disappeared from the room.
Baron sighed, then put the helmet on his head as well.
Baron's field of view quickly changed and instantly distorted to become something similar to a game interface.
Yu Fei’s voice sounded in his head. “Since this is your first game, I'll go easy on you. In front of you, you should see an interface. Just pick a mode, location, and how many troops each of us gets to command.”
“Alright, just give me a sec.” Baron said as he examined the interface.
He pressed the “mode” option and a list of names popped up. Naval battle (WW2), air battle (WW2), trench warfare (WW1), guerrilla warfare, walled city siege (Ancient China)... the incredible list of options continued on and on.
“Ooh, I'll pick walled city siege. I've studied that aspect of warfare quite a bit.” He told Yue Fei.
“Walled city siege, hey? I am also quite good at that. Now, you have to decide if you want to be the defending side or attacking side.”
“I think I'll go...” Baron paused to think. "...on the attacking side.” He pressed the attack button.
“Oh? I didn’t peg you as an aggressive guy. Interesting. Now, let me explain the basics of this game before we get any further. This is what you would call a simulation match. The two of us will head to our respective sides and have one day to prepare a battle plan to fight the other with.
“This is no ordinary simulation, though. This simulation is the closest you can get to a real-life war without actually killing anyone. The generals or strategists of each army, us, will lead each army. There are a few ways to win. You can force the enemy to surrender, rout their soldiers, complete a determined objective, or kill the enemy strategist.
“One last thing, since the simulation is extremely realistic, you will have to pay close attention to your army’s situation. You will have to maintain your soldiers’ morale, their energy, and anything else that may affect their performance on the battlefield. Good luck.”
“Is that all there is to this game? Also, an entire day to think of a strategy?”
“Of course that's not all, but I can't possibly give you all the secrets from the get-go, can I? As for the one day of prep, trust me when I say that it’s not nearly enough time.” Yue Fei said grimly.
“Alright, enough talk. All you have to do now is choose the army sizes and then we can start.”
“Ah, yes. Hold on.” Baron checked the interface again and pushed the army size button. A list of options came up. Five hundred against five hundred, all the way to a million versus a million.
“Alright, let's not get too crazy for my first time. It'll be a ten thousand against ten thousand battle.”
“I usually like to go for larger battles, but we'll just do what you want this time.”
“Wait.” Baron suddenly realized something. “How long do these battles usually last?” Baron asked as he pressed the start button, and a minute-and-a-half countdown started.
“Well, for a small battle like this, it’ll usually last one to three months.” Yue Fei replied.
“That long for just one game?”
“Yes, but that’s assuming that one side doesn't make a major mistake, in which case the game would end early. I've tried a few million versus million battles, and let me tell you. Those can take years to resolve. I’ve even seen some last over a decade.”
“Decades? But I can't wait that long- “He started but was interrupted by the system’s announcement.