Quentin was on his feet, staring at the footage of the game as it unfolded in front of him.
The cheers for Helena destroying the Sky Palace had long since died down, but now there was a whole new phenomenon vying for their attention.
He wasn't alone in his excitement. The entirety of Abidden's headquarters were all together, watching the story unfolding. Rumours had swept around the offices like wildfire that Helena was going to face Jorgen Baw, which is what had caused the impromptu viewing party.
Yet, the reason they all remained was the spectacle on the overhead screens.
The Wildcard, James Sylvester, was attempting to jump from Standard Rank to Legendary Rank by taking on the Void Kraken.
Various screens were showing the different phases of the mission, from his conversation with the Siren... to his deep dive to get the Tempest. Curses and gasps of shock were common mutterings as the employees stood enraptured by the scenes.
Dario had his palms resting on the table as he tried to relieve the aching pain in his knees. There was no way he was going to be sitting for this.
"So we're the only ones who can see this?"
Aliyah asked in a tortured tone, already knowing the answer.
Before Quentin could answer, Dario turned to him with a conflicted expression on his face.
"What if we changed the rules? Like... just reveal him as a Wildcard so people can see this?"
Quentin didn't even have to think about it as he shook his head.
"We'd essentially be killing his character if we did that. Jorgen would discover him immediately, and then it would be a very one sided fight between a Legendary and a Standard."
Dario opened his mouth to retort, but Aliyah's voice was the one that sounded out.
"Well... that's only if James fails, right? If he succeeds, then he'll be a Legendary Rank too."
Another voice popped up from the other side of the room.
"He boarded the Tempest by himself. It's only a matter of time before he dies."
Quentin glanced in the direction that the voice came from with a smile on his face. Another voice had already interjected.
"Didn't you see the stuff on the beach? I think he has a plan."
Eventually, even the Loremasters started giving their opinions on what was going to happen and Quentin couldn't stop laughing, even if he had tried.
Comments and theories were popping up left and right, with everyone discussing the battle, excitement written all over their faces.
Suddenly, a familiar voice entered the fray, but only in Quentin's ear.
You've finally noticed. We've made Abidden fun again.
Locke's tone was neutral as she spoke to him, which initially caught Quentin by surprise.
Quentin couldn't help himself as he blurted out the first thing on his mind.
"Is he going to succeed?"
Time will tell. So pay attention.
Quentin could only laugh at the response, when another thought popped into his head.
"You recommended we take on James Sylvester, even when myself and Dario watched his footage and saw nothing special. Did you know he'd try something like this?"
He's a variable. Statistically, his performance should have deteriorated over time as he became more mentally exhausted. The odds of a semi-professional team versus a single rookie should have been a one sided victory. Fear, uncertainty and doubt should have crippled him... and yet, he prevailed. His physical capabilities and performance were sub-par, yet his mental fortitude was unparalleled by any player I've interacted with. I wanted to see what a person like that would do in Abidden. How would James Sylvester defy expectations and logic? I wanted him in the game.
Quentin nodded as he listened to Locke's explanation. It made sense, but he still had concerns.
"I understand that his mental fortitude is worth mentioning, but you can't excel in Abidden with perseverence and patience alone. He's going to need to be proficient in combat too."
His combat abilities have grown significantly in the past decade, but that is a separate point. You're differentiating James Sylvester by comparing him to people you know, and the choices they would make. That won't apply to him because he is a true Wildcard.
Just as he was about to ask Locke what that meant, a cheer broke out on the other side of the room. Quentin realised he hadn't been paying attention and snapped his eyes to the screen to see what he had missed.
He asked as he tapped Dario on the arm.
The engineer was just shaking his head with a broad grin on his face.
"Oh... I don't know, he only managed to TELEPORT members of his Dread Faction to the Tempest using a portal!"
Quentin just looked at the screen in shock.
Aliyah's shriek pierced through the air when Shari appeared in the teleportation circle.
"YES! THERE SHE IS!"
Quentin took that moment to look at the faces of everyone around him... and it delighted him to see that they were all just as excited as he was.
The entire room watched as James orchestrated the cannons to fight the Void Kraken. They gasped when they saw the sneak attacks from the Kraken, but let out an explosive cheer at the Guardians of the Dread Lake's arrival.
Jorgen broke through the wall!
The Dread Pirate has yet to be revealed as a Wildcard, so things should be fine, right?
What happens if Jorgen attacks Rayth?
Why isn't Helena coming to help James?
What's the name of the little yellow guy on his shoulder?
Countless conversations were popping up excitedly in the group, with everyone throwing in their own theories.
Dario answered the last question loudly enough that it caused a few laughs to rumble through the crowd.
I've created a highlight reel to introduce the viewers to the Dread Pirate Sylvian. It includes his interview in the Pantheon, his battles with the Goblins and Escravo Cartel. I have multiple versions. Should I send them to Kell for review?
Locke's tone was quick and urgent, which only caused Quentin to frown.
"He's still protected by the PvP barrier, so we won't be revealing him to the public. It would give the Heroes an unfair advantage against him while he's still a Standard Rank."
The Dread Pirate is about to attack the Celestial Crusader.
"He's going to attack him?!"
Quentin wasn't aware of how loud he answered Locke, but realised the moment that every person in the room turned to look at him in shock.
"He's still in Standard! Jageranimus is at Legendary! Is he insane?"
Would you like to know his predicted chances of success?
Quentin opened his mouth to answer, but paused when he looked at the screens displaying the epic battle.
"... I actually don't want to know."
So will I send the compilation to Kell?
Quentin looked at the Dread Pirate aiming the cannon up at Jageranimus when a thought popped into his head.
"Add in Greaves' comments from the Samantha Show, and put in some footage from his fight against the Scumlords in the District One Invitational. We can deal with whatever Elisabeth Volte throws at us later."
That's done. I sent it to Kell, Dario, and you. Just let me know when you want me to launch it.
Everyone in the room held their collective breaths as the Dread Pirate roared the word, 'Crackshot'.
"Launch it now and push it to every channel we have available. I want the world to see this!"
Are you sure you don't want to know his chances of winning?
Quentin didn't even answer as a blast of lightning shot from the cannon in James' hands. It skewered across the sky with a thunderous roar to strike the unsuspecting Celestial Crusader.
The explosion of light filled the screen, followed quickly by a system-wide announcement that everyone had only seen once before.
|A Wildcard has been Revealed!|
"Yeah, I thought so!"
A Wildcard has been Revealed!
I had failed as a tank, as a teammate, and as a friend. Why did I fail? Because I wasn't good enough to protect them. Anyone can tell you it was only a game, but it was one of the greatest tests I've ever endured. How do I know I failed? Because I felt relief when it was all over.
But it wasn't all over. Travesty wasn't dead.
When it was finally just him left standing, I prayed for his quick death so we could put the entire experience behind us.
I can't remember exactly how long Travesty had been in the game when Helena called to my dorm. Her eyes were bloodshot, and she came with a case of beer. Apparently Kincsö and Khance were watching it together too. Scarr was off the grid, but he did that sometimes after a defeat.By running away from the Scumlords, he was essentially showing every scout in the city, that we were Rookies that didn't deserve to be there.Imagine my surprise when he killed one of them.
Travesty was single-handedly hunting down the Scumlords.
It took him forty-three hours to kill them all.
Travesty went past the point of no return and paid the price.After finishing the fight, he never logged back into his account.
He's the reason we're the Paragons.
I can't imagine they found someone better than Helena, but I'll humour you, go on
The Heroes have signed Jørgen Baw. Former Leader of the ScumLords... who killed Helena in-game the last time they met!
Good thing one of our Wildcards is the guy who killed him!
A deafening roar of excitement and disbelief accompanied the visuals of James firing the cannon at Jorgen Baw.
The most anticipated fight in Abidden's history was about to begin.