After being transported to their destination, Sona Sitri immediately verified the state of the field. The Sitri team appeared to be located at the peak of a towering cliff. In Rating Games, it was common for teams to be transported to such locations which provided a vantage point. Sona personally disliked starting battles in such positions. After all, the more prominent their position, the easier it was for them to become a target. However, Rating Games were a form of entertainment. It was the intent of the game operators to place players in a location that was clearly visible to audience members, making it an inevitable hurdle.
Sona had a cursory look at the field map which was displayed on a table. The field was a vast plateau. There were rivers and forests, while mountain ranges stood in the northeast and southwest. The field had been divided into numerous sections according to the grid of a chess board. And so, according to the chess grid, they were currently located in the position of E8. In contrast, it appeared as though Hyoudou Issei’s team had been transported to D1. It was a rather typical set-up for the starting locations. Many of the combat plans that they had prepared in advance could probably be applied directly.
According to the information that they had been provided with, it would take nearly an hour for them to fly from one end to the opposite end — it went to show just how vast the field was. In preparation for a drawn-out battle, Sona wanted to decide on a rest base, and also capture the recovery points that should’ve been prepared for the game as soon as possible. Since the opposing side had their own means of healing, it meant that they would almost certainly move to block off any means of recovery for them. In that case, they could lay traps there according to the combat plans that they had come up with—.
Just at that moment, Saji and the werewolf Loup Garou both seemed to notice something, and they directed their attention toward the south. Both of Saji’s eyes transformed into the red eyes of Vritra, informing Sona that the Dragon King had sensed something. Just as Sona and her comrades were still in doubt—.
“Hurry up and get out of here!”
“Those guys…! Are they insane!?”
Saji and Loup Garou shouted. The expressions of both Saji and Loup Garou turned pale. Realising the abnormality of the situation, Sona took the map from the table and quickly evacuated.
Encouraged by Saji’s urging, everyone escaped from that location with all their might, despite the doubts that they held. In an instant — something like a flash of light surged across from the southern end—. What appeared before Sona and the others was something with power and scale beyond all normal comprehension — a vicious torrent of black and red! It seemed that this overwhelming and anomalous destructive power had been aimed at their previous location, fired in a straight line all the way from south to north! After the release of that gargantuan cannon blast as a result of Dragon Deification — all that remained was a barren wasteland. The vast plateau had been flattened from south to north, the forests and rivers had been completely vaporised, and all that remained was a barren surface which had been exposed by a single blast.
…Hyoudou Issei’s team had once again demonstrated their ability to wreak destruction on the entire field, just like they did when they previously faced the [Lightning] team. The cannon blast that had been fired from the southern end reached the top of the northern end, obliterating everything that was once in the middle. Witnessing such a move, the [Queen] Shinra Tsubaki shuddered.
“I truly did not expect that their first move would be an unhesitant release of a Dragon Deity’s cannon blast…”
Sona also muttered,
“…I had expected that they would use this cannon blast at an early stage under certain rulesets…but this is still far too bold.”
In order to gain an immediate understanding of the damage caused, Sona ordered her [Bishop] Kusaka to activate the masks of her Artificial Sacred Gear. Kusaka scattered a vast number of masks from her location, and they began to examine the situation of the field. Shortly afterwards, she presented a bewildering truth.
“President. Hyoudou-kun’s cannon blast has destroyed the field…but it seems that the damage was not limited to just a straight line.”
Kusaka explained the situation that she had been able to observe from the sky using the laid-out map. She picked up a pen and began to draw lines—. The lines that she drew indicated that there had in fact been three cannon blasts from the south. Firstly, the linear area in columns D and E had almost been wiped clean by that bombardment. In addition, there were also traces of cannon blasts from the south to the northeast and northwest. In other words, their opponent had launched a bombardment from the south in three directions. Hyoudou Issei had most likely directed two of his four cannons in Dragon Deification form toward the north, while the other two were aimed at the northeast and northwest when he fired.
“So this means that there are three lines on the field?”
Looking at the map, Nimura Ruruko traced her eyes over the path of the bombardments.
“However, it’s truly astounding that they have the ability to reach one end of the field from the other with a cannon blast. It’s a harsh reminder that we’re dealing with a God-class opponent.”
Yura Tsubasa’s expression was dead serious. Indeed, a cannon blast like that was an extreme threat. They had also believed that it was the thing that they had to be the most wary about with their opponent. Therefore, they had made numerous guesses on the timing with which it would be used…. Since it had been fired off right at the beginning, they were not aware of how long it would take before energy could be replenished for a second blast…they did not have any information on the current state of Hyoudou Issei’s Dragon Deification. There had been no terrorist attacks recently, which meant that [DxD] was essentially inactive, and thus no information on his capabilities had been shared. During the previous matches, perhaps due to the compatibility of opponents he was matched with, he had rarely used Dragon Deification, so they had no point of reference, especially since it was the first time that they were playing such a long match. In any case, it was impossible for him to immediately fire another cannon blast like that at present. At the very least, they were certain that he had not reached such a level with Dragon Deification. Sona began to think about the reason why their opponents had made such a move at the beginning of the game—
—The trajectory of the first discharge should highlight the reason for their attack…
Sona looked at the map and focused on the lines which marked the cannon blast’s trajectory. After considering the part of the current map that had been obliterated into nothingness — Sona arrived at a shocking conclusion.
…What a terrifying girl — Ravel Phoenix. Rias integrates overwhelming firepower into her own strategies in order to counter her opponent’s strategies. On the other hand, Ravel Phoenix uses overwhelming firepower to……!
After gaining a slight understanding of Ravel’s ideology, Sona murmured,
“It looks like Ravel-san never planned to fight tactically against us from the beginning.”
Sona’s revelation shocked all members of her team. The team members had all believed that Ravel Phoenix and Sona were the same kind of Devils who would follow a combat plan to corner their opponents. Precisely because of that, they believed that Ravel was the core of their opponent’s team. Sona stared at the map as she said,
“She intends to completely block our plans with overwhelming firepower. In other words, she decided to create terrain that is favourable to their side.”
Their opponent’s cannon blast had generated several favourable conditions for them. Kusaka suddenly cried,
“President! A large swarm of bats are flying here from the south!”
…Those should be Elmenhilde Karnstein’s bats. Those are — used to survey enemy positions…no, there has to be more to it than that!
Sona took a deep breath and tried to stay calm.
……Their first move was that powerful.
—Ravel Phoenix has not yet used Dragon Deification in an offensive capacity.
Sona was once again reminded of the decisive difference between Rias’ peerage and the Sekiryuutei’s peerage. If it was Rias, she would’ve saved a trump card like Dragon Deification for a critical moment in order to use it as a finishing move. Ravel was different. To her, a trump card was only one of many cards in her hand to be played. In order to take control of a situation, she would not hesitate to use a trump card even at the beginning.
…It seems like tricks and petty tactics won’t have much effect on Ravel Phoenix. Our opponents have not come here to ‘defeat’ us.
—They have come to ‘destroy’ us.
By following that premise, Sona began to think of a strategy to break through their immediate peril—.
(Part 1 of 1) (26/3)
Continues on to: Line.5 Field Break