The Tournament That Never Was

“If something can go wrong, it will.”
– Murphy’s Law.

“God does not want PACT II to happen.”
– overheard at DT’s place, May 19, 2007

It’s very rare to see me get violent. Ask anyone who’s known me for quite a while and they’ll say that I’m very much a pacifist (which is just a nice way of saying I’m a coward). However, if ever there was one person I would really like punch in my entire life, it would be that guy named Murphy and his stupid law. If there ever was a day when it seemed that that stupid law was totally enforced, it would have been the nineteenth of May, when it seemed as if all sorts of mishaps occurred, at least to a select group of individuals, who incidentally, all belonged to the Raven Republic.

The initial plan for the pick-up arrangements was rather simple. Choice of either McDonald’s in Greenbelt or the Shell station in Buendia. After that, meeting point in Megamall then on to the tournament venue, still Doom Trigger’s place just like PACT I. A perfectly solid plan, what could go wrong with it?

The first things to go wrong started at around three in the morning, when Nix informed Grimlok that he couldn’t make it to the tournament after all, which meant that Maitreya also couldn’t go as well. Strike two contestants (and last tourney’s second-place guy) off the already-short list. The next was the meeting point. I originally planned to meet up with Leperman in Buendia at around eleven am but I suddenly remembered that I had loaned my camera to a friend who lived near Ortigas so I had to get it first, which resulted in me getting to Megamall late by around eighteen minutes past the appointed twelve pm time, and soaked in sweat at that. Another mishap.

The agreed-upon meeting point was Lil’s Hobby Center at Building A’s basement level. Rushing to the shop, I was a bit surprised to see a few customers browsing around but no visible Ravens. I almost panicked at that point: did I somehow get to the wrong building? Nope, this was Lil’s alright. Was I too early? Nah, Grim already told me twenty minutes earlier that he was in front of Lil’s, so did Leperman. Did I get left behind? Highly probable or maybe they just moved to the carpark already. Good thing Leperman appeared from the direction of the food court and told me that the others had moved there to grab something to eat while waiting. Good thing I wasn’t the only guy to be late, as Beastkiller and Otakuwarren arrived around five minutes after I did. We all chatted a bit until everyone was done eating. With hunger dealt with, we all headed outside to wait for AEA1 to show up.

AEA1 arrived at Megamall at around a few minutes before two pm. Dividing up between vehicles, Beastkiller, Azuma-Blade and Otakuwarren climbed into AEA1’s ride while Leperman, Ethermaster and I got into Grimlok’s. We drove off but apparently, Murphy’s law wasn’t done with us just yet: barely a few hundred yards away from Megamall were we greeted by one of the most unwelcome sights ever to be seen by people in a hurry: barely-moving vehicles as far as the eye can see.

This is gonna be interesting, I remember thinking, Wonder what else can go wrong?

That traffic jam took up a good thirty-five or so minutes or travel time, leaving us to stew in the cars. As we slowly inched our way along EDSA, the arduous pace kinda got to us and we all became a bit antsy. Well, maybe antsy is a bit too weak a word to describe it. Leperman was letting out a constant stream of annoyed complaints about the traffic, the timing of it, and the injustice of having a perfectly-planned activity shot to hell. Coupled with that, Twin-Skies sent him a message saying that they couldn’t leave for DT’s until they had received word that the rest of us were already there. The cause of that jam that stretched from Megamall to Cubao was a steamroller parked in the middle of the road, prompting curses from most of us.

Finally arriving at the place, we were greeted by DT and Serene, who had arrived earlier with the extra TV for the link battles. It was already set-up and all we needed was the other TV to begin. Grim, Azuma-Blade and I had to lug it down from the second floor so that the initial rounds could begin. AC designs were discussed and debated, the matches were all planned out and everybody was raring to go. We were prepared for battle; we were prepared to trade gunfire once again, we were prepared to slug it out to see who would become the new Philippine AC champ.

What we weren’t prepared for was the bright flash of light and the accompanying sparks that flew out of the freshly plugged-in transformer. Well, you know what they say: shit does happen. And happen it did, leaving the thirteen would-be contestants in the dark.


“Ayan na!” I heard DT say. Grim and I had been folding the match-up numbers when it happened. We both turned around to see everyone looking at a rather scorched socket. Ethermaster was looking at the plug of his voltage transformer, which by now was sporting three blades instead of the regular two, with dismay. We just shrugged it off, assuming that the power would be back on any second. Then it began to get hot. We belatedly noticed that the electric fans, as well as the lights, had all gone out. Apparently, the electrical circuits in the entire house had shorted out as well. Damn, compared to the earlier mishaps, this one just took the cake, and PACT II along with it.

While waiting for the diagnosis on the blown electrical circuits, all sorts of alternate-tourney suggestions were floated around. Suggestions ranging from a massively-multiplayer jak-en-poy contest, a character-drawing contest, a model-building contest (care of Doom Trigger’s unfinished-until-who-knows-when model kits), a pizza-eating contest to a DotA tournament. All suggestions were met with laughter and we all just decided to hang around while the electrical situation was dealt with.

We did whatever we could to pass the time. We divided up into small groups, talking about anything and everything. Later, we all found things to do. Grim was playing with TS’s DS. Roninfang and Haywire were collecting Pokemon, Leperman was tuning out on his iPod, AEA1 and Otakuwarren seemed to be catching some z’s while Azuma-Blade was looking at the instruction manuals for DT’s models. Serene, Twin-Skies and Ethermaster were on the couch, discussing character designs for the manga while Beastkiller, DT and I were chatting what it would be like if AC was set in the Philippines and coming with up with absurdly LOL-worthy ideas. If you thought that the escort missions in the games were ridiculous, try imagining what it would be like to be hired by the PSG to guard the president’s motorcade down EDSA, or being hired by the MMDA to clear Tondo of squatters. That last one seemed to be a great idea as it seemed to be a mission that tank legs and flamethrowers seemed to be suited for.

Around three thirty, DT informed us that the electricians said that the power would be back on by six pm. That long? We all thought to ourselves. Serene, Ethermaster and I had already talked about the possibility of maybe going over to a shop that was near his place and holding the tournament there instead. We brought it up with the others, who would’ve agreed since the place wasn’t so far away. AEA1 then came up with a suggestion that we could hold the tourney at his place instead. We were all up for it except that Twin-Skies said that he and his siblings could only stay at the venue until six pm because they had somewhere else to go after that.

Left with only few options, we all decided to go for the next best thing: order out for food. I dare say that it seems like pizza is definitely the official food of the Republic. So, instead of PACT II, we had PACK I: Philippine Armored Core Kainan, the first Raven food-fest or something more along the lines of a feeding frenzy, since the four pizzas seemed to have vanished within five minutes of their arrival. By the time the food was all gone, it was already past five in the afternoon. Twin-Skies, Roninfang and Haywire were picked up at this time, leaving the rest of us to continue on with the jokes and madness. We bade them farewell and gathered at the front of DT’s house to just hang out. A couple minutes later, a sorbetero came up and PACK I truly lived up to its name (thanks Leperman!). I suspect that if a taho vendor or something similar showed up, it would’ve been swarmed by Ravens as well. Hah!

I saw something happen on that day, a social movement if you will, as Leperman called it. Bereft of the one thing that drew them together (Armored Core), a group of young adults started reaching out, looking for other common points of interest. It became a gathering of semi-strangers trying to seek out a common ground. Even though this was technically the second time that I had met any of these people face-to-face, through humor, we were able to bond together, seeking out similarities of character and experience. Sure, things were a bit awkward at the start but by the end of the day, we were all laughing our heads off and getting along like friends who’ve known each other for years.

I swear, sitting around at DT’s place, it was like being in some kind of comedy club, with each and every one of us saying something that would make everyone else burst out laughing. I clocked it at one LOL-worthy quip every ten seconds or so. DT admitted that it was the first time he had gotten tired from constantly laughing. Even without the tournament, we still enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Like I said the day before the event, this’ll be one for the memories. I was right. In the end, we parted, all feeling a bit disappointed but still pretty happy at the madness that turned out. Leperman promised us all that he’d try to set up something to make up for what happened. The second PACT turned out to be more of a get-together than an actual contest but it was okay. We all felt that we had gotten to know each other a bit more that day, making the memories that will last for a lifetime. Funny how the cause of all that was an electrical mishap.

For the Republic!