Anodyne awoke, his eyes as pitch black as the space that surrounded him; the sterling silver cross pupil darted from side to side as his body slowly adjusted to consciousness. His body, once limp and slowly floating through space, corrected itself as he awoke. His body was suddenly thrown to the nearby planet by an overwhelming force; glimpsing over his shoulder, he spied a bald deity with his arms locked around Anodyne, pushing him down to a nearby planet’s surface. Their bodies erupted with flame as they broke the atmosphere, the heat barely registering as a sensation for them as the vibrant orange flames curled around their bodies, fading as they descended. The air rushed by with extreme force, blowing their clothes around and Anodyne’s long, dark hair.
“Die monster.” The bald deity screamed, cracking his voice.
“Monster?” Anodyne thought to himself as he collided with the planet’s side, the cracking sound echoing around the planet as the bald deity continued to push Anodyne down further.
The newcomer forced Anodyne through the layers of the planet, cracking the crust in only seconds. The Bald deity changed his position and started to chock Anodyne as he forced him through the planet, his face frozen in excitement. The heat of the planet started to turn the nearby stone into a viscous liquid that formed around the two as they passed through. Eventually, the core was struck, and the planet started to collapse. At first, it seemed as if it would float away in several parts as matters started to drift from one another, then they all clamped down stronger than before. Gravity increased, and the birds flying around fell to the ground, bones were broken and incapable of moving; all large land-based predators started to feel the effect, their toned muscles defying the new increase of gravity, but everything smaller fell to the ground in exhaustion as they were slowly crushed to death.
Anodyne gripped the hand of the new Deity; staring into his eyes, he smiled in a way that no one had ever seen before. He grabbed the new deity and finally started to fight back. The two of them wrestling in the core of the planet, the external rules of nature changed as the chaos ensued. After hours of conflict, the planet was slowly torn apart, leaving the two deities laughing in the middle of the molten core of the planet as it started to cool in the vacuum of space.
“You cheeky fuck, your lucky I wasn’t using that planet.” Anodyne jested with the other deity. “When did you change your look? You look like a fucking idiot Lio.”
Lio grinned as he rubbed his smooth head. “Mate, it is the new trend. Do you know how many other gods are rocking a bald head? You’re the one who looks like the wanker with the long hair.”
Anodyne shook his head slowly as he stared at the shining head of Lio. He took a moment once he noticed the bushy brown eyebrows resting below his creaseless forehead.
“Fashion is not something I don’t think I will ever understand.”
“Clearly.” Lio said, looking Anodyne up and down.
Anodyne turned back over his shoulder, his eyes glowing blue he waved his hands, and the destroyed planet slowly reformed, going back through the process that Anodyne and Lio put it through until it was finally whole again. Anodyne turned back to see an encroaching smile crawl across Lio’s face.
“You destroy that planet again, and I won’t help you today.” Anodyne said, like a parent warning a child.
“You are no fun at all, and I do need your help. So I guess I won’t destroy it… for now.” Lio said, waving his hands in front of him, wriggling his fingers. “Dun dun dun, but one day, when you least expect it. It will be in pieces.”
Anodyne stared at Lio with disappointment. “Why do I tolerate you?”
Lio shrugged earnestly, and they both laughed as Lio raised one arm, pointing two fingers up. He brought his arm down slowly, a small tear in space appearing before him.
“Come on then, we have work today.”
“This is hard work.” Scoffed Anodyne.
“Well, if you put the effort in like I did, it would be, so shut up and come on.”
The pair squeezed through the tear one by one, disappearing from where they stood, reappearing on a large flat plane of grass that extended further than they could see. All around them, others appeared from their own portals, wandering to a central spire that stretched high into the blue sky, it too going beyond eyesight.
“This is such a strange place; I have no idea why it has to be like this. It hardly has anything to do with what we are doing.” Anodyne said as they started to walk toward the tower.
“Yeah, and why the blue sky? Why can’t they go with the normal color?”
Anodyne gave Lio a side-eye. “What do you mean normal?”
“Well, you know, green, the normal sky color.”
“To me, blue is the default; it is what my mortal lives grew up with.”
“Oh, me too, actually. But green is literally the most common color; we are unique. Well, not really. I think Blue is actually like the fourth or maybe third most common.”
“Oh shit, and how may I ask did we get this information?”
“The only way possible, they were counted. One of those weird groups of gods that like to check the rarity of shit. I mean, obviously, they have not counted everywhere, but current standing, green is number one, and by a wide margin too.”
“This has to be one of the dumbest conversations that I have ever had, and that is saying something.”
“Are you telling me you seriously don’t find that interesting, like not even a little?” Lio asked, pressing intently for an answer.
“I am no longer a part of this conversation.”
“Ha, I knew it. Don’t you worry; I will keep you updated with all the random facts and crap these groups come up with?”
“D-lightful.” Anodyne said sarcastically. “Maybe we should move the topic to the one at hand?”
“Fine, what is your strategy?”
“Strategy?” Anodyne laughed. “You have me mistaken for someone who is trying to win. The only reason I did this shit is so I could master creating sentient life. Now that I have done that, I do not care for this stupid game.”
“Come off it; you are gonna love this shit.” Lio jumped in front of Anodyne and put on an announcer’s voice. “One universe locked in accelerated time, every planet seeded by a god’s own creation, only one race will come out on top.”
“You look like an idiot. Stop that.”
“Come on, man, lighten up, have some fun. If we do good enough, we may even win our entry fee back.”
“Entry fee? You never mentioned an entry fee.”
“I mentioned there was a price, though, and there can’t be a prize without a fee.”
“All right, I guess that one is on me. What is the fee.”
“A hundred thousand tonnes of none forgeable matter.”
“What the fuck, are you serious?” Anodyne yelled reactively.
“Oh, come on, you hoarder, you don’t even use yours for anything. What is the point in finding rare material if you don’t even use it? It is like…”
“Fine, shut up. I will enter this once and once only. That is hours of work for some shitty life simulator that will be over in minutes.”
“Days, not minutes.”
“I hate everything about this competition.”
The two walked into the tower and signed up for the competition, wandering slowly around the room until they stopped at the final desk, where they were handed a different pamphlet each from a god sitting behind a desk.
“Now, these are your information booklets; they will have all the details on the planet, asteroid, or other habitable region of the Universe that you will be seeding for this competition. We begin tomorrow morning, so please plan carefully. The prize for the winners is on the back; enjoy.”
“The whole of creation to explore, and this fucking idiot decides to sit behind a desk and hand out pamphlets.”
“Damn, relax, Anodyne. He is just doing his job, and if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here. Now, what seed location did you get? I got a… Oh, I better do good; I got a green planet; it is already covered with life. This will be a cakewalk for the early stages. Hopefully, it will cover for my lack of experience.”
“I got a barren-ass wandering asteroid. No atmosphere, no liquid, just a small pocket in the center that I can put my genetic material in and pray I actually hit a planet before this competition is over.”
Lio winced as he looked at Anodyne. “Sorry buddy, better luck next time.”
“Woah, what is this bullshit?”
“What?” Lio said, confused.
“I ain’t fucking lost yet; just because I don’t have a fancy green planet like you don’t mean I am not going to do well. I am going to crush this competition.”
Lio raised his hands and raised an eyebrow. “Alright, if you say so, buddy. But I think you just wasted your entry fee.”
Anodyne stared at Lio, his lip twitching with anger. “I ain’t wasted anything, you just watch.”
Anodyne stormed off to a preparation room and started working on his competition entry. He scoured the information given to him about the universe they would be seeding; he looked over his asteroid and its potential trajectory. Carefully examining the planets it was most likely to land on. He festered over the information, but the words of Lio rang in his ears, and he stubbornly pressed on with his research, desperate to find the angle needed to win this competition.
The next morning rocked around, and Lio found Anodyne standing at the front of a display screen, his eyes fixed on his own name that was being displayed on the scoreboard.
“I thought you were just doing this because I invited you?” Lio said sarcastically.
“I was.” Anodyne replied, his eyes shifting to the countdown timer. “But you told me that I couldn’t win, so now it is personal.”
Come on, man, that was not a challenge; everyone knows if you get an asteroid, you have all but lost. Most never hit another object, some explode in space when they hit others, and the ones that do make it to a planet are usually millions of years behind the others. It isn’t an opinion. It is a fact; the odds are stacked up against you.”
Anodyne watched the last second tick over on the countdown timer; with a loud siren, the game began with a voice echoing through the air.
“Welcome everyone to the seed challenge. All your genetic material has been added to a universe that has been created to run time as fast as possible; we will watch all your creatures grow, adapt, die, and kill until there is only one left. That one will be crowned the winner. There are also prizes for the creations that achieve milestones and various other tasks. Best of luck to you all; may the best species win.”
Time started in the pocket universe, and everyone started cheering as the scoreboards started to fill with points.
“There was pretty much nothing in the booklet about the scoreboard; how do I get points?”
“You serious, Anodyne? All that researching, and you didn’t bother to look that up?” Lio rolled his eyes and started to explain. “Well, it is pretty simple, without going into the intense maths of it, pretty much anything your species does in the universe earns it points; just existing will get you a point per second, so you will never be on zero points. Then evolving, conquering, diplomacy, tech advancements. Literally everything they do will gain you points. The rarer the thing they do, the more points you get.”
“Then I think winning will be a very easy task.” Anodyne said, grinning, watching as his points started to skyrocket, creeping their way to the top of the leader board, while Lio’s remained near the middle.
“How the… What have you made?”