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Anodyne stepped slowly through the halls, his stride confident and calm. As he marched, his pace quickened until he took heavy strides, his chin was raised, and his eyes stared forward as if he were a hungry predator eyeing his prey. He ran a hand over his head; he could hear the hairs scraping against the metal of his rings. His tongue ran across the front of his teeth, enjoying the smooth sensation as his lip rose and dropped like a wave over the action. A door was at the end of the hallway; the light was beaming through the cracks around the edges, and he was picked up by the fine spread of smoke slowly filling the air around him. He grasped the door handle and pulled it towards him; the light flooded in and consumed him as he screamed out in pain.

Suddenly his eyes opened, and his body lurched forward from its prone position. He sat with soot and muck covering him; his ears were ringing so loud he didn’t notice himself tensing his jaw so tight that his teeth were groaning under the pressure. His vision was pure white, slowly fading to reality as his ear did the same, letting the world slowly bleed in. His vision returned moments before his hearing did. He looked around at deities running for their lives as strange geometric humanoids descended from above, grappling and consuming them into their bulbous bodies before launching themselves back into the sky and far from the planet. Anodyne could feel the familiar warm trickle of blood escaping his ears and dribbling down his neck. Spitting blood, he watched the chaos that flowed around him until Vure ran up to Anodyne, their mask half destroyed and their body weak.

“We need to leave.” They said as they grabbed Anodyne by the cuffs of his jacket. “They are taking everyone.”

Anodyne scoffed, rolling his tongue over his teeth once again. He tasted iron and felt the slick of stained teeth.

“Just portal away; why are you panicking?”

Vure shook their head with their eyes closed; they swallowed hard and looked back to Anodyne.

“None of our powers work; we are pretty much mortals; these things have been picking us off; we need to get underground!”

Vure watched as Anodyne’s composure started to falter; his eyes started to dart around as he saw his fellow deities being lanced, crushed, grabbed, and ultimately imprisoned in the bellies of the strange beasts that were descending upon them. The air rang with the sound of a siren; Vure, and Anodyne looked up to see where it was coming from. A large sphere floating above the carnage emitted a transmission that could be heard planet-wide.

Behold, you have been chosen, you will experience rebirth, in the light of Ompti, and the first Verse, you are being blessed. Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.’

“Fuck that; we move, find a way down, and hide.” Anodyne called out as he started to run.

He stumbled like a newborn animal learning to run for the first time, his legs felt weak beneath his weight, and his knees felt as if they had no ability to remain steady against his locomotion. He could feel sweat forcing its way from his pours, dousing his face with the salty liquid, his lungs burnt like fire; with each breath, his lungs were the bellows, and his throat the furnace that was being fuelled.

His head started to spin, and his vision multiplied, the ground appearing to shift beneath his feet. He dropped to his knees before sliding to his side. Breathing heavily, he lazily vomited as his head came crashing down into the dry soil. He could feel his body in a way that he had not experienced since he was mortal. He did not know if Vure was behind him or been taken, and his body was too weak for him to roll over to look. He breathed and spluttered the bile out of his mouth, spitting when he could, waiting for his body to lift from the ground and to be consumed by whatever it was that had decided to attack him and all of those on the planet they stood on. He closed his eyes and tried his hardest to focus on controlling his breathing but found that between the fire in his chest, and the vomit sliding back down his throat, there was little ability to focus.

He soon found his body was being lifted by what he assumed was one of the creatures that were flying above. He felt cold as his body was forced into the belly of the creature; the same voice that was blaring from the sphere spoke softly to him as he was slowly consumed.

“Your soul is to go through re-birth; it will be beautiful, you will be better than you have ever been before, we will make you as you are meant to be, calm, caring, and ready to share your love with the Eternaverse. Welcome to your new home…”

Their voice was muffled as Anodyne’s head was consumed by the stomach, his vision strained, and soon his eyes were held closed, and he was left in a cold, muted darkness.

Once the creatures had claimed their targets they flew from the planet, leaving the atmosphere to return to an enormous elongated sphere, where small panels would lift open to all the creatures to return, and once they had all returned it shimmered, then disappeared.

The creatures were all let loose again on the other side, an unknown planet in an unknown universe. They all spent their days living as they normally would in their world; those of them that returned with the deities in their stomachs were revered as the highest of their society, precious and special. They received any and all special treatments that their race could offer them.

They all looked at their stomachs with care and love, as if the deities were their own children, watching as their forms melted down to their raw soul energy before returning to a solid form to be birthed.

There was one, though, that looked down each day with concern in their eyes. They were approached by others with similar concern as they examined their deity through their translucent stomach.

“Why do you think it is still mostly whole?”

“I don’t know; all the others have already started to re-grow; most are nearly done. Maybe this one is defective?”

“Don’t talk about mine like that; it does not need your negativity in its life. It is trying; I am trying.” The creature looked down at the partially dissolved Anodyne with concern. “I am doing my best for them.” They said with doubt in their voice.

The others looked at the carrier and then at one another.

“I am not defective; it was my time. I was chosen by those; this is my one to care for; I was chosen.”

The carrier was ignored as the others walked away.

“Blessings, I guess, don’t always choose those who are ready for them.” One muttered just loud enough for the carrier to hear as they walked away.

The carrier was shunned as all the others started to spread the word that they were incapable of fulfilling their task. They became an outcast that the other carriers avoided in case their inability would spread to the deities they were holding.

Wandering the outskirts of their society, they watched as the crowds gathered for the birthing ceremony, and they compared the bare dissolved Anodyne in their stomach with the newly formed bodies of those they could see with a look sorrow.

“I am sorry little one, I was not good enough for you. I was sent to make you better, but all I have done is cause you pain. I came with a promise that I would make you better, and all I have done is killed you and myself.”

They sighed, resting on the ground. They looked over to the start of the ceremony with longing.

In the center of the gathering, the carriers were all gathered, spread evenly apart. They all slowly went through the process of birthing their deities. One by one, they all emerged, all of which were changed in form from when they went in; naked and doughy-eyed; they looked at the world with wonder and appreciation. There were cheers from the crowds as they all emerged; the carriers all took the time to look down at their newborn and ask.

“How do you feel?”

While all had their own way of saying it, they all answered in kind.

“I feel free, I feel healthy, I want to go out and spread the joy I have with others, let others know that it is safe to care.”

Then there were gasps as one deity re-emerged in the same form as they went in, from the gap in their torso to the clothes on their body, to the mask on their face.

Vure stood among the gasps and mutterings.

“How do you feel?” Vure’s carrier asked.

“I feel the same, I mean, I want to do what those ones want, but I have wanted to and have done it for a while.”

The creatures gasped at Vure’s words, and their carrier embraced them lovingly.

“You were perfect before you were plucked; you are the perfect child.”

Vure stood as a pin, looking around as if answers were going to provide themselves.

“Okay, not that I don’t love this, but I was taken with someone. Do you have any idea where he might be?”

“I am sorry, child, but all other children were made new; you are the only one that remained the same because you are perfect.” The carrier said as they caressed Vure’s cheek.

“I, I, I don’t understand; I just didn’t think that was possible for him.”

“It is marvelous that you were capable of being friends with one of this other filth; you must have a patient heart.”

“Not all are evil all the way through; it is just strange to think that he is gone.”

“Not gone, made better. Unless, of course, no, never mind, it is not possible.”

“No, what is it?” Vure inquired.

“Well, we have one rotten egg; they refused to be born again; they are still in the process of dissolving, something that has never happened before. We believe that the carrier may be to blame for some of this failure.”

Vure groaned and rolled their eyes.

“Take me to them; that will be my Anodyne.”

The creatures all looked at one another with surprise.

“Are you sure, child? I couldn’t imagine even you have the patience for that much sin.”

“Take me to him.”

The carrier pointed out of the crowd; they parted as Vure looked out to where Anodyne resided in their carrier.

Anodyne’s carrier was limping back towards the crowd, crying out in a way that stopped the celebrations.

“It burns, my child burns me, help me, save me!” Anodyne’s carrier cried out.

The creatures all rushed to help as they noticed the fluids in the carrier were boiling inside them. Vure watched, noticing that even though his eyelids were dissolved, he was staring with a hate that Vure had not seen in a long time.

The creatures all panicked, and the carrier screamed until suddenly Anodyne burst from the creature. Their stomach explodes outwards with a scolding bile. Chunks of Anodyne fell from his body but slowly regenerated as he stood, his torso folded over as he regained his strength. A vapor rose from his heated body, appearing to lift him back to his stature. He cracked his neck and looked around the crowds. Everyone was stunned except Vure, who stood with their arms crossed, and their expression hid behind their mask.

Anodyne’s eyelids were the last to regenerate, both making their stare less and more aggressive.

“No one changes me but me, and only when I fucking decide.”

He took one last look around the planet before he disappeared.

“Told you he would have been mine.”

“How can you care for someone with so much hatred for the Eternaverse? He clearly only thinks of himself and cares not for living things.”

“I never said I cared for him. I said he was mine.”

Vure conjured their electrical storm and walked through, disappearing from sight and confusing all the creatures that remained.