Reinon Pulz, the Gamerian High Adjudicator, made his way to the Hall of Four, the Battlefield Selector Disc weighing heavily in the pocket of his grey ceremonial robes. The balmy heat-cycle breeze gently buffeted him, the excited clamour of the Hall's occupants carrying in the air.
The closer he got to the jade double-doors, the higher his nerves rose; the Games only came around once every hundred years, and were always cause for excitement amongst the Gamerian populace. It was the foundation of their civilization, an ancient tradition that had saved them from anarchy, civil war, and certain destruction. And, as the latest in a long line of honourable High Adjudicators, it was Reinon's sole responsibility to see that the latest Games ran fairly and smoothly.
He was absolutely terrified.
Pausing outside the jade doors, Reinon took a deep breath to calm his jangling nerves before reaching out to push a button set above the handles. The response was almost instantaneous.
"Silence!" boomed a disembodied voice from within the Hall of Four. The hubbub from within quickly died down to excited murmurings. "The High Adjudicator approaches, his footsteps ushering in a new chapter in the Great Gamerian Empire! All will rise!"
There was a thundering of feet against stone as the large jade doors ground open. As much as he would have liked to clap his clammy hands over his ears, Reinon knew he now had an image to maintain. He entered the Hall of Four with renewed purpose, head held high. The Podium of Authority sat in the centre of the Hall, surrounded on all sides by the four segmented stalls, each one filled to capacity by the highest ranks of each Gamerian State: Blue, Red, Yellow, and the current rulers of the Great Empire, Green.
As he walked down the narrow aisle between the stands of the Blue and Red States, Reinon couldn't help but hear the furtive whisperings aimed at his own colour; just like every High Adjudicator before him, Reinon Pulz was Grey, a symbol of his impartiality in the Games. His skin had been left untouched by the permadyes applied to Gamerian children at birth depending on the State they were born into. Normally, his skin would have branded him an outcast, and a traitor to the Empire. But as High Adjudicator it granted him power and respect. Just not enough power to stop the whispers.
Reinon stepped onto the Podium of Authority, which buckled slightly under his weight as the gravity buffers kicked in. Moments later, he was lifted gently into the air until he was head and shoulders above those gathered. Once he was sure he had everyone's attention, Reinon took a deep breath and begun the speech he had practiced for days prior.
"Fellow Gamerians!" he roared, his voice amplified by the Podium's vocal augmentations and the Hall's natural acoustics. "The time has arrived, at long last! The time when glory, and honour, and the right to rule for the next hundred years is now – the Seventy-Sixth Gamerian Games are about to begin!"
Naturally, this announcement received a terrific ovation that lasted several long seconds. When order had finally been restored, Reinon continued.
"You all know how the Games proceed," at this point, he acknowledged Braiza Drik, the current Green State Emperor. Drik, a gaunt and cold-eyed Gamerian, nodded curtly back, as was the custom. "But tradition dictates I must inform you, nonetheless; in order to maintain our Empire, the Games must be participated by all. At the end of the Games, the State with the most points becomes the new ruling body of the great Gamerian Empire for the next hundred years. So it has been, and so it shall be now."
At this, he fished out the Battlefield Selector, the thick disc heavy and cold in his sweaty hands. He held it aloft for all to see. "As always, the Battlefield Selector shall help us to determine the home of our next Games; it has been loaded with a thousand randomly selected planets, and whichever one it rests on shall be our hosts… and their annihilation, our goal!"
Another round of cheers and applause, more raucous now as the lust for battle gradually gripped the Gamerians gathered around him. It was during this roaring that Reinon Pulz inserted the Battlefield Selector Disc into the Podium. A holographic projector sprang into life, a constantly changing planet hovering over his head.
Reinon turned to address Emperor Drik once again. "If the Great and Might Emperor would do the honours…?"
The Emperor gave the grey Gamerian a surly half smile; it was no secret that he, like all the emperors before him, was loathe to relinquish his position of power should the Green State not be victorious this time around. But tradition was a cruel master, and even Braiza Drik had to bow to its demands. He pressed a single green button set into his throne.
The projection of planets gradually slowed to one every few seconds, each new projection drawing a collective gasp from all gathered as they thought it had come to a stop, only to have it shift to another the next second.
Finally, however, it came to rest on a planet with a confirmative blare of klaxons.
A planet of blue and green…