Odyssey Contest Entry: "Survival of the Fittest"

Not for the first time, Zyra wondered if the world would ever accept her as she truly was. Unique, deadly, cunning, voracious—a skilled predator, alluring to both mortals and immortals alike. But most of all, she was a survivor. Which was why, instead of gleefully savouring the lifeblood and Ora of the plentiful mortal creatures down on Runeterra, she was lounging cozily in her futuristic bedroom onboard a gargantuan spaceship named the Odyssey. Just like her forested homeland in ages past, Runeterra was slowly dying. Many hadn't believed it at first, but Zyra had felt it instinctively, a subtle change in the air here, a strange breeze there. Sure enough, it had not been long before the planet started turning barren. That blasted Ryze must have unearthed the final World Rune, and in doing so altered the planet, perhaps irreversibly. She should have killed him when she'd had the chance, instead of allowing him to continue with his doomed mission. The edge of the Freljord had grown, extending all the way from what was once Demacia, to the edge of Piltover, in only a few decades. The inner part of Freljord was now pure ice, completely uninhabitable except for magical sanctuaries which maintained carefully controlled climates. Shurima, now a wasteland, had engulfed Targon completely, being so hot that not even the native Brackern could endure the punishing heat and constantly shifting sands which spread in the breeze and clouds and eroded cities and crops alike. Famine had become increasingly common, and the yearly casualties due to it now numbered in the hundreds of thousands. The extreme weather patterns (hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes) caused by the changing planet had killed many more. Noxus hadn't lasted long before imploding upon itself, leaving behind a treacherous war zone ruled only by warring factions. Even Magic itself was failing—Hextech Shards were at their lowest energy levels in centuries. For many, the choice was simple. Leave Runeterra, or choose to scavenge a miserable existence for themselves on a dying planet, hoping the mysterious Blight would reverse itself. Many chose to leave. What remained of the straggling survivors had pooled all of their resources and technology into creating two gigantic spaceships, nicknamed Scions, which would travel towards a habitable exoplanet. Onboard the ships were all the ingredients to start new life elsewhere—people, seeds, livestock. All perfect for Zyra. A destination, named Kaelios, had been discovered, experimentally confirmed to be habitable via hexprobes. However, it would be a one-way trip. The remaining Hextech Shards were barely powerful enough to power the ships even once towards its their destination. She knew that there was risk in leaving the vicinity of Runeterra. She might lose her connection to the magic that made up her very being. But she also knew in her heart that Runeterra was doomed anyway. Both ships would leave in a few hours. She stared out of a large porthole window towards the inky blackness of space, juxtaposed by the mesmerizing expanse of Runeterra down below. She could see the sandy continent of Shurima even from here, thousands of miles above. It was amazing how much she'd learned after emerging from the Kumungu jungle so long ago. Back then, she'd been simple, motivated purely by hunger, believing that most of the world existed within forests. Now, she knew better. Her kind had once been plentiful. But, over-consumption had made their prey become extinct, and she'd been forced to watch her once-proud brethren die of hunger, so intimately connected with the forest that had sustained them for so long, and yet had also proved their downfall. Every consciousness that she'd known for centuries had winked out one by one, their voice-sparks slowly ebbing away into nothingness. Tava, Elenyi, Valan. Countless others. She remembered the pain as they faded away, each loss a crushing blow. Soon the myriad voices became few. When there were at last no more voices to hear, Zyra knew that she was the only one remaining of her kind. And in many ways, the blame was theirs, by devouring the animal population so aggressively that it couldn't replenish in time. It had almost happened several times before, but always they'd managed to keep themselves from the brink by restraining their appetites. But no longer. Until that strange beautiful enchantress, Rose, had come, hacking her way obliviously through the jungle with a machete, Zyra had been doomed. Zyra would not make a similar mistake now, centuries later—by trading a few years of prey for a final, unavoidable death. None on board knew or suspected that she considered the rest of them easy prey. Well perhaps Sona, her roommate, did—but it was sometimes difficult to tell. Zyra would kill her first once they landed on Kaelios, if she could not figure out a way to consume her sooner without being spotted. A ship this size would surely have cameras around every inch of the place, perhaps even inside of the bathrooms. She'd find out if Sona was truly mute once razor-sharp barbs engulfed her. Of course, getting onboard the ship was not easy either. There were only so many tickets that were being sold, and convincing that dullard Malphite, who was surely the ugliest being she'd seen in ages, to stop drooling after her because she was not from his home planet, was an exercise in patience. Living plants made sense, but living rocks? Ridiculous. And that ass Kayn at the shuttle gate calling her an 'it'. He would be next, after Sona. She had no issues with morality. Over decades of watching her kind die, and centuries of feasting on others, she knew that all life must end eventually. Such was the natural order. The strong lived and thrived on the weak. What did right or wrong matter, or who killed what, when all faded into the dust? She knew not why she had been given a second chance at life. But whatever happened, she would see that she remained one of the last ones living. *** End of Story There was actually so much more that I wanted to write, especially about the encounters with Rose and Ryze, but there was only so much I could include in exactly 1000 words! It was a unique challenge condensing it down as I am naturally verbose. Hope you enjoyed a perspective into my favorite champion!

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