The moment the two of them set down in their new world, it was dark, not to mention red and rocky, from what little she could see. Mai looked over at Kouta, who had his eyes closed, as if figuring out what to do next. He didn't seem nervous or frightened; as he'd said to Sagara, there was nothing to fear, not here, not for them.
She had to wonder what Kouta was like, now that he knew a lot more about the universe. She had power, too, but a different kind of power, more the power to affect things than the power of knowledge. Kouta could build a world from scratch, but she would be better at shaping it and making it work.
"Mai? Let's go." Kouta smiled. It was the same smile he'd had when he was human, the same smile that had become increasingly rare in the last few months as the world had gotten worse and worse.
But here... here was a world that was so far away that its inhabitants would never bother Earth, a place to create without having to destroy. She took his hand and they started to walk. "We need a sun," she said, and she thought of how a sun should work. It would need to be a star, just the right age, far enough out so that life could flourish. She thought about what she knew, what she remembered and what had been pressed into her head when she'd become what she was. She just needed to form its core, start it working.
Kouta nodded. "We do. We'll get it going together." He smiled again, his smile easy as if what he suggested hadn't been in the realm of gods.
But they were gods now, weren't they? The two of them. Now that the Golden Fruit was out of her, she understood her new powers a bit better. She reached out her hand and her mind, seeking what had been the nearest star, and finding it almost gone, just the barest sparks still inside. And then she took those sparks, and with Kouta, used them to form their new star and age it just right for their new world. It was odd, knowing that she was creating a star - recreating a star - but it was well within her capabilities now.
And then, after a few minutes, there was light from the star. The ground was still bare, except for random Helheim vines and plants attempting to root themselves in a new world's rocks. Mai knew that she and Kouta would eventually have to create soil and such for the plants, and yet she was reluctant to. She'd rather have anything there but Helheim, but Sagara was correct - they had to keep this world alive. And it didn't mean that they couldn't make animals and plants that weren't originally Helheim plants - they'd just have to make them able to thrive in the same world.
She remembered what she'd learned in biology class - that life on Earth had started out in the ocean and grown from there. Except that they had life as a template to start with. They didn't have to start that far back. All they had to do was use the plants and the Inves to start modeling their new world.
Passing her hand over the rocks nearby, she created soil and then sprouted grass out of it. Almost in perfect harmony with her actions, Kouta reshaped the rocks to create a stream. She realized that they'd need oceans and lakes too, for the stream to end in. All the streams to end in. It wouldn't be easy - sure, creating some soil or making a streambed wasn't too hard in themselves. It wasn't like they had to do anything other than mentally change things. But there was still so much to do, and only two of them.
Was this what their own gods felt like, when they'd created the world? Did they create every streambed, every meadow, or forest? Earth had formed out of the universe, and then the gods had, seven generations later, created a livable world.
And now she and Kouta, tasked to start a new world, were doing just that. She spread the meadow and created trees as Kouta worked on a waterfall.
"We'll need oceans," she said. Kouta had more power than she, but she'd been head of Gaim ever since Yuuya had died.
Kouta nodded. "I know." Concentrating, he raised his hand. She followed his energy in her mind, saw him pushing down the rocks a hundred kilometers away so that there was room for at least a lake, and then creating a space for a river that their little stream would turn into. And above the waterfall, a pond for the water to start from.
She cast forth her mind and made it rain above the little pond. That way, there would be water for a while in Kouta's little waterfall, which would then leak into the river and then create the ocean. Eventually, she'd have to create clouds that would work so that she wouldn't have to automatically create them every time an area needed water, but that didn't have to be done immediately. Maybe when there was enough water to condense, evaporate, and form into clouds on its own.
Kouta sat back in the new grass. Mai had to wonder if his outfit - his new form - was more comfortable than it looked. She herself just had her dress, which was soft and easy to wear, and she mentally made sure it was stainproof before joining Kouta in sitting down. It was, naturally. She doubted she'd ever see grass stains on it, as it was a part of her and she could prevent something like that from happening now.
"We have a long way to go," she said as they watched the little stream.
"Yeah." Kouta leaned forward a little and watched the new light play on his new stream. "But at least we've got each other. That will make everything easier."
Mai nodded in agreement. She doubted Kouta realized how big the world was, but then again, as long as he remembered to ask for help, that was what mattered. "We should create some animals."
Kouta laughed a little. "I guess we should." His smile was infectious; she smiled too. "Not bad for a first day's work, though? Lighting up the world, getting life going...." And there was life there, she knew, the grass and the plants. They could have done the entire world, maybe, if they hadn't wanted to practice first. Besides, building the world bit by bit was more satisfying, knowing that each valley, each mountain, was a personal creation.
"What is a day around here?" she asked, and he closed his eyes.
"Probably about twenty-eight hours, a bit longer than Earth." He opened his eyes and looked over at her. "If only my sister could know what I was doing...." Closing his eyes once more, he nodded. "I can tell her, if I go into her dreams. She might not believe them, but at least she'll know."
Home was so far away. She didn't want to think how far away it was. And, it occurred to her, she should probably stop thinking of Earth as home.
But could she? She and Kouta were probably not going to leave this new planet - Helheim - any time soon. She was a survivor, she could adapt to this world, remember Earth mostly as the place where she'd been born.
As if reading her thoughts, Kouta said, "Let's build something. A shelter."
He wanted to make this more like home, this strange world that was not Earth. She didn't blame him. Even in this place, they probably needed an area they could call their own. "A house," she said. Something that was theirs and theirs alone. They'd build shelters - or something of the sort - all over the place, for both of them knew the value of a roof over their heads - but the house was for themselves.
"A house," Kouta agreed. He got up, obviously intent on shaping stone and building it up. She nodded, joining him, and they tried to put a house together even if they only had a really vague idea of how one was done. Still, with the knowledge granted to them, they only made a few errors - Kouta built his side too high, leaving her to huff in pretend exasperation as she raced to make things even and to raise her side of the roof before his became unstable.
But in the end, they had a house. A simple one, with a doorway and windows of sorts. They'd figure out how to build windows and doors later. It wasn't bad.
And inside, they collapsed a little on the bare floor. Kouta smiled, creating first dirt and then a mossy covering to serve as a small bed. Even if they didn't need to sleep anymore, it felt right, part of the house. Maybe later, they'd figure out how to do an actual bed.
In the meantime, Mai thought, they'd gotten started. They'd do more later as they learned more. For a beginning, it wasn't half-bad. In fact, it was good.