The one, the true, the great.
"And we're rolling, ma'am."
The IBC cameras zoomed in on longtime IBC Nightly News anchor Bharti Shailaja. Perhaps the one of the most trusted faces in Empire and Commonwealth alike, Bharti had served since 1984. She had covered everything through thick and thin; through political crises and eras of unity, through economic recessions and booms, through times of peace and times of conflict, from one emperor to another. She was a woman who had seen it all and had reported every inch of it with candor and a grandmotherly sweetness the Empire treasured. Now, here was another massive event to cover. Pataliputra had won the rights to host the 2020 Odinspyl Games, and she now sat not at her usual newsroom desk, but overlooking the Imperial Grand Stadium. The seats were packed - just over a hundred thousand people were ready to experience the opening ceremony of a lifetime, and if there's one thing the Empire planned on doing, it was delivering.
"Hello, everyone." Bharti said in Mercanti with her usual smile. "Welcome to the start of the opening ceremonies for the Pataliputra 2020 Odinspyl Games. Firstly I should mention that you can watch the live ceremonies not just on television, but also on online video platforms such as VidCast or others. On behalf of the Imperial Broadcasting Corporation, we are proud to bring you this, an Odinspyl for a new era, wherever you are." She paused briefly, as the national teams from across the globe entered the stadium with the Odinspyl Anthem sounding triumphantly in the background. As was tradition, the Goyaneans came first. The hosts - the Syrixians - would come last, with the other teams between them. "The ceremonies will begin with, as we're seeing now, the national teams entering the stadium, comprised of remarkable and talented athletes from Gothis to Auroria and everywhere in between." she continued as said teams came out.
Once all the teams had been lined up, the Odinspyl Anthem died down. Imperial Sentinels in dress uniforms gave a brief fanfare, followed by the Imperial Anthem, Thousands of Years. This, however, was just the beginning. First came singer Jaywant Pandya, one of the Empire's most famous musical artists, accompanied by yet another of said most famous, Sunidhi Bhosle. To celebrate the Empire's diverse culture and demonstrate it being representative of unity in diversity, a key Odinspyl ideal, each of the Empire's primary cultural groups was to give a fantastical musical performance backed by light shows, choreographed dance routines, and cultural-based outfits, and so, Pandya and Bhosle sung theirs; Maahi Ve, a classic Samnadhi party song from about a decade prior. The crowds jumped and danced, but the show was only beginning.
The jubilant vibe of Maahi Ve, in turn, gave way to the entry of the Ruritanians. A choir, dressed in traditional Ruritanian clothing, delivered a stirring rendition of Oi Šermukšnio, a Ruritanian folk song known throughout the ages. The Ruritanians themselves were a shining example of the Empire's diversity, being a culture long native to the Janapadhi peninsula and yet, fervently Rakani in faith since the conversion of King Treniota during the High Middle Ages. However, perhaps the greatest example of all were the Janapadhis, who came next, represented by pop singer Sunil Posiani. In Janapadhi-dialect Suchari, he gave a stirring performance of the song Chota Dhuniya, a song praising the interconnectedness of the world - a theme perfect for the Odinspyl ceremonies. Posiani wasn't alone in this performance, however - he was joined by Kaleta singer Maciej Gorniak. The two sang together, in a rare and powerful display of unity between Janapadha and Kalety, alternating between Suchari and Kasov to sing the song the Kaleta knew as Za Mały Świat.
Last came the Durbanese. They had recently been faced with controversy from the continent they bordered - Meterra - when discussions abounded within the Meterra Economic Treaty Organization (META) regarding their status within the Empire. The Syrixian planning committee had therefore foreseen that their performance would be tricky to plan. The Durbanese generally spoke Suchari. However, there also existed a Durbanese language; one still taught in schools and used in the rituals of Ekechō, the Durbanese traditional religion. Speaking said language, one related to Skandan as Durban was first settled by Skandan traders, the pop singer Vivek Pamyu gave a stirring, upbeat performance of his longtime hit Mujhe Baakhi Karani Hai, or as it was known in Durbanese, Haato Wo Miga Kukkyanai.
When all was said and done, the final performance came on as massively famous holostar Aanya rounded out the musical performances with a song celebrating the host city and the promise of the future, her recent classic Pataliputra. At this point, day had turned to night, and so fireworks displaying such patterns as the emblem of Pataliputra, the Imperial Seal, tropical fruits, stars and other celestial symbols, cultural symbols from across the globe, and, of course, the Odinspyl logo and the logo of the 2020 Games all lit up the Pataliputra sky as the song went on. Eventually, however, the song ended, and the dancing and fireworks did as well. It was time for the true heart of the ceremony to commence. All eyes turned to the Imperial balcony at the head of the stadium, and sure enough, the Imperial Fanfare sounded throughout the stadium, the city, and the world.
As he walked onto the balcony with his wife, Empress Jodha, by his side, Rajesh looked out over a jubilant audience, cheering as he appeared; an audience composed of men and women of all flags and peoples, assembled together to celebrate the cultures of the world and the interplay that made them all stronger. It was a profound example of the dream he sought to build, for of all the cities in the world, they assembled in his. Today, his city was the center of the world. His city had been the center of the world many years ago, and one day, he hoped, it would be again; not merely one of many. The Emperor put such thoughts out of his mind for now, though; he had a speech to give. Dressed in his green and gold dress uniform, he reached for his paper, touching it with the tips of his fingers; but he had practically memorized his speech. It was a short one, and a sweet one. The stadium went silent as the Emperor spoke.
"On this occasion, the opening of the Pataliputra 2020 Odinspyl Games, the Empress and I would like to extend a very warm welcome to you all." Rajesh began. "Whether it be from close by or far across the globe, you have come to witness, and in the case of our honored athletes, to participate in, this time-honored global festival of sport. For those visiting the Empire, we welcome you. You shall find a warm reception awaiting you, from all of our people. This city, one of the oldest and most prosperous in the world, stands as a living testament to both the values of the Odinspyl as a whole and to the motto of this year's Games - 'Striving for Achievement'. First founded from naught but small wooden huts, today this city stands as a global center of culture and commerce. In recent months, many in these islands, across the Empire, across the Commonwealth, and across the globe have watched, with growing excitement, the journey of the Odinspyl Torch around the Empire. As it always has, the flame, symbolizing the will of the athletes to strive for achievement and the strength of a world united in diversity has brought together communities as it travels through them."
"To me, the kindred spirits of togetherness and effort are the most important parts of the Odinspyl ideal, and the people of the Empire can be proud of the part they have played in keeping those spirits alive. In all our Odinspyl teams, there is so much for which we can be proud - groups of young men and women dedicated to striving for achievement across sporting disciplines. These teams are ably supported by many intrepid organizers and volunteers, who will doubtless be following the action closely, not just here but throughout the world. For all these reasons, I wish you all a successful, enjoyable, and memorable Games." Rajesh paused, looking out at the stadium. It was at that point that, as had been planned, star Syrixian soccer player Balwant Singh entered the stadium with the Odinspyl Torch, just stopping by the large beacon in the center of the stadium. Seeing this, Rajesh concluded triumphantly in the traditional fashion, "I therefore declare open the Games of Pataliputra, celebrating the Odinspyl for the year Two Thousand and Twenty!"
Coupled with fanfare, fireworks once more lit up the skies above the stadium as Singh lit the beacon and the dazzling flame shone out from the stadium's center. It was at this moment that the IBC cameras zoomed out again. "And so," spoke the voice of Bharti Shailaja once again as the feed turned to her at her balcony, "the 2020 Odinspyl Games are officially open. Tune in starting tomorrow as the games begin. On behalf of all of us at IBC, we hope to see you there." She paused for her famous exiting catchphrase. "Long life, my friends."