Mass Foundations: A New Day (Mass Effect OC-insert) Mar 12, 2017 21:16:55 GMT dmc1001 likes this
Post by Nord Ronnoc on Mar 12, 2017 21:16:55 GMT
Mass Foundations: A New Day
Chapter One: Arrival
Chapter One: Arrival
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
The harsh June sun settled over Bangkok like a wet blanket. Even as the sun set, a never-ending stream of taxis, delivery trucks, motorcycles, and bikes filled the streets. A gray Nissan SUV passed over a speed bump and into the sea of cars before it. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but not to one person riding in the car.
Eric Grimes turned 19 years old days after graduating from high school. It had been weeks since then. Thin for his small height, he had short, jet black hair, his skin a warm beige. His little face had a thin jaw, a thick nose, and small hazel eyes. Because of the weather outside, he wore a white-collared t-shirt and a pair of black shorts and brown sandals.
Eric sat quietly, squeezing into the back seat between his brother and sister. He looked on, fascinated by the chaos ruling Thailand’s highways and byways. Compared to his hometown Boston—known for its outdated streets and aggressive drivers—the traffic here was insane.
He thought about going to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He wasn’t sure about choosing which classes to take at first, but his Physics teacher solved that problem. His teacher claimed if calculus was the language of God, then quantum mechanics was His canvas. Eric was skeptical of the idea, but it convinced him to take the course once he signed up at MIT. After all, he excelled in math and science, including physics. Quantum mechanics shouldn't be a problem.
“Eric? Mijo? Are you okay?” His mother, Felicia, asked from the driver’s seat as their car stopped at a traffic light. She gazed her eyes at the mirror, concern shown on her face. A 46-year-old woman with a thin jawline, her brown eyes matched her tawny complexion. She wore a white t-shirt with a picture of a pink flower on it and dull, yellow shorts.
Eric looked back at his mother. She intended for most of the family to spend a week here and visit Angkor Wat at some point. When she and his sister told him they would be going on a vacation over there not long after his graduation, he was looking forward to visiting the temple. He hoped the civil unrest wouldn't deter the holiday.
“Yeah. I'm all right, Mamá. Thanks,” he answered. His mother continued driving when the stoplight turned green.
Eric looked at a window to his right past his 24-year-old sister, Garcia, to a tall obelisk among the traffic. She told him the obelisk was the Victory Monument, built back in 1941. The statues at the bottom of the obelisk represented each of Thailand’s government: the army, the navy, its air force, its police force, and its parliament.
“Sure you are,” his brother, Alfonso, replied with a sarcastic tone. So his brother had paid attention. Lately, Alfonso had his nose buried in his Nintendo 3DS with the new games he got for Christmas.
Alfonso was the spitting image of their father at 22 years old, with his medium height, thin nose, and hazel eyes. The only differences were his long, black hair and a large scar on his thick chin he got from a nasty fight back in high school. He wore a game-inspired t-shirt and black shorts, along with a pair of white sneakers.
“I’m fine, Al. Just drop it, okay?” Eric insisted. Alfonso scoffed and shook his head but didn’t reply.
Their mother pulled up at the hotel and parked the SUV. The hotel was tall and oval-shaped, with another building tucked next to it.
“Should we get out and meet up with Grandma and Grandpa, Mamá?” Garcia adjusted her dark, braided ponytail. She had beige skin, like Eric, and had her mother’s eyes. Unlike either of them, Garcia had a diamond-shaped face and a thin but long nose. She wore a bright, striped tank top and navy-blue shorts.
“They should be here any minute, Garcia.” Her phone rang, and she picked it up. For a moment, Eric hoped it might be his father to check up on them. His father had changed since he spent multiple tours in Afghanistan as an intelligence analyst. He wanted to make sure his family was safe, even in peaceful times.
Eric looked over at his mother had hung up. The phone’s screen showed his grandfather’s number. Disappointed, he slumped back into his seat and sighed. His father was always busy as an IT manager, spending no time with his family. His father had changed in more ways than one.
“All right, we’re moving out. Your grandparents got here in the taxi. They’re waiting for us inside,” their mother called out as she pocketed her phone.
“Great!” said Garcia, more than relieved.
The family got out of the SUV and grabbed their bags from the trunk. They walked on the plank, past the garden with the elephant statues and thin trees and went inside. The wooden walls inside surrounding him and the black-and-white stripes tiles on the floor gave away a gorgeous environment.
It didn’t take long for them to find his grandparents in the lobby. They sat on two of the chairs that surrounded a tall, thin plant, with two suitcases sitting by them.
Arturo, his grandfather, was a short haired, overweight man with a rather colorful Hawaiian t-shirt to go with his khaki cargo shorts. His face was round, having a thick nose, puffed lips, and beady brown eyes.
Sitting next to him was Eric’s grandmother, Carol. Thin-faced with small brown eyes, she had a crooked nose and a thin mouth. Like his mother, her graying hair was wavy that reached down to her neck. She wore what anyone would have expected his or her grandmothers to wear: a light, fluffy sweater. Eric was sure she had lighter clothes in a suitcase. After all, she was considerate of herself and others.
“Felicia! It’s so great to see you!” Eric’s grandmother sat up and gave his mother a hearty hug.
“Good to see you too, Mamá,” his mother smiled.
His grandmother hugged his brother, who looked like he would rather be somewhere else right now. His grandfather let out a toothy smile and patted Eric on the shoulder. “Hey hey, Eric! How was the trip? Found any cute guys on the way?”
Eric shook his head. “No, I didn’t hook up with a complete stranger.”
“So how are you holding up? You seemed pretty anxious back on the plane.”
Eric stuttered and looked away from his grandfather. He wasn't used to opening up to other people. “I don’t know. Probably because of MIT.”
His grandfather smiled and gave Eric a sincere look. “Eric, listen. I know you had a rough time recently, but you did well. You’re going to MIT, one of the best universities out there. I’m sure you’re gonna do something incredible and amazing. I’m proud of you for that.”
Eric exhaled as something warm grew inside him. “I—Thanks.”
Satisfied with how it turned out, his grandfather turned his attention to his mother. “Have you checked us in?”
After consulting with the receptionist, they got their cards for their rooms. They settled for three rooms on the sixth floor. One was for his grandparents, one for his mother and sister, and the other for himself and his brother.
Eric and Alfonso entered their room and turned on the light inside. It was a large room with two king-sized beds, a TV in front, and a bathroom by the exit. A large window at one end showed the entire city. It was just about nighttime outside.
Alfonso landed on the bed farthest away from the window after dropping his bag. He let out a relieved sigh. “Dios mío, this is so comfy!”
Eric dropped his suitcase on an empty bed and opened it. He grabbed a toothbrush and a half-filled tube of toothpaste after going through his clothes, placing them in the sink in the bathroom. When he got out, his brother stuck his nose in his 3DS, back to playing A Link Between Worlds, a game he got from last Christmas.
“Hey, want something from the lobby?” Eric asked as he opened the door.
“Nah, I’m good. I ate on the plane. Wait…” Alfonso curled his lips. “I want a candy bar. Got your card?”
Eric nodded. Before he stepped out, Alfonso spoke again. “Hey, you’re looking into quantum mechanics and stuff, right?”
He stopped. “Yeah. Why?”
Alfonso shrugged. “I dunno. I just find it funny that A Link between Worlds deals with parallel worlds. You’re gonna deal with something similar in your class. The many-worlds theorem or something.”
Eric cocked his eyebrows. Quantum mechanics, as far as he knew, covered a bunch of topics like transport processes, string theory, dynamics and waves, physical chemistry, nanomechanics, and biomaterials. “Where’d you get that idea? That’s not the only game to use parallel universes as a plot point. It’s not even the only Zelda game to have done that. Bioshock Infinite has it as well, with some of it based on actual theories.” Eric wasn’t into video games as much as his brother, but he was in a mood for conversation.
Alfonso scoffed. “You thought I stick to Nintendo games, right? You’d rather I pick up Call of Duty or some shitty-ass port?”
“Oh c’mon, that’s cheap!” Eric chuckled. “Speaking of ports, remember when Final Fantasy X was re-released as an HD port? Heard it was pretty good.”
“Kinda weird you have to look for single-letter dictionaries. I remember that and the digging in the desert.”
“So you don’t mind finding anything useful? At all? One of the most advanced technologies we ever found from ancient civilization was an old battery jar.”
Alfonso paused his game and gave Eric a dirty look. “You’re such a downer, you know that? If they found abstract cave art and shadow theaters last year, do you think they can find more?”
“Anything’s possible, I guess,” Eric answered. “I’ll ask the others and see if they want anything. See you later.”
“See ya,” Alfonso replied just as Eric left and shut the door.
The next two days were spent touring the city, seeing many monuments and trying out Thailand’s delicacies. It was clear everyone enjoyed it except for Alfonso and the dancing shrimps one time. It didn’t work out much for Eric as his thoughts drifted on about the relics he saw at a museum.
On Wednesday morning, they went off for Angkor Wat. For most of the four-hour trip, there was nothing but wetlands, even after passing through customs at the border to Cambodia with little difficulty.
They arrived at the temple, parking at the café nearby. Even standing on the wooden bridge that went over a waterway, the massive, ornate temple was magnificent. The structure had outlasted the empire that built it and countless wars. Some believed Angkor Wat should be called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Eric would be inclined to agree.
As they got out of the car, his grandmother basked in the fresh yet humid air. “Y’know, I’m half-expecting him to make a joke about those head-shooting monsters,” Garcia remarked.
“And the deathtraps and stuff,” Alfonso replied, kicking the dirt around his feet like a child throwing a temper tantrum.
Eric’s mother turned to his grandmother. “Did it help, Mamá? I know the city has been rough on you.”
Eric knew his grandmother was a chain smoker when she was around his age, causing many health problems. The worst was lung cancer that her doctor took care of at an early stage.
“Very much, Felicia. Thank you for asking,” his grandmother smiled.
His grandfather stepped forward and gave his grandmother a gentle hug, cradling her. “We’ll make it work. We can take pictures. Capture the moment. What’d you say?” His grandmother nodded, and his grandfather pulled his digital camera out of his fanny pack.
Eric and Alfonso walked over and stood by the bridge, with Alphonse resting on Eric’s shoulders while Eric made a small smile. Alfonso was about to make a bunny ears gesture, but their grandfather told him off along with a dirty look from Eric. Garcia and their mother stood next to each other with smiles on their faces.
His grandparents were next. His mother took a picture of them in an embrace.
With that finished, they made their way to the temple by walking across the bridge. They entered inside, and Eric noticed how much more imposing it was up close. Many tourists climbed the stairs up to the smaller towers, his siblings among them.
On the walls of the passageway, its white paint had faded from centuries’ worth of wear and tear, decorated with carvings that detailed large-scale battles like the Battle of Lanka, according to the information on his smartphone, and aspects of Hindu mythology. Eric was so entrenched by the level of detail and the stories of people and powerful deities long past unraveling before him that he lost track of time.
Somehow, he found himself in a small, circular room. It was empty save for a plain pillar mounted in the middle. The pillar reached up to his chest, crowned by a transparent orb on top. Eric thought it shone on its own. He looked up and found the ceiling had openings in it; some of them manmade while others resulted from erosion. Golden rays went through the holes, illuminating the otherwise dark room that reflected off the orb’s surface.
“Huh. That’s kinda cool,” he commented.
The placement was convenient. At first, he couldn’t help but compare this place to an item room in a Zelda or a Mega Man game. He sighed and lowered his head, ashamed of making that comparison to what seemed like a priceless artifact made long ago. He looked around and noticed markings on the floor. They were faint, arranged in concentric order, and paralleled perfectly with each opening carved in the ceiling. He guessed the room might have been an observatory that tracked lunar cycles.
He tried to leave but stopped and turned. Something bothered him about that orb. How did it survive for a long time? Were the glassblowers able to make something that perfectly round? And how did a piece of something as fragile as glass survived all these years inside, through several wars and a revolution? Could it had been replaced many times over the years?
Judging by the fresh smell of sandstone, this room could have been built recently. Not only that but the markings had numbers; in fact, they were equations, far too advanced for a time long ago.
He pulled out his phone, took pictures of the markings and the orb, and sent it to his sister. Knowing her, she spent her time studying Thailand and Cambodia. He waited for his phone to send the message only to find it didn’t have a signal. He grunted in frustration and pocketed his phone. With nothing else to do, he walked closer, hoping to see what these equations were. Maybe he would find something, like an inscription the authorities could put up, that would elaborate on the orb’s history.
Up close, the orb grew brighter, taking on a blue hue as if it reflected off the skyline. He looked back at it again, and he wanted to touch its cold and smooth surface, but he thought better of it. No use in disrespecting whatever tradition it had, he thought. I really should find Garcia and the others.
A hum vibrated in his teeth, but he didn’t look back. He circled the room’s perimeter before realizing there wasn’t an exit. Somehow, he ended up here without a visible entry point of any time.
A wave of panic struck him as he pounded on the wall. It was useless, but he didn’t know what else to go on. He fell off his feet and crawled to the wall behind him.
The entire room lit up so bright there wasn’t even a trace of a shadow on the wall he faced. The small symbols in the stone seemed to glow on their own, but the illumination came from the orb. If he looked at it now, he could go blind or worse.
The hums and the vibrations reached fever pitch, and he couldn’t hear anything, not even his own screams. He closed his eyes despite facing away from the source. He collapsed in pain as a jolt of electricity coursed through his body.
When he opened his eyes, he found himself in a black void. For a moment, he thought he died, thinking his soul would move onto the afterlife. And for a moment, he expected something like a light at the end of a dark tunnel. But he still had his body and his clothes. He was floating, all right, and he could hear his heart beating, though harder and faster than normal.
What the hell is going on? Am I alive or not? he wondered.
Without warning, a wave of nausea hit him, followed by a headache so agonizing and so head splitting that he wished someone would cut his head off. An unseen force then yanked out of that void like a fish being pulled out of its pond. All the while, Eric screamed at the top of his lungs.
“Hoooooollllllllllyyyy shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittt!” he exclaimed, his voice trailing along as he was whisked away, going higher as he went past Angkor Wat until the ancient temple became a small dot on the globe. “This isn’t real! It can’t be real! It’s impossible!”
His frantic please for rationalization fell to deaf ears. He flew out of the Earth’s atmosphere, his body swinging forward, round and round. He stopped, and he found himself in outer space. How did he not suffocate from the lack of oxygen here, let alone freeze and boil at the same time? None of this made any sense.
“What the fu—?”
Just when he least expected it, he was yanked yet again and whisked around the Earth. And yet again, he screamed at the top of his lungs.
Within seconds, time and space around him had bent and turned, forming into a circular tunnel full of blinking lights and changing colors. His body had straightened out, his legs pressing against each other and his arms at his side, he could only let out a whimpering cry. He couldn’t tell whether he was heading toward something. Either way, it would not be a pleasant landing.
The last thing he saw before everything went to black was a body of water, which quickly got closer and closer to him before a flash of white hit him.
When he came to, he felt something pressing against his chest, then something on his mouth in a pattern and air flew into his chest. He gasped hard and his eyes fluttered open, meeting the light above as he looked at the bright, cloudy sky.
His body laying against the ground, his eyes adjusted a little more and, to his relief, some sort of medical device pumped air into his lungs. He didn’t want to consider the implications otherwise. With some difficulty from the pain in his chest, he turned his head to a shadowy figure looking over him. His vision cleared up even more and the figure was a woman, seemingly in her twenties or so with dark-colored eyes and bronze skin, a rounded jaw, and a sharply defined nose. Her hair had combed and tied back into a short ponytail.
“Hey, what’s your name? Can you remember your name?” the woman asked.
“Eric,” he croaked. “Eric Grimes.”
“Okay, Eric.” She let out a relieved sigh. “Help’s gonna be on the way. Lie still and you’ll be fine.”
Eric would be more than happy to follow that advice. In fact, he really should rest up. He was starting to feel light-headed, anyway. His eyes rolled back as his body began to relax.
“Hey! Stay with me!” he heard the woman before losing consciousness again.