July 3rd, 2013

Sol System, Earth

22:50 PST

I was walking home after class on a very warm summer evening.

A few of the neighbors gave me odd looks for walking at this time of night with a school backpack, but I didn't mind. College had a nice benefit of being able to occasionally choose your own class times and I had always been a night owl. I turned the corner of the block and set my sights on home.

The cars were still in the driveway, despite Mom saying they'd be going out, but I paid it little attention. In short order I was inside my nice, air-conditioned house. It was dark, as expected, with only the aquarium lights to see by. Stepping into my bedroom and turning on the light revealed that if I had chosen to step farther left I would have accidentally stepped on my cat, who was lazily staring at me from the floor.

"Oh wow, I almost stepped on you Thessie," I muttered, startled. "I'm sorry."

Thessaly merely blinked at me and rolled onto her back. After removing my boots and backpack, I gave my cat's exposed belly a rub and flopped ungracefully into my desk chair. A brief look about my room revealed that everything was just as I had left it: bed unmade, books inelegantly shoved into the bookshelf and the desk dominated by electronics on one side and nick-knacks on the other.

I thought about what to do with the rest of my night, given that I had no homework or chores to worry about. I could browse my favorite forums, watch YouTube videos, listen to music, read fanfiction…

I haven't played Mass Effect in a while…

After the travesty that was the ending of Mass Effect 3, I had avoided the series for a while until recently. I considered turning on my Xbox 360 and starting up a new Mass Effect game, but the thought passed quickly. I had very little mental energy left after three hours of classes.

I was suddenly hit with a strange wave of exhaustion. I wanted nothing more than to curl up in bed and take a nap. It was still rather early for me, as I regularly stayed up past midnight.

Maybe walking in that heat was more tiring than I thought?

Deciding it would be too difficult to stay awake long enough to go to bed when I usually do, I crawled into bed still fully clothed and quickly fell asleep.

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I don't often dream, but when I do it is noticeably a dream. It feels flat, two-dimensional, unreal.

This was oddly vivid.

The world around me was dark and cold. It felt like there was a breeze, but rather than air masses moving I could swear it was shadows dancing across my skin. The air smelt like sandal wood.

Mildly worried, I looked for anything in the inky blackness, but there was nothing. I tried to walk, but found myself to be immobile.

I couldn't see, couldn't hear, couldn't move. Deeply alarmed now, I tried to force myself awake, but that too seemed impossible.

This feels so real! What is this? Why can't I get out?!

Suddenly there was a voice from behind me. "She'll do."

I turned around without thinking and was disoriented by my sudden ability to move. It took a moment before I could take in the two figures in front of me. There was a tall, bone-white man clad in black standing there. His eyes resembled stars, but his face almost seemed bored. Next to him was a girl who appeared to be fourteen, but her hair and clothing changed rapidly with no discernable pattern. One of her eyes was a bright blue, the other a poisonous green.

The girl spoke, with a voice that constantly changed tone and volume, "Oh, she'll more than do. She'll run and hide and fight and know and see and scream and kill and make and live. So much fun!"

My brain exploded with questions but in that moment all I could do was stand there and stare.

"You." This was directed at me. Oh dear. "My sister Death was going to come for you, but we think we can put you to better use."

Sister Death? I suddenly had a suspicion as to who these two were, but if it were true then...

My voice finally got itself unstuck. "What kind of better use?"

The girl, whom I dearly hoped was not who I thought she was, responded. "The excitingly bad kind! We're going to send you far far away where you'll never see your family or friends ever again and be in constant danger and completely alone and scared and have to do horrible things and we're going to watch! It's going to be awful!" Her tone was cheery, at odds with her words.

I felt my eyes widen and my legs shake. "Can I… maybe… not do that?"

"You have no say in this," the pale man, whose name I could guess, dismissed. He seemed indifferent to my fear. "But know that I'll be keeping an eye on you. I'm… investing in you."

Ohhh nonononononononono this is not good this is bad so very bad.

"Investing in me?" My voice became slightly shrill. "Whatever it is you think- I… I can't… I'm not a good investment. You should just send me back!"

The tall, pale man tilted his head to one side and a look I couldn't understand passed over his face. "…you are a perfectly adequate investment. I'm sure my siblings will agree. As for sending you back… after you've completed the task I am sending you to do, there may be a way to return you to your home. Now… go."

Before I was able to feel relieved at this, a tingling sensation spread over my skin and a strange light started creeping up on the corners of my vision.

The last thing I heard was the twisted speech of Delirium. "Aww, it's already time?!"

I woke with the tingling feeling in my brain I had come to associate with an oncoming headache.

I did not come slowly to an aware state, as was my norm. Rather, it came crashing down on me, and I instantly knew that I was not on my bed. If the strange meeting I had just experienced hadn't been just a dream then there was a possibility of not being in my house or even being on planet Earth anymore.

I laid perfectly still and did not open my eyes, instead taking stock of my other senses. I was laying on something hard and cold, quite possibly the ground. It felt smooth, almost metallic. I heard what sounded like a lot of fast moving machines off in the distance and voices echoing from the other direction, but not near enough to worry. Wherever I was smelt awful, like I was near a garbage dump that had been sitting in in the summer heat. Deciding it was safe enough, I opened my eyes.

I was not sure what I was expecting, but it was not that.

I could not see a ceiling.

Above me there were what looked like pipes, walkways and wires crisscrossing through the emptiness, but I could not see either the sky or a ceiling. There were strange glowing lights and suddenly something moving very fast darted past my line of sight.

I tried to actively listen to the voices in the distance and understand them. I couldn't. I couldn't even recognize the languages.

My breathing started to feel heavier and faster.

I turned my head towards the noise of the machines.

The platform I was laying on ended a few arm lengths away and all I could see after that was a void. In that void, there were flying vehicles going by at a speed my eyes couldn't follow. And beyond the lines of flying cars was a giant wall of supports, catwalks and what were obviously buildings with huge blinking, flashing and glowing banners that moved with asari and krogan on them in languages I couldn't read advertising omni-tools and hover cars and-

Oh fuck me I'm in Mass Effect.

[Edited on 10/7/2016]