Origin: An Odyssey in Time

Chapter 1

“Origin, huh?” The resonance of his voice rang in a slight low register, warm sounding and resolute. His grey-blue eyes darkened as he held the description card up for inspection. The frown had been a semi-permanent fixture upon his chiseled, handsome face. The unkempt dirty blonde hair he possessed poked at odd angles, giving him the devilish, “bed-head look but stilled rocked it” style. He worked out often, between his late night shifts and afternoon serving shifts. He preferred to keep busy, despite the crazy schedule. “I wonder what this is going to be about.”

Eugene Domingo-Lopez played games for his main living, having a channel of over half a million subscribers. The way he won over his viewers was not due to his dashing personality, or quick witted sarcasm; it was his diverse play style. Many YouTube gaming reviewers and professional gamers had a specific genre or specialty. His speciality was that he had no genre or specialty. He played whatever he wanted, even the occasional otome game to please his female base. And despite him not having a niche, he excelled in almost ninety percent of his games. To some, he was a video game god. To others, he was generous. He would take part in the holiday game drives where gamers from around the nation would come together and play for extended periods of time. It was during this time that they collected donations for kids around the world to afford their own games and activities. For the last two drives he helped with, before he finished his first hour of playing, he’d achieved the 100,000 dollar mark. And he was the one starting the campaign.

“I’m excited to be apart of this project myself, it’s been under wraps for a long time.” Alexander Walker appeared by his side and peered at the game card the blonde had. His short cut dark brown hair lit up even underneath the bright fluorescents, if any of his personal fan girls were there, they’d probably swoon as well.  As luck would have it, he had been blessed with beautiful hazel colored orbs, which lightened when he smiled. The slight dimples in his cheeks would appear whenever he cracked a smile, giving him that boy-next door look. He was close to the blonde’s height, albeit a few inches shorter.

He also had a YouTube account that catered to those in the gaming world. His speciality dealt with first person shooters, real-time strategy, and action/adventure series. Sometimes he would play the occasional steam indie games, but merely as requests came in. He made an excellent critic to all the games he participated in. The blonde pulled out a beanie that had a piece of paper stapled to it. It read: Pun of Shame on the center.

“Did you make this after the chat room Alex?” The blonde inquired.

“Of course! I was inspired.” The maker of the hat of shame seemed proud of the work he’d commited himself toward. It only took him about ten minutes to actually make the thing though.

Before his conversational partner could rely back to Alex’s comment, a spirited hand grabbed the card out from his hand. There was no hiding the sardonic expression he gave as a bubbly and energetic pixie-haired, raven-head about a head shorter than him had gushed over his card. She was infamous in the gaming world, for her videos and Twitch channels. Having a speciality in otome, fantasy, roleplaying, virtual novels, and the occasional voice acting she was Magnolia Burchett. Bright blue eyes, light with amusement and fun, she made the room brighten with her presence. “I didn’t know where to meet you two Eugene.” She giggled in contentment as the two older males rolled their eyes at their new conversation partner.

Eugene remembered when he first started his gamer channel. She was one of his first few subscribers. She also jumped into the game world because of his gameplay. Many fans speculated it was because she had a mighty crush on him, but the truth of the matter was that she was impressed with his unique gameplay. She slowed down her voice acting career to start up her own game channel as a result.

“Well, we did agree at the entrance.” Alex remarked before placing the hat of shame on his friend’s head. Eugene nudged his brown-haired pal beside him with his elbow. “Where’s Cassidy, she was coming with you wasn’t she?”

“She was putting together a basket of snacks for us while we waited in the lobby!” Magnolia replied before looking over her shoulder. Cassidy still had yet to arrive behind her. “I hope she remembers to lock my car.” She flipped Eugene’s game card over twice before offering to return it. His card didn’t seem special, but hers wasn’t special either.

“You still able to come to Fynn’s DnD campaign tonight, right?” This was one of the many podcasts they all participated in together.

“Yup! You still owe me a coffee from last time Eugene.” Magnolia cooed ecstatically while the male in question groaned. He was hoping she’d forget about that after that much time had past. Apparently not.

“After we’re done beta-testing.” She noticed the beanie with the stapled “Pun of Shame” on it as well. Grabbing it from his messy hair, she reached up to place it on her own head.

“This is more comfortable than the actual cone of shame Nick made, no fair.”

Alex smirked at his handy work, before he removed it from her raven head. “Nick was too busy last night playing Fortnite with Eugene, so I grabbed one of the many beanies he” Alex pointed to Eugene, “owns to create it.”

“No wonder its comfy.” Magnolia smiled, showing off her bright navy blue braces on pearly white teeth, “Well, here you go!” She had to wear it out to the night release of Kingdom Hearts III, so she thought it seemed fine for him to wear this beanie of puns for the premier of Origin.

Eugene grumbled, but did not fight her or the hat. It was worth it. “I’ll rock this no matter what’s stapled on it.”

“Okie dokie!” Magnolia bounced back on the balls of her feet and her heels. If Alex had any say in what just transpired, he would have remarked that those two were destined to date at some point. It was only a matter of the time, place, and manner in which it would happen. Eugene accepted his game card back before his attention snapped to behind them. The sound of a heeled boot clicked upon the ground.

“Cassie!” Magnolia jumped at once, realizing it was her best friend approaching. The newest addition to their group, Cassidy Etheridge had multi-colored dyed hair, where it was a rich blue underneath the pure white dye on top. It had been layered with care, slightly wavy over her shoulders, and threaded neatly down her back. Her green colored eyes caught the rest of them off guard save for Magnolia. Her copper-colored skin was not blemished, rich in nutrients from her cocoa lotion she obtained from her family. Cassidy happened to be the tallest of the four, and her attention to detail cooridinating her outfit allowed her a few extra inches thanks to her boots. Poised, calm, and determined the young lady joined their motley crew with the elegance of royalty. Magnolia broke the royal feeling when her arms doubled over Cassidy’s waist for a tight embrace. Cassie accepted the hug with a mischievious grin.

“Here’s your car keys.” Cassie replied as she handed over the key ring filled with little trinkets. “And we’re all set for snacks!” Magnolia easily placed the keys into her jacket pocket before gesturing to the basket hanging off of her best friend’s arm.

“I can’t wait to try the oreo truffles you made last night! They look mighty tasty!”

Cassidy smiled. “Of course they are! They’re made by yours truly!”

Like her fellow friends, she also possessed a gaming account. Having accrued over a quarter million subscribers, she became famous through her sheer will power. Her videos of innovative game play, discussion and critics of any games, not to mention all her kitchen and cooking videos she did on the side, as well as tidbits of her own platform game: ReSolve, made her quite the indie gamer legend.

ReSolve was a Steam Indie game she created through her programming and innovative genius. She designed the game after a detective, solve-the-crime genre. The story followed the main character who was searching for his wife’s murderer. The game played like a tree-branch style, where there were many ways to reach an ending–there were many ways to reach a good, neutral, or bad ending. It’s complexity and simplicity gave ReSolve an excellent score 9/10 on all gaming critic websites. The diverse story telling gave players an opportunity to see all angles of the game. They could piece together the whereabouts of the murderer, and grow with the main character as he resolved his wife’s murder. Eugene, Alex, and Magnolia played through the game plenty of times giving their opinions on the game to the gaming genius. She was one of the few gaming critics to actually create a successful game with the funds allotted to her from the group events that raised money for her game.

“Cas, top of the mornin’.” Alex acknowledged with his head in a slight bow. He respected her intellect just as much as he respected Eugene’s gaming expertise.

“I see we arrived on time… I thought Nick was coming with you all?” Cassidy spoke softly, as they were starting to make their way into the lobby of VRGE.

“Nick already went inside to scope things out.” Alex replied, bringing up his phone to read two of his missed text messages. Both of them happened to be from Nick. “Nick said he found a few of his other friends inside. He wanted to hang with them for a bit since they have the same colored card.”

“This must be the game of the century to call us here to beta test.” Cassidy stated. She didn’t realize how many prolific gamers were all going to be in this building that day.

Eugene shrugged his arms up. “It’s not like this is a poor gaming company starting off from scratch. They probably net over a billion dollars in shares.”

“Anyone been inside VRGE’s main hall before?” Alex asked, as he peered inside the white clean walled space around them. A welcome desk stood near the back of the room, with plenty of plushed couches and seats. There were a line of guests signing into a book at the reception desk as they made it to the back of the line.  For the most part they remained in their own personal rooms to record their games, so this space was new to all of them. Beside their other part time jobs and careers, this was the first time they had stepped foot into VRGE.

“This is so exciting!” Magnolia gushed as she looped an arm into Cassidy’s free one. The line moved fairly fast as the guests showed their game cards to scan into the machine ahead. Cassidy’s click of her boots on the porcelain floor tapped in rhythmic beats as they patiently awaited for their turn.

Eugene and Alex peered around them carefully. They were laid back by the whole event, not really believing it at first. Eugene remembered the first day he received his game card in the mail from VRGE–he thought it was a joke. But after some investigating from Mike, Cas’s older brother–they found out that it was no joke but an actual offer. Not only that, but the company was willing to pay him money for his time.

VRGE definitely knew how to get people interested. After all, what better way to promote a gaming system than to have famous gamers, game creators, and critics to play it? It would exponentially raise their sales if it turned out to be a hit. Cassidy and Magnolia signed in just as his thoughts caught up to him, and it became his turn to check in. The process was simple enough. Just sign their name on the piece of paper, read the liability papers, and scan the gamer card they received shortly after. The whole intake process was fast and efficient, giving him a fairly good feeling about VRGE already.

They walked for a short time after the double doors closed shut behind them. The halls were clean in presentation, and a few people who worked for the company walked by with purpose. Eugene looked endearingly at the building and people walking by, wishing he could one day get a dream career here — or anywhere that would promote his gaming career.

The girls led the charge, until they reached another set of double doors. They were propped open by signs that read: Beta Testers welcome!

The amount of beta testers within the room were staggering. Eugene watched in awe as the hall opened into a somewhat large ballroom. There were tables with drink and food near the entry, and loads of people talked in group. He could recognize some of the people already as they walked into the threshold. Many of the people happened to be different ages ranging from their early teens to their older thirties. Most of the beta testers were people they’d run into once or twice at charities or comicon’s around the nation.

“Woah, Cool_Azure_Sea is here!” the group closet to the four whispered to each other as they oogled them. “Check out RelicPetals! She’s pretty in person!”

“OMG, I cannot believe Engine_Loaded and EagleEye are here!” A gaggle of girls, ones who were most likely randomly selected from the general public with an interest in gaming, cooed. “Why is Engine_Loaded wearing that beanie? Could he have lost a bet?”

“Probably Sh4d0w_N1nj4_M4nipul4t0r’s doing.” The gaggle of girls commented as they walked on by. Eugene worked arduously to ignore the stares and continued through the throng of people.

“Is this going to start soon or what?” Alex turned his attention over to find one of the famous gaming critics on the Twitch Network ambling over to them. His trademark beanie stretched over his matted, rustic brown hair, his ash brown eyes it with amusement. He was taller than Eugene by at least a head, and he was proud to show off his height. Comparatively, he was the same height as Cassidy in her heels.

Sh4d0w_N1nj4_M4nipul4t0r to his fans, but just Fynn Valenzuela reached them to flash his player card. The blue card was the same color as his denim jacket. “Are you as excited as I am?”

Magnolia and Cassidy pulled out theirs.

“Yup,” Magnolia replied and smiled to her senior. He was always nice to them during their charities, except during their DnD sessions. He was ruthless as the Dungeon Master against all of them. Still he messed around and rough housed all the same.  Fynn seemed like the person who would pick dare over truth any day.

“I found out the scoop of who’s going first.” Fynn said with gusto. “Blue’s first, then purple, then green, and finally orange. Should be interesting to see how everything works out!”

The metallic call of the PA system interrupted Fynn as the group looked up to listen to the announcement. “Blue group to Entrance 1!”

“That’s my cue fellas and ladies, see you inside!” Fynn gave his trademark two finger salute before rushing off to the rest of the blue group. He didn’t seem to have any trouble fitting in as he jumped inbetween three older beta testers near the back. A female with long auburn hair turned to him with a smile before agreeing to him joining their ragtag group of peeps. Once the first group got settled, another anouncement summoned them behind the closed doors.

Eugene watched as the room filled with testers became slightly smaller, but didn’t pay it any mind. He figured with the way things were going the other colors would get called in the rooms when enough time lapsed.

“They don’t want to overload the server with an overabundance of peeps.” Cool_Azure_Sea tsked in disapproval. Had VRGE asked her for help, they probably could have come to an agreement to help solve the lagging issues. But that was her own opinion.

Magnolia went to grab some drinks for their group as they waited. They chatted about the little things, like their next hang out or which food places they would like to try in the future. After Alex had looked at his watch for the 4th time, the obnoxious sounding announcement called for their color group to the same entrance as the purple group.

“Group Purple to entrance 1.” The announcement over the audio system rang into the main hall causing the buzz of activity to die down. Many of the beta testers checked their colors before either returning to their conversations or milling around.

“Looks like we’re up, lets go!”

Eugene walked ahead of their group, keeping his head level as they went. He could feel the stares of the passerbys as he moved. In someway, this felt like a joke. He half-expected VRGE to prank them with another version of Escape the Room in less than an hour.

The purple group melded into one orderly unit by the front. There were about thirteen people standing there waiting. Some of them were prolific, others were not. Eugene kept his thoughts to himself as the door finally slid open to the sides. He could feel every eye on their group as they proceeded forward. They were trying to get a feel for what the console looked like. Unfortunately for them, the door closed shut as soon as the last of their group entered in.

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