The Cromm Conspiracy – Chapter One

Sandra arrived at the security booth, guarding the entrance to the WDA’s main headquarters in Washington D.C.  Her hands shaking, she showed her ID to Jefferson, the guard tending the booth.

“A little nervous, are you?” Jefferson asked.

“I’ve been transferred to the WDA’s main headquarters,” Sandra said, “Of course I’m nervous.”

“It’s understandable,” Jefferson said, “this place is our last line of defense against some of the biggest threats to this world, so pretty much everyone who comes here is a little nervous.  Identification please.”

“Right here,” Sandra said, as Jefferson took the ID, and inserted it into a slot on the computer at his desk.

“Let’s see,” he said.

Jefferson read Sandra’s personal information out loud.

“Sandra E. Anderson, born at 9:03 AM on January 8, 2082…born in Luther Crane Memorial Hospital in Chicago…one younger sister named Rachel, engaged to be married to an Eddy Warren.  It says here that you’ve been a WDA agent for two and a half years working under agent Tom Hooks.”

“Actually,” Sandra corrected, “I’ve been an agent for three years, and I’ve been working under agent Ted Martin.”

“Correct,” Jefferson said, “you’ve passed the test.”

“Test?” Sandra said, confused for a moment before she realized what Jefferson did, “I see, an imposter would likely have just agreed with all that false information.”

“Exactly,” Jefferson said, “It says here you lived in Chicago all your life until you moved out here.  So, I guess you made it out of the city not long before that most recent dome went up.”

“Yes,” Sandra said, “My car pretty much left Chicago right before the dome appeared, and they came.”

“Wow,” Jefferson said, “I guess at the rate these domes are going up, one eventually will hit everyone close to home.”

“True,” Sandra said, “I wonder if I’ll be able to get involved with the alien’s investigation.”

“Oh, nobody gets assigned that case,” Jefferson explained.

“Nobody?” Sandra said, “But these aliens sealing our cities away like this is obviously a huge threat to the world!”

“You’ll understand what I mean soon,” Jefferson said, “Anyway, you’re cleared to enter.  Who were you told to meet?”

“Jason Burton,” Sandra answered.

“Alright,” Jefferson said, “his office is room 2813.  Just take the elevator up to the 28th floor.  Make a right from there, and his office is the fifth door on your left.”

“Thank you,” Sandra said.

The guard pressed a button and the beams of energy that blocked the entrance disappeared.  She walked through, entering the front grounds of the Worldwide Defense Agency’s main headquarters.  The beams reappeared behind her.  Though the front grounds appeared to be an ordinary green courtyard, dotted with trees and bushes, a trained WDA agent like Sandra could see concealed monitoring equipment everywhere.  Sandra followed a long paved path to the entrance of the towering building that is the WDA headquarters.

The building was tall, at least fifty floors high, and of a very sleek, modern design.  Sandra looked at it in awe as the building’s platinum spire stretched into the blue sky, right between two red streams of energy.  She reflected for a moment on these strange streams of energy that linked the domes worldwide, and how they could be seen from anywhere, as if they were a symbol of how the aliens have changed the world.  It has now been over six years since the first dome went up in New York City.

She walked towards the automated doors at the front of the building, and they opened in front of her, revealing the opulent lobby of the WDA headquarters.  The lobby was three floors high, with a domed ceiling.  Across the lobby, holographic images displaying various announcements circled the room.  One of these images displayed the current date and time: 9:12 AM on Monday, July 12, 2106.  Others displayed various pieces of news.  There were still reports about the dome going up around Chicago, with the entire population sealed inside, and a few images showing the domed Chicago, though Sandra could not look.

There were also reports about various other WDA projects: such as the technological singularity prevention teams, real time feeds from deep space probes sent to analyze the existence of other alien races, and a report announcing the total quarantine of the S.T.E.A.M. computer virus, and the capture of its creator Nathan Meyer, Sandra’s greatest accomplishment.

Sandra walked forward to the elevator and spoke “floor 28”.  After she spoke, the elevator swiftly flew up to the floor, and Sandra stepped off.  She arrived in an ordinary hallway, with doors on each side, and concealed security cameras everywhere.  She followed the guard’s instructions, and went to room 2813.  When she arrived, she pressed the buzzer on the door, and it opened.

She walked inside a small office.  This one was rather old fashioned compared to the rest of the building with wooden walls, and bookshelves along the wall, it was filled with books tightly packed together, and not-so-well-organized.  In the center of the room was a wooden desk with a small lamp sitting on it, and an old-fashioned computer resting on it, a model circa 2009.

Sitting at the desk was an average weight man, with short brown hair.  He was clean-shaven, and wore a green t-shirt and blue jeans.  He had a pair of black leather gloves on his hands and was typing something on the computer, and did not seem to notice Sandra arrive.

“Excuse me,” Sandra said, “are you Jason Burton?”

The man ignored her.

“Hello,” Sandra said.

At that moment, he pulled something out of his ears.  Apparently, he was wearing ear buds.

“Oh, sorry,” he said, “I didn’t see you come in. I’m Jason Burton, but just call me Jason.  I take it you’re Sandra Anderson?”

“Yes I am,” she said.

“We’ve been expecting you,” he said, “please take a seat.”

Jason pressed a button on his desk, and his office door closed.  Sandra sat down in a chair in front of Jason’s desk, putting her bag down on the floor.

“Why were you wearing ear buds?” Sandra asked, “You know there are newer ways to listen to music.”

“True,” Jason said, “but I’ve always felt that music loses something when it’s streamed to the mind.  I guess I’ve always been a bit old fashioned.”

“I see,” Sandra said.

“Anyway,” Jason said, “I heard about your excellent work in helping us finally isolate the S.T.E.A.M. virus, so I’m glad to have you on my team.  I’ve been assigned as your supervisor, so you are to report directly to me.  Now, I know you probably have a lot of questions, so I’ll be happy to answer them for you.”

“Yes,” Sandra said, “first, I was going to ask about the alien invasion.  The guard said that nobody gets assigned that.  It seems kind of strange.”

“It certainly is,” Jason said, “considering that these aliens are undoubtedly the greatest threat to the world.  I would give my right arm to work that project, but nobody gets assigned to it.”

“But why does nobody get assigned to it?” Sandra asked.

“Only Director Caldwell and President Godfrey know,” Jason said, “and possibly the four agents who are working that project.”

Sandra was incredibly surprised to hear about this.

“Only four agents were assigned to stop the greatest threat to our world?” Sandra asked.

“Yes,” Jason said, “but the entire details of this are classified beyond top secret.  Aside from those on the project, only the director of the WDA, and the President of the United States have clearance.  I’m not even sure if the information is shared with other world leaders like most WDA information is.”

“And nobody is the least bit suspicious of this?” Sandra asked.

“Everybody in this agency is suspicious,” Jason said, “but we can’t really do anything about it.”

Sandra was still a bit uneasy about the whole thing.  She thought about her sister, sealed away inside the dome in Chicago, with no contact with the outside world, subjected to heaven knows what torture these aliens are inflicting upon her, and only four agents assigned to deal with this major threat.  She just couldn’t get it out of her mind.

“This is obviously a big issue for you,” Jason said, “You can have the rest of the day off to collect your thoughts.  When you come back tomorrow, go to the 28th floor action room, at the end of this corridor.  You will be informed then of the project you will be working on.”

“Thank you,” Sandra said.

“I look forward to working with you,” Jason said.

Sandra walked outside the room.  She still couldn’t stop thinking about the people she cared about: her friends, her sister, her fiancé, and the shimmering, impenetrable, white dome surrounding Chicago, just like the one surrounding many other cities, including New York City, London, Tokyo, Paris, Los Angeles, and many others.  With all that, how could the WDA limit the team working on it to just four people?  Sandra resolved to figure this out.

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Author’s Notes (may contain spoilers):

So, here’s chapter one of my book. I’ll probably be publishing a few more chapters in the future, but not the whole thing. You can read the prologue here.

So, what to say about Chapter One? There isn’t really a whole lot, most of what it does is set the scene for the later chapters. There is a time jump between the prologue and Chapter One, and a lot has happened during said jump. While the prologue was meant to be a dramatic introduction to the world, and a hook, Chapter One begins to establish what that one event has lead to, and introduce a couple major characters, and the WDA.

I actually originally did not write the prologue. It came later, but I eventually decided that Chapter One was too slow of an introduction, considering how big things get in the later chapters, so I added the prologue, set over six years prior, partially to provide a glimpse of the world prior, and partially to create a big, dramatic hook to open the story on.

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