The Cromm Conspiracy – Chapter Two

The next day, Sandra arrived at the WDA Headquarters once more to start work.  She was a little late arriving due to a traffic jam, so she naturally was in a bit of a hurry.  On the way, she accidentally ran into a strange man, and fell to the ground.  The man was momentarily knocked off balance, but unlike Sandra, he managed to remain on his feet, mostly unfazed by the accident.

He was a very tall, pale-skinned man, who wore a long black jacket, closed up tight.  He had long black hair, but the tips were red.  He stared at Sandra coldly.  There was just something about the look in his eyes that Sandra found frightening.

“Watch where you’re going,” he groaned, “you shouldn’t be moving so quickly.”

“Sorry,” Sandra said, getting up off the ground, “I am very late.”

The man turned and walked away.

“Next time, be more careful,” he coldly remarked, as he walked into the building.

Sandra also went into the building, and headed directly for the 28th floor action room, as per Jason’s instructions.  She walked inside, and saw the incredible action room.  It was far larger and grander than the one she worked in back in Chicago.  She was standing on a raised platform in the back of the room, there were two sets of stairs leading down to the main section, one on each side.

The center of the room was occupied by a giant holographic globe, with various markings on it, representing various WDA cases, and what areas they threaten.  Her attention was drawn to the white circle around Chicago on the map.  From her previous WDA work, she knew the white circles represented the cities the aliens had domed, and she was not happy to see Chicago circled as well.

The rest of the room consisted two rows of work stations forming a circle around the globe.  Each of these work stations had a modern computer sitting on it, with a holovision-based monitor, definitely the latest model.  Most of the work stations were occupied by people already at work.

“You must be Agent Anderson,” a voice behind her said.

She turned and noticed a tall, skinny man, with dark hair and a short beard standing next to her.  He wore a metallic jacket, with a red shirt underneath it, and black pants.

“Yes,” she said.

“I’m Agent King, the supervisor of this action room,” he said, “at least I am when Agent Burton is absent.  Welcome, and congratulations on being assigned to the WDA Headquarters.”

“Thank you,” Sandra said.

“Your desk is over there,” King said, pointing to an empty desk between two other agents.  “Your computer has already been set up; unfortunately, we could not port your files from Chicago here due to the dome.”

“So,” Sandra said, “I take it I’m not getting that job.”

“Nobody gets that job,” King explained, “I’m pretty sure Agent Burton explained it to you, only Agent Ark handles that job, along with his partners.”

“He never told me why,” Sandra said.

“I wish I knew,” King said, “but it’s classified beyond top secret.  Anyway, we need you on the B-31 job.  After the way you handled the S.T.E.A.M. virus, it’s natural that we get you in to help us out with this one.”

Sandra sighed, and looked at the map.

“B-31 is another virus?” Sandra asked disappointed.

“Yes,” King explained, “almost as destructive as S.T.E.A.M. but equally difficult to track down.  The blue areas on the map represent the sections where the virus has been encountered.  It’s not much now, but we want to stop this virus before it becomes a serious problem the way that S.T.E.A.M. did.”

“So,” Sandra said, “what do we know already about this virus?”

The two of them started walking towards Sandra’s desk.

“B-31 is capable of erasing or rewriting over 10 zettabytes of data every minute,” King explained, “this can naturally wreak incredible havoc around the world if it spreads.  So far, though, we have yet to actually capture a copy of the virus in WDA quarantine, so we don’t yet know the details about its structure or how it works.  We have been able to get into a system containing the virus, but we couldn’t decrypt the virus’s security screens.”

From what King told Sandra, she was underwhelmed.  Compared to S.T.E.A.M., this thing was nothing.  She did not tell King how she felt, though.  He didn’t seem like the type to listen to other peoples’ opinions.

“Well,” Sandra said, “I helped design a program to attract a virus to the WDA quarantine.  I don’t think we were able to send it here before the dome went up, though.”

“Then you’ll need to recreate it,” King said, “You know how important it is to isolate a virus in the WDA quarantine.”

“Of course,” Sandra said, “it’s the only way we can extensively study the structure of the virus.”

“Exactly,” King said, “now, I know you just got here, and need some time to settle in.  However, I would appreciate it if you’d get to work on the quarantine of B-31 as soon as possible.”

“Yes,” Sandra said.

She sat down, and put her bag on the ground.  She proceeded to turn the computer on, when she heard somebody on her left saying, in a low voice, “Hello, beautiful.”

She turned to face him, and saw a small, skinny man, with cropped brown hair sitting in the chair, smiling at Sandra in a flirty way.  Sandra was not too pleased with his introduction.

“I’m spoken for,” she remarked.

“Well,” the man said, “allow me to help you forget about your guy.  What do you say to lunch today?”

“Cool it, Thaddeus,” the man to the right of Sandra said.

This man was a large, bald, well-built African-American man.  Though he looked somewhat intimidating at first, he had a friendly-looking smile on his face.

“Hey, Roger,” Thaddeus said, “how many times do I have to tell you, call me French!  The ladies all get turned off when they find out my name is Thaddeus.”

“I don’t think she was even in to you to begin with,” Roger said to French.  He then turned to Sandra.

“Sorry about French back there,” he said, “he’s got this thing about women.  Anyway, I’m Roger Goodman.  You can just call me Roger, everyone does.”

“Sandra Anderson,” Sandra said.

“Pleasure,” Roger said, “so, you’re here to assist us with B-31?”

“Yes,” Sandra said, “after I get set up.”

Sandra’s attention was turned to a framed image resting on Roger’s desk.  It depicted a tall man with dark hair, and a fedora on his head.

“Is that President Victor Granger?” Sandra asked.

“Yes,” Roger said, “I have always admired him, even with all the mystery surrounding the end of his term.  Did you know he was the one who came up with the idea for the WDA, even though it wasn’t actually formed until the Morgan administration?”

“He did?” Sandra said, “I never knew that.”

“Here at the headquarters,” Roger said, “we regard President Granger as the unofficial first agent, considering that he singlehandedly prevented World War III.”

“I never learned,” French said, “what exactly did Granger do that stopped the war?”

“All we know is that he had a meeting with Scari of the Republic of Angra, and the leaders of the other countries supporting them,” Roger explained, “and after the meeting, they were no longer interested in conquest, and the Angran Cold War ended right there.  Nobody knows what he said or did, except the others at the meeting, who never spoke of it, for some reason.  You know, Granger resigned from his presidency for some unknown reason the next week, and was killed by an unknown assassin the day after.”

“So nobody really does know who killed President Granger?” Sandra asked.

“Don’t believe any of those conspiracy nuts,” Roger answered, “it really is the greatest unsolved murder of the twenty-first century.  I’d love to work on that case myself, but murders are the FBI’s business.”

Sandra put her bag down, and pulled out a photo.  The photo depicted a woman who looked a lot like her, only slightly younger, she had black hair compared to Sandra’s platinum blonde, and seemed a bit more cheerful.

“Whoa,” French said, noticing the picture, “who’s that hot babe?”

“My sister,” Sandra moaned, annoyed with French’s words.

“Can you introduce us?” French asked.

“Even if I wanted to,” Sandra said, “no.  She’s sealed under the Chicago dome with the rest of my family and friends.”

“I’m sorry,” Roger said.

“It’s not your fault,” Sandra said, “it’s those alien bastards and their vile domes!”

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Author’s Notes (may contain spoilers):

So, Cromm Chapter Two, more backstory, more character introductions.  Things will get more interesting in the next few chapters, trust me.  I will be posting up to chapter five here eventually.  Though the detail in this chapter was a bit tougher to write than that in chapter one.  I actually went through several different descriptions of the 28th floor action room, before I finally settled on the one that’s used here.

So, I created the character of French as a silly comic relief character, considering how serious and tense things get in some later chapters.  Even the most serious stories need somebody like him to break the tension every now and then.  I don’t want a story too depressing, considering Sandra had just been through some rather tough times.

Anyway, I don’t really have much more to say.  Enjoy chapter two.

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