The director put on his headset, and then said something into it. Though Sandra did not hear his initial words, they were apparently his command to turn on the microphone function. When he spoke into the headset, his voice could be heard all throughout the WDA courtyards.
“Attention,” he began.
All the noise from the people in the courtyard quickly halted, as everybody calmed down and turned to face the man. Everybody in the courtyard was listening to him intently.
“WDA Agents,” he said, in his low, deep voice, “this is Director Charles Caldwell speaking. Due to the very serious nature of today’s events, I have decided that I will be personally taking charge of the investigation of this enforcer.
“I am placing Agent Ark in charge of collecting statements, and I ask that everybody who witnessed something of interest make a statement to either him or one of the agents working for him. Once you have made your statement to one of them, you are free to go home for the night. I shall be making a statement to the press about this later tonight. Thank you all for your cooperation.”
People walked up to the director, and tried to ask him various questions, or discuss matters with him. The director, however, remained relatively silent. He soon walked forward, into the building, still surrounded by his enforcer bodyguards, and the large man. Two of his enforcers stayed behind and guarded the door, while the rest entered. Nobody else was allowed in.
When people saw the director had gone into the building, possibly to prepare to deal with the press, many of them just took the director’s advice and left the area after their interview. Sandra, however, stayed around. She felt that she was still needed. Ark walked back to her, and two simple words told Sandra otherwise.
“Go home,” Ark said.
“Go home?” Sandra said.
“I don’t need you any more, at this time,” Ark said, “just go home.”
“But,” Sandra said, “How do I know that other enforcers aren’t going to come after me? The one that attacked me may have transmitted my information to the criminal database.”
“It has not,” Ark said, “otherwise, the director’s bodyguard enforcers would have arrested you.”
“I suppose you’ve got a point there,” Sandra said.
Sandra was concerned that whoever sent the enforcer after her would try again. Though she did not comment on this concern, Ark seemed to see the feeling in her eyes.
“Look,” Ark said, “I’ll send a couple working bodyguard enforcers to your home to protect you, in case whoever is behind this tries to interfere with you again. They will be configured so that even other enforcers will not be able to get past them.”
This made Sandra feel much better.
“Thank you,” Sandra said.
“Don’t get the wrong idea,” Ark coldly remarked, “I just want to make sure that I don’t lose a potentially valuable witness to my biggest case.”
“Oh,” Sandra sighed.
“What are you waiting for, then?” Ark asked, “Go home. We’ll speak tomorrow at your interview.”
“Will tomorrow really be business as usual after what just happened?” Sandra asked.
“The WDA Headquarters can’t afford to close for a day,” Ark said, “no matter what happens. There are far too many projects critical to the safety and stability of the world going on here. Of course, a WDA agent like you should know that already.”
“Yes, I understand,” Sandra said.
“Now, go home.” Ark added. From the tone of his voice, you could tell he was obviously frustrated by Sandra not going home after being told multiple times.
“Okay,” Sandra said, “I’m going.”
Ark glared angrily at Sandra, as if offended by the tone of her comment, but said nothing further on the matter. He walked away to interview another witness, while Sandra simply turned around and walked away.
Sandra departed the courtyard and went home for the night. When she arrived at her home, she went right to bed. After the whole incident with the reprogrammed enforcer, she was very tired, and decided to get some sleep. However, she couldn’t sleep. The events of the day kept playing back in her head. Why did the enforcer come after her? Who sent it? She couldn’t stop thinking about this, and barely got any sleep that night.
Her little problem with the reprogrammed enforcer frightened her, and tempted her not to come in the next day. However, she ultimately realized she would be safer at the WDA. Though she noticed the enforcers that Ark arranged to protect her had stationed themselves outside of her house, she knew there were a lot more at the WDA, in addition to human guards.
Despite it being an enforcer that attacked her yesterday, Sandra still felt safer in the presence of them, as most people do. Reprogrammed enforcers are a rarity, and she was certain that something like the incident the day before would not happen again.
Even if there was another enforcer problem, the increase in human guards that would surely be assigned after the previous problem would be able to stop and disable the reprogrammed enforcer before another incident occurred.
The WDA headquarters was significantly more heavily guarded than before. Armed guards stood outside the entrance, both human guards, and enforcers. When Sandra showed her ID to Jefferson, she noticed that he also had an extra weapon handy.
“So,” Jefferson said, “how’s your mother?”
“My mother is still sealed in Chicago with all the others,” Sandra said.
“I see,” Jefferson said, “and how’s your father?”
“My father’s dead,” Sandra answered, “and he’s been dead since 2093. Shouldn’t that be in your records, or is this just another one of your imposter tests?”
Jefferson did not comment about the test. He just continued to interrogate Sandra.
“Oh, that’s right,” he said, “Your father died in a boating accident, right?”
“Not a boating accident,” Sandra said, “actually, it was an airplane accident.”
“Kind of strange that he would die in an airplane accident,” Jefferson said suspiciously, “I mean, airplanes haven’t been in regular use since the mid 2050’s.”
“Dad was a recreational flyer,” Sandra said, “he was especially an enthusiast for the old airplane models, up until he died. You know, it’s probably a good thing he didn’t live to see the modern world where non-military aircraft is banned.”
“Oh,” Jefferson said, “Makes sense. By the way, how are Agents French and Wolf?”
“Agent French was trying to flirt with me yesterday,” Sandra explained, “I was not too happy about that. As for Agent Wolf, I’m afraid I don’t know any Agent Wolf, though I do think that French is a bit of a wolf.”
“You passed the test,” Jefferson said, handing Sandra back her ID, “go on in.”
“Thank you,” Sandra said, “you’ve really taken that test a lot farther than you did last time, haven’t you?”
“I sure have,” Jefferson explained, “but then, I have to. With the malfunctioning enforcer incident yesterday, Director Caldwell decided that we’re taking no chances, and gave me instructions not to let anybody in without probing them extensively. You’ve passed the test though, so go on inside.”
“Thank you,” Sandra said.
Sandra proceeded to enter the WDA headquarters, and proceeded to the action room, to work for the day. She naturally couldn’t help but be concerned about whomever sent this enforcer after her, and if they would try again.
She knew she had to do something about it.
Author’s Notes (may contain spoilers):
So, Cromm, chapter five. What is there to say? Sadly, not much about this chapter. I realized I had to deal with the aftermath of the enforcer incident. This also felt like an opportunity to explore Ark’s personality some more, and introduce Director Caldwell, the head of the WDA, and a major character in the rest of the story. I wanted to establish Caldwell as a competent and powerful leader, the kind of person you look up to.
And Jefferson. I created him originally to be a fun character, and to take the idea of asking loaded questions with false information to trick an impostor (something I’ve seen many times in TV shows and movies) to the extreme. I didn’t really intend to use him beyond chapter one, until I realized that scenes with him in them could be an interesting opportunity to reveal small facts that may be mostly irrelevant to the story as a whole, but reveal more about the characters and the world.
And this may be the last chapter of Cromm I decide to post. I may change my mind and post future chapters in the future, but for now, I want to leave it at five chapters, just a short teaser introduction for when I feel ready to go somewhere with the full story.