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By: GWRedwall

Chapter 1

The tiny town of West Ridge in southern New Mexico (of the United States) had never held any importance. It had never been the place of a great battle (or even a small skirmish), nothing had been discovered there, and no important people were born there. It was just another town in the middle of nowhere. Not much of a town, either. Around seven streets, a couple of stores, a McDonalds, and a small group of houses were it. And no other big cities were nearby.

The perfect place for a top secret operation.

The US Government, a few years before, had secretly sent in construction crews under the guise of a construction crew building a mini mall. The few people of West Ridge were told, three months later, that construction had shut down due to the construction costing too much money. The public, what little there were, believed it. It was just what they figured would happen. Why would anyone want to build a mall in the middle of nowhere?

In fact, the crew built a top-secret underground research facility. Of course, the US and other Allied governments had no idea that Premier Romanov was not their puppet, but the US government wanted to further research the first war's technologies.
Thankfully, Einstein stopped his paradox technology from being used further without dire need, but the US had other technologies in their infancy. The Allied powers had begun, just before the end of the last war, to research the possibilities of controlling light and using it as a weapon. The US also started researching the complex weather of our planet. The light research was stopped after the war ended, but knowledge of how weather worked could be useful for other things than war, and thus research had continued.

That's what the US research station, codenamed "Storm Control", had done. Under conditions of extreme secrecy, the best scientists the US could recruit tested and examined and researched everything they knew about weather, wind, sunlight, precipitation, and everything else you could name. Using newly developed electronics and data storage and manipulation devices called computers, the scientists eventually developed a theory on a way to create a light sprinkle.

They just needed a place to test it. Unfortunately, they were in the middle of the desert. An unexpected rain would surely look suspicious. The scientists and meteorologists, excited at the prospect of having some degree of control over weather, debated with the government, which insisted on extreme secrecy. In the end, with the agreement that the government would have the local meteorologists predict some rain, the scientists were granted a test.

The week before the test, Premier Romanov of the World Socialist Alliance moved troops in to settle an uprising in Mexico, a fellow WSA country. Unawares, Storm Control went along with their test.

Chapter 2

Unexpectedly, the device did not function as planned. Instead of a light sprinkle over West Ridge, a giant black mass of clouds began to form. To the amazement of the people of West Ridge, a storm seemed to be forming for the first time in over fifty years. Suddenly, the heavens seemed to burst open and torrents of rain began to fall. The shocked people standing below were completely soaked.
Then, on Main St., a car windshield cracked. Soon, the town was being pelted with giant, lemon size hail that knocked out citizens and caused more mayhem. The citizens of West Ridge began to panic. Something was wrong. Nothing like this had ever happened. The rain was still pouring down, and people began to rush towards their homes.

On 5th St., old widow Hesfarthing was walking with her cane back to her house. She was old, 83, but still moved liked to stay on her feet. Her husband had died when she was 72 of cancer. Now she lived alone. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning shot from the sky and hit the old widow and struck her dead. No one knew until the next morning.
Old widow Hesfarthing was the first of many to be struck in blinding flashes of light that night. Some died instantly, like the widow, while others were hurt, had amnesia, or were just startled and had no real damage. The lightning also struck other things, including buildings, which didn't have lightning rods because they were in the middle of a normally, hot, dry desert. Mass chaos followed, as some people took the opportunity to raid stores and the local McDonalds.

In the small town triangle (there was no town square), a tall tree was struck by lighting. It caught fire, which began to slowly spread downward and toward the other trees. Then its trunk cracked and, slowly at first but gaining momentum, it began to fall. When it hit the ground with a large thud, no one noticed in the already ensuing chaos. When the fire caught on the ground and began to spread rapidly all over the park, no one noticed. The general store across the street was a grocery, hardware, and toy store. In the back room was an auxiliary generator and a couple tanks of gasoline. When the general store caught fire, people noticed.

The general store became a giant, two hundred foot flame for a couple of seconds. Then, the remaining walls crumbled and the fire spread to the rest of the town.
In the dull lives of the people of West Ridge, New Mexico, that day would be remembered forever. But it was just the first of many chaotic days that were soon to come.

Chapter 3

Christopher Davies, a scientist sworn to absolute secrecy from the Storm Control research station, frowned as he looked down at the report from West Ridge.

Davies had been one of the leaders in the debate over whether to test the Storm Control device or continue researching until a better test location could be found.
It wasn't that he felt sorry for all the damage. He was, of course, somewhat, but he wasn't some sap who worked for the betterment of mankind. He was, besides a promising scientist, a moneyman, for lack of a better word. He would do almost anything for his check, and wouldn't do anything if it wasn't large enough. Now, the blame from the government fell mostly to him.

The US government was having its own problems. The storm over West Ridge had instantly become national news. Not only was it a storm in the middle of a desert, but a storm more destructive than any seen in the past ten years in the entire US. The high death toll made it even more of a story.
And already, some people were beginning to wonder how such a destructive storm had formed naturally. The local meteorologist had survived with only a bruise on his arm from someone who shoved him over, and news crews learned that he had predicted a sprinkle that day, and that he had been forced to by strange men in normal clothing who kept looking around, as if someone was watching them.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before someone got close to the truth. People have to have someone or something to blame- it's human nature. So, first with crackpot magazines full of fakes and eventually encompassing most news shows and newspapers, the US government began to gain the blame. The government tried to suppress it, of course, and denied everything.

Then K7 News came to West Ridge. K7 was a special news channel, available to satellite and some cable viewers. It was a relatively new company, only a year old, and was looking for something to boost viewers. When K7 found out about West Ridge, the top executives saw two things- a story and ratings. K7 launched a special news crew to the scene, and came in secretly and quietly. They didn't announce their arrival, and it was a long time before anyone knew they were even there.

The K7 team, led by Trevor Jones, set up a small station using their mobile connection to K7 HQ. From there, they used GPS and other, K7-owned satellites to pinpoint an area of activity not marked on any maps. Although their GPS did not register anything, the other satellites, equipped with special, new technology, found an area of activity not marked on any map. K7 assumed that, even if the government had nothing to do with the West Ridge "incident", something was hidden there.

Jones sent Nancy Westing along with cameraman Luke Carson to the spot after several attempts to find the entrance. The two had worked together in the news business for such giants as HBC and UBO, and were well respected in their profession. Westing and Carson crept up to the point, on foot so as to avoid noise, and finally came to rest at the tip of a hill overlooking the research station.

When they reached it, they were shocked. Of course, they had expected some sort of military operation, and some scientific junk. They were somewhat right, but there was hardly anything above ground. Guards, wearing sandy camouflage uniforms, were stationed everywhere throughout, and in the center a giant structure was erected with a rotating part on top. Some sort of electric current seems to course through the structure, and held the reporters' gaze. There were so in awe, they didn't hear footsteps coming up behind them, or the cocking of guns.

Chapter 4

Carson, the cameraman, got up slowly, feeling the muzzle of the soldier's rifle against his neck. He glanced over at Westing, who was also accompanied by a soldier. In front of them stood a man dressed in uniform who looked somewhat superior to the two guards. "Who are you?" asked the man.
"I could ask the same to you." replied Westing.
"I am Second Lieutenant James Krell, if you really needed to know. Now that I have answered your unneeded question, please answer mine."
"I'm Jill Newman, from a small town just east of West Ridge. This is Norman White, a friend of mine." answered the quick-thinking Westing. "We were just out hiking when we-" "Cut the crap and tell us the truth," Krell interrupted.
"We're telling you the truth!" insisted Carson. Krell nodded, and the soldiers cocked their guns once more and held them against the reporters' heads. Carson began to sweat. "I'm Luke Carson!" he finally said, "and this is Nancy Westing! OK, is that enough for you? Can you tell them to put their guns down?" Westing kicked Carson, but he just looked at her and said, "Look, we can't help if we're dead, can we?"
"Shut up, both of you." interrupted the 2nd Lt. "I've heard the name Westing before; you are a news reporter, no?"
Westing, knowing Carson had ended their chances of finding out about the place without the government knowing, gave in. "Yes, that's me." she grumbled.
"Ah, reporters. Such a hassle. Come with us." he replied, pointing to a path down the hill with his weapon. They began the silent trek down, and soon arrived in the Storm Control Research Station, ID 52.

From actually inside Storm Control, the two reporters were even more amazed. The device in the center seemed even larger and more intimidating than from above. But their thoughts were soon led elsewhere when, seeming out of nowhere, an opening appeared in the dry, cracked ground. Although soldiers followed the reporters from behind and in front, none noticed the tiny device Westing dropped on the cold, concrete steps.

At the bottom of the long flight of stairs, the two looked onto an enormous open area, lit by artificial lights high above. Spread around the area were drab buildings, but in the center was a structure which held their gaze even more than the rotating structure on the surface. At its center was a tall pole, topped with a metal sphere, which was surrounded by three more metal spheres that were connected by special plates. The two did not have long to look, however, because they were pushed, uncomfortably, to a large building that looked somewhat cheerier than the others in the area. It was still quite dull compared to civilian buildings, although.

In the building, they were taken down a long hallway to a door. They were taken inside, and two of the soldiers stationed themselves on opposite sides of the door, while the others went off to other duties.

In the room, Westing quickly glanced at her surroundings. In front of her was a man, dressed in uniform and with grayed hair, sitting at a high, cherry desk. On top was a pile of papers, but nothing more. Behind the man was a metal file cabinet. The rest of the room was bare. The man at the desk introduced himself, with cheeriness almost completely opposite of the 2nd Lt., as Major William McKenzie.
"Welcome to Storm Control Research Station," he said. "Would you like the tour?"

Chapter 5

Each startled sufficiently, but perhaps Westing more so, the two reporters tried to stammer a dozen questions at once. It finally came out as a mixture of "What?", "Yes!", "Are you serious?", and "Huh?".
The Major smiled and led them, accompanied by the two soldiers standing by the door, to a jeep in a large garage connected to the building. The Major sat in the driver's seat, with Westing and Carson beside him. In the back were the two soldiers, who sat silent and straight faced, their guns in their laps.

McKenzie started the jeep, stepped on the gas pedal, and exited the garage. He started an elliptical ride around the outskirts of the station, explaining some of the buildings as he went. They passed a gas facility, a radar station with special equipment to connect to an above ground receiver, a barracks, and several scientific buildings that the Major did not explain in much detail.
As they neared their starting place, Westing decided to do something. She turned to McKenzie and asked, "Major, what exactly is the purpose of this place?" The Major immediately stepped on the brakes and turned towards the center of the station. Stopping near the structure at the center, the Major shut off the jeep, got out, and told the reporters, "Please follow me."
"You see," he continued as he led them around the structure, "this station has its roots in the Second World War. As you know, Stalin and his Soviet army invaded Europe. Towards the end of the war, the winning side was shown to be the one with the most advanced technology. The Soviets developed a device known as a Tesla Coil, which used powerful electric currents to," the Major led them into a small building next to the structure, "damage the enemy. The Allies developed Gap technology, which was an advanced form of stealth that allowed commanders to cloak vehicles, infantry, or even whole bases. The device you saw above ground was a Gap Generator. Both sides then developed nuclear weapons."

Inside the building, McKenzie led them along a short hallway to a door. He opened it, and entered the room inside. The two reporters were amazed when they too entered. As they glanced around the room, they saw computers everywhere. At many were men and women, obviously scientists, working away. Only one turned when the three entered, and quickly went back to his work.

"At the end of the war," McKenzie continued, "the Allies had begun to research other possibly weaponry. Most of the research was halted at the end of the war, but research into weather and controlling it continued."
"You mean.." interrupted Westing, her eyes wide as she realized what the structure in the center must be, and that the wild theories she had thought folly were true.
"Yes, I believe Ms. Westing has it now. The purpose of this place is to research weather control." said McKenzie, who did not mention that the test on West Ridge had been a failure.

Chapter 6

Westing and Carson quickly recovered from their small shock, as the idea of weather control was why they had come here in the first place. Westing was about to ask a question, but the Major continued, the cheeriness gone from his face. "Now, I have a dilemma. You see, you already knew too much when you entered the area and saw the generator. Although you didn't know what it was, someone would have. Then the 2nd Lt. brought you down here, to me, to decide what to do with you. Although Krell would have you killed, I have to make the decision. I cannot kill you, because it would eventually be uncovered and the government would have to deal with it. I cannot send you back. So the only option left is to keep you here, alive. I still hesitate to do that, although, because further teams will be sent out to find you. Still, I must make a decision." The Major sat down on a chair, and looked up to the reporters.

Westing was furious with herself. She should have known something was up when they were caught, and then taken on a tour of the base. Of course, she would have known, except when she realized they really could control weather, she had forgotten her previous thoughts. Now she was going to pay for it.
Suddenly, four soldiers appeared from a door. They roughly grabbed Westing and Carson and took them outside to the jeep. Shoving them in the back, one soldier started the jeep, while two soldiers got in the front and the last one in the back. They drove to one of the drab buildings, away from the weather device but not on the outside of the base, and the two reporters were taken into two separate small rooms, the doors locked behind them.

As Carson looked around his room, he noticed it remarkably resembled a jail cell. The room was bare except for a low bed with a flat pillow and a thin sheet. A small window looked out into the hallway, but with special glass that allowed people outside to see in, but people inside to not.

Westing found herself in a similar room. She paced back and forth, trying to think, for what seemed like hours. She tried to think through everything that had happened, tried to find something to help her escape.
There was nothing. Exhausted, she finally sat down on the bed. Soon, she laid back and fell into a fitful, light sleep.

Chapter 7

Trevor Jones looked up at the clock- it was one in the morning. Jones was exhausted; he had been up all day waiting for Westing and Carlson to report in, but he had seen nothing of either of him. He yawned, and decided to get some rest. Jones walked over to check the radar screen once more, and froze. A small dot had appeared on the screen. He quickly walked to the radio, and turned a dial. A small "bleep" sounded. A second later, the bleep came again. Jones smiled. He had found them.

Jones was wide awake now. He walked to another tent, and shook a man lying asleep on the floor. "Wha.. What is it?" he mumbled.
"Come on! I've found Westing!" Jones whispered back to him, pulling the man up. "Get ready to go!" "Ok... just a minute..." the man replied sleepily. As Jones left, the man walked over to a suitcase and fumbled inside. When he came out, he was dressed but still sleepy. Jones pulled him over to the jeep parked near the tents, and shoved the man inside. Jones got in on the driver's side and started up the jeep. Putting it into gear, the two men of K7 News drove off into the darkness, with Jones glancing at the signal from time to time and the other man, Nathan Phillips, trying to wake himself up.

Westing woke up suddenly to a tap on the window. She sat up and looked around; it was pitch-black. She heard the tap again, and tried to get over to it. After hitting the wall, she found the window and looked out, but she couldn't see anything. Then Westing heard a small click and she felt a slight breeze for a second. Then she heard footsteps and a soft thud.
She heard another click and a man appeared in front of her with a flashlight. He wore black clothing, black boots, and a black hat. "Be silent," he said with a thick Russian accent. "Here," he continued handing Westing a black rope. He clicked off the flashlight, and all was dark again. Westing heard a click, and felt a tug on the rope. She followed the man out the door and heard a small thud as it closed behind them.

The rope went limp suddenly, and Westing realized they must be at Carson's cell. A light came on from behind the glass, and she saw Carson and the man. The light went off again, and she heard another click as the man and Carson came out. Westing felt another tug on the rope, and she began walking again.

It was a long walk. The man led Westing and Carson through the building, turning many times, until what seemed like hours had gone by and Westing and Carson were both extremely confused. Westing heard a jingling, and then another click and the floor changed. She assumed they had exited the building, but could not tell because of the blackness.
The man then led them further, twisting and turning in-between buildings until they felt the rope get higher, and they encountered some steps. The steps seemed to go on for miles, and Westing and Carson's legs were both tired when they finally stopped. They heard a few beeps, followed by another click, and a gust of air blew in as light from a gray dawn shined in. They saw the man again now, and saw a heavily armored door with a keypad next to it.

The man put a finger to his lips to signal silence, and motioned for them to follow him. He closed the door after they were both out and started off towards the hills. Carson stopped and looked toward the Gap Generator in the center of the plain, then hurried back to the others.

Jones drove forward into the plain and parked the jeep. He nudged Phillips, who had fallen asleep again, and pointed toward the rotating structure in the center of the plain. "Haha!" he said smiling, "You know what that is?" When Phillips answered with a snore, Jones shoved him. "It's a Gap Generator, that's what it is! They used those in the Second World War. Ingenious things, really... they create an area of blindness around themselves, called a shroud, which enemy units couldn't see through. You know what this means, don't you Phillips? The government's hiding something here, and we get to tell the world!" Jones was smiling broadly now. "C'mon. Let's try to find what they're hiding."

Jones got out, pulling Phillips behind him, and walked up to the Generator. He put his hands out, examining it, touching it, and overall staring at it like it were the most beautiful thing in the world. Phillips, who seemed to have finally woken up and realized what the device was, repeated what Jones had said earlier, "You know what this means, Jones?!"

"It means," came a voice behind them, "that some people have been caught where they don't belong." The two turned, shocked looks on their faces, to face 2nd Lieutenant James Krell. Krell smiled at the looks on their faces. "We'll take them down to the others," he said to the group of soldiers with him, who pushed the muzzles of their rifles into the reporters' backs and led them to the building where Westing and Carson were being held. Krell, still smiling, headed off to his office after climbing back down to Storm Control.




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