The year was 2020 when people all over the world heard the name Edwin Daltroy. Also known formerly as Major Daltroy. At the time he led a security team for the central Minerva facility. At that point, everyone knew of Minerva, but to get a clear idea of it, it was best to examine it's origins.
Minerva was a private research and development organization, unaffiliated with any Country or World Superpower. Until 2005 its primary focus was on space exploration and space technologies, quickly rivaling and almost surpassing NASA. I use the word "almost" because in 2005 the organization gained a new director who changed its focus on the study of alternate dimensions and development of greater technology, this of course was the cover story. Many people laughed at the direction it took, it was thought the technological resources needed to undertake such research was still far off from the technology available in 2005.
2010. Minerva began recruiting top researchers from around the world, their research began to show surprising developments. At the same time, energy was discharged from a black hole. It wasn't likely to be a coincidence.
2011. The World's Major Superpowers and Corporations began contributing to Minerva research. Funding was just the cover story, in reality, it was more like a down payment for a part of the tech being developed. The U.S had already allocated half of the defense budget to Minerva contracts. $299 billion dollars and that was just the U.S, from that anyone could imagine what the remaining Superpowers paid.
2013. At that point, Minerva had received nearly 2 trillion in funding and investment. It had announced a variety of projects that would set it on the progress of becoming the most prestigious organization in the world. A few months after the announcement, the Earth's magnetic poles experienced minuscule changes, negligible enough to avoid panic but strong enough to raise eyebrows.
2016. Minerva stood at the forefront of technology. From military to medical care and everything in between, Minerva was the most prominent name. Terrorist Insurgents were quickly crushed with the use of Minerva technology before they gained traction. Aircraft that could fly the from North America to South Africa in an hour. Advanced body armor that could protect from rocket blasts. Spy satellites that were equipped with minimal yet expansive A.I that, once authorized, could actively track targets and estimate their destinations with a 90% accuracy. Even prototypes of holographic displays for electronics. Comprehensive medical test that could instantly detect fatal diseases and infections, giving patients a high likelihood of survival. Renewable energy projects, which slowly began to reduce the carbon footprint. Yet, all of those things were minor to Minerva, they had a more ambitious project in the works.
2018. Minerva announces Project "New World," to the public, a comprehensive research expedition on planets and the discovery of dimensions. To those financially involved with Minerva it was the development of a Dimensional Gate. Shortly after the announcement, gravitational anomalies sunk a few boats and planes. A year later patches of the night could be seen in broad daylight.
2020. Former Major Edwin headed a security team of a Minerva research facility. He was accused of attempting to sell project research to a radical terrorist group that stood against and often attacked Minerva facilities. Edwin Daltroy, labeled by the media as "Daltroy the Traitor" was called back to the U.S to face trial for aiding and abetting terrorist.
Almost everyone loved Minerva, their numerous projects saved lives all over the globe. Quickly a torrent of hate and threats poured into everyone involved with Edwin Daltroy, his life crumbled as he tried to defend himself, yet no one believed him. Mounting pressure from society threw him into the rungs of depression, and he killed himself before he made it to trial. No sympathy was given, and no guilt was felt by those who urged him to commit suicide. Some people went as far as to say "If he wasn't guilty why'd he commit suicide?" The strange storms and anomalies still occurred all the while.
The people held no regard for his wife, Rebecca Daltroy, who was in the process of getting her cancer treated which heavily relied on Edwin's salary and medical benefits from Minerva. She died a few months after him, leaving their son, Ulysses Daltroy, alone. Forced to drop out of high school after constant harassment from journalists, students, and teachers alike.
2021. The first incidents of "Black Rain" occurred in Alaska and in some parts of Russia, causing mass confusion all over the world. A Minerva facility, off the coast of Antartica, announces its "investigation" into the matter.
2022. The current year. The black rain had become more frequent being spotted once every other month, and a few short recordings of it even managed to make it to the internet. The black rain only occurred for half a minute and didn't leave a trace. According to those who witnessed it, the black rain didn't feel like a liquid. Some people even attempted to collect it, but it evaporated almost instantly.
1st of September, 2022.
Being forced to drop out of high school was unfortunate really. My girlfriend had left me, my friends abandoned me, even my relatives didn't want to be associated with me. With both of my parents dead, I was forced to strike out on my own with nothing more than a few hundred dollars. I had to admit, it helped to build resentment with the world. People who created a witch hunt and indirectly killed my parents. Though, I could blame my dad too. He never explained what his goal was when he was caught attempting to sell information to Anti Minerva terrorist. He claimed, "I don't want you getting caught up in this" too bad I was already "caught up" in it.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
The alarm on the nightstand next to me went off and was quickly silenced, not that I got much sleep. I stood up and walked toward the bathroom. With every step, the floorboards creaked obnoxiously. I lived in a one-room apartment in Haven City, it was the cheapest I could find, and by that, it meant I had to pay the landlord double to not alert the press. I was basically being blackmailed. Report it to the police? With the last name Daltroy, the press would jump at the chance to make a story on me. I could only accept the hand I've been given.
I entered the almost comically small bathroom and turned on the water. It came out with a yellowish color, the trick was to let it run for a minute before using it. I looked at my reflection in the shabby mirror. Messy chestnut brown hair, along with gray eyes. I would be twenty by the end of this year, and I began looking very similar to my father, something that quickly became a bad thing when his face was plastered all over the internet as a traitor.
While the water continued to run, I walked over to the small fridge in the corner and opened it. I grabbed two frozen waffles and placed them in the toaster. After brushing my teeth, I ate the plain waffles and began to get dressed. Sitting on a nearby table were tracksuits and a few t-shirts, they were clothes I had kept since my days in high school.
I learned it was never wise to trust anyone completely after those days in high school. Many of my "friends" sold my address to various media outlets. My face was shared around online, and groups of people continually gathered around my house. In school, the same students that I laughed with would assault me while the teachers turned a blind eye. In the end, who would defend the son of a terrorist?
After a few well-thrown bricks to my windows and increasingly expensive rent, I took the initiative to move out. The majority of the money left behind by my dad went to my mother's treatment which dropped in quality with the Minerva employee benefits. So with the few hundred dollars I had, I ended up here.
I put on the black tracksuit and grabbed my watch and cell phone before leaving the small apartment. I stepped into the run down hallway to see my greedy landlord checking the mailboxes. He stood at 5'6 while I stood at 5'11, it was a noticeable height difference. He had a shaved head and a scruffy beard. Currently, he was only wearing a tank top, cargo shorts, and some flip-flops.
"Ulysses your rent is due. I hope it's no trouble if I get it a week before I collect the rest of the tenant's rent."
He turned to look at me and smiled showcasing his yellow teeth.
"Ok. I'll have it tonight."
I said with no emotion. It was best not to play into his hand, if I spoke out he'd raise my already overpriced rent.
He chuckled as he climbed the stairs and traversed the hallway with flickering lights.
This whole building was out of place in the currently developing society, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it demolished within another year. Especially with all the building code violations.
I stepped out onto the street and walked toward the bus stop. With it being early I wouldn't have to worry about heavy foot traffic. As usual, I waited for the bus while listening to the occasional car pass me.
An hour later I arrived at the sprawling shopping mall. It was hadn't even reached noon, and people were already beginning to show up. I ignored the crowds of people and walked directly to the store I was employed at.
"Ulysses, hurry and unload the boxes in the back!"
A man yelled as soon as he saw me. It was my boss, Ronald. A man about as tall as me with a constant angry scowl on his face, that occasionally warped into an ugly smile when he went to greet customers. It became apparent to me that he was an insecure man who thrived on the need for power. He regularly cursed at his employees, and I heard he almost beat one up. He took pride in his store which sold general items. He probably equated it to his own personal kingdom and his employees as his subjects. If he died, I doubt many people would miss him, but the same could be said for me.
Silently complying with his orders, I grabbed a blue apron on my way to the back and began working. Heavy labor was arduous, but I tried to see it as a form of exercise.
After a long while, I finally finished unloading and taking inventory of the stock.
"Ulysses. The boss wants to see you."
One of my fellow employees came and spoke with a strange expression.
I took off my apron and hung it on a rack as I went toward my boss's office.
I knocked on the door and waited. I knew something was off when I say the expression of my co-worker. It was something between pity and gloating. I was usually distant toward everyone I worked with, but some people took it as me being stuck up and arrogant. They weren't completely wrong though. They were all trapped in a perpetual cycle of materialistic worship, desperately seeking to one-up everyone. I can't count how many times I've heard a conversation shift to a self-centered subtle brag. If I asked one of them "Do you have to work this weekend?" Instead of a yes or no, I'd get a "No, I have a real big party to go to." Or something along those lines, anything that allowed them to brag in some way. It was something I-
My boss shouted from the other side of the door. I stepped into his surprisingly neat office and stood near the chair. If I sat down without him telling, he would probably become angered.
"Have a seat Mr. Daltroy."
He said with a smug grin. I was getting fired, I could tell.
I became pretty accurate at reading the body language and mannerisms of other, it was sort of a self-defense mechanism I developed when faced with the dishonest people who called themselves my friends. Everything about Ronald looked like the personification of the phrase "I got you right where I want you." Coupled with the fact that he used my last name when he usually calls me Ulysses.
I sat down and looked at him with complete indifference. He either got tired of my "Pretentious" attitude, or he found about the trouble connected to my name.
"I've found some startling information about you Mr. Daltroy."
He said with a clearly fake worried expression. It was my father's mistake following me.
"About my Father."
I said wanting to skip this sad display of mellow drama. Ronald's face dropped. He probably thought he was a smart man and couldn't wait to see me squirm and beg for him to let me keep working, at which point he would lower my pay and work me like a slave or fire me outright.
"Oh, so you already know. Then it shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm gonna have to let you go. I can't have your bad name attached to my establishment."
He had a very self-satisfied expression as he slid me an envelope across the table.
I took the envelope and stuffed it into my jacket pocket. I stood up and left without saying much more. I wouldn't play into his game and turn into some emotional mess of tears and pity. If I were unprepared for hardship, I would've changed my last name a long time ago.
I kept it, not out of pride, or to honor my Dad's memory. I was no longer naive enough to use those as reasons as my continued existence. I kept it for the simple fact that it would feel as if I lost a contest if it were changed. My opponents were riddled with inconsistencies and clear mental flaws, Ronald being the prime example. I couldn't live with myself if such a person made me completely give up on life.
As I walked out of the silent, the sound of Ronald's lips parting was barely audible. Maybe he wanted to say something smug and elicit a reaction from me, but before he could think of something I was already gone.
I went to the food court to get a small meal. Grabbing some cheap fries and a drink, I sat down in a back corner. From this angle, I could see everyone in front of me. I silently ate under the constant chirp of conversation. Almost everyone had a Minerva brand device, hell even my meal was cooked with a stove made with Minerva technology. My father was truly an idiot to go against such people. Every time I recalled my mother withering in a hospital bed because we couldn't afford proper treatment, I felt nothing but hate towards him.
"Do you believe in God?"
I awoke from my distraction to see a homeless man holding a cup, standing in front of me. His question was clearly directed at me. His face was almost as unreadable as mine, a clear indifference circulated in his eyes.
I asked attempting to seek a reaction. Overly religious people may take offense, while non-religious people wouldn't be too disturbed. The homeless man said nothing as he continued to look at me.
"Yes, but not yours."
I said as I went back to eating my fries.
The homeless man nodded and walked away from me and approached a different table with his cup out. He almost seemed like a different person after I answered him. I couldn't help but contemplate two questions.
Is God real? More importantly, did it matter? If God were real everyone would find out after death. If not, everyone would be dead anyway.
I sighed as I stood up and threw away my trash. The crowded food court continued with its activity. The multi-colored tables in the center each held a set of people, who may or may not have their own problems.
A loud rumbling sound suddenly shook the entire mall.
A man shouted as he ran underneath a table.
"What's going on!"
"Is it a bomb?!"
People began panicking and shouting loudly, pushing each other out of the way to take cover from the perceived threat. I ran past everyone and headed straight for the sports store. I grabbed a spool of fishing wire from the display, as the owner was nowhere to be found. I continued past the last few individuals who were looking for shelter as debris fell from loose constructs. I opened one of the first-floor staircases and huddled down.
As the "earthquake" began to calm itself, screams could still be heard outside the staircase. It was probably people injured from falling objects. The shock dissipated and gave way to a cautious silence. I climbed the staircase and eventually got to the roof.
I looked up to see black storm clouds approaching, followed by ominous black rain. I stumbled to the edge of the roof's guardrail and peered over into the street. Hundreds of cars were piled up as people began climbing out of the wreckage and looking at the sky. The Black Rain was never said to bring earthquakes, maybe it was the end of the world. As the clouds got closer, the visibility was lowered after everything was darkened a bloodcurdling scream rang out.
It was hard to see from the roof, but something looked to be pulling a man from his car. I tried to look closer, but I could only see silhouettes.
"Stop! Someone! Help!"
Another yell came from the crowd of people.
"Get the hell off of me!"
"What the fuck is that?!"
I could just barely see an inhuman shape attacking someone. I didn't need any more signs to tell me something was wrong. I ran back into the stairwell and thought of the next step I should take. I unzipped my track jacket and took a few deep breaths. At that moment it felt as if I reverted to my former self. When I felt the constant pressure and hate of other people.
I collected my thoughts. I could only assume this disaster would be long-lasting and dangerous. My first step would be food and water. On the second floor, there is a health store, I'll get as many protein bars as possible, and find some water containers.
"Please stay calm. Please stay calm. Please stay caaaaaaalm."
A robotic voice had echoed throughout the whole mall before it faded away.
The whirring noise of the generator failing was next, followed by a loud click and dark red lights emergency lights. I set my watch for five minutes, at that time there should be some semblance of order, people would likely gather up. While they were still unsure of what was going on, I would take that chance to grab as much as I can and leave.