Prologue: I like drawing maps. In particular, military maps. I like studying how battles were fought. So, I began drawing several iterations of a fictional conflict between two neighboring states. As the drawings progressed, I decided to paint the region as well. This led to the development of the government, culture, and geographical features. Enter Kharum and Ciras. Formerly Cirum, the two split under intriguing circumstances. Now, a century (or so) later, we seem to be heading for another conflict. Share your thoughts. I’ve been adding to this off and on.
Peter Wessler dropped off his final report on clean water at the Office of Strategic Resources, internally known as Office of International Intelligence (OII). Grabbing his jacket off the hook in his 4th story office, Peter took the stairs to leave the building. Situated within the capital city Khalate, the OII was part of a government block. It was surrounded by other organizations like the Department of Justice, Treasury, and the Congressional Meeting Hall. Peter stopped to talk with a supervisor’s assistant. Her name was Trish and he had been trying to court her for months.
“Trish, are you going to the meeting tonight at Tranton’s?” Peter leaned on a beam just beside the exit door.
A van waits for delivery outside.
“Most definitely, Peter,” Trish said.
“Pete, please. And most excellent. I can buy you-”
Peter is interrupted by an explosion. No, two explosions. One from above, on the fourth floor, and the other in the basement. Trish’s eyes blow up to the size of golf balls. She grabs Peter’s wrist.
“Let’s go!” Peter says.
Peter opens the door. The van outside explodes, sending shards of metal everywhere. Two nearby civilians are shredded. One of the metal pieces rips into Peter’s chest, piercing his aortic artery. He is dead in seconds. Trish manages to avoid the projectiles. But the force of the blast stuns her. She takes a moment, sitting down, to try and understand the events. While she waits for help and her hearing to return, the Office of International Intelligence collapses, enveloping Trish and the 40 remaining employees who had survived the first blasts.
In the next twenty minutes, fifteen fire trucks arrive at the site. Captain Gregis, commander of the Capitol Emergency Services, orders firefighters to search for any survivors. He won’t find any. A crew of firefighters plugs into the city’s water system and begins to douse the burning van.
“Lieutenant Davis!” Captain Gregis yells.
“Sir?” Lt. Davis runs over a slab of concrete.
“Have the Capitol Police start a barricade around the site.”
Lt. Davis salutes and dashes off to carry out his orders.
“Inform the President of this situation. Unknown explosions at the Office of Strategic Resources.”
“I’ll tell him immediately,” Sergeant Oliver heads over to the Department of Justice, the nearest building for a phone.
Captain Gregis pans the area around him. A few civilians are beginning to crowd the scene, but the police are pushing them back. No other buildings appear damaged. There are a few vehicles in the shared parking lot, but nothing large.
“Corporal Reggie! Take a squad of police to check those vehicles for explosives. I want the rest of the government block evacuated. Send them home.”
“Sir. There is a meeting at Tranton’s of several ranking members of Congress,” Cpl. Reggie offers.
“Get them out of there!” Captain Gregis demands.
As the corporal departs, Sergeant Oliver returns.
“The President has been informed, sir.”
“Thank you, Oliver. Inform the Sanitation Committee we need dumpsters. Lots of dumpsters.”