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Crisis Evolution: The Alpha Project

The year was 2070. Human beings had just completed their first manned mission to Mars. The United States, Canada and Mexico had formed an alliance known as the North American Union and there had been a peculiar air of peace over the planet for more than a decade. The monetary system collapsed in 2026 and although this hurt humanity for a short time and resulted in the third World War, things had settled now. Humanity had put the pieces back together in the last 44 years and were now stronger than ever and as technologically advanced as ever. There was no hunger or poverty, very little crime and everyone did their part to keep their community safe and prosperous.

Despite this new peaceful and prosperous society, there were still those among humanity who felt like they had something bigger to contribute to society. One such person was Chance.

Chance was a young man in his twenties who worked with his father on their large farm. It was just he and his father on the farm because Chance’s mother died while giving birth to him. He spent most of his days feeding the animals, cleaning up behind the animals and helping his father pick vegetables to sell at the local farmer’s market. Chance felt trapped in his monotonous existence and he was always reading the big city newspaper looking for ways to get out of his daily routine.

One evening, Chance and his father, Luis, were sitting at the dinner table. Chance was looking tentatively through the newspaper while his father stared at him with complete disdain.

“I don’t know why you have to sift through that big city garbage while we’re supposed to be having a nice family meal together,” his father grumbled while still chewing a mouthful of masticated beef.

Chance always hated the way his father would talk with his mouth full. It was so disgusting. He also hated how his father seemed to love shooting down every dream he ever had.

“Dad there might be some really good opportunities in this paper. Why do you hate anything that has to do with modern society?”

Society was now divided into two different ways of life. There were those who saw no flaw in the way life was immediately before WWIII and wanted to restore the pre-war way of life. These people were known as Progressives. Then there were those who believed that this old way of doing things was flawed. That is why WWIII happened in the first place. These people felt that reverting back to an even more primitive lifestyle would prevent future war and poverty. These people were referred to as Regressives. In general, the two ideologies just kept to themselves to avoid confrontation. The Progressives lived in the large cities and lived a life of wealth and luxury. The Regressives stayed out in the countryside. They removed themselves from modern society and were completely self-reliant, growing their own food, collecting their own water and trading amongst themselves. Chance was a Progressive and his father was a Regressive. Of course, this was difficult for a father and son who lived together alone. They could rarely see eye to eye.

Chance was a dreamer. Not only did he scour the newspaper looking for ways to leave his dull life, he also read the comics section. The newspaper comics changed considerably over the last fifty years. In an attempt to re-emerge into the imagination of the populace, super hero comics had replaced the cheesy comics associated with the newspapers of the twentieth to early twenty-first centuries. After searching through numerous want ads, Chance would relax and read the comics in the newspaper. His favorite hero was Alpha Man. Alpha Man had dozens of powers, but Chance’s favorite power was Alpha Man’s ability to fly. Chance would read the Alpha Man comics and dream of being able to soar high into the sky and go wherever he wished. He was never sure exactly where he would go, but he did know that he would fly far, far away from where he was now. As Chance skimmed the paper and daydreamed about his amazing first flight, he noticed a strange ad. After reading it, he was filled with intrigue. It simply read:

Are you tired of your mundane life? Would you like to be a part of something extraordinary? We have the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. We are looking for test subjects for a new and highly advanced brain/nervous system mapping project. We are looking for young, healthy subjects who are looking for “more” out of life. If you are interested please fill out our application on the N.A.U. intranet at the following address:

Chance took note of the address and headed over to his computer room. Chance pulled out a device that looked similar to a keyboard and it hovered in mid-air just below his fingers and a holographic projection appeared before him. The screen showed what appeared to be an internet page and Chance began typing in the address.

The page popped up and the name of the site was: “The Alpha Project”. Chance smiled and began to feel a surge of excitement. Any project named after his favorite super hero had to be awesome! He clicked the link to the application and eagerly began filling it out. The process was lengthy and he felt like he was giving this unknown organization all of his life story. Everything from his physical health, mental health, and political leanings to a psych profile was covered in this application. After two hours, Chance finally completed the application. He hit the send button and smiled. He felt like he was a shoe-in for this project. He just knew it!

Nearly three months had passed since Chance filled out his application for the Alpha Project. He had yet to hear anything from this mysterious organization and he finally went on with his mundane life. He had mostly forgotten about the project. Although now and then, it would enter his mind. He wondered which lucky souls got to participate in the project. Why couldn’t it have been him?

The day finally came when Chance got an email from an anonymous source. The email was a congratulations notification that he had been selected to participate in the Alpha Project. He was allowed to come by, check things out and get more information. At that point, he could decide if he still wanted to participate. The letter also mentioned that anyone who participates would also receive funding for any personal project of their choice. Chance knew that his father’s farm wasn’t doing well. His father’s vegetables just weren’t growing as large or as tasty in the last couple of seasons and his regular customers were starting to take notice. They were taking their business elsewhere. Chance saw this as an opportunity to not only help his father, but maybe this was his ticket to some excitement. He jotted down the address of the organization and began packing for his trip. Chance’s father protested of course, but he didn’t care. He knew this was something he had to do.

The project was taking place in a medium sized city about an hour away from Chance’s home. The headquarters of the Alpha Project was the tallest building in the city, at twenty stories tall. With no label or name on the front of the building, it looked very portentous. Chance was a little nervous, but he exited his car and headed inside. The lobby was large and beautiful with two large fountains on either side and on the other side of the room was a receptionist’s desk. The pretty, blonde receptionist was typing and staring at a computer screen projection floating in midair right in front of her face. She turned her attention to Chance.

“Welcome to the Alpha Project where we make dreams a reality. How may I help you today?” she asked with extreme cheer.

“Uh…..I was approved for some sort of testing here. I was just wondering where I need to go” Chance asked hesitantly.

“Oh well congratulations sir! My, aren’t you lucky” she continued with her overenthusiastic cheerfulness, “Why don’t you have a seat right over there and I’ll let Dr. Price know you’re here. May I have your name please?”

Chance told the receptionist his name and he sat down at a row of chairs next to her desk while she called for this doctor. Chance waited for a few moments when he heard the door behind the desk open. A tall man with dark hair and glasses approached him. He was wearing a white lab coat with a name badge that read:

Dr. Harper Price, Neural Surgeon

There were some other words printed on the badge, but Chance didn’t want to get caught staring so intently at this man’s badge. He held out his hand for a handshake.

“Chance right?” the doctor was very friendly and warm.

“Yes,” Chance said as he firmly shook the doctor’s hand.

“I’m Dr. Harper Price, come on back and I’ll fill you in on what we’re working on back here.”

Chance and the doctor began the trek to the area where test subjects are housed. The doctor explained that during the duration of the testing, no test subjects are allowed to leave the vicinity. They may not discuss any procedure performed on them with any other test subjects and they certainly are not allowed to discuss anything that goes on within the building to anyone outside the Alpha Project and that includes family. Due to the project being top secret, he could not reveal exactly what they would be doing to him until he agreed to stay and sign a nondisclosure agreement. The doctor did explain to him that he was free to leave, but if he was going to opt out, he must do it now. Chance realized that if he left, he would never know what was going on in this place.

The doctor led him to a small, nondescript room. Only a small, metal table and a matching chair sat ominously in the middle. A small stack of papers lay on the table and Chance assumed this must be where he makes a decision that may very well dramatically alter the rest of his life.

“Your contract is laying on the table. Read over it and sign it, if you wish to participate. If you wish to go home, simply don’t sign it. No hard feelings either way. I’ll be back in five minutes. Whether I welcome you to the team or send you on your way is up to you.”

The doctor left the room and closed the door behind him.

Chance read over the contract carefully for any sort of clause that he just could not live with. The contract mentioned how he was not allowed to leave the building for three months during the project. He was also not allowed to say anything about what happened within the building after his departure. There were numerous other clauses but nothing mentioned exactly what he was signing up for. However one other clause suddenly jumped out at him. This clause expressed the fact that these experiments are major surgeries and the usual risks involved with major surgery apply to this project. He also had to agree that he would not hold the organization or any of its employees responsible for any resulting injuries or death. Chance knew that what he was signing up for could be potentially dangerous, but he decided that he didn’t care. He wanted out of his old life and to start a new chapter. Shortly after he signed the contract, Dr. Price made his appearance.

“Congratulations Chance,” the doctor walked over to him and patted him on the back.

“I think you’ll make a fine addition to our team.”

“Thanks,” Chance said hesitantly, “but you still haven’t told me what I will be doing. Is it dangerous?”

“Chance it’s hard to find people willing to sign this contract without being told what we’ll be doing. So we do everything in our power to keep our test subjects healthy and well. I won’t lie to you, we have had some casualties, but believe me when I say, that we here at the Alpha Project do everything we can to make sure that does not happen.”

The doctor led Chance to a set of double doors positioned at the end of a long hallway. The doctor stood in front of the door and removed his glasses. A thin mechanical arm with an acicular end lowered from the ceiling just above the door. It stopped just in front of the doctor’s face and scanned his eye.

“Retinal scan confirmed. Welcome back Dr. Price” a robotic female voice announced overhead. The double doors slid open and the doctor motioned for Chance to follow him.

The room was large and full of long tables with what appeared to be a vast array of high school chemistry sets bubbling and boiling all sorts of strange chemical concoctions that Chance could only dream of knowing what they were. People of all ages and races in white lab coats were studying these reactions and typing things into small hand-held devices.

The doctor then explained to Chance what was going on and exactly what he had signed himself up for.

Dr. Price and Dr. Higgins are both highly trained government neurologists, with Dr. Price specializing in neural surgery. With their team of some of the brightest scientists from all over the world, they began an extensive brain and nervous system mapping project. It is believe that a small chip, developed by the WSA (World Space Agency) can be implanted into a specific part of the brain and be stimulated by a small current of electricity. Once the chip is activated, it can give the patient a super power of their choosing.

Chance was shocked, yet very excited about this news.

“Wait a minute,” he said trying to gain clarity, “You mean to tell me, that you are going to implant a chip into my brain, electrocute my head and then I’ll have a super power? Really?”

“Yes,” said the doctor, “That would be a crude explanation of the procedure, but accurate, nonetheless. Look I really hope you still want to do this. We don’t like the idea of forcing anyone to do this, however due to government regulations, we have to make sure the subject is on board before we tell them more about what’s going on. Now keep in mind you did sign a…….”

Chance interrupted him.

“Hell yeah I’m on board,” he said with excitement, “When do I get an implant? Will it be today? What super power will I get? Oh my God, this is going to be awesome!”

The doctor laughed at his enthusiasm.

“Calm down Chance. You’ll get an implant soon enough. It will be a couple of days because you need to decide what power you want to possess. We will give you a few days to decide and then my colleague and I will perform the procedure. You have to decide on a power and for a few days you must contemplate what it would be like to have that power. Now we’re not sure which part of the brain is compatible with the chip, so we will be placing several chips inside your brain and sending a signal to each one. When you try to use your power our brain scans will be able to detect which part of the brain is utilizing which chip. At that point, the project will be complete and we will begin the commercialization phase of the project.”

“You mean to tell me,” Chance asked with curiosity, “that one day everyone on earth is going to have a super power?”

“That’s right. That is our goal.”

Over the next few days, any time Chance had some alone time, he would imagine what it would be like to fly around in the sky. The rest of the time, he went around introducing himself to the staff and he even met the other test subject. Her name was Eve and she was beautiful and kind. Eve had short dark hair styled into a pixie haircut, large brown eyes and one of the most gorgeous, glowing smiles he had ever seen. Eve revealed to Chance that she also had multiple implants and the doctors were still unable to determine which of her implants were giving her the power she possessed. Unlike Chance, Eve was not given a choice in what her power would be. She was told by high ranking military officials to concentrate on the ability to see through walls. Although she was able to use her power most of the time, it was still considered unreliable and tests were still being conducted on her to establish if the voltage of her electrical signal needed to be adjusted to make her ability more powerful and reliable. Chance began spending a lot of time with Eve and after a couple of days, he started to feel like he had a real connection with her. She felt the same way.

The day finally arrived for Chance to receive his implants. He was sent to a different area of the building where everything was set up like a typical, yet very high tech hospital. He was prepped for surgery and as the nurses rolled him into the operating room, Eve kissed him on the lips for the first time and wished him good luck. After several long, grueling hours in the OR, Chance was returned to a regular room.

He didn’t feel any different. However he did notice some small devices attached to his newly shaved head. He could still feel his weight as gravity pulled him toward the ground. He thought that he would feel lighter than normal. Dr. Price entered the room and explained to him that the tiny devices attached to his head were measuring his brain waves. This would help scientists determine which chip was activating when he tried to use his powers.

Over the next few days, Chance would test his powers to see if they worked. He would jump off of beams positioned about ten feet off the ground and every time he just fell off of them like normal. Eve continued to be a source of encouragement for him and he really felt much better having her around. Eventually, their bond became more than just friendship.

Weeks past and they continued to adjust the voltage settings on both Eve and Chance and no new developments occurred. Everyone was beginning to think that the Alpha Project may have been in vain and the government was threatening to cease funding if the team did not produce some impressive results within the next month. The spirits of the project’s team began to dampen and everyone was beginning to lose hope in the project. Everyone except Chance.

One day during a trial to be performed on Eve, Dr. Price and Dr. Higgins felt a sense of desperation and they accidentally delivered a voltage to her chips that was too high. Eve did not survive the procedure. Everyone had a heavy heart that day. The loss of one of their only two test subjects was a huge blow to the Alpha Project and everyone felt that it was time to close shop as their federal funding would soon be cut off. Chance was furious.

Not only would Chance never have his super power, he also lost a woman who he had grown to care for deeply. The more Chance thought about this, the angrier he became. He felt that if the Alpha Project was shut down with no successful trials, Eve’s death (along with the deaths of past subjects) would be completely in vain. Chance was not about to let that happen.

One night, Chance broke his contract and exited the building through a back door. Security was tight for this building and as soon as he opened the door alarms wailed throughout the halls and outside as well. Chance raced to a nearby apartment building that was about ten stories tall and proceeded to the elevator. By now, the sirens had awoken everyone near the building and they were beginning to gather around in the streets outside, including employees of the Alpha Project.

Chance reached the roof of the apartment building and gazed down at the crowd below. He was extremely nervous as he had no idea so many people would be gathered below him. Soon policemen and firemen arrived at the scene and were trying to talk Chance down from the roof. They continued to be unsuccessful. Dr. Price asked the policeman for the bull horn and the cop obliged.

“Chance,” Dr. Price pleaded, “Look I know you’re upset about Eve and our project being shut down, but you don’t have to do this. We both know that this is going to end badly for you. What you are hoping will happen, is not going to happen. The project is a bust. It will not work. Please come down from there. You are going to get yourself killed.”

As Chance listened to Dr. Price’s words, he started to think that maybe he was making a mistake. As he turned around he saw a couple of policemen and Dr. Higgins approaching him. He knew they were going to grab him and bring him down from the roof. Would he get arrested for this? He didn’t have much time to think because the doctor and policemen were only a few feet away and were heading toward him.

“It’s okay Chance,” Dr. Higgins said, “We’re here to help you.”

Chance did the only thing he felt in his heart was right. He needed to either end the Alpha Project or prove its success. It was all up to him. He turned to the edge and took his leap of faith.

The crowd gasped as they saw Chance’s body plummeting to the ground. Chance did not think about this extremely fast trip to the ground he had just embarked on. He closed his eyes and he kept thinking about flying. All he thought about the entire trip down was soaring through the air. The trip seemed to go on and on, although it was only a few seconds. He suddenly felt the sensation of falling leave his body and he heard people in the crowd around him screaming. Chance slowly opened his eyes and he noticed panicked people running in all directions. Amidst the chaos, Dr. Price walked over to him smiling. Chance was eye level with the doctor. He remembered that the doctor was supposed to be a lot taller than him. Chance glanced down at the ground and noticed that he was hovering about six feet above it. He was unassisted. He smiled back at the doctor and took off soaring through the clouds. The doctor took his phone from his pocket and connected with Dr. Higgins who was still on the roof. He could hear Dr. Higgins laughing and then he simply said to Dr. Price:

“It looks like the Alpha Project is go!”

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