It’s freezing in Chicago. The ever-present wind rolls off of Lake Michigan and accelerates like a bullet train through the neatly gridded streets of The Loop, carrying with it ice crystals so microscopic that no earthly material is enough to prevent them from invading and settling directly to the bone of anyone unfortunate enough to be caught traveling on foot today. A supernatural cold.
Somewhere along the way on its never ending war march, that infamous Chicago wind slices over and around a very important building. It is inaccurate to say that this building is hiding in plain sight, because it is not necessarily hidden. But it would be nearly impossible to perceive this building for everything that it truly is.
Sickly tan concrete extends some 20 stories into the cold sky, but any hope of a pleasant view from those inside is snuffed out due to the distinct lack of windows on all but the highest floor. Its roof is clustered with antennae and satellite dishes, an alien skyline in miniature. There is one glass double door leading into the lobby of this building from the street, and above this door is a seal that reads United States Department of the Parallel. For nearly everyone, this door cannot be opened and this seal cannot be read.
For a select few, however, this door opens frequently. Those employed by the USDoP are quite familiar with our building, although most only have a slight understanding of everything it is and contains. To them, Convergent Tower (as it is officially known) or the DoP Shop (colloquially) is the place where they clock in, work or attempt to appear to be working for a while, and clock out before trudging back into that viciously cold Chicago night air bound for home.
But today will not be an ordinary day in Convergent Tower. Something deep inside has shifted. An important threshold has broken, and those left behind to pick up the pieces could never have been prepared for what they must do. The wind howls. The Vault opens.