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Subject: The Rise of Phoenix (a short story) rss

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Jason Beck
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Felix alearum famis! Et posse impares sumus erimus en tui semper favoris.
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Brandon Whitecollar (pronounced “Whi-tay-co-lahr,” of course) stood in front of an expansive glass wall on the fiftieth floor of the new, glittering glass-and-steel skyscraper that now dominated the skyline of GenericMetropolis. He breathed a sigh of contentment as he watched the people of the bustling little city scurry around; they were as ants to his giant nature, their diminutive stature simultaneously a trick of the height of his new office and (he thought) a reflection on their moral character.

He turned back to his sumptuously-appointed workspace and smiled with not-inconsiderable mirth at his excellent taste in the finest mahogany paneling, leather chairs, and expensive-but-mysteriously-ubiquitous old world globes.

Striding with purpose—for, if one was a Whitecollar, one did everything with purpose, determination, and liberal application of hairgel—to his inevitably-magnificent desk, Brandon punched a button on his sleek black deskphone. “Julie,” he said, his tanned and muscular chest exhaling gracefully beneath the crisp fabric of his shirt, “I like our new office building.”

“Yes Mister Whitecollar,” she said, the perky undertones of her perfume—“Gosh I’m Super” by Alvin Grein—somehow infusing her speaking voice, “everyone here agrees it’s the nicest in GenericMetropolis.” Brandon, CEO of Phoenix Industries, nodded smoothly, closing his eyes and basking (insofar as was possible) in the praise.

His finger still on the phone’s button, the CEO’s thoughts drifted to other things: delicious steak, excellent brandy, whether or not those emails about enlargement were actually true. “Mister Whitecollar?” Julie’s bubby voice cascaded, violently, into the room, the Gosh I’m Super no longer taking the edge off the squeakiness of her tones. Brandon’s eyes snapped open, “Yes, Julie, what is it?”

“Mister Whitecollar,” she said, “I think you should look outside.” Finding the effort involved in retaining his finger on the speakerphone button while simultaneously turning around to look out his enormous windows a bit much, Brandon chose the latter as more important and the connection clicked off. Aghast, he saw what Julie was directing him to see: A large skyscraper—though not as large as Phoenix’s tower, he noted with relief—was going up in another part of GenericMetropolis’ business district. With rapidity, the whole building was complete.

“My god,” he muttered, “it’s Hydra.” And, indeed, it was—though the vaguely-orange hue of the building was enough of a giveaway, the enormous steam-and-steel statue of a giant, undulating hydra on the top of the roof was proof-positive that this was one of the CEO’s rivals, come to stay. As he stared, the eyes of the hydra began glowing red, and the huge apparatus began moving its necks and snapping its jaws in the air. It was quite the statement. What it was meant to say was unclear, but there it was.

Brandon turned around so that he could slam his fist down on his desk. “Julie!” he said, punching the speakphone button with calmly-constructed violence, “it’s Hydra!”

“Yes Mister Whitecollar, absolutely Mister Whitecollar,” she responded, her secretarial squeaks much diminished in fear. “Get me my CFO!” she heard shouted over her phone’s receiver, “And get someone in here to turn my desk around so it faces the window!”

~

By the time Maintenance had turned CEO Whitecollar’s desk around, five more corporations had been founded and moved into GenericMetropolis’ business district. Brandon’s face varied between purple with rage (whenever a new skyscraper went up) and calm and composed (whenever he remembered that being angry gave you wrinkles).

“Buy that block!” he screamed to his upper-level staff who had artfully arranged themselves around the conference table that had been rapidly installed in his office. “Yes sir Mister Whitecollar!” they cried in unison, and just like that, the city block (code-named “3H” by the staff) was part of Phoenix’s dominion. “Yes, good, good…” he muttered as construction crews tore down the neighboring city block and rebuilt it. It looked the same, but this time everything said, “A subsidiary of Phoenix Industries” in their respective windows, and that was what mattered.

“Mister Whitecollar, we’re getting closer!” exclaimed Phoenix Industries’ CFO, Stodgy Stodginton IV. And he was right: Just then, city block code-name 3G was awash in purple (the color of Phoenix, natch). Brandon nodded his approval and cast his gaze in another direction, out across the city. He could barely make out the red low-lying rooftop of the new headquarters of Sackson Enterprises, jumbled amidst, as it was, the Factory District. A green tower—that would be Fusion, Brandon thought—dwarfed Sackson’s and drew attention from it.

“Buy up Sackson and Fusion!” he cried.

“Um, sir,” his staff replied, collectively uncertain, and uncertainly collective, “Phoenix does not… ah, presently have the operating capital to buy up majority shares in those two companies.”

Brandon and his hairgel seethed. “Well find some money, and then buy them!” he cried, arms toned from years of lacrosse playing thrown into the air to express his exasperation. Just then, a new city block was purchased: the fateful 3F, a neutral-business zone separating Hydra and Phoenix. Brandon’s eyes grew wide. The orange-hued Hydra HQ tumbled to the ground and shot money through the air of GenericMetropolis, in carefully-marked bundles aimed at certain recipients.

With a crash!, CEO Whitecollar’s window shattered and money came crashing in. “There!” he said, triumphant, “now we can buy up Fusion and Sackson!”

His collectively-generic staff, along with the less-generic Stodgy Stodginton, scrambled to count the money. “Sir, we do not have enough to buy up majority holdings in both companies,” Stodgy said. “Also, we aren’t sure who bought that block for us.”

Just then, the mahogany doors of Whitecollar’s office were thrown open, and, in a burst of chest hair, hairgel, and formal-yet-approachable-fashion, Justin Worthington-Worthington strode in. “Brandon!” he shouted, “I might’ve expected to find you here, at the helm of the company you founded.”

“Well, duh,” Brandon replied. “What do you want, Worthington-Worthington?” The two men stood across from each other, glaring, and somewhere, in the distance, two ironic tribal drums began playing. “I’m the new minority shareholder of Phoenix!” Justin Worthington-Worthington replied, eliciting gasps from Brandon, Stodgy, the generic-collective-staff, and Julie, whose intercom-presence in the room was permanently assured, as Brandon had gotten tired of pressing the speakerphone button and had decided to simply tape the button down.

“Never!” Brandon replied, “This company is mine!”

“And also mine!” Justin shot back, revealing his massive stock-holdings. “And mine, too!” shouted Mary “the Merge-maker” Mergerly, who burst into the room, too, in a shockwave of rose petals, cinnamon, and a metaphorical omelet. “And mine, I guess!” shouted Alexander Hedgefundson, also managing to burst into the room, despite the doors being wide open.

“Ah, mine own principal rivals for control of GenericMetropolis’ business interests!” Brandon shouted. “How unexpected!”

By now, three more corporate mergers had taken place, and CEO Whitecollar’s office windows were thoroughly shattered, as package after package of money flew in for each of the four CEOs. “And now,” Brandon shouted, triumphant, “I shall buy Sackson and Fusion!”

Justin Worthington-Worthington grinned, for he knew what Brandon was about to discover: That he, and only he, had majority control of Fusion and Sackson, and that Brandon’s shares were permanently to be minority-status, in a tie for minority control with Mary “the Merge-maker” Mergerly. Just then, they all gasped, as Fusion’s green tower tumbled to the ground, and a sea of red paint and Sackson logos took over the formerly-Fusion holdings.

“Fusion!” “Sackson!” came the cries. “Phoenix!” shouted Brandon, now noticing that Sackson had overtaken Phoenix Industries in size.

“I’ll win this town yet, Worthington-Worthington!” shouted Whitecollar.

“Never!” Worthington-Worthington riposted. “You see? I have all the money!”

“That clearly isn’t true,” protested Hedgefundson, pointing to an enormous pile of cash by his side. “I have plenty of money, too, and-”

“Rubbish!” Whitecollar roared. “You see? Look on my stock options, ye mighty, and despair!”

And so they did. Phoenix’s stock prices flashed across a screen (the Maintenance crew had been busy) on the far wall, and Mary and Alexander wept. “Aha!” Worthington-Worthington cried, triumphantly pointing to the digital numbers, as Sackson’s scrolled into view. “It seems I have all the money, after all!”

Brandon Whitecollar surveyed his ruined office: Glass shards were everywhere, and his fine mahogany paneling was broken and splintered from the impact of scores of packages of money flying at high speeds. He shook his head and gathered up his cash. “Come along,” he said to Stodgy, the generic-collective-staff, and Julie, “we’ll try again. I hear there’s another place we can try our luck—NonspecificCity, though it may be a few months before we get there.”
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Jason Beck
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Felix alearum famis! Et posse impares sumus erimus en tui semper favoris.
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This is my third session report in this fictionalised/prose-ified style. I hope you enjoyed it. My others can be found here (Last Night on Earth) and here (Twilight Imperium).

This was a four-player game. Phoenix made a strong, early showing and threatened to dominate the board, though Sackson made an excellent late-game surge. Game ended with only Phoenix (33 tiles) and Sackson (35 on the board).

Final money totals (roughly) were 52k, 49k, 41k, 32k. First place was taken by the player with majority in Sackson and minority in Phoenix, with second taken by majority in Phoenix and split-minority in Sackson.
 
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Kolath
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It was a close-fought nail-biter of a game! But in the end you see, I had all the money.

-Mr. Worthington-Worthington
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M. B. Downey
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Suitland
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Sorry I missed it!

I love the imagery of the money flying through the windows. One of these days I'll actually get to play this game.
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