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April, Year 5
A tall white man with grey streaky hair donned a hard hat and walked along the outskirts of the almost complete Simian Hill brewery. He stopped and turned to admire the building, ensconced in a thickly, dirty industrial district, surrounded by incinerators, mining service and wastewater treatment. The glistening paragon of Rio Preto power in Wax Superior, the Trade HQ, stood tall in the background. He twirled his moustache as contractors walked to and fro in front of him, grabbing tools, making adjustments. A car pulled up to the work site and soon the man felt a tap on his shoulder.
"When's the grand opening? You'll certainly be popular among the workers here in Simian Hill, Mr MacGregor".
William MacGregor turned around, leaving his moustache twirled at the ends.
"Ah, Linda. So good to see you again. I'm sure this will make a lot of people happy, but we can't exactly sell directly from the factory, can we?"
"We are working on that. The mine camp is growing, so you'll not be short of a market".
"Yes, but what about the bars and stores to sell it? There's a dearth of commercial zoning in the camp, which means most industrial output like this ends up in Fort Simian. Then Fort Simian is flooded with miners and contractors, mostly male-"
"We are aware of the issues arising from the gender imbalance, which I dare say is exacerbated by your products, perhaps the most ubiquitous product in the region."
"Exacerbated? Ubiquitous? I didn't know engineers were so well acquainted with such terms!"
Linda shot William a look of disdain. He continued.
"Our Mayor, the honourable Clare Bevan, is talking of capping the number of Simian Hill workers allowed into the city limits."
"You've benefited greatly from the custom of our workers. Fort Simian has the luxury of having a monopoly on entertainment for the miners here".
"Ah, true that, but what of the cost of the Saturday night violence, all the drunks? Fort Simian can't afford all the extra police, especially after that awful lizard disaster. Some people are even saying the city will be bankrupt soon!"
"Well then, might I remind you of the employment and opportunities we are bringing to the people of your town, which, as far as I am aware, is still crippled from that lizard disaster. Our roads are crammed with your cars.".
Linda sighed as she grew weary.
"Look, we've given you a market, a source of income for your original market, and now a cheap location for production. Now, we are going through an important phase on this mining project, and I don't have time for this."
"Alright, then farewell".
MacGregor pulled out a pamphlet Linda had provided him earlier outlining the development of the Simian Hill project. He browsed through the photos showing the latest developments.
Phase II of the Simian Hill project is seeing record numbers of workers flock to the site, necessitating a move to medium density housing.
"Alright people, we've got a brief conference in 10 minutes. We need to get our story straight on a few things before we start talking to the media. First things first: The government has had not even a year and already they are well behind in the polls. We need to keep the pressure up to bring them down, they're not making the full term, not by a mile!"
Rick Green surveyed his shadow cabinet seated around him as they cheered. Since the election, the once popular government had encountered an exceedingly extreme turn in their appeal. Even the lizard disaster failed to galvanize the city behind Bevan, something that the Blue party and Rick Green were happy to capitalise on.
"Now listen, the government is saying they still don't know what that lizard was, or where it came from, or anything about it. What do we call that, Mike?"
Rick turned to shadow treasurer, Mike Baseball.
"We call that incompetent."
"And what do we call the supposed deal Bevan wants to make with Rio Preto to save the town?"
"Good. Now, some of you will hear some rumours about Aaron Pyne's death being a murder, and I wa-"
"What?! He was killed in the lizard attack, what evidence is there for this?" a junior shadow minister interjected. Green fired a scowl at the junior minister and continued.
"As I was saying, I want you all to be prepared in case any questions are raised about this. We've received the police report, apparently he died of a bullet wound before the lizard attack. Now, we can't directly blame the Mayor on this one, but if you are asked any questions, I'd like you to point out the convenience of the Rio Preto deal and Bevan's insistence on going with coal rather than exploiting the oil deposits."
"You want us to imply some sort of government conspiracy to murder Aaron Pyne so that they could cosy up to Rio Preto?" said the junior shadow minister, horrified.
"Just stick with the line, and don't deviate. Are we clear? We need to keep the pressure on this government so they fold, the sooner the better."
The group nodded in agreement. As Green left for the conference, he turned to Mike Baseball and muttered "Keep an eye on that kid, and don't let him talk to anyone."
As Green entered the conference room, cameras began to flash as a small group of journalists began to mutter. Absurd and repetitive though Green's allegations were against the government, it had attracted attention in the wake of an information vacuum surrounding the lizard disaster. As the crowd settled, Green pointed into the crowd.
"Moe Rackswell, Wax Superior Herald. Can you confirm that Mr. Pyne was murdered prior to the lizard attack? And has your party been privy to any developments on the origin of the lizard?"
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