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Uncle_Wax

The Saga of Wax Superior continues!

For the next month or so, I will be posting "The In-Between Times" on the SimCity 2013 forum CJ section. This will cover the events between the end of Part 1 and the beginning of Part 2. Instead of creating a new journal entry for each of them here, I will simply update this entry with the link to the forum section.

Here is the title image for "The In-Between Times".

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The In-Between times can be found at:

Episode 1 - Posted Feb 18th, 2014.

City Profile - Wax Hill - Posted Feb 22nd, 2014.

Episode 2 - Posted March , 2014.

Uncle_Wax

November, Year 5

Fort Simian Newsroom, 7 PM, November 11th.

"I'm Jasper Pinrod and Welcome to our coverage of Election Night on this lovely, crispy November evening. The ballots are soon to be counted, so stay tuned. Our guests tonight include local analyst Jerome Lightfoot, and local businessmen Bruce Morrison and William MacGregor. We'll start with Jerome: What's in play in tonight's election?"

"There's a lot at play for the markets tonight, Jasper. For one, business confidence will benefit from a return to normalcy after the events of the past year. The introduction of the Simian Hill, and now Ridge city titles was really a 'left field' development, particularly in light of the speed at which the settlements and mining operations set themselves up. Fort Simian businesses have felt a windfall from the increased custom, but-"

William MacGregor interjected,

"-Rick Green and his supporters have been the biggest threat to confidence in this place, with their constant fear mongering-"

"Mr MacGregor, we'll get to you shortly." responded Jasper Pinrod, as he returned the floor to Lightfoot.

"As I was saying, there is some feeling that Fort Simian failed to capitalise properly on the opportunities opened up by Simian Hill. The second major point in the markets is the turbulence generated in the local economy by the recent takeover of the city's finances by the Rio Preto mining company. The fear about this event seems to be subsiding, with the economic recovery now in full swing. However, there are still lingering fears about the side effects of this event, in particular, the property monopolisation and failure of the government to lower industrial taxes as they had promised."

"Yes, but wasn't that a consequence of paying for the giant lizard disaster, Jerome?" Jasper suggested.

"The disaster was, unfortunately, an economic externality that the economy as a whole could have dealt with, rather than being quarantined to the council budget. The general feeling in the market has been that lower taxes and a relaxation of the property development rules for the remaining Fort Simian land could have seen an economic upswing that brought in greater public wealth to repay the damages. Particularly in light of the increased demand coming from the Simian Hill mining camp, the population of which now exceeds our own by a factor of almost two. In this sense, the Blue party's proposal to drastically reduce commercial taxes would be favourable if it was met with a commensurate reduction in industrial taxes. The Red party's proposition for a phased reduction of industrial taxes itself won't be enough, although is a step in the right direction in stimulating the post-takeover Fort Simian."

"Interesting. Bruce, what are your thoughts on the significance of this election?"

"Well [chuckles], if the polls are anything to go by, this will be a clear rejection of the mismanagement of Bevan's Red party and an even clearer mandate to the Blue party to govern as per it's election promises. They are even willing to go ahead on promises Bevan made in the last election that she broke - the tourist area on Table Mount and new powers granted to the Industrial Trade Commission to smash the Owner's Group monopoly on low-wealth commercial and industrial development."

A low rumble was felt in the news room, and the lights flickered on and off momentarily. Jasper looked around the room.

"Everyone OK?" he said as the support staff nodded.

"Ladies and gentleman we seem to have had a brief technical difficulty, our apologies. Now, Mr. MacGregor, you claim that the Blue party have been underhanded..."

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Downtown Fort Simian.

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Election Night in the 'Blue Party' district. The Newsroom is the second on the right.

Simian Hill Metals HQ, Top Floor [GM Reserved], 5 AM, November 12th.

"Madame, I trust the past few months have been kinder to you than those that preceded them were?"

"Yes, you know they have."

"Again, I must apologise for the actions of Monsieur Brand. He has been relocated to another Rio Preto operation in Wax Minor. It seems one cannot take for granted the competence of their subordinates these days."

Gillian sipped on her MacGregor's Aged Whisky and nodded in approval as Villiers Moineau peered out of the window overlooking the Wax Superior woodlands. Moineau's fingers rubbed the base of his whisky glass as he pontificated.

"Madame Maholm, now is the time for answers. Specifically, your great role in this vignette."

"What's that?"

Villiers disregarded the question, as he continued.

"You were one of the only survivors of the initial, failed phase of the Wax Woods mining project. Brand was there too, but he disappeared before the incident. Do you remember what happened?"

"Of course I do."

"Tell me, then."

"Well, there's not much to say really... we were working on the main shaft and that giant lizard appeared, wiped everything out, killed everyone and then disappeared in the garbage, just like Fort Simian."

"Do you remember that individual that called himself Rex Wax?"

"Oh yeah, 'the king'" she said sarcastically. "What about him?"

"Nothing seemed odd about him?"

"Everything seemed odd about it. But I haven't seen him since."

"The people of that particular section of Old Wax call themselves Simulantians. They worship him as a God. And he was always followed by those black clad Omega Co. people. Did you ever see them?"

"Briefly, after the disaster. But only when they were all leaving."

"And how did they leave?"

"Look, I don't want to go through all this again."

"S'il vous plait madame, answer the question."

"They disappeared, alright. They just went 'poof' and disappeared. Maybe that's not what really happened, but that's what I saw."

"Right. Well, I believe you. I have worked with Rio Preto for a very long time, through all the regions of the Wax universe. Up until my time here in Wax Superior, all our projects had been plagued by these random disasters. Lizards, earthquakes, tornadoes, biological oddities, you name it. Once a single disaster appears, there is a crescendo that builds." Moineau said as he began moving his arms as though he was a conductor, moving a grand piece to it's explosive climax.

"Then the disasters come more frequently, with greater intensity. They destroy more and seem to occur in places of great importance. They wipe whole cities out, not just mines. Then Rex and the Omega Co appear, and then disappear."

"So you think they somehow caused all this?"

"Madame, there is no reason why these disasters would appear with such great severity in the regions in which we operate. Our geological surveys uncover no seismic activity, yet earthquakes occur. We build mines over great deposits, that suddenly deplete and burst forth with Godzilla like city destroyers. Our surveys often show changing grades of metal in the ground before we have even begun mining. Whatever the cause, it is not natural, and it is linked to these gentlemen, of that I have no doubt."

"And why tell me now?"

"Because despite the apparent randomness of these events, I have made it a personal project of mine to find the reason for them. And I believe I am close, and if my projects are correct, today should be the day when the disasters begin their inexorable climb into the Wax Superior crescendo. You are the only other person that has witnessed, first hand and up close, the severity of these disasters and the men whom I believe are responsible. I want you to help me uncover this mystery."

An alarm went off on the desk.

"Now should be the time." and as Moineau finished off his whisky, a blistering wind picked up outside.

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The Metals HQ.

Gillian stood up and looked outside, as a tornado began to form.

"WE'VE GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE!" she exclaimed. Villiers looked back, unconcerned.

"We will be fine here, madame. Of this I am sure. Fort Simian, on the other hand, has received worst overnight, their election marked by a spectacular earthquake."

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The Tornado of Simian Hill, Year 5.

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The Earthquake of Fort Simian, Year 5.

End of the Line, November 12, 9 AM.

Clare Bevan sat at breakfast, pondering the maelstrom of events that had led her to this point in time. Her former treasurer, Chris Bowandarrow, arrived at her table, carefully placing a newspaper on the far side of the table.

"No need to show me, I can already guess what they've said." she said, with a despondent look on her face.

"Clare, maybe it's for the best. We can beat them next time."

"There won't be a next time for me I'm afraid."

"What do you mean?"

"The first houses are going up in Wax Ridge in the new year. I'm going to move to Wax Ridge. I can live in a town run by Rick Green."

Chris Bowandarrow sighed, as he slumped down into a chair and re-read the headline:

RICK GREEN AND BLUE PARTY WIN LANDSLIDE ELECTION VICTORY

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What does this mean for the future of Fort Simian?

Uncle_Wax

August, Year 5

"The top breaking news story this hour: a large number of government ministers and Blue party junior shadow ministers have resigned en masse, citing moral discomfort with last months ratification of the Rio Preto Gift Consolidation Act, which brought into being a million dollar gift and exclusive ownership rights of Fort Simian's coal operations and deposits. The opposition attack, which has been relentless since their defeat in last years election, has stepped up in anticipation of a large number of by-elections. Ongoing protests to the Rio Preto deal and recent polling suggest that the Blue party will be left with a massive majority following the by-elections, slated for November.

Meanwhile, the ongoing standoff between the Rio Preto backed Simian Hill and Fort Simian over the results of the police commission into the murder of Aaron Pyne, and a large car pileup in Simian Hill in June, continues to create friction between the newly joined antagonists. The results of a police commission, issued by the Red party government into the murder of Aaron Pyne, identified Rio Preto fitter Enrico Gutierrez as the individual responsible and has issued a request to Simian Hill authorities for his capture. Simian Hill authorities, led by Clayton Brand, have refused to handover the individual until compelling evidence of his guilt is made available. Brand has additionally responded that the individual in question would not be forthcoming until Fort Simian handed over journalist Moe Rackswell, linked to a major car pileup in Simian Hill in June of this year, and accused the Fort Simian police of abject hypocrisy in failing to cooperate in what they describe as a 'petty crime'. The Blue party has also weighed in on the quagmire, accusing the Red party government of incompetence and pledging to make the establishment of cordial relations with Simian Hill their first act of government should they be successful in the upcoming by-elections. They have promised..."

Moe turned the radio off as he heard footsteps above him. The trapdoor above him opened, and some newspapers were tossed in.

"If you wanna know the news, read this. Stop making so much noise, I'm being watched all the time now."

Enrico Gutierrez closed the trap door, placing the mat over it and walked outside of the makeshift hut he was now living in at the Wax Ridge dredge site. Officially, he was being held in Simian Hill until evidence could be provided of his guilt to the Aaron Pyne murder. Rio Preto, having bought the title for the two city lands between Simian Hill and Fort Simian, declared these inaccessible to Fort Simian police. Despite the dubious legality of the declaration, Fort Simian police had stayed away, partly due to the growing civil disorder brewing in Fort Simian.

Enrico looked out at the small camp that was beginning to grow misty as the sun set. He walked back inside his hut, and lay down on the mat with a book. He knew that the other workers would be preparing their dinner now, which gave him thirty minutes.

"So when are you going to tell me what happened to Gillian? Where is she?" he whispered into the mat.

"Did you really do it?" Rackswell responded.

"Of course not!" he muttered, "I mean, I was there that night, but Gillian and I were followin' the lizard!"

"Is that why Clayton Brand had you two brought to the Trade HQ?"

"I'm not saying another word until you tell me about Gillian."

"Look, I told you, after the accident I followed her to the port. It looked like she was trying to get out, on a global market ship, but the port authority alerted Brand to her presence. The cops showed up, and she was taken away with Brand in tow. That's all I know."

"What happened after? Why didn't you continue to follow her?"

"Listen, people were going crazy. People were hurt in that accident, not killed, but they were angry. I was going back to my car to sort out insurance and everything, and then, well, it was like a mob. I was afraid, so I ran."

"And how'd you get here then? How'd you know I'd recognise you?"

"I didn't. I just kept moving, trying to get out of Simian Hill. I was lost for a few days. I tried making my way to Fort Simian but came across you first. If I hadn't, I'd probably be in a Simian Hill jail right now."

"Well, you probably should be by the sounds of it."

"So what happens now, you're going to turn me in? We made a deal..."

"Look, I've got no reason to make myself known to anyone either. These camp guys are here to help with the dredging, and probably to keep me here. I don't want to face a Fort Simian judge, or rot in a Fort Simian jail. Gillian told me how nuts you guys are and I believe her."

"Well, I'm a journalist. I am interested in the truth. Why were you out here in the first place? I know you weren't here because of the accusation, unless someone tipped Rio Preto off a month in advance?"

"No. Look, alright. That day, we went up to a big meeting room with that Clay Brand guy. Real cold character, y'know? He sat us down, went through all the photographs I took of the lizard, asked us questions, a-"

"What kind of questions?"

"I don't know, I don't remember. Anyway, he didn't ask me much, it was mostly Gillian. Everything was focused on Gillian. Yeah, that's right, he seemed to think that she'd seen all this before, asking her things like that. Then he told us that Villiers had personally ordered us to be kept out of both Simian Hill AND Fort Simian, and that was that. We'd keep our jobs, but at much lower pay, and we'd be stuck out doing the dirty dredging work. Real mean bastard. Told us we'd have to be out of his sight by the time Simian Ridge construction started. Now it's Wax Ridge. I don't really understand."

"But why?"

"Honestly, I don't know. And I don't know when we can get out of here. I'm sorry for the conditions of this place, it must smell awful down there. We're going to start being noticed, you're going to have to sneak out of here, tomorrow morning, while the crew does their pre-start checks and toolbox meetings."

"Great. Maybe I should make a run for one of those global market ships."

"Yeah, maybe you should. Oh, one more thing I just remembered."

"What's that?"

"I did overhear Clay saying something about an Omega Company. Something like, Villiers mentioned it, or he didn't know what it was, or something. Honestly I can't remember exactly what he said, but it seemed important."

"Great, another mystery."

Batten down the hatches

Hu Tse emerged from the Table Mount tunnel, contemplating his future. In the past two months, his colleagues at the Owner's Group had one-by-one succumbed to Bruce Morrison's buy up of local properties. Or rather, they had succumbed to the threats and intimidation, that had become increasingly visible over the past two months. "Explains why there was no property bubble" Tse thought to himself, as many of his counterparts had been driven out of town and on to their backs. A few remaining stalwarts of the Owner's Group remained. As Tse drived on, a look of horror gripped his face.

The last remaining Owner's Group properties were burning, and threatening to take the rest of the holdouts with them.

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The scene Tse was faced with upon exiting the Table Mount tunnel.

Tse pulled up at a nearby factory and approached their security box.

"I need to use your phone! There's a fire!"

The security guard responded with only a bemused look.

"It's urgent!"

"Yes, I know, the fire department have been called" the guard responded. "It's all over our radio chatter" he said as he waved around a radio voice piece.

"Well?!?! The fire department is practically within walking distance! They could WALK to the fire!"

"Yes, but they have to drive. And there is a traffic jam at the front of the fire station. And as you know with the road rules here, they can't make the left turn to the fire. They will have to drive up main street and do a U-turn and come back, and then do another U-turn to be in position. They will only have right of way if there is no traffic on the roads, and as I just said, the roads are crammed with traffic. I'm afraid it will be a while before they can get to the fire."

Tse, frustrated, returned to his car and drove to the fire.

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Another fire response thwarted by traffic.

'This idiot doesn't know what he's doing'

"No wonder you aren't getting the grade, look at these cleaner cells you're using! Absolute rubbish!"

Cole Bambert fired a salvo of vicious criticism at Clayton Brand as a group of tradesmen, engineers, labourers and technicians looked on bewildered. Never had they seen such behaviour, at least publically, foisted upon Brand.

"Bambert, put a sock in it. We're here to talk power: and mainly, why we are using these old boiler designs".

"Listen, leave the big boy engineering to me, and you can do your paperwork in the tower. Geez, you don't know what you're doing, do ya?"

Brand remained cool under the hostile environment, but in the corner of his eye could see an audience captivated by Bambert's bravado and earnestness.

"Just order the advanced coal generators and boilers. I'll cover the capital expense, Wax Ridge construction starts in a month and no one is going to want to live next to this monstrosity. Do it."

As Brand walked away, he could hear Bambert saying "you don't get it!", with a brief silence, followed by howls of laughter from the technical crew. Incensed, he ripped open the door of his car and then slammed it shut, jamming the locking mechanism. His anger boiled, as he reflected on a string of interactions with Bambert that had been equally frustrating and embarrassing.

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The Simian Hill coal fired power plant, with it's Metals Overlord in the background.

Exit strategy

Tse swerved out on to the main road in time to see the fire leap from building to building, gutting the last remaining Owner's Group members. He could see the other holdouts trying desperately to attack the fire with simple water hoses, and failing as the flames grew more intense with each minute. Then something caught Tse's eye: A black limousine, parked on the opposite side of the road, with a driver and a passenger who instantly eyeballed him. He knew who they were: Morrison's thugs. Then his mind ran amok, swimming in dizzying eddies of anxiety. He wondered about his wife, and child, then he feared for them. Instantly, he accelerated across the median strip, forsaking the bizarre road rules of the city, and made his way down the dirt roads of the Old Town to his house. As he raced, the limousine remained stationary.

Tse rounded the corner, passing the Idle Tacqueria, and approached his house. As he drew closer, he was dumbfounded, observing a "For Sale" sign at the front of his house.

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The Tse residence, "For Sale", apparently.

He pulled up in time to see Bruce Morrison standing at his front door with a folder. His wife and child were on the front lawn, cowing and crying. He opened the car door and burst forth to confront Morrison.

Before Tse could open his mouth, Morrison raised his finger.

"Now Hu, fair is fair. I happened to be in the neighbourhood and your wife told me she'd be willing to sell for as low as 10,000 simoleons! Since it's apparently her name on the deed, I guess I won't be needing a signature from you. Except on this form."

Morrison presented a second piece of paper. It was the deed to Tse's hotel group on main street, the last remaining piece of property that was in tact and not sold to The Sizzle Group. Then Tse remembered something.

"Wait a minute, Rio already made their deal here, so why are you still interested in our property?"

"An interesting question. Well, most people were more than happy to oblige, and are now renting back the place they sold at exhorbitant prices. But you, you just wouldn't bend, would you?"

"So you're doing this out of spite?"

"Your Owner's Group would have been a nice jewel in the new Sizzle Property Group. But now it's too late. Now I just want you, and your family, out of this town."

Morrison's face went empty and blank, as though he was a robot. Tse's heart wrenched back and forth, failing to comprehend how such a situation could arise. Suddenly, the fear he felt multiplied, as though he was being torn apart by nervous forces. The sudden realisation that the threats and intimidation were, in the end, aimed at evicting him not only from his home but from Fort Simian altogether stung hard.

Tse grabbed his wife and child, some loose belongings, and fled Fort Simian.

What the hell, man

Two men passed each other in the darkness of the Fort Simian Small Pond Park. They stopped, looked around, and one began to speak.

"What the hell was that today?" asked Mike Baseball.

"Just tying up the loose ends of our campaign" responded Morrison.

"Look, we'll be in government soon. I can't have any of this coming back to us. If you still want to be in the winner's circle, then I don't need to know about whatever it is you've been doing for the past two months with that Owner's Group. Neither does anyone else."

"Understood. But tell me one thing."

"Yes?"

"Why did some of your junior minister quit?"

"We got some of them to vote for the Rio deal and then expelled them afterwards. They'll be looked after. The Red party went into such a spectacular meltdown that we didn't think it would go through. Now we'll have the money to expand, as per the agreement, which, by the way, you have abrogated."

"So Bevan and her crew are finished?"

"Dead in the water."

"What about the reporter? and the Gutierrez kid?"

"We don't know if the accusations are true. The police won't release anything to us, only the government. But we will get their evidence soon. In the meantime, Rackswell is out of our hair. Probably for good. The government claims they know where he is. And when we are the government, we will hand him over".

Baseball held the next days newspaper, with the headline "BLUE PARTY VOWS TO END INTER-CITY RIFT WITH ACCUSED SWAP DEAL".

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The secret meeting place.

Uncle_Wax

June, Year 5

"In latest news, the emerging budget crisis in Fort Simian has reached new heights as treasurer Chris Bowandarrow signaled the need to consider unconventional methods for recovering the cost of loans incurred as a result of the giant lizard disaster earlier this year. Shadow treasurer Mike Baseball has continued the opposition attack, claiming that the loans weren't needed in the first place, and furthering opposition calls for a fresh election in the face of polls showing a disastrous collapse in support of the new government. The Fort Simian city hall has been inundated with protesters on a daily basis, in which opposition members have been most vocal in calling for the government to resign. Opposition leader Rick Green claims the lack of resolution on the origins of the giant lizard, and the paucity of information regarding the investigation of Aaron Pyne's alleged murder are signs that the government is incompetent and ineligible to manage Fort Simian any longer, that they have breached the trust of locals. Rick Green also cites the failure to reduce industrial taxation, and the increase in commercial taxation introduced to cope with the loss of revenue associated with the loans to repair the city, policies that Green claims he would reverse immediately if elected."

The radio news bulletin continued to spill forth the details of the dreary situation in Fort Simian as the car came to a stop at an intersection under the main overpass at the Simian Hill city entrance. Gillian Maholm sat in the rear, her face showing the disdain evident at being forcibly taken back to her dredge site camp at Wax Ridge under the orders of Clayton Brand.

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Simian Hill overpass during early morning traffic.

Ever since the lizard disaster, Maholm and Gutierrez had been ordered to remain at the Simian Ridge dredge site under watchful eye. Gillian was reluctant to discuss the events in the Trade HQ that led to their faux incarceration, something that Fort Simian reporter Moe Rackswell had been eager to discover ever since learning of their prominence during his ejection from the Trade HQ. Upon learning of Maholm's reappearance in Simian Hill, Rackswell had ventured to the mining area, his interest in the wayward fitter reignited. Waiting at the lights, a stream of traffic began to move across the T-intersection on their way out of the city. As a black limousine turned, he caught a glimpse of Maholm in the rear seat. Without thinking, he accelerated, swiftly U-turning and taking up chase. He maneuvered his way in and out of traffic, trying to get within range of the limousine. As he sought to go around the middle section of the road, Rackswell's car clipped a light pole and started spinning out of control. As he spun through the traffic, he smashed into cars that in turn continued the dangerous dance. Drivers in the cars ahead became preoccupied with the scene unfolding in their rear view mirrors, failing to notice the red light they were approaching at the main highway. As they spilled over into the intersection, they crashed into oncoming traffic, including the limousine carrying Clayton Brand's precious cargo, Gillian Maholm. The limousine was thrown into a light pole. After 10 minutes, the maelstrom cooled down, as steam and smoke arose from the column of wrecked cars.

Gillian was cut and bruised, but surprisingly otherwise well. The driver's head was buried in the steering wheel, with a stream of blood pouring down to the floor. Gillian looked outside at the chaotic scene that had, in an instant, transformed into an eerie silence. Suddenly, a car near her caught fire. She made her way out of the car, opening the driver side door. She unstrapped the driver and pulled him out of the car, dragged him clear of the road, and lay him on his side. He had a cut in his forehead and was unconscious, but still breathing. Gillian returned her gaze to the scene, a picture of complete silence and stillness. Suddenly, the sound returned to her ears, as she heard a voice calling out her name.

"Gillian Maholm! I need to speak to you!" shouted a man, stumbling from the overpass to the intersection of the highway. She recognised the man: Moe Rackswell. Gillian knew that sirens would be descending on their position soon, given the small size of the mining area. She also knew that this might be her one and only chance to escape from the indentured servitude she faced if the dredging situation in Wax Ridge didn't change. Thoughts raced through her mind. She knew what Moe Rackswell wanted to know, but she had nothing to say. Besides, Gillian didn't really know what was going on herself. Whatever information she could share with Rackswell, it wouldn't be enough. Simian Hill had it's grip on her, and Fort Simian was too weak to intervene.

She turned, and disappeared into the bushes, making her way to the port.

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The Port of Simian Hill: Way out of here.

Buyers market

Bruce Morrison buzzed the door, "Hey, it's Bruce here. Let me in.". The door buzzed back. Morrison opened the door, and, while leaving it ajar, looked back on the street.

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The view Morrison was presented with as he entered the apartment complex.

Morrison stepped into the lift, and pressed the button for the fourteenth floor. He checked his notebook, ruminating over the tumultuous events that had beset Fort Simian. The lift door opened. He walked out, and knocked on the door of apartment 1323. The door opened.

"Hi Mike, thanks for hearing me out today."

Mike Baseball smiled. "No need to thank me, friend".

The two walked into a lavish living room overseeing the city of Fort Simian. Mike prepared some drinks as Bruce got to business.

"The Owner's Group are the last holdouts. It's Tse, he won't let anyone sell. The Old Town is out of bounds for the moment."

Mike looked up from the bar benchtop in his outrageously ostentatious apartment.

"How is the feeling on the ground?"

"People want to sell. Think they are getting a good deal. Tse wasn't willing to sell, but - get this - he's come back to play ball, but he's asking six times our original offer".

"Six times? Is he insane?"

"That's just the start of it. He's saying that the rest of the Owner's Group are on board with him. The only way we're getting the Old Town is if we pay up - more for Old Town than the rest of the real estate we've bought up so far."

"Well, we need to move fast. That Rio takeover is going to happen soon. Rick was saying that Bevan had a very secretive meeting with Villiers Moineau a couple of weeks ago. He thinks they've already signed over the city to Rio Preto for the rights to our coal. Or at least some sort of agreement to do so in the future. You know, once Villiers Moineau is involved, it's big."

"So what do we do?"

Mike Baseball returned, drinks in hand.

"Join me on the lifestyle deck, I'll tell you the plan there."

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The view from the "Lifestyle deck", at Mike Baseball's apartment.

"Wow, quite a view here. What's beyond the horizon?"

"Who knows, and who cares" retorted Baseball, as he sipped his whisky sour.

"Now, listen Bruce. Bevan is going to have to ratify the sale in the council, and I guarantee you, it will be limited rights and probably some sort of loan or bond arrangement. Which means the Table Mount real estate can still be yours. But there is a catch."

"Oh, what's that?"

"You'll have to forgo the Owner's Group for now. We can't legislate to 'compel' them to sell until we are in government, which we will be, because the sale to Rio needs to go ahead first."

"So you're not opposed to the sale then? What about all that demonisation of Bevan about the thought of sale? To be honest, we were starting to wonder about the Blue party".

"We are publicly opposed to the sale, because everyone in the city is opposed to it. But we won't bring the hammer down on the government until the sale is complete. Then, we don't need to mention it again. That Rio money will fill up the public bank, and then the Sizzle Group can have it's Sizzle Casinos build on Table Mount".

"Ah, right. I suppose you feel the same about the debt, utilities and so forth?"

"That's right. We just want government. We'll worry about the details later. The people of Fort Simian will find Bevan so loathsome by the time we are finished, that they will just be glad she's gone, the witch. Then Fort Simian will be open for business".

"So you become treasurer, Green becomes Mayor, we get ownership of the major industrial and commercial centres and exclusive access to new real estate not covered under the Rio agreement, and everyone is happy?"

"That's right. Let's drink - "

Morrison interrupted Baseball.

"-to the downfall of Bevan and her rabble."

The rabble

Clare Bevan led treasurer Chris Bowandarrow out to the open air balcony of the city hall. She took a deep breath, inhaling the fresh ocean air.

"Chris, we should enjoy this time here, because we won't have much more of it".

"But I thought you said we could stay in, and win the next election?"

"That's our persona to the public. In reality, Green is too negative. People are in fear, and the unresolved lizard disaster is the point around which they rally. We can't solve it, we just can't" Bevan said with an air of melancholy.

"Surely we can. I mean, sure, the budget hasn't been especially great since, but what could we do? What could Green have done differently?"

"That's not the point. He is exploiting ignorance, he is tunneling everyone's opinion into his narrative. People don't consider how he might have handled it. They just consider that they don't like how we handled it."

"Well, what do we do about it?"

"We're selling our coal assets to Rio Preto for a million dollar, interest free cash injection into the economy. A gift".

"What?!"

"We have to. We don't have the finances to keep the city going. Our new coal mine isn't producing enough coal to cover the deficit. If taxes go up 1% more, then it will be open revolt. If services are switched off, there will be rioting in the streets. We've got no choice if we want to keep this city together".

"But we said we wouldn't do this! And this is another one of those 'giant lizards' that will -"

"I know. But it has to happen. If not now, then the city will be done for."

"So, when, when do we legislate for the sale?"

"Next week. Keep it quiet, treasury already knows."

"You went behind my back to do this?"

"Just estimates. The deal is made. We just need to ratify it."

"This is outrageous! When were you going to tell me - and what about the party?"

Bevan looked out at the city view from the balcony and sighed.

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City Hall - June, Year 5

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Bevan's view from the city hall balcony.

"This is it I'm afraid."

"So you've given up then?"

"No, I'm just disappointed in the path this city has taken. But we will have other opportunities to make this city, and this region, the best place in the Wax Universe".

"Oh, and how is that if we're in opposition?"

"Because Wax Ridge will change everything".

Homecoming

Hu Tse parked on the roadside in front of his house, blocked from his driveway by a luxury car. As he walked up to his house, a disconcerting feeling entering his stomach. He opened the door, and seated in his living room were his wife and Bruce Morrison.

"What is he doing here?" Tse queried his wife.

Morrison looked up and spoke.

"You're going to sell at our price, or face the consequences."

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The Old Town.

Uncle_Wax

June, Year 5

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The Simian Hill hospital, built by local miners, opens today in light of the continuing and rapid development of the Simian Hill project.

"Let this hospital stand as an edifice to the enduring spirit of the miners here in Simian Hill."

Villiers Moineau proclaimed the opening of the Simian Hill hospital in light of a population explosion during the ramp up of Phase III of the project. It was the first time that the Rio Preto executive, charged with overseeing the Simian Hill project, had been in Simian Hill since the original planning phase. The almost 75,000 strong population of Simian Hill were present for the opening, in addition to Fort Simian mayor Clare Bevan, opposition leader Rick Green, Sizzle Group executive Bruce Morrison and whiskey merchant William MacGregor. A warm summer day was beginning, marking a year since the Fort Simian Year 4 elections and the beginning of the massive Simian Hill project that had escalated at an immense pace.

"Now, I would like to take this opportunity to make an announcement. Dredging work for the Simian Ridge site has begun, and construction will begin before the end of the year. Simian Ridge is to be the administrative and commercial headquarters of Rio Preto in this region, and it is with great anticipation that we await the development. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication, and for coming out this morning. I look forward to the coming years of prosperity that this project will generate. Thank you."

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The view from the hospital over the wastewater treatment facility and mines. Simian Hill, starved for space to accommodate the mining activities.

Villiers waved off a rapturous crowd from the balcony of the newly constructed hospital as he disappeared into the building. The crowd, covering the roads all the way along the wastewater treatment facility opposite the hospital, began to disperse. Mayor Bevan, Rick Green and Bruce Morrison remained however, desperately grabbing their opportunity to speak to the big cheese. A group of security emerged from the hospital and approached the small group.

"Dr. Moineau will be seeing Mayor Bevan. The rest of you will have to leave."

A dejected Rick Green attempted to argue his case to see Moineau; but was ultimately rebuffed. Morrison, reading the situation, was already in mid walk back to his car.

William MacGregor had remained back for a meeting of his own, which was interrupted by the ruckus between Green and security. "But I need to speak with Villiers, I know him! Just tell him Rick is here... oh come on, you're going to let this $%&^! in? Oh so she has an appointment! I KNOW VILLIERS FOR GODS SAKE!"

His curiosity piqued, MacGregor was soon interrupted by a car horn.

"Hey Bill, you coming or what?"

Hu Tse opened up the passenger side door with his right arm, and signalled William in. Hu had agreed to meet with MacGregor to tour the new high density developments of Simian Hill. The two had become thick as thieves in the business sphere, as shrewd but honest operators brought together by developments in Wax Superior. MacGregor wanted to show Tse the possibilities in the new, cashed up mining town, but Tse had a revelation of his own.

"You know how to get to Fitters grove?"

"Yep, no problem Bill."

"So what's new?"

"Well, that Morrison snake offered to buy up all my commercial property. All of it, city entrance hotels, and that little shop in the centre of town."

"So when's payday?"

Tse was taken aback by the comment.

"I'm not going to sell. I've put a lot of effort into it, and Fort Simian is my home. As long as this mine is here, there will be money to be made."

"Well, I sold the factory up on Table Mount. As of next Monday, all my operations will be in Simian Hill."

"What? But why?"

"Morrison made me an offer too good to refuse. Besides, Simian Ridge construction has started. It is going to be so big, that Fort Simian won't matter to the mine anymore. Space is scarce here, if any opens up, it's slated for a smelter or a new mine. There is so little space in the Simian Hill title, that the value of the real estate can only go up, especially for our simple industries. Simian Ridge won't have any of this. It will be a big city."

"But what about your family? What about the community?"

"I'll continue to live in Fort Simian, and commute to Simian Hill like all the middle managers. You should get out too. Industrial taxes aren't coming down, and I wouldn't be surprised if commercial went up. Fort Simian just doesn't have the haggis to overcome the downturn since the lizard disaster."

Tse sighed.

"That bloody disaster, nobody knows anything about it still. Now they're trying to distract us with this new police commissioner to investigate the Pyne murder. I'm starting to wonder why we were so excited about Bevan."

"What, and end up with Green as mayor? I couldn't think of a better reason to get out of Fort Simian!"

The two looked forward as they entered Fitters grove, a now heavily built up, high density, low wealth area of the town.

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Fitters Grove, following one year of rapid building and rebuilding.

Tse pulled up next to a green awning with a big BARGAIN sign above it.

"Let's grab a coffee, Hu. I've been spending a lot of time here, getting to know the locals. I've been inundated with orders from these new high density commercial areas. There are three bars upstairs. These miners really like to drink! We're even brewing beer now."

Hu walked along contemplating. As they entered the coffee shop, Hu looked up.

"Now, if I was to relocate here, from what you said, then where would I setup? If real estate is so valuable, where would I put up my hotels and stores?"

William smiled. "I thought you'd never ask. I've made a new friend here, she'll be here in 10 minutes. She can answer that question."

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Rapid development has seen Simian Hill net revenues jump beyond two million simoleons a month, bringing a lode of disposable income to these areas.

The door to the coffee shop opened, and a woman entered. She signaled to MacGregor, who indicated to Tse that they would have to move. The woman continued walking, entering through a passageway to the rear of the building. The three found themselves on a small patio, with some makeshift tables and nobody in sight. An employee from the shop followed them out with their coffees, nodded to the woman and then closed the door.

"Isn't it incredible, that there is all this space in front of us, yet by our city title deeds, we have to cease construction on this imaginary line here?" said the woman, turning to William.

"Aye, but it depends on what business you're in. The more scarce the land, the more valuable."

The woman chuckled to herself. "I suppose you're right Bill. Now, I take it this is the gentleman you wanted me to meet?" she said as she sipped her coffee.

"Aye. This is Hu Tse," then, turning to the woman, "and Hu, this is Gillian Maholm. She's been involved with Rio Preto for a long time. She can tell you why you should sell."

Hu looked up inquisitively, his interested piqued. "Well then, what's so special about Simian Hill? I don't see any commercial opportunities."

Gillian put her coffee down and a serious look swam over her face. "It's not here you want to build, it's through there" she said as she pointed through the building from whence they came.

"That's still Simian Hill."

"Not Simian Hill, Simian Ridge. Or should I say, Wax Ridge, South."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm in a bit of trouble with the boys club, that's why we're meeting here and not in the shop we just came from. They've relocated me and my partner to the dredging work there. It won't be a single city title, it will be two. And it won't be called Simian Ridge. It will be called Wax Ridge North for the title closest to Simian Hill, and Wax Ridge South for the title closest to Fort Simian."

"Isn't that Rio Preto property though?". Tse looked visibly worried at the prospect of two city titles worth of commercial to box him out of the Simian Hill market.

"Allocated buildings, what they call "ploppables", will be at the discretion of Rio Preto. Zoned areas, such as yours, will be free for the highest bidder."

"I can't afford that. If this place is as big as you guys think, where would I get the money?"

"Has the Sizzle group offered you any money for your properties in Fort Simian?"

"Yes! How did you know? I just got the offer in the last few days."

"The Sizzle group wants to buy up all the property in Fort Simian. Rio is going to take it over. Ever since the lizard disaster, Fort Simian hasn't been able to finance its assets. Rio wants it for the coal. They will buy up everything, and they will own you. Trust me. And when they have Fort Simian, Sizzle Group thinks the property price will go up and they will cash in. But it won't. The focus will shift to Wax Ridge."

Hu twisted his head at the term.

"Why 'Wax' Ridge? Does it have something to do with the region name?"

"I'm not sure. It's some sort of bizarre convention, but I'm sure that it has something to do with Old Wax. Everything there has 'Wax' in the title. Wax Bay, Cinderwax, Wax Woods..."

"So you think I should ask a higher price and then get in with Wax Ridge?"

"That is what I'm saying."

"And how do you know all this? What do you do exactly?"

"That's a topic for another conversation."

Coal Baron

"Gillian Maholm is in Simian Hill now. Did you know that?" Linda said to Clayton Brand as he awaited Villiers Moineau in the new Metals HQ topfloor meeting room.

"I don't have time for that recalcitrant right now. We are almost at production target. Everything is going well. Don't bother me with these details. Let security take care of it."

"Security doesn't know where she is."

"She'll return to the dredging site, she should have learnt her lesson in Wax Woods. Didn't you see the look on her face after the lizard disaster interrogation?"

The doors to the meeting room opened suddenly. Villiers Moineau and a rough, bulky man with prominent sideburns walked through.

"Linda, Clay" Villiers said to the two meeting room regulars, "I'd like you to meet our new head of coal operations, Cole Bambert."

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The upgraded coal facility produces over 400 t of coal per day.

"G'day folks, how ya goin'".

Clay looked up at Villiers. "An Australian?"

"He's the best up and coming coal expert in the company. He will lead the operations on the coalface. He will also oversee the new operations."

"What new operations?" said Clayton, visibly distraught.

"The operations in Fort Simian."

"But.." stammered Clayton.

"The deal with Mayor Bevan was signed this morning. We will officially be financing Fort Simian by the end of the year. Their coal is now ours."

Villiers paused for a moment, and then produced a USB stick.

"Here are some new photographs of Simian Hill. Can you take Mr Bambert through these, pointing out the relevant areas. I assure you they are up to date. He will be staying in the residential suites of the Metals HQ like the rest of you."

Villiers left the meeting room. Clayton inserted the USB stick into the projector laptop, and let the slide show play itself out.

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The Metals HQ and Phase I mining site as seen from Fitters Grove.

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Fitters Grove, with all the hustle and bustle of the mine operators, tradesmen and contractors.

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Fitters Grove main street, with the new smelter in the distance.

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Another view of the Metals HQ from Fitters Grove. Some areas have retained their original mine camp charm, with this quaint dirt road.

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Uncle_Wax

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.

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Phase II of the Simian Hill project is seeing record numbers of workers flock to the site, necessitating a move to medium density housing.

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"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?"

"Selling out."

"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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Uncle_Wax

March, Year 5

"How long until they arrive?"

"About an hour. Would you like to see the latest development shots while we wait, Mr Brand?"

"Sure, why not. I'll have Jerry make us some coffee".

Clayton Brand slumped in his chair and looked out of the window of the Trade HQ towards the new Metals HQ, scheduled to take over as the Rio Preto HQ once completed. He played with a pen in one hand, while scratching his forehead with the other. Countless mines sprawled out, surrounding the new HQ.

Everything was going to schedule, and now Villiers calls this in. Why is this important?

The senior engineer stood silently, gazing around the enormous meeting room. A large, mahogany table made from local woods shot patches of light at him, whilst the black leather chairs, each suitable for no less than CEO, sat perfectly aligned, facing the table. Huge photos of Rio Preto mines in Old Wax hung on the walls, with motivational posters interspersed in between, sat against a white wall backdrop. A huge screen hung behind Brand, eagerly awaiting the light from the ceiling mounted projector. Morning light flooded the room, as a knock was heard on the door.

"Sir, your coffee".

There was a long silence as Clayton Brand's contemplative trance slowly evaporated. He looked up.

"Leave it on the table, Jerry. That'll be all for now. Linda, load your presentation, let's see how Phase II is going".

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Sir, as you can see the rail line has been extended to the port. The rail depot will be for ore export only, whilst eventual coal and alloy exports will be serviced by the proposed port facilities.

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Here is a shot of the port by night. It is ready to export ore, with enough lots to handle the eventual Phase III production targets.

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Here is a shot of the mines wit- oh, I'm not sure how that got in there. It's an old shot of the control area and Phase I, before the Metals HQ construction was complete.

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Here are the heavy service industries. Recent zoning changes by Rio Preto has allowed new service companies to move in, mostly vehicles, toolmakers, producers of grinding media, and so forth. Although it will place further strain on the local worker pool, I am informed that it will be more than met by the Fort Simian commuters, particularly in light of the partial collapse of their industrial areas. And as for mid-tier professionals such as engineers, metallurgists, managers, they are more than -

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Linda was interrupted by the meeting room phone. Clayton Brand picked it up, his face quickly growing from a form of bemusement to one of angry concern. "I'll be right out" he said, as he put the phone down, pausing to think. He picked up the phone and dialled three numbers. Linda instantly knew who he was calling.

"Yes, there is a reporter at the front. Make sure he's gone before the fitters get here".

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Morning light returned to view as a dark vehicle rounded Simian Hill and approached the mine area. The driver and front passenger were dressed immaculately, and said not a word as the car moved on to a stretch of road driving directly into the sun. The front passenger fondled a phone in his hands, playing with its functionality momentarily. Without turning, he addressed the two passengers in the rear.

"You're absolutely certain that you captured no other photographs? Other than what is on this phone?"

Enrico turned to Gillian, shooting her a quizzical look before responding.

"Yeah, that's right. We're not allowed to have cameras and what-have-you on site, remember?"

"And you, Miss Maholm." The front passenger raised a second phone in his hand, holding it up mockingly, like a trophy.

"This is the only electronic device you had on you capable of recording, at the time of the incident?"

"Yes. What's this about?"

The front passenger sat silently. As time passed the sun grew in the sky, high enough to cease blinding those in the car. As the road curved to the right, the shape of mine shafts came into view, followed closely by the Metals HQ and finally, the Trade HQ. The car turned right into the Trade HQ underground car park. As the car passed the front entrance of the Trade HQ, a kerfuffle appeared to be underway. A young man was being dragged from the building entrance by two large security guards.

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Enrico spoke up, boisterously. "Someone gettin' the sack today eh?"

The front passenger and driver sat silently. Gillian looked closer, straining her head to see properly. The front passenger flicked a button in the front, causing a cover to come down on the right side rear passenger window, blocking out the ruckus. By this time Gillian had seen enough, however, racking her brain to remember where she had seen that face before.

As the car descended into the underground car park, she remembered, and then she questioned. Why is Moe Rackswell being dragged from the Trade HQ?

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"Sir, they're on their way up."

"Thanks Jerry". Clayton Brand turned to Linda, motioning for her to finish her presentation.

"So, these are the last two slides, and as you can see, the rail link from the main line joins in here. The roads are yet to be upgraded". She clicked the mouse, bringing up the last slide.

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"This is midday shot from a few days ago. The most distinguishing feature of this photo was conveniently almost missed. In the foreground, where you can see construction occurring, is the privately owned first brewery of Simian Hill. It is owned by William MacGregor of Fort Simian, known for his whisky distilleries."

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"Thank you Linda. That will be all for now. I'll see you tomorrow for the brief on the Phase II progress".

Linda nodded, closing her presentation and leaving the meeting room. Clayton Brand sat in his chair, looking over the mining sector, pondering the challenges that lay ahead for him. After 10 minutes, there was a buzz on his phone. He clicked on loudspeaker.

"Sir, they're here."

"Send them in".

Uncle_Wax

January, Year 5.

"Contracted to Fort Simian for port works. Man, or is it, wo-MAN, you must have really pissed off the Preto guys!"

Enrico Gutierrez munched on a cucumber sandwich as he scoffed at Gillian Maholm's assignment to Fort Simian as part of the "license to operate" contractor team of Rio Preto. The two had worked through the nights, on 12 hour shifts, troubleshooting the new port development at Fort Simian, aimed at developing the Fort Simian coal export industry. Though their expertise came at a premium to Mayor Bevan, Maholm and Gutierrez considered it insulting to take them away from the exciting Phase II development in Simian Hill.

"Anyways" Gutierrez spew forth, mid bite, "someone on-site was saying something about a Rio Preto coal mine, something big, bigger than Wax Woods, so why are we helping these guys?"

"How's your hydraulics program going?" Maholm interjected, changing the subject.

"Umm... yeah, good I guess. There's this new comm college here at Fort Simian, so I guess it's easier to do classes while we're staying here" Gutierrez responded.

"So it's not so bad then, is it?"

"Well, no, but-"

"But nothing. We'll just do-" a loud rumbling was heard. Crockery neatly stacked on the kitchen sink in the small break room started to rattle, as the ground beneath Maholm and Gutierrez began to shake.

"What the f*** is that? Earthquake? What the-" Gutierrez was interrupted as Maholm raised a flat palm, and her face grew stern.

Gutierrez's face turned white as he peered out of the window. "Jesus Cristo".

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Gutierrez grabbed his phone and ran out on to the beachfront, capturing the following image:

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Gillian peered out at the giant reptile, which stood as a pillar darting it's head about like a dog seeking out a scent. Enrico had already fled the building, making his way along the beachfront on foot, phone faced up at the creature. From her vantage point, Gillian could see people fleeing their vehicles, stuck in a huge traffic jam, making the trip to town on foot quicker than had they remained in the cars. As Gillian watched on, the panic built into an inexorable melee as people starting running in random directions. The monster, meanwhile, appeared unmoved by the disorder emerging below it. With a sudden jolt, it swung it's head around, facing the coal mines. Without warning, it let out an enormous roar and dove into the side of Table Mount. Moments later, it erupted out of the main coal shaft at the Table Mount coal mine.

Lost in a daze, Gillian heard a voice slowly closing in on her.

"Get in the truck! We've gotta follow this thing!"

Enrico started up the pickup. Gillian looked to her right at the city, lights still blazing amidst a foreground of abandoned cars. Thank god they've got the wind plant, Gillian thought to herself.

"We can't go, that thing is dangerous! We've got to stay away from -"

"Fine then, if you're not coming, I'm going on my own!"

Gillian's angry protests were drowned by the sound of the truck accelerating towards the bend approaching the mountain road. Above, on Table Mount, she could see bright flashes of light against the night sky, and hear the terrifying scream of the beast. Cursing Enrico, among other things, she ran into the dock security office and grabbed a pair of security truck keys, following Enrico up the mountain.

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The Wax Superior Herald

January, Year 5

GIANT REPTILE ATTACKS FORT SIMIAN: 121 DEAD

Author: Moe Rackswell

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Image of the beast captured by FSB helicopters.

A trail of destruction from beachside to garbage dump is all that remains of the mysterious and deadly creature that attacked during the early hours.

At 3 AM on January 21st, an earthquake-like rumble from the empty beachside development and port area roused residents of central Fort Simian from their sleep. A massive line of traffic, backed up for over three hours, led from the port into the centre of the city, made up of mostly Old Town and Simian Hill labourers marking the end of the evening shift on the local coal mine developments. As the rumble continued, an enormous figure emerged from the beachside area. A loud scream was heard from the beast, and the local residents fled their cars.

The beast made its way up Table Mount, stopping first at the coal mining operations, where it let out a massive breath of fire. Fleeing miners managed to take several photographs before a firestorm erupted from coal reserves, burning the coal operations to the ground. The creature continued its path of destruction through the water treatment plant, and the newly developed mid-tech industrial estate, disappearing below the garbage dump an hour later at 4 AM. The trail of destruction left 121 dead, including shadow utilities minister Aaron Pyne. Key economic assets were destroyed in the chaos, including both coal mines and their expansions, the wastewater plant and the newly developed industrial estate on Table Mount.

Mayor Bevan has called an emergency meeting of the council as relief workers battle into the morning sun to repair the damage wrought by a giant reptile during the night. The beast, which is quickly earning the nickname 'Nian' from residents of the Old Town, appeared at 3 AM on the site of the beachside area earmarked for commercial development by the Red party government. Members of both the Red and Blue party were seen milling hurriedly into the City Hall, in a sign that a bipartisan response is likely in the wake of this disaster.

Despite the apparent bipartisanship in addressing the disaster, very little has been said by the government. In a brief press release, Mayor Bevan outlined instructions for the general response to the disaster, in addition to the crisis management plan. In her closing remarks, the Mayor indicated that she had spoken with her counterpart Rick Green, whom she said stood steadfast with her on the matter.

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Photographed by mine workers fleeing the coal operation.

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Photographed from one of the last remaining Trade Depots.

Economic uncertainty to increase

Jerome Lightfoot of Sizzle Analytics, a division of the Sizzle Group, is scheduled to be part of an advisory board on the economic redevelopment of Fort Simian following the devastating disaster of the previous 24 hours. In a brief interview with the Herald, Lightfoot claims that these events are a dire blow to the local economy. "The government will no longer be able to maintain budget deficits without the financial windfall of the coal operations. Unless they are quickly re-established, government services will have to be radically cut back". On the topic of government borrowing, which has not been seen since the early days of Fort Simian, Lightfoot was equally morose. "The government will need to borrow the maximum amount currently possible, about $150,000, which might get one mine and wastewater up and running, but it's hard to say if it will be enough. Coal prices are currently depressed due to a surge in the global market. They will need to increase by about $500 per 10 tons for the government just to break even". The full interview will be televised this evening on FSB.

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Fleeing industrial workers capture an image of the beast.

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A rash of fires breaking out, resulting from the fire-breath of the creature.

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The creature's fire-breath on display at the wastewater plant, now reduced to ashes.

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Image of the morning, after the creature had disappeared. Taken from the new Table Mount industrial estate, the destruction was massive.

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Destroyed wastewater settling tanks.

Where did it come from?

A formal inquiry is to be set up by the Mayor to investigate the origins of this mysterious beast, why it so randomly attacked the city, and how to plan to mitigate for any future attacks. A spokesman for the Mayor indicated that the event was so bizarre, unpredictable, and inexplicable that it is not known at this stage whether or not planning might even be useful in preparing for such a disaster. Some citizens are even reported to have packed their belongings, fearing that their beloved city and the fruits of their labour could become ephemeral and pointless exercises at the whims of an unpredictable and unprecedented disaster.

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Thanks for tuning in!

As a caveat, this disaster popped up in the real game (randomly) and absolutely ruined the city. It really did bankrupt it. I've found these random and frequent disasters to be a menace throughout the game, but at the same time, a boon. On the one hand, the competitive element of the game promoted by EA/Maxis (in the form of leaderboards) does not lend itself well to random disasters for which one cannot mitigate. If there was a reason for the disasters (e.g. being in a fault zone) then options for mitigation (such as more expensive buildings or upgrades to minimise earthquake damage) would make them more palatable. On the other hand, for those like-minded individuals who find a creative outlet in the game, the inability to save games or control for random disasters adds depth to the internal narrative that develops as one develops cities and regions. Since you cannot erase time to create the ideal city, you have to deal with the events that overtake you and continue to move forward. In fact, it was a combination of reading journals on this website and the random disasters hitting my early cities that inspired me to turn them into a story!

Uncle_Wax

October, Year 4

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"The weather's been a wee bit cool of late".

A group of 5,000 onlookers waited anxiously for Mayor Bevan to make her appearance on a cold, crisp October morning. The citizens of Fort Simian had long anticipated their link to the outside world; a train station capable of opening up new opportunities, bringing new tourists and granted rapid access to the mines developing at breakneck speed in Simian Hill. All was not well, however, as Rick Green and a sizeable group of supporters came prepared to put their disdain for the project on full display. The majority, however, came in good faith, hoping to herald in a new era for the fledgling city. Hu Tse and William MacGregor were amongst the supporters, nabbing themselves front row seats to the unveiling.

"How many people do you think will be living in that mine camp?" said Tse to MacGregor, anxiously eyeing the train entrance, where a red ribbon had been tied with a neat bow.

"At least thirty thousand is what I hear. But maybe more, it's a huge project. Two thousand tons a month they say" MacGregor responded.

"I hope Bevan is sincere about this tourist business. I'm thinking of developing hotels, I figure all those mining dollars should stay here. There could be a lot of money in this. How's your whisky business doing?"

"I'm waiting for those industrial taxes to come down. Our return is pretty good, but we're taking on more people. I've heard nothing about the tax cut since the election. And absolutely nothing on the Table Mount industrial development."

"Starting to have second thoughts about the victory?"

"Give it time. Let's see what this mine produce-"

MacGregor was cut off as Bevan and her entourage appeared at the train station entrance. The crowd erupted in support, but was quickly muzzled by the surprise strength of the Green contingent, who raised phantom placards with phrases such as "Ditch the B****", and calls of 'Shame'. The Bevan crowd responded with a raucous shout, a challenge that was subsequently met with a voluminous booing from Green's supporters. Mayor Bevan took to a microphone, hoping to defuse the situation, but was beat to her words by Green with his megaphone.

"When are we going to see a budget surplus? When WILL THE WASTE STOP! FORT SIMIAN DOESN'T NEED A TRAIN STATION! WHERE DO THE TRAINS COME FROM? WHERE DO THEY GO? THERE ARE NO TRAINS!". The blue clad supporters of Green erupted as the Bevan supporters became subdued. "Ditch the B****" chants gained momentum as the remaining crowd looked on in astonishment. Green took to the microphone as both crowds began to simmer.

"This government is illegitimate, a one person majority is not a mandate! We need to go back to the polls!". A cacophony of back and forth ensued, as the grand opening of the train station descended into a chaotic protest, officially sanctioned by the Blue party. Extra police appeared soon after the initial incident, but the police force of Fort Simian was insufficient to combat the friction developing between the two groups of citizens. As the crowds slid against each other like great geological movements, it became clear the police could not control the event. Green continued his attack on Bevan, stating that "Bevan's boys in the blue can't even control a simple rally! What hope is there for this city under this illegitimate government!". As the maelstrom ensued, Tse and MacGregor moved to the side of the train station, avoiding the chaos. Tse turned to MacGregor with a dumbfounded look;

"Bevan hasn't even said a word. All this, over a train station. What's this city coming to?"

"Well, you're a Chinese scouser. So there's that..."

Meanwhile, moments earlier on the beachfront...

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"It's awfully quiet this morning".

Bruce Morrison looked up from his phone as Mike Baseball sidled up alongside him. The two had formed a cordial friendship during the campaign, as Sizzle Towers entertained the large blue party contingent during the campaign. Morrison smiled as he looked up to greet Baseball.

"It certainly is. I dare say it won't be quiet for long" he said as a smirk took form on his face. "So which one of these puppies you got your eye on?" He asked inquisitively.

"Well let's see how they look when they're up. Which ones are gonna have a pool full of supermodels?" Baseball said, as the two erupted into laughter. All around the beachfront, scaffolding was being erected, cement trucks humming and workers in fluoro clothing laid the groundwork for Clare Bevan's vision for a beachfront residential and commercial centre. Despite the range of languages and expressions being bandied about by the workers, construction proceeded like clockwork. Suddenly, a loud cheer was heard in the distance.

"That'll be Rick warming up" said Baseball, as police sirens could be heard approaching. The two grinned and returned their gaze to the construction site in front of them.

The fitters life

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"Pass me the phillips head, would you".

Gillian Maholm was an experienced fitter, having worked on the Wax Woods development project in Old Wax and formed an integral part of Rio Preto's technical team. As she twisted the last remains of the thread, she looked up at the control box that was now complete for the C1-conveyor from the first underground ore mine to be built for the Phase II expansion at Simian Hill.

"So this is a step down for you then?" said Enrico Gutierrez, an apprentice fitter who was keen, but cocky.

"It's a new opportunity. And anyway, you could have ended up with worse."

Maholm was assigned to developing the new fitters entering the Rio Preto apprentice program. Many in the company viewed this as an indictment after her performance at Wax Woods. She was no longer directing a squadron of experienced fitters in major capital projects, she was showing apprentices how to construct control boxes and cut pipe.

"Yeah OK. Anyway, what else do we need to do on this thing? It looks done to me" Said Gutierrez, eager to take a break.

"Look up there" said Maholm, as she pointed towards the newly constructed Trade headquarters, over a sea of new ore mines. "Clayton Brand is sitting in his office right now, watching over all of us. He can see us. I don't know why they accelerated this expansion, but we have to make sure this thing works properly. The engineers are coming around this afternoon to commission it. We're not breaking until we are absolutely sure it's installed correctly."

"OK, alright, Jesus Cristo.."

Days earlier...

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"Gentlemen, I'm sorry to call you in so late, but there is a problem. The geologists tell me that the drill core samples from the new mines are of lower grade than the feasibility study identified. Furthermore, we don't have any other higher grade ore to blend with it to meet our processing targets. I'm expecting a call from-"

Clayton Brand was cutoff as the phone rang.

"Hello, this is Clay-... yes, the grade is lower, about 0.75%... we don't have any other mines to bl-... I see. You want to bring Phase II forward now? ... yes, understood... OK.. would you like me to put you on speakerphone to speak to th-.. alright... ok.... ok, go-".

Brand hung up the phone. As he looked up, the meeting room, filled with the most senior geologists, mining engineers, metallurgists and construction managers of Rio Preto, looked on with concern.

"Gentlemen, I'm sorry to have to do this, but we need to start Phase II right now. The order is from the top, and you know what that means. I'll setup a strategy meet for 6 am to review the implementation plan. That gives us three hours from now. Go and get some sleep, I'll start making preparations."

The group filed out of the meeting room, as a lone metallurgist approached Brand.

"What about the coal expansion? I heard a rumour that there is coal here, and that Cole Bambert was going to be-"

"Coal is Phase II, but at the end. You'll find out soon enough."

"One more thing - don't you think it's weird that the grade changed? I mean, those surveys were tight. How could they have been so wrong?"

"I've been asking myself the same question. Get some rest. Phase II is the priority now."

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Thanks for tuning in folks, I hope you enjoy the story, it's got a ways to go yet. Here are some more pics from this time period in the region!

I'm not much of a writer, so any suggestions for improvement are welcomed!

One quick caveat - Any prejudices/idiosyncratic properties of the characters in the story (and all subsequent episodes) are intended to convey the complex characteristics that inevitably arise in societies, and do not necessarily represent my own views (i.e the characters are the way they are because of the storyline).

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Fort Simian, the new beachfront complex.

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Simian Hill by night, where the workers sleep by the mine.

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"Fitters Grove", a suburb largely populated by the technical staff of the mining operations.

Uncle_Wax

The Wax Superior Herald

July, Year 4

NEW HORIZON IN WAX SUPERIOR

Author: Moe Rackswell

Clare Bevan has secured a narrow majority after an intensely fought election campaign. The hard work hasn't ended for Bevan, however, as the first bricks are laid on the new mining camp at Simian Hill.

Incumbent Clare Bevan and her Red party began an eventful campaign with a slim lead on Rick Green's Blue party, starting with a four point lead. After a day of disciplined campaigning, in which entitlement fraud clouded members of Bevan's party, the lead was eroded to three points by the end of the second day. By mid week, the Blue party had gained a three point lead. On the morning of polling, both parties walked a tight rope of parity, potentially facing a deadlock. By the next morning, it was clear that the ruling Red party would remain. However, given their one-person majority, their mandate is unclear. In Clare Bevan's victory speech she nevertheless vowed to implement all of the policies brought forward by the Red party during the election.

Some of the more vocal supporters of Bevan spilled into the streets as they celebrated her reelection. Hu Tse's owners group building was the cite of a prominent party that spilled into the Old Town, with festivities led by William MacGregor and Hu Tse himself. "It's been such a great success, and you know, I'm confident that this will be the start of a great four years. Bevan's campaign was great!" said one drunken reveller, enjoying the free flowing whisky provided by MacGregor. "I'm just happy that about what we have to look forward to. By the end of the campaign, I couldn't stand Rick Green! That guy is so negative, all he cares about is what we shouldn't be doing, not what we should be doing! What was his plan anyway?" said another, clutching a whisky sour in one hand and a Scottish taco in the other. MacGregor himself commented, stating that "it's a great outcome for the city. Such a close result shows that the people here really care about what happens in their city. It's a sign of a healthy democracy, and if Clare can make good on her promises then I'm sure we'll have a lot to look forward to", adding later that "but ultimately being a coal producer in deficit, we need to be mindful of the global market".

For the Sizzle Towers group, however, the post election events can be more fittingly described as a hangover. Sizzle group founder and Fort Simian chief investor George Sizzle returned from St. Wax in the Old Wax region to discipline opposition treasurer Mike Baseball for what was popularly perceived as excessive doom mongering on the state of the economy. This is just speculation according to Bruce Morrison, who claims that Sizzle returned to observe a significant event in the town he helped create. "He wanted to be here for the election, in support of the good people of Fort Simian. There's nothing sinister or untoward about that" says Morrison, who claims any personal disappointment in the outcome was not systematic of a Sizzle Towers bias against the government. "We just want the best for Fort Simian and if the people believe the Red party is best, then so be it". George Sizzle could not be contacted for comment.

Strange sickness sweeps Fort Simian

Local GPs are reporting a strange illness that has beset the primarily low-density residents of Table Mount in the coal region. "Most of these people present with simple symptoms, like the flu or even just a cold, but then their behaviour becomes extremely eccentric and unpredictable within days and then they just disappear" says local GP Rascal Chamandra. Residents have been reported to abandon, or even destroy their entire homes following their diagnosis. Table Mount resident Chun Li says she has never witnessed such odd behaviour. "It's really weird, they just pack all their things and leave, and if I ask them why, they just say 'got sick'. Sometimes they burn their house to the ground, but it's always the same: 'got sick'". Chamandra claims that the existing clinic is ill equipped to deal with psychiatric illness, but hopes that "these new city titles will bring hospitals that have that capability. Otherwise it's a trip to CinderWax in Old Wax, and people here just don't have that sort of money".

The Newcomers: Rio Preto establishes presence in Wax Superior

As the new government was announced in Fort Simian, mining giant Rio Preto announced that they had advanced into Phase I of the massive mine complex in the new title of Simian Hill. Clayton Brand says that "development has been under way for several months now, but largely concealed from Fort Simian by the hill itself", further commenting that "we plan to hold a press conference and the first official meet with the government in Fort Simian very soon". The news has led some in Fort Simian to speculate that Bevan had long known about the new titles well before they were officially announced. The revelation marks the first obstacle in Bevan's new wire-thin majority government.

Rio Preto have provided the Herald with photographs of the Phase I mine, showing the mine camp and the first test shafts below.

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Simian Hill mining project - The mining camp hugs the outer limits of the site, while Fort Simian can be seen in the distance. A makeshift Rio Preto headquarters has been established in a small town hall to facilitate the management of personnel until the HQ can be constructed.

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Simian Hill mining camp, which is expected to bring many new customers to Fort Simian commercial outlets.

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Phase I mining camp, Simian Hill.

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Recent developments - An upgraded City Hall was renovated rapidly to facilitate commuter and local camp personnel on announcement.

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The first test shaft.

Uncle_Wax

The Wax Superior Herald

July, Year 4

ELECTION SPECIAL: FINAL POLICY LAUNCH

Author: Moe Rackswell

A tough week of campaigning has seen surprises within and without. With the election tomorrow, this special edition of the Herald outlines the major policy platforms of the major parties.

During the past week, tensions that had simmered in the past four years have exploded into a polarised electorate seeking to take Fort Simian in two seemingly different directions. The government has indicated a grand tourism plan for Table Mount, and an expansion of coal production to be supported by an eventual port development. The opposition, on the other hand, has proposed opening up the remaining beachside real estate for oil development and a special economic zone for the commercial centre. In the meantime, news of two city title leases in the adjacent bay area, a sex scandal engulfing the opposition leader Rick Green and rumours of entitlements abuses amongst government ministers have intensified the battle for City Hall.

Three apparently not a crowd: Simian Ridge and Simian Hill titles granted

The Herald reported on Wednesday that two settlement sites in the region had been granted development status. Simian Hill, on the opposite side of the bay, has been granted a mining lease following the discovery of large porphyry copper deposits surrounding the hill site. With copper prices at historical highs, and likely to increase still, a large outlay has been made by mining company Rio Preto to develop the site capacity within a year and a half. It is estimated that it will bring monthly windfalls of up to two million simoleons. The adjacent site of Simian Ridge is to be developed as the commercial and administrative centre of the region, servicing the needs of citizens at the mine camp in Simian Hill and the existing Fort Simian community. The development of Simian Ridge is to be financed partly by Rio Preto, who will establish a significant commercial presence in both cities.

The announcement of the two developments, independent of Fort Simian, places further pressure on the policy vision of Mayor Bevan and opposition leader Green to eke out a niche for the fledgling city. Some fear that the economic might of the new sites may relegate Fort Simian to the sidelines, as an industrial freight producer and small time coal miner. The positioning of Simian Ridge also introduces concern over the political independence of Fort Simian, with some fearing "administrative centre" to be synonymous with "regional capital". Others, however, are optimistic, claiming that the new developments will provide greater opportunities for the locals.

Sex scandal

Reports surfaced midweek of a grainy video recording that some observers are claiming depicts shadow treasurer Mike Baseball engaging in lewd acts with an unidentifiable second person. The video was filmed at Sizzle Towers on the night of a Blue party function with local business leaders on the 14th storey. The creator of the video remains unknown. Baseball has vigorously denied the allegation, claiming that "it could be anyone, doing anything" in the video. And although the public have been reluctant to officially rush to judgement, the release of the video coincided with a sharp swing against the Blue party, bringing them on equal footing with the Red party after their gains early in the week. Rick Green, opposition leader, has distanced himself from the footage, avoiding questions and ending interviews prematurely.

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Downtown Fort Simian, with Sizzle Towers in the background.

Policy unveiled

In the last day of campaigning, both parties have published a pamphlet outlining their final policy proposals.

The Red Party: "Raising the Profile"

1. Industry - The Red party plans to upskill the industrial base of the city with the creation of the Fort Simian Community College.

2. Coal mining operations to expand to 400 tonnes per day and a port facility.

3. Beachside development - remaining area to be residential/commercial zoning, no oil development.

4. Wasterwater treatment to be expanded, with the installation of a water pump adjacent, aiming to recycle up to 50% of water by next election.

5. Special development fund to be set aside to "raise the profile" of Fort Simian, including commissioning of a train station atop Table Mount, and the construction of an obelisk and leaning tower. Department of Tourism to be new government extension.

6. Plan to return budget to surplus before next election.

7. Taxation - Plan to return residential and industrial taxes to 9% following coal expansion.

The Blue Party: "Trust, Incentive, Prospect"

1. Industry - Industrial expansion to occur on Table Mount, occupying two thirds of the available land. The opposition wishes to use this policy to place Fort Simian as the key supplier of freight for the new city titles.

2. Services - Department of Safety to be established, with construction of a police precinct in addition to existing police services.

3. Commercial - Commercial tax rate to be reduced to 4%, to encourage investment in the local economy.

4. Remaining beachside real estate to be developed into special oil zone, with an adjacent port facility.

5. Cuts to education and health to bring the budget back into surplus.

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The new downtown district, prepolling day.

Uncle_Wax

The Wax Superior Herald

July, Year 4

ELECTION SPECIAL: CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF

Author: Moe Rackswell

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Fort Simian by night, July, Year 4.

Four years ago Clare Bevan led the charge for the establishment of Fort Simian as the first city on the shores of Wax Superior and was duly elected as the founding mayor. Her incumbency now faces its first real challenge.

I am standing with mayoral candidate Rick Green at the end of the rail line atop Table Mount overlooking the city as a cool summer breeze notches the temperature down to a comfortable 20oC. "You feel that, that's a wind of change" says Green as he extends his arms out over the city, as though to embrace it. "For years Clare Bevan and the Red party have abused the trust of the Simianite people, run up debt and deficit, lumbered industry with excessive taxes and failed to provide security for the city. The choice is clear in this election". Green is earnest and serious in his explanation of the state of affairs in Fort Simian, which by some accounts, is in a dire state of stagnation.

We are at an open air conference to decide the fate of the rail line that was constructed in Year 2 but has yet to see a train pass through it. The Blue party, led by Green, are here in force to protest the development of a rail link they see as unnecessary and too costly. They say that the rail link should be either left as is, or demolished altogether, citing a lack of neighbouring communities and little potential tourist interest. The Red party, seizing on rumours of the imminent granting of a city lease title immediately adjacent, and the potential for the development of a tourist department, are pushing for the establishment of a train link in preparation for the future. As usual, the question turns back to the budget, which has been in deficit for two consecutive years.

Budget woes

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State of the budget at the start of the election campaign, Year 4.

Economic management has been one of three cornerstone arguments that the Blue party has consistently used to derail confidence in the Red government. High taxes, poor trade management, and government waste have been the catchcry of the Blue party's savage attack on Bevan's governance. High taxes, particularly on the industrial sector, have been suggested as causing an imminent wipeout in freight, leading to unemployment and commercial recession. The sluggish development of the coal sector and reluctance to establish a further major trade presence in the city are cited as fuelling the demise of the industrial sector that the Blue party claims. Crime, mortality and fire damages are cited as examples of government waste that the opposition feels ought to be reined in. "This government is clearly incompetent and poisonous" is the slogan chanted by the opposition leader Rick Green and his shadow treasurer, Mike Baseball.

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Local managers say that freight demand is high.

The government claims, however, that the taxation environment is only a temporary fix to intermittently sluggish economic conditions. "It's impossible to look at all elements of the economy in isolation and get an accurate picture of what's happening", says Mayor Bevan. "The coal sector is set to grow in the coming years, delivering the growth needed to offset tax cuts further down the line". The government has constantly pressed the line that the budget deficit is balanced by mining royalties, which are not ordinarily counted as direct government revenue due to their dependence on market conditions. Swings in the royalty intake have seen revenues go as high as $50,000 a month to -$1000. They blame early sluggish growth on the bizarre behaviour of the global market delivery mechanisms.

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Vast coal reserves remain to be exploited.

Typically trade depots will send a signal to the global market carriers that they have material to export, after which the market will send trucks to pick up the material in exchange for payment at the market price. During the first year of the coal sector operating in Fort Simian, however, despite full depots, trade trucks would display errant behaviour. Days would pass without a single delivery being made, then 18 trucks a day would appear and then disappear. Revenue uncertainty arose as a result, causing Bevan to increase residential and industrial taxes to minimise the small but growing deficit, until coal exports could be better regulated. The Blue party seized on this state of affairs immediately, viciously attacking the government over perceived economic ineptitude and recklessness.

As Bevan brought the situation under control early in Year 3, regulating trade contracts and coal flows, the opposition focused it's attack on the specific government budget deficit as a function of taxation and service provision. "In reality, net revenues tripled, and the GDP actually increase five fold" says treasurer Mike Bowandarrow, adding that "the Blue party try to present the budget and economy as the same thing, but they are not", noticing that, despite increased taxes, commerce and industry had been booming in the previous year. "We've been seeing consistent growth, practically zero unemployment and satisfied freight and retail consumers on the whole. It's a smokescreen to focus on attack on a government deficit, especially when the treasury is growing!".

The government has planned to address the perceived problems with trade and taxation by commissioning two additional coal mines to subsidise tax cuts to 9% for R and I, and 8% for C. The opposition has said that it plans to develop a trade headquarters in the city, expand coal mining operations, build a port and open up the remaining coastal property for the development of the rich oil reserves contained underneath. The opposition has not provided an estimate of the cost or time to completion of the project, and the government argues that it would pollute the beach head and stymie further commercial and residential investment.

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One of a vast set of oil deposits located under the bay area of Fort Simian.

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Site of the oil deposit, looking back at the cityscape.

The opposition is also claiming that high mortality rates, poor fire response and "crime so bad that it's a state of emergency" are evidence of a government that is incapable of managing basic services. The government is claiming a small victory with a reduction in crime to only three a day from six in the previous year, claiming that increased funding post-election will see it drop to historical low levels of zero crimes per day. With two deaths a month, one building burnt down per month, and approximately 80% of school age children enrolled at the local school, the government is looking decidedly vulnerable. Treasurer Bowandarrow has promised to provide extra funding for a new police station and health clinic, in addition to an extra fire garage. The shadow utilities minister, Aaron Pyne ("Smelly Foot Aaron") rebuffed the election promise, stating "how can these clowns be trusted with public safety and services after this debacle. They have managed to get it wrong on all counts, and now they want to drive us further into deficit to make matters worse.". SFA added that "this is the worst government in the history of Fort Simian".

The battle for the hearts and minds of Simianites

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Despite policy setbacks, Mayor Bevan still enjoys high approval ratings.

The Red party has been beset by the opposition siege, seeing their preference among voters dropping to 48% in the year leading up to the election. However, although the mayor's personal approval rating has slipped four points to 88%, especially amongst commercial and high wealth residential voters, her position remains overwhelmingly positive. In contrast, Rick Green's personal approval rating has barely scratched 0.1%, a problem acknowledged by all but his party. "We are a team", says SFA, "and the public knows that when they vote for us, they get us as a united team, not a personality without a party". Still, political analysts see the unpopularity of the Blue party leader as problematic, giving the Mayor room to manoeuvre in the coming week. Jerome Lightfoot, local analyst, claims that "either the Blue party or their leader need a lobotomy, because there is nothing professional about calling the elected Mayor of our town a $%&^!. These are not the qualities people want to see in their Mayor".

Press coverage of the election will continue in the coming week.

Uncle_Wax

The Wax Superior Herald

June, Year 4

FORT SIMIAN: THE FIRST TERM

Author: Brent Seward

As the first elections of Fort Simian near, the Herald takes a look at the founding years of the city.

As the summer heat kicks in, throngs of people crowd Sizzle Beach to revel in the sun and surf on a dry 30 degree day. Groups of teenagers take photos of each other in strange poses, young adults float among the waves, and young children scoot about whilst their parents lay with their hats covering their heads for some much needed respite from the work week. Taco, churro and soft drink vendors meander through the crowds with small stands. Though they make the occasional sale, the vendors appear to be enjoying the great June weather as much as the revelers. As I shift my gaze from the vast ocean expanse to the city hovering behind, a small stage is being prepared where the sand meets the dirt. Tonight the annual music festival, dubbed Simianus, will begin the two day party to mark the end of the June showers and usher in the real summer.

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Sizzle beach.

In just two years, a mishmash of high and medium density developments have taken root in the downtown area situated behind Sizzle Beach. The past year in particular has seen the foundations of a high density commercial and residential district appear at a rapid pace, at times often outpacing the delivery of supporting resources. Water shortages in the six months to June have been frequent, with intermittent fixes provided by the construction of public water towers struggling to keep pace with urban development. The commissioning of the Fort Simian wastewater plant earlier this year has ameliorated concerns that sewage treatment was similarly ill-equipped to deal with a growing population, however, the government has received harsh criticism from the opposition that it was an unnecessary burden on the public purse that they say could have been remedied by the expansion of the existing outflow pipes. Similar concern has been voiced over the reopening of the Fort Simian wind plant, which the opposition claims is an excessive expense aimed at addressing the misguided concern of rising air pollution in the fledgling city.

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Water towers such as these have sprung up rapidly in the past year to accommodate increasing demand.

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The wind power plant, closed down in Year 2 to make way for the recently commissioned coal power plant, was reopened in Year 3 to meet unexpected growth in energy use.

Despite vociferous opposition, however, mayor Clare Bevan enjoys stratospheric approval ratings at 90%, attributed largely to the buoyant state of the economy. The commissioning of the Simian coal mining operations saw net government revenues soar, as market prices for coal hovered at almost $5,000 per tonne. Local analyst Michael Reed believes it was this coal boom that allowed the city to develop so rapidly. "The local operations came online as the market soared to all time highs, and although there were some hiccups early in the game, the supply chain eventually got up on its feet and provided a sort of trickle down effect", says Reed, who believes that the boom may soon be at an end. "There's no doubt that services in the city have benefited greatly from all the income being generated from the coal industry, however, global market gluts suggest that this won't be maintained for long, and I wouldn't be surprised if the price dropped $500/tonne or more in the coming months".

Local business owners are similarly concerned about the future of the Fort Simian economy. Sizzle Towers executive Bruce Morrison believes that over reliance on the coal mining industry and the lack of a real definable CBD in the downtown area may fail to bear fruit during mining downturns. "We've seen all this investment in residential towers, apartment buildings, flats, you name it... but we are sitting here paying 9% tax with mediocre margins on the commercial side. On top of that, we have an industrial tax system that makes freight management unreliable. I will stand here and soil myself if the coal price drops below $4,500 a tonne, because that is all it would take to really hoon local commercial interests". Morrison's investment bank and media interests have been very vocal in their concern of government deficit, in agreement with the opposition, who claim that it will eventually lead to city wide economic ruin.

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Downtown Fort Simian, June, Year 4.

Others have been more optimistic, citing potential growth from rumours of government plans to attract tourists and open up new transportation options. Hu Tse, owner of the Owners Group in the old town, claims that government policies and "top down" urban planning have resulted in an environment that is likely to be resilient to changes in industrial circumstances. The Owners Group is a commercial interest that oversees low wealth commercial interests in the old town, and is tightly linked to local industrial unions. "We have seen strong consumer confidence throughout the first term of Fort Simian, and we see no signs that this will change. Industrial taxation policies have certainly been a burden, however, it is one that we can live with" says Tse, whose group has opened an additional office building to accomodate growth at the low end of the market. "If the government's plans for a tourist hub on Table Mount go ahead, then we will be ready to provide for the commercial needs of a tourist market. We are flexible".

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Birth of a region

Fort Simian is set to reach the landmark population of 30,000 citizens as the upcoming election swings into action. This will mean the granting of funding for an additional government department, which is sure to ignite fierce debate as to the future directions the young city will take. Though the majority of the population reside in the downtown area, the old town is set to be the voter battleground, where an eclectic mix of low and middle income swinging voters reside.

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The Old Town looking out towards the ocean.

The old town was the first residential area in Fort Simian, occupied largely by Welsh, Scottish and Chinese immigrants. The street names bear out their heritage, with such names as Gwrthddatgyslltiadaeth road, Aidle Crescent and Bu Chi Dao street. Fort Simian's oldest commercial establishment, The Idle Taqueria, still operates, serving Scottish and Welsh tacos to the industrial workers that make up the large proportion of local residents. Across the main avenue the oldest industries continue to operate, including a machine shop, piping and fittings factory, and the MacGregor whisky distillery. William MacGregor, distillery owner and founder, is upbeat about the future of Fort Simian, particularly under the stewardship of Clare Bevan. "This place has had it's hiccups, that's for sure, but Clare has seen us through it. When she lowered the commercial tax rate, demand for our whisky went sky high. And believe you me, when she is re-elected and continues with the coal mine expansions, our taxes will come down too. I've got a feeling".

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View of the old town, with the downtown area of Fort Simian in the background.

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Old town, looking towards the interstate.

Rick Green, Blue party leader in the local parliament, has started his 'meet and greet' campaign today at the Idle Taqueria. Opinion polls in the old town show this is the area of least support for Green, with some puzzled as to why he chose to personally step in for the Blue party. "Our local member Shang Tsung is well liked" says local burger vendor Tom Jones, who believes the Red party under the leadership of Clare Bevan has failed to live up to the expectations of locals. "When downtown expansions go ahead, who do you think is the first to have their water cut off? When the wind plant was shutdown in Year 2, I was out of a job. My neighbours were out of work. She can't just play with us like this". Like many in the old town, Jones believes that the rumours of a Blue party policy to develop Fort Simian into a bustling trade port is the best way to ensure the economic well being of the city. "Clare Bevan goes on about small business owners here in the old town, and how low the commercial taxes are, and how they help out the businesses here, and she thinks they respond to that. But really they are not supporting her policy. They just don't want to have to compete with the new goods that will be entering our ports when the Blue party has their way".

Others in the old town feel differently, citing the proximity of services to the old town as a driving factor in their view on the city governance. The placement and management of services, however, are not without criticism. Local GPs claim that the city clinic will soon outlive its usefulness, pointing to alarming statistics showing the monthly death rate on the increase, and calling for the establishment of a department of safety and the commissioning of a hospital. Similar increases in crime and unattended fires have been seized on by the opposition as evidence that government must change.

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"Health clinic inadequate", says local GP organisation Doctors without Bordellos.

Milestone achieved

As the fourth anniversary of Fort Simian is celebrated, citizens will be pondering the two radically different views the government and opposition are putting forward for the future of the city. As we await the start of the week long campaign, we will at least have all weekend to ponder these questions over a Welsh taco and an industrial dram.

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Nouvea Riche in the latest downtown development.

The Herald will be issuing special election editions starting Monday, covering resources, economy, taxation policy, public services and regional issues.

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