ASH: "Wall Street Angels" one-shot

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Sun Apr 20 15:40:31 PDT 2008

     Cover shows four men with handsome if slightly androgynous features
seated around a conference table.  They're looking at a map on the table,
with flames starting to lick at the edges.  Outside the window, flames can
also be seen.

    //||  //^^\\  ||   ||   .|.   COHERENT COMICS UNINCORPORATED PRESENTS
   // ||  \\      ||   ||  --X---------------------------------------------
  //======================= '|`        AN ASH UNIVERSE ONE-SHOT
 //   ||      \\  ||   ||                "Wall Street Angels"
//    ||  \\__//  ||   ||          Copyright 2008 by Dave Van Domelen

[July 6, 1998 - Manhattan, New York]

     "So, this is it," Mike addressed the others in the immaculate and
tastefully appointed conference room.  "Today's the big day, at least as far
as Remy's market analysis has been able to determine.  Our competitors are
going to make their big play, for the whole ball of wax."
     "I wish we'd been able to do more to protect our investors," Sam
sighed.  "Even the ones who lost faith in our stock and started to diversify,
or even divested entirely."
     "Our Founder cherishes the entire market, Sam," Mike reminded him.
"Even the ones who make poor investment choices.  It's what a free market is
all about, being able to choose where you pur your investments.  Even if
they're short term players doomed to crash and burn."
     Remy shrugged.  "I don't think any of us really like not being able to
save the whole economy, as it were.  The market crash is coming today,
though, when all our competitors hit their profit-taking points.  I think
I've pinpointed who'll start the feeding frenzy, but it really doesn't
matter.  Once the market calls start coming in, it's not going to stop until
it reaches truly apocalyptic levels.  I suppose the Founder could prevent
this all, but there's that committment to the free market again.  He's
letting us do what's within our power to help buffer the effects, but I think
we're all in agreement otherwise.  He wouldn't want to turn this into a
command economy."
     "He knows the score," Mike shrugged.  "He'll step in if there's no other
way to stop the slide, I suppose, but none of us really know the mind of our
Founder.  He works in mysterious ways, but that's been the core of our
company's success over the years."
     "How're things in the Asian subsidiaries, Gabe?" Sam piped up, trying to
change the subject.  None of the board members really liked thinking about
how little real direction they got from the Boss...sometimes it was only on
pure faith that they could even say there WAS a Boss.
     Gabe sighed.  "The good news is, we have some really enthusiastic
investors in the Middle East and Indonesia, mostly small investors, but those
are really our base."
     "Right," Mike nodded.  "We're not really about the big flashy single
investors, we're in the business of collecting together the smallest of
offerings and channelling them into good projects.  But you don't seem
     "Well, it's the way in which the investors are being kept in line," Gabe
explained.  "The local managers don't really seem to get the company
philosophy, they're totally off-message a lot of the time, and only give lip
service to some of our core values.  That's just asking for trouble down the
     "What, did they seem to be thinking of leading some sort of stockholder
rebellion and trying to spin off into a separate company?" Sam asked.
     "I don't think so," Gabe shook his head.  "Oh, they totally sucked up to
me when I went to visit, claimed they'd never even considered going over to
the competition.  And there were even a few true believers in the mix.  But
most of 'em are just like any other guy given a little taste of power.  They
want more, and don't really care how they get it.  I wouldn't be surprised if
some of them put a little of their own capital down on the competition."
     "Well, that'll at least deal with those guys," Mike frowned.  "But when
they get what's coming to 'em today, that might leave the investors shaken."
     "I think there's enough still on the side of the angels to hold it
together," Gabe smirked.  "And most of the common investors in the various
Islamic nations are a lot more confident than *we* are in the Boss's plans." 
     "Yeah, ignorance can be bliss," Sam chuckled darkly.  "They think we
must know the Founder's mind, seeing as we're the Board of Directors.  But
we're just as in the dark as they are, only we don't have anyone above us
other than the Boss who we can figure knows the score.  The buck stops here,
only we don't know what's in the deck any more than they do."
     "Don't go poisoning the well on me now, Sam," Mike chided.  "We've all
been headhunted by the competition, we all know there's other places we could
work where things are clearer.  But we've stuck with the firm because we
really believe in our work, and in our Founder.  We may be in the dark, true,
but we have faith that there's a light out there somewhere, and someday we'll
bring it to everyone.  Even if we have to do it one start-up at a time."
     "Assuming the coming crash doesn't take down the entire economy, that
is," Remy tapped the screen of his laptop.  "I've got some reports of a
couple of white knights who stand a good chance of buying us some breathing
room, but since we're not allowed to take any obvious actions in this
case..." he fixed Mike with a piercing stare.
     "I know, I know," Mike sighed.  "But, face it, none of us are really
very good at that kind of direct action.  The competition has a long history
of dirty tricks and rewriting the books to get the numbers to line up how
they want, and we don't.  In fact, if you ever needed proof that the
Founder's looking out for us, it's the fact we haven't been ground to dust by
now.  We kinda suck at playing dirty.  Lucy was our best, and she got sucked
into a trap play that got our own investors thinking she was practically the
root of all evil!"
     "I really wish we hadn't had to kick her off the board in the wake of
that," Gabe looked wistful.  "But yeah, the PR bomb was way too effective.
If we hadn't thrown her to the wolves, it might have sunk us with the
investors.  The damage control on that one was brutal."
     "Lucy never really took her eyes off the prize, though," Mike noted.
"She threw herself on that grenade with gusto, and managed to drag down
several of our competitors with her, make everyone think they were her
cronies.  Someday, maybe, we'll be able to do right by her."
     "So, where do we stand right now?" Sam asked.  "Any other competitors
knocked out of the race at the last minute, or is it still mainly the big
five and their hangers-on?"
     Remy consulted his laptop.  "The Japanese seem to have held to their
pretty static position.  I doubt they'll be the ones to set off the crash,
and they may even hold off on profit-taking long enough to sink 'em.  They
were never really whole-heartedly involved in the current market frenzy,
though.  The Hong Kong bloodletting has left a couple of factions badly
mauled, and our own PR moves over the years helped set up at least some of
those greedy bastards for a fall.  Pretty much everything where it
was last week.  My projections are pointing at *massive* consumer backlash if
there's an economy left when this is all done, though.  Not that I think
their standoffish attitude will help the Japanese once word gets out.  If
anything, our lack of direct actions will help us a lot if there's a market
to rebuild.  We should emerge from this without any of the major fecal
hurricane splattering on us."
     "And the odds there will BE a market tomorrow?" Mike asked.
     Remy shrugged.  "You know me, all doom and gloom and visions of the
apocalypse.  My head says we're toast.  Our competitors may not have a
hundred percent capitalization, but they've got a big enough chunk of the
market to take it all down with them when they hit the tipping point.  My
heart?  I still believe, regardless of what the numbers are telling me.  The
Boss is a lot smarter than all of us put together.  He wouldn't sit around
doing nothing if a fatal crash was inevitable.  He may be willing to let us
fail, but not this big.  Not this way.  Not without some final revelations to
the investors.  He's been too quiet for this to truly be the end."
     "Maybe I'm just being blind here," Sam countered, "but isn't that
exactly how it would end?  For all even *we* know, the Boss may have moved on
to other projects, just left us to fend for ourselves.  And the only reason
the competition hasn't crushed us is that they don't think we're enough of a
threat to focus on yet...they're just busy dealing with each other.  We may
have a lot of capital, but they know we're not going to go flexing our muscle
on any direct actions.  After all, if we haven't been all about the bread and
circuses so far, when it's clearly in vogue, we're not going to start now,
are we?" 
     "Look, Sam, I know there's been some bad blood between us," Mike
sighed.  "Rumors that you'd gone over to the other team, that sort of thing.
But trust me when I say that's not the case.  And, hey, don't forget about
old Eli.  He has a lot of the Founder's proxies, and if things were going
that badly, you know Eli would make an appearance.  Anyone even heard word
one from him lately?  No?  Well, there you have it.  I'm with Remy on this.
My head may say we're roundly screwed, but my heart tells me that however bad
this is, we'll weather it.  Even the flood came with a rainbow at the end,
     "Well, the market will weather it," Remy frowned, scrutinizing a message
that had popped up on his laptop.  "I think we're going to have to hand
things off to the local managers and get out of the game ourselves."
     Mike, Gabe and Sam all replied in unison.  "What?"
     "I've been collecting more info on those white knights I mentioned.  It
looks like their plan is going to require a massive restructuring of the
market, booting ALL the big investors out," Remy noted.  "Good and bad, but
you'll have to admit that bad outweighs good by a pretty wide margin when you
get to our lofty heights."
     There was a long silence at the conference table.  "Clever," Mike
finally said.  "Crude, possibly damning in the long run, but it solves the
problem without having to get any of us power players to go along," he noted,
reading the notes over Remy's shoulder.  "Democratic in a way, when the dust
settles.  Back to the little guy, and ONLY the little guy.  But a penny
market is better than no market at all.  And we won't be locked out forever,
eh?  We've always been about the long view, and at least this will give us a
long view to look forward to."
     "Is there time to make a few calls?" Gabe asked.  "I've become rather
fond of a few of our startup managers, I'd like to at least say goodbye, even
if it'd be unethical to warn them what's coming."
     Remy's laptop beeped three times, harshly.
     "I'm afraid not, guys," Remy shook his head sadly.  "I suppose I should
take some cold comfort in being right in my projection on the most likely
suspect.  Old man Odin's just started profit-taking.  The crash is hitting
NOW.  Our white knights have set their Hail Mary play in motion, I figure
we've got only a minute or two before the markets close.  Maybe forever."
     "Then all we can do now is pray," Mike said to the assembled board.  "At
least we're pretty good at *that* by now...."


Author's Notes:

     In case you didn't figure it out along the way, the speakers in this
story are literal angels...Purebloods who decided they weren't themselves
gods, but rather servants of a higher God.  I've alluded to the concept a few
times in the past, and stated that there was no overt Godmarket participation
by representatives of God/Allah/Yahweh, but I never said He had no one on the
field save for mortals.  :)
     Here's a key to the players - 

     CEO Mike - Archangel Michael
     CIO Remy - Eremiel, angel of apocalyptic visions
     COO Gabe - Archangel Gabriel
     CFO Sam - Samael, the poison of God, the blind one
     Former COO Lucy - Lucifer
     "Old Eli" - Elijah the Prophet

     For what it's worth, I'm not a believer in any God or gods myself.  And,
fictionally speaking, I don't think it's a good idea to come right out and
establish for sure one way or another if God exists in the setting...I'm an
atheist of the "no belief in God" sense, not of the "belief in no God" sense,
so I'm not going to rule it out.  But at the same time I'm not going to
advocate His existence either.  
     So, angels are out there, but they're no more certain of His existence
than any mortal.  As below, so is necessary, but it may also be

     Finally, in case you're unfamiliar with the term, a "Wall Street Angel"
is someone who uses their own money to fund start-ups.  The guys in this
story are more correctly "venture capitalists" who invest other people's
money.  But then I wouldn't have a clever pun for a title if I stuck to
proper definitions, eh?


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