The following is a work of fiction. Here is the Table of Contents, which is updated as new chapters are written.
It is the third in a series of sci-fi novels of the type known as alternate history. What's different is that this series takes place in our time, with characters familiar in your real life.
The first book in the series, The Chinese Century, was written late 2004. Its table of contents is here. The second, The American Diaspora, was written in 2005. The table of contents for that book is here.
He was an enigma wrapped in a Savile Row suit. He very carefully arranged his coat around the back of his chair on arriving each morning, spending the day in bespoke shirts and suspenders with stylish, single-color ties of red, blue or green. He was redolent of what the young people called "product," and Cheney also knew he obtained those products in some of the town's most elegant, expensive shops.
Regardless of where he came from, or what his story was, even what his real name might be, al-Saud brought in he business. He was a "rainmaker." He ran accounts for several princes, and major institutions from the Kingdom, all of which he'd brought to the firm himself.
Cheney fingered the papers on his desk, listing al-Saud's accounts. It was all very mysterious. And on the screen to his left were a list of some of the trades he had initiated, some of them even more mysterious. Purchases of oil futures timed close to Al Qaeda attacks. Sales of the same futures just a few days later. Similar in-and-out trades on dollar-euro spreads.
And he was always right. Some speculators bet events, and some even had good batting averages. But no one batted 1.000.
Except Ibrahim al-Saud.
The sound of wind outside startled him. Super Cyclonic Storm Gonu, a pretty glorified name for a minor hurricane, was lashing the coast. The Sheikh had told him about how the desert bloomed after a rain. Cheney wondered how he might get a tour of that.
Which gave him an idea.
He levered himself up and, knowing it would cause a scene, left his office and walked onto the trading floor, his right hand grasping a small cane the Sheikh had sent to his apartment a few days before. He felt the eyes turning toward him as he walked, grunting in response. When he reached al-Saud's desk he stood behind him, motionless, until the younger man got off the phone.
Cheney smiled as al-Saud rose. "You're doing a great job, Abe, and I wanted you to know that."
"Thank you, sir." For the first time since his arrival on the floor, Cheney noticed, al-Saud looked a bit nervous.
Cheney smiled wider, and felt the muscles around his mouth straining. "Let's have some tea," he said. He saw al-Saud's hand move toward his coat, and placed his own hand on it. Then he moved his hand up, toward al-Saud's back, and motioned forward with the cane.
The DCM offices now occupied two floors. The trading floor also housed a western-style dining room, while the office floor below held a cafeteia with a Halal menu supervised by a local imam. (Cheney joked to Lynne it was the "kosher" floor.) It was mid-morning, waiters at one corner table were folding napkins for the lunch service. They sprang to attention as the boss entered. The room's maitre'd pulled on his own jacket as he came in from the kitchen, now folding his hands over one another in his most obsequious manner.
"Just give us a pot of tea in that corner table there, Manny" Cheney said, pointing his cane and smiling at the maitre'd which only seemed to make the little Filipino man even more nervous.
After they sat down they faced one another for the first time. Again, Cheney smiled. Finally, al-Saud returned the smile.
"I know how important honor is in this part of the world, Abe. I wanted to honor you for the fine work you have done since you joined the firm."
"Thank you, Mr. Vice President."
"No longer. Mr. Cheney is fine. Dick is even better."
"Thank you, uh, Dick."
"You will get it with practice." The younger man nodded. "I have had a look at your file. I wanted you to know that we here at DCM care about one thing and one thing only, results.
"Capital is a result. Trading volume is a result. Profits to the firm are a result. Results are all that matter, and it's important we let the world of capital know that. Where our players come from is not an issue. Where their money comes from is not an issue. The only issue is that they follow our rules and make their trades here."
Cheney looked up from hooded eyes, wanting to see if he'd gotten through. He saw al-Saud relax visibly. Just at that moment the tea arrived, an English service with two china cups.
Cheney poured. "Now there is one thing more," he said. "When you have these hot tips, I happen to have a little personal account." He pulled a card from inside his jacket. "I'd appreciate a little taste. Small trades, of course. But you've got the touch, kid. And I'd like to stand behind you."
He raised his cup to the younger man. "You'll go far at DCM, Abe. Stick with me and you'll go far."