Author's Note: This story is the fourth in my series Alternating Universes, containing Sea Change, Through the Looking Glass (the original, not the Redux), and Rhapsody and Fugue in Who Major. New readers are strongly urged to begin at the beginning. Thank you.
Alternating Universes, Part Four:
An alien invasion threatens the Earth of Pete's World, as young women are kidnapped -
including Corin and Rose's daughter Donna! Can they solve the riddle and find her in time?
Prologue: Corporate Sharks
Rose Tyler Gallifrey paused in front of the massive double doors and took a deep, steadying breath, then turned to the newly-minted twenty-five-year-old beside her and smiled. "Ready?"
He grinned back, so much a younger version of his late father that her breath caught in her throat, as always. God, how I miss him. "I've been ready," he replied. The grin got even wider as he gave her their family's longtime catch-phrase: "Allons-y?"
"Allons-y!" she laughed back past the reflexive pang, and together they pushed open the doors and strode into the plush walnut-and-chrome board room of Pete Tyler Industries, ready to take on the world.
She walked purposefully to the head of the long table, where the chair had been pulled back, waiting, while her companion stopped halfway from the door and stood quietly with his hands clasped behind his back, parade rest; ostensibly watching Rose but surreptitiously surveying the room out of the corners of his eyes
Rose ignored the black leather seat and stood to address the gathered board members, flicking on the recorders. "Good morning, all. I won't waste time with speeches today. Ladies and gentlemen, there's a motion on the table. All in favor?"
Her eyes swept around the table as a chorus of "Aye's" came back to her. Even Simmons voted yes. The snake.
"Thank you. Then as of this moment, in accordance with the terms of my father's will, and with the unanimous consent of this Board of Directors, I hereby relinquish the Board Chairmanship in favor of my brother, Tony Tyler."
She stepped back to the far side of the chair, and Tony snapped out of his deceptively casual stance and marched up to take her place. Ignoring the chair as she had, he rested his fingertips on the polished wood table with the subtlest hint of possessiveness, while his eyes did an open circuit, meeting each board member's eyes for a brief, assessing moment before moving on. More than one of them were holding their breath, waiting.
Tony took a deep, relaxed breath, reveling in this moment that he'd waited so long and worked so hard for, then he let it out and smiled at the assemblage – a hint of tiger showing its fangs. "Thank you, ladies and gentleman. I appreciate your votes of confidence. My father worked incredibly hard to rebuild this company back out of the ashes of Lumic's disaster, and he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. It now falls on my shoulders to keep his dream alive, to guide and steer PTI on a steady course, keeping it on the leading edge of communications technology. And make no mistake, I intend to to exactly that.
"To begin with, it should come as no surprise to any of you that I am making a number of changes right off the bat – beginning right here in this room." He paused, judging reactions. Nobody moved – they were all of them far too experienced in the corporate jungle for such transparency.
Tony smiled again. "Mr. Simmons." All eyes snapped to the man in the middle of the table on Tony's right.
Simmons kept tight rein on his expression, schooling it into what he hoped was pleasant willingness, with a hint of humble surprise. Now it comes, he thought. I'm finally going to get the Vice Chairmanship I deserve. God how I despise that woman, that nobody. How Pete could have saddled us with her, I'll never understand. His daughter. As if. He didn't allow his eyes to flicker over at Rose, but kept them on the young man he'd been studiously, quietly mentoring over the past year.
Tony could almost see the thoughts behind the old man's forehead. He let the silence draw out just long enough, then let his smile go feral. Simmons had about one microsecond warning.
There was dead silence in the room, as twenty-eight people stayed absolutely still.
Simmons blinked. "I beg your pardon?"
"Get out. Go. You're fired. You are no longer a member of this board. Adios."
Simmons forced himself to close his gaping mouth, and rose to his feet to use his six-feet-four to its usual advantage. "What..."
That's as far as he got. "You fought against my sister every step of the way, ever since the day Dad died. You tried your best to sabotage her, and damn near tore the board and the company apart to do it. Do you really think I'm going to keep a snake like you on my board? Not for one second. Out!"
So that's how the wind blows, is it? Don't think I'm going without a fight, you young pup. "You can't fire me from the board. I'm a major stockholder. It takes –"
Tony cut him off. "Not any more. One: you don't own the stock; your company does. Two: as of about twenty minutes ago, just after the stock market opened, you no longer own your company. It was taken over – hostilely, I might add – by George's Dragon Enterprises. You really should have answered your pages." He smiled again, all tiger now. "Oh, did I forget to mention? I'm George's Dragon. SimTech now belongs to me." He paused to let that sink in, then waved a nonchalant hand. "Oh, don't worry, you can have it back, for a very simple – and non-negotiable – price: every share of PTI stock SimTech holds." He paused again, then dropped the smile and went in for the kill. "Either way, you are off this board, as of right now.
Now Get. Out. Of my. Boardroom."
Simmons stared down the table for another long moment, then glanced around, looking for support. He found none. Finally, he pushed back his chair and walked stiffly out of the room.
No-one spoke or moved yet, absorbing what had just happened, wondering what else was to come. Then, from the other side of the table, movement: Simmons' crony, Thompson, simply pushed back his chair and stood, nodded curtly to the new Chairman, acknowledging the young man's victory, and walked out behind the other man without saying a word.
Rose, who had stood by silently, unmoving, during the byplay, let out her breath in a long, silent sigh of relief. She'd been a bit more worried about Thompson than Simmons, truth to tell: they hadn't been able to manage the same coup on him; he was far too diversified. She was grateful that the snake's buddy had decided to toss in the towel with grace and dignity – he could have made things ugly. As it was now, Tony had the room he needed to maneuver.
Tony glanced around at Rose. A signal passed, and they both relaxed. As she stepped around the table to Thompson's vacated seat (she wasn't about to take Simmons'), he moved with her, pulling the chair out and seating her without a word. No one remaining at the table missed the symbolism of the act, nor had they missed that of her previous position at his shoulder: Pete Tyler's offspring stuck together. Period.
Tony returned to the head of the table and finally sat in his father's chair, then spread his hands out to either side on the polished wood. He gave the Board an open, challenging smile.
"Now, then. Into the future. Shall we get started?"