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Josiah the Warrior
January 28th, 2007, 08:47 PM
Doesn't have a title yet, isn't close to being finished, doesn't relate to Redwall in any way. Just curious to see what people thought. Here goes.

Brandon Lloyd scratched his nose awkwardly. He was highly uncomfortable in his freshly laundered tuxedo and squirmed uneasily in his stiff-backed chair. These ???? dinners are killing me, he thought bitterly, what ever happened to casual sit-downs? But he knew it was a necessary evil. After all, big money research grants came from big-shot investors, and their arenas were fancy parties and suits that cost more than your average car. Brandon’s home turf was the lab. As long as he had pants and a shirt, he could don his preferred cliché standard white lab coat and dive into his work. These high-tone and fancy-to-do atmospheres sat squarely at the opposite end of the table in his books, but his turf was manicured by the wallets of the people who sit at the other end of the table, and unless he wanted to settle for astroturf, he knew he would have to put up with their ridiculous rules of etiquette. He stood up with a groan to abandon his solitary post to try and work the room.
Despite his slouching posture, five-o’clock shadow and pained expression, Brandon was an exceedingly brilliant scientist with a humble streak that was rivaled only by monks. Although his brainpower and research quality could easily allow him to operate in the upper echelons of society, his eternal state of informality and complete lack of empathy for structure not only provided an amusing contrast to his career choice, but allowed him to willingly remove himself from the strict hierarchy of high society with no feelings of remorse or inferiority. Quite the contrary, he actively despised the false civility and culture of subtle backstabbing of the upper class; he much preferred his own mix of pragmatism with a thinly veiled sardonic attitude. He knew he was characteristically flawed; intelligent but lazy, zealous but stubborn, and his emotions were aroused for only his most intimate passions; everything else was lightly weighed and almost always disregarded with a cutting remark. Yet he was not entirely cynical; almost everything he did or said was laced with his own brand of humor, for he rarely took anything at face value and had not yet encountered a situation from which no humor could be derived. For this, he was often criticized as self-absorbed and lackadaisical, but in truth he was a realist whose philosophy was best read as better to drown in the light than flounder in the dark.

Josiah the Warrior
January 28th, 2007, 08:48 PM
Of course, his unique personality made it all the more difficult for him to disguise his impatience for the functions he was all but required to attend. Brandon’s groundbreaking research into time travel was not only all but impossible to pitch but exorbitantly expensive; nothing short of a face-to-face discussion with a genuinely interested party would ever generate the kind of funds he needed. Nevertheless, not everyone found him to be unbearable, in fact, his satirical manner and jocular presence endeared him to as many as were alienated, and he generally found it to be a great asset to securing funding and garnering interest. However, he knew from a logical standpoint, and experience, that despite his misgivings in the area of false personas, he must shoulder the role of hypocrite and water down his character into something resembling plywood; firm in foundation but flexible.
As he patrolled the room, listening intently to conversations in his proximity and scanning the area for familiar faces, he snatched a glass of wine from the tray of a passing waiter; draining it in one impressive gulp and replacing the empty glass before the waiter could escape. This is getting hopeless, he thought; I might as well enjoy the free food. As he strode over to the food table, still searching haphazardly for a target with his eyes, Brandon couldn’t help but be impressed by the spread. I’ve gotta hand it to them, he thought as he piled two plates high with steak and everything else he could lay to fork, these rich folks sure do know how to eat.
Careful to avoid colliding with guests, Brandon disregarded the scandalized looks he and his food mountains were receiving and steadily made his way towards the dining area. Finding an empty table, he plopped his pair of plates in front of him and tucked in with gusto. Chewing with almost indecent enthusiasm, no one was more surprised than Brandon when a young woman tapped him on the shoulder and asked if she could join him.

Josiah the Warrior
January 28th, 2007, 08:49 PM
“Sghre,” he sputtered.
“Ah, excuse me?” said the woman with a flicker of a smile.
“Sorry,” Brandon said after a massive swallow. “I said ‘sure.’”
As the woman pulled out the chair and seated herself, Brandon could not help but notice that she was quite attractive; her shoulder length chestnut hair provided a silky curtain for her startlingly green eyes and slender face. Silently sizing her up, Brandon guessed from her conservative attire and expensive jewelry that she was a wealthy businesswoman of some sort.
“So is this the first time you’ve eaten in a few weeks or are you just planning on fasting for a while?” she asked with a facetious flash of teeth.
“Oh, no, I’m just a big fan of steak,” he replied casually, taking another large bite. “Would you like some? Actually, a better question would be do I know you?”
“No, not yet. I’m Tracy Williams,” she said, offering her hand. Brandon shook it warily as she spoke again. “And I’ve already eaten, thanks.”
“Yeah I’m Brandon. Brandon Lloyd. So, do you always go for the guys stuffing their faces in solitude or have you been having at the wine?” he asked through a mouthful of cornbread.
“No,” she said with another smile. “I’m actually here on business.”
“Big surprise,” muttered Brandon, attacking his steak with perhaps more fervor than necessary.
“You see, I’ve read all about you and your work and my company is interested in giving you a research grant.”
“Well I hope you know what you’re getting into; my ‘area of interest’ is very expensive,” said Brandon wearily; far too many times had he had a potential investor hook, line, and sinker before he had to quote a price and they didn’t so much become ‘the one that got away’ as ‘the many that ran as fast as they could in the opposite direction.’
“Yes, we know. My company is very excited about the potential of you and your work, and I think you’ll find that our finances are more than adequate.”
“Uh huh. Is that so? Who do you work for?” asked Brandon without looking up from his meal.
“I’m the CEO of Identacorp,” Tracy replied.
Brandon looked up with renewed interest, giving Tracy a sharp, calculating look. He knew Identacorp was a big defense contractor with government funding and near unlimited resources. He wondered why they would have an interest time travel, and why the CEO would contact him personally; usually he dealt with some slick-talking middleman. His common sense told him something was up; he had a feeling about this woman and he knew he would have to tread carefully, and decided to play it dumb.
“…Identacorp,” Brandon said after a pause, chewing thoughtfully on his food. “Don’t you guys work for the government? I’ve already talked with the Feds and they aren’t interested in funding my research. In fact some of them want to make sure it never reaches fruition…”
“We have a government contract, true enough, but we are an independent business with our own agenda; we don’t allow our clients, no matter how influential they might be, or their interests or lack thereof to dictate our own policies and pursuits,” she said in a manner that suggested to Brandon that this was a question she fielded often.

Josiah the Warrior
January 28th, 2007, 08:50 PM
“Well that’s nice and all, but what’s the CEO doing visiting me personally, and especially at a party like this. I mean it’s fancy and all but don’t you have people you pay to come to events like this?” asked Brandon, diving into the heart of his concerns.
“You’re actually quite hard to reach, you know,” she said, with that increasingly familiar smile. “You never answer your phone and your lab assistants always tell me you’re busy, and you don’t seem to listen to your messages, either. I heard through the grapevine that you’d be attending this party and I knew we needed to talk face to face, not through an assistant. That being said, you’re notorious for backing out of these things and I was worried you wouldn’t show, but here you are, as advertised.”
“Well my work requires a lot of concentration, so I never really answer my cell,” replied Brandon after he put down his fork, ticking off points with his fingers. “I usually forget about my answering machine so I have to rely on my assistants to relay the messages. I think I’m going to fire a few of them,” he said as an afterthought. Brandon laughed at the horrified expression on the face of his dinner companion and replied as tactfully as his character allowed, “don’t worry, I probably won’t give them the boot. They’re all just like me, you know; forgetful, non-committal…ok so none of them are that brilliant or handsome but you can’t have everything. I probably need some more diversity on my team… But that being said, how did your company hear about my work, I mean why me?”
“We are currently looking to expand our product line, and time travel just happens to be on the new agenda. It’s common knowledge that you’re the leading expert in that field, so logically we tracked you down. As I said, we are very interested in your research.”
“I see,” said Brandon through a bite of steak sandwich. “Let’s just cut to the chase,” he said with an enormous swallow and wiping his mouth mock-daintily with a napkin. Locking his fingers under his chin, Brandon stared shrewdly at Tracy for a moment before asking. “What is it that you want from me?”
“Well like I said, my company is very interested in the potential of your work. I also know you and your company are in dire need of financial assistance, and I want to offer you a deal.”
“Yeah, well, we always need money…. But a deal?” asked Brandon. “What kind of deal?”
“Well Identacorp is willing to offer you a very generous package in exchange for a few things,” she replied somewhat evasively.
“I see,” said Brandon suspiciously. “Things meaning…?”
“Well obviously before we make any sort of long-term investment we want access to your research and we would like to see your findings,” replied Tracy.
“Yeah, ok what else?”
“Assuming your research is valid and appears, in our eyes, to be fruitful, we would be willing to offer you a $5 billion per year grant in exchange for full partnership privileges including but not limited to an exclusive contract and equal share in profits. We would also, of course, want to exclusively oversee all work after the first payment is received,” she said, sounding relieved that Brandon had not fought over research viewing privileges.
“Not interested,” said Brandon quickly, with the air of one trying to get the worst over with.
“Excuse me?” said Tracy incredulously.

Josiah the Warrior
January 28th, 2007, 08:51 PM
Brandon inwardly winced. He had had a hard enough time preventing his jaw from smacking the table when she had quoted the grant figure. The risky nature of his work, combined with lack of competitive research, and, as an unfortunate side effect of that, a deficit of solid evidence supporting his work, had scared away more potential investors than he cared to count. The staggering sum that Identacorp was prepared to pay him, however, far from giving him the urge to dote his signature upon everything that moved, set off klaxon alarms in his head loud enough to give him a migraine. Clearly, like Brandon, Identacorp had not only an unshakable belief in this technology, but a fervent desire to see it come into existence. Despite the apparent benefit of this confidence in his research, Brandon knew that in this case it was proving to be a disadvantage; Identacorp was thinking far enough into the future (ironically enough) to ask for absolute supplier privilege and advanced profit sharing. Although perhaps Brandon alone knew the true potential of time travel and its marketability, Identacorp clearly had a shrewd estimate and wanted a piece of history’s biggest proverbial pie. Then, of course, there was the omnipresent warning bell that sounded in Brandon’s head every time there was a risk that his research could be stolen; he had worked hard his whole academic life to ensure his idea’s remained his own. Wishing he had some more alcoholic fortitude, Brandon heaved the most enormous sigh of his career (an admirable feat) and turned back to the affronted Tracy with a pained expression on his face.
“No. No deal. I’m sorry, I have to go.”
“But-” she began to no avail; Brandon had swiftly risen from his chair, and, abandoning all pretenses, virtually sprinted to the men’s room. As he instinctively (and unnecessarily) ducked his head to shield his 6’1” 180 lb. frame from the low threshold, he chose to disregard the nagging realization of how unimaginably immature it was to hide from a girl in the men’s room.
Placing both hands firmly on either side of the middle sink, Brandon looked at his reflection and firmly said “That was the right thing to do, there will be others.” But would there? Did he do the right thing? Questions of all types raced through Brandon’s head as he began to second guess himself. “I should have negotiated,” he muttered to himself, unconsciously pushing his light brown hair to the side. “A grant that size…I can never tell the team about this…”
Then, through the haze of half-questions and snide, self-doubting comments his sub-conscious was making, his bread and butter scientific thinking kicked into gear. You can still negotiate with her, his reasonable side said in his ear; interest of the $5 billion variety doesn’t fade over poor table manners and an awkward exit!
True, retorted his snide side sarcastically, but when they’re throwing out chunks of change that big, do you really think they are going to let you compromise and take control? No. They’ll point to the 10 figures they’re shelling out every time you have an objection until they own it all and you have nothing left! Don’t be a moron! ...difficult as that may be for you…
Hey, watch it! shouted his reasonable voice angrily. Better this than acting, he considered that at one point, you know! Acting, dear God…
“Shut up!” yelled the real Dr. Lloyd to his collective bickering subconscious.
“…Oh my God,” said Brandon to the mirror, “I’m crazy…”
The surprised man washing his hands in the sink next to Brandon glanced at him in a manner that certainly confirmed this theory, and the man’s obtrusive rush to exit the bathroom did nothing to dissuade the young scientist of this notion. As Brandon left the bathroom, shaking his head rather vigorously, as if to rid it of the two conflicting voices within, a more familiar, less crazy voice pierced his psychotic trifecta of career councilors.
“Finally out, are you?” asked Tracy with that recurring grin. “I was beginning to worry that one of those eight or nine steaks you bolted down was undercooked.”
“No, just, you know…stuff,” replied Brandon inadequately.

Josiah the Warrior
January 28th, 2007, 08:52 PM
“Ah, I see,” she said, still smiling. “Look, I know this offer might have been sprung on you, but if you just accompany me to Identacorp’s headquarters I’m sure we can accommodate you.”
“Uh-huh,” said Brandon unenthusiastically. “Listen, lady, I know you and your company must have your hearts set on buying me out…I mean $5 billion…jeez…but it’s a bit more complicated than invading my bank account with an army of Benjamin’s. What you people don’t seem to understand is that time travel, a real time machine, is the very fiber of my life’s work, and anything less than complete control is completely unacceptable to me, and no amount of money, however excruciatingly large it might be, is going to change that. Okay?”
“Mr. Lloyd,” Tracy began with a new, businesslike air. “Don’t think for a second that we aren’t prepared to compromise. Identacorp wants to see your work completed more than you can understand at this point, and we did not draw up this deal without breathing room. Now please, be reasonable, come to our headquarters and let’s work this out until we can find a deal that serves everyone’s best interests.”
Brandon allowed space for a very pregnant pause, during which he did some very quick thinking. He knew that this could end badly if he wasn’t careful; stepping into Tracy Williams’ lair, however nice and cushy it may appear, was a gamble with his life’s work. Then again, it was laughable to think that the man trying to invent a time machine was unwilling to take a few chances now and again. He would have to be vigilant and resolute; just like they told everyone in high school health class; no means no.
“Alrighty, Miss Williams, I suppose I can take a trip to your headquarters.”
She looked at him curiously for a moment before replying “very well, Brandon, I can call you Brandon right? Your-”
“Yeah you can call me whatever; how am I getting to this place? I doubt it’s in town?” he said, cutting her off. “And I’m not paying for anything,” said his instinctive cheapness rather rudely. Wow, he paused, thinking to himself, it must really speak to my character that I am heckling her over a couple hundred dollars worth of traveling costs when I’m about to receive a multi billion dollar contract…
“I was just getting to that,” said Tracy rather coldly. “One of our people will drop off an airline ticket, hotel reservation and company expense credit card at your hotel room tomorrow around 1 pm. Your flight departs the airport at 4:15; don’t miss it.”
“Wow you people were so arrogant that you actually booked me a flight and got me a hotel? Man just for that I oughta say no…this is a nice hotel right? And first class on the plane?”
“Yes, you’ll fly first class and stay at a 5-star hotel,” she said, rolling her eyes at his immaturity.
“I saw that,” Brandon muttered, noting her eye flick.
“What was that?”
“Never mind…Well I’m gonna split. See you soon I guess,” said Brandon, standing up and stretching.
“It was a pleasure meeting you,” said Tracy, holding out her hand. “I look forward to our negotiations.”
Brandon shook her hand casually and turned to leave, pulling out his cell phone as he went. Brandon kept his head down as he dialed; bypassing the coat room and heading straight for the exit. He put the silver mobile up to his ear while it rang, hailing a taxi cab with his free arm.

Josiah the Warrior
January 28th, 2007, 08:54 PM
“You have reached the voice mailbox of Jesse Lewis, plea-”
“??????! No not you,” said Brandon quickly to the affronted looking taxi driver as he climbed into the vehicle. “Berlitz Hotel, please.”
“Hey, Jesse, it’s me,” whispered Brandon into the cell. “Listen I don’t want to say too much over the phone but someone bit. And they bit big; we have a huge payday coming if we play this right. Just give me a call as soon as you get this. Later.”
Brandon put the phone into his pocket and looked up in time to notice the taxi driver staring at him interestedly in the rear view mirror before hastily looking away. More to cover the awkward silence than anything, the cab driver spoke, “So you’re from out of town, eh? Where you from?”
Brandon eyed him beadily for a moment before replying, “Yeah I’m from Maine, and yes, I’m here on business, and yes, my work is interesting, but no, I will not be going into great detail, and yes, I say ‘chowdah’ instead of chowder,” said Brandon in anticipation of any further conversation, deciding to get all the small talk out of the way in one at-bat. The driver, however, did not seem to be thinking this far in advance and merely stared at his charge as if he had never seen anything quite like him before, which, Brandon reminded himself, was likely to be true, even if the man did not know it.
Brandon leaned against the door, staring moodily out of the window, which, he dispassionately noted, was fairly disgusting; all covered in sweaty hand prints and finger marks. A young man who looked like he might be a university student flew past on the sidewalk outside, throwing Brandon into a common retrospective mood. In high school he was fairly normal. Fairly because no one is really quite normal, and his uniquely aggravating personality did not make him an outcast but certainly did not place him in the average category. Despite his inert brilliance, Brandon was thought by many to be quite mediocre in terms of intelligence due to his lackluster academic attitude, and it therefore came as a great surprise to his peers when he was accepted into MIT on a full academic scholarship. However, it came as no surprise when he gloated this fact rather obscenely; literally waving the acceptance letter in doubters’ faces. College hadn’t been much different; those who knew him best took him with a large dose of salt, and those who didn’t abhorred his sarcastic arrogance, writing off his brilliance as purely scholastic. Brandon’s professors, however, had a better bead on him than most, and were understandably aggravated at what they perceived was a waste of talent. In truth Brandon had been bored with higher education, but saw degrees as a necessary evil, having already begun work on his lifelong thesis; time travel. In fact, his senior thesis paper was so advanced that when his professor convinced him to publish it in Scientific America he was besieged by armies of greedy corporations tripping over each other to throw money at him. Between the fame, the fortune, and the incredible pressure to perform and produce results, Brandon burned out early, and after a few years of hopping mercenary-like from company to company, he managed to escape with a bit of living money, a shattered reputation, and a small but loyal team of, well, people weird enough to like him.
He had friends, mostly his team, but a few kindhearted souls he had met along the way who were too polite or too patient to treat someone as annoying and sardonic as himself with anything other than disdain. One of these people was Anthony Collins. Anthony was Brandon’s only real friend in high school, and was the one person who truly understood him. Although they had parted ways after graduation-Brandon to MIT, Anthony to Columbia’s illustrious writing program-they emailed every so often and made it a priority to visit in person at least once per year. Come to think of it, thought Brandon, I ought to call him soon, it’s been awhi-
“Hey, buddy, we’re here,” said the cab driver, jerking Brandon out of his reverie.
“Oh yeah, sweet, how much? Wait, never mind,” he said, pulling a crumpled $50 out of his pocket and handing it to the stunned driver. When the driver continue to stare, open-mouthed, Brandon rolled his eyes and spoke again. “I gotta big payday coming, so share the love, right?”
“This isn’t…you know…drug money or anything, is it?” asked the no longer mute driver.
“You have a nice day too sir,” waved Brandon sarcastically as he exited the cab for the hotel entrance.
As he walked through the revolving hotel door, Brandon looked at the clock above the front desk to his right, surprised to see that it was only 10:30; usually he was out much later than this. Grabbing a complementary copy of the New York Times from the lobby’s coffee station, Brandon immersed himself in it as he called the elevator.