Gabriel Kane walked quickly through the halls of Innovations Inc., aided by his trusted cane. Truth be told he could walk fine, but after a series of back injuries he suffered during his wilder years, Gabriel was a cautious man. Besides it gave him gravitas. In a corporation staffed with eggheads of all stripes, a black man with salt-and-pepper hair wielding a cane and a voice like maple syrup gave him just the level of respect he demanded. People got out of his way, they opened doors for him. After everything he gave to Innovations and his longtime friend Paul Van Zandt, he deserved nothing less.
At last Gabriel came to the conference room door. He entered, cane tap-tap-taping along the hardwood floor. Sitting in his usual chair, just to the right of Mr. Van Zandt, Gabriel settled in to the board meeting already in progress. “It’s time to talk about government contracts.” That was Matthew Russel, the figurative pebble in Gabriel’s shoe. Every month, every board meeting, it was the same nonsense. Government contracts was just code for selling Innovations technology to the military.
“Matthew, members of the board.” Gabriel stood as he spoke, his baritone voice stealing all attention from Mr. Russel’s saber rattling. “Innovations was founded on principles. Was it not?” He circled the conference table, touching each member warmly on the shoulder. “Principles that compel us to adhere to a higher morality. Principles that tell us that salvation may only be found in peace. Principles that cause us to rise as stewards, protecting the power of our collective minds.”
“What about the shareholders, they—“. Mr. Russel’s interjection was silenced by a loud click of the Gabriel’s cane upon the floor.
“We have served our shareholders in the ways that matter most. Dignity, innovation, altruism…these are the corner stones of our little ivory tower. Now we could sell those principles to the highest bidder, turn ourselves a tidy profit. What then? After all a field runs fallow when each and every crop is ripped from its soil. Patience is the virtue I speak of. Patience to practice our craft in the right way and with the right people. Patience to overcome what seems easy and instead push through what seems hard.”
Mr. Russel seethed, his eyes like daggers following Gabriel’s every move. The more Matthew pushed for selling out to the government, the more his relationship with Gabriel frayed. No matter, Gabriel had a job to do even if that job sometimes involved being the resident Jimminy Cricket. He had given this speech, or a variation of it, many times over the last few years. Men like Matthew Russel are exactly the sort of people that bring down even the noblest enterprise. Greed was the enemy of honor, and as long as Gabriel Kane held any sort of influence over Innovation’s direction, he would fight greed with every fiber of his being.
The rest of the meeting went as expected. Earnings reports, staffing updates, company initiatives…it was all so familiar. Innovations was at a crossroads, delving ever deeper into the fringe sciences while the government and fools like Matthew Russel made their intentions clear. Gabriel had a unique understanding of just how dangerous the research conducted at Innovations could be in the wrong hands. Even now, he was overseeing research into telepathy, quantum computing, and even transdimensional travel.
His mind has wandered long enough for the meeting to conclude. His tablet let out a series of three chimes, warning him of an upcoming appointment. “Oh yes,” he thought to himself, “I have a meeting with Dr. Bogdanovich. He’d best be ready for his presentation tomorrow.”