Samantha "Sammie" Brayden was an author, speaker, entrepreneur, polemicist, public intellectual, and right royal pain in the arse. Her legs were found one cold November night in the quadrangle of Gambrel College. The rest of her has yet to be accounted for. The identity of her killer remains unknown, as does the motive that brought her back to Aldergate in the first place.
Early years Edit
Sammie was born in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Misgendered, miseducated, and misunderstood, Sammie's strange road through life led everywhere but back home. Her unique combination of analytical genius and utterly indomitable temperament was recognized by the Office of Invitations, and she joined MacNaughton College at the age of sixteen.
Life at Aldergate Edit
Sammie was seventeen years into her lover’s quarrel with the world when she met the great Adrian Ward in Dr. Kilbury's Sunday morning seminar. She'd been seeing Neek on-and-off for a few months at that point, and Neek had formed a sort of pair-bond-of-complementary-competences with Baz. It became a semi-regular occurrence for these four bright young sparks to find some spot or other and spend an hour or three or seven discussing deep and meaningful things.
These little discussions inevitably escalate into knock-down, drag-out rhetorical brawls: AW and SB as principal combatants, Baz refereeing, Neek playing peacekeeper when necessary. Good times, and tremendously interesting; you can't say you really understand an idea until you've seen it torn to pieces and patched together again by such a mixed assortment of brains.
Anyhow, the four pals held these little brawls wherever seemed best at the time - floating lazily in a punt on the Mingle, in a backroom booth at the Purple Monkey, behind that one little waterfall in the Bateslaw Social Fountain, anywhere. One fine summer's day the Pent was the venue of choice, the prickly shade beneath the Scholar's Tree. The tree turned out to have an Alastair in it, and four became five, and five became BOwfAX.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was a good idea. Still is.
If things hadn't turned out as they did, we'd be living in a very different world now. But they did, and we're not, and Alastair died one night when the team's shared flat in Hobson Mews caught fire.
That was it for BOWfAX. Sammie went back to MacNaughton, but only for a few weeks. Then she struck out on her own, and the rest is history.
Fame and fortune Edit
Sammie didn't waste much time making a name for herself. Before Adrian Ward filled his first column inch in the Business section, Sam Brayden had made a splash just about everywhere else: mostly Opinion and Education, sometimes Travel, occasionally Style. Once she even made the front page – below the fold, but still the big A1.
Good headline, too. She probably wrote it for them:
“BIG BROTHER IS LEARNING: THE EVOLVING SCIENCE OF SOCIAL OPPRESSION”
By some combination of hook and crook, Sammie had gotten herself into and then out of some of the vilest spots on this great planet - and she had bagged interviews with dozens of thought leaders in such diverse fields as electronic surveillance, memetic engineering, counterinsurgency, and a whole suite of “motivational interviewing techniques.” From Pyongyang to Tehran to Havana to Caracas to Yangon she had made a rigorous study of how a small number of highly skilled individuals are applying emerging technologies to the ticklish task of making everybody else to do things they’d much rather not.
That first book of hers, “Reich 4.0,” got her a spot on the Bestseller list and two rather poorly-executed assassination attempts. Also that uncomfortable appearance on The Tonight Show. Then it was all lawsuits and Congressional testimony and even a brief stretch of actual tabloid popularity. More adventures, more outrages, more books. An indictment for a brazen currency manipulation scheme that resulted in the resignation of two heads of state, the conviction of a dozen financiers, and a new book for Sammie. "Kill Your Money."
She'll never know how close it came to getting her bumped off ahead of schedule.
Anyhow, on her merry way she went. Her last work, "The Banshee Generation," was something of a departure from her usual fare - more subdued, more projectional, oddly detached. It stoked controversy in new quarters. A piece in The Atlantic quipped that, for the first time, Samantha Brayden was more welcome in Vatican City than in Silicon Valley; L'Osservatore Romano promptly rejected this notion, but the fact remains that Sammie had expanded her radius of offense.
Then she fell off the grid for a while. At any rate, Adrian Ward didn't hear from or about her for a couple of years. Then she popped up back at Aldergate. Then, someone killed her.
Death and murder investigation Edit
Sammie's legs were discovered in Last Quad in Gambrel College one cold November night. Who put them there - and what they did with the rest of her - are questions in urgent need of answers. It's not hard to imagine somebody (or even several somebodies) wanting her dead, but "to want" and "to get" are two very different infinitives.
Anyhow, the murder may not be the real mystery. What was Sammie really up to?