1 of 4 | Chapter 10

They know we are here

 

Nearly two hundred and fifty thousand young people wishing to take the entrance exams, and the nearly one thousand members of the professorial faculty were all present at the PrEUST open day, which was promising to be one of the most pleasant days of the year.

Opening speeches by Professor Kazuma Hashimoto and Sean Steersman contained no surprises and were both solemn and polite, but essentially, it was already common knowledge that whoever successfully completed their studies at PrEUST would have no further problems for the rest of their life. The university, for its part, was prepared to do everything to make the students succeed and expected the same in return. The entrance requirements, however, were not negligible.

These words of encouragement to the young candidates were to make them want to know exactly how to comply with the conditions of entry and how to get into the institution at all. Most student guides were also setting lavish honey traps that—for a young scientist—meant paradise on Earth. Essentially, if they had the mental capacity and fulfilled the schools specific requirements, then nothing—during their studies—would cause them problems: the students were to be provided with everything.

There were two basic, extra curricular expectations placed on students: they had to choose a sport and some kind of art form in which they were expected to also perform outstandingly by the end of each semester. These requirements were set in order to concentrate the activity of different parts of their brains. It was explained to students that a candidate may be exceptionally brilliant in his or her field of endeavor, but if the individual was not capable of humility and self sacrifice for the sake of the team, and was unable to cooperate with others, then that individual was just as useless as if they were completely unskilled. While science teaches patience, sport teaches perseverance and the arts teach a sense of beauty and creativity. These were all considered and absolute necessity at PrEUST.

There was no lack of enthusiasm. In the park, groups of students wandered from one stand to the next, each trying to find out more about their own area of aspiration, and at the same time familiarizing themselves with the facilities and technology that was available at the institute.

One of the groups was lead by Steersman and Hashimoto, together with many other ASEC and PrEUST directors.

“Mr Steersman!” someone called out unexpectedly. The person was dressed in a white coat, as if he had just stepped straight out of a laboratory. With surprisingly wide shoulders and glasses—though he was rather short—he seemed more of a sportsman than anyone else around them. Steersman looked at him.

“My name is Ruy Santos Martins. I'm a senior astrophysicist at the Brazilian state observatory. My understanding is that you will be teaching astrophysics at this university as well.”

“Yes, that's right. How can I help you?” asked Steersman.

“Perhaps you may be interested in what I have to tell you,” answered Martins. “In private, though, if I may,” he added carefully.

“Okay, then. Come with me,” agreed Steersman and moved away from the crowd. Surprised, the scientist had to step quickly to keep up with Steersman's much longer stride.

“What would you like to discuss Mr Martins?” he said briskly.

“I would like to offer myself and my team's work to the ASEC,” said Mr Martins, without any hesitation.

Steersman looked at him again, and his eyebrows drew together in an involuntary frown. “Why? What has happened at your own place of work?”

“The state has withdrawn funding, but, as a matter of fact, we've never been appreciated for our efforts. The results were mostly handed over to European or American institutions for analysis, to places where experts enjoy greater recognition, and the scientific infrastructure is also much stronger.”

“And what is it that you do exactly?”

“We are searching for signs of intelligent life on the basis of cosmic radiation anomalies,” answered Martins.

“I see. Has your research been successful?”

Martins paused and looked around, then leaning closer, he murmured, “I believe so.”

Steersman stopped suddenly and turned to face him, but was prevented from speaking by a swarm of students-to-be gathering not far from them. Some of the students greeted them and thanked him for the invitation, but others wanted to have their photos taken with the great founder.

“Please, call Karen Collela and book an appointment. Tell her that the case number is 505,” Steersman said quickly to the scientist just before the students manage to whisk him away.

“Thank you, Mr Steersman, I'll be in touch!” Martins shouted after him, but he was not sure Steersman had heard him as he disappeared into the noisy crowds, so the scientist melted away into the trees until his white coat was no longer visible.

Oliver Trenerry stepped over to Steersman, his face inscrutable. His words always demonstrated that he never missed any details and had an incredibly quick mind.

“Who was that?” he asked Steersman.

“A Brazilian astrophysics research director.”

“Astrophysics?” he repeated. ”Should Murinko's team check him out?”

“Yes. Get all the information you can about him by the morning. And watch over him until then,” Steersman replied.

*

Mr Hashimoto's greatest virtue was the fact that he had always been accessible as a university director. Besides the fact that most of the time he stayed on site at his institution—as he loved to deal with things up-close, he could always be found to discuss whatever problems anyone had and he was always in direct contact with university staff and students alike.

Even now, he was visiting lecture theaters and dropping in on public information lectures that were being held by the deans of each faculty. His appearance was welcomed everywhere, and he was happy to foster enthusiasm in young people urging them to do their best and succeed in the entrance exams.

He also made a point of saying that whoever completed a PrEUST degree would be untouchable in their professionals, and for the best of the best, there was a direct road into the ASEC. Having said what he had to say, he hurried on to the next engagement in his InCar, the vehicle that was provided for his on-site use.

Of course, most young people had a serious dilemma in choosing which faculty to apply for, narrowing their choices down from much larger circles of interest.

“I dunno … I really feel like this isn't for me,” said Jeff flatly, in one of the lecture halls where special areas of mathematical sciences were being presented. He leaned casually back on the back of a comfortably designed chair.

Pat and Arch looked at each other having already expected Jeff to say something like that.

“I'm getting more into decoding, programming, those kinda things,” said Pat.

“You want to study cryptology, for real?” asked Jeff.

“I haven't decided yet, but there is a good chance.”

 

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CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY
CHAPTER 4 | ATTACK
CHAPTER 5 | THE SOURCE
CHAPTER 6 | THE SCIENCE CENTER
CHAPTER 7 | UNIVERSITY CITY
CHAPTER 8 | GLIDECRAFT
CHAPTER 9 | SECTOR TWO
CHAPTER 11 | GRAVITOR
CHAPTER 12 | INSTALLATION
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH