2 of 4 | Chapter 10

 

“Let's go to the natural sciences wing in the afternoon to see if there is anything you can find, Jeff.” Archer glanced towards his friend.

“All right. We have time. When we've picked up all of the admission requirements papers we can get together at our place and figure out what to do. You in, Jeff?” Pat asked.

“Yeah, let's do it,” he answered in a bored monotone.

Pat and Arch grinned at each other. If needed, they would bang him on the head and knock some sense into him.

“It would be cool, though, if we all went to the same university, wouldn't it?”

“I suppose so. As I said, let's do it,” Jeff changed seats to one in a higher row. Pat was right. It would be pretty bad if they got separated and could not hang out together anymore.

“Find something for yourself, Jeff. It'll be worth you pulling yourself together and getting in here,” encouraged Arch.

“Okay, okay, I get it. Don't they teach anything like team management or strategic planning?”

“Maybe you need a military school,” answered Archer.

“I don't think it'll hurt you to learn something in technical areas, like energetics. That covers lots of useful fields,” Pat added.

“Perhaps … c'mon, let's go get some information then,” said Jeff.

“Well, that's why we're here,” said Pat, smiling. She was glad that Jeff had at least joined them at this event. A quiet cough at the back suggested that they were chatting too much, but, by that time, they had finished their conversation and directed their attention towards the presentation. The professor was in the middle of a presentation about robotics and the development of automated systems, when an unexpected guest suddenly arrived. To everyone's surprise it was Steersman who stepped into the auditorium. Two robot bodyguards placed themselves by the doors while their master shook hands with the professor.

Pat, Jeff and Arch looked at each other with nervous shrugs and slid down slightly in their chairs, watching him suspiciously. Steersman turned to the audience with a quiet smile on his face. He was calm as always.

“I'm Sean Steersman and the purpose of my brief visit is to give you a short warning,” he began strongly. “Over the course of your lives, you've been brought up to be better, smarter, or faster than others in order to be winners. Your parents and teachers teach to the best of their abilities and intentions that you need to do more and do it better than anyone else to make this happen.

However, winners are not purely characterized by being merely smarter, faster, or better than others. Winners are distinguished by one thing only: by having the strongest will to achieve their goals.” He looked around the audience. His gaze lingered for a moment on the three friends, and it almost seemed as if Jeff was going to be singled out, but then he continued. “Of course, knowledge is power, information is power, money is power, and it doesn't hurt if we really are the best, the fastest or the strongest, but that is secondary. It falls far from the internal drive to achieve something. If it's not strong in you, if you do not yet know what you want, then you must develop and build an overwhelming urge to want something first, and only then can you choose the means through which this will be achieved.” He finished on that note and then shook hands with the professor and left in the same way he came.

“What the hell was that all about?!” said Archer in horror.

“Nothing! I doubt he even remembered us,” said Jeff.

“After all, we were just spying on him. I don't really think he had his heart in it,” joked Pat sarcastically.

“Yeah, right. That's why he visited us in my room, right?” Archer added. “I've been having nightmares since then.”

“It doesn't matter. He didn't make a big deal out of it,” said Jeff, dismissing it with a gesture, and no more was said about it.

By the end of the day, everyone was exhausted, but the information they had gained was worth it. Their task was clear. All three of them along with thousands of others would be getting up and going to bed with a single idea over the next two months: doing the best that they could in the entrance examinations at the PrEUST admissions office so that they could study at the world's most innovative university.

 

Alone

Karen was not the type to be easily scared, but her heart was in her mouth as she walked along the west corridor to the ‘robotics room‘. Steersman had asked her to check the testing process while he was at the opening of PrEUST. She was not thrilled at the idea as she already felt uncomfortable enough when the robot bodyguards were close to her.

Her phone rang. She shrugged.

“Karen Colella,” she answered, and it echoed along the corridor.

“Hello, Ms Colella. My name is Ruy Santos Martins. Mr Steersman asked me to make an appointment with you for tomorrow.”

“Certainly, and could you tell me your status code?”

“505.”

“Thank you. Where are you staying?”

“I have just arrived today.”

“Go to the Palace Hotel, ask for room 1002 with the code RFG and we'll send for you at 8:30 in the morning.”

“I will, thank you.”

The line went dead.

Karen took a deep breath, and as she identified herself at the second sector security gate, she began to feel a little nauseated. She really did not want to enter. The door opened slightly, the bright light that flooded from the crack blinded her briefly, allowing her to compose herself.

Then she was in.

Only the guards paid any attention to Karen's presence, nodding at her in greeting. She nodded back embarrassed, but somehow this made her feel even stranger, so much so that she left the gesture incomplete. The thing that scared her the most was being alone amongst machines that behaved so intelligently, succumbing to feelings of being overcome by the crowd.

The vibrant, light green circle of the anti-gravity ray was already glowing on the ground, waiting for her. Karen hesitantly stepped into it, like someone using an escalator for the first time.

It began to rise, but this time she enjoyed it.

Inside the vehicle, she marked out the area that had been planned for the visit on a touch screen, and the vehicle began to glide in the specified direction. She crossed the distance above the robotic aircraft engineers at lightning speed.

She had to check the assembly status of the Sumo type II vessels, the largest cargo aircraft that had been designed so far. The vessel was packed with second generation drive units that provided acceleration to the giant structures that no human could have endured.

The Sumo II, in addition to being able to carry aircraft and ground forces, was equipped with dozens of gravity radius cannons. This monster could take virtually anything from the air without destroying it. For this very purpose, a cargo collection bay had been designed into its hull, where objects that were picked up on land, sea or from the air, could be stored there.

Karen descended to the specified area of the gangway and walked towards Sumo II production area. A naked guard robot approached her with disturbing litheness.

“Ms Colella,” it said with an unearthly voice emanating from its vocal module. “We have been awaiting your arrival. I have been assigned to overseeing production in section 714.”

 

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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