CBMM EXHIBITION HALL, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, U.S.A.
“… I believe that in the years to come, these young and eager faces staring at me would be the pioneers and inventors of ground breaking technology. When I look at you all, I see future department heads at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), supervisors at the Camp Kennedy Space Centre, USA, and many other private and governmental hi-tech development institutions. I have an advice I would like you to go take with you anywhere you go! Focus on doing what you know how to do best and tune it to perfection; right there that’s the dirty little secret of success,” the students chuckled and there is a murmuring in the hall,
“It might interest you to know that the major aim of this annual expo is not just all about winning and competing for prizes, but it also focuses on helping you learn how to develop team spirit. The moment you begin to understand that you can’t always do it all, that two heads are better than one; then you’re well on your way to success.
Finally, I want to appreciate all the professors, lecturers, you the brilliant students and all who have made this event a successful one. Keep in mind my prize to the winning team or student with the best innovation. An all-expense paid trip to the Machine Intelligence Laboratory, Florida, the Museum of Science & History, an LG OLED TV and $5000; all these and more courtesy of G.S. Tech Corporation. I wish you all a successful exhibition. Thank you. Let the games begin.”
Derek Oscar’s speech was met with rounds of applause and catcalls from around the hall.
The Exhibition hall of the ‘Centre for Brains, Minds and Machines’ (CBMM) is a state-of-the- art and first class expo theatre, equipped with the latest gadgets the IT world could offer, it was acclaimed the best in the United States alone. It was donated to the College by G.S. Tech Corp., a Dubai based IT corporations in partnership with IBM and Hewlett Packard (HP) IT companies. Each of the corporation had their representatives to judge the event and they had already presented their welcome speeches. Derek Oscar, the Chief Supervising Officer of G.S. Tech had spoken last.
The exhibition hall is exquisitely designed and had a metallic ambiance. The interior wall was lined with plasma TV’s that gave live feeds of the happenings on the stage. It featured a high class IT laboratory underground and e-library. The roof is made of prismatic glasses which dreamily reflected the sun’s rays round the hall. It had an average capacity of 500 and each individual had a workspace with an inlaid PC. Various teams clustered around their own article of exhibition at their different workspaces.
Derek’s Blackberry had been vibrating in his pocket just as he was about to end his speech. He had decided to ignore it then. Now, he stuck his hand in his pocket to pull it out as he walked down the spiral staircase of the stage.
A female attendant putting on a phony smile walked up to help him down.
“The event has now officially begun. We begin with Team Arboreta,” a male voice said on the PA system.
The lady led Derek to the first workspace.
He scanned through the messages on his Blackberry as he is walking. The message was from his Amara. It reads that he should call her immediately he got the message; that it was urgent.
He excused himself and walked out through a side door.
“Hello, Amara. I just got your text. Are you alright?” he spoke into the phone as soon as he was outside.
She heaved a sigh of relief, “thank God they’ve not come for her yet. I need your help, Derek. I just got an intel from the CTAN.”
“Are you still working with the CTAN? I thought you quit a long time ago? And What info are you talking about?” he asked, a worried look crossing his face.
“It’s a long story. Are you in MIT?”
“Yeah, I just gave my speech and we are just about to begin the expo proper.”
“Great, there’s a girl right there; I’ll send her picture. She goes by the name Imogen Akinjide.”
“What about her?”
“You have to get her and get the hell out of that place.”
“Slow your roll Amy. I’m in the middle of an important event, spearheaded by three giant corporations, one of which I happen to represent and you know that, and you just expect me to grab a girl and get the hell out of that place?”
“You don’t get it, Derek. She’s not some girl.”
“So who the hell is she? And why do you want me to run off with this kid?”
“I’ll explain everything later, but that girl is the President’s kid.”
“What President?” he asked.
“Nigeria’s President and he’s in a pretty tight condition right now. Haven’t you seen the news?”
“You are kidding right? I mean someone like that probably has undercover security operatives looking out for her. They should have carted her away if there was trouble. Stop worrying yourself, Amarachi!” he called her by her full name whenever he wanted to say something really serious and Amara heaved a sigh, she knew that he was getting pissed off.
“The agents that should be doing that are currently not responding; they’ve probably been knocked out or, worse still, dead. It’s a clear indication that whoever that is behind this whole thing may just be coming for her. Please, Derek, I know this stuff is important to you. But both your lives are more important for God’s sake okay?”
“Alright, I’ll see what I can do,” he said and ends the call.
Just then he hears the distant whirl of helicopter blades and he scanned the sky. The chopper is a speck on the distant horizon and his adrenaline kicked in. He rushes back through the rotating security doors, another official from IBM is already doing the rounds. He excused himself and scanned the expansive hall, looking for a face that would match the picture on his phone. At last, he spotted the ebony complexioned girl chatting excitedly with some other girls in a corner of the hall. He strode to where the girls clustered. Some of them spots him and whispers to the others.
“Hi, professor!” they chorused.
“Hello girls, how’s it going? it seems you’re through with your presentation.”
“Yeah!” some of them said.
“I could almost smell the winner right here.” At this, they were thrilled.
“Is it me Mr. Derek?” some of the girls asked.
“Well I’m just gonna kill the fun if I say who its gon be. Sorry for interrupting, but I’ll like to meet with Ms. Imogen. Imogen Akinjide, are you here?” he asked scanning their faces.
The melanin complexioned girl stepped out. She had a miniature drone on her left hand. The others exchanged curious glances among themselves.
“Are you the one?”
“Yeah,” she said, still a bit confused.
“Just a moment, please,” he said and she follows him outside.
“Am I in trouble?” she asked the moment they stepped outside.
“Not exactly. Follow me.”
“Where are you taking me to?”
“I’ll explain very soon. Your father sent me, you might be in danger.”
“You know my father?” she asked trailing behind him as they headed for the e-library.
“Yeah, I know who your father is. But right now I just need you to trust me, okay?”
“Um okay,” she nods slowly.
She was one of his secret admirers and there was this air around him that made him easily likable; she didn’t mind following him anywhere.
Derek Oscar knew the structures within the exhibition center like the back of his palms. He had helped design the blue print for the multi-million dollar building, and he even had a digital copy of the blueprint in his Smartphone.
Just as they were walking across the lawn that led to the IT library and museum, they heard the first round of shots.
“Get down!” he ordered her and he banged on the door. In no time, the museum curator, an old man peeked out and opened the plexus-glass door of the library and they hurriedly got in and he locked the door.