The Outsider

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 5 : Why She Is There

The Dean stood at the door and looked at her. He had been briefed by his staff and had also got news of the ‘incident’ at Gate 3. So, he was not surprised at her looks. He then looked at Luke Jones, standing beside Dusk and his eyes widened. However, being a seasoned administrator, he quickly got his facial expression under control.

“Mr. Jones, I did not know you are acquainted with Ms. Hale! Is she under your protection?”

Dusk blushed hearing the question and her face turned pink. But Luke was pretty cool and gave a cursory wave.

“No Dean, not yet. I just happened to see her at the gate, being bullied by some students. But instead of helping her, I had the military strip search her as if she was a criminal. In an effort to rectify my error, I brought her to the office and offered to wait till her admission was over. Maybe she will forgive me and be a friend.” he replied.

The Dean gave a short laugh. He knew it was an exaggeration. He had already been informed of what actually happened at Gate 3. But seeing Luke Jones being nice and friendly to her, he became cautious. He would need to keep an eye on her and ensure no one bullies her.

“Dusk Hale is a special student, a full scholarship student from the rural Arcadia Province. She has done her under-graduation study using the remote learning network set up under your Grandfather’s orders.” the Dean said.

“Ah,” Dusk thought to herself, “So, the Dean knows who Luke’s Grand-Father is … And obviously he is powerful. He executed the emperor’s order for setting up the remote-study system across the nation. Luke was just being … modest or may be trying to play with me.”

“She has studied Tech, specially VR technology, under professors from the Royal Cybera College in Regis. Her contribution to the project there has been outstanding. She is the creator behind HRT Feedback Engine …”

“HRT? You mean Heppative Reactive-Touch?? She made it?” Luke sounded incredulous. He knew of HRT. It was in the process of changing the course of VR Training Software. He had been using some HRT derivatives in the new training simulation modules he was making for the Military. He looked at her with a new measure of respect in his eyes.

The Dean continued, “The Secretary of Education Ministry evaluated the module. An expert team studied the codes she had submitted at each stage, including iteration, correction and algorithm design. It was confirmed that most of it was done by her, with little help from her colleagues and only cursory guidance from her Professor. The Secretary ordered us to admit her as a student at Uni-Viva. The order was signed by His Highness, Lord Grant. She was above the 90th percentile, so she qualified anyway.”

Dusk heard the Dean’s words but could not comprehend. None of this made sense. She wrote some code for Professor Handa’s Project, she did not make an engine. What is HRT? Why was this Luke looking at her like that? What was the Dean talking of? She appeared for the exam, she passed it. Why would that be required if the so-called Minister ordered her admission?

Luke looked interested. “So, since HRT is so good and popular, she would be getting massive royalty payment!”

Dusk looked at him even more surprised than before. What royalty payment?

The Dean shook his head. “No, she did not stake a claim to the patent. She does not own HRT, the Regis Cybera College does. The professor probably did not tell her that she could file a claim. On top of that, she was an unpaid intern.”

Luke’s face turned red. “And why didn’t the Secretary ask her to claim it? This is a violation of the Emperor’s Ordinances and our Directive Principals too! You cant take ignorant, unaware studens for a ride! That college could be closed over this! Now that she is your student, how do you plan to take care of it?”

Dusk’s head was going from right to left and left to right like watching a Ping-Pong Game. Each time one of the two men in the room said another outrageous thing, she turned to look at him. Once at the Dean on her right, then at Luke on her left. Things were going too fast.

“Unfortunately, Ms. Hale has signed a student waiver form, giving away her rights over the product. No student bothers with it as they need the project experience for getting jobs… Besides, the project consists of a lot of things apart from the feedback engine. Even with an Imperial intervention, it would be a long fight, open in court, picked up by all the news organisations, the blogs, all those wishing to embarrass the government.” The Dean continued trying to calm down the visibly angry Luke Jones.

“But Mr. Jones, after the Minister intervened, the College agreed that it was unethical, to the extent of not guiding Ms. Hale on her rights. The rest they say is market practice. They have given up rights to the engine, which is now with the Imperial Government. If they use it for other products, they will pay royalty. Within 5 years, Ms. Hale can buy it at the decided valuation. If she does not do so, the Imperial Government will sell it.”

“Bah! The country cannot wait for 5 years to enhance the technology. The scheme is typical of straight-jacketed bureaucracy! I will have to speak to dad about this!”

“No, No! The code is now in ’Open-View” collaboration archives. Anyone can work to enhance the engine. But they will need to license it from the Imperial Government, the license fees being added to Royalty Computation that will be shared between the College and Ms. Hale. The only loss to Ms. Hale would be for someone to study it but come up with a completely different solution which completely eclipses her design.” The Dean quickly explained the solution prepared by the Ministry.

“Yeah sure! And who will decide the value?” Luke asked sarcastically.

“Imperial Auditor General from Regis.”

Luke nodded. He wondered if this confused (and cute) but vulnerable girl realised how valuable her work is and that it would probably ensure a good life ahead of her. Ha! The license fees it collects in 4 years till she completes her college will allow her to buy it. Or the royalty accumulating would be enough for her to sit all her life on a beach in the Zole Province.

No wonder the Minister ordered her to study at Uni-Viva. Her mind was definitely valuable to the country. He needed to congratulate Lord Grant. He looked at Dusk’s confused and uncomprehensive face and realised that she did not understand anything that had happened. He sighed and turned to her.

“Dusk, things are not what they seem to be. For Uni-Viva, you are not just an ordinary student for Rural Arcadia. Your previous work has solved some very complex problems making you a valuable resource. The project you worked on a year ago resulted in a new VR engine, a significant part of the success of the engine came for an algorithm you wrote and very successfully implemented.

“The government intends to nurture your exceptional talent, so they gave you a scholarship to study here. True, money from product you made is not yours as you signed off you rights, but some compensation will come to you as it sells more and more different solutions. In future, if you make another improved version of that VR engine, you can probably sell that and make money. The conditions surrounding it are complex, to be studied another day.

“But forget what you did, the Imperial Government wants to ensure that your talents and skills are not wasted. They are to be nurtured and pointed in the right direction, so that you can become better and better and be an asset for the country. Congratulations.” Luke said with a slight bow.

“I did not know of this till the Dean told me now… Only thing I would warn you of, is to avoid arrogance on your success. Keep this thing a secret as far as possible. I think you will have more problem if people know your background. Just work harder than before so you can do better. Enjoy your success while staying anonymous if possible.” Luke said with a smile.

“And now, I will leave and the Dean to complete your admission process, I will have to return to my classes … Dean, could you write a note for my delay? Professor Hasa, Economic Decision-Making class, Business Management, First Year … Please …”

The Dean nodded. He knew that as a “Starred Student” he would not need note for being late. He had no idea why Luke Jones was pretending before this girl. However, he proceeded to send a quick message to concerned professor, put it into a token and transfer it to Luke. Luke thanked him, winked and waved at Dusk, and walked out of the room quickly.

The Dean heaved a sigh of relief. He asked Dusk to follow him to his room to discuss the admission, class schedule, her stay, training and internship planned for her.

“Well Ms Hale, you seem to have made a powerful friend on your first day here. He seems to be fiercely protective …” He said with a smile as they walked down the corridor, past the admission desk. “Ms. Cralx, please have the assigned student guidance councillor in my room immediately. If you do not have much to do, please join us also so we do not need to brief you separately.”

As she walked behind the Dean, Dusk thought about what the two of them had discussed in the lounge. Did she actually make such an important product? Was her algorithm so unique? Surely, she, a common undergrad student cannot be a ‘genius’. Such miraculous things happened only in holovision plays not in real life.

She understood enough of the realities too. The product was good and would make money, but she was not entitled to it. She HAD signed off all rights when she was accepted as a part of the development team. She had agreed to anything they wrote, first because she had no choice, second because she was desperate for actual work experience and third, because she never thought it was going to be ground-breaking achievement.

But now it seemed, someone powerful was backing her up, for whatever reason. Someone really powerful. She was also sure, Luke was an important person either in the Military or the University, how much ever he pretended otherwise. She understood his suggestion of keeping a low profile. He did the same himself.

So, why was she there at the university? The really there? Was she there to make a better version of her college project? Make her future? Make her nation better? Well, someone in the Imperial Government thought her work was worth investing a few hundred-thousand dollars. Someone thought perhaps, she can contribute to the future of the nation. And so she would!

For the first time, it seemed to her that her dream of breaking away from her rural roots is likely to come through.

She smiled as she entered the Dean’s Office.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.