Isaac Rutherford sat down behind his office desk and sighed. As the current CEO of Energy Innovations & Solutions, Inc., he was tired and worn. More than fifty years spent striving to accomplish a lifelong goal would do that to a man. Isaac knew big things were on the horizon for his research company, and for that he was excited. But he also knew that far too many things could still derail his life’s work. Taking a deep breath, he calmly stared out his window and reminisced about the day fifty years ago that changed the course of his life….
Sitting on a metal chair behind the podium from which he would soon be speaking, a much younger and far more energetic Isaac watched as a bead of nervous sweat fell to the floor and dissipated into the carpet. Given his fear of public speaking, he wished he could disappear just as easily. He knew the significance of the day’s events topped anything he’d ever been involved with, and he was terrified by the prospect.
A thin man of short stature, Isaac Rutherford had a head of sandy-blonde hair that was already showing signs of thinning, a pointed nose, gawky arms and legs, and a white lab coat that was nearly worn through. Despite his awkward appearance, Isaac was one of the most capable scientific minds around. That was why, only eight years prior to that day, the CEO of EIS, Inc. at the time chose him to lead the team that would end up with arguably the world’s most important discovery to date.
As a thirty-two-year-old chemistry prodigy, Isaac had spent his entire career on a project that would be presented, in part, to the world that day. It was amazing to him how, over the course of eight short years, he and his team had come across a scientific breakthrough that had the potential to change the face of the planet forever. Although exciting, the possible ramifications of the discovery—wars, shifts in economic dominance, governmental conspiracies—were also intensely frightening. Questions about what the future might hold never left his mind.
But now was not the time for his head to be clouded in doubt.
Before Isaac could worry any longer, Dr. Thomas Goodall, the current CEO of EIS, Inc., stepped up to the podium. He looked around the room and smiled broadly. Staring eagerly back at him were hundreds of scientists, members of academia, and media representatives. There was no turning back now.
Thomas roared into the microphone. “To our esteemed colleagues, I say welcome! We are gathered together today to learn about a breakthrough in the scientific community that has the potential to change the world in ways unimaginable.”
A few audience members clapped politely.
Thomas smiled broadly. “We at EIS, Incorporated are thrilled to present today on our company’s recent breakthrough. I would like to begin by introducing the exceptional team of scientists seated behind me that have been involved in this project since day one. Behind and to my right is the project manager and team leader, Dr. Isaac Rutherford, PhD Chemistry.”
More applause left Isaac somewhat red-faced.
“To my left are Dr. Samson and Dr. Thomas, both extraordinary chemists in their own right.”
Both men stood to be recognized. Then came three of the world’s top physicists: Dr. Gonzales, Dr. Young, and Dr. Chang. Isaac Rutherford’s nerves were now completely shot. It was time to take deep, relaxing breaths before he got called up to—
“But of course,” the CEO gestured for Isaac to approach, “I am not the expert on today’s presentation. I’d like to invite Dr. Rutherford to present in my stead.”
During the welcoming applause, Isaac stood and dabbed his brow. After the applause died down, he steadied himself on the podium, looked around, and began his talk.
“Good afternoon,” he said nervously. “I can’t put into words how excited I am to be given the chance to speak to you all today. You’ve been invited here to bear witness to a discovery that will, quite literally, change the face of the planet one day.”
Excited murmurs passed through the audience like a wave.
“Although I am forbidden for security reasons from going into full detail about our findings, let me assure you that the impact of this new technology will be felt in every sector of, and by every individual on, our future planet.”
More murmurs. Isaac had hooked the crowd.
“My team and I have attempted to achieve what many believe is unachievable. Although numerous researchers from around the world have unsuccessfully attempted to accomplish what our company has been working on, we at EIS, Incorporated are proud to lay stake to the claim that we are the first…and the only…research facility to achieve what was once deemed impossible. We have found a way to harness and exploit one of the greatest power sources in the entire universe.”
Hands from audience members shot up. Isaac held up his hand.
“Before we take any questions, I would like to explain what this company’s plans are moving forward. Laboratory tests suggest that our breakthrough will one day lead to new technologies that we can’t yet begin to fathom. Unfortunately, at this point in time, the world’s infrastructure is simply not yet ready to support the commercialization of our innovation. EIS has therefore elected to safely lock up our discovery for the next five decades. This will give our scientists adequate time to develop a plan to implement our discovery throughout the world only after the planet is ready to receive it.”
People in the auditorium shifted in their seats. Isaac knew he had reached a crucial part of his presentation; he could easily lose his momentum.
“Let me assure you that our reasoning behind this difficult decision is quite sound. Since it will take decades to properly design, develop, and build the necessary technologies to support our discovery, that will be our company’s new focus. Doing so will adequately prepare the world for a massive transition to come. In the meantime, we feel it is appropriate to share with the world today that a monumental discovery has been made. Our hope is that, in making today’s announcement, we can all begin to prepare for the changes that are to come.”
Was that dissention in the room Isaac was picking up on? It was time to wrap up his talk and turn the podium back over to Dr. Goodall. Isaac explained that EIS had a plan in place to determine who would be chosen to inherit the company and its top-secret idea decades down the road. The candidate would have to be able to successfully oversee the implementation of the breakthrough into the real world. To determine who was truly capable of taking on such a responsibility, EIS would put potential candidates through a series of tests.
“The tests combine to make up a quest that will challenge even the brightest minds on the planet. Specifically, this quest will measure a person’s knowledge of the natural sciences, his or her ability to work cooperatively with others, his or her mental cognition, and most importantly, his or her innovative problem-solving skills.”
The crowd’s restlessness grew. Isaac continued, explaining that although the true nature of the tests had yet to be determined, they would not be easily completed. Should a candidate successfully complete the quest, one very important item would be made clear: that individual will have earned the right to lead the company, and the world, into a whole new era of science and technology.
It was now getting difficult to hold off the wave of questions. Isaac pressed on, knowing that his talk would soon wrap up. He announced that, should the future potential candidate succeed with the quest, he or she would inherit both the company and its top secret idea. However, should the candidate fail, the secret would remain sealed until the rightful heir appeared.
“In other words,” Isaac said above the growing whispers, “only the best and the brightest will be selected to take our world into a whole new era. To that person, I say good luck; you will need it. I will now hand the podium back to Dr. Goodall to take questions. Good day.”
Isaac walked back to his seat and sat down. He exhaled. As lead scientist for the company that had discovered a potentially world-changing idea, he felt triumphant. It was now up to the CEO to handle the barrage of questions.
What Isaac didn’t know at the time was that, as questions from scientists, media representatives, and members of academia rained down, the world’s youngest oil entrepreneur, Charles Douglas Bronson, was also in attendance. Throughout the presentation, Charles vowed that he would devote his life to preventing the release of this supposed breakthrough at all costs.