Chapter 1-2

Sitting quietly by herself on the steps of CIT Central Hall, Freda had her notes on her laps and laptop at her side.

Being in her second year of Electronic Engineering, she was determined to do her best and graduate with top honours. Despite already being well in that region in terms of academic results, she still wasn’t satisfied.

This was partly because she was only in second place for her current cohort. Normally, it’s not surprising for a student in second place to at best maintain that position. However, she found it particularly displeasing that the one in first place was far from what people would find.

In terms of paths travelled, both of them have skipped grades at an abnormal rate, while maintaining respectable physical fitness, and in fact, already have gotten their first degree. In human terms, we would consider these people as geniuses, and in fact, find it weird if they haven’t already made significant contributions to the world.

To them however, finding a way to regenerate body parts or an artificial intelligence (AI) that accurately predicts most natural disasters a month before wasn’t enough. They were still young, and had much more time to do even more. Perhaps this was why they chose to go into an additional area of expertise rather than restrict themselves to one and going straight for a post-doctorate.

Regardless of achievements, society would often realise that while these people are geniuses, they would also have quite a number of abnormalities.

For Freda, she found that despite her excellence in studies and creation of that fore-mentioned AI, her ability to socialise was practically non-existent. At the previous gala dinner she attended, she had manage to seclude herself right after her one paragraph speech in front of some of the world’s most famous scientists and politicians.

Ever since then, her sponsoring company, technology giant Orange, decided that no matter what event, she would be represented by one of the company’s spokesperson.

This is also one of the reason why she was determined to take the place of top student.

While she had her obvious flaws, the one in first place seemed to have little problems with socialising; be it a quiet course-mate or a street-side ruffian. This ability to socialise was accompanied by that fact he had achieved the exact same things she has and was better than her even in grades.

While her peers perceived her to be well behaved rather than an introvert, she just wanted to be more sociable. Unfortunately, both luck and courage did not work hand in hand at all, resulting in conversations ending just as she tried join in or her not daring to try at all. Hence, she was frustrated to find such a similar existence in such close proximity that easily outshines her.

“This is due to the significant increase in the world’s “Super Competent” in the past few years”, she thought as she attempted to rid her mind of irrelevant thoughts to concentrate on studying.

It was right at this moment, just as she looked up to stretch her neck, that she saw the number one casually walking across the huge field in front of the Central Hall.

Having gone on his routine trip to the library, Alex was on his way to the Student Services Centre to see if his custom orders had arrived at the general store there.

Thinking back, he was wondering if he had teased Claire a bit too much back then, but decided it was good training for her and that whatever hate she might have for him from now on was not something worth regretting.

As he walked, he glanced around to get a better understanding of his current surroundings.

There was a good number of students laying out a large canvas, probably as part of the weekly zombie apocalypse survivor game that students coordinated amongst themselves, at one end of the open field that was the front lawn of the university.

On the other half was a mixed group of guys and girls playing Frisbee with a pump-action water-gun theme included for additional excitement. He has never quite figured out how they played the game but recognised a few of his course mates there.

“Must make it a point to join them in future and experience the game first-hand…” he thought as his eyes glanced over to the top of Central Hall.

As expected, there was a huge model of Uncle Sam’s head along with the flag of America on it instead of the usual dome with a needle sticking out on top.

Over here, it was perfectly normal for students to pull ridiculously extravagant pranks, so long as they didn’t hurt anyone and wasn’t too obscene. Then again, whatever the exact rules were was a thing CIT’s management and board of directors would decide and seemed to be more of a case by case basis.

Then again, one of the reasons for his lack of surprise was the fact that he was one of the many collaborators who worked on it and helped with getting it up overnight.

In fact, a group of tourists had just alighted from their bus and was pointing at the impressive but ridiculous piece of work atop the building, with some of them posing for a picture and others photographing it as a memory of this unique structure.

“Well, some time tomorrow, the photography society will be taking a picture of it too.” Alex thought to himself as he smirked at their successful prank.

Not noticing anyone else around worth taking note of, Alex continued his journey without realising that his rival was intensely glaring at him from barely a few metres away.

The End

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