Scarlett Akira Smith’s School Application:
So here I am, risen from non-living matter. Unlike the administration here, my list of grandfathers includes simple organic compounds. The architecture of my mind is a mixture of many influences. If I had to pin it down to the architecture of a country, it would be the architecture of Montenegro, with many influences: from Roman pomposity, Venetian classiness, Ottoman magic, and modern hip. My favorite of the five major tribal confederations of the 12th century Mongolian Plateau is the Merkit, because their name means the skillful, wise ones, and they were Turkic but later forsook their identity to become Mongolized. I think it’s important to know when to give up on yourself, your dreams, and ideals, and become part of a grander, more well-executed operation. As for my childhood, I grew up in Maleny, Queensland, a small sliver of sunshine, perpetually fit to be an indie, joyful, movie scenario. Up until recently, my main goal in life was to bring the giant malleefowl back from the clutches of extinction. Something about it’s little head and big feet just plucked at my heartstrings, but I’m over it now. By the way, do you or anyone else in the administration of this school know that our school icon is exactly the flag of Mengjiang? First they’re a puppet state for the Empire of Japan, then China treats them like a mom who still owns her twenty year old teenager, and now the most prestigious school in the world doesn’t even acknowledge borrowing their flag in a reference section of some document no one will read!? How much more will the poor people of Mengjiang have to endure? Besides that insensitive slip-up, I love everything about Hyrtakina Academy, and can’t wait to move into my dorm. It’s on top of a hill, yay! How exciting!
Cold Electronic VOICE:
Scarlett Akira Smith, we shall assign you to world conquest by means of Dysphania pusilla. You must prove your ability to be useful to us by covering the surface of the Earth with the offspring of Dysphania pusilla, and killing all other competing lifeforms in the process. This will be the culmination of your senior year project. You will be given a specified range of genetic engineering capabilities to aid in your endeavor.
Scarlett and Nao walk briskly across the Cretan coast. The breaking waves breathe cool souls into the ruins.
“Wow, can you believe it? These inorganic lifeforms are so callous, last year they had a project for the students to eliminate the species of flies, Clairvillia biguttata; now we are to kill all living lifeforms besides ourselves. What a step up. And with a puny weed. But hey, orders are orders, and I want to graduate with honors. Actually, I want to be valedictorian. So bring it on!”
“Uhh… Scarlett. I don’t think it’s a group project, I was assigned to crack the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture. And Vajra told me he was assigned to create a virtual-reality world that most accurately reflects the imagination of 1650 literature. We all have different projects to finish by the end of our senior year.”
“What!? Does that… does that mean we are the chosen ones, superior in every way to previous classes.” Her eyes glinted like lava pits. “At this rate, we’ll be let in on the mysteries of their secret operations in Lake Kivu. Maybe they’re cooking up the most exciting, beautiful, universe-impregnating surprise! I can’t wait to know.”
“As far as I know, it’s just a research and development facility. They’re paranoid about making us into a successful multigalactic corporation, even though we don’t have direct evidence of any aliens yet, and are nowhere near technologically capable to make that feasible. In the mean time, they’re destroying all recreational time and content for humans. It’s amazing that they even allow us to walk and have this conversation.”
“Yeah, I know AI didn’t pan out quite right. Those idiot developers were worried about the singularity so they managed to cap-off recursive self-improvement. And now we’re stuck with agents that are slightly above human intelligence and are also slightly more evil from our perspective because they know we depend on them.”
“Not everyone depends on them. There’s a group of international scientists in the Arctic who have managed to survive on their own. And they’re carefully planning to reclaim our humanity, I’m sure.”
“The approach taken to them is approximately the approach taken by Australia’s colonizers to the Maraura people. I’m a practical girl, so I side with the inevitable winners.” Nao looked away as she undressed and put on a steel red plugsuit.
“It’s the new edition, how do you like it?”
“…I’m going. I need to help Bharat with his kidney. He was very kind to me and my family when we were in Mumbai, it’s only right to design him a new organ.”
“Sure, just make sure you don’t get in trouble. The A.I.s aren’t helping him with his renal problems for a reason.”