Chapter 12:

I Wouldn't Have Imagined I'd Miss That

Gifted Education Project (GEP)

Subject: Re: Questions and a Request

Dear Emi-san,

Before I respond to your email, I believe I’ve yet to properly congratulate you on becoming a teacher of the GEP. Let’s get dinner to fix that. My treat. How does Saturday sound?

Now, to actually answer to your questions:

Affinities are measured based on the Subject’s ability to complete tasks from a set of standardised tests and various qualitative assessments. The QAs are conducted using our Affinity Scan technology—please check the attachment for specifics. The raw score from these tests is then converted into a normal distribution based on historical Subject data with mean 50 and standard deviation 15, with adjustments to account for age and biological sex.

It is estimated that the average Singaporean 15-year-old would have a normalised score of ~38, with the exception of the Kinetic, Mentality, and Aesthetic categories (a normalised score of 50). Hence, the ‘average’ Subject would already be considered extremely gifted, while any Subject with an overall B grade (minus KMA) is objectively a genius. As to why we would then include three ‘pointless’ Affinities when calculating a Subject’s overall ranking and letter grade, it is designed to reduce complacency and obfuscate the mechanics of the system—though I assure you Affinity Scan does place value on being attractive, fit, and conformist to some extent.

In the future, it is expected that we will be granted access to the population data of all Singaporean schools and not just the GEP database. When that time comes, we’ll hopefully be able to optimise Affinity Scan to the point where the standardised tests become unnecessary. I, of course, am working my behind off to make that vision a reality—the day where we will no longer have to subject children to rigorous academic exams based on rote and toil in the name of ‘education’, but instead an environment which optimises individual potential without trauma.

Cringe, isn’t it?

Anyway, as for your request to switch orientation groups, I’ll see what I can do. But do note that it’ll reflect badly on the board’s confidence in you, since one of the qualities I specifically mentioned in my recommendation was your ruthlessness. So try to stick it out. At least for the next week or so—that way I’ll have time to think of a permanent solution regarding your naughty students.

I believe in you.

Your friend and boss,

Dr. Mizuhara Kohei

Principal and Director (Education)

Subject: Re: Re: Questions and a Request

Dear Dr. Mizuhara,

Forwarded this email to your wife.


Dr. Sakura Emi

Head of Department (Aesthetics)


In the Asiasphere, Gamers are not the most oppressed minority. Students are.

We were given five minutes of reading time to process the results. After that, all of us were ushered to the school infirmary to undergo a mandatory health screening, during which all the resident nurse did was boop us on the head with a scanner gun for ten seconds — supposedly as a precaution against hypoxia or something. I wasn’t sure why they wouldn’t just let us use our phones for that, but following those gender-segregated “screenings” (TORTURE) we were released to go for lunch as if they hadn’t just put us in gas chambers. There was a History exam scheduled for the period immediately after.

So, as clear as equatorial weather, you could see we lived in a society.

Despite being forced into a room full of half-naked BOYS against my wishes (I HATE COCKS!) I knew better than to mope and muck around before my next exam. I’d only gotten 3rd place, after all, behind Bryan and some other Vietnamese dude named Abel. Speaking of Bryan, he wouldn’t talk to me during the screening, and he immediately bolted off afterwards in some random direction to go god-knows-where instead of the cafeteria. And speaking of Abel Nguyen—

“Man, if Sakura calls it a ‘math test’ one more time, I’m going to say the gamer word.”

—or more precisely, whenever Abel Nguyen spoke, I was reminded of the fact that Bryan Koh was an infinitely cool guy whose class and tact far exceeded his age.


“The gamer word? You don’t know what the gamer word is?”

“No… I, um, I just don’t think that’s very PC, Abel. We’re cosmopolitan.”

He made this face as if I was the one who came up with the joke. “Geez, bro. You don’t have to get all offended.”

Abel was tall and bulky. More so than Bryan. The similarities ended there, however. Bryan’s haircut was straight out of Final Fantasy, whilst Abel’s shaggy red mane looked like a mullet he forgot to cut for months — not that mullets looked good in any circumstance, but his was extra unfashionable. I guess I could empathise with avoiding haircuts to some extent if what Bryan told me about everyone being orphans were true, but this was Singapore: just get your teacher to put a bowl on your head and shave the sides, bro. Also, I was genuinely considering switching from the calorie-dense queue to the protein queue just to avoid him.

“Anyway.” His voice reminded me of chicken and broccoli. “I was curious what your method for figuring out the exam was.”

“There are methods for this sort of shit?”

“No, maybe not ‘method’… I don’t exactly know the words for it in English. How you ‘solved the riddle’?”

A riddle. That was an even better euphemism than “exam”.

“I just got lucky.”

Abel shrugged. “I guess it was the same for me — I gave up a few minutes after seeing the questions. Never passed a Math test in my life, so I didn’t feel stressed in the first place. Genuinely shocked when my name turned up second.”

Talk to me about anything except this school. Please.

“Yo, hold up. Peep that over there. Sheeeeeeesh.

Maybe I vocalised my thoughts without realising, maybe the average 15 year old only thinks about exams and tits and it was simply time for his brain to oscillate — either way, Abel liberated me from that conversation topic, and we both turned our attention towards an entrance on the far side of the cafeteria. The girls were finally done with their medical checkup. It’d taken significantly longer than the guys’ one, but I could spare my energy trying to decipher that until after our next scheduled riddle.

“You don’t think she’s hot?”

I wasn’t really paying attention. “Who?”

“That one over there with pink hair and no ribbon. You remember the way she blew up at that dickhead? Made me want to marry her instantly, bro.”

“Eh. Not my type.”

“What?! What the fuck’s your type, then?”

“Tall, dishonest, long-haired, sophisticated, kind of a bitchy face. Let me know if you see anyone like that.”

By complete accident, I briefly made eye contact with Marie while hunting for someone else. She flashed me a peace sign, surrounded by a group of girls with equally stylish hair colours and manicured nails.

“Hey Darren! Hey Darren’s friend!”

“Y-yo,” we replied simultaneously.

She winked.

It was very sexy.

Still not my type though.

The rest of the girls looked us over with half-confused, half-disinterested expressions. Then, once they realised Marie only wanted to greet us instead of having an actual conversation, they went off and formed a queue in front of the “LOW-CARBS” section without even throwing out a single “Who were those guys? Your friends?”


I felt okay. Gender segregation wasn’t just a thing when enforced by an authority, it also happened organically on its own — at least, during the breaking-in period when nobody knew each other yet. I was sure Marie would introduce me to her friends sooner or later. Anyway, I had three years here to get laid (the age of consent is 16), so it’s not like I was disappointed or anything. Haha. I went back to scanning the faces flooding into the cafeteria hunting for someone.

“…No way, bro.”


“She just waved at you in front of her clique.”



I quickly grabbed Abel’s ear and angled us away from Marie’s clique. “D-dude, that’s the kind of shit you think in your head, but don’t say. Total virgin move.”

“O-okay, sorry. She was just really hot. I was happy for you.”

“I know.”

“Wait, so she is your—”

I slammed my hand over Abel’s mouth. “BRO. Consecutive virgin moves! Don’t acknowledge shit like that out loud, bro. It’s game over once you do that. Girls are ruthless, bro! They can smell desperation from a mile away, like vultures to a corpse, but in the opposite direction. You need to be a fucking alpha. You need to play it cool, like Tony the Tiger. Never acknowledge any positive feelings about girls. Never acknowledge any positive feelings ever, actually.”


“Tigers, bro. We’re tigers in the jungle, and we’re hunting big fucking game. No pork, no lard.”

I let go of Abel.

He exhaled like the triumph emoji.

“Tigers, bro. Fucking tigers. No pork, no lard.”

“Good. On the count of three, we turn around and continue queuing like nothing happened, alright? Real men don’t acknowledge positive feelings. They brood.”

“Right. Got it, bro.”

“Alright bro,” I said. “One.”



“What are you two doing?”

A girl’s voice.



A POACHING OPERATION. The womens had sent in the crack team to assassinate us for being self-aware tigers. This had nothing to do with Abel’s comment just now, obviously, and everything to do with Marie being a ruthless leader. Sasuga Marie-chan… But as I turned around…

I realised this was no ordinary girl.

She was tall, had black hair, a big ass, and a slightly grouchy look on her face — just like how Aoi Todo would describe Jennifer Lawrence. Beautiful. Exactly my type, and with a beauty mark and butterfly hair clip to match her humongous—


Why wasn’t she Korean? Not my type.

“Jizzy?” Abel shrieked. “What the fuck?”


Jizzy(??????) walked up to Abel unperturbed and shoved a bunch of crap into his hands — blazer, pencil case, school bag, water bottle, makeup case, ribbon, spare ribbon, box of candy, shoebag, PE clothes, paintbrush, another bag I don’t want to describe — don’t ask me why the stuff wasn’t just in the schoolbag altogether — and then started talking as if it was completely normal to just dump materiel onto a random dude.

“My god, that screening took so long. They wouldn’t let us leave until all of us were done, and these two girls… they just wouldn’t stop arguing. They were just railing on each other. How does that even happen after only half a day of school?”

…Two girls?

PMS, probably.

Speaking of three letter acronyms, post-shellshock (PSS) Abel didn’t find the intrusion of this spy awkward at all. He simply packed Jizzy’s stuff diligently like a fucking beta orbiter — bloody loser must’ve thought it was funny to waste my time asking for advice and then doing the exact opposite. Well, this was the reason why Marie was going to address him as “Darren’s friend” and not “Abel” for life.

“PMS for sure,” Abel replied. “Which two, by the way?”

Oh. Nevermind, I’d been hasty in my judgment.

The girl sighed. “I don’t want to elaborate. It’s not nice to destroy others’ opinions of people they haven’t yet met, plus I’m sure one of them is sweet… just caught up in the emotion of everything. Speaking of politeness, Abel, please don’t ever use ‘which’ to refer to women again. It is very rude.”

Ngh. S-sorry, Jizzy.”


“And also, you.” She extended a confident arm. “Apologies for the sudden intrusion. I’m Giselle Nguyen, younger twin. Thanks for taking care of my brother. I trust he hasn’t been annoying you too much?”

…Younger twin?

I shook her hand confusedly. Weird fetish, but okay.

“Yeah, um, he’s alright.”

“That’s good to hear. And what might your name be?”


Darren. Okay, okay.”

I narrowed my eyes. “You sure you just want to call me Darren and not anything else?”

“Um… yes?”

“No animal motifs?”

“...Let go of my hand, please.”

I was trying to convince myself this girl was Vietnamese Erica, but Darren Jr. wasn’t having any of it — sure, she had all the physical features in her toolkit to rival Ms. Park, but Jizzy was missing the secret sauce that pushed girls over the line that separated pretty from hot: Mental instability.

It’s really that unbridled narcissism that really turns someone from assertive to abusive, no? And as we can all agree as cultured men sharing the same hivemind: assertive girls are bitches, whilst abusive girls have obfuscated head game (if you bothered putting back the broken pieces of glass together, which I was going to try and do).

I let go of Giselle’s hand.

“Anyway, I’m Darren Chong. I have no siblings. And also, you‘d look better if you dropped the ponytail. Having your hair up really ruins the resemblance.”

“...Excuse me?”

“Gotta go! Bye Jizz!”

I wasn’t about to interrupt a couple doing sibling roleplay or encourage that shit, no sirree. And anyway, this was convenient — what real men really want to eat for lunch is chicken and peas with no mash, not the burgers and fry set.

Also, Abel fucking lied to me. He told me he was a virgin. That he needed guidance. He didn’t fucking tell me he was banging fucking butterfly hairclip with the big ass whilst doing fucking steptwin roleplay.

He definitely lied about his method for figuring out the exam too.

But I didn’t care about riddles. There was one genuinely important thing that the younger Nguyen sibling had tipped me off about, and I couldn’t put it off any longer.

[User detected.]

[Neural scan complete. Vitals OK, Stress YELLOW.]

[Take a deep breath. Welcome back, TXXXX353J.]

Thankfully, my messaging app hadn’t been disabled this time… though I’d already received a text from the person I was thinking of.


I’d never given her my number. The exchange of personal information had been strictly one way.

[ID-HIDDEN: Hi Darren.]

[P̴̱̀a̴̭̿r̸̗͂k̵͕̏ ̶̠̍J̵̳̕i̶̺͘w̴̗̍ȏ̶̫o̴̹͘ says she’s not coming for lunch, so don’t wait.]

[Call me when you see this. ♥]

I looked towards the low-calorie queue and saw the clique of fashionistas, but couldn’t find any with pink hair and opalescent eyes.

Pope Evaristus
Andrei Voicu
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Taylor Victoria