Sister Sensei (S++)
Will artificial intelligence circumvent the need of organic life? Is the profligacy dystopian future of science fiction books truly on the verge of becoming our own reality? These were the types of questions the professor asked while Hime Tokisaki composed the key points in her head and jotted them down in her notebook. She had been diligently listening and trying to come up with various theories as to how best to answer the theory topics the professor was discussing. Twirling the pink dyed tips of her long ashen hair, her mind formulated axioms and proofs to validate what she knew.
Millions of outcomes raced inside her head like a mass of atom particles all contending for existential existence. One by one she eliminated the unfounded principles that were evident of pseudo-science before turning to the a posteriori laws and falsifiable truths that had studied for many years. While her mind continued to swell with ideas, she noticed the professor had taken a second to pause.
“It appears it is about time for our lecture to be over. We will continue this topic on Monday. Enjoy your weekend.”
Well, damn, I was hoping to hear where Dr Pepper was going with this lecture, Hime thought as she carefully gathered up her notebook and pencils. Slipping her shoes back on, she stood to her feet and took a moment to stretch her legs. She was sore from sitting down for so long and ready to return to the comfort of her dorm. The row of chairs followed a simple group of six with them slightly arced and facing the large blackboard the professor used to write down notes in white chalk at the front of the classroom. Every row used a single long wooden table that stretched from one chair to the last. Each of the tables were slightly lowered and followed the aisle, which descended downwards to the blackboard. Another oddity was the hazelnut tone of soft carpet instead of the hard linoleum wooden flooring. While the arrangement was uncommon in the high-school Hime attended, she had gotten used to the unique layout of the university and learned from a few of her friends that high-schools in the United States were not built like most of the prestigious universities.
Yet, there was something the two schools of her home country and the university had in common: a blackboard. She had grown accustom to the use of the blackboard in class. It was simple in its colour and allowed for anything written to be easily seen from anywhere within the classroom. During her studies in data science she had to ascertain the various factors of both whiteboards and blackboards in the use of educational institutions. Through her formulation of the data, she had learned that most universities were in favour of using a blackboard due to less stain on the eyes, readability at a distance and the cheaper cost of chalk which had a longevity well past the shelf life of whiteboard markers. In short, her studies had shown and proved that whiteboards were actually more expensive than a blackboard. Even the mathematical calculations she had done proved without a doubt that over time, data favoured the blackboard over the whiteboard.
Throughout her time at school, she had become used to the culture in part thanks to the Academic Institution of Magnificence Students which allowed students who were prodigies to receive a high-school level education at young ages, thus allowing them to graduate and enter university. While it was not an easy road, it was a road less travelled by for most. University level education was not cheap by any means and the work was often hard. She had decided to get three degrees at once which tripled her workload to the point that she was unsure if she could maintain her current grades. If she was to continue to keep her monthly income for attending school, she needed to ensure her grades never fell below a 3.0 in any subject. This left her with little time to sleep or hangout with any sort of friends. Nearly every waking hour of her life was devoted to studying or homework, the rest of her time was either sleeping or playing video games.
Video games were the only source of entertainment for her when she was free of her daily tasks for class. They were also a common thread that helped her feel closer to her little brother who shared in her passion for video games. It was something that they had bonded over when they were little, from the simple pong game up to epic fantasy role-playing games. She often played many of the advanced role-playing games and would work out the best strategies to maximise her character’s stats. This would lead to her dealing astronomical numbers of damaging attacks and spells that seemed to break the game in her little brother’s eyes.
Yet, nothing could prepare her for when she had to leave her little brother for high-school and stay in the dormitories. This only worsened when she went overseas in order to receive her education in the United States. Once she had moved, it was almost impossible for her to stay in contact with anyone, even her own mother who had accompanied her to ensure she had a home during the times when dorm houses were closed.
Still, she had managed to make a few friends during her time in university and even if she would be returning back to her home country in Japan, she was happy to have met such wonderful people who showed her kindness and supported her throughout the hardships. She would never forget those people.
Reaching the front of the classroom, Hime noticed her two friends standing in the doorway. Marilyn Eleonora Lindal and Emily Salisbury Carrion were both typical university students that Hime had met in one of her classes. They were both relatively tall in comparison to her but still seemed to tower over her with her height making her appear like a middle school child. This led to her earning the nickname, Lolihime. While the nickname was only used by her friends, she did not mind it. She had even managed to come up with few nicknames for some of them.
Before she could make her way towards the exit, the voice of her professor stopped her in her tracks.
“Miss Tokisaki, might I have a word with you a moment?”
She had planned to turn down her friend’s invitation to where ever they were hoping to go. This need for a talk with her professor had been an excellent convenience. Turning to her friends in the doorway, she smiled.
“Sorry, you two go on ahead.”
“Don’t worry, we can wait for you,” Marry said as she looked at time on her smartphone.
While Hime smiled she turned to her professor who had just finished wiping off the notes from the blackboard.
“Now, Tokisaki, you are completely on track to graduate and once your dissertation is examined by the committee, you just have to have an in-depth discussion and you’re good.”
“That’s great news! Thank you so much for your support and guidance along the way, professor,” Hime said with a smile.
“It is what I’m here for. Don’t get too relaxed though because you still have an exam and the lecture on computational complexity theory, as well as nondeterministic communication complexity. Also, you did the homework I assigned yesterday, yes?”
Pulling out her backpack, Hime dug through her various supplies until she pulled out a black binder. Placing it down on the podium, she flipped through the loose-leaf paper that had been stored in the three-ring binder. Every paper had been used to the point it was impossible to write any more words within the college-ruled paper that had horizontal lines evenly spaced seven millimetres apart. Some notes were in black ink, others in red, there were sentences that had been highlighted and some that contained visual aids. Turning another page, she had finally managed to reach the homework she had been looking for. Removing it from the binder carefully, she smiled as she handed it over to the professor.
“Yeah. The topics were about recursive functions, the Fibonacci number and McCarthy 91 function with implementation in at least three different programming languages.”
Hime watched as her professor looked over each of the questions that were assigned.
“All right, I’ll grade it tonight but from a glance it looks great. One thing I noticed is you are missing a semi-colon in your code example on this line. It’s a minor mistake.”
Looking at the line her professor was pointing to, Hime wanted to beat herself up for making such a beginner mistake.
“I can’t believe I missed that. Maybe I need to get a tattoo of a semi-colon on my wrist to remind me not to make those mistakes.”
“Don’t worry about it, Tokisaki. We all make those mistakes. I’ve had that happen to me before too. In fact, I once spent an hour trying to figure out why an application I had created kept crashing only to learn that my code wasn’t the problem, I was just missing a semi-colon at the end of line forty-two.”
Hime smiled as she tried to pretend the error did not phase her. Deep down, it was a blow to her profession and education. She had spent so long amassing and accumulating various knowledge that she did not wish for a simple semi-colon to be her reason for losing a single point, even if it was just homework. After putting her binder back into her backpack, she bid her professor farewell and headed for the doorway.
“You all done?” Marry asked with a cheerful smile.
“Yeah, sorry about that. Had to turn in my homework and discuss a bit about my dissertation.”
“Ah, right. That process is always a pain. I’m trying to write my dissertation for Accounting and Management. It’s a nightmare. I see numbers in my sleep,” Marry said as she pressed two fingers against her forehead.
Hime followed her friends down the hall as they started chatting aloud. While she wanted nothing more to leave, she did not wish to be rude. She continued to listen as Emily talked about her problem.
“My boyfriend tried to get me to do free work for him. I told him he would owe me a foot massage everyday for the rest of his life.”
“I bet he refused,” Hime said as she pretended to pay attention.
“He did! Can you believe it? Why can’t my boyfriend just be perfect and give me a foot massage like he should? That man does nothing but play with my thighs. I swear, he has a problem.”
“Well, a lot of guys are into thighs. I actually did a study—”
Before Hime could finish her sentence, Marry interrupted her with a statement that held no value to her in the slightest.
“Oh! Hime, you need to go get drunk with us! We got invited to party where they have some good alcohol.”
Hime giggled as she looked over to Marry.
“You do realise I’m only fifteen, right?”
“Ah, right. I forget that you’re only fifteen. That is one thing that makes me jealous of Japanese girls, all of you are so cute and fun sized.”
“Yeah, plus when you guys age you stay young even in your fifties,” Emily added onto the statement.
There was not much Hime could do other than laugh at the terrible misunderstanding.
“It’s not as grandiose as you might think. Anyway, I’m sorry I cannot join you two. Thank you for the invitation though. I’ll head back to my dorm room.”
“All right, Lolihime. We will talk to you tomorrow if we’re not too wasted,” Marry said with a smile.
Making her way down the hall, Hime exited the school building and headed to her dormitory. The weather was bright and the sunshine was at its peak height. Walking down the paved concrete path, she could smell freshly cut grass trimmed meticulously to the millimetre. Other students were scattered about the yard overlooking the dormitories. Most of them were at least six years older than her. Many students lazed about around the yard or worked on their various projects with different students from other fields. The grass was a great place to play for some of the more sporty types while some of the girls removed their shoes and allowed themselves a chance to relax after a long, hard day in class.
The red brick exterior of the dorms came into sight as she looked at the time on her smartphone. Most classes were still on-going with others done for the day. She had the rest of the day to do whatever she wanted with what little free time she had. During her leisure hours, she would often spend it sleeping in her dorm room or in one of the research labs. In some of the anime that featured eccentric genius characters, they could usually be seen sleeping under their desks. She was, in a sense, a spiting image of that anime rhetorical device. Her body had been living off only three hours of sleep for the past five years. All the while, she had to keep her mind sharp and focus on her studies. There was no time for leisurely fun activities or bonding with friends at local events.
Still, she had managed to keep herself going with each passing day thanks to her little brother. He was the one person that always supported her when she needed it the most. There was something about him that she enjoyed. It was his ability to connect with her on an intelligent level; yet, also be able to separate himself from the vast academia and scholarly pursuits in the love of simple creative experiences. While he was not technically considered a genius, he did possess some understanding akin to what she lived with. Unlike her, it was possible for him to drown it out without much effort. She, on the other hand, had to endure it from dawn until dusk – nearly 24/7 without a break. Her mind was always racing with thoughts and ideas. She had various methodologies for how she responded and reacted to the asperity dogma in life. It was how her mind worked and it did not stop, even if she wished it to.
With a sigh, she made her way to the front doors of the dorm. Before she could open them, she could her the voice of one of her friends calling out to her. She knew the voice well and turned with a smile on her face to greet her best friend.
“Hey, Hime. I’m glad I found you. I just wanted to thank you again for the money.”
Carmelita Valentina Gonzales Cooper, who everyone simply called Tina, was one of Hime’s trusted friends. She was the same age as her and from a country in Latin America. Even though she was only fifteen, she had already established herself as a professional voice actor and UTuber – using a virtual avatar named Lysa. While the virtual avatar she used appeared like a normal girl with causal mellow toned clothes, the real Tina was vastly different. She had long purple hair that flowed down past her bellybutton with rustic brown eyes. Blending in with her hair colour was a pink zip-up jacket with a simple white tee-shirt. Her pair of denim cargo jean pants stopped just below her knees which almost made her appear like a street rat in a back alleyway. Yet, the outfit managed to work well with a pair of open-toed wedge sandals that showed off her pink polished toenails.
Hime could not help but notice the two new accessories that she had been wearing. One was a golden ring with a ruby gemstone on it. The other was an onyx steel necklace that was only half a heart and etched with the word ‘Brother’ in an off-white colour.
“That ring and necklace are new. Gifts?”
“Mhm. I got the ring from my wife. It was so beautiful that I nearly fainted when she told me the cost in her letter. She means so much to me.”
As Tina held out her hand, Hime looked over the ring. It was pure gold and a real ruby. She was unsure as to how much it cost to buy one but she could tell it was not cheap.
“The necklace is a gift from your older brother then?”
Tina nodded as she held the necklace out to show it to Hime.
“My nii-nii bought it and gave me the half with brother so I would always remember him while at school. He’s such a sweet older brother.”
“Well, I’m glad and I was happy to help you two out. Truly, the sibling relationship you two share is special. It’s like, you bring wholesomeness to the world.”
“Glad we could help. You have any plans for today, Hime?”
“I am a bit busy. Why? You want to do something?”
“I just wanted to treat you with ice-cream for helping me out. I wanted to help my nii-nii out. He had been dealing with a lot so I figured some cute artwork would cheer him up if even a little. The money you gave me helped.”
Hime smiled as she watched Tina’s expression become happier at the thought of cheering her brother up.
“You truly love your older brother don’t you? Perhaps you should marry him instead.”
Tina’s expression went from happy to instant annoyance. She puffed out her cheeks and crossed her arms like an irritated child. It was almost cute in the way the she expressed annoyance.
“That’s not funny, Hime.”
Hime could only giggle at the face Tina was making. While she was being serious, it was laughable to see a small child like her try to be intimidating. She was built more for the happy and cheerful character type due to her appearance. Still, Hime enjoyed these moments with Tina as they helped her relax when she needed it the most.
“Sorry, I know. It’s just cute to see you pout. I know you love and care for your brother in the most wholesome of ways. A brother is all you need, right?”
“A brother and wife,” Tina said with a smile.
“Shouldn’t your wife come first?” Hime asked inquisitively.
Tina thought about the phrasing of the sentence.
“A brother–wife is all I need!”
Hime could not stop her mind from racing at the thought of what that could mean.
“So, your brother is your wife? How does that work? Does this mean—”
“Hime, no need to think to deeply about that. I just said whatever came to mind. It doesn’t mean anything,” Tina said with a smile.
Hime laughed as she took a second to compose her thoughts.
“Right. You know me all too well, Tina.”
“My nii-nii overthinks a lot too. You should give your little brother a call sometime, I’m sure he misses you,” Tina said with a smile.
“Thanks. I’ll do that eventually.”
Hime could feel Tina’s arms wrap around her waist. She knew Tina was not extremely big on hugs but when she did hug someone, she meant it. Wrapping her arms around Tina, she used one hand to pat her head gently like a puppy. It brought her warmth that she desperately needed at this point in her life.
“Thank you, Tina. You’re one of my best friends. Never forget that.”
Tina nodded as Hime said her farewell. Entering into the dorm house, she pulled out her mailbox key and headed to her the box with her dorm number. Opening it up, she found a stack of mail had built up over the years. Most of them were letters from her father and brother. Grabbing all the envelops, she made her way to her dorm room. Turning on the light, she breathed a sigh of relief that her room mate was not back from her classes. To one side was a clean and spotless room with a bed that was folded like a military soldier. Various posters were neatly positioned like grids and showcased famous animations that Hime knew well. Contrast to the spotless room was the unhinged dilapidation of a room in the presence of showcasing the visualisation of chaos theory. Objects were scattered on the floor with no rhyme or reason. A versification of a mind who did not bother to make the bed or place things back into their proper place. Loose-leaf papers were scattered about while books left opened on different pages told volumes of the unorganised nature within just a simple glance.
Hime made her way over to the unmade bed and sat down. She was tired and her body ached. Her feet were in pain, her legs in pain, her wrists in pain, her body in pain, her mind in pain. Everything was in pain, from physical to mental. University had taken a toll on her to the point she wanted to quit. She had been living and clawing up through the ashes of life for so long that it was finally starting to get to her. Untying her shoelaces and removing her shoes, she took a second to lay back on her bed and stare up at the plain off-white ceiling. With a sigh, she stood to her feet and began to strip down into her pink underwear. Looking over to the mirror, she saw the true pain of what lurked behind her facade of a mask. The lies she told, the smiles she faked, everything was just a misrepresentation of the pain she did not show to anyone. She had become skilled at pretending to be happy and on some days even believed the lies that had built up over the years. Yet, that was not her. It was never her. Merely, a wolf in sheep’s clothing to hide what she did not want others to see. The amalgamation of cognitive chemical imbalance within her own head spiralling into a metamorphic collision that rivalled the origins of the universe. This was the black hole that engulfed her essence from every waking hour down to her dreams. It was a never ending bombardment of chaos with no signs of ever allowing her the freedom to be at peace. Looking down at her arm, she traced a finger over the single vein she could see that travelled down to her wrist.
Turning to her desk, her mind thought about every option available to her. While her room was a mess, her desk was immaculate with a simple OrangeBook Pro laptop sitting at the centre. Deciding to act on what she had planned to do from the moment she had woken up, she opened her laptop up and created a new text file. Looking at the time on the computer, she composed her thoughts with haste and typed up a poem that she had been thinking about all day. Once she was finished she opened up another application that allowed her to layout text professionally. She had studied design and while she was not by any means a professional graphic designer, she did have the education and skills to at least make it appear professional. After finishing up everything and printing it on a simple home printer that she had gotten from a friend who did not want it any more, she folded the letter up neatly and placed it into an envelope of high-grade quality. Once she had sealed the letter and signed it with a mechanical pencil she had borrowed from Tina, she placed it on the desk at the perfect angle and grabbed the box cutter she used to open letters and cut paper.
Making her way to her bed, she laid down and took a moment to think about everything in her life while she still had the chance. She recalled the times she spent with her little brother and all the games they played when they were little. The two of them were nearly inseparable to the point that people often grouped them together as one name, Sorahime. Sky and princess. It was a cute and fitting name for the two of them as they would spend almost every waking moment together. From playing games to bathing together, they both enjoyed each other’s company and loved one another unconditionally.
Rising her arm to the sky, she looked at the vein that travelled down her arm. Releasing the blade from the box cutter, she smiled as she pushed the blade into her skin. She felt no fear as the intense pain converged on the single spot she had buried the blade into. Slowly, she traced the blade to follow the path of vein until she had finally reached her wrist. The pain filled her mind and stopped all the other thoughts she had been accumulating throughout the day. They had conceded with the substitution of a painful sensation and the fluctuation of her heart beat. Crimson blood oozed from her arm within only a second and spilled onto her bed.
In mere moments, she could feel her body relaxing. Her arm continued to burn with an intense fire but she did not stop it and simply allowed it to continue. She knew it would all subside within a few minutes. Her breathing remained calm as she thought of her darling little brother once more. The pandemonium of her mind started to enter a state of order and quiet tranquillity. It was what she had always dreamed of and was happy that things were finally starting to settle down. Closing her eyes, she breathed a sigh of relief as her mind quieted and her body felt relaxed. There was nothing more for her to do but enjoy the moment while she could.
“I love you, Sora.”
With each passing minute, Hime felt her mind drifting off into the void of the abyss. She would soon enter a permanent state of non-existence in which she would never return from. In this moment, she was bordering on the superposition of life and death. The darkness continued to settle in, her mind moving closer towards the final end-goal. Darkness was the only thing she envision in her thoughts, sounds of the outside world muffled out around her to an inaudible frequency. This was her final requiem, returning to zero.