Erin took a breath, took off her VR headset, and walked back to the real world a little disappointed. She hadn’t reached the hundredth sunrise that would mark the end of the game.

She was nevertheless on a good dynamic; she had programmed her robots to communicate thanks to the many decorative elements of the game which allowed them to organize and coordinate without needing any orders from her.

Unfortunately, her simulation crashed on the 73 ^ rd sunset. The image froze soon after the arrival of the first monsters, and the system has stubbornly refused to respond ever since. Considering the smell of hot dust, the equipment must have suffered …

- “Miss, would you follow me please? The organizers would like to speak with you for a few minutes. “

He hadn’t made a sound entering the room, so Erin didn’t know how long he had been there or if he knew about the condition of his equipment. His tone was polite but made it clear that she would be more inspired to follow him.

- “Yes, of course,” Erin replied.

She followed him down the halls to a room occupied by the organizers. Some hunched over morning quizzes while others watched a wall of screens showing aerial views of other participants’ games in progress.

It clearly showed their identical camps in the center of each screen. Night began to fall as we could make out the icons of the monsters converging while the robots were deployed, some to hide, others to defend the colony.

She was offered a seat opposite a desk, across from a woman leaning over a backrest bearing her name. When Erin took a seat, she looked up.

- “ Hello Miss. I’m glad we were able to find you before you left. As you can see, my team is already hard at work to dissect the results of the contest participants. And I have to tell you that your results are quite impressive.

- Uh … Thank you.

- First off, congratulations. Your computer test results are remarkable. You have good knowledge in many subjects. But I must tell you that what struck me was your result in the practical test.

- Is that so ? Erin replied. Me who thought I had failed. I still had 27 nights to go to finish the game if I counted correctly.

- Yes indeed. But only if we limit ourselves to defending ourselves against monsters. But you are the only one to have gone on the attack if I may say so.

- Oh.

- Of course, look, she said, showing him the screen wall, what do you see?

- Well they all built fortifications that surround their camps and towers to shoot them without being hit. They’ll be able to hold the siege through the night and if they fix it during the day, they’re on course to win.

- Indeed, they are on the right track. But let’s watch your part if you will allow me. Here are the last few seconds we were able to get before your hardware failed. “

The entire screen wall flickered long enough for a single aerial view. Erin recognized, in the center, his camp and guessed the scenery placed by his robots. Surrounding them were the three extensions she had built to boost her economy and the robots using the roads connecting the bases.

While taking the field, Erin also saw the other expansions that her robots had subsequently learned to build on their own and the corresponding trade routes. It was everywhere on the screen, in fact every screen was dotted with it.

- “I hadn’t realized how big my colonies are, they look like an anthill,” said Erin,

- This is the term, indeed, an ant colony algorithm. We were impressed with your idea of using these unnecessary decorative elements like pheromones to bypass the limits of robot communications that we had imposed.

- I admit that I didn’t think about it at the time, I thought it would be more practical for me if the robots could organize themselves …

- And it worked really well. Based on our initial analyzes, you would have to quadruple the size of this screen wall to get an idea of the size of your colony. Your robots have spread like a wave and their population is growing exponentially. If your computer hadn’t run out of memory, the processor would have had to go into an emergency shutdown so as not to overheat.

You’ve managed to think outside of the simple test, and it’s remarkable. Especially considering your answers to psychological tests. Rarely have I seen anyone think in such an unusual way.

- Uh? And it’s good ? Erin asked.

- In our case, yes. We are looking for different types of profiles for our school, and we need people who are able to think differently, which should greatly facilitate access to our latest technology.

- That is to say ?

- I can’t tell you much at the moment. For confidentiality reasons. Anyway, congratulations, you can join the Academy, she told her, handing her a contract. This is your admission contract to the Academy. “

Erin grabbed the contract. Everything had already been filled out in her name with long paragraphs on confidentiality clauses, what she would have the right to say and do, etc.

- “You can take it, I’m not going to ask you to sign it today. Take the time to read it, and if you are still interested, please send it back to the address on the last page. Well, I will leave you now, I believe you have a long road to get home “.