They shouldn’t have expunged her Contract. Clara brushed the final fondant rose onto her Blushing Bride cake and placed it into the light box. The image flashed on a panel and she slid it into the contest bin at FancyFingers. Her garnet earrings were losing ranking and she needed that cake to restore her credibility.
She moved her attention to the center panel where her character was ready to be released from proxy. The proxy had leveled the neon sprite and found a precious prism, so Clara rewarded him (her? it?) with a nice ranking and game credit. She spun in the circle of panels, searching for any identity crises that would keep her out of Contract Ranking.
Nanostasis warmed her body as the bots slipped through the routine, repairing cells and removing infection and waste. Sleep was for the People. She had no sympathy. They chose lives of texture and pain. She was forced to contribute to sustain them, but the People never held her interest.
A panel to her left scrolled text on faces, pausing only to belch out her query results, “Parousia.” For moons she’d watched the conversations, speculation and lust. Her anger at the Big Q turned to curiosity and then action. It was a simple twist, not even a hack, really. Clara would release it on the network right before the buzz peaked.
A flash on the right distracted and her eyes slit fire at the sinking cake image. Someone had posted an elaborate peacock paper cutting. Clara plucked a rose and nibbled the sweating fondant as she considered her options. She had to sing. A quick response to the top-ranked video and she was back in play.
Parousia was tiresome. She canceled the query and focused back on her sprite. She would need to inject funds soon, or this sprite would be history. Clara inhaled at the familiar tingle, nano mood stabilization. How did the People live without this? She changed her query to search for a new Contract.
Parousia would likely go public in the People’s tomorrow when the buzz peaked. Speculation staggered the unenhanced mind. The digital social cleansing of the Contract Board would be conquered. Parousia would level all. A single presence, one mind. Together, they would work with the People and teach them how to live. Earth reclamation efforts would finally cease as Apprentice People learned the Truth.
Clara snickered, thinking of the scrolling accolades. Well-compensated testers shared stories of bliss and harmony. Networks buzzed with tales of true collaboration, altruism, opportunity and hope. She had developed the code that eliminated the detractors, and silenced the People’s uprising. But she had missed a critical buzz peak and Big Q expunged her contract.
Unless you were of the People, no day was like the day before. The struggle to work the network and maintain identity eliminated the existence of time. Clara had been without Contract for moons and faced the threat of joining the People. Without a contracted path, it was impossible to progress. Parousia gave hope, but she knew it was false. She took advantage of the identity lull to increase her ranking.
A chime sent her pulse racing and the bots rushed to compensate. The buzz had almost reached peak. Clara licked bland sugar from her fingers and stretched toward the icon that would release her malice before Parousia hit the network. The People would be heard. She would do her part. The Contract Board would maintain control.
In a blink, a spinning box appeared on the center panel. A new contract. She accepted without opening the seal, the Abussos logo an easy lure. With metered mind, Clara lounged and finished the cake before releasing the code. The final chime extinguished and she watched the temporary leveling as Parousia spread over to the People.