Chapter Ten

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Firespike awoke with a start, her elbow colliding with the wheeled ankle of her office chair. Her foot was warm from the trapezoid of sunlight coming in through the window. From the shade under her desk, she groped above her for her SiSup and slipped it on with a yawn. 7:17am blinked in her eye. Thirteen minutes before her alarm was due to go off. She let her head fall back to her small pillow.

"Up. Things to do," she commanded herself, voice scratchy from the meager hours of sleep.

Sloth-like, she crawled out into the patch of sun, kicking her blanket and pillow into the corner of her desk. Koji sat at his workstation, his shirt crisp and his black hair combed into its usual spiky style. She squinted at his straightened back.

"Well, good morning to you to," she groused, now that she had confirmed she wasn't imagining him.

His only response was a noncommittal noise. She pulled a dress and spare pair of underwear out of a drawer, frowning at the wrinkles in the fabric. Barefoot, she padded to the bathroom with her toiletries kit in hand.

Post Status to Internetwork Page: World ending. Trying not to freak out. Send me love!

Within seconds, six of her colleagues and one old college buddy had liked the post.

She passed harried Politicomma employees in various states of dishevelment and exhaustion and desperation, all scrambling to prepare for and prevent a catastrophe whose form nobody knew. Contrary to Tabi's confident prediction, Politicomma's Public Interface Department had yet to repair the interactive boards. They still covered the city like black confetti. Questions flooded through everyone's minds, inboxes and instant messages. Should they back up all the jointly-published data? Could they even attempt to back up the entire history of Politicomma posts? The hackers couldn't possibly remove everything in one blow, could they? Irreversibly corrupting all of Politicomma's interactive boards was one thing but the blog itself was petabytes upon petabytes of data. Where should the off-internetwork back-ups even start? But they really couldn't possibly delete it all in one go, right? Should they even be panicking?

No one looked at Firespike. Three people almost collided with her. When she returned to her office, she felt more awake. She had washed her face, brushed her teeth, and changed into her clean clothes—a cerulean dress under a cream-colored knit sweater. She had run a brush through her dark hair and applied her make-up—foundation, gold eye-shadow, mascara, blush. She wondered if she looked okay. She wondered if she looked like she could save an entire blog. She wondered if she looked like the type of girl who would ruin her sister.

Post Status to Internetwork Page: Dress for success, I guess.

She crammed the outfit she had slept in into the drawer and then plopped into her chair, her body heavy with nervousness.

"You know if you just folded it, it wouldn't have wrinkles," Koji commented peevishly.

His office-sanctioned pillow and blanket were stacked neatly to the side of his workspace and Firespike had no doubt that his spare office wear was equally compact and snug in his storage drawers.

"No one asked you, Mom," she retorted, turning to her computer screens, which were swamped with flustered messages from her team. They had been ordered from on high to compress and transfer all current projects to their personal internetwork accounts and computers in an attempt to back up everything. Tabi and Markser and E-beth were frantically trying to divvy up the group projects between them.

The tasks she had been too tired to finish at 4:00am stared back at her. She knew that leaving the office even for a few minutes today would incense Tabi and a few others—they had mere hours before the threat of deletion was carried out—so she had tackled as much as she could last night, hoping it would somehow make up for it.

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