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Taylor, an advanced student at Waldhaven academy, has just received a complimentary access gadget from the Parth game administrators. This tiny device is a representation of time she has devoted to this game and, as every man, woman and child knows and partakes of the Parth Realm, Taylor will be pressured into giving up her name and revealing her identity.

Will she give in? Will she allow others into the private world she has built for herself over the past eight and a half years? Will a young man change her mind when he discovers for himself who she really is? All these questions will be answered as you journey through the fantastic Realm of Parth with Taylor and her ever-broadening circle of friends. View table of contents...


Chapters:

1 2 3

Submitted:Mar 5, 2010    Reads: 64    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


"Is that..? a Nano-Band! Guys! Look! Taylor's got a Nano-Band!"

I sighed. There was really no end to this. I'd received the gadget... what, two weeks ago now? And they were still going on about it? Granted that I'd only had this class once since then, and the attendance list that day had been almost completely red, as it usually was. But still, at some point it had to end. With the way things were going I could definitely dispute that "all new things must lose their luster" claim.

As other students crowded around my desk I couldn't help but sigh again. They stared at me for long moments, mouths agape, eyes awed and reverent. Well, they didn't stare at me per se, but at the metal band that adorned my neck. It was a silly old thing. Useful, but silly. Even though it increased access time, it seemed to draw way too much attention to itself. If I were to be completely honest, I much preferred the 5.80 version. A subtle little thing. Basically a hair piece. The boys never really got into it, but that wasn't my problem. It really was a shame that they were so outdated.

"So?" someone hummed into my ear. I didn't recognize the voice, so I turned to find Morgan leaning towards me, eyes plastered on my band, lips curled into a grin. "Who are you?"

There was a collective hush, and more than a few gasps. I glared at him boredly. Was he really that stupid?

"Rule number thirty-two!" The words were shouted just above my left ear, which did nothing to improve my mood. "Never discuss personal I.G. information O.O.C."

"Or vice-versa!" I never got a chance to catch the last speaker. The telltale "click-clack" of the teacher's heels echoed toward us from down the hallway. The other students turned towards the door, annoyance written plainly upon their faces. Most stole one last glance at my band before returning to their seats. Almost all of them were looking at my neck after they'd sat down, their eyes dreamy and unfocused, probably imagining what it would be like to have what I have.

"Sorry I'm late," said Mrs. Stark as she entered through the doorway. Her voice was the next closest thing to expressionless, and she didn't look up from her desk as she spoke. "Got stuck talking to the Director in the hallway after some other kids decided to flood a bathroom." No one was listening - myself being the exception - and she knew it. You'd think that, after so many years of causing problems to get attention, then being rewarded with out-of-schools and "isolation time", the kids would have learned their lesson. Apparently not, though, seeing as how this was an almost daily occurrence.

"We'll start up where we left off yesterday," she continued, turning her computer on with a flick of a digit, then running her fingers over the screen to find the right documents. "Chapter eight point three, Rendar-Coding. I'm sure most of you went over this already in last year's Tech sixty-six option, so this unit should fly by."

Yeah. Wouldn't that be nice. Of course I'd taken the class, as well as the five or six proceeding it, so this really should fly by for me. The rest of the class, however, would just drag me down. There were always a few kids that hadn't taken the course, didn't have their material, didn't pay enough attention, et cetera, et cetera. Always something. Luckily, though, today should just be introductory. Nothing too difficult. Even a moron could get by.

Just like Stark, I turned on my computer. The students' were almost as high-tech as the teachers', only a few little quirks differed. Mainly it was the cooling systems. Our aerators were severely lacking in efficiency. But that was only to be expected. Too many were the times that the administrators had logged in to find their personal files overflowing with viruses. When the students weren't around to flood the bathrooms, they were busy hacking and coding and creating new bugs, which is where the cooling systems came in.

My hands flew over the screens, quite impressively quick, tapping, dragging, selecting, my fingers moving in rhythmical patterns as I started on the reviewing assignment.

I used to think about implanting viruses in the school network. It was a few years ago, when I really hated the place. Complex bugs weren't at all difficult to conjure up. Only thing was you couldn't do it at school. The students' computers were now specially built to dissuade viral synthesis. The complex codes would overheat the system and, because there was nothing to cool it down properly, it would just shut down, freezing whatever programs had caused the overheating and saving them to a private hard-drive. Then whoever had been fiddling around with the so termed "dangerous data" would receive some punishment. Not that that bothered me. My hacking abilities just hadn't been advanced enough, hence the coding classes.

Turning with my revolving chair, I copied the code I'd been making onto another screen, one that I could take home with me and study for a while. Even though I'd been through this course, and had already put together these codes, there were some things that just struck me as important, different, useful.

A few more swipes over the screen and I had finished, and I looked to the corner for the time. Twenty-five minutes until the class ended. I double tapped the messenger icon and selected 'MRS STARK'. When we're finished, what do we do? A moment later I heard a snort, and looked up to see Stark glaring at me. Lovely.

My computer chimed, and I broke eye contact to seek the returned message. I don't expect anyone to finish. This is for homework.

I let my eyes rise again, and this time looked over the class. Heads were bent down, shoulders were slouched, and I could hear that faint tapping of Digi-pens over desks. I wondered how these people could be having so much trouble.

A flick of movement caught my gaze, and I focused on the rising body. Morgan had slid up in his chair and was stretching his arms back over his shoulders. After a moment his hands returned to his lap - or desk, or wherever he put them - and he leaned backwards, obviously finished. There was a faint curve to his lips. I wondered if he'd noticed my stare.

Feeling the heat begin to colour my cheeks I looked back to my screen and quickly saved my assignment. Then I open the PhysicSand 4.0 icon on my desktop and jiggered things up. The graphics were no better than average, but the idea was good. Plus, it kept me occupied, which was a hard thing to do when it came to computers.

Fortunately, I was right about the class, and the forty minutes passed by without incident. A good thing, too. I don't usually care if people look at me, but these past two weeks had been torture! The sheer number of eyes boring into me just messed my mind. It was hard to concentrate, which severely ticked me off. I come to school for one reason, and when I can't even focus enough to retain information... well, I suppose I get angry. I'd felt the number steadily increase as the other students finished their assignments. It had gotten harder and harder to manipulate the sand, which was a terrible sign, given that it was a game.

The buzzer rang and I slid out of my desk, closed the waist-high door behind me, and peeked over at my materials, one of my numerous nervous habits. Everything was in order. Drawers closed. Digi-pens stored. Computers off. A quick nod of my head and I was off. Or should have been, if it weren't for Morgan. Unfortunately I'd knocked into him as I'd backed up. I had no idea why he would be there, seeing as how his desk was on the other side of the class.

"Watch it, Taylor," he said with an oddly charming smile. He tilted his head to one side and his dark, lazily-locked hair fell across his face to obscure one amused brown eye. "That shipment is only available to the higher-ups... which narrows it down to a few thousand. I'll have to research the versions. That wouldn't be a type two by any chance, would it?"

I don't know, my usual witty response to any other student who deigned to speak to me, just wouldn't work given the situation. I may not be interested in trying to impress my fellows, but I was still a girl. It would go against my nature to purposefully seem stupid to someone of the opposite sex.

So I shrugged, and feigned disinterest. Although I suppose it wasn't really feigned. This was actually the last thing I wanted to talk about. "It doesn't matter, does it? Whether it's a two or a five, you won't be able to tell who I am."

"What makes you so sure?" His visible eye glinted with interest as he looked down his nose at the Nano-Band. I couldn't tell what he wanted more; the band itself, or it's owner's identity. As I've said, the gadget is useful. But a name... A name is powerful.

My uncertainty made me smile, another nervous habit. But after a moment of thought I felt the smile deepen, become real.

"Well, I don't know. Are you a conniving prick both online and off?" This stopped him cold. His composed features quirked in surprise and his eyes met mine, an unconscious turn of his head shifting the hair from his face. I could see anger there, but only briefly. The cool smile was back before I was even sure of what I'd seen. This one was slightly different than before. There was something to it that I hadn't seen before. I couldn't spend much time thinking over it, though, for he turned on his heel and headed towards the classroom's exit. I realized that all the desks were empty, and the class was clear.

"I am looking forward to these classes together." He threw me a dismissive wave over his shoulder, passed by the last circular desk, and made his way through the door.




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