She knew too that rubbing elbows with the elite in society would assist her own career. Her appointment to the P.I.L. department had come through a few weeks ago and she had swiftly learned that much of her job included dealing with the politics of information management. Katherine almost wished she were still just a Subordinate Information Librix. As a S.I.L. she had been under a supervising Premier Information Librix who handled all the meetings, policy navigation, and legislation. Now, Katherine found herself with those responsibilities in addition to overseeing the Sapphire Grid.
The Sapphire Grid, she thought wistfully as one of her numerous conversation partners prattled excitedly. Katherine barely restrained rolling her eyes and instead allowed her thoughts to slip from the discussion and wander through the opening sequence of the Grid’s boot up.
That first perfectly blue screen appeared like a gorgeous sea of uniform pixels. Then, blocky, white letters snapped onto the field and said, Welcome Katherine. The whole universe opened to her with that cheery greeting. Every star, moon, and planet in the known universe was cataloged in the Grid. Every citizen of the Star Union government had a small electronic tag that now tied them to Katherine’s creation. When she opened the Grid, she felt like the center of everything and also the servant of everything. It not only kept tabs on Star Union possessions and people, but it operated the security systems for all government facilities, including public organizations who received grants from the Union. It controlled operations for government and commercial aircraft, weapons technology, electronic mail, and the entire information interspace system that connected the Union. Thinking of the Grid’s reach, not to mention its, as yet, undiscovered uses, made Katherine a little dizzy with excitement and fear.
Three years of Katherine’s hard work, research, experimentation, sleepless nights, bouts of depression, inspiration, and failure had finally produced the Sapphire Grid. She had presented it as her graduation project and her professors had almost immediately seen the Grid’s potential. A few months later, after the Chair of the Lower House, Gabriella Nunez, had approached her, Katherine sold the Sapphire Grid to the Star Union with the explicit stipulation that she was to be placed in charge of its maintenance and development.
On top of the huge compensation the Union had paid her for the Grid—enough to keep her extravagantly wealthy for the rest of her life – the Lower House requested her promotion to Premiere Information Librix with the accompanying six digit salary. The position itself was a great honor as she had turned twenty-three only six months ago and S.I.L.s usually had to serve at least a decade or more before even hoping to achieve P.I.L. status. Katherine viewed her advancement bitter-sweetly. She had thought at first that becoming a Premiere would place her at the heart of new technology developments and also keep her intimately involved with the Sapphire Grid, but, in truth, her new duties pulled her further and further from her first passion, field work with information systems. Therefore, she often worked twelve to fifteen hours a day just to make sure that she put in meaningful time on the Grid, even though she had sixteen S.I.L.s under her, all of whom were capable, intelligent women.
At two-thirty in the morning, Katherine decided she had had enough. She told Jonathan she had a headache and, after a small scene where he drunkenly swung from pleading to berating her, she stepped into the damp night air of downtown Pelta. Her fiancé was too drunk to consider taking Katherine home and no taxis were about so she began walking toward her tiny, one room apartment in Dutch District. It’s only a couple of miles away, she thought, faster to walk than to wait for a taxi. In her heart, though, she felt resentful that Jonathan preferred to stay at the engagement party when his bride-to-be was walking home alone.
The weather sensors had sent a rain shower early in the evening, soaking the sidewalks with warm water. Streetlamps lit Katherine’s way home through Omega Park and China District. The further she got from the downtown hotel where the party had taken place, the poorer the surroundings.
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