The party turns out to be “low-key.” Link and Marty are playing a “zombie-mutant” virtual reality game, bumping into people because they can’t see what’s right in front of them.
The VR game is a pretty good metaphor for the characters’ society itself—people are so immersed in over-the-top artificial realities that they can barely conduct themselves like adults in the real world.
Violet, who looks nervous, says hello to Calista while Titus talks to Quendy. Quendy chats him to ask if he thinks Calista and Link are “doing it,” and Titus replies that they probably are. Quendy asks Titus if he’s going out with Violet and he admits that he is. Calista, Quendy reports, thinks Violet is “stuck-up.” Violet chats Titus that she used the word “picayune” while talking to Calista, and now Calista is making fun of her.
The characters use chatting non-stop—even Violet, who’s previously shown some reluctance to use feed technology. Often, multiple conversations are carried out at once. Violet is treated as an outcast because she’s more interested in verbal expression and the art of communication than her peers.
The party proceeds as if Titus and his friends were never hacked. Everything is normal.
Titus seems to resent that life is so relentlessly normal. He wants something to happen, even if he can’t conceive of what this “something” would be.
Meanwhile, on the feed, there are reports that President Trumbull has attacked “corporate watch organizations” for daring to criticize corporations, and denies that lesions are in any ways related to American industry. He repeats that America is a “free” nation, and that it’s the duty of free people to protect free commerce.