Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The third book in the Beggars trilogy, Beggars Ride details the aftermath of the society-destroying Change Syringe . These syringes contain a unique nanotechnology called Cell Cleaner . Developed by the SuperSleepless/SuperBrights, exiled Sleepless one step above normal Sleepless, the Cell Cleaner makes humans immune to all disease and poison, and also confers autotrophism. We no longer need clean water, edible food, or sanitary conditions in order to thrive. Sunlight and organic material are sufficient for life.
Miranda Sharifi and her SuperSleepless, exiled from the Sanctuary Orbital by her grandmother Jennifer Sharifi upon her release from federal prison, had decided to end the economic oligarchy of post-capitalist America by providing Change syringes all over the world. Their intent was to allow each individual to live without begging; to reach his or her potential outside the strictures of a society controlled by genemod donkeys, the only Sleeper humans who actually do any work.
Unfortunately, Miranda and the SuperSleepless turned out to be as capable of hubris as any normal human. Their grand plan backfires. Instead of rejuvenating the ideal of individual achievement, society fragments even further. Livers, those who accept the Change syringe, begin a nomadic existence. Deprived of material goods and disenfranchised by donkey political maneuvering, society regresses thousands of years to a hunter-gatherer dystopia.
Discouraged and disheartened by the disastrous effects of the Change syringe, Miranda and company retreat to their own personal sanctuary on the moon. Production and distribution of Change syringes is halted suddenly, with heart-wrenching effects. Grown dependent on the life style afforded them by perfect disease resistance, Livers have completely forgotten the basic concept of sanitation. Their children, deprived of Cell Cleaner, die en masse of sores and infections, as their physically fit parents beg for more Cell Cleaner. All entreaties to the SuperSleepless go unanswered.
This status quo is maintained for years, until a young Liver named Lizzie rises above the herd through her brillance at data-dipping (computer hacking). She encourages her fellow Livers to register to vote, an act of civic duty none of them have bothered with since the near-total collapse of the US economic and political structure. Frightened by the idea of a Liver in power, but averse to making a total mockery of the political process, the Donkeys resort to bribery, their old trick of "bread and circuses" that they used back when Y-energy turned the economy upside-down.
The Donkeys find an unlikely savior in the form of Jennifer Sharifi, who contracts a brilliant and immoral geneticist to create a virus that acts so quickly the Cell Cleaner cannot prevent its effects. The virus short-circuits the brain into reacting fearfully to new stimuli. Jennifer Sharifi plans to infect of all humanity with this virus, leading to a complacent, predictable, change-averse herd mentality that she can easily control.
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