back in the real world, the game hits and people love it. tho it has no corporate backing, it goes viral. music and fashions change and a distinctive culture grows up right away. as the game grows, so do the boy’s ambitions. he is both pope and king of this new quantum universe. funny quantum things start happening in the real world. the press picks up on it. the right picks up on it. there is an outcry. quantum physics is demonized. laws are passed, or brushed off and creatively applied. demonstrations happen. there is police brutality. more people gather. the boy feels dissed when the dominant culture brands him a devil. the girl is focused on seeing the game to a position of self-sufficiency (critical mass) and doesn’t care, but the boy is looking to the future, and decides that he needs to take control of everything because of the threat from the dominant culture.
inside the game, lots of players are learning social movement and resistance skills, and more players are working their way to level ! and going off to create their own worlds and recruit their own players. the outcry grows shriller and more frantic. the repressions grow more brutal. the crowds grow and grow. quantum effects become more frequent. more laws, more crowds, more riots, more disappearances.
the boy is approached by the other side and decides they can be used for his own ends, and cuts them in. people use the skills they have been learning playing the game to change the standing of the people. the dominant culture falls back in confusion, but come back with more force and repression, isolating the rebels and cutting off vital supply chains.
they start to dictate policy, the boy changes things in the game, altering rules and missions, twisting the lessons, identifying and capturing certain types of players. he discovers the sabotage the replacement programmer inserted into the game and confronts him. they join forces, blame the engine programmer for the sabotage and call into question the intent and purpose of the quantum kernel.
the girl stands up to him and throws him out, but she is too weak and disorganized, and he returns with backup, leading the call for the kernel’s confiscation because of its vast power, only to try and steal it himself, and in a struggle over a decoherence bomb, sets it off and destroys the original kernel.
the dominant culture is poised to deal the final blow to the resistance, cutting off all outlets, all communications, all supplies, all power, so there is no more game except on individual computers running on batteries or solar, because the internet itself has been shut down.
then a miracle happens. the quantum effects keep happening in the real world. the game’s internal communications structures are still intact, and people are still using the quantum skills they’ve developed, and still coming out in force. but the perception of the masses has changed, and the powers of the dominant culture suddenly shatter because they’re emperor’s new clothes. so the remains of the dominant culture squeeze itself into their gated communities and fight among themselves for limited resources while the new dominant culture enshrines the new institutions it has developed in response to the repression of the old order., and people quietly create the world they want to live in house by house.
and the story closes by letting the reader choose the ending.