March 6, 2029
8:23 p.m.

Artemis Bridge never wanted to get into politics, or entertainment, or do anything to help anyone else but himself. He had always viewed politics with a jaundiced eye. Since his unfortunate involvement with the mayoral race the previous summer, he had seen behind the curtain of the grotesque pantomime show, a carefully staged drama run by the LGL corporation Chronosoft, Inc. Bridge's desperate machinations had altered the performance slightly but the end result had been the same. Mayor Sunderland, corporate puppet and part-time virtual pedophile had been defeated. His opponent, Arturo Soto, a corporate puppet of a different sort, had been elected mayor of Los Angeles. Other than personal animosity towards the players, Bridge hadn't really given a fuck.

Bridge had always been a reactor. He had taken what opportunities had come his way and reacted, turning what profit he could. His aptitude with the GlobalNet - and his loose morals - had created a subsistence life as a hacker with his girlfriend, Angela. When the federal budget crisis of 2026 had led to the explosion of violence of the '27 riots, he had reacted with a change in career, leaving behind the life of a GlobalNet hacker for a life in the flesh. He had become the go-to, know-who guy of the Los Angeles underworld, the amoral fixer with the know circuit, the man who could find whatever illegal or immoral good or service desired. He had made a decent, if somewhat dangerous, living dealing with the shitheels and the criminals and the wannabes of Los Angeles' underbelly while secretly hating them all.

The outlandish events in Boulder, Colorado the past November had compelled Bridge to visit the disaster area, ostensibly to save the grandmother of his bodyguard, Aristotle. That had been a flimsy excuse. He never gave a damn about Lalasa Freeman and only cared about Aristotle for the number of times the black giant had saved Bridge's ass. He had really gone to Boulder because of the scientists. The city had been trapped in an energy dome after the secret experiments of a group of university scientists. They had compelled Bridge to seek them out using the unusual powers of the mana engine, an extra-dimensional power source that gave them the ability to forge what Bridge had called “magic spells.” Seeing the powers they could wield, he had conspired with them to create a cult of sorts, the Order of the Technomancers. As silent partner to the reclusive sorcerers, Bridge morphed from reactionary to active participant in his future. Some vague idea had formed in his mind as he pictured the possibilities that the technomancers' powers could open up, but most importantly, the addition of such powerful allies had given Bridge the ability to act.

The technomancers had created an energy converter that Bridge himself had dubbed a Glowbug, a magical piece of tech that took a small input of electricity and returned that same energy multiplied, like a battery that doubled, tripled, quadrupled its output every second for infinity. The new local energy monopoly, Chronotility Energy and Water, a subsidiary of the Chronosoft LGL, squeezed everyone hard for their energy needs. Prices had almost doubled since the riots, on the pretense that the damage done by the militias to the power infrastructure of LA had strapped the utility with decreased supply and reconstruction expenses. Bridge didn't believe it for an instant, as one of Angela's info thieves had "found" an extensive study of Chronotility usage patterns and profit centers that proved the utility was manipulating prices by restricting supply. Bridge had held onto that report for future ammunition.

The stockpile of future ammunition was growing quite large. He had hired a technomancer recruit who went by the name of Mu as a bodyguard to supplement Aristotle. Since the death of his grandmother, Aristotle had been horribly unreliable, and Bridge suspected that the big man was drinking quite heavily. It wasn't as if Aristotle had ever been a true bodyguard. Bridge hadn't wanted to pay Aristotle enough to put his life on the line, but the giant had worked quite well most times as a six-foot-five bluff. Bridge had come to rely on the man as a personal assistant and as much of a friend as Bridge would allow. Mu was something different. As the rumors of the technomancer's magical abilities had spread, Mu had become more than a threat deterrent. He was a status symbol. The most well heeled corporate CEO couldn't afford a technomancer bodyguard, while Bridge could. No one had to know that the technomancers refused to work for corporations for fear those companies would steal the mana engine technology.

Bridge found himself using these resources in ways he never could have imagined to save lives.