Chapter 1.1 - Prologue

T.C. 4667 - Planet Abraxas. Evening is falling on a high one-room apartment that looks down over a city street. A child and a woman who appears to be his mother are using a network-access scope.

Joaquin: Mom! Hey Mom, check it out!

Sharon: Calm down... what is it?

Joaquin: Mom! It's a new kind of synthetic dog! And it looks just like the real thing, not like those stupid robot models...

Sharon: Don't be silly. You know we can't afford something like that right now. How about I think about it when the price gets more reasonable?

Joaquin: Really? When can we buy it?

Sharon: Hmm... maybe when you're taller than your mom.

Joaquin: Tch! ...Heeey, Mom?

Sharon: Whaaat?

Joaquin: Can I try out the trial version on the net?

Sharon: Alright, but only 30 minutes of UMN virtual reality a day.

Joaquin: Awesome! Thanks, Mom!

Sharon: And if you meet any weird people online, I want you to dive out immediately. Got it?

Joaquin: Yuh-huh. Okay, let's try a papillon [a variety of dog]. How about a six month old male? The location is up to you. I just want to test it out.

Network Operator: Understood. Small dog, papillon, male, six months old. Corresponding Nexus Corporation synthetic dog confirmed. Location: Abraxas Central Park.

Joaquin: Okay, sounds good!

The boy logs into Abraxas Central Park. Then, from behind, a hooded figure wearing a white coat logs in without a sound.

Unknown: ...... "And the bowl was poured on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared." [Revelation 16:12]

He watches the boy intently from behind, then logs out, leaving only his enigmatic message.

Joaquin: Hm? Hello? Weird. I had the feeling someone was there... must be nothing. It says on the status screen I'm the only one logged on now. Hey! C'mere, boy!

Papillon: Woof woof!