Corvin Elrick Ratzinger, a denizen of the Enlightenment, sojourns to the Himalayas. Completing a violent spirit quest, he is granted audience with a primordial being and awakens in a distant future, imbued with its cosmic power and a mission: to dismantle the modern world order.
Meanwhile, Oni Anagonye visits her former instructor Dawud Makgoba at her alma mater, the Mandela Preparatory School for Gifted Children. It’s a routine visit—when Vanguards aren’t legislating or protecting human life, they can typically be found in service of their passions within a community. Yet this respite comes with a warning from her mentor: beware the Machiavellians, an insurgency bent on returning the world to the pain and chaos of the nation-state model of the modern period, now denigrated as the ‘Era of Subjugation.’
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Things become strange. Corvin, now self-styled as the ‘All-Father’, murders a man in cold blood in the center of Metropolis (formerly Vienna). A routine Vanguard operation yields credible information about questionable government practices. And now, after years of lurking in the shadows—the Machiavellians launch a major attack on the National Archives, the largest store of government knowledge in all of the Ethocratic Republic.
Critically injured while fighting for the life of her colleagues and civilians in the battle for Metropolis, Oni emerges victorious in a duel of wits between herself and Corvin, who has wandered into her dreams in the hopes of persuading her to join his cause. Oni survives, and becomes something of a celebrity with the help of a charismatic Senator by the name of Heathrow Wilson. After a period of recovery, Oni meets Corvin once more for a nail-biting showdown. Impressed by her tenacity and spirit, the All-Father extends an incredible offer—join him, and become ascendant.
But the young Vanguard has too much on her mind to take up such a mantle. She’s burying the friend she couldn't save, and meeting with covert forces that confirm her worst fears about the government crafted from the mind of her idol—the radical and eccentric philosopher Edgar von Galen. The Ethocracy has been contaminated, perhaps beyond repair. It will be up to Oni and her elite team of Vanguards, K10 Theta, to salvage what remains of von Galen’s legacy, and by consequence the health of all humanity.