Upon publication of the obituary for Matthew A. Sobol, a brilliant computer programmer and CTO of Cyberstorm Entertainment, a Daemon is activated. Sobol, dying of brain cancer, was fearful for humanity and began to envision a new world order. The Daemon becomes his tool to achieve that vision. The Daemon's first mission is to kill two programmers Joseph Pavlos & Chopra Singh who worked for CyberStorm Entertainment and unknowingly helped in the creation of the Daemon.
The program secretly takes over hundreds of companies and provides financial and computing resources for recruiting real world agents and creating AutoM8s (computer controlled driverless cars, used as transport and occasionally as weapons), Razorbacks (sword-wielding robotic riderless motorcycles, specifically designed as weapons) and other devices. The Daemon also creates a secondary online web service, hidden from the general public, dubbed the Darknet, which allows Daemon operatives to exchange information freely.
What follows is a series of interlocking stories following the main characters:
Detective Pete Sebeck is called in to investigate the death of Pavlov. However, when a connection is made between the two programmers and Cyberstorm, the FBI takes over led by Agent Decker. For being the first authority figure in the investigation, the Daemon selects Sebeck against his will to serve the Daemon, which frames Sebeck for its creation as a multi-million scheme and a hoax. The US government, though knowing the truth, fasttracks Sebeck's trial and executes him eight months later. Sebeck makes peace with his wife, who loves him despite Sebeck's having an affair, but his son Chris remains estranged, and he proclaims his innocence while dying from lethal injection. However, Sebeck later awakens to learn that the Daemon faked his death and assigned him the task to prove that humanity deserves its freedom from the Daemon. Joined by a fellow operative named Laney Price, Sebeck vanishes into America.
Jon Ross, a Russian hacker and identity thief, is questioned by the FBI and brought into the investigation by Sebeck. Unfortunately, traditional investigation methods are useless against Sobol's Daemon program. Ross eventually deduces that the Daemon can anticipate their every move, seemingly one step ahead of anyone who tries to interfere with its operation. Even after being named in the Daemon hoax (and put on the FBI's most wanted list), Ross willingly helps the US government to stop the program. Assigned to the NSA's anti-Daemon task force, with Agent Phillips, he is a firsthand witness to Loki's attack on the installation and barely survives the massacre that follows. With his immunity deal rescinded, he vanishes underground with the intent on destroying the Daemon on his own.