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Grey Trace, a stay-at-home mechanic, lives with his wife Asha who works for Cobolt, one of the companies contributing to an increase in human-computer augmentations in a near-future world. One day, Grey asks Asha to help him return a refurbished car to his client Eron Keen, a famous tech innovator in charge of a rival company called Vessel. While visiting his home, Eron reveals his latest creation, an AI chip called STEM that can serve as an auxiliary brain. On their way home, Grey and Asha's self-driving car malfunctions and crashes at a homeless camp. Four unknown men then arrive, shooting Asha in the chest and Grey in the neck, severing his spinal cord. Grey watches helplessly as Asha bleeds to death next to him. Grey returns home months later as a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic, now under the care of his mother Pamela. Asha's death and the inability of Det. Cortez, who had been assigned to her case, to identify their attackers has caused Grey to sink into an intense depression. After a suicide attempt by overdosing on medication, he is visited by Eron, who offers to surgically implant STEM into Grey's spine and restore motor functions to his body. Though Grey is initially resistant, Eron successfully persuades him to undergo the surgery..