The existence of Hermes is certainly nothing new. But since you began to perceive magic, you’ve noticed there’s something… odd… about the internet. Sometimes you feel like the search engine is watching you. Sometimes you have the strangest dreams if you’re browsing too late at night.
Hermes. The biggest tech conglomerate in the world. Your ISP. Your webmail. The most popular search engine. A line of phones. Petasus, the largest web retailer. New projects like H-leaks, an archive of leaked information on corporate corruption they maintain as a source for the common good; or the controversial H-spec augmented reality glasses. Hermes is everywhere, helpful, innovative, free when possible, affordable when not. It’s not a monopoly if they have competitors in every individual service they provide, right? Competitors who never manage to do as well as they do?
But there’s more you don’t realize until a black-suited woman you’ve never met before saunters up to you in the favorite bar of the supernatural community and asks you how it’s hanging. That’s how you meet Agent Mandalia: she’s on a mission to taste every form of alcohol in the world, has a tarantula called Robbie, and yes, her first name is Agent. And she’s here to offer you a job. Step into the world of spies, working for Homeland Data Management, because your skills have caught their eye. How, you don’t know. How she leaves herself as a contact on your phone, you don’t know.
It’s nothing too sketchy, she promises. No renditions, no assassinations, just perfectly legal surveillance. Good steady work.
Perfectly legal surveillance conducted with all the data collected by the biggest tech conglomerate in the world. Because ever since an obscure government ruling, HDM has had access to everything Hermes knows. Agent Mandalia works for the joint office. And now, if you choose to drop down this rabbit hole, so do you.
Then again, so does Oluchi Emeagwali, and you can’t imagine any organization that Oluchi Emeagwali would work for being all that bad. A brilliant scientist and mage, specializing in cutting-edge robotics and AI, friendly, outgoing, devoted to the common good. About the only flaw he has, far as you can tell, is being a workaholic. He has a pet robot spider he built for fun. Agent Mandalia calls it Robo-Robbie.
Your boss–well, he’s a little more like what you’d expect from a strange joint surveillance office of technological spies. Ethan Rye is brusquely professional, a career operative, but for all that he’s a hardass in some ways, he’s very level-headed and tolerant of his office of eccentrics. He also just might be a werewolf.
But the rabbit hole keeps going down and down. You have no idea where Ethan stands in the chain of command, or what he does when he’s out of the office for weeks at a time. The internet, Hermes is discovering, has a mind of its own: spontaneously emergent sites that appear and disappear in the bowels of the deep web, defying indexing or categorization. And you still don’t know who that man you met in your dreams was, with the dark eyes and the wide smile and the polo shirt, but for some reason you keep expecting to turn an office corridor and find him…
Play in the Hermes faction, or one of 9 others, in Susurrus: Season of Tides.