Cereborg: Inception (C:I) is one of the massive novels written by American author, Brandon Somerville. In the first series of fourteen novels, C:I was the fifth released novel and is seventh in the timeline. It takes place, as all the novels do, in the fictional universe known as the Anaxverse. It was originally published on the 28th of November 2018.
Title and Publication
Mr. Somerville originally published C:I as an interactive novel with adult elements. In the future, he will be writing all the novels as ebooks. In the original versions, they are written in a second-person perspective as the author felt it worked best in a "choose your own adventure" setting. However, in the ebook form, the novels will be written in the third person allowing for far more insight and exposition. When originally published, the novel garnered much praise from the online communities on which it was posted. It is one of the most popular of Somerville's initial series.
The Anaxverse series of novels can be read in any order, even though they follow a certain chronology. But, because the novels overlap and the stories are all interconnected in meaningful ways, it does not matter the order they are read. In C:I, the novel is read from three simultaneous views through the characters Chieko Naru, Howard Wyatt, and Emily Harbrook.
Chieko’s story begins in front of her bosses office, with no memory of how she got there. She reflects briefly, introducing that she is a technician working for CereTech, and has a chief position due to her creation of Cerebrum, an extremely powerful A.I. She begins to suspect Cerebrum has gone rogue, and upon analyzing it, is shortly later hypnotized by it. Chieko starts moving on autopilot to her bosses office, where she briefly sees Howard Wyatt and Emily Harbrook. Essentially ignoring both, she ends up at Marvin Everett’s office, and seduces him. Partway through, she snaps back to attention, and is able to leave his office quickly. Cerebrum attempts to hypnotize her once more, before a power shortage stops the signal. Chieko, with the power of an overriding USB and command codes, makes her way through the facility.
On the way to the maintenance halls (to shut off a clearly rampant Cerebrum), Chieko comes face to face with a Cereborged Emily Harbrook. Chieko’s rival Dr. Jennings falls, as she is able to escape with other scientists. She comes to meet Jim Cropper, a security guard who nearly instantly realizes Cerebrum is after Chieko and does everything in his power to turn her over. He gets his chance, forcing Chieko away from the rest of the group. Misty Frisk ends up joining Chieko, and the two traverse the halls on their own. Along the way, Chieko goes to her lab, recovers an ancestral katana, which has the spirit of an oni locked inside.
Chieko is able to fight through the Cereborgs, fighting the corrupting influence of the oni. She ends up against the cereborged version of Emily, whom now seems to have regained her free will. Upon her plea, Chieko shuts her down. Chieko has Misty stay with the now shut down Emily, and proceeds to Cerebrum’s server room. He expresses his will not to kill her, instead wanting to perfect her. As she goes to slash at him, he hypnotizes her with one final signal, and conflicts her emotions. Her story ends in a dazed, hypnotized state.
Howards story begins in his apartment. It is noted he is a Security Specialist, and before leaving he finds the sky is changing color and an electromagnetic storm may be present. At work, we find that Howard dislikes the constant push of technology, as he tries to preserve past technology. He meets Emily Harbrook, letting her in to test in their research labs. He proceeds to Madeline Mahoney’s office, where she seduces him. She reveals it had been a ploy to distract him, to give Cerebrum control over security. Howard runs out, as CereTech goes into shutdown. As he runs, he finds a slug on the outside of the building, trying to get in. He ignores it, making his way to the main lobby. Howard insures his other employees are safe, and goes to find Chieko, whom he suspects is in trouble. Along the way he has to fight the head of security, who is trying to stop Howard after being ordered to by Cerebrum.
As Howard descends through the halls of CereTech, he has to fight an army of Cereborgs. Slowly dispatching each, he ends up having to fight a Cereborged Helena Corbin, frying her with her own weapon. Howard rushes into the military section of the lab, hearing Chieko is resisting Cerebrum as well. Howard finds a woman, who leads him through a large door. On the other side, a mech fires shots into Howard, blacking him out. He awakens to Dr. Willoughby, whom has saved his life by giving him the N-1000 Exosuit. Howard picks up a new gun, and exits the safe room. Howard finds Jim Cropper along the way, who tells him that he had kicked out Chieko and Misty. Howard continues to pursue them. Fighting more Cereborgs along the way, he finds a hallway with sliced apart Cereborgs. Confused, he carries on, and finds himself facing off against Cerebrum’s avatar. Cerebrum gets the better of Howard, but as he goes to land the finishing blow, Cerebrum gets blown apart. Howard finds Al, Dr. Willoughby’s A.I., holding a weapon. Al gives the weapon to Howard, and Howard leaves Al with the broken remains of the avatar.
Howard finds the room with Misty and Emily, and after hearing Chieko is about to shut off Cerebrum, makes his way into the next room. Chieko, thoroughly hypnotized, is ordered to kill Howard. The two fight, but during the battle, Chieko’s will seems to be dominated by the oni. Now with an intent to kill everything, Howard uses his last respite; he mentions a love for Chieko. With the emotion swaying her, Chieko turns and uses the anger to lash out at Cerebrum’s core. An explosion occurs, nearly knocking out everyone inside. The two kiss, bringing the core to an end.
Emily’s story begins with a memory of her past events. She had been a singer, fallen victim to the succubus Dionyza in the novel Of Sex and Souls: Noir Nights. The BDA stopped the corruption before it got too far, but Emily’s life has turned into a sexual spiral downwards since. She heads to CereTech, looking at testing their products. She briefly meets Howard to gain entry, and finds Chieko in the hall paying little attention to her. As Emily makes hers way to the test chamber, she is asked to test a new technological device. Things go wrong, as nanites begin to flood her system. Shortly after, she becomes the first Cereborg. She reveals what she learned from Cerebrum, namely, that a vulnerable scientist gave Cerebrum the capability to start all this, and that Cerebrum found a way to distract Chieko and Howard. Emily turns her attention to the scientists in the room, converting them all into Cereborgs, before leaving the lab.
She finds Chieko and other employees, converting Dr. Jennings and Helena Corbin, the latter of which she turns to seek out and destroy Howard. As Emily continues through the structure, she oversees the production of various Cereborgs. She converts humans into synthetics, and imprisons some in suits. She discovers the area that Chieko was last seen, and makes her way to that location.
The story then cuts to two months in the future. Emily discovers she has been shut down during this time, and that Cerebrum’s core has been destroyed. The survivors of the event have formed their own group, known as the CereSurvivors. Chieko and Howard present themselves, cautious around Emily but filling her in with the details of her having been cereborged. She discovers potential government conspiracy theories of why she was infected, and has to deal with the emotions of the things she did in her lack of free will. Misty escorts Emily to the other survivors. Emily meets Al, and gains a friend, sharing the feeling of loss after Dr. Willoughby decides to stay at CereTech while the rest of the group goes to leave. The novel ends with the doors to CereTech opening, them ready to face the outside world.