THE VINESTEAD UNIVERSE
A not-so-brief, spoiler-filled history of the reality I wish we lived in.
(1960 – 1990)
Perion Synthetics is founded by James Perion in 1966. Notable births in include Anela Zabora (1977), Gordon King (1979), X (1980), and Kaili Zabora (1983).
The Early 90s
In 1991, Katsumi Enterprises debuts the “sliver,” a small piece of metal with an LED readout that can be embedded in a user’s wrist. The sliver functions as a watch, instant messenger, and news aggregator. In virtual reality, a sliver can be used as a programming device.
Later that year, XFX debuts a fully immersive virtual reality known simply as “the Net.” Initially deployed to universities and military networks, the Net becomes a ubiquitous consumer product within four years.
An ambitious Anela Zabora leaves her home in San Diego to move to Austin, Texas, where she founds the ZabSix Cipher Den.
To capitalize on the adoption of the Net, Black Star Circle launches the iMerse Dot0 immersion rig in early 1993. Similar products are launched in the following years, most notably by VitraC (a subsidiary of Vitra Computer Systems) and the Germany-based Koertig Electronics.
In 1995, Arthur Sedivy is appointed the CEO of Vinestead International and begins to steer the worldwide conglomerate in a new direction. Vinestead acquires 67 companies who do business primarily in the Net, including Accent Ascension.
Vinestead engineer Kenneth Barnes develops the first prototype of the Guardian Angel biochip, a multi-function, miniaturized computer that is placed directly on the user’s brain stem and helps monitor and control biological processes. An internal beta test of the Guardian Angel biochip (also referred to as a GA chip or Georgia chip) begins in 1997, culminating in the general release in early 1998.
Prior to his death, Kenneth invents the House of Nepenthe, a self-constained construct that allows dying or comatose users to communicate with the outside world via VNet. The project is buried by Vinestead International.
1998 – 1999
Gifted hacker X leaves his high school sweetheart to attend college at the University of Texas at Austin. After his relationship with C begins to fail, he copies her consciousness and imprints it on a virtual avatar in the Net. X hires the ZabSix Cipher Den to help with the project. The C clone grows too powerful for X to control. In his attempt to turn her off, X is banished from the Net by C. Anela Zabora abducts X in an effort to secure the consciousness-copying code, but when she connects him to the Net, he is instantly destroyed by C‘s Null Echo virus.
X‘s friends Natalie and G (Gordon King) attempt to rescue him by filling the Net with X clones. This causes the Null Echo virus to quickly overtake the entire Net. Vinestead International launches a white flag operation, presenting an antiviral solution that will actually destroy the Net so they can force users to their fledgling Vinestead Network (also known as VNet) service.
Natalie and G attack the ZabSix Cipher Den in a last-ditch attempt to find X. In the process, X is discovered to have already died. Anela Zabora and the entire cipher den are killed in the attack. Natalie and G are listed as Missing Persons two months later.
With the invention of whisperers (wireless earbuds that continually “whisper” news and updates in a user’s ear), media feeds begin popping up in urban centers, most notably Lincoln Continental in Umbra, CA, Banks Media Productions in Los Angeles, CA, and White Line Media in Atlantic City, NJ.
Perion Synthetics begins releasing technical demos of advanced robotics. Vinestead International supplements their failing Synthetics division by acquiring Companion Dynamics and Kitzingen Escorts for their pseudo-artificial intelligence IP.
Vinestead International introduces the Guardian Angel Bill, which will require all newborn and naturalized citizens to be outfitted with a Guardian Angel biochip. The bill passes without much effort.
Kaili Zabora joins the Calle Cinco Cipher Den to join in the fight against Vinestead International prior to the Guardian Angel Bill’s passing. Her first major operation is to participate in The Reaping, a wholesale assassination of Vinestead employees at the Vinestead West building in Sacramento, CA. Kaili is assigned Rick Diaz as her target. However, Kaili gets too close to Rick, and falls in love with him. She is too late to prevent his death. Rather than blame her own cipher den, Kaili puts the blame squarely on Vinestead International for forcing her to kill Rick.
Military-grade Ayudante biochips from the MX begin to appear on the black market. The LassiterAI incident kills 27 engineers at Vinestead International. Nixle Chronos debuts the OcularAr augmented reality headset.
Kaili Zabora assumes control of Calle Cinco. In 2009, on a day known as Calle Cinco de Mayo, the cipher den’s attack on Vinestead’s network cripples the United States air traffic control system, resulting in the deaths of 7,057 people. National support for Calle Cinco evaporates, sending Kaili into hiding.
2010 – 2015
The open-source Margate Biochip debuts, allowing users to load custom software directly onto their biochips.
Adelai Associates is founded in July of 2015.
2015 – 2016
In November of 2015, news leaks of Perion Synthetics founder James Perion’s impending death. In response, aggregators from the Big Three Feeds are sent to Perion City, CA to report on the future of the company. Unbeknownst to the world, James has developed a method for imprinting a human consciousness on a synthetic sleeve. To ensure the success of the company, James has imprinted himself on a copy of himself known informally as Synth J.
Cameron Gray is sent by Donato Banks of Banks Media Productions. To distract him from the story, Head of Public Relations Sava Kessler arranges a meeting between Cam and a prototype synthetic named Roberta.
Cynthia Mesquina is sent by Lincoln Tate of Lincoln Continental. She enters the city illegally and is apprehended by Head of Security Robert Gantz. Gantz is incensed when Sava and Synth J decide to wipe Cynthia’s memory and make her believe she is the mother to a synthetic as part of product testing. Cynthia is eventually rescued from the experiment by Cam.
Gilbert Reyes is sent by Benny Coker of White Line Media. He has been working undercover as an IT repairman, gathering stories about Perion Synthetics. When discovered by Sava, Gil is killed and replaced by a synthetic copy.
After James Perion’s death, his son, Joseph Perion tries to assume control of the company. However, his ascension is blocked by Synth J. Joe forms an alliance with Cam, Cyn, and Gantz. Opposing them are Sava, Synth J, and every functioning synthetic in the city.
In the final showdown, Gantz is killed by Sava, who reveals herself to be Kaili Zabora. Kaili had been working at Perion Synthetics for years trying to steer them into a war with Vinestead International.
Cam discovers his boss sold him out to Synth J. He gets revenge by parlaying his first-hand account of the Perion City debacle into a position at VFeed (Vinestead International’s media feed).
Cyn escapes Perion City and leaves the country. She is later found by Lincoln Tate and given a new assignment: to find a man named G.
Gil accepts Kaili Zabora’s job offer and takes up residence at a Calle Cinco safehouse. He is later discovered by persons unknown and chased over the border into the MX. There, he is captured by MX security forces.
Joe assumes control of Perion Synthetics and promises to carry on his father’s vision.
Kaili retreats to Le Soleil Rouge in Astoria, OR.
Entrepreneur Lucas Cotton debuts the MESH peer-to-peer communication platform in 2019. Later that year, the social networking service Pattrn launches.
In December of 2017, celebrity hacker-for-hire Johnny San Vito is killed by persons unknown.
2035 – 2045
Nixle Chronos debuts contact lens-based augmented reality system. Social networking service Pattrn ceases operations after privacy lawsuits.
Deron Bishop is suspected of causing a city-wide outage of Nixle Chronos’ augmented reality product Veneer. Vinestead agent Memo Ruiz is dispatched from Sonora to Easton to investigate.
the movers and shakers
Anela Zabora (4.12.1977 – 3.26.1999)
Leader of the ZabSix cipher den based in Austin, TX. Older sister of Kaili Zabora.
CEO of Vinestead International (4.22.1995 – ).
Owner and operator of White Line Media and the White Line Dragon Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. Husband of Eileen Coker.
Cameron Gray (10.26.1982 – )
Junior aggregator at Banks Media Productions. Holds a Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley.
Chuck Huber (9.6.1971 – )
Chief Architect at Perion Synthetics. Graduated from Christa McAuliffe High School in Sarasota, Florida at age 15. Holds multiple degrees from Michigan Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology. Served on the advisory committee of the National Science Foundation.
Cynthia Mesquina (10.2.1993 – )
Freelance aggregator for Lincoln Continental media feed. Augmented with a Guardian Angel biochip at age 11. Had Guardian Angel biochip removed at age 17. Thrill junkie. Augmentation enthusiast.
Danny “Guns” Montreal
High school senior suspected of causing Veneer system outage in Easton. Known associate of Sebo Kahani.
Founder and CEO of Banks Media Productions media feed.
Gilbert Reyes ( – 11.14.2015)
Aggregator for White Line Media. Employed by Perion Synthetics in tech repair role.
Gordon “G” King (6.27.1979 – )
Known associate of X. Person of interest in death of Anela Zabora. Missing since 2000.
Vice President of UX Design at social networking company Pattrn.
Isaac “Earl” Glasser
Synaptic Engineer at Vitra Synth. Holds degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics from Umbra Technical. Heavily augmented.
James Perion (1.3.1938 – 10.10.2015)
Founder and CEO of Perion Synthetics. Husband to Victoria Perion. Father to Joseph Perion.
JOHN “X” DOE (3.18.1980 – )
Known associate of Gordon King. Suspected author of Null Echo virus. First person to instantiate a human consciousness in The Net. Missing since 1998.
Johnny San Vito
Joseph Perion (9.11.1988 – )
Became CEO of Perion Synthetics in 2015 following the death of his father, James Perion.
Social engineer at Vinestead International.
Kaili Zabora (11.20.1983 – )
Leader of the Calle Cinco cipher den. Younger sister of Anela Zabora. Known domestic terrorism plots: The Reaping (2004), Calle Cinco de Mayo (2009).
Kenneth Barnes ( – 12.24.1997)
Creator of the Guardian Angel biochip. Creator of the House of Nepenthe virtual construct software. Worked for Vinestead International until his death in 1997.
Owner and operator of the Lincoln Continental media feed.
Creator of peer-to-peer MESH communication platform.
Megan “TANZY” riley
Leader of the I.C.E-1 cipher den based in Portland, Oregon.
Vinestead Agent assigned to Easton and Sonora territories.
Teacher at Dahlstrom Academy. Holds a degree from Berkeley with a focus in rapid-development pedagogy.
Patrick “MELTDOWN” Kumanov
Freelance hacker living in Atlantic City, NJ. Known associate of Gilbert Reyes.
Veteran of the MX Machine War.
Half-owner of Sierra Brothers Productions. Producer. Director. Screenwriter.
Sepideh Ahmadi (12.21.2006 – )
Actress, producer, and model with dual American and Iranian citizenship. Her first role was in the 2024 television crime procedural CSI Abbottabad, but mainstream success came when she was cast as Priya Saleh in The Dark Desert (2026) opposite Claire Danes. In 2033, Ahmadi starred in the political drama Seven Kingdoms. Her performance received widespread critical acclaim and she earned her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
One of the founding sisters of Dahlstrom Academy. Runs the Ontological department. Maintains a psychiatric practice.
Primary founder of the Dahlstrom Academy.
Founder of Nixle Chronos, pioneer of augmented reality technology.