In the year 2009, a genetically enhanced, 9-year old female super-soldier who calls herself Max Guevara, (also known as X5-452), escapes along with eleven others like her from a secret government institution. At the institution, codenamed Manticore, they were created and subsequently raised and trained to be soldiers and assassins. On June 1, 2009, months after Max's escape, terrorists detonate an electromagnetic pulse weapon in the atmosphere over the U.S., which destroys the vast majority of computer and communication systems, throwing the country into utter chaos.
Ten years later in 2019 now 19-year-old Max struggles to search for her Manticore brothers and sisters. In a United States which is now barely more than a Third World nation, she tries to live her life, to evade capture, and to learn to trust and love. She is aided by Logan Cale, an underground cyber-journalist with the alias Eyes Only; Zach, a fellow X-5; and her friends Original Cindy and Sketchy at Jam Pony, a courier company where she works as a bicycle messenger.