Genius founder of Cyberstorm Games and the creator of the Daemon. His death from cancer is what kicks off the entire plot when his Daemon programs read his obituary and start causing chaos. You learn that he is truly a Well-Intentioned Extremist who did what he felt he had to do because Utopia Justifies the Means. It worked.
- Badass Bookworm: Manages to create a successful plan to overthrow the entire world order while dying of cancer.
- Dead Man Writing: Literally the only way he can communicate, as the first paragraph of the series is his obituary.Matthew Sobol: Detective Sebeck. I was Matthew Sobol. Chief technology officer of CyberStorm Entertainment. I am dead. I see youíve been assigned to the Josef Pavlos and Chopra Singh murder cases. Let me save you some time; I killed both men. Soon youíll know why. But you have a problem: Because Iím dead, you canít arrest me. More importantly: You canít stop me. Since you have no choice but to try and stop me, I want to take this moment to wish you luck, Sergeant Ė because youíre going to need it.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: As mentioned above under Badass Bookworm.
- Evil Genius: Subverted. He's certainly a genius, and he he seems evil to begin with, but he's ultimately revealed as an antihero.
- The Extremist Was Right: Ultimately, his plan comes to fruition and the Daemon establishes a self-sustaining society based on renewable resources. It also proves itself superior to its predecessor by censuring Loki where the old world had continued to empower the Major.
- I Did What I Had to Do: The Daemon kills quite a few people and is responsible for a number of other unscrupulous actions, but Sobol feels it's necessary to avert greater casualties in the long term. Again, he's ultimately proven correct.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: "Because Iím dead, you canít arrest me. More importantly: You canít stop me."
- Necessarily Evil: Downplayed. He decides to commit a number of posthumous murders in order to prevent greater catastrophes down the road. Ultimately, his actions can be considered a response to a planet-scale version of the trolley problem. Sobol knew no one else had the means and motivation to pull the lever, so he chose to do it himself.
- The Needs of the Many: His entire motivation is to save society from a catastrophic collapse, and he's willing to do whatever this takes, no matter how unethical it may be from a deontological standpoint.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Literally - his obituary activates the Daemon.
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Pretty much the defining characteristic of a daemon; you wouldn't even be hearing the tape if you didn't perform the necessary trigger action - like, say, try to Take Over the World.
- Tragic Villain: Again, subverted. His life story is tragic and he initially comes across as villainous, but he's ultimately revealed as having good intentions.
- Unscrupulous Hero: The most probable categorisation for him. He does a number of highly unsavoury things up to and including (posthumous) murder, but he has benign motivations for all of it. Could also be considered a particularly dark Pragmatic Hero.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: This is ultimately revealed to be Sobol's plan as the story develops.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: While his methods are cruel, his motivations are nothing less than the aversion of an environmental collapse that would likely result in billions of deaths.
The detective initially put on the Daemon case. The Daemon seems to take specific delight in torturing him and sets him up to take the fall for the massacre at Sobol's mansion. He is demonized (no pun intended) by the media and executed for his alleged crimes. However, his story does not end there...
- Common Character Classes: Is identified as a Warrior in the Darknet world.
- Death by Origin Story: Seemingly killed near the start of the story, but ultimately revealed to be alive at the end of the first book.
- Decoy Protagonist: Downplayed or even subverted. He's seemingly set up to be the protagonist, but he seemingly dies near the start of the first book. But he turns up alive and well at the end of it, and ultimately does become a major character in the second book.
- Defective Detective: Cheats on his wife whom he only married due to pregnancy, has an appetite for danger that borders on Death Seeker, has a poor relationship with his son, and things only get stranger from there.
- Not Quite Dead: Proves to be alive at the end of the first book.
- Unwitting Pawn
Roy "Tripwire" Merritt — The Burning Man
Merritt was part of the elite Hostage Rescue Team tasked with infiltrating Sobol's mansion at the beginning of the story. The rest of his team was killed by the various boobytraps before they were even able to get in the front door. Despite being set on fire by a gasoline-armed sprinkler system, he managed to breach the back door and make his way far enough into the mansion to trigger the self-destruct mechanism. Even with all this, he survives, albeit significantly scarred from the experience. His epic run is recorded by mansion security cameras and passed around the darknet as inspiration. They christen him "The Burning Man" as a mark of honor and he becomes a folk hero and legend even - especially - after things take a horrible turn for him and end up with him getting killed by the Major.
- Determinator: As explained in the biography above.
- Hero Antagonist: Opposes the Daemon, but has no villainous qualities whatsoever.
- Token Good Teammate: Of the characters who stay loyal to the existing world order to the end, Merritt is the only one who is unambiguously good, to the extent that the people on the darknet adore him.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Gragg thinks this of him in Freedomô.
- Worthy Opponent: Considered this by the Darknet's inhabitants.
Gragg is first introduced setting up a date rape of a teenaged girl at a rave and framing one of his associates to take the fall for a data theft he committed. As he gains power in the Daemon's network, he goes From Bad to Worse. The Daemon picks him for some of its less savory plans.
- And I Must Scream: The Major surgically removes his fingertips, tongue and eyes for a Borrowed Biometric Bypass.
- Badass Biker: In the second book, he tools around on a custom-made Ducati Streetfighter motorcycle and wears futuristic biker leathers that double as bulletproof body armor.
- Black Hat Hacker: What he was before the Daemon recruited him.
- Common Character Classes: Takes the role of a Sorcerer in the Darknet. Of course, the rest of the title is "Logistics Defense Sorcerer", so he's pretty much the Darknet's equivalent of a secret agent.
- Enemy Summoner: His Lightning Guns are nice and all, but the true source of his power is his ability to summon up and control a seemingly endless number of AutoM8s, razorbacks, microjet drones, and angel teeth.
- Even Evil Has Standards: When Merritt is assassinated in front of him, Gragg makes his singular mission to find and destroy the person responsible. This is probably his only saving grace.
- Evil Sorcerer: An invoked trope. He's the only named Sorcerer in the books and easily the most evil Daemon operative around.
- Freudian Excuse: Apparently, he had a very, very unhappy childhood. One of the reasons that he's so easy for Sobol to manipulate is that he craves the approval of a father figure, having never gotten any from his own.
- Jerkass: As explained above under his biography.
- Lightning Gun: The LIP-C weapons embedded in the fingertips of his gloves. He notes that being able to shoot lightning bolts from his hands is the fulfillment of a longtime personal goal.
- Lonely at the Top: He recognises in Freedomô that despite his top Darknet level he has no friends.
- No Place for Me There: In the same internal monologue, he notes that his greatest fear is that there will one day be no more enemies of the network to fight and he will have to settle down to a quiet life in a sleepy darknet community, which he considers to be a special kind of hell.
- One-Man Army: Loki is the founder and sole member of the Stormbringer logistics defense faction. At the height of his power, he is personally able to bring to bear as much military might as the rest of the darknet members in the central United States put together.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Loki finally tracks down The Major, he calls in every asset he has to eliminate anything and anyone standing in his way, civilian or otherwise.
- Shout-Out: Stormbringer.
- Token Evil Teammate: He recognises that he has become this as the Darknet's growth to encompass so many normal people has removed the need for sociopathic hatchet men like himself.
- Unwitting Pawn: As much as, and possibly even more than, Sebeck. Sobol deliberately engineered his rise to power to give the members of the darknet a clear example of the evils of concentrated power for them to unite against.
- Videogame Cruelty Potential: Everyone not part of the Darknet is an NPC to him - a target dummy for his powers.
- We Can Rebuild Him: How he comes back after the Major removes his eyes, tongue and fingertips.
- Worthy Opponent: Gragg sees Merritt as such, arguably rightfully so as Merritt is the only one who ever even gets close to taking him out. Merritt does not return the sentiments.
A mysterious member of a Private Military Contractor hired to be part of the Daemon Task Force. His motives are unclear from the beginning and only get worse from there.
- Almighty Janitor: On paper, he's a back-office staffer for an obscure private security firm. In practice, he's one of the most powerful men in the world. Driven home in a scene early in the second book, in which he's part of the audience at a presentation given by two men who have no idea who he is and are taken aback when he starts asking them questions...even though everyone else in the room actually works for him.
- Ascended Extra: He has a fairly small role in the first book, but becomes the main antagonist in the second.
- Bad Boss: One of the worst ever. In the second book, for example, he deliberately murders one of his own men in order to steal his gun while escaping from Loki's razorbacks. Later, he smugly tells Loki that he doesn't care if the latter slaughters his men. In fact, it saves him from having to pay their completion bonuses.
- Big Bad: Of Freedomô.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: His mission isn't to stop the Daemon, but to take advantage of the worldwide chaos to make a quick fortune.
- Dirty Coward: Not that it's necessarily a negative quality, since it saves his life from the Daemon's forces several times.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": He doesn't bother telling anyone his real name. We never find out even by the end.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He's actually surprised to discover that Loki has a rock-bottom rep score on the darknet.
- The Evils of Free Will: He has a couple of Motive Rants about it in the second book.
- Majorly Awesome: He may be pure Evil but he does make a good account of himself. Subversion: He's actually ascended past the rank but keeps it as a moniker.
- Private Military Contractors
- Smug Snake
- The Sociopath
- The Spook: Known facts about his past can be counted on one hand. His name is not one of them.
- We Have Reserves: He explicitly tells Loki that this is why he believes his side will win: victory always comes down to who runs out of troops first, and it's not going to be the military-industrial complex.
- Would Hurt a Child
Computer consultant that the Daemon attempts to frame for some of its initial actions. While he initially appears to be your everyday computer security consultant, it quickly becomes clear that he has a much more complicated history than he is letting on.
- Common Character Classes: Acts as a Rogue in the Darknet and specializes on infiltration and subtlety.
- The Drifter: Starts off as an IT consultant with no actual permanent home. Ends up being the first person to truly understand the Daemon and is the most influential character not chosen by the Daemon.
- Mr. Exposition: Provides most details and insights concerning the Daemon and some other major players.
- I Have Many Names: Was an identity thief. His real name is Ivan Borovich.
- The Lancer: Provides the tech savvy to Sebeck's worldlier character.
Cryptography consultant from the NSA that is assigned to the Daemon Task Force. She and The Major butt heads considerably because of their vastly different outlooks on how to handle the situation. She becomes Jon Ross' love interest.
- Amazonian Beauty: Specifically mentioned to be rather athletic.
- Butt-Monkey: Whenever anything bad happens to the DTF, she seems to be in the center of it, although it's never because of anything she does.
- Damsel in Distress: Even though highly competent, she often needs rescuing by other characters - specifically Jon.
- Defecting for Love: Considers this when realizing that Jon has joined the Darknet. Her allegiance to her country keeps her going until she realizes that she has been working for what is essentially a conglomerate of private companies with their own interests.
- Hot Scientist
- My God, What Have I Done?: After realizing that her work didn't help her country so much as allow private conspirators to take over the world. Thankfully, the Daemon specifically created the backdoor she found to lure its enemies into a trap.