Mind Machine is the story of the 3 originating members of the Sapiens, Moriarty, Diana and Van Sant, and the development of the Sorrow Field, a device that generates a telepathic frequency that may enhance or remove emotions, and acts ultimately as the base security system of the Common-Mind Commune during Tribus.
The story begins during Mendax City with Moriarty and Diana as part of the ExoGen R & D team working under Brian. With samples from Steven , they develop the first top secret ExoTech, The Echolocater, which provides planet-wide and planet-deep holographic scans, that provide real-time, 3D displays of what's happening anywhere on the planet. Because of the Sonic nature of the device, it can be used to eavesdrop on conversations almost anywhere in the world.
Moriarty arrives as a mysterious freelance engineer wanting to include himself in the ExoGen team. Brian sees something in him, and gives him the job. Van Sant is a shy and nervous man, as is the clinicially minded Diana, and Moriarty's booming personality quickly overcomes them. Brian acquires a mysterious substance that holds telepathic properties, that Moriarty seems to know more about than he's letting on. Through study, they manage to create what Moriarty names a 'splash disk' - a small but powerful microchip unit that can project soft holograms for use as computer interfaces, and with several together, even construct large objects and vehicles. The final hurdle in perfecting the technology is the instability of splash disk constructs. With over a Zetabyte of data capacity on each unit, they may create complex buildings, powerful computers and machinery, all with a telepathically activated interface that contains the entire wealth of human knowledge in its databanks - but the constructs are fuelled by water, and remain unstable enough that they can be destroyed with any real force. Despite repairing quickly as well, they remain unsuitable for use in the field.
As the scientists find themselves at their wit's end, the story shifts focus onto Brian, and a series of flashback sequences to his time in Senior year at high school.