This novel is set in the late 21st century, in a society where everyone has their own customised intelligent agents (WAIs or weak AIs) and people download recipes to assemble pills that are updated daily to combat the latest strain of the pandemics or to improve physical speed, strength, healing speed or mental ability. The enhancing pills are required for humans to be able to compete against the bots and AIs. Most humans do "gigs" for a living, tagging posts or videos to make better datasets for AIs. Welga, the protagonist of the novel, is a "shield", however, a bodyguard for celebrities who fund the pill development and thus are constant targets of often violent protesters. Like most other people, she has a constant swarm of microdrones that help her see and record her surroundings from multiple viewpoints and also allow her to constantly livestream her experiences to her fan base, which rewards especially good fights by adding money to her tip jar. She also keeps connected to her brother and sister-in-law in India and her father in the USA by keeping their visual feeds open.
On one of Welga's shield missions they are attacked by what appears to be an android, and are given an ultimatum from a group calling itself the Machinehood, demanding equal rights for AIs and bots.