Oz Chambers has a wonderful secret; the obsidian pebble, gifted to him by his dead father, is an artefact of astonishing power. The sort of power that makes the year eight science project a hands-down walkover thanks to the the pebble's genius avatar, Soph. But, there are sinister forces abroad who will do just about anything to get their hands on the pebble, and when fellow pupils start being attacked, Oz finds himself in very hot water. Soon Oz and his friends, Ruff and Ellie, are caught up in a centuries old mystery involving a missing ring, lava toothpaste and a murderous monster known as the Beast of Seabourne"
Grey April light trickled through the classroom’s grimy windows, reflecting off the surface of an inch-deep lake of dyed blue water shimmering in the base of a square Perspex tank. Just a month ago, that same tank had been the home of a goldfish called Albert. Now, a sculpted clay mountain emerged from the fish-free water at a tapered shoreline. Oz Chambers sat hunched forward, staring at the splay of wire spaghetti taped to one of the tank’s sides. He squinted and carefully screwed one last wire to a terminal of an electrical switch. Gingerly, he repositioned the tank on the scuffed wooden desk he was working at and sat back to admire his handiwork. He grinned and looked up into the expectant faces of his two best friends, Ellie Messenger and Ruff Adams. “Here goes,” Oz said, and flicked the switch.“How long should it take?” Ellie asked. Nearly thirteen, she had a honey-blonde mop that kept falling forward into her face, and piercing blue eyes that turned toward the older girl behind her. “It should take 73.6 seconds, Ellie,” the girl replied. Her voice was pleasant and devoid of any accent. “Thanks, Soph,” Ellie said.
“That a rough guess, then, is it?” Ruff asked, arching his eyebrows.“73.6281 seconds,” Soph replied in her usual even tone. Ruff rolled his eyes and shook his curly head. “Serves you right for being a sarky gonk,” Oz murmured. Even though they all knew Soph 550.7 OS 20 was just an
avatar—a human representation of the incredible artefact known as ‘the obsidian pebble,’ which Oz carried in his pocket—it was tough not to simply treat her as another person. Other than glowing faintly in the gloom, as if she were illuminated from within the metallic-orange tunic she
wore, Soph looked like, and talked like, any other normal sixteen-year-old girl. But to the three of them sitting in that dingy classroom, pretty, holographic, superintelligent Soph, and everything that she was, had become a part of their everyday existence.Now, more than a year after she’d exploded into their lives, Oz found it almost impossible to imagine life without her. A DNA genlock ensured that the pebble responded only to Oz and to no one else in the world. The scientific experiment warming up in the tank in front of them was just the latest in a long list of things Soph had done to completely change their lives.“What is that again?” Ruff asked, pointing to the black plastic box Oz had attached the wire to.“That is a fan for the heat exchanger, Ruff,” Soph explained.“Where did that come from then?”“From a broken laptop. We got everything from that
reclamation place on Marston Street. You should know; you were there,” Oz said, trying not to sound too exasperated at Ruff ’s customary absent-mindedness.