First CharGen for Shadowrun 5th Edition - background

Leaf Erurainon
Aka Cryptid Rain

The door to the small apartment slammed shut behind Tisha as she ran down the short hallway to her tiny dining room.  She tossed her jacket down on the only other chair on the opposite side of the table, sat down, removed the cigarette from her lips and put it down in the ashtray, then reached into her oversized purse and pulled out her corporate issued tablet.  She ‘woke’ it up, and then used both thumbprints to unlock the screen.  Once that was complete, she pulled out a 5x5x5 cm cube, also from her purse, and then pulled out the retractable cable from the cube and connected it to the tablet.  As she set the cube on the table, the laser outline of a keyboard and scroll bar sprang to life.  She stopped to take a long drought from her cup of soykaf and then set it down by the ashtray.  Once she had activated her note application, she paused to take another drag on her cigarette, and then began typing furiously.  She wanted to get the information down before her memory was clouded by time – despite her ability to pull up files with vivid details from interviews from over a decade before.  It was a nervous tic of hers, and she wasn’t going to jinx herself now.

The first memory of the interview was as her source walked into the “Oh-Four-Niner”.  He acted like he belonged there, even though his attire told everyone otherwise.  He stood at least 1.75 meters tall, very slender build, maybe 75 Kilos.  He wore a simple black fabric military style boot, in which was tucked a pair of Tir urban pattern camouflaged pants.  On his right thigh was holstered a large caliber pistol.  He wore a black denim flight jacket, completely unzipped, under which he had on a solid blue shirt.  She saw a pair of wooden handles extending just above each shoulder, framing the upturned collar of his coat.  Atop his head he wore a wide brimmed hat, which shadowed the man’s face.  She would never forget the very faint blue glow emitting from under the hat where two eyes should be.  When he spotted her he moved directly to her table and sat down, only then did he remove his hat, revealing that he was an elf with a light blue mane of hair, and an intricate tear tattoo ‘running’ down from beneath his right eye.  Both of his eyes were a solid cobalt blue, with no visible iris or pupil.  The hair was braided at the temples and extended to the back of his head.  The tattoo was almost as interesting as his eyes.  The outline of a puddle of tears was stenciled neatly below both eyes, but under the right one, the tears weaved a path down the outside of the cheek.  Within the stream of the tear were a series of Japanese characters (In order, from top to bottom - クリスチャン侍; looking over the characters she thought, ‘I sure hope I copied those down correctly.  Otherwise, it is going to be pretty difficult to look up the translation for the article), faintly inscribed, almost unnoticeable, and within the end of the rounded teardrop at the end, it contained a blue and grey yin yang, also very faint.

Here, she paused, took another drag of her cigarette, then a fresh swig of the soykaf, and lastly accessed the audio and video playback from her ocular implant that was jacked into her inner ear.  While microphones can pick up incredible detail, she still preferred the natural resonance of the eardrum.  It was all neatly tucked into the chromed out cybernetic skullcap that took up a fifth of her upper left skull.  She poised her fingers and began to type once more.  She wanted to get the transcript down, and then she would compose the article from there.


Tisha: “Hello Mr. …?”

Elf: “Call me Rain.”

Tisha: “Rain?”

Rain: “Ever been to Seattle?”

T: “Oh, right… ok…. Um, Rain.  Let’s see…”

R: “Mr. Johnson said you’d be buying me some real food, and five hundred Nuyen to just meet with you.  So, how about we see a real meat platter and that cred stick before you say anything more.”

She habitually took another drag from her cigarette as she let the recording play for a moment.

T: “Ah… right... Excuse me… waitress, yes, we need two platters of your best Kansas City import steaks, done medium rare, and two drafts…”

R: “Just filtered water for me, thank you.”

T: “Um, alright, one draft, and one filtered water.”

Placing the cigarette back in the ashtray she got ready to continue transcribing the conversation.

T: “Ok, here is the cred-stick.”  At the very bottom edge of the visual playback, her hand was tapping a cred-stick on the table.  “Uh uh, not until we are finished here.”  The optical playback remained focused on the elf, while rustling and plastic on plastic sounds could be heard again, as she replaced the cred-stick into her purse.  “I am sure, um… Mr. Johnson, has told you.  I work for the ManaDyne news division, and my viewers want to try and understand the SINless, to understand why you choose to remain in the shadows instead of within the comfort and security, of the Corporations, like ManaDyne.”

R: “For some of us, there isn’t a choice, for others, the confines of… corporate life are… distasteful.”

T: “But, the crime riddled streets and abject poverty, shown every day on the news feeds…”

R: “You mean the news feeds such as the ones coming from the ‘News Division of ManaDyne?’”

Tisha shifted in her seat as she watched and listened to the recording, and the clearing of her throat on the recording.  She remembered her discomfort at this sudden confrontation and took another drag of her cigarette.

T: “Surely you have seen the violence for yourself.  Look at you; you come to this meeting armed to the teeth.”

R: “Look lady…”

T: “Tisha, please.”

R: “Whatever,” the elf said with a wave of his hand, “Tisha, first off, this is not armed to the teeth.  I have spotted at least a half dozen corp security, with enough firepower to level this building, just in this room.  The only reason I am still allowed to sit here and talk to you is they don’t feel that I am any kind of threat to them.  And who do you think sponsors most of that violence that you feed your audience?  Hmm?  All you corp types are the same, blind to the dirt under your own fingernails, but quick to point out the dirty tools being used.”

Tisha fidgeted again in her seat, and lit another cigarette.

T: “Um… ok.  I can see that… this might be a sensitive path to go down… maybe we can discuss that more at length another time.”

R: “Maybe, but let’s see just how good this steak you ordered is first.”

She was not used to being the one put on the defensive.  Tisha felt herself getting annoyed, with a mental tic she paused the playback.  She picked up her cigarette and walked over to her apartment window and stared out onto the city.  The view from up here was calming.  From here she did not have to see the dirt, the SINless, she reminded herself of how ManaDyne controlled the city despite people like Rain and his ilk.  She calmed herself down, and then returned to her seat, replacing her cigarette in the ashtray.  She typed out a note to remind herself that she had been wondering where the waitress was with their steaks, and her taking a drink to drag out the pause while she tried to think of a new avenue to take the interview, and how she could turn the tables back on the elf.  Once these notes were written down, she resumed the playback.

T: “Ha, um…. OK… how about we talk about Rain.  People almost always like a good human-interest story.  How long have you run the shadows?” Before the elf could answer the dinner plates arrived, “Ah, here we go.” She said in an enticing tone.

There is a long pause in the recording here.  The elf just stared at her before responding.  She slowed the playback down, trying to detect any reaction, any emotion.  No emotion or tell of what he might have been thinking. He finally began to cut into his steak and would talk in between mouthfuls of steak.  She noted that he barely touched the potatoes.

R: “Well, as you can tell… I was born an elf.” He said, gesturing to his ears. “This caused some… problems between my mother, an Amerindian, and my father, a corporate suit of some sort, but the real breaking point was when my brother was born a dwarf.  Ironic, right.  Throughout classic literature there has always been tension between elves and dwarfs, but in this case, it was between my human parents.  When my brother was born, good ol’ dad bolted.  I’ve not seen or talked to him since so… I don’t really know the story there.  Mom went into a tailspin.  Booze, men, and then, when BTL’s hit the streets…” Rain looked off to the side for a moment, Tisha slowed the replay down once again, there is some clenching of the jaws, a vein throb in his temple, and then he returned to his meal.  She resumed normal playback.  After taking another bite, he continued.  “So, I guess you can say that is when I hit the streets.”

T: “How old where you?”

R: “I dunno… thirteen maybe, tops.”

T: “Did you take care of your brother?  How did you survive?”

R: “Well, the Corps do not like to bring in homeless gutter rats.   Har… I mean, Steel Horse, that’s what he went by… not sure if he still does or not, we don’t really see much of each other.  We scraped a living off of handouts and dumpster dives.  At least we did until we figured out a better way.  The local gangs were not really our scene, so we kept to ourselves, and they left us alone, for the most part.  We actually started our own little security gig, if you can believe it.  We escort kids to and from their public schools, made sure bullies didn’t pick on them, and when they did, we took care of business.  We were ok at it, not great, but the lunch money was enough to put some food in our stomachs.”

T: “Are you still in the protection… ‘business’?”

R: “No way.  Too high profile, too many ways to get yourself killed.”

T: “Well… then what?  Did you ever try to get in on the ground floor anywhere?”

R: The elf snickered and shook his head.  “Tried to… sort of.  Once I got wind of Tir Tairgire’s independence, I started planning on moving out there.  Figured a nation of elves, I’m an elf, why not.  My brother didn’t want anything to do with it, said he had his hands full with just one elf, so, we went our separate ways.  I headed west.  I’m not really sure where he ended up.”

Here Tisha paused the playback again.  Angles began to run through her mind.  Maybe she could hire a private detective to see if she could track this… ‘Steel Horse’, down, but how would she get it to pay?  She wasn’t about to front that kind of Nuyen to track down the brother of some source she just met, and it was unlikely her director would agree to that kind of expense, not without some assurance of it producing anything lucrative, he was already going to flip his lid over the steaks.  It was probably a moot point if she couldn’t get this guy to meet her for another sit down anyway.  She took another drag off of her cigarette, used what was left to light another one, and then crushed out the old one.  Her soykaf had gotten cold by this point, but she barely noticed.  Setting the cup back down, she resumed the replay once again.

T: “Sounds like it was a decent plan.”

R: “Yea, it sounded good, but… Tir is not the most… receptive to outsiders.  Even one of their own… ‘kindred’.  I didn’t have any personal documentation.  No birth records, no public records, no sponsors to endorse my entrance into the country.  I spent about a week at their ‘transition center’.  At least they fed me.  They were about to send me packing when an officer, dressed like this,” the elf indicated by pointing to his pants, “approached me.  Introduced himself as Captain Abrazân.  Said he would sponsor my entrance into the country and application for citizenship, IF, I would willingly enlist in the Peace Force, specifically, with their ‘Border Patrol’.”

Tisha paused the playback once more, and got up from her chair again.  She had to stretch and think some more, so she paced back and forth.  What a strange world to live in, to not be able to go where you wanted, when you wanted.  Maybe the elf could provide a window into the mysterious nation of Tir, which would pay handsomely… again, if she were able to meet with him again.  After only four passes of the table, she sat back down, eager to keep going, and resumed the playback.

T: “So, you were in.”

R: “It didn’t last long though.”

T: “What do you mean?”

R: “Six months later, I was fresh out of the advance school for matrix-communications, a sort of radio-telephone operator from the twentieth century, but with today’s tech, and had been assigned to a quick reaction force on the border with the ‘California Free State’.  A call came in.  One of the patrols out in the border region between Yreka and Redding had made contact with a small force, but was on the heavy end of the engagement. We hopped on the birds and made it out to the site in less than ten minutes.  It was pretty intense.  Hard to tell where our patrol was.  Shouts and shooting was coming from everywhere.  I “called in” to let the base know we were on the ground, and had made contact.  We moved forward and had not moved more than fifty meters when I spotted my first enemy.  It was an elf!  It made me hesitate, why would an elf try and sneak into Tir?  It didn’t make sense to me… back then.  After I regained my composure, I raised up my rifle and took aim, but before I could pull the trigger, my rifle exploded in my hands.  I think something set off the rounds inside the chamber.  I may never know, because it was lights out for ol’ Rain.  I have no idea how long I had been out, when I finally came to, I could feel the warmth of the sun, but I couldn’t see anything, totally blackness.  When I touched my face it was sticky with drying blood.  My eyelids had been glued shut by the blood that had dried.  When I tried to use my fingers to open them, the pain was excruciating.  I laid back down and just listened, tried to figure out what to do.  I was there for a long time, not really sure what to do.  Sometime after dark, pretty sure it was dark because I was shivering by then; I heard footsteps in the brush.  I pulled my pistol and aimed it out into the blackness, trying to pretend I could see.  It was a local man and his family.  I think they had come out to see if there was anything to salvage.  You know, loose gear or weapons.  Who knows, but I do know they were not fooled.  They disarmed me pretty easily.  After reassuring me that they weren’t going to kill me, they told me that I had been left behind by my unit, or they were all dead.  I am not really sure about that part, because those who found me never mentioned anything more about the scene.  To make a very long story shorter, they took me back to their home, and called for a local doctor.  When the doc arrived, she explained to me that both of my eyes had been shredded by the shrapnel from my exploding rifle, and she would have to replace them if I wanted to ever see again, which of course, I did.”  The elf pointed to his solid blue eyes, “There were no body banks in the area, and cybernetic replacements were not readily available.  Apparently the only eyes she could get her hands on had been these.  I’m not complaining.  A few days after the surgery, when she took off the bandages I could see perfectly.  They function exactly like my old eyes.  Not any better, not any worse, they just look different.  It sure would have been sweet if they could do something like magnification, but… maybe if I get enough Nuyen, I’ll upgrade them”

The reporter jumped back in the recording and played this part over.  As she went back over this part of the story, she leaned back in her chair and continued to smoke her cigarette.  Those eyes… she had seen them in entertainment vids from the ‘Cal’.  Apparently it has been a fashion trend out in the ‘Free State’.  Solid reds, blue, green, pretty much any color you could think of.  As the recording approached where she had left off before, she put the cigarette down, and put her fingers back to the keyboard.

T: “They do give quite an impression.”

R: “Not always handy in the Shadows, that’s for sure. The family and the doctor were a part of a small community.  They apparently had… differences with the Pope and those who proclaimed to be ‘Christians’ in the CAS.  They shared their faith with me while I recovered…  It made an impression on me…” The elf had paused in thought here, “but that’s not germane to our discussion here.  In any event, I thanked the family, and the doctor for helping me, and when I was able, I headed back to Tir Tairgire.  I arrived at the border expecting a warm welcome… but… that was not the case.  Apparently the prosthetics the doctor had used were suspect.”  Tisha let an involuntary snicker escape her lips as she listened to that part.  “No amount of arguing about being a member of the Border Patrol, or telling them about a ‘Captain Abrazân’, made any difference.  I had been locked into an inclined chair, and was pretty sure the sharp implements were about to come out, when a voice come over an intercom behind me.  It told the ‘interviewer’ that I was to keep what I had on me when I arrived, and be provided with a one-way ticket to wherever I wanted to go, and nothing else. Not so much as a ‘thank you’ for your service, nothing…  I knew that voice, but I said nothing.  I would bet my pretty blue eyes that it had been Abrazân.  So, I went to Seattle; I didn’t have anywhere else to go and thought, ‘why not’. 

T: “Well, when they indoctrinated you into the Tir military, they surely gave you a SIM.”

Tisha slowed the recording down once again.  Normally she would look for a reaction in the person’s eyes, but that was not possible here.  Instead the elf raised his head and looked just off to the side for a moment.  He remained quiet for several moments before turning back to the reporter, and began to talk again, so resumed normal playback speed.  He spoke slowly at first, but got back to speed quickly.

R: “Not sure what to say about that… while I went through a complete medical screening, they never inserted anything permanent, that I know of.  Definitely nothing as large as a SIM chip.”  The elf paused for a moment longer.  “Anyway, while I had been trained in the basics of combat, and some rudimentary matrix running, I made a conscious choice to stay in the shadows.  To do what I could for the SINless,   humans and metahumans, like me.  Since then, I have made my way the best I can.  I’ve seen what the Corps do to those who live outside their walls, so… before you judge those who live outside of the ‘protection’ of the corporations, it might do you well to get to know them better.”  Another pause of silence, “I think we are done here.  Did you get your money’s worth?”

Again, the visual playback remained locked on the elf, but the familiar rustling of her hand in her pocketbook was heard as she retrieved the cred-stick.

T: “One more question.  What brings you to Boston?”

R: “The only thing I can think of is, ‘One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.’  Take that as you will."

It was the reporter’s turn to pause for a moment of reflection, leaving a silent section in the recording.  Tisha took another drag of her cigarette, and reflected over the entirety of the conversation as the playback continued.

T: “I might like to meet with you again… sometime.” She said as she handed over the cred-stick.

R: “We’ll see.”  And with that, the elf stood, turned on his heels, and said over his shoulder, “Thanks for the steak.  It was really good.”  And then he was gone.

It was going to be a long night.  Her deadline loomed, and she still had an article to write.  She got up, walked into the kitchenette, started a fresh pot of soykaf, and returned to the table.  She set the recording to loop, and began to outline her report.

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