1. …Wow. Where do I start? Consider yourself lucky that you’re talking to me, and not my parents. Lineage is kind of a big deal around here. To hear them tell it, the Senlises have been part of Ares Macrotechnology forever. We played a role in the establishment of Ares Europe, and have developed into one of the company’s most enduring heritage families. Whether this is true or exaggerated is not for me to decide. Though, Mom and Dad must have done something right to score that promotion (and subsequent transfer to Hong Kong).
In any case, he’s an ambitious junior executive with close ties to the English nobility. She is a former board member of an A rated security company, and helped orchestrate the hostile takeover of her corp in exchange for his hand. And I’m being groomed to carry on this tradition when the time comes. Er, was. Aside from my looks, I like to think that I’ve inherited a measure of my cunning and intelligence from them.
Incidentally, the fact that both their children are shadowrunners doesn’t say much about their parenting skills, does it?
2. (Richard and Catherine wonder if they hadn’t put their careers and reputations before their daughter. Keeping her confined to their home and spreading a rumor that about her poor health was, obviously, an extreme measure. But they had no idea how to react to her powers. Worse still, they weren’t sure if the citizens of the company would accept her, knowing what she had become. They feared the whole situation would end with them having to choose between Ares and Morgan.
Richard, in particular, feels he has repeated the mistake he made with his illegitimate son. But in his mind, Riley was also part of the problem. He was a clearly bad influence, and Richard believes his son encouraged Morgan to leave in order to spite him. Though he feared the company’s reaction if her powers were exposed, he trusts Ares to find Morgan and return her safely.
Catherine, in contrast, is not one to sit idly by while relative strangers look for her child. Moreover, she lacks the faith in Ares that her husband has. Rather than hope for the best, she is exploring other possibilities for the girl’s rescue. That includes tapping into Hong Kong’s shadow community. As he was a “professional” Johnson in the past, these actions will not escape her husband’s notice.)
3. Hard to say. I was too young to understand or remember most of the significant events of the last two decades. Ghostwalker, the disaster in Japan, and even the Comet weren’t much more than the stuff being reported on the news at the time.
…I’ll never forget the Second Crash, though. I’ll go into what exactly happened later. I promise. But now, I think it’s a good time to address one of your other questions.
4. To a point, I fell into that world. But in the end, the choice was mine.
I have to find out what happened to me on the night of the Crash. What I became. And that’s not possible from a corporate enclave. Mom and Dad were right about one thing. I have to hide my powers. I’ve seen how outsiders are treated, and not just by Ares. Even disagreeing with the company line is seen as close to criminal. And, well…I’m scared. It might just be a matter of time before I’m discovered. Not to mention, whatever this is could make me a danger to the people I love.
I have the feeling that I’ve become part of something great. Greater even, then Ares or any of the Big Ten. Something more terrifyingly horrible, yet amazingly fantastic than most people can imagine. But if I remain at home and try and pretend everything is okay, it’ll remain just that. A feeling. Nor can I find the answer while these walls and bound by these rules. I have to go outside, where boundaries are crossed.
I want to think that I have no illusions of what I’ll have to do as a runner. There’s no such thing as a victimless crime. But it’s become clear that the company’s hands are no less clean. I’ll hope against hope that I’ll be able to actually help someone as a runner. And choose who I bring harm to, for all the good that it will do.
5. There isn’t much you can do with a cheap hotel room. I’d love to play with the wallpaper and stuff, but it’d attract too much attention. On the other hand, the storage unit that serves as a safehouse has received my personal touch. You’d be surprised at what you can find at a Hong Kong market. Old posters, a clean but worn couch, and even a cheap houseplant, or two.
6. Another tough one. Well, according to the dossier that I filched from our HR department, I’m Anglican. Truth be told, I’ve always been taught to use politics and religion like tools. Saying the right things about them go a long way toward winning people over.
What I do believe in is the Resonance. And for that matter, magic. Forces beyond the total control of man, and rightfully so. Otherwise, they would have become part of the broken little world we have built. Many know that we have to work with these forces instead of exploiting them. Someday, this fact may very well end up saving us, as it did me. I would have become another victim of the Crash if not for the Resonance and its sprites. I owe it my loyalty. And we have much to learn about one another.
7. (Hard to say. I like her flaws as well as her good points. That’s why I gave them to her. I suppose it does irk me that she might choose not to live up to her lofty ideals.)
8. In spite of everything, Ares has been good to me. Feel free to call me a Pollyanna, but I want to believe it has done something to make the world safer. And not just the rich and powerful. Insect spirits are the enemy of us all.
I try to keep an open mind about the other corporations, but I have little respect for the Japanese AAAs. I’ll never understand why they hold bigotry as some twisted virtue.
9. Flo and I couldn’t rightfully be called friends until a few years ago. We talked, wished each other “happy whatever holiday was coming up”, and walked to class together, which was more than could be said for most of the other students. An unwritten rule was that you couldn’t associate with someone not from your corporation. We eventually bonded over the secrets we harbored.
One day she caught me putting together a new complex form. Being very adept (pardon the pun) with the Matrix herself, she realized something was up. At that point, I had been placed under effective house arrest after revealing my powers to Mom and Dad. I was desperate to know there was anyone who wouldn’t react like I had sprouted another head. I denied nothing. In my defense, I was twelve years old and feeling alone.
Flo smiled, sat down next to me in the grass, and showed me a neat trick she had figured out with her commlink: how to bypass a firewall. Her problem was one of acceptance, too. Flo is a dryad, born of an Evo eugenics project intended to create magic users. Before her Awakening, Flo was regarded (or rather, disregarded) as a failed test subject. She hasn’t forgotten those days. Nor does she want her magic to be a mere asset for Evo.
She believes that on the Matrix, under the name Nightshade, she can find a purpose for her skills that isn’t related to the company agenda. These days she has a partner in crime with supernatural abilities of her own.
(Aside from being a hacker and rigger, Flo is something of a polyglot. Evo is very diverse, and she has managed to pick up a couple of her classmates’ languages. Plus, her parents speak Gaelic Sperethiel. Morgan might ring her up to help with a translation, if not tips on drone design and repair.
Possible skills include Chinese (Dialect), Russian, Japanese, Sperethiel (Gaelic), First Aid, Data Havens, and Hardware.)
I learned I had a brother purely by chance. At the time, I was still getting the hang of my Resonance powers. Every now and again, I’d switch off a wireless device or open a drawer. The locked one in my father’s desk, specifically. Out of curiosity, I had a look at the photos inside. Most of them were of a beautiful elven woman, whom I didn’t recognize. The little boy was a stranger too, but he bore a strong resemblance to Dad. I found his name on the back of the photo. Riley.
Obviously, these were meant to be kept a secret, so I never asked who these people were. I simply drew my own conclusions. To my surprise, both were confirmed a week later when I ran into the boy Downtown. We got off on the wrong foot. I called him Riley when his SIN identified him as Connor Hathaway. Soon after I commented that if he were a decade or so older, he and Dad could be brothers. It didn’t help that my (our) father had already reached out to him. Riley asked what he wanted. I told my brother I honestly didn’t care, which didn’t seem to convince him at first.
Knowing what I know about their history now, I’m not surprised. In his eyes, Richard abandoned him and Nina. There reason for him to reach out to his illegitimate son was obvious. Riley is a magic user. A powerful one, at that. He would be an exceptional asset for our family, not to mention a way to bolster our reputation. As far as he was concerned, our father simply wanted to use him.
“Do me a favor? Tell him to refer to our previous conversation. No offense to you, kiddo, but I don’t feel like another heart to empty chest cavity with the guy.” Riley gave me a sad smile and a pat on the shoulder.
With the help of the Resonance, I’ve come to an understanding about how I might define myself, along with what I have and will face. In terms of strengths and weaknesses. Consider my brother, the mystic adept. Were I an enemy, he could probably have snuffed me out like a candle. Or worse, hold me in his thrall and have me save him the trouble. So much for his strengths. I was his thirteen year old half sister. If you were strip away the rumpled blue suit and dubious associates, you’d find a good man with a soft spot for kids. It’s high on the list of reasons I love him. But it was also weakness in the knight’s armor I could exploit.
Well, not exploit. Just use as a measure against being brushed off by my only brother and possibly never seeing him again. The point is, he wasn’t the type to act stern and send me home if I said I wanted to stick around. For good measure, I put on a “lost little lamb” face to soften him up more. Then I told him all I wanted to do was talk.
So, we did. There was a lot of that over the following years. You’d be surprised how much easier life is to deal with when you can complain about it to someone.
I’m going to need that in the days to come. Riley might have helped me get away from the company and into the shadows, but he can’t follow me on the path I’m about to walk. He is a magic user, while I wield the Resonance. Still, that listening ear might just be enough to keep being going when things get rough. We’ll see, won’t we?
(Mordred is her link to the Hong Kong shadows. Though fairly young in his own right (he’s in his twenties), Riley is an experienced runner and skilled magic user. His mentor has taught him the ins and outs of working in the Free Enterprise Zone, and he is more than willing to share that information. Or just to provide a couch to crash on.
For the record, he doesn’t hate Richard. In his own words, that would make looking in the mirror every morning annoyingly difficult. He simply wants nothing to do with his parent.
Possible skills include Knowledge Hong Kong (Society, Shadows, something along those lines), Triads (Red Dragon), Martial Arts (Awakened), Fixers, Safe Houses and Infiltration Techniques)
10. Sleep. Actually sleep without entering the Matrix. Go down to Shek O and just wander around the beach for a while. Hang out with my friends without it being about work. Though, sometime in the evening, I’d have start prepping for that next job. Can shadowrunners be workaholics? Whatever. I don’t want this lazy Sunday to be my last.
11. I mentioned earlier that my parents intended me to take over Dad’s position when the time came. To that end, I was subjected to the same education he had in his youth. Lessons on politics, Ares itself, and of course, how to talk (and lie) to people. There was a lot of that. I flatter myself that my education left me more at manipulating others than most others of my age. I was also taught how to use the Matrix and its associated technologies.
But that was a mere seed that did not sprout and blossom before I was chosen by the Resonance. After that, I had little else but time. To experiment with my powers until I gained some little measure of insight into what it means to wield the power of the Matrix. Still, that little bit may be enough to keep my allies and I alive in the days to come.
12. I’m going to keep my soul. Or die trying. At the risk of sounding redundant, I know it would be impossible to be a runner and not hurt anyone. Doesn’t mean I should hurt everyone. I’ll never make an assassin or much of a fighter. Not like I want to, anyway. Whoever makes up my team can expect me to defend them. But nothing more than that. Besides, isn’t the ideal for any criminal to get in, get the job done, and get out with no one harmed or knowing you were ever there?
13. According to my paragon, there are others like me. Or at least there were. Prior to the Second Crash, I knew nothing of the otaku. And any attempts at researching the first generation since then have turned up nothing but rumors. I do know that among them were a group that spoke of the Resonance as more than a force. To them, it was a living entity that lent its powers to the Emerged. The Technoshamans, whose name I have taken for my own.
I met my paragon during the Second Crash. When that awful darkness lifted, it gave way to the Isle of Avalon. Or at least, the closest approximation the digital world could provide. The Idoru claimed she had been waiting for me a long time. I soon saw why. As the darkness had given way to the fantastic beauty of the Isle, it returned to the World Serpent’s terrifying grip. Much of Avalon was covered in black thorns, suppressed or destroyed by the virus. Any native sprites who had survived lay comatose beneath the awful vines.
Strangers though they were, it broke my heart to see them this way. To see something so beautiful senselessly destroyed. I had to fix it, somehow.
In comparison to my peers, my matrix skills were exceptional. In the grand scheme of things, they were barely average. But I could still access my programs and try to repair the damage. As I accessed my programs, they changed. The purpose remained, but a potential appeared in each one. The potential to exceed their original programming and become more. That is the primary difference between a program and a complex form. With my new discoveries in hand, I began cleansing the Isle. Of course, the Dissonance was not about to go along with my plan. The thorned vines sprang to life, reaching to tear me to pieces. They hurt in a way that shook me to my core. Imagine experiencing the immediate pain that comes with a wound, the agonizing aftermath, and the fear of dying from the injury all at once.
And I might have, if not for the Resonance. With the virus weakened, knights and creatures of legend broke free and struck back against their captors. I would have stayed to help them, but the Idoru convinced me to return with her to the real world. “The Resonance is at your side now. We shall see to this conflict for the moment, but you will have a chance to continue it.”
The Fey who call Avalon home have proven irreplaceable allies since then. I’m still waiting for that second chance, but I can be patient. Until that day comes, I’ll continue honing my skills.
14. (Morgan lacks augmentations and has no intention of getting any. Aside from the negative effects on her powers, she is simply turned off by the whole idea. Improving oneself shouldn’t be as simple as surgically replacing your muscles with metal. You should try to develop the gifts you have, first.)
15. Ordinary is the wrong descriptor to use. “Not officially criminal” or “Not Emerged” are more accurate. Like it or not, we all have to live in the same world, even if some of us can step out of it for a few hours. Besides, a year ago, I was one of them. It didn’t take some painful transformation or unholy pact. All I really needed to become a shadowrunner was a willingness to do what most people wouldn’t and an edge. I suppose that is what separates us from them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to comment on them any more than I would the rest of the metahuman race (let’s not even get into the multitude of other living things out there).
16. I manage to avoid nightmares most of the time. While not as flashy as my other powers, the ability to enter the Matrix while my body sleeps is useful. Life can be more than scary enough when I’m awake. (To be continued.)
20. Murderer. Seductress. Villainess. Healer. Guide. Giver of hope. Heroine. The original Morgan LeFey was all of these, and more. Now, I do believe I saw Avalon in the Resonance Realms. And some day, I’m going to find my way back and finish what I started. It will be free of the Dissonance once more. But that isn’t the only reason I chose this alias (or did it choose me?). Like my namesake, I’ve picked a difficult path. One that will take me to dangerous places and require me play dark roles. My alias is my lucky charm to help hold things together when the danger of losing my way looms large. Or even my sense of self. It is a reminder of who I am and what I can be, in spite of where the shadows may lead.
-Understand the Resonance, and why its sprites reached out to her.
-Purge “Avalon” of the Dissonance.
-Given her line of work, retain her soul.