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2016-10-19 07:25 pm (UTC)
: Shadowrun V
Kitty was born as the biggest kitten in the litter of a stray cat somewhere in the Rhine-Ruhr Megaplex, a huge, polluted, multicultural sprawl in the very west of the Alliance of German Countries, short ADL. The mommy cat didn't return one day, and this might have been the early end of the baby shapeshifter, had a little old lady by the name of Chantalle Schulz not found the hidden corner that Kitty had been born in and rescued the only surviving baby cat. The strangely large size of the kitten didn't tip Chantalle off about something being off with this cat, nor did the fact that she aged very slowly - and really, considering the neighbourhood, it could always just have been that the mommy cat had eaten some science lab's incorrectly disposed of waste, hindering proper growth in her litter. It wasn't that strange, and the woman was just glad that her new companion didn't require much food - or medical attention, really, never getting sick. And what a bright and understanding little kitten it was. No, Chantalle was way too happy and uninterested in questioning her luck to make enquiries. She was also not particularly inventive when naming her kitten.
Kitty on the other hand was quite happy the way it was as a young kitten. She did sometimes turn into a human, but always quickly turned back, so that Chantalle never noticed. And then, when she was old enough to comprehend the trideo news flickering on after the shows that Chantalle had fallen asleep to, she started learning about the world outside the apartment. One night, there was a documentary on magical critter extinction measures in Quebec, and shapeshifters were mentioned, too. For a long time after she thought that being hunted down and killed was what happened to animals like her, bigger than they should be and able to turn into metahumans, everywhere. And when she learned that most countries and companies just didn't consider them metahuman but also didn't hunt them, and that there were even a few countries where they were valued more, it felt way too late to tell Chantalle about who she really was. So she just pretended that it wasn't there when the old woman was around, and started experimenting with her human form elsewhere. For this, she started to sneak out of the apartment more and more regularly and through trial and error learned how to appear metahuman and interact with people like she was one.
Chantalle's apartment was located next to a waste facility run by the Shiawase corporation. One day, a curious new scent came from over there, so one young shapeshifter cat decided that sneaking in there was an excellent idea to figure it out. All went well until she suddenly found herself without a place to hide and two security trolls came towards where she was - and she did the next best thing and jumped into the back of an open transporter (not a waste one. It was very clean inside). The security trolls closed the doors and walked away. She was stuck in a dark, mostly empty space with no food and slowly decreasing amounts of oxygen.
Nothing happened for well over a day - she can't tell how long it was, exactly, but it felt like eternity - and she was too afraid of what they might do with her to start meowing for help. But then something did happen: Someone opened the door, and she only in time managed to jump into a hiding spot before yelling and fighting erupted outside, and just as the transporter started moving two street samurai, a human woman with a balance tail and a male troll, jumped into the back of the vehicle. As it sped out of the facility, gunshots erupted.
They made some head before people started following them, and while there was a moment of peace, the troll noticed Kitty. And recognized her as the cat that a little old lady had asked him to look out for earlier that day when he had been in disguise to find an observation point of the waste facility a few stories above Chantalle's flat. There was no more time than for a few nice words and an attempt to calm her down from a distance, but when the shadowrunners (because that was what they were, Kitty would later learn) got into trouble, and the trouble threatened to take out the whole transporter, including Kitty, the shock and fear made her magic abilities surface - she switched into her human form and sent an acidic wave towards the helicopter that was about to shoot big grenades at them.
The mix of surprise and the actual damage that her (rather weak because unlearned) attack caused got the group the time that they needed to turn the tides of the battle, and they managed to escape without casualties.
Once escaped, introductions were made, and the runner team after some hasty discussions offered her a deal: She would help them in future runs, and in return they would get her ready to participate in metahuman society - get her the skills and the more materialistic means like a commlink and a fake ID - and also teach her how to make better use of her magic and her agility. It was a good deal for both sides. Kitty got what she needed at that time, and the runners got a team member that only wanted a small part of the monetary rewards for runs but due to her skills in infiltration and magic was quite valuable. Two members of the team became especially valuable to her: Ivokat, the mage, taught her how to use her magic and helped her find resources where what he had and could do stopped working for her. And Malicia, the street samurai with the balance tail, took her under her wing a bit and took her along for runs away from the other team members. This introduced Kitty to wetwork, aka assassination runs. Not that the other team members were unimportant: Leo, the rigger, who taught her some Japanese and got her a miniscooter to drive around on; Eärendil, the decker, who introduced her to the world of those of the upper and even higher classes; and Simon, the troll, who showed her how to blend in in parts of the town worse than the one she had been raised in. With the team having three Elves, two of which had ties with Tír na nÓg, an Elvish country, it happened almost naturally that she also learned some Sperethiel, the Elven language.
She still lives with Chantalle; the woman was overjoyed to see her return. But she has now become a free roaming cat, and after some panic the woman understood that her cat would always return to her,even if sometimes she stayed away for a few days.
While not exactly the future of our world - the timelines parted a bit before the dissolution of the Soviet Union - the world of Shadowrun still in many ways is ours, just with a reawakened magic and the technology of 60 years into the future. And the pollution of 60 more years of only barely regulated environmental irresponsibility, can't forget that. I'll try to just name some highlights in each area.
The internet is wireless, you can enter it on a way more physical seeming level than today. Advanced technology makes it hard to avoid it; augmented reality (AR) is widespread and makes you be bombarded with AR ads instead of billboards or neon signs when walking around a shopping district. But you can also step into the internet itself, leaving your body behind and stepping into the virtual reality. People rarely drive their cars themselves anymore, vast advancements in medicine and technology have enabled a widespread use of implants and other technical enhancements to human bodies and advanced technology, guns typically come with network abilities... and so on. Oh, and most recently there are artificial intelligences that are fighting for their civil rights. Or stealing bodies and committing terrorist acts, that depends on your viewpoint.
And there's magic! Dragons and other magical animals, metahuman magic users, magic storms, astral planes, and yes, ...metahumans. While classic humans still exist, a number of them have been born or changed into dwarves, elves, trolls and orcs (and their subspecies) as the levels of magic in the world rose. Magic is everywhere, and it is not always nice - indeed, it can be pretty nasty. Magic critters can be quite dangerous, and in especially polluted areas they sometimes are more toxic than their surroundings. Viruses have created ghouls and vampires. All in all, most magical creatures in lore exist in the world of Shadowrun in one way or the other.
A highlight of pollution is certainly the SOX, an area in central Europe so radioactively polluted that it can only be entered in protective suits, filled with storms that negate all magic and thus kill spirits and dual beings. But other natural disasters are around too - water smuggling is a major issue in the countries of California and Australia because of the water shortage there. And magical calamities have joined the natural ones.
Nation states have lost most of their power where they still exist, with very few exceptions. Corporations have taken their place as the main power players; the biggest of them having their own extraterritorial areas all over the world and their own citizens. Organized crime is huge as well, and corruption and general shadiness is so widespread in all all three, countries, corporations and crime syndicates, that they often are less different than they try to pretend. Society can be roughly split in two groups: Upper and middle class people living in more or less highly controlled and pleasant environments with citizenship status and lower class people who are poor, often without a real ID and without any structural protection, who in turn at least don't have their every move tracked and controlled. To make it plastic: A poor person will only eat food made of soy and enriched with artificial flavours while a middle class person will sometimes have real foods and a rich person will have only that and real meat, too. ID-less people, especially when they are orcs, will often be killed in droves in "police raids" (there are almost no real police systems anymore, they're all private for-profit security firms now) without anyone caring or a good reason, while a higher up person might just discreetly vanish, but it would actually in some way be about them. There is minor movement between the groups - talents that are snatched off the streets or people who work their way into the corrupt systems, and people who for one reason or the other leave the perfect world to work in the shady underbelly of society. Chantalle is one of the poor people who have a state ID - a kind of ID that doesn't award real privileges as corporation IDs do, but at least she officially exists, which brings its own set of advantages, and has enough money to afford her own flat in a fairly safe section of the worse parts of the sprawl. Shadowrunners like the ones that Kitty met are in-betweens; they come from both sides of society and end up as highly skilled independent criminals for hire for various reasons. To use examples from her team: For the troll street samurai, it was a steep climb up the social ladder from a poor slum kid, for the elven mage it was a heavy fall from a high society member in his homeland to a fugitive in a different country selling his abilities. tl;dr: It's dystopian, but at least dead people aren't turned into soylent green. If they lie wounded on the street, they might however be disassembled for all their parts that can be sold with profit.
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