Chapter 1.5

Introductions

You are standing with Clayton at a shooting range.

You are standing behind a rather tall boy with black hair and dark skin. He has two guns in his hands, and looking around you see you're at a shooting range. You realize your left hand is still raised, and is now on the shoulder of this boy, who seems to have just been shooting targets. His left hand crosses his body and you look down the barrel of the pistol he's holding.

"Can I help you?" the boy asks.

You jerk your hand away, and mutter an apology and a curse to the Narrator who seems to delight in putting you in awkward positions. You somehow get the impressing he's giggling.

"Narrator?" says the boy, turning around. "Oh, you must be the observer."

You hastily explain that is in fact the case.

"Just a second."

He turns back and finishes firing the bullets out of both pistols, then pulls the empty clips out and safely takes apart the weapons. He hits a button and the target at the end of the range starts sliding forward. Because the Narrator is too lazy to roll every shot you see they are pretty much on target for the sake of his convenience. You look the boy over. His arms and head have been modified or replaced, they are gleaming metal instead of flesh and bone. You can also tell, as the boy turns around again that his eyes have also been replaced with mechanical versions.

"Nice to meet you," lies the boy, giving your hand a perfunctory shake. "I suppose you'll want to see my character sheet, then."

Somehow this is not a question, but he doesn't wait for you to answer, he just hands it to you and starts cleaning up his spent casings. You look it over, and the first thing that catches your eye is the amount of points in Cybernetics this kid has. Well, the first thing you notice is his name, Clayton Garlington, as he didn't tell it to you himself. Then you see his

BACKGROUNDS:

Ambidexterity 1

In the Cards 2

Resources: Money 2

Cybernetics 6

WEAKNESSES:

Bad Tempered 1

Prejudice 1

Obsessed 1

Overconfident 1

Stat Penalty 2

You wonder aloud what the "in the cards" background does for him, and without turning around he answers simply.

"When the party gets cards, I get one more."

You wait for a more lengthy explanation, but none comes. You wonder aloud why cards are involved.

"Don't you know anything? Each PC gets a number of cards to help keep them alive through each adventure. Like "Missed Me" and "Made you Look." They're like a sort of spell, I guess, that cause things to go a certain way it might not otherwise have gone. I get one more then everyone else."

You decide to just keep it in mind, it'll probably come up soon and you can see a practical example. You continue looking at the character sheet. Lots of hacking, internet related or mental augmentations have been done to this kid, as well as his arms, greater armor, and a "weapon link". You're pretty sure that gives him some kind of bonus to shooting stuff, given how good he is at it. His Resources: Money of two is pretty nice, you understand it gives him $10,000 of spending money every month, making him loaded.

"Not so much," he explains. "For every point of cybernetics I have to spend $100 a month maintaining them. I have 6 background points worth, that means 60 cybernetic points. 60x$100 is $6,000. So I only have $4,000 per month left. I suppose the agency would pick up that tab when I worked for them, but unless I want to work for them forever, it's better to have my own money, you know?"

You do. A monthly fee equal to the cost of a decent used car, every month? And you thought the cost of gas was high! Cybernetics are a real money hole! You turn the sheet over, he doesn't have too many skills, actually. He's specialized all right, hacking and combat seem to be his main focus. He grabs the sheet away from you and puts it away somewhere.

"Happy?"

You consider his demeanor, and decide to answer in the affirmative. His expression softens.

"I'm sorry, I'm not usually this bad tempered, it's just I have to register tomorrow and I'm sure to get stuck with a bunch of half-wits but it's the only way I'll get XP and raise my skills, so I've gotta do it."

You think perhaps the government might have something to say if he didn't. Clayton doesn't seem worried.

"Unless they sent other PCs after me, I wouldn't be too concerned. You're right though, I have to do my duty, being a PC myself. It's just such a drag, you know?"

You don't.

"Oh, right. Say, have you met the other PCs I'm going to be grouped with?"

You say you have, but didn't someone say the memory of this meeting going to be erased anyway?

"Yeah, I suppose it would have to be. Guess I'll find out myself then. Anything they didn't answer?"

You think back to what he said a second ago, about XP and raising skills. Doesn't practice increase someone's skill at something? Like he was doing just a minute ago?

"Nah, that won't raise my skill, you crazy? That was just me shooting at stuff, which I enjoy. I have to change the number on my character sheet with XP to get a better roll when I use a skill. I suppose that represents practice, but I really don't have to do anything to make it work. Say I have an eight in my pistol skill, which I do. I need nine XP to raise that to a nine, so when I shoot someone I add a nine rather then an eight. You following me?"

You wish, if it wasn't too much trouble, if he could show you an example?

"Sure," he answers brightly. "You can't be hurt, can you? I mean you're not of this world, right?"

You seem to believe that's the case, though with this Narrator you can't be sure of anything.

"Okay, hold your hand out, yeah, like that. Now I'm going to make a called shot to your hand, right? Now usually it's a minus two penalty to hit an arm, but I want to hit the hand specifically, so it's a minus three. Watch."

He throws a punch at your outstretched hand, and you somehow realize he "rolled" a nineteen, one from his maximum "roll", and then with the minus three penalty he wound up with a sixteen to hit you. As you aren't dodging, and the difficulty to hit something that's just standing there like a lump is a five, he easily hits you with his metal fists. You are unhurt.

"See," he says. "Now with a nine rating, that would have been an even twenty, winding up to be a seventeen."

You nod your head, understanding. If you had tried to dodge, you would have "rolled" your "active dodge" and if your number was greater then his, he would have missed. You wonder what your "active dodge" would actually be...

"Hope that cleared that up for you."

It did.

Clayton finishes carefully packing his guns away. "Guess I'll see you- or no, I guess I won't will I? You'll only be able to watch through the forth wall. Hope the Narrator doesn't make me do something stupid!"

You hope that as well, and this time shake his hand more properly.

Chapter 1.6

Introduction

You are again with the Narrator

"There you have it," he says to you, pleased at how much longer that took then he expected. He knows it just means he'll have to come up with less plot for later, and he threatens to giggle again. He gets himself under control. "I hope you learned some things about the world, and that my characters work out for you." He fiddles with the map. "There, the forth walls are in place and our story can begin!"

"Enjoy!"