Forty

Mysad Ex-Con

Description:

Street Cred: 0 Notoriety: 0 Public Awareness: 0

Age: 61
Hgt 1.78m Wgt: 65kg Hr: Dark Brown (Buzz-Cut) Eyes: Brown Skin: Light Brown

Short and stocky by elven standards, hair is buzz-cut, nose has been broken a couple of times, knuckles are scarred, but she has the sort of presence that holds the eye. Usually wearing t-shirt and cargo pants, she’s quick to scowl but willing to laugh.

Forty.jpg

Bio:

When she got sentenced to life in prison for blowing up a cop car, with cops, they weren’t very good at screening for latent magic yet — and Forty never told them it was a spirit that had caused the explosion, not a moltov cocktail. Forty-two years in prison gave her a lot of training at being tough, but not much at using her magic. She was fortunate to share a cell with a mundane gobinized orc who was a Shinto practitioner, and this helped guide Forties growing magic. Even in the strong background count of prison, over the decades she figured out how to call spirits, slowly persuade the kami to bind magic to an object (alchemy), and channel her avian side (adept powers)

When she got out she found Thunderbird waiting to welcome her, but the rest of the world was not welcoming to an ex-con who still called commlinks ‘smart phones.’ She moved in with her elderly, human, chip-head sister, and it didn’t take many months before she gave up on being legit, and turned to the shadows. Fortunately for her, others that she met in prison are out too, and some of those are in positions to hook her up with people who might make use of her particular talents and nature.

Background Fiction
===

Forty looked down at Sylvia’s bloodshot eyes and demanded “Frag it, did you stay up all night AGAIN?”

Sylvia’s gnarled hands smoothed down her housecoat, she tossed her gray hair defiantly, and replied in a disconcertingly girlish voice “I’ve been dancing with Hikado all through the ball, floating like a butterfly. He’ll be back in a moment, he’s just getting us more champagne.”

Forty hissed as she bounded across the room, grappled her sister and deftly yanked the BTL chip from her datajack—all before Sylvia even reacted. Forty managed to channel the hiss into low, fierce, words “Fragging hell, you promised to get some sleep, to keep this crap out of your head,” Forty took a sniff and added “and to take a shower while the fragging water is working—I’m out of prison, I shouldn’t have to live with so much human stink anymore. I’m going to hide all your damn chips, I swear!”

At that threat Silvia finally came to life, bucking and scratching, screaming incoherently. With casual contempt Forty tossed her sister onto their futon. Towering above, fury turning her tan skin ruddy and highlighting the pale stripes of old fight scars, the elf looked every bit the ex-con that she was. She spat out “Do I need to have a spirit sit on you again?”

Silvia froze like a rabbit that has seen a hawk’s shadow. She whispered back “No. No, not that. Don’t make the Kami see me like this — please!” Tears started leaking down her face and she tried to stifle a sob lest it set her sister off again.

“Then don’t keep slotting so much drek into your head.”

Silvia’s response was flat, defeated “You can’t understand — with the chips I’m young, vital, wanted. What is so good about this?” Her gesture encompassed both the worn one-room apartment and her own worn and wrinkled body “that I should want to come back to it? You wouldn’t understand —you’re an elf, you’ll be young and vital long after everyone else I know is dead.”

Forty snarled silently and she cocked a fist, then she checked herself. Two deep breaths and she reminded “You were young once — and free. You’ve loved, worked, danced all night, and made the choices that left you an old broken chip-head. I spent all that time in prison, just surviving.”

“But you still have a future.”

Forty responded in a flat, cold, voice “And you have a past worth remembering, and could have a lot of years of future still, if you don’t cook your brain first. Most of my memories are of prison, and the ones from before that are only a bit better. Remember hiding in the closet while Dad hammered on the door, waiting to see if he’d break in, waiting to see if Mom would really shoot him if he did? Good times, good time, right?”

Silvia licked her cracked lips, and said nothing.

Finally Forty turned away with a jerk, and picked up a bag from where she’d dropped it inside the apartment door. “I brought food—at least that’s what they said it is. Go see if the water is running—I don’t care if it is cold now—and get washed up, then come eat something. Maybe you can sleep a couple of hours before you go to the shrine for the daily babysitting — Wait, before you wash up, were there any phone calls? Messages, AROs, whatever they call them now. Were you even aware enough to notice?”

“There was a call on your link, the parole system. I entered the code saying it was you, and you were here.”

Forty slumped in relief, and admitted “That can’t have been easy, to remember how to deal with that when you were chipped in.” She gave an awkward, self-conscious bow to her sister, and in stilted Japanese stated “I am grateful that you helped me save face.”

Silvia smiled and responded in much better Japanese “Your Japanese is getting better, thank you for practicing it. Also Thank you for your acknowledgement of my humble contribution to your wellbeing.” Sylvia’s smile drifted into a sly expression, and switching back into English she continued with barely suppressed eagerness “I had a call too. There is a new episode of Butterfly Princess! Radiant Shadow has a few copies of the ‘good’ version but she might sell out soon, maybe I could get it?”

Forty slapped the wall, then snapped at her sister “I don’t even have next month’s rent, we’re eating third rate soy, and you want a new fragging BTL? What the hell sis! And the first decent moment we’ve had between us in four days and you turn it into … into … Frag!” Forty spun on her heel and strode the few paces to the far side of the apartment.

Silvia begged “Angela, please!”

“Don’t call me that!”

Sylvia cringed, but continued wheedling “Forty, please! I’ve slotted the old ones so many times, they don’t work right anymore! I was thinking, we could sell Mom’s gun, I don’t think I could manage it anymore and you aren’t supposed to have one anyway—that should pay for it, maybe have a bit left over, you could go and…” She faded out, then said in puzzlement “You cut off your hair?”

Forty nervously ran a hand through her dark brown buzz-cut. “Yah, it was a rough night. I’ll tell you about it over food, after your shower, OK? And maybe we can bring down Mr. Bonsai and see if the gravel needs shifting.”

Once the shower was running Forty swore, then muttered “Being a junkie is the worst kind of prison. At least with real prison they got tired of paying to lock me up.”

Then she looked around at the four gray-beige walls of their apartment, swore again, kicked the ratty futon, and admitted “From one box to another. And there ain’t nobody going to let me out of this place, unless I do it myself.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

While Sylvia used tweezers to minutely adjust a few pebbles, Forty explained her night “I knew it would happen sooner or later — one of the sleazebag customers made a slur that I couldn’t let slide, and I told him exactly what sort of slime-mold he was. The Blob called me to his office and reamed me out. I managed to keep my temper that time, but he was talking about my hair being a mess, so I went to the dancer’s change room and found some scissors to cut it off.”

Sylvia made a questioning “Hmmmm?” noise while she focused on the miniature rock garden.

Forty shrugged and admitted “The whole time I was prison, one of the things I looked forward to was being able to grow it long, but three months out and I decide to cut it even shorter than in prison. Go me.” She ran her fingers through the short, dark, remnants of her hair and added “Anyway, I like how it feels. I think I’ll keep it this way.”

Sylvia asked “I’m not sure if this pinkish pebble is right, where it is. What do you think?”

Forty stared at the tray for a while, breathing slowing down, until she admitted “I really don’t know. It doesn’t look wrong, but I don’t know if it is right either?”

Sylvia nodded and explained “Mom always had issues with that pebble too, it just never seemed to quite fit anywhere.”

Forty stared at the pebble some more, then suddenly started out of her reverie “Oh, subtle sis – not! Anyway, I was telling about my night. One of the customers in my section didn’t like my new haircut, and felt the need to tell everyone nearby that he’d need to have his buddies put a sack over my head before he raped me – not his exact words but his exact meaning. I replied that his wife said he couldn’t find his dick with both hands and an ARO, but that if he wanted I could tell him how I get her off better than he ever did.”

Sylvia turned away from the miniature rock garden to exclaim “You said that to a customer?”

Forty shrugged “I thought it was pretty funny, but I guess they don’t like it at The Zoo when the exhibits talk back. A bouncer took me back to see The Blob again, he yelled about my hair, yelled about my attitude, fired me, then offered to hire me back as a pit dancer for even less money than I’ve been making slinging cheap soy-beer.”

“Did you take it?”

“Frag no! I told him we should take a walk outside in a thunderstorm, that he was such a greasy ball of lard that lightning would set him off like a bonfire- – that I’d happily dance around that, but that was the only way I’d ever dance for him. The bouncer took exception to my opinion, but he’s all vat muscle and no speed and I was already revved up. I could tell when he made his moved, avoided his lock, tripped him, then had my lightning taloned friend manifest.”

Forty smiled at the memory, and mused “Maybe they believed me about lighting igniting The Blob? Anyway, the bouncer stayed down, so I grabbed a bottle of cheap-ass whiskey off The Blobs desk and took off—although The Blob was already comming for help as I went out the fire escape door. It was only the third floor so I jumped down, then had my spirit cloak me before anyone got eyes on me.”

“Oh Forty, why can’t you be more patient? What if he calls you in to Knight Errant? You don’t have a license for using magic! They’d lock you up again for sure, but this time they’d know, they have ways of locking down magic you know.”

“I know, last few years I was in a more mixed prison, there was this elf-wannabe whose a shaman or something, she said. Anyway, they had her locked in special cuffs the whole time cause of her magic, so I guess it is true.”

Sylvia rubbed at her own wrists and shivered, then returned to the topic. “I’m pretty sure I’m safe from The Blob calling me in, he breaks too many laws, and doesn’t pay enough bribes to want a lot of law attention. Anyway, that was my night—except that I found an all-night Snack-Shack and traded what was left of the whiskey for some so-called food, then hiked home. Best night of fun I’ve had since I got out.”

Sylvia shifted the pinkish pebble, then reproved “But you lost your job.”

Forty shrugged “Yah-but it is all good. It was never going to pay our way out of this hole anyway. I’m going to find ways to do better.”

Sylvia frowned, but kept her voice gentle as she riposted “Serving beer at The Zoo was the best job you’d found in four months since getting out. With your criminal SIN … I know it isn’t fair, but I know the discrimination, just being your sister made it hard sometimes. I was so lucky to get hired at Shiawase.”

“Yah, real lucky. What was it, thirty five years with no real promotion because no matter how much you studied Japanese and Shinto you aren’t real Japanese? They warned you away from the one guy you really loved, and then fired you the first time you actually screwed anything up. Fragging saints they are.”

“That is just the way things are.” Sylvia looked at her now shaking hand, and with a sigh put down the tweezers. “And you wonder why I love my chips? Why can’t you just leave me to enjoy things with them?”

Forty made a ‘time-out’ sign with her hands, then passed a snail shell to her sister, and held up a sunflower seed. “While you were in the shower I coaxed the spirits — kami — to give us blessings. Focus for you, thinking for me. They won’t last more than a minute, but maybe we can have a good conversation in that time. One-two-three: be strong Sylvia, be sensible Forty.”

Sylvia sat up straighter and said “Thank you. Now: how are you going to get a job even as good as the one you lost with your temper?”

Forty explained “I’m going to stop playing the game that is rigged so that no matter what, I lose.”

Sylvia shot her a concerned look, and replied “No, no, no! You promised, no criminal stuff. They’ll put you back in prison right away.”

“No they won’t, Sis.” Forty emphasized the last word of the sentence. “Your little Shinto shrine at the end of the street, and the fragging kids who you teach when you can remember your own name, how much good would it do all that when people found out your sister was going back to prison? No, you can’t afford to go through all this again, so you aren’t going to tell, you are going to go on covering for me. And I’ll make enough money to get you your new chips, and maybe enough for us to move somewhere a little less horrible, maybe even enough to put some lights in the shrine.”

Forty stood up, stretched out her arms, and waited a few seconds while a storm cloud in the shape of a huge hawk materialized behind her. “It’s the small time crime that would do me in. I need to go after bigger game. Now, give me the phone number of your BTL dealer.”

“Nobody uses phone numbers anymore, Forty.”

“You know what I mean, the code, digits, whatever. Something Shadow you said she was called?”

“Radiant Shadow. But you can’t threaten her! She’s a pretty big time dealer, people trust her, she has connections. She promises she’ll never sell anything she hasn’t slotted, nothing that will burn your brain out.”

“Chill Syl. I’m not planning on killing her or anything, just looking for a job, she sounds like a reasonable woman, for a human.”

“She’s not human, she’s a dwarf.” Sylvia sighed as the magic faded, looked at the trembling starting up in her hands, then added “She said not to tell you, but she was in prison with you. She says you did her a favor, and that is why she’ll supply me, even if I’m small time.”

“Kate? Kate is your dealer?” at Sylvia’s blank look, Forty added “Big birthmark on her left cheek, sweats a lot, sounds kind of spaced out?”

Sylvia nodded tentatively, and explained “I’ve only ever seen her with full face paint on, and she’s pretty fat so if I’ve seen her looking sweaty I just thought it was that, and if she sounds spaced out I always thought it was all the chips and drugs she tries …..”

Forty gave her surprised sister a hug, and said “That is definitely Kate! I told you things were going to look up soon.”

Forty

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