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Good News for Everyone But Me (Sort Of)

I settled on a new story and I’m 20k words into it already. I’m writing as fast and furious as the actors in the aptly named franchise  pretend to drive. However, there’s a problem with it (my writing— there are many problems with the Fast and Furious franchise even though they are entertaining and fun to watch). Copyright concerns.

But, I’ve done plenty of research and it seems, as long as I don’t attempt to change any existing cannon or charge money for what I’m writing, I’m in the clear. So that means I get to write the book I’ve been aching to write and you, my not-so-gentle readers, get to enjoy it at no cost! I’m not sure if I’ll be able to publish through my regular channels, however (Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, etc.). I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Now then, what exactly am I writing? I don’t have a title yet, but it takes place in that game setting I mentioned before: Shadowrun. The year is 2077 and the world (and many people) are full of enhanced technology. And there’s magic. Loads of it, from shamans, magicians, and spirits to critters such as hellhounds, barghests, yetis, and dragons. Orks, trolls, dwarves, and elves live alongside humans and have given the human species a brand new opportunity to be racist. Except most people aren’t dumb enough to insult a troll to their face because, well, compared to a troll everyone else is kind of squishy.

What’s the story about? Glad you asked! It follows a small group of people that are drawn together to do a job (aka a run or shadowrun). They need to acquire some fancy new equipment from one corporation and deliver it to another. The prototypes aren’t anything world changing or able to pave a path for humanity to follow, they’re just some advanced gadgets another corporation wants to learn the secrets of. And, in typical Shadowrun fashion, there will be some twists, turns, and betrayals along the way.

You see that’s the beauty of Shadowrun – runners might care about ethics and each other, but the people that hire them, the Mr. Johnson’s of the world, consider them expendable assets at best. At worst, they’re parasites and necessary evils. Oh, and by the way, runners (or  shadowrunners) aka the mercenaries that risk life and limb for the all-mighty nuyen (new – yen, or the global currency that has replaced the dollar). So if one Mr. Johnson hires a team to do something illicit and doesn’t want to risk any implication falling back on them, they might do their best to see to it the team doesn’t survive the run (after they accomplish the goal, that is). It’s an accepted occupation hazard.

In my case, I’ve got a team of 3 (soon to be 4) in play. Pepper is a middle aged man that works for a mega-corp during the days, but he’s sick and tired of not being good enough to advance up the ranks. His requests for transfer to field assignments and promotions are regularly ignored so he decided to do something about it – much to the irritation (and worry) of his wife. Pepper’s living through his mid-life crisis by the skin of his teeth.

Tank is what they call a rigger. Riggers are the ultimate wrench monkeys. They love vehicles, driving them and upgrading them and using them to blow stuff up. Tank is no exception to that, and he makes up for his skill behind the wheel with extreme social awkwardness and a tendency to forget to prioritize personal hygiene.

Bling is a stripper. Or was. And an elf, so even though she’s in her mid 20s she looks like she more not be legal. Except there’s her curves in all the right places. Elves are tall and lean, perhaps even lanky, although individuals may vary. Bling did not, naturally, but she was abandoned at birth and grew up on the streets. She learned how to survive and how to thrive, and that involved using her body and talents to get by. She even landed a headlining gig at one of the Greater Detroit Metroplex’s premiere night club for a few years – and that gave her the money she needed to augment herself in all the right ways, both aesthetically and for personal protection. Her handicap is a whole lot of passion and excitement, but not much in the way of practical experience or education. In fact, her education came from the street. Everything she knows is second hand knowledge — she’s probably spent less than a full week in her entire life inside a school.

Healz. Like Bling, Healz is a metahuman. An ork. He’s real tall (6’8″ or a little bit over 2 meters) and big. Tusks, greenish – brown skin, and an often surly manner. He had a life, a good one, as a high threat response doctor working for a mega-corp that replaced privatized ambulance services. Nice clothes, great car, even his choice of ladies until he screwed up and lost an important patient. The screw-up was his fault too — he was addicted to a narcotic called Cram that left him with some bigtime flawed decision making. His company found out and terminated him, but he threatened a law suit to expose them for making the narcotic (and others) available to their employees to enhance their performance while working. He walked away with a large payout and had to spend a portion of it creating alternate identities for himself so he could hide from any reprisal they might launch at him.

What’s up with all the goofy names? They’re called street names (or in Bling’s case, a stage name). It’s one more way shadowrunners protect their true identities. After all, the goal of most runners is to score big so they can take up their given names again and retire to a life of comfort. Very few ever make it, but the appeal remains. So, with that in mind, here’s the reason behind the names:

Pepper – middle aged man in great shape, but every year brings more grey to his hair, hence the salt and pepper look.

Tank – Ever call a big guy Tiny? Well, Tank is pretty scrawny. A little above average height, but he’s skin on bones since he often forgets to eat while he’s tinkering with his toys. That and he’d love to own a tank some day (either traditional or the infamous hover tanks, aka panzers).

Healz – Easy one here, this guy was a doctor. Still is, although he lost his license when he lost his corporate sponsorship. He goes by the name Healz now and acts as a street doc capable of installing cyberware for those that can pay. He’s got a soft spot for charity cases too, although he’d never go pro-bono on a cyberware install he will help someone who’s sick or injured that can’t afford it.

Bling – Another easy one, especially if you saw her. Bling loves to sparkle. Her fingernails have been replaced with carbon fiber extendable hand razors (they don’t extend very far), and the carbon fiber has a bedazzled look to it. She’s got piercings in all the right places (none on her face though, so you do the math) and those sparkle too. And jewelry – whatever she can find that accessorize, as long as it gleams.

So, with all those glimpsed backstories and the world at large, there’s a ton of possibilities to write about. Adventures a-plenty to be had! Life to be lived, from action packed gunfights and car chases to steamy seduction and broken hearts. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Maybe next time I’ll get into some of the lingo used in the Shadowrun setting!

But for now, I’ve got more of this story to work on!

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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