Joy-girls and chipheads prowl the streets like rapacious sharks, frenziedly circling the bloodied forms of some hapless swimmers, even as garishly dressed pimps, posers and dealers try to make themselves noticed. Traffic this evening is relatively light in the seedy red-light district of the Plex, which is good, because the last thing you need is a street full of onlookers when you're conducting biz.
The unsettling sound of poly-glass shattering and dancing away on pavement tickles at your ears from the distant precincts of a shadow filled alleyway. To your cyber enhanced eyes, however briefly, three figures only slightly warmer than the surrounding poly-crete wall of the adjoining tenement building, move soundlessly as they slip deeper into the stygian black cul-de-sac. As quickly as they'd appeared, they’re gone, vanishing within some unknown bolthole or secretive entrance, effectively nonexistent to the uninitiated...
Relaxing visibly you leave the Rapier sliver gun hanging at your side from the matte black, 'Whip-it' shoulder strap that suspends the lightweight, inconspicuous submachine gun within easy reach. Subconsciously you reference your optical data-link and curse silently beneath your breath. Already 23:21 hours and still your contact hasn’t shown.
As if on cue, you catch the telltale flutter of ultraviolet headlights from the alleyway across South 33rd. Why the well-connected fixer has chosen to meet in person this time is a mystery to you, but her credit gets the bills paid, and it beats worrying about the security of the com lines on the Plex’s LCG.
Unconsciously you tighten your hand around the cold reassuring grip of the Rapier as your eyes scan with practiced ease; the intervening, exposed space between you and the distant alley-mouth. Stepping out from your cover you move with as casual a gait as hyped up and tensed to spring boosted reflexes allow. Hopefully, you think ruefully, this time it won’t be a setup…
Life on the edge is just that. The streets hold few secrets from you, whether it’s drugs, the rapacious rapture of illegal bliss-chips, or the current contraband of choice, you know someone who knows someone who can get just about anything you might ever need. How, when and where to get a hold of it as well as where it comes from. True the cred is a lot tighter on the streets and in the shadows of the Corporate megaliths than it might be elsewhere, but even Edgers manage a big score occasionally.
Word from in deep is that the Corporations are the ones that caused the Great Blackout, which only now threatens to slip into the dim recesses of the recent past. Of course the Corpse in their towering skyscrapers hadn’t suffered much in the subsequent years of chaos, with the rare exception. The common folk, the people in the streets... they were the ground-zero of that particular bomb.
War, famine, pestilence and death, yup the friggin Four Horsemen had ridden across the world but the only thing that sustained them seemed to be the blood and suffering of the little guy, while the Corpse sat in the solace of their lavish stronghold suites, behind the protective barricades of shit eating well-heeled bodyguards and sell-out Lancer grunts. Yeah that is bitterness in my voice.
What choice do we have you ask, how can we vagabonds and paupers make a difference? We talk big, but who’s skulking in the shadows trying not to get zeroed? What’s the edge that gives us our name in the first place and a shot at bringing down the juggernaut of the massed Mega-Corps? Everyone’s heard about the little guy who despite his relative weakness brings down the towering giant. Well hombre I’ve got an answer for that one, that any military or dictatorial leader in the lost data-files of history would begrudgingly acknowledge.
We’re fighting for our homes, our families and our hopes of a future… not something as temporary and meaningless as public appeal, or a bigger friggin market share. Our hackers are the best! Don’t ask me why, maybe it has something to do with the lawless nature of hackers in general. Maybe it’s an ego thing, screw the huge Mega-Conglomerate and you earn respect, bragging rights, and piss off some tofu eating Corpse to boot. Data is Power, eh buddy? Aside from Calypso what the hell would any wannabe Corpse tech-head have to try’n hack that would affect the streets?
Yeah we’re small fry compared to the Corpse breeders, but you know the Global Stock Market crash of 2303? That saw Corpse leaping from the skyscrapers as they watched their precious creds whirling like so much polluted water down the dunny. That was us. How do you think we got Mt. Carmel, our own cloaked sub-orbital station, and Pilgrimage, our launch platform? Sure it was only six corporations that bit the dust, and none of them Mega-Corps but every journey starts with a single step. I for one like the way this journey has begun…
Despite the antipathy most, if not all Edgers feel for the Corpse beacons of society they often work for and against them at the behest of the intermediary fixers who wheel and deal services and data for cold hard credit. Lancers are another story altogether. While most Lancers are nothing more than lost, mercenary fodder in the eyes of Edgers, there are a few who have worked with those of the streets and even garnered some degree of respect from them.
Edgers police their own. A turncoat Edger will find him or herself suddenly very much alone if word gets out that they’ve sold out or gone Corpse. Not so the opposite. Corpse often find themselves literally left with nowhere to turn but to the streets and the indigenous Edgers who make those streets their home and protect them as such. You can bet that any Corpse making the transition from the cold phalanx of poly-crete and poly-glass, which make up the Corporate Arcologies has a hard road ahead of them; in trying to fit into the depths of the back alleys and unforgiving streets. Trust is tenuous at best and harder to earn than all the cred in Babel.
Like both Corpse and Lancer archetypes, Edgers have very diverse views and methods of fighting to improve the lot of the masses. Most have lived lives filled with abuse and hardship, and each has their own reason for why they do the things they do. Neglected and devalued by an act of circumstance or simple creation, they recognize their position in the big picture and around the world fight in their own ways to make a lasting change and difference. Some grow jaded with the years while others seem to be immune to their circumstances, altruistic and dedicated despite the harrowing twists and turns their lives seem to take at any given moment. Even those few Corpse and Lancers who find themselves casting their lot with the refuse of the streets, quickly learn their etiquette and ways. There's no second chance on the streets...