Gamma Ray Running
William Alden Gafferty was born to Timothy Alden Gafferty and Rosemarie Lucienne Gafferty, nee Fournier, in a middle class enclave owned by his parent’s employers, a small medical corporation which specialized in organ transplants. William fought with his younger sister, Gabrielle, went to the corporation’s schools, got into a local magical University through corporation contacts, and generally did the suburban thing. At 26, fresh out of University, he got a job working for the medical corporation he’d grown up in, gathering intel on artificial organ smugglers. He thought the job was too good to be true and his parents were so proud. He was the textbook idealist – cared about others, just wanted to help, and thought most people were just like him.
William was naive. As far as he knew, the information he gathered was being used to stop the organ smugglers and to keep them from stealing. In reality, he was helping the corporation wipe out (admittedly quasi-legal) organizations which helped provide free medical aid to the slums and barrens. When he found this out, he reported it to the local Knights, who proceeded to arrest him (guess who’s pocket they were in), beat the shit out of him, charge him for the murder and rape (yes, in that order) of a 12 year-old-girl found in his apartment (this came as a rather large surprise to him, as he was still a virgin at the time), then stick him in an isolation cell for 5 years.
When his ‘sentence’ was over and William was released, the corporation was waiting for him. They had him taken out behind the chemical shed (literally) and shot, then legally declared dead. By sheer bad luck he managed to survive as a group of runners stumbled across his dumped body and were feeling altruistic enough to help him out (they dragged him to the nearest clinic and left him to pay the bill). When the clinic asked his name he gave them the name of the pet cat he had back in college. Ralph. He figured it was a safe name, since no one ever bothered cats.
5 years (and a couple plastic surgeries) passed and Ralph found himself a broken, lonely Investigator, living above his regular dive bar and only working when he couldn’t afford liquor. He’d watched his family from afar for a couple years, the most he could do since they thought he was dead and contacting them would just put them in danger; eventually he gave up, though. The pain of seeing them and not being able to tell them how much he still loved them was too great. His main goal in life was to get paid, whatever the job, whoever he had to work with, and stay off the corporate radar.
Ralph developed the habit of giving his fellow Runners stereotyped and often demeaning nicknames, instead of using their actual names. The stupid ones took offense and picked fights with him over it, only to walk away in disgust as he passively took their blows; the intelligent ones recognized the habit for what it was, and left Ralph alone when not actually on a job. One, a hacker named Yasmeen, directly called him on it, and after a huge fight the two became something like friends, occasionally even sleeping together (the only person Ralph has slept with). Both have too many issues to make it into anything like a real (or particularly healthy) relationship, though.
Things changed when Ralph took a job from through some Johnson named Seraph. It was the first major job he’d ever taken, working for a real corporate-level client, fancy bodyguard and kidnapping stuff. Though working with a corporation made him nervous, he figured the money was worth the risk, and his SIN was good anyway. Little did he know that this one “small” job would put him right back into the middle of the corporate radar.
Over the past few weeks Ralph has been working with the same people, something he’s avoided doing in the past. What’s worse, he found himself respecting these people, even caring about them. They’re efficient, professional, don’t ask him too many questions, and are generally of at least neutral moral character. After a few jobs, namely rescuing a bunch of kids and taking out some nasty Spirits which had overrun an entire enclave, Ralph holds Yevgeny (“Commie”), El Topo (“Beaner”), and Snow (who apparently has attached herself to him) in especially high regard, with Kilahm (“Fairy”) earning some grudging respect for his magical skills, despite his overly flamboyant nature. Ralph starts thinking, maybe he can make some kind of life here, rather than just surviving.
After what will forever been known as the ‘Hardcase Setup’, Ralph’s world was completely turned upside down. After being betrayed by Danae’s Mitsuhama contact he went batshit, developing a vengeful, suicidal obsession with the Aztecnology corporation. It was just too much for him, having already lost his family and former life, only to have this new one threatened so impartially by yet another corporation. On the plus side, he stopped drinking, so at least his liver is happier.
In the process of pursuing Aztecnology, Ralph moved with Snow and Frost (a water spirit who seems to think he needs her extra care and attention) into a safe house provided by Yevgeny. After weeks of searching and making a deal with Ghouls, he managed to learn who, precisely, arranged for the group to run into Hardcase. A little more digging found Ralph standing over the man’s corpse, warm gun still in his hand, driving obsession draining out of his body, leaving behind a kind of confused dissatisfaction. He still hated Aztecnology, and corporations in general, but the insane rage was gone. And he was famous now, that was bound to affect job offers. What was left?
After doing some soul-searching, Ralph decides to attempt Initiation on his own. He endures a particularly draining series of meditations, during which his body is looked after by Kilahm, and awakes immersed in metamagic, an entire new world of skills and abilities laying before him. His trials have also given him a greater sense of calm, though he is not sure where this calm comes from or if it will last.
Ralph isn’t sure where in particular he’s headed now. Outside of wanting to take care of Snow and continue working with the friends he’s made, he’s remarkably ‘goal-less’ for the first time in his life. He figures he’ll try to enjoy each day as much as he can since, as he well knows, it could all go to shit again with the next job.