Though technology and fashion had combined and advanced to a point that would be unrecognizable even a few decades prior, Scarlet preferred the crisp lines and sharp angles of a simple, fashionable blazer that matched her name. She felt it accented her features, adding to the allure of a face half-hidden by Auburn hair, and made her a striking and memorable contact. In a world where reputation was everything, anything to stand out from the crowd was a boon.
Her parents named her “Temperance” – what a laugh. It’s easy for a natural socialite to fall in with the wrong crowd, particularly when her winsome smile and roguish charm could scam drinks, money, or other vices from those who wouldn’t have given her companions a second glance. She felt needed, and powerful.
A few years vanished in an instant, and only after she was rebuffed as an “addict” did she start realizing what a toll her lifestyle had taken. All of her wiles were then turned toward recovery and reattaining the carefree lifestyle she wanted – the kind of security a friendly face could provide. “Better living through chemistry” has a very different meaning for users than it does for the cutting-edge medical community, and having experienced one extreme of the pendulum, she was committed to knowing the other.
Never regretting the steps she had to take in order to achieve her goal, she nevertheless turned a blind eye to her newest addiction – the ceaseless pursuit of being better. She saw life as a competition and was determined to win first place. With free time spent training her body, her mind, or honing her already comprehensive social skills, every time she hit a plateau – real or imagined – she found a medical, technological, or magical method to keep going, keep advancing. She didn’t think about how or when she started running the shadows; it was a simple, and exciting, way to put herself to the test as well as fund her continued quest for perfection.
Sometimes she acted as a go-between for runners and small-time Johnsons, like a friendly, neighborhood fixer. She didn’t want to spend her life staring at spreadsheets and taking trideo calls however – she needed to be out, to see and be seen. Sometimes she’d be the social distraction that allowed the rest of her team to gain entry to a restricted area, at others she’d be with the team proper, to smooth any unexpected hiccups during a risky egress. She wasn’t picky when it came to work, so long as she had a part to play and an audience to impress.
The most seductive and insidious of self-destructions are those which improve one’s public image. Every step down the path feels better than the one before, garnering increased fame, success, and compliment, all the while gnawing ever deeper into the heart. Scarlet was driven, and one day she would drive herself into an early, but beautiful, grave.
- Role: The Face. Scarlet serves the social aspect in a team of shadowrunners, whether it be for negotiating compensation, information-gathering legwork, or mid-run presentation.
- Philosophy: She is focused on being at the top of her game at all times. Charming, seductive, threatening, or terrifying – she feels the drive to surpass every expectation given her. Recognizing that working with poor teams would reflect badly on her own reputation, she holds her running mates to a high standard, which can admittedly lead to internal team conflict when someone “comes up short” for an error, real or otherwise.
- Motivation: Some may view Scarlet’s drive for self-improvement and exceeding her mortal limitations as a form of transhumanism, but ultimately she isn’t hoping to discover or attain that which may lie beyond (meta)human understanding – instead she still sees herself as the homeless waif, rightly dismissed as just another aimless drug addict, and spends her days and nights running as far away from that image with every ounce of strength she can muster.
- Inspiration: For me, Scarlet represents the summation of every individual for whom the public image of success is the aim of every action. The flashiest clothes, the highest corporate titles, the latest or most expensive car, no matter what the internal mental or private social cost. If everything’s attractive on the outside, the thinking goes, that has to reflect well on what’s going on inside. Ultimately, everything gets sacrificed at the altar of perception in the never-ending quest for validation which will never come.
Header image taken from The Speakeasy, a fantastic
underground evening theatre performance in San Francisco.