It wasn’t usually difficult to avoid her when she came home from the bars; he would crawl out to the fire escape, hide under the sink, or take shelter beneath her bed until she collapsed in a synthehol-induced haze. He was used to keeping himself entertained, keeping himself safe. He usually had a knack for avoiding danger. Sometimes, luck just isn’t on your side and “usually” isn’t good enough.
Who knows what she thought she saw, what demons flitted in her vision, when she stormed through the front door and lunged at her son. Gibbering about forces of light and darkness, she gripped his tawny head between her hands and squeezed for emphasis, her drunken spittle dripping down his helpless face. Then she struck, screaming about “seeing the truth.”
Police found his mother’s body in the back alley, having fallen off the fire escape and lading heavily on an industrial garbage collection unit. They found him kneeling in the cramped living room, crying bloody tears, both eyes having been gouged beyond repair.
It was nearly a year before the series of shelters and halfway houses turned into stable residence, as he was taken in by a caring couple who were unable to have children of their own. They weren’t terribly affluent, being low-level corporate wageslaves for a third-tier subsidiary of a second-rate corporation, but they did what they could to improve the life of their new son. Several months after being placed with them, he was presented with a pair of new (to him) cybereyes. Far from the latest and greatest, they nevertheless provided a return to the semblance of normalcy.
The doctors told him the itching and the feeling of disconnectedness was all in his head, that over time his mind would adjust to the new sensations. He hated the feeling of watching the world through cameras, like he was walled off from the people around him. He couldn’t tell his parents that the eyes made him feel uncomfortable, to do so would break their hearts. They never knew that, whenever possible, he sat with his eyes closed, taking in the scents, sounds, and feelings of city life, without the mixed blessing of their thoughtful gift.
Over time he began to discern moving shapes when he closed his eyes, shadows or ghosts of the people walking past him. More than just light filtering through his shut eyelids, he could sometimes see them even when he held his fingers tight against his eyes. Once he had a greater command of his ability, to sense things around him in ways that he could tell were not from his normal senses, he began studying.
He wouldn’t have ever gotten into MIT&T (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Thaumaturgy)—his grades weren’t good enough to warrant a scholarship and his parents were far from affluent enough to send him—but he studied hard, particularly when it came to the intersection between biology and the Awakened world. Feeling that his gift would be an affront to the charity of his parents, he never told them; they merely thought he developed an active interest in education.
It was years later, venturing as a late teenager into a thamaturgical curio shop, when a talismonger first formally recognized his power. “You have the sight,” the wizened and leathery woman told him. “You can see, even if you cannot touch.” Under her he began his training as a mystic adept, exploring the first few steps into the Astral Plane under her careful tutelage. It would be the start of a life-long journey and fascination.
Suggested Archetype: Mystic Adept with a focus on Astral Perception/Projection, no spellcasting or inability to summon spirits
Suggested Cyberware: Though between his youth and full maturity he replaced his cybereyes with more feature-full models, he still shies away from most any type of augmentation, fearing that any additional replacement parts would completely sever the tenuous link he enjoys with the arcane.
Run Hooks: Perhaps the talismonger who brought him up through his magic training was killed, or began sending him on adventures farther and farther afield to find or collect reagents. Whatever the case, he recognized that the major corporations hoarded a great deal of research on the magical condition, and so he bent his life toward discovering all he could about the Sixth World, even if that meant breaking into corporate archives to do it.