Ixian Astbiliancoatl: History

   Ixian was one of the odder characters running around in the local Shadowrun games: he was an escaped lab animal in an experimental combat chassies. Oddly enough, he also still possessed just a little bit of magic: it was only spirit-channeling and the ability to summon Watcher spirits, but it was often pretty useful.

   First off, here’s his personal history:

   Ixian was originally a Neo-Jaguar; a great cat genetically engineered for compatibility with humans (making them smarter, longer-lived, cleaner, and more attractive). While sentient, Neo-Jaguars are usually a bit thick, instinct-driven, and have no hands – and so are generally regarded as property. They’re usually kept as pets, companions, and backup bodyguards; while no match for a Street Samurai or armored guard, a 200-300 pound cat with strong protective instincts puts off a lot of minor annoyances.

   Ixian, of course, has had much of his body replaced with cyberware, and is a physical match for almost anything else which walks.

   Without his fursuit (which he does tend to think of as his skin), Ixian looks like a metallic cat or cat-person sculpted out of golden cyberware and covered with tiny, iridescent diamond scales. Unless he intentionally unseals some of the vents (throat, urogenital, anal, or one-way pheromonal) he is an entirely sealed system – and oddly beautiful, in a somewhat serpentine way. With it, he usually looks a lot like a normal jaguar, but can change his fur color and pattern around pretty much at will, often to a relevant camouflage pattern – unless he’s playing with the luminous functions.

   Thanks to the marvels of carbon microtubes and modern alloys, Ixian isn’t much heavier than a normal Jaguar – although that’s still some 125 (Mexican subspecies) to 330 (Brazilian subspecies) pounds. He weighs 360 pounds, has a body about 6 feet long, a 2’6 tail, and stands about 2 feet tall in animal form. As an anthromorph he stands about 6’4. While their natural coloration ranges from solid black through various combinations of spotted and tawny to near-solid tawny, Ixian likes to play with outre’ combinations.

Neo-Jaguar: Breeding; non-seasonal, Gestation 160 days, 1-4 cubs, first solid food at about 3 months, weaned at 8 months, adult coloration 1 year, full growth 3-5 years, sexual maturity 6 years, expected lifespan 60-80 years. Normally weigh 185-265 pounds, with females usually on the lower end. Common jaguars have been known to drag around 800 pound bulls, to pulverize bones, and to put deep dents into bowling balls when they’re given them to chew on. They also like to swim.

Jaguar Racial Modifiers: +2 Body and Strength, +1 Charisma, Quickness and Reaction. -1 Intelligence, -2 Will, +2d6 Initiative, Claw and Bite for (Str)M damage, x5 Running. Legal Problems (no rights), Dice Penalties (-2d6 on manipulation in animal form), Freakish (augmented animal), and Physical Limitation (most armor and gear must be special-ordered).

 

   The first lesson was simple enough; if you bit, clawed, or chewed on the hands with the bottle, they took it away – and you were hungry. With modern imprinting methods even the youngest cubs got that one quickly enough.

   You didn’t bite people unless they were needlessly rough with you (and then only a very little bit unless they were deliberately hurting you) – and you waited for them to feed you.

   You started to learn to understand a few commands in several different languages and learned another important lesson; you couldn’t manage more than a few simple words. People were much cleverer than you, and you belonged to them.

   Any litter mates who couldn’t or wouldn’t learn that lesson were fixed and sold as guard animals or experimental subjects, rather than as companions. You may not have really known what that meant – but you knew that you didn’t want it happening to you.

   One of the first things Ixian remembers clearly was the really old elvish guy who came in. He looked over everyone and took along one of his sisters – but he looked at Ixian for several minutes, and then looked really strange – like he was wearing a mask of some really odd creature – for a bit. Then he smiled at him and whispered his real secret name to him. He was Astbiliancoatl, and he mustn’t forget it.

   Ixian never did. That was HIS secret name, regardless of what the people decided to call him.

   Even the shop owner said that cats were entitled to a secret name anyway.

   He was a fine young Neo-Jaguar – nearly adult and ready to be a companion (and minor guardian) for the family of anyone who was rich enough to afford to buy and keep him – when the Aztechnology purchasing agent came by.

.

   Look, the pilot-program systems have about hit their limit – and the battle-droids are still hopelessly unreliable on any extended mission and have a 73% failure rate on midrange ones. Humans are better in the short run, but tend to get their own ideas after a few months . A nice, focused, simple-minded predator might be just the ticket. Easy to train, easy to point at a target, flexible enough to make decisions but unlikely to question what it’s been taught to do – practically ideal. Putting it in a simple animal-form body at first will make it more manageable during testing too.

   It’s not like we haven’t lost enough on this project already. Get me a couple of Neo-Wolves or Neo-Jaguars. It can hardly go much more wrong than last time.

   Well that went hideously wrong. What happened? Some idiot tried to use pain-discipline on the creature on the very first test run when it’s never been disciplined that way before and while standing within reach of a newly-augmented and fully-activated combat cyborg? What’s more, he told it that he was holding the pain-control just after he’d loaded it with a set of lethal combat skills and reflexes and told it to kill?

   Suicide – and negligent homicide – by ineptitude.

   It destroyed the entire facility on the way out? Well of course it would. It’d just been loaded with a military procedure program. You’ll note that when it had a minute to think it reverted from lethal commando to relatively benign pet. It let both of the technicians it captured go – and the “explosive collar” thing was a bluff anyway.

   Damn fools. It was brought up as a pet, a companion, and as a guard-beast. If they’d just told it “good kitty” and then something like “but you were kind of slow, so tonight you only get the dry food” they’d probably still be alive, still have it under control, and be most of the way to having it working as an operative. Instead we’re out thirty techs, one facility, and a prototype worth several million in construction costs and a hundred million in research.

   Why the hell was it in an anthromorphic body-form anyway? It was supposed to be a test-run on it’s ability to follow directions and avoid getting confused; it wasn’t even supposed to be ABLE to use weapons and equipment yet!

   Koriel was getting such good results with the surgery that he decided to go ahead and install some more systems? And he disappeared several weeks ago?

   Get his records. I want to know how much he installed in that thing – and the test lab is a total loss.

.

   He put in Wired Reflexes, Skillwires, Sensory Systems, and Shapeshifting (?!) on TOP of the Cyberframe? That’s impossible. That much cyberware should have killed it. Maybe twice over. Where are the surgical tapes? Blank?

   I want Koriel. AND the specimen. I don’t care how much it costs; that creature may be the only record that we can get our hands on of a major breakthrough in installing cyberware. The beast was still alive, functioning, and apparently reasonably stable and sociable after all of that. Hell; it’s a hunting cat and it was still capable of displaying compassion. At a point where normal methods would have left it a cyberzombie. Ever looked to one of them for compassion?

   The only people who’re even RUMORED to have the ability to moderate the impact of cyberware to that extent are the Order Of Cu Chulainn – and you know how little luck we’ve had dealing with any of the elven nations.

.

   Does anyone know what all he put in the cyberframe or have the full list of skill programs it was loaded with? Most, but not all? Oh even BETTER. I doubt it was running at full capacity when it escaped; it probably hadn’t even taken an inventory on its own systems yet.

   If most of those techs and supervisors weren’t dead already, I’d kill them myself.

   You know… That might be part of the problem right there. Everyone knows that the company often disposes of employees who make major errors. I wonder if that means that we never get any sane recruits any more? If I didn’t own such a big block of stock, I probably wouldn’t work here myself.

.

   Ixian was a bit frightened at first, but Dr Koriel explained all about what his new body would be like in advance and showed him the parts. Ixian was never too clear on how they got turned into being his body, but it seemed to work – and Dr Koriel seemed really pleased when he woke up again. It felt kind of funny for awhile, but it was what Master wanted – and it did give him some neat abilities.

   First it let him talk a lot better. A lot more voice control and a lot more words.

   It got really fun when Dr Koriel showed him how to turn into a quasi-human. Hands were really interesting to have. They could do such a lot of things.

   You could play video games and open tuna cans!

   That was even more fun than the magical tricks Dr Koriel had been showing him – although they were a lot of fun as well.

   Then the mean people from the testing center came and he never saw Dr Koriel anymore. They acted like he was just a piece of furniture, and they stuck things in his head, and gave orders all the time and were never happy with anything at all.

   And nobody he could call could find Dr Koriel for him. They weren’t too bright (even compared to him), but still.

   Ixian didn’t LIKE the testing people. But he did belong to them right now, so they were entitled to give orders.

   There were a lot of tests, and then they put a bunch of stuff in his head. Some of it was really scary and a lot was just weird. A lot of it was a huge list of ways to use all kinds of weapons and equipment and more languages (Goody! More ways to talk to people!). Then there was a lot of stuff that seemed like it was totally useless.

   No wonder humans were in charge if they could keep all this stuff in their heads without help! He hoped that there’d be a little time to sort it all out before anything else came up though.

   Then they told him to go out and kill some bad people.

   Well… Part of his job was to protect his people from bad people, so he guessed that that was all right. He’d kind of thought that bad people usually jumped out at you, rather than the reverse, but he’d never done it before.

   They did try to shoot him, but…

   They were really kind of pathetic. He took one back to check with his people, but they said that they were really bad people and should be killed.

   So he did. And then they said that he wasn’t killing people fast enough and said they were going to hurt him really badly with this box they were holding and then they did hurt him really badly with the box because he’d come and asked if he really needed to kill people and they hadn’t really seemed like they needed to be killed and he wanted to belong to Dr Koriel again because it really looked like…

   They wanted him to kill people really fast and without checking on whether they were really bad people first. That was bad.

   THEY WERE BAD PEOPLE and they WEREN’T HIS PEOPLE AT ALL!

   So he killed them. It might have been better not too, but it was what the program they’d given him said to do in an enemy outpost. Then he wrecked the place and ran off with a couple of the technicians. The tactical programs said that there were probably a couple of tracking devices and at least one self-destruct, in him too – so he’d make the techs take them out.

   First he bluffed the techs by rigging up some “explosive collars” and then he had to deal with a hunter team. Fortunately popping up out of the ground at them worked nicely. That gave him a pile of weapons, so he used them on the helicopters – which got him a few bigger weapons and a few minutes of peace to put the techs to work.

   They only got part of the nasty things out, but it seemed that he was close to Seattle. He had the slush fund he’d downloaded before blowing up the computer systems and the stuff they’d put in said that Seattle had all kinds of doctors and things.

   Now that he was out, and had most of the stuff in his head sorted out, he was sort of sorry about the massacre. He didn’t really think it had been entirely necessary, no matter what the “tactical program” said. It still said he ought to kill the two Techs’, but they were sort of sad and very scared. It wouldn’t be right to just kill them that way. He let them go and headed for Seattle.

   A lot of people in Seattle reacted funny – but he jumped on a few nasty things that were bothering people, and some of them were willing to talk to him after that.

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