The sky is dark with pollution. Sure, the sun still shines through the cracks in the clouds, but there’s no such thing as a day that ain’t at least a little overcast. The streets are dirty. Litter, graffiti, gonna find it everywhere on the ground level. In the past, they thought the future would be a utopia – no more homeless, no more poverty at all. Tell that to the guy sleeping behind that trash dumpster over there. People in the past forgot that the rich don’t care about the poor. That ain’t ever gonna change.

Corporations run the show now. Tonkatsu and RLD enforce more law than the police do (which is a lot). Cyberdyne has made it their mission to turn people into machines, replacing parts limb by limb. Jackets are the men to fear – not the men with the guns – the men who control the men with the guns, then turn to the press conference, appearing as the pinnacle of a good citizen. But the people know better. They make their cynical remarks and go back to their gruel – cause what can they do? They’re at the mercy of those with wealth and influence to do whatever they want.

“Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.”
- R. Buckminster Fuller

Today aliens wander the streets, all kinds of weird things…but not as weird as they should be. They don’t care about us – about any humans really. Mostly, they’re here for themselves – they want something only Earth has, and just like anybody else they’ll exploit whatever they need to to get a hold of it. Yeah the aliens taught us psionics, whatever – its just another way for the rich to control the poor. Hows your every day Joe Schmoe on the ground supposed to get an Archon to teach him? Its all diplomats, and jackets.

But oh no, no, no! Your dangers don’t stop there! Theres also contractors – earth’s unique resource, thanks to some weird asteroid. They look like bacteria to our scientists, but they’re bacteria that can think, and can communicate. And can give magic powers. God knows how. Hah! Who am I fooling? Nietzsche said over two centuries ago “God is Dead”. Look at the state of things – he was both right and wrong. God is dead – and he’s been replaced. Money is god now. Money can perform miracles – with money the blind can see, the deaf can hear, and the crippled can walk. Can’t believe those humanist protesters can’t see that.

This world’s a shit hole, so I decided to play by my own rules. I live under the radar. I pay for my place in cash. My landlady knows better than to ask me what I do for a living. I stay out of sight of the cameras. I’m anonymous in 2.0. Yeah, I’ll do work for a jacket – long as he pays me, and he knows I do the job my way. No stuffy office buildings for me, no toiling day and night looking for some missing semi-colon in a sea of VR code. I do my jobs with my guns. I’ll do jobs for the Yakuza, hell I’ve done jobs for the police before. I don’t give a damn who hires me, really. I’m a zero. That’s what I do.

— Jessica Han, a zero.

A man walks into a bar. Bartender asks if he’d like to order a drink. Man says “Sure, I’ll have a scotch on the rocks.” Bartender pours him a drink, says to him – “You don’t look so hot, man, you ok?” Man says, “Actually, I’m quite hot, you want to see?” Bartender says, “I don’t swing that way buddy.” Man says, “I think I’ll show you anyway.”, then he bursts into flames so hot that the bar and everybody in it is burned alive.

That’s the kind of crime we have to deal with today. There’s no murder weapon, the man has a symbiont. That’s the kind of cases we handle. We go after the weirdos. The dangerous ones. I can’t say its an easy line of work – my life’s on the line every day, and I don’t even get paid that much. But I’d rather be on this side of the law than that man’s. I got a wife, and kids. What if she was at that bar, meeting a friend? What if he does that in a school? I can make a difference here.

Yeah, there’s millions of people in this city, what difference can one man make? Forget that pessimistic outlook. That man can make fifty differences in a matter of seconds, so if we catch him, how many lives did I save over the next few years? That’s a big damn difference in my book. That’s the kind of sicko I go after day after day. Week after week. Year after year, as long as I can. To me, that’s worth making a little less than I would at Tonkatsu, protecting “corporate interests”.

Me, and my team. Making the world a better place…at least a little.

—Vincent O’Haire, MCU assault specialist

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Zeroed

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