Into the Shadows
Hispanic gang-tied shaman reclaiming Aztec traditions
Somewhat on the short side and slender due to childhood malnourishment. Dark eyed and haired. Tattoos that are a mix of gang related (Los Surenos symbols, crosses and general gand ‘fronting’), cultural (Aztec symbology and gods, Aztec eagle), shamanic (Smoking Mirror as her patron) and personal (to commemorate the death of friends and family.)
Her clothing tends towards a budget, but she is fashion conscious and plays to her appearance somewhat. When she wants to make an impression, she wears her Tribale brand clothing.
She is notably unwired, without even the smallest of implants. Her body simply rejects them, which she discovered to her frustration and confusion as a teenager, but these days mostly accepts and even embraces the fact.
Carmen Ortiz grew up in the Denver territory of a Los Surenos gang. Her mother died young to drugs and her father on the end of a mafia bullet; but even so, Los Surenos was family. Her older brothers joined up, and Carmen followed in their footsteps- although she was never as hardcore into the macho gang life, and it was certainly the crew she hung with. As a counterbalance was Carmen’s maternal grandmother who tried to provide a stable home; helped and hindered by the fact that she was a nahuali (Aztec tradition ‘shaman’). In her early teens, when she began to experience her magical awakening, it was her abuela that guided this and instructed her in the same cultural traditions, although Carmen’s extension and belief of it is highly personal and vacuum-grown, rather than tied to any greater tradition. She thus views her shamanistic connection more along the lines of a more native american tradition, albeit with particularly Aztec and Latino trappings.
Unlike the totems of other shamans, Carmen’s path says that the same manifestation is instead a part of the soul of the magic user. So it is that Carmen found herself ‘adopting’ the aspect of the Smoking Mirror (reskinned Raven), and coming to see it as her role to challenge and question the status quo. This eventually led her to look outside of the gang, while also remaining within it for familial & cultural reasons, and she took to Shadowrunning. Through her friend Sojourn (Talismonger, contact 1), she was given a job to act as magical support to a more experienced team running a data and sample theft operation for Genetique (which is quietly an Aztechnology subsidiary). It didn’t go as smoothly as they would have liked, but Carmen (going now as Carnala) managed to prove herself and to get a taste for the life (and starting up a brief relationship with another runner, which is now over). Since then, she’s been on a few more runs and isn’t picky about who she works for and so far hasn’t found a job that she finds distasteful enough to reject. With growing confidence in herself as a ‘runner, she’s been acting as a face as well, and has found a surprising knack for it. She enjoys the legwork and has a natural affinity that leads to generally getting along well with new contacts (First Impression bonus).
Update, Spirit Quest for Initiation.
During the vision quest, she communed and reached a higher level of connection with her totem/patron god Tezcatlipoca, opening her mind and spirit to a greater spiritual attunement. Through the quest, she was guided to a spiritual Tenochtitlan and led into a cave beneath a temple, where she found a beating heart of glowing obsidian. She stole it and was chased by shadowy adversaries until she returned to the safety of home, where the spirit of community shielded her from view. She reburied the heart beneath the street. She has come to see this spiritual (and probably drug-fueled) vision as a sign that she has reclaimed the heart of the Aztec religion and planted it within the community of common people.
Post-analysing it, she has come to a belief that it is her task, set to her by Tezcatlipoca, to reclaim the Aztec gods for the regular latinos and latinas; seeing that they have been cooped by Aztlan/Aztechnology towards unnatural and unhealthy ends. To her, this means several things; an end to blood magic and sacrifice being primary amongst them (fueled, perhaps, by a deep guilt about seeling the blood magic scrolls.) Her reimagining would see it as a community led religion, focused on uplifting communities such as her own by connecting it with their cultural traditions. Tezcatlipoca has made her the mirror to hold up to her community and to the powers that be in Mexico. I expect that she will be putting a lot of time and energy in her ‘downtime’ towards this, along with community friends/contacts such as her Talismonger and politician contacts. The plan is to start with her own people and community and may start holding ‘services’ and instructing the younger generation in her rites etc.