In the 21st century after leaving Sol, many things that troubled Earth in the 21st Century AD are practically unknown in the Federation of Parahuman Species. Poverty, war, mortality, there’s barely even any crime. So what do rebellious youths have to rebel against?
Stagnation. They might have nanofabricators that can turn a pile of dirt into a hovercraft in hours, but they’ve effectively reverted to an agrarian economy. Access to resources is primarily dependent on land, trade is a secondary concern. With resources, and thus social status, tied to land ownership power is concentrated in the hands of family elders who might live for millennia before their estates get redistributed to their hundreds of descendants.
For the younger generations who aren’t satisfied with simply sitting by on their House dividend, their options are limited. The skilled service careers that aren’t automated can get one recognition if they are very good at it, but most of their income will be distributed into the profit-sharing schemes of their House and Genus. Data merchants can achieve massive amounts of status and money, but the field saturates very quickly and they’ll spend their first several centuries in debt, if they don’t end up defaulting. The Federal Guard can provide some excitement, for a time, but it rarely lasts. The civil service and public offices are dominated by nepotism and cronyism, you’re out of luck unless you know someone established. Joining a colony mission is generally the most straightforward means of improving one’s lot in life, but that means separating yourself from the rest of quasi-utopian Federation society until the system gets a stargate (if ever). Legal mercenary work is largely restricted to security and securing colony claims, not particularly glamorous or well-paid.
Illegal mercenary jobs, on the other hand…
You can always go outside the Federation and find some cartel or faction that’s willing to pay handsomely to topple an Outworld regime, but that doesn’t mean criminals for hire are out of luck staying in Fed space. Oligarchs have their rivalries, no matter the means they maintain their power, and just because the law prohibits open warfare doesn’t mean they won’t take the opportunity to attack each other in the shadows. Which is where Cyberpunks come in.
Cyberpunks aren’t necessarily professional criminals, a fair number, many believe the majority, just adopt the stereotypical look and lifestyle in order to upset their elders. Biologically improbable pigmentation, intentionally shredded clothing, and clunky macro-cybernetic implants that look like they should be giving the user Tetanus. All highlights of the Cyberpunk in popular media.
Professional Cyberpunks rarely look like that in real life, at least when they’re on the job. When you’re infiltrating a secure facility to steal sensitive data or plant a micro-explosive on the reactor controls a pink mohawk and giant steel arm aren’t going to help you get past security. If chromed up teens start shooting up a research lab or workshop they’re either trying to “look cool” or acting as a diversion.
I’ll be honest, I thought about all this after impulsively buying this adoptable character from Feargrant.