Striper, whose true name is Tikki, is a Weretiger assassin with a ruthless and dangerous reputation. A loner and nomad by nature and necessity Striper has worked in various locations, primarily in Asia, under the aliases Mary Tan and Fallon Sontag. Physically Striper appears to be a tall, lean human woman of Asian descent with close-cropped hair with a tuft falling over her forehead who characteristically paints her hair and face with black and crimson tiger stripes. In tiger form she resembles Panthera tigris altaica, the largest tigers on earth. Weretigers are extremely rare. While a Were Striper typically assassinates her targets using guns, with which she is an expert.
Striper operates in Philadelphia during the events of Striper Assassin. She acquires work through her fixer Black Mist but during this time is primarily engaged as a bodyguard for the wealthy Adama Ho.
Striper was born and raised in an unknown location in Asia, possibly Hong Kong, by her mother and lived there for a time with her and Striper's brother, Gnao. Until the events of Striper Assassin she has never encountered any other Weretigers. Much of Striper's resourcefulness and philosophies on life were learned from her mother. Her mother instilled in her three basic rules to live by: never deal with a dragon, choose your enemies carefully, find your own truth. Striper also does not trust mages, deckers or computers and makes it a practice to avoid all three. Living under her mother's tutelage as a Were, Striper also came to know her place in the world. She believed herself to be a tigress that could assume human form and, most fundamentally, a predator in a world of prey. Viewing others as prey is basic to her view of herself and her perceived place in the cycle of life and death. However, the events of Striper Assassin make her question these accepted beliefs. By the end of the novel Striper has also come to understand one last adage of her mother's: "When your season comes, you'll know it."
While little is known of Striper's mother it appears she worked as a mercenary as well, notably for the notorious Silicon Ma, don of the Green Circle Gang in Hong Kong, a vicious arm of the 999 Society of the Chinese Triad crime ring.
While Striper has little contact with other Were groups, she enjoys a level of cautious respect from the Philadelphia Werewolves and in particular their alpha, Castellano, one of the few she considers completely trustworthy.
As a mercenary Striper favors leather clothing adorned with studs in striped patterns to emphasize her Striper persona, in addition to her face paint. She never wears silver studs as she is allergic to it.
Into the Shadows anthology
Warning: Spoiler Information Below "Striper" short story
Striper becomes part of a complex shell game played in the shadows to conceal the disappearance of a genetic engineering project. Corporate shark Bernard Ohara appropriated the project from a subsidiary company, intending to trade it later for a better position in another megacorp. To cover his tracks, he arranges for a corrupted copy of the research to be stolen from the project director, whom he then hires Striper to kill.
The faked datapak vanishes into the shadows, as intended. Striper finds herself the target of people under two false impressions: that the missing data is genuine, and that Striper took it. Disinclined to play scapegoat, she follows the trail backward from her victim to the phony datapak to the man who engineered the entire exercise in deception, her original employer Bernard Ohara.
Striper confronts Ohara at his home and elicits a confession from him, but is prevented from killing him by his genetically modified bodyguard and the timely arrival of contract security forces.
Warning: Spoiler Information Below
Detailed plot summary
First a little background, not in the book. In 2050, a Seretech executive named Bernard Ohara stole a genetics research program from his own corporation, hired Striper to eliminate the project supervisor, and subsequently frames her for the theft. Striper confronted Ohara, but he escaped her. (These events are from the short story, Striper.)
Ohara fled Seattle. After intensive therapy recovering from his brush with death at Striper's hands, he traded his stolen research data for a seat on the board of directors of Kono-Furata-Ko (KFK) International. Ohara was appointed chief executive officer of the KFK subsidiary Exotech Entertainment, a failing simsense production studio. Ohara set up an illegal BTL production studio to generate capital, which he then used to produce a hit series of legitimate simsense features.
The first of these was called The Summoning Of Abbirleth, an hermetic-magical thriller. The key effect of the simsense, the ritual summoning of a powerful evil spirit, was conducted by the Special Projects Section under the close personal supervision of Bernard Ohara himself. Seven mages performed the actual summoning in an Exotech studio in Philadelphia's Germantown district. The spirit they summoned was far more powerful than expected. Three of the seven mages involved in the ritual were killed instantly. Three more survived, but with their magical ability completely burned out. The seventh, Adam Malik, disappeared.
Ohara compensated the three burned-out mages (Robert Neiman, Steven Jorge, Thomas Harris) by promoting them to comfortable positions of authority within Exotech and did his best to forget the incident.
Adam Malik did not forget. Nor did the shadow spirit they summoned.
Part 1: Predator
May, 2054. Striper assassinates Robert Neiman and a number of his assistants in a parking garage. She believes her target is Ryokai Naoshi, an officer of Philadelphia's Honjowara-gumi Yakuza clan. She believes she is working for a man named Adama Ho, an enforcer for a powerful Hong Kong triad. Her beliefs and perceptions are being manipulated magically by Adam Malik and Abbirleth, who are after everyone responsible for his summoning.
Police Lieutenant Kirkland interviews Ohara about the apparent professional execution of his employee. Concerned about attention from the authorities, Ohara hires a team of shadowrunners to wipe out his illegal BTL operation and its personnel.
June, 2054. Striper kills Steven Jorge at a Yakuza-controlled nightclub. As before, she believes she is being paid to assassinate a yakuza boss, Saigo Jozen. The hit is public and brutal—seven others are killed and seventeen more injured. This far exceeds Striper's usual restraint, but because of Malik's magical control, she fails to recognize the extremity of her own actions.
With the second execution of an Exotech executive, Lieutenant Kirkland concentrates his investigation on the simsense studio. He learns about the year-old magical accident at the Germantown studio. Interviewing Ohara again, he mentions the accident and asks for personnel files on everyone associated with the Special Projects Section, which Ohara refuses to provide. Kirkland also shows Ohara pictures of the assassin, Striper, taken from a security camera at the club. He recognizes her instantly, and puts a contract out on her life.
July, 2054. Striper breaks into a high-security apartment tower and massacres Thomas Harris and his family. Still under Malik's control, she is convinced that he is yet another Yakuza boss, Tomita Haruso.
Striper becomes aware that a team of shadowrunners has been hired to kill her. She ambushes and kills them.
Part 2: Were
Lieutenant Kirkland and a forensic magician examine the site of Exotech's previous "accident". The mage determines that a powerful summoning ritual went awry, and that a Shadow spirit had gone Free. Kirkland connects the accident to Exotech's Special Projects Section, Striper's three victims, and Bernard Ohara. He guesses that the missing mage, Adam Malik, is pursuing a plan of revenge.
Striper begins to see through the web of illusion in which she is trapped. She decides to skip town, but is caught by Malik before she can make good her escape. Malik reasserts control over her.
Following the failure of the shadowrunners, Ohara's fixer contracts a professional hitman only recently returned to Philadelphia, a blade artist called Raman. By remarkable coincidence, Raman is also secretly a tiger shapeshifter. Raman uses a local contact, a powerful Cat shaman named Eliana, to locate one of Striper's safe houses. He waits in ambush for her, and attacks when she returns. During the combat, Raman and Striper are each forced to assume their animal shapes. Each shocked at encountering another of their own kind, their conflict is immediately forgotten and they form a close bond. Later, Eliana surprises Striper by revealing that she is and has been under the influence of a powerful magician.
Striper and Raman go after Malik, but the mage is able to neutralize Raman and once more reassert his control over Striper. Holding Raman hostage, Malik sends Striper after her last target, Bennari Ohashi (Bernard Ohara). Striper neutralizes Ohara's elite bodyguards and confronts him. She recognizes her victim as both Bernard Ohara and "Bennari Ohashi", which confuses her. Striper toys with her prey, and Ohara stumbles through a broken window and falls seven stories to his death.
Under political pressure to immediately conclude his investigation, Lieutenant Kirkland pins the Exotech killings on Ohara. Case closed.
Eliana kills Malik and destroys Abbirleth.
Striper and Raman leave Philadelphia together, settling in rural Maine.
Who Hunts the Hunter
Warning: Spoiler Information Below
2056. At her home in the wilderness of rural Maine, Striper is ambushed by three elves who steal her young cub but leave her alive. She tracks the elves to the person who leased them their vehicle and gets the credstick he used to pay them. Through a decker contact, Oracle, she traces the credstick to a dummy account used by an elf merc named Tang. A large payment from the same account is traced to a Boston fixer, Clutch, one of the few people who knew where Striper could be found. Knowing that Clutch betrayed her, she heads for Boston to confront him.
Meanwhile, a street shaman living in the Bronx, Bandit, has been struggling to abandon his former hermit lifestyle, to attune himself to people and the civilized world. He discovers that his sister Amy is also living in the Bronx, working as a vice president for a corporate research laboratory. He hasn't spoken to her in fifteen years, but he resolves to re-enter her life as a necessary part of his effort to become a whole person.
Amy Berman, Bandit's sister, is an executive for Hurley-Cooper Labs, a subsidiary of Kono-Furata-Ko International, a third-tier multinational megacorporation. KFK is preparing to conduct an audit of Hurley-Cooper, and Amy steels herself for a long confrontation with the auditors. When 147 items turn up missing on their inventory of laboratory purchases, Amy is able to track down all but 27 of them, all of which are associated with the Metascience Group led by renowned scientist Dr. Liron Phalen. Amy discovers that all of the missing items were originally purchased from dummy corporations, and she begins to suspect fraud.
Brian Guerney is a former UCAS special forces commando, now retired and working as a technician for the New York Department of Water and Wastewater Management. He receives an unexpected transfer to a new section. When he meets his new supervisor, Art, Brian discovers that he has become half of an elite paramilitary unit dedicated to protecting New York's water supply.
Striper interrogates Clutch in Boston, and obtains the name of Tang's fixer in New York. Cautious of a trap, Striper chooses to follow other leads first. She begins investigating the front corporations set up by Tang, and strikes paydata when she is able to trace his home address from a telecom log. She stakes out the building until one of Tang's accomplices, Shaver, arrives. Striper captures the elf and tortures her for the whereabouts of her cub. Shaver sends her into a trap—Striper is captured by Tang and Whistle.
At Hurley-Cooper, Amy begins investigating the questionable purchases made by the Metascience Group. She enlists the aid of a decker in cracking some suspicious encrypted files, and runs credit checks on the group's ranking scientists. She discovers a large account in the UCAS Bank under the name of Dr. Hill, the senior research assistant. In the midst of her investigation, Amy returns home late to find Bandit waiting in her apartment—her younger brother Scott, presumed dead for almost fifteen years. Overwhelmed by the reunion, she tells Bandit about her problems in exhausting detail. He offers to help her, placing his considerable magical abilities and shadowrunning experience at her disposal.
In the tunnels under the city, Brian and Art are waging a small war against a strange new breed of vampire. The enemy has magical powers, and eyes that glow red in dim light. Many of them are in some way mutated or disfigured. The water department commandos' advanced military armor and weapons give them every advantage, but they can't be everywhere. Some of the vampiric creatures (including Monk and Minx) are able to avoid the hunters and make regular visits to their Master, feeding him the life energy they steal from the dying.
Amy and Bandit confront Dr. Hill about the purchasing discrepancies and his own questionable finances. Hill panics, offering clumsy evasions and lies. He becomes physically ill, and cancels the interview. Amy's suspicions seem to be confirmed. While at the metascience lab, Bandit notices Striper's cub, and meets Dr. Phalen. Bandit becomes curious about Phalen and his research. While Amy reports her discoveries to her superior, Bandit projects astrally to Phalen's home, where he discovers the Roggoth'shoth, a magical book that reeks of evil. Bandit turns to They Who Watch, a tribunal of powerful shamans, for advice. He concludes that Phalen must be opposed.
Tang and his associates deliver Striper to the Hurley-Cooper metascience laboratory, where Hill and Phalen begin a series of tests. While Striper waits patiently for an opportunity to escape, she discovers that her persecution and imprisonment weren't random. When Dr. Phalen expressed an interest in a shapeshifter test subject, Germaine Olsson, the metascience group's administrative aide, hired Tang to capture Striper specifically. Two years ago in Philadelphia, Striper killed Germaine's son in a random act of violence. A bereaved mother's revenge, caged and subjected to experiments like an animal, a fate worse than death.
Amy returns to the metascience lab to interview Dr. Phalen about Dr. Hill's indiscretions. Using drugs and magic, Phalen manipulates Amy into calling the auditor to his office. He uses the same tactics against the auditor, banishing all suspicion concerning the Metascience group before returning his attention to Amy and her brother.
Striper escapes from her cage, overpowering Tang, Whistle, and Shaver. In the struggle, Whistle miscasts a spell, resulting in an explosion that sets off alarms and creates confusion throughout the building. Bandit takes advantage of the chaos to break into the lab complex. While looking for Phalen, he encounters Striper, who is still recovering from the explosion. Bandit saves Striper from a pair of security guards, and tells the shapeshifter where to find her cub. Germaine tries to prevent Striper's escape, and is killed. Dr. Hill commits suicide rather than obey Phalen's compulsion to stop Striper and her cub.
Brian and Art follow Phalen's soul-stealers through the sewers to a cellar under his house. They kill Victoria, and destroy the house with explosive charges.
Bandit confronts Phalen in a very satisfying clash of magical titans. With Amy's help, Bandit kills Phalen, freeing his horde of captured souls. Unexpectedly, the astral form Roggoth'shoth itself appears and takes possession of Amy. Bandit disables his sister and escapes with her. Rescuing the physical Roggoth'shoth from the ruins of Phalen's house, he takes the book and his sister to They Who Watch, who exorcise the demon and destroy the artifact.
Striper and her cub return to the wilderness.