Vortex

"Star Trek: Restoration" Episode 1
Old foes

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for our Star Trek telecom scenario of this past weekend:

“Space, the final frontier. Our starship’s mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Almost four decades after the Enterprise-E fought the Borg and Remans [ Nemesis ], among others, the United Federation of Planets and other interstellar states in the Alpha Quadrant are slowly recovering from wars and ecological disasters. A refitted vessel takes a new crew on its first missions of defense, diplomacy, and exploration….

Player Characters for Gene D.’s “Star Trek: Restoration” space opera one-shot, using D20/FATE house rules, Friday, 21 March 2014:

  • “Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Kyerak” [Bruce K.]-half-Vulcan with a temper, in the U.S.S. Rotha ’s command division
  • “Lt. Jarric Jameson” [Dexter V.H.]-male genetically modified human colonist (former Maquis) communications and wilderness survival expert
  • “Lt. Orzzek Kalifa” [Byron V.O.]-male Andorian (blue-skinned humanoid with white hair and antennae), assertive science officer
  • “Lt. Mari Killu” [Sara F.]-female Caitian (felinoid) security/tactical officer
  • “Lt. Boran’ Gorir” [Josh C.]-male Jem’Hadar (Dominion soldier), aggressive envoy/engineer

“Stardate 95248 (1 April 2418):” The U.S.S. Rotha, NCC 1993-C, a refitted Ambassador-class ship, picks up three passengers from the U.S.S. Tempest. Capt. Andelina Nobatu is ordered to take them into the Neutral Zone to be relayed to Qo’nos, the Klingon homeworld.

Capt. Nobatu later convenes a meeting of her command crew, as well as supporting junior officers [the P.C.s]. The Terran human asks the science division to check for star systems and planets in case the ship needs to hide or resupply en route.

Engineers are tasked with improving efficiency, while tactical officers prepare for the inevitable engagement with ships that ignore diplomatic protocols. After reporting to their superiors, the junior officers meet in the “Starlight Lounge.”

They compare notes as Bolian bartender Mr. Vallcin brings drinks. Lt. Jarric Jameson asked Betazed communications head Lt. Artemis Borellis for permission to work with the engineers on a cloak or other countermeasures to Klingon and Romulan technology. Lt. Kyerak and security chief Pierre McDonough assigned guards to watch the guest quarters.

Lt. Orzzek Kalifa and Lt. Boran’ Gorir checked Starfleet records for solar systems between Earth and Qo’nos. The scientist and engineer identify Acamar (Theta Eridani), which had been affected during a Borg incursion, and Khitomer, site of past negotiations between the U.F.P. and the Klingon Empire.

Lt. Gorir and genetically enhanced Lt. Jameson also worked with chief engineer Lt.Cmdr. Akira Gorou to optimize the Rotha’s systems. Dr. Jones, the holographic chief medical officer, prepared sickbay, and Trill first officer Cmdr. Nasami Wahid oversaw crew readiness.

Chief McDonough assigned Lt. Mari Killu to work with other crew members to ensure that the passenger handoff goes smoothly. Lt. K’dex, the three-armed, three-legged Edosian science officer, scanned for possibly cloaked enemy craft.

The junior officers’ discussion is cut short when Chief McDonnough contacts Lt. Killu to tell her to investigate the guest cabins. Apparently, the guards aren’t responding. Cmdr. Wahid orders Lt. Kyerak to accompany her.

The Caitian and half-Vulcan find En. Thompson regaining consciousness. He tells them that the Orion, Gorn, and a hooded guest emerged from their quarters and refused to wait. En. Jonas ran after them.

Lt. Kyerak and Lt. Killu draw their Type 2 phasers and ask the ship’s computer where the aliens have gone. It responds that they are on Holodeck 3. Instead of an Orion harem or a Gorn environment, the Starfleet personnel find a room full of humming machinery.

D’naar, a green-skinned Orion trader, claims that he just wanted to demonstrate water-purification equipment he had learned about in his travels to “Hand of Giblets,” the reptilian Gorn representative of the Klingon Empire.

En. Jones appears with a rumpled uniform. Kyerak subtly uses telepathy to communicate with Mari, who also senses that something is wrong. From the bridge, Lt. Kalifa and Lt. Gorir can tell that the gear in the holodeck has overridden security controls and is drawing extra power.

The Andorian and Jem’Hadar try to tell Kyerak, but their signals are jammed. Orzzek informs Capt. Nobatu of the situation, and Boran’ grabs his short sword and heads to the holodeck.

Chief McDonnough and Lt. Jameson try to shut down the unauthorized energy drain, and they find that the ship’s shields are fluctuating in a patter, presumably to broadcast a signal. The captain orders a full stop.

In Holodeck 3, Hands of Giblets [Byron/Non-Player Character] leaps toward Lt. Killu. D’naar [Josh/N.P.C.] disintegrates En. Thompson. En. Jonas hides among the machinery. Kyerak stuns the Orion pirate, and Mari shoots at the Gorn emissary.

Lt. Gorir arrives, and he runs after En. Jones. Lt. Kalifa asks Lt. Borellis for help restoring communications. Lt. Kyerak eventually stuns Hands of Giblets, and Lt. Killu restrains the Orion and Gorn before going to aid Lt. Gorir. Other tactical and medical teams arrive and secure the perimeter.

Boran’ recognizes some of the machinery and implements the LaForge Protocol. He and Orzzek manage to shut it down, but the signal has been sent as the Rotha entered the Neutral Zone.

Mari shoots at En. Jonas, destroying a personal holo-emitter and revealing that he is in fact an Undine (formerly known as Species 8472; the medical team later finds the actual ensign, who has been killed).

The Undine hits Lt. Gorir again, and Lt. Kyerak and Lt. Killu shoot at it. Mari stuns the gray-skinned alien, and Boran’ beheads it. Kyerak berates the Jem’Hadar for giving in to his bloodlust, but Lt. Jameson notes that D’naar and Hands of Giblets are in custody and can still be questioned.

From the bridge, helmsman En. Brandon Marks reports to Capt. Nobatu that a Valdore-class Romulan warbird has just de-cloaked off the U.S.S. Rotha ’s port bow….

Beruk and Geoff, we missed you this past weekend, but I hope that everyone else enjoyed this “episode!” I’m sure we’ll return to this at some point, so please post your characters to the “Vortex” site on Obsidian Portal, where I’ll also post my background notes. Let me know if you have any questions. Live long and prosper, -Gene (“Capt. Tzu Tien Lung”)

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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.48
Rescue at the rendezvous

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.48 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 6 October 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of autumn 2013:

Acting crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K.]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and commander of a Terran Ranger Corps task force, including the corvette Dauntless
  • Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F.]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar and robot Dr. Bucket
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A.]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Enkidu Aristheon” [Dexter V.H.]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon

Crew of the refitted space yacht Pina Colada and other ships:

  • Capt. Jasmine” [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people; with boyfriend Darcy
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A.]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on the Appomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C.]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H.]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C.]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker; departed for deep space
  • Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K.]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier, killed attacking the Zarkonian Armada with the frigate Crazy Horse
  • Cmdr. (Dr.) Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O.]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE and nurse Kala Sunitha Ciela on the frigate Sovereign
  • Lt.Cmdr. (Dr.) Billy ‘Hawkeye’ James [Bruce K.]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg technopsi) frontier medic and gambler; traveling with Sovereign as part of the Ilokar battle group escorting a fleet of Terran refugees

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“21 September to 5 October 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The acting crew members of the Pina Colada had met representatives of Aquarian colonists and moved Ruhema, a Precursor satellite, closer to Van Maanen’s Star to recharge. They also debated whether to stay to study the Precursor device or continue exploring.

The rest of the “Terra’s Pride” task force arrives, and the command crews of the ships meet to discuss their plans. Capt. Jasmine, Hector Chavez, and Lord Wallace Tubbington III agree to stay with the refitted yacht Pina Colada to study the ancient device and aid resistance to the Zarkonian Imperium.

Dr. Srinu Pahul and Billy “Hawkeye” James say their medical expertise is most needed among the refugees fleeing the Sol system. They prepare to go with the frigate Sovereign and patrol ship Tigress.

Capt. Kevin Reese expresses his desire to continue exploring the galaxy with the Blackbird and corvette Dauntless. Lt.Cmdr. Tela and Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer want to stay with their scout ship, and Lt. Nathan A. “Jellybean” Jessup hopes to retain his Raptor II-class aerospace fighter.

Kevin orders that the drop ship Dragonfly and ground-effect vehicle Tiger Hawk Sandstorm be kept in the Blackbird ‘s landing bay, if room can be found for Nate’s craft. Chris McKee and Tariq Asrad Saladin note that the Blackbird also offers opportunities for diplomacy and trade.

Orion Starchaser announces his intention to continue wandering, away from the Zarkonian Armada and the Terran fleets. The Aquarians (amphibious humanoids) or other aliens should be able to help the Pomuyan, responds Capt. Reese.

The Blackbird, Dauntless, Sovereign, and Tigress head to Delta Pavonis to rendezvous with the Ilokar battle group. As they emerge from Transit (faster-than-light travel), the ships receive a distress call. Apparently, pursuers have caught up with the human and “Synths” fleeing the Sol system.

Capt. Reese calls battle stations and has the Blackbird lead a counterattack. Lt.Cmdr. Tela activates the experimental Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) vessel’s cloaking device. The Tharian engineer isn’t happy to see an Encegulan (slug-like slaver) destroyer.

Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer deftly pilots the Blackbird into the fray, as a Zarkonian carrier disgorges numerous fighters and Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical probes). Mr. McKee aims beam weapons from his gunner’s nest. “Jellybean” climbs into his “Raptor” to join the Ilokar ’s squadrons defending about 1,000 civilian vehicles.

Mr. Saladin raises telepathic defenses, as enemy swarms attack the heavy destroyer Ilokar and other military escorts. Kevin boldly orders that a zero-point device be loaded on a torpedo. Chris swiftly destroys one of the gun emplacements guarding a Zarkonian launch bay.

Despite ursine Brun’s maneuvering, Tela’s EMP (electromagnetic pulse) weapon fails to affect the carrier, which inflicts heavy damage on the Ilokar. The Encegulans fire on the Babieca, and Nate is luckier than one Raptor pilot, who meets a fiery end thanks to Zarkonian lasers.

Former Interplanetary Patrol officer Kevin radios Lt. Clark Faddil aboard the Pinkerton to warn the Terran fleet to move away. Tela resets controls on the Dauntless to enable Blackbird gunner Chris to guide the modified missile.

Space marine Nate leads a Raptor squadron to clear a path for the missile, destroying several fighters. Brun spins the “Blackbird” around to retreat, as Chris sends the zero-point torpedo at the Zarkonian carrier, annihilating it and most of the enemy ships in a massive blast.

After the remaining foes are mopped up, the Ilokar command crew welcomes members of “Terra’s Pride” aboard. Adm. Jacques Pons and his first officer Capt. Jamie Jeppsen thank Capt. Reese and company for coming to their rescue.

Tela recognizes Lt. Hedy, a “Synth” (gynoid) engineer whom she helped in making Ceres Station Transit-capable. Dr. Pahul compares scientific notes with Dr. Brett Carson, who took custody of stolen Vatican relics.
Chris catches up with Sgt. Jane Walthrop, a fellow sniper with whom “Agent Prometheus” once served at Fort Olympus Mons in the Mars Confederacy. Brun shares astrogation data with Delphine (“Uplifted” dolphin) Lt.Cmdr. Kanuha.

Capt. Evander Scofield, commander of the Korelev, explains to Kevin that Capt. Karzan Laseme was the leader of the Zarkonians attacking the Ilokar. En. Chewitel Elba, a Felinoid (“Uplifted” panther), tells Tariq that the colony ships Firebrand, Nova Aquarius, and Faithful Starlight should join the refugee fleet soon.

Capt. Reese briefs Adm. Pons on the findings of the expedition to Van Maanen’s Star. The admiral approves use of the factory moon to create Transit drives for Aquarian and Terran refugees, as well as to emit an energy-draining field to block the Zarkonian Armada. The Union of Solar Nations officers agree to send the Blackbird back to the Pina Colada with personnel and supplies.

Adm. Pons also promotes members of Kevin’s crew, including Jasmine to captain, Tela and Brun to commander, and Nate and Billy to lieutenant commander. Kevin, Srinu, and Wallace retain their existing commissions, and Chris, Orion, Hector, and Tariq remain as civilians.

Capt. Reese requests that the Dauntless join the Blackbird in forward scouting, but Cmdr. Bearhammer and Mr. McKee argue in favor of fewer ships. Adm. Pons initially denies Kevin’s request but asks him to stay in charge of the Ranger Corps task force.

Cmdr. Tela helps Cmdr. Samantha Astin with repairs to the Ilokar and other ships. She also requests that boyfriend Kedar be transferred to join her and robot Dr. Bucket on the Blackbird. Cautious Tariq checks security records of the refugee fleet to see if he recognizes anyone.

Chris notes that it has been just over a year since he first met extraterrestrials under attack from Terra Prime terrorists at the Rio de Janeiro “beanstalk” (space elevator). He warns Cmdr. Alfonso Balaz of the Steel Sanguinis to beware of Ru’ulok (heavy gravity reptilian pirates) such as those at Beta Canum Venaticorum.

Dr. Pahul sends robot PEPE to get supplies and takes nurse Kala Sunitha Ciela for a romantic walk in an arboretum on one of the colony vessels. Lt.Cmdr. Jessup informs signal officer Sgt. Amarna Morales that her former assignment, the Manitou, is among the surviving ships.

Nate later joins Brun, Kevin, Chris, and Hawkeye in search of a bar and a card game among the humans fleeing the Zarkonian devastation of Earth….

I hope that everyone enjoyed the “Vortex” space opera, which we’ve been playing since 2010 (and I’ve been running on and off for 30 years)! I look forward to someday continuing our adventures, but in the meantime, we’ll be working on characters for the “Vanished Lands: A New DawnAsian-style fantasy telecom game next Sunday.

Geoff now plans to run his street-level superhero scenario (using FATE Accelerated Edition ) on Oct. 20. I also look forward to seeing some of you at upcoming “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” and Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Timesface-to-face sessions. Stay in touch, -Gene

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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.47
Moving a moon

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.47 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 29 September 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of autumn 2013:

Acting crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary ]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary ]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on the Appomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary ]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Billy ‘Hawkeye’ James [Bruce K., secondary ]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg technopsi) frontier medic and gambler, recently re-enlisted with the Union of Solar Nations
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary ]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent ]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“16 to 20 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” Following up on a visit by the Blackbird to Van Maanen’s Star, the crew of the Pina Colada visited Ruhema, the innermost satellite of gas giant Absolom. It encountered abandoned mining operations and a strange energy drain.

An away team determined that the moon was in fact a Precursor device capable of synthesizing Transit (faster-than-light) drives and energy-draining force fields. Cmdr. Jasmine orders the landing party back to the Pina Colada for rest and recharge before trying to move Ruhema closer to its star for reactivation.

The feline captain asks her crew for ideas regarding restarting the ancient satellite. Hector Chavez worries that security systems may be reactivated. The onetime spy recommends using the orbital factory to assist resistance against the Zarkonian invaders.

Dr. Srinu Pahul says that Ruhema’s ability to extend its energy-draining field could help defend the refugees fleeing the Sol system. Lord Wallace Tubbington III suggests bringing Terrans back behind enemy lines to seek shelter around Van Maanen’s Star.

Orion Starchaser agrees to help pilot the machine moon, and Billy “Hawkeye” James points out that it could be used to relay interstellar messages. Chiron notes that Ruhema is not capable of faster-than-light travel itself, but it could produce advanced Transit drives.

Jasmine approves changing the massive satellite’s orbit, with its potential uses still to be determined. Hector devises small remote drones to map Ruhema’s innards, and Orion and Hawkeye coordinate on technopsi controls.

The Pina Colada is hailed by the Slippery Shlarp , an Aquarian vessel. After some discussion, Jasmine allows three of the amphibious humanoids come aboard the refitted space yacht. Lord Tubbington and company go to greet them.

Selora is a Salvorain, a descendant of miners stranded on Dorian Gray, the innermost moon of gas giant Methuselah, so named by the crew of the scout ship Blackbird. She is an adviser to Queen Shulis of the religious Corvell Unity.

Col. Bijar is a Salvorain aide to Gen. Qualish of the technocratic city-state of Albahaven. Delegate Porl is an Aquarian envoy sent to restore contact between the long-lost colonists and the rest of their people.

Wallace takes a gift of foodstuffs and takes the visitors to the swimming pool, which is festooned with plant life. Col. Bijar scans the pool, while Dr. Pahul examines the gift. Selora explains that the Aquarians have also lost their homeworld to the Zarkonian Imperium, and Orion offers his sympathy.

Col. Bijar and Cmdr. Jasmine chat about chains of command, and Hector covertly jams the Ministry of Observation’s continued scans from the bridge with Chiron. Wallace stands at the edge of the pool and learns from Porl that, like Ambassador Plorb at Oasis Station, he is looking for refugee aid.

Orion determines that none of the Salvorain is telepathic, although Selora does mention a Polarian water shaper named Gursh. Wallace asks Porl for assistance in moving and operating Ruhema, and Col. Bijar recommends himself and scientist Palangir.

The Salvorain also trade some information about the crustacean Zarkonians with the humans and their Olvar and Pomuyan allies. Lord Wallace invokes the Kharvamid Alliance, and while his homeworld is far, he invites the Aquarians to join the Terrans who have escaped the Zarkonian tyranny.

Hawkeye and Srinu are initially wary of the Aquarians, who they fear might contest a claim to Ruhema, but they soon realize that the aliens’ plight is similar to their own. Hector remains alert.

The Slippery Shlorp returns to Dorian Gray to pick up technicians. Jasmine later pilots the drop ship Dragonfly back to Ruhema’s surface. It carries ground vehicles such as hovercycles. Chiron stays with the Pina Colada in orbit.

Hector scans the Precursor device’s functionality, while Dr. Pahul checks for life-support capacity. Lord Tubbington explains the findings so far to Col. Bijar, Palangir, and other Salvorain. The away team takes a turbolift to a command center.

Hawkeye and Orion psionically link to gradually move the moon, which leaves Absolom to get closer to Van Maanen’s Star. Both the Terrans and Aquarians are pleased that the device, which is millions of years old, moves as gracefully as it does.

As Ruhema settles into a new orbit and begins to recharge, Chiron reports that the Pina Colada has detected incoming ships at the edge of the solar system. Hector, Hawkeye, and Srinu begin preparing for a fight, but Jasmine tells them to wait for the ships to be identified.

Capt. Phlegg, a plesiosaur-like Cetaran, greets the Pina Colada and Slippery Shlarp. He says that Delegate Plorb had asked for help relocating the Salvorain colonists — even before the Terrans arrived — so he has brought a pod of ships.

Wallace checks the Blackbird ’s logs and confirms that the Cetarans are yet another amphibious species that poses little threat to humanity. The Pina Colada ’s command crew resumes its debate over what to do next.

Hector recommends using the factory moon to create Transit drives to help the Salvorain relocate. The engineer would also prefer to spend more time studying the device and possible manufacturing plans.

While Srinu agrees that Ruhema should be restarted as soon as possible, the doctor says he’d prefer to travel with the bulk of the Terran refugees to help “improve humanity.” By contrast, Wallace believes that Van Maanen’s Star could be a good base from which to build resistance on Earth against the Zarkonians.

Orion likes the idea of studying the Precursor moon more, while Hawkeye would rather explore behind enemy lines to learn about the Zarkonian Armada. The medic also expresses interest in scouting ahead of the Terran fleet to find new worlds and allies.

Cmdr. Jasmine misses her boyfriend Darcy and also wants to continue traveling. In the short term, she agrees with the idea of building FTL drives for the Salvorain, as well as then extending Ruhema’s energy-draining field. In the longer term, the crew agrees that more research and a stronger resistance are needed.

Jasmine a message to the rest of the “Terra’s Pride” Ranger Corps task force to rendezvous at Van Maanen’s Star rather than with the Ilokar battle group, which is headed to Oasis Station by way of Delta Pavonis.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird, Dauntless, Sovereign, and Tigress intercept a signal from the Pirate’s Paean, a small freighter and one of the last ships to escape the Zarkonian invasion of the Sol system.

Capt. Burnett confirms that billions of humans have perished in nuclear exchanges on Earth and the destruction of orbital colonies. Slug-like Encegulans have enslaved many of the survivors, and the Zarkonian Imperium has begun xenoforming (alien terraforming) of Earth and Mars.

“Chris McKee” [Josh] is disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be a way to quickly defeat the enemy, but “Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce] and “Lt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron] vow to help the rag-tag fleets in their struggle to survive and, someday, to retake their homeworlds….

It’s always cool to see what teamwork can accomplish, and I look forward to wrapping up our current “Vortex” adventures! Let me know if any of you have questions as the “Vanished Lands: A New DawnAsian-style fantasy campaign approaches.

In the meantime, it was good to see some of you at this week’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” game, and I’ll see some of you at Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Timessession next week. Geoff’s street-level superhero scenario, using FATE Accelerated Edition, is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, 13 October 2013. Stay in touch, -Gene

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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.46
Return to Ruhema

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.46 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 22 September 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of autumn 2013:

Acting crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary ]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary ]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on the Appomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary ]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Billy ‘Hawkeye’ James [Bruce K., secondary ]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg technopsi) frontier medic and gambler, recently re-enlisted with the Union of Solar Nations
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary ]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent ]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“10 to 12 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” While the Blackbird, Dauntless, and other ships in the Ranger Corps task force caught up with three slower-than-light colony ships, the Pina Colada traveled to Van Maanen’s Star.

The explorers visited Ruhema, the innermost satellite of Absolom, one of two gas giants in that solar system. Following up on the Blackbird ’s previous visit, they confirmed that it was no moon, but a huge Precursor machine! However, persistent power drains forced the away team back into orbit.

Cmdr. Jasmine recommends that any away team spend only an hour at a time on Ruhema. The “Uplifted” tiger also orders more specific scans of the device’s interior to find a control center.

Hector Chavez determines that the sphere is mostly composed of common elements, such as silicon and iron, with traces of rarer or synthetic substances. The engineer concludes that the Precursors most likely used local materials.

Orion Starchaser is eager to re-enter Ruhema through a proper entrance, rather than a mining shaft created by later interolopers such as Aquarian colonists. Lord Wallace Tubbington III suggests somehow moving the moon closer to Van Maanen’s Star so that it can recharge.

Billy “Hawkeye” James checks to see whether the Pina Colada could tow the object, but the refitted yacht doesn’t have the capability. Dr. Srinu Pahul scans for life signs.

Pilot Chiron stays with the Pina Colada in orbit as Jasmine takes the Dragonfly back to the artificial moon’s surface. The drop ship lands near a protrusion that hasn’t been disturbed in millennia. The landing party leaves the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm ground-effect vehicle in its bay and walks out in vacc suits.

Hector scans the archway and finds a manual override not designed for human hands. Mischievous Orion brandishes a crowbar but then joins Billy in trying to open the locked door with technopsi.

After amateur archaeologist Dr. Pahul realizes that the arch is just the top half of a portal, mighty Jasmine leads Lord Tubbington and Hawkeye in clearing rubble from the entrance. The junior medic also spots potential security countermeasures and warns his companions to stand clear of them.

Jasmine and Hector check the vacc suits’ power levels, which are dropping because of an as-yet-unexplained drain. Srinu points out the similarity between the portal and the jump gate that the Blackbird ’s former crew activated near Oasis Station.

Orion finds a key of sorts — a rhythm encoded on the arch. He taps on the ground with his crowbar, and the ancient aperture opens. The group soon finds itself speeding into the machinery on an elevator with force-field windows.

The psions direct the turbolift to go to a control node, which they find near the hollow core of Ruhema. Orion identifies control panels in the alien room and establishes a telepathic link with Hawkeye.

Dr. Pahul and Lord Tubbington look at the blinking holographic displays and recognize some of the functions they describe. Scientist Srinu sees environmental controls, and Wallace believes the satellite has industrial rather than military intent.

Cautious Hector takes detailed recordings, and Jasmine reminds her companions to look for a way to stop the energy drain. Orion calls up a manual and is nearly overwhelmed by images. Rookie Hawkeye submits a query for power control.

Srinu concludes that although the interface is sophisticated, Ruhema does not host a true A.I. (artificial intelligence). Wallace narrows down the satellite’s potential purposes to a mobile factory, a facility to collect solar energy for passing ships, a signal-boosting interstellar relay station, and a force-field generator.

As Orion checks the moon’s batteries, he is inadvertently drained of some psychic energy himself. Hawkeye finds propulsion and personnel logs, and blacks out. While the human is unable to translate them, he explains that he saw the walking stick builders maneuver Ruhema to safety when Van Maanen’s Star went nova.

The pre-ascension Precursors apparently intended to return but never did, Hawkeye says. Dr. Pahul searches for any inventory of manufactured goods but finds none. Wallace, however, discovers schematics for efficient Transit (faster-than-light) drives.

The energy drain could also provide protection against the nanites (microscopic robots) emitted by Zarkonian probes, Hector says. He and Wallace continuing examining controls to find a way to stop the seepage — or extend it. The Terrans hope that Ruhema could prove useful to defending the refugee fleet from the Zarkonian Armada.

Orion and Hawkeye switch Ruhema to a standby mode, with their suits at 55%. Wallace studies records to verify that the nova was natural and not a side-effect of the device’s use. Jasmine asks her crewmates if they can find a way to change the artifact’s orbit around Van Maanen’s Star.

Orion finds possible plans for force-field generators, and Srinu isn’t sure if life support can be reactivated. Hector finds attitude controls and suggests recharging the team’s vacc suits. Cmdr. Jasmine orders the away team to head back to the surface.

Now that they have figured out Ruhema’s inner workings, the explorers can rest and recharge their gear before returning to move the mechanical moon….

I’m impressed by the progress the Pina Colada’s crew made in solving the riddle of Ruhema! I look forward to wrapping up your missions in the next few weeks, as well as to Geoff’s FATE Accelerated Edition superhero one-shot and the upcoming “Vanished Lands: A New DawnAsian-style fantasy campaign.

In the meantime, I’ll see some of you at upcoming “Star Wars: Dark Timesand “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” sessions, -Gene

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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.45
The "Faithful Starlight"

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.45 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 15 September 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of summer 2013:

Acting crew of the scout ship Blackbird and corvette Dauntless:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and leader of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary ]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary ]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary ]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary ]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker

“11 to 15 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After defeating a squadron of Zarkonian fighters near Altair, part of the Terran Ranger Corps task force escorts the slower-than-light colony ship Faithful Starlight to shelter in an asteroid belt.

The Blackbird and Dauntless send an away team to the generation vessel, as the Sovereign and Tigress make repairs and keep watch for more enemy ships. Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer stays aboard the Blackbird to coordinate.

Capt. Kevin Reese pilots a Morgan-class shuttle, and Tariq Asrad Saladin scans for crew members infected by nanites (microscopic robots). Lt.Cmdr. Tela brings Dr. Bucket to present data to the colonists, as Lt. Nathan A. Jessup and Chris McKee check their sidearms.

Lama Vishal Pratik, commander of the Faithful Starlight, and Rabbi Irene Gimbel, communications officer, greet their visitors. Capt. Reese makes introductions, and the humans are pleased to meet Tharian Tela, their first extraterrestrial.

The group goes to the main bridge, a round gardenlike chamber with tastefully distributed seats and display panels. Lt. Jessup and Mr. McKee observe that some of the robed crew members are likely armed and armored.

Mr. Saladin is surprised to learn that there are 30,000 inhabitants, more than on either of the previous colony ships visited. Kevin informs the Faithful Starlight ’s commanders of the Zarkonian invasion of the Sol system. He also recommends that the ship heads to rendezvous with the refugee fleet.

Lama Pratik calmly but promptly asks Imam Yasmine Nawaz to install a Transit (faster-than-light) drive with help from Tela and Dr. Bucket. Tariq senses Rabbi Gimbel communicating with personnel telepathically.

Brother Dwight Van readily agrees to review security measures with Nate and Chris. Pundit Elliott Hsiao, a planetologist and musician, requests astrogational data from Brun, who is scanning for Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical probes).

Prelate Lucy Ying, the Faithful Starlight ’s first officer, quickly tells Kevin how her ancestors fled religious wars on Earth and struggled to overcome their differences during their first few decades in deep space.

Houngan Sunil Foreman, the laid-back chief medical officer, shares epidemiological data with Tariq. Sister Dao Desc Wei and Alejandra Darjaniv explain how their life-support systems are strained by population pressures. Kevin reassures them that other colony ships should be able to help.

Tela’s reputation as a miracle worker continues to spread as she adds containment mechanisms to the Faithful Starlight ’s fusion generators and deploys the Transit drive with cyborg Imam Nawaz, Dr. Bucket, and Nate.

As they walk through crowded corridors, Nate and Chris see that the religious communities are well-mixed, perhaps providing a model for other Terran refugees. Bro. Van worries about submitting to military command, but Chris says that a fair amount of autonomy is likely.

Nate offers to take his battered Raptor II-class aerospace fighter for an external examination of the Faithful Starlight, but Brun helps by using the Blackbird ’s more advanced scanners. The ursine officer also watches for the Zarkonian carrier that recently passed through the Altair system.

A Zurmiz Krott probe (also known as a “Harbinger of the Rightous Order of Submission”) approaches, and Rabbi Irene coordinates a psionic defense. Unfortunately, Brun is caught in the middle and suffers a headache because he is linked to the Blackbird as pilot.

The rabbi apologizes and explains her techniques to Kevin, Tariq, and Nate, who say that they could be useful to the Terran fleet. Meanwhile, Chris takes Bro. Dwight via shuttle to his quarters to share some modern firearms.

Capt. Reese tells Lama Pratik and Prelate Ying that they have more harmonious passengers and crew than the scientist castes on the Firebrand or the megacorp factions on the Nova Aquarius. He then sends a message to Col. Shan Gray informing his superior that free humanity has grown by several thousand more.

As the Faithful Starlight goes to join the Firebrand, the Nova Aquarius, and the Ilokar battle group headed toward Oasis Station, the “Terra’s Pride” task force sets a course for Van Maanen’s Star, where the Pina Colada went to examine Precursor relics.

Acting crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary ]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary ]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on the Appomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary ]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Billy ‘Hawkeye’ James [Bruce K., secondary ]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg technopsi) frontier medic and gambler, recently re-enlisted with the Union of Solar Nations
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary ]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary ]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

Meanwhile, the Pina Colada had entered that solar system around the same time that the rest of the task force had encountered the Nova Aquarius. Cmdr. Jasmine orders scans.

Pilot Chiron reports that the white dwarf has two gas-giant planets, Absolom and Methuselah. The outer planet, Methuselah, has two moons, Whistler’s Mother, an iceball, and Dorian Gray, home to descendants of stranded Aquarian miners.

Lord Wallace Tubbington III explains that nearly a Terran year ago, the Morifaiwet/Blackbird had negotiated a settlement between the city-state of Albahaven and the more pious Corvell Unity.

Wallace and Orion Starchaser express interest in contacting the Salvorain settlers. Dr. Srinu Pahul and Billy “Hawkeye” James recommend against any hails. Jasmine decides to do so only after checking abandoned mining operations.

The Pina Colada passes rocky Ezekiel and frigid Elric, Absolom’s outer moons. Hector Chavez notes the presence of a buoy claiming Ruhema, the innermost satellite, for Aughest-vor’s [Jason E.R.] holding company OPM-Pharsmor. Chris McKee had expressed interest in searching for “sun killers” for the fight against the Zarkonian Armada.

Cmdr. Jasmine boards the Dragonfly drop ship to Ruhema with Dr. Pahul, Orion, Lord Tubbington, and Billy. Hector and Chiron stay with the Pina Colada. The apparently lifeless moon is covered with dust and piles of slag.

Hawkeye drives the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm ground-effect vehicle to the previous site. The explorers find a tunnel entrance and a half-sunken piece of drilling equipment. Srinu monitors for power fluctuations based on warnings of previous energy drains.

As the away team debates what to do, impatient Orion walks into the tunnel. The Pomuyan wanderer sees the slag give way to machinery all around and realizes that Ruhema is no moon — it’s some sort of giant device! Jasmine and the others follow.

Srinu and Hawkeye try to apply their archaeological expertise, but there are no obvious labels or controls. Telepaths Orion and Hawkeye sense a hum. Orion shouts, “Wake up!” and throws a rock but receives no response.

The spelunkers suspect that Ruhema’s controls are psionic when Orion points and their magnetic boots shift in a few centimeters one direction. However, the power levels of the team’s space suits drop to 75%, then 40%. Jasmine orders a retreat after venturing 200 meters beneath the surface.

Hawkeye struggles to restart the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm, and Jasmine must also contend with power drains to get the Dragonfly to lift off. Back in orbit, Srinu suggests scanning for a main bridge rather than a site of later scavenger operations.

Wallace and Chriron point out that given Ruhema’s hunger for energy, it’s possible that it was sated and fully operational back before Van Maanen’s Star became a white dwarf. That would put the Precursor device’s age in the millions, if not billions, of Earth years.

The Pina Colada resumes scanning Ruhema from orbit, as Cmdr. Jasmine sets time limits for future away missions….

I look forward to wrapping up the current chapter of our space opera, as well as Geoff’s upcoming FATE Accelerated Edition superhero one-shot and the “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” telecom campaign (using the AD&D1 Oriental Adventures and the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game).

In the meantime, remember to make sure that your Player Character records reflect the current total of 40 skill points. I’ll see most of you online this coming Sunday, Sept. 22, or at Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Timessession (using Savage Worlds) at Rich C.G.’s place on Monday.

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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.44
Dogfight at Altair

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.44 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 8 September 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of summer 2013:

Acting crew of the scout ship Blackbird and corvette Dauntless:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and leader of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary ]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary ]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary ]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary ]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker

See other records for the previous crews of the Pina Colada, Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“9 to 10 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After visiting the Firebrand and Nova Aquarius, part of the “Terra’s Pride” Ranger Corps task force caught up with the Faithful Starlight , a third slower-than-light vessel. However, a Zarkonian squadron had also spotted the generation colony ship.

From the Dauntless , Capt. Kevin Reese orders sometime lover Capt. Elektra Contos and the Terran patrol ship Tigress to fall back to guard the Faithful Starlight. Lt. Harry “Monty Hall” Takahari Jr. takes the frigate Sovereign to pose as a “wounded bird.”

Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer sets the Blackbird on a course toward the 12 approaching fighters. Lt.Cmdr. Tela activates the scout ship’s cloaking device. Lt. Nathan A. Jessup is among the pilots launching Raptor II-class interceptors from the Dauntless. “Jellybean” also recommends using Altair’s wide asteroid belt for cover.

Chris McKee sits in the Blackbird ‘s gunner’s nest, as Tariq Asrad Saladin reviews tactical maneuvers and watches for telepathic contact. Chris and Tariq recommend that the stealthy Olvar vessel go ahead instead of the less-maneuverable Sovereign.

Tariq successfully jams enemy signals, and Lt. Jessup [see map, NJr] flies straight for the Zarkonian fighter craft. Lt.Cmdr. Tela readies the scout ship Blackbird ’s engines for a Transit (faster-than-light) microjump. Chris begins “painting” targets as they come into range.

Capt. Reese climbs into another Raptor, leaving Capt. Helena Cain in command of the corvette Dauntless [Dnt]. Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer directs the Sovereign [Svr] and Dauntless to head toward Altair’s asteroid belt. The ursine officer also sends four fighters to escort the Tigress [Tgr] and Faithful Starlight [FSt], keeping six others [Rpt] close by.

Brun then takes the Blackbird [Blk] toward the Zarkonians and lays down covering fire for Chris. Tela drops the cloak and diverts power. Tariq scans for telepathic wavelengths to jam, and Chris destroys one fighter [Zf3] with a particle beam.

Kevin engages the lead craft [Zf1], flying defensively before destroying it. Nate also exchanges fire, but his guns are damaged. Another enemy [Zf4] singes Kevin’s bird. The rest of the Raptor squadron fires [Josh/Non-Player Characters], damaging some Zarkonian craft [Zf4 and Zf7] as they fire on the Blackbird.

The Blackbird turns to retrieve space marine Nate’s fighter, and pilot Brun damages another foe [Zf5]. Engineer Tela and droid Dr. Bucket activate spider drones for damage control. Tariq detects nanites (microscopic robots) being emitted by the Zarkonians. The wanderer warns his crewmates.

Sniper Chris takes out one fighter [Zf11], and former cop Kevin pursues and eliminates another [Zf5]. “Jellybean” brings his Raptor into the Blackbird ’s launch bay for an ungraceful landing. The other Terran fighters narrowly evade gamma-ray lasers and fire on the Zarkonian [Zf4] attacking Kevin.

Lt. Takahari [Geoff/N.P.C.], commanding the Sovereign, destroys one fighter [Zf2] and wings another [Zf6]. Capt. Cain [Beruk/N.P.C.] finishes it off, but the sensors of the Dauntless are damaged [Zf10]. Fortunately, the corvette evades another foe [Zf8].

Brun dodges one pursuer [Zf9], and Tela and Tariq hastily repair Nate’s Raptor. Chris shoots down one craft [Zf12] before it can leave the area, as Kevin exchanges blasts with another [Zf7]. The rest of the Terran squadron maneuvers at high speed.

The Sovereign destroys one fighter [Zf8] and moves to assist the Raptors. Its missiles go wide, possibly foiled by nanites [Zf4]. The Dauntless obliterates another of the crustacean Zarkonians [Zf10], whose armada has conquered the Sol system.

The aliens [Zf9] swing back to the Blackbird , and some [Zf4, Zf7] continue to engage the Raptors. Tariq detects a larger Zarkonian ship entering the Altair system and recommends that all Terrans head for the asteroid belt.

Brun and Tela successfully execute the microjump, as Chris provides cover for the Tigress and Faithful Starlight. Tharian Tela warns that a second jump won’t be immediately possible.

Kevin blasts another enemy [Zf4], and Nate relaunches and shoots at two others [Zf9, Zf7]. The human pilots manage to outfly their opponents and destroy the last of the fighters, even as they take more damage themselves. The Raptors rejoin the Dauntless and Sovereign and head for cover.

The Terran task force waits for several tense hours as the Zarkonian carrier passes through the system. It sends Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical probes) to examine the destroyed fighters, but they don’t enter Altair’s asteroid belt.

After regrouping, the Blackbird hails the Faithful Starlight. Rabbi Irene Gimbel, communications officer of the colony ship, relays Capt. Vishal Pratik’s gratitude and invites an away team to visit….

I hope that everyone enjoyed our space battle — which used Google Docs for real-time shared editing — and I look forward to wrapping up the current chapter of our “Vortex” adventures! In the meantime, remember that your P.C.s now have 40 skill points each.

I’ve begun compiling notes for our upcoming “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” telecom fantasy game, which will likely use AD&D1 Oriental Adventures and the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game. I also look forward to Geoff’s street-level superhero one-shot, which will use FATE Accelerated Edition.

We’ve had a busy summer, and I look forward to settling back into a regular gaming schedule. In the meantime, I’ll see some of you at my upcoming “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” and Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Timesface-to-face sessions. Josh, I hope your own games go well! Later, -Gene

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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.42, 43
The "Nova Aquarius"

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Sessions 5c.42 and 43 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on 28 July and 4 August July 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of summer 2013:

Acting crew of the scout ship Blackbird and corvette Dauntless:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and leader of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary ]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary ]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary ]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary ]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker

See other records for the previous crews of the Pina Colada, Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“4 to 8 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The “Terra’s Pride” Ranger Corps task force caught up with the Firebrand, a slower-than-light generation colony ship. It helped the scientists install a Transit drive and fended off Encegulan fighter craft allied with the Zarkonian Armada.

The Blackbird, Dauntless, Tigress, and Sovereign continue toward Altair, while the Pina Colada heads to Van Maanen’s Star. The Terran squadron finds the Nova Aquarius, another colony ship, but it doesn’t immediately respond to Tariq Asrad Saladin’s hails on multiple frequencies.

Eventually, someone aboard the Nova Aquarius replies, asking for an hour’s delay before docking. Capt. Kevin Reese is surprised by the unusual request, and Lt.Cmdr. Tela and Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer scan the sleek vessel.

They find that sections of the large ship have fallen into disrepair and that the inhabitants are clustered into separate sections. The scouts are also alarmed to find that, unlike the Firebrand, whose population grew in the decades since it left Earth, the complement aboard the Nova Aquarius has shrunk.

Chris McKee worries about the presence of agents still loyal to the eugenicists of Black Box Security Co., and Lt. Nathan A. Jessup readies fellow space marines for a potential boarding action.

Capt. Reese ultimately agrees to the request from the Nova Aquarius, and he orders three ensigns to join the away team. Brun heads to a Raptor II-class fighter, but Kevin asks the ursine pilot to stand down.

Meanwhile, Tariq reads old records and learns that the colonists left Earth, the L-5 orbital habitats, and the Lunar Free State after the nation-states of the time fought with megacorporations during the First Interplanetary War.

The boarding party dons formal uniforms and takes a Morgan class shuttle from the Dauntless to the Nova Aquarius. Capt. Reese asks his team to try to contact each of the factions. Tariq reviews ship logs and notes that the colonists got along well for their first few decades in space.

Capt. Reese meets Capt. Soledad Homara, who is reluctant to change course from what is expected to be a profitable destination. Robot Dr. Bucket shows holograms of the Zarkonian Armada to underscore the seriousness of the threat to humanity’s survival.

Lt.Cmdr. Tela offers support to Cmdr. Vidal Gaspari, the restless chief engineer of the Nova Aquarius. He is eager to accept the Tharian’s aid but says that he’ll need approval from each function-based group on the ship.

Lt. Jessup asks Cmdr. Josiah Lung about whether the colonists have made First Contact with any extrasolar species. “None yet,” says the first officer, who adds that he has heard some of the news from distant Earth. They also talk about difficulties with food distribution.

Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer asks for a tour of the astrogational facilties, while Tariq talks to chief medical officer Dr. Brandy Hendricks. The frustrated physician shares her empathic impressions with Tariq and describes illnesses and tensions that have affected her crew.

Capt. Homara encourages the visitors to make a plea to the various factions to accept an FTL (faster-than-light) drive and change course. Kevin, Tela, Nate, and Dr. Bucket go to the Versar Bul Society.

They meet “Vice President Gregor Devoss” [Beruk/Non-Player Character], chief of human resources, and “Rico Santos,” V.P. [Geoff/N.P.C.], a Delphine (“Uplifted” orca) journalist. Devoss aspires to a higher office, while Santos is reluctant to join other Terrans in space. The bioengineered “Synth” also counters Capt. Homara’s requests with clever propaganda.

Nate, Brun, Tela, and Tariq then visit the Hakidouyma Association, which is responsible for internal transactions. Quartermaster “Ms. Ilene Kimball” [Josh/N.P.C.] outmaneuvers Tariq’s psionic probes, and hydroponics chief “Mr. Chad Rawlins” [Bruce/N.P.C.] expresses willingness to work with those fleeing Earth but doesn’t trust the other factions.

As Tela works with Cmdr. Gaspari, Kevin, Brun, and Tariq go to House Phoenix, the scientific caste aboard the Nova Aquarius. Cyborg “Sheik Yakov Kamallah” [Byron/N.P.C.] asserts that he is waiting for the retrorockets to fire, signaling arrival at a new world. “Lady Simone Ashrael” [Sara/N.P.C.], a “Chim” (“Uplifted” simian) planetologist, explains how House Phoenix desires long-term stability.

By the time the members of “Terra’s Pride” regroup and report to Capt. Homara, she has invitations to a formal ball at which all three factions will meet to discuss the Zarkonian threat.

At the ball, Capt. Reese dances and flirts with Capt. Homara, as well as with people from the Versar Bul Society, the Hakidouyma Association, and House Phoenix. Lt.Cmdr. Tela hangs out by the buffet tables with Cmdr. Gaspari and other engineers.

Mystic Tariq keeps feelers out for psionics, as sniper Chris and the three ensigns watch the assembly from a balcony. Burly Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer joins a poker game with Hakidouyma’s Rawlins, while Lt. Jessup dances with a few colonists wearing vintage garb.

Ms. Kimball nods to V.P. Devoss and walks toward the captain. Tariq tries to intercept the Hakidouyma associate, who is unable to read his mind. A loud explosion near the food startles and injures several colonists.

Kevin and Nate move to defend Capt. Homara, with Chris and Brun in reserve. Tariq helps Dr. Hendricks attend to the wounded, and V.P. Devoss claims that the lack of security is a failure of Capt. Homara’s leadership at a time of sensitive negotiations. V.P. Santos broadcasts the blast scene and Devoss’ speech to all aboard the Nova Aquarius.

Tela examines the heating implements and finds signs of an overload but no physical evidence of tampering. The Versar Bul Society leaders note that Cmdr. Gaspari and House Phoenix are responsible for maintaining ship systems.

The engineers and commanders soon find themselves surrounded by an angry mob. Brun wades in to disperse the crowd, and Chris is disappointed that no shots are fired. Capt. Homara resists calls by V.P. Devoss and Ms. Kimball for a plebiscite.

Tensions simmer aboard the Nova Aquarius as the away team from the Blackbird and Dauntless prepares to leave. Capt. Homara tells Capt. Reese and Tariq that she will change course to join other Terran ships, regardless of the upcoming election. They give her an override for the Transit drive.

Tela temporarily blocks Versar Bul’s transmissions and gives Cmdr. Gaspari enough information to complete the FTL installation. Nate flies a patrol, while Brun finishes his poker game before setting course for the next jump. Chris provides a security assessment.

Dissatisifed with affairs aboard the Nova Aquarius, the task force hopes for a better reception at the Faithful Starlight, the last of the three generation vessels it plans to assist. The Terran ships drop out of Transit when scanners detect a Zarkonian squadron heading toward the slow colony ship.

Capt. Reese orders Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer to plot an intercept course. Warships Dauntless and Tigress take the lead. “Jellybean” Jessup recommends luring the enemy toward Altair’s wide asteroid belt for an ambush.

Tariq reviews tactical maneuvers, and Chris gets into the gunner’s nest on the Blackbird. Lt.Cmdr. Tela activates the scout ship’s cloaking device. Dr. Bucket informs her that it unfortunately can’t be extended to other vessels.

The frigate Sovereign brings up the rear, posing as a “wounded bird.” Kevin boards the Tigress and sends the Dauntless to guard the Faithful Starlight. Nate launches his Raptor as the 12 Zarkonian fighters swoop in….

Our adventures will resume next Sunday! In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed Rich’s latest School Daze one-shot, and I look forward to running the “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign on Mondays as summer winds down. Be seeing you, -Gene

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Sol system news
Data packet, "3 Sept. 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 T.G.E."

From: Union of Solar Nations space fleet command
To: All refugee ships and extraterrestrial allies
Re: Battle report
Classified: Top secret (share with crew/passengers at commanders’ discretion)

While our surviving battle groups head into deep space, here is a look back at recent events. Humanity has suffered a terrible blow, but we will survive and remember. Earth will again be our homeworld, no matter how long it takes.

Note: All dates are as of 2195 A.D./C.E. (or “1 Terran Galactic Era”) [8 August 2013].

  • Aug. 20: The Bloody Flag and other Gustrall warships come to assist Terra and its colonies, joining Olvar and Trinoid advisors. Kraythor and “Takers” seize power on Ru’okkal.
  • Aug. 24: The first wave of the Zarkonian Armada attacks Camp Alpha, the U.S.N. outpost at Alpha Centauri. The Lionheart battle group is lost. Zurmiz Krott/Harbingers of the Righteous Order of Submission attack outer colonies. Raptor II and Hurricane class fighter squadrons scramble, as mecha units engage kaiju in Europa and Earth’s oceans.
  • Aug. 25 — The Battle of Saturn: The Zarkonian Armada arrives in the Sol system and destroys the Saladin battle group near Saturn. The carriers Achilles and Shaka Zulu are heavily damaged near the Jovian Commonwealth and retreat with refugee fleets. Martial law is declared. The P.T.S. Venture returns with materiel and a Nethian rapid-deployment force before picking up passengers from Mars.
  • Aug. 26: The Simon Bolivar is scuttled, as Terran forces inflict some casualties on the armada but are badly outnumbered. The Ano Wasu and George S. Patton groups pick up some survivors and come under heavy fire. Joan of Arc, King Arthur, and other mythological figures are supposedly seen in battle.
  • Aug. 27: The Ilokar and Miyamoto Musashi provide cover as ships leave Earth and Mars, and the Shiva takes heavy damage. Nuclear weapons detonate on Earth; millions killed. Planetary defenses in the inner Sol system fracture.

  • Aug. 28: Surviving Terran battle groups leave the Sol system. Zantor Probscine claims control of Earth in the name of the Zarkonian Imperium. Venusian Finance Union surrenders and joins Encegulan trade guild.
  • Aug. 29: Ground forces on Mars and Earth resist Zarkonian troops. More atomic weapons detonate; orbital habitats seized or destroyed. Kharvamid Alliance formally admits Terrans, though many prefer neutrality.
  • Aug. 30: Ilokar and other Terran battle groups no longer able to communicate directly with the Sol system. About 5 million free Terrans mourn, joining Aquarian, Laransan, and Ma’ari refugees.
  • Aug. 31: The Achilles heads toward Algol 364-B, a Gustrall-controlled system, while the Ilokar and Venture head to Oasis Station. Former members of “Full Circle” take the Geronimo, Vengeance, and Spring Wasabi into nonaligned space.
  • Sept. 1: The Blackbird, Dauntless, Sovereign, and Tigress catch up with the Firebrand, a slower-than-light science vessel. The Pina Colada heads toward Van Maanen’s Star….
  • Sept. 2: The Ano Wasu, George S. Patton, Miyamoto Musashi, Shaka Zulu, and Shiva call for elections to colonial council. Emergency repairs made to all ships.
  • Sept. 3: Zarkonian Sax class fighters break off initial pursuit of fleeing ships, which scatter spinward and rimward into deep space (toward Kharvamid worlds). Part of “Terra’s Pride” heads for the Nova Aquarius, a megacorp colony ship….
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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.41
Firefight for the "Firebrand"

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.41 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 21 July 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of summer 2013:

Acting crew of the scout ship Blackbird and corvette Dauntless:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and leader of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary ]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary ]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary ]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary ]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker

See other records for the previous crews of the Pina Colada, Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“1 to 3 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” As the Zarkonian Armada attacked the Sol system, “Terra’s Pride” regrouped at Epsilon Eridani. The Ranger Corps task force then delivered a Transit (faster-than-light) drive to the Firebrand, a generation colony ship crewed by scientists.

Capt. Kevin Reese and Capt. Mark Tarthan supervise the installation of the new FTL engines. Tariq Asrad Saladin exchanges barbed words with Eshe Kalisha, his ex-wife.

Lt.Cmdr. Tela and robot Dr. Bucket help engineers Kamiko Chu, Georgio Napolitano, and Gabby Baluande update the Firebrand ’s antiquated systems. Chris McKee stays in his quarters to meditate.

Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer grows bored after giving astrogation advice to Charlie ibn Ali and condescending droid Astro-V. The burly pilot daydreams of “Ursoid” (“Synth,” “Uplifted” bear) women and a cold beer.

Lt. Nathan A. Jessup takes the callsign “Jellybean” and patrols the area in a Raptor II-class aerospace fighter. Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, the Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) commander of the frigate Sovereign, reports that sensors have detected approaching spacecraft.

Nate goes to investigate and finds six long-range bogies. Kevin scrambles to another fighter, while Brun and Chris get back on the Blackbird. The Dauntless, Tigress, and Sovereign guard the Firebrand, while Tela and Tariq stay behind to continue their work.

Tariq evades Eshe and double-checks Dr. Surita Goldstein’s records regarding the health of the colonists. He finds no sign of infection from nanites (microscopic robots) emitted by the Zurmiz Krott/Harbingers of the Righteous Order of Submission, biomechanical probes of the Zarkonians.

The six incoming ships ignore Lt. Jessup’s fighter, as Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer takes the Blackbird on a Transit microjump and an intercept course. “Jellybean” falls behind the unidentified spacecraft and blasts two of them.

Mr. McKee taps the Blackbird ’s Olvar Star League database and identifies the attackers as Encegulans. This worries Lt.Cmdr. Tela, who was once enslaved by the slug-like aliens. The Encegulan vehicles head toward the Firebrand.

Gunner Chris destroys a third foe, as pilot Brun targets the engines of a fourth fighter. The Encegulans fire on the Blackbird but do little damage. Kevin’s Raptor destroys the lead ship and singes another.

Nate and Chris make short work of the last two vessels. Unfortunately, there is no alien technology left worth salvaging. Back on the Firebrand, Capt. Tarthan is grateful, and Capt. Reese asks that he join the refugee fleet with the Ilokar battle group, which is headed toward Oasis Station.

Capt. Tarthan and his crew are reluctant to accept Terran military command, but they agree that the civilian colonists are too vulnerable in Zarkonian-held space.

Tariq delivers the corpse of a Zarkonian (crustacean alien) retrieved at Sirius/Canis Major to Dr. Goldstein for further study. He and Kevin also warn Capt. Tarthan about Elisha’s terrorist past and regal ambitions, but they are unable to obtain extradition.

Meanwhile, TX-29 fighter pilots Isabel Flaben, Jonas Ludivico [Beruk/Non-Player Character], and Kel Batista [Bruce/N.P.C.] greet Nate, Brun, and Chris as returning heroes. Chris raids “Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron] whiskey cabinet for the celebration.

Capt. Reese gets a letter of recommendation from Capt. Tarthan for the next slower-than-light ships, the Nova Aquarius and the Faithful Starlight. Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer sets a course.

At the Nova Aquarius, which left Earth nearly a century ago crewed by megacorporate employees, Tariq’s scans find fewer life signs than aboard the Firebrand. The colony ship doesn’t reply to hails.

Brun brings the Blackbird to a landing bay, but the doors are closed, so he brings the scout ship in to dock. Nate and Chris ready tactical gear, as Tela prepares tools and the second FTL drive. Kevin designates three ensigns to join his away team….

I’m still catching up on notes for various one-shots and the “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign. Brian, I enjoyed your “Jenga”-based SF scenario, and Jason, I look forward to your “Star Wars: Dark Timesminiseries (using Savage Worlds ) this fall.

In the meantime, please remember to make sure that your P.C. records are up to date on Obsidian Portal and that I’m aware of any changes. Be seeing you, -Gene

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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.40
Into the black

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.40 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 14 July 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures /Mindjammer, Bulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but environmental degradation, population pressures, and internecine conflict persist. The rediscovery of mystical abilities and open and official First Contact with galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Can heroes rise to the challenges ?

FATE 3e “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of summer 2013:

Crew of the refitted space yacht Pina Colada:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; homeworld security task force commander
  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary ]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary ]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on the Appomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary ]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and planetary patriot; with robot PEPE
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent ]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Acting crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary ]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary ]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary ]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron V.O., secondary ]-male Terran human, gung-ho Union of Solar Nations space marine and pilot
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary ]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Enkidu Aristheon” [Dexter V.H., secondary/absent ]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon
  • Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary ]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier, killed attacking the Zarkonian Armada with the frigate Crazy Horse

See other records for the previous crews of the Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“29 to 31 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The Blackbird meets the rest of its Terran task force at Epsilon Eridani as the Zarkonian Armada attacks the Sol system. Capt. Kevin Reese reports on the sacrifice of Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick to his fellow commanders. He also passes along the Union of Solar Nations space navy’s informal “Ranger Corps” designation.

Hector Chavez scans for communications from besieged Earth, while Tariq Asrad Saladin checks the new passengers. Cmdr. Jasmine hopes to track down her ex-boyfriend Darcy, and Tela worries about Encegulan allies of the armada.

Chris McKee is eager to engage the enemy and possibly change the course of battle. Lord Wallace Tubbington III expresses interest in helping the civilian fleet being escorted by any one of the surviving Terran battle groups.

Orion Starchaser prepares recordings to send to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer asks to be reassigned from the yacht Pina Colada to the warship Dauntless.

Dr. Srinu Pahul introduces his new nurse, Keila Sunitha Ciela. Lt. Nathan A. Jessup familiarizes himself with the Raptor II-class aerospace fighters aboard the Dauntless. Chiron checks astrogation records, and Enkidu Aristheon attends to Glaucon.

Kevin recommends keeping the task force together to determine the status of three slower-than-light (STL) generation ships now behind enemy lines. Jasmine and Orion agree.

Chris is skeptical that the Firebrand, Nova Aquarius, and Faithful Starlight have survived, but Brun notes that there’s a good chance the Zarkonians missed them in deep space. Chris suggests splitting up and sending a ship to investigate ancient alien technology at Van Maanen’s Star.

Srinu asks about the Precursor jump gate at Oasis Station. However, onetime crew members from the Blackbird point out that the interstellar crossroads is a Terran month away, even at high Transit (faster-than-light) speeds.

Capt. Reese reluctantly agrees to split the task force. Cmdr. Jasmine is to take the Pina Colada to Van Maanen’s Star. She is joined by engineer Hector, scientist Srinu, diplomat Wallace, and mystic Orion. Chiron serves as pilot, and junior medical officer “Hawkeye James” [Bruce] is assigned to that ship.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird will lead the search for the STL colony ships. Brun is designated as acting captain. The “Uplifted” Ursoid is excited to take command for the first time. Tharian engineer Tela stays with the biomechanical ship, as does investigator Tariq.

Kevin leads the more military crew of the Dauntless, including pilot Nate and sniper Chris. The Blackbird and Dauntless are joined by the patrol ship Tigress, with (Kevin’s onetime lover) Capt. Elektra Contos, and the frigate Sovereign, with Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, an Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) exile.

Hector checks records regarding the generation ships, which left Earth decades ago. The Firebrand included scientists among its passengers, while the Nova Aquarius was crewed by megacorp employees after the First Interplanetary War. Religious wars led to the construction of the Faithful Starlight.

The Blackbird, Dauntless, Sovereign, and Tigress head toward Altair and find the colony ship Firebrand. The Terrans are cautious, since the Firebrand launches a fighter escort and still has potentially dangerous defense systems.

Capt. Reese hails Capt. Mark Tarthan, who invites him aboard. Capt. Tarthan, a third-generation biologist, introduces his first officer, planetologist Betty Stovashi, and chief engineer, physicist Kamiko Chu.

Kevin asks to talk privately with Mark, who takes him and Chris to his cabin. They discuss the deteriorating political situation on Earth, the Zarkonian Armada’s invasion of the Sol system, and refitting the Firebrand with a Transit drive. Dr. Bucket, the Blackbird ’s U.S.N. robot, projects holograms and technical specifications before going to help Tela.

Amid antique fusion generators, overgrown life-support systems, and tangles of circuitry, Lt.Cmdr. Tela meets fellow engineers Georgio Napolitano and Gabby Baluande. The helpful Tharian immediately sets to improving their systems’ efficiency.

Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer goes to the command and control center, where he finds friendly astrogator Charlie ibn Ali and aloof robot Astro-V. He shows them how to prepare for Transit as Capt. Tarthan announces that the “Firebrand” will be gaining FTL capability.

Lt. Jessup chats with TX-29 fighter pilots in the hangar bay, including bored Isabel Flaben, old-school Jonas Ludivico [Beruk/Non-Player Character], and proud Kel Batista [Bruce/N.P.C.].

Tariq goes to the biomedical deck, where he transfers files to Dr. Surita Goldstein, who is impressed at humanity’s advances since her grandparents left Earth. She shares odd fruits and vegetables cultivated in the ship’s hydroponic gardens.

Tariq also experiences a flashback to a bombing incident in Istanbul from many years ago. The wanderer turns and finds Eshe Kalisha, a woman he knows all too well….

Now that I’m caught up onVortexnotes, all I need to do is do the same for the “Vanished Lands” fantasy campaign! Remember to update your P.C.s on Obsidian Portal, and let me know of any changes to them or your ships.

I look forward to Brian’s “Jenga”-based social science fiction one-shot next Monday and to character creation for this fall’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” game at “JasonCon” the week after that! Be seeing you, -Gene

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