Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.27 of the “Vortextelecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 10 March 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?

“Vortex” Team 5c (3) Player Character rosters: Crew of the refitted experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary ]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • 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/absent ]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington” [Josh C., secondary ]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Brun” [Geoff C., secondary ]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron V.O., secondary ]-male Terran human, gung-ho member of the North American Aerospace Marine Corps
  • Enkidu Aristheon” [Dexter V.H., secondary ]-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 yacht Pina Colada:

  • Capt. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary ]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, now captain of the Pina Colada searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary/absent ]-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 confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; defender of the homeworld
  • 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.

“15 to 18 July 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The Pina Colada delivered part of a smuggled cargo of artifacts from the Vatican Museums to the United Ecumenical Movement’s temples on Phobos. Its crew also uncovered a cultist for the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird returns to the Asteroid Belt to report to the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.). Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese is happy to settle back into the captain’s seat, and Chris McKee resumes his post as gunner, having swapped ships with Lt. Sebastian Growlick and Lord Wallace Tubbington III, respectively.

Lt. Brun Bearhammer pilots the Blackbird from a disused Black Box Security Co. safe house to Ceres Station. Tela and astromech assistant Dr. Bucket notice that passing tugs have been outfitted with weaponry.

Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup wants to ensure a safe transfer of the Vatican relics, and Enkidu Aristheon is curious about the human colonies. Tariq Asrad Saladin keeps busy cataloging the artifacts. Hector Chavez sends a message from the Pina Colada warning to watch out for compromised recipients.

Col. Shan Gray, Lt.Cmdr. Reese’s superior officer in the Interplanetary Patrol, personally greets members of “Terra’s Pride” in a landing bay. He assigns eight space marines to escort the cargo and crew to a secure level. Tariq, Dr. Bucket, and Enkidu’s gryphon-like companion Glaucon initially stay with the Blackbird.

Kevin pilots the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm, a modular ground-effect vehicle, and Tela, Chris, and Brun ride along with the cargo. Nate and Enkidu walk with the marines, warily watching the station’s inhabitants because several other parties are still hunting for the treasure.

Seranen empath Enkidu senses surprise at extraterrestrials such as himself and Tharian Tela being escorted by so many soldiers in urban battle dress, but no hostility.

In a research facility deep in the honeycombed asteroid, Lt.Cmdr. Reese turns over the last containers to Dr. Brett Carson. The explorer explains that the ancient items could be helpful in defending the Sol system against the Zarkonians.

While Kevin and Nate brief fellow U.S.N. personnel, Tela goes to look for Ceres Station’s main engineering section. Brun, Chris, and Enkidu accompany her. They find a massive amount of activity, as microfusion generators are installed, structural reinforcements are made, and khaki-clad workers scurry about. Some components bear megacorporate logos.

Tela talks with Lt. Hedy, a “Synth” (artificial intelligence/gynoid) engineer. Lt. Hedy cheerfully confirms Tela’s theory that the asteroid is being turned into a vessel capable of Transit (faster-than-light travel). Brun is bored, and Chris doesn’t like robots, so they leave as the engineers continue their discussion.

Enkidu returns to the Blackbird and rides Glaucon into the station, turning heads on their way to get exercise in a hydroponic garden tier. Brun goes to the “Sloppy Seconds” bar and finds a brawl in progress.

Chris inquires about former buddies and finds fellow sniper Sgt. Jane Walthrop at a firing range. They try out new guns and reminisce about service at Fort Olympus Mons on Mars.

At Col. Gray’s office, Lt.Cmdr. Reese and Sgt. Jessup get a friendlier private reception. As usual, the colonel asks the formerly burned-out space cop how he’s feeling, and Kevin says that he is happy to have found a purpose.

Shan explains that the Korelev, part of Kevin’s homeworld security task force, has recently docked with the U.S.N. battleship Ilokar [named after the Zarendo god of war]. Gustrall (orange-furred, antlered, flightless avian alien) Capt. “Evander Scofield” has reported to Adm. Jaques Pons that the Dauntless, flagship of the task force, is missing.

Back at the “Sloppy Seconds,” Brun bellows for the fighting to stop. Most of the drunken patrons cease their fisticuffs, but a few in the back keep going. The Ursoid shoves his way through the crowd and slams a Felinoid (“Uplifted” tiger) into a table. Brun then asks Darcy, Jasmine’s ex-boyfriend, to play cards. The furry duo exchange more grunts than words thereafter.

Tela helps Lt. Hedy improve the efficiency of Ceres Station’s new systems, which are Terran models based on Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) and Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity, reptilian alien) designs. The android states that the asteroid is a test bed for the new technologies.

Chris and Jane go to Murphy’s Pub, while Kevin and Nate eventually join Brun on Deck 3, Room 32C. Chris then gives Jane a private tour of the experimental scout ship Blackbird. While Lt.Cmdr. Reese would also like female companionship, he and Sgt. Jessup have to report to the Ilokar. They grab a few bottles of whiskey as consolation.

Lt. Bearhammer and Darcy go bar-hopping, and Enkidu stays in radio contact with Tariq. Kevin and Nate take the Dragonfly drop ship over to the Ilokar battle group. Capt. Scofield [Josh/Non-Player Character] explains that the task force was spread thin over a large area of interstellar space when the Dauntless, Crazy Horse, and Sovereign failed to check in.

Evander provides the ships’ last known position and volunteers to help find them and “destroy the perpetrators,” but Kevin decides not to ask Adm. Pons to have the Korolev join the Blackbird. Nate suspects the Zurmiz Krott, biomechanical advance probes of the armada.

The admiral does say that support is available from Terran bases in the nearby systems of Alpha Centauri, Epsilon Eridani, and Wolf 359. He also gives the officers alarming top-secret information: The Zarkonian Armada, once believed to be far from Earth, is now less than two months away.

The U.S.N. and Kharvamid Alliance are rushing to outfit as many vessels and habitats as possible with Transit capability, but escalating conflicts in the Inner Solar System have forced them to refocus their efforts. Ma’ari Talari (alien ark ships) are also on their way, and the Trinoids (trilateral amphibians) and Nethians (insectoid engineers) have provided advisers.

Kevin asks for his sister in law Jennifer and her boyfriend Capt. Nick Cheney (whom he suspects of murdering his wife Heather) to be evacuated from New Shanghai on Mars. Nate requests that his clan of miners also be moved if possible.

Adm. Pons asks Lt.Cmdr. Reese to report back to high command upon successful completion of his mission to find the Dauntless, Crazy Horse, and Sovereign because his task force will be needed to help scout out evacuation routes and destinations.

However, as Kevin calls “Terra’s Pride” to regroup, he tells his companions that they should try to find a way to slow or injure the approaching armada. Lt.Cmdr. Reese asks Capt. Jasmine and the Pina Colada to catch up to the Blackbird as it searches for the Dauntless in deep space….

Next time, on “Vortex: Terra’s Pride:” A space-suited away team waves rifles and flashlights through an apparently vacant ship. “There are no life signs, sir, but we’re getting movement….”

Dexter, I hope that you had a Happy Birthday, and Beruk, we missed “Tariq.” Geoff, please direct your friend who’s interested in our campaign to the Obsidian Portal site and have him contact me directly.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing some of you at tonight’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy game, and remember that I’ll probably be missing Jason E.R.’s next “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” planetary romance session. Take it easy, -Gene