Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.29 of the “Vortex” telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 24 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?
Crew of the refitted 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/absent ]-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/absent ]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity
Crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:
- “Lt. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary/absent ]-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 and robot Dr. Bucket
- “Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary/absent ]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
- “Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary ]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
- “Lt. Brun Bearhammer” [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/absent ]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon
Tela and Kedar are reminded of experiments conducted by the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), and Chris McKee keeps the scout ship’s guns at the ready, even though others have explained that the corvette is too valuable to Earth’s defense to scuttle.
Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup prepares explosives and watches the body of Spc. Donar Kievich, whose body had retrieved by robot Dr. Bucket. Fellow space marine Lt. Brun Bearhammer waits at the helm for reinforcements.
Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese sends a message to the Pina Colada urgently requesting backup, as well as a warning to the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) fleet command.
Tariq Asrad Saladin studies medical and personal logs from the Dauntless, part of Kevin’s homeworld security task force. Empath Enkidu Aristheon senses a presence but no intelligence from the drifting ship.
Over on the Pina Colada, Capt. Jasmine orders an away team to prepare to board the Dauntless, even though Lt.Cmdr. Reese recommends against it. Orion Starchaser asserts that only a close inspection can determine the nature and cause of the zombie-like crew.
Lord Wallace Tubbington III grabs a shotgun and his newly forged katana (in the Scabbard of Musashi). Dr. Srinu Pahul also wants to examine Donar’s body and review the records that Tariq has culled.
Hector Chavez makes sure that everyone is wearing space suits and programs more scans, and pilot Chiron is curious about the energy readings from a strange cloud the Dauntless encountered before its crew was affected.
Lt. Sebastian Growlick looks forward to eventually returning to the Blackbird with Lord Tubbington, since they had swapped places with Chris and Kevin. On the other hand, the duo from the Pina Colada is comfortable surrounded by fellow soldiers.
The refitted yacht comes out of Transit (faster-than-light travel) and receives reports from the Blackbird. Capt. Jasmine, Orion, and Lord Tubbington head over to the Dauntless, leaving Hector, Chiron, and Lt. Growlick behind on the Pina Colada.
Dr. Pahul goes to the Blackbird ‘s laboratory, where he confers with Tariq. Lt.Cmdr. Reese sends Sgt. Jessup and Mr. McKee over to the Dauntless to escort the away team. Nate and Chris wager some of Srinu’s whiskey on what trouble the civilians will get into.
The sergeant and sniper use grenades to clear a path to the forward turbolifts for the explorers. Jasmine leads the way to the bridge of the Dauntless, and Wallace draws his katana against Undead.
Orion, however, asks that no crew be destroyed unless necessary for self-defense, since he senses something when any are blown up. From the Pina Colada, Hector reactivates internal surveillance and basic systems.
Brave Jasmine, Orion, and Wallace climb down two decks, leaving armored Nate and Chris at amidships. The trio heads aft to the fighter hangar and is briefly startled when a decaying crewmember slams up against a porthole.
Blue-furred Orion closes his eyes and telepathically contacts the reanimated astronauts on the other side of the hatch. The Pomuyan mystic likens the experience to being in a house with the lights on but nobody home. There is mental activity but no sentience. Orion reaches out and finds the body linked to others in a hive mind.
Meanwhile, Jasmine maintains radio contact with the marines on the upper deck, as well as with the Pina Colada and Blackbird floating near the Dauntless. Wallace again draws his katana as six rotting marines break through a hatch and approach from the rear.
Wary Tariq had looked for a “Patient Zero” or a central, directing intellect. Dr. Pahul finds elevated neurochemicals in the Kievich’s corpse, confirming how the bodies were reanimated and thus not prone to many conventional attacks. The sparks that Chris saw when he blasted a hole through an officer’s chest were a biochemical side effect rather than cybernetics.
More space zombies press in on the away team, and tiger woman Jasmine calls for a retreat. Swashbuckling Wallace easily cleaves his opponents, and Orion reluctantly pushes some back with telekinesis. He tells Srinu that he senses an inhuman hunger and tries to convey a “non-prey” feeling.
Chris and Nate begin climbing the port turbolift shaft ahead of the others, but they find more grasping hands at the elevator door. Chris tosses up a grenade, blasting four more foes. Mighty Jasmine shoves the hungry horde out of her way, and Wallace continues hacking away at the rear.
Jasmine successfully leads the group back to the Pina Colada. Hector passes along an incoming transmission from the Sovereign, another ship from Lt.Cmdr. Reese’s task force that recently went missing.
Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, an Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) reports that the Sovereign has found a cloud emitting strange energy similar to the one that Capt. Helena Cain encountered. Kevin sends a warning not to engage and begins planning a rendezvous.
However, Chiron notes that “Terra’s Pride” must first deal with the zombies on the Dauntless. Dr. Pahul hypothesizes that the reanimated crew members are acting in a decentralized manner similar to the nervous system of a Terran jellyfish.
Srinu and Tariq test reactions to the entire electromagnetic spectrum, but Orion and Enkidu observe that a psychic projection could help free the 50 remaining U.S.N. personnel. Capt. Jasmine and Lt.Cmdr. Reese approve their plan.
With help from amplification crystals, Orion and Enkidu project psionic energy in front of the Blackbird as it moves away from the Dauntless. On the way, Brun expertly scoops up the Dragonfly drop ship and lures the energy entity into deep space.
The Pina Colada nudges the Dauntless in the opposite direction, and Hector observes the crew falling to the floor. Robots MEGAN and PEPE assist Dr. Pahul and Tariq with medical supplies as they prepare to head back to look for revivable crew.
Lt. Bearhammer outmaneuvers the cloud and marks its position for future reference. “Terra’s Pride” regroups, and Kevin recommends that one ship be sent to rescue the Sovereign….
Dexter, Beruk, and Bruce, we missed you this past weekend! Please note that we won’t be meeting virtually this coming Sunday because of Easter.
I expect “Vortex” to resume the following weekend. In the meantime, I enjoyed the latest “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy session (I’ll write an update for it soon), and I look forward to rejoining Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” planetary romance game next Monday.
In the meantime, I hope that everyone’s spring holidays are fun, and stay in touch, -Gene