Vortex

"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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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.39
Maneuvers and missions

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.39 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 7 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:

Acting crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • 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
  • 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
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary/absent ]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary/absent ]-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/absent ]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • 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.

26 to 28 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick [Bruce] destroyed the frigate Crazy Horse in an attack on the Zarkonian Armada at Wolf 359, and the rest of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force regrouped at Procyon.

The Blackbird heads back to the Ilokar battle group in the Asteroid Belt to report on its encounters with the enemy at Sirius and Wolf 359. The explorers find the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) space navy busy with the evacuation effort.

First, the Blackbird must pass the Shaka Zulu battle group in solar polar orbit. Raptor II-class fighters fly escort, as Adm. Joseph Ochieng sends his regards to the crew of the Sovereign.

Capt. Kevin Reese, Dr. Srinu Pahul, and Hector Chavez then report to Col. Shan Gray and Adm. Jacques Pons. Kevin is relieved to learn that his sister in law Jennifer has been given a berth in a ship leaving the Mars Confederacy. Adm. Pons awards Lt.Cmdr. Growlick a posthumus medal for his valor.

Kevin also passes on a status report from the Terran outpost at Camp Alpha, which is about to be overrun by the armada. Hector mentions reverse-engineering of alien force-field technology to provide ships with a tunable energy shield.

Srinu shares medical data gathered from his patients aboard the Crazy Horse. Polarian (amphibious humanoid alien) and other survivors had described the Zarkonians, but humans haven’t yet studied the crustaceans firsthand.

The U.S.N. officers ask what missions “Terra’s Pride” is considering. Dr. Pahul recommends heading toward Oasis Station, which could be a destination for human refugees. Hector notes that there are three slower-than-light generation colony ships behind enemy lines that could be informative if they haven’t been found and destroyed.

In addition, Chris had noted that an abandoned mining site at Van Maanen’s Star revealed Precursor (ancient alien) technology that might be helpful in the fight against the Zarkonians.

Col. Gray, once Kevin’s superior in the Interplanetary Patrol, confers “Ranger Corps status” on “Terra’s Pride,” granting its ships’ commanders wide latitude in deep space, even though they still report to the U.S.N. chain of command.

Capt. Reese requests three Transit (faster-than-light) drives to bring to the generation ships, the Firebrand, the Nova Aquarius, and the Faithful Starlight. Hector and Tela recall encountering similar colonists aboard the Chengdu and Zheng He.

Adm. Pons says that the Ilokar is escorting a civilian fleet to Fomalhaut, Phi Ceti, and Chi Orionis, then possibly to Oasis Station, about 30 parsecs from Earth. He orders every outbound Terran vessel to take on as many passengers as possible.

As waves of Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical probes) attack Eclipse Station on Saturn’s moon Titan, as well as the Venusian Finance Union, the scout ship Blackbird leaves the besieged Sol system.

Capt. Reese sends Capt. Helena Cain and Lt. Nathan A. Jessup on the corvette Dauntless to Epsilon Eridani, with Phi Ceti as a backup rendezvous. Cmdr. Jasmine follows with the Pina Colada, and Capt. Elektra Contos brings up the rear in the Tigress. The task force still has three zero-point devices.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird returns to Sirius to see if there is any debris worth salvaging from the Crazy Horse’s attack. Kevin pilots defensively, and Hector detects 50 Zurmiz Krott and 20 Zarkonian fighters in the area, as well as the remnants of 12 Zarkonian vessels and four Kutalrin (vulture-like cyborg) scavengers.

Srinu activates the _Blackbird_’s stealth suite as a small Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, raptor-like alien) warship enters the system. The Zarkonians swarm the unlucky arrival, allowing the Terrans to retrieve some ship fragments undetected.

Capt. Reese boldy takes the scout craft around Sirius, as Dr. Pahul sets containment protocols for a mostly intact Zarkonian corpse. Chris is interested in studying alien technologies such as a computer fragment, and Hector records everything for later analysis.

After avoiding another firefight, the Blackbird heads to Epsilon Eridani to meet with its sister ships….

Dexter, Sara, Josh, and Geoff, we missed you during this “Vortex” session! I look forward to continuing our latest party’s adventures! -Gene

P.S.: Here’s a quick overview of past “Vortex” teams:

  • Party 1 (1982 to 1984): The Zarkonian Bomb, a screenplay by Gene D., Carlo R., and Bill B., at A.S.H.S. (and the AD&D1 “Vanished Lands”)
  • Party 2 (1984 to 1986): “The Adventures of Jason Delmar,” short stories by Gene D. (and Star Frontiers games)
  • Party 3 (1986 to 1988): “Vortex,” a role-playing game by Gene D. and David I.S., at SUNY-Binghamton (and Shadowrun games)
  • Party 4 (1996 to 1999): “Vortex: C.D.I./ Venture,” using GURPS 3e Space, in Northern Virginia (and GURPS “Voyagers II: Adventures in the Dimensional Corps”)
  • Party 5a (2010 to 2011): “Vortex: the Blackbird,” using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures, Massachusetts
  • Party 5b (2010 to 2011): “Vortex: MarSoupAil,” using FATE 3e, Massachusetts (and one-shots)
  • Party 5c (2011 to 2012): “Vortex: the Gryphon,” using FATE 3e, online
  • Party 5c.2 (2012 to present): “Vortex: Terra’s Pride,” using FATE 3e Bulldogs, online
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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.38
Remember the "Crazy Horse"

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.38 of the “Vortextelecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 30 June 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:

Acting crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • 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
  • 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 aboard the Blackbird":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/vortex/characters/blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Lt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron V.O., secondary ]-male Terran human, gung-ho Union of Solar Nations space marine and pilot
  • 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

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

“22 to 25 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” At Sirius, the Blackbird dropped sensor buoys and encountered unidentified alien vessels. Its crew also saw for the first time the fearsome Zarkonian Armada, which was headed toward the Sol system.

Meanwhile, the rest of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force checked in at the Wolf 359 outpost. The Pina Colada and Sovereign rescued the Nethian ship Fourth Wing and lured two Psi Eaters (cloud-based energy entities) to help defend Earth.

The Dauntless, Crazy Horse, and Tigress stayed closer to home, reporting to the Union of Solar Nations space navy and picking up evacuees and weapons.

Lt.Cmdr. Tela tries to diagnose what is hampering the Blackbird ’s Transit (faster-than-light) drives, preventing the scout ship from leaving the Zarkonian-occupied solar system. Capt. Kevin Reese recommends scanning the area, and Tariq Asrad Saladin soon detects Transit inhibitors on the unidentified vessels.

Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer keeps the cloaking device active and quietly maneuvers behind iceball planet Xylanthia to avoid Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical probes) and Zarkonian fighter craft. Kevin goes to engineering to help Tela.

Tariq empathically senses the Blackbird ’s frustration and sluggishness, and the mystic and Kevin go to the flight bay to find and deactivate the alien system they retrieved. Chris McKee readies ion cannons.

Inside the alien ship, the Terran explorers find a vulture-like pilot, whom Chris determines was killed by a gamma ray blast from the Zarkonians. They manage to deactivate the Transit inhibitor, which Tariq plans to study later.

Capt. Reese orders Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer to set a course for Procyon. The Blackbird reunites with the rest of “Terra’s Pride” at the binary star system.

On the way, Kevin checks the Olvar Star League database and identifies the dead scavenger as a Kutalrin. Tariq warns him about cybernetic modifications. Tela makes sure they’re inactive.

The command crews of the Terran task force meet to discuss their next moves. “Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron] had planned to use criminals aboard the Crazy Horse to provide human life signs for a Trojan horse attack on the Zarkonian Armada. Instead, he acquired terminally ill and vegetative patients.

Several of Dr. Pahul’s crew mates have moral qualms, and robot nurse MEGAN attends to his patients. Chris notes that any attempt to study the armada would have to occur at Wolf 359, now that it has passed by Sirius.

Engineer “Hector Chavez” [Beruk] strengthens the Crazy Horse’s defenses and loads three zero-point devices, plus nuclear warheads. Tela suggests using a distress signal to lure the enemy and spider drones for tracking.

Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara] says farewell to “Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce], who gives her the Sash of Giganta and volunteers to pilot the Crazy Horse. The Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion) makes a microjump in the Wolf 359 system and charges at the 3,000 Zarkonian ships.

Lt. Nathan A. Jessup hangs back in the Kutalrin ship to relay telemetry back to the rest of “Terra’s Pride.” The Zarkonians rake the Crazy Horse with beam weapons, and the frigate explodes, destroying two capital ships and about dozen smaller enemy vehicles.

Even as the humans celebrate their first engagement and mourn for Sebastian and others’ sacrifice, Nate spots two Zarkonian fighters headed his way. Brun brings the “Dauntless” around to retrieve him, and he and Chris destroy two pursuers.

The Pina Colada, Blackbird, Dauntless, Sovereign, and Tigress fall back to Alpha Centauri. They are hailed by Spaceman Peter Jones, whose squadron is on patrol for Camp Alpha.

Capt. Reese reports to Lt.Col. Hollis Shelman aboard the battleship Lionheart. He also delivers some recorded video to help boost the morale of Earth’s defenders.

Jasmine and Brun set a course for Van Maanen’s Star so that their task force can join some of the rag-tag fleet fleeing Earth….

Byron and Dexter, we missed you at the “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” telecom space opera! Byron, I hope you’re feeling better. Janice and I enjoyed our vacation in Seattle, but I’m glad to get back to our games.

Note that each of your Player Characters now has 40 skill points. Let me know how you’ll spend them, and have a good week, -Gene

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Sol system news
Data packet, "28 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 T.G.E."
WAR!

(Courtesy of Terran Colonial News Service; apologies to Babylon 5)

  • Nuclear detonations on Earth, tens of millions dead
  • Union of Solar Nations scrambles to escort evacuees
  • Rio de Janeiro beanstalk severed; Titan’s Eclipse Station missing
  • Rumors of living legends spotted near Glastonbury, Mecca, Orleans, New Shanghai
  • Aquarian Mori transports encounter giant monsters in Pacific, Europa; Jovian mechs join fray
  • Kharvamid reinforcements arrive; trade guilds stay neutral
  • Zarkonians take Camp Alpha, send swarms of probes, fighters to inner Sol system
  • Riots overtake all megalopoli and orbitals; morale shaken by psychic shock
  • Carriers Lionheart, Saladin, Simon Bolivar destroyed, battle groups….

Transmission interrupted
I’d like to welcome Terra and its colonies to the Zarkonian Imperium. Be assured that we are bringing stability to your worlds. We look forward to getting to know humanity and its subraces better.

It is true that some malcontents have attacked us and that some cowards have fled, but the long reach of our Armada will deal with them soon enough. The Sol system is now under our dominion. -Zantor Probscine

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Sol system news
C-space headlines, "26 August 2195"

Politics:

  • Venusian Finance Union again petitions Ru’ulok to join trade guilds
  • North American States and Slavic League ready nuclear arsenals
  • Riots rock Mars Confederacy, Fort Olympus Mons and Phobos temples abandoned
  • Jovian Commonwealth resists Union of Solar Nations order for martial law
  • Kharvamid Alliance offers aid to “ark fleet
  • Zarkonian forces engaged at Sirius, Wolf 359….

Transmission interrupted
Greetings, peoples of Earth and its colonies. The Zarkonian Imperium welcomes humanity to the galactic community. We know this is a troubling time for you, and we offer our assistance to restore order.

Do not believe the nostalgia for ancient wars from some other extraterrestrial species. A few Aquarian and Laransan renegades have spread lies and do not represent their worlds. We have no intention of annihilating you, nor do we come with any other purpose besides peaceful First Contact. Regrettably, some among you have already attempted violence against us, which will be met with firm reprisal.

The Imperium merely wishes to extend its offer of prosperity and stability to the peoples of the Milky Way’s Orion Arm. Our so-called armada is an extension of our will across the stars. I hope that Terrans can live alongside Zarkonians and other races in harmony, and I look forward to visiting your homeworld. Join us! -Zantor Probscine

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Operation Exodus
Memo to Terran ship captains

To: All Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) and affliated Transit-capable vessels
From: Fleet Command, Ceres Station
Rating: Top Secret
Date: 21 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era (21 June 2013)
Re: Operation Exodus

Be advised that all FTL-capable ships should depart the Sol system immediately. Kharvamid Alliance forces have engaged portions of the approaching Zarkonian Armada, which is now forecast to be less than a week from Earth.

As you may already know, there are 10 Terran battle groups providing rearguard defense and escort. Please follow your assignments, and we hope to evacuate as many people as possible. Certain extraterrestrial allies will also provide support and directions.

Even so, we expect casualties on a level never before seen in recorded human history. Each of your crews will be responsible for maintaining order as billions of our kind are likely slain or enslaved. We understand that we’re facing an emotionally difficult time, but our species must survive this diaspora.

Martial law — including curfew, restricted movement, and compulsory identification and medical exams — is expected to be temporary, with plans for a government in exile being drawn up now. Any who side with the Zarkonians should be immediately terminated.

What follows is the configuration of a typical Terran battle group. Note that crew sizes are maximized:

  • 1 Jericho-class U.S.N. battleship, including
    • 20,000 crew
    • 200 Raptor II-class aerospace fighters
    • 50 Bulldog-class long-range bombers
    • 40 Morgan-class personnel shuttles
    • 40 Clydesdale-class supply shuttles
    • 20 Tender-class tugs
  • 4 heavy cruisers, with 5,000 crew each = 20,000
  • 6 destroyers, with 2,000 crew each = 12,000
  • 8 frigates, with 1,000 crew each = 8,000
  • 10 corvettes, with 200 crew each = 1,000
  • 10 to 20 supply ships, with 50 to 100 crew each =1,000
  • 5 Uruk-class Talari (Ma’ari-designed ark ships) of 50,000 people each = 250,000
    The Talari are mostly hollowed-out asteroids of a minimum 2 km diameter, with Trinoid life-support systems, Nethian propulsion, and Olvar-built living quarters. Each is named after a major Earth city.
    • City/Talari names: Alexandria, Armstrong, Ayutthaya, Babylon, Baghdad, Bagota, Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Carthage, Cordova, Delhi, Dhaka, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Jakarta, Kaifeng, Karachi, Kinshasa, Kolkata, Lagos, London, Los Angeles, Luoyang, Madrid, Manila, Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Osaka, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Saigon, Santiago, Sao Paolo, Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzen, Singapore, Taipei, Tehran, Tianjin, Tokyo, Yinxu, Xi’an
  • 5 O’Neill and Stanford orbital habitats retrofitted with Transit drives, 30,000 average = 150,000
  • 10 Mori-class Aquarian long-range transport ships (mostly from Earth), 10,000 passengers = 100,000
  • 5 assorted large Terran vessels, 5,000 passengers = 25,000
  • 1,000 smaller Terran vessels, averaging 50 passengers each = 50,000

Total population for a typical evacuation group = 637,000
Total exodus population = 6.4 million (out of 19.5 billion)

U.S.N. battle groups, by flagship, origin, current position, commander (if known):

  • Achilles — Slavic League, solar polar orbit; Capt. Omar Sajjad
  • Ano Wasu — Greater Oceania, Neptune
  • George S. Patton — North American States, Jovian Commonwealth
  • IlokarMars Confederacy, Asteroid Belt; Adm. Jacques Pons
  • Lionheart — European Federation, Alpha Centauri
  • Miyamoto Musashi — East Asian Hegemony, Mars Confederacy; Adm. Raul Xinshang
  • SaladinJovian Commonwealth, Saturn
  • Shaka Zulu — African Union, solar polar orbit; Adm. Joseph Ochieng
  • Shiva — Lunar Free State and L-5 orbital cities, at Venusian Finance Union; Adm. Ascent of Clan Hunter
  • Simon Bolivar — South American League, Uranus

Godspeed.

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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.37
Nethians and near-Earth errands

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.37 of the “Vortextelecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 16 June 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:

Acting crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada and frigate Sovereign:

  • Cmdr. 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
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary ]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance and the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.)
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C., primary ]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent ]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Acting crew of the corvette Dauntless:

  • Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary ]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary ]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A., primary/absent ]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on the Appomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert

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

“19 to 21 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The acting crew of the Blackbird hid sensor buoys near 61 Ursa Majoris and Sirius, where it got its first glimpse of the Zarkonian Armada.

Meanwhile, the Pina Colada and Sovereign return to the Terran outpost at Wolf 359. Cmdr. Jasmine hails the station, where Capt. Dirk Hatch had been left in command after the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force arrested traitors including Cmdr. Hasdrubal Guitterez. Capt. Hatch asks for any news from Earth.

He also says that his personnel have remained loyal to the Union of Solar Nations, even as they have been busy processing 40 outbound vessels. Orion Starchaser and Lord Wallace Tubbington III ask if anything unsual has happened since their last visit.

Capt. Hatch says that a Nethian (insectoid alien) supply ship is late, and it may have been intercepted by energy-based creatures known as Psi Eaters, since only human ships have been warned of the hazard.

Chiron pilots the Pina Colada, while Lt. Harry “Monty Hall” Takahari Jr. [Bruce/Non-Player Character] keeps the Sovereign close by. Dephine (“Uplifted” cetacean) astrogator Lt. Wynona Smoketrail [Sara/N.P.C.] is at the helm of the frigate, with Chris McKee on guns and Pomuyan physician Dr. Phil Philips [Byron/N.P.C.] in sickbay.

Cmdr. Jasmine and Lt. Takahari thank Capt. Hatch and head for the last known position of the interstellar cloud-based entities. The Pina Colada and Sovereign find the Nethian cruiser Fourth Wing adrift.

Initial scans find that 40% of the 800 people on the ship are affected by a Psi Eater. Lt. Takahari tries to contact the unaffected Nethians, but they are interrupted by zombified crewmates. The portion of “Terra’s Pride” decides to pursue a risky grappling maneuver.

Capt. Jasmine overrules Harry’s recommendation and suits up for extravehicular activity (EVA) with Orion and Wallace. They leap from the Pina Colada’s airlock to the Fourth Wing. Lord Tubbington is off course, but feline Jasmine grabs him. Orion is the first to activate magnetic boots.

Kedar, a Tharian (gargoyle-like alien) engineer, reports that the Fourth Wing‘s systems are merely suppressed. Dr. Philips detects anomalous life signs converging on the EVA team from within the ship. Lt. Takahari asks Lt. Smoketrail to aim the Sovereign’s weapons at the Nethian vessel in case of attack.

Orion uses technopsi to interface with the Fourth Wing, but its central computer doesn’t want to give the Pomuyan mystic access. Mighty Jasmine manually opens the hatch to the grapple system, and Wallace draws his sword when two zombified Nethians join them on the outside of the ship.

Harry readies an experimental force shield created by Hector Chavez to protect the Pina Colada from the Psi Eater. Orion jumps back from the Fourth Wing with a tow cable. Jasmine and Wallace follow, as do the two Nethians.

Back in the airlock, Orion hands Jasmine the ship-to-ship grapple and raises a telekinetic shield at their pursuers. It fails to block them. Dr. Philips recommends focusing on the Psi Eater’s hive mind (unlike that of the Nethians). Jasmine and Wallace prepare to repel boarders.

As the two Nethians enter the airlock, Harry raises the shield, cutting them off from the energy devourer. Krst’tks and Kyt’svd come to their senses and are initially confused. Diplomat Lord Tubbington takes over from the friendly but direct Orion in talking with the insectoid aliens.

Dr. Philips scans them for nanites (microscopic robots) or other infections, and Lt. Takahari explains what has happened to their ship. As with the Dauntless and the Sovereign, Orion believes that he can lure the Psi Eater away from the Nethian cruiser. Jasmine releases the grapple.

Krst’tks and Kyt’svd borrow the Dragonfly drop ship to return to the Fourth Wing, while Kedar drops shields and Orion draws the Psi Eater after the Pina Colada. Chiron and Wynona pilot in the direction of Sirius.

Orion telepathically broadcasts images of “tasty” Zarkonians (crustacean aliens) and Lt. Takahari successfully raises shields and outmaneuvers the energy entity. Cmdr. Jasmine then orders the Pina Colada and Sovereign to head for the last known position of the second Psi Eater.

Orion and Harry repeat the maneuver, bringing the interstellar hazard to a position where it can feed on the Zarkonian Armada rather than Terran ships. Dr. Philips checks the psionic emanations, and Orion checks both his Hitchhiker’s Guide and sensors for more about the Psi Eaters but finds nothing.

On their way back to Earth, the Pina Colada and Sovereign encounter the Bloody Flag , a Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, flightless raptor-like alien) battle cruiser. Capt. Kolsed of Clan Render warns the Earthlings to stay out of the way of his hunt for Zarkonian fighters.

The Gustrall also says that he looks forward to a “glorious battle” against the armada on humanity’s behalf. Back in the Sol system, the Dauntless, Crazy Horse, and Tigress observe the mounting chaos on Earth and escalating efforts to evacuate as many people as possible.

In the Asteroid Belt, the cruiser and two frigates pick up personnel from the Ilokar battle group. “Sgt. Nate A. Jessup” [Byron] had asked “Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce] to reassign Sgt. Amarna Morales from her current post as a signal officer on the Manitou.

On the way to the Mars Confederacy, Hector prepares detonators and propulsion for the zero-point munitions intercepted on their way to Earth. The Pina Colada has three, the Blackbird has one, and the Dauntless has two of the devices for use against the Zarkonians.

At New Shanghai on Mars, Lt.Cmdr. Growlick asks Jennifer, the sister of Kevin’s late wife Heather, if she’ll evacuate. Jennifer says that she’ll leave only if Nick Cheney can come with her. “Terra’s Pride” is reluctant to include the former Interplanetary Patrol chief, whom it suspects! of Heather’s murder in the Namor-Asperagen colony, but Sebastian eventually arranges passage for both Jennifer and Nick.

Sebastian also warns his clan to leave the Sol system. Capt. Elektra Contos of the Tigress checks in with fleet command and learns that Encegulan (slug-like alien slaver) ships have broken off trade with Earth, no doubt anticipating a Zarkonian invasion.

On the way to the L-5 orbital cities near Earth, Dr. Srinu Pahul readies the sickbay of the Crazy Horse, with permission from Capt. Reese and Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, an Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) refugee. Srinu plans to use prisoners for their life signs as the ship makes a suicide run at the armada to test its defenses.

Lt.Cmdr. Growlick pulls rank to acquire three “backpack nukes” and two ICBMs with high-yield warheads. Dr. Pahul orders robot butler PEPE to dismantle one bomb to plant on enemy tranports. Hector and Gustrall gunner Nylca of Clan Firehoof stay aboard the Dauntless, while Sebastian joins Srinu on the Crazy Horse.

The Dauntless and Tigress retrieve mining magnate and aspiring politician “Aughest-vor…” [Jason E.R.] and journalist “Scoop Chang” [Rich C.G.] from Lemuria Station. Dr. Pahul finds that obtaining prisoners for his “Trojan horse” scheme will be too difficult, so he contacts hospitals to see if any terminally ill patients can be transferred to the Crazy Horse.

Srinu enlists nurse Keila Sunitha Ciela to help him, since robot MEGAN will be destroyed with the Crazy Horse. The zealous doctor also acquires a standard medical droid. The rest of “Terra’s Pride” waits for the Blackbird to return from its Zarkonian encounter….

Beruk and Josh, I’m glad that you were able to join me and some of my former co-workers for Man of Steel last Friday, and Josh and Rich, I’m glad that we were able to go to the Compleat Strategist in Boston together for Free RPG Day. Beruk and Dexter, we missed you at the latest “Vortex” session!

I’ll try to post my update for this week’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy game Note that I’ll be unavailable this coming weekend, but I expect “Terra’s Pride” to resume on Sunday, June 30. Josh, good luck with your Dungeon World one-shot! Take it easy, -Gene

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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.36
"Whenever we want to think we've been in a tight spot, this is the moment we should think of...."

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.36 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 9 June 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:

Acting crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • 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 and robot Dr. Bucket
  • Lt. Nathan A. Jessup [Byron V.O., secondary ]-male Terran human, gung-ho space marine and fighter 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
  • 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

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

“18 to 21 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After rest and reassignment, the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force sets forth on three missions. The Pina Colada, Sovereign, and Tigress head back toward Wolf 359 to find and lure cloud-based energy entities as obstacles for the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

The Dauntless and Crazy Horse leave the Ilokar battle group in the Asteroid Belt to retrieve allies around the Sol system. The Blackbird pursues the primary mission of infiltrating Zarkonian-held space.

Capt. Kevin Reese leaves orders for the Crazy Horse, which is to be covertly deployed as a decoy filled with prisoners disabled by Dr. Srinu Pahul, to rendezvous at Sirius in about a week (of Terran “game time”).

Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer pilots the Blackbird to 61 Ursa Majoris, about 10 parsecs from Earth. Lt.Cmdr. Tela activates the scout ship’s cloaking device. Tariq Asrad Saladin scans the system but finds no signs of life.

Lt. Nathan A. Jessup and Chris McKee release a probe to hide among asteroids orbiting the yellow star and gather information about passing ships. Enkidu Aristheon and Glaucon remain alert but sense no presence.

Capt. Reese then orders Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer to set course for Sirius, or Alpha Canis Majoris, a binary star system. The Blackbird finds more uninhabited planets and readies another probe. However, a squadron of eight long-range fighter craft with missiles patrols nearby space.

Pilot Brun makes evasive maneuvers, and engineer Tela makes sure that the ship remains stealthy. Officers Kevin and Nate ask some ensigns to help them in the cargo hold as they manually swap an asteroid for the sensor buoy.

Wanderers Tariq and Enkidu detect numerous bogeys entering the system. Gunner Chris readies the Blackbird ’s beam weapons. They look on in surprise as a gamma ray laser strikes the unidentified fighters, leaving all of them adrift.

Capt. Reese and Lt. Jessup wrestle the asteroid aboard and release the probe. Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer brings the Blackbird around, hoping that Sirius will protect the experimental Olvar (mammal-like arboreal alien) vessel from hostile scans.

Mr. Saladin reports that 3,000 ships are approaching, and Mr. Aristheon positively identifies them as a wave of the armada, including huge Zarkonian (crustacean alien) capital ships, Encegulan (slug-like slaver) allies, and swarms of Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical scouts).

Tela has a flashback to her time as a captive of the Encegulans, and Chris doesn’t activate targeting solutions lest he alert the Zarkonians. Tariq recommends retrieving one of the drifting fighters for further examination. Kevin agrees.

Brun swoops toward one fighter, even as Zurmiz Krott begin swarming the rest of the squadron. Tariq calms Tela so that she can help Kevin and Nate in the cargo bay by turning off artificial gravity.

Kevin tries to rally his crew, and Chris replies, “In the future, whenever we want to think we’ve been in a tight spot, this is the moment we should think of.” Enkidu maintains psionic defenses, as Tariq blocks some Zurmiz Krott transmissions.

As soon as the alien fighter craft is aboard, Capt. Reese gives the command to “punch it” and jump to Transit (faster-than-light travel) to leave Sirius….

Geoff and Dexter, we missed you at this past weekend’s game! Let me know if any of you won’t be available for a “Vortex” session this coming Sunday because of Father’s Day. Note that I won’t be able to run on June 23. Remember to update your characters on Obsidian Portal, and good luck to “Terra’s Pride!”

In addition, I enjoyed Rich C.G.’s Star Wars: Edge of the Empire one-shot this past Monday, and I look forward to Jason E.R.’s Star Wars miniseries this autumn. I’ll see some of you for Man of Steel, Free RPG Day, and next week’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign, -Gene

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"Vortex" Telecom Update 5c.35
Ship shuffles

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.35 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 2 June 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 spring 2013:

Crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • 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
  • Cmdr. Jasmine” [Sara F., primary]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the “Appomattox,” hoping to find 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
  • 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
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent ]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt.Cmdr. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted “Blackbird”
  • 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
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington” [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance and Union of Solar Nations
  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Lt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron V.O., secondary]-male Terran human, gung-ho space marine and fighter pilot
  • 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

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

“13 to 17 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After rescuing Terran ships and arresting traitors near Wolf 359, the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force returned to the Asteroid Belt to report.

Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese turns over Zarkonian sympathizers Ms. Helen Gastmeyer, Cmdr. Hadsrubal Guitterez, and Lt. Fenris Ironclaw to Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) custody at Ceres Station. Adm. Jacques Pons offers Kevin and his crew commissions in the U.S.N. space navy in gratitude.

Even though the political situation is deteriorating on Earth, the U.S.N. has redirected its forces to strengthen perimeter defenses against the approaching Zarkonian Armada. The admiral also notes that potential missions include joining the fleets deployed around the Sol system, scouting possible evacuation routes, and infiltrating enemy-held space.

Adm. Pons tells Kevin that he and his friends have 24 hours to decide because the armada is estimated to be only weeks away. Newly promoted, Capt. Reese calls a meeting in the Pina Colada’s lounge.

From the yacht, Jasmine and Dr. Srinu Pahul accept ranks within the Terran military, but Hector Chavez and Chris McKee decline the offer to return to formal service. Galactic wanderer Orion Starchaser laughs at the offer, preferring to stay unattached. Chiron asks for time to think.

From the scout ship Blackbird, Sebastian Growlick, Tela, Lord Wallace Tubbington III, Brun Bearhammer, and Nathan A. Jessup accept U.S.N. promotions or commissions. Survival experts Tariq Asrad Saladin and Enkidu Aristheon decline.

Capt. Reese relays Adm. Pons’ mission descriptions and asks for recommendations. Cmdr. Pahul recommends placing paralyzed prisoners aboard the Crazy Horse and seeing how the Zarkonians respond to an attack.

Wallace, now special envoy between the Olvar Star League and the U.S.N., doesn’t like Srinu’s plan to throw away human lives, even if they are criminals. Orion and Enkidu agree. Lord Tubbington adds, however, that he is up for diplomacy and adventure, including going behind enemy lines.

Tariq says that he has been experimenting with using bioelectronics to block psionics. Engineers Tela and Hector assist, as do telepaths Orion and Enkidu.

Chris is also unsure about Dr. Pahul’s “Trojan horse” plan. The sniper recommends using the Blackbird ’s cloaking device for infiltration. Hector makes a counterproposal of using a remotely piloted drone.

Hector also says that he has studied plasma sword crystals to create a prototype tunable force-field emitter. Unfortunately, three slower-than-light generation colony ships may be too far to help. In addition, the former spy points out that he is the only person familiar with the zero-point munitions intercepted on their way to Earth.

Capt. Reese then turns to the naval personnel. Lt. Jessup is eager to get training for a new aerospace superiority fighter craft. Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer suggests luring the cloud-based energy entities recently encountered as an obstacle for the approaching armada.

Lt.Cmdr. Tela says that she has been working on scaling up an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) gun for the Blackbird. Despite his attachment to Jasmine, Lt.Cmdr. Growlick volunteers to take the Crazy Horse for a kamikaze mission.

Cmdr. Jasmine also objects to Cmdr. Pahul’s idea of using humans as bait, and the doctor responds that foes must be defeated by any means necessary. “Each hour we slow the Zarkonians means that many more Terrans can escape,” Srinu says.

Capt. Reese says that he’ll take everyone’s recommendations under advisement. The group then discusses deployment of the ships currently in “Terra’s Pride.” The Blackbird will pursue the primary mission of covertly entering Zarkonian-held space.

The experimental Olvar (mammal-like arboreal alien) vessel will include Capt. Reese as commander, Lt.Cmdr. Tela as engineer, and Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer as helmsman. Mr. McKee and Lt. Jessup will serve as gunners and marines, and Mr. Saladin and Mr. Aristheon will provide psionic protection.

The Pina Colada will lead the Sovereign and Tigress in an attempt to find the cloud-based entities that had zombified starship crews. Capt. Reese orders the three ships to lure or capture the “psi eaters” so that they can attack the Zarkonians.

Cmdr. Jasmine takes the Pina Colada, with Chiron as pilot and Tela’s boyfriend Kedar as engineer. Telepath Orion agrees to try to contact the creatures, and Lord Tubbington is ready to assist with any alien contacts. Hector arranges for his onetime handler, Max(ine), to be posted to the Pina Colada.

Lt. Harry “Monty Hall” Takahari Jr. takes charge of repairing and restaffing the Sovereign, while Kevin’s sometime lover Capt. Elektra Contos readies the Tigress.

The third portion of the task force is assigned to run errands within the Sol system. Cmdr. Growlick takes the Dauntless, and Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, an Aquarian (amphibious alien), takes the Crazy Horse.

Kevin asks Sebastian and Aveeshi to help evacuate past associates, such as scientist “Syzygy” [Brian W.], aspiring politician “Aughest-vor…” [Jason E.R.], and journalist “Scoop Chang” [Rich C.G.].

Capt. Reese also privately asks Hector to prepare zero-point bombs and other weapons. He approves Cmdr. Pahul’s idea to find people for a kamikaze run against the Zarkonians.

After a swift orientation in the growing Colonial Defense Force, new officers Jasmine, Srinu, and Wallace are sworn in aboard the battleship “Ilokar.” Hector and Tela supervise refits to their vessels, including adding an EMP gun and improving the Blackbird’s stealth capability.

The Pina Colada gets Hector’s experimental force field, and the Dauntless gains a rail gun. Dr. Pahul requisitions additional medical supplies and torpedoes for the Crazy Horse.

Orion, Tela and Kedar, and Enkidu and Glaucon take advantage of a few days in dock to stretch their legs (and wings). They observe how the Kharvamid Alliance and U.S.N. have added Transit (faster-than-light) drives to numerous vessels and habitats.

Adm. Pons summons Capt. Reese and Cmdr. Pahul to the Ilokar for a high-level briefing. They are joined by Capt. Evander Scofield, the Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, flightless raptor-like alien) in charge of the Korelev, as well as Lt. Clark Faddil of the Pinkerton, Cmdr. Alfonso Balaz of the Steel Sanguinis, and the captains of the Ogbe Babba Akinyelure and the Dumas.

Based on reports from survivors from Laransu and Aquarius Prime, says Jacques, the high command estimates casualties of more than 90% of the Sol system’s 20 billion inhabitants.

Even with aid from the Trinoids, Olvar, Nethians, and Ma’ari, the fleets defending Earth and its colonies are going to be vastly outnumbered and outgunned by the invaders from the Milky Way’s Sagittarius Arm, he says. None of those extraterrestrial species have fought anything on that scale for thousands of (Terran) years.

The grim admiral asks for volunteers to join the last-ditch defense of the Sol system and says that some special forces have been left behind to prepare a possible resistance. Adm. Pons explains that most U.S.N. battle groups will be escorting refugee fleets spinward, deeper into unexplored and nonaligned space in the Orion Arm.

Kevin and Srinu return to the Blackbird, with the fate of humanity on their minds….

Now that we’ve dealt with logistics, I look forward to role-playing the crew of the Blackbird getting back out into space! Let me know what new aspects, skills, and stunts you’re adding to each character. I’ve also updated the ship specs on the Obsidian Portal wiki.

I also look forward to tonight’s “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” fantasy game and to Rich’s Star Wars: Edge of the Empire one-shot next Monday! Be seeing you, -Gene

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News from Earth
C-space headlines, "12 August 2195"

Politics:

  • Union of Solar Nations acknowledges massive construction projects in the Asteroid Belt; Earthers and Saturnians protest in parliament
  • North American States partially seal border, refugees riot
  • Slavic League deploys Ru’ulok hovertanks, East Asian Hegemony demands compensation
  • Battleship Lionheart joins fleet at Alpha Centauri
  • What are the Aquarians doing in Greater Oceania? Some speculation
  • Crowds rush Kharvamid colony ships; Lunar Free State denies aid

Business:

  • First Transport Conglomerate ships return from deep space
  • NeoWorld Inc. moves headquarters from O’Neill 4; stocks sag
  • Oromax Mining Corp. bids for competitive operations on Tyche
  • Encegulans offer trade guild membership to Oligat Creation Synthesis
  • Multiservice Org. chief sits down with Venusian Finance Union
  • Mars Confederacy says imports down, blames resurgent rebels

Entertainment:

  • Top 10 Terran songs on Olvar charts, according to Interfaze
  • Titan Sparks upset New Shanghai Fenqing in glideball finals
  • Holos of Scrape, Defeat the Fleet continue buzz
  • Haggis has unlikely rebirth, thanks to Gustrall palates
  • The latest vibrodaggers for debutantes
  • How can I avoid radiation storms? Health questions answered
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