“Vortex” Update 5a.12: Who wants to be a starfarer?

Note: As I continue consolidating blogs, several posts such as this one will be mirrored across various sites.

Local star bubble
The Local Bubble

Fellow role-players, here are Josh C.’s notes for Session 5a.12 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 1 met on 28 February, 2011, and is using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer, Diaspora, and Limitless Horizons.

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but ecological degradation and internecine conflicts persist. Open and official First Contact with Galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Can heroes rise to the challenges?

After evading xenophobic attacks at the Rio “beanstalk,” New Miami, and Lemuria Station, two alien explorers and their human allies obtained passage to Mars, where they found new allies and threats….

>>Vortex” Team 1 Player Characters, crew of the Blackbird, as of spring 2011:

-“Syzygy” [Brian W.]-Trinoid (trilateral amphibious alien) xenologist with an organic laboratory and a pet cat named “Mr. Sniffles”

-“Tela” [Sara F.]-female Tharian (winged reptilian humanoid alien) refugee and mechanic, fond of humans

-“Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran human sniper working for Black Box Security Co., a shadowy eugenics organization

-“Lt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K.]-male Terran cyborg human, burned-out officer and explorer in the Interplanetary Patrol

-“Gombo Shisel” [Rich L.]-male Martian human, former horse rancher, survival expert, and assistant medic

-“Aughest-vor…” [Jason E.R./absent]-male human from the Lemuria orbital city, disgraced scion of a wealthy family and solar-sail regatta racer

>Field report of Agent Prometheus, “25 to 31 August 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Galactic Era”

Before I begin, I must apologize for the tardiness of this report. My communications were temporary jammed after the I.P.V. Icy Corona brought us from the Mars Confederacy to the Asteroid Belt. Kevin wined and dined with the captain, Tia Horektef, who turned out to be married.

I spoke with Syzygy about my suspicions on Tela’s origins, as mentioned in my last field report. Most of the extraterrestrials we have encountered aren’t familiar with her species, with the notable exception of the reptilian Ru’ulok. Tela practiced gunnery.

Syzygy said that Tela was not a combined organism, but the three-armed scientist couldn’t rule out the possibility that the Tharian was an animal “Uplifted” by the sluglike Encegulans. He did mention, however, that he had pinpointed her planet of origin.

Upon our arrival at the Asteroid Belt, my companions and I were greeted by a massive surprise. The United Earth Authority (U.E.A.) has been busy. Ceres, previously the site of a modest space station, has been hollowed out, and numerous asteroids have been gathered for an immense shipyard. It appeared to be the U.E.A.’s staging area for all deep-space exploration. While I was there, my link to Black Box was cut off.

After arriving at Ceres Station, we were told that we would be vetted by two panels — one of Terran humans from the U.E.A. and one of aliens from the Kharvamid Alliance. While we waited, I was approached by Gombo Shisel, a former horse breeder and wilderness guide from Mars. Syzygy got some order to include as many humans as possible on our team.

As you’re no doubt aware, Shisel’s family is well known for its genetically engineered livestock. Black Box has monitored its progress with some interest. Unfortunately, Gombo’s herd was affected by poor breeding and disease, and his fellow ranchers drove him offworld and confiscated his remaining property. Shisel’s clan didn’t help him, and I’ll send more data as it becomes available….

>[Josh’s out-of-character notes:] Hi all, last week, we had an interesting role-playing experience. Each person played a member of the panel interviewing the other characters. For the rest of my notes, I’ll provide the reports of the panels.

>>United Earth Authority review committee:

-“Capt. Wu Hanbei” [Brian W.]-female Belter “near-human” (low-G) pilot of the U.E.V. “Babieca” (hardass; doesn’t trust civilians)

-“Lt. Bubbles Jones” [Sara F.]-female Terran Delphine (“Uplifted” dolphin) marine from the T.C.S. “Cherasu” (wants to know all threats to the Sol system)

-“Dr. Zach Siddig” [Josh C.]-male Lunar human astrophysicist (eager to explore deep space)

-“Lt. Rajesh Williams” [Bruce K.]-male Jovian “near-human” (cyborg) mecha driver of Kendawa-class battlesuit (doesn’t trust aliens)

-“Carlos Mazantas” [Rich L.]-male Martian “near-human” (telepathic) journalist (uncomfortable with secrecy)

According to our interviews, Syzygy is a brilliant xenologist (at least by Terran standards) but lacks a complete understanding of human biomedical ethics. We are concerned at the Trinoids’ lack of the concept of “informed consent,” even if their intentions and technologies are benevolent. Dr. Siddig recommends that other Kharvamid member species be contacted for their perspectives.

Tela, who has made a name for herself as an engineer on a few U.E.A. vessels, was evasive regarding how she came to Earth. Mr. Mazantas suspects some illegal activity or emotional trauma. We had no problems with her otherwise.

Lt. Williams grilled Mr. McKee about his employers at Black Box Security Co. While Chris assured Lt. Williams and Lt. Jones that he would do his best to protect his crew and missions, we remain concerned about his loyalties to the shady megacorp.

Lt. Reese is apparently leader of this rag-tag group. The Interplanetary Patrol officer generally received high marks, except from Capt. Wu Hanbei (who seemed to hate everyone). Kevin promised to represent the Sol system’s interests, opt for diplomacy when possible, and defend his friends to the best of his ability.

Capt. Wu Hanbei expressed disapproval of including civilians such as Mr. Shisel and the infamous Aughest-vor… (transcripts to come) but acknowledged that the group was picked as a whole by the Star League lend-lease program. Gombo said that his experiences in the Martian outback would be helpful to the party in planetary exploration.

This committee recommends to Adm. Raul Xinshang, commander of the U.E.V. Musashi and its battle group, that these people be approved for extrasolar travel. However, we also note the caveat that a U.E.A. robot should be assigned to the “Morifaiwet/Blackbird” to monitor the crew’s activities.

>>Kharvamid Fleet/Star League panel:

-“Stk’Krst/Stack-Kurst” [Brian W.]-male Nethian (insectoid alien) engineer from the N.I.O. “Silk Claw” (wary of incompetence)

-“Sudoku” [Sara F.]-female Trinoid (trilateral amphibian) xenologist (curious about human factions)

-“Old Chi of Clan Flanker” [Josh C.]-male Gustrall (orange-furred, antlered, raptor-like alien) swashbuckling explorer from the “Amberthrax” ultratanker (ready for any hunt)

-“Arvel Dilsir” [Bruce K.]-male Olvar (arboreal mammal-like mystic) telepath (uncertaion about hidden agendas)

-“Gurthex” [Rich L.]-female Me’orr (lion-like alien) officer (wary of Terrans)

Stk’Krst questioned Chris McKee and Lt. Kevin Reese about the number of times their group has been attacked. He also asked Tela about her familiarity with various classes of faster-than-light drives and noted that the Morifaiwet was an Olvar experiment in biomechanical systems.

Sudoku greeted Syzygy as a fellow member of the Trinoid science collective but was more interested in the different approaches of humans McKee, Reese, Shisel, and Aughest-vor to potential First Contact situations.

Old Chi of Clan Flanker traded war stories with Lt. Reese, asked about Gombo Shisel’s livestock, and emphasized the usefulness of close-combat expertise on hostile worlds. The Gustrall also noted that the Sol system was at the edge of Kharvamid space, surrounded by neutral or nonaligned territory.

Arvel Dilsir asked Syzygy about his observations of Terran culture and the potential for humanity to join the alliance. The Olvar, proud of the Star League, was still wary of factionalism, while Gurthex asked about the chain of command and whether the crew had a mutual code of honor….

Jason, we missed you, but don’t worry — the panels have some questions for “Aughest-vor!” Richard, it was nice to meet you, and we look forward to you sitting in on Team 1’s next game on March 14. Josh, thanks for the notes, and I’ll see you and Sara for Rango this coming Saturday.

In the meantime, I’m also working on the update for the latest “Vortex” Team 2 session, and the next Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Landstelecom fantasy game will be on Sunday. Have a good week, -Gene