“Vortex” Update 5a.15 — Titan and drop ship

The "Dragonfly"
The "Dragonfly"

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5a.15 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 1 met on Monday, 25 April 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 enduring xenophobic attacks on Earth, two alien explorers and their human allies were embroiled in megacorp intrigues in the Lemuria orbital city and the Lunar Free State. The group then visited the Mars Confederation and obtained a faster-than-light ship in the Asteroid Belt from the Olvar Star League….

>>”VortexTeam 1 (5a), 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) escapee from the Encegulans, engineer

-“Chris McKee” [Josh C.]-male North American Terran cyborg human sniper working for eugenics conspirators at Black Box Security Co.

-“Aughest-vor” [Jason E.R.]-male human from the Lemuria orbital city, onetime dilettante, solar-sail regatta pilot

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

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

-“Dr. Bucket” [Non-Player Character]-United Earth Authority astromech robot assigned to the Blackbird

-Game dates: “8 to 14 September 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Galactic Era

>>Scene 1: Eclipse Station

The Blackbird docks at a colony in orbit around Saturn’s moon Titan. The scout ship’s crew finds the docking terminal sparsely populated and goes to the Ringtown Diner to find out about local affairs and potential sellers of used military drop ships.

Syzygy drinks copious amounts of water and orders a full leg of lamb for his xenobiology lab. Tela enjoys a fish burger, kelp pie, and the lack of surprise from station inhabitants at seeing aliens. The Tharian engineer also talks to the jukebox/robotic cook.

Chris McKee orders a multicolor pizza and washes it down with Golden Rings ale. Lt. Kevin Reese sees a Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian alien) patron eating a real hamburger and asks an android waitress wearing 1950s style garb to bring him one, no matter the cost. Aughest-vor… also drinks a strong beer and notices a Chim (“Uplifted,” or genetically modified, chimpanzee) in mechanic’s coveralls.

Tela, wary of bounty hunters, throws a piece of Chris’ pizza at the Ru’ulok but hits the Chim! She and Syzygy duck under tables as the mechanic angrily confronts the armored alien. Aughest slips out to the Lucky Garden Casino down the hall, while Chris readies his holdout pistol. Lt. Reese pulls out his Interplanetary Patrol badge and persuades Faisal Batar to leave. Ralek, the Ru’ulok, thanks the officer and says he can be reached aboard the Bloody Drover (Bay 19).

Aughest-vor is accosted by the attractive Tanya Montana as he enters the smoke-filled gambling den. Giving his name as “Zach Urku,” the onetime playboy is guided to a back room, where he loses his first few hands at poker before his companions rejoin him. They are harangued by Rev. Winston outside a mall chapel, and Syzygy finds that the air in the casino is laced with euphoria-inducing drugs.

The explorers return to the Ringtown Diner in time to meet Dimitri Parvis, a cyborg mecha driver who offers them a Cheyenne-class drop ship for a few hundred thousand credits (which they obtained as part of the Tyche trade deal). They agree to meet metal-limbed Parvis on Titan for a test drive the next morning.

Pilot Aughest also contacts Amir Mukhtadi about a Tau Orca-class vessel. The Blackbird‘s crew plans to nest the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm modular ground-effect vehicle in its drop ship. Back at the Star League ship at Berth 13, Gombo Shisel and Dr. Bucket prepare the launch bay, play cards, and monitor communications (including news of the Venusian virus and ensuing civil unrest, casualties, and United Earth Authority quarantine [see Team 2 notes]).

Kevin returns to the Lucky Garden to spend an evening with Tanya and Galia, even though Syzygy has identified them as synthetic humanoids. Tela and Chris go to the shop of provisioner Hassan, who turns out to be the brother of Amir. The glider-winged extraterrestrial buys coffee and some goldfish as pets, while Agent Prometheus loads up on guns and ammunition.

Syzygy learns that a Trinoid “sharer” is at Arhus University, coinciding with Black Box Security Co.’s orders to Chris to report to Jamila Sahdai, an agent also in New Syria. They take the Blackbird down to Titan, leaving behind Kevin, who has to catch up on a redeye shuttle to Saturn’s frigid moon.

>>Scene 2: New Syria

Syzygy, Tela, Aughest, and Kevin go to Arhus University, where they find Solipsy in a laboratory filled with strange life forms. Syzygy and Solipsy embrace tentacles, sharing information, while the humans and Tharian cautiously explore the archives.

Meanwhile, Agent Prometheus goes to a nearby hydroponics farm, where he encounters two naked people emerging from hibernation chambers! They subdue him, and Sahdai replaces an implant in his skull just as Lt. Reese gets permission to scan the area using Solipsy’s equipment (in return for going to the neutral Oasis Station, about 40 parsecs from Sol, on behalf of the Kharvamid Alliance).

The adventuring party rushes next door, only to find Chris standing and with no recollection of being operated upon. Syzygy confirms that he has a new cybernetic implant, and Kevin and Aughest recommend that Chris have it removed.

>>Scene 3: Test drives and potential missions

Back at Eclipse Station, Lt. Reese reports to Lt. Yasmine Al-Ghuj and Capt. Garzan Cisneros, who tease him with surveillance images of him in his red and black Blackbird uniform (provided by Aughest) with Tanya and Galia. They ask the burned-out cop to remember that they need to earn the miners‘ respect.

Capt. Cisneros, commander of the U.E.V. Kindjal, also asks Kevin to bring supplies to Tiger Squadron, which is stationed at an observation post near Alpha Centauri. Since it’s only a few days’ detour from Oasis Station, the crew of the Blackbird eventually agrees to help.

The group meets with Parvis, and Aughest flies the Cheyenne-class drop ship. Tela finds it to be spaceworthy, and Chris and Kevin verify that the craft was once used by Jovian forces. Syzygy expresses concern that it is a warship rather than a scout vessel, but his companions claim that they’ll need to protect themselves when leaving the Blackbird.

After some haggling, Parvis sells the drop ship and includes weapons systems rather than allow the team to meet with competitor Amir Mukhtadi in New Quebec. He also recommends “Fingers in Shadow,” supposedly the best surgeon in the Saturnian colonies and a member of Capt. Robert Stone’s crew.

The wanderers go to the Lucky Garden, where they find Capt. Stone and an unsettling “octoparrot” on his shoulder. The cyborg pirate offers to have his doctor remove Chris’ implant in return for the Blackbird distributing a Terran videogame called “Defeat the Fleet” to extrasolar customers. After some consideration, the group declines in favor of finding another surgeon.

After taking possession of the drop ship, which Tela rechristens the “Dragonfly” [to be statted out], the crew of the Blackbird prepares for its first interstellar voyage. Syzygy synchronizes data with his lab and the ship’s computers, and Lt. Reese asks Capt. Cisneros for more information on Tiger Squadron.

Agent Prometheus, unsure of what’s in his head, loads the weapons locker and watches for Ru’ulok slavers. Aughest-vor… plots a course to Alpha Centauri, and Tela readies the REM faster-than-light drive….

Josh will be writing up his own notes as “Chris McKee.” Let me know if you have any questions, and I look forward to seeing some of you at the cross-group cookout in mid-May! -Gene