Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5b.15 of the “Vortex” space opera campaign. Team 2 met on Monday, 2 May 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 encountering robotic probes, regional warlords, and other horrors in an old battlefield and the Ghanki undersea station, a band of grifters and near-humans escaped to the Shepard 2 orbital city. It conducted a successful heist in the Lunar Free State and was involved in medical disasters in the Venusian colonies before returning to Earth…..
>>”Vortex” Team 2 (5b), crew of the Appomattox, as of spring 2011:
-“Gabriel Adams” [Paul J.]-male North American Terran near-human with telepathy, courier and pilot
-“Hector Chavez” [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, “burned” operative and communications expert
-“ARTHERR” [Greg D.C.]-Advanced Resonance Theoretical Heuristic Exploration and Research Robot created by megacorp Vimeco
-“Jasmine” [Sara F.] female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter
-“Dr. Richmond Garrett” [Dave S.C.]-male Southern American Terran human, space snake-oil salesman and social climber
-“Dr. Dieter Klein” [Rich L./absent]-male European Terran human, semi-retired physician, altruist and thrill seeker
-“Nero Bartholomew” [Non-Player Character]-male Terran human, former owner of the “Fortune’s Fool,” ship’s cook
-“Averki ‘Deep Dish’ Dyashenko” [N.P.C.]-male reptilian Synth (genetically engineered humanoid), onetime Venusian miner
“23 to 25 September 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” After hosting a night of gambling to gather leads on a faster-than-light (FTL) drive, the crew of the Appomattox follows up with its contacts and begins making heist plans.
Capt. Gabriel Adams maneuvers the yacht/smuggler in Earth orbit, and Hector Chavez asks his onetime handler Max for more information on magnate Feng Ruying [think Richard Branson]. ARTHERR recommends simply asking Feng for access to an FTL engine, but the robot’s more larcenous companions don’t think he’ll see the benefit “for all mankind.”
Jasmine is reluctant to be involved in more criminal activities, but “Dr. Richmond Garrett” is confident that his increasingly elaborate confidence schemes will work. The adventuring party had learned from Capt. Brandon Morgan about the Enlightened Flower, Feng’s experimental ship merging Terran technology with FTL systems from the Olvar (mammal-like arboreal aliens).
Gabriel, whose fixer Lilian Morrisey referred Capt. Morgan, notes that the Enlightened Flower is under construction at Feng’s private dock near Blackrock Station, in orbit opposite the Moon. Hector finds that although the inventor’s public record is exemplary, he is under investigation by the United Earth Authority (U.E.A.) for trying to obtain restricted extraterrestrial technology to corner the transportation market in the outer Sol system.
ARTHERR asserts that FTL technology should be freely available to humanity and looks for anarchist groups on Terran information networks. He finds several, including the Xox Memes, Shadow Orphans, Autonomist Alliance, and the Prometheans. Some include fellow rogue artificial intelligences (A.I.s).
Jasmine is wary upon learning that Feng has hired Systemes de Recuperation Executif Cie (SRE, or Exective Retrieval Systems Inc.), from whose warehouse in Kalam Spaceport in the Lunar Free State the group had stolen other parts for its ship. ARTHERR verifies that an FTL drive can be installed in the Appomattox.
Richmond finds that Brad Ogden of Transport Conglomerates is a rival to Feng and that the Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian aliens) are competing with the Olvar for influence on Terran trade. He invites Gorvek Beezo and “Rabak Porset” [Non-Player Character/Rich L.], two Ru’ulok he had gambled with, back to the Appomattox, but before they arrive, the ship receives containers from fixer “Ramon Sanchez” [Josh H./Greg D.C./N.P.C.]!
Unable to contain his curiosity, Gabriel begins circumventing the security on one of the containers, even though ARTHERR notes that they’re pressurized and climate-controlled. Hector scans and detects wood, cloth, and precious metals rather than the contraband tech he was expecting.
Underworld courier Gabriel opens one lid and finds a trove of paintings, sculpture, and books. ARTHERR cross-references art databases and finds that they’re from the Vatican museums but are not listed as lost. The robotic scout scans the other containers and finds similar artifacts, including priceless texts thought lost with the library of ancient Alexandria.
Richmond appraises the items, and Gabriel says that Ramon is underpaying for their transport to Epsilon Eridani. ARTHERR and Jasmine are unsure of why such relics would need to be smuggled out of the Sol system, but as the two Ru’ulok hail Hector, the group hastily closes the container and goes to meet them.
Dr. Garrett takes Gorvek and Rabak to the ship’s lounge, as ex-spy Hector scans them for hidden transmitters. Former wrestler Jasmine keeps an eye on the reptilian traders, who agree with ARTHERR that FTL technology should be freely shared with humanity, despite the U.E.A. and Kharvamid Alliance’s rules.
Gabriel orders Nero Bartholomew and Averki “Deep Dish” Dyashenko to prepare food and drinks for the Ru’ulok, who turn out to be carnivorous. They repeat their offer of information regarding an alien ship just outside the Sol system, saying that the worst the humans can expect are Gustrall (raptor-like, orange-furred alien) sentries.
Richmond says that he is considering Rabak’s mission among others, including the salvage of a derelict Terran vessel referred by Max. The snake-oil salesman and ARTHERR (resisting his Vimeco programming) boldly suggest that if an extrasolar FTL drive was somehow stolen, its plans could be leaked, covertly helping both the party and the Ru’ulok. Gorvek says he’ll consider the plan and try to contact friendly pilots.
After Gorvek and Rabak leave, Richmond and company shift their plans from getting close to Feng Ruying to steal the Enlightened Flower to hijacking an FTL drive from an underguarded Ru’ulok ship near Earth. Gabriel will pilot the Appomattox and move the nonaligned ship away from orbital stations. He buys pirate garb for the team.
Hector and ARTHERR intend to hack security systems and remove the engine, while Jasmine will look out for reinforcements. The tiger woman dyes her fur to resemble an Olvar. Richmond (who already looks like a young Col. Sanders) plans to bring fried chicken laced with sedatives from Dr. Dieter Klein, who has been visiting friends in the orbital cities.
ARTHERR contacts the brokers at Xox Memes as “Masters of Earthly Lubricated Information Network,” or MERLIN, to help distribute the FTL plans, in return for future help. Oceanic A.I. Gordon agrees.
Gorvek contacts the crew of the Appomattox with the names of two ships: the Star Shark (as translated from Ru’ulok) of Capt. Droata and the Red Manta of Capt. Dorno. Both of their crews are mostly on shore leave, but they are not yet aware of plans to take their engines. The would-be pirates head toward the Ru’ulok trader Star Shark….
I hope everybody enjoyed the latest “Vortex” game, and I look forward to seeing some of you at the Waltham steampunk festival, Free Comic Book Day, Thor, and the potluck at the Blue Hills in the coming weekends! Rich, we’ve missed you, and Paul and Beruk, I’ll see you virtually at Sunday’s Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Lands” fantasy session. Later, -Gene