“Vortex” Update 5b.16 — “Jolly Roger’s Chicken”

"Empress Marava"-class far trader
The "Star Shark"

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5b.16 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 2 met on Monday, 30 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. Will 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 to steal a faster-than-light drive…..

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 2 (5b), crew of the Appomattox:

-“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

-“Dr. Richmond Garrett” [Dave S.C./Greg]-male Southern American Terran human, space snake-oil salesman and social climber

-“Jasmine” [Sara F./absent] female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter

-“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

>>”26 to 30 September 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” The grifters prepare for a heist of starship engines from the Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian alien) trader “Star Shark,” as tipped off by Gorvek Beezo and Rabak Porset during a card game. Gabriel Adams contacts Lillian Morrissey, but the “fixer” is initially unable to find him a chop shop near Blackrock Station. The courier buys pirate disguises for the raiding party.

Hector Chavez has more luck with his onetime handler, Max. The former spy obtains electronic burglary gear, as well as access codes for an orbital dock occasionally used by smugglers. Hector also monitors the Appomattox‘s internal sensors and local traffic control on the far side of the Moon.

As MERLIN (for “Masters of Earthly Lubricated Information Network”), ARTHERR communicates with fellow A.I. (artificial intelligence) Gordon Wong to verify that the anarchist Xox Memes will distribute plans for faster-than-light (FTL) drives. The robot also asks for information on the shipment of Vatican artifacts that the Appomattox took on for fixer “Ramon Sanchez” [Josh H./Non-Player Character].

Dr. Richmond Garrett readies his latest scam as a deliveryman for “Jolly Roger’s Chicken,” aided by Gabriel’s pirate costumes. The snake-oil salesman directs Nero Bartholomew and Averki “Deep Dish” Dyashenko to cook enough chicken to satisfy a hungry skeleton crew of Ru’ulok.

Jasmine is reluctant to participate in another theft (the maneuver drive was stolen from the U.E.V. Parsifal) but conceals her identity beneath a full pirate’s coat. Dr. Dieter Klein leaves supplies of sedatives before departing to visit some friends on another space yacht.

ARTHERR ensures that the rented orbital transfer vehicles, or “CDVs” (for chicken delivery vehicles), can not only deliver the drugged food to the Star Shark but are also able to transfer its Transit engines back to the Appomattox. In addition, ARTHERR applies decals to the CDVs.

Capt. Adams studies escape routes in Earth orbit, and Hector sets up masking of emissions at the space dock. Dr. Garrett pays for the CDVs with funds from shell company “MarSoupAiL” (Mars Soup Aid Lenders Ltd.). ARTHERR brings antitoxins in case his crewmates need to partake in the feast.

Hector and Jasmine take one CDV, and Gabriel, ARTHERR, and Richmond take the other to the Star Shark (as translated from Ru’ulok), most of whose crew is on shore leave. Capt. Droata is initially reluctant to accept an order she didn’t make, but the buckets of crispy chicken help the persuasive pirates talk their way aboard the “Marava“-class trader.

The Terrans see two additional reptilian aliens aboard the Ru’ulok ship: a glider-winged Tharian servant and a dog-like Calot. They already know that Droata’s metabolism is similar to that of humans, but ARTHERR checks databases for records of the other species. The Calot is apparently a Ru’ulok pet, and another Tharian (“Tela”) has been seen eating and drinking at locations around the Sol system.

Overconfident Droata leads the infiltrators past the Star Shark‘s cargo bay to a 2-G dining room, where they take their time setting up the drugged food and beverages. Gabriel and Richmond make small talk to distract Droata and Tegar, while Hector plants a bug among the dishes and utensils. He also jams any communications from leaving the vessel.

Jasmine pets the Calot, and Droata is impressed with her replica cutlass. The delivery staff shows itself out to wait for the sedatives to take effect. As soon as Hector detects that the Ru’ulok captain has passed out, the thieves return. However, the Tharian finds Hector’s device and grabs the cutlass!

ARTHERR tazes Tegar, who strikes him with the sword. Gabriel jumps and knocks the Tharian down, and Hector incapacitates her with the butt of his pistol. They quickly break into the captain’s quarters to retrieve security and engineering data.

Pilot Gabriel brings the CDVs around, and engineers Hector and ARTHERR uninstall the Star Shark‘s FTL drive. Jasmine and Dr. Garrett watch over the unconscious aliens and look out for reinforcements from the Red Manta.

As a shuttle approaches from Blackrock Station, Gabriel leads Hector in hiding the CDVs behind orbital garbage, where they later ditch them. ARTHERR aids with scans and, as MERLIN, contacts Wong. The anarchist A.I. asks that the Appomattox test the FTL before Xox Memes will distribute the plans.

While the drives are installed, Hector and ARTHERR monitor the news media. They notice no mention of the Star Shark, as Gorvek had predicted, and reports of ongoing colonial strife. Jasmine and Deep Dish look forward to leaving Earth.

Hector’s handler Max had mentioned a derelict ship at the edge of the Sol system, so Gabriel sets a course for it. Hector activates the Ru’ulok Transit engines, which can go 1 light-year per Terran day. The Appomattox finds the Dawn’s Retreat drifting with no apparent crew or passengers.

MERLIN contacts Gordon Wong, who says that the removal of art from the Vatican museums must have been an inside job, since law enforcement authorities have not been notified. The A.I. also observes that the United Ecumenical Movement has reassigned numerous chaplains to the outer colonies. Telepath Gabriel is aware of U.E.M. efforts to recruit psions.

Gabriel, Hector, and ARTHERR board the Dawn’s Retreat and find empty cabins, odd dials and levers, and Esperanto signage. The ship is obviously military in design, but there are no signs of combat. Hector’s scans reveal that the airlocks have cycled at least twice.

On the engineering deck, Gabriel makes psychic contact with a presence. It asks whether they have gotten away safely, and Gabriel confirms that the ship is near Earth. ARTHERR traces the entity to the main generator, but it seems to be unaware of the passage of time and its own lack of a corporeal form….

Sara and Dave, we missed you at the Memorial Day game. Characters in both adventuring parties should now have 7 aspects and 20 skill points, so remember to update your and my records.

Please note that “Vortex” Team 2 won’t be meeting again until 27 June 2011, because I’ll be visiting friends in New York City. Team 1 (the crew of the Blackbird) is scheduled for next Monday and June 20. Paul and Beruk, I look forward to seeing you virtually at this coming Sunday’s Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Landstelecom fantasy session. Later, -Gene

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 1 (5a), crew of the Blackbird:

-“Syzygy” [Brian W./absent]-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/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran cyborg human sniper working for eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.

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

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

-“Gombo Shisel” [Rich L./absent]-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