“Vortex” Update 5b.19 — On a mission from God?

Fictional Starfleet chaplains' logo
Infinite diversity in infinite combinations

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5b.19 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 2 met on Monday, 29 August 2011, and is using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer, Bulldogs, 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:”

-“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

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

-“Gabriel Adams” [Paul J./absent]-male North American Terran near-human with telepathy, courier and pilot

-“Hector Chavez” [Beruk A./absent]-male Latin American Terran human, “burned” operative and communications expert

-“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

>>”8 to 10 October 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” Sometime after delivering the Dawn’s Retreat to the United Earth Authority, the crew of the Appomattox arrived at Saturn’s moon Titan. At the Eclipse Station infirmary, Mr. Richmond Garrett had posed as a faith healer with help from ARTHERR, who had tapped a medical database. They and Jasmine then conducted an impromptu rally at the local chapel.

Still in beta, ARTHERR scans the crowd for marks, such as people with mild or terminal illnesses not treatable by the infirmary. Jasmine, who had asked Delphine (“Uplifted” dolphin) astrogator Erta Garza to join her crew, tries to suppress her disapproval of Richmond’s latest scam.

Despite his ignorance of theology, Mr. Garrett eagerly lays hands on Marcus Schlager, a hunched miner unable to receive lung transplants. The space snake-oil salesman also convinces Camille Dubois, a well-preserved madam from the orbital casino, that her bad luck in needing organ replacements can be reversed if she gets boyfriend Howard to commit to holy matrimony.

Meanwhile, Capt. Gabriel Adams talks with gynoids Tanya and Galia in an attempt to get them to join the Appomattox crew and plan a heist of the Lucky Garden Casino. Hector Chavez monitors communications from the yacht and reminds his companions of their appointment at the United Ecumenical Movement (U.E.M.) offices in New Quebec.

Gabriel and Hector still don’t trust the cargo that Richmond accepted from fixer Ramon Sanchez [Josh H./Greg/Non-Player Character]. The Appomattox is supposed to take items from the Vatican Museums to an unknown recipient in the Epsilon Eridani system. (Several parsecs from there, the Blackbird escapes an ambush at Cetus Eridani.)

Mr. Garrett — not to be confused any longer with Dr. Garrett — uses the placebo effect to “cure” hypochondriac Halil Torralua, who promptly disrobes before the crowd in a new bid for attention. The spiritual revival meeting begins to break up as the sheriff and people in dark suits arrive.

One of the newcomers angrily quotes scripture and says that the false prophets will be punished. A canine Synth (genetically engineered humanoid) readily agrees, even as Jasmine tries to engage the angry man in conversation. Richmond slips into the crowd to get away from the constabulary and protesters.

ARTHERR finds some construction debris and shoots out a light fixture, but mighty Jasmine saves the zealot by shoving him out of the way. Capt. Garzan Cisneros and Lt. Yasmin Al-Ghuj order the crowd to disperse, as Rev. Winston Jones arrives from the casino and closes the chapel doors.

Hugh Doyle thanks Jasmine for saving him from possible electrocution, and he invites her to join a Brotherhood of Illumination protest against the U.E.M. presence in New Quebec. Richmond and company later regroup at their ship.

Hector pilots the Appomattox from Eclipse Station to Titan‘s methane-shrouded surface. ARTHERR does some research on Archbishop Javier Fuentes and learns that the Roman Catholic chaplain served alongside U.E.A. troops during the Second Interplanetary War. The robot explains to Jasmine that it occurred about 30 (Terran) years ago between megacorporations and Martian colonists, including Synths.

Richmond dons the captain’s coat with brass buttons, gold braid, and epaulets that he took from the Dawn’s Retreat and orders crewmen Nero Bartholomew and Averki “Deep Dish” Dyashenko to clean his cabin.

Still unsure why the U.E.M. has reassigned so many personnel to the Sol system’s outer colonies, ARTHERR, Jasmine, and Richmond find its outpost in domed New Quebec. Acolytes explain that monks will conduct a thorough brain probe, and Mr. Garrett balks.

As an alternative, Sister Indrani Bhai introduces the visitors to Mother Superior Magdelena de la Cruz. The matronly cleric offers Richmond a rare mint julep, which he later realizes was poisoned with some relaxant. ARTHERR, sensing that something is amiss, vacuums and emits a high-pitched sound as distractions.

The Southern gentleman parries most of the nun’s questions about his stint as surgeon general of the Venusian colonies during a plague and the disaster at Kardikea Stadium. With help from his droid and Tiger-woman friends, Richmond manages to convince Mother Superior de la Cruz of his improving morals with circumstantial evidence.

The trio then goes to the wood-paneled office of Archbishop Fuentes. The Jesuit-trained eminence remains skeptical of Richmond’s newfound piety, but he asks the Appomattox crew to volunteer to aid the outer colonies anyway.

Jasmine asks about the U.E.M.’s stance on Synths, and the priest replies that after the Second Interplanetary War and First Contact with aliens, the church has accepted that nonhumans may have souls and are free to worship as they see fit. He also apologizes for Shifu Nurdin Subaja’s previous insensitivity.

ARTHERR notices items in the room, such as silver crucifixes, a marble baptismal font full of holy water, worn space armor, a jar of salt from the Sea of Galilee, linen shrouds, and a leather-bound copy of the Malleus Maleficarum. He compares them against the ship’s manifest but finds no matches.

Richmond expresses interest in the artifacts, and Archbishop Fuentes explains that some people find foci of worship helpful, while others meditate in different ways. The soldier of God explains that, after the destruction of holy sites on Earth, religious leaders agreed to focus on their commonalities (and humanity’s nascent psionic abilities, notes Gabriel remotely). However, as Rev. Jones and Mr. Doyle demonstrate, not everyone wants to be under “the big tent,” he says.

ARTHERR is confused because his theory that the U.E.M. wants the cargo planted far from Earth to convert more Terrans and aliens isn’t supported by the archbishop’s statements. Jasmine records images for Hector, and Richmond recalls some of the horrors encountered near Karachi.

Sister Indrani interrupts with news from Eclipse Station: Hugh Doyle has been found murdered, his intestines splayed out in a pentagram. The archbishop expresses regret, because even though the preacher was no friend to the U.E.M., anyone who would harm him or try to create a martyr doesn’t serve the divine will. Fuentes asks the Appomattox away team to return to the station to investigate…

Paul and Beruk, we missed you at this week’s game! Please let me know when either of you will be available for upcoming sessions of “Vortex” or the Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Landstelecom fantasy group. In the meantime, “Vortex” Team 1 is scheduled to meet next on Monday, 12 September 2011, followed by Team 2 on Sept. 19. Have a good Labor Day weekend! -Gene