“Vortex” Update 5b.22 — “Spyger,” or closing the case

Uplifted creatures in Eclipse Phase
"Uplifted" animals

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5b.22 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 2 met on Monday, 17 October 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?

A band of grifters and near-humans retrieved dangerous samples from a battlefield north of Karachi and the Ghanki undersea station. It stole starship engines from a lunar base and an orbital city and was involved in medical disasters in the Venusian colonies. After finding a dimensionally displaced derelict, the team made inquiries into its cargo amid religious turmoil on Titan….

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

-“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

-“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

-“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

>>”19 to 21 October 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” While on its way to deliver a mysterious cargo of Vatican relics to Epsilon Eridani, the crew of the Appomattox became involved in a murder investigation on Eclipse Station, in orbit around Saturn’s moon Titan.

Hector Chavez monitors news channels and hacks into the station’s security, and ARTHERR notes that LP 656-38, a star system near Epsilon Eridani, is somewhat more likely to have human-inhabitable planets.

Jasmine meets with Kolidari, the octopoid (“Uplifted” octopus) co-owner of the Lucky Garden Casino. After reluctantly sharing a hot tub with him and Delphine (“Uplifted” dolphin) astrogator Erta Garza, the Felinoid says she’ll consider his offer to work with “Synths” rather than for humans who treat them poorly.

Richmond Garrett orders a hovercycle in the form of a robotic horse from provisioners Amir and Hassan Mukhtadi. Back at the casino, Capt. Gabriel Adams continues chatting up gynoids Tanya and Galia in the hope that they’ll help him with a heist.

Damp Jasmine returns to the space yacht, where she reports to Hector and company about Kolidari (whose voder makes him sound like archaic-era actor Sean Connery). Onetime spy Hector recalls that security cameras caught an octopoid near where firebrand preacher Hugh Doyle was found murdered.

ARTHERR sees little reason to turn in the charismatic fellow Synth (synthetic sentient) to the local authorities, since Doyle had claimed that divine scripture “granted man dominion over all life.” Mr. Garrett agrees that it’s better to steer clear of the unsettling assassin, even if Gabriel still plans to rob his casino.

A security alert warns Hector of another disturbance near Eclipse Station’s chapel. A woman is rallying Doyle’s followers to continue spreading his fundamentalist doctrine across the outer Sol system. The local constabulary — as well as gambler Rev. Winston Jones, in all likelihood — seems more concerned with protecting the casino than confronting the angry mob.

Hector sets off an alarm in an attempt to disperse the assembled scruffy colonists and religious zealots. ARTHERR and Richmond get on the intercom and warn of “Venusian cancer gas” before local authorities cut them off. Since the woman continues inciting the colonists, Hector uses the fire-suppression systems to spray her with carbon dioxide foam.

The communications expert later identifies her as Louise Reinhagen, the wealthy widow who was a financial supporter (and onetime lover) of Hugh Doyle. ARTHERR notes that a recording from the Ringtown Diner caught her talking with Adrian Valentin, a smuggler who bought the equipment used to kill Doyle. Reinhagen had revealed to Gabriel that Valentin was blackmailing her and Hugh at the time of his death.

In a back alley, Jasmine again meets with Synth laborers “Prini Vonchadry” [Non-Player Character/Beruk], “Rosario Tamuz” [N.P.C./Greg], and cigar-chomping Chim (“Uplifted” chimpanzee) Faisal Batar. She warns them of Doyle’s followers, who may lash out at nonhumans in their grief at his unsolved murder.

Ursoid (“Uplifted” bear) Prini relays the tiger-woman’s news about Reinhagen and Doyle’s relationship to the information networks, while Felinoid (“Uplifted” panther) reiterates her drunken theory that Doyle was sacrificed to “dark gods” — even though she is unaware of the ritualistic aspects of his murder. ARTHERR had theorized that the disembowelment and candles were an attempt at misdirection.

After conducting research into Louise’s late husband Jurgen Reinhagen, an Oromax megacorp executive killed at the Hephaestus Stadium disaster near Venus, Richmond changes clothes and goes to meet her at a luxury apartment on the station. A robotic butler greets the confidence artist, who finds the merry widow strangely unaffected by the deaths of her husband and lover.

Louise admits that Doyle was no friend to the United Ecumenical Movement (U.E.M.), Rev. Jones, or Synths, but she found his beliefs comforting after her husband’s death. Reinhagen reiterates that Valentin had threatened to expose her relationship, which has now happened even after Doyle’s murder.

Meanwhile, Jasmine and a small but feral group of Synths goes in search of Reinhagen as the current leader of Doyle’s flock. Hector spots them heading toward the residential area, and ARTHERR hastily assembles Mr. Garrett’s robotic horse (a non-Vimeco model).

Richmond tells Louise to retreat through a rear exit and meet him later at the Appomattox‘s dock. He then goes to talk to the fierce bioengineered and robotic beings. Former wrestler Jasmine tosses the snake-oil salesman over her shoulder and sprints to get some breathing room.

Engineer Hector shuts down airlocks so they can’t be spaced and tinkers with life support to slow down pursuit. ARTHERR broadcasts images of Richmond’s past altercations with Doyle’s followers to the corridors near the Synths to show that he’s actually on their side.

The sheriff and counterdemonstrators will soon arrive, observes Hector. ARTHERR remotely — and not very gracefully — guides Richmond’s horse to him, crashing into a wall on the way. Mr. Garrett manages to calm the crowd and gets behind Jasmine in the saddle. They fly back to Eclipse Station’s docking bay.

Capt. Garzan Cisneros of the local patrol warns the troubleshooters that since Richmond has been involved in several civil disturbances around Venus and Saturn, he should avoid future trouble on the station. Even though he plans to address Doyle and Reinhagen’s followers and has had complaints filed against him by the real Dr. Garrett, Richmond agrees.

Synths Averki “Deep Dish” Dyashenko and Jasmine are reluctant to let Reinhagen aboard the Appomattox, but Richmond ushers her to an unused cabin, hoping to later tap her wealth and perhaps have her join his crew. ARTHERR attends to the damaged hovercycle, adding a pony-shaped sidecar.

Archbishop Javier Fuentes radios Hector to inquire about progress in the investigation of Hugh Doyle’s murder. The armored U.E.M. officer says he has two troop transports of chaplains on its way from New Quebec to help secure the orbital station, but ARTHERR warns against provoking further violence among the Saturnian colonists.

Hector reveals that a conspiracy suspect is in custody, and Archbishop Fuentes agrees to send a less obvious detachment for her once a confession is extracted. Burly Jasmine stands guard as Richmond reluctantly questions the widow.

After flirting and weeping in vain, Louise explains that Adrian Valentin had been using Doyle’s expanding network of followers to facilitate his smuggling. When moralistic Doyle objected, Valentin blackmailed him and Reinhagen, ultimately carrying out his threat to kill him.

Mr. Garrett asks Reinhagen who else would profit from Doyle’s death, and she eventually names Kolidari and Esteban Bakafret, a shipping magnate whose profits might be threatened by the self-righteous preacher. She knows nothing of the ritualistic aspects of the slaying.

In return for a “donation” to “MarSoupAil” — shell company Mars Soup Aid Lenders Ltd. — the grifters offer to minimize their description of Louise’s involvement (not to mention the octopoid assassin) to the U.E.M. to protect her from reprisals by Bakafret. They then turn her over to Archbishop Fuentes’ agents, who say they’ll work with Capt. Cisneros to find Valentin and close the inquiry.

Now that the U.E.M. owes the Appomattox a favor, Hector contacts his onetime handler Max back on Earth to help cover his tracks and check the news. Richmond retreats to his well-appointed quarters and calls for chef Nero Bartholomew.

Jasmine wonders whether Erta, Tanya, and Galia will be able to join the crew without her going back to Kolidari. Gabriel still wants to rob the casino and learn more about the Vatican artifacts. ARTHERR sets a course for Epsilon Eridani….

Thanks again to both “Vortex” groups for replenishing our munchies! Paul, we missed you, and note that the Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Lands” fantasy telecom team won’t be playing again this coming weekend. Thanks, Greg, for your flexibility regarding your Dresden Files game as I sort out my schedule for November.

In the meantime, Team 1 (the crew of the Blackbird) is set to meet on Monday, Oct. 24 (sorry, Brian), and I won’t be running anything on Halloween. I look forward to Josh’s Fortune’s Fool one-shot on Saturday, Oct. 29! Be seeing you, -Gene