“Vortex” Update 5b.24 — Shipwreck and spiders

A nearby star system compared with ours
The Epsilon Eridani and Sol systems

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5b.24 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 2 met on Monday, 28 November 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:”

-“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

-“Mr. Richmond Garrett” [Dave S.C./absent]-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

>>”1 to 7 November 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” During its first extrasolar voyage, from Saturn’s moon Titan to Epsilon Eridani, the Appomattox had caught up with the Chengdu, a slower-than-light generation ship from Earth. Among other things, the away team had helped extricate injured Delphine (“Uplifted” dolphin) Bob from the Chengdu‘s systems.

Capt. Gabriel Adams has another intimate dinner with bursar Ghia Shan before preparing the Appomattox for departure. Hector Chavez negotiates for antique tools and ordinance, and ARTHERR studies the colonists’ medical records and culture to eventually help fellow sentient robots Tanya and Galia.

Jasmine meets another “Synth” named Isabella, who asks via voder about the habitability of planets near Epsilon Eridani. The tiger-woman tells the “Uplifted” orca that while one planet may have seas, it’s unlikely to be immediately hospitable to the Terran pilgrims, who have already spent a century traveling.

Richmond Garrett finds the passengers of the “Chengdu” too pious for his tastes and recommends delivering the cargo of items from the Vatican Museums to its mysterious recipients as soon as possible. ARTHERR tries to entice the humans to explore with the possibility of diamonds or other natural resources.

The Appomattox continues on its way to Epsilon Eridani, which is about 10 light-years from the Sol system. Jasmine is again uneasy in Transit space but recovers once the yacht emerges from faster-than-light travel. Gabriel pilots the Appomattox past asteroid belts and two gas giants.

Hector notes the presence of buoys orbiting the star, which is slightly smaller than Earth’s sun. The humans and Synths ignore two rocky planets and head to Epsilon Eridani B, about 0.8 AU from the star. The planet is in the biozone and has seas, but the pH is too alkaline for Terrans.

ARTHERR exits a launch bay and orbits independently to scan. The probe droid finds no signs of civilization, but the atmosphere has just enough oxygen and warmth to support life. Jasmine suits up and arms for the landing party, but Richmond prefers to stay aboard in comfort with crewmembers Nero Bartholomew, Averki “Deep Dish” Dyashenko, Tanya, and Galia.

Gabriel finds some relatively level terrain to land the Appomattox. ARTHERR, who has built a magnetic slingshot for escaping planetary surfaces, happily wheels out and begins taking soil samples. Hector scans for communications, and Jasmine looks out for hostile life forms amid the algae-covered rocks.

As a volcano smokes in the distance, the team finds a crashed starship. Gabriel boldly leaps into a hull breach but is stabbed twice by someone inside! Jasmine cautiously advances, poking her rifle and flashlight into the open compartment.

Engineer Hector examines the wreckage and says that the vessel crashed relatively recently. ARTHERR compares the flying-wing design to databases and concludes that the ship is of Olvar (arboreal mammal-like alien) design.

His vacuum suit leaking air, Capt. Adams sees a short, stocky humanoid brandishing a blade. The courier throws a grenade and jumps back out! ARTHERR patches Gabriel’s suit before he can be harmed more by the caustic atmosphere, and Jasmine pulls the battered alien, which has a cute, furry face, from the ship.

ARTHERR identifies the badger-like alien as a Cestolar, a member of a client species of the Olvar. Yiushef of Geruno claims that the other survivors of the crash left him behind because he couldn’t keep up with their longer legs. Hector is concerned when the Cestolar says he believes that the Razorfeather was a victim of sabotage by one of its own crew.

Yiushef reluctantly gives the newcomers a tour of the Razorfeather, which was returning from space controlled by the Gustrall (orange-furred, raptor-like warriors). Capt. Adams heads to the bridge, which contains bodies of the Olvar killed by the sabotage and crash, contrary to Yiushef’s initial claim of cannibalism.

The Cestolar tells ARTHERR that he is a trade delegate and that several parties might want to hinder relations between the Olvar, who are part of the Kharvamid Alliance, and the mostly nonaligned Gustrall. Jasmine goes to the armory, where she picks up a few unidentified weapons.

Deep Dish radios that another ship has entered the Epsilon Eridani system and is a few hours away. It is transmitting a numerical code. Gabriel and ARTHERR take Yiushef and the Appomattox to pick up three Olvar, who have set up a distress beacon on a steep slope near a cave several kilometers away.

Hector restarts a microfusion generator to take a look at the crashed ship’s logs. The former spy salvages parts of the Razorfeather‘s engines and communications systems but is disappointed that he doesn’t have time to take more. The FTL drives in the Olvar ship’s broken wings are inoperable.

Onetime wrestler Jasmine impresses the lithe Olvar castaways and asks for their weapons. The tiger-woman leads Maj. Mohing Lankel, Lt. Doina Claren, and Mr. Kares Mussur to guest cabins, along with Yiushef.

Capt. Adams takes the “Appomattox” back into orbit, and Hector hails the incoming vessel. ARTHERR identifies it as belonging to the Nolath, an arachnoid telepathic species. Gabriel makes mental contact with Capt. Stroja of the trade ship Kazador.

The spider-like Nolath transmits a cargo manifest that matches the Vatican relics. Gabriel and ARTHERR are initially more reluctant than Richmond to complete their delivery, which doesn’t seem to benefit humanity, but the courier sees his fears as a challenge, and the robot is curious about the deal that fixer “Ramon Sanchez” [Josh H./N.P.C.] had brokered.

Hector detects an attempt to hack into the Appomatox‘s systems, so he and Jasmine hasten to the guest quarters to confiscate the radio from Mr. Mussur and threaten the mischievous Olvar and Cestolar with “spacing” if they violate hospitality and security again. Hector makes sure systems are locked down or on analog backup and activates surveillance for the possible saboteur.

Stroja and several Nolath and other space-armored spiders of various sizes come aboard the Terran vessel. They ask to inspect the cargo, and Gabriel stalls, asking for time to double-check the manifest and consider the trade. Stroja agrees and returns to the Kazador while the command crew of the Appomattox searches for other ships in the area and discusses its next moves….

Thanks again to Beruk and all those who got me The Batman Files as an early Christmas gift! I hope that all your holidays are happy! The next “Vortex” game will be for Team 1, the crew of the Blackbird, on 12 December 2011.

The Pathfinder/Skype: “the Vanished Landstelecom group will meet on Dec. 4, and Team 2 will play again on Dec. 19. Let me know your availability for January. Take it easy, -Gene