“Vortex” Update 5a.26 — the Battle of Capricornus X2

Demotivational poster
Space battle!

Fellow role-players, here are Josh’s and my notes for Session 5a.26 of the “Vortexspace opera campaign. Team 1 met on Monday, 9 January 2012, 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?

Two aliens and their human allies encountered xenophobes and megacorporate intrigues on and around Earth. After visiting factionalized Mars and acquiring a starship, they continued their mission of diplomacy and exploration to Titan, Tyche, and Alpha Centauri. From Van Maanen’s Star, the Olvar scout ship evaded a trap at Cetus Eridani and met priestesses and miners at Beta Canum Venaticorum before resuming its journey toward Oasis Station….

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

-“Syzygy” [Brian W.]-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

-“Scoop Chang” [Rich C.G.]-male Jovian “near-human,” interstellar reporter kidnapped by the Olvar; psi interested in First Contacts

-“Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A.]-male Terran “near-human,” seeker of enlightenment and investigator met aboard the Ma’ari ship Cyan Horizon

-“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

>>”From Chris McKee’s journal, 8 to 14 November 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” After encountering Cetaran miners near GL 884/”Cold Miser,” we continued our journey to Oasis Station, about 40 parsecs from Earth. We came out of faster-than-light Transit near Hip 103039 and found ourselves in the middle of a pitched battle!

I ran to my turret to ready our particle beam, but I reluctantly held my fire at my crewmates’ request. Syzygy went to his lab to prepare for casualties, and Tela and Kedar tried to get some extra power out of our engines. Aughest-vor… piloted the Blackbird clear of fire and debris.

As per our recent discussion, Lt. Kevin Reese took tactical command and activated our cloaking device. Scoop Chang began comparing the ships to the Star League database, while Tariq Asrad Saladin armed himself against potential boarders. Dr. Bucket and the spider drones readied for damage control.

Fortunately, none of the combatants seemed to notice us. We soon learned that a Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian extraterrestrial) force was occupying the system, also known as GL X2, LP 916-60, or Capricornus X2. The Ru’ulok, with whom we’ve had several skirmishes back in the Sol system, were trying to repel an attack by the Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like aliens).

I acquired targets and painted them. Aughest-vor reported that there was at least one contested rockball planet in the system, and Lt. Reese ordered Tela to ready the Yoyodyne Overthruster in case we needed to make a quick getaway.

Scoop recognized some of the craft as Ranseur-class Olvar fighters and Spanner-class Ru’ulok troop carriers. While some of us wanted to help the Olvar against the Ru’ulok, others recommended caution. We hailed the Icy Lance and talked with Adm. Fendril Angmor. The Olvar flagship was under heavy attack, and we closed in to offer assistance and take aboard escape pods.

However, Syzygy suspected that something was amiss, so our scientist asked Aughest for more scans. Tariq tried to spot behavioral patterns in the ship movements. Scoop intercepted Ru’ulok communications and heard Marshall Kladvur, commander of the Yachatil, berating Baranik Bosart, a Cestolar (badger-like alien) captain.

The Morifaiwet/Blackbird‘s Olvar database indicated that this battle had happened about 1,000 Terran years ago! The literal-minded Cestolar, once an “Uplift” client species of the Olvar, were then allied with the Ru’ulok empire. However, they had apparently again switched sides, just as things looked grim for the Olvar.

Aughest kept maneuvering and noted energy anomalies, while Syzygy searched for life signs. Tela confirmed that the Spanners were from the correct time period. Tariq noted that we could be seeing battlefield ghosts, while Kevin and Scoop suggested that we — or they — were displaced in time!

Dr. Bucket checked relative stellar positions at Aughest’s astrogation request. We were still in the year 2194. Tariq observed that the Olvar had replied to our hails, but Scoop didn’t detect any telepathic activity. I made sure that our training simulations were up to date and didn’t contain any bugs.

Even as Adm. Angmor ordered all hands to abandon the Icy Lance, Baranik Bosart slammed his ship into the Yachatil. I couldn’t refrain any longer, so I shot at a passing Ru’ulok ship, severely damaging it. That’s when curators hailed us and asked us not to interfere with the re-enactment.

We headed to the museum headquarters, and I believe I heard Syzygy respond to a hail from a Gustrall (antlered, orange-furred, raptor-like alien). Most of the landing pads were empty, and we met Biros Gramlic, the friendly captain of the Betardonil. He and wary engineer Dacla Nistor had brought Cestolar tourists Gurda, Nimun, and Fashnir to the site of their species’ key role in changing the tide of battle.

We left Dr. Bucket to watch the Blackbird and went to the museum shops, which were staffed by Xenoids (alien robots) designed to look like Olvar and Ru’ulok soldiers in antique uniforms. One Olvar-style droid named Hignor sold us tchotchkes and directed us to the canteen.

Ever cautious, Lt. Reese directed Dr. Bucket to run a scan from our ship, and he detected other tourist groups and the shielded headquarters of Thurmin Caz, the manager. None of the life signs were Ru’ulok, so we didn’t worry too much.

Since none of us Terrans had galactic credits yet, Syzygy paid for his water and our souvenirs from his Science Directorate account. I bought a bunch of Ru’ulok dolls for target practice, while high-minded Tariq found a board game similar to chess. Tharians Tela and Kedar got more plushies and a remote-controlled ship model.

Budding politician Aughest-vor downloaded some textbooks on military history. Soldier Kevin exercised more restraint than reporter Scoop, who grabbed an armload of toys, a replica space suit, and some Olvar antiques. The Cestolar were similarly excited.

Our visit to the canteen was less successful, and I can only imagine what my handlers back at Black Box Security Co. will think upon reading this report. I will say that Vamec sauce, or Cestolar moonshine, is pretty strong! I remember Aughest and Kevin trying to choke down some weird food, and Scoop keeping up with my imbibing. I also did some low-gravity handstands.

I don’t remember meeting the Gustrall after dinner [Out-of-character note: There weren’t any on the station.] or much else until the next morning. For some reason, Scoop keeps snickering at me. Note to self: Try to acquire EVE, his hovering camera robot.

We then continued on our way to Oasis Station. While in Transit, Aughest-vor looked at specifications for the collection of orbital habitats daisy-chained around a star. Syzygy reminded us that we would have to try to find the agent who had dropped out of contact with the Kharvamid Alliance.

Tela and Kedar also hoped to find more of their people, but they were wary of Encegulan (slug-like alien) and Ru’ulok bounty hunters. Scoop was excited to find an interstellar crossroads, and he and Tariq found that we’d have to covertly find a way to get access to the jump gate recently discovered nearby. Apparently, the Precursor technology was contested and being guarded.

I did some historical research, focusing on the Olvar abandonment of their colony on “Cold Miser” almost 2,000 Earth years ago and the current state of affairs surrounding the cosmopolitan spaceport. The Olvar and Ru’ulok empires had ceased expanding toward the Sol system after the battle and truce. After some discussion, we decided to explore Oasis Station in two groups.

Aughest-vor, Syzygy, Tariq, Dr. Bucket, and I will take the Blackbird and publicly arrive in uniform as a team from the Sol system to flush out the Kharvamid agent or foes. Meanwhile, Lt. Reese, Tela, Scoop, and Kedar will take the Dragonfly, our slower-than-light drop ship, and quietly get the lay of the land and find a way to the jump gate….

I hope that each of you enjoyed our first regular “Vortex” session of 2012! I look forward to seeing the fleshed-out quasi-Non-Player Characters when we break into troupe-style play when Team 1 meets next on Jan. 23 (weather permitting).

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing Team 2, the crew of the Appomattox, tonight — Jan. 16. I’ll also try to post an update for the latest Pathfinder: “the Vanished Landstelecom game sometime this week. Be seeing you, -Gene