Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5a.30 of the “Vortex” space opera campaign. Team 1 met on Monday, 2 April 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 on their way to the interstellar crossroads of 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 gargoyle-like alien) escapee with boyfriend Kedar from the Encegulans, engineer
-“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 cyborg 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
-“Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C./absent]-male Terran cyborg human sniper working for eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.
-“Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A./absent]-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; left at Camp Alpha
-“Dr. Bucket” [Non-Player Character]-United Earth Authority astromech robot assigned to the Blackbird
>>”26 to 30 November 2194 A.D./C.E. or 0 Terran Galactic Era:” After a long journey, the crew of the Blackbird encountered Encegulan slavers and a hostile Zurmiz Krott probe. The explorers also found a missing Kharvamid Alliance agent and participated in a dangerous solar-sail regatta.
Syzygy contacts Marvog, a Cetaran (plesiosaur-like) miner and aide to Plorb [Beruk/N.P.C.]. Marvog says that the Aquarian (amphibious humanoid) emissary canceled a meeting in Sector 8, also known as “the Lagoon,” after his and deceased racer T’chlk T’cha’s [Rich/N.P.C.] hotel suite was destroyed by an explosion.
Marvog says that Plorb may instead have gone to Meshi Chabo, a Laransan (long-lived telepathic humanoid) pilgrim and fellow refugee from the Zarkonian Armada. Lt. Kevin Reese tracks her down to Zone 5, or “the Dueling Suns.”
Meanwhile, engineer Tela and her boyfriend Kedar go around. The winged, tailed Tharians draw some attention because they’re unusual, but they manage to avoid the slug-like Encegulans. Civilians Aughest-vor… and Scoop Chang practice their marksmanship in the Blackbird‘s holographic computer room, much to the exasperation of sniper Chris McKee.
Tariq Asrad Saladin chats with new passenger Hannah Nydari [Sara/N.P.C.], an Olvar (mammal-like, arboreal alien) agent for the Kharvamid Alliance. The crew eventually regroups to go to the Dueling Suns.
Aughest-vor pilots the Olvar scout vessel from Sector 11, “the Swift Course.” Syzygy notes that Sector 5 is home to the Monastery of Infinite Forms and the Cyclist Cathedral but is ruled by an oligarchy composed of Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptiles), Ma’ari (diminutive pale wanderers), and Encegulans.
Kevin asks Tariq and Chris to stay aboard the Blackbird to keep the ship — and Mr. Sniffles, Dr. Bucket, Kedar, and Hannah — safe. The Interplanetary Patrol officer has difficulty getting local authorities to recognize his badge, and he warns the investigator and sniper to be ready for a hasty retreat (using the Yoyodyne Oscillation Overthruster) if needed.
With some help, Scoop uses his robot EVE to hack into Ru’ulok surveillance. The journalist finds a concentration of Laransans and Aquarians at the Cyclist Cathedral. He, Syzygy, Tela, Aughest, and Lt. Reese find their way to the soaring crystal spires of the alien religious conclave.
Once there, they hear Klushar Grovyk preaching that Cyclist adherents are entitled access to the “gift of their forefathers,” no doubt a reference to a Precursor jump gate recently discovered in a nearby star system. Selfrana Lenk, a Ma’ari sage, explains that Cyclists want to hasten the eternal cycle of death and rebirth.
Xenologist Syzygy says Grovyk is a Dwivarn, a member of a lizard-like species that denies it was once an “Uplift” client of the Ru’ulok. Curious Tela uses her tail to flirt with some of the congregation, while Aughest-vor (“friend to all”) tries to get a sense of the crowd’s mood.
Kevin, who has smuggled weapons into the orbital habitat, watches Ru’ulok guards. He manages to befriend one named Rogik by mentioning Kerenar’s victory in the recent regatta. Scoop senses telepathic probes and psionically shields the away team.
The Terrans spot Plorb and walk toward him. However, so do some of the Ru’ulok, raising fears of a would-be assassin. Meshi Chabo momentarily blocks their way until Lt. Reese explains that he’s there to help secure the ambassador.
Scoop uses his Eyebot to interfere with the Ru’ulok cameras and communications to cover their retreat. Kevin offers to bring Meshi and Plorb back to the Sol system, where they can petition the United Earth Authority for aid. They reluctantly accept.
Syzygy meets with fellow Trinoid scientist Selenium [Josh/N.P.C.] to share data. While they are biologically linked, Syzygy learns that Oasis Station security forces have had difficulty containing nanites from the defeated Zurmiz Krott. Syzygy is also alarmed to realize that Selenium has been cast out of the research institutes for his advocacy of aggressive “Uplift,” and he quickly excuses himself.
Tela assigns quarters to the newcomers, who must share cabins with the Blackbird‘s regular crew. Plorb doesn’t mind the damp chamber of fellow amphibian Syzygy and his living lab. Tela and Kedar stay in engineering, and Dr. Bucket remains with the robotic spiders in a supply closet.
Chris and Tariq warily share quarters, and Aughest-vor takes care of Syzygy’s cat Mr. Sniffles. Kevin happily hosts the attractive Meshi. Scoop talks with guest Hannah about geology. Aughest sets a course for the jump gate, whose location Lt. Reese had obtained from Gustrall (orange-furred, flightless raptor) mercenary Nylca of clan Firehoof [Brian/N.P.C.].
The biomechanical ship emerges from faster-than-light Transit at the edge of Penumbra, a barely inhabitable star system. Three capital ships patrol local space amid disputing claims. Syzygy and Hannah easily identify the sweeping curves of an Olvar starship.
Tariq and Chris recognize the boxy design of a Ru’ulok cruiser. Syzygy and Scoop check the Morifaiwet/Blackbird‘s database to identify the third battleship, which resembles a conch, as that of the neutral Sulishi (furry snails).
Kevin transmits a code he got from Nylca and claims that he’s with “Team Icarus” to study the Precursor artifact. Wadishi San, the Sulishi in charge of the archaeologists studying the jump gate, accepts their request to come to his base on a rockball planet’s surface.
The landing party disembarks on a windswept landing pad and is escorted into the science station by Vungo, a Daragi (silicon-based giant) guard. Syzygy and Tela are fascinated by the tree-like alien, who takes them to a mess hall.
Vungo introduces the team to fellow sentry Slarp, an Encegulan. Tela tries to hide behind her companions, but she is impressed by the equipment that Nolath (arachnid) engineer Lek’to is using to study the device.
P’nz’kr (“Penzikor”) shows Syzygy unidentified carved objects. With the insectoid Nethian‘s help, the Trinoid finds that they may have been shaped by biological processes but are not organic themselves.
Troshar Jund, a Cestolar (literal-minded, badger-like) treasure hunter, talks with Aughest-vor and Chris, who is interested in ancient alien history and religions. Scoop tries to scan telepathically, but his mysterious fedora doesn’t help him for once. They relay their findings to Tariq, who knows about early contacts between humans and extraterrestrials.
In the course of their conversations, Kevin deduces that Vungo and Slarp are sympathetic to the Ru’ulok trade guilds. Fortunately, Aughest finds that P’nz’kr is more likely to side with the Kharvamid Alliance. Troshar, pilot of the “Digger,” tells Scoop that he is happy to be involved in the find of a lifetime. Lek’to tells Tela that she wants to get the gate operational as soon as possible.
The Terrans, Trinoid, and Tharian ask to see the jump gate itself. Vungo and Troshar lead them out to a dusty dig, where they see an archway covered in circular carvings. P’nz’kr demonstrates how to activate the relic by touching two points. A stable wormhole opens above them in geosynchronous orbit.
Lt. Reese understands the strategic importance of such a device, which could reduce travel times from months to days (of Terran time). Aughest-vor observes that the gate could enable a fleet of warships to project force across many parsecs.
However, the scientists warn that they haven’t yet determined how to set the destination coordinates. Syzygy recalls maps once created by humans in the South Pacific, which used curved branches to show currents, islands, and stars. “Team Icarus” returns to the Blackbird to plan its next moves and examine star charts.
Syzygy creates a blobby gadget to help P’nz’kr activate the jump gate and erase Earth’s address. Aughest-vor plots likely courses, as Dr. Bucket tries to correlate stars glimpsed through the wormhole with known constellations. Tela reroutes computational power to aid astrogation droid Dr. Bucket (and an isoquantum fracture compensator).
Kevin scans all of the artifacts and carvings. Scoop realizes that the Precursors used four points for their calculations: Penumbra, the gate itself, potential destinations, and some unknown factor. Chris and Tariq remind the crew that they must hurry before Wadishi San, Slarp, or the warships decide to restrict their access.
Dr. Bucket and the crew of the Blackbird have a breakthrough — the fourth point is the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, a reference that wouldn’t change with the passage of time. Aughest finds the coordinates for the Sol system, and Syzygy relays them to P’nz’kr and his device by the ancient arch.
Aughest-vor…. takes the cloaked vessel into the warp tunnel, where it encounters gravitic and space-time instabilities. Lt. Reese checks on passengers Hannah, Plorb, and Meshi, while Kedar helps monitor the Transit fields. Scoop and Tariq meditate, and Chris stays in the gunner’s turret.
Syzygy and Tela see strange extradimensional entity extruding into the ship. The Pangavi asks why they are passing through its domain. The Trinoid and Tharian say they are going to warn humanity about the Zarkonian threat. The “Ward of Despair” says that he is not a Precursor and permits the ship to continue without interference.
The Blackbird emerges into normal space between Epsilon Eridani and Wolf 359, only three parsecs from Sol! Scoop notes that this is only three days [of “game time”] away at cruising speed, a month less than it would normally take to get from Oasis Station. Aughest-vor… sets a course for home….
Josh and Beruk, we missed you at the latest “Vortex” game! Note that Team 1’s next session will be on Monday, 23 April 2012, at Brian’s place in Newton, Mass. Please remember to send him your food orders in advance.
In the meantime, I look forward to continuing Josh’s FATE 3e “Spelljammer” scenario and eventually returning to my Pathfinder: “the Vanished Lands” telecom fantasy campaign. In addition, I hope that everyone will reply to Jason‘s superhero miniseries proposal. Take it easy, -Gene