“Vortex” Update 5c.2: Shakedown to Mars

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Session 5c.2 of my “Vortexspace opera campaign, which we played via Skype and an online dice roller on Sunday, 8 July 2012. We’re using “Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment” (FATE) 3rd Ed.: “Starblazer Adventures/Mindjammer” and “Bulldogs.”

In one future, humanity has begun to colonize the Sol system, but environmental degradation, population pressures, and internecine conflict persist. The rediscovery of mystical abilities and open and official First Contact with galactic societies, themselves at war, threaten Terra’s very survival. Who will rise to the challenges?

>>FATE 3e “Vortex” Team 3 (5c) telecom Player Characters, crew of the “Gryphon” (as of summer 2012)

  • Hector Chavez” [Beruk A.]-male Latin American Terran human, former spy and communications expert/engineer of the Appomattox
  • Jasmine” [Sara F.]-female Martian Felinoid (Synth, “Uplifted” tiger), former professional pit fighter and onetime crewmember of the Appomattox with boyfriend Darcy, now apart from the grifters in “MarSoupAiL”
  • Chris McKee/Agent Prometheus” [Josh C.]-male Terran human cyborg, former sniper for the North American Aerospace Marine Corps and eugenicists at Black Box Security Co.; onetime crewmember of the scout ship Blackbird
  • Jax” [Robin H.]-male human from the Asteroid Belt, vain space pirate and pilot of the Slipstream and Gryphon
  • Orion Starchaser” [Geoff C.]-male [blue humanoid alien] outcast, irrepressible mystic and adrenaline junkie
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O.]-male Indian Terran “near-human” (bioengineered) xenobiologist, shadowed by scandal and confident in survival skills
  • [Robert A.S./absent]-male Terran “near-human” gambler and psi
Starship getting under way
Loading cargo

>>”8 to 14 February 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After meeting at the shipyards of New Gdansk in Earth orbit, the new crew of the Gryphon prepares for its shakedown cruise. Hector Chavez secures the cargo of machine parts obtained from smuggler Desmond Hogarth.

The engineer also collects a wish list of enhancements to install on the yacht once the delivery to the Mars Confederation is completed. Mighty Jasmine and her boyfriend, fellow “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger) Darcy, assist with the loading and cabin redecorations.

Orion Starchaser returns to the ship, excited as usual. The interstellar hitchhiker says that he has met a gunner, whom he managed to steer away from a confrontation with Dr. Srinu Pahul. Orion then leaves to get Chris McKee, leaving confused people in his wake.

Burned op Hector shows Jax some of his security precautions in the Gryphon‘s cockpit and keeps tabs on the crew’s comm links. Jax wants to depart without Orion and the sketchy sniper, but Jasmine talks the hotshot pilot into waiting.

Cautious Hector asks Srinu what he knows about Chris. The doctor reassures him that despite their shared pasts with the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., they should be able to work together without killing each other.

At the “Drowning Swan” bar, Orion happily tells Chris that he’s welcome aboard the Gryphon. They are joined by Irdana, a tourist whom Orion had met earlier. The nervous Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) asks the blue wanderer if she can buy passage with them.

Sensing that Irdana is in trouble, Orion and Chris readily agree. Hector and Jax aren’t thrilled, however, when Irdana explains that she witnessed a deal for heavy ordinance — Orion’s arm span plus her tail in size — and was then noticed by the illicit arms dealers.

Jax and Chris ask Irdana how she plans to pay, and she opens a rucksack of antique Terran toys. Jasmine and Orion happily play with the plastic figurines, but Srinu and Jax aren’t impressed. Chris is won over when he finds some old military action figures.

Rather than risk being probed by more remote-control robots, captured by smugglers, or waylaid by fans, the crew of the Gryphon casts off. Jax easily maneuvers the ship, which is much larger than his personal vessel, the Slipstream, past traffic between Earth, the L-5 orbital stations, and the Lunar Free State.

Hector goes to engineering to check on the maneuver (sublight) and Transit (faster-than-light) drives. He notes that since the Gryphon is swifter than Hogarth knows, the group will have time to check out the drop zone rather than be ambushed.

Jasmine and Darcy show new crewmate Chris and passenger Irdana around, taking them through lounges and to their cabins. Originally from a world with large oceans and many islands, Orion takes advantage of the new saltwater swimming pool.

In his spare time, Srinu translates the Mahabharata, which describes possible ancient contact between humans and extraterrestrials. The doctor also asks each of his shipmates to come to the medical bay for a complete checkup.

Jax pointedly ignores most visitors to the bridge, executing several barrel rolls and other maneuvers that test the ship’s advanced inertial dampeners and artificial-gravity deck plates. The “best damn space pirate in the solar system” sets a course for a quick jump through Transit.

Jasmine goes to check on the foods that Srinu brought, while Darcy chats with Irdana. Srinu tells ruminant Orion that he’d like to introduce fish and a variety of Terran and alien plants to the pool to supplement their diet. Hector and Jax are reluctant to submit to medical examination.

At dinner one night, Chris asks his new companions about their plans beyond bringing the mechanical cargo to Mars. “Agent Prometheus” describes the Blackbird‘s fight on Oasis Station against the Zurmiz Krott, a biomechanical probe of the dreaded Zarkonian Armada. The inhuman invaders are approaching Earth, he says.

Hector and Jasmine observe that Chris’ description strongly resembles that of the “Harbinger of the Righteous Order of Submission” they encountered with the rest of Mars Soup Aid Lenders Ltd. (“MarSoupAiL”) back in Ghanki Station under the Indian Ocean. Both the Zurmiz Krott and the Harbinger induced cannibalistic madness and were difficult to contain or defeat.

Chris proposes scouting the space threatened by the Zarkonians, but calm Orion notes that according to his sensei, the crustaceans have attacked numerous worlds over many centuries of Terran time. Chris promises to share archaeological data with Dr. Pahul about possible Precursor artifacts at Van Maanen’s Star.

Jax isn’t convinced of the urgency of the Zarkonian threat, but Jasmine vows to help protect humanity, despite its often poor treatment of her and other “Synths” (bioengineered humanoids). In the meantime, Chris warns, Mars is bad news, because of his experiences with various factions.

Jax takes the Gryphon out of the plane of the ecliptic, and Hector spins up the Transit drive. In a matter of hours rather than weeks, the yacht travels from Earth orbit to Mars….

Thanks again for your patience as I dealt with audio problems; I’ll try to log onto Skype earlier this coming weekend to deal with them. Since we have a good-sized group, we should also remember Google+/Tabletop Forge as backups. I look forward to the new crew of the “Gryphon” settling in, visiting the Mars colonies, and looking ahead to future missions!

We should eventually upload character records and images to the Obsidian Portal site for “Vortex.” See also the discussion on the Yahoo/eGroups message board regarding Jason’s “Glassworks” superhero scenario and upcoming games for the Boston-area, face-to-face groups. -Gene

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