“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.33 — Zarkonian questions

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.33 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 12 May 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

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. Can heroes rise to the challenges?

FATE 3e “VortexTerra’s Pride” (Team 3/5c) telecom Player Characters, as of spring 2013:

Acting crew of the corvette Dauntless:

  • Capt. Jasmine [Sara F., primary]-female Martian Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger), former pit fighter and crewmember of the Appomattox, now captain of the Pina Colada searching for a homeworld for her people
  • Hector Chavez [Beruk A., primary]-male Terran human, former spy and crewmember on theAppomattox, cautious engineer and communications expert
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker aboard the Blackbird and Pina Colada
  • Orion Starchaser [Geoff C., primary]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; defender of the homeworld
  • Lt. Sebastian Growlick [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul [Byron V.O., primary/absent]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • Enkidu Aristheon [Dexter V.H., secondary/absent]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon

See other records for the previous crews of the Pina ColadaBlackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“4 to 7 August 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After rescuing ships from a cloud-based energy entity, a homeworld security task force found that the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) outpost orbiting Wolf 359 had been compromised by agents for the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

Members of “Terra’s Pride” defeated one would-be assassin and captured another. They took the “Dauntless” to the far side of Wolf 359 and prepared to interrogate their prisoner.

Hector Chavez scans Ms. Helen Gastmeyer’s plasma sword but finds no hidden transmitters. The onetime spy also searches possessions taken from her quarters, including trade documents, cred sticks, some tools, robes, and alien scriptures.

Dr. Srinu Pahul sedates Ms. Gastmeyer and scans for nanites (microscopic robots). At Hector’s recommendation, the doctor removes the businesswoman’s implanted phone.

Orion Starchaser dismantles the weapon of Velanna Loquieth, the Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) captain of the Unquith who killed herself rather than surrender to him. The Pomuyan mystic combines weapons to create an orange-bladed weapon.

Capt. Jasmine finds her former boyfriend Darcy, who had been on one of the ships that passed by Wolf 359. The Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” tiger) admits that while he needed space after their misadventures aboard the Gryphon, he didn’t realize that the frontier would be so dangerous.

Jasmine warns Darcy to stay away from Lt. Sebastian Growlick, her current leonine lover. Meanwhile, Chris McKee reminds his companions that the Zarkonians are mere weeks away from the Sol system. The sniper spends a few hours meditating.

crustacean aliens
Conjectural sketches of Zarkonians

Lt. Growlick later finds Jasmine, who requests that Darcy be reassigned to another ship in the Terran fleet. Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese asks pilot Lt. Brun Bearhammer and the acting commanders of the Pina Colada, Blackbird, Sovereign, and Crazy Horse to set course for Lalande 21185 in case the Wolf 359 base sends fighters in pursuit of the supposedly disgraced Dauntless.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese also orders that Gastmeyer be interrogated as soon as possible. Capt. Jasmine suggests that Orion be present to help protect against any psionic attacks.

Hector asks Orion if he knows what organizations or species would send assassins armed with plasma swords like his. The blue alien replies that the Pomuyans are a peaceful people, but like humans, Olvar, and others, there are always individuals and factions that are less benevolent.

Kevin dons the Chain Coif of Egg Shen and asks Orion to mentally dominate Helen, but he refuses. Dr. Pahul and robotic nurse MEGAN monitor the prisoner as Orion begins questioning her. Jasmine waits outside the brig, while Hector, Chris, Brun, and Sebastian listen in from the bridge.

Orion offers Helen some tea, and she asks what he wants most. Orion replies “freedom,” and the smiling woman says that she wants humanity to survive to pursue its destiny in the stars, even if that means choosing subjugation by the Zarkonians over resistance and annihilation.

Chris is reminded of the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., his and Srinu’s former employer. The former cyborg goes to the brig, even as Kevin loses patience with Helen and Orion’s philosophical discussion.

Hector remotely tells Orion to ask about the “Takers,” a rising faction among the Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian pirates) led by one Kraythor. Gastmeyer answers that the Zarkonians have found like-minded people in several systems.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese angrily orders everyone to leave so that he can question Ms. Gastmeyer alone, but Orion stubbornly refuses. Chris pulls the officer out of the room for a moment to cool off, and Hector goes in to reason with Orion. Burly Jasmine stands ready to prevent a brawl, which would be particularly bad in front of the prisoner.

Gastmeyer takes advantage of the group’s confusion to Mind Blast Hector, drawing Orion’s ire. Jasmine helps steady Hector, while Orion reluctantly forces a mental link with Helen.

The Pomuyan asks the human what she has lost. Helen says that all her loved ones were killed back on Earth, which she claims is “beyond saving.” Orion asks what she has gained, to which she says, “a connection,” implying that her ability to grant people’s desires comes from the Zarkonian Imperium.

Having broken her resistance, exhausted Orion leaves Helen to Kevin and company. Dr. Pahul tries to inject her with truth serum, but he finds that her biochemistry has been altered so that her blood would react and become toxic.

Even though Gastmeyer seems unconcerned about her own death, she mocks Lt.Cmdr. Reese’s determination to defend humanity and to try to turn back the armada. Kevin asks Helen about her family, which she says was killed in wars in Europe.

She also confesses that the artifacts stolen from the Vatican Museums were intended to be smuggled to the arachnid Nolath for safekeeping away from Earth and for use in appealing to other humans.

The zero-point munitions that the Gryphon had intercepted could have been used to obliterate entire megalopoli, adding to chaos and “thinning the herd” in advance of the alien invasion, Gastmeyer explains.

Wary Hector returns with anti-psi enhancements to his sunglasses. Kevin asks about the robes found in Helen’s quarters, and she says that she learned from the Olvar, even though Orion observes that she seemed more advanced than Capt. Loquieth.

Chris and Kevin asks about the Zarkonians’ plans for Earth and its colonies. Helen states that millennia ago, the armada was turned back by the first Kharvamid Alliance. A century or so ago (in Terran time), another foray into the Milky Way’s Orion Arm was cut short by internal disputes.

The Zarkonian Armada now intends to conquer rather than merely consume, Gastmeyer says, and it has forces such as the biomechanical Zurmiz Krott and allies such as the slug-like Encegulans. The Aquarian and Laransan systems have already fallen, Helen says, but she has not directly met a Zarkonian yet.

Chris points out to the others that Gastmeyer has admitted her involvement in various plots in the outer Sol system and that she should be turned over to U.S.N. authorities for further questioning. He warns that Cmdr. Hasdrubal Guitterez and Lt. Fenris Ironclaw are still threats, since Gastmeyer’s allies command the Wolf 359 outpost.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese and Capt. Jasmine confer with the other ships in the task force and consider requesting that the “Tigress” replace the understaffed Dauntless. First, “Terra’s Pride” must deal with Cmdr. Guitterez and return to the Sol system….

You’re close to closing this chapter of our adventures! Let me know if any of you are available for Star Trek: Into Darkness and a possible “Vortex” session on Saturday, May 18, since Byron will be visiting the Boston area this coming weekend.

While we didn’t play in the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign at Rich’s place last night, I’m glad that we got to chat with Josh about upcoming summer games. I also look forward to continuing in Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” next Monday night. Be seeing you, -Gene

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