“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Sessions 42, 43 — the “Nova Aquarius”

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Sessions 5c.42 and 43 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on 28 July and 4 August July 2013. We’ve been using FATE 3e Starblazer Adventures/MindjammerBulldogs, and an online dice roller.

In one future, humanity has started to overcome ecological challenges at the time of open and official First Contact with galactic societies. However, internecine war and the Zarkonian Armada devastate Earth and its colonies. A few million refugees, aided by some aliens, flee into deep space. Will heroes arise among them?

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

Acting crew of the scout ship Blackbird and corvette Dauntless:

  • Capt. Kevin Reese” [Bruce K., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and leader of the “Terra’s Pride” homeworld security task force
  • Lt.Cmdr. Tela” [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Chris McKee /Agent Prometheus” [Josh C., primary]-male Terran human, former assassin for the eugenicists at Black Box Security Co., sniper and seeker

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

“4 to 8 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The “Terra’s Pride” Ranger Corps task force caught up with the Firebrand, a slower-than-light generation colony ship. It helped the scientists install a Transit drive and fended off Encegulan fighter craft allied with the Zarkonian Armada.

The Blackbird, Dauntless, Tigress, and Sovereign continue toward Altair, while the Pina Colada heads to Van Maanen’s Star. The Terran squadron finds the Nova Aquarius, another colony ship, but it doesn’t immediately respond to Tariq Asrad Saladin’s hails on multiple frequencies.

Eventually, someone aboard the Nova Aquarius replies, asking for an hour’s delay before docking. Capt. Kevin Reese is surprised by the unusual request, and Lt.Cmdr. Tela and Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer scan the sleek vessel.

Terran generation colony ship
The Nova Aquarius

They find that sections of the large ship have fallen into disrepair and that the inhabitants are clustered into separate sections. The scouts are also alarmed to find that, unlike the Firebrand, whose population grew in the decades since it left Earth, the complement aboard the Nova Aquarius has shrunk.

Chris McKee worries about the presence of agents still loyal to the eugenicists of Black Box Security Co., and Lt. Nathan A. Jessup readies fellow space marines for a potential boarding action.

Capt. Reese ultimately agrees to the request from the Nova Aquarius, and he orders three ensigns to join the away team. Brun heads to a Raptor II-class fighter, but Kevin asks the ursine pilot to stand down.

Meanwhile, Tariq reads old records and learns that the colonists left Earth, the L-5 orbital habitats, and the Lunar Free State after the nation-states of the time fought with megacorporations during the First Interplanetary War.

The boarding party dons formal uniforms and takes a Morgan-class shuttle from the Dauntless to the Nova Aquarius. Capt. Reese asks his team to try to contact each of the factions. Tariq reviews ship logs and notes that the colonists got along well for their first few decades in space.

Capt. Reese meets Capt. Soledad Homara, who is reluctant to change course from what is expected to be a profitable destination. Robot Dr. Bucket shows holograms of the Zarkonian Armada to underscore the seriousness of the threat to humanity’s survival.

Lt.Cmdr. Tela offers support to Cmdr. Vidal Gaspari, the restless chief engineer of the Nova Aquarius. He is eager to accept the Tharian’s aid but says that he’ll need approval from each function-based group on the ship.

Lt. Jessup asks Cmdr. Josiah Lung about whether the colonists have made First Contact with any extrasolar species. “None yet,” says the first officer, who adds that he has heard some of the news from distant Earth. They also talk about difficulties with food distribution.

Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer asks for a tour of the astrogational facilties, while Tariq talks to chief medical officer Dr. Brandy Hendricks. The frustrated physician shares her empathic impressions with Tariq and describes illnesses and tensions that have affected her crew.

Capt. Homara encourages the visitors to make a plea to the various factions to accept an FTL (faster-than-light) drive and change course. Kevin, Tela, Nate, and Dr. Bucket go to the Versar Bul Society.

They meet “Vice President Gregor Devoss” [Beruk/Non-Player Character], chief of human resources, and “Rico Santos,” V.P. [Geoff/N.P.C.], a Delphine (“Uplifted” orca) journalist. Devoss aspires to a higher office, while Santos is reluctant to join other Terrans in space. The bioengineered “Synth” also counters Capt. Homara’s requests with clever propaganda.

Nate, Brun, Tela, and Tariq then visit the Hakidouyma Association, which is responsible for internal transactions. Quartermaster “Ms. Ilene Kimball” [Josh/N.P.C.] outmaneuvers Tariq’s psionic probes, and hydroponics chief “Mr. Chad Rawlins” [Bruce/N.P.C.] expresses willingness to work with those fleeing Earth but doesn’t trust the other factions.

As Tela works with Cmdr. Gaspari, Kevin, Brun, and Tariq go to House Phoenix, the scientific caste aboard the Nova Aquarius. Cyborg “Sheik Yakov Kamallah” [Byron/N.P.C.] asserts that he is waiting for the retrorockets to fire, signaling arrival at a new world. “Lady Simone Ashrael” [Sara/N.P.C.], a “Chim” (“Uplifted” simian) planetologist, explains how House Phoenix desires long-term stability.

By the time the members of “Terra’s Pride” regroup and report to Capt. Homara, she has invitations to a formal ball at which all three factions will meet to discuss the Zarkonian threat.

At the ball, Capt. Reese dances and flirts with Capt. Homara, as well as with people from the Versar Bul Society, the Hakidouyma Association, and House Phoenix. Lt.Cmdr. Tela hangs out by the buffet tables with Cmdr. Gaspari and other engineers.

Mystic Tariq keeps feelers out for psionics, as sniper Chris and the three ensigns watch the assembly from a balcony. Burly Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer joins a poker game with Hakidouyma’s Rawlins, while Lt. Jessup dances with a few colonists wearing vintage garb.

Ms. Kimball nods to V.P. Devoss and walks toward the captain. Tariq tries to intercept the Hakidouyma associate, who is unable to read his mind. A loud explosion near the food startles and injures several colonists.

Kevin and Nate move to defend Capt. Homara, with Chris and Brun in reserve. Tariq helps Dr. Hendricks attend to the wounded, and V.P. Devoss claims that the lack of security is a failure of Capt. Homara’s leadership at a time of sensitive negotiations. V.P. Santos broadcasts the blast scene and Devoss’ speech to all aboard the Nova Aquarius.

Tela examines the heating implements and finds signs of an overload but no physical evidence of tampering. The Versar Bul Society leaders note that Cmdr. Gaspari and House Phoenix are responsible for maintaining ship systems.

The engineers and commanders soon find themselves surrounded by an angry mob. Brun wades in to disperse the crowd, and Chris is disappointed that no shots are fired. Capt. Homara resists calls by V.P. Devoss and Ms. Kimball for a plebiscite.

Tensions simmer aboard the Nova Aquarius as the away team from the Blackbird and Dauntless prepares to leave. Capt. Homara tells Capt. Reese and Tariq that she will change course to join other Terran ships, regardless of the upcoming election. They give her an override for the Transit drive.

Tela temporarily blocks Versar Bul’s transmissions and gives Cmdr. Gaspari enough information to complete the FTLinstallation. Nate flies a patrol, while Brun finishes his poker game before setting course for the next jump. Chris provides a security assessment.

Dissatisifed with affairs aboard the Nova Aquarius, the task force hopes for a better reception at the Faithful Starlight, the last of the three generation vessels it plans to assist. The Terran ships drop out of Transit when scanners detect a Zarkonian squadron heading toward the slow colony ship.

Capt. Reese orders Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer to plot an intercept course. Warships Dauntless and Tigress take the lead. “Jellybean” Jessup recommends luring the enemy toward Altair’s wide asteroid belt for an ambush.

Tariq reviews tactical maneuvers, and Chris gets into the gunner’s nest on the Blackbird. Lt.Cmdr. Tela activates the scout ship’s cloaking device. Dr. Bucket informs her that it unfortunately can’t be extended to other vessels.

The frigate Sovereign brings up the rear, posing as a “wounded bird.” Kevin boards the Tigress and sends theDauntless to guard the Faithful Starlight. Nate launches his Raptor as the 12 Zarkonian fighters swoop in….

Our adventures will resume next Sunday! In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed Rich’s latest School Daze one-shot, and I look forward to running the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign on Mondays as summer winds down. Be seeing you, -Gene

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