“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.44 — Dogfight at Altair

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.44 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 8 September 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.

“9 to 10 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After visiting the Firebrand and Nova Aquariuspart of the “Terra’s Pride” Ranger Corps task force caught up with the Faithful Starlight, a third slower-than-light vessel. However, a Zarkonian squadron had also spotted the generation colony ship.

From the Dauntless , Capt. Kevin Reese orders sometime lover Capt. Elektra Contos and the Terran patrol ship Tigress to fall back to guard the Faithful Starlight. Lt. Harry “Monty Hall” Takahari Jr. takes the frigate Sovereign to pose as a “wounded bird.”

Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer sets the Blackbird on a course toward the 12 approaching fighters. Lt.Cmdr. Tela activates the scout ship’s cloaking device. Lt. Nathan A. Jessup is among the pilots launching Raptor II-class interceptors from the Dauntless. “Jellybean” also recommends using Altair’s wide asteroid belt for cover.

Chris McKee sits in the Blackbird’s gunner’s nest, as Tariq Asrad Saladin reviews tactical maneuvers and watches for telepathic contact. Chris and Tariq recommend that the stealthy Olvar vessel go ahead instead of the less-maneuverable Sovereign.

Terra's Pride skirmish in space
The Altair system at the start of the battle

Tariq successfully jams enemy signals, and Lt. Jessup [see map, NJr] flies straight for the Zarkonian fighter craft. Lt.Cmdr. Tela readies the scout ship Blackbird’s engines for a Transit (faster-than-light) microjump. Chris begins “painting” targets as they come into range.

Capt. Reese climbs into another Raptor, leaving Capt. Helena Cain in command of the corvette Dauntless [Dnt]. Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer directs the Sovereign [Svr] and Dauntless to head toward Altair’s asteroid belt. The ursine officer also sends four fighters to escort the Tigress [Tgr] and Faithful Starlight [FSt], keeping six others [Rpt] close by.

Brun then takes the Blackbird [Blk] toward the Zarkonians and lays down covering fire for Chris. Tela drops the cloak and diverts power. Tariq scans for telepathic wavelengths to jam, and Chris destroys one fighter [Zf3] with a particle beam.

Kevin engages the lead craft [Zf1], flying defensively before destroying it. Nate also exchanges fire, but his guns are damaged. Another enemy [Zf4] singes Kevin’s bird. The rest of the Raptor squadron fires [Josh/Non-Player Characters], damaging some Zarkonian craft [Zf4 and Zf7] as they fire on the Blackbird.

The Blackbird turns to retrieve space marine Nate’s fighter, and pilot Brun damages another foe [Zf5]. Engineer Tela and droid Dr. Bucket activate spider drones for damage control. Tariq detects nanites (microscopic robots) being emitted by the Zarkonians. The wanderer warns his crewmates.

Sniper Chris takes out one fighter [Zf11], and former cop Kevin pursues and eliminates another [Zf5]. “Jellybean” brings his Raptor into the Blackbird’s launch bay for an ungraceful landing. The other Terran fighters narrowly evade gamma-ray lasers and fire on the Zarkonian [Zf4] attacking Kevin.

Lt. Takahari [Geoff/N.P.C.], commanding the Sovereign, destroys one fighter [Zf2] and wings another [Zf6]. Capt. Cain [Beruk/N.P.C.] finishes it off, but the sensors of the Dauntless are damaged [Zf10]. Fortunately, the corvette evades another foe [Zf8].

Brun dodges one pursuer [Zf9], and Tela and Tariq hastily repair Nate’s Raptor. Chris shoots down one craft [Zf12] before it can leave the area, as Kevin exchanges blasts with another [Zf7]. The rest of the Terran squadron maneuvers at high speed.

The Sovereign destroys one fighter [Zf8] and moves to assist the Raptors. Its missiles go wide, possibly foiled by nanites [Zf4]. The Dauntless obliterates another of the crustacean Zarkonians [Zf10], whose armada has conquered the Sol system.

The aliens [Zf9] swing back to the Blackbird , and some [Zf4, Zf7] continue to engage the Raptors. Tariq detects a larger Zarkonian ship entering the Altair system and recommends that all Terrans head for the asteroid belt.

Brun and Tela successfully execute the microjump, as Chris provides cover for the Tigress and Faithful Starlight. Tharian Tela warns that a second jump won’t be immediately possible.

Kevin blasts another enemy [Zf4], and Nate relaunches and shoots at two others [Zf9, Zf7]. The human pilots manage to outfly their opponents and destroy the last of the fighters, even as they take more damage themselves. The Raptors rejoin the Dauntless and Sovereign and head for cover.

The Terran task force waits for several tense hours as the Zarkonian carrier passes through the system. It sends Zurmiz Krott (biomechanical probes) to examine the destroyed fighters, but they don’t enter Altair’s asteroid belt.

After regrouping, the Blackbird hails the Faithful Starlight. Rabbi Irene Gimbel, communications officer of the colony ship, relays Capt. Vishal Pratik’s gratitude and invites an away team to visit….

I hope that everyone enjoyed our space battle — which used Google Docs for real-time shared editing — and I look forward to wrapping up the current chapter of our “Vortex” adventures! In the meantime, remember that your P.C.snow have 40 skill points each.

I’ve begun compiling notes for our upcoming “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” telecom fantasy game, which will likely use AD&D1 Oriental Adventures and the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing GameI also look forward to Geoff’s street-level superhero one-shot, which will use FATE Accelerated Edition.

We’ve had a busy summer, and I look forward to settling back into a regular gaming schedule. In the meantime, I’ll see some of you at my upcoming “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus” and Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” face-to-face sessions. Josh, I hope your own games go well! Later, -Gene

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