“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

What I’ll be watching, fall 2013 SFTV

To follow up on recent posts about genre entertainment, here’s my tentative viewing schedule for this coming fall. Even if half of the new television shows fail this season, there’s still more than enough to keep fans busy!

Sundays

Mondays

  • 6:00 to 10:30 p.m.: The “Vanished Lands: Vistel’s Circus,” Gene D.’s fantasy campaign (using the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game), alternating with Jason E.R.’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” miniseries (using Savage Worlds)
  • 10:00 p.m., Fox: Almost Human (robot cop, new11/4
  • 9:00 p.m., SyFy: Defiance (postapocalyptic drama) ** June 2014
  • 9:00 p.m., Fox: Sleepy Hollow (paranormal procedural, new) 9/16 ***
  • 10:00 p.m., ABC: Castle (mystery) *** 9/23
  • 10:00 p.m., SyFy: Warehouse 13 (supernatural conspiracy) ** ending 2014
  • Other genre: Beauty and the Beast (remake)

Tuesdays

  • 7:30 p.m., Cartoon: The Looney Tunes Show (animated comedy, currently airing) ***
  • 8:00 p.m., ABC: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (comic book procedural, new) 9/24
  • 9:00 p.m., CW: Tomorrow People (metahuman melodrama, new) 10/9?
  • 10:00 p.m., CBS: Person of Interest (technothriller) *** 9/24
  • 10:00 p.m., History: Top Shot (marksmanship, summer) ***
  • Other genre: Fangasm, Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle (PBS, 10/15), How Sherlock Changed the World (PBS, 11/19 or 11/26?), The Originals, Ravenswood, The Voice
Disney's live-action superhero TV show
Marvel’s (and Whedon’s) Agents of SHIELD

Wednesdays

  • ~7:00 to 9:00 p.m.: Weekly historical weapons class in Burlington, Mass.
  • 8:00 p.m., NBC: Revolution (postapocalyptic drama) ** 9/25
  • 8:00 p.m., CW: Arrow (superhero drama) *** 10/9
  • 9:00 p.m., PBS: Death in Paradise (mystery) ***
  • 9:00 p.m., CW: Tomorrow People (metahuman melodrama, new) 10/9?
  • 10:00 p.m., USA: Psych (comedic sleuths) *** 12/15
  • Other genre: American Horror Story, Archer, Bitchin’ Kitchen, Ironside, Kung-Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, Man vs. Food Nation), Superheroes (PBS, 10/15), Supernatural

 Thursdays

  • 7:30 p.m., Nickelodeon: Dragons: Defenders of Berk (animated fantasy) *** 9/19
  • 9:00 p.m., USA: White Collar (sleuth/caper) *** 10/17
  • 10:00 p.m., CBS: Elementary (Holmes in NYC) *** 9/26
  • Other genre: The Big Bang Theory, Covert Affairs, Once Upon a Time in Reign, Wonderland, The Vampire Diaries

Fridays

  • 7:00 p.m., Avatar: the Legend of Korra (animated fantasy) *** 9/13
  • 9:00 p.m., SyFy: Continuum (time travel) ** 2014
  • 9:00 p.m., NBC: Grimm (supernatural procedural) *** 10/25
  • 9:00 p.m., PBS: The Hollow Crown (Shakespeare; new miniseries) 9/20
  • 10:00 p.m., Starz: Da Vinci’s Demons (historical fantasy) ** 2014
  • Other genre: Dracula, Haven, The Hunters, Merlin, The Neighbors, Lost Girl, Nikita

Saturdays

  • 10:00 a.m., Cartoon: Beware the Batman (animated heroes, currently airing) ***
  • 10:30 a.m., Nickelodeon: Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles (animated heroes) *** late Sept.
  • 11:00 a.m., CW: Phantom Gourmet/NECN: TV Diner (local food, currently airing) ***
  • 8:00 p.m., BBC America: Doctor Who (time travel) *** 11/23
  • 9:00 p.m., BBC America: Orphan Black (clone conspiracy) **** 4/2013
  • 10:00 p.m., BBC America: Atlantis (fantasy, new) 11/23?
  • 11:00 p.m., VH1 Classic: That Metal Show (talk) ***
  • Other genre: Copper, The Graham Norton Show, The Nerdist, Metalocalypse, Monsters vs. Aliens, Teen Titans Go!

“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

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.41 — Firefight for the “Firebrand”

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.41 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 21 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.

“1 to 3 September 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” As the Zarkonian Armada attacked the Sol system, “Terra’s Pride” regrouped at Epsilon Eridani. The Ranger Corps task force then delivered a Transit (faster-than-light) drive to the Firebrand, a generation colony ship crewed by scientists.

Capt. Kevin Reese and Capt. Mark Tarthan supervise the installation of the new FTL engines. Tariq Asrad Saladin exchanges barbed words with Eshe Kalisha, his ex-wife.

Lt.Cmdr. Tela and robot Dr. Bucket help engineers Kamiko Chu, Georgio Napolitano, and Gabby Baluande update theFirebrand ’s antiquated systems. Chris McKee stays in his quarters to meditate.

Lt.Cmdr. Brun Bearhammer grows bored after giving astrogation advice to Charlie ibn Ali and condescending droid Astro-V. The burly pilot daydreams of “Ursoid” (“Synth,” “Uplifted” bear) women and a cold beer.

Lt. Nathan A. Jessup takes the callsign “Jellybean” and patrols the area in a Raptor II-class aerospace fighter. Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, the Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) commander of the frigate Sovereign, reports that sensors have detected approaching spacecraft.

Nate goes to investigate and finds six long-range bogies. Kevin scrambles to another fighter, while Brun and Chris get back on the Blackbird. The Dauntless, Tigress, and Sovereign guard the Firebrand, while Tela and Tariq stay behind to continue their work.

Tariq evades Eshe and double-checks Dr. Surita Goldstein’s records regarding the health of the colonists. He finds no sign of infection from nanites (microscopic robots) emitted by the Zurmiz Krott/Harbingers of the Righteous Order of Submission, biomechanical probes of the Zarkonians.

The six incoming ships ignore Lt. Jessup’s fighter, as Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer takes the Blackbird on a Transit microjump and an intercept course. “Jellybean” falls behind the unidentified spacecraft and blasts two of them.

Hammerhead in action
Fighter combat, from “Space: Above and Beyond”

Mr. McKee taps the Blackbird’s Olvar Star League database and identifies the attackers as Encegulans. This worries Lt.Cmdr. Tela, who was once enslaved by the slug-like aliens. The Encegulan vehicles head toward the Firebrand.

Gunner Chris destroys a third foe, as pilot Brun targets the engines of a fourth fighter. The Encegulans fire on the Blackbird but do little damage. Kevin’s Raptor destroys the lead ship and singes another.

Nate and Chris make short work of the last two vessels. Unfortunately, there is no alien technology left worth salvaging. Back on the Firebrand, Capt. Tarthan is grateful, and Capt. Reese asks that he join the refugee fleet with theIlokar battle group, which is headed toward Oasis Station.

Capt. Tarthan and his crew are reluctant to accept Terran military command, but they agree that the civilian colonists are too vulnerable in Zarkonian-held space.

Tariq delivers the corpse of a Zarkonian (crustacean alien) retrieved at Sirius/Canis Major to Dr. Goldstein for further study. He and Kevin also warn Capt. Tarthan about Elisha’s terrorist past and regal ambitions, but they are unable to obtain extradition.

Meanwhile, TX-29 fighter pilots Isabel Flaben, Jonas Ludivico [Beruk/Non-Player Character], and Kel Batista [Bruce/N.P.C.] greet Nate, Brun, and Chris as returning heroes. Chris raids “Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron] whiskey cabinet for the celebration.

Capt. Reese gets a letter of recommendation from Capt. Tarthan for the next slower-than-light ships, the Nova Aquarius and the Faithful Starlight. Lt.Cmdr. Bearhammer sets a course.

At the Nova Aquarius, which left Earth nearly a century ago crewed by megacorporate employees, Tariq’s scans find fewer life signs than aboard the Firebrand. The colony ship doesn’t reply to hails.

Brun brings the Blackbird to a landing bay, but the doors are closed, so he brings the scout ship in to dock. Nate and Chris ready tactical gear, as Tela prepares tools and the second FTL drive. Kevin designates three ensigns to join his away team….

I’m still catching up on notes for various one-shots and the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign. Brian, I enjoyed your Jenga-based SF scenario, and Jason, I look forward to your “Star Wars: Dark Timesminiseries (using Savage Worlds) this fall.

In the meantime, please remember to make sure that your P.C. records are up to date on Obsidian Portal and that I’m aware of any changes. Be seeing you, -Gene

A weekend with the Westchester crew

This past weekend, Janice and I hosted Damon F.P. and Carlo R., two friends of mine since high school. They arrived from New York’s Westchester County on Friday, 19 July 2013. Janice made chicken enchilada casserole for dinner.

After a pancake breakfast on Saturday, we went into town for sightseeing. We stopped by the Outside the Box festival on the Boston Common and at Government Center. We also browsed at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market before a satisfying lunch at Cantina Italiana in the North End, Boston’s Little Italy.

Fraters
Damon, Gene, and Carlo at Faneuil Hall, July 2013

Everyone was tired from the hot, humid weather, so we had gelato at Caffé Paradiso before heading back out to the suburbs (we avoided most of the crowds for the Yankees-Red Sox game). I showed the guys my office, and we had a salad dinner. We also touched base with other high school and college friends, including Steve M., Ron J.K., and Steve M.R.

It was great to chat about old times, relationships, politics and religion, and recent and upcoming genre entertainment. Carlo and I co-wrote The Zarkonian Bomb, a movie script, back in the early 1980s, so he was interested in the current “Vortex: Terra’s Pride” space opera game. Unfortunately, the guys didn’t get to meet any of the local role-players.

Speaking of genre entertainment, we watched the latest episodes of time-travel drama Continuum, the new and surprisingly strong animated Beware the Batman, and conspiracy show Zero Hour. Looking back, we rewatched Back to the Future and episodes of Star Trek: the Next Generation and Teen Titans. We didn’t get to the theater to see supernatural buddy-cop flick R.I.P.D.

On Sunday morning, Janice did her regular volunteering stint at the animal shelter. Damon and Carlo attended a Tridentine (Latin) mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes, a Roman Catholic Church in Newton. Janice made sloppy Joes for lunch, and the guys left at midafternoon.

After a year of no houseguests, we’re making up for lost time, with David I.S. & Sandra K., Byron V.O., and now Damon and Carlo! In two weeks, I’ll be seeing Stuart C.G., Ron, and Dave around the Boston Comic Con.