“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.29 — Medical mission and the cloud

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.29 of the Vortex telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 24 March 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:

Crew of the refitted yacht Pina Colada:

  • 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/absent]-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
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese [Bruce K., primary/absent]-male Terran “near-human” (cyborg), former Interplanetary Patrol officer and member of the Blackbird and Dauntless crews; defender of the homeworld
  • Chiron [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt. Sebastian Growlick [Bruce K., secondary/absent]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • Tela [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar and robot Dr. Bucket
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin [Beruk A., secondary/absent]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup [Byron V.O., secondary ]-male Terran human, gung-ho member of the North American Aerospace Marine Corps
  • 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 Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

“22 to 24 July 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The soldiers aboard the Blackbird had tracked the Dauntlessfrom Wolf 359 and found its crew incapacitated but mysteriously reanimated.

Tela and Kedar are reminded of experiments conducted by the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), and Chris McKee keeps the scout ship’s guns at the ready, even though others have explained that the corvette is too valuable to Earth’s defense to scuttle.

Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup prepares explosives and watches the body of Spc. Donar Kievich, whose body had retrieved by robot Dr. Bucket. Fellow space marine Lt. Brun Bearhammer waits at the helm for reinforcements.

Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese sends a message to the Pina Colada urgently requesting backup, as well as a warning to the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) fleet command.

Tariq Asrad Saladin studies medical and personal logs from the Dauntless, part of Kevin’s homeworld security task force. Empath Enkidu Aristheon senses a presence but no intelligence from the drifting ship.

Over on the Pina Colada, Capt. Jasmine orders an away team to prepare to board the Dauntless, even though Lt.Cmdr. Reese recommends against it. Orion Starchaser asserts that only a close inspection can determine the nature and cause of the zombie-like crew.

Lord Wallace Tubbington III grabs a shotgun and his newly forged katana (in the Scabbard of Musashi). Dr. Srinu Pahul also wants to examine Donar’s body and review the records that Tariq has culled.

Hector Chavez makes sure that everyone is wearing space suits and programs more scans, and pilot Chiron is curious about the energy readings from a strange cloud the Dauntless encountered before its crew was affected.

Beta Renner cloud
Cloud emitting strange energy

Lt. Sebastian Growlick looks forward to eventually returning to the Blackbird with Lord Tubbington, since they had swapped places with Chris and Kevin. On the other hand, the duo from the Pina Colada is comfortable surrounded by fellow soldiers.

The refitted yacht comes out of Transit (faster-than-light travel) and receives reports from the Blackbird. Capt. Jasmine, Orion, and Lord Tubbington head over to the Dauntless, leaving Hector, Chiron, and Lt. Growlick behind on the Pina Colada.

Dr. Pahul goes to the Blackbird ‘s laboratory, where he confers with Tariq. Lt.Cmdr. Reese sends Sgt. Jessup and Mr. McKee over to the Dauntless to escort the away team. Nate and Chris wager some of Srinu’s whiskey on what trouble the civilians will get into.

The sergeant and sniper use grenades to clear a path to the forward turbolifts for the explorers. Jasmine leads the way to the bridge of the Dauntless, and Wallace draws his katana against Undead.

Orion, however, asks that no crew be destroyed unless necessary for self-defense, since he senses something when any are blown up. From the Pina Colada, Hector reactivates internal surveillance and basic systems.

Brave Jasmine, Orion, and Wallace climb down two decks, leaving armored Nate and Chris at amidships. The trio heads aft to the fighter hangar and is briefly startled when a decaying crewmember slams up against a porthole.

Blue-furred Orion closes his eyes and telepathically contacts the reanimated astronauts on the other side of the hatch. The Pomuyan mystic likens the experience to being in a house with the lights on but nobody home. There is mental activity but no sentience. Orion reaches out and finds the body linked to others in a hive mind.

Meanwhile, Jasmine maintains radio contact with the marines on the upper deck, as well as with the Pina Colada andBlackbird floating near the Dauntless. Wallace again draws his katana as six rotting marines break through a hatch and approach from the rear.

Wary Tariq had looked for a “Patient Zero” or a central, directing intellect. Dr. Pahul finds elevated neurochemicals in the Kievich’s corpse, confirming how the bodies were reanimated and thus not prone to many conventional attacks. The sparks that Chris saw when he blasted a hole through an officer’s chest were a biochemical side effect rather than cybernetics.

More space zombies press in on the away team, and tiger woman Jasmine calls for a retreat. Swashbuckling Wallace easily cleaves his opponents, and Orion reluctantly pushes some back with telekinesis. He tells Srinu that he senses an inhuman hunger and tries to convey a “non-prey” feeling.

Chris and Nate begin climbing the port turbolift shaft ahead of the others, but they find more grasping hands at the elevator door. Chris tosses up a grenade, blasting four more foes. Mighty Jasmine shoves the hungry horde out of her way, and Wallace continues hacking away at the rear.

Jasmine successfully leads the group back to the Pina Colada. Hector passes along an incoming transmission from theSovereign, another ship from Lt.Cmdr. Reese’s task force that recently went missing.

Capt. Aveeshi Stormsea, an Aquarian (amphibious humanoid alien) reports that the Sovereign has found a cloud emitting strange energy similar to the one that Capt. Helena Cain encountered. Kevin sends a warning not to engage and begins planning a rendezvous.

However, Chiron notes that “Terra’s Pride” must first deal with the zombies on the Dauntless. Dr. Pahul hypothesizes that the reanimated crew members are acting in a decentralized manner similar to the nervous system of a Terran jellyfish.

Srinu and Tariq test reactions to the entire electromagnetic spectrum, but Orion and Enkidu observe that a psychic projection could help free the 50 remaining U.S.N. personnel. Capt. Jasmine and Lt.Cmdr. Reese approve their plan.

With help from amplification crystals, Orion and Enkidu project psionic energy in front of the Blackbird as it moves away from the Dauntless. On the way, Brun expertly scoops up the Dragonfly drop ship and lures the energy entity into deep space.

The Pina Colada nudges the Dauntless in the opposite direction, and Hector observes the crew falling to the floor. Robots MEGAN and PEPE assist Dr. Pahul and Tariq with medical supplies as they prepare to head back to look for revivable crew.

Lt. Bearhammer outmaneuvers the cloud and marks its position for future reference. “Terra’s Pride” regroups, and Kevin recommends that one ship be sent to rescue the Sovereign….

Dexter, Beruk, and Bruce, we missed you this past weekend! Please note that we won’t be meeting virtually this coming Sunday because of Easter.

I expect “Vortex” to resume the following weekend. In the meantime, I enjoyed the latest “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy session (I’ll write an update for it soon), and I look forward to rejoining Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” planetary romance game next Monday.

In the meantime, I hope that everyone’s spring holidays are fun, and stay in touch, -Gene

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“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.28 — The “Dauntless” adrift

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.28 of the “Vortex” telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 17 March 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?

Vortex” Team 5c (3) Player Character rosters: Crew of the refitted experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • Tela” [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington” [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Lt. Brun Bearhammer” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron V.O., secondary]-male Terran human, gung-ho member of the North American Aerospace Marine Corps
  • 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

Crew of the yacht Pina Colada:*

  • 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 the Appomattox, 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
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • 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
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

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

“19 to 21 July 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After the Pina Colada delivered items stolen from the Vatican Museums to the United Ecumenical Movement near Mars, the Blackbird turned over some of the smuggled cargo to the Ilokar, flagship of a Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) battle group in the Asteroid Belt.

Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese learned that the Dauntless, Crazy Horse, and Sovereign, three ships in his homeworld security task force, had gone missing in the vicinity of Wolf 359. “Terra’s Pride” sets out to investigate.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese, who has swapped ships with Lt. Sebastian Growlick, explains the search and retrieval mission to the crew of the Blackbird. Also in the cockpit, pilot Lt. Brun Bearhammer becomes more accustomed to his symbiotic link to the experimental scout ship.

Tela keeps busy with robotic assistant Dr. Bucket and boyfriend Kedar in engineering. Tariq Asrad Saladin and Enkidu Aristheon check medical and survival supplies. They also review Dr. Srinu Pahul’s notes on the Zurmiz Krott, biomechanical probes of the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

Chris McKee, who has temporarily changed places with Lord Wallace Tubbington III on the refitted yacht Pina Colada, joins Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup in readying armored space suits and weapons.

The Blackbird approaches Wolf 359, a red dwarf star with no inhabitable planets. Capt. Evander Scofield of theKorelev had told Kevin that the Dauntless was last seen near that system. Lt.Cmdr. Reese acknowledges Cmdr. Guillermo Ortiz at the U.S.N. orbital outpost but decides against visiting it.

Tela uses the Blackbird’s scanners to detect traces of the Dauntless leading away from Wolf 359. Lt. Bearhammer and Dr. Bucket lay in a course to intercept. Mr. McKee asks about trying to hail the missing corvette, but Kevin decides against long-distance attempts at communication.

Worlds-weary Tariq begins research into the Blackbird’s level of sentience, and Brun expertly drops the ship out of Transit (faster-than-light travel) and maneuvers behind the Dauntless. Enkidu attends to his animal companion Glaucon.

Bold Kevin hails the sister ship, but there is only an automated reply. Tela’s optimism is dashed when she detects no life signs and minimal life support. Cautious Chris borrows an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) gun from Tela, and Tariq grabs the Bow of Indra. Nate and Kevin ready concussion grenades and the chain Coif of Egg Shen.

Brun docks the Blackbird to the Dauntless at an amidship airlock. Lt.Cmdr. Reese leads the away team of Sgt. Jessup, Mr. McKee, and Mr. Saladin, leaving Lt. Bearhammer, Tela, Enkidu, Kedar, and Dr. Bucket to monitor their progress.

The squad passes through an airlock and finds empty barracks. Tariq detects cold air but recommends against opening helmets and risking exposure to unknown pathogens. Chris and Nate look for signs of battle or Zurmiz Krott but find none.

The explorers pass through a long corridor leading toward the bridge. Brun scans for hostile nanites (microscopic robots) and for any approaching vessels. Tela and Enkidu tap into the corvette’s systems and reactivate its lights and artificial gravity.

Space marines Nate and Chris use manual overrides to open the hatch to the bridge, which is similarly empty. They do notice that some of the control panels appear to have been smashed by human fists. Kevin views the logs of Capt. Helena Cain, a former colleague who appears increasingly disheveled.

Capt. Cain says that some of her crew has begun acting strangely and that she had tried confining people to their quarters. A later entry shows communications officer Lt. Harry Takahari Jr., who says that the captain had gone down to engineering to try to maintain control.

The last log entry is by Delphine (“Uplifted” cetacean) astrogator Lt. Wynona Smoketrail, who had once raced Aughest-vor. She says that most of the crew is incapacitated or worse and that the ship should be quarantined. Kevin swears.

The away team’s investigations are interrupted when Brun notices a person in a space suit drifting alongside theDauntless. Tariq volunteers to retrieve him, but Kevin and Nate are reluctant to let their only medic go.

Tela asks cheerful Dr. Bucket to bring the astronaut to the Marauder-class ship rather than the Blackbird for further study. In the meantime, Tariq goes to another compartment to manually remove the flight recorder (a.k.a. “black box”).

With remote help from Brun, Nate and Chris check gunnery records. They find that beam weapons were fired into a gas cloud, to no apparent effect. Lt.Cmdr. Reese takes Sgt. Jessup and Mr. McKee to check out the lower decks while Tariq examines the flight recorder and waits for Dr. Bucket.

Tela detects movement, despite the absence of heat signatures. Kevin asks her to reactivate internal cameras, and he recognizes Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) science officer Dr. Mulan Neverland, Lt. Jamie Segars, and four other crew members sitting in the brig.

After a moment’s hesitation, Kevin opens the door to the brig, flanked by Chris and Nate, who have drawn weapons. The Dauntless officers wear blank expressions and step forward in unison.

Undead space marine
Boo!

Kevin tries to close the door, but the zombiefied crew is upon him. Chris fires the EMP gun, causing one person to move spasmodically. Nate fires his laser pistol, as Kevin backs away.

The insensate mob claws at Chris’ space suit, and the sniper switches to a Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity reptilian alien) disruptor. He burns a hole in an undead astronaut with a laser, but that barely slows it down, as sparks course through its chest.

Nate pulls out titanium rods and applies his martial arts training for close combat, knocking down a crewman. Kevin unleashes a devastating barrage with his gyroc pistol, blasting the leg off another, which continues crawling forward.

The Terran trio falls back toward the turbolift. Dr. Bucket is attacked by the person in the space suit, so Tela orders him back to the Blackbird. Brun sees the launch bay of the Dauntless opening and warns the away team. Tela manages to reverse bay doors. Tariq grabs the black box and heads to the forward airlock near the bridge.

After Chris and Kevin are pummeled by more zombies, Nate covers their retreat, dislocating the limbs of his opponents. Kevin asks Tela to open all airlocks to evacuate the ship, but the cold and vacuum don’t slow down the reanimated crew.

Mystic Tariq happens to be at the right place, at the right time and manages to saunter past two spacemen and one crippled cyborg unnoticed.

Tharian Tela detects more motion from sickbay and the lower decks, as sailors, pilots, and marines try to get to the away team. Dr. Philips, a Pomuyan or blue alien telepath of the same species as Orion Starchaser, is among them.

Brun sees crew crowded by the Dauntless ’ portholes and sends a message to the Pina Colada asking Capt. Jasmine to hurry and catch up. Tela checks in with Lt.Cmdr. Reese via intercom, as the sounds of bodies slamming into hatches echo through the ship.

Humans Kevin, Nate, and Chris get into a turbolift, but it gets stuck halfway to the bridge. Tela diagnoses the problem and says it’s mechanical rather than electrical. As a shambling horde approaches from below, Lt.Cmdr. Reese and Sgt. Jessup throw concussion grenades. They and Mr. Reese then begin climbing.

Ursoid Brun would rather wade into battle, but he undocks and brings the Blackbird around to the Dauntless’ forward airlock. Tariq agrees that evacuation is a higher priority than getting organic samples.

Tela manages to get the turbolift unstuck, and Kevin, Nate, and Chris evade grasping hands and rejoin Tariq. With a mighty shout, Nate breaks a zombie’s neck before reboarding the Blackbird, which immediately disengages.

Tariq asks Brun to come around so that they can retrieve Dr. Bucket’s space-suited former foe. Kevin asks Tela to reseal all airlocks on the Dauntless to prevent any spread of infection. Brun also deactivates the ship’s flight controls, in case any of the crew are somehow still able to pilot it.

Kedar [+2 Computers] double-checks the Blackbird’s systems, while Dr. Bucket analyzes the flight recorder that Tariq retrieved. The crewman in the space suit is Specialist Donar Kievich. Tariq examines him in a sealed-off chamber and concludes that he isn’t infected by Zurmiz Krott nanites. Unfortunately, Kievich can’t be revived.

The so-called black box reveals that the outbreak happened shortly after the Dauntless parted ways with the Crazy Horse and Sovereign, so they may not be affected. The corvette did encounter a cloud with strange energy readings, and Lt.Cmdr. Reese sends a warning back to Earth.

Tariq and Tela analyze Dr. Philips’ journal in the hope of finding a clue or countermeasure. Chris suggests that the ship be scuttled, but Kevin notes that it’s too important to the defense of the Sol system and that they should wait for the scientists aboard the Pina Colada….

I’m sorry that I missed Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” planetary romance game again last night — how did it go? Weather permitting, I look forward to resuming the “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign next Monday. Later, -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.27 — Fleet reports

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.27 of the “Vortex” telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 10 March 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?

“Vortex” Team 5c (3) Player Character rosters: Crew of the refitted experimental scout shipBlackbird:

  • Lt. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • Tela” [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary/absent]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington” [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Brun” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron V.O., secondary]-male Terran human, gung-ho member of the North American Aerospace Marine Corps
  • Enkidu Aristheon” [Dexter V.H., secondary]-male Seranen (pale empathic humanoid alien) exile, wilderness survival expert curious about Terrans and the Zarkonian threat; with sphinx-like companion Glaucon

Crew of the yacht Pina Colada:

  • 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/absent]-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
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • 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
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary ]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

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

Ships in the Asteroid Belt
Terran space fleet

“15 to 18 July 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” The Pina Colada delivered part of a smuggled cargo of artifacts from the Vatican Museums to the United Ecumenical Movement’s temples on Phobos. Its crew also uncovered a cultist for the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

Meanwhile, the Blackbird returns to the Asteroid Belt to report to the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.). Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese is happy to settle back into the captain’s seat, and Chris McKee resumes his post as gunner, having swapped ships with Lt. Sebastian Growlick and Lord Wallace Tubbington III, respectively.

Lt. Brun Bearhammer pilots the Blackbird from a disused Black Box Security Co. safe house to Ceres Station. Tela and astromech assistant Dr. Bucket notice that passing tugs have been outfitted with weaponry.

Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup wants to ensure a safe transfer of the Vatican relics, and Enkidu Aristheon is curious about the human colonies. Tariq Asrad Saladin keeps busy cataloging the artifacts. Hector Chavez sends a message from thePina Colada warning to watch out for compromised recipients.

Col. Shan Gray, Lt.Cmdr. Reese’s superior officer in the Interplanetary Patrol, personally greets members of “Terra’s Pride” in a landing bay. He assigns eight space marines to escort the cargo and crew to a secure level. Tariq, Dr. Bucket, and Enkidu’s gryphon-like companion Glaucon initially stay with the Blackbird.

Kevin pilots the Tiger Hawk Sandstorm, a modular ground-effect vehicle, and Tela, Chris, and Brun ride along with the cargo. Nate and Enkidu walk with the marines, warily watching the station’s inhabitants because several other parties are still hunting for the treasure.

Seranen empath Enkidu senses surprise at extraterrestrials such as himself and Tharian Tela being escorted by so many soldiers in urban battle dress, but no hostility.

In a research facility deep in the honeycombed asteroid, Lt.Cmdr. Reese turns over the last containers to Dr. Brett Carson. The explorer explains that the ancient items could be helpful in defending the Sol system against the Zarkonians.

While Kevin and Nate brief fellow U.S.N. personnel, Tela goes to look for Ceres Station’s main engineering section. Brun, Chris, and Enkidu accompany her. They find a massive amount of activity, as microfusion generators are installed, structural reinforcements are made, and khaki-clad workers scurry about. Some components bear megacorporate logos.

Tela talks with Lt. Hedy, a “Synth” (artificial intelligence/gynoid) engineer. Lt. Hedy cheerfully confirms Tela’s theory that the asteroid is being turned into a vessel capable of Transit (faster-than-light travel). Brun is bored, and Chris doesn’t like robots, so they leave as the engineers continue their discussion.

Enkidu returns to the Blackbird and rides Glaucon into the station, turning heads on their way to get exercise in a hydroponic garden tier. Brun goes to the “Sloppy Seconds” bar and finds a brawl in progress.

Chris inquires about former buddies and finds fellow sniper Sgt. Jane Walthrop at a firing range. They try out new guns and reminisce about service at Fort Olympus Mons on Mars.

At Col. Gray’s office, Lt.Cmdr. Reese and Sgt. Jessup get a friendlier private reception. As usual, the colonel asks the formerly burned-out space cop how he’s feeling, and Kevin says that he is happy to have found a purpose.

Shan explains that the Korelev, part of Kevin’s homeworld security task force, has recently docked with the U.S.N. battleship Ilokar [named after the Zarendo god of war]. Gustrall (orange-furred, antlered, flightless avian alien) Capt. “Evander Scofield” has reported to Adm. Jaques Pons that the Dauntless, flagship of the task force, is missing.

Back at the “Sloppy Seconds,” Brun bellows for the fighting to stop. Most of the drunken patrons cease their fisticuffs, but a few in the back keep going. The Ursoid shoves his way through the crowd and slams a Felinoid (“Uplifted” tiger) into a table. Brun then asks Darcy, Jasmine’s ex-boyfriend, to play cards. The furry duo exchange more grunts than words thereafter.

Tela helps Lt. Hedy improve the efficiency of Ceres Station’s new systems, which are Terran models based on Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) and Ru’ulok (heavy-gravity, reptilian alien) designs. The android states that the asteroid is a test bed for the new technologies.

Chris and Jane go to Murphy’s Pub, while Kevin and Nate eventually join Brun on Deck 3, Room 32C. Chris then gives Jane a private tour of the experimental scout ship Blackbird. While Lt.Cmdr. Reese would also like female companionship, he and Sgt. Jessup have to report to the Ilokar. They grab a few bottles of whiskey as consolation.

Lt. Bearhammer and Darcy go bar-hopping, and Enkidu stays in radio contact with Tariq. Kevin and Nate take the Dragonfly drop ship over to the Ilokar battle group. Capt. Scofield [Josh/Non-Player Character] explains that the task force was spread thin over a large area of interstellar space when the Dauntless, Crazy Horse, and Sovereign failed to check in.

Evander provides the ships’ last known position and volunteers to help find them and “destroy the perpetrators,” but Kevin decides not to ask Adm. Pons to have the Korolev join the Blackbird. Nate suspects the Zurmiz Krott, biomechanical advance probes of the armada.

The admiral does say that support is available from Terran bases in the nearby systems of Alpha Centauri, Epsilon Eridani, and Wolf 359. He also gives the officers alarming top-secret information: The Zarkonian Armada, once believed to be far from Earth, is now less than two months away.

The U.S.N. and Kharvamid Alliance are rushing to outfit as many vessels and habitats as possible with Transit capability, but escalating conflicts in the Inner Solar System have forced them to refocus their efforts. Ma’ari Talari (alien ark ships) are also on their way, and the Trinoids (trilateral amphibians) and Nethians (insectoid engineers) have provided advisers.

Kevin asks for his sister in law Jennifer and her boyfriend Capt. Nick Cheney (whom he suspects of murdering his wife Heather) to be evacuated from New Shanghai on Mars. Nate requests that his clan of miners also be moved if possible.

Adm. Pons asks Lt.Cmdr. Reese to report back to high command upon successful completion of his mission to find the Dauntless, Crazy Horse, and Sovereign because his task force will be needed to help scout out evacuation routes and destinations.

However, as Kevin calls “Terra’s Pride” to regroup, he tells his companions that they should try to find a way to slow or injure the approaching armada. Lt.Cmdr. Reese asks Capt. Jasmine and the Pina Colada to catch up to theBlackbird as it searches for the Dauntless in deep space….

Next time, on “Vortex: Terra’s Pride:” A space-suited away team waves rifles and flashlights through an apparently vacant ship. “There are no life signs, sir, but we’re getting movement….”

Dexter, I hope that you had a Happy Birthday, and Beruk, we missed “Tariq.” Geoff, please direct your friend who’s interested in our campaign to the Obsidian Portal site and have him contact me directly.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing some of you at tonight’s “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy game, and remember that I’ll probably be missing Jason E.R.’s next “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” planetary romance session. Take it easy, -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.25, 26 — Cache and cultist

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Sessions 5c.25 and 26 of the “Vortex” telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on 24 February and 3 March 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?

“Vortex” Team 5c (3) Player Character rosters: Crew of the yacht Pina Colada:

  • 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/absent]-male Pomuyan (blue telepathic humanoid alien), irrepressible mystic and thrill-seeking galactic hitchhiker
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • 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
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary/absent]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Crew of the refitted experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • Tela” [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington” [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Brun” [Geoff C., secondary/absent]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron V.O., secondary]-male Terran human, gung-ho member of the North American Aerospace Marine Corps
  • 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 Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

Phobos, moon of Mars
Mars’ moon Phobos

“10 to 17 July 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” While the explorers aboard the Blackbird first ventured into interstellar space, the grifters aboard the Appomattox had obtained a cargo of items taken from the Vatican Museums. Rather than deliver the artifacts near Epsilon Eridani, the smugglers had hid them in deep space.

Months later, the “Terra’s Pride” task force, including crew members from the Appomattox and Blackbirdreturned to find the Plutonium Hammer retrieving containers on behalf of Intersystems Salvage. The Pina Colada encountered a Nolath-Kutalrin vessel also seeking the Vatican relics.

“Terra’s Pride” escorted the Plutonium Hammer and its contents back to Ganymede in the Jovian Commonwealth, where it learned that Kolidari, a dangerous Octopoid (bioengineered cephalopod), was involved.

The Pina Colada and Blackbird boldly seized the contested cargo from an Intersystems Salvage warehouse in New Havana and retreated to a former Black Box Security Co. base in the Asteroid Belt. The group examined the items, hoping to find mystical meaning, historical or trade significance, and defenses against the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

Hector Chavez suggests a “reverse heist,” returning the relics to a proper authority to divert those hunting them and the treasure. The former spy also recommends that his companions work out a private set of signals and passphrases.

Dr. Srinu Pahul prepares versions of the cargo manifest for various museums. Capt. Jasmine suggests sending one to the arachnid Nolath and avoiding gangster Kolidari, as well as onetime colleagues in “MarSoupAiL” (shell company Mars Soup Aid Lenders Ltd.).

Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese and Chris McKee say they’d prefer to turn over everything to the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) in the name of homeworld security. While some of their crewmates want to claim a few items for themselves, explorers Chiron and Enkidu Aristheon assert that everything belongs in a museum.

After some debate, the members of “Terra’s Pride” agree to deliver most of the artifacts to the authorities rather than to other smugglers or mysterious alien traders. The task force decides against going to Fort Olympus Mons on Mars.

Hector tells Jasmine and company to warn people such as her ex-boyfriend Darcy to be careful, since his handler Max told him that several other parties were hunting for the cargo.

On the Pina Colada, Capt. Jasmine studies the Televalutor, an ancient astrogation device. Hector takes a few Spanish doubloons as potential bargaining chips, and scientist Srinu claims the Ring of Andeleb, which can protect against Zurmiz Krott nanites. Sniper Chris grabs the Gem of Focus.

Kevin tries on the chain Coif of Egg Shen against mental attacks. Pomuyan mystic warrior Orion waits for Hector to repair a plasma sword hilt and reads a fragment of the Second Imperial Encyclopedia Galactica.

Chiron declines his share of the booty [getting a Fate point instead] and makes a redacted copy of the cargo manifest for Dr. Martha Liao, a xenobiologist at the Terran science academies.

From the Blackbird, Lt. Sebastian Growlick dons the Sash of Giganta, which enhances strength, but engineer Tela also declines a share [and gets another Fate point]. Tariq Asrad Saladin determines that the Bow of Indra fires charged arrows.

Lord Wallace Tubbington III waits for Tela to forge him a katana to put into the Scabbard of Musashi. Lt. Nathan A. Jessup takes a replica of an ancient Chinese dagger as a souvenir, and Enkidu Aristheon is given a crystal that amplifies his psionic abilities. Brun claims…?

In addition, Hector recommends keeping some of the Trojan gold in party stores. Before getting under way, Kevin and Chris switch ships with Sebastian and Wallace. Lt.Cmdr. Reese rejoins his military crew on the Blackbird, as Lt. Growlick hangs out with fellow Felinoid, Capt. Jasmine, on the Pina Colada.

The former “Agent Prometheus” compares tactical notes with pilot Brun, while Lord Tubbington talks about galactic tourism with Orion and Chiron. Hector and Tela coordinate microjumps into Transit (faster than light) and mask ion trails to confuse potential pursuers.

The Pina Colada takes the bulk of the artistic and mythic objects from the Vatican horde to the United Ecumenical Movement (U.E.M.) temples on Phobos, a moon of Mars. Sebastian, Hector, and Wallace disembark, while Capt. Jasmine, Srinu, Chiron, and Orion stay on the ship and on the radio.

The new arrivals are greeted in the docking bay by Sister Philippa, a Buddhist chaplain who doesn’t recognize Dr. Pahul. Disguised as “Dr. Prabhakar Swapan Mullur,” he and the crew of the Gryphon previously broke out three Synth Liberation Front detainees from the temples.

Mighty Jasmine helps unload the precious cargo, while Sebastian recognizes his brother Castillian, a notorious pirate just happening to visit Phobos on family business. The leonine “Synth” explains that Ms. Helen Gastmeyer had recommended asking U.E.M. contacts for help getting a seat on the colonial parliament.

Wary Hector recognizes Ms. Gastmeyer as someone “MarSoupAiL” had dealt with back on Earth. Meanwhile, Wallace (wearing Musashi’s scabbard) wanders into the temple precincts, where the Olvar meets several interesting humans.Brother Abel notices Lord Tubbington’s long coat and challenges him to a duel, but the swashbuckler is called away by Hector.

Sebastian and Wallace rush back to Jasmine to help escort the cargo to a secure archive. Srinu and Hector have Sebastian recommend that Sister Philippa try on the Diadem of Theodora. She uses it to perceive the auras of those around her.

Brother Nelvin nervously asks to be excused. Lt. Growlick and Lord Tubbington follow the friar, who takes an unexpected turn in the hallway. They confront Nelvin, who refuses to cooperate. Sebastian reaches for a gun and knocks him out. The lieutenant carries the robed cleric.

Aboard the Pina Colada, Hector notices an energy spike from a personal force screen, as Srinu watches for reinforcements for Nelvin. Impatient Jasmine dons space armor and runs to help Sebastian and Wallace.

Lt. Growlick takes Nelvin’s belt and contacts Sister Philippa to get clearance to bring the prisoner to the yacht. Capt. Jasmine gives the order to leave, but Wallace and Hector aren’t aboard.

Wallace has gone to a gift shop to look for a katana, while Hector searches Nelvin’s quarters. He finds spare power cells for the personal force field and a holdout needler loaded with sedatives, odd items for a monk.

Back on the Pina Colada, Dr. Pahul restrains the supposedly ill Brother Nelvin for interrogation and conducts a medical scan. The doctor finds a cranial implant more advanced than Black Box models, and Hector jams its transmissions. Jasmine recommends that Orion conduct a mind wipe if needed.

Wallace asks Nelvin about his allegiances in return for an offer of clemency. Nelvin surprises everyone by saying that the U.E.M. and “Terra’s Pride” are deluded if they think they can save Terrans from the Zarkonian Armada. He says they “should ally with the coming darkness.”

Sebastian sends Jasmine and Srinu’s robot nurse MEGAN out of sickbay. Srinu and Wallace go get a drink. The remote observers fear that Sebastian will harm Nelvin, but the cunning lieutenant feigns sympathy. The brother reveals that Ms. Gastmeyer can be found at Wolf 359, a nearby solar system.

Hector and Sebastian realize that Castillian’s presence at the behest of Ms. Gastmeyer, Brother Nelvin’s participation in a Zarkonian cult, and their own delivery of the Vatican cargo is no coincidence. Even though they’d prefer to space the enemy spy, Srinu and Sebastian agree that he might yet prove useful.

Dr. Pahul and Lt. Growlick warn Sister Philippa that Brother Nelvin has been compromised. Hector successfully hacks into his cranial implant and transmits the codes to the U.E.M. Sister Philippa reluctantly agrees to tighten security and covertly monitor Nelvin in the hope of learning more.

Sebastian gives Nelvin’s belt to Hector, and Wallace takes the needler. Srinu and Chiron record documentation. ThePina Colada sets out from Phobos to rendezvous with the Blackbird in the Asteroid Belt.

Lt.Cmdr. Reese has contacted his superior, Col. Shan Gray of the Interplanetary Patrol. The Blackbird brings part of the Vatican treasure to “Ilokar” battle group, commanded by Adm. Jacques Pons….

Dexter and Geoff, I’m sorry that you missed our latest session. Dex, I hope that you had a Happy Birthday! I’ve updated your P.C. records to reflect the distribution of items/stunts and Fate points, but let me know if you have any additional changes.

I hope to eventually rejoin Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars,” and I look forward to next Monday’s “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy game. I’ll see you at tomorrow night’s “Vortex” telecom session — don’t forget Daylight Saving Time! -Gene

“Vortex: Terra’s Pride” Update 5c.24 — New Havana heist

Fellow role-players, here is my update for Session 5c.24 of the “Vortex” telecom space opera campaign, which met via Skype on Sunday, 10 February 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?

“Vortex” Team 5c (3) Player Character rosters: Crew of the yacht Pina Colada:

  • 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
  • Dr. Srinu Pahul” [Byron V.O., primary]-male Terran “near-human” (genetically modified) xenobiologist, curious and confident planetary patriot; with robots MEGAN and PEPE
  • 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
  • Chiron” [Dexter V.H., primary]-male (secretly android) pilot, assigned to assess and protect humanity

Crew of the experimental scout ship Blackbird:

  • Lt. Sebastian Growlick” [Bruce K., secondary]-male Felinoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” lion), elite soldier and acting commander of the refitted Blackbird
  • Tela” [Sara F., secondary]-female Tharian (gargoyle-like alien), escapee from the Encegulans (slug-like slavers), fond of humans; engineer with boyfriend Kedar and robot Dr. Bucket
  • Tariq Asrad Saladin” [Beruk A., secondary]-male Terran “near-human” (mutant) wanderer with a past, investigator
  • Lord Wallace Tubbington III” [Josh C., secondary]-male Olvar (arboreal, mammal-like alien) swashbuckler and diplomat for the Kharvamid Alliance
  • Brun” [Geoff C., secondary]-male Martian Ursoid “Synth” (“Uplifted” bear), former wrestler, pilot
  • Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup” [Byron V.O., secondary]-male Terran human, gung-ho member of the North American Aerospace Marine Corps
  • Enkidu Aristheon” [Dexter V.H., secondary]-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 Blackbird, Appomattox, and Gryphon.

Inspirational text
Space heist

“7 to 9 July 2195 A.D./C.E. or 1 Terran Galactic Era:” After separate voyages, the Pina Colada and Blackbird joined to form the “Terra’s Pride” task force. The starships found that they were not alone in the hunt for stolen Vatican treasures, following them to Jupiter’s moon Ganymede.

On the yacht Pina Colada, Capt. Jasmine says that she wants to limit collateral damage if the ancient relics are to be seized by force. The Plutonium Hammer had retrieved two shipping containers near Epsilon Eridani and delivered them to an Intersystems Salvage warehouse in New Havana.

Hector Chavez hacks into local security systems. The onetime spy tracks Kolidari back to a rented apartment and a private shuttle. Hector and Jasmine suspect the Octopoid (bioengineered cephalopod) casino owner of masterminding a plot involving smuggling, blackmail, religious factions, and murder on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Chris McKee reminds his companions that they don’t have the cargo-handling equipment to simply remove the containers from the Jovian warehouse. Orion Starchaser is restless as the crew discusses a potential heist. He and Chiron want to examine the artifacts as soon as possible.

Lt.Cmdr. Kevin Reese prefers a clear plan, and he and Dr. Srinu Pahul recommend notifying the Union of Solar Nations (U.S.N.) and the United Ecumenical Movement (U.E.M.) about the items. They also coordinate with colleagues aboard the scout ship Blackbird.

Lt. Sebastian Growlick, Brun, and Sgt. Nathan A. Jessup would like to simply attack the warehouse, but Capt. Jasmine and Lt.Cmdr. Reese overrule the eager space marines. Tela assembles makeshift magnetic grapples with supplies acquired by Dr. Pahul.

Lord Wallace Tubbington III notes that the space where the containers were retrieved falls between Terran and Ru’ulok (reptilian alien pirate) control. Tariq Asrad Saladin and Enkidu Aristheon express concern that the historical items be preserved. They also warn both crews to be on the lookout for the Nolath-Kutalrin ship also hunting for the cargo.

Brun pilots the agile Blackbird to New Havana and drops off Tela, Orion, and Srinu. Chiron maneuvers the larger Pina Colada to grab the containers, with Nathan in a space suit on Hector’s hover truck to assist with loading. Hector loans Srinu a variable electromagnetic pulse (EMP) gun, and he, Jasmine, and Sebastian monitor communications and nearby traffic.

Tela picks a lock on a side door, and the infiltration team heads to a lavatory. Hector remotely hacks into the warehouse surveillance systems and warns the trio about numerous robots. Orion telepathically senses several human personnel, and Srinu readies a needler pistol.

Two Intersystems Salvage workers enter the washroom, and quick-thinking Srinu strips off his clothing and jumps into the showers. Tela and Orion hide in stalls. Srinu emerges and introduces himself as “Rajesh Abishek,” a recently-arrived transport agent from New Shanghai in the Mars Confederacy.

Tom Kelden and Gregor Andreivtich tell Rajesh to report to the manager’s office, and Srinu grabs some overalls from a laundry hamper. They complain about tightened security and agree to swing by the employee lounge with Rajesh.

While Srinu continues his diversion, Tela squeezes into an air duct. The stealthy Tharian climbs to a position above the units containing the Vatican artifacts, leaving Orion alone. The Pomuyan mystic exits the building and sweeps the perimeter.

Hector recognizes an arriving shuttle, and he tells the team to hurry up. Orion senses visitors to the management office, and he radios Srinu to intercept. Tela plants explosives on the outer wall of the warehouse.

As Rajesh, Srinu finds himself face to face with tentacled Kolidari! The charming cephalopod has a vocal device programmed to resemble an archaic Terran actor [apologies to Sean Connery]. Tela is nearly captured by a security droid, but Hector overrides its controls so she can join Orion.

Kolidari graciously offers to meet with Rajesh to discuss potential business, and Srinu manages to disengage and retreat. Hector triggers the explosives, but Gregor is caught in the explosive decompression.

Chris accurately fires the magnetic grapples and reels the containers into the Pina Colada’s cargo hold. Nathan grabs Gregor and brings him to safety, while Tela, Orion, and Srinu evade station security to rendezvous with the Blackbird.

Dr. Pahul’s robot nurse MEGAN attends to unconscious Gregor, and both ships head to the Asteroid Belt. Agent Prometheus recommends an abandoned Black Box Security Co. safehouse over returning to Mars or Saturn.

The Pina Colada and Blackbird dock at a decrepit asteroid base. Engineers Hector and Tela work on stabilizing systems such as life support and attitude control. Dr. Pahul insists on proper containment procedures before examining the cargo, citing the dangerous nanites (microscopic robots) emitted by Zarkonian probes.

After impatiently waiting, Orion and Chiron begin examining the artifacts, with Jasmine, Chris, Srinu, and Enkidu watching closely. The items fall into three categories:

  • Artistic and historical: Such as the lost scrolls of Babylon (indicating trade with the “Vanished Lands”) gold from Troy, and notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
  • Ancient technology: the Televalutor (a Greek astrolabe), South Pacific star maps
  • Mythic objects: Including the Sash of Giganta, Musashi’s Scabbard, the Horn of Roland (believed be merely legends)

Orion detects some psionic resonancesimilar to what he had found on Earthsupporting Srinu’s theories of pre-First Contact relations between humans and aliens. Chris recalls Precursor technology found by the Blackbird and hopes to find weapons that can be used against the approaching Zarkonian Armada.

Hector and Kevin wonder why the arachnid Nolath and cyborg Kutalrin would be interested in the cargo, since they’re known more for engineering than cultural interests. Wallace confirms that the Olvar (arboreal mammal-like mystics and pranksters) and Ru’ulok have more in common with Terrans.

Jasmine and Sebastian remind their crews that they have limited time to study the relics and to decide what to do with them, since several other groups are now hunting for them….

Dexter and Bruce, we missed you at this past weekend’s game! While we had a slow start — everyone was no doubt tired from shoveling snow — I’m glad that your heist was successful. I hope to engage each character more equitably, and good luck to your crews as they analyze the retrieved relics! Make the most of our time between sessions.

Note that we won’t be meeting virtually again until Sunday, Feb. 24, because I have travel planned for this coming weekend. The face-to-face sessions for Jason’s “Barsoomian Adventures” pulp SF and my “Vanished LandsVistel’s Circus” fantasy campaign have also been pushed back because of the weather. In the meantime, take it easy, and stay in touch, -Gene