"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

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