Friday, October 17, 2014

Rifts Misadventures: Session 8

Adventurers by Razuri-the-Sleepless
Our latest session of Rifts (still powered by Fate Core) featured the triumphant return of the missing member of our original player character team: the Psi-Stalker known as Kat, played by my brother Chris, who joined us via a (somewhat buggy) Google Hangouts feed. The band is now well and truly back together and it's hard to describe how good that feels. The previous session's recap is here if you'd like to catch up.

The Roster (with Fate "high concept" aspects, followed by traditional Rifts O.C.C.s)

Arisis Solstice, Radiant Daughter of Atlas (female titan Cyber-Knight), played by Felix
Katrina Mansfield, Mutant Psi-Stalker P.I. (female mutoid Psi-Stalker), played by Chris
Max Parkinson, Runaway Teenage Mystic (male human Mystic), played by me
Valerie Cain, Amazon Cyborg Wildchild (female Praxian Headhunter), played by Kent

Session Recap
Valerie, Max, and Arisis successfully make their way to Isla de la Juventud, also known as "Isla de Encanta" and "Treasure Island". Shortly after they reach the island, the erstwhile fourth member of their group, the Psi-Stalker called Kat, arrives at the docks, having earlier been summoned by Max via astral projection. Kat is warmly greeted by Valerie, who is openly thrilled to see the Psi-Stalker. Max, still haunted by the senseless deaths of the villagers back on Cuba proper, is somewhat more reserved, but glad to have Kat's particular set of skills on hand for what he anticipates will be a great struggle. Kat has arrived armed for bear, with much of her arsenal of mechanical combat drones, as well as Arisis' carnosaur-like robotic mount, in tow. (The Cyber-Knight is too excited about being reunited with her steed to properly greet her long-missing comrade.)

The group gets Kat up to speed on the nature of their predicament. They've learned that the island is home to a massive prison complex known as Bastille Impenetrable, which is operated by an extradimensional race called the Tisch. Grey-skinned and three-eyed, the Tisch (or at least, the ones running Bastille Impenetrable) are vehemently opposed to the death penalty, and will hold any criminal in one of their pan-Megaversal prisons (for a nominal fee, of course). Thus, they operate this prison out of both philosophical and profit-based concerns. The city surrounding the prison is under strict rule of law, and any infractions are punished with immediate arrest (and, presumably, imprisonment). The group believes that one of the twins they seek to rescue must be imprisoned in Bastille Impenetrable. Max wonders aloud whether it's Asha or Annejah, and under what sort of pretenses they could be held. The mere mention of their names apparently sets off some sort of psychic alert, which the team's psionics -- Arisis, Kat, and Max -- all detect.

Max links hands with the other two and attempts to trace the source of the distress call, expecting to find one of the twins requesting aid. Instead, the three sense another being entirely: one that is guarded by an ogre shaman. Their concentrated will easily thwarts the shaman's attempted mental interference, and they are surprised to find themselves speaking with a presence that identifies itself as the Sunstar Aegis -- the ship belonging to their benefactor, Nysa, which they were told had been seized by ogre pirates. Max, bewildered, admits that he's never telepathically contacted a ship before. He and his companions soon learn that the ship has a magically sapient control CPU, and it is with this artifact that they are communicating. The "rune-puter" (as Kat describes it) informs them that the Neuron Beast Zaal double-crossed the ogre pirates that captured the twins (and the Sunstar Aegis) upon arriving at Treasure Island, and that he has one of them in captivity now. Their conversation is cut short, however, when the ogre shaman that was guarding the Sunstar Aegis resumes control and severs communications. Max attempts to contact the ship again, but proves unable to. (In an interesting feature of the Fate Core system, I accepted a Fate Point in exchange for agreeing that Max would be unable to reach the ship again.)

Taking an alternate approach, Kat uses her inborn Psi-Stalker tracking abilities to home in on the residual psychic trail leading to the ship's location, but upon arrival, she and her compatriots are detained by an alarmed Tisch dock inspector. Max, often the voice of the team, attempts to appeal to the inspector's sense of justice by calmly explaining the nature of their situation, but the bureaucrat's insistence that the group lacks the proper permits and must leave the dock immediately quickly wears down Max's resolve, and his teenage distrust of authority asserts itself.  While the Tisch continues indignantly babbling in legalese and prodding Max and associates with a clipboard, they notice that a group of unsavory-looking ogres are staring them down from where the Sunstar Aegis is docked. Max grows increasingly frustrated, and before long the young Mystic goes into meltdown, shouting that "somebody's in trouble and you want us to do paperwork -- this is why nobody bothers with the cops!" (I accepted another Fate Point here, for letting the GM compel Max's Raging Hormones aspect to his detriment.) The inspector angrily responds that he is "not a cop" but suggests that perhaps he should call for backup. The titan Arisis literally carries an infuriated Max away before the situation can get worse, and Valerie flatly informs her young friend that he is "blowing it." Kat steps in and tries to provoke the dock inspector into giving away something useful, with limited results, and it seems that things are about to escalate even further when Val finally takes control. She flirtatiously smoothes over the disagreement, but has little choice but to agree to an evening date with the inspector in order to stop him from calling in armed reinforcements. Max (somewhat sullenly) muses that at least something productive may have come from the group's efforts.

Our heroes, stymied, head into the city that has sprung up around Bastille Impenetrable. Kat and Valerie search for more leads, while Max and Arisis find themselves more distracted by the sights (and tastes) of the city rather than turning up anything useful. Over a strange delicacy known as a "corn dog", Max apologizes to Arisis for his disastrous outburst during the group's encounter with the dock inspector, but asks that she not pick him up like a doll in public again. As he is wrapping up his heart-to-heart with the titan, Max is surprised to see Gia -- the young, unusually attractive goblin he had met in Havana some days prior -- also enjoying a corn dog. (I spent one of my Fate Points to set a scene detail here, since the GM had already expressed an interest in having Gia show up again someday.) Evidently, she is a travelling folk healer who roams throughout the region, plying her trade. Max seizes the opportunity to ask Gia out on a date, which she accepts. Max, naturally, picks the same restaurant that the dock inspector chose for his date with Valerie, since (after all) it's the only nice place in town that he knows of.

That evening, Max spends a little bit too much of his date craning his neck to get an idea of how Valerie's is going, but Gia is apparently only slightly annoyed. Valerie's rendezvous, which the Headhunter is apparently unable to extricate herself from despite her best efforts, is still underway when Max and Gia leave the restaurant to meet up with Kat and Arisis. As they continue to explore the city in search of clues, a gruff-voiced, masked Tisch who introduces himself as "Objection" suddenly makes his presence known to the group. Objection knows that our heroes are in search of Neuron Beast Zaal and informs them that the creature is currently holed up in the embassy that it, as the ostensible ruler of an "empire" in Cuba, maintains in the city. Watched constantly by members of the band of ogre pirates that it double-crossed, the neuron beast is unable to leave his domicile. Zaal, we're told, has one of the twins in a "stasis box" and intends to sell her to a banker named Phket, who clandestinely launders money for human(oid) traffickers. (At this point, Max advises Gia that things are likely to get a bit crazy, and that he wouldn't object if she decided to bail, but she elects to stick around.)

Arisis, Kat, and Max agree to Objection's plan to draw the ogres away from Zaal's embassy. Arisis, no friend to ogres, is particularly keen on this gambit, suggesting that she and her comrades go the extra mile and lead the hulking humanoids all the way back to the docks where the Sunstar Aegis is held. Objection plans to break into the embassy during the chaos that ensues -- "I work alone" -- and insists that "no murders are going to happen in my city", an edict to which Max and Kat scoffingly agree. The group rushes back to the restaurant and rescues a grateful Valerie from her interminable outing with the dock inspector, and after filling her in on the details, she agrees to their plan: Val will head to Zaal's location while the others distract the ogres and withdraw with them in pursuit.

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