Friday, September 4, 2015

Rifts Misadventures: Session 18

A role-playing game session... with only role-playing and no combat to speak of? That's unpossible! Yet that's more or less what happened. I hadn't anticipated that everybody (myself included) would be feeling quite as talkative as they were, but I'm certainly not complaining about getting into character. It'd have been nice to squeeze in a bit more action, but one player needed to wrap up early, and we weren't able to get to it. So, enjoy this combat-free recap.

The Solutions @ Gun Pointe Roster (with ICONS "high concept" qualities, followed by traditional Rifts O.C.C.s)

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

With Max's health restored and his armor once again operational, Solutions @ Gun Pointe (and their allies, Fay and Nahar) take a moment to regroup and recover. Fay engages her ship's unique techno-wizardry-based dimensional teleportation drive and "parks" it in deep space, in another dimension. Fay puts on a brave face and brushes off Valerie and Max's concern over her withered arm, saying that there's no way to fix it but that it's "nothing to fuss over." She downplays her own role in Max's rescue, telling Max that "us 'kid adventurers' need to stick together." Valerie thanks Fay profusely for her obvious sacrifice and tells her that S@GP will never forget it.

Max doesn't seem to be much the worse for wear. He is momentarily shaken, but recovers quite quickly, as if the magic of his Atlantean tattoo purged not only Tetka's toxins from his system, but also any potential trauma related to his mental ordeal from his psyche. He does inform his friends that using his magical tattoo's restorative powers has completely drained his magical energy for at least a day, however. (He also telepathically contacts those that helped free him from his fugue state and asks that they not tell Valerie exactly what happened in his dream-world if at all possible.)

The group considers their next move. There is considerable back-and-forth on the best plan, with some disagreement about whether to focus on attacking Hard Repo, tracking down the sphinx Tetka and her dragon companion Yeshka, checking to ensure the safety of their friends Mian and Reez (whom the aforementioned sphinx and dragon had impersonated), or to respond to Hard Repo's request for a meeting.

Nahar provides what little she knows about Tetka -- essentially, that she's twisted and unpredictable, and that she manipulates Yeshka into doing her bidding -- but points out that since the two have the ability to teleport across dimensions, it'll be nearly impossible to find them. More likely, she suggests, is the possibility that they will attack S@GP first. She suggests the group respond to her former employers' invitation to parley, saying that Hard Repo will probably want to make peace with everyone involved, since they have some degree of celebrity as "the Champions of Light," and might even be able to help them find Tetka and Yeshka. Kat, Arisis, and Max are open to the idea, despite their distaste for Hard Repo, suggesting that it's the most logical course of action.

Valerie seems dead-set on first confirming that Mian and Reez are safe, however, which prompts Nahar to bluntly wonder aloud who the leader of S@GP is. After Arisis and Kat inform her that the organization has no formal leader, and then engage in some well-intentioned (but somewhat tone-deaf) joking about the roles of the team's members, Valerie eventually relents and agrees to contact Hard Repo. However, she bristles at what she perceives as Nahar's inclusion of herself in S@GP's ranks, and calls her out, informing the tactless ogress that she will "never be as good as one of us." She then takes her leave, heading up to the cockpit. Nahar fumes for a while, but Max eventually soothes her rage with some quiet conversation in her mother tongue, Gobblely. Fay informs the group that the Horizont's communications systems were scrambled by the eldritch storms of Gemini-2, but that they'll be online again in roughly eight hours.

After roughly a day passes, Fay teleports the ship back to the Three Galaxies -- specifically, to Good Hope, the capitol planet of the Free Worlds Council, a ragtag assemblage of systems in rebellion against the totalitarian Trans-Galactic Empire. Good Hope's warp-gate works overtime, glittering among the planet's many space stations and satellites, and Free Worlds war convoys depart for the front as smoldering, battle-scarred cruisers return for repairs. S@GP convene in the cockpit to marvel at the somber but dazzling view.

Now that she is again able to access the hypernet, Fay sets about seeing what information is available about Sorventh, the draconid war criminal that Reez and Mian are hunting. She learns that Sorventh is wanted dead or alive by both the Free Worlds Council and the Consortium of Civilized Worlds for killing millions of Free Worlds colonists by intentionally targeting their outposts' atmospheric life support systems, presumably on behalf of the Trans-Galactic Empire. Seconds after accessing Sorventh's records, an incoming hail from an encrypted source chimes on Fay's console. She accepts it, and is greeted by one Jujube Yusuf, who introduces herself as the public relations liaison for Halcyon Reacquisitions (sometimes nicknamed Hard Repo) and says that she has been authorized by their CEO, G-Kon, to "discuss certain matters with Solutions @ Gun Pointe and Nahar tel-Kelyn."

Initially cautious, the Solutions crew soon find themselves negotiating with Hard Repo. Ms. Yusuf is pleasant to a fault and proves reasonably willing to work with S@GP to "squash the beef" between their organizations. There are a few disagreements over fine print which are eventually hammered out, and the end result, which Jujube informs them is more a treaty between military powers than a business agreement, is as follows:
  • Solutions @ Gun Pointe and Halcyon Reacquisitions will not engage in hostilities against the other party, nor encourage others to do so, unless either organization is found guilty of high crimes by the Intergalactic Criminal Court. (If such an eventuality occurs, HR agreed to testify that as shapeshifters, Tetka and Yeshka could frame S@GP with relative ease.)
  • Halcyon Reacquisitions does not accept responsibility for the actions of Tetka and Yeshka, since their employment was terminated the second they used lethal force in violation of Bastille Impenetrable's bounty (as delineated in their contracts). However, they will provide intelligence on Tetka and Yeshka's whereabouts and capabilities as a courtesy.
  • Since she was thrust into a situation where Tetka, the operational leader, was engaged in a criminal act, no punitive legal action will be taken against Nahar tel-Kelyn for breaking her contract. One-third of her outstanding debt to Halcyon Reacquisitions (primarily incurred through a juicer detox process and cybernetic enhancement to compensate) remains to be repaid. This remaining debt will be considered paid if both Yeshka and Tetka are brought to HR, alive or dead.
The last section, pertaining to Nahar's fate, is somewhat of a bone of contention. Kat argues forcefully that Nahar be free of any legal entanglements with Hard Repo, and the forgiveness of her debt is suggested by Valerie, a turnabout which stuns Nahar. Valerie apologizes for her earlier outburst, but lets the ogress know she didn't appreciate her flippant remarks about Max while he was in critical condition. "Fair enough," Nahar allows, and yet more beef is squashed. Jujube has to confer with her employer, but soon enough terms are reached, and a formal agreement between the two mercenary forces is forged. 

Jujube then provides S@GP with the personnel files for Tetka and Yeshka, which reveal that the two were implanted at some point in the past with unique crystalline artifacts called Amethyst Deceivers. When used by creatures of magic, these prevent all forms of detection (other than the five mortal senses) within a thirty-mile radius as long as the two individuals into whom they have been implanted remain within three miles of each other. 

Then, Jujube mentions that she would be happy to help S@GP negotiate with Bastille Impenetrable, clarifying that this is due less to her celebratory mood than a general desire to get the entire Bastille Impenetrable/Halcyon Reacquisitions/Solutions @ Gun Pointe debacle resolved. Kat suggests that it's more like Hard Repo wants to apologize to Bastille Impenetrable for screwing up, which amuses Nahar. Jujube counters that it's in S@GP's best interest to clear the slate with Bastille, unless they want more bounty hunters coming after them, an argument that eventually wins the group over. After a not-insignificant delay, a communication channel is opened with Bastille Impenetrable, with Jujube observing.

The Tisch triumvirate that arbitrate S@GP's case -- "this is not a negotiation, but a punishment" for their actions in Cuba, they repeatedly insist -- prove much less personable than HR's liaison. Instead, they demand that S@GP agree to capture four "high value" targets of Bastille Impenetrable's choosing, with no option to reject or modify the mission, at the completion of which their criminal records will be forgiven. One of the judges implies that S@GP will not approve of the targets Bastille Impenetrable selects, which causes S@GP to flatly refuse this scheme. Valerie insists that they be allowed to select their targets from Bastille Impenetrable's wanted list, which the triumvirate, in turn, rejects out of hand. They seem prepared to abandon talks entirely and reinstate the bounties on S@GP until Arisis (invoking her Radiant Daughter of Atlas quality) intimidates the judges into compromising, lest they invoke her titanic wrath:

"You seem to be under the mistaken impression that you are negotiating from a position of strength."
"I am the daughter of Atlas. Every step I take is from a position of strength."

More strong words from Arisis follow, and the following agreement is ultimately hammered out between Solutions @ Gun Pointe and Bastille Impenetrable:
  • S@GP will apprehend -- not execute -- six targets (either individuals or small groups) of Bastille Impenetrable's choosing, to be turned over to Bastille Impenetrable or their designated agents.
  • S@GP can refuse to accept a target, but no more than twelve times.
  • If S@GP fails to abide by the above restrictions, the agreement is null and void, and Bastille Impenetrable will take steps to apprehend S@GP.
Their mood dragged down by the contentious confrontation with Bastille Impenetrable, Solutions @ Gun Pointe agree to be provided with their first target, who is revealed to be Sorventh. Our heroes are informed that Bastille believes the draconid to be currently under attack by their allies, Reez and Mian, and that they will need to travel immediately to the planet Nong 6, in the Free Worlds Sector, and bring the interstellar mass murderer in alive.

Fay teleports the Horizont to Nong 6, a dry, frozen world with a barely-breathable atmosphere and a strange crust consisting of scarred earth and pools of ice. Her surface scan reveals a few ruined outposts, including one with a powerful and anomalous magnetic storm localized entirely above it, which she deduces is probably their target's location. The storm's interference wreaks havoc with sensors as well as guidance systems, and so S@GP set down at its edge. It rapidly becomes apparent that the outpost is indeed under attack, and the origin can only be the massive mobile artillery platform of a mecha that Reez and Mian used to great effect against the Horsemen of the Apocalypse: the Destroid Giant Monster, affectionately called "the Mac".

S@GP and their associates have great difficulty in getting their bearings, thanks to the magnetic interference, but before long they find themselves nearing the vicinity of the outpost (Valerie's military training comes in handy here, helping her follow the sound of exploding artillery). Valerie, whose piloting expertise is allowing her to fly in power armor despite the storm, soon receives radio contact from Mian, who is flabbergasted to find that she and her friends are planetside. Mian tersely explains that she and Reez are inside the outpost, taking heavy fire. Sorventh and his lackeys somehow eluded the bounty hunters and doubled back to seize their mecha, which they are now piloting back to Mian and Reez's spacecraft, shelling the outpost all the while.

Suddenly, the race is on: Valerie speeds toward the outpost, while her friends pursue the Mac. Valerie manages to avoid being blasted to pieces as Fay guides her progress remotely, using her demolitions expertise to suggest the most expedient route to their imperiled friends (she also invoked her Demigod Genius Smuggler quality to figure out a way to cut through the magnetic storm). Sorventh's gunners are not as skilled or as lucky, and their blind assault on the outpost fails to destroy it before Valerie, grappling with complex emotions, escapes with an ecstatic Reez and a thoroughly embarrassed Mian in her arms.

2 comments:

  1. (Just getting caught up on these. -_-)

    Almost a true "bottle episode"! Also, a real joy to see a Destroid "Mac" make a cameo--always a personal favorite of mine from the time I was a lad and read its stats in the Robotech RPG, then imagined it towering over the rooftops of Pasadena...

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    1. I've always loved it, too. This particular version is the one from Palladium's nearly forgotten RPG for Macross II, which was even more ridiculously destructive than the original Mac. That mecha played a major role in defeating the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the original campaign. As a result, Mian and Reez, who were little more than third-string cipher characters in that campaign, have gotten a lot more spotlight in this reboot/continuation.

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