Friday, February 5, 2016

Rifts Misadventures: Session 25

The Messenger
My brother Chris took the helm of our Rifts campaign as GM last weekend, for what must be the first time running a game in decades. He hasn't lost a step, producing a session that fully reflects his inimitably quirky sensibilities. It looks like this might be our final adventure with these characters in the Rifts setting, and though I'm glad that we'll send them off into the sunset with style, it will be bittersweet to say goodbye to something we've played (on and off) for nearly 25 years.

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
Fay, Demigod Super-Genius Smuggler (female demigod City Rat/Runner), 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

Max is vexed by the acquittal of Alexis and her troupe, and openly frustrated that he and his friends have found themselves on the defensive since arriving in Serendipity. These disappointments get the better of him when he tries to reach some kind of understanding with his on-again/off-again flame, Quinn. When Fay expresses an interest in apologizing to Quinn for their earlier spat, Max arranges a meeting with her, but Quinn takes offense at Fay's suggestion that she might one day want to leave Black Fortress. The young mystic and the Coalition heiress later have a public shouting match at the local shooting range, and predictably, the two are soon back to not being on speaking terms.

In an attempt to put his entanglements with Quinn behind him and focus on impending threats, Max sequesters himself in his section of Solutions @ Gun Pointe's compound. Noxious fumes and discordant music waft out of Nexus Garden for the next two days. With his mystic colleague Nysa assisting him, Max plunges himself into a deep state of altered precognitive consciousness, during which he experiences a vivid clairvoyant vision -- parts of which include:

  • The vampire lord Inocente, amid scores of sleeping vampires, dismisses Max with a wave of his hand
  • Yeshka, the hatchling night stalker dragon, laying with her companion, Tetka the sphinx, whose voice is heard to say "The Coiled Serpent sleeps in the lap of Heaven"
  • Kat's houseboat recedes away from the dock behind the S@GP compound, and Kat's voice whispers "His skin shimmers in the light of remembrance" in Max's ear
  • Fay, along with Mian, Reez, and Black Puma, in the cockpit of her Horizont, apparently in distress -- all four say "Those who are forsaken await the Revenant" before the ship explodes in a flash of light
  • Quinn emerges and takes Max's hand, then turns to enter a black doorway, saying "Come forth, you damned and damaged" before the door closes
  • A vision of the cave in which Max received his mystic training -- his master's voice says "And meet your fate, your master..."
  • The face of Max's father, screaming "your MAKER!" at Max

As Max ponders the meaning of his vision, our heroes take a trip to Phase World in Fay's Horizont, this time bringing the Metry brothers along as a reward for their recent services to S@GP. Once in Center, Max attempts to contact Karen Cray, but is unable to find her -- although someone has clearly released new "Champions of Light" video material. (Among this is footage of S@GP's arena battle against the Othrys Totality, apparently shot from the crowd, along with some clips that could only have been shot by S@GP's sometime ally Nahar.) Determined to bring something of value back, Max resolves to collect as much information about Center as he can during his brief stay, planning to deliver it to Nysa when S@GP returns. (Nysa had asked Kat to gather intel on Phase World before their first trip there, but Kat hurriedly left Serendipity before delivering it.)

While our heroes refresh themselves at a spacers' bar in Center, they are approached by an old-fashioned-looking robot, who informs them (via ticker-tape) that an individual called "Intaglio the Procurer" requests to meet with them. Fay seems nonplussed, explaining that Intaglio is a notorious space pirate known for his fascination with robots. The robot, who identifies itself as "the Messenger", states that Intaglio has information that might interest S@GP. Fay is still dubious, but admits that the pirate's reputation is not especially bloody, and the group agrees to Intaglio's request. The Messenger extrudes a punch-card detailing the time and coordinates of the meeting from a slot in its chest and departs.

The Angler
After spending the night in Fay's capacious Horizont, S@GP return to Serendipity to drop off the Metry brothers and the information Nysa requested. At the appointed hour, they teleport back to Phase World dimension, arriving at the coordinates specified by the Messenger's punch-card -- in close proximity to the Angler, Intaglio's large, fishlike starship. The Horizont is directed into the Angler's now-gaping maw, as Max wonders aloud if "flying into spaceships' mouths is just how they do things in this dimension" (recalling the Horizont's earlier capture by the titan flagship Xanthus).

Intaglio the Procurer is a gracious if foppish host, treating S@GP to a sumptuous, multi-course meal aboard his opulent spacecraft, served to them by a dazzling array of intricately crafted automatons. The pirate himself is attended by a quartet of feminine-looking robots named Diamond, Pearl, Gold, and Onyx, after the materials with which they are adorned. S@GP are polite but uneasy -- Valerie attempts to test the victuals for poison with her cybernetic sensors, to no avail -- but Intaglio insists that decorum dictates they not discuss business until the meal is concluded.

Intaglio the Procurer
After the table has been cleared by his hovering robot drones, Intaglio finally deigns to reveal his proposal. He informs our heroes that he has information on a party that hired him to collect certain components used in the construction of Amethyst Deceivers -- the crystalline magical artifacts that allowed Tetka and Yeshka to infiltrate and ensnare S@GP undetected some weeks prior. The Procrurer says that he will part with this information in exchange for Valerie and Max. Valerie flatly refuses, but Max is caught off guard, first advising the pirate not to trifle with S@GP, then briefly bantering with Intaglio in an attempt to understand his brash proposal. When it becomes clear that the pirate intends to turn the pair in, to collect the outstanding bounties on their heads -- and that he has no intention of allowing them to refuse -- Max abruptly summons his psionic blade and informs Intaglio that he "fucked up" by not heeding his warning. Intaglio sighs, his bejeweled robot companions transform their arms into wicked-looking double-bladed swords, and the battle begins.

As the robots advance, their torsos (and blades) whirling at blinding speed, Arisis dives at the pirate, hoping to clinch him and end the fight quickly. However, Intaglio's body -- now revealed to be entirely mechanical -- separates at the waist, effortlessly avoiding the titan's grappling attempt. Max nearly gets skewered by the robot called Gold, but Arisis recovers from her earlier miss in time to block the attack. Max thanks his friend and casts an armor spell upon himself to prevent future potential impalement. Valerie transforms one of her bionic arms into a force-pulse cannon, then blasts away at Intaglio's "fembots", as Fay likewise opens fire on them with her laser blasters, anticipating and evading their attacks as easily as she did the vampires' days ago.

The robot Gold turns "her" attention to Arisis, but Arisis deftly parries its whirling blades, allowing the titan to riposte with her own weapon and throw it off balance. Seeing an opening, Max reaches out with his telekinetic abilities, achieving a partial hold on Intaglio. The pirate's mechanical body warps and stretches in attempt to wriggle out, but the slippery, polished floor of his dining room proves to be his undoing, sending Intaglio sprawling ineffectually, still in Max's grip. While Valerie and Fay continue blasting away at the blade-spinning robots, the young mystic, infuriated by yet another presumptuous attempt to capture him and his friends, shouts another inelegant insult at Intaglio and smashes the foppish freebooter into one of the ornate chandeliers hanging overhead.

Once Intaglio drops back to the floor, Arisis again lunges at him -- this time, her mastery of wrestling serves her well, and she seizes him in a nigh-unbreakable hold. Intaglio seems unperturbed, for good reason: his head suddenly detaches from his body and flies away. Our heroes are astonished to see Intaglio's head alight atop a new, massive robot body that forms itself from the chassis of his bejeweled companions: Diamond, Pearl, Gold, and Onyx. Max psychically stuns Intaglio, rendering him unconscious, but his body regains its ability to act -- and attack. However, before the newly-formed giant robot can do much damage, Max immobilizes it with his magic, then advances menacingly with his glowing psychic knife still in hand, allowing Intaglio to regain his senses. "I warned you," Max says with murderous intent. Arisis interposes herself between the two, reminding Max that Intaglio might have information useful to the group. The teenage spellcaster admits that he has lost control, and steps back.

Arisis interrogates the now body-less Intaglio, as Valerie sets about destroying his giant robo-chassis with her arm-cannon. Intaglio proves much more willing to divulge his information now that he is at S@GP's mercy, and commands his innumerable robot servants to stand down. He reveals that he was contracted to steal materials called Cairngorm Crystals by an anonymous employer, who dealt with Intaglio only through encrypted communications signed with the seal of an ouroboros serpent, twisted in such a fashion as to resemble an infinity sigil. Max immediately recalls "the Coiled Serpent" referred to in his vision, then re-stuns the pirate after he provides the time and coordinates for a meeting at which he is scheduled to hand over the crystals to his employer.. S@GP head to the Angler's cargo hold and loot it thoroughly, loading up Fay's Horizont and ensuring that they take the stolen Cairngorm Crystals in the process. Fay, a demolitions expert, also rigs Intaglio's starship to explode before the group makes its escape with Intaglio's head still in their possession. Aboard the Horizont, Max cruelly wakens Intaglio to see the Angler erupt in a ball of fire. "I warned you," Max repeats. Arisis' psychic senses alert her to impending danger, and she cold-cocks the furious pirate before he can do whatever damage he intended.

The "Coiled Serpent"?
As Fay and Valerie pilot the Horizont, Arisis and Max turn their attention to the captured Cairngorm Crystals -- small balls of glassy spikes that resemble sea urchins. Arisis tries to use her powers of postcognition to get a reading on the crystals, but is unable to glean any useful impressions. Max gives it another try, and is rewarded with a vision of the crystals being technologically refined -- somehow "concentrated" out of vapor on a gas planet -- then stolen by the Angler from the craft that is performing this process. When his vision concludes, Max is surprised to find that the Cairngorm Crystal he was examining has changed shape: it is now a single bluish shard that seems identical to those that comprise his own crystalline power armor (the origins of which have never been understood). Max, bewildered, takes care not to touch the transformed Cairngorm Crystal with his armor.

Fay learns via accessing IMJN (the Intergalactic and Megaversal Justice Network) that Intaglio is wanted for numerous crimes, and has been sentenced to death in absentia by the Transgalactic Empire. This being the case, the group contacts Bastille Impenetrable, who agree that Intaglio is a high-value target, and will count towards the five remaining apprehensions required under S@GP's bargain with Bastille if handed over to them in Cuba. Arisis requests that they first stop in Center, where she reassures the four titans that fled Serendipity when she was possessed by Alexis and convinces them to return to Earth. S@GP then teleport back to their homeworld, turn Intaglio in as agreed, and return to Serendipity.

Solutions @ Gun Pointe take a moment to regroup at their headquarters and ponder their next move. While sharing a meal in the mess hall, something crashes through its skylight -- something that is quickly recognized as the BAKENEKO stealth drone, which their missing companion, Kat, brought with her when she suddenly left town weeks ago. Badly damaged, the catlike drone carries a crumpled piece of paper in its mouth: a Coalition medical supply order. On the back of the sheet is scrawled a symbol that none of our heroes recognize, but which Fay analyzes and confirms was drawn by Kat.

Max uses his powers to get a reading on the order form, seeing fleeting impressions of Kat traveling from place to place, questioning people in her own inimitable (and intimidating) style before some sort of psychic interference cuts the vision short and thrusts Max's perception unwillingly out. The young mystic tries once more with the BAKENEKO itself, and is rewarded with a more detailed vision of the drone running through desert. Again, something -- or someone -- attempts to force Max's consciousness out, but Max powers through and follows the drone's progress all the way back to Serendipity and the present.

Having learned all that they are likely to from the drone, Max's friends look to him expectantly. Without them having to say anything, he sighs in resignation and contacts Quinn. Yet another tense reunion follows, with Quinn immediately identifying the symbol on the sheet as representing Project Helix -- a Coalition genetics program said to have been shut down at least fifty years ago.

3 comments:

  1. I am a long time Rifts player and GM. Your game sounds like a hoot, keep up the amazing work. Love it!

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    1. Thanks, you made my day! I'm not sure how much longer we'll be playing Rifts -- we seem to be headed toward wrapping it up -- but I appreciate the kind words.

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    2. I will be sad when that happens, but all good things come to an end. Especially epic RPG campaigns.

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