Monday, June 2, 2014

[Actual Play] Tears of a Machine: Tales of the Arx Jericho - Episode 01: First Encounter

Setting Overview
It's the year 2031. Seventeen years ago, the aliens, known as the Legulus, revealed themselves. They were peaceful, benevolent, and ushered in a new Golden Age for all of humanity, but organized religions voiced warnings against worshipping the aliens as false gods. Soon, the aliens vanished, leaving humanity alone for an entire decade. When they returned, they proved to be a hostile race. Mayzor raids divided the countries of the world, and the rise of the CRC and Preservation Forces resulted in advanced, new forms of nano and alien, ESP technology, giving rise to the Robbies and, of course, the SAInts.

SAInt pilots are separated into companies, and three companies exist on board the Arx Jericho (Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie), which hovers over the central United States. This story is about three, particular SAInt pilots of the newest company, Charlie Company: Jason Reyes (13), Sarah Werner (14), and Rick Hunter (15). Together, with Alex 'Strudle' Struder (12) and Billy Henderson (17), Charlie Company will face all sorts of trials and tribulations, both on the field of battle and in their day to day, teenage lives. Secrets will be uncovered, as the fate of humanity rests in a group of teenagers and their giant, alien-robot counterparts.
The Characters
Rick Hunter (Robert Ruthven): Son of Rafe Hunter, a medical researcher, Rick thought things couldn't get worse after his dad went on the run after his illegal experiments on humans came to light. Then the Mayzor raided the town he lived in, on the outskirts of Metro Scotia, and Rick was powerless to stop the swarm from taking his mother.
Now it's just him and his sister, and when Rick swore vengeance upon the Mayzor and decided to join the SAInt program to fight them, Serena signed up along with him to keep an eye on her brother.

Jason Reyes (David Andrews): Jason is a 13 year old kid whose stepfather is career military. First in the Royal Australian Air Force, then in the Preservation Force. Not being the most physical or athletic kids, Jason never really got on with his step father despite wanting to. He see's becoming a SAiNT pilot to be his best chance of making his stepfather proud of him.

Sarah Werner (Wolfie Fang): Sarah had as normal as a normal life could be before in the States. Her worries were on how she could get a sleepover with her friends and how to keep her older brother from bothering her. After the invasion, she had to grow up fast. Her family escaped with their lives, and they've moved to a new urban city on the east coast, New Alamo. She hoped that she could go back to normal, but life was always spent in fear with each evacuation, and it was hard to have a sleepover when you never slept.
It wasn't mandatory. She only got tested for the SAInt programs because everyone else was, and her brother kept bothering her about it, and honestly didn't realize what she had gotten into. Now she's worried she's lost what little freedom she's had left, but she's got a plan to go turn it around back to fun. She'll make new friends, work together, and she won't let her new chores stop them from having fun.

GM: Misha Polonsky

MONDAY, MARCH 24, 2031
Three companies of SAInt pilots inhabit the Arx Jericho, which hovers over what used to be Iowa in the United States. It's responsible for overseeing the primary Mayzor defense across the entire country - what remains of it anyway.

The PCs belong to the recently newly formed Charlie Company. They are, oldest to youngest, Rick Hunter (15), Sarah Werner (14), and Jason Reyes (13). The oldest SAInt pilot of the group, Billy Henderson (17), is also their team leader, while Alex 'Strudel' Struder (12), the youngest pilot of the group, seems like he might be the comical weakling of the bunch.

The episode begins with Rick going head to head with one of his classmates, Joanne Klein (14), at their after-school Kendo Club. Joanne's motivation is to succeed by any means necessary, and Rick, her rival, caught her playing dirty and spraining another classmate's ankle. Rick's despair is he can't see justice go unpunished, so Rick delivers justice to Joanne, avenging Stephanie Yuzuki (13), who leaves crying with her sprained ankle.

The club's classroom happens to be next door to the Gaming Guild's computer lab, separated by a removable wall. After his match, Rick goes next door to check on Sarah, who happens to be an avid video game enthusiast. It turns out her controller is broken, but, fortunately for her, Jason is there to fix it. Strudel is also in the room and looks amazed and impressed after seeing Jason fix the controller so effortlessly.

Sarah and Alex square off in a fighting video game that takes observational skill, and Serena Hunter (15), Rick's twin sister and friend to both Rick and Sarah, shows up to watch them play. Sarah wins the match and impresses Serena.

Serena begins talking and suddenly brings up news about an unscheduled, surprise, SAInt coordinations test after supper. Serena thinks it's just a team-building test pitting her company, Alpha Company, and Charlie Company.

Billy, Jason's rival, walks into the computer lab acting his usual, tough, overzealous self and began talking down to Jason, warning him not to screw up the coordinations test they have planned.

Once everyone leaves, Billy corners Jason alone in the hallway and begins bullying him (Jason's despair is "the idea of being alone and in pain terrifies me"). Rick and Sarah overhear the commotion and came back to help Jason out. They teamed up against Billy, and, not only do they stop him from picking on Jason, they completely humiliate him in the process.

Billy walks off with his confidence shattered, while Alex mentions he has other plans scheduled during the time of the test and seems stressed about it. He complains about needing to visit some secret location he has plans to explore. He walks back to his foster home with Jason, his roommate.

Rick and Sarah go back to their respective dorms, and Charlie Company reconvenes at the cafateria for supper, where Rick catches Joanne speaking to Captain Anastatia Kasherov (47), or AK-47, Captain of the Preservation Forces and one of their strict professors; the students nicknamed her AK-47 and call her that behind her back. Joanne looks like she's conspiring with AK-47, and probably lying, as they both turned to give Rick some harsh looks.

Alex is the first to leave the table and accidentally leaves his Linc behind, which Jason is kind enough to pick up before heading to the training facility for their simulation test.

When Jason, Rick, and Sarah arrive, Billy meets them but acts standoffish. All of Alpha Company is already there and ready to begin the simulation test. Above the rafters, behind the glass panels, Captain Kasherov stands next to Commander Toshi Yamasuka (35). AK-47's voice rings over the intercom, addressing the Chipmunks: "Where is your teammate, SAInt pilot Charlie Company, Alex Struder?" Indeed, Alex is MIA.

Billy started cursing out Alex aloud, calling him Strudel, and Jason decides to be more practical, as he opens up Alex's Linc to hack in and find out where he had been. It turns out that Alex set up a date with Ryoko (12), one of the youngest and shyest girls in their class. Jason smacks his forehead and calls Ryoko. She answers with some pep in her voice, the likes of which Jason had never heard before. When Jason tells Ryoko he's not Alex, she quickly hangs up.

Captain Kasherov, losing patience, tells Charlie Company to go find Alex and bring him back to the facility for testing. They have no more than 10 minutes. As Charlie Company bolts to find Alex, Alpha Company makes fun of them, calling them Chipmunks.

Billy, Rick, Sarah, and Jason finally find Alex en route to the secret spot he was going to meet Ryoko at. Alex took a small detour to pick flowers from a secluded, communal garden.

Rick takes Alex's Linc and slammed it in his hand, yelling, "Never go anywhere without your Linc again!"

Suddenly, alarms resonate throughout the Arx, warning alarms of a Mayzor raid happening, and the Preservation Forces blare on the intercom and instruct all SAInt pilots to report for deployment immediately. Charlie Company gets all suited up in their SAInts and are briefed on their first, official deployment mission, which will take them to just outside New York City. Meanwhile, Alpha Company and Bravo Company are being sent to Chicago to eliminate another, larger, Mayzor raid occuring there. A Magnas had already appeared in Chicago, reports say.

The SAInts of Charlie Company are launched and arrive in Brooklyn, New York in just under an hour. Captain Kasherov remains in constant communication with them via the MetaTron. A Wormwood had appeared in northwest Brooklyn, and a group of Locusts are heading for the Brooklyn Bridge in attempt to destroy it. Mayzor swarms are going after civilians evacuating Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge and by running south toward Brighton Beach.

Charlie Company's objectives were simple: prevent the Locusts from destroying the Brooklyn Bridge, protect evacuating civilians (alongside the military's help), and destroy the Locusts. They're looking at 9 total Locusts: 4 Soldiers, 3 Brawlers, and 2 Archers.

Sarah gets the ball rolling after destroying the first Locust Soldier in FA range. Jason successfully snipes the first Archer by the Wormwood and takes cover behind a tall building. AK-47 praises them for their successes, and even Billy is impressed with Jason's work. He remains close by to cover his back, while Jason takes cover to reload his rifle. Billy helps protect him from an attack from the other Archer. Rick moves into CQ range to eliminate one of the Soldiers, and Alex moves in to help Rick. Meanwhile, the Brawlers begin advancing on the SAInts, however, after Sarah destroys a third Soldier with her Giant Killer, the Brawlers began to retreat, as does the last Soldier. The Swarms all begin retreating as well, and Rick and Alex tag team the last Locust Soldier, obliterating it completely with their FA weapons. Rick's Levic Flechette works wonders.

It seems like fortune is smiling down on Charlie Company, however that's all about to change, when Captain Kasherov alerts the SAInt Pilots that there's another threat approaching, a greater threat.

Lightning strikes down near the Wormwood. Looking up at the sky, Rick, Jason, Sarah, and all of Charlie Company see the Principal Magnas, Belial, descending from the skies. He lands behind the Wormwood, which is now being closely guarded by the Brawlers. His demonic voices echo ominous cries.


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