Saturday, June 21, 2014

[Actual Play] Tears of a Machine: Tales of the Arx Jericho - Episode 07: Remember New Alamo! Part 2

Previously on Tales of the Arx Jericho
A Mayzor raid in New Alamo disrupts the pilots' meals, and they gear up to deploy. Two Wormwoods have landed on opposite sides of the city, which is teeming with Swarms and Locusts, and Alpha Company must assist the military and Preservation Forces Robbies in driving them back and destroying them. 

Rick, Sarah, and Jason all focus on individual targets, blowing each one up one by one, while maintaining constant communication with AK-47 at HQ. Soon, however, the MetaTron begins exhibiting patterns of strange, static interference, until all communication with Operations is completely severed. Bravo Company should have arrived to the city by now to help out Alpha, but they're no where to be seen. 

Suddenly, two lightning bolts crash down from the heavens, and the Magnas Beelzebub and Thammuz are standing at the north and south ends of the city. Sarah gets caught in a boxing match with Thammuz, while Jason, Rick, Serena, and Strudel take on Beelzebub. 

Their last team attack fails, and Rick's and Jason's SAInts both take heavy structural damage. Strudel's SAInt is prone underneath Beelzebub's giant, ominous smog cloud, and he's in danger as it focuses its attention on him. Serena's SAInt takes damage too, but she's still up and ready to continue the fight. That's when she hears a familiar voice hailing her over MetaTron. It's still full of static, but Sarah can always recognize her brother, Allen, even by his telepathic voice. He's piloting a Robbie in the northeast sector and helping to fight off Beelzebub. 

He tells Sarah their parents are being chased by Swarm and urges her to come quickly and help. Sarah knows she has to finish Thammuz off quickly, but will she do it?
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.

Thursday, July 3rd, 2031
16:00

Sarah takes cover again and pops out to continue her martial sparring match against Thammuz. He has about the appropriate number of limbs left that a normal, humanoid-shaped alien should have, though a statement like that holds no merit when it concerns the Mayzor.

Meanwhile, Jason leads a coordinated, team effort to take cover and shield Strudel from Beelzebub's beams. With Rick and Serena's help, Jason is able to protect Strudel from getting killed, but his SAInt is disabled, and Strudel, who's fainted, has been ejected from his suit. It parachutes directly over the northeast outskirts of the city. Rick and Jason take this opportunity to repair some of their SAInt's damage, but the bio-mechanical, self-repair systems come at the price of raising the SAInt's Id or inner drive for senseless violence, much like the Magnas their design is based off of.

Sarah delivers a series of knife thrusts and shield bashes in quick succession which eventually disables Thammuz and activates his self-destruct mechanism. The ensuing explosion leaves a gaping crater in the south of New Alamo, but Sarah is long gone and racing toward the northeast sector to find her parents.

Rick and Jason cheer Sarah on for her epic, one-on-one victory. "Take that Oopsie!" Jason says and then addresses Sarah, "Stop cheering and send that backup you promised!" Rick tells his sister to go help Sarah's parents out, and she starts running east.

Several Mayzor Swarm continue to chase after Sarah's parents, and an Archer, perched high on top of a tall building, is firing deadly shots off at a building right next to them. All the windows are shattered, and there's a fire spreading inside. There's heavy smoke pervading the air, and the building looks like it's about to implode and crush the parents. Sarah engages the Archer at Firearms (FA) range with her Giant Killer and annihilates it in time to save her parents from the crumbling destruction.

Back to Beelzebub, Rick leads a team attack, this time, and tells Serena to double back and provide cover fire. Jason supports Rick by engaging the Magnas, and Rick fires off several rounds from his stone thrower at Beelzebub's back, penetrating the smog cloud.

The entire battle is extremely taxing, and Rick and Jason struggle to keep going, as their Ego is nearly depleted. Sarah regroups with them after ensuring her parents are safe and scooping Strudel up off the ground, and into her SAInt, along the way.

Several more rounds of high-impact violence and strategized, team assaults later, Beelzebub's smog finally dissipates and the alien-robot wasps completely break down. "This is for Strudel, you bastard!" Rick screams, as the pilots land the final blow. The Magnas's self-destruct core is triggered, and Alpha Company scrambles get away as far as they can so as not to get caught in the biggest explosion New Alamo has seen since the Wormwoods landed.

While helping the military quell the rest of the Mayzor, Alpha Company actually disables the Wormwoods in time before they can jet off into space with their lightning strikes. The military focuses on freeing civilians, while the pilots suddenly hear AK-47's thoughts reemerge on the MetaTron. The telepathic connection seems to be working again.

AK-47 tells the pilots that they don't know what happened with the MetaTron, but Operations saw the entire Magnas battle and are greatly impressed with how Alpha Company fared. She says to wait on standby as they initiate the retrieval protocol.

Debriefing
Back at HQ, Rick, Sarah, Jason, and Serena help carry Strudel, who's coming to his senses, and they see Billy, Joanne, and the rest of Bravo Company who all share a look of self-disappointment. They say that they were supposed to provide A Company with backup, but somehow their deployment coordinates got screwed up, and they ended up flying to the West Coast.

When Rick, Sarah, and Jason mention the MetaTron static and severing connections with HQ, Billy replies that all of Bravo lost contact with Operations as well. They could still hear each others' thoughts perfectly fine.

During the formal debriefing, AK-47 gives the pilots the same, lackluster response she's been giving them as to what happened. The Preservation Forces Officers still don't know what caused the static interference or loss in communication, but it's become high priority, and they will get to the bottom of it.

As AK-47 debriefs, Rick, Sarah, and Jason all notice Dr. Johnson's face crack several, subtle smiles, and they work together to figure out what his expression means. His poker 'tell' reveals itself every time AK-47 mentions the static interference or disruption of the MetaTron. After mentioning it to Billy, he reacts by revealing some surprising information. He tells Rick, Sarah, and Jason that he was sent on an errand, about a week ago, to deliver a folder to a Preservation Forces officer at HQ. Heading toward the monitoring room, Billy suddenly hid when he saw Dr. Johnson walk out. The doctor was alone in there and kept peering over his shoulder, paranoid, as he skulked down the hall.

Neither Rick, Sarah, nor Jason like what's going on. They're also starting to become paranoid, and they decide they need to investigate Dr. Johnson to figure out what's going on. What makes matters worse is that at the end of the debriefing, AK-47 publicly asks Serena to see her and Dr. Johnson right after. The rest of Alpha, especially Rick, are incredibly concerned.

Friday, July 4th, 2031
It's the Day of Independence in America, though by 2031, the United States' freedom is severely threatened by an enemy far worse than the country, continent, or world has ever seen before. Still, the people of the US Zone, or the United States Territories, celebrate July 4th in remembrance of what they once considered a great, powerful, and prosperous nation before the First Invasion.

Rick, Sarah, Jason, and all the other pilots of Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie Companies meet for an evening of barbecued burgers and hotdogs, apple cider and lemonade, and a fireworks display that doesn't do justice to the destruction they witnessed, and helped cause, in New Alamo.

Jason and Opsie get into their usual fight, after she gloats that Operations was all set and ready to deploy her alone to support Alpha Company against the Magnas, but it looked like they were able to handle themselves OK.

When Rick asks Serena what the meeting with AK-47 and Dr. Johnson was all about, she replies, "Nothing." She tells him she can't talk about it, even to him, and wants to drop the subject for now.

By the end, most of the pilots' Egos are pretty low, though Rick's is surprisingly high, despite the alarm about his sister. It's about time for a summer vacation, and the pilots look forward to the end of the summer term and a week-long break next month.

End of Episode 07

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