Thursday, June 5, 2014

[Actual Play] Tears of a Machine: Tales of the Arx Jericho - Episode 04: Revelations

Previously on Tales of the Arx Jericho...
The Arx Jericho is down to only two companies. Charlie Company (the Chipmunks) have been upgraded to Alpha Company (Alpha Wolf Squadron status, according to Jason). Former Charlie Company member, Billy Henderson, who switched with Serena Hunter, is now Bravo Company's team leader. They've nicknamed Alpha Company the Aardvarks. :)

Another month passes, and there's still no news regarding Rick and Serena's estranged, recently captured father, Rafe. Is he still being held by the CRC scientists? Does the military have custody of him? Is he even alive?

Serena and Billy's relationship grows stronger, and Billy has been acting less of an ass than usual.
Alex "Strudel" Struder and Stephanie Yuzuki are "going steady."
Leo "Raspberry" Hayes still has a crush on Sarah.
Laurie Bach still has a crush on Jason.
Joanne Klein's emotions toward Rick are still confusing as ever before.

Jason is officially moving out of the foster home he shares with Alex and into the dorms. Alex isn't too happy, but at least he's still in Alpha Company; and who knows who their new roommates will be?

These are exciting times for our young heroes! Who knows what the future will hold?
GM: Misha Polonsky

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.

FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2031
A month has passed since Jason's birthday. Hoping and praying that he wasn't going to get stuck with Billy, Jason was fortunate to learn he'd be Rick's new roommate. Billy's new roommate is one of the newest SAInt pilots of the renewed Charlie Company, a sixteen year old named Kazuhiro Masaki. Strudel also has a new roommate at the foster home. Coincidentally, he also happens to be one of the newest SAInt pilots for C Company and younger than Strudel! He's only eleven, and his name is Miguel Rodriguez.

Relationships have grown all around. Serena and Billy have been pretty OK; there haven't been any outbursts on Billy's part. Jason and Laurie have gotten closer together, as have Stephanie and Strudel. Raspberry still has a crush on Sarah, and Sarah knows, but they just hang out and play video games a lot in their spare time. Rick continuously finds Joanne as confusing as ever before. All in all, both companies have great camaraderie.

The actual episode opens up to the interface testing facility. A collection of giant warehouses houses mechanized, solitary, deprivation tanks that are connected to each pilot's SAInt for the purpose of interface testing. The tanks are spread out far enough but lined up in two, even rows, five tanks a piece - enough for two, full companies. While the two new pilots of Charlie Company are off training elsewhere, the pilots of Alpha and Bravo Company file into the warehouse and climb into the tanks they're instructed to enter.

Commander Yamasuka, Captain Kasherov, Dr. Harris, and Dr. Johnson are only some of the notable personnel hidden behind thick, unbreakable glass in a room piled head to toe with computers, machines, and display screens for the purpose of monitoring the pilots' vitals and recording data pertinent to the SAInt-pilot interface test.

The MetaTron is momentarily active within the tanks, and the SAInt pilots are instructed to close their eyes and relax but not to fall asleep. The interface test begins. Not long into it, Rick, Sarah, and Jason all fall asleep. They aren't aware of the fact that they've all fallen asleep or that every other SAInt pilot has fallen asleep simultaneously. Everyone starts having individual dreams, but little by little they start bleeding together with the dreamscapes of the other pilots.

Rick's Dream
Rick and Serena are back at the outskirts of the new fortress city of Metro Scotia, where they evacuated to with their mother after the initial Mayzor raids. Rick and his family were amongst the unlucky ones who were refused secure refuge inside, and they had to settle in one of the towns on the outskirts of the city. The scene changes and speeds up a few months. They Mayzor have struck outside the Metro Scotia defensive barrier! A Mayzor swarm captures Merideth. Rick tries to go back for his mother, but Serena holds him back. Merideth screams to her children to, "Run!" and Serena quickly drags Rick away from the shelter. Rick's heart is pounding, racing, beating fast. He hears Serena's scream echo from a distance. Rick turns and sees her next to him, dragging his body, not saying a word. He continues to hear her scream echo, and, like an ink cloud dispersing underwater, the scene changes to a dark room, some laboratory.

Serena is strapped to a cot. Heavy buckles are tightly fastened around her arms and legs. There's a silhouette of the back of a man. He looks somewhat familiar, but as Rick moves forward to see who it is, he just finds himself moving further and further away. Rick tries a different approach and climbs under a table to peer through a peep hole in order to see who the mysterious man is. Rick sees him holding a syringe with a long needle in his hand. Serena's face is full of fear. She violently thrashes in place and screams in pain, as the man plunges the needle into her neck. For a quick moment, he turns just enough for Rick to spot who he most feared to see. Rick sees Rafe turn and stare past him.

Serena is still screaming, and Rick is powerless to stop Rafe or do anything to help. Rick sees a different woman strapped to a cot. She has blond hair and blue eyes. The screaming stops, and Rick witnesses an auditorium or meeting chamber, with a masked, CRC scientists congregated in a large, semicircle. Rick recognizes the various signs and lettering around him as being German. He hears Serena's scream echo again. It grows exponentially louder and he's back in the dark room, seeing her face, her wide, fearful eye and constricting pupils as Rafe plunges the needle into her neck. Serena's screaming bloody murder. Her and Rick appear in a dark room. Dr. Johnson is closing in on them, and Billy's in between them, holding a gun up to Dr. Johnson's face. Rick, once again, witnesses Rafe plunge the needle into Serena's neck, as she continues to scream.

Jason's Dream
Jason is hoverboarding in the streets of the Arx Jericho, when Billy, riding a skateboard, challenges him to a race down a hill. All the other SAInt pilots and classmates are gathered, minus Rick and Sarah, and Jason and Billy start the race. Billy actually starts out beating Jason, but Jason takes a shortcut over a pool and fountain, drenching Billy with water as he takes the lead and wins. Strudel and Stephanie cheer for Jason, and Laurie gives him a kiss in front of everyone.

Amidst all the cheering, alarms of a Mayzor raid start blaring, and Jason hears disembodied voices of news reports concerning a Mayzor raid on Sydney, Australia. The scene changes and Jason finds himself in Sydney. He's in the streets, where civilians are in pandemonium, and Mayzor swarms and rushing through, swiping everyone up. Everyone seems to be ignoring Jason, and then he spots his mother, Monica, running from a swarm. Jason starts running after her, but stops cold when he sees the swarm robot grab her. Jason is in shock, as he hears his father's voice bark orders all around to the other Preservation Forces officers.

Jason finds himself aboard the Arx Galilee, in the command room, listening to his father and the officers around him. The SAInts have been sent down to take care of the situation down in Sydney. Meanwhile, a Magnas has landed on Arx Galilee itself! As Jason peers out of a window, he suddenly has an entirely different vantage point and sees the Magnas all too clearly. It's incredibly huge and demonic, one of the largest and most terrifying that Jason has ever seen before. What's even more surprising to Jason is that he sees a SAInt hovering next to the Magnas, attacking it in CQ range in mid-air! The SAInt that Jason sees looks different and more advanced than any normal SAInt. It's power is staggering.

Sarah's Dream
Sarah is traveling down an abandoned, dirt road in ancient Japan, wearing full, samurai regalia and equipped with a katana and wakizashi. She's literally inside the video game, Shinobi Knights 5, as a challenger approaches, a masked samurai. Sarah enters a close combat duel with the samurai and prevails, slaying her opponent with a nice finish. Sarah bends down to unmask the fallen samurai and discovers it's her brother, Allen, that she just killed. Sarah looks across at a mysterious girl in a masked, samurai outfit staring blankly at her. The girl seems to have blond hair and looks a little familiar. A group of samurai warriors suddenly appear and surround her. Sarah moves in to help, but finds herself moving further and further away with each step. It's OK, because the girl doesn't need help. She's takes care of all the opposing samurai single-handedly. Her moves are exquisite, meticulous, and fluid.

The scene changes rapidly, and Sarah is in her hometown of New Alamo. There's a Mayzor raid happening, and her parents are running from a Mayor swarm. Sarah's heart is pounding, and she looks over and sees a Magnas that's larger and more terrifying than anything she's ever seen before. There's a Robbie at its feet, firing up at it. Allen is inside. The Magnas stomps down on the Robbie, crushing it to pieces in a fiery explosion.

Team Cognizance in the Dreamscape
Individual dreamscapes flow together, like streams connecting to a river, and Rick, Sarah, and Jason find themselves inside their SAInts on the dreamscape streets of New Alamo. There are two Wormwoods on opposite sides of the city. Bravo Company is taking care of the Locusts and swarms guarding one of the Wormwoods, while Alpha Company just finished taking care of the other and are dealing with an extremely strong and terrifying Magnas with volcanic flames erupting from its body, which is surrounded by thick, dark smoke. Jason fires off a great first shot, reloads, and struggles with his next one due to all the smoke of the fiery Magnas. Strudel doesn't stay with Jason this time, but rushes in at full speed to attack the Magnas, after Serena, Rick, and Sarah close in at FA range and deliver their attacks. Out of the corner of her eye, Sarah sees her parents on the ground, running from a Mayzor swarm. Sarah abandons Rick and Serena to go help her parents. Rick and Serena continue firing at the Magnas. Jason snipes from afar as well. Sarah successfully shoots down the swarm going after her parents and returns to find Strudel in CQ of the Magnas, taking damage from the heat its giving off, and she sees a Robbie at the Magnas's feet as well. Sarah can tell, based on the voices on the MetaTron, that Allen is inside. Looking up, Sarah catches a glimpse of the blond hair, blue eyed girl on the roof of a skyscraper, literally floating above one of the corners and staring at her with a zen-line expression. It's the same girl that wore the samurai outfit and fought off the horde of samurai. Sarah recognizes her. It's her cousin from Germany.

Jason and Rick rush forward, together, to help Strudel. Meanwhile, Serena and Sarah stay at FA range to help out Allen. Jason and Rick close in, surrounding Strudel and helping him, but suffer from the intense heat that the Magnas gives off. They start dragging Strudel away and fire back at it, and, along with Serena and Sarah's help, disable the Magnas and send it falling backwards just as it was about to crush Allen with its foot. Allen is able to get away fast enough, in his Robbie, before the Magnas's core self detonates and a massive explosion sweeps New Alamo, covering the SAInts in all sorts of debris.

Everyone's individual dreams, memories, and revelations come funneling to the surface, and toward the end, Rick, Sarah, and Jason are back in New Alamo, aboard their SAInts, having just finished off the Magnas. They all hear a helicopter and look up to see one hovering nearby. There's a teenage girl with blond hair and blue eyes hovering above the copter's propellors in a zen-like state.

The mutual scene goes dark as the interface test is over.

Revelations
The SAInt pilots all report back to the Preservation Forces officers and find the room silently watching several monitors with live news stories reporting a tragedy that has just recently occurred. There's been a Mayzor raid on Sydney, Australia, and, for the first time in human history since the first Mayzor raid, a Wormwood has landed on the Arx Galilee. Rick, Sarah, and Jason, especially, are in shock. AK-47 takes them aside and assures them that everything will be alright. Furthermore, she says they all have a new student joining them, being flown in by helicopter. AK-47 says that she's a SAInt pilot that will join Charlie Company and instructs the other pilots to go greet her at the dorms and show her around.

Rick, Sarah, Jason, and all the other Alpha and Bravo Company pilots head to the dorms, discussing most of their dreams and shared, dreamscape battle amongst themselves. Rick desperately wants to talk to Serena, who looks especially off her game. Jason saw Sydney getting attacked in his dreams and woke up to find out it's the present reality. Rick mentions seeing a girl with blond hair and blue eyes, and Sarah says she saw her as well, multiple times, including the scene they all saw, where she hovered above a helicopter like a zen master. Sarah says it's her cousin from Germany, Opsie Wessel (15). Rick warns Sarah not to tempt fate.

When they arrive at the dorms, Rick, Sarah, and Jason see a group of Preservation Forces soldiers and officers from the Western Pacific Division. They then see the same blond hair, blue eyed girl they all saw in their dreams during the interface test. Opsie Wessel stares across at Sarah, her mouth gaping. Sarah does the same. "What's that about tempting fate did I warn you about?" Rick asks.

One of the PF officers approaches Jason and pulls him aside for a private word. The officer says he has a message for Jason direct from Air Commodore Martin Reyes. The officer regrets to inform Jason that reports have confirmed his mother has been taken by a Mayzor swarm during the Sydney raid, and that he is truly sorry. Jason chokes on his words. He's in shock.

Rick, Sarah, and Opsie are all still in shock.

TO BE CONTINUED

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