Saturday, June 7, 2014

[Actual Play] Tears of a Machine: Tales of the Arx Jericho - Episode 06: Remember New Alamo! Part 1

Previously on Tales of the Arx Jericho
In our last episode, drama filled the air, as it quickly became apparent how sickeningly cheerful and snobby new pilot Opsie Wessel really was. Meanwhile, Jason fell into a depression over the news about his mother being captured by the Mayzor in the recent raid on Sydney. Serena confessed to Rick that repressed memories had resurfaced, since their shared dream during the interface test.

Later, while Alpha Company was hanging around in a secluded garden, Preservation Forces officers and CRC scientists appeared. A Company hid and listened in on the conversation. The CRC scientists wanted Opsie to come train with Rafe Hunter and test out the Prophet immediately. Dr. Johnson agreed that she should distance herself from the other pilots, but Captain Kasherov disagreed. AK-47 said the Preservation Forces needed Opsie to lead Charlie Company until they could recruit more members and that her relationships with the other SAInt pilots need to remain strong and consistent. The CRC scientists sided with Dr. Johnson. Then, AK-47 mentions the strange premonitions Opsie has been having about a raid on New Alamo, but the CRC scientists and Dr. Johnson thinks that hogwash.

Each SAInt pilot had their own, individual, simulation test. They had to exercise their best skills against a Magnas, one on one, SAInt vs. Magnas. Jason, Rick, and Sarah all did very well. Jason did better than Billy and celebrated by racing Alex in a hoverboard, later that day, Sarah impressed both Serena and AK-47, and Rick not only did better than Joanne, he impressed Serena by scoring better than her. Serena just seemed off her game.

Nevertheless, with our young heroes' egos up, another month goes by, and Opsie has managed to fit in well with the other pilots. The boys love her, the girls secretly hate her, but she's the top in the class and always sneaking off somewhere private for hours at a time.

The raid on the Arx Galilee, above Sydney, was over after about a week and a half. The Wormwood wasn't destroyed or captured, unfortunately, it went back up into space, while the rest of the soldiers, locusts, etc. were eliminated.

Jason's been trying to reach his father with no luck. There is still no further word about his mother.

Rick, perhaps, has been having more nightmares than usual. Repressed memories have been coming back to him, too, since the interface testing. It's been slower than Serena's experience, but they're starting to come back. Rafe experimented on Rick as well.

Sarah's probably been having a fun time with Opsie, despite what everyone thinks about her. Whether she's forgotten what she saw about the New Alamo raid during the shared, interface testing dream or not is up to her; little does Sarah know that fate has it out for her and that Opsie may have been correct in her premonitions.

Our heroes were enjoying yet another, early morning breakfast when the alarms of a Mayzor raid started going off...
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.

THURSDAY, JULY 3RD, 2031

It's been less than a month since our young heroes first met Opsie Wessel, a SAInt pilot and Sarah's cousin from Germany, who's received more attention than any other new student Rick, Sarah, or Jason have ever known. Nearly all the boys are obsessed with, Strudel included, and almost every girl despises her. Sarah is probably the only girl who legitimately likes Opsie. They are roommates and cousins, after all! Serena tolerates her about as much as Jason does, who tolerates Opsie's presence at best. Rick looks at Opsie like she thinks piloting is a game, which he doesn't find cool at all.

Some relationships have improved; others are still developing. Jason's never been one with too many friends, but he's working on it and hopes to greatly improve his relationship with Laurie in the coming months. Sarah and Rick have made progress on their relationships.

Sarah and Raspberry have been hanging out a lot more lately, playing video games and doing other, fun activities. While he may still have a crush on her, he's still only 12, and Sarah sees him as more of a younger brother and definitely a potential, good friend.

Rick has always looked up at AK-47 as a mentor and a friend, and their student-mentor relationship has been been slowly developing over the past year. In the past few weeks, Rick has been fortunate enough to get a lot of face-time with AK-47, as she helped him with his firearms training. Since seeing her talking with the CRC scientists and Dr. Johnson, Rick had been hesitant to ask her about his dad, but he finally did, and she told him he was alive and safe but that she couldn't disclose any more information.

Either way, Rick definitely's solidified his friendship with AK-47, and she'll be more inclined to focus on Rick as his mentor, especially with all the Mayzor raids that have been happening.

Speaking of the Mayzor raids, the Wormwood that landed aboard the Arx Galilee, above Sydney, Australia, has retreated back to space. SAInts returned from their mission down in Sydney to confront the Mayzor swarm and Locusts that had infiltrated the Arx. There were a  good number of casualties on both ends, and a good portion of the Arx has been destroyed, but the Preservation Forces prevailed and the SAInts preserved the safety of the citizens they're sworn to protect.

Deployment and Mission Objectives
The SAInt pilots are having lunch late in the afternoon, when the alarms suddenly blare from the loudspeakers and alert everyone on the Arx Jericho that there is a Mayzor raid in progress.

The pilots of Alpha Company quickly report to their SAInts, and receive their mission briefing once they're ready and secure inside their SAInts and online. Telepathically, AK-47 projects several screens in the pilots' cognitive minds, which they see with absolute clarity. There's a breaking news story reporting on a Mayzor raid in New Alamo, Southeastern United States Territory, where two Wormwood have landed on opposite sides of the city. Another screen displays a blueprint and map of the city, while several other screens reveal important, tactical information regarding the position of the Wormwoods and the Swarm and Locusts spread throughout the city.

The mission objectives are fairly straightforward:

1. Provide assistance to the military, as well as to the Preservation Forces' Robbies, in pushing the Mayzor Locusts back toward the Wormwoods.

2. Protect and save as many civilians as possible from the Mayzor Swarm.

3. Defend New Alamo and stop the Mayzor raid, but don't spread out too thin.

There are 20 Locusts total: 10 soldiers, grouped in pairs around the city, 5 Brawlers (1 at each Wormwood and 3 spread out in the inner city), and 5 Archers (1 at each Wormwood and 3 spread out at the edge of the city).

Bravo Company is set to deploy immediately following Alpha Company in order to provide backup.

At a speed of Mach 3, it takes Alpha Company almost no time to reach New Alamo. Once they hit their deployment point, the Jehu's Bow detaches, the wing shaped array of fins and directional verniers that make up the SAInts' Angel Wings help parachute them to the ground, and the Alpha Company SAInts direct themselves to land, more or less, in the center of the city.

Engaging the Locusts
As soon as Alpha Company lands, AK-47 wastes no time alerting Rick, Sarah, and Jason of the three Brawlers within FA range of each of them. They're spread out in an equal triangle surrounding the center of the city. Tall risers are crumbling, cars and trucks are flying through the air, buses are crashing through buildings like bowling balls, and the asphalt is splitting apart under the Brawlers' torrential destruction.

Rick, Sarah, and Jason focus on each of the three Brawlers separately, while Serena and Strudel help the military squash the Swarm that's slithering through the city streets, grabbing up civilians, and stealing them back to the Wormwood.

Sarah has been quite serious so far. In fact, she's never been so serious prior to an engagement in her entire life, and it likely has something to do with the fact that she's in her hometown of New Alamo and that Rick, Jason, and her had a shared dream about a Mayzor raid at this very location just months ago. Her Ego is maxed out, and she goes after a crab-like Brawler to the south and engages it, moving into FA range and positioning herself around a building, ready to lay it to waste with her Giant Killer.

Jason engages the northeast Brawler and takes position by a highway bridge at HB range. He positions his EZK-L Particle Beam on the bridge itself and takes aim down a long, straight road at the ravaging Brawler, which resembles a Hercules beetle.

Rick takes the northwest Brawler and engages it by running forward, performing a set of parkour moves off some buildings, and landing on top of a tall one with his Levic Flechette out and ready at FA range. He cocks the stone thrower like a Winchester rifle and takes aim at the dung beetle-like Brawler crawling through the streets below.

"Alright, Sarah, you have a clear shot, now take it!" AK-47 gives Sarah the order over the MetaTron. Sarah fires her combat rifle and destroys the crab-like Brawl in a riveting explosion. She's pumped, and she's definitely overcoming her despair of being afraid she won't have any fun. "Great job, Sarah!" AK-47 actually compliments her. Serena compliments her over the MetaTron as well.

"Excellent positioning Jason," AK-47 says over the MT, "You've got the shot. Go! Fire!" Jason's particle beam shoots through the windows of several cars and buses and hits his target dead in the center. Another explosion ensues and Jason hears Billy's voice on the MT talking to Joanne. "Jeez, I can't believe that dweeb nailed that shot!" Billy says. "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, holy cow! That shot was a crazy good shot, Jason!" Strudel exclaims  over the MetaTron; even his thoughts are hyperactive in voice.

Rick fires off his shotgun blasts at the dung beetle Brawler, and it explodes. "Very good, Rick, just like I taught you!" AK-47 says to him over the MT. There are a few times when Rick's Ego doesn't go up, and his SAInt's Id, thirsty for bloodshed and battle, does go up. Rick targets a pair of scorption-like Soldiers down below and sheaths his stone thrower. In his SAInt, Rick jumps off the building, draws his Arc Sword and Arc Knife, and lands right behind and in between both Soldiers.

AK-47 informs Jason and Sarah of the pairs of Soldiers in their vicinity. Jason takes cover to reload his weapon, while Sarah, who already happens to be threat range of two, different pairs of Soldiers, goes after the ones to the south. She fires off her Giant Killer and destroys them without a problem.

Serena and Strudel are still taking care of the Mayzor Swarm, while Jason lines up another shot across the city, from on top of a warehouse, through a window, and aimed at a petrol tanker in between both Locusts. The particle beam mixed with the fireworks prove to be quite a spectacular sight.

Sarah turns and lays into the other pair of Soldiers, annihilating them.

Rick shoves his Arc Sword and Knife into both Soldiers, practically shanking them, and finishes them off, fully obliterating them.

MetaTron Static
AK-47 is complimenting Rick, Sarah, and Jason, but her telepathic voice is starting to have static. Static in the MetaTron (we decided), are other thoughts and voices creeping in loudly (most likely from the surrounding area) and drowning out the main ones. AK-47 alerts them of the Archers on the outskirts of the city. Rick, Sarah, and Jason all take position.

Jason takes cover behind a building to reload. Strudel asks if he needs any help, and Jason specifically says, "No, don't come over here," not wanting to endanger Alex.

Rick calls Serena and Strudel to work with him in engaging the northwest Archer near the Soldiers he destroyed. They provide cover fire as a distraction, while Rick sneaks around into CQ range of the Archer, standing on the street behind the warehouse it's perched on.

Sarah engages the Archer to the south at CQ range, sneaking around behind it in a similar way.

Jason fires his particle beam and destroys his targeted Archer in yet another vivid display.

Rick jumps up onto the warehouse and stabs his Archer in the back, slicing its tail and decapitating it.

Sarah uses her bayonet Arc Knife and Sam-L Shield to cut and batter the Archer from behind, destroying it.

Rick hears Joanne mutter a compliment about form to Billy, followed by AK-47's voice. She starts saying something, but the static is far too loud, and then, all of a sudden, the SAInt pilots of Alpha Company can't hear anyone from HQ or anywhere else on the MetaTron, except for themselves.

At the same time, Bravo Company should have long been here by now. What's taking them so long?

Strudel comments on the loss of communication with HQ, and the others confirm it's not just him.

"Great. We've lost communication with them," Jason grumbles.

For a brief moment, the pilots ponder how the MetaTron could even acquire static or have this happen to them, but this is neither the place nor the time for that, because two bursts of lightning hit the ground at the north and south ends of New Alamo.

A Tale of Two Magnas
The Dominion class Magnas, Beelzebub, stands over 150 feet tall at the northern end of the city. Concealed by a dense cloud of black smog, where he hovers, he's a giant, hunched shell, perhaps resembling a scarab beetle, with insect wings and smaller, alien-robot wasps which cling to its shell. He is in HB range of Rick, Serena, and Strudel and FA range of Jason.

Meanwhile, the Principal class Magnas, Thammuz, stands between 100 and 150 feet at the southern end of the city. With its two heads, four arms, and four wings growing out of its humanoid body, it's fast, nimble, and dexterous, like a boxer, often leaping from one target to another.

While there are still Locusts on the battlefield retreating to the Wormwoods, and taking anyone and everything out that they can in the process, Beelzebub and Thammuz are larger threats to Alpha Company, especially since they're alone and have never faced a pair of Magnas before.

Jason immediately takes cover behind a building to reload, while Rick engages Beelzebub at CQ range, getting behind him with his sword ready. Serena and Strudel, once again, provide cover fire to make this possible.

Beelzebub, meanwhile, regenerates a wasp, which hides itself in the Magnas's smog.

Sarah finds herself in Thammuz's threat range when he lands, and she already has her bayonet knife and shield out and ready, so she stabsThammuz at close range, injuring him.

There's still no communication over the MetaTron.

Jason leads a coordinated, team attack against Beelzebub. He fires a particle beam directly at its supposed front, while Strudel and Serena provide cover fire from the left and right, and Rick stabs its body through the smog cloud with his sword.

Sarah attempts another melee attack, but Thammuz kicks her butt and injures her SAInt pretty badly, considering she's in his threat range. Sarah takes cover behind a building and enters a game of cat and mouse with the Principal Magnas. She goes in for another attack and hits Thammuz this time, taking out a few more arms and wings. He's well on his way to being defeated soon.

Rick takes the lead this time and continues shoving the blade into the Dominion Magnas, while Serena and Strudel continue to fire, and Jason helps distract Beelzebub. However, the Magnas seems to have more powerful with every hit its taken, and they are unsuccessful. It shoots laser beams back at Jason, and a wasp blows up in Rick's face, and both of their SAInts take structural damage. Strudel is endangered by the Magnas and, perhaps, one of the remaining Archers. Serena is fine, but Sarah's parents, who happen to be still be stuck in the city, are endangered as well. Perhaps it's a Mayzor Swarm or perhaps a Locust. Hopefully it's not a Magnas.

Whatever it is, it looks like she'll have her answer soon.

Sarah hears Allen, her brother, hailing her on the MetaTron.

TO BE CONTINUED

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