Saturday, January 3, 2015

[Actual Play] Tears of a Machine - Tales of the Arx Jericho 1.13: The Battle of Jericho, Part 2

This is part two of the actual play from our season one finale for the Tears of a Machine campaign, Tales of the Arx Jericho. The bulk of the text by +Misha Polonsky, with character bios added by me.

In order of appearance: Name, Age (Character Type)

Rick Hunter, 15 (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.

Sarah Werner, 15 (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.

Jason Reyes, 14 (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.

RC (Relationship Character), SC (Supporting Character), E (Extra)

Dr. Donald 'Scary Face' Johnson, 54 (SC)
Rafe Hunter / The General, ?? (SC)
Serena Hunter, 15 (RC)
Opsie Wessel, 15 (RC)
Captain Anastasia 'AK-47' Kasherov, 47 (RC)
Alex 'Strudel' Struder, 12 (RC)
Billy Henderson, 17 (RC)
Allen Werner, 18 (E)
Joanne Kleinn, 14 (RC)
Commander Toshi Yamasuka, 52 (E)
Commander McGarry, 65 (E)
Miguel Rodriguez, 11 (E)
Leo 'Raspberry' Hayes, 12 (RC)
Laurie Bach, 14 (SC)
Kazuhiro Masaki, 16 (E)
Ryoko, 12 (E)
Bala & Lieke (aka the Twins), 13 (E)
Stephanie Yuzuki, 13 (SC)
Dr. Elizabeth Harris, 37 (SC)

Previously on Tales of the Arx Jericho...
The CRC facility has only eight minutes left until self-destruction. Meanwhile, the Arx Jericho is still under lockdown, and the Mayzor have landed an assault on the Arx itself.

Dr. Johnson takes Rick, Serena, and Opsie to suit up in their Prophets, while Jason takes point on overwriting the self-destruct sequence. With his teammates supporting him, he's successful, and AK-47 leads them outside toward HQ, where Jason, Sarah, Strudel, Billy, and Joanne suit up to board their SAInts and defend the Arx against the enemy. 

While Rick, Serena, and Opsie free Kazuhiro, Laurie, and their other classmates from the cafeteria, Sarah leads the others to free Miguel and Raspberry from the dorms, Bala and Lieke from the simulation building, and Stephanie from the classrooms. 

All the while, the Prophet and SAInt pilots fight off a hoard of Locusts: including the usual Soldiers, Brawlers, and Archers, and two, new classes of aerial-based Locusts (Choppers which resemble dragonflies and Bombers which look like giant moths hovering in the sky).

After Rick, Serena, and Opsie secure the cafeteria, they proceed to Dr. Harris's office and take flight to take out one of the Bombers.

Suddenly, the MetaTron exhibits the same static the pilots experienced in New Alamo. Their fears that the Mayzor have hacked in are confirmed, when Commander Yamasuka's voice starts ordering SAInts to target Robbies and military vehicles. What happens next shocks the pilots even more, as Sarah witnesses Strudel draw his shotgun on Joanne, while she prepares to fire off her rocket launcher back at point blank range. 

"We can't control this! Help!" Joanne tries to communicate through the MetaTron, amidst the static.

It seems neither of the pilots can control their frenzying SAInts. 

"Joanne!" Rick calls out telepathically.

Sarah and Billy rush in to restrain her, while Strudel runs off toward HQ.

Meanwhile, Commander Yamasuka's real voice comes through the network, and she's telling the frenzying SAInts to ignore her previous orders and stand down.

They don't respond.

Finally, Dr. Johnson hails Rick on a private channel.

And now...

Tuesday, September 2nd 2031

"Rick, can you hear me?" Dr. Johnson asks over the MetaTron, despite the static.

"Yeah, I can hear you," Rick replies.

Dr. Johnson asks Rick for a status report on the MetaTron hacking, the frenzying SAInts, and Commander Yamasuka's false orders. He also says the CRC facility is surrounded by Locusts and needs an extraction to get to Operations.

Rick answers his questions truthfully and sends Serena and Opsie to go get him. Serena is hesitant, but Opsie quickly takes advantage of the situation to make herself look good and says, "Come on Serena, I've got a plan!"

Plethora of Problems

The Bombers hovering high above the Arx weapons turrets begin firing their high-powered, particle beams straight down. 

Commander Yamasuka coordinates with Commander McGarry of the military who agrees that they need to raise the Arx defensive shields to maximum power, even if that means taking the weapons, Operation's computers, and the MetaTron offline.

While Sarah and Billy continue to restrain Joanne, Rick asks AK-47 for a solution to deal with the hacked SAInts. AK-47 relays the Commanders' plan but is hesitant to shut the MetaTron offline, so Jason, Sarah, Billy, and Serena all chime in to convince her otherwise.

Meanwhile, a group of Choppers fly toward the engines to take them out, and warning sounds blare across the Arx.

Rick flies off after them and calls out to Joanne one last time before the MetaTron goes offline: "Joanne, if you can hear me, hang in there!"

Joanne replies with a sinister laugh, followed by, "Come join me for a Kendo match, Rick!"

All communication throughout the MetaTron halts abruptly, and the frenzied SAInts return to normal, but the Robbies and military continue to fire at them. 

Rick grows angry at Joanne's response, as he passes by. Sarah calls out to him directly through her SAInt's speakers and asks him to tell the military to stand down and focus on Locusts.

Sarah and Billy relinquish their hold on Joanne, and Sarah asks her if she's alright.

"Yeah, Sarah, let's kick the Mayzor's ass right now! I'm ready to fight! Let's get em!" Joanne replies over the speakers, and as she asks Sarah what the plan is, a great lightning bolt flashes down from the sky and lands atop a helipad at the center of the Arx.

Terrified faces look up to bear witness to one of the oldest and most powerful Magnas the world has ever known.

Asmodeus: This Magnas is the most feared and despised that has been faced by Preservation Forces. Asmodeus is the largest and most misshapen of its rank. It was one of the original robots launched in the first Mayzor assaults and has been on numerous deployments since then. Asmodeus stands over 280 feet tall and individual limbs have branched and braided together into two huge arms sprouting from the shoulders of a tapering trunk-like body. Clusters of wings lash like thorn tendrils over its bult. Its head is a pyramid of howling beastly faces crowned with a huge broken mask with a contented smile on its lips. The most horrifying feature of Asmodeus are the "corpses" of three SAInts impaled on its body, crucified victims of the Magnas. 
- Excerpt from Tears of a Machine, pp. 181
Aerials in the Sky

Jason starts moving toward the bow of the Arx and targets a Bomber above the fore, weapon turret at High Ballistics (HB) range with his EZK-L Particle Beam sniper. It explodes, as groups of Chopper reinforcements come buzzing out of the Wormwood in the central garden. Three of them head for the engines, three head toward Asmodeus, and the last two target the turret closest to Sarah and Jason.

Rick reaches the engines and faces a total of six Choppers at Firearms (FA) range. He fires his Levic Pistol at one of them, and it explodes on the side of the Arx. The remaining five continue to fire at the engines. 

With the Choppers at the front in FA range of the SAInt pilots, Jason fires off his Levic Pistol, while Sarah uses her RDav Combat Rifle, or "Giant Killer." The Chopper that Jason hits spirals off course and crashes into the side of the cafeteria building, while Sarah's mark explodes into pieces just before reaching the turret. 

On the other side of the Arx, a mixed group of aerial Locusts successfully destroy another weapon turret.

Rick continues to go after the Choppers attacking the engines, but he's inhibited by a flood of ghastly, wailing, young voices begging to be saved. It turns out Asmodeus has found a way to penetrate the SAInt, telepathic network by keeping the pilots of the crucified SAInts alive in torment. Fortunately, most of the SAInt pilots are unaffected due to the disabled MetaTron, but the Prophets' psychic, communication channels are still disrupted. Rick fails to hit the Choppers this time, and they take out the backup generators.

Sarah, Jason, Joanne, and Billy rush back toward the dorms. Before annihilating the rest of the Bombers and Choppers, they want to prevent any more reinforcements from surprising them by eliminating the Wormwood in the garden. Sarah targets it with her Tiamat Multiple Missile System, but the projectiles wipe out the entire garden along with the Wormwood in a great display of fireworks, just as a lightning bolt comes down to beam up whatever scorched remains are left of the spherical capsule.

Most of the SAInt pilots are in awe. Allen is too, as he drops the Twins off at HQ. Inside the hangar, Kazuhiro and Laurie are gearing up for deployment, and back at the dorms, Jason reloads his rifle while running toward the remaining, aerial Locusts to take them down.

By now, Opsie and Serena have brought Dr. Johnson to HQ, and they regroup with Rick. He changes distance to get into Close Quarters (CQ) range of the Choppers and takes out two simultaneously with his dual 'Arc Swords.

Jason snipes down one of the last, two, remaining Bombers with Joanne's help, while Sarah and Billy take out the other one.

After the Bombers are destroyed, the SAInts near HQ inform Operations, and within minutes, the defensive shields go back down and the surviving, weapon turrets are online and operational.

Finally, with Serena and Opsie's help, Rick activates his Prophet's supreme, Vanquish protocol which taps into the Mayzor, telepathic network to seize control of the self-repair, nano-machine systems of the remaining Choppers in order to dismantle them via telepathic command. The last, three Choppers suddenly unravel, and millions of pieces plummet toward the earth.

Now that the engines are safe, the Prophets return to HQ to meet up with the SAInts so that they can take out the remaining Locusts and focus their efforts on Asmodeus.

Last of the Locusts

While the pilots of Alpha and Bravo Company get into their positions, and Jason mans the turret he's been dying to get his SAInt's hands onto, they all take cover from Asmodeus's deadly lasers, while Blue Company wipes out the last, remaining Locusts threatening HQ.

Serena helps Rick engage the two, closest Brawlers at CQ range, and he swoops down to impale them both with his swords.

Next, Laurie helps Rick engage two Soldiers at CQ, and he slices their tails off before destroying them.

Finally, Rick targets the last, remaining Archer with his pistol, but the cries emanating from Asmodeus's crucified SAInts startles him again, but he's able to defeat the Archer with Opsie's help. She, of course, takes credit for the kill and proceeds to showboat, but at least HQ is saved.

As the Robbies and military attack the last Locusts outside the CRC facility, the Prophets and SAInts face off against one, last, enormous threat.

All Hope Seems Lost

"Make a hole!" Rick cries out, as he engages Asmodeus at CQ range with Jason, Sarah, and Billy helping him out. Unfortunately, the Magnas is much too powerful, and even though Rick ends up where he wants, Asmodeus's lasers tear through his SAInt, and he loses Resolve on top of that. Sarah, Jason, and Billy are all injured as well, though Sarah's SAM-L Shield prevents some of her damage.

Jason fires at Asmodeus from his turret but misses. Sarah, Strudel, Joanne, and Billy miss as well, and they all take another round of damage, as lasers shoot through their porcelain bodies and expose their inner structure.

Rick attempts to attack Asmodeus with his double, 'Arc Swords, but even with help from Serena, Opsie, and Laurie, he's unable to land a decent hit. Asmodeus retaliates, and Rick is practically crushed to the ground, as he loses more Resolve.

The pilots scramble to catch their bearings and figure out how they'll take Asmodeus down. 

Will they fail? Will they die? If they do, will they take the Magnas down with them?

All hope seems lost for the people of the Arx Jericho, but the pilots can't give up. 

They won't give up.

Altogether Now

"Alright guys, follow this in!" Sarah yells through her speakers, as she takes point and fires off her last set of Tiamat missiles in an all-out, coordinated attack against Asmodeus which finally connects.

Jason blasts it with his big ass, turret gun.

Rick flies around it, slashing its limbs and clipping its wings off with his swords. 

Joanne screams, "DIE!" as she fires her rocket launcher.

All the other SAInts and Prophets join in the fight and go all out with their respective weapons. 

The three SAInts crucified to the Magnas explode. Its wings crumble to dust. Its trunk-like legs and huge, braided arms collapse and tear apart. Its head flies into the air with a contented smile still plastered over its lips, and its body crushes the scorched remains of the garden, as the head and self-destructing core explode simultaneously, and the citizens of the Arx Jericho witness the greatest blast they have ever seen.

The air grows silent in the aftermath of the explosion, and the sight of the damaged Arx is quite surreal.

After the pilots return to HQ, the Operation's computers and MetaTron network go online again and a debriefing ensues. The pilots responsible in taking down Asmodeus are awarded special medals, and the pilots of Blue Company and Alpha Company go on to receive higher accolades and become worldwide celebrities in the following months. 

The Arx Jericho instantly begins repairing itself, and the Preservation Forces are already discussing future plans with the CRC. The SAInts have preserved humanity once again, but an important lesson has been learned. The people of Earth can not wait around any longer in shelter or hiding, while the Mayzor continue to attack indefinitely. 

It's high time for Earth to fight back and go after the Mayzor mother ship, Tartarus.

It's time to unleash Operation: Blue Moon.


will return on

Sunday 4th January 2015 

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