Monday, March 9, 2015

[Actual Play] Tears of a Machine - Tales of the Arx Jericho: Season 2 Mid-season Recap

Hello folks! What follows is pretty much just a repost of Misha Polonsky's own recap of our second season so far. I'll aim to have my own full AP of the most recent session up next week.

Part of what bogs me down with writing these is trying to 'zoom in' on the action during fights and give a blow-by-blow account, but going forward I think I might attempt to cover sessions in broader strokes and only zoom in for crowning moments of awesome. Anyway, on to the AP.

For a recap of Season 2, Episode 1 click here.

Episode 02
Our heroes carried out their mission and planted the surveillance probes they were given at the designated targets on Tartarus. After defeating the crustacean-type Locusts, they were surprised by a Principal Magnas named Rusalka who rose out of the lava and tried to mess with their minds by mimicking voices of those they held most dear. She even mimicked a young, Russian girl's voice which freaked AK-47 out and put her out of commission for a little while. Blue, Alpha, and Bravo Company defeated Rusalka and returned to the Arx Jericho, but they accidentally brought back a parasitic strain of Swarm which broke out like a plague amongst pilots and Preservation Forces officers alike. Several weeks later, most of Bravo Company (minus Raspberry) and half of Blue Company (Opsie and Serena) were quarantined in the hospital with psychosomatic symptoms from the disease. 

Jason hacked Dr. Johnson's files out of suspicion and discovered blueprints of the biomechanical Parasites. They were carried by Mayzor Jammers, another strange Swarm which attached themselves to the pilots' SAInts like barnacles back on Tartarus. The Jammers were small enough to fit inside the miniature, Wormwood device (which the Pilots discovered Dr. Johnson used to create MetaTron static back in Season 1).

Meanwhile, Joanne planned a surprise birthday party for Rick and Serena, but Serena couldn't attend, and Rick was in no mood to celebrate. 

He received a present from his estranged father who asked him to meet him in the garden park. Rafe appeared as a hologram and confirmed that he was a Mayzor General and that Rick and Serena were half-Mayzor. He apologized for everything that had happened and said he loved them both. He confessed that the AmBrO51A serum wasn't meant to heighten their abilities but suppress them in an effort to protect them from the other Mayzor Generals. He hinted that the Mayzor had a much larger plan and he was no longer a willing participant. "The faith is strong," he said. He also told Rick that the surefire cure for the Parasites was to scourge them via depravation tanks like a SAInt would Id. 

Rick later told AK-47, and it would definitely work on the pilots, but the adult officers needed larger tanks and materials were scarce. 

During Rick's birthday party, Billy got a call and had more bad news. Dr. Harris was infected and quarantined.


Episode 03 
The Pilots coupled up for a pre-Valentine's Day, group, dinner date, where they enjoyed a low key evening with some mandatory, teenage drama.

On Valentine's Day, Charlie Company went on a scavenging mission to gather raw materials from a local asteroid in order to build more depravation tanks for the adult officers affected by the Plague. Marten's voices kept warning him of impending doom, so he convinced his team and Command to deploy in case Charlie Company needed backup.

It turned out they did need help, because on the way back, they were ensnared by electrical webbing and surrounded by spider-like Locusts called Trappers. Blue and Alpha Company fought them off and freed most of the pilots of Charlie Company plus the cargo. During the battle, Marten failed to rescue Conrad Andersen in time, and he was sadly killed by a Trapper. A Dominion-class, shapeshifting Magnas named Jorōgumo landed on the asteroid and morphed into a middle-aged woman holding a child which strongly resembled AK-47. The Pilots defeated it, but back at HQ, AK-47 had a mental breakdown and was worse than ever before. 


Episode 04
Jason, Billy, and Esteban broke into Dr. Johnson's office to hack a couple of emails that were addressed to Jason's stepfather, Martin Reyes, and Opsie's mother, Brünhild Wessel. Dr. Johnson told Martin that AK-47 and Dr. Harris were being taken care of and that all the papers were set to bring Douglas aboard the Arx Jericho and into the SAInt Program. He told Brünhild that Opsie's abilities were still latent due to the AmBrO51A serum and that she didn't suspect what she was. He added that she would be utilized to sow discord amongst the pilots.

Dr. Johnson scheduled a meeting with Marten to grill him on how he knew Charlie Company was going to be in trouble. Jason, Billy, and Esteban were almost caught. During the meeting, Marten held his own, leaving Dr. Johnson suspicious but unable to get any more information out of him.

The infected pilots of Blue and Bravo Company had recovered, and Opsie and Serena were to join Rick and Sarah for Prophet training. Opsie arrived and said she had a strange dream where Serena was captured and taken to a warehouse, while Rafe Hunter was telling her to rescue her. After calling Serena's Linc and getting no response, Rick and the others figured she really was in trouble and went to find her.

Billy helped the pilots acquire taser guns and batons from the security locker, while Joanne grabbed practice Kendo swords to arm themselves with. Jason also shared the contents of the emails he hacked, and Opsie was utterly surprised to learn that she was half-Mayzor.

A propaganda video by the Followers of the Communion had spread virally and stated that the Sixth Plague was upon them. They believed the only true faith was one of Communion like the Legulus that revealed themselves on Earth.

Blue and Alpha Company followed Opsie's vision to a warehouse which served as the Followers' HQ. The pilots were ambushed by masked Followers in an alleyway who wanted Rick and fought them off, knocking most of them out. They questioned one man who told them that Ora Cohen, the leader of the Followers, had indeed kidnapped Serena and was holding her in the basement.

The pilots proceeded to the warehouse, where they found Ora Cohen on stage speaking to a large crowd of Followers. The pilots called AK-47 for backup and decided to split up: Marten and Joanne snuck into the basement to rescue Serena, Jason and Esteban took the high ground to provide cover fire, and Rick and Sarah confronted the Followers head-on.

Ora Cohen introduced herself to Rick and confessed that she kidnapped Serena to get to him. Rick asked why, and Ora said she knew he'd spoken to his father and wanted the location of his whereabouts. Rick said he didn't know, but she didn't believe him. She knew Rick was half-Mayzor and publicly called him out on it for all his company mates to hear. Tensions rose, while Marten and Joanne freed Serena, and Ora further confessed that her orders came from a Mayzor General. By that point, a group of Preservation Forces officers and Robbies arrived to arrest them. Sarah's brother, Allen, was one of the Robbie pilots. 

While attempting to flee, Ora Cohen accidentally dropped her Linc, and Esteban picked it up. He looked through the messages and found an entire conversation where Commander Toshi Yamasuka of the Preservation Forces instructed Ora Cohen to kidnap Serena and Rick and find out Rafe's whereabouts.

That same day, Jason's stepfather was in town and invited Jason to have dinner. There, Jason unexpectedly met his step-brother, Douglas, who he had never known about. Douglas was older, pompous, and gave off a very negative vibe.


Episode 05
After learning that Commander Yamasuka was allegedly a Mayzor General, the Pilots didn't know which adults they could trust anymore. They split up into groups, hoping to get AK-47 and Dr. Harris on their side, while Jason gave Douglas a tour of the Arx Jericho.

Douglas displayed a creepy, sadistic side to him through talking with Jason whilst trying to pry information out of him on the pilots of Blue and Alpha Company. Douglas confidently said he would pilot a Prophet in no time and join Blue Company's ranks.

Rick and Sarah visited AK-47 who informed them that she'd been temporarily suspended due to sending back-up to the warehouse without Commander Yamasuka's authorization. She wasn't entirely surprised by what the pilots had uncovered and told them she was on their side and would help any way she could. She was more surprised to hear that Rick was half-Mayzor and suggested that Sarah should take a blood sample to see if she, too, had Mayzor DNA (given her blood relation to Opsie).

Marten and Esteban ran into Rick and Sarah, and the four of them paid Dr. Harris a visit who was very surprised by all the news but somehow saw it coming. She told Sarah she could take her blood sample and compare it with Rick's to identify any Mayzor DNA.

Afterward, the Pilots wanted to question the Followers who were arrested, specifically Ora Cohen, but Billy said they'd been released under Commander Yamasuka's orders. The Pilots were all set to visit the warehouse again, but they were called in for an impromptu, lunar mission to Tartarus.

Blue and Alpha Company's mission was to visit one of the Mayzor outposts at the Tsander crater and attempt their first, rescue of human, Earth citizens who were once captured by the Mayzor.

At the Tsander crater, the Pilots fought off Soldiers, Brawlers, Archers, and Trappers, while Strudel prepared the atmospheric bubble to transport the captives from a Wormwood settlement in the center to nearby drop ships. Inside the settlement, the Pilots discovered that the people were under a hypnotic spell caused by psychic music being emitted by hidden, Locust Crickets.

As the Pilots started engaging and destroying the Crickets, two Magnas appeared to wreak havoc upon them.


Episode 06
The Pilots of Blue and Alpha Company continued to battle Locusts and the two, Magnas threats that appeared.

Paimon was a Principle-class Magnas with a great and powerful, psychic roar who resembled a demonic, Persian king atop a biomechanical, zombie-like, dromedary camel.

Amdusias was a Dominion-class Magnas that looked more demonic and could create electrical storms while using his thunderous, psychic voice to deafen, lower Resolve, cause rage within SAInts, and lower the Ego of Prophets.

In a miraculous display of bravery, luck, and teamwork, the heroes prevailed, destroying both Magnas and the Crickets, freeing the humans from their hypnosis, transporting them to the drop ships, and bringing them back home to the Arx Jericho. Unfortunately, Jason scourged his SAInt's Id to avoid a frenzy and fell unconscious. The Pilots had to convince Dr. Johnson back at Command to remotely eject Jason to save him, leaving his SAInt on the moon. 

Once they got back, everyone aboard the Arx rejoiced, and the Faithful called for a special holiday to commemorate the first-ever rescue of human captives from Tartarus. In the next episode, they will throw a grand festival with all cultures and faiths represented, and they're naming it Faith Day.

Jason nearly died and ended up in the hospital, where he was visited by family and friends. Douglas showed off his true evil by almost killing Jason before Esteban stopped him. Sarah found out her brother Allen had been infected by the Plague and was being quarantined. Dr. Harris got the blood results back for Sarah and confirmed that she, indeed, had Mayzor DNA within her. Marten, who had been dating Stephanie for a little while now, took her out to the mall to clear his head of the rage he felt for Dr. Johnson.

The very last thing that happened was a long-awaited confrontation between Rick (joined by Sarah) and Dr. Johnson. Rick browbeat him into confessing who he was really working for, who the Mayzor Generals were, what the Mayzor were up to, and what was going on with all the pilots who were half-Mayzor.

Dr. Johnson said he was a human agent for the Mayzor and that his direct superior, Commander Yamasuka, was the Grand Mayzor General - the highest on the food chain. He listed off four more out of seven total Generals: Martin Reyes (Jason's stepfather), Brünhild Wessel (Opsie's mother), Dr. Kreuz (the CRC scientist who founded the Cloistered Research Council and was the father of the Preservation Forces and the SAInts), and Rafe Hunter. Dr. Johnson said Rafe had strayed from the Mayzor's grand plan a long time ago and was a traitor who was trying to initiate a Mayzor civil war. Commander Yamasuka, indeed, recruited Ora Cohen and the Followers of the Communion to find out Rafe's whereabouts through Rick and Serena. Commander Yamasuka even gifted Ora Cohen with special, Legulus abilities to be able to see psychic projections and read the dreams of others. Regarding the half-Mayzor, Dr. Johnson said they were all various experiments being conducted by the Mayzor, and while he didn't know what the end game was, he knew it had to deal with obtaining as much power for the Mayzor as possible. The Mayzor hadn't eradicated the human race, because their plans were far greater and more sophisticated. 

Essentially, the capture of Earth humans, the creation of the Preservation Forces and the CRC, the development of SAInts and Prophets, the experimentation with siring half-Mayzor, the mothership Tartarus being stationed on the dark side of the moon, and the infiltration/involvement of the Mayzor Generals was all part of a grand scheme - a long con to supply the Mayzor with as much power as possible. 

After Dr. Johnson finished spilling his guts, Rick clicked the stop button on his Linc to finish recording, and the episode ended. 


Coming Up
6-7 episodes remain in Season 2, and the cards are all out on the table. The Pilots have plenty of evidence now along with plenty of problems to deal with. 

What will our heroes do now? Will they continue their lunar missions, trying to free more captives from Tartarus whilst bringing down other Mayzor outposts? Will they focus their efforts at home and try to expose the Generals now that they have some proof? Will they try to find Rafe and see if he can fill them in on what's going on? 

What will the Mayzor do with the half-Mayzor experiments? How will Opsie sow discord? What is Douglas's role? Will Rick and Serena ever gain the full strength of their Mayzor abilities? What will happen to Sarah given that she, too, has Mayzor DNA?

What will happen to Ora Cohen and the Followers of the Communion? What about the Faithful? Will they praise the Pilots more than ever now that they've done the impossible and rescued captured humans? What will happen during the Faith Day Festival?

Esteban has recently taken up an interest in R&D to create new weapons and improvements for the SAInts. Billy and Jason are with him. What new weapons and tech will they develop? 

Finally, the golden question that remains is what is the end game? What is the grand scheme of the Mayzor, and how exactly will it help them attain power?

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