Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Blank of Four Years

It has been a long time.

My last post was in a long ago November and we're a few months off from the 4th anniversary of me starting this little blog. In that regard, I think I've failed as far as what I hoped to do in keeping up with it.

Between finals for my classes in grad school and mounting frustrations with the most recent season of D&D Encounters at the time, I had to start slimming down my focus to what was really important. For good or ill, the increased length of each Encounter session for the season caused the summaries to be at least double, if not more, the usual amount of writing involved to recap everything to the degree I found acceptable.

This mixed with our run of rather regular attendance shattering apart into insanity made it very difficult to piece together any form of coherent ongoing story. Ultimately, that time was better spent on my classes and as I rolled into my final semester of grad school in the Spring, staring down my Exit Portfolio, I simply lost touch with working on any content for here.

So much has changed for me in the RPG hobby and I imagine a good part of my postings in the near future will be devoted to chronicling all the lost time. Obviously I tapered off with writing up Play Reports on the games I had been running. It seemed that with each passing season of Encounters it became harder and harder to tell even the vaguest semblance of a coherent story with the frequent dropping in and out of players. At best, I mostly would have been writing what was already available in the module, so in that respect it seemed a pointless effort without the color added by character actions.

I'm not sure if, going forward, how much I will write play reports; I suppose that rests upon catching that spark of inspiration. However, I want continue this blog for musing/original content on all the various RPG's I take an interest in along with the hobby in general; if nothing else. Thus, my personal goal is to at least post something once a week; every two weeks at worst.

As a postscript to where I was when I abandoned posting here, I did manage to wrap up my final semester and obtained a Masters in Library Science; which is an achievement I'm pretty proud of. Of course, being an RPG blog what's more important to anyone stumbling by is likely the actual RPG-related stuff. So I figure there is no better way to jump start things here again than to talk about what I've been up to for the last few years in the realm of RPG's.

The next few entries I post will all fall along that line giving a sweeping recap of where my interests have been, what games I have played/ran, so on and so forth.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

D&D Encounters: War of Everlasting Darkness Session 01+02

So I'm combining our first two weeks together because I devoted what time I had to session write-ups to powering through all those Mecha episodes. I have a lot to say about this season so this part might be a bit long winded. As far as overall, things are going well. We now have two full tables and just this week starting Session 02, we got in another new player. Excellent times for our Encounters program.

I have a lot of issues with this season and the "testing" D&D NEXT mechanics or whatever. I was hopeful going in. I'm always willing to try anything once when it comes to an RPG. However, maybe this is a little early to say it, but two sessions in and I already feel like this is a bad move. First, I should preface this by saying that reaction-wise most of our players found the changes awkward, but were hopeful. However, one of our vets (who had seen through both previous seasons in the Rise of the Underdark Trilogy) bowed out this season after learning about the new changes. There was really nothing I could do about it. It made me a little sad that this decision turned away one of our long time players.

So this is my problem. I have nothing against added focus on roleplaying and exploration; I do love DCC to death. However, the way they went about implementing this with 4e just does not work in my opinion. Fights are a joke in this season so far. They're already made easier, I think, to account for having multiple battles. However, these gridless supporting minion brawls do little to expend resources, only last a round or two tops and are more of a small speed bump to the party if anything. Then, there's still usually one "major" battle of the session. However, players go in every week after an extended rest with (by the rules) an action point and all their daily powers refreshed. You know you'll get them back next week. There's zero incentive not to blow them on the hardest battle and tear through it quickly.

To me, the tactical nature of 4e's combat is one of its strongest points. Even the powers are built around this. We had some stumbling points in Session's 2 minion orc battle as I tried to describe the nature of the battle and people kept wondering about the ranges on their powers. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but I think WOTC dropped a major ball with this decision. In any case,  I suppose we'll see how it goes in the later sessions which, admittedly, look a bit more interesting than this intro material. We've got a lot of information to cover so let's dig right in:

Background:
Deep in the darkness of the Demonweb Pits, Lolth has been spinning a web of deceit, treachery and ambition. Her goal is to seize control of arcane magic, a domain that has lain vacant since the death of Mystra a hundred years ago.

To facilitate this grab for power, Lolth has sent the prophet Danifae Yauntyrr to all cities of the drow. Danifae is a fallen priestess, a scoundrel, a seductress and-if history is any guide-an avatar of Lolth. Whispering to the leaders of all the great drow houses, Danifae has spurred them to gather ancient knowledge and relics to aid Lolth's ascent.

The drow have scoured the world for the physical remnants of dead or sleeping primordials, sought out the remains of great wizards, gathered artifacts once sacred to Mystra and fought for control of magical locations on the world's surface. As the dark elves have gathered arcane energy and channeled it to Lolth, her strength has grown.

Lolth's web has extended to cover most of the world, forming a Demon Weave to replace the sundered Weave that Mystra maintained. This new matrix of arcane magic grants the priests and wizards who serve Lolth access to newfound abilities and their task is now to use them.

Across the surface world, Lolth's servitors draw on the Demon Weave to create shrouds of darkness that they call the Darkening. Under this pall of shadow, the drow can move and fight with darkness on their side during what would normally be daylight hours. With this newfound advantage, they hope to help complete Lolth's ascendancy to her new role as Goddess of Magic.

Heroes:
1) Decanis: An Eladrin Psion traveling as an envoy for his kingdom. Amid the great threat from Lolth, Decanis holds the unique opinion and hope that the drow might one day return among the other fey as allies.

2) Terios: A Minotaur Warden with a severe hate towards drow. When Terios was but a young child, his entire family was killed by a squad of drow acting above ground. Left for dead, Terios was rescued by Teph and has since stood by her side as an ally. A creature of action more than thought, Terios has a reputation for getting his companions into trouble.

3) Teph: A clever Pixie Thief. She rescued Terios from death after drow exterminated his family when he was a child. She once botched a robbery and found herself imprisoned in a jar for 3 days until Terios was able to find and rescue her. Also known for being a skilled negotiator.

4) Makaria: A Tiefling Elementalist wandering the realms. She speaks little and is known for her short temper. However, her skill at commanding flames in unrivaled making her an excellent ally to have in battle. Has an infamous reputation for burning down forests from stray spells cast in combat.

5) Dox-Alna: A Changeling Warlord cast into the realms to bring about great change. Having served most of her life among the Order she is devoted to, Dox-Alna was recently issued an important mission. This task was simple in design, yet grand in concept: go forth into the realms and bring a stop to Lolth's bid for power.

6) Darren: A Half-Elf Swordmage who is well know or his laid back attitude and relaxed demeanor. He travels with a pet cat that he keeps close by at all times.

7) Belgos: A Drow Hunter who has lived most of his life above ground having forsaken the ways of Lolth. Concerned with the recent push by the drow of the Underdark, he has begun travelling looking for a way to stop their ambitions.

Locations:
-Luruar: Also commonly known as the Silver Marches. A region in Faerûn that is a confederation of cities in the north, under the leadership of Alustriel Silverhand, former ruler of Silverymoon. It consists of Silverymoon, Citadel Adbar, Deadsnows, Jalanthar, Quaervarr, Citadel Felbarr, Everlund, Mithral Hall, and Sundabar, and its goal is to protect the North against the growing horde of orcs in the mountains. It shares borders with the kingdom of Many-Arrows, a coalition of various orc tribes who currently have a peace argreement with the Silver Marches.

-Glimmerwood: A vast forest in Luruar to the east of Mithral Hall. Home to several settlements and ruins, it is a well known location among adventurers. Several orc tribes make their home around this region.

-Quaervarr: A small woodland village just within the southwest tip of the Glimmerwood. A popular gathering point for adventurers hoping to explore the vast forest. Home to the famous inn the Whistling Stag and located not far from the ruins of Methegrist.

-Winter Edge: A hamlet in the Silver Marches. Winter Edge settled east side of River Surbrin, opposite of Mithral Hall. The hamlet has been gaining importance since Obould Many-Arrows besieged Mithral Hall and then Mithral Hall by aid of Citadel Felbarr succeeded to open east gate. Mithral Hall provide to trade other Silver Marches cities via Winter Edge . High Lady of Silverymoon Alustriel Silverhand promised to Bruenor Battlehamer ,King of Mithral Hall, help and trade via Winter Edge. People of Winter Edge earn a living with trade and farming. Only humans live there but many times elves from north,specially Moonwood, or Silvermoon visit Winter Edge.

-Dark Arrow Keep: King Obould XVII reigns the Kingdom of Many-Arrows from the central chamber in this trapped fortress, known for its slit-covered and confounding corridors, blind alleys, and brutal punishments in the Pit, an arena used by the King to judge his chieftains.

-Mithral Hall: Mithral Hall is a dwarven stronghold beneath Fourthpeak Mountain in the Spine of the World. It was one of the best known dwarven strongholds in Faerûn. Originally a mithral mine belonging to Clan Battlehammer, this underground town became a safe haven for various dwarf families and even some persons of other races. Mithral Hall has a long history of tragedy and triumph, and was the making and breaking of countless individuals.

NPCs/Organizations:
-Mystra: The Mother of all Magic, was the greater deity who guided the magic that enveloped Toril prior to the Time of Troubles. Mystra tended to the Weave constantly, making possible all the miracles and mysteries wrought by magic and users of magic. She was believed, as was her predecessor Mystryl, to be the embodiment of the Weave and of magic itself. Mystra's symbol was a ring of seven stars surrounding a rising red mist, spiraling to the heavens, though her older and more often seen symbol was a simple seven-pointed star. During the Time of Troubles, Mystra was killed by the deity Helm for defying the god and trying to climb the Celestial Stairway to the heavens.

-Lolth: The Queen of Spiders or Queen of the Demonweb Pits, is the goddess of the drow, a chaotic evil deity who revels in chaos. She patterns her life and the lives of her worshipers on a regimen of chaotic acts and the veneration of spiders. The way that new-born spider broods tear each other apart to survive especially appeals to her. She promotes this by encouraging her worshipers to kill their rivals, thus ensuring that they are the strongest of the 'brood'. Her love of chaos often makes her appear mad but the wise see her as a calculating individual who is always several steps ahead of those who believe that they can anticipate her. She is cruel and domineering, forcing her will upon her followers and her enemies, a will which instructs the strong to crush the weak in the most torturous way imaginable. Since the Spellplague, Lolth has set her sights on replacing Mystra as the master of arcane power.

-Danifae Yauntyrr: A stunningly beautiful drow cleric who eventually would became the Yor'thae or Chosen of Lolth, a part of Lolth herself. She was born in the city of Eryndlyn, where she studied magic with the house wizard before becoming a priestess of Lolth. Naturally beautiful, Danifae soon found she could use her looks to her advantage, and was willing to seduce both men and women to get what she wanted in life. She has recently appeared among all great drow civilization on behalf of Lolth to spread the plan to form the Demon Weave.

-King Obould XVII: King Obould XVII is the seventeenth king in a line of unbroken Oboulds, ruling over the kindom of Many-Arrows. Obould XVII reunited the tribes in 1460 DR after a series of civil wars split the kingdom. Know for his sharp wit, Obould keeps a tense peace brokered between the various orc tribes under his dominion and Luruar.

Session 01: Nightfall in Methegrist (Year 1 - Spring)
-Near the end of spring, five adventurers found their travels bringing them to Quaervarr; a pleasant logging village just inside the vast Glimmerwood. At the gate of the walled palisade that surrounded the village, a pair of militia guards leaning on spears asked each one a few cursory questions about their business before pointing them to a luxurious inn known as the Whistling Stag.

-Half hunting lodge and half sumptuous mansion, the Whistling Stag offered heated baths, down pillows, warm blankets and lovely views of the verdant forest outside. All this was complemented by bearskin carpets, stag heads on the wall and a lush tapestry depicting elves on a boar hunt.

-The common room was busy with at least a dozen locals crowding around the bar. The conversation centered on a ghostly apparition that had been passing through the village ever night recently. The villagers seemed spooked, but an older patron with silvered hair and the look of a former adventurer about him was trying to reassure everyone.

-With only a single table left open, these five adventurers were forced to be seated together and it was thus there that Decanis, Terios & Teph, Makaria and Dox-Alna met and traded stories. The group couldn't help but find the ghostly tale intriguing and eventually inquired about what went on. The man leading the conversation introduced himself as Rennick; a retired ranger who had spent his life adventuring in the Glimmerwood. Despite the crowd's disposition, Rennick seemed cheerful and his very presence seemed to lighten the other citizens' mood a bit.

-Teph inquired about the situation and after some instigation from the bar patrons, Rennick agreed to weave the tale: Five days ago, on a dark and stormy night, just at the end of the celebration of Highharvestide, a pair of villagers saw a ghostly figure heading through the village as they left the holiday feast being held in the Whistling Stag. The phantom was a tall, thin human male in armor, walking through the village in a northeasterly direction.

-Each night since, the phantom has appeared again. The second night, Grainge (a teen of the village) saw the spirit enter the village by stepping through the palisade on the southwest side of Quaervarr, and a few other people saw it making its way through the village. The night before, Faella (an elder in the village) saw it leave the village by moving through the palisade on the northeast side.

-Ever eager for a change at treasure, Teph questioned whether there was any sort of reward for dealing with the ghost. Rennick seemed convinced the spirit posed no threat to the village, but added that such an adventure could always lead to something unknown or marvelous. After some discussion, the five adventurers agreed to form a party to uncover the mystery of this apparition. Going for the most direct approach, Terios suggested they simply wait for the ghost to appear and then track its movements.

-Agreed to this plan, the party gathered at the palisade on the southwest side of Quaervarr and began waiting for nightfall. As the sun sank below the horizon, the forest all around came to life with the sound of birdsong. Then the sun was gone, and silence fell among the trees. Almost at once, the ghostly apparition appeared, radiating a faint chill. The figure was a tall, gaunt human male with sunken eyes, striding slowly forward with his gaze fixed ahead. Makaria and Decanis made some cursory checks using their knowledge of the arcane and were able to quickly confirm that the apparition was in fact and spirit; and not some sort of illusion or other trickery.

-Moving carefully, with Terios leading the group, the party followed the ghost through the village and towards the palisade on the northeast side of town. There, the continued following the spirit as it moved past Quaervarr and into the open forests of Glimmerwood. It wasn't long before gruff voices raised in anger were heard nearby; with one softer woven in. However, it was too hard to make out the words. Noting that the apparition held a slow gait, the party opted to veer off path and investigate the sound.

-Keeping themselves hidden among the thick forest, the party happened upon two orcs talking to a lithe figure swathed in black. The orcs wear the symbols of two different tribes. One has fangs painted in bright red hanging from its clothing and armor. The other wears dangling loops of what looks like intestines draped over one shoulder and under the other arm.

-Recalling the studies from her Order, Dox-Alna recognized the first orc's regalia as indicating membership in the Red Fangs tribe of the western Rauvin Mountains. The second was a member of the Ripped Guts tribe that lairs in the northern slopes of the Nether Mountains. However, most odd to her, was the fact that these two tribes are well known enemies.

-The party listened in on their conversation as the two orcs seemed to argue about dividing up new lands about to be conquered after the Darkening. The shrouded figure acted as an intermediary eventually getting the two orcs back onto the same page. Eventually, the two orcs began to debate their strength and agitated the figure shouted, "Enough, you imbeciles. I don't have time for this nonsense. The Spider Queen awaits my service. Just make sure you take the village of Winter Edge after the Darkening begins."

-Realizing the mention of the Spider Queen suggested this hidden figure was a drow, Terios flew into a frenzy charging from hiding just as this unknown figure seemed to vanish into the darkness. However, both orcs immediately flew into action diving the party into combat. However, numbers favored the party and working together they quickly overwhelmed and defeated both Orcs. Searching the area, no sign could be found of the mysterious drow. With no other leads, the party returned to keep tracking the spirit.

-After a few more minutes of travel, the party exited into a small clearing. Scattered remnants of ancient flagstones and masonry marked the location of the ruins, though the full extent of the former fortress was hidden beneath the undergrowth. Up ahead, four people moved as if searching for something in the moonlight. A dwarf in chainmail was tapping around a pile of rubble and listening for a response. An elf wearning thick leather crouches down to the flagstones at the base of a tall tree; a look of intense concentration hung on her face. Two human males armed with stout clubs looked on, frowning.

-Ignoring these people, the phantom continued its march until it stood beside the dwarf, who backed away startled. The ghostly knight pantomined lifting a trap door and then began to sink down into the ground at the dwarf's feet. All four adventurers seem visibly shaken and frightened by the spirit. However, this soon faded as they noticed our heroes.

-The dwarf waved his crossbow in their general direction and spoke aloud, "We got here first, so you best be on your way." After some discussion, the party came to learn this dwarf was named Karrik and he was the leader of this small band of tomb robbers. The elf, Lisstra, spoke poor Common but Karrik assured that her skill as a hunter was expert. The two men, Dran and Garn, rounded out the party as needed muscle. Karrik claimed stake to the ruins of Methegrist.

-Initially the party appealed to Karrik suggesting their sole interest was in the spirit itself; desiring to learn why it could not pass on. However, with rumors of vast treasures in the ruins, Karrik refused to back down. Taking charge, Teph began tense negotiations with the dwarf trying to bargain a deal where the two parties might act in concert together. Karrik drove a hard deal and initially wanted 3/4 of any treasure found. After some fast-talking on Teph's part, Karrik settled for 68% of all the treasure gathered. A fact Teph readily agreed to, silently knowing that this did not include treasure Karrik wasn't aware they had acquired.

-Exploring the area where the ghost had vanished, Decanis discovered a trap door; much like the spirit had mirrored. With a powerful heave, Terios opened the way revealing a ladder that descended into darkness. As they entered the dungeon room below clouds of dust billowed out around their feet. Beneath the dust, they could make out the shape and pattern of a large, tattered rug. Examining the rug closer, Makaria discerned the image of knights holding round vials of water that gave off a bright silvery light.

-Thinking for a moment, Dox-Alna recalled having read about Methegrist at her Order.Centuries ago, Methegrist was home to a small group of paladins know as the Moonwatchers. Dedicated to Helm, the paladins were the self-appointed protectors of the Moonlands. However, they were destroyed when a devil infiltrated their ranks and turned them against one another.

-Exploring the ruins of Methegrist proved dangerous for the party. Karrik cautiously let our heroes take the lead. Charging ahead into an open hall, Terios was injured as a spear trap shot up from the floor and stabbed into him. Later, in a large open chamber, Teph found herself entranced by a nearby fountain pooled with mirror-like water. Gazing into the water, she began to see her reflection on the surface of the pool, as clear as any mirror. A moment later, however, this image fades and an image of the past began to appear. Teph saw one of her failed robberies. After botching the attempt to steal and being caught, she was sealed away in a jar for three days until Terios managed to finally find and free her.

-Little did the pixie know she was being tested. Reflecting on the event, Teph felt no remorse only thinking it was unfortunate that her thievery had failed. The enchantment on the pool of water then cursed Teph for her negative thoughts and lack of repentance. Teph began to feel weakened and study by Makaria revealed that only time could lift the effect.

-Meanwhile, Terios had wandered off to a side chamber and discovered a powerful relic. Just before finding it, he had noticed the spirit again. Striding into the room, the armored phantom kneeled on the floor between two large fonts filled with radiant water. He held his sword upright in front of him, cluctching the pommel in front of his bowed head as he spoke, "Give me peace," as if in prayer. Dox-Alna identified it as the Tears of Helm. A vial of water blessed by Helm which could be used as a source to shed forth bright magical light. Not only this, the water itself also functioned as a potion of healing that would slowly refill itself over time. Relic in hand, Terios led the group into the next chamber.

-Within a hellish red light flickered around the room, coming from a brazier in an alcove to one side. The light danced along the glowing lines of a strange symbol engraved in the floor. Decanis identified this symbol as an infernal one, used to call forth devils or grant them power. Just then, the party heard a voice forcing Karrik to cry in fear. Booming within the room it cackled and spoke, "Why have you come, you pretty, pretty souls?"

-Nervous about the situation, the party answered honestly stating that they had been trailing the phantom. This prompted a high-pitched maniacal laugh from near the brazier. The voice then spoke louder, "If you would give rest to Sir Weepy, then answer this question creepy: I dance in hellfire gaily, and delight in torture daily. My sting will break your mind; you'll leave yourself behind. My face you cannot see, but can you identify me?"

-Using her own knowledge of infernal creatures, Makaria easily identified the answer: an imp. The correct response prompted another cackle before the voice continued its puzzle, "Now tell me my given name, and I'll return whence I came. First is a number whose letters count true to its name's amount. Then you can subtract a letter, but adding six would be better, to get the second part. Then comes the sound of the start of start, and finally, with a blast, sound out the last of last."

-Initially, the party seemed stalled by this riddle. Karrik and his party were complete stumped. Working together, Dox-Alna began to lead the party through the riddle line by line. Ultimately, she presented their answer: Fortenesti. With a flash of light the imp revealed itself and reassured the party that a devil would never break a pact they had made. True to its word, the imp cackled a final time and then vanished into thin air.

-Just then, the phantom began to walk slowly through the area, becoming more and more transparent as he moved. He nodded at the party and gave a faint confident smile before vanishing into thin air. However, then the earth gave a mighty shudder as an unearthly chill filled the air. The floor beneath the engraved symbol cracked open and was swallowed into shadow. An instant later, the ceiling above the symbol also cracked open, creating a shaft leading up to the surface.

-As the rumbling grew louder and areas of the ruins began to cave in, Karrik led the party in retreating to the surface. As the last party member reached the top of the ladder, the earth gave another shudder. Where the ground tore open in the chamber below, a dark filament shot into the air, as if a huge spider were spinning a web caught up in the wind. More strands followed it as a shadow fell over everyone present.

-Streams of inky blackness, darker than even the night sky around them, coalesced and weaved together. The light of the moon became utterly shrouded and the distant stars winked out one by one as the web of darkness grew ever tighter. As far as the party could see, the sky was blocked out by this powerful magical event.

Session 02: Envoy to Many-Arrows (Year 1 - Spring)
-Knowing that orcs are planning to destroy the village of Winter Edge, a few miles from the western edge of the Glimmerwood, the party decided to make the farming town their destination. Stopping back in Quaervarr to rest for the night, the party was in for several shocks come the morning. First, that day had never come. The mysterious black web darkening the sky seemed to have cast the land in eternal night. The difference between night and day was now much like the difference of light between a night with a full moon and new moon.

-In the Whistling Stag, the party met Belgos (a drow sympathetic against Lolth's aims) and Darren (a half-elf Swordmage that took interest in the party's story and wished to help Winter Edge). With a new party formed, the group set out making haste towards Winter Edge. Moving clear past the shadowy woods still proved to not bring any more light. The darkness that spawned from within the earth had now stretched far beyond its point of origin.

-By racing through the forest, the party managed to arrive in Winter Edge ahead of the orcs. However, they could hear the horns of their advance patrol during the journey. The warriors of at least two orc tribes are bearing down on the village. Along their path to the village square, only torchlight pierced the gloom. The tiny village was abuzz with panic. Its residents stood in the street, staring at the sky in fear and confusion. Crying children clutched at their parents' hands, while the adults spoke to one another in fearful tones.

-Reaching the center of the village, a stooped human female holding a thick, gnarled staff stepped up to the party and spoke. Her voice was loud and strong despite her many years as she questioned what foul magic was afoot and what part the party played in it. Dox-Alna was quick to relay what information they knew and, more importantly, the party warned of the orc attack. The woman introduced herself as Goodwife Winnstrom (Goody Winn as everyone in the village called her); the closest thing Winter Edge has ever known to a mayor.

-Winnstrom, already aware of the impending orc attack, explained to the party the panic the city was in. Their farming village was mostly defenseless and thus she was preparing for an evacuation. Working together, Dox-Alna and Darren managed to work the crowd and calm them enough to listen to Winnstrom's wisdom. Quickly, the citizens began to form caravans to exit out of the south of the city. Amid this chaos two things occurred. Meanwhile, Terios led the others in constructing barricades to defend the city from damage.

-First, Winnstrom introduced the party to Rhupp, a young half-orc woodcutter. Winnstrom explained that Rhupp's mother was an orc named Muhrella who was rescued years ago after being attacked by wild animals and left for dead in Moonwood. Winnstrom nursed her back to  health and Muhrella became a part of the community. She took a human forester named Uvaan, who many villagers were sure had a trace of orc blood in him as well, for her husabnd. Rhupp's mother died a few years ago, but she had taught Rhupp how to speak Giant and much about orc culture. His mother also told him that she had belonged to the Broken Arrow tribe, meaning that she and Rhupp were related to the king of the orc nation of Many-Arrows. Winnstrom suggested that he might be of aid to the party in dealing with the orcs.

-Second, As the caravans began to pull out a young half-elf girl rushed up to Darren. Nervously, she gave him a parting gift in thanks to helping their village; a carved wooden doll the size of a human fist and attached to a tether. The child explained that Ithel (the doll) could bring good luck to the party. An odd gnome named Garl visited the village a few weeks ago and said funny words over the doll, telling the girl that it would keep the dark away and make her brave. Examining the doll, Decanis discerned that it was actually a powerful artifact of arcane power. Much like the Tears of Helm, this doll could also shed forth bright light. Teph found this situation suspicious, particular Garl's words, musing that perhaps he might been aware of the situation far more than the average person.

-As the last of the villagers fleed on the road out of Winter Edge, five orcs wielding handaxes broke out of the forest into the unnatural darkness, howling in triumph and staring hungrily at the escaped villagers. One shouted out in Giant while Rhupp quickly translated, "We got here before stupid Ripped Guts! Red Fangs drink blood and take everything!" The crashing in the forest indicated a larger force might arrive at any moment.

-Making a stand in the center of town, the party acted as a final shield to allow the final villagers to escape ahead of the orcs. Though the band of five proved brutal in strength, they were easily dispatched by the party. However, not before rather severely injuring Terios and Darren. With more powerful orcs on the way, Rhupp suggested the party retreat. Though they were strong, he urged, they could never overcome such superior numbers. Instead, Rhupp suggested that they travel north to the place where the orc king lived. There, they might learn why these attacks are taking place after years of peace. Though dangerous, Rhupp as a descendant of Obould's tribe would at least easily allow for an audience.

-Dox-Alna seemed hesitant about the plan. However, with no better plans of action available and time short the party opted to follow Rhupp's guidance. Although darkness covered the sky all around them as they traveled, the route to Dark Arrow Keep was easy to follow. Rhupp knew that if they followed the River Surbrin north into the Spine of the World Mountains, heading toward the source of one of its tributaries, then they would not be far from the center of the orc nation of Many Arrows. Decanis recalled reading in his studies that the orcs of Many-Arrows have signed treaties with the civilized lands of the North. However, individual orc tribes, sometimes tire of the peace, and are known to ignore the orders of their king and attack anyway.

-Along the way, the party saw signs that orc war bands had spread outward from the Spine of the World and begun attacking civilized areas. A group of human hunters who obviously ran afoul of orcs had been butchered and left ont he trail. One of the hunters still clutched his bow in one hand and a broken arrow in the other. Upon seeing this bloody sight, Rhupp paled and muttered under his breath, "Even a broken arrow..." Noticing this had been part to a quote that Rhupp had references several times in their travel, Dox-Alna questioned its meaning. Rhupp explained that they are part of a Broken Arrow tribal saying his mother taught him: "Even a broken arrow is deadly in the right hands."

-Where the River Surbin roared out of the Spine of the World on its southward course, the foothills seem insignificant compared to the forbidding, snow-covered peaks that back them. Taking no more than a few steps into the river canyon, the party was halted when a guttural cry interrupted their progress. On all sides of  the party, dozens of orcs emerged from hiding. More than a hundred arrows are nocked and aimed towards the group. Rhupp stepped forward, throwing off his cloak, and took on a proud demeanor. He called out something in giant that no one in the party could follow. A silence of four heartbeats followed. Then more than a dozen arrows sprouted from Rhupp's chest; the look of pride given no time to drain from his face before he hit the ground. An angry voice shouted out in giant, but to no avail for the party. A different mocking voice laughed and began to snort.

-As more laughter rose, a short orc with bristling white hair stepped out and began shouting in common to the party. He introduced himself as Urphaer, a trusted lieutenant of Obould and leader of the sentries who guard the pass into the land of Many-Arrows. He urged the party to lay down their arms and accept their fate as prisoners of King Obould. He also reassured them that no harm would come unless they resisted. The party promptly dropped their weapons, but felt sad for Rhupp's fate. They inquired with Urphaer if Dox-Alna could treat his wounds. This prompted the old orc to state that he wasn't pleased with how things had went down. However, recently he had been having a hard time keeping his men under control since the call of war was sounded in the region. Rhupp would be a prisoner all the same, so mercy was granted.

-Ushered into the mountain, the party was led into a large chamber hewn from the mountainside that held Dark Arrow Keep. Long stone tables filled half the hall and the pelts and stuffed heads of wild beasts decorated the walls and floors. Weapons of all shapes and sizes occupied places of reverence in display along the edges of the room. Dozens of orcs and half-orcs either sat at the tables or milled about, many of them hissing, whistling or laughing as the party was brought forth.

-A muscular, heavily armored orc sat in a carved stone chair before the group; glaring with a menacing air. His eyes shined with an intelligence beyond what they had seen in other orcs while he took stock of the party. "I was told you were coming to attack us, but I think your threat might have been exaggerated." The orc's gravelley voice belied the wit behind it as jeers filled the room. "What business do you have with Obould, the King of Many-Arrows?" he asked directly.

-Dox-Alna was swift to bring forth the attack on Winter Edge and the violation of the treaty Many-Arrows held with the North. However, Olbould stated that orcs sometimes do what orcs do best and that the rest of the world should get used to it. This response inspired a great deal of cheering among the crowd. However, the party noticed a subtext to Obould's actions. It was more than clear that the king was worried and angered about these attacks. However, he seemed to be choosing his words carefully to play for a crowd that favored war.

-Noticing this, Dox-Alna suggested moving the conversation elsewhere but this prompted anger among the crowd. The debate continued and ultimately Rhupp stepped forth to speak on the party's behalf. Obould was moved by his tale and this earned the king's respect. He listened to the party's story of what the drow had done and how they were inciting orc tribes to act in concert with them. King Obould's harsh countenance seemed to soften as he nodded thoughtfully on these words. However, this discussion sparked the leader of the Death Horn tribe to speak up stating that the dark elves had promised to help darken the sky and did so. Now, the orcs should join them and take back all that is theirs.

-The party argued back citing multiple accounts of the drow treachery, making it clear that the orcs would be little more than pawns in their game. This prompted another tribe leader to speak up this time agreeing with the party arguing that it would be madness to break the peace that King Obould had brokered. He went on to state it would be an insult to risk everything they had worked for.

-The adventurers continued the debate building off the support from this leader. However, their momentum was soon halted by an old one-eyed orc wearing animal skins and carrying a feather-decorated spear. This shaman shouted that the drow's power had been made evident. However, these adventurers were unknown. If they couldn't stand against the drow then it would be foolish to side with them. Thus, the shaman suggested that the party prove themselves in the Pit. This forced a flurry of cheers and with little chance to protest, the party was forced to consent or face dire consequences.

-The party was quickly ushered among the crowd into another room as they crowded around a large open pit. King Obould summoned forth Ehnk, the shaman who had been speaking. He was the leader of the Crooked Path tribe and pragmatic to a fault. Ehnk thus explained the rules to the party. They would select their champion and, like their mighty orc warriors, that person would descend into the Pit to face a dangerous beast. If they emerged alive then their power would be proven and they would earn the respect of the tribe. Dox-Alna nervously questioned the consequences for failure, but Ehnk assured her that she would rather not know.

-Furthermore, the champion could have no assistance. Anyone that interfered would face punishment. The fate of the party would ride on their champion. After much discussion, it was decided that Terios would descend into the Pit as their champion. Below, Terios came face to face with a young guard drake that had been tamed by Ehnk. Using a variety of clicks and whistles, Ehnk commanded the drake to attack. The battle was rough. Although the drake's teeth were razor sharp and tore into Terios, the brawling minotaur fought on beating back the beast blow-by-blow.

-Amid the cheers of the crowd, some of the party tried to subtly assist their champion as well. Reaching out with his mind, Decanis launched mental attacks upon the drake. Dox-Alna attempted to help direct Terios in his maneuvers, but the orcs took note of this and a pair raucously tossed her into the pit and then descended below to do battle; forcing more cheers from the crowd.

-Worried for their companion, Teph flew below and quickly slayed one orc forcing the crowd to laugh at his weakness. About this time, with a mighty punch, Terios managed to fell the guard drake. All about the crowd of orcs they began to shout for Dox-Alna to finish off the remaining orc; the party's might had been proven and the Warlord gave the crowd their desire.

-With Terios' victory, Ehnk took this as a sign that their god, Gruumsh, wished the orcs to sit out of the drow war. This prompted more shouting and arguing among the orcs. Many stormed out of the hall despite King Obould's calls for them to halt. However, as the crowd died down, Obould made it clear to the party that he was pleased with the outcome and apologized for his earlier ruse. The tribes of Many-Arrows valued tradition and at all times King Obould knew he must play to that. For their victory, Obould suggested the party to stay the night and partake in a feast held in their honor.

-After a lavish meal, the party retired to the quarters that King Obould had provided; which were quite comfortable by orc standards. However, as they began to rest, the door to their chamber opened suddenly and an orc wearing a cloak and hood slipped inside without so much as a knock. She introduced herself as Gribbla; one of Obould's close servants. She explained that the king had no love for the drow, but several tribes were now beyond his control and breaking away. Some of these traitors had hatched a plot to kill the adventurers while they rested at night.

-Through her, Obould desired to deliver a message to the party: Mithral Hall, home to the dwarves, was a target of the drow and orcs. The king suggested that the party make their way their and let the dwarves know that orcs who shake spear and sunder shields beside the drow break with the throne of Many-Arrows; rest assured Mighty Obould shall bleed all traitorous tribes.

-Gribbla went on to explain that King Obould could not just let the party walk out the front given the current state of affairs. He had thus arranged for her to relay these messages, deliver several cloaks to conceal their identity and suggest an exit path through the lower levels of Dark Arrow Keep. Following Gribbla's instructions, the party was easily able to reach the lowest level of the Keep undisturbed. However, guards patrolled these halls. Though few in number, they would still pose a threat.

-Focusing, Dox-Alna transformed herself into the appearance of an orc. While the rest of the party kept their hoods up to mask their face, Dox-Alna led the party through the area bluffing her way past the squads acting as if they were relieving one of the watch groups at the lower foothills. This ruse was easily bought and the party had no trouble escaping beyond the rest of the orcs and into the open road.

-Dark Arrow Keep loomed behind them. Their next mission would take them to Mithral Hall, ancient stronghold of the dwarves. With many orcs joining the drow assault on the surface wold and the terrible darkness that seemed to extend everywhere, this conflict was growing larger than anyone could have imagined.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mecha: Dawn of War Arc

Over the weekend (as mentioned in the last post) I finally got a chance to continue my Gundam SEED Destiny Gaiden campaign of Mecha. I really have a lot planned for this now and am looking forward to running it more. It will probably have to continue somewhat infrequently since I can only run it on Saturdays and Saturday is the day a lot of random LFR or other D&D events go down. Of course, by planned, I don't mean planned too far ahead. One of the beauties with Mecha is how the story grows organically based on player decision. I tend to just plan a sort of skeleton for the next few episodes, maybe some key events I want to set up and roll from there.

I have a lot of overall ideas for the future. Where the plot goes, however, will depend largely on the player's side of things. My big plan is to ultimately present various sides to the war and allow the PC's the chance to decide where they want to go. This session saw Drax unable to come though his character remained present in the background. Instead, we gained two new characters that hopefully will remain regular so we can get a core squad developed. Here are the new stars in the show:

1) Akito: An "Accidental Hero" who serves on the military base at Armory One as a cook. During the Armory One raid, he was forced to pilot a Zaku Warrior and proved to have expert skill at piloting a mobile suit. Since then, he has been trained formally and continually asked to take part in training orders or to consider undergoing missions. However, he simply wants to continue just being a cook.

2) Rayne: A "Reformed Criminal" who once attempted a major act of theft from one of the large corporations that exist among the PLANTs. After being caught and put in prison, she was released in the aftermath of the Bloody Valentine War in exchange for being a test pilot for the ZAFT military. Repentant about her crime, Rayne saw the military as the chance to have a better life unlike the one that drove her to commit robbery in the first place.

I think 3 episode chunks are turning out to be the best pacing as far as a session. Maybe one more now and again. It does mean some of the longer multi-part battles I want to do like Gundam is known for will be split between sessions at times, but there's nothing wrong with that; dramatic cliffhanger anyone? I'm really looking forward to the next session. Crim's backstory is going to get fleshed out, the PC's will me their and challenge their first major Earth Alliance antagonist and there will likely also be a chance encounter with the Junk Guild. One of my goals with this game is to keep using mecha designs that weren't featured in the SEED Destiny anime. So far I have mostly played with standard fare and a bit of MSV. However, starting with this set of episodes we get some love from the Astray manga and expect more to come in the future.

Incidentally, if you're playing Mecha right then you're using a piece of opening theme music. I figured it would be worth talking about that. My game is currently using "Ignited" by T.M. Revolution (one of my favorite Japanese acts). This is the standard first opening theme used by the anime itself. However, like Gundam SEED does in both seasons, I also plan on changing this after so many episodes. Whether I follow their set path or not is yet to be decided. As far as BGM's for battle, which have been a hit I think, I'm mostly drawing from the OST's for Gundam SEED and Destiny themselves. Anyways, here we go:

Episode 08: Return to Armory One

In the aftermath of the Junius Seven tragedy, ZAFT began providing aid to the damaged Earth. Meanwhile, Chairman Durandal made it clear that ZAFT would not tolerate the terrorists behind this act; making ZAFT's own position in the incident clear. However, this did little to foster good will. Those in the areas struck by debris cried out for justice and seemed enraged towards the PLANTs. Meanwhile, terrorist organizations like the Blue Cosmos began more aggressive campaigns rallying in new followers. Amid all this, the Earth Alliance began to re-arrange its forces seeming to focus on adding more detachments near the moon and space in general.

With the Galileo returned to Armory One, its crew was granted leave for a few days while the ship was repaired and Captain Meyers received their new orders. The base at Armory One was abuzz with activity. Within the base's main mess hall a young cook turned mobile suit pilot named Akito stumbled into work for the day. However, he quickly found himself under fire by the head chef because it seemed he had misplaced the cutlery the night before when he got off his shift. Scrambling, Akito managed to find the lost cutlery and set things right. However, his boss wasn't very pleased. Sighing, he mused about what he could do with the boy. Akito apologized and the chef noted that he'd need to do better in the future as he was being assigned to the Galileo for the dual purpose of being a cook and joining the mobile suit squad.

Akito had been forced, for his own survival, to pilot a Zaku Warrior during the surprise raid on Armory One. His skill with a mobile suit had been exceptional and though he continually claimed to only want to be a cook, he had since been formally trained. Realizing he had no other choice, Akito consented and at least took solace in the fact that he was still going to be a cook most of the time.

As he carried out his final day working at the mess hall, Akito was greeted by a young female pilot. She identified herself as Rayne and mentioned she was being assigned to the Galileo which prompted a surprised Akito to point out that they would be partners then. Initially, Rayne seemed playfully unsure about Akito's cooking skills. However, after trying some soup he had made, she found his cooking to be perfectly wonderful. As Akito's boss came back by to yell at Akito some more, Rayne was sympathetic to Akito's situation. After the chef left, she reassured Akito about his skill noting that the chef was simply a sour person.

Elsewhere, in his personal room among the base, Zak was reviewing the combat data from their clash at Junius Seven. He had been disappointed by Vonder escaping and felt particularly to blame being a member of ZAFT's Special Forces. However, even after hours of studying the battle, he couldn't seem to figure out the advantage that Vonder and the mysterious Seiji, pilot of the Proto-Chaos, had which allowed them to almost seemingly predict their movements.

Meanwhile, in the city proper, Kanji was strolling to go check out his favorite bar on Armory One. It had been a short tour of duty with the Galileo, but much had happened. He wasn't sure what the future would hold. However, he knew that it would spell more fighting. Kanji felt he might not be back to Armory One for awhile, so it was for the best that he visit it before he leaves.

However, along the way, Kanji bumped into someone he did not expect to see. He had crossed paths with Amelia, an old girlfriend from his past even before joining ZAFT's military. Amelia seemed eager to see Kanji and her interest in him, even after all these years, was made clear. However, Kanji promptly denied going out to dinner with her in a cold response. Sighing, Amelia asked if things had changed so much. Kanji nodded and said that he couldn't go back to the life he had before. He then recounted how his family had been very poor and he joined ZAFT's military in hopes of providing for them.

Too much time had passed and both he and Amelia had become different people. Kanji met and fell in love with a woman named Jeane who also served in ZAFT as a ship's operator. She resided in Aprilius-One with their twin daughters Kara and Yumi. Amelia seemed upset and Kanji told her it would be for the best if she moved on and just remembered the time they did have; appreciating it as he does. She seemed upset and thus Kanji urged her to let go of the past. Visually upset, Amelia let Kanji go and feeling a little bad the vet headed on to his favorite bar.

The following day Zak, Kanji and Drax had been assembled at one of the testing facilities on Armory One's base. There they were met by Captain Meyers as well as two new people. Meyers introduced Akito and Rayne stating that they would be joining the Galileo to round out its mobile suit squad. Zak was quick to salute his new allies and the newcomers easily meshed into the group. With this done, Captain Meyers turned the group over to a ZAFT scientist asking them to do their best to follow his directions.

The scientist explained to the group about the notion of Spatial Awareness. This was a unique, and rare, trait discovered in certain people. It was somewhat like what one might consider psychic abilities. ZAFT's military had designed weapon platforms that could be utilized with it and it was common for fellow pilots with Spatial Awareness to sense one another on the battlefield. In an effort to better understand this phenomenon, ZAFT was organizing trails at varying levels. The scientist desired for the Galileo's squad to run through a combat simulation while their brain waves were tested.

As they were transferred to the test site, the pilots couldn't help but overhear the rumors among the lab. The talk was all on the fact war might return. It seemed the Earth was still quite aggressive despite ZAFT's aid relief. Loading into open cockpits rigged to act almost like controllers for the simulation, the pilots were put into a mock combat in space against a squad of Earth Alliance Dagger L's; the current mainstay of their mobile suit forces.

The battle itself was short as the Galileo Team made quick work of the enemies. After the test, the scientist noted that those who flagged any signs they were looking for would be contacted. Dismissed, each pilot went on about their personal business awaiting the time when the Galileo would receive its new assignment. A few days later, both Kanji and Akito received a file from the labs. It seemed both showed up a potential users of Spatial Awareness. The letter included urged both to pay attention if any weird phenomenon happened and added that data on their brain waves would also begin being recorded among the other test data their squad regularly reported back in.

Episode 09: Declaration by Fire

The peaceful days the Galileo crew had enjoyed at Armory One promptly came to an end. The Earth Alliance had finally made their move as a large fleet approached the PLANTs themselves. Their declaration was clear. The Alliance demanded that ZAFT demilitarize and its government disperse. It made such a threat even while it moved forth mysterious new mobile suits. Among these were squads armed with nuclear missiles. Even in the face of such a threat, ZAFT refused such a ridiculous request and once again stressed their position against the use of nuclear arms. However, the Earth Alliance would not back down either. With no options left on either side, war was declared once more.

The Galileo was one among several ships to be launched from Armory One to come in as support during the battle. Knowing this, its crew began to scramble and finish their affairs as they boarded the Galileo and prepared to head out. Akito met with Captain Meyers by request and after giving the cook a tour of the area where he'd be working, when not piloting, he revealed to Akito that he had a special task for him. Captain Meyers explained that ZAFT had an ace in the hole for dealing with the nukes. However, they would need time to set it up and ready things. 

While the Galileo would only be dealing with outlying forces, they needed to help buy time as well. Meyers knew Akito was new, but had heard high remarks on his skill. Thus, he wanted to ask of Akito to take charge in the fight and do his very best to tie up the enemy and keep them from firing on the PLANTs. Akito more than readily accepted this task promising to do all he could. He had cooked for people on the PLANTs before and he would do so again, if he could help it.

Meanwhile, in his private quarters aboard the Galileo, Kanji heard a mysterious knock at the door. Carefully, he listened at the door and heard footsteps vanishing down the hallway. Opening the door, he noted a tray with a glass of what seemed to be water and some food on it. Suspicious about the mysterious gift, Kanji took the tray to Doctor Mareina asking her to check it for poison. Mareina initially seemed skeptical about Kanji's assessment. However, to her surprise, after running some tests the water turned out to be highly poisonous. Triumphantly, Kanji declared that anyone who knew him and called him a friend would know he only drank wine with a meal.

Laughing, Doctor Mareina noted that in this case being a drunkard had saved the old man's life. Still, Kanji seemed more concerned about the fact that this might mean a spy was on board the Galileo. Wanting to be careful about things, Kanji made Doctor Mareina promise not to tell anyone else about what had happened and to confidentially pass on the information from her tests directly to Captain Meyers. Agreeing that this was the best course of action, Mareina carefully filed away the information to be submitted to the Captain later. Worried for the future, Kanji returned to his private quarters.

Before heading to the Galileo, Rayne spent her final day on Armory One going about the city and shopping. Perhaps it was odd for a mobile suit pilot about to go to war, but for Rayne it seemed like a good idea. Who knows when the next time would be when she'd get back to Armory One and could do the same again. Thus, she made the day of things and boarded the Galileo just before its launch time.

Finally, just as the Galileo set out, Zak entered the mobile suit hangar to see how things were going. To his surprise, Chief Burns was going over Zak's Zaku. Excitedly, Burns forced Zak over inspect the mobile suit mentioning that he had managed to upgrade the Gunner Pack's Orthros long rifle giving it a small boost in fire power. Pleased with this upgrade, Zak saluted Chief Burns and thanked him for all his efforts. However, Chief Burns merely stated that it was thanks enough that he got to work on and further customize machines like this serving among an experimental mobile suit squad.

Unfortunately, there was one person missing aboard the Galileo. Takuya, true to his promise to Captain Meyers, opted to stay behind at Armory One. The young boy had officially enrolled into the ZAFT military with the intent of receiving proper training. Via Captain Meyers, the boy had sent well wishes to the rest of the ship hoping that the next time they met, he would be a proper soldier of ZAFT.

As the Galileo pulled into the combat area things looked grim. The battle was an all out skirmish on the scale of the past war. It seemed the nuke-carrying mobile suit squads were targeting Aprilius-One; the seat of the Supreme Council. Kanji could feel his tension rising knowing that his family resided on that colony as well. A quick briefing from Lt. Tsukasa revealed that the enemy unit was dubbed Windam and was apparently a new model so they needed to be careful. The squad's goal was simple. Prevent the nuke squad in their combat zone from firing on the PLANTs. Anything else was secondary to this task. The Galileo would hang back freeing up Lt. Tsukasa who intended to work directly with the Joule Team at another area of the battlefield.

Joining the fray, Drax couldn't help but feel overwhelmed by the size of the battle. Akito lamented once more about his situation citing his wish to just be a cook. Kanji, picking up on this, stated that there was no hope for such dreams during war time and then began to muse a little on the seemingly eternal nature of war. Ultimately, he questioned if there would ever be a day when humanity could cast aside such notions and truly evolve into a better existence. Impassioned by Kanji's speech, Zak lead the charge into battle.

Fighting against the Windams, the Galileo Team quickly realized that these new mobile suits were easily a match, if not better, than their Zaku Warriors. However, they wouldn't give up. Remembering his promise to  Captain Meyers, Akito dove into the fray. Shouting loudly, the thrusters of his Zaku Warrior flared to life as he rammed into one of the Windams at top speed knocking it far away before spinning around and drawing his beam assault rifle trailing the shot onto another Windam and destroying it with a single shot.

Zak, meanwhile, found himself pleading with one of the Windam pilots to stand down and was shocked when, in return, the enemy pilot shouted back calling him an alien monster that needed to be purged to preserve the blue planet Earth. Realizing the nigh-fanaticism held by the pilot, Zak felt no mercy as he acted in concert with Rayne to shoot him down.

Kanji gave a stunning effort as well. Knowing that even his family's safety rode on the outcome of this battle, he remained intently focused. When one of the lead Windams of the squad broke rank to attack Drax, Kanji flew into action. Charging in his beam axe tore into the Windam severing one arm. Then, wasting no time at all, he began firing the Slash Pack's beam gatling peppering the unit with shots before finally tearing off the remaining arm and smashing it into the head of the mobile suit sending it flying away before it exploded into nothingness.

Eventually, working together, Akito and Kanji managed to route the nuke carrying Windams among this squad. With them cornered and having no other options, Akito demanded that they retreat from the battlefield or die there with them; if that's what it took. Accepting defeat, the squad leader ordered a retreat and as the Windams carrying nuclear missiles began to pull out Akito lowered his beam axe. The enemy's squad leader hailed the young cook stating that he was too naive to be a soldier on a battlefield. However, luckily for Akito, his foe this time was a man of honor. They had bested his squad and he would pull back.

With the Galileo successful in their endeavor, as the pilots returned to the hangar, all eyes turned towards the rest of the battle. Though several nukes were fired, they were stopped immediately by a powerful blast from a modified Nazca-Class ship. This ship had been outfitted with experimental technology derived off the N Jammer which ZAFT originally employed to disable nuclear warfare. This weapon was dubbed the N Stampeder. With every nuke detonated well before reaching the PLANTs, the Alliance's threat was over. Unfortunately, the N Stampeder had fried itself in use. However, it seemed that for now it had deterred any nuclear threats for the PLANTs.

Though the Galileo celebrated a small victory, they knew things were far from over. War had been declared. Captain Meyers received new orders from Armory One. The Galileo Team, minus Lt. Tsukasa, were to be dropped to Earth to join an operation by ground forces. ZAFT intended to make a decidedly strong push and force the Alliance out of space while also taking over major Alliance bases on the planet itself; thus disabling their ability to bolster space forces.

Thus, the Galileo began making its way towards Earth.

Episode 10: Operation Victoria Part I

As the Galileo made its way to Earth, the mobile suit squad was busy making final preparations before their descent to Earth. Akito was called to met Lt. Tsukasa in the mobile suit hangar. There Hiro had a stern discussion with Akito. Lt. Tsukasa hated to be the bearer of bad news, but as it would turn out a tragedy occurred amid the fight at the PLANTs. Akito's parents had been in a transport moving between two colonies just as the battle broke out. In the immediate chaos of battle, their transport had been hit directly by stray fire from one of the Alliance Windams.

Crushed, Akito could say little in response to Lt. Tsukasa. Placing a hand on his shoulder, Hiro stated that he was sorry for his loss and promised that they'd get revenge for them one day. Akito mumbled that he felt so bad he didn't even feel like cooking. Wanting to be left alone, Lt. Tsukasa departed while Akito returned to his room. This was why he only wanted to be a cook. Cooking brought smiles to people. Piloting mobile suits ultimately brought only one thing: death.

As their discussion had went on, both Rayne and Zak had been present in the hangar working on servicing their machines. Rayne, unfortunately, met Chief Jacob Burns head on as he noticed that she was connecting several cables incorrectly. Quickly, her fiery temper forced her into a rather loud argument with Burns as he went behind her correcting all the mistakes. Angered, he told her that mobile suits were precious and needed to be handled with care. However, Rayne could only scoff at his obsessive attitude.

Later, a still angered Burns found Zak working on some repairs to his Zaku Warrior as well. Again, Chief Burns couldn't help but be impressed by the level of skill ZAFT Special Forces held. Jokingly, he urged Zak to take good care of his machine while on Earth and bring it back to the Galileo in one piece. Laughing, Zak agreed to do his best. Following this, Chief Burns went on to see how Drax was doing and to continue tutoring him. Having taken a liking to the boy's enthusiasm, he seemed a little sad Drax would be leaving them. He encouraged the boy to practice hard while on Earth.

Meanwhile, Kanji met with Captain Meyers to have a final drink before their departure. They spoke of the war and how senseless it seemed after the resolution of the previous. Though so much had changed, it seemed that in the end little actually did. Kanji related his worries in the previous battle for his family and Captain Meyers assured him that while Kanji was on Earth, he would do his best to look out for his family as well.

Before parting ways, Captain Meyers urged Kanji to watch out for the others remarking on how green most of them were. Kanji lamented that so many young people were forced to fight wars which they held little responsibility for. Captain Meyers then presented Kanji with a particularly rare vintage of wine. He informed Kanji to return to the Galileo with two drinks left for them to share in celebration of everyone's reunion. Kanji thanked Captain Meyers for the gesture and promised that he would get everyone back to the Galileo.

With the time for their departure now facing them Kanji, Drax, Rayne and Akito gathered with Lt. Tsukasa and Captain Meyers on the mobile suit deck. Zak was delayed, however, as a seemingly upset Romary surprised him. Forcing up a cheerful smile, Romary remarked that she had never been on Earth before and Zak stated that he hadn't either. Romary then asked if Zak would take her some photos of Earth during their downtime to share with her when they met again. Taking on a serious tone, Zak warned Romary that this was now war; things were serious. There wouldn't be time for personal interests amid such chaos.

This forced Romary to begin tearing up. She threw herself against Zak as she began to cry. Between sobs, she stated that he had to agree because if he did then it was a promise that he'd return to her alive. Realizing what she had been implying and that, perhaps, he had been a bit to formal about things Zak did his best to console Romary. He didn't want to make a promise he couldn't keep, but Zak swore to do all he could to pull through and return. Reassured by his words, Romary hugged Zak farewell before returning to the bridge of the ship.

As Zak joined the rest of the Galileo Team, Captain Meyers began briefing them on their first true mission of the war. The pilots were being sent down to Australia on Earth. They were being dropped on the outskirts of the Great Victoria Desert. Currently a battle was already under way as Alliance forces were raiding one of ZAFT's newly established camps. Things were going bad and they needed reinforcements. It would be their goal to help push back the Alliance and then link up with the ground commander in that area. This mission had been dubbed Operation Victoria. The overall goal was to make a push against the Alliance forces and ultimately take over their major base there. Lt. Tsukasa would remain with the Galileo which would return to the PLANTs and be on reserve duty until its pilots returned to space.

Heartfelt farewells were given and Lt. Tsukasa urged the pilots to do their best while on Earth; adding that he'd work just as hard in space. With their mobile suits loaded into an atmospheric re-entry drop pod, the Galileo Team was finally ready to depart. The descent to Earth was a rocky ride and as their drop pod crashed into the ground, their first sight was marvelous as they saw the full extent of the Earth. This was a sight brand new for everyone present besides Kanji who had seen it in the previous war.

However, the team had little time to marvel at Earth's seemingly endless sky as beams began to fire all around them. True to the briefing, they really had been dropped into a war zone. A static-y voice blared over the comms to them from what sounded to be ZAFT's commander for this area. He claimed to be pleased to have an experimental squad as reinforcements and quickly briefed them on the situation. The short of it was that they were about to lose their base of operations. The Galileo Team was to rally with the remaining ZAFT forces and try to push them back.

As they entered the combat proper, the Galileo Team quickly saw just exactly what was giving ZAFT so much trouble. Amid the various Windams and Dagger L's flying about, in the center of it all was a Gundam. Kanji quickly identified it in his computer as Hyperion Gundam; a powerful mobile suit designed by the Eurasian Federation and that had multiple units produced. Angered, Zak hailed the Hyperion demanding its pilot retreat. To his surprise, his declaration was met with wild, but familiar, laughter.

Kanji, Drax and Zak quickly recognized the voice: it was Crim. As Zak pulled in close, Crim opened the hatch to the Hyperion Gundam and stepped forth removing his pilot's helmet to reveal the brutal scar Zak had left upon his face. Returning to his cockpit, Crim remarked that he never believed he would see his old friends from the Galileo so soon. Kanji questioned why he was here and Crim stated that it wasn't that complicated. His contract with Albus Vonder ended at Junius Seven. Mercenaries like him always needed more work. Since the Junius Seven incident created a need for the Alliance to bolster their forces, it was easy enough to get hired on with them.

Disgusted at his idealism of profitting from war, Zak challenged Crim to a duel. A challenge the mercenary was all too eager to accept stating that he would gladly pay Zak back in kind for their last encounter. While these two pilots clashed alone, Kanji led the others in fending off the Alliance mobile suits. With the added numbers of the Galileo Team, the ZAFT forces were able to turn the tide of the battle. Drax found it hard to adjust to fighting under gravity, but quickly got a handle on things and began fighting once more at full potential.

The duel between Zak and Crim was intense. Neither pilot would accept defeat and each used all their skills possible. As Crim stabbed one of the Hyperion's beam knives into Zak's Zaku, it pierced through the cockpit stopping short of Zak's own body. the heat of the beam knife burned his face slightly. Crim then kicked the mobile suit back. Realizing he was at a disadvantage at close range, Zak took advantage of this and pulled away drawing his Orthros long rifle to fire a powerful blast in hopes of taking Crim out. However, a mysterious yellow light surrounded Hyperion Gundam blocking the long rifle fire. Crim gloated that the Hyperion's Armure Lumiere system was the ultimate defense and, with it, he couldn't be defeated. As their duel continued, Crim swore at Zak playfully begging him to stand still so he could go ahead and kill him.

However, while distracted by Zak, Crim was unable to notice the rest of the battlefield. Slowly, the others had picked off all the Alliance mobile suits. Despite having Armure Lumiere at his disposal, Crim understood when he was outnumbered. With no support left, Crim retreated from the battlefield swearing that he would settle the score with Zak next time. The base camp broke into cheers and celebration hailing the Galileo Team for turning the tide of the battle.

After storing their mobile suits with the others, the Galileo Team was greeted by a rather odd man. He had short black hair, seemed to be quite young and wore his officer's jacket over his back much like a cape. He introduced himself as Eiji Isahara, the Commander for ZAFT's Australian Theater. He quickly offended most of the Galileo's pilots with his seemingly casual style and insensitive remarks. Rayne was quickly angered by him, but when she stated her dislike this only prompted a friendly laugh from Eiji. He offered the group to join him for some coffee, but everyone declined feeling there were more important things to be done right now.

Laughing more, Eiji assured them that there would be time for business as well. He urged them to slow down a little and suggested that they'd just have to adjust to things as Eiji liked to move at his own pace and they did things differently on Earth. While Eiji departed, the Galileo Team couldn't help but wonder if this was truly their new commander or not and if he actually had a plan towards victory. Tired from their battle, the Galileo Team was ready for a well deserved rest. Operation Victoria had only just begun...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mecha: Junius Seven Arc

This was a long time coming. The session these episodes took place in was played probably a month or maybe even two months ago. I just couldn't find the time or drive to write them up. Which was sad because I really love Chris Perrin's Mecha and anime roleplaying in general. I really don't have a lot to comment on this. I loved how things developed (and are developing, just ran another session over the weekend) and it really started to feel like I was watching Gundam with the new developments.

Dramatic things have happened that are making a clear impact on the story's world as well as on the PC's. Likewise, enemy rivalries are starting to crop up. Crim, the PC turned antagonist, really shined with the new role I gave him. If I have my way, he'll be a continued nuisance on the party challenging them both on the battlefield and ideologically.

We did have a funny turn of events over these sessions. I forgot about the Stability Roll, was still pretty new to actually running it at the table then, and we ended up with what we've later come to call as the Gritty Hack for Mecha. Essentially, you ignore the Stability Roll in the equation. So if your mecha gets hit, then you opt to pull back or disable a configuration. Essentially, it boils down to you only ever being able to take 2 hits and then the third spells death. Though it was just a comical, in retrospect, gaff on my part, the more I thought over this the more I realized that it could actually be viable for some genre of mecha. I could see it working very well for some of the works of Ryosuke Takahashi like Armored Trooper VOTOMS. In any case, on with the show:

Episode 04: Romary's Tears

Things remained tense aboard the Galileo. While the bridge crew scrambled to devise a plan of rescue for Operator Romary Regal, the mobile suit squad assisted the mechanic team in unloading the rest of the supplies. This brought with it a collection of Wizard Packs which they quickly adopted to their units. Zak decided to utilize the Gunner Pack since he already held sniper training. Accustomed to working at high speed and enjoying the use of bombardment, Drax used the Blaze Pack on his Zaku Warrior. Finally, Kanji adopted the Slash Pack having long developed a preference for close range combat. More importantly, the transport ship had also brought various technologies for the crew to experiment with. Aware of its potential benefits, Kanji had his Zaku Warrior outfitted with a Mirage Colloid unit.

Romary's safety remained a heavy weight on everyone, however. Zak met with Lt. Tsukasa to review footage of the previous battle. While studying things, Zak was unable to make much of their tactics. Lt. Tsukasa began discussing how much more advanced these pilots seemed compared to their initial battles. However, Zak politely excused himself from providing input as he had not taken part in those sorties and didn't feel fit to give a proper assessment of the situation.

Meanwhile, Kanji was off studying maps of the asteroid field. Coordinating those along with the footage of the last battle, he was able to realize that the enemy continued to use a set path in and out of the field. Knowing this would clearly give them an advantage in future battles; particularly if they were to attempt a rescue of Romary. Pleased with his discovery, Kanji cracked open a bottle of wine.

Elsewhere, Drax was working on the various checks of his Zaku Warrior now that it had been outfitted with the Blaze Pack. While doing so he met the rather fiery Chief Mechanic of the Galileo: Jacob Burns. Chief Burns began shouting at Drax asking what in the hell he thought he was doing. Quickly, Burns pointed out an error in the connections for the Blaze Pack's "Firebee" guided missiles. Intially, Drax argued back confident in his own experience. However, in the end, after double checking Drax realized that Burns had been correct. Just as a call went in for the pilots to gather at the briefing room, Burns informed Drax that he would try to fix things but that he didn't know if there would be time.

The pilots quickly assembled in the briefing room. There Captain Meyers and Lt. Tsukasa intended to discuss possible plans of action that might be taken to recover Romary. During the meeting, Kanji revealed his observations of the asteroid field giving the group an edge with planning. Mid-discussion, however, the Galileo was hailed by the enemy Nazca-Class. Accepting the video feed, the group came face to face with Crim who boisterously engaged his former comrades. He noted that they had been fun to work with, but he had simply been given a better offer. Despite his eagerness to joke, Zak cut to the point demanding to know about Romary.

Laughing, Crim explained that she was fine aboard their ship. However, if the Galileo refused to cooperate then he couldn't guarantee her safety. He went on to add that the girl had been foolish to take an interest in him and place her trust so easily. Frustrated, Captain Meyers asked for the enemy's terms. Crim was more than eager to explain. They wanted an exchange of prisoners. Romary in return for the soldiers that the Galileo had captured in one of their recent skirmishes. Lt. Tsukasa noted to the pilots that thus far they had still been unable to get any of them to crack and spill vital information.

Warning the Galileo to think carefully, Crim stated that they would have fifteen minutes to issue a response. If they failed to agree to the terms after that time, then things might look grim for Romary. With communication ending, the pilot squad flew into a fit of anger and frustration. Even Lt. Tsukasa voiced concerns and disgust at Crim's tactics. It was at this point that Kanji brought up his research of the asteroid field. Noting on the map the area he thought the enemy had been using to easily move around, Captain Meyers commended the veteran on his skill. Lt. Tsukasa was pleased as well and realized that with this, they could potentially mount a rescue mission.

The plan would be simple. Lt. Tsukasa would stay behind in his Zaku Phantom and oversee a mock release of the captives. Meanwhile, the mobile suit team would sneak around the far edge, hopefully undetected, and launch a surprise raid on the enemy's main Nazca-Class ship. Whenever someone had the chance, they'd have to board the ship, find Romary and escape. It was risky, but Kanji was quick to point out that based on past actions they had no guarantee that Crim would keep his word anyways.

Ready with a plan, Captain Meyers contacted Crim to issue their agreement while the mobile suit team prepared to launch. Things went smoothly and with Kanji leading the team, they were able to easily sneak up on the enemy's Nazca-Class ship. With the feint plan in full swing Kanji, Drax and Zak launched their surprise attack. Opposed only by a handful of GINN, things seemed easy enough. However, Crim soon joined the battle in his stolen Zaku Warrior. The fighting was fierce, but the Galileo's squad held on. As Crim continually taunted them, Zak flew into a rage demanding for Romary's return. With a carefully aimed slash of his beam tomahawk, Zak managed to cut slightly into the cockpit of Crim's mobile suit. With a hideous scream, Crim cried out in pain. Inside the cockpit, his face had been cut bad from the attack; blood was slowly filling the helmet of his pilot's suit. Forced to retreat, Crim pulled away leaving the other GINN's to face defeat.

Zooming into the Nazca-Class' hangar, Zak discovered Romary safe and sound; but bound and gagged. Untying her, Zak confirmed that she was okay as she flung herself against him hugging for dear life while tears streamed down he face. Zak returned with Romary to his Zaku and together they flew back to rejoin the squad so they might head back to the Galileo. Meanwhile, with Romary's safety confirmed, the feint plan was revealed and Lt. Tsukasa managed to repel the GINN's that had come to pick up their allies all on his own.

With Romary saved, the Galileo celebrated a small victory in their ongoing skirmishes against their unknown foe. Though shaken, Romary would be fine. She remarked to Zak that he was truly a hero. Modest as ever, Zak merely said that it was thanks to his Special Forces training. The enemy Nazca-Class pulled away from the asteroid field and, following their mission, the Galileo continued its pursuit.

Episode 05: Mastermind

Things returned to normal on the Galileo. Though still in the middle of a dangerous mission, it seemed with the return of Romary the crew of the ship resumed being in high spirits. Unfortunately, Takuya did not share this sentiment. Meeting with Lt. Tsukasa and Captain Meyers, Takuya was ready to give them his own decision about being a mobile suit pilot. Despite having potential, in Lt. Tsukasa's own words, Takuya didn't feel fit for others to place their lives in his hands. Still, he wanted to prevent such senseless deaths like what happened to his parents. Takuya wouldn't fight with the Galileo in this current mission. When the chance came, he desired to return to the PLANTs to undergo formal military training. Lt. Tsukasa was disheartened with this decision, but Captain Meyers was resolute in honoring it.

Elsewhere, Zak went to visit Romary Regal and see how she had been since being rescued. Romary was very cheerful to see Zak and quickly took a break from running the comms to speak with him for a bit. She noted that Doctor Mareina had given her a clean bill of health. Zak enjoyed Romary's company and eventually decided it was time for him to let her get back to her duties. However, Romary quickly volunteered a bit of information. She explained that, while captured with Crim, he had met with the apparent leader of the terrorists. Romary described him as being a bit older, around Kanji's age if she had to guess, and that Crim referred to him as Vonder. Zak mulled over the name in his mind, but couldn't draw any significance from it.

Meanwhile, in the mobile suit hangar, both Kanji and Drax were working on repairing their Zaku's. Drax continued to sneak about gathering the parts he needed to work while trying to avoid Chief Burns; fearing he might yell at him more or further show him up on mechanical skills. Luckily, Drax had a rather easy time as Chief Burns took note of Zak servicing his own MS and went to speak to him. Chief Burns was impressed with Zak's skill and complimented the pilot both on his own prowess and on the level of training enforced by ZAFT's Special Forces. Zak commented that behind enemy lines, pilots would've have the luxury to have mechanics present to service their mobile suits; thus even pilots needed such skills. Pleased, Chief Burns shared a good laugh with Zak before returning to his duties.

However, it was long after that the mobile suit team was called to the briefing room. There the trio were met once more by Lt. Tsukasa and Captain Meyers. With a grim and determined look on his face, Captain Meyers announced that the interrogation of their captives had finally brought forth some information. The leader of the terrorist organization was a man named Albus Vonder. Zak noted that this had been the name Romary overheard while captured by Crim. More importantly, however, Kanji recognized the name and knew exactly who this person was.

Kanji began to tell what he knew of Albus Vonder to the group. Vonder was a vet of the Bloody Valentine War much like Kanji himself. However, Vonder had come out of the war in a far different situation than he had. Losing his wife and all his kids in the attack on Junius Seven, Vonder became a man obsessed with revenge. He was brutal on the battlefield and though an expert pilot, was known for his unusual cruelty to the enemy. When the previous Supreme Council Chairman Patrick Zala began acting out in extreme, Vonder was a hardcore supporter.

To the very end he fought for Zala's idealism that the Coordinators of ZAFT had become superior beings to those on Earth. Even during the battle of Yachin Due, as ZAFT forces began deserting in support of the Orb forces trying to rally peace and an end to the use of massive weapons of destruction, Vonder fought to the bitter end only surrendering when there was no other choice.

Kanji, who had joined the Orb forces to stop the widespread destruction, never saw much of Vonder in the aftermath. While so many, including Kanji, had been eager to lay down their guns and return to their family, Albus Vonder could not stop fighting. Instead, he transferred into a squad tasked with handling terrorist attacks and mopping up remnants of either side of the war who refused to accept the peace treaty; it was a means to still fight. In the years that followed, as he returned to his family, Kanji never heard again of Vonder and assumed him either dead or still fighting for ZAFT.

Lt. Tsukasa stressed that everyone understand Kanji's story. The man they were dealing with was a veteran of the last war and both a dangerous and expert enemy. Captain Meyers suggested the men working for him must also be pilots that supported Zala's ideology along with  mercenaries hired for additional support like Crim. However, unfortunately, this was not the only revelation the Galileo had learned. Captain Meyers took over now briefing the pilots on the current situation.

Vonder's ship, which they had been tailing for days now, was on a direct course towards the remains of Junius Seven. Its goal, as learned from the captives, was to link up with several other hardline Zala-supporting factions and initiate a plan to drop Junius Seven from orbit; crashing the colony ruins into the Earth itself. Shocked, the pilots were determined to avoid such a tragedy. Kanji, filled with sadness, remarked that such an action would surely instigate another war.

Thus, the squad's goal was clear. They needed to stop Vonder's Nazca-Class from its rendezvous. Regardless of their success or failure, they would then be heading to Junius Seven itself to try and prevent their operation from succeeded. Wasting no time, the Galileo advanced into combat speed while the pilots headed for the mobile suit deck. They would make their stand now, just before reaching Junius Seven.

As Drax, Kanji and Zak rushed ahead into battle, Lt. Tsukasa took up his usual position of defending the Galileo itself. They were stretched thin on resources and losing the ship now would mean complete failure. From the enemy Nazca-Class several GINN's, Crim's Zaku and the GINN High Mobility Type II emerged. The pilot of the Type II hailed the Galileo's squad revealing himself to be Albus Vonder presuming that, by now, the Galileo had to at least be aware of who their adversary was. Zak and Drax made it clear they were determined to stop Vonder's ambitions.

Kanji, however, hailed Vonder directly questioning why he would go against his sense of duty as a soldier and act against ZAFT. Vonder ranted on about how, under the lead of Chairman Durandal, ZAFT had become weak. Vonder reasoned that, given time, the Coordinators would eventually become complacent lapdogs towards the Earth and lose all sense of the advancements they had achieved. Kanji, however, couldn't accept such ideology that would promote war further. Vonder remained resolute in his actions, telling Kanji that they would simply have to see whose will proved the strongest.

While Kanji and Vonder faced off, Drax and Zak had their hands full dealing with Crim. The mercenary, deranged with a battle-lust proved quite troublesome. Ultimately, in a high speed ram attack, Crim's Zaku managed to cave in the chest area of Drax's mobile suit. This forced the cockpit consoles to shatter and tear in resulting in Drax himself becoming injured as ragged metal cut deep into his left leg. Realizing that Drax was hurt, Zak took it upon himself to try and end the battle as he launched an attack on the Nazca-Class itself ultimately managing to disable its engines.

However, to the Galileo's surprise, the enemy Nazca-Class suddenly exploded. From the chaos, the Proto-Chaos emerged as the cause of this sacrifice. Using this confusion, the Proto-Chaos, Vonder, Crim and their surviving subordinates flew on making their way the short distance to Junius Seven in their mobile suits alone. Zak helped Drax pilot his Zaku back to the Galileo and Lt. Tsukasa let his frustration at the enemy's escape show as he tossed his helmet across the mobile suit hangar. As the Galileo pulled closer to Junius Seven, the signs of battle were already visible. To their surprise, the crew noticed that the Minerva was present as well as the mysterious ship that had stolen the experimental Gundams. It seemed everything would now come to a head at Junius Seven.

Episode 06: Assault

There was little time for personal  affairs as the Galileo's mobile suit squad found their Zaku's in poor shape after the encounter with Albus Vonder. Kanji, Zak and Drax all tended to their mobile suits while Chief Burns made a mad scramble to oversee widespread repairs. Amid this, Takuya had come out from hiding in his room to help with what he could in the hangar. While he wouldn't fight now, he could still support the Galileo in this way. Drax, feeling in intense pain from his injury, took a backseat to Chief Burns and let him take over repairs while studying his actions. Despite his seemingly aggressive attitude, it was clear that Jacob Burns loved mobile suits as much as Drax did; a reassuring thought.

Meanwhile, Kanji found himself wrapped in an argument with Chief Burns as the head mechanic discovered Kanji working on his Zaku while having a glass of wine. Burns flew into a rant about both how mobile suits were expensive pieces of equipment as well as something sacred that needed to be handled seriously. Kanji paid little mind and continued getting in a drink while he could.

Finally, Chief Burns checked in with Zak to find that the Special Forces member had already gotten his Zaku up to shape. Once more, Burns complimented Zak on his training and discipline suggesting he ought to rub off some of his mannerisms on Drax. Laughing, Zak remained modest and merely returned to his duties knowing that battle would soon be occurring.

As the Galileo pulled into the wreckage of Junius Seven that orbited the Earth, the pilots gathered with Captain Meyers in the briefing room. There, they were me via video feed by Yzak Joule. A hero of the previous war who had joined the fighting as only a teenager. Now, he was a high ranking member of ZAFT's military. The Joule Team had come to try and stop the terrorists and was currently acting in concert with the Minerva for this task. However, the enemy forces seemed to be composed of several smaller terrorist cells linked up for this one goal. Thus, the task was beyond the Joule Team's capacity to handle.

Yzak thus issued orders for the Galileo. At the far edge of the current battlefield, some of the enemy seemed to be rigging bombs that, when detonated, would propel large chunks of the wreckage on a suicide charge into the Earth's atmosphere. While the Minerva and Joule Team tried to get a handle on the main force, the Galileo would disarm these ensuring all aspects of the situation were covered. Captain Meyers readily accepted this task and the Galileo's squad moved to launch.

Fighting among the wreckage of Junius Seven was a new experience for both Drax and Zak. Kanji, however, found the area all too familiar and lamented on the lives that had been lost there. Lt. Tsukasa remained with the Galileo defending it from stray attacks amid the chaos of a full scale battle. Engaging a squad of GINN's, Drax and Zak worked to fend them off while Kanji got close to disarm the bomb. However, Drax found himself struggling in battle unable to pilot well due to the intense pain coming from his leg. Zak noted to Kanji that something would need to be done about that soon, whether they had the time to spare or not, and did his best to cover the young MS-obsessed boy so he'd survive the fight.

Ultimately, Kanji managed to disarm several of the bombs by making use of the Mirage Colloid unit equipped on his Zaku to sneak by the battle undetected and invisible to normal sight.. With one remaining, that appeared to be more heavily guarded, Captain Meyers ordered the mobile suit squad to return and received a re-supply before heading for the final objective. Kanji couldn't be sure, but his gut told him that Albus Vonder was awaiting them at the last bomb.

Episode 07: The Day The Angel Fell

With only moments to spare, the Galileo's mobile suit squad docked and Chief Burns' team began to go to work. Zak was summoned to meet with Captain Meyers while Kanji forced Drax to come with him to the medical bay. There, Kanji and Drax met Doctor Mareina who oversaw the medical bay aboard the Galileo. Her long dark hair and glasses made her seem an ill fit for a warship, but she quickly made her expertise known to the duo as she identified Drax's injury. Realizing Kanji had considerable battlefield experience, Doctor Mareina had him assist her in treating Drax so the work could get done faster.

Though treatment was painful for Drax, Kanji and Doctor Mareina managed to not only treat the mechanic's wounds, but also patch it up enough that it shouldn't be a bother any more in combat. Mareina noted that with time it should heal up just fine. Drax thanked the doctor, referring to her as his savior. Kanji and Drax then rushed back to the mobile suit hangar. There, Drax found Chief Burns repairing his Zaku and after observing him a bit, asked if Burns would mentor him. Chief Burns broke out into raucous laughter and noted that he was glad the boy had come around. Working together, Chief Burns taught Drax a thing or two as they repaired his mobile suit.

Meanwhile, Zak had been conferring with Captain Meyers about the mission. They had studied the final bomb and it seemed to have been modified as a deterrent against ZAFT's attempts to prevent their terrorist attack. Meyers noted that it seemed the only proper way to disarm it would be for somebody to use the main console on foot. Captain Meyers admitted that this would be a hard task to do amid an intense fire-fight, however, it had to be done. Meyers wanted to place this task in Zak's hands knowing he was a member of ZAFT's Special Forces. Though nervous, Zak agreed to the task realizing how important it was. Captain Meyers wished the young pilot luck and sent him on the way. As he raced for his mobile suit, Zak bumped into Romary who cheerfully wished him luck giving him some much needed encouragement.

Without wasting any more time, the mobile suit team was launched once more as the battle at Junius Seven raged on. Approaching the final bomb Zak, Kanji and Drax realized they were facing tough resistance. Only three mobile suits surrounded their target. However, these three were Vonder's GINN High Mobility Type II, Crim's Zaku Warrior and the stolen Proto-Chaos. Knowing how tough this would be, Kanji assured Zak to just focus on the bomb and that he would do his best to draw two of the units; if Drax could tie up the remaining one.

Crim, now with a wicked looking scar that ran diagonally across his face, was eager to pay Zak back for the injury. However, Kanji was quick to engage Crim and at the same time taunted Vonder into attacking as well. Against the two, Kanji was quickly overwhelmed and pushed his skills to the limit just to avoid being killed. Elsewhere, Zak landed near the bomb and exited out on foot to begin disarming it.

Meanwhile, Drax was left to face the Proto-Chaos alone. He was shocked to find that it had the use of remote weapons and, making use of these, quickly forced Drax into the defensive. Darting around the battlefield, Drax tried to stay one step ahead of the almost web-like pattern of beams the Proto-Chaos continued to fire. Eventually, the Proto-Chaos' pilot revealed himself to Drax identifying his name as Seiji. On board the Galileo, Takuya recognized the voice and name; it had been the boy he met while on the transport with his parents. Realizing that Seiji had been the one that killed his parents, essentially, the boy fell into a deep depression.

With time, Crim and Vonder began to overwhelm Kanji destroying both an arm and a leg of his Zaku Warrior. Just as things began to look grim, Zak managed to disarm the bomb and rejoin the fight helping to push back both enemies. Noting that their plan had been stopped, Kanji urged Vonder to surrender and face justice for his crimes against ZAFT. However, Vonder taunted Kanji and remarked that while they had succeeded in stopping him, it seemed his compatriots had found victory. Pausing their battle, the Galileo's pilots noticed that, at one of the other areas of the battle, a segment of Junius Seven was starting to pass into the Earth's atmosphere.

In a last ditch attempt to stop this, the Minerva utilized its Tannhauser cannon to destroy the large debris falling towards Earth. However, this was not enough. Hundreds of small pieces descended towards Earth and destroyed cities while causing heavy damage and numerous casualties. Gloating of their victory, Vonder and his two subordinates escaped the battlefield. The Galileo's mobile suit team returned to their ship. Lt. Tsukasa seemed particular frustrated that despite all their efforts, the terrorists had still succeeded. Kanji seemed particularly concerned realizing how the Earth Alliance might interpret the results of this tragedy. Worse yet, there were now no signs on tracking Albus Vonder and the Proto-Chaos further.

Regardless, new orders had come in to the Galileo. In light of these new developments, they were to return to Armory One so they could be re-supplied and given new orders. While there, the pilots of the Galileo were also to undergo some special testing to help further some research. With heavy hearts and an air of uncertainty about the future, the Galileo began its return trip to Armory One.