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.

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