Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Issue 15: Into the Belly of the Beast!

Time: Unknown.
Atlantic Ocean. 18,300 feet below sea level.
Time until Tsunami Machine Activation: Unknown.

Inside an airlock mounted into a titanic tentacle of the monstrous Star Giant…

Viper said: “Let's drag him along with us. At best we can kill him if we don't need him. Worse case scenario, we use him as bait.” To U-Man and smiling: "You'd like to be bait, huh?"

U-Man, still gasping from the gut punch Viper administered outside, snarled; “All ov you vill die vhile being duped by an illegitimate, mongrel vorld-government that only zeeks to control und enslave you!”

Slingshot quickly silenced him with another well-placed blow to the back of his head. The Aryan amphibian collapsed to the deck floor, still tangled in his net.

Forester suggested that Grey stand guard over U-Man near the entry point, and Grey reluctantly agreed. “Fine. I can hold down the fort here, in case we need a fast exit.” He kept the unconscious U-Man in his range of sight and tossed Strike’s pressure suit to Viper. “You might be right, Vipes. This could be a trap. But there ain’t no weapon burns or holes in this thing. Just electrical. You can smell it.”

Sentinel examined the control panels. The technology was man-made and semi-recognizable. The room was an airlock and little else. He found controls for the door, but no access into a central computer system.

Sentinel opened the door to the outside corridor. It was an empty, machine-hallway. Iron grey, utilitarian and encrusted with industry: pipes, circuitry, vents, cables, grates, wires. The doors were like those of a submarine, you had to step up and through them. Electric light bulbs hung from the ceiling in small protective cages. Instructions like “Watch your head” and “Keep door closed at all times” were stencil-painted in both German and English. The corridor was poorly lit, damp and claustrophobic. (Imagine a strange hybrid between a high tech installation like the Death Star, and a 1940’s German U-boat.)

Knocking an arrow, Forester crept out silently into the hall. He still heard an alarm, but its source was in a distant part of the Star Giant. He slid past ceiling-mounted speakers that were not sounding. Then the hair on his neck rose again. If he didn’t know better, it felt to Forester that something or someone was trying to read his thoughts!!

With much of his big black body still in the airlock, Slingshot stretched his head and neck out into the dank corridors, hugging the ceiling to avoid detection. He was able to move further faster than Forester, and came to a T in the corridor. On the right was a maintenance shaft of some kind. It wound on out of sight. On the left the technology level grew higher. Slingshot could hear men moving. He inched closer and peered with one elongated eyeball around another corner and saw three soldiers of SKULL! They were seated in a room, monitoring advanced computer consoles and screens. Their manner was relatively calm and routine. From his vantage point Slingshot could not see the entire room, or what was on the screens.

Meanwhile, in the airlock, Sentinel closed his eyes and focused on sensing energy. The Star Giant’s bio-energy was overwhelming and strange to him. Alien. It was focused at the Star Giant’s center. They were now at the outer edge of one of the five great tentacle things.
Sentinel’s guess proved true so far. Strong sources of the alien bio-energy clustered and intersected with a locus of man-made electrical energy, at the cyborg leviathan’s center.

Then Sentinel turned his attention to tracking Lightning Strike’s energy signature. He found the trail; it had looped out and back to this room! Slingshot (and Forester?) returned to the airlock and shared what was found.Sentinel identified the direction where the SKULL soldiers were sighted, as the direction that would lead them to the tentacled terror’s energy core!
Viper looked down the corridor, through the window. "It's all too neat. If Lightning is here and helping us, we NEED to get in contact with him."

Suddenly, as if on cue, sparks shot from the airlock control panel and arced, forming a human shape that slowly became Lightning Strike! The heroes were rejoined!

OOC: Dialogue and actions please.
Thanks everyone!
-Ye Editor


Forester nods and smiles when he sees Lightning Strike. "Unless you've changed your name to Uber-Blitzkrieg, the Electro-Skull, it's good to see you." "These guys managed to take out U-Man," Forester says, pointing to Viper, Slingshot, and Sentinel. "Grey's standing guard over him near the entrance."

Looking up and around, Forester adds, "This place gives a whole new meaning to the word star-ship."

Turning back to Lightning Strike, Forester says, "Scouting out ahead was a great idea. Tell us what you've found out. Any sign of the Tsunami Machine? Any word on Sgt. Stone or Venus?"

Forester wasn't sure what gave him more relief: regrouping with Lightning Strike or getting Grey temporarily out of his hair. But what about the hairs still standing on his neck? This was an unnatural sensation for the archer. "Is someone reading my mind, or am I just getting tired?" Forester thinks. "It feels like MONTHS since I last meditated." Quietly taking in a series of deep breaths, Forester visualizes the constellation Sagittarius. The stars grow dimmer and dimmer until his mental sky is empty … perhaps invisible to psychic intruders.


Lightning Strike:
Lightning Strike smiles under his mask and replies " Thankfully I haven't had time to change my name yet. I have managed to look around this ship if you can call it that and still have not found any evidence of the Tsunami Machine. Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate our missing compatriots.
"This technology is an amalgam of man made and an alien technology I have not had time to analyze yet. This ship exists in our time yet it is not of our time if that makes any sense. There is a presence guiding this ship that is definitely not human. I have sensed it but have been unable to make contact. Your presence in the ship is so far unknown as is mine but it is only a matter of time before they or it find us."

Lightning Strike looks around at the other and sizes them up. "We need to find a way to locate that device as quickly as we can and if that means splitting up again then that is what we need to do. If you haven't gotten any information out of U-Man then we need to leverage the abilities we have and spread out to find the device. I am open for suggestions as to who should go with who but let's not forget that the humans on this ship may not know we are here but something does."

LS pauses to inspect the shape of the heroes and make an assessment who should pair up with who.


Viper walks over to Lightning and slaps him on the shoulder, "Well I'll be! I bet you have a story or two to tell and all we were doin' was fishing! (Viper glances at U-man) And our bait is beginning to stink. (frowning) I hope you located this thingy-ma-bob so we can high-tail it out of here."

Lightning Strike said: "If you haven't gotten any information out of U-Man then we need to leverage the abilities we have and spread out to find the device. I am open for suggestions as to who should go with who but let's not forget that the humans on this ship may not know we are here but something does."

Viper: "Well we need Grey to stay with U-man then and the rest of us play find the treasure with the gizmo. One problem. What do we do with it when we find it? Destroy it? Bring it home? We're still out of touch with Venus baby and the ship."

Viper gives U-man a soft nudge with his foot. "Maybe you'd like to tell us now, U-man. (Viper's voice gets softer) Your friends won't be happy when the first thing I tell them is how quickly you spilled your guts to us. But when I see them, I can just as easily let them know how hard you fought." Viper smiles. "Come on fishy boy, tell us what where the gizmo is."

((Jeff: Viper is going to try and Hypnotic gaze him. I know he's not exactly a friendly target, but he's been subdued for a time now and our conversation, while not friendly may help. His overconfidence in his sides superiority might help as well. * Pulls his debate with the GM lawyer out of his utility belt*))


Following his ad hoc meditation, Forester considers some of his teammates'suggestions. Stepping over to Viper, he quietly says: "If you want to re-interrogate U-Man, be my guest. While you're at it, though, any chance you could persuade Grey to do more talking? He hasn't exactly been forthcoming with us; for better or worse, he has to know more about this mission and this place than he's let on." Through his tone and mannerisms, Forester suggests sincere concern over Grey's mental state and decision-making abilities.

Then to Lightning Strike, the archer says: "You just said something about not having time to figure out this futuristic technology 'yet.' Well, no time like the present, eh? If you're half the scientist you seem to be, is there anything more you can decipher about this ship on the spot? You may be our 'one shot' to 'invent' a way through this maze. You get the 'point'."

The acerbic archer supports Lightning Strike's decision to split up. Forester will focus his hearing on the source of the alarms and head in the direction of the loudest sound. If he detects any psychic influences, be they emphemeral females in his head or skin-crawling sensations down his neck and spine, he'll try to move in that direction, if possible. Every turn, he will spend one action making a Det. Hidden check, spending 2 power points if need be, until he notices something highly unusual (given his modest technical prowess) or encounters an opponent. Other heroes are welcome to follow his lead--otherwise he's comfortable moving forward on his own.


Viper is shocked at Forester's concern over Grey but eventually says he'll try and give talking to U-man a shot. Viper is going to head over to U-man but talk to Grey first.

To Grey: "This is some ride, Grey. You'd think your people would have seen this coming. Or maybe this IS the Tsunami machine. Either way, we're about to get shot out of a cannon and there's no Fat Lady to land on. I hope you've told us all we NEED to know."

Viper is going to turn to U-man and attempt waking him up. Before he gets too alert, Viper will try his hypnotic gaze to get some info out of him. His order of questions would be:
1) Where is the Tsunami machine
2) What are the ships defenses
3) How can we destroy the ship


Upon Strike's reentry, Sentinel breaths a sigh of relief, "at least we're back together and our group is all still active" he thinks to himself.

After Strike gives his info: "How much exploring have you done by the core, the center of this thing? Everything seems to lead that way from a technological and energy standpoint; it makes sense that the tsunami machine would need to be near or attached to the source of greatest power. I think we need to proceed in that direction unless you have reason to believe otherwise..."
"Seems like we've got two logical choices, rather than rambling around randomly down corridors and hoping to stumble into it ... we can take out the Skull agents in the computer monitoring room that Slingshot discovered and try to find out more from their computer systems, or we can systematically head towards the center of this creature. Messing with their computers might get us discovered, but that will likely happen anyway soon. Sentinel adds, "I'm pretty knowledgeable about computer systems, but not in a superhuman way, but I'd be willing to poke around into their systems given the chance."

"Strike ... I'm trying to understand your mentioning that the ship exists in our time yet it is not of our time -- are you saying this thing is from another period of time and is mysteriously here or are you saying the ship is occupying two periods in time and space -- like we're at the nexus of some sort of interdimensional tesseract? If so, could that mean that the device is here, but actually not here? ... that at the key time they are going to move it to our dimensional space and that is why neither of us has sensed it thus far?" Sentinel's brain began to ache thinking about that concept. :)

"There is a presence guiding this ship that is definitely not human. I have sensed it but have been unable to make contact. Your presence in the ship is so far unknown as is mine but it is only a matter of time before they or it find us."

Sentinel seems to finish his thoughts and then pauses and instead continues further, as if he thought of something else...
" There is another possibility too; Strike, you said you sensed a presence guiding this ship, a non-human presence that you haven't been able to make contact with ... perhaps the fact that we are undiscovered isn't just chance ... perhaps that same presence is aware of us, and in fact has been hiding our presence from Skull.

This ship is composed of organic materials and energies and has had man-made technology infused or melded into it. What if this "ship" isn't just alive, organic, but is also sentient. It could be the presence you are sensing, it could be the cause of the psychic presence we all felt upon entering it. Perhaps it has been trying to "understand us" and see if our intentions are different from Skull which found it and enslaved it. Maybe if we could make contact with it, we could find a needed ally here ... because even if we find the device, we still have no contact with Doc Rocket or any real knowledge to how disarm it.

If only someone here has some real psychic ability and could make contact with this "presence"


Slingshot smiled at Lightning Strike's entrance. "My friend, you have a flair for the dramatic! Good to see you!"

Upon hearing the talk of splitting up the groups, Slingshot frowned a bit. "I don't mind splitting up, but we better figure out where we want to go. I think that the groups would be obvious. If LS and Sentinel can sense the energies, they'll have to be in different groups. I can scout and be the grunt. Forester is a natural scout and Viper's got the brawn too. So why not go with Sentinel and myself, and you three together? This way, we can cover as much ground as possible and be aware of each other?"

"Sentient?" Slingshot suppressed a shudder. Last time, he shuddered it wasn't a pretty sight. Being elastic does have its disadvantages. Then a rather disgusting thought came through his mind. Since everyone was brainstorming, he figured he would share too "Are you saying we just entering a sentient being through an orifice?" As he uttered it the whole concept hit him full force. He shuddered.

Actions: Since we are all still in prep mode and I have little to contribute, I'll stay put and hold my actions for the round. In case fate (or the gm) decides to send us a squad of people, or better yet, U-Man decides to do something nasty.


After taking a step to head out in his own direction, Forester realizes that maybe following the loudest alarm wouldn't be the best thing to do after all.

If it's not too late, he instead follows his elongated ally's plan to split into two groups (if Lightning Strike and Viper will have me)--with Grey staying back to guard U-Man. Forester will still make Det. Hidden roles each turn, if possible, and try keeping his mind clear of outside influences.


"Hold on a second here, hombres. Let's see if Guppy boy has anything else to add." Viper is going to try and rouse U-man and use his Hypnotic Glare to ask 'What part of this vessel is the Tsunami Machine?'

If Forester and LS plan to leave, Viper asks for a direction so that he could catch up with any info.


Lightning Strike:
LS does not believe that any extra effort will be needed to determine where the entity is running the ship. I intend to focus my actions on locating the primary energy structures (I.E. wires). I am not planning on using my invention point as of now.


OK, aside from other postings after mine adding new elements, I'm OK for splitting up as discussed unless others have a problem -- that would place myself and Slingshot together.

I would like some responses from the others about taking the control/monitoring room that Slingshot found and seeing if their computer systems can help us learn more about this situation, especially since at this point because:
(1) Lightning Strike would (apparently) be even more adept at sensing energy than me
(2) Our destination doing that already seems to be towards the middle of this creature, and if that's the case, why split into two groups to head in the same direction?
(3) The monitor room seems to be the only other source of information about this operation that we've found so far (unless Lightning Strike has something better since he's had some time around the place - I'm surprised he doesn't have more of an opinion regarding this and the layout, etc)

Slingshot seems more than able to take out three goons quickly and efficiently, so if they take the room, he would likely let Slingshot take the lead due to Sentinel's current low power levels and back him up as needed to conserve what little power he has left for what is to come ... however, he would not hesitate a second if it appeared things were getting out of hand.

If I read too much into the monitoring room and this doesn't appear to be a potential source of info (I guess only Slingshot could let me know that) then I'd be OK going another route.

Since it doesn't appear that anyone else has any telepathic training here (or is offering knowledge of such), if I've done any exercises over the years in my training with Grandpa regarding this stuff (although likely no practical experience - I'm assuming he never got a buddy who was a telepath to run me through some exercises or anything) I'd try to put that to use to see if my hunch is correct and if this thing is sentient and feeling us out.

I'd try to open my mind so it could read/feel my intentions and that I would want to work to free this creature of its being captured and forcibly put to use by Skull, and that if this creature has no malevolent nature towards earth, I would do all I could to make sure it was freed and unharmed.

I'm sure that some of his training was book knowledge and meditation about some of this stuff, but I don't know how skillful Sentinel might be in using that now in the "real" world (kind of like following a manual to build something ... you know what you want as the outcome, you've got an idea of the mechanics of doing it, you've possibly watched and been instructed on how to construct something, but that doesn't mean your knowledge is going to be usable as a skill in this actual situation).
Any way it goes, I would definitely give it a shot.

PS Aaah, I can see the posting now, "Sentinel has a strange _expression cross his face for a moment, as if he were taking a dump; this quickly passes." :)


That sounds like a plan. Assuming that Sentinel and Slingshot stick together. Slingshot will have _no_ problem with the thugs. He might not take them all out in one shot. At this point, Slingshot has little to add about energies since he cannot sense them.

Jeff: I'm thinking of a special attack for that room, let me know what I have to spend (inventing points, extra power points, etc..). Since the room is small and my area of stretch is comparatively huge: I'm thinking of running into the room and becoming the equivalent of a car air bag with a punch. Let me know what your thoughts are.