Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Issue 42: Screams of the Seven Train!

Big City, Queens. Investigation Day Two, 7:06pm

In the battle of Vanguard and Homicide for Hire, the Atomic Brain went berserk and destroyed the elevated track as the 7 train barreled down it! The train’s brakes screamed louder than the Atomic Brain! SKKKRRREEEEEEEEE! “KIILLL… YOOOOUUU!!!” Little Timmy and the Met fans on the train were doomed!

The Hyena saw Lightning Strike close fast and call for Vanguard to take down the Mercenary! The murderous man-beast was ready to eviscerate the electrical avenger when he caught Symbiote out of the corner of his yellow eyes. The superhero simulacra bounded across the parkway and moved toward Slingshot and Hyena couldn’t resist. The carnivorous killer pounced at his crusading copycat, “Not so fast, wanna-be.” SSSHHRRRIIIIKKKK! Hyena’s razor sharp claws tore into Symbiote again! (OOC: 16 points of damage! Symbiote rolls with 7 and takes 9 off hits!) The vicious vivisector laughed again.

Symbiote leapt over Hyena to the pinned and flaming Slingshot. "Hello, I'm Symbiote. Big admirer of yours. In fact, for the next few minutes, I'd like to be just like you!" He touched Slingshot, and Symbiote’s body transformed again! The thick tufts of hair receded as his skin turned black, rubbery and muscle-bound! The Harness resized itself and notified Symbiote of his new simulated superpowers and super-weaknesses!
· Chemical Powers: Rubber. Permanent. No ranged attack or Chemical Powers defense. Bestows:
Stretching Powers: Costs movement to stretch. Defense costs 1 PR per use. Maximum stretch: 186” (930 feet!) May form a 465-foot square, or a 233-foot cube! Minimum Stretch: 1/8” thick Adds to movement rate, and ‘slingshotting’ allows jump without a running start.
Invulnerability: 8 points of damage may be ignored per turn. Works against kinetic, energy and elemental attacks (not mental blasts or inhaled poison gas, for example.)
Natural Weaponry: +2 to hit with fists, from stretching. No damage increase.
Heightened Strength: +30 to Strength.
Weakness: Unusual Appearance: Skin is black, rubbery. Can’t pass for human easily. No secret ID.
Weakness: Minor Vulnerability: Takes double damage from fire and heat based attacks.

The runaway train, meanwhile, raced forward to the vast maw created by the Atomic Brain! SKREEEEEEEE! The brakes sparked in vain. Suddenly…

Kairos leapt out from atop the train! In mid air, the avatar of eternity hurled half his steel staff at Zero G! KTANG! It cracked into the back of his skull! The anti-gravity assassin was hurt but still conscious. Without missing a beat, Kairos tumbled in mid air and landed on Hyena with all his momentum from the train! The Hyena smelled Kairos coming and turned in time to catch him full in the chest. KA-SLAMM! The Hyena was knocked backwards as Kairos leapt off him and landed on his feet. The feral fiend was staggering!

Zero G’s eyes crackled with the energy of a white dwarf. He released his gravitational hold on Slingshot’s torso and the dense, crushing geo-physical force suddenly vanished! Zero G raised his hand and the half staff that had struck him levitated upward. “I believe this is yours,” he said in his deep, slow, thick voice, the staff hovering in front of him. The destiny-dealing destroyer closed his hand into a fist and the staff plummeted down to earth. The small bar of steel now weighed several tons. WHAAMMM! It caught Kairos on his chest and knocked him down onto the ground! ( OOC: 20 points! Kairos rolls with 6, and takes 14 from hits!)
But Kairos was not pinned!

The Mercenary pulled himself up onto the elevated tracks and saw the rocketing train promising certain death to all onboard. Illuminated by the onrushing train’s headlights, Harrik put his hands to his mouth: “Homicide! Hold your positions and be ready!”
Then, to the Vanguardians near the tracks: “Save the people on the train, ‘heroes.’ We won’t stop you.”
The Hyena, saliva flowing from his fanged jaws, looked up with angry surprise.
“Unnecessary collateral damage is sloppy… unprofessional,” Harrik said to the cruel cur. “Bad for business.”
Homicide for Hire held their actions for a few seconds, except the Atomic Brain who prepared his next attack on Sentinel. They waited and watched as the train loomed loud, bright and big in the dark night.

Lightning Strike stood still and concentrated. His hands aloft, crackling white electricity struck the rails! The super-scientific superhero calculated the mass and momentum of the train and magnetized the tracks in the effort to slow and stop the train before it hit the gap!! The train slowed but did not stop entirely! The magnetism alone was not enough!

Slingshot, still burning and without a word, valiantly threw his gigantic left arm across the path of the train and anchored down. The train hit it and stretched the black rubber tight. Slingshot held on! The train stretched his mighty arm to its limit! Between his strength and the magnetized tracks, the train slowed and finally lurched to a stop inches from the crevasse! The train was saved! Cheers and chants of “Vanguard!” could be heard from within the train cars!

Forester, meanwhile had slipped into the deep shadows. He crept through an alley and came up behind Penumbra, who also stood down until the train had been saved. Forester nocked an Impact Arrow and had the dimensional damsel in his sights. The arboreal archer hesitated a moment. Shooting a woman in the back was something that chivalrous Frederick Knobel never thought he would do. Then he reminded himself of her dangerous extranormal abilities and the threat she posed to him and his team mates! Forester loosed the arrow. Thooo! CHOK! The Impact Arrow hit its mark! Penumbra fell to the ground, dazed and shaken. She stood up, but there was fear in her eyes.

Sentinel, seeing that the passengers were safe, now divided his attention between his teammate and the cause of this crisis! Sentinel shot a solid beam of energy at a nearby fire hydrant, knocking the top off! PTKOW! Then the beam writhed and formed a hovering funnel tube that shot the water at Slingshot! FWAASSSHHHH! The fire was dowsed and steam rose off the black blistered skin of the elastic extranormal! (OOC: End fire damage)
Then, light-filled energy cascaded from the beacon of justice as he rose up to eye level with the Atomic Brain! His energy arced forward toward the rabid, radioactive robot to conceal his true attack. Sentinel attempted to build an energy construct within the Brain’s atomic force field, above his vulnerable cerebellum! Sentinel concentrated his mind! Over the Brain’s namesake a small light sparked… took hold…. and grew!

The Atomic Brain was insensate agony and hatred. His mad scream, that was as all consuming as revenge, was suddenly cut short, like life being strangled out of a throat. Silence. The scream was gone. The Odinium body held its “head” with clutching hands. Without a sound, the force field blinked, flickered and died. The Atomic Brain fell. Plummeted to earth, crashing through the roof of a building and down into it! Gone.

Then suddenly, RRRROOOOOOOOOAAARRR! Two fighter jets rocketed overhead! They had CHESS markings.

The Mercenary scanned his watch and saw he was running out of time. They had taken too long. This mission’s window of opportunity was closing. But one objective was still within reach. Jim Harrik acrobatically leapt out off the elevated tracks at Slingshot’s big right arm. The one with the envelope inside it. Harrik straddled it, pulled a jagged machete from his calf sheath and plunged it in! THUNK!! Like a man gutting a fish, he grimly slit a length of the black rubber arm until he found the envelope! (OOC: 15 points of damage! 6 from power points, 9 from hit points) *
“Penumbra! Hyena! Prepare for evac!” he shouted.

Penumbra looked at Forester. “Another time,” she swore and disappeared in the darkness. Suddenly she was standing near Harrik, atop the elevated tracks, black mist flowing around her. “Ready,” she said.

(OOC: Going right into the next combat turn. From the top…)

The Hyena wasn’t ready to go just yet. The joking jackal had a score to settle with Kairos. He lunged at the noble young hero RRIIIPPPP! Razor sharp claws slashed across Kairos’ neck and chest.
(OOC: 15 points! Rolls with 5. 10 from hit points!)
The hairy hitman laughed sardonically. He bounded over to Silencer, effortlessly picked up the sonic supervillain and his helmet and then leapt up onto the elevated tracks, landing near the Merc and Penumbra.

The Mercenary pulled the white envelope out of Slingshot’s black arm! Spider Girucci’s information on Morgue’s whereabouts was now in Harrik’s possession! He leapt down next to Penumbra. “Good enough,” he said without enthusiasm. “Zero G, meet up at the rendezvous. You can outfly these mooks.” Zero G nodded. Harrik turned to the dark woman. “Go.”

Penumbra nodded and opened a black, swirling mist portal. It enveloped her, the Mercenary, the Hyena and the unconscious Silencer with tendrils that tore at the fabric of space.

The Mercenary, envelope in his hand, said: “Vanguard, this isn’t over.” The portal began to dissipate…

OOC: Actions everyone?
Current Conditions:
Forester: Hit Points: 21, Power Points: 61
Kairos: Hit Points: 20, Power Points: 53
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 28, Power Points: 59
Sentinel: Hit Points: 20, Power Points: 33, Creation Points: 66 out of 66 into shields
Slingshot: Hit Points: 23, Power Points: 56, Invulnerability: 0 until issue 43
Symbiote-Slingshot: Hit Points: 24, Power Points: 68, Invulnerability: 8

Ye Ed

*OOC: Hey Stephane, does Slingshot bleed? If yes, is it black, like oil?
Does he have black rubber organs and veins inside?
Or is he just an intelligent mass of man-shaped rubber, much like Alan Moore’s reinvention of Swamp Thing in the 1980’s? Let me know! Thanks.


"I can't stand to see you go," Forester shouts to the escaping villains on their way to Penumbra's portal. The ironic archer fires a smoke arrow in their path, to blur where the exact location of the dimension door.

OOC: Jeff, if the villains are all technically inside the portal by the time Forester's action rolls around, then use this reply instead. -js

"Quitters!" Forester shouts to the disappearing villains. "I guess you're just a bunch of second-stringers after all." The ironic archer fires a cable arrow at the envelope in Mercenary's hand, intending to pull the paper back into Vanguard's possession. Even if he misses, Forester hopes that the cable might prevent the dimension door from entirely closing.


OOC: Does he bleed? Does he have organs or is he just a big ball of rubber band? Did _he_ even know? I never thought about that. Give me a couple of days to decide where I want to go with this.

Are they gone or are we in a situation where the portal isn't completely closed yet?


OOC: Kirk would be surprised that the "attack" was actually that "effective" since he thought it was a long shot that it would even succeed. What sort of "energy" reading does Kirk get as this occurs and the Brain plummets? Does he think he killed him here? Is there no longer any energy reading coming off him? Thanks.

Is the portal at ground level where anyone could jump into it if they wanted to do so? If not, what are the odds, given Kirk's speed, that he could gather willing members of the team to enter it together before it dissipates? He's seen several of these portals and been through one himself so he should have some idea.

OOC: Although I got hurt badly in short order, I'm willing to go with you (Sentinel) if you can make it through (and enough of us would go....I'm not willing to fight the relatively uninjured Mercenary along with Hyena and Penumbra if it were just the two of us).

I wonder if her portals could be held open by your energy constructs? If so, you might be able to reach out and envelope Mercenary and pull him out to us OR just hold open the portal...


Symbiote was amazed at the Mercenary's honorable behavior and the discipline of his team, but it didn't make him want to stop these vile villains any less. While he'd prefer some payback against Hyena, he'd save it for another day, feeling he had a better chance with a different opponent. Using the rubbery powers of Slingshot he reached towards Zero G as he prepared to flee...

(OOC: And I'll continue with the plan I mentioned last issue. The idea is to grab ahold of the Anti-Grav Assassin and grapple him. Once I have my arms around him I'll spring the rest of my body up as well, completely encircling and constricting him. "What ya gonna do now, Mr. Macy's Parade Balloon?" Symbiote will ask, taunting the villain. "Go ahead. Hit me with all the gravity you want. I guarantee I'm not hitting the ground alone."

If Zero G is suicidal enough to increase gravity around Hal and make them both crash to the ground, Hal will let it happen and trust Slingshot's natural invulnerability to protect him while still delivering plenty of damage to his opponent. If Zero G passes out from the constricting damage--as I recall, he's already taken a fair number of lumps in the fight--Hal will expand his body like a big rubber ball around Zero G, letting them both bounce to the ground, presumably delivering no damage to the villain and little if any to Hal. If Zero G is out of range in this round Hal will slingshot after him, unless he's clearly moving so fast that there's no chance.)

One more thing: Assuming that Symbiote does manage to subdue Zero-G and the rest of Homicide for Hire escapes, the fight would seem to be more or less over. Nevertheless, Symbiote will absorb the abilities of the unconscious Lethal Levitator. Anti-gravity abilities would presumably help get the people trapped on that elevated train off the tracks, plus Hal can't resist downloading the telemetry of a third metanormal for later study back at his lab.

Great issue, Effendi! Looking forward to the next one with a worm on my tongue! (Baited breath).

OOC: Not wearing a communicator or even officially being "on the team" yet, I probably wouldn't go because I wouldn't realize that was the game plan. I'll go forward with my strategy for Zero G, which I think is pretty workable. Then again, best plans of Mice and Superheroes....


OOC: About the only way we could do it given the current damage our side took is if all or just about all went. There might be a shot in catching them unawares (or they could be waiting on the other side to blow us away expecting us to follow).

Although Kirk himself hasn't been injured, his power points are almost half gone. With the damage levels being inflicted by HFH in their attacks Kirk might be left standing after one hit below his shields but likely just barely. No chance of two. And its likely that at best he'd have one more shot deflected off his shields, in fact, it seems he's been quite fortunate in the rolls for the entire fight so far.

As far as holding the portal open, although he could try it, it should be no different from anyone else trying to physical exert power to keep it open; it may not even be something with a physical substance, but merely a rip in time/space with nothing to try to apply force in a physical way.

Your other idea was my next thought, would it be possible to try to pull them back? But first, we'd have to "see" them to do so. It could also be a one-way gate.

Jeff, with Kirk's energy sense does he get any idea as to what this "portal" is -- there's a good chance that Kirk's sense might not help at all with this or if it would that he doesn't have enough time to get a proper sense of what it is. But how it should help is -- can Kirk still feel/sense the HFH members on the other side of the rift? If so, would it be enough of a sense of placement to try to envelope them and pull them back if he was successful? Could he determine which one was Mercenary if he got any reading?

Symbiote, Your actions actually sound like our best play and best chance of success -- or he might take off out of range before you or any of us move.
My question was just a possible back-up plan to everyone else's actions since I'm the last to move anyway and if nothing else worked I wanted to see who was game to try. Everyone might be able to make the jump on their own too if they wanted, but it does seem prudent to do it en masse.


OOC GM Replies:
Slingshot: I never thought about that. Give me a couple of days to decide where I want to go with this.

GM: Of course. It's not pressing. I was just wondering. If you haven't read Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, this very issue comes up. You can get a trade paperback for a song. You want the very first issues of his run. I think the first story was called "Anatomy Lesson."

Slingshot: Are they gone or are we in a situation where the portal isn't completely closed yet?

GM: You're in a tense, thrilling, cliffhanging situation where the portal isn't closed yet!!!! Jeez, does the action ever stop??!

Sentinel: Kirk would be surprised that the "attack" was actually that "effective" since he thought it was a long shot that it would even succeed. What sort of "energy" reading does Kirk get as this occurs and the Brain plummets? Does he think he killed him here? Is there no longer any energy reading coming off him? Thanks.

GM: Energy has fallen suddenly. Power is still "on" but at much lower level. Force field is out. Plenty of radiation continuing. No buildups that usually telegraphed the burst of the Atomic Death Ray.

Sentinel: Is the portal at ground level where anyone could jump into it if they wanted to do so? If not, what are the odds, given Kirk's speed, that he could gather willing members of the team to enter it together before it dissipates? He's seen several of these portals and been through one himself so he should have some idea.

GM: Portal is at the level of the elevated tracks, where Homicide for Hire was all last standing. Might be possible to enter it before it dissipates. Depends on how fast everyone is. Tough to say with any assurance. Also: Do the fast people wait for the slow?

Sentinel: Jeff, with Kirk's energy sense does he get any idea as to what this "portal" is…

GM: Your energy sense does not work with things IN the portal! There is a disruption there that serves as static! The portal itself radiates energy of a type you've not encountered before.


Kirk saw the Brain fall and his immediate reaction was to follow to make sure that he would cause no more additional harm, but before he could, the villains began to make their escape and with the envelope. He looked at the train and then at the condition of his teammates and said, “Without that envelope, all of this was for nothing … and we'll be impeded the rest of the mission wondering when they'll be back.”

He witnessed this brave new young hero, this Symbiote struggle against Zero G and he realized this was their last best chance for a lead unless they all went into the rift and quickly, but at the same time, he didn’t want to abandon Symbiote.

(OOC) One email suggested Kirk try to grab them through the rift and pull them back. This isn't possible. Based on the “static” and the fact that Kirk’s energy sense can't pick up the other side indicates that the rift, however it works, puts the other side beyond the “range” of Kirk’s powers. If Kirk’s energy went through the rift without him with it to stay “within range” it would likely just dissipate.

Kirk’s actions, based on the reactions of the others and other events preceding his action would be:

(1) If all or most of the team want to enter the rift Kirk would go and would suggest that his shield precede them so if they (HFH) are expecting them to follow and are ready to pounce on them, they aren't surprised, and perhaps his shields would repel the attack to protect everyone (I guess it would be around 66% chance of it working for each of us if they had all held their attacks and all attacked at once – he would have his shields as translucent as possible so they might not notice it preceding the team). He’d also likely have to spend his next action recreating them.
(2) Assuming the majority of the team don't want to attempt the leap his next efforts would be to do whatever he could to assist Symbiote in defeating Zero G and preventing his escape since he would now be our last hope for a lead.
(3) If Zero G escapes Symbiote before Kirk can assist (or takes off with him), Kirk will follow to help.
(4) Kirk actually has one plan should Zero G’s flight be so fast that he can get away, Kirk would track him using his sense while he is “within range” and try to determine his last direction of travel. Zero G should think he lost Kirk at that point, and he may. But Kirk is betting at this point that Penumbra's “ports” have a certain range. He thinks that since she transported Kairos above the city, likely the range in the sky he was transported from the ground is her “local range” (or else why not have transported him even higher?) and since Zero G has to “meet” them, he would fly equal to that distance in the last direction Zero G was moving in hopes that it puts him within range of their rendezvous point. At that point he would use his energy sense to locate them. It’s a long shot, but he’d give it a try if everything else failed.
(5) Before taking off he’d notify the Chess lead via their communicators of the Brain’s last whereabouts and to proceed with extreme caution in retrieving him immediately. If somehow none of the above panned out then he would proceed to retrieve the Brain himself.


Two different possibilities for me:
1. If at least two others will go through the portal, I'll go through, too. In this case, I'll go for Penumbra and try to take her down with a chakram first or, if I have to get through fast and don't have time to pause and throw, then I'll attack in hand-to-hand with my remaining club if and when I can reach her. If another of the HFH people get in the way, I'll deal out an attack to them while trying to get by and take out Penumbra. I'll also say, over our coms, that we should probably try to dogpile Mercenary and get the note after Penumbra is down and deal with Hyena afterward, if possible.

2. If anyone else is going through at all, I can't let them go alone so I will go, too. In this case, I'll be evading (as in evading by the rules) and trying to get to Mercenary to snatch the note with a special attack, using a luck point in the process, and then evading like crazy to get BACK through the portal or to get away from HFH wherever we had gone.
3. If no one else is going through the portal, I'll wait and see how the fight between Zero-G and Symbiote goes. I can't see a way to aid in the fight if Symbiote is totally wrapped around him so I'll just wait and see what happens and what the others are doing. I'll retrieve the other section of my staff (assuming it is back to its regular weight) in the process. After the battle, I'll make sure Kirk takes me to retrieve my cable that I left back on the skyscraper. If there IS an opening in the fight between Symbiote and Zero-G, I'll try to hit Zero-G with a thrown chakram.


Lightning Strike:
Now that the train is stopped, Strike focuses on preventing the villains from getting away with the info Girucci was carrying. He doesn't know much about Penumbra's powers but he banks on the fact that she won't be able to control her portals if she is unconscious and they just might dissipate without them getting away.

Strike blasts a electrical bolt at Penumbra shouting, "Even you can't outrun the storm. You all must face retribution for what you have done today."

Hopefully other members of Vanguard can take out Zero G so that we have a fallback position and can interrogate him and find out the location of the rendezvous. If so, perhaps Symbiote could impersonate him and infiltrate the group but first things first.

Short but sweet.


OOC: Action: Slingshot goes into the portal. As soon as he's across, he'll send a broadcast of his location (if he can identify it).

The goal is the letter. Even if he has to rip out Mercenary's arm off.
I'll write a pretty post as soon as I get around to it.
If he doesn't make it across, he'll go for ZeroG.
As soon as he gets the letter, he reads it out loud in his communicator, on broadcast.


Lightning Strike:
Given that LS can only move by some sort of a conductive force (be it radio waves, electrical wires or anything else electrical in nature, if it was possible for him to follow or leap to the portal he would given that Sentinel is going in as well but I leave that to the GM's discretion.

I don't know if that is movement or action so if it is action, preclude my earlier action with leaping in with Sentinel.

OK, this will probably be the first of many late night sleepless e-mails.