Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Issue 55: Shadows and Death!

The penthouse suite of Caine Corp Citadel. Big City. 9:06 pm.

Everything in Silas Caine’s offices suddenly lost power! The living shadow that men called the Luddite had absorbed the electricity into himself! The lights went out. Flashlights dead. Communicators useless. Cut off.

Kairos peered through the broken glass window as he perched on the building ledge. The avatar of antiquity had arrived via a CHESS hover-van (which was now landing on the roof) in time to see…

Symbiote rolled off Archer's body. "Stay down Detective Archer. This being is dangerous!" Painfully aware that Vanguard was breaking the law, Hal watched and waited for an opportunity to help as he created an arc of electricity between his fingers to illuminate the darkened room.
Everyone could see again! Large shadows were cast along the wall and one of them moved wrong, as if of its own volition. A shadow that had no caster!

Slingshot hurled questions at the fanatical phantom, trying to get him talking as he quietly melted off and started covering the Persian rug with a black flowing liquid that was his malleable body.

The Luddite answered: “Blind fool! This world has been slowly invaded for the last one hundred years! They are readying the globe for their arrival. Making our planet more like them every day! Every hour!
And mankind, in its folly and greed, is only too eager to help in this cataclysmic transformation!
“Who do I fight?”! The invaders of our world! And those who aid them with their poisonous technology! Robots! Nanotechnology! Computers! Each so-called breakthrough helps them break through into our world! It must be stopped for the sake of mankind!”

Lightning Strike saw his chance. He stepped forward and attempted to seize control of the recently stolen electricity that lived inside of the Luddite! He succeeded, pulling it all from the shadowman’s mouth and eyes in crackling white electrical arcs that centered on Strike’s hands! ZZZZZZZZAKK!

The Luddite howled more in hate than pain. “You are most vulnerable here. I can absorb electricity. And you are made of electricity.” The Luddite concentrated and then absorbed Lightning Strike into him! The electric avenger disappeared into the ebon shadow shape of the Luddite. Strike was gone!!
The Luddite’s form distorted and rippled. Tiny sparks, like firework stars popped and arced along his surface.
“All who oppose me will meet a similar fate. You’ve been warned!”

Silas Hamilton Caine saw Lightning Strike destroyed. He moved for the door saying: “Detective, call for help! These dangerous extranormals are going to kill us!”

Slingshot subtly oozed out across floor, covering it in his elastic ectoplasm. He detected no one else in the room that he couldn’t see. (Kairos isn’t touching the floor). He then sprouted an arm from the floor near Caine and decked him! KA-POW! Caine fell to the ground.

Detective Archer saw that. He stood up and pulled his gun. He grimaced at the floating, glowing, ranting shadow man. “Goddamn extranormals,” he muttered. Strike might be somewhere in there. He held his fire and barked: “Slingshot! Stand down! Caine is a civilian!”
Then, to Symbiote: “You! Get this bystander outta here,” indicating Caine.
Then he looked back up at the Luddite without enthusiasm. “You! Yer under arrest!”

To be continued!
OOC: Actions?

Moments earlier, in the ancient catacombs deep below Lonely Town: Forester, Inhuman and Sentinel recovered from the cataclysmic cave in! The world had seemingly come down around them, as tons of earth and stone crashed into Morgue’s stronghold, nearly filling it! They were at the bottom of a massive sinkhole!

Sentinel used his amazing energy constructs to temporarily clear an area near the top of the stairs that led down to the silver coffin chamber. Earth and stone poured down the stairs; the lower chamber was still clear!

Inhuman threw powerful jets of water from his hands to clear a path down to the chamber and to wet and sculpt the earth around them, quick-drying it to create structural support.

Forester stepped from Sentinel’s atmosphere-generating constructs, down the stairs and could tell the air was going bad fast. He carefully searched the earthen coffin chamber and found it barren of clues. Mixed in with the earth that had tumbled down from Morgue’s stronghold were skulls, tommyguns and cash.

Above, Inhuman and Sentinel carefully excavated the corpse of Morgue and carried the impaled, gruesome ruin of a man down the stairs to the relative safety of the chamber of the silver coffin. In descending to the lower room, Sentinel withdrew his constructs to him and more earth collapsed into Morgue’s stronghold, sealing them in. When they were ready to leave, they would have to re-burrow a new exit. The air grew thin.

The grisly corpse was laid on the cold floor and Sentinel examined Morgue again with his energy senses and still detected nothing. Then suddenly the anti-energy returned. Morgue’s eyes opened!
Sentinel’s guess had been right! Morgue was not destroyed! The revenant gangsters that fled the chamber before were still “alive” because their creator Morgue was!

Forester nocked a razor arrow! Inhuman readied a water blast! Sentinel prepared to decapitate the cadaverous crimeboss with an energy blade construct when Morgue croaked:

“DON’T!!... Kill me and yer friend dies! The kid in the white costume!”

He meant the Ghost! The heroes paused for just a moment.

Morgue growled up at them: “You saw him dead! I’m the only thing keepin’ him alive! Bump me off and yer killin’ yer own friend! His blood’ll be on your hands! …Again.”

To be continued!
OOC: Actions?

Current Conditions:

Forester: Hit Points: 15, Power Points: 64
Inhuman: Hit Points: 7, Power Points: 29
Kairos: Hit Points: 15, Power Points: 59
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 18, Power Points: 47
Sentinel: Hit Points: 3, Power Points: 37, Creation Points: 74, Shields: 48
Slingshot: Hit Points: 26, Power Points: 85, Invulnerability: 8
Symbiote with Strike’s powers: Hit Points: 13, Power Points: 28, Harness Charges: 0
Best, Jeff


Forester has meditated long and hard about the meaning and value of life. His actions in this situation are clear.
"I will not let you use my friend as a bargaining chip," the zealous Zen hero tells Morgue.

"If you are keeping him alive through some twisted or unnatural means, it would do him no favor to let you continue."

"And if he is still alive in his own right, and you simply have the power to sentence him to death, then his death will be on your hands alone."

"You are foolish take credit for his noble existence. You don't deserve the honor of using him to extort your escape."

Forester fires his arrow.


Inhuman takes the water that was under his control and instead turned it into a set of watery manacles for Morgue that covered every inch of exposed flesh on the creature, though it might not hold him Inhuman rather decided that it may slow or prevent him from easily harming others .
"Sentinel, can you tell what is animating this Corpse and if so do you want to rip it out of him?" Though still more worried about saving the other prisoners whether trapped by debris or evil if there was one thing Inhuman had learned from the results of others dealing with terrorists, saving one now versus endangering hundreds later was an ill advised trade and one that could only be called one way, sacrifice the one for the many.

OOC: Attack: keep him from death touching anyone, (say either reducing damage dealt by hth or preventing the death touch)
Suggest: Sentinel try to capture Morgues evil energy and remove it from the body, perhaps by ugly means
Reserve: Slicing Morgues head off with a water blast.
Option: see if recharging some power via water breathing purification is possible.


Symbiote watched the being known only as the Luddite float across the room. More to the point, he watched the nimbus of electricity dancing across the "surface" of the Obsidian Assassin's body, if such a being could be said to have a body surface. Mechanical engineering had been Hal's minor field of study, he still taught a few classes in the subject at NYU. Hal understood electricity--the properties of the elemental force, what it took to hold and control it, and, most importantly at the moment, what happened when those controls were overwhelmed.

Hal moved quickly, rushing to the forefront. He hoped his new allies, men he had only known for a few hours, would trust him enough to follow his lead. "Slingshot!! Wrap up Archer and Caine to protect them, it's about to get hot in here!" he said to the Vulcanized Vigilante. He then turned to the Luddite.
"You're looking a little overfed, there, Spooky. Bit off more than you can chew tonight? Well, how about another spoonfull?!" Symbiote snarled. He extended both arms, and then shouted to the disembodied Lightning Strike, praying that the Amped-Up Avenger could still hear him somewhere within the Luddite's form. "LIGHTNING STRIKE!! HE'S OVERLOADING!! HIT HIM WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE!!!"
With that, Symbiote does likewise, blasting the Luddite with all the electricity he can muster.


OOC GM Reply:
FYI, To be clear:
If the destruction of Morgue means the death of the Ghost, then it also means the death of all the undead revenants including:
-The Octopus, whom Inhuman may feel a bond for, due to their shared origin and Inhuman's ally ability!
-The Cat, who holds answers to Forester's questions!

Wotta revoltin' development, Vanguard Fan Guard! (the name for true Vanguard fans)
Always happy to stir it up,


OOC: Sorry that I haven't a chance to reply in character yet.
I'd actually formulated (in my head) my posting after reading the issue and Forester's actions. Inhuman's post followed after I'd figured out what I was going to do.

My action was right along with my original plan and any hesitation was removed after the words of Forester - Inhuman subsequently took similar action so I'll try to post shortly as it was intended unless this spurs changes of action by them.

About the only thing I'd add is "killing him" seems to be the hard part, having him return to life, less so; so even if we "kill" him again now, Chess may be able to put him back together again ... and to our knowledge previously he only had the power to "kill", not to raise his victims as undead, so we don't know what else will follow.

But it seems like you may have given Forester and Inhuman more to consider here.


OOC: After returning to and from Haven weeks ago (in his special one-shot issue, between 1st and 2nd level), Forester heeded Marksman's warning against joining sides with the evil being responsible for the destruction of the secret dojo and intensifying the corruption in Big City. In Forester's mind, negotiating with Morgue or Black Bat would make him naively vulnerable and susceptible to this type of corruption.

The willful weapons-master will not bargain with death-defyinging beings, who he suspects are intrinsically evil (based on his interpretation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead). Forester's understanding of karma stops him from imagining that some good might come from striking some sort of deal with the devil to keep Ghost alive. Forester feels an almost paternal affection toward Ghost, but through meditation he knows better than to let this attachment delay his plan of attack.

And despite his curiosity about the Cat, Forester's take on the five buddhist precepts, and his awareness of his own abilities, prevents him from naively calculating the chances of finding, defeating, and successfully interrogating the Cat at some future point in the event the Morgue stays unharmed.

Heck, Forester's still trying to figure out how the hired-for-homocide Hyena knew to call him "coyote."


OOC: I consider that Ghost may have to be sacrificed that in order to stop dozens if not hundreds of evil undead (as seen by their previous actions and histories) and vile schemes from being put to nefarious uses. His sacrifice as well as our own personal questions and other ties may have to be lived with forever, as the price of just that much more safety for others. Of course I don't know him that well, but, well, one versus stopping this much potential for destruction....

Personally, I'm keeping an eye out for Ghost to pop up around us ASAP in order to keep Morgue more alive than not.
"Sentinel," Inhuman growled from deep in his chest "Keep an eye out for Ghost or any other negative energy sign getting close, there could be an attack at any moment."


Kirk’s adrenaline pumped as he continued to concentrate on their environment in the catacomb lower chamber; he knew they had little time to search the area and he wanted to be sure that they were not caught unawares by any foe. Despite this, the loathsome anti-energy returned to the body of Morgue so swiftly, so instantaneously, he barely got out an audible warning,
“Morgue’s returning to a conscious state …”

But that was more than enough; despite their attention to carefully searching the chamber his heroic Vanguard teammates sprung into action in the same second as Kirk …

“DON’T!! Kill me and yer friend dies! The kid in the white costume!”

He meant the Ghost! The heroes paused for just a moment.

Morgue growled up at them: “You saw him dead! I’m the only thing keepin’ him alive! Bump me off and yer killin’ yer own friend! His blood’ll be on your hands! …Again.”

Almost as quickly as Kirk heard the words he dismissed them.

As far as Kirk was concerned, to be alive required at least two major components, first was the universal breath of life, nature's essence of existence. In Kirk’s continued journey of self-discovery, he realized he could sense this energy as he did other forms of energy. And the anti-energy emanating from Morgue and his victims wasn't it.

Second, in Kirk’s mind life required the gift of free will, of choice. Kirk immediately recalled the regret in the voice of the entity who had once been Ghost as he was forced to attack him, his friend and ally. Quickly following that was his inability to strike against Morgue, his enslaver, even when prompted.

No, this was not life; it was an obscene mockery of it! And he’d see what remained of his friend freed from it.

If there was even an imperceptible amount of doubt in Kirk’s mind, it vanished when he heard the words of Forester, whom he knew was closest to the Ghost on Vanguard, having known him prior to its forming. He knew he’d come to the right conclusion on this matter.

Kirk regretted having hesitated to take the seemingly gruesome action recommended in their briefing in dealing with the “undead” and hoped it wouldn't cost them now; Morgue had given free will a bad name when he was actually alive and Kirk’s personal rules regarding respect of life didn’t apply to whatever Morgue had become; in fact he was an affront to it.

Kirk gave no further reply to Morgue feeling the noble words of Forester said all that needed to be said best. Echoing the iron will of Forester and Inhuman, he merely added with firm determination as energy blazed from his eyes, “This ends now.”

As he spoke, Kirk continued to pay close attention to his energy sense, especially reminded at the urging of Inhuman, knowing none of them could afford to be taken unaware in their current physical state.

Given our character's speed, Forester’s arrows should be the first and (hopefully) fittingly the ‘lethal’ blow to Morgue once again. If not, Kirk will add his attack to that of Forester and Inhuman as needed. This time, Morgue gets decapitated and his faux heart torn from his body.
Assuming we get this far: Once this is done we take the components of Morgue with us and burrow out of this tomb towards freedom. If there are any other “victim” bodies in the sub-chamber and its reasonable Kirk will try to gather them to bring along for identification and examination. Kirk will create a separate sub chamber in the bottom of his burrowing creation to house them. He’d keep Morgue’s remains separate from any others and closer to them to try to be sure that they don't lose him somehow in their escape; he’d form another small chamber around Morgue so if somehow he came back to life again he wouldn't be able to attack them without their knowing.


Kairos will stay in position and observe, delaying his action until he can get a better grasp of the situation.


[Quote - Archer]He held his fire and barked: "Slingshot! Stand down! Caine is a civilian!"[/quote]
Scott had let his impulses get the better of him. He had been doing that a lot lately. a Lot more than he normally would. That sucker punch at Caine felt good, but he really shouldn't have done that. He'll do better next time. Looking suitably chastened, Slingshot said, "Yes, Lt."

[Quote]"Slingshot!! Wrap up Archer and Caine to protect them, it's about to get hot in here!" he said to the Vulcanized Vigilante.[/quote]
"Got It!", Scott said. He gathered his bulk as he did so, he picked up Caine and loosely wrapped himself about Archer and Caine. The wrapping was for maximum protection (including soles of their feet). He was careful to leave some space for breathing and in Archer's case, view. Although he was ready to close up if it became too much.
"Archer, I'll be a good boy, Scout's Honor."