Monday, January 11, 2010
Vanguard: Issue 103: Ghost in the Machine!
Vanguard Vault, New York City, before dawn
Vanguard’s forces were divided as they made their way through the darkened halls of their powerless headquarters, searching for the source of the city’s power loss and of Nanite’s mysterious silent signal!
Forester checked in, texting Vanguard: “Helicopter parked in western hangar. Not one of ours.”
Avatar, Sentinel, Symbiote, Manetti and Clone moved to gather the subdued Siberian and Cosmonaut from the 83rd floor and head down to the infirmary where the Soviet Super Soldiers could be sedated.
With Siberian over Avatar’s shoulder, they entered the darkened Gymnasium (Room G on the 83rd floor) to locate Cosmonaut among the rubble of the walls Symbiote had punched him through. Clone explained himself to Vanguard as they walked and Avatar illuminated the training room with the power of Apollo.
Sentinel said, "We need to finish this here quickly, the rest of our team is no longer moving and has stopped short of their intended destination."
They found the unconscious Cosmonaut as well as another! Angel, a maintenance man they all knew. He was unconscious but breathing, laying next to his open tool box. It looked like he was doing some work on the equipment in here when he passed out or was knocked out! He had not been hit by rubble.
Meanwhile… Lightning Strike, Slingshot, Soldier, Talon, Shelley, Mother Russia and Polar Bear were conversing with Silas Caine (in Room Q on the SE side of the 85th floor) about the fate of Nemesis and perhaps the world!
Caine said, “To be safe, wipe their memory banks and dismantle them completely. Disintegrate them.”
Mother Russia and Polar Bear murmured to each other in Russian.
Talon sneers at Caine and then turns toward Slingshot, "I don't need to be here. One more comment from this arrogant jerk and I'll do something that I might regret later.
"I'm gonna take the injured Rook down to the infirmary to try and get him some medical attention."
Slingshot looks at Mother Russia and says, "Well it does seem that your moniker was appropriate after all. Nemesis does seem to be a weapon. Not from us or you, but from a parallel universe.
"Friends" he said to his fellow Vanguardians, "I'm not sure I can do this myself." Scott divested himself of Nemesis and handed him to Soldier. "I believe that the best way to deal with this, and the closest, is to go to the smelter in the mechanical room just a few rooms from here. Fire up the smelter and put him in, then it's just a matter of time. Can I trust you to handle this?" he said looking at the three of them.
The big man sits down heavily and put his head in his hands. He reached out to Shelley and motioned for her to sit with him. She did.
Mother Russia said solemnly, “You can trust us to do this, comrade.”
Talon gently lifted the Rook into a fireman carry, to keeps his clawed hands free. "This is a big decision for one man to take upon himself. I'll tell the rest of the group what's going on so we can make this decision together. Vanguard is a team, let's work together avoid making a decision we might regret.”
With that, the black feathered bird man sailed down the dark hallways, looking for the other team of Vanguardians. Suddenly, his keen senses heard a crash below him, like walls being shattered! He altered his course to follow the sound. Aloft on wings of ebony, Talon sailed to the industrial elevator in the SE corner of the building, pried open the elevator doors, and swooped down the empty shaft!
Meanwhile, Soldier challenged Silas Caine: “Mister, I find it hard to believe you had nothing to do with his current situation, or what's going on in this building. I've just met you, but I already feel like I need to take a shower.”
Caine remained seating, “I assure you, I’m here trying to help you do the right thing.”
Soldier stood guard over Caine, while cradling Nemesis. He used his sensor systems to scan the area. “I'm still not sure what's going on here, but I do know one thing, if this guy says we have to do it (motioning at Caine), you can bet it's probably the wrong thing to do. My vote's to get him to a lab and see if we can contain him. But, if it does come destroying him, I'll do it.”
Lightning Strike said: "Nobody is getting melted just yet. We still don't have a clear grip on what is going on here. Put Nemesis down and let me attempt to isolate him from whatever is happening here."
Soldier laid Nemesis out on the table in the quarters, and got within striking distance of Caine.
Everyone made room and Slingshot took Shelley by the hand and backed her out of the chamber in case something happened. Once they got into the hallway, Slingy kept going. They headed back through the hangar, toward the NE stairwell. The one-celled superhero made short work of the distance with his stretchable pseudopods, Shelley in one arm, a flashlight in the other.
Shelley whispered, “Scott, where are we go…” Then she answered her own question. “Oh. You’re going to Nanite.” Shelley sounded resigned. Slingshot kept moving.
Meanwhile, Lightning Strike surrounded Nemesis with an electrical field designed to disrupt the silent signal that came from the lifeless android! (spend 4 power points) The high voltage avenger varied the intensity and frequency in his effort to isolate Nemesis from the unexplained phenomena!
Then everything happened at once!
Nemesis’ eyes opened as the lights came on all over the base!
As Vanguard’s eyes adjusted, they couldn’t believe what they saw:
Avatar, Clone, Sentinel, Symbiote and Manetti stood over Angel and Cosmonaut in the center of the training room when the lights activated and the training room sprung to life as it began an automated battle sequence that Vanguard had not seen before (imagine the X-Men’s Danger Room out of control!).
Two gun batteries erupted from floor hatches (SE and NE corners, both visible on the map). Each had four different gun barrels, each of a different size and shape!
VWOOSH! Then a robot appeared, lifted up fast from out of the floor, tearing through the trampoline that had been over its hatch (SW corner, trampoline is visible on map). It was an 8 foot tall, man-shaped terror, built to tear train locomotives in half with its massive steel hands. Another hatch, this one in the ceiling, was sliding open when the floor gun batteries pivoted, targeting Vanguard with deadly speed!
Sentinel suddenly sensed something changing in Nemesis’ mind. Like he was waking up…
Meanwhile, Talon saw the elevator car was rising up the shaft. Faster than it should be. The avian antihero was at the 84th floor, flying down toward sounds he sensed on the 83rd. He didn’t know if he would beat the elevator to the doors on 83, let alone have time to pry them open while balancing the stunned Rook.
VOOOOOM! The industrial elevator car hurtled upward at him, rocketing like a one ton rollercoaster!
Meanwhile, Lightning Strike, Soldier, Mother Russia, Polar Bear and Caine saw data cables burst from the walls of their room and writhe and snap of their own volition, like fiber optic tentacles from some machine kraken trapped floors below.
Soldier warned his teammates that something was out in the hall and from there, pistons and air brakes hissed and roared like iron dragons. The hydraulic lifts and cranes of the eastern hangar were actually moving and coming for Vanguard! They were alive. They could “see.” Their machine movements were direct, plodding and relentless.
Like the Manta Craft that “jumped” from Africa to Manhattan in seconds, these three mechanized monsters had likewise been inexplicably altered to serve their new purpose!
Then sounds of laser drills, sonic saws and power hammers came from the Mechanical Projects room!
Mother Russia said in English, “We must destroy the Nemesis weapon,” and she looked ready to do it.
Meanwhile, Slingshot and Shelley had watched in astonishment as the hydraulic cranes and lifts came to life and moved south across the now-lit hangar. Before they could react, they heard the engines of the Soviet Star firing up. There was no one inside it! The Star was rotating. If it fired its engines at the two, they would be cooked alive. If it rammed them and “jumped,” there was no telling what would happen!
The eastern wall hangar doors were still open and there was a fuel tank in the SE corner of the hangar!
They could hear Manta Craft engines and helicopter blades from the other hangar, where Forester was!
Strike saw that the silent signal was cut off from the awake, motionless Nemesis, but that the signal still blazed from the Computer Lab where the power nexus was building! (82nd floor, C-1) That signal interacted with the entire base!
Slingshot and Shelley saw the same thing on their scanner!
Silas Caine cursed, “Damn you all. I wish you would have listened. Your folly is inexcusable when you consider the power each of you possesses. I pray we’re not too late.”
The Vanguard Vault was alive and trying to kill Vanguard!!
Current Locations: (see map!)
Avatar, Sentinel, Symbiote, Manetti and Clone were on the way to the infirmary and are currently in the center of the Training Room / Gym (83rd floor, Room G). They are with Siberian, Cosmonaut and Angel, who are all unconscious. Sentinel can still sense where Nemesis is located.
Lightning Strike, Soldier, Mother Russia and Polar Bear were on the way to the Electronics Lab and are currently in Room Q on the SE side of the 85th floor. Silas Caine and Nemesis are with them.
Slingshot and Shelley were on the way to the Electronics Lab and are currently in the east center of the eastern hangar (85th floor, J-1, near the easternmost black circle on the map).
Talon is in the SE elevator shaft, carrying the unconscious Rook, tracking the Vanguard group that is currently in the Training Room.
Forester reported that he was investigating a helicopter in the western hangar (85th floor, H-1). Vanguard knows there are also many big machines in there, and the spare Manta Craft.
Avatar: Hit Points: 40, Power Points: 37, Manifestation: Apollo: Light Powers
Forester: Hit Points: 23, Power Points: 68, Arrows Used: Parachute, Scentx2, Sonic, Acid, Flare, Impact
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 25, Power Points: 69
Sentinel: Hit Points: 18, Power Points: 39, Creation Points: 78, Shields: 78%
Slingshot: Hit Points: 36, Power Points: 88, Invulnerability: 8
Soldier: Hit Points: 39, Power Points: 73, Invulnerability: 8
Symbiote: Hit Points: 59, Power Points: 80, Charges: 10, Copied Russia: S:60 E:22 A:18 I:25 C:13 Invul:8
Talon: Hit Points: 28, Power Points: 75
Clone: Total Bodies: 2. Hit Points: 1, Power Points: 40, Total Hit Point Pool: 2
Dang!Scott is not changing his goal. I'm hoping that his fluidity will get them past the machines and through the hangar before the machines can react. His priority is to keep Shelley alive, of course, no matter how many hit point it'll cost him.
OOC: A couple of quick questions. 1) Does any of this affect Soldier's nanite systems (as they are machine based). 2) Am I within striking distance of Nemesis?
OOC: In the gym, is it like the X-Men danger room in that it is like life-like holograms? In other words, can we just 'shut down' the sequence and it all disappear or leave the confines of the gym and the hostiles not follow? Or is it 'real' threats? How does it work?
At this point it would seem that whatever force has taken control of things has an active presence in their headquarters and should be an energy force that Kirk would feel along with all others - Kirk would try to use his energy sense to understand what is happening here - is there an intelligence in the energy that becomes apparent or does it seem like just another form of energy being used? And with the way this energy is flowing, is it possible that Kirk can use his senses to follow the flow back to its source of entry? If so, and if Kirk realizes he can do that, then next step is to follow the energy trail back to where it has entered their headquarters. Let me know if Kirk is able to do that and if things are working as I'm thinking here so I can inform my teammates and recommend appropriate action.
Soldier wrote: Does any of this affect Soldier's nanite systems (as they are machine based).
GM Reply: Great question. So far, Soldier's nanites, Symbiote's Harper Harness, Slingshot and Shelley's scanner, and everyone's communicators are unaffected by the phenomena. So far.
Soldier wrote: Am I within striking distance of Nemesis?
GM Reply: Yes, with a little movement.
Sentinel wrote: In the gym, is it like the X-Men danger room in that it is like life-like holograms? In other words, can we just 'shut down' the sequence and it all disappear or leave the confines of the gym and the hostiles not follow? Or is it 'real' threats? How does it work?
GM Reply: Doc Rocket and Sgt. Stone have been intentionally mysterious about the workings of the team's new training room, so as not to undermine your training. Vanguard has experienced both holograms and real threats there.
Sentinel wrote: Kirk would try to use his energy sense to understand what is happening here - is there an intelligence in the energy that becomes apparent or does it seem like just another form of energy being used? And with the way this energy is flowing, is it possible that Kirk can use his senses to follow the flow back to its source of entry?
GM Reply: Sentinel can detect that the 'silent signal' blazed forth from the Computer Lab where the power nexus is building! (82nd floor, C-1)
That signal interacts with the entire base and seems to be the culprit.
Two possible actions....
If Hal can pull it off, he will directly attack the gym's defenses to try to disable it. I'm thinking of the odd issue of the X-men where the Danger Room would go haywire (which seemed to happen fairly regularly...hope Professor X kept his warranties on the installation) and Cyclops would blast a panel which would short circuit the whole works and de-activate the room.
If Symbiote thinks this will work, he'll try it--tear off a panel on the wall with Mother Russia's super strength and rip out a cable that feeds the master control to the gym computer or whatever. He'll do this ONLY if he believes this will shut the room down and not leave it permanently turned on, an effect he'd really, REALLY like to avoid right now...
If there is no such cable to a master control nexus, or if Hal doesn't know about it (or fails his intellect roll to realize where it is), he'll take the more direct route. It's Clobberin' Time for that robot.
Viva Vanguard (and Happy Holidays),
OOC Kev - Loved the posting - great stuff!
Kirk adds to Hal's words, "Our Clone was a man of honor and sacrificed his life fighting at our side to save this city - his choice was your choice. It's an honor to have you at our side now."
As Kirk concentrated trying to sort through his energy perceptions he noticed that although the Vault's tech was being activated against them, the tech not directly connected to the headquarter's system's was not currently infected.
Kirk activated his communicator and broadcast the following message to all his teammates,
"It appears that the point of entry for the silent signal and the nexus of the power controlling the Vault is the computer lab. The Vault's attacks are the symptom - we need to get to the source to stop them. I'd suggest that all of us that can converge on the computer lab to stop this madness and finally get some answers."
At that point Kirk turned to the team with him and said, "I'm going to the lab and I'd suggest that everything else has become secondary in importance.” If he can determine the power source that Symbiote is searching for within the training room he will point it out to Hal.
Whether the rest of the team follows or not, Kirk will use his action to evade, trying to avoid anything the Vault throws at him along the way and trying to get to the computer lab and the means to put an end to this. Kirk would engage the threats directly only if necessary and more to deflect their attacks from himself or a teammate and his first choice would be to simply avoid them and get to the lab (and if a bunch of mechanized threats want to follow him to the lab, that's fine - stopping them directly would be a waste of time and energy since the Vault would just activate more). Hopefully his movement will be enough to get him there for next issue.
Talon will reverse his direction of travel and fly back up the elevator shaft. His main priority is the safety of the Rook, so if he feels the area outside the elevator staft presents any danger he will continue to carry him.
He plans to make his way back to the group, but if he passes Slingshot and Shelley he will accompany them to assist where he can.
With only two Hit Points ( one each if I divide into two ) I can't imagine that I'm going to be a huge asset to the team in a scrap. So instead of getting myself knocked out I'm going to have Clone grab/carry Angel and drag/carry him to safety. If the quickest and safest egress from the room is through the hole that was opened up in the wall then he'll head through that. If at all possible - he would like to take a quick peek ( as he is grabbing him -OR- after he gets him to safety ) at what Angel was working on. If what ever it was could have something to do with how the room is behaving, perhaps he could simply reverse what ever Angel did or complete whatever it was he was trying to do, and maybe turn-off the room. Should the situation call for it - Clone will use his body as a human shield to protect Angel from harm.
OOC: Question for ya Jeff - Being that Clone is by no means a physical powerhouse, or able to fly, or a highly skilled combatant, etc . . . I've been trying to come up with clever ways to utilize his Cloning Ability. Is it possible for Clone to determine from what part of his body his duplicates emerge from? For example: If he was locked behind a door, and could slip his hand underneath the door, could he have a duplicate emerge from his finger tips on the other side; then reabsorb himself ( leaving just the one Clone on the other side of the door ), and thus bypass the locked door completely? Or do Clone's duplicates emerge from his torso area? - just wondering. Talk to you all soon, -Kev To all of us celebrating Christmas this year - have a merry and safe one. =)
Clone/Kev, Let me think about the power question. My gut reaction is the entire body emerges, full size, from Clone in a horizontal motion away from the original. Almost like a double image that then separates.
Cool tricks like what you're describing might require a Luck Point to learn to do. I really like the idea.
Also, we talked about the way that a size change guy sometimes uses the force of his growth to add damage to a hth attack. Maybe that's another stunt for Clone?
Hope everyone had a great Christmas. Kids wore me out but we managed to survive it. Anyway, I have a little time to catch up so here is Lightning Strike's late reply.
Strike realizes that cutting Nemesis off appears to have had no effect on the power flow, in fact it appears to have made things worse. "Obviously there is some truth to what Caine is telling us but as usual he holds back the critical information." He speaks to the group near him. "Do not destroy Nemesis yet. He may still be the key to getting out of this alive. I am going to attempt to trace this to the source. I am not sure I can maintain my electrical integrity but I know we can't defeat every electrical device in the city. I would recommend going to the area with the least vulnerable electrical devices, perhaps the kitchen or break rooms."
With that, Strike assumes electrical form (probably never to be heard from again) and heads to the power nexus. Before going to the nexus, he will attempt to burn out the electrical conduits into the room where everyone is. Hopefully this will cut off the nonwireless attacks.
Once on his way to the nexus, he will attempt to vary his own electrical signature so that he will make it as difficult as possible to suck him into the stream. Once in the nexus, he will attempt to trace where the electricity is going and attempt to find any sign of sentient energy to track who or what is controlling everything.
Hopefully all of this can fit into a turn.
Take care all,
OK guys, sorry for the delay, but RL intervened, and after holding this up for close to a week, I'm finally able to post my responses, and wish you guys a happy and safe holiday season. As for Soldier's actions. Once I spot the various nasties working their way toward us, I back off, and try to make sure I've got some room to work in. I also move toward Silas Caine and state IC: "I'm seriously considering leaving you here, but I think we'd all be better off know exactly what it is you're up to." I then grab him up by the scruff of his neck, and pull him away from anything headed our way.
I'll save any actions I have left, while I scan for a way to get us out of here. If we're attacked out right, I'll do my best to shield Silas from harm, and then strike. If the other's are up for making a dash to safety, is their a fire ext. handy? I think a good solid strike by me, should create enough of a diversion for use to get a clean get-away.
One last question. Do my sensor systems notice any changes in things like the heat signatures the machines are putting off?