Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vanguard: Issue 126: At the Crossroads of Infinity!

Vanguard had awoken from a madhouse into a strange, otherworldly landscape where they were ambushed by the Crimson Coven, and defeated them!

Soldier and Zephyr scanned the area with their superhuman senses and found no hidden surprises. Soldier and Symbiote bound the defeated members of the Crimson Coven, the Warlock, Demonoid, Black Dragon, the Witch, Superstition and Le Fou, with the shredded cloaks of the Warlock, Black Dragon and Superstition. The Fallen was now just an empty suit of armor and the Golem was a statue of stone. Clone examined the motionless Golem and spied letters etched in its forehead, just like his grandma said.

It was decided that the team would further divide. Lightning Strike, Soldier, Talon and Zephyr would scout ahead, searching for Sentinel and Slingshot. “Be careful Hal,” Shelley said as they departed into the misty wilderness of this otherworldly place.

Avatar, Clone, Menagerie and Symbiote stayed behind to interrogate Warlock and get some answers. In time, they awoke the bound sorcerer, who started in a seething rant: “Insignificant sheep! Release me now or I’ll condemn your immortal souls, I swear it!” Vanguard watched him closely in case he attempted to work his dread sorcery. Clone also stood guard over the rest of the incapacitated team of sorcerous supervillains, catching his breath.

“Where are we?!” commanded Avatar.

“Blind, ignorant child, who holds the power of the gods! You are so far out of your league, so far beyond your ken. Give to me the power of the Pantheon now and I shall forgive this impudence,” the Warlock snarled. “I will even let you live. This is your last chance.”

Clone again detected the faint accent of an educated, aristocratic Muscovite.

“Where are we?!” repeated Avatar.

The Warlock spat, “You are so very far from the fields you know. You are all in grave danger. In your pathetic condition of ignorance, you and your henchmen have no chance to survive here.
Surrender! This plane of existence intersects with all dimensions in the multiverse! Can you even comprehend that?! You stand before the nexus of infinity, with the understanding of an ant!”

Menagerie said: “You’ve tapped into a mystical power source of some kind. Explain it.”

The Warlock grew quiet as he took the measure of the magical Menagerie. He looked around, observing at the defeated Coven members. “Yes we have. One as old as the universes. You’ve no chance to defeat the Coven. Even now, my allies who remain free are readying a counterattack. Release me and I will spare your lives!”

Symbiote said, “You have another ally, don’t you?” “Yes,” smiled the Warlock darkly. “Woe unto you, my patron is a celestial denizen of this intersection of infinity and eternity.”He looked directly at Avatar with hateful defiance. “A cosmic being you cannot hope to withstand.The Dark Avatar of the Proto-Pantheon!” Further questions proved fruitless. The Warlock only insisted that they surrender immediately or die!

(OOC: Replies/Actions/ Plans?!)

Meanwhile, Lightning Strike, Soldier, Talon and Zephyr discovered that the battle had occurred in a ruin of some sort, littered with broken white marble architecture and statuary. The land ‘north’ of the ruin was a barren, dry wilderness. No landmarks, only pale mist beneath the red night sky.

Distances proved hard to judge in this silent land. They were perhaps a mile out from the unseen pentagram when, in the distance, rising above the moonlit mists, they saw a pale silhouette. It seemed to be the soaring towers of a mighty city! None of Vanguard’s vanguard recognized it. The architectural style was different than anything they’d seen before, even at the Lost Lands or on the Star Giant. But entwined within it were elements that reminded them of Hellenic Greek architecture!

They moved closer, across the cracked ground of the barren wilderness. Soon they might have been a quarter mile from the city! From here they could see the mysterious megalopolis at last! A massive city of an impossibly advanced civilization, cast in ruin! (imagine Asgard after Ragnarok, if you dare!) The city and the dream it represented were utterly broken asunder. Within the fallen towers could clearly be seen Greek motifs in the unrecognizable, futuristic architecture. The materials seemed like stone and metal. Lightning Strike and Soldier detected no energy source within it, and Zephyr and Talon detected no movement.
(OOC: In the sight of this, Soldier and Lightning Strike make their Cool rolls, and Talon and Zephyr miss theirs.)
Talon and Zephyr were momentarily awestruck at the wondrous cataclysm of the ancients!

Soldier discovered a crater up ahead. Upon examination, Talon found two big, deep footprints at the bottom of it. Around the crater were found two sets of fresh footprints, one big and one small. The big set never left the crater, but the smaller footprint set did, running toward the mighty city!
(OOC: Replies/Actions/ Plans?!)

Meanwhile, Sentinel and Slingshot were a quarter mile from the cataclysm of the ancients! Baron Samedi said to them: “By now your friend is as broken as his birt-place. The unimagined power of de gods will be ours! Haahahaahaha!”

Sentinel echoed their treacherous tour guide’s laughter and said, “Well you have to admit, it’s sort of amusing that here you are claiming this place is “where ‘de Loa’ dwelled”, that with your motif, clearing advocating the belief of a monotheistic God even though you’d serve his enemy, what, with you being undead (and as he said those words he shot a quick glance to Slingshot) and evil and all, but then in the next sentence you speak of claiming his power, power that is attributed to Pantheon of Greek Gods.”

Samedi did a gleeful little dance of twisted mirth: “Panteon of Greek Gods?! Is dat what you tink?! Hahaha! Here, one sees what dey want, even more than usual, and you boys have @#$%^&* blinded you-selves! Hahahahaha!!”

Sentinel said, “Since this all seems to be a big ‘kick’ for you, since you’ve already been to the city there, you’ve got to have some last minute advice for those of us ‘going to meet our maker’ for the first time?”

Samedi couldn’t resist. “@#$%&* abandon hope all ye who entah here! Hahahaaah!”

Slingshot gripped Sentinel from mid-air and leapt at the city of eternity, leaving Samedi’s black laughter far behind. Sentinel actively scanned the area but only detected the energy trail they had tracked.

The two friends entered the ruin of the lost ancients.

Upon passing beneath the shattered titanic towers of stone and steel they could see the silent city better. Clearer somehow. Or was it what Samedi had said that opened their eyes? Altered their expectations? For now within the architecture they saw Greek motifs, and Norse motifs, and Babylonian motifs, and Chinese and Aztec and Ancient Egyptian and African and Incan and more. All entwined and interlaced.
It was Ragnarok and Armageddon and Apocalypse and The Fall and The Death of the Gods and among this unimaginable scale and disaster wandered two tiny figures who slowly moved toward what seemed to be the center. (OOC: Both heroes make their Cool rolls this time)

They came into a large open area near the center of the World’s Ending, what might have once been a gathering place of the dead gods. There was a great temple before them whose architecture was a dizzying amalgam of the pantheons of the world. The temple, and the entire square, radiated with the energy that Sentinel had tracked!

Before the heroes could act, the mist that covered the stone ground of the entire ruin, perhaps this entire world, undulated and writhed and within its vaporous tendrils, they could see images… visions.

In the mist, Sentinel saw Dr. Swastika! Defeated years ago by the first incarnation of Vanguard, the master telepath escaped and hid himself within Sentinel’s mind, but not for long. For when Kirk next met his grandfather, Swastika could not resist. He possessed Lancaster, just as he had possessed all the slaves of his Body Farm! It was not Lancaster who taught Kirk telepathy, but Swastika! Did Lancaster ever have that power?! Dr. Swastika had defeated his greatest enemy, the golden age Sentinel, and used his form to raise his heir as his own son, even manipulating Kirk to become the leader of Vanguard! Grooming Kirk to become his new champion in the cause of fascism! All while Lancaster screamed for years, as unheard as Miles Hudson, from within the prison of his own mind!

In the mist, Slingshot saw the future. There, everything he had detected in the eyes of his friends came true. Nanite’s baby was IT’s son; the Entity’s biological trojan horse program into this dimension. Nanite’s son, Slingshot’s son, would threaten the world, or so Vanguard said. Slingshot saw himself and Nanite standing beside their child, facing their former friends, the heroes of Vanguard (save Avatar) who had come to take their baby, for the good of mankind!
Slingshot was the most powerful member of Vanguard. And for his child to live, his friends would have to die. For Vanguard would never rest, never let them be, never let their child be. To judge from the age of the happy, healthy baby in the vision, this would all transpire in less than a year. The outcome of this harrowing conflict was unshown, but one thing was certain: on that day Vanguard would be torn apart forever!

Current Conditions:
Avatar Hit Points: 25 Power Points: 37 Manifesting: Heightened Strength and Speed
Clone Bodies: 12 Hit Points: 1 each Power Points: 43 Hit Pool: 12
Lightning Strike Hit Points: 36 Power Points: 51
Menagerie Hit Points: 14 Power Points: 51 Form: Man
Sentinel Hit Points: 19 Power Points: 18 Shields: 28 Creation Points: 36
Slingshot Hit Points: 44 Power Points: 73 Invulnerability: 8
Soldier Hit Points: 19 Power Points: 61 Invulnerability: 8
Symbiote Hit Points: 18 Power Points: 59 Charges: 13 Copied: Strike
Talon Hit Points: 38 Power Points: 43
Zephyr Hit Points: 13 Power Points: 58 Charges: 9 Armor: 25


Continuing to be on guard for any suspicious activity, Soldier will continue to scan the area, and relay what information he can gather to his team mates. IC: "Guys, I don't know about the rest of you, but I've got a really uneasy feeling about this. It's just to damned quiet. I suggest we all remain on alert, and take it slow and easy from here." He'll look for a decent spot they can lay up in, and get a better look at the area, without exposing themselves. He'll also scan the area for possible escape routes in case they have to make a hasty retreat. While this is going on, he'll also have his systems run a self diagnostic, as he's been taking a beating.


To Harold: can Avatar summon either the two people he saw here before? I think it was Penumbra and Oracle. I think Avatar was told this was a dream before, could we be in a dream now (double layered like Inception)? or was the prior experience really a dream?

To remaining Vanguard team: I think we have two choices, either try to catch up with the others or see if we can use the envirnoment to regain part or all of Avatar's memory. I am willing to use a luck point to make that happening. Maybe a joining of Menagerie's Heightened Senses: Nature Sense with Avatar's Magic Power: In Step with the Universe & Athena: Cosmic Awareness.

While I wouldn't expect it to remove his Amnesia weakness maybe we can find out about this place, it power source, and what the heck 'Dark Avatar' means.

What is the team's thought on this?

I hate being clueless!


OOC:Oh – oh, I have a feeling Jeff may be taking us to a ‘bad place’. A place filed with some really scary people, places and things . . . oh my! So I’m going to go with my gut and go with some assumptions in my IC Response. I wouldn’t normally do something like that, but Jeff seems ( at least to me ) to be dropping a few clues ( or red herrings ) my way. If I’m wrong in my assumption – that’s a good thing, if I’m right – then that’s a very, very bad thing.

IC: As Clone examined the motionless form of the granite giant, he noticed a few letters etched into the creature’s forehead. He remembered the stories his grandmother told him as a boy, as he slowly picked up a nearby stone and raised it high above his head.One of the other Clones then spoke in Ukrainian to some of the other close by duplicates in a low tone,”We must get out of this place . . . it is . . . “ Before he finished his sentence he whirled his head around to make sure that the Warlock could not hear him, confident that he couldn’t he continued,”. . . it is . . . evil.”The duplicate then smashed the rock down onto the Golems forehead. “CRACK!”

As if completely unsurprised by this brutal bludgeoning, the Clone duplicates continue their ‘hush-hush’ conversation in Ukrainian.“I agree . . . this place, these people . . . they are all evil,” said one of the duplicates. Another Clone then nonchalantly gestures at the Warlock and breaks into the whispered conversation,”Can it really be him?” “No . . . it’s not possible,” one of the duplicates whispered in a nervous and unconvincing tone. “It has to be . . .” asserted another,” . . . look at all the signs, it must be him.”“KA-RACK!” Another blow landed solidly on the earthen goliath’s forehead. The conversation rolled on between the duplicates and began to take on the appearance to the other members of Vanguard of a bunch of old Ukrainian wash-women gossiping behind their backs.

One of the Clones then pointed at the Witch and said,”Do you see her?” He then pointed at the Golem and continued,”And him . . . do you see him? They look like they stepped right out of the story books, and they are real . . . so why is it so hard to believe that he is not who he seems to be?” One of the duplicates then leaned in and whispered with a tone of insistence in his voice,”Why!? Because he is dead – that is why!”“CRRACKK!” The rock dropped heavily upon the Golem’s head once again.

“You heard the accent in his voice, and you heard his words - I’ll condemn your immortal souls, I swear it, and you saw his magic . . . it has to be him! There is no other explanation,”responded one of the duplicates. An eerie silence then fell over the conversation, and after a few moments one of the Clones finally asked,”So if it is him, what should we do with him? We can’t just do nothing – if it is him we have to do something. At the very least we should warn the others.” One of the duplicates then spoke up in a more leveled headed manner and made a suggestion,”Wait . . . before we go and scare everyone, lets see if he’ll tell us who he is first. If its not him, then we have nothing to worry about, but if it is him . . .”

The duplicates then all stopped for a moment to just stare at each other. They looked at each other as if they were trying to figure out which one of them they were going to volunteer to approach Warlock and talk to him. Before any of them could even utter another sentence, they all turned to look at the duplicate that was slamming the rock into Golem’s head. The Clone had changed his pace with the rock and was now feverously chipping away at the creatures head as if trying to remove something from it.

One of the duplicates then steps forward and looks directly at the Warlock. His gaze lingers for a moment on the menacing mystic before he asks him in Russian,”You . . . Warlock . . . what is your name?”

( OOC: If Warlock should respond with anything other then a ‘real’ name; John Smith for example, Clone will then ask him,”No . . . your birth name, the name your mother gave to you.” )

I’m sure you already know what the duplicate with the rock is doing, Jeff, but just incase – he is trying to remove the first letter/symbol of the writing engraved on the Golem’s forehead. If the rock doesn’t seem to be doing the trick he may ask Avatar for a knife or something and try doing it with that.I hope I’m going in the right direction with the whole ‘Warlock’s name’ thing, Jeff.

Hopefully I didn’t take your clues/red herrings and do the old ‘2+2=5’ thing. lol
Oh and by the way – just in case I didn’t make it obvious enough – yes – Clone was having a conversation with himself lol. I’m basically trying to show how Clone’s powers might interact with his personality/psyche. Anyone can have a conversation with themselves in their own head, or debate with themselves over a topic within the sanctity of their own thoughts, but what if you could split yourself up into a dozen or more duplicates of yourself – how would that conversation go? Hopefully I pulled it off well – I’ll keep looking for new ways to work Clone’s powers and weaknesses into his personality, but I have to admit its tough at times.

With regards to Avatar's memory loss, I have a feeling the answer to that lies beyond the boundaries of the area we're currently in - perhaps with the 'Dark Avatar'. As far as the 'Dark Avatar' is concerned, I'm guessing that he may be the 'power source' and that he may be the evil opposite of our Avatar. I'm of course basing all of that on pure speculation and hunches since I have absolutely no concrete way of knowing anything definitive about any of that stuff

As for catching up with the rest of the team - I'm guessing thats probably the way we'll go unless I can get something solid out of Warlock. If he is who I think he is, my recognizing him ( and maybe stroking his ego a bit ) may give him a slight case of 'diarrhea of the mouth' - who knows - only time ( aka: the next issue ) will tell.
Talk to you all soon,


If Clone's further questions of the Warlock produce any more useful information, Symbiote will allow it to continue.

If Warlock just keeps monologuing and snarling out threats, Symbiote will put his hand on the Sinister Spell Slinger's shoulder...and shock him back into unconsciousness.

"Well, that wasn't very helpful was it?" Hal says sardonicly. "Guys, at this point I see nothing else to do but follow the others."


Avatar will listen to anything else the Warlock has to say, especially as it relates to this Dark Avatar business. He's willing to try to regain his memory as Menagerie suggests if Jeff will allow it. If all of this is a dead end, however, he agrees our next step is to catch up with the others.


Kirk knew it. He just knew it! He was looking everywhere for the presence of that vile infection – there was no way his malicious presence had just faded away. But this, he was afraid to even think something this bad could have happened. It was his worst nightmare, that Swastika once again caused only the pain he could, stealing life and free will … so close it home … it was Kirk’s greatest fear!

… It was Kirk’s greatest fear …

Kirk grabbed the arm of Slingshot, trying to ground them both in what passed for reality in the recent moments of their lives and said, “This is the same as the institution we woke up in moments ago! I just saw my worst nightmare and I’d guess you are confronting your current greatest fear too. Reject it!”

Kirk took a half step forward symbolically placing himself between Slingshot and whatever this … thing … was. Although he knew Slingshot was much more physically resilient, he supposed that this sort of mental onslaught was much more up his own alley. It was this sort of threat that caused him to pursue the mental disciplines, and there was no way he’d back down, especially with one of his closest friends and allies at his side. Kirk scanned the area with his energy sense and then activated his mental ‘read’ towards the cause of the ‘vision’. If it was a sentient, he would know its thoughts … if not, at least he would know they were dealing with a force of nature rather than a thinking being.

Kirk focused his shields between them and the mist – it was more of a mental focus with the shields manifesting it physically. His will was focused in defiance of all they had experienced and this place and ready to protect them if somehow possible.

“We won’t fall prey to the lust for power you hold over the Coven, nor will we give in to the despair you attempt to reap upon us! While I don’t subscribe to the notions of an ultimate God authority, I do realize there are beings of greater power that would fancy themselves as such. We’ve met one. It didn’t go well for him. If you were a god, certainly your actions have shown yourself as a malevolent one. I’m saddened by the prospect of those who would follow you. Enough of these games! Show yourself and make your intentions known.”

Kirk waited for an acknowledgement. If they got nothing then he would move ahead into the mist and into whatever was there (up to Slingshot if he will join him) – his teammates needed him to do something here to help!


Lightning Strike:
Strike scouts around the crater, looking to see if it freshly made or has been there a while. Does the crater appear to be made from the impact of something? I would assume that whatever made the crater is no longer in the crater. Once we discover the footprints we might as well follow them and head into the city. Hopefully these footprints were made by the missing members of Vanguard. Strike speaks to the others, "We should keep our guard up as if this crater is recent, we don't want to end up in another one of them. Hopefully this city will provide us with some answers and perhaps a way out of this place. It seems pretty clear that someone or something other than the coven brought us here and did so in a way that left us no memory of being transported here. We may be dealing with powers beyond even our comprehension."

Strike will begin following the prints but remain watchful. He is also concerned that given that everything appears in ruins, there may be no power source available to recharge so the longer he stays here, the more conservative he will need to be in using his powers.

Take care all,


Slingshot shook his head at the vision in the mist. Hearing his comrade's plea to reject this new fear mongering vision, it made sense. All this was nothing but another ruse to keep them from approaching further. Another trick. Using the pain that the vision brought on to fuel his resolve. Slingshot moved on and followed Sentinel. They needed to see this to its end.


OOC: Avatar, Clone, Menagerie and Symbiote: Regarding catching up with the others: The fastest way I can figure is if Avatar uses his heightened strength and speed to carry the rest of you and run at hundreds of miles per hour.

This would work best if Clone became one body again, and if Menagerie chose a smaller form.

Would you two agree to this? Are there any other ideas for a faster mode of travel?



OOC: Heh. Harold and I recently went through something similar in our D & D campaign, in which the fastest way for my rather frail magic user to travel out of a situation would've been for him to ride on a chest carried with poles by two sturdy dwarves. Being me, I joked about leaning back and having the player character in the back feed me grapes.

So yeah, I have no problem with being carried by my manservant Avatar. As long as he has a mid-flight snack and drink tray...;)


OOC: No problem


Menagerie will turn into the small creature that he can, the eagle, to be carried.



OOC: If my Power Points were still where they were after the fight with the Crimson Coven I might have been a little concerned about re-absorbing my duplicates, but since they're back up a bit I have absolutely no qualms with going back to just one Clone.Really looking forward to the next issue!