Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vanguard: Issue 127: Secret Origins!

Vanguard had awoken from a madhouse into a strange, otherworldly landscape where they were ambushed by the Crimson Coven, and defeated them! The team divided. Avatar, Clone, Menagerie and Symbiote stayed behind to interrogate Warlock and get some answers. “Where are we?!” demanded 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 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!”

A Clone chiseled feverishly at the motionless Golem’s forehead. (Clone’s Folklore skill tells him to hit the right-most letter because the word he wishes to alter is written in Hebrew, which is read from right to left!) KRACK! Clone destroyed the “first” letter of the word emet. Doing so changed its meaning from “truth” to “death,” or met, and the Golem suddenly crumbled to dust in a landslide of obliteration!

Another Clone stepped forward and looked directly at the Warlock. His gaze lingered for a moment on the menacing mystic before he asked him in Russian, “You . . . Warlock . . . what is your name?”
The Warlock was seething at the destruction of his creation. He stared directly into Clone’s eyes and replied in Russian, “Peasant, if you have any notion as to who I truly am then you, more than any of these sheep, know that you had best release me now or suffer consequences too horrible to consider!”

The Clone felt himself compelled to obey! The other Clones were somehow aware of this, and could not act to stop him! The Clone began to untie the Warlock!

Symbiote didn’t speak Russian but he knew something was happening that he didn’t like. He put his hand on the sinister sorcerer’s shoulder and shocked him back into unconsciousness! ZERAP!!!

The Clones snapped out of it! Their free will was restored.

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

“Wait,” said Menagerie. “There is another path.” The mysterious mystic approached Avatar. “I believe this place can help trigger a return of your memories. I would like to help you.”

Avatar said distantly, “Thank you. I am willing to try.”

Menagerie extended his magical senses into Avatar as the demigod manifested the Cosmic Awareness of Athena! The two gasped in awe! (each spend one Luck Point)

Clone and Symbiote stood guard over the Warlock and the Crimson Coven, and saw Avatar and Menagerie reeling from the sensation of hurtling awareness!

Avatar remembered, and Menagerie saw, Avatar’s origin because it was linked to this plane of existence!

Alone of all men, he was given the power of the Pantheon! He was their cosmic champion, their immortal avatar! He may have even been Heracles, Bellerophon, Achilles, Theseus and Odysseus!

But unseen enemies destroyed the Pantheon and hunted the Avatar! Killing him would only trigger his reincarnation and rebirth. So instead they destroyed his memory! Leaving him lost and wandering the world of Men for centuries. And in such a condition of lost identity, the Avatar could not be detected or found!

So he lay hidden, and all but forgotten, through the ages. He fought as a soldier in the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, World Wars I and II, and more, being reincarnated whenever killed, but never regaining his true memory.

Finally, the lost champion died in a car accident and was reborn into the infant body of John Poulos, over 20 years ago. Struggling with his lost identity, the superhero renaissance of the 21st century inspired him to become the hero Kairos, not understanding his past, his purpose, or his destiny.

The sorceress supervillain Penumbra wondered if Kairos was the fabled lost Avatar and tested him while posing as a member of Homicide For Hire. Convinced of his true identity, she tried to fool the amnesiac Avatar into serving her, but the attempt failed by a stroke of luck!

Then John was finally recognized by the Oracle for who he was. The Oracle told John what little she knew of the Pantheon and the Avatar. This restored part of the cosmic champion’s memory and with it the power to manifest the Pantheon, and thus was he made visible again to those who searched for him.

Otom the Seer found him first and warned him that in his psychically wounded, incomplete state he could not survive what faced him. So, for the good of the Pantheon, he should bequeath the power to him. John resisted.

Now, the Crimson Coven have come, wanting the power of the Avatar, of the Pantheon, for their own nefarious purposes, and those of their patron, the Dark Avatar!

Menagerie and Avatar’s perception returned to their surroundings. They had learned much of Avatar, but little of the Dark Avatar.

Avatar was quiet for a long moment. Then he said, “Let’s catch up to the others.”

Clone became one body. Menagerie took the shape of Eagle. And with his mighty strength and speed, Avatar would bear his team mates as he hurtled into the mists to find their friends.

They soon discovered that the battle with the Crimson Coven had occurred in a ruin of some sort, littered with broken white marble architecture and statuary. The land beyond 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 recognized it. The architectural style was different than anything they’d seen before, even at the Lost Lands.

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. Entwined within the fallen towers of stone and steel could be seen subtle Greek motifs within the unrecognizable, futuristic architecture.

Symbiote detected no electrical power within his range.

(OOC: In the sight of this Armageddon of Olympus, everyone succeeds on their Cool Rolls, thanks to Avatar’s noble powers.

Replies/Actions/ Plans?!)


Moments earlier Lightning Strike, Soldier, Talon and Zephyr, who had scouted ahead searching for Sentinel and Slingshot, stood near this very place. They had crossed the weird wilderness and discovered the ruined city of unimaginably advanced technology! A quarter mile out was a small crater with footprints across it.

Soldier scanned the area with his cybernetic sensor array. His self diagnostic reported all systems functioning. "Guys, I don't know about the rest of you, but I've got a really uneasy feeling about this. It's just too damned quiet. I suggest we all remain on alert, and take it slow and easy from here."

Zephyr nodded and flew straight up into the sky to serve as lookout.
Talon examined the small, empty crater closely. “The crater is recent. I bet Slingshot made it when he landed. These are his footprints going into the city. If the second pair is Sentinel’s, why isn’t he flying?”
Strike said, "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."

The four heroes 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. 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 the Apocalypse and the Fall and The Death of the Gods and among this unimaginable scale and disaster wandered four tiny figures who tracked the footprints toward the heart of the cataclysm. (OOC: Our heroes make their Cool rolls)

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 gods. There was a great temple before them whose architecture was a dizzying amalgam of the pantheons of the world. The temple was black and was not, unlike everything around it, in a state of ruin!

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, Lightning Strike saw the future! There, Silas Caine became the President of the United States of America! Then he began a culture war that divided the world into human and metahuman! Superheroes and supervillains found themselves on the same side! Vanguard was forced to defend itself against CHESS and the other armed forces! Thousands died in the war, including members of Vanguard! All because of one man, Silas Caine. And it all could have been averted if Strike hadn’t saved Caine’s life!

In the mist, Soldier saw his father! Uncertain about the resolve of his son, General Steele sent him on a phony mission whose only purpose was to test him! The Patriot was acting on the general’s behalf, to see if Soldier would join him! That’s why his lair was filled with CHESS issue weapons and gear! That’s why Ashe survived the plane wreck! That’s why the Patriot surrendered without a fight! The entire mission was a sham. After it, General Steele said, “Well done son. I knew you would follow orders and complete the mission.” Matt knew his father well enough to know when he was lying. And he was lying then. Because Soldier’s father wanted him to join forces with the Patriot in an unauthorized, illegal military action against America’s enemies!

In the mist, Talon saw the future! He saw himself lose control in battle and kill his friends and loved ones! When he finally regained control, members of Vanguard lay around him, cut into bloody ribbons by his hand. Talon was hunted like an animal by the survivors of Vanguard and CHESS until he was finally apprehended. He was locked down, restrained and imprisoned deep within CHESS Castle where he would spend the rest of his life behind bars!

OOC: Replies/Actions/ Plans?!


Moments earlier, Slingshot and Sentinel stood in this very place and also encountered the Nightmare Mists!

After entering the ruin of the lost ancients at the crossroads of infinity and eternity, Slingshot and Sentinel came into a large open area near the center of the World’s Ending, what might once have 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!

The temple was black and was not, unlike everything around it, in a state of ruin!

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. Visons of their worst nightmares come true!

Sentinel 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.

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.
Sentinel’s telepathic scan detected a mind within the black temple that suddenly shielded itself and disappeared from his extranormal perception!

Sentinel said: “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.”

No answer.

Sentinel steeled his determination and pushed ahead toward the futuristic and ancient temple.

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.

What light there was inside the black temple emanated from Sentinel’s faltering energy shields. Through the darkness they saw more of that hybrid archeology of the human race. There a great, long rectangular hall lined with towering statues of godlike figures! In the center was a black altar.

Their eyes and Sentinel’s metahuman senses detected no others present with them in this mighty hall.

The statues were familiar and strange; the same sensation of cultural fusion that possessed the dead city. These figures were gods, but not like those of Olympus or Valhalla. They were the others. Gods and goddesses of Death and Hell, of Misery and Tragedy. Gods of Nightmare and Terror. Of Madness and Despair. Of Fear and Horror. Darkness and Shadow. Discord and Destruction. They were akin to Hades and Hecate, Hela and Loki, Set and Nergal, Yen-lo Wang and Mictian, Shiva, Morpheus and Thanatos.

This was the Pantheon of Evil.

And into their sacristy strode their Dark Avatar and she was terrible to behold. (see image)

(OOC: Cool rolls upon sight! Sentinel succeeds. Slingshot fails and suffers a -3 penalty to all d20 rolls in the immediate future)

From the opposite end of the long hall she stopped and faced them. Her voice was seductive and her proposition was straightforward:

“Serve me.”

To be continued!

At this point you both still have free will.


Current Conditions:

Avatar: Hit Points: 25, Power Points: 22, Manifesting: Htd Strength & Speed, Cosmic Awrnss*
Clone: Bodies: 1, Hit Points: 12, Power Points: 48, Hit Pool: 12
Menagerie: Hit Points: 14; Power Points: 55, Form: Eagle
Symbiote: Hit Points: 18, Power Points: 59, Charges: 13, Copied: Strike
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 36, Power Points: 51
Soldier: Hit Points: 19, Power Points: 61, Invulnerability: 8
Talon: Hit Points: 38, Power Points: 43
Zephyr: Hit Points: 13, Power Points: 58, Charges: 9, Armor: 25
Sentinel: Hit Points: 19, Power Points: 18, Shields: 28, Creation Points: 36
Slingshot: Hit Points: 44, Power Points: 73, Invulnerability: 8, -3 to all rolls

*Avatar’s Heightened Strength and Speed will fade in 4 more minutes, and his Power Points are very low.


[OOC] Awesome! That is very cool story! Could we be at the home of the Patheon?

As we traveled was there any sign of the second party traveling the same path?

Can Menagerie in his eagle form see any movement within the city?

Can Menagerie detect any danger?

Can Menagerie detect any hidden symbols that would tell us what this city is?

Can Menagerie detect hidden to find tracks or other signs that the missing member of Vanguard has been this way?

Viva Vanguard



OOC Replies to Menagerie:

At the tremendous speeds you travelled, none of you could detect signs of any party traveling the same path.

Menagerie in his eagle form detects no movement within the city at this range, a quarter mile out. If he took to the air, it might improve his chances. Does he do so?

Menagerie detects no immediate danger, but this entire environment is disconcerting, of course.

From this range, Menagerie detects no hidden symbols that would tell what this city is.

Now that your party has stopped momentarily, Menagerie may attempt to detect hidden to find tracks or other signs that the missing members of Vanguard have been this way. Does he do so? In Eagle form? If yes, at what height does he fly? How far does he roam from the party? Thanks.



OOC: Yes Menagerie will take to the air.
He will fly upwards of 40 ft and start circling outward at 5 feet and growing to 5 ft increments where he will check/spot with the other Vanguard members before enlarging the circle again. He will stop at 50 yards circling pattern and then return to Vanguard.




SKRAAA! The man in the shape of an eagle soared into the scarlet sky!
From his sharp eyes saw movement within the city. Tiny figures on foot, near its center.
Spiraling outward, he spied a crater in the misty wilderness, not far from his group. Descending to get a better view, he found it covered with footprints, at least six sets walking around the area!
Only two sets approached the crater, from the direction of the battle with the Crimson Coven.
Two different sets left the crater in the direction of the mysterious metropolis.
One deep set was in the center of the small crater.

Tracking those footprints from the air proved hard due to the mist that seemingly covered this world. It would have to be done from the ground.


OOC: Hi guys. I'm looking forward to the big read of everything going on... especially with 'c' appearing last issue.

IC inquiry/initial thoughts:

Hopefully we can get input back from some of our skills to help determine our next actions before the issue.

From Kirk's energy sense - anything else 'live' in the area as being a source of power or just the altar?

Kirk whispers to Slingshot, "Do you see any weaknesses in the structural integrity of this place where we can take it down? Or at least bring the roof down on the altar and destroy it?" hoping his engineering and architectural knowledge will give them an edge here.

Both Kirk and Slingshot can do damage to the inanimate structure as part of their 'movement' and still have a direct action (if I recall game rules correctly) so at this point, he wants to figure a way to take down 'the house' or if not possible, bring down a portion of it on whatever may be the source of power or gateway of power (which I'm figuring for now is the altar unless the energy sense indicates more).

I think we've got a better shot of doing more 'damage' for the better of the team that way than in a direct confrontation with the Dark Avatar given our current physical conditions and power level (at least for Kirk) - although likely we won't be avoiding the direct confrontation either.

Once we determine if or how much of that is possible then we can determine our 'action'.

At least that's my best plan for the moment.



Hi guys.

Sentinel quickly scanned the chamber with his energy sense. This temple was the source of the energy current that was connected to the site of the battle between Vanguard and the Crimson Coven. The black temple was saturated with this energy and so were the altar and the Dark Avatar herself. Kirk had never encountered this energy signature before today but it had reminded him of Avatar. Now he knew why.

Also, Sentinel could see the Dark Avatar drawing energy from this temple. It was her place of power!

Slingshot looked around and his heart sunk. This black structure and its unholy altar were built to withstand Armageddon. In fact, maybe they had.
The altar was a massive, rectangular solid of obsidian-like stone.
There were eleven stone pillars, each as big around as a mature redwood trunk. For the roof to come down, eight of those pillars would have to go first. There were two near Slingshot and Sentinel on their end of the hall. Two were near the Dark Avatar and the remaining four spaced evenly between the heroes and the multiverse’s mystical manifestation of malice!

OOC: Totally defenseless inert objects don’t require an action to attack. But they require 1/3 of a character’s full movement.



Kirk whispered to Scott, “Think happy thoughts. Let’s bring down the house!”
Kirk began to whistle an old tune that Slingshot immediately recognized and the words came to his mind … how could they not, “Over there! Over there!” and as he did so an old style phonograph playing a record appeared beside them. And he no longer needed to think the words as they filled the chamber in all their originally scratchy glory,

“Send the word. Send the word over there!” Kirk didn’t have to think hard to manifest a duplicate of Lancaster’s record player he’d heard so many times over the years. He attached some modifications to help the song fill the dark barren chamber as it echoed a song of hope.

(“Serve me.”)

Kirk replied to the Dark Avatar with the sort of hope and determination that only he could pull from his inner self given the place they found themselves and the being before them, “Only when you first let go of the pain and hatred and the selfishness that has festered within you and allow yourself to once again see and serve the greater good.”
Kirk’s thoughts continued to focus on the song and what it inspired. During the earth’s darkest hour, when there was no question about the darkness, the evil that was enslaving the world, and when it seemed that nothing could stop the spread of that force, America choose to shine as a beacon.

“Send the word, send the word to beware.”
Men and women and children united as one looking beyond self, beyond all the qualities the Dark Avatar embodied, and let their light shine upon the world.

“We’ll be over, we’re coming over.”
They reinvigorated a despair-ridden Europe bringing hope once again to those who had lost reason to have it … and ultimately to the world.

“And we won’t come back till it’s over.”
They were everywhere! Kirk’s energy strewn throughout the temple filling it with images. They were surrounding Sentinel and Slingshot and the Dark Avatar. Members of the armored divisions and the infantry. They fired their weapons at the temple columns. The airborne filled the sky of the temple wreaking havoc on its structural supports. The navy erupted from the center of the altar … Multitudes of Rosie the Riveter’s riveted … Young children hurled stacks of tied newspapers and old comic books they’d collected in paper drives …
“Over there.”

OOC: Hope this isn’t too ‘over the top’ but I figured Kirk would try to take out the temple supports and am still working under the assumption that all isn’t as it seems. With the city in ruins, how could this structure be so sound? So hopefully the attack on what the temple stands for will allow this to be more successful, and that was where the whole scene morphed from in my head – if it is more along the lines of exactly what it physically seems, then even though Kirk might not be able to take it down at current power levels, Slingshot should be more than up to the task.


Scott looked around. This place was made to withstand Armageddon. He knew construction. He knew how to build things and how to tear them down, but there's had to be a better way. Too bad he didn't know squat about religion.

If Sentinel thought that this place needed a clean up, then he knows more about this mumbo jumbo than Scott did. So it will have to do down.

He looks at the Pillars. This will take time to destroy. Let's see how fast it can be done.

[OOC: I'm the malleable man of might! This should be doable for me. Can I do a Mr Fantastic and wrap myself around two (or more) pillars and take the two/three of them in one movement phase? I'll try as many as I can.]

Question- I know that my character knows squat about Religion. is there any easy way to desecrate an altar? Peeing on it or something? This might be worth a luck point, but for next turn, lets see how the pillar situation pans out first.


Menagerie returns to his team and informs the of what he has found. "I saw movement in the center and found tracks in a nearby crater. The crater looks like the landing spot of Slingshot. I suggest we travel to the crater and track our friends from there."

Unless there are objections he will lead the team to the location in human form. If he can't find the crater or tracks in human form. He will explain to the team he has lost the trail. He will inform them he will use his wolf form to find it again. "Please follow me, in whatever form I take".

His plan is to lead the team to the rest of Vanguard. He will not lead the team into a confrontation or to individuals that his senses don't recognize.



This sounds like as good a plan as any. Not much else to do. Let's find them.


Clone is quiet throughout the trip, for the first time since he's been with the team the 'human collective' seems to be keeping his thoughts to himself. When its suggested that they continue their search for their missing comrades, Clone simply nods his head in agreement and follows the others.Something seems to be bothering him and he doesn't do a good job of hiding it from the others.

Clone is constantly moving his head from side to side trying to keep a lookout for anything strange or unusual. Based on what the team has encountered since they've arrived in this strange land ( i.e. the strange and almost mythical members of the Crimson Coven ), he's convinced that the worst is yet to come . . . and that scares him.He'll use his Folklore skill and Detect Hidden/Danger to try and piece together anything he can about his surroundings. He's halfheartedly expecting to see a small shack mounted on top of a couple of bird legs running across the landscape ;)
Talk to you all soon,


IC: Avatar stood, facing the city. His mind was racing, even with the God's augmenting wisdom. He had learned so much about himself, and much of it he didn't like. Am I nothing but a tool of an ancient pantheon? He asked himself. Is it my fate to just be reborn again and again, to die a violent death while doing their bidding? Is there nothing else for me?

One thing was certain: The answers--whether he would ultimately like them or not--would most likely lie within the mysterious metropolis before him. "I agree. Forward is the way to go," he said, and began walking towards the city.


Lightning Strike:
Strike shakes off the vision of the future. Having been fooled once before by a bleak vision, he wasn't going to fall for it again. He speaks to the small band of heroes. "These visions are no more real than what we experienced earlier. Something or someone is attempting to convince us that our futures are filled with despair. We can change our futures and are not subject to the whims of fate. I suggest we continue to the temple to try and find some answers. "

Lightning Strike continues to be on guard. Although the Crimson Coven seems defeated, he knows these villains continue to pop up when you least expect it.

Take it easy everyone,