Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Friday, May 25, 2012

­­­Vanguard: Issue 159: Aztech Invasion!

On the day of Slingshot and Nanite’s wedding, Slingshot, Slate and Sentinel were arrested by the Secret Service with assistance from the newly revealed American AEGIS!

The rest of Vanguard, Shelley, Sgt. Stone, Doc Rocket, Felicity Chase, and Nathan Lamb were transported with them to the Manhattan Federal Building, where they were individually questioned.

It was 9pm on Saturday night.

Menagerie had said, "Sentinel and I both have the ability to sense if any imposters are among Vanguard.”

Special Agent Zuniga said, “And what would happen if you two were impersonated?” 

Menagerie considered Agent Zuniga's question. He thought, "If it is only one of us then the other would know. If it was Sentinel, well while they could impersonate his powers but how long could they impersonate his character. Not long, it would be obvious to us quickly because no villain could maintain that kind of moral strength for long. As for me, well MEDUSA has the only one who could impersonate all my powers effectively. Anyone else would eventually come up short."  Looking at Zuniga he kept his thoughts to himself. "Message received. You can't trust us. How did you make sure you're team wasn't replaced? Maybe CHESS could use it to keep track of Vanguard."

Avatar, Menagerie, Symbiote, Doc Rocket, Sgt. Stone, Shelley Harper, and Felicity Chase were released quickly. “Thank you for your patience and cooperation,” Agent Graves said. The first wave of releases headed back to Vanguard Vault.

When they left the building, the press was waiting for them.  A dozen reporters stormed them with questions about the attack on the President, and the arrest of Vanguard.

Avatar walked out of the building, [Heightened Charisma and Oration skill both activated]  eyes shining from the use of his divine powers, an easy smile on his face and nothing at all in his body language or facial expression hinting that there's anything at all amiss with his world.  He waved to the reporters. "A few words?  Yes, of course I have the time to say a few words."

The Demigod of Destiny drew himself up, smiling for the cameras and for the reporters. "I can't say a lot, you must understand, as it's a matter of national security, but what I can tell you is that it appears that someone is trying to frame members of Vanguard for crimes that they would never commit.  As the old saying goes, 'the truth will set you free' and, as you can see, we're pretty much free to do as we please.  We'll get this cleaned up quickly and be on our way.  It's just one of those things that you have to expect happening when you have super-powered villains working against you."

“Avatar! Can you tell us about the attack on the President?!”

"No, no, I can't comment on that.  I was out in the streets of the city defending the populace."

“Did Vanguard attack the President?!”

"Rest assured that members of Vanguard are here to help you.  We all take this as a calling or vocation and we take it very, very seriously.  Few of us have 'regular' lives any more, if there is such a thing, and we devote ourselves fully to protecting society from things such as this."

“Did Sentinel attack the Secret Service with a mental power?!”

"Not really possessed of such powers myself.  I'm more the dumb jock of the group <flexes muscles and smiles at the ladies> but no one in Vanguard is going to 'attack' anyone with their powers with no provocation.  We try to take on the role of the hero and we've generally done a pretty good job of it.  Now, folks, I have to go.  It's been a long day and I have to get back to HQ."

Avatar deactivated the Oratory skill and then summoned a living white Pegasus from the heavens themselves, paused to let the photographers get pictures, then mounted up and flew away, over the awe-struck press!

Clone was released from the Manhattan Federal Building at 2am after sorely testing the cool professionalism of Agents Graves and Zuniga. When he left the building the press was waiting for him. The reporters stormed him with questions about the attack on the President, the arrest of Vanguard, and of course, Clachel!

In his own “special way”, Clone responded to the reporters.

As the reporters rushed forward and hit him with an avalanche of questions and cameras, Clone shielded his eyes for a moment as he adjusted to the bright lights and explained, “I am thinking that this is maybe not best of questions to be answering. The agents that are taking me into . . . how it is that you are saying . . .” Clone then paused for a moment as he searched for the proper term and then with a look of epiphany on his face continued, “ Ah yes - the slammer, they are bringing me in to this slammer to talk to me of this. They are most serious of people that are maybe not understanding all of what it is that I am saying to them about this. I am explaining to them that I am knowing of how this is now looking, but it is not really how this is now looking comrades. The Slingshot that I am knowing is not the Slingshot they are looking for, it is other Slingshot who is not being here but is looking just like this Slingshot that is now being here to be blamed for all of this. That    Slingshot is looking exactly like this Slingshot with most of same powers it is looking I am thinking, but it is not this Slingshot . . . please to be understanding all of this comrades, this is most important news that you are needing to know I am thinking.”

Still struggling with all the questions being shouted at him, the bright lights, and the multitude of camera flashes, Clone turned towards the crowd and said through a smile, “This is not bad experience that I am thinking; the agents are being a little confused on what it is that I am telling to them, but they are finally coming to understanding. This is good I am thinking because this place is being more better than Leningrad, but is still most unusual of ways for me to be meeting people I am thinking.” Clone then chuckled and said in a re-affirming manner, “But of course I am making littlest of jokes as you are knowing.”

Still a bit stunned by the media assault launched upon him by the information hungry reports before him, Clone addressed the ‘Clachael’ topic. “I am not understanding all of what it is that you are saying . . . why are you saying this name as Clachael, I am not understanding this. Are speaking of my most beautiful of loves    Rachael Ray?”

As the reporters explain to Clone that they are indeed  speaking of Rachael Ray and his relationship to her, Clone continued, “She is most beautiful of women in all of the world. She good woman with good heart and is most special places of my heart.”    He then turned to face one of the nearby television cameras, and began to speak directly into it as if he were addressing someone right in front of him, “Ma-ma; you are right, Rachael is most beautiful of women that I am knowing and she is most excited to be meeting you. When she is calling of me soon we will coming by and seeing of you very soon.”

As the police started to push back the crowd of reporters and began to usher Clone away from the building, the  ‘Dynamo of Duplication’ looked over his shoulder and spoke to the camera one last time,  “ . . . and please to be telling everyone that it is that I am loving them and missing of them! Please to be telling Boris that I am to be seeing of him soon!” Clone then disappeared quietly into the sea of journalist stretched out before him.

Meanwhile, inside the Federal Building, Sentinel was asked, “Did you attempt to contact, harm, control or otherwise invade Special Agent Valk’s mind, or the mind of any other person?” 

Sentinel sat forward at the table, his hands folded in front of him as he stared back at Agent Graves and stated, "If I might ask, on what basis would Agent Valk even make such an accusation?"

Agent Graves said, "Please answer the question."

Sentinel scanned with his energy sense and detected no extranormals in his range other than Vanguard and Sgt. Stone. Then Kirk took a page from Grey’s playbook.

 “Yes I can Agent Graves.  No disrespect intended here, but the answer to that question is above your pay grade.  As Director of Vanguard there are aspects of the capabilities of both CHESS and Vanguard, its technology and personnel that I simply am not at liberty to discuss in this venue.  But I do want to state this, it was President Taylor himself that commissioned Agent Grey to bring Vanguard together and grant us our status within the government.  I take that seriously.” And he repeated for emphasis with sincerity, “Very seriously.  I would never betray that trust or the ideals of this great nation.  All of my actions today were in harmony with his mission statement for Vanguard.”

Then Kirk turned his head towards Agent Valk addressing him as if the wall separating them wasn’t present, “Agent Valk, I know you have responsibilities here and a job to do.  And I know today’s events have gotten us started on the wrong foot.  But we are on the same team and we want the same thing.  We both want those responsible for today’s attack apprehended.  Vanguard is uniquely suited to address what happened here today.  Please, let us do our job.  Let us help.”

Kirk paused and then continued, “And if I might add, my abilities are known to this government and personally I have no problem sharing them with you if given the clearance to do so.  Agent Valk, those responsible for today’s events currently have ‘one of mine’, I implore you, please allow us to respond.”

Special Agent Graves continued the questioning, moving into other events of the day.

Slingshot was released by 6am on Sunday morning, thanks to his amiable, helpful approach, and the CHESS files Nathan Lamb turned over to the Secret Service on the “Maria Girucci” doppelganger attack last year.

But Slate was still being held. President Taylor reported that Slate threatened to kill him and then leapt at him just as he fell unconscious. Valk reported that Slate attacked him, destroying his firearm.

Finally, Slate was a hostile witness. He would not answer questions or be helpful.  He felt he did the right thing and, for that, he lost his mother.  He had descended into sulking child syndrome.

Slate sat in the interrogation room, staring at the two way mirror, creating an almost funhouse effect, his eyes reflecting the mirror, reflecting his eyes...

Slate had not so much been withholding information, as not responding at all. Special Agents Graves and Zuniga had even brought in a child psychologist to try to get Slate to talk, but he showed no recognition that the doctor was even in the room.  The only time he had any reaction was when he was moved to a different location physically, otherwise, he seemed more an automaton than a living being. The agents have even documented that he appeared to not be breathing, and has not responded to their requests if he wished food or drink.

Internally, Slate was anything but calm.  His mind seemed to be everywhere at once, he felt betrayed, angry, scared, alone; like he was almost physically drowning in his emotions. Everything seemed to be spiraling out of his control.  He kept replaying the events that led up to the events he currently sees transpiring, but they don't seem real.  The excitement of the marriage, the planning, how happy his mother had been.  How strong and in control Slingshot has always been.  The reports he's read on his father’s adventures. Nothing was like this.  He never experienced any of those things for himself, or felt the emotions that must have gone along with them.

He replayed the conversations he's had with his father, what it means to be a hero, the differences of using ones powers for the good of all vs. personal gain, even self sacrifice, but this seemed different. 

He remembered his anger at the attack on the cathedral, the shock of recognition that there was something else going on, followed closely by the confrontation with his father’s doppelganger, and the fear of seeing his mother fall as the Luddite cast his energy sucking pall. 

He kept seeing the picture from the file of his mother lying in her own bodily fluids in her apartment when Slingshot found her, dead for all intents.  How could anyone let this happen?  How could he not protect her?  He had tried to be the hero, taking the blow of that hammer to protect the President.  He'd thought himself clever in his ruse to determine whether the doppelganger was actually an alternate version of his father, or something different. Now he feels foolish and slow... He should have done more, he should have done something.

At the same time, his mind was still working on everything he knows and has read about Silas Caine and Homicide for Hire...

Slate looked instinctively for the opportunity to interface with a computer, but found none.

Nathan Lamb arranged to let Slingshot speak to Slate. He was also permitted to contact Vanguard Vault.

At this point, Sentinel was the only other person still being questioned. And the press was still camped outside.

Slingshot moved into the room with his son and gave him a great giant hug.

Upon seeing Slingshot, Slate's unflappable facade melts.  He ran to his father.  He'll follow whatever advice Slingshot gives him.  He's looking for some kind of response he can mimic, it's what he's done most of his short life, and he really doesn't know how to come up with his own reaction.

"I understand how you feel, son. It's a hard line to walk. We need to be helpful even if we feel we need to go and find Mother. These men are doing what they think is their jobs, even if they are working right into the plans of someone else. I have been released. I can now go, but you cannot.. quite yet."

Meanwhile, Lightning Strike had spent the night scanning the city for unusual surges or decreases on the grid, to track the Luddite! There had been several that night, with no discernible pattern that he could detect.

At dawn, Lightning Strike’s phone buzzed. It was the cellphone the Silent Killer had been given by Homicide for Hire. A text said: “Good job today. You’re in. Meet us where you found this phone in one hour. Congrats.”

Lightning Strike continued to maintain radio silence with Vanguard and did not turn himself in to the government as he was not seen at the scene of the crime and nobody can place him anywhere near the scene of the crime.  Strike investigated all leads on Homicide For Hire and also looked into places that may lend themselves to, or have any history of, holding extra-normals, in an effort to locate Nanite.  But Big City was keeping its secrets tonight. He came up empty.

The high voltage vigilante sent an encoded message to Vanguard with the location where he was to be accepted into Homicide for Hire, in case anything went wrong. The message was sent in several pieces from several different addresses and servers to ensure that it wasn't tracked by either the bad guys or the government.  He hoped someone in Vanguard picked up the pattern.

Strike charged his personal power and headed to the site early to observe it before entering. There were no security cameras in the foreclosed, dilapidated Brooklyn warehouse. He scanned the area for any electricity or signals and found none. He was the first one there and emptied five boxes of nails across the floor near the walls.

It was the time of the meeting, 7am, and he heard footsteps. “Looks like we have some winners,” said Black Sheep.

Damocles stepped out from the other side of the warehouse. “Maybe. What the hell happened out there? Vanguard knew we were coming. Remember that announcement Sentinel made?” her electro-speaker crackled.

“Maybe we got a rat,” rasped Black Sheep, eyeing the Silent Killer and Damocles as his hand rested on a pistol holster. “Where’s Catman? I heard he got out alive.”

Before the Silent Killer could respond, he suddenly detected an electronic signal entering the warehouse! It powered an electronic device hidden under the floor; now that it was charged, Lightning Strike could detect it… it was a bomb. In the nanosecond it took Strike to realize all that, the bomb was exploding! The signal was the detonator.

There was no way to stop the explosion that would demolish the abandoned warehouse.

Strike had only one choice. SHAKOW! He transmitted himself out of there!

The detonation signal was a scrambled pulse, so he couldn’t ride it back to its point of origin. Instead, he went to Vanguard Vault. He arrived before Vanguard had discovered or decoded his emails.  SHAKOW!

Sunday morning at Vanguard Vault, Symbiote, Doc Rocket and Shelley Harper had triangulated Nanite’s silent signal through government satellites to rural, western Connecticut! [one Luck Point was used]

Ajay pulled up satellite imagery showed a one-story, state of the art scientific facility on acres of wooded land. Lit by dawn, nothing seemed amiss. “Satellite thermo-imaging shows low power, and some of the interior structures. Basement’s got the same footprint as the first level, and a rail line coming into it probably for large equipment delivery. Parking lot’s empty. Guess no one works on Sunday.”

The building’s owner was identified as Aztechnology, a privately held physics lab with no criminal history.

Ajay soon had floor plan schematics, from public records, onscreen. Nanite’s silent signal was coming from inside the facility. 

It's too easy, Hal thought to himself.  Far too easy.

Symbiote, Doc Rocket and Shelly had found the "tracer signal" for Nanite, and traced her to the Aztechnology facility.  And there she was.  Just sitting there.  Waiting to be rescued. I'm not buying it for a minute, Hal thought to himself.

Symbiote turned to the others.  "So Caine kidnaps Nanite and then just sits on her somewhere?" Symbiote asks.  "Uh-uh.  This is another trap.  Nanite may be there or she may not, but I suspect he's got a nasty surprise waiting for us.  Harrik with a team of super assassins, a well trained, well disciplined team this time.  Or maybe just a bunch of videotape rolling, ready to show Vanguard attacking a peaceful, innocent scientific research facility.  One more blow to our public image.  Well, this time, we're not going to play by his rules.

"Vanguard isn't going to attack Aztechnology.  The forces of nature themselves are," he said.

Hal turned to Avatar, the symbol of the powers long lost to our world.  "If Lightning Strike or I try to zap ourselves in I bet we'd find ourselves blocked out, or trapped in a containment grid of some sort--Caine's thought ahead, I don't doubt it," Hal said.  "But what if dozens of lightning bolts struck the building first?  What if a storm so mighty --yet concentrated-- were to hit that building, blow out the power, blow out the reserves and fry any technological defenses it might have?  Power of Zeus, right?" He says to the Hellenic Hero.  "After that, I'm sure Lightning Strike can enter the building through the power grid, and anything that Caine would've set up to trap or repel him will have long since been overloaded.

"By this time the sprinkler system will be going, and nothing technologically advanced works too well when it's soaking wet--no cameras.  Most superhumans don't fight too well when somebody is creating a globe of water around their head as well--hard to breathe, hard to see," Hal says.  "Inhuman.  He's been off the team so long that I'm willing to gamble that Cain doesn't really consider him in his plans anymore.  Hell, he may not even know that I once replicated Inhuman's powers, and I have his template stored in my computer."

He turned to Menagerie.  "How are you at fish?  Or if the chordata are outside your range, how about an otter, or some other amphibious mammal that can move fast through flooded passageways and look for Nanite?" 

He looked at Clone.  "Night vision goggles and stealth gear--something that doesn't look like you.  You can cover ground fast and if anybody sees a bunch of strange men in dark covert ops uniforms running around, well, that could be just about anybody, couldn't it?  The Russians, some members of SKULL, Dr. Swastika's old minions, running around--the world's just full of crazy people, ready to dress up henchmen in ninja outfits."

Hal took a brief breath.  "I'm spitballing here, there are probably elements of the plan that need to be added to and subtracted from.  But if we wait for a warrant we're giving Caine too much of a head start.  And if we attack straight forward it's almost certainly a trap," he says.  "We need to do the unexpected, and hit him in a way he isn't anticipating.  Anybody else got any ideas?"

Clone’s mind unconsciously passed by the opportunity to address the mention of Dr. Swastika’s name, as Clone stood there visually perplexed as he struggles to make sense of what Symbiote has just said, “. . . I am being most sorry comrade . . . but . . . I am not understanding what it is that I am to be doing.” With only a brief    pause, the ‘Replicating Russian’ then asks, “Why is it that I am needing to be strange, and why is it that I am to be playing dress up with henchmen in ninja outfits?”

Slingshot also smelled a trap. Caine is not stupid. Scott assumed that any record or information that Vanguard has, so does he, including the tracker bead on Nanite. At this point, Scott assumed the following: Caine has been able to duplicate the signal and has set up us up for to fail. He knew the signal could not be “removed” from Nanite.

So Scott was adamant to get a warrant and do this the right way. “We are not going in without the proper procedure. If Grey or someone else says that we have special dispensation because of our capacity as a gov agency, then great, let do it. But otherwise I won’t be stepping foot on private property without a warrant.

“Remember: we are not fighting regular villains, we are fighting Caine at the moment. We cannot make any more mistakes.

“Once we have a warrant, we are going in. I will need both Sentinel and Menagerie to be on the lookout for Skin Deep while we are there. But I'm putting a stop on the raid.”

Shelley sided with her brother for once, shocked that Nanite's husband and son are the ones willing to leave her in captivity longer than necessary.

Having just pinpointed Nanite’s location, she said, "Scott, you're forgetting Harrik has a teleporter. We need the element of surprise." Yes, Zephyr had retired from Vanguard. But this was about Nan.

Slingshot turned his heads away from her. "Shelley, you have no idea how much this is tearing me apart. You know to what lengths I've had to go through to get Nanite back. You were there. But what's the use if we become wanted criminals, because Silas managed to get what he wanted? He expects me to go charging into the fray. God knows, I've done my fair share of that. It is what landed me in custody and Ethan is still there. Not thinking, only reacting. We need to make sure that we start putting the screws to his peers."

Menagerie listened to Slingshot and Symbiote discuss their plans and he doesn't know which plan is best. He decides he needs more information from his teammates. "What is our goal here. Is it to free Nanite or avoid a trap by Caine?  If we need to free Nanite at any costs then I agree with Symbiote.  If we are to avoid a trap by Caine foremost then I agree with Scott.

"Scott is Nanite's husband, if he is willing to allow Nanite to stay captive longer to avoid traps then I choose Slingshot's plan. I do think we need to beef up the plan. Instead of just watching, let’s make a trap."

Slingshot wants it done legally. “We are searching the place for an abducted individual legally. So long as we behave.. we should be fine.”

He turned to Symbiote. “You're welcome to play it out. I’ll follow up with the warrant. You might flush them out and we might see if the teleporter is still onsite.

“My issue is if the teleporter is there and we go in charging like bulls, [all he needs is a saved action and] he teleports them all out and we are left with an attack against a company that did nothing.”

Menagerie said, “Right before we serve the warrant, I could cast a spell to prevent teleportation. Hopefully this would catch Caine by surprise even though it would appear that surprising him is impossible. It is like he can see the future."

Symbiote said: "Scott, I understand how you feel. We just took a bloody nose to our image and damn near ended up in prison, I'm in no mood to risk it again.  But this is Nanite's life.  If we're going to get her out of the hands of Caine, Harrik and that teleporter, we need to do it fast.  And we'll probably only get one chance.  Show up politely on their doorstep with a warrant and they'll probably just teleport her away somewhere else.  And at some point, Cain will probably figure out how to disable the signaling beacon.  Or just decide he can learn as much from her as a completely disassembled, depowered pile of parts.  I'm afraid a fast, decisive strike may be our one chance."

Hal asked Ajay to trace the underground rail system for an entry point. “If we do go with a raid, might be useful to have some of the team come in from that direction.”

Ajay, a CHESS Rook, said, “The CHESS satellite is now in geosynchronous orbit over the Aztech facility.” It  showed the entry point. They could use it. They would watch the site all day from orbit in case anyone tried to move Nanite. Nothing stirred.

Lightning Strike looked at the satellite images and said, “If I were a betting man, I would say that Aztechnology is nothing but a red herring. My gut feeling is that Silas Caine is still playing all of the angles and will use Vanguard to advance his interests. I suspect that if we follow the money, Vanguard could discover that Silas Caine is probably a principal investor in Aztechnology's principal competitor. By having Vanguard crash into Aztechnology via a quick strike and then probably destroying half of their research, he wins and if Vanguard goes by the book and uses legal means, the press will find out about if and that will damage Aztechnology's reputation so that Caine wins again.”

Slingshot agreed that Aztech might just be a target for Caine, so he's thinking that there might be an angle somewhere there we can use against him, by speaking with the owners of Aztech after the raid.

It was one more reason to do all this by the book.

If Slingshot won't go in, neither would Menagerie. Menagerie doesn't believe this action supports his calling as Protector of Nature nor a CHESS sanctioned action. He believes he is supporting the Vanguard family and since it is Scott's wife he is leader on any mission, no offense to Sentinel intended.

Avatar also sided with Slingshot’s position.

Clone voted for Symbiote’s "Guns a Blazin’" plan, impulsive individual that he is.

Symbiote then stated he would hold off on his plan and wait for the warrant.

With a plan of attack agreed upon, Vanguard spent Sunday preparing for it, and resting up, as they awaited the arrival of the warrant.

Agent Sam Drake was briefed into the job and would attend the raid at Slingshot’s request.

CHESS Director Grey was patched in from Germany and caught up. He appreciated Vanguard’s newfound respect for due process and said he’d continue to work on the Secret Service to free the rest of Vanguard.

Symbiote loaded Inhuman’s power template into the Harper Harness, gambling that the Pacific Paragon has been off the team so long that Caine and Harrik won't plan for his powers! Hal’s skin turned greenish-grey and his neck formed gills!
Slingshot and Lightning Strike did some research on Aztechnology. As it was privately held, there were no annual reports. They couldn’t get access to their tax returns until they received the warrant. None of the company’s principles or board of directors had criminal records.

The work was largely R&D for a variety of firms in the technology space, and as such was highly confidential. No connection to Silas Caine, or one of his rivals, was discovered although it could be argued that any tech firm could be a rival of Silas Caine.

Menagerie reviewed CHESS reports that linked Caine to Homicide for Hire and the Luddite when Vanguard took down the Five Bosses of Big City [like, a hundred issues ago, true believer!]. None of it would stand up in court.

He asked Nathan Lamb if he could interview the captured villains of Homicide Unlimited, but they were still being interrogated by the Secret Service.

Then the shamanic sorcerer set to work inventing a new magic ritual to ensnare a teleporter!

Slingshot asked Symbiote to prepare a DNA extraction unit. It could be as simple as a syringe. But he preferred something somewhat weaponized.  [Symbiote, let me know if you don’t do this. I assume you will]

Felicity Chase was flogging Slingshot’s “Help find Nan” angle on television to fight back against the anti-extranormal faction. Insta-polls showed a divided nation. It seemed that Election Day would decide the future of extranormals in America!

Sunday night at 9pm, the warrant was still not issued, but Sentinel and Slate were released by the Secret Service who had held them for 24 hours without charging them. The heroes were instructed not to leave the country without prior authorization from them.

The press was still camped out, ready to take their statements. Henry Xu, their CHESS attorney, advised that they give no comment. Xu was a young, charismatic Asian American given to Hemingway and thin neckties.

Sentinel said to the press, “With Nanite still missing and those responsible for the attack on the president still at large I’m afraid I have no time for questions at this time.”

Slate saw, among the press’s number, a few of the photographers whose cameras he disintegrated.

[Slate, any comments for the press?]

They flew to Vanguard Vault and were caught up on the plan.

Slingshot asked that Sentinel scan Agent Drake and Henry Xu to confirm their identities and he did.

By Sunday at midnight, the warrant came through. [Slingshot’s Luck Point sped it up]

It included phone tapping and number tracing.

Menagerie, already near Aztech, received word via his communicator, assumed the shape of a hawk and flew to the Aztech compound and began casting a ritual that would prevent unnatural travel through its wooded borders. The spell took an hour to cast and was successful! [One Luck Point and 10 Power Points!]

For the next hour, no teleporter was getting in or out!

The Manta Craft screamed down into the empty parking lot, Larry Manetti at the helm, and Vanguard deployed! Menagerie rejoined them!

The dark of night was pierced by the Manta Crafts floodlights, Vanguard’s flashlights, and the security lights that illuminated the facility at night. There were no unusual energy sources detectable, save the true north of Nanite’s signal.

Slingshot, Avatar, Menagerie, Slate, Clone and Agent Drake headed to the main Entrance!

Symbiote, Sentinel, Lightning Strike, another Clone, and Zephyr raced to the underground access of the rail line!

Strike didn’t enter the building as sentient electricity, for fear of a containment trap from the all-too-prescient Silas Caine.

Each team had one handheld scanner that tracked Nanite’s silent signal!

After racing across the compound toward the building, Team One was intercepted by a familiar figure 30 yards from the main entrance!

Out of the woods came Soldier!  [everyone, please welcome Dom back to the game!!!]

Vanguard knew the patriotic powerhouse had taken a leave of absence from Vanguard last year. In the Omega-verse, in an abandoned public library, Soldier was stunned to discover that his father, retired General John Steele [image below], was Silas Caine’s vice president after the 2012 election! [see Issue 136!]

This shocking revelation caused the star spangled superhero to leave Vanguard to investigate this alone!

Vanguard also knew that before they were trapped in the Omega-verse, Soldier’s father had sent him, Larry Manetti and Dr. Ashe on a secret mission to retrieve a renegade super-agent named the Patriot from Venezuela. Soldier succeeded, resisting the Patriot’s request to join him in overthrowing Hugo Chavez. [see Issue 117!]

The Patriot was taken into custody, and Chavez was soon overthrown anyway.

[Actions? Replies?]

Meanwhile, Team Two followed the underground light rail line! Sentinel and Lightning Strike detected no unusual energy patterns, but they agreed the wall structures were inhibiting their senses.

The rail tunnel opened into a long, dark platform off a massive storage facility, partially filled with boxes and crates.

Team Two’s communicators were out, due to all the earth, rock and structures above them.

Team Two secured the area and followed Nanite’s signal upstairs into a massive server level that was still below ground. It was the largest server farm any of the super scientists had ever seen and all of it was running. Its incredible energy signature had been hidden beneath the earth, and the Aztech building itself.

Nanite’s signal was still emanating from above them.

Clone found a computer terminal and Lightning Strike, Sentinel, Symbiote and Zephyr determined that all the servers were running one program!

In that dark room, lit by the computer screen, they quickly deciphered the program.

It was a virus.

A virus designed to destroy cyberspace. A virus to destroy the Entity, IT… from the inside!

Then suddenly, Nanite’s signal stopped!

Outside, Team One also lost Nanite’s signal!

To be continued!

OOC: Actions?!

Remember: Teams One and Two are only in contact with each other through the Clones’ telepathy.

Have fun.


Current Conditions:

Avatar: Hit Points: 37,  Power Points: 85,  Manifestation: None?

Clone: Bodies: 2,  Hit Points: 11,  Power Points: 64, Hit Point Pool: 22

Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 41,  Power Points: 85

Menagerie: Hit Points: 23,  Power Points: 56,  Form: Man?

Sentinel: Hit Points: 23,  Power Points: 70, Creation Points: 140, Shields: 100?

Slate: Hit Points: 30, Power Points: 73

Slingshot: Hit Points: 37,  Power Points: 92,  Invulnerability: 8

Soldier: Hit Points: 57,  Power Points: 81,  Invulnerability: 8

Symbiote: Hit Points: 34, Power Points: 83, Charges: 13, Copied: Inhuman, bestowing these powers:

1) Animal/Plant Powers: Fish (add 4 to Endurance, subtract 4 from Agility)

a) Water Breathing: Inhuman can breathe water as easily as air. PR=0.  
Hydro Filtration: Inhuman has an unusual ability related to his capacity to breathe underwater, he filters everything out of the water converting it to raw power and exhaling only pure H2O.  This can cause his aquatic allies some distress (since most creatures need more than just pure water). Inhuman can draw one power point from the surrounding water for every 1” area he cleanses with his gills. 5 hexes may be cleansed per turn.

b) Heightened Senses: From his altered physiology, Inhuman has:
-Sonar giving a bonus to Detect Hidden and Danger at x3% when in water
-Nictitating Membranes that halve all chances of eye damage or blindness
-Ambivalent Electro-sense that enables him to detect living creatures in the water up to 1 mile away.

c) Aquatic Communication: Inhuman may speak with any amphibious, aquatic or semi-aquatic life form.  This powerful communication ability also gives him the ability to generate in himself and those he leads Charisma+ defense regardless of the respective Charismas involved.  And lastly, once per session Inhuman may attempt to gain an ally of some sort and once per level he may attempt to upgrade the loyalty/utility of an ally.     

2) Psionics: Hydro-kinesis: This is the ability to move existing water without touching it. Inhuman cannot create water. His "Hydro-kinetic Capacity" equals (Int x Level x 50 lbs). This is the maximum weight of water that Inhuman can move at once. Fyi, one gallon of water weighs 8.5 lbs.
Defense: Used as a defense, Hydro-kinesis utilizes the Ice Powers defense table, takes one action and one PR to set up, with one PR per attack repulsed thereafter. This takes up 100 lbs. of Hydro-capacity (to form the water “wall” or sheath), or the weight of the attacker/weapon, whichever is greater.
Attack: Given enough water, Inhuman can hurl waves of water at his opponents attacking on the Ice column for 5 PR per shot with a range of Int. doing damage based upon the number of pounds employed (not expended) in the hydro manipulation, this may be less than the characters maximum if the hydro-kinetic capacity is being employed in other activities. 
Manipulation: Inhuman can manipulate liquid mass/volumes by expending one action, 5 PR and making a successful roll to hit to gain control over the desired volume of water, manipulating the water thereafter only takes movement and the Hydro-kinetic capacity is reduced by the amount of water controlled.  The speed with which these water ‘sculptures’ can be moved equals the remaining amount of Hydro-kinetic capacity divided by 10, rounded up, in inches per turn.  Once control is established it lasts for Int. number of turns before fading and expending 5 PR will extend control for Int. more turns.  Using controlled water to attack costs no additional power and does damage based upon the waters weight and velocity as per a thrown projectile.  Use the HTH column on the combat tables for this style of attack not the Ice Powers Column. 
In addition, he can use his Hydro-kinesis to stop most watercraft simply by preventing the watercraft from interacting properly with the water.  Reduce the Hydro-kinesis capacity by 1/10th the vehicle’s weight for those that who do not use propellers, and 1/100th the vehicle’s weight for propeller driven watercraft. His ability costs 5 PR per attempt and has a range of Int. inches.
Limited Paralysis: Inhuman can also manipulate living beings to become immobile by making their own water obey his commands.  Roll to hit on the Paralysis Ray combat column and expend one action and 5 PR. He can only make this power work on those primarily composed of water or surrounded by it, and his Hydrokinetic capacity is reduced by the weight of his target(s). 

1) Low Self Control: Transformation: Carl is in the middle of an uncontrolled, unwanted transformation. The number of years the transformation will require and its end result are unknown to Carl. In addition to the physical ramifications of this, there are several psychological ones as well, including dread self-loathing, depression and social isolation.

2) Unusual appearance: Can’t pass for human easily. No secret identity possible. -1 to all reactions

3) Special Requirement: Water. After Endurance hours out of the water, Carl will act as Fatigued.


OOC: Great issue, Jeff!
Welcome back, Dom!


OOC: Great Issue! you have out done yourself again Jeff.
Welcome back Dom! Hope you have kept up on the back issues!


OOC: Dom! welcome back.. We need you!

Jeff, great issue! Yet another curve ball, good job. Without the signal, I'm not sure how we're going to proceed. I'll need to mull this over.


OOC: That's right people, like a bad STD, I"M BACK! On a more serious note, glad to be back in the fold.


OOC: Glad to have you back ... and just at the right time :)


Private to Soldier:
OOC: Hey Dom,
Welcome back.

Soldier is now 5th level, thanks to his work in the Vanguard Omega saga. I don't have his list of advancements handy, what would you like to give him for his level advancement?

Finally, don't forget the game blog is searchable, if you have any questions about the past.

Welcome back Dom, and thanks again for all your real-world service!



OOC: Once again everyone, it's good to be back. Jeff as far as Soldier's 5th level advance goes, how's this sound?

Hardened Systems: Effectively reduces damage by electrical based attacks in ½ (rounded down), and reduces the chances for things like malicious software, and machine control to be effective on his systems by 50%.

If it's good to go, let me know. If not, I'll see what else I can come up with, as there are some system upgrades I'd eventually like to make, as well as a couple of new specialty rounds for his smart pistol.

On a side note, if you haven't been watching Young Justice on Cartoon Network, you're missing out. The second season just started, and it's the perfect time to jump on the show.

IC: As Soldier sat silently in the wood line observing in the Aztechology facility, he thought to himself, "Had this all been a waste of time?" He'd been sitting here, for two days, and so far absolutely nothing. Nada, was this going to turn out to be a dry hole? And just as he was contemplating packing it in, he heard the familiar sound of Vanguard's Manta craft approaching. "Maybe this wasn't a waste of time after all" Collecting his surveillance gear, he quickly stashed it away for later retrieval, and made a bee line, for the Manta. At the same time, he tried to raise anyone aboard the craft on his radio. "Attention Vanguard transport, this Soldier. If you can read me, I'll be approaching you from the wood line. Please acknowledge."

If anyone on board receives the signal and replies, he'll let them know his exact direction of travel, and where he'll rendezvous with them at. If no one answers, he'll move parallel to the craft keeping an eye on it, and preparing an Electro-Shock round, just in case. If he can make contact with anyone from the team, he'll give quick handshake, a "Good to see you", and ask them what they're doing at Aztech. If he's got time, he'll try to compare notes, and get brought up to speed. He'll save the info about his father until there somewhere a little more secure, and they have the time to sit down and talk.

That's it for the moment, until I can find out what everyone else wants to do. Holler at me guys, as even though I've been reading through back issues, it's going to take me a bit of time to get back up to speed.


OOC: Hi Dom,
Soldier has an existing Vulnerability toward Magnetic and Electrical attacks, that doubles their damage.
How about he uses the 5th level advancement to buy down the electrical Vulnerability, leaving Magnetics?

Who's seeing Avengers this weekend?
My boys are flipping out.


OOC: Re: Advancements: Sounds good to me. I'll shoot you a list of pre-planned "upgrades" in a day or so, as I'm playing around with some ideas for a couple of new ammunition types for his pistol, and some other goodies I could see either him or C.H.E.S.S. wanting him to have.


[ooc] Avengers?! Noon show on Saturday. My kids are like putty in my hands.. I told them that they need to be perfect if they want to see it.

Do I resort to blackmail and extortion? Damn straight. Mouhahaha!

Looking at the signal disappear, Scott's heart jumped. He turned to Menagerie, "Is it up? Is your spell up?!"


Menagerie replied, "Yes my spell is up."


OOC: Dom, Great to have you back!  I was thinking the other day this would be a great time for Soldier to comeback...

IC Slate:  Processing Slingshot's words, Slate finally resigned himself to the fact that these people were not his enemy, they were on the same side, just trying to understand what had happened.  What he had misunderstood to be antagonism had been their resolve to get to the bottom of the matter.  The fact that they were releasing his father gave him hope.  With that hope, he began to speak with the agents. 

Special Agents Graves and Zuniga were surprised when they returned to the interrogation room to find Slate very different than he had been before... something had changed.  For one, he was breathing again, his skin appeared a little darker, closer to that of his father.  They asked if he was ready to talk, and his story began to pour forth, with all of the emotion a young boy would have going through the actual events.  It was not a clinical dictation of the events of a bio-computer, but rather an emotional description that had them actually feeling as if they had been there.  From his surprise at the attack on the church, to his realization that something bigger was going on, leading to the headlong flight into the tunnels beneath the church only to see his father standing over the President.  Slate related his shock, and the realization that this could not be his father... of using the hand signals to verify his suspicions.  He told them he had lied to the doppelganger to stall it long enough for someone from Vanguard to stop it... trying to think of anything that would prevent it from harming the President and how at the last moment he had flung his body between President Taylor and that huge hammer he knew could destroy him in an effort to save the President's life. 

He went on to tell them of appearance of the Luddite, and the attack that eventually led to the abduction of his mother... even how he had attempted to destroy the Luddite in anger but failed.  He now realized this had been wrong.  He offered to apologize to agent Valk for destroying his sidearm.  Telling the story from his point of view eventually convinced them to release him into his fathers custody.

Slate stayed close to Sentinel as they were escorted by the police through the sea of the press.  As he saw the photographers whose camera's he had disintegrated, he remembered the letters his father had made him write, apologizing for the destruction of their property.  He gave a small, shy wave, then hurried after Sentinel, as if for protection.

IC at Aztech: Slate will stay as close to Slingshot as possible.  I'm sure he'd freak out a little when Nanite's signal stopped.  He's still a little numb from his isolation, but is attempting to keep his new found emotions in check.  He would happily disintegrate locks, doorknobs, hardware, if it aided the search, but is not looking to wantonly destroy anything. 

If he makes it to a networked computer, his goal will be to find any information he can on Nanite's location, and what has happened recently inside this building. His only concern is recovering his mother.



OOC:  First, yes, Hal will build the DNA extraction unit as Slingshot requests.

Second, welcome back Dom!  Yes, "Young Justice" is just pretty spiffy, better than I expected, frankly.  The "Avengers" animated series is even better IMO, almost on par with the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini  DC Animated Universe shows.  The current "Green Lantern" animated isn't so much my cuppa tea--a little too "Clone Wars" for my taste--but it has it's moments as well.  And wow, was that "Avengers" movie awesome!  All around, a great time to be a nerd.

IC:  Hal looks at the servers, and the villainous virus contained therein.  The man is mad, Hal thinks to himself.  He'll destroy the entire internet just to stop The Entity.  I sympathize in a way, but the medical and military capacity that will be lost...the economic chaos.  It'd be anarchy.

Hal straightens up.  "Ladies and gentlemen, I think I've got a good idea about why Caine wanted Nanite, and probably Slate as well.  They're keys to the Digital Zone for him.  These servers are a weapon, he probably wanted them to somehow serve as a delivery system."

When Nanite's signal dies out, Hal springs into action.  "Sentinel, your assistance, please," he says.  "We've got to access internal security.  We've got to find what he did with her signal--assuming she was ever here in the first place and not just a diversion."

Hal will begin sawing away at the computers, trying to find out where they were keeping her--or whatever the actual source of the signal was.  He'll be on guard against attacks from within as well, ready to blow out the sprinkler system and flood the complex--particularly the servers, if necessary.  He's willing to bet that Caine values the servers and the virus enough that he won't risk them, and that they could serve as a bargaining chip, if necessary.

Viva Vanguard,



IC: Menagerie started in confusion. "What has happened? Why would Caine lead us to his ultimate weapon?  Is there a different aggressor in this situation?" He asked these questions to his teammates quickly and in a stream of consciousness manner.  Finally he has a thought he could do something with, "When in doubt, track".

Menagerie turned into a Honey Badger. He quickly searched the complex for all smell and tracks he could find. "Nanite, were you ever here? And who else has been here."

OOC: Menagerie is a total loss. He will use all his senses: Heightened by magic or animal to find clues of the extent of Nanite's presence and whoever had been here before.



Harold/Avatar is tied up in real life. He asked me to cover him this turn.
Deadline is passed. If you haven’t posted yet, please let me know your ETA. Thanks.

Also, Avengers lives up to the hype. Lotta fun.
Stay til the end of all the credits.


OOC: Avengers: Totally. Enjoyed it greatly.

Once he got the answer from Menagerie, he turned to the CHESS agent, "Drake! We lost the signal. Deal with the paperwork. If Nan has not been moved, they have done something really bad for the signal have stopped." Does the detector mentioned if Nanite was below ground, same level, above ground?

[OOC: Scott is a structural engineer, he studied the plans of the location and I would assume that the PDA would have an electronic copy of it. As he approached the location, he would be working out the best route to get there fast, if he had to bulldoze his way through, and the best route to get there if he had to snake his way through (he is elastic after all).

So a few things to look for:

    - If the location is level or above, is there is anything that doesn't fit the plans: a wall that shouldn't be there. A space that might be big enough that might hide a staircase/elevator/room?

    - if the location is below ground, he would pinpoint the location on the main level as a reference and then start looking for a way down.

 If he needs to make a roll on engineering, by all means.]

He will walk up to the building and with a booming voice, "Aztechnology, we have a warrant to search this facility for the whereabouts of Nanite.", and he will move in. He will force his way through the front door if they do not open, then go straight for the last known location where Nanite's beacon was."

If it's easier to use the air vents, Scott will use those. If it's easier to break into one door, then so be it.

Scott has waited long enough to get to this point, there's no stopping him from getting to his wife.


As usual, my thoughts were similar to Greg.

As much as we'd like to be sure IT never gets here, we can't take out the internet to do it for reasons Symbiote thought/posted.

Kirk uses his senses and skills to begin to get more information on the device and how to stop it as his senses allow and computer access becomes available.  Especially included would be the power source of their system... if they want to take out the internet they need power to be connected to it to do so... no electricity (power) no access.  However it is unlikely Caine would make it as easy as disconnecting power to the building, so it is likely there is an internal power source with protections in place ... can we identify it?

 OOC:  Didn't have a chance to check as intended since I don't want to hold up everyone else, but did you apply day rest time for healing and general first aid?  Just checking as I'm sure that we aren't going into an empty unprotected room.

And along those lines, Kirk will continue to scan for villains/traps using his senses to be sure Vanguard isn't taken unawares.  Kirk's shields will be fully 'up'.

If we do make contact with Slate at some point via Menagerie, Clone or directly and he can help with accessing the internet and power situation with it he would likely be able to understand it even quicker than Kirk and any aid he can safely give would be employed (although no direct accessing of the systems by him until we have an idea of if those systems are programmed to 'use' him or take him over, etc)

If you need anything more specific let me know.

OOC:  Hope to see Avengers this week sometime ... have to see how week goes with parents but really looking forward to seeing it.

PS: If Strike is in my 'group' we'd try to use his senses regarding determining the power source and how best to interrupt it, etc.


Lightning Strike:
OOC: If Strike was in your group I am sure he would cooperate with your every whim :).


<cue 70's music>


OOC: Sure, one posting without my normal carefully thought out dialogue and the sarcasm begins :)



The Clone with Team Two began to look around as if waiting for an ambush to be suddenly sprung on the team. Instinctively the ‘Replicating Russian’ began to subdivide into six carbon copies of himself. With his weapons at the ready, one of the Clones asks Sentinel with an almost rhetorical tone in his voice, “This is being ambush I am thinking -    no?”

As the duplicates wait for something unexpected to transpire, another one of their number asks the team aloud, “If Nanite was to be being used for making of; or to be as delivery boy, for this computer virus I am thinking – why are they also wanting of Slate?”

OOC: Once again - welcome back Dom

Talk to you all soon,

- Kev


<one of the Clones asks Sentinel with an almost rhetorical tone in his voice, “This is being ambush I am thinking - no?” >

As Kirk scanned and sensed he replied to Clone, "I'm thinking the same thing ... although so far this building or something in it is messing with my senses and I can't confirm it.  Best we be ready.  Frankly I'd be surprised if Harrik and his crew aren't here ..."



Scott would look to Clone to help triangulate where Nanite would be by seeing it from above and below. Or at least give better information regarding her position.

Once Scott hears that Nanite is under viral attack and he loses the signal. His orders don't change, but he will do so with much more gusto. There's about nothing that will stop him from getting to his wife.

He still assumes that Drake will handle the paperwork, while he gets to his wife.

Please roll a Computers, Robotics, potentially multiverse theory to understand how he can help save Nanite - either through shunting the virus through the multiverse link in an attempt to save her or any other method possible.

How many luck points do I have left?


OOC: Slingshot has 1.4 Luck Points left.


OOC: Clone will of course communicate anything that needs to be relayed    between teams, but I must admit I'm a bit confused on what you're    suggesting? What exactly would he be looking at from above and    below, and how would it help triangulate Nanite's position? I got    lost somewhere - did I miss an e-mail maybe? =/



OOC: By being in two positions, with two readings, you might be able to figure out where she is. (assuming she's between the two teams). So if she's 2 floors down and you're 5 floors down, I can only see that she's down, you see she's up and we with the reading we should be able to figure out she's two down. To get an exact location you need a third point (triangulate).


OOC: Hey Kev,
fyi, The readings Stephane mentioned are coming from the handheld scanners that Symbiote created at Slingy's request, to track Nanite's silent signal.



Lightning Strike:
Strike was torn now that he saw the function of the program running.  The entity was totallly evil and deserved destruction but the resultant chaos and potential loss of life due to all technology being destroyed was too great a cost.

Strike speaks to the group.  "Ideally the teleportation blockage would also eliminate any wireless connections out of the Aztech building so that all Vanguard would need to focus on was removing every wired connection into the building.  In theory, two individuals with my powers could burn out all connections into the building and isolate it from the grid.  Of course there may not be enough time for that and if they missed even one connection, the virus could propogate at such a rate that it may be impossible to stop.  We also have no way of knowing what affect disabling power to the building would have on Nanite."

If Sentinel can determine how far the program has gotten, Strike can work through the grid to isolate the complex.  That may tie us up from engaging paranormals but hopefully the rest of the groups can take care of the fisticuffs.


OOC: Hi Jeff.
Just a quick thought for a possible usage of Kirk's power if it becomes necessary...

Once Kirk gets an energy feel on the area encompassed by the computer systems he could go outside the room (could do it from anywhere but it seems the easiest method) and expand his energy around the surrounding room(s) using the interior of the wall areas as a basis and in effect have the simplest and quickest route to 'cut off' access to the area.  As he expands his shield/energy through the wall area he effectively cuts off all electrical lines as well as all power lines thus depriving the computer systems of both their power (if supplied by a source outside the rooms) and all wired access.  In addition, it would certainly seem plausible that if wireless systems are in play, they too would be cut off
with their signals bounced back inwardly off his shields.

By going through and using the walls as a basic it should keep both the damage and the effort to a minimum (ie as opposed to cutting through solid cement, ground, etc - should just be a bunch of wires, light metal, etc).

His energy construct would form a barrier around the room locking things in at least temporarily and cutting off all physical contact for the systems within it.  Even if the barrier comes down all of the computer and power systems should still be disconnected at that point.

As a bonus, if the teleporter is present in the room and his means of teleport is energy of some form (ala Strike) it might block the teleport (if more of a dimensional teleporter like Harrik's last one then this wouldn't apply as they'd still slip through the doorway they create within the room as opposed to beaming out.

Given that we don't know what will be happening next and that Strike may take out the system quicker anyway it might not be needed, but I thought this might actually be doable and might work.