Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vanguard: Issue 161: Rematch with Homicide for Hire!



Inside the Aztechnology compound, Vanguard burst through a large door and into a massive chamber that was an “electronic blind room,” similar to the room Hal built in Vanguard Vault for Ethan’s birth! The room was full of energy, machinery and people, including Nanite, who was so close and yet so far!

Dominating the room, following the arc of its southeastern wall, was an immense Digital Zone Gate! It was nearly identical to the one in Vanguard Vault except it wasn’t just a window. It was a portal, and it was open! A field of seven foot high generators, in rows before the gate, powered it!

Through the open portal was the Digital Zone, the Entity’s dimension, cyberspace, a universe of infinite black with billions of glowing chrysalis gossamers that formed shapes, landscapes, cities of glowing, pulsing data. The gossamers were connected to billions of diadem screens. (Imagine Tron, the Matrix, Neuromancer, etc.) 

Already through the portal was Nanite! Just bringing her into this room would have ended reception of the silent signal. She was digitized, lifeless and slowly falling away from the Gate in something like slow motion zero gravity. Still in her wedding dress, surrounded by the fathomless data superstructures, she echoed the Datanauts visual. At her current distance of 100 meters, and rate of travel, she was likely placed through the portal around the time Vanguard lost the silent signal. Sentinel’s energy sense confirmed her unique energy signature.

Slate heard whispering voices emanating from the Digital Zone, not unlike those he had dreamed of. Of their words, he could only make out his name. The voices, and perhaps the Digital Zone itself, lured him, beckoned him, like a siren’s song, like a long overdue homecoming.

Between Vanguard and the Gate were the new Homicide for Hire! Among them were Ratman and Pachyderm!
  

Beyond the extranormal assassins, near the Portal Gate, was another.

He was laid out on a steel table with cables and wires attaching into his head and chest.

It was Soldier!

In the split second it took Vanguard to burst into the gigantic electronic blind room and process all that they saw, something else happened simultaneously:

The Soldier that had joined Team One placed a reassuring hand on the shoulder of his friend Avatar and the myrmidon of mythology felt a tiny prick there. Then Avatar fell to the floor unconscious! Before the fight had even begun, Vanguard had lost one of their big guns!


Soldier wasn’t the real Soldier. It was Skin Deep

FLASHBACK!
 
 
The real Soldier 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, 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!
 
 
Soldier used his military contacts to investigate his own father and found he was working as a consultant to MEDUSA, as was Silas Caine!

Soldier knew about MEDUSA. Before 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.

The whole thing smelled wrong.
Dr. Ashe joined MEDUSA and soon the Patriot was released from custody and working as Silas Caine’s bodyguard!

Soldier began surveillance on his father’s movements and discovered in his schedule several appointments months ago at the Aztechnology compound!

While performing nighttime recon on the wooded grounds of Aztech, he was confronted by Jim Harrik, the Mercenary! Before the fight could start, the Merc used a small device to deactivate all of the Soldiers cybernetic systems! Matt collapsed and was captured by Homicide for Hire!
Soldier berated himself upon waking up. “How could you have allowed this to happen? You've allowed yourself to be captured,” he thought. “You’ve not only failed yourself, but the other members of Vanguard.” He'd placed them in danger, and that's something he vowed to never let happen again.
 After a few minutes of feeling sorry for himself, he thought: "Get yourself together Matt, no time for a pity party, you have to get your act together and figure a way out of this mess. People are counting on you."
While in captivity, he played possum and continued his surveillance as he had been trained to do in the Army, gaining more info than he gave up. In fact, HFH did not interrogate Soldier at all!
 Soldier was contained in the large electronic blind room, so his communicator and wireless capabilities were cut off. He was unable to upload any files on his captors. Soldier believes he has been held for just under two days. During this time, he learned:

- Soldier’s cybernetic systems had been created by MEDUSA! This explained how Harrik might have deactivated them. Homicide for Hire assumed him incapacitated and ignored him, even discussing things in his presence! Soldier was still in possession of his firearm, Mercy.

- In captivity, Matt secretly activated self-diagnostic programs to regain control of his systems. It worked. His systems have been operational and at full power for the last few hours and he continued to play possum, waiting for his chance. When HFH said that Vanguard arrived and began to prepare for them, he knew his chance had come.
(In game terms, Homicide for Hire did not know that Soldier had cured his Vulnerability to Electrical attacks!)

- Homicide for Hire evinced a shocking knowledge of Vanguard’s powers and weaknesses! But they did not betray how. Soldier learned that they attacked Vanguard at the wedding of Slingshot and Nanite, kidnapping Nanite and furious that they hadn’t captured Slate as well, moved to “Plan B:” luring Vanguard and Slate here.

- Homicide for Hire had been contracted to kill Vanguard, and send Nanite, Slate and himself (Soldier) into the Digital Zone, with their systems carrying a powerful Virus that would destroy The Entity, IT! This is why they kept Matt alive; they were waiting for Slate to arrive, following Nanite’s signal, and open the gate to the Digital Zone once. Then, they were to destroy the gate and the facility and leave.

- Soldier doesn’t know who contracted Homicide for Hire or who created the Virus. HFH’s most technical member, Maelstrom, knows enough to be able to load the Virus into Nanite, Soldier and Slate, but he did not create it. Maelstrom can also operate the Digital Zone gate. The Virus is inside Soldier’ computers now, but doesn’t appear to harm them. Soldier is now a carrier.

- Soldier heard Maelstrom remark to Ion that there was an evolutionary sequence between IT and Mankind. Nemesis was an android. Nanite was somewhere between a robot and an android. Slate seems to be the missing link between androids and humans. And, to Matt’s surprise, he heard Maelstrom say that MEDUSA’s experimental cyborg, Soldier, was designed to be a hybrid between man and robot!

- Having observed both Jim Harrik (aka The Mercenary) and the Patriot closely, Soldier believed it was possible they were the same man! But he had no proof.

- The Luddite is certifiably insane and is not a member of Homicide for Hire. Neither is the Pachyderm who is seen more as a secret weapon, not unlike how the Atomic Brain was used for the last altercation with Vanguard. Pachyderm was brought into this room moments ago, in preparation for Vanguard’s arrival. He had not seen him before that. Everyone else present are members of Homicide for Hire.

- Soldier saw only these criminal metahumans during his captivity. No one else.

-The unconscious Nanite was just brought into the electronic blind room moments ago. Then Maelstrom opened the Gate.

“I was wondering when you’d find us,”
Harrik’s voice snapped Matt back to the present!

END FLASHBACK!

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this rematch.” Harrik said coolly. 
Then to his team of trained professionals: “Take them.”

The battle erupted!

Avatar's heightened metabolism shrugged Skin Deep’s sedative with amazing speed!  Opening his eyes, he saw Soldier and realized what had likely happened.  He also saw the foes arrayed against Vanguard and knew that this will be one hell of a fight! 

Ratman quickly scurried across the tops of the towering generators on all fours, and then leapt right at Agent Drake! The human rodent’s insidious, steel Whiplash Tail struck the valiant agent in the back of the head before he could react! KER-RACK! Drake collapsed to the floor, unconscious!

Ratman snickered, “Heh heh. Could never stand Feds. They’re just cops with attitude.”

Slate was drawn to the portal... It looked somehow so familiar.  Seeing Nanite floating away, his first thought was to go after her, but Slingshot's words cut through his reverie...

Slingshot surveyed the room. He noticed the generators and noted the positions of Harrik, Skin Deep and the Luddite. He focused on the portal and took in the scene displayed there.
He turned to Slate, speaking softly: "I'm going for mom. Once I have her out, I need you to keep her safe. I have a few scores to settle."

Upon seeing Harrik, Sentinel’s hand instinctively reached to feel the scar on his side from their last encounter and said to Vanguard, “Whatever you do, don't let Harrik choose your sparring partner for you.  He is very specific in prepping his team with the hero that they are best suited to defeat."

The Mercenary spoke quietly into his headset as he jumped atop the nearest generator, to view his killing floor.
His well-rehearsed team nodded understanding at his words.
The Merc pulled a grenade launching carbine from his back, loaded and fired a mini-thermobaric cartridge directly at Slingshot! Fffwooooooosshhh!  KA-BOOOOM!

Slingshot was ground zero for the grenade detonation! The concussion slammed his malleable form, and the thermite exploded in flames! (OOC: 24 points of damage! 8 from concussion, 16 from heat as per his weakness. Slingy takes 8 off Invulnerability, rolls with 9 and takes 7 to hit points!)
The concussive blast remained close to Slingshot, not affecting any of the surrounding environments, knocking him back ten feet into Sentinel! Slingy was burned but not ablaze.
Flames reflecting in his polarized visor, Harrik afforded himself a small smile. It was short lived.

Lightning Strike moved to attack Harrik! The vengeful vigilante of voltage overcame the powerful urge to attack the Luddite and instead magnetically launched a fistful of nails up at the Mercenary! Harrik was completely surprised by the unexpected form of attack and the nails marched a line up the underside of Harrik’s left forearm that he had instinctively thrown forward in defense! Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! Thunk! The nails pierced the master tactician’s insulated combat uniform, and his arm ran red with blood!
Harrik scowled at this unanticipated development, and cursed the lack of intel into his headset.

Soldier was done playing possum. This was his chance! He broadcast a signal to Vanguard’s communicators: "I'm still not quite sure what's going on, but any help you can give me getting the hell out of this place would be much appreciated."

With that, the patriotic powerhouse leapt off the table at his nearest captor: The Puppet! Soldier landed behind him and threw a low strike at the Puppet’s head to try to knock him out! KERACK!! His fist hit home! The Puppet was knocked forward but remained “conscious.” Soldier realized for the first time that the thing was made of actual wood! He had damaged it, but its anatomy wasn’t human! It couldn’t suffer concussions from blows to the head!

Pachyderm turned stiffly to glare at Soldier with malice in his eyes.

“Our toy soldier is awake!” the Puppet shrieked in a horrifying mockery of human speech!

“Stick with the plan,” Harrik snarled.

“Relax, freak,” Ion said to the Puppet. “I’ll ace him and throw him in the Portal.” Then came a crack of thunder and the flash of lightning! Ion fired a cascading roar of white hot electricity from his eyes into Soldier! KRAKA-BOOMM!! (Damage is not doubled because Soldier had just bought down his Weakness! He takes 12 points of damage. 8 from Invulnerability. 4 from Power. 0 from Hits!)

Soldier had been doused with electricity and was unharmed!

Ion said to Harrik, “Hey, boss man. I thought you said this guy can’t handle lightning!”

Harrik frowned for the second time today. But not the last.

Menagerie assumed the shape of Man and bravely approached the elephantine elemental force! “Pachy, what has happened to you? Why has my friend left the Great Canadian Wild? Where is beautiful Snow Leopard? Don’t you remember our time at the campfires eating fish and elk together? Why are you here with these people? They don’t love you like Snow Leopard and I do.” (OOC: expends Luck Point to increase Pachyderm’s chance to escape the mental domination of the Puppet! Also, nice job deducing the stringed Svengali’s powers!)

Pachyderm stood blinking, uncomprehendingly, at Menagerie as crucial seconds ticked by!
“Cat… Lady…?” he managed to utter with great effort.

Maelstrom suddenly appeared next to Slate! The technological teleporter matter-of-factly injected a hypodermic needle into Slate’s neck! The scion of cyberspace could detect nanites entering his body! He was being infected with the Virus! “Host 3 is ready,” Maelstrom reported.

The Puppet scrabbled up one of the seven foot tall generators, looked at Zephyr, and held his hands out as if manipulating unseen puppet strings. “Yes, my dear,” it crooned lovingly. “Yes. You are MY puppet now!”
  
Zephyr shook her head ‘no,’ held out her hands, “Stop!” and then was still.

“Yeeeeesssss,” the predatory Pinocchio hissed. “My lovely princess doll. Send Slate home.” He began giggling uncontrollably. “Heeheeehee! Yes! Send that tin robot back where he came from! AH HAHAHA HAHA HAAAA!!”

Zephyr nodded mechanically and took to the air! She flew behind Slate, placing him between herself and the Digital Zone Gate. Her face contorted in resistance as she was helpless to stop herself from blasting him with a hurricane force gale! WHHHOOOOOOOOOSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

“YES!” barked the Puppet with savage glee! “THAT’S the way to do it!”

Slate was blown up over the generators and through the Digital Gate into cyberspace!

When he came within a foot of the portal, he felt himself pulled in, with a flash of electricity! KRAKOW!

(OOC: Slate has a new character sheet in this plane of existence.
Your Intelligence score is now your Agility score as well.
Your Charisma score is now your Strength and Endurance scores as well.
Your Hit Points are now equal to your Charisma Score.
Your Power Points equal (Chax2) + (Intx2) and they are currently full.)

Slate became digitized, rendered in green linear data, and felt as if he was finally coming home. He felt a sense of completion, of resolution, and suddenly the voices he could hear calling his name stopped!

Floating toward Nanite, he remained focused on her, wondering what affect the Virus would have on her, and suddenly he knew. As if just thinking upon it made it so. It was all laid out before him, clearly and simply.
Here, he could see and comprehend the Virus’ code.
It was already infecting cyberspace. Slate watched it working to dissolve the Digital Zone’s very fabric.
Slate knew the Virus would not harm Nanite in the world of flesh and Men, but here it would eventually destroy her, and him, and everything in cyberspace. He didn’t have much time.

Looking at his hands, the Digital Child saw the Virus code pouring off of them, flowing, spreading, working. And in watching the code, he believed he could rewrite it.

Meanwhile, in the concrete world, the living opposite of Slate acted!

The Luddite wanted to absorb Lightning Strike alive! He ranted, “This all ends here! The invasion of cyberspace is stopped! The Earth will survive, thanks to our actions here today! The Digital Revolution shall be overturned!” He floated above the generators and moved to attack Lightning Strike and…
The Mercenary barked, “I said, stick with the plan!”
The intangible technophobe hesitated and then fell in line. The Luddite held his hands out before him in the direction of Symbiote and absorbed the energy of the Harper Harness! SHRAKK!! Electricity flew from Symbiote into the Luddite and was gone! VWOOP!

The Harper Harness had been drained of all power! (No charges remain. But Inhuman’s template is still active.)
Clone said to his nearest duplicate, “I am knowing this one from somewhere I am thinking, but I am not knowing from where it is,” as he failed to recall from where he knew the malevolent marionette!
The Puppet replied mockingly, “Yes, Alex. I believe you should. Hahahaha! The dear Dr. X had been a… client of mine some time ago. I can’t wait to be pulling your strings again! Hahaha haha!”
 
The mob of multiplying mutants started to move forward, and one of their number looked back at his fellow Vanguard members and said, “Please to be saving of Nanite! I will make you some time,” With that the ‘Replicating Russian’ started to sub-divide once again, but this time he didn’t stop at just one or two – this time he went all the way! (OOC: Costs one Action and 15 PP to create 15 more duplicates!)
There was suddenly a line that divided the battlefield, comprised of 22 Clones!

No wait, there were 23!

Skin Deep, still wearing the guise of Soldier, was behind all of Vanguard. Unobserved, the fa├žade fatale transformed into the likeness of Clone, including his battle staff, to blend in with the crowd!
Sentinel couldn’t stand the sight of Harrik and all he represented. He recalled how they had pursued him and he was able to escape despite their best efforts, and how ineffectual Kirk had been in combat with him. The scar in his side from Harrik’s weapon was a constant reminder of that day. But Vanguard had changed since their last encounter. They were seasoned. And they had much more power at their command. He looked to his friend John, back then Kairos, now Avatar who manifested the power of the Pantheon of Greek Gods! If any of us was fast and powerful enough, resilient and versatile, and just plain stubborn and gutsy it was him. Without looking at him but within his earshot Kirk said, ‘I suspect Homicide for Hire is quite unlike the Hydra.’ He knew John would get the mythical reference that for HFH once its head, Harrik, was cut off, there would be no miraculous recovery, only defeat.

Kirk surveyed the situation and his concern over seeing Pachyderm in their numbers was great. He knew from first-hand experience that the combined power of all of Vanguard might not be enough to take him down and that just one blow of his brutal power could crush half his teammates permanently! He heard Menagerie attempting to reach him … and remembered his own attempts to do the same in the alternate world when his best friend Hal had assumed that persona. At the moment Kirk focused on that gateway and the Digital Zone and formed a plan seeing it for what it was here … the great equalizer. Everything that made Pachyderm the lethal threat in this world would be neutralized in that world… a world that when visited is based not on the physical prowess one possessed in this world, but rather the internal fortitude.
Kirk held his action to see if Menagerie’s efforts with Pachyderm would be successful. But he was poised and ready so that the first moment he saw him ‘on the charge’ he would look for the moment he was most unprepared and off-balance and thrust him though the gateway into the Digital Zone!

Slingshot knew that he was likely in for a large amount of pain. He took a giant step towards the portal. He anchored himself to one of the generators and then extended an arm as quickly as possible to retrieve Nan from the digital dimension!
As his arm got close to the portal, it was pulled in! The force of the attraction was so strong that Slingshot’s arm reached its maximum stretching length in an instant, and the force kept pulling! (14 points of damage! Cannot be rolled with!) Slingshot remained conscious and held on to his anchor point with all his might!
Fighting against being pulled into the Digital Zone, Slingshot regained control of his now-digitized right arm and grabbed Nanite! His arm had sailed past Slate and was within Slate’s reach! (OOC: But your turn ends here! Movement to stretch to reach Nanite, and your Action to grab her!)

SHRAK-KAK-KAK-KKK! Electricity sparked from the interface of the concrete Slingshot with his digitized arm!

“NO!” howled the Luddite! “Would you sacrifice the entire world for your accursed family?!!!”

Zero G was about to call an audible, but then remembered Slingshot could warp his form to escape many of the effects of his gravitational powers. He stuck with the play book. He levitated toward Sentinel and targeted not the heir of heroism, but his solid energy shield!  VROM! Zero G chuckled thickly to himself as…

Sentinel felt his shields becoming heavy, heavier than he could “lift” with his powers! The beacon of liberty fell to the ground beneath the titanic weight of his own construct and was in danger of being crushed alive inside it! (OOC: 10 points of damage, all to Hit Points. Cannot be rolled with!)
Symbiote looked up at the Villainous Vermin, studying him as though he were the rat he represented. "You know, Ratso, I've had to perform the occasional experiment on rats in my scientific career," he said. "Can't say I liked it, just something that had to be done to further medical science. But you...I'm going to enjoy trying something out on you. Like humans, a rat's body is about 90% water," Hal raised a webbed hand. "Let's see what happens when a rat gets really, really dehydrated..."


With that, Hal used his powers to force a significant amount of water out of Ratman's body...through his pores, through his eyes, his mouth, through....shall we say, less pleasant to think about orifices, if necessary. It wasn’t pretty. Symbiote now controlled 50 lbs. of water!
Ratman whimpered and whined as he was dehydrated! (Ratman will now act as if Fatigued)

“I’ll get you for that,” he squeaked.


Pachyderm stopped blinking at Menagerie. He shook his head as if to ward off agonizing pain. Then he turned to the Puppet.  “You… killed… Cat Lady!!!”
“No! Wait!” pleaded the Puppet, all mirth quickly draining from his wooden features.

“RRAAAAAAUGH!” roared the massive man-mammoth as he smashed his fist down onto the freakish figurine! KRUNCH! The Puppet was shattered into splinters, along with the generator he was perched upon! There was a flash of light and Menagerie knew that the foul sorcery that had possessed the wooden idol was gone!

The annihilated generator sparked and smoked and the Digital Zone Portal flickered but remained powered!

Zephyr was suddenly released from the Puppet’s control!

Avatar regained his bearings. The miraculous man of myth manifested the Strength of Ares and readied for battle!

Jim Harrik barked to his team: “Stop Slingshot from reeling her in!” Then: “Here IT comes!”

Vanguard turn and saw, through the portal, a gigantic face was forming in the sky of cyberspace! But it was different than the last time! This face was a blend of the features of IT the Entity, and Nemesis!


To be continued!


 


Current Conditions:
Avatar: Hit Points: 62,  Power Points: 69,  Manifestation: The Speed of Hermes!  The Strength of Ares!
Clone: Bodies: 22,  Hit Points: 1 each,  Power Points: 42, Hit Point Pool: 22
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 41,  Power Points: 78
Menagerie: Hit Points: 23,  Power Points: 55,  Form: Man
Sentinel: Hit Points: 13,  Power Points: 69, Creation Points: 138, Shields: 100  Has a saved action!
Slate: Hit Points: 30, Power Points: 72
Slingshot: Hit Points: 58,  Power Points: 82,  Invulnerability: 0 til Issue 163
Soldier: Hit Points: 57, Power Points: 76, Invulnerability: 0 until Issue 163
Symbiote: Hit Points: 34, Power Points: 78, Charges: 0, Copied: Inhuman, Water Controlled: 50 lbs.

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Avatar:
IC:  Avatar hears Sentinel's statement and bounds up at super-speed, heading for Harrik at maximum velocity!  Without weapons, he attempts to slam into Harrik, using not only his strength but also his speed to try and drive the Mercenary into a solid object.

OOC:  Trying to hit him with an initial attack that not only uses my punching damage with the higher strength score but also the speed of travel.  I don't care if I also do some damage to myself with this (I think that I remember rules in the back of the book for this sort of thing) because I should do MORE damage to him.  I'll go ahead and use a Luck Point on this attack AND I'm hoping that he's surprised at least somewhat since he saw me go down.  Unless the situation changes drastically, Avatar will continue attacking Harrik.

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Clone:
OOC: As always, an awesome Issue!

I have a question - Based on Vanguards past run-in's with Skin Deep,    would Clone know Skin Deep's powers? If so, what are they exactly?    Is Skin Deep simply a shapeshifter like Marvel Comics Mystique or is    there an actually power mimicry going on (i.e. does Skin Deep have    some/all of Clone's powers)?

-Kev

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Slingshot:
OOC: You've done it again! You manage to keep me on the edge of my seat for the whole read.


.. and while I know what I need to do next, I'm still torn between the many things I need to do.

 The merge between Nemesis and IT is a neat idea. I'll work with that.

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Menagerie:
OOC: AWESOME Issue!!!

IC: Menagerie was overcome with sadness and anger at hearing the fate of Snow Leopard. "Pachy, I am so sad to hear about Snow Leopard." Menagerie pointed at Zero G. "He is Wooden Man's friend. He helped kill Snow Leopard, you know what to do. While you hurt of him I will go hurt more of Wooden Man's friends!"

OOC: Does Menagerie's Heightened Senses provide him with a high chance (75%+) of detecting which Clone is Skindeep?

Thanks
Tom

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GM:
OOC: Thanks guys!

Harold/Avatar: Understood. As per the rules:

With Strength of Ares (+15 to Strength), your new HTH damage is 2d8.

Speed of Hermes increases your ground movement by +750" and adds 25 to your initiative, giving you two actions per combat "issue."
Running at full speed and hitting someone gives you +3d10 damage, as per the ramming rules in section 3.3 of V&V second edition (or 2.1 edition). See chart called "Projectile Velocity / Damage Bonus"

But, while moving at such speeds, you incur a -5 to hit, as per the Range Modification Rules in section 3.2.B in V&V second edition, or 2.1.

Last time you fought, Harrik was hard to hit.
Please note, if you move at slower speeds, you may reduce your damage bonus and your negative modifier to hit, as per those charts.

Please also note that your movement of 829" covers one combat turn or two "issues" of my game.

Finally, the Luck Point expenditure will give a +4 to hit for one attack. Do you burn Luck Points for both of your attacks this issue?

Please let me know what you'd like to do. Thanks.


Kev/Clone: Skin Deep has never been captured by the law so her true powers are unknown.

She clearly has the ability to disguise her appearance with shape shifting, and this includes the replication of clothes and hand held objects.

She exhibited stretching powers when she fought Slingshot in his solo adventure, and when she attacked the President disguised as Slingy.

Slingshot burned her in his solo adventure. Whether there was additional damage due to a Slingshot-esque vulnerability to flames or not is unclear. 


Tom/Menagerie: Your Heightened Senses are a magic power that helps you detect things related to Magic and Nature. It won't increase your chance of finding Skin Deep among the Clones. Sorry.

Best,
Jeff

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Avatar:
OOC: Hmm...I forgot about that negative on the "to hit" roll.  Can I divide my speed by two, thereby reducing the penalty (and the damage mod, unfortunately) and giving velocity bonus on the second action?  If I can try and gain the velocity bonus on the second action, as you seem to state, I will most definitely make that attempt.  Use a Luck Point for each attack, too. 

Also, I had considered just punching him but, since he has a weapon out, I'll use one, too.  First attack will be trying to ram him with the shield and the second attack will be with the sword, if permissible. 

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Clone:
OOC: Jeff, I've been trying to figure out a way for Clone to be able to determine which one of the duplicates Skin Deep is and I think I've come up with an idea. If she has his powers, including his Telepathic Link, he would know her thoughts - right? If she doesn't have all of his powers then I'm assuming that he wouldn't - that make sense at all? I've been trying to remember how it went down with Clone Omega ( I haven't re-read the old issue's yet to see exactly ); and if I remember correctly, because they had the same powers Clone and Clone Omega were sharing thoughts back and forth.

What do you think?

-Kev

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OOC:
Hi guys.

Harold/Avatar: All of that is permissible.
Dividing your movement between your two actions in Issue 162 yields a +2d10 damage bonus and a -4 to hit.
If that's still too high a negative you can choose among:

-3 to hit, +2d8 damage
-2 to hit, +d8 damage

-1 to hit, +d4 damage

as per the charts I mentioned before.

All your movement replenishes for Issue 163. The first combat turn is issues 161 and 162.

Kevin/Clone: Could be. If Skin Deep can duplicate your powers, then either:
a) You and she will share a telepathic link
or
b) She will have a telepathic link with the duplicates she creates of herself. Just as you have a link with the duplicates you create of yourself.

If possibility b is what transpires, it means that Clone and Clone Omega were able to share a link because they were the same person, or close enough.

Best,
Jeff

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Avatar:
OOC: Fine with me.  At least the use of a Luck Point reduces the penalty to nothing.  I'd say that, between Avatar's powers and Harrik's likely powers, things probably all come out pretty much equal probabilities to hit or miss.  With two attacks, one will likely hit, doing 2d8+2d10+(whatever weapon and damage mods are).  That should get his attention and distract him from directing combat, if nothing else.

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Clone:
OOC: I hadn't considered the possibility of 'Option B' - so it’s possible if she has Clone's powers; then aside from that commonality, they could still be two completely separate individuals entirely.

If 'Option A' is the case - is it safe to assume that Clone hasn't picked up anything from her yet?

My apologies if these questions are kind'a putting you on the spot, Jeff. I'm just trying to logic-out how Clone would be able to figure out which one of the 'Clone Crowd' is actually Skin Deep - or would he simply know which is which since he knows who he is? That make sense?

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Soldier:
OOC: Jeff, a few quick questions. 1) Soldier is fully online correct?, 2) How heavy is the Puppet?, 3) Can a make run to grab him (a special attack), as I've got an idea?

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GM:
OOC:
Kevin/Clone: No problem. Clone hasn't picked up any of Skin Deep's thoughts yet.

Dom/Soldier: Soldier is fully online. But the Puppet was destroyed by Pachyderm this issue.

Best,
Jeff

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Soldier:
OOC: Sorry I need to clarify. Is there anything left of his body, as I'd like to use it as a club?
1) Because I need one
2) Soldier won't admit it, but he's pissed and wants to hit something,
3) I just find that pic you posted of Puppet down right creepy.

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Sentinel:
OOC: Just got to read the issue.
Cheers to Tom for turning a liability into an asset.  Congrats.  Your move likely turned the tide here.

Tony ... Deadshot back in action!!!  No one else will get the reference but nice move.

Jeff: Seems obvious that the move here it to force Kirk to drop his shields and to try take him out before he can recreate them.  I'm wondering, since Tom turned the tide with the Pachy move... even though Kirk can't lift the shields, can he reform them to support their own weight?  In other words, he can reform them into say a pyramid form so that he is taking no damage, still have their protection, and perhaps use his action to establish a mental link to find out more about the plans of HFH?  That's option one.

However, there isn't any reason that Kirk can't simply reform his shields weight free here? ... of course at this point they could use the same move against him ... just wondering if I'm missing anything?

Seth

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Menagerie:
OOC: Thanks Seth
Now if I can only figure out what to do this turn.
Tom

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GM:
OOC:
Dom/Soldier: Sorry. My mistake. Puppet was 30” tall and weighed 25 lbs. before he was splintered. The largest piece of it/him left is his head and torso at 15 lbs. It’s not a club, due to its articulation and 18” length.

But it can be used as a brawling weapon for HTH +1 point of damage, as per the Brawling Weapons table.

Or you could use a broken limb that has a sharp edge as a makeshift knife, for HTH +d2 damage and a +1 to hit.


Seth/Sentinel: Reforming the shields into a pyramid shape would be a difficult task attempt, as Sentinel needs to lift a portion of the shields up, to form the pyramid zenith, and the shields are extremely heavy.

And yes, he could “extinguish” his shields, gain those Creation Points back into his pool, and then use those points to create new shields that are no longer under Zero G’s gravity effect. Kind of like money laundering, but for a good cause!

Best,
Jeff

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Sentinel:
OOC: Hi Jeff.

I'm leaning towards the 'money laundering' move but am still working on it ... likely will have to do that just to avoid further damage which would take Kirk out of action ... but still deciding where to place myself  on the gameboard to do the most good.

In the meantime some dialogue (and Kirk's 'normal' inner monologue).

Kirk had feared Slate ending up in the Digital Zone.  In his mind, with what they knew of his powers, he figured he was the Son of the King… that his power would be incredible there.  His entry into the zone would have been Vanguard’s last ditched effort if all seemed lost … but he was concerned that somehow IT would have had something implanted within Slate that would take control once he was there.

Kirk shouted to Slate, “Slate, are you all right?  Do you still have free will?  Can you act as you please?  What can we do to help?”

And he hoped that if Slate was still in control of himself that HFH had underestimated the potential within him and had just handed Vanguard their best hope for victory.

Kirk looked at the face in the gateway; the bizarre conglomeration of the Entity IT and the hero he desperately had wanted to rescue … one of the greatest heroes of their time, Nemesis.  He felt indebted to those heroes of the Freedom Force and wanted to be sure they were all found.  So far, Nemesis had been the only one … and as quickly as they found him, Kirk lost him again.

Had Slingshot not pulled Kirk along with the rest of Vanguard through the gate that day, he’d likely have perished in his attempt to rescue Nemesis.  Kirk’s failure to bring him home led to this … thing … before them.

Seemingly ignoring the twisted image that filled the gate before him he said, “Nemesis, Vanguard is here to help.  Are you now in control of Cyberspace?  What happened to you?”  And he hoped the reply heard with be that of the hero and not the threat of IT, the Entity.

Seth

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Symbiote:
IC:  Symbiote looked towards the frightful image of The Entity appearing in the gateway.  Gee, as if the nightmares weren't enough, he thought to himself, remember the awe inspiring presence his teammates and the Soviet Super Soldiers had faced down.  The Super Scientist began to calculate the variables:  He's the real threat here.  Harrik is probably a close second, and Skin Deep probably runs third.  But there's not much to be done about IT other than closing the gate, and we can't do that until Slate and Nanite are out.  Probably the best thing we can do is keep everybody off Slingshot until he can reel his family in.  Avatar's about to have Harrik in hand, and there's not much to be done about Skin Deep right now.

So probably the best thing I can do is make sure nobody else bothers Slingy.  Wrapping things up with my current dance partner is as good a place to start as any.

With that, the Piscean Powerhouse turned towards Ratman, and the 50 lb. globe of water floating between them.  "Oh, I'm sorry Ratso, were you using that?" he asked, gesturing towards the levitating water.  "THEN HERE....TAKE IT BACK!"

With that, Symbiote gestured towards Ratman and the water zipped over his head, completely enveloping it.  Breathing would now become quite an issue, but Hal wasn't finished yet.  He clenched his outstretched hand into a fist and the globe began to shrink, the water compressing, forcing more and more pressure against the Rogue of Rodentia's skull.  Half dehydrated and unable to breathe, how many PSIs of water pressure can you take, you sick freak?  Hal thought to himself.  Let's find out....

Viva Vanguard,
Greg

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Symbiote:
OOC: Having just read Seth's post, I just now realized that Nemesis and The Entity seem to have merged.  Missed that in reading the issue.  Sorry.

Oh well, doesn't really change Hal's actions, he's still going to try to finish off Ratman.  Except now he's a little hopeful that Nemesis will be the more dominant personality in this merger, and that The Nementity will be benevolent, or at least not actively wish us harm.

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Sentinel:
OOC: Hey Greg.
Just hoping Nemesis is in control ... we got an incredible break with Tom's turning Pachy into an asset, I suspect IT now being Nemesis controlling cyberspace would be too much to hope for ... but we'll see.

And yes, my thoughts were the same ... protect and assist Slingshot ... some of the other moves I was considering was placing Kirk with shields intact in front of Slingshot to hopefully protect him ... I was so mad with Harrik hitting him with the incendiary weapon again ... I'd remembered it from last time but knew that Kirk wouldn't be fast enough to prevent it even if the 'turning Kirk's shields into a weapon against him" wasn't done.  At least he didn't stay on fire this time.

Another move may be for Kirk to stretch his construct into the digital zone to aid Slingshot in pulling Nanite (and possibly Slate) back in ... if it worked the same way for his shields like it did for Slingshot being half in our world/half in the zone. 

Kirk's stored action is going to have to be do deal with his shield issue, but there is still too much that will happen prior to his next move for me to figure out that to do here ... particularly with no idea of the IT situation.
*** Ugh ***

I'm just hoping Harold puts a major hurt on Harrik...

Seth 

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Soldier:
OOC: Thanks. I'll be using him as an improvised club, as I just can't see Soldier carrying what would effectively be a "shank" into a fight. While it might be more effective, he'd see that as dishonorable. 

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Slingshot:
OOC: Here is my theory regarding IT. Its features are clearly a mix of the Entity and Nemesis.

While the Entity was malevolent, Nemesis was benevolent - I'm willing to bet that this new Entity is perfectly neutral. Now we send IT a virus to take it out. How do you think it will react? Badly.

If Slate has the chance to modify the virus into something innocuous, take the chance. I'll engage the Entity to see if IT is malevolent or not as I pull back Nan.

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Slate:
As Slate reached out to access the closest Server, he was grabbed from behind by a rushing wind and tossed toward the Digital Zone Portal.  He recognized it for what it was.  The portal appeared to be a larger version of what he created anytime he digitized something in this world.  As he grew closer, he felt himself accelerating like a piece of Iron drawn toward a magnet. In the room, the flash of energy everyone else saw, felt like a splash in a pool to Slate. 

It was like returning to the womb. Warmth ran around his body, he barely felt the digital world around him, everything was somehow “right.”  He felt whole.  The emotional turmoil of the last few days was gone. Everything seemed to slow down. He looked around and recognized the world he was now in, he had seen this before, and the memories of his dreams returned in a flood. 

The approaching figure had comforted him when he was troubled, and promised him his mother would be fine.  He felt no fear or trepidation at its approach.  The sickly pall, of the virus’, seemed to color and distort everything it touched, tendrils like smoke spread out from it.  He saw the same smoky residue coming from his mother.  It was repulsive, and he reached out with his mind to wipe it away, from himself and his mother.  He mentally pushed his mother’s inert form toward his father’s outstretched arm.  He gazed at how beautiful and peaceful she looked with her wedding dress digitally flowing around her. Other than application of the virus, she did not appear to have been harmed.

Slate heard words from the other side of the portal, but they were slow and garbled, what an inefficient method of communication he thought idly.  At the same time he was turning toward and moving forward, placing himself between the oncoming Megalith that was IT/Nemesis,  his parents, and the portal.

OOC: Maybe Slate can at least take care of things on this side of the portal while the rest of the team deals with HFH.

Jon

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Soldier:
OOC: Jeff, few more questions for you. The Virus that Soldier is now carrying in his systems, can he scan it? What affect does it have on his nanites, and more importantly, can he make the virus work for him?

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GM:
OOC: Hi Dom,
Soldier is unaffected by the Virus, he is just a carrier.
Soldier's systems, including his nanites, don't categorize it as a hostile invader. So his system defenses haven't targeted it as such.

Soldier can't make the Virus work for him. He has no cybernetic control over it. To "control" or re-purpose the Virus would require it to be re-programmed, and Soldier doesn't have the skills to do that.

Sorry,
Jeff

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Slingshot:
OOC: So I'm kinda stuck. There's about 50 things I'd like to do. Too bad I don't have many arms - Jeff, I have a feeling this is likely going to be on my list of upgrades I'll be looking at. :)

Scott will yell at his son: "Ethan, it's in your hands now. Talk to IT. Let IT know that we are not here to battle, but coexist! This is what you were born to do! You're the link that ties us together. Let us live peacefully!"

Slingshot looked at Mercenary. "Harrik, you don't have a clue what you're messing with! Don't you see? The Entity is NOT what it used to be! Just look at IT! Nemesis seemed to have merged with IT. Nemesis was a Hero! By sending the virus, you only ensure that this new Entity will now see us as a threat! Think man! You're the strategist. =Is it better to have an enemy that may or may not be destroyed by this virus - but totally dedicated to killing you, or an ally? Let us Parlay with it and see what we can do.".

OOC Action: Aside from chatting, Scott, will pull back Nanite into this world and leave a finger back for Slate to grab onto if needed. No way he'll leave his son behind.

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Menagerie:
IC: After Menagerie pointed out Zero G to Pachyderm, telling him that "Zero G is a friend of the puppet that killed Snow Leopard", Menagerie turned into a Grizzly Bear. He tried with his heightened animal senses to determined which Clone was really Skin Deep.

Best
Tom

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Sentinel:
OOC: Hi all.

Jeff:
First move will have to be to recreate his shields so that he doesn't continue to take damage (saved action from last round - no real choice here, especially with damage from the prior battle unhealed)  We've always done this move as instantaneous so I'm hoping this doesn't leave him open with shields down as he does this.  Perhaps we can have him recreate from the inside out or something along those lines.  If possible I'd like it to be as inconspicuous as possible so that HFH doesn't know he is now 'safe' and perhaps this will allow Kirk a surprise move they don't expect.  He'll try to make it look like he is still caught in their trap until the situation calls for otherwise.

Since there is much info to come and things may change by the time Kirk gets his turn for this round I'm content holding my action if prudent like you did this time around however here as some alternatives or things that he will do depending on what happens:

(1) He knows that Soldier is the final carrier of the virus - if it appears he is going to be thrown through the gate he will move to prevent it.  Kirk can move in front of the gate and extend his shields to block it entirely and prevent Soldier from being forced into the gate (he can form the shields around Slingshot so he can continue his efforts to rescue Nanite or even place Slingshot behind them so that he too would be protected from further attack on this side of the gate.  (Depending on when other things happen, perhaps this might be accomplished with the reformation of his shields instead of 'playing possum' - or perhaps this will be the movement of his turn still allowing him an 'attack' of sorts)

(2) If Pachy doesn't take out Zero G and Kirk needs to do so to prevent this from happening again I've actually got a plan for that.  Kirk will go around and approach from above Zero G from above him.  If Zero G tries the trick again, Kirk is ready to maneuver himself right above him so that he is caught underneath the weight of the shields and takes damage from Kirk's attach, the weight of the shields, and the fall.  Since Kirk would be ready and looking for this to happen, instead of being caught unaware like before, perhaps it would be possible to shift the energy around so that he doesn't take damage and get caught 'underneath' it but allows the bulk of the weight to be beneath him while using the amount of energy he can support to maintain his shields.  Sounds tricky, but perhaps with that being his plan it might work.

(3) If things switch with attacks from the villains and it appears Slingshot is in dire straights here and Kirk can help him or with the rescue of Nanite he will do so.

If the game board changes and there is something I haven't thought of that would be heroic and/or Kirk-like that would help the team then you can certainly have him do it.

Thanks and Viva Vanguard!

Seth 

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Clone:
Seeing Skin Deep try to blend into Clone’s regiment of replicates,    the duplicates react with the speed of a single being. The    telepathic and empathic link that exists between them makes their    movements uniform and their response simultaneous – Skin Deep will    pay dearly for attempting to invade the collective. Without    hesitation the entire legion of Clone’s crouches into an attack    formation; with their stave's held at the ready they strike the    first thing that looks like them but is still standing.

    ( OOC: Being that there are some many Clone’s, I’ll try to break      their actions up into small groups )
      The Clone’s Around ‘Skin Deep’

( OOC: Assuming their simultaneous ducking maneuver worked and      Skin Deep is the only one still standing. I’ll spend a Luck Point      if need be to accomplish this. ) The duplicates surrounding    Skin Deep pounce like a well oiled machine – without hesitation and    with without remorse they lunge at her with their staves.

( OOC: Knowing how badly Slingshot would love to get a blood      sample from Skin Deep, at least one Clone will try to take a shot      at her mouth in an attempt to bust open her lip or something. I’ll      spend a Luck Point if need be to accomplish this. )

The Duplicates Near ‘The Mercenary’

Like an ancient Roman Phalanx, another group of Clones suddenly rise    up with their stave's and make a unified assault on The Mercenary!

Help Slingshot!

    A small group of duplicates instantly rush forward to aid their    friend Slingshot. Desperately they reach for any part of their    elastic teammate that they can, determined to keep him from falling    into the abyss of the digital world that lay before him. Like a    group of Ukrainian ticks, the squad of simulacrums ‘dig in’ and    anchor themselves down – if Slingshot goes in then so will they!

. . . And The Rest

    The remaining Clone’s do their best to fill-in where needed most.    Like an army of well trained soldiers, these replicates take on    whatever role is needed most by the teammates around them – defend,    attack, or assist – these duplicating defenders will do whatever it    takes to save their friends!

      >CLONE’S OOC RESPONSE<

   As far as attacking Skin deep and The Mercenary – as many Clone’s    that can attack each without getting in each others way will attack.    They will do their best to surround both targets in order to    maximize the number of Clone’s that can attack and in an attempt to    keep them from fleeing – if possible.

    If the Clone’s are able to take out either Skin Deep or The    Mercenary, one of them will sarcastically mutter in their best    Ukrainian accented Schwarzenegger voice, “Hasta la vista . . .      baby!”

Jeff if there’s anything you think I left out or anything else that    you might need from me just let me know, but I think I covered the    bases. The Clone’s that aren’t assigned definitive actions use them    wherever they fit best – they’re going to fill-in wherever they’re    needed most as the groups actions resolve. You have ‘GM-license’ to    use them wherever they fit best into the story =)

    Talk to you all soon,

- Kev 

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Lightning Strike:
Strike determined that he probably wouldn't be able to pull the same stunt twice on Harrick so he moved on to another target.  Zero G seemed to have Sentinel in a tough spot and since Sentinel is more familiar with the Digital Zone, he would be more needed in dealing with the Entity should it prove to be malevolent.  Strike let loose with a blast at Zero G and hoped to take him unaware as he was involved with Sentinel.

After that attack, Lightning Strike moved on to the generators.  He intended to keep them running so that if another was damaged he could keep the portal open.  He wanted to keep it open until everyone from Vanguard was out of the zone. 

That's all for now.

Tony

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Soldier:
OOC: Sorry guys, I just couldn’t seem to get my act together, and come up with a reply. Hopefully this one works. Solder going to commence to put the beat down on either Zero G, or Ion , as it looks like they’d be the closest to him, although to be honest, it’s probably not really going to matter to him, as he’s going to let loose on whoever’s the closest to him.

IC: Soldier was pissed, he'd been lied to, manipulated, kidnapped, infected with God knows what, and he felt violated. He hadn’t felt this vulnerable since childhood, listening to his father berate him for some perceived weakness or fault, on his part. And now he was ready to take all that pent up frustration out on the members of Homicide for Hire. Using the broken remains of the Puppet as a club, he began swinging like a raging madman at villains assembled before him. “I’m going to break you bastards in half!”

OOC: He’ll keep clubbing away until either his target goes down, the Puppet club shatters/falls apart, or he’s put out of commission by an attack. He’s swinging the puppet at their heads, so if his target is taken out(from a lucky head blow), he’ll immediately move onto the next closest member of HfH, and continue to attack, he’s mad, and not thinking clearly, so he’s not going to hold an action, or evade. If the Puppet falls completely apart, he’d go hands on, making HTH attacks with his fists.
 

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