Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Vanguard: Issue 160: Trojan Horses!

Sunday afternoon, the day after his wedding day, Slingshot spoke to his son, Slate, who was still being held by the Secret Service for his alleged attack on the President of the United States. 

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 the 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 father’s custody.

Slate was released by Sunday night at 9pm, with Sentinel, the last two Vanguardians to be released.

The scion of cyberspace 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 from the eruption of camera flashes.

Slingshot regenerated his injuries using plastic and tar near Vanguard Vault as raw materials to heal his inhuman form! [OOC: I assume?]

By Sunday at midnight, Vanguard received a court warrant to search the Aztechnology facility in Connecticut for Nanite, who had been abducted from her own wedding yesterday!

Menagerie, already near Aztech, received word via his communicator, assumed the shape of a hawk, flew to the Aztech and began casting a ritual that would prevent unnatural travel through its wooded borders. The spell took an hour to cast and was successful! 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 Craft’s floodlights, Vanguard’s flashlights, and the facility’s security lights. There were no unusual energy sources detectable, save the true north of Nanite’s signal.

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

Team Two, 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 wooded compound toward the building, Team One was intercepted by a familiar figure 30 yards from the main entrance!

Out of the tree line came Soldier!

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.

"Good to see you," Soldier said and asked them what they're doing at Aztech. Vanguard Team One quickly exchanged warm greetings, compared notes and continued to the entrance.

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!

Symbiote looked at the servers, and the villainous Virus contained therein.  “The man is mad,” Hal thought 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 straightened 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."

Then suddenly, Nanite’s signal stopped!

Symbiote sprang into action.  "Sentinel, your assistance, please," he said.  "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 began 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 was 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.

Sentinel used his energy sense and computer skills to begin to get more information on the device and how to stop it. Especially 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, no access,” he thought. “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?!”

The two Clones communicated everything that needed to be relayed between teams. Via Clone’s relay Slingshot brought his Computer expertise to bear as well.

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 asked Sentinel with an almost rhetorical tone in his voice, “This is being ambush I am thinking -    no?”

As Sentinel 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 ..."

As the Clones waited for something unexpected to transpire, another 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?”

Lightning Strike was torn now that he saw the function of the program running.  “The Entity is totally evil and deserves destruction,” he thought, “but the resultant chaos and potential loss of life due to all technology being destroyed was too great a cost.”

Strike spoke 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 propagate 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."

“Sentinel, if you and Symbiote can determine how far the program has gotten, I 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.”

Symbiote, Sentinel and Zephyr determined that the program was complete! It had been transmitted into “Hosts 1 and 2” minutes ago! “Host 3” had not been uploaded yet with the Virus!

They also discovered that the Virus was not intended to be loosed upon cyberspace via the “grid!” Isolating the building from the grid wouldn’t stop the Virus’ delivery!

Sentinel and Symbiote attempted to hack into Aztech security and realized it would take time. Likely more time than they had!

Sentinel detected no “power source” beyond the server farm, but he felt that something was inhibiting his energy sense.

In desperation, the superhero scientists traced the Virus’ delivery path. It led upstairs and abruptly dead ended! Strike dared not follow the path in electrical form.

Team Two raced upstairs to where they believe the Virus program had been delivered into Hosts 1 and 2!

Meanwhile, outside, Team One had also lost Nanite’s signal, just as they closed on the building!

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

Menagerie replied, "Yes my spell is up.”

Once Slingshot 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 to have stopped." The detector’s last reading had Nanite above ground; first level inside Aztech.

Drake replied with grim determination, “It’s her last known location. We’re going in.”

Slate stayed as close to Slingshot as possible.  He froze when Nanite's signal stopped.  Still a little numb from his isolation, he attempted to keep his newfound emotions in check.

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 had a thought he could do something with: "When in doubt, track".

Menagerie transformed into a Honey Badger! He immediately detected that artificial scent had been deployed across the grounds, fouling his sense of smell!

Avatar silently manifested the speed of winged Hermes! [OOC: Summons Heightened Speed!]

Slingshot reached the front door first and, with a booming voice, shouted, "Aztechnology, we have a warrant to search this facility for the whereabouts of Nanite!” Scott had waited long enough to get to this point, there was no stopping him now from getting to his wife.

The building was as dark and silent as an office building on Sunday night at 1am, which is exactly what it was.

Slingshot pulled the door off its hinges! REND! Security alarms sounded. Two more doors and they were inside. Save the blaring sirens, all was as it should be. They raced through the darkened office building past the glass atrium, reception desk, cubicle fields, elevator, security lights and cameras.

Slate stopped at the reception computer, but quickly discovered it held no information on Nanite’s whereabouts. He rejoined his father.

Team One moved quickly toward where the Clone’s bi-angulation had pointed.

Menagerie, still in the shape of Honey Badger, sniffed the buildings interior for all the smell and tracks he could find. "Nanite, were you ever here? And who else has been here?"

He found more of the artificial scent that was undetectable by men.  It masked all odors from him. But there was something it could not mask. Menagerie’s mystical sense detected something from the direction they were headed. Something he had sensed before. It was the disturbance in the Natural Order that echoed the Animal Revolution!

Suddenly, Team Two hurtled up a staircase alongside Team One. They were headed to the same destination! Sentinel and Strike, unlike Menagerie, detected nothing up ahead with their extranormal senses! On this level as well, something was interfering with them!

Vanguard burst through a large door and into a chamber that was an “electronic blind room,” not unlike the room Hal built in Vanguard Vault for Ethan’s birth. And it was massive, with ceilings 25 feet high. 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 generators in rows before the gate powered it!

Through the open portal was the Digital Zone, the Entity’s dimension, 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!

The Mercenary! aka Jim Harrik, a seasoned professional and Homicide’s leader. A non-powered human who made his living taking down extranormals, he was a trained military strategist and weapons expert who worked for the highest bidder which in the past included Intercrime and SKULL (where he was partnered with disgraced FF hero, Tornado a.k.a. Blue Comet! -Educational Ed) to name a few. The Mercenary sported a mic headset, like the rest of his team. Although he has fought the Freedom Force on many occasions over many years, and Vanguard once before, Harrik has never been captured.

Zero G!  an assassin who used gravitational force to crush his victims, this former Intercrime soldier did 20 years in CHESS Castle after the Freedom Force took them down. Been out of jail 8 years now.

Ion! An unknown!

Maelstrom!, Vanguard would soon discover, was the name of Harrik’s new emerald teleporter, who participated in Homicide’s action against Vanguard yesterday at the wedding of Slingshot and Nanite! He stood over the Digital Zone Gate controls.

Ratman! The sneaky human rodent was a former Boston scientist who had used himself as a human guinea pig for his illegal DNA experiments, resulting in his amazing rat powers. He had been free since the CHESS Castle jailbreak, and had since built a new Whiplash Tail!

The Luddite! The mad technophobe zealot who had killed Lightning Strike’s wife and tried to kill Nanite! An ethereal, living shadow who could absorb electricity into himself at will!

The Puppet! An eerie living puppet, he was 30” tall and unknown to all of Vanguard save one: Clone had seen this disturbing sight of a living, animated marionette before, but he knew not where! The dividing defender felt a weird déjà vu, as if remembering a glimpse of a forgotten nightmare. Menagerie’s Nature Sense told him this bizarre creature was wholly unnatural and imbued with foul sorcery!

Pachyderm! The seven foot tall man-mammoth was an elemental force of destructive power that, like his name, evoked elephant, hippo and rhino!  [Imagine the Hulk from the new Avengers movie!]

Menagerie detected the same echoed disturbance in the Natural Order still emanating from him!

[Thanks to Avatar’s power to bolster the morale of his allies, Vanguard needn’t make Cool Rolls upon seeing Pachyderm among the new Homicide for Hire]

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!

“I was wondering when you’d find us,” Harrik said coolly.  “I’ve been waiting a long time for this rematch.”

Then to his team of trained professionals: “Take them.”

To be continued!

OOC: Actions?! Both sides were anticipating a fight, so neither has the element of surprise.

Harold: Once real life allows you to participate again, Avatar will wake up. When you’re able to play regularly, simply email me the actions Avatar will take upon awakening and I’ll enact them in the next issue.

Fyi, Heightened Speed remains through his unconsciousness. Thanks.

Dom: My apologies. For last issue only, without realizing it, you were playing Skin Deep. Sorry.

If I had played Soldier, my now-paranoid players would’ve known it was Skin Deep and tested him with Slingy’s DNA extractor. If I had clued you in, you might have accidentally given it away since diabolical subterfuge is usually best accomplished by experienced sociopaths, not nice normal folk like yourself.  J
But from this moment on you’re playing Soldier. Really! You are! You can totally trust me.  ;)
The story I gave you before was actually Skin Deep’s cover story for Vanguard. Please see a separate email to learn what really happened to Soldier. Again, sorry for the fake out. :)))

Have fun everyone.


Current Conditions:

Avatar: Hit Points: 37,  Power Points: 70,  Manifestation: The Speed of Hermes!  Unconscious!

Clone: Bodies: 7,  Hit Points: 3,  Power Points: 58, Hit Point Pool: 22

Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 41,  Power Points: 84

Menagerie: Hit Points: 23,  Power Points: 56,  Form: Honey Badger

Sentinel: Hit Points: 23,  Power Points: 69, Creation Points: 138, Shields: 100

Slate: Hit Points: 30, Power Points: 73

Slingshot: Hit Points: 79,  Power Points: 92,  Invulnerability: 8

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


OOC: Jeff, I should be able to participate now.  Just clue me in on how Avatar wakes up and when.


OOC: Where is Soldier/Skin Deep? Is she still close?


Harold, that's great news. I'll rule that the lucky Avatar makes his Endurance save against Skin Deep's sedative between turns and uses his first action waking up. He has Heightened Speed activated, so he gets two actions per turn. He's free to act on his second action this issue. Just reply as normal before the deadline. Thanks.

Stephane/Slingshot: Yes she is. Please see the map at the bottom of the issue's pdf. She is the Soldier counter, in the NW corner of the room, standing next to the (briefly) unconscious Avatar, with her back to the corner.



Avatar's heightened metabolism shrugs off the sedative amazingly quickly.  Opening his eyes, he sees Soldier and realizes what has likely happened.  He also sees the foes arrayed against Vanguard and knows that this will be one hell of a battle!  He quickly considers his options...

Jeff, what benefits would the Tactics skill give if I activated it?


Awesome Issue Jeff!

IC: Menagerie thought sends to Pachyderm, "What are you doing here? Why did you leave your home and where is Snow Leopard? Is she okay?". Steeling his willpower Menagerie charges across the room. It is just a hunch but he is betting that the puppet is really the puppeteer! Menagerie thought sends to the rest of the team his belief that Pachyderm is being controlled by the Puppet and his plans to take him out. "Honey Badger needs a chew toy!"

OOC: Man! Homicide for Hire is getting more dangerous with every encounter. Jeff how much game time has passed since Menagerie cast his spell?

I am glad everyone is back. This is going to be a battle royale for sure.

Via Vanguard!


OOC: My Bad. I didn't look at the map. I was wondering if she had changed.

Now Question number 2. How far through the gate is Nanite? Can I reach out and pull her in? From my multiverse theory and my knowledge of the gate, can I stay on this side and pull her back? Another question: is taking out the generators enough to shut down the gate?

He turns to Slate, speaking softly: "Son. What you did to the Agents? Do it to him. I'm going for mom." and he nods at Harrik.



OOC: I feel so dirty. ;)

Quick question, where's Soldier located in relation to everyone else, and now that they're in the room, and can they see any hand movements I make?


Avatar/Harold: Successful use of Tactics skill can either:

a) Allow you to retroactively design tactical maneuvers with allies who also make their Tactics skill roll. The in-game explanation is you had been training in these maneuvers beforehand. And you can call the maneuvers out in code (like, “Cannonball Special!”or “Maneuver Alpha Zeta!”) so your enemies don’t know what’s coming.

b) Allow you to detect what tactics your enemies are using which, working backwards, might enable you to deduce what their strategies, objectives and goals might be.

 Menagerie/Tom: Thanks. You cast your spell 15 minutes ago. So its duration has 45 minutes left.

Slingshot/Stephane: Nanite is approximately 300 feet into cyberspace. You can stay on this side and stretch an arm in to attempt to reach her.

Taking out the generators should de-power the gate. It may not close immediately, but it would immediately begin to shut down. If Nanite (or anyone) is on the wrong side of the Gate when it closes, they’ll be trapped there.

Soldier/Dom: Thanks for being a good sport. J

The real Soldier is marked on the map from this Issue’s pdf, on the southern end of the room, between Pachyderm and the Gate. He’s over 30 feet from Vanguard, so hand signals will need to be big and broad.



OOC: Avatar activates Heightened Strength and waits for his next action.


OOC: Jeff:

Do we know from our computer play last issue whether the virus will take out IT or the entire dimension with its life forms?  Do we have a clue about what the deployment of the virus will do to Nanite?

Are we to assume that Soldier is 'Host 2' here (I'm figuring Slate was Host 3 since you said it wasn't uploaded yet.) Kirk shouts to Soldier, "What do you know about the virus?  Are you infected?  Can your systems tell us anything more about it?"

Do we see any movement within the dimension to intercept Nanite or is the Digital Zone denizens seemingly unaware of the intrusion for now?
Upon seeing Harrik Kirk's hand instinctively reaches to feel the scar on his side from their last encounter and says 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."

To Stephane: Both your moves so far were exactly the ones that came to my mind when reading this issue.  Hope they are successful.



As they enter the room, Slate is drawn to the portal... It looks somehow so familiar.  Seeing Nanite floating away, his first thought is to go after her, but Slingshot's words cut through his reverie...

Slate immediately begins to remove Harrik's equipment:

He'll begin with his wireless headset. This might not slow him down to much given the close quarters, but it might disorient him momentarily.  Especially if someone else could somehow block him from speaking.. I believe inhuman was able to surround someone's head in a bubble of water?  Not sure if Symbiote brought water with him, or has a source, but he sounded pretty prepared.

Followed closely by any utility belt's/backpacks, which should prevent him switching out ammo, and hopefully with Menagerie's spell prevent any chance of escape...

Finally any hand held weapons, hopefully reducing him to a somewhat normal (though probably still quite talented)villain.

Slate will continue to monitor the events going on in the room, and will change tactics if he notices anything (using his heightened comprehension) that might better benefit the team.  Examples might be severing the link between servers and the power source, removing the floor beneath Pachyderm (I know that's just a delaying tactic, but it might give Menagerie time to take out the Puppet, or Freeing Soldier if he requires assistance (not sure if the bonds securing him will hold him or not.  


OOC: Jeff a couple of questions:

1) Can you explain how attacks against objects work?  I know we've had this discussion when Slate was going to disintegrate the agents pistols, but focused on Harrik, is it easier for Slate to remove objects he's not holding? Or does it just matter if Harrik's in possession of them.  For example, would removing his headset be the same as removing a weapon from his hands, or removing any type of storage device like a backpack or belt pouch.  Also, what about object not in possession of someone, like the floor beneath their feet (assuming this would allow them an agility save to avoid falling), but would it be easier for Slate? 

2) Using his Heightened Sense of Comprehension, does this work automatically, or does it require an action for him to analyze a situation?  I'm wondering if he'd be able to figure out what effects the virus might have on Nanite, if she's still unconscious or aware, and what impacts the virus might have on the digital universe, and not just IT, or if it's focused on IT...



OOC: Thanks Seth.

Thomas: If Pachyderm is under the puppet's control, and you can help break him out, that would be awesome

Jeff: Sorry for one at a time questions. It's a long weekend up here (holiday Monday) and with three days of 80+ degrees. I've been outside most of the time and with little sitting on the computer.

Am I the only one with a DNA extractor?

Do we know anything on the Puppet regarding how his powers work? is it mechanical(device), power, mental, magical? Just so we know if the method is to break his concentration, disable a device, or give pachyderm a reason to make another roll?

Once I'm done saving people, bad guys are in for a massive hurting. I've been hitching to use the hulk-bammbamm move for a while now.. :)

PS: Good questions Jon, which trigger my own set of questions:

Regarding the portal, Scott looks for a few things, anything he can tell from his current location and anything he'll be able to tell once he goes for Nan:

1-Is the battle still raging on between Nemesis and IT?

2-Scott will also be on the lookout for Cosmonaut or anyone infiltrating from the digital dimension.



Sentinel/Seth: The Entity, IT, is cyberspace. Or at the very least, cyberspace’s consciousness. Hence the Luddite’s fear and loathing of the digital revolution. The Virus is designed to destroy cyberspace, which would destroy the Entity, IT, as well.

There are no “denizens” in cyberspace that you guys are aware of (unlike Tron, for example), save Nemesis, Cosmonaut, Siberian and others who may be trapped there.

No idea how and if the Virus will affect Nanite personally. But if she’s in cyberspace when cyberspace is obliterated, she won’t survive.

There is no “movement” within the Digital Zone around Nanite. The “sky” there doesn’t hold IT’s face, as it did last time.

Slate/Jon:  Attacking objects that are in someone’s possession require a special attack (roll twice and get two successes) to hit that person. Not all of their defenses may count for this attempt. For example, targeting a mundane knife held by the Silver Surfer would not require you to overcome SS’s Adaptation defense. But Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood’s Heightened Defense would be included in attempts to target his sword.

Targeting Harrik’s headset or holstered weapon is the same as targeting a weapon in his hand. It’s in his possession.

Objects in no one’s possession aren’t special attacks and are usually missed only on a 20. Multiple attacks at multiple objects still require a 20 not to be rolled for each attempt, as per the Multiple Attack rules, and attempts may be limited by the attack form, as per the Multiple Attack rules.

Like all attempts to harm someone, targeting the floor under someone requires a roll to hit them. Again it would include things like Level and Heightened Defense that would enable them to not be standing over flooring that you target, and it would exclude things like Adaptation. If you succeed in the to-hit roll, and you create enough damage to make a hole, then they get a d100% Agility save to avoid falling into the hole. If they fail, we go to the Falling rules. D20 Agility save to avoid all damage if the distance is less than their Agility in inches, etc. etc. etc.

If you fail to hit them, and cause enough damage to make a hole, you’ve created a hole in the floor next to them.

Btw, Slate is the lowest Level hero in Vanguard, and Harrik is the highest level villain in HFH. It’s not going to be too easy to hit him. That said, Disintegration has a good basic chance to hit.

Heightened Sense of Comprehension would help speed up the time required to complete a learning skill or task.

Speed reading through more of the Virus program could take an action or movement, and help him learn more about how it might affect Nanite or IT/the Digital Zone.

Spending his action would help him read more of it, and would increase his chance at success by at least twofold.

Slingshot/Stephane: You are the only one with a DNA extractor.

None of you, save Clone, has ever seen or heard of the Puppet before (see last issue).

None of you know what the Puppet’s powers are, but Menagerie detects that the “bizarre creature was wholly unnatural and imbued with foul sorcery!”

There is no visible battle between Nemesis and IT. Neither are seen (nor have been seen through Symbiote’s Digital Zone window in Vanguard Vault) since immediately following your last encounter with IT. It’s been all quiet ever since.



“None of you know what the Puppet’s powers are, but Menagerie detects that the “bizarre creature was wholly unnatural and imbued with foul sorcery!””

OOC: This is true. Menagerie is a personal friend of Pachyderm. He doesn't believe Pachy would leave Snow Leopard and his home in the Great Canadian Wilderness unless he was forced against his will. So he truly believes that someone is mind controlling Pachyderm and is acting accordingly. To Menagerie there is no sorcery more foul than mind control.

So Menagerie is gambling everything of a guess. So it could be a great moment for Menagerie or his last.

Via Vanguard


IC: At every chance he gets, Menagerie will continue to talk to Pachyderm about his home in the Great Canadian Wild, Snow Leopard, and the friendship they shared including sitting at the campfire and meals: fish and elk.

OOC: I am so hoping Pachyderm in being mind controlled and he is fighting its control, so Menagerie is attempting to encourage him to fight harder.

Via Vanguard


Menagerie/Tom: If you believe he’s mind controlled, you should know it takes an action to try to “talk someone out of it” and earn them a new saving throw.

So is Honey Badger thought-sending to Pachyderm for his action, or using the Puppet as a chew toy for his action?



OOC: Doh! you caught me trying to sneak a second action into a turn. My Bad! :)

So as our patient GM waits for my decision, I will use a Shout Out! (yes I watch Cash Cab). So Vanguard team which should I spend my action on, giving Pachyderm a second action (I would even revert to Human form to get the most from Charisma and familiar look) or shake the puppet like the rag doll he is?

I am leaning toward using my action on earning Pachyderm a new saving throw and having Clone bash the puppet with a stick. What do you guys think?

Victory for Vanguard!



OOC: The definition of IT reminds me of the Beyonder... but IT does appear to have limits. From Jeff's answers, I don't think Slate really has a good "shot" literally at Harrik, maybe one of the higher level characters might want to take him on. I think Slate's immediate concern is getting his mother back, learning what impact the virus will have on the Digital Dimension (which he feels a strong link to), and seeing if the virus can be modified or stopped before it causes chaos in the Vanguard world.

IC: Slate will find an interface to the server farm. Unlike his human counterparts, he doesn't require a keyboard or a screen to "view" the data. (If I'm overstepping my bounds, and this is not possible he'll just step up to a work station, just thought it sounded cool, and he is an Android, so I didn't think it'd be a stretch). As slate reaches for one of the servers, a cable shoots from the back of his hand finding an Ethernet port.

Slate immediately begins to attempt to understand/modify the code as time allows. His main focus is determining what effect the virus would have on Nanite, but he is looking for anyway the virus can be modified/nullified. He will not take any action that will endanger Nanite, like trying to close the portal, but would be willing to modify the code, for instance to free Soldier if he sees that as an option.

He'll also be looking for any information on the villains in the room, and any weaknesses the team might be able to utilize. If he finds anything, he will communicate it to the team.



He surveys the room. He notices the generators and notes Harrik's, Skin Deep's and Luddite's locations. He focuses on the portal and takes in the scene displayed there.

He turns 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.". He knows that he's likely in for a large amount of pain. He takes a giant step towards the portal. He anchors himself to one of the generators and then extends an arm as quickly as possible to retrieve Nan from the digital dimension.


OOC: Menagerie turn logic tree for when it is Menagerie’s turn. It all instances he will activate his willpower defense and focus his mind.
If Pachyderm has not moved and Menagerie has 1 luck point, he will turn into his human form. He will use his luck point and charisma to give Pachyderm the best chance to break the mind control. “Pachy what has happened to you? Why has my friend left the Great Canadian Wild. Where is beautify Snow Leopard. Don’t you remember our time at the camp fires eating fish and elk together? Why are you here with this people? They don’t love you like Snow Leopard and I do”?

If Pachyderm has not moved and Menagerie has 0.5 luck point. He will do the same action as above with 1 luck point but will use all the luck he has.
If Pachyderm has not moved and Menagerie has less than 0.5 luck points. He will attempt the same but without the luck and he will add any bonus of Intelligence he has to help figure out the best thing to say to give Pachy the best chance to be free.

If Pachy has moved to attack Vanguard, Menagerie will stay in honey badger mode attacking the puppet with all out ferocity! He is angry that his friend is here and believes the foul magical being is the reason and he wants to destroy.
If Pachy has moved to leave the building, Menagerie will thank the Great Lady and attack puppet in honey badger form.
If Pachy has moved to leave the building and puppet is defeated. He will attack the teleporter.

Via Vanguard


Reading these posts in order. Don't know if you already decided on this or not yet Tom, but I'm for the Puppeteer. (1) Reasons: Although you are likely correct that he is controlling him, we don't know for sure. (2) Even if you break his control of him, he can just attempt to control another (3) Not a big rule guy, but I'd think breaking control is based off all the stats Pachy doesn't have, so your taking your action giving him a second chance to do something that the odds are very much against him doing while attacking the Puppeteer directly may cause him to lose control of Pachy anyway plus do damage and occupy him further (4) My only action thus far is an equalizer on Pachy - however my plan is to post as an if... then anyway, so whatever you choose to do is fine



Kirk 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 in their world 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 paused 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.

OOC: Once in the Digital Zone if Pachyderm is being mind-controlled perhaps that influence will be broken. From our experience his physical strength and attributes shouldn’t translate (virtually no intelligence and lowered charisma equals weakness in the Digital Zone) so even if he is still under his dominion he should be more than manageable there instead of him being physically unstoppable here. Our teammates than can do toe to toe with Pachy to keep him occupied can better use their talents elsewhere.

He will reinforce Menagerie’s verbal efforts once on the other side to see if somehow he does have some intelligence there, “Pachyderm, there is no reason to fight us. The men you are with are not your friends. We are friends of Menagerie who is your friend and helped you. Let us help you again.”

At this point I’m guessing that Slingshot gets ‘sucked into’ the Digital Zone when trying to stretch and grab Nanite. If he is not and is still on our side Kirk would try to stay on our side when pushing Pachyderm in and only enter if it was necessary to push him in. If Slingshot has already entered then Kirk will follow him in assuming he successfully pushes Pachy in the zone and remove him as a threat to the rest of the team in our world. Although more prudent to not enter the zone, I’m hoping circumstance has him do so because it will be a bang-up panel of Kirk zooming into him full force and through the gate into the zone. If it seems not within Kirk's power limit to force Pachy in, let me know.

If Kirk is being attached by someone else and Pachy makes his move and Kirk can still perform this attack move against Pachy he will ignore the foe that engaged him to do so – if he can pull that foe into the zone with him and Pachy, all the better, but getting Pachy into the zone is primary.

If Pachy makes no move you can either have Kirk hold his action until next round so I can see how the landscape has changed or if there is something extremely useful that comes around in play that Kirk can do, then it is at your discretion.

Kirk’s primary motive here is first with Nanite and her retrieval and the threat of the destruction of the Digital Zone being neutralized and second to support Slingshot’s efforts to do the same. He doesn’t want to leave the team outnumbered (hence the move with Pachy) but HFH are a distraction and a nuisance here and their defeat secondary to their main goal.

Since Slate has the computer end of things covered even better than Kirk can do I’m not seeing any better use of his skills and talents.

Some thoughts on the Digital Zone and Kirk’s ‘translation’ and efforts there for GM consideration: Last time around you spoke of the Zone ‘rejecting us’ since we didn’t belong. As we stayed there we would begin to take damage just for being there. Although I wouldn’t say Kirk was a ‘natural born’ citizen of the DZ, he is about as close to a ‘naturalized citizen’ as you can get. When we developed Kirk’s computer skills we discussed his energy sense enabling him to instinctively know what to do because he could see their flow at its core (Kirk could intuitively perceive and understand the building blocks of the computer systems which in their raw form are energy blips or on and off switches) … the Digital Zone, in essence, is made up of these same building blocks, so Kirk would certainly be much more ‘at home’ than virtually anyone else encountering this world, now with the exception of Slate. Naturally, all GM call here, but something to think about that perhaps Kirk’s unique nature translates better to the DZ unlike most others and give him a bit of an edge … I’m hoping that perhaps this might translate into the DZ not rejecting and damaging his to the degree of others automatically and perhaps his abilities and efforts might work better than most because it isn’t quite as alien to him … again just a theory for you to consider.

And although not wanting to test the theory, if Kirk is a ‘naturalized citizen’ then Slate is the Son of King… wouldn’t be surprised if his entry into the DZ gives him Godlike powers … certainly beyond Nemesis and likely rivaling IT … just my theory, and not one I want to test for fear of his entering the zone triggering personality changes engineered by IT and making him as big a menace against his will.

As always, if I failed to convey anything in an understandable way, let me know.



OOC: Hold on. I missed that. The digital zone is the internet and not another dimension?

My original understanding was pretty much on par with Seth.

I'll have to go back and read.


OOC: Well, I suppose Hal could try absorbing Pachyderm's powers again--if we REALLY want this room destroyed. And the whole building. And several miles of surrounding countryside.

Maybe better leave it to Menagerie to try to handle Pachy, or Sentinel if that doesn't work...;)

Jeff, is there a sprinkler system in the room? I'm hoping so--Cain wouldn't want all this equipment destroyed in an accidental fire. If there is my actions are as follows...

Plan A:

IC: The Inhumanized Icon stairs at the collection of foes in front of him, as well as the remarkable data shielded room around them. Well, one thing about these null rooms, at least they didn't know we're coming, Hal thinks to himself.
Being totally cut off from outside communication is a double edged sword.

Symbiote looked over the members of Homicide for Hire and never gets easier...except...Luddite. We've already beaten Luddite once. Lightning Strike, Avatar and I overloaded him with electrical energy. He's susceptible to electric overloads. So maybe he's susceptible to a short circuit too! The Fishy Fighter thinks to himself.

He raises his webbed hands towards the ceiling and starts summoning water through the sprinkler system, building up pressure until the nozzles burst, drenching the room in water--or at least it would've, except that Hal uses Inhuman's hydrokinetic powers to curve the flow of water directly into the Luddite's nebulous form! As the water builds up within the Wrathful Wraith, Hal shouts to Lighting Strike (who presumably would love nothing more than to again lash out at the being who killed his wife) "STRIKE! HIT HIM! LET'S SHORT HIM OUT!"

OOC: If, on the other hand, there is no sprinkler system in the room, I suppose we add Failure to Adhere to Building Codes to the list of Silas Cain's crimes. In that instance, Symbiote will instead turn towards Ratman....

Plan B:

IC: Hal looks at the Villainous Vermin, studying him as though he were the rat he represents. "You know, Ratso, I've had to perform the occasional experiment on rats in my scientific career," he says. "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 raises a webbed hand. "Let's see what happens when a rat gets really, really dehydrated..."

With that, Hal will attempt to use 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 undoubtedly won't be pretty, but if it works it should leave Ratman weakened and hurting badly.

On the other hand, if Inhuman/Symbiote just can't control water that precisely (let me know what you decide, Jeff), we go to....

Plan C:

And at this point Symbiote starts to feel like Aquaman must have felt in the old "Super Friends" cartoon....any water to work with around here? At all? I can see why DC writers complain about having to work with the character on a regular basis--he's a good reservist member of the Justice League, but finding something water related for him to do in every single story can be tough.

So, I'll keep it simple....

IC: Seeing no appreciable quantities of water in the area to manipulate, Hal will jump at Zero G, hoping to catch the Lethal Levitator by surprise---and absorb his powers. He's been interested in that power set since he first encountered the villain.

That's all for now.

Viva Vanguard,


The Puppet! An eerie living puppet, he was 30” tall and unknown to all of Vanguard save one: Clone had seen this disturbing sight of a living, animated marionette before, but he knew not where! The dividing defender felt a weird déjà vu, as if remembering a glimpse of a forgotten nightmare. Menagerie’s Nature Sense told him this bizarre creature was wholly unnatural and imbued with foul sorcery!

Clone does his best to recall where he knows the miniature marionette from (OOC: roll required? Luck Point required?) and then says aloud, “I am knowing this one from somewhere I am thinking, but I am not knowing from where it is.


As the mob of multiplying mutants starts to move forward, one of their number looks back at his fellow Vanguard members and says, “Please to be saving of Nanite! I will make you some time,” With that the ‘Replicating Russian’ starts to sub-divide once again, but this time he doesn’t stop at just one or two – this time he goes all the way (OOC: Going to try and get the whole twenty-two in here – lol). Forming a defensive wall in front of his friends; in an effort to buy their friends some time, the Clone’s army charges head first towards the enemy group before them (OOC: With the exception of Pachyderm – their leaving that one for Menagerie).


I’m figuring that Clone’s weird sense of déjà vu is either an ‘old memory’ from Clone Omega or a suppressed memory from Clone’s days inside Dr. X’s lab – not sure which – just brainstorming.

As for the “Charge of the Clone Brigade’ – the frontline duplicates; in an effort to keep the enemy group busy, will do their best to Evade being hit. The duplicates that are behind the frontline (given the amount of space in here, I’m assuming that the Clone’s will be at least two-deep) will poke through with their staves and try to take pot shots at whatever enemy comes into striking range first.

Again – Clone isn’t trying to be a one-man-gang here, he’s simply trying to buy the other members of Vanguard some time. He’s fully aware that he’ll probably be wiped out soon enough, but he’s hoping before that happens that the other members of Vanguard will be able to rescue Nanite some how.

Keeping my fingers crossed that Menagerie can bring Pachyderm over to our side – I’m sure if he is able to regain control of his own mind that he’ll be plenty twisted about being used by The Puppet =D

Talk to you all soon,
- Kev


OOC: Jeff, quick question that popped into my head. Soldier has access to CHESS files through his satellite downlink. Would it be possible for him to pull up surveillance photos of the warehouse, or schematics?


OOC: Hi. With the door to the electronic blind room burst open by Vanguard, you now have access to the satellite downlink. Soldier can get the same files that Vanguard has (the map included in the turn's pdf).


Lightning Strike:
Lightning Strike will go after Jim Harrick, even though he wants to go after the Luddite (OOC:  I would think he would need a saving throw to not go after the luddite).  Strike will use his Silent Killer techniques to attack Harrick assuming that he has researched all of our abilities and knows how to defend against them.  Using an attack that he is not used to may give me a better chance to hit and potentially more damage.  Since I left the HFH location and picked up nails and I had bullets I assume I have something I can use to hit him by surprise.



Once Soldier wakes, He thinks to himself " How could he have allowed this to happen. You've allowed yourself to be captured, he'd not only failed himself, 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.

"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."

OOC: He'll "play possum", and take a few minutes to orient himself, run a self diagnostic on his systems, and get a GPS fix on his location. Once he's done that, he'll download schematics of the building (as he's got no idea of where he's located at within the facility), and see if he can find his sidearm. While his "hosts" go about their business, he'll listen in on any conversations, and try to gleam as much information is possible.

IC: As he lay listing to the movements and voices around him, he makes a mental note..."Once I get out of here, I really need to look into having some sort of recording and surveillance gear installed. Maybe a IR camera in my optics, and a mike in my ear..."

OOC: If he can recognize any of the people in the facility, he'll download their files looking for any information that he can possibly use against them, namely some sort of weakness that will allow him make his escape. Once the other members of Vanguard arrive on seen, he'll bide his time, until a fight breaks out. Once it does, he'll broadcast a signal to the team, alerting them to his location,. and letting them know he's alive, and in custody.  

IC: "I'm still not quite sure what's going on, but any help you can give me getting the hell out of here would be much appreciated."

If anyone comes near him, he'll wait until their back is turned, and try to make special HTH attack, from the rear, and incapacitate them. If not targets present themselves, and he's been able to locate his pistol, he'll make a break for it, using the confusion as a distraction, and informing the team of his plan.

IC: "Guys, I'm on the move, I'll link up with you when I can."

OOC: If can find Mercy, he'll run a quick check on it, and then return as quickly as possible to join the others.


OOC: Stephane, The Digital Zone = Cyberspace = The Entity = IT.

Jon, don’t know much about the Beyonder. Was falling out of comics around that time. I remember a white leisure suit and a perm mullet. J

Greg, Lightning Strike is using his action on Harrik, so your idea of joining with him against the Luddite is moot. I went with your next choice. Thanks.

New issue to come shortly!