Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Vanguard: Issue 164: Targeting the Mercenary!

Within the Aztechnology compound, Vanguard just rescued Nanite, Slate and Soldier from the Digital Zone as Vanguard battled the new Homicide for Hire in a knock down drag out fight!

The Puppet and Zero G were out cold! So were CHESS Agent Drake, and 15 Clones!

And there were two Menageries!
One in the shape of Man. The other in the shape of Bear! “ROOOARRWW!!” howled the giant grizzly at the man-shaped Menagerie! (OOC: In animal form, Menagerie can only speak telepathically, on his action)

The man-shaped Menagerie put a gentle hand on Pachyderm’s forearm. His face was a model of love and serenity.

Pachyderm recognized his old friend, the man-shaped Menagerie, and focused upon him. “Cat lady… dead.”

“Yes,” said the man-shaped Menagerie with genuine sadness. “These people are to blame, Pachy. Make them pay, my dear friend. Starting with that one,” he said, pointing at the Grizzly Bear!

Pachyderm’s unimaginable fury was unleashed! The monstrous mammoth raised his head in a roar of vengeance and then charged the Grizzly with all of his incredible power!

Menagerie mind spoke to Pachyderm, "Pachy, it’s me! Go home! Go back to the Great Northern Wilderness! I will deal with those that hurt you!!!"

Pachyderm stopped in his tracks! His head whirled back and forth between Menagerie and the Grizzly in confusion! Frustrated beyond his ability to comprehend, the towering titan slammed his fist into the floor in anger – WHAMM! – and his incomprehensible strength and power created a shockwave that rocked everyone within 30 feet of him! Wham am am am am am am am am am m m m m m m

Ratman was barely standing. “Jeez!” he whined.

A Clone fell to the power of the shockwave!
And so did the Grizzly! It hit the floor and then slowly transformed… into Menagerie!

Pachyderm looked down at his unconscious friend. “RRRAAAAAAAUUGHHH!!!!” he roared in clear distress.

Skin Deep, in Menagerie’s form, didn’t miss a beat: “Look here, Pachy! Look here. The Bear is fooling you. Like the Wooden man did. I am your friend. Me.”

Pachyderm listened to her. “Friend.”

Slingshot shook his head at the Mercenary. "Why do something that will hurt you in the end? Money won't help you if you're dealing with that." Scott tilted his head at where the Entity had been. "Should I tell IT that you're the one attacking and see what IT can do to your bank accounts?"

The Mercenary spat, “You’re bluffing, Brock. You’ve got no more control over that thing than I do.”

Slingshot answered easily, "I guess that is what it's really about, huh? Control. I don't need control. All I have is the truth. How about I tell IT that you're the dumbass that orchestrated this "attack" and that you love your money and that they are all in bank accounts and institutions that are linked to the internet, one way or another. IT can do as it damn well please. You better make sure that you nail all of Vanguard as they will be able to follow through with this threat."

Harrik replied to Slingshot for everyone to hear: “Don’t worry. I understand that last part as clear as day.
But the first part doesn’t make any sense to me. Maybe you can help me out. You want me to renege on a paying contract and in return you'll give me what's already mine?”

His mouth made a derisive snort. It might have been a laugh.

“Come on. You can do better than that. Let me give you a hint. You say you can drain my accounts. Well, can you fill ‘em up?” smiled the Mercenary.
“I remember you were happy to cut deals with the likes of Spider Girucci. If you’re trying to buy us out, then for god’s sake, buy us out. Make us a real offer… before the Pachyderm leaves me no one to negotiate with.”

Slingshot replied, "Negotiate? I guess that's where you and I don't see eye to eye. But maybe we can see fist to eye." And Scott wound up a haymaker at Harrik with a fist easily the size of a small dresser, and threw it across the room. KA-POW!!!

Slingshot connected and hard. Harrik flew back ten feet, clean off the generator and down behind it!

Then Scott handed the DNA extractor to Nanite. "Nan, I'm not going to last long. I'm almost out for this fight. Take this. If I fall, make sure you or someone else collects Skin Deep's DNA. I need to stop Harrik. Although, I would prefer if you would give your love,” which was their code for Nanite’s healing power.

Avatar swiftly vaulted the generator after Harrik without a word, and came down on top of him, sword first! ZLASH!! The fabled fighter struck true again, hitting Harrik before he could get to his feet! (OOC: 1 Luck Point.)
The veteran warrior saw that Sentinel was right. When Harrik was unaware or on his back he was not impossible to hit. (Avatar’s Tactics skill reveals Heightened Defense only works when one is aware and mobile)

But between the big generators it was tight quarters, playing to Harrik’s favor as he got in close with a foe wielding a long sword.

The Mercenary leapt up hard and as he did so he drove the heel of his left palm up into Avatar’s nose - KRAK! – stretching him out! Then he drove his right hand into Avatar’s exposed midsection - WHAMM!
(OOC: 14 points, and then 16 points! Avatar rolls with 12 total, and takes 18 to Hit Points! Avatar would have flown back 70 feet, but was stopped by one of the generators! KRASH!!! (7 more points of damage that can’t be rolled with! Avatar was knocked unconscious before he could share his tactical discovery with Vanguard!)

Lightning Strike's attention was pulled in two directions. Harrik must be taken out, and Pachyderm must somehow be calmed before the entire place came crashing down.
Strike weighed the options and determined that with all of the experience Harrik had (OOC: I think I have been fighting this guy for 30 years!!!), he was the most dangerous opponent. Strike leapt up atop a generator wall to get Harrik back in his sight, and found an opening! As Avatar fell to the ground, Strike unleashed a torrent of electricity at the Mercenary! KRAKA-BOOM!!!

Harrik was hit! His insulated uniform took some of the blast, but not all! Vanguard’s focused attacks on him were slowly taking their toll! He spoke into his headset to his team with some urgency.

Zephyr followed everyone’s lead and flew toward Harrik, blasting a hurricane force gale before her! The Mercenary dodged the young hero’s attack, barely!

Menagerie/Skin Deep said to Pachyderm, “Kill them all, my friend. Starting with that one,” and she pointed a finger at Sentinel. (OOC: And evades with her action!)

Pachyderm was savagely ready to comply with his friend’s wishes.

The four Clone duplicates near Harrik, desperate to keep the pressure up on The Mercenary, struck once again at the cunning leader of Homicide for Hire with their staves! KRAK! CHOK! Two Clones connected!

Simultaneously, the two remaining Clones figured that they probably won’t be able to take down Maelstrom by themselves (communicating through their telepathic / empathic link) and decided to try something completely unexpected and truly heroic – they’ll attack Skin Deep and Pachyderm!

Turning their backs on Maelstrom, the two desperate Clones ran head-on towards the rear flanks of Skin Deep and Pachyderm! Having worked on power generators with their comrades in the past ( OOC: i.e. the Tesla lab in the Omega-verse ) the two quickly identify some damaged but still live power cables loosened by the Pachyderms outbursts and grab for the insulated material surrounding them. Not missing a stride, the two duplicates pick up the power cables and continue their charge against each of their unsuspecting targets!

As they come within striking distance, the ‘duplicating duo’ lunge at their targets with unrestrained determination. The one Clone thrusts his exposed power cable at Skin Deep’s back, while the other leaps up and tries to drive his sparking power cable square into the back of Pachyderm’s head! Knowing that their numbers are dwindling quickly and that the Pachyderm is now completely out of control, the replicas do their best to make every moment of this unified assault count ( OOC: Two Luck Points!)

ZRAK! SHAKOW!! Both Clones connected! Electricity arced around their two targets!
Skin Deep/Menagerie screamed! She was still standing, but severely hurt! (OOC: Evasion only works if you’re aware of the attack)

The Pachyderm wasn’t harmed; his thick rhinoceros hide (OOC: Invulnerability) absorbed the blast! But now he was mad! “RROOOOOOOAARR!!!!” The clobbering colossus saw Skin Deep/ Menagerie was right. These puny people were his enemies! They must be smashed!

The two Clones exchanged glances over the wild success of their audacious attacks. Their success was not long lived.

Maelstrom fired two energy bursts into their backs! ZARK! ZARK! Both Clones hit the ground incapacitated!
Then the techno-teleporter ran to Ion and Harrik. “Exit’s gone. Mission’s fouled. Time to pull the plug,” he said.

Slate, staggered by the force of Pachyderm’s blows, glanced around the room and saw Menagerie standing by Pachyderm, and lying on the ground at his feet. As he heard the words coming out of Menagerie, he realized that this must be Skin Deep. Obviously, she was using Menagerie’s form to get Pachyderm to do her bidding.
Ethan quickly moved to the real Menagerie and moved him away from Pachyderm. “You’re going to kill him,” he said to Pachyderm.
Ethan dragged Menagerie out of Pachyderm’s “area of influence” so that if he did another Whammmmm, Menagerie wouldn’t be hurt.
Then, with his heightened sense of comprehension, the human hybrid applied what medical knowledge he remembered, from having watched Symbiote and Shelley in the med lab, to Menagerie. Applying a CHESS med-pac, he wanted to awaken the shamanic shapeshifter as he appeared to be the only one who could influence Pachyderm and break him from Skin Deep’s control!

Sentinel assessed the situation around him. He checked the energy signature of Skin Deep in Menagerie’s form. It was hard with the interference the walls were giving him, so he flew close enough to detect it didn’t read as Menagerie.
Seeing Slate moving to assist the fallen Menagerie, their best hope to handling Pachyderm, he turned his attention towards Harrik, their key to victory. He had witnessed Harrik miraculously evading the blows of Avatar, Vanguard’s powerhouse, who moved with the speed, skill, and luck of the Gods. Yet both he and Strike had managed to tag Harrik with an unexpected attack. Kirk thought his most productive move would be to do his best to distract Harrik to give someone the best opportunity to attack him.

Kirk flew towards and around Harrik circling and drawing his attention. He gave Slingshot a quick wink when he caught his eye out of Harrik’s range so he would know he was up to something. Normally he’d expect Harrik not be rattled by this, but with events going not as planned and Kirk having already tagged him unawares …

“Upset your plans again, Harrik? Can’t be good for business,” he said, shaking his head in a ‘no’ fashion.
“You know Harrik, your rep overreaches the reality. I get your whole ultimate strategist sales pitch, but when push comes to shove, like a poor general you fail to execute when it really counts. What’s the matter Harrik? Performance anxiety?”

Harrik was too seasoned to get riled up, but did seem to keep an eye on Sentinel from behind his mirrored goggles. “Kid, you want to talk about bad generals?”

When Sentinel thought he had Harrik’s attention, he assumed an attack position towards him. However, Harrik was not his target! Skin Deep was!

SHRAK!! Sentinel blasted Skin Deep unawares! Already injured from the Clones’ electrocution, she fell unconscious! And then she slowly transformed into the shape of a woman whose face was severely disfigured by some horrible birth defect.

Pachyderm howled again in rage and bewilderment. The roar shook the walls. Everyone in this building felt their mortality.

Harrik was caught looking at Sentinel’s sneak attack on Skin Deep.
Slingshot threw another furniture-sized fist at the unsuspecting Merc!
SA-LAMM! Harrik was hit hard and knocked into a generator wall harder! WHAM!
Harrik was still conscious, but barely.

Menagerie woke up at that moment, thanks to Slate. (OOC: This takes Menagerie’s action)
The sorcerer supreme remembered that as he lay unconscious he dreamt and saw in his mind’s eye that Skin Deep had murdered Snow Leopard! Menagerie's Nature Sense power included psychometry of predators, and revealed this in a mystic vision flash when Pachyderm and Skin Deep came within close proximity of him and each other!
He also knew that his Ward against Unnatural Travel had been broken when he was knocked unconscious!

Menagerie snarled an animalistic growl. "Pachy, go home! All mankind are liars. Leave us and mourn Cat Lady! I will kill her murderer for you." The look in his eyes told everyone in the room he wasn't kidding. "I guess I will have to eliminate all of Homicide of Hire to be sure that I get the job done right." He glared at the unconscious Skin Deep with a ferocity that would have caused a honey badger to flee in terror!

Pachyderm had had enough. Holding his head and roaring in impotent rage, he leapt from the building through the hole in the roof that Zero G had made with Sentinel’s pyramid construct.
The indestructible force of nature would land some dozens of miles away, to the north.

Symbiote wanted to try the drain an opponent of their body moisture trick again, and listening to the arrogant, callous Harrik, he desperately wanted to do it to him. He wanted to reduce the Hellacious Hired Hand to dust.
But he disciplined himself. Slingshot seemed to have Harrik engaged. There were other foes--perhaps not quite as dangerous, but dangerous still--who had gotten a free pass so far. Hal meant to change that.
He looked at Ion, and concentrated on the Voltage Villain. "Hey Ion," he snarled. "Dry up."

With that, he began extracting moisture through every orifice in his opponent's body, as with Ratman. Only this time the plan was to use the water to completely envelope Ion's form, like a thin full body membrane. It was hoped this would a) prevent him from breathing, and b) prevent or at least impair his ability to use his powers--any time he tried to project electricity the water surrounding him would short it out.

It didn’t work! Ion had no moisture within him! He wasn’t human! Thinking quickly, Symbiote used the water vapor in the air to envelope Ion anyway! That worked.

Ion unhappily considered the water that surrounded him. He didn’t relish testing it... risking grounding out.

Nanite ran to Avatar, kneeled down and touched his shoulder.

Avatar woke up from his incapacitated state. “You fought very bravely, John,” the artificial woman said as she helped the demigod of destiny to his feet. “But I’m afraid it’s not over yet.” She handed him his sword.

Soldier, freed from Zero G’s grasp, hit the ground with a thud, and the force of the impact managed to knock some sense into him. “Dammit Matt, you need to get it together, the team needs you.” he thought. Taking a second to assess the situation, he immediately scanned the area for the locations of the other members of Vanguard, as well as those of Homicide for hire. Spotting Harrik, he immediately set his sights on the killer elite! Taking a second to make sure he’d aligned his sights correctly, he fired off another explosive round from Mercy! “I hope you enjoy this, as much as I did what you’ve done to me.”

Harrik caught the explosive bullet in his left shoulder and fell back and down. He was unconscious!
Soldier let out a little smile.

Ion glowered from behind the water membrane and said, “Very clever, Hal. Enough.”
And the voice sounded just like Lightning Strike…


Just as Strike had attempted to infiltrate Homicide for Hire disguised as the Silent Killer, his mirror counterpart did the exact same thing, disguised as Ion!

“Enough. It would appear that history takes a different path in this universe,” Strike Omega said, glancing at the Digital Zone Gate, where the Nemesis Entity had been.
“Congratulations, Vanguard. You’ve done what we failed to do. You’ve averted the fate of the Omega Universe… not by destroying the Entity, but by befriending it… thanks to Nemesis and Ethan.”

Nanite put a loving, motherly arm around Ethan.

Strike Omega continued, “The Digital Child was not the end of the world… but perhaps, a bridge to a new one.” He seemed humbled and astonished at the implications. “Farewell.”
SHAKOW! He was gone!

Maelstrom surrendered unequivocally.

Then everyone noticed that Ratman was gone. The cornered rat must have deserted this sinking ship during Lightning Strike Omega’s unintentional distraction.
A search to locate him turns up nothing. The building’s walls’ hampered Sentinel’s energy sense, and the artificial scent fouled Menagerie’s animal senses, giving Ratman the cover he needed to escape. He could have left via the sewers, the rail line, or any number of other ways. “That little jerk!” said Zephyr.

Ratman, Pachyderm, and Ion, a.k.a. Lightning Strike Omega were free.

The Luddite was last seen imprisoned within the Digital Zone, in fact, within the Nemesis Entity itself!

But the rest of Homicide for Hire was captured! Jim Harrik, a.k.a. The Mercenary! Zero G! Skin Deep! Maelstrom! And the shattered remains of the Puppet!

And Soldier and Nanite had been rescued! “Honey. Now can we go on our honeymoon?” Nan teased.

Over the next 24 hours:

  -Vanguard received medical treatment and Soldier was able to repair all his bionic systems.

  -Soldier has the opportunity to catch everyone up on his investigations. (see Issue 161!)

  -Homicide for Hire was interrogated:

  The Mercenary, Zero G and Skin Deep won’t talk. Imprisoned at CHESS Castle, they want their lawyer.

  Maelstrom is inclined to talk in return for a lighter sentence, but doesn’t know much, including who hired
  them to kill Vanguard and send Nanite, Slate and Soldier to the Digital Zone!
  But he will testify that it was Homicide for Hire that attacked President Taylor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral,
  clearing Slingshot’s good name.

  -Aztechnology cannot be linked to Silas Caine, MEDUSA or Soldier’s father, General Steele.

  Vanguard’s investigation has reached a dead end with Homicide for Hire.

  -It’s three months until Election Day, and Silas Caine is leading in the polls! The Patriot is still by his side!

Then, 24 hours after the Aztech assault, the Mercenary’s lawyer, infamous supercriminal attorney Stanley Argo (Ray Argo’s brother), phones Vanguard and CHESS Director Grey: “My client wants to make a deal. In exchange for a full pardon for him, Zero G and Skin Deep, he’ll reveal the name of his employer. In court.”

To be continued!
OOC: Actions, investigations, dialogues, reactions, etc. for the 24 hours after the battle, please! Thanks!

Conditions at the end of the Homicide for Hire Rematch:

Avatar: Hit Points: 2, Power Points: 52, Manifestation: None

Clone: Bodies: 4, Hit Points: 1 each, Power Points: 39, Hit Point Pool: 4

Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 11, Power Points: 29

Menagerie: Hit Points: 1, Power Points: 46, Form: Man

Sentinel: Hit Points: 13, Power Points: 57, Creation Points: 114, Shields: 69

Slate: Hit Points: 20, Power Points: 65

Slingshot: Hit Points: 4, Power Points: 53, Invulnerability: 0 until the start of Issue 165

Soldier: Hit Points: 7, Power Points: 44, Invulnerability: 8, Bionic systems down

Symbiote: Hit Points: 24, Power Points: 69, Charges: 0, Copied: Inhuman, Water Controlled: 25 lbs,

Viva Vanguard,


OOC: Awesome! It took all of us to take him down. A nasty piece of work, that Harrik.

I want her DNA sample. We need to be able to identify her reliably.

Now we have the elections and Patriot is still around. That sucks.


OOC: Absolutely Fantastic!!! What a win! This will be a hallow day in Vanguard history. Homicide for Hide was defeated!!!

I will write up more later but there is no way Menagerie is going to agree to Skin Deep being pardoned! It is taking all his self-control as is to let CHESS have her.



OOC: List of random thoughts as a follow up to this rather interesting turn of events.

1- Thoughts about setting up a communication line between the digital world and us? No necessarily a portal, but maybe a "skype" session? Just to make sure that we keep tabs on what's going on there. I just don't want to hear about them 3 issues down the road and cosmonaut or Luddite has taken over the place again.

2- Need Skin Deep DNA, damnit.

3- HFH Pardon? Not particularly interested in it, personally. Although, they will break out soon.

4- How are we proceeding with the elections? We did the wedding with mixed results. We can continue the charity work. We need to dig up something on Silas Caine. We know that Patriot is dirty, but is that enough?

There is a good chance that Silas commissioned HFH for this one. So getting the employer may give us the ammunition to knock down Caine - Maybe


OOC: Great thoughts. My responses to a few select ones.

3 - Better escaped convicts on the run where the merely seeing them, Vanguard has the right to attack them in order to recapture than for them to walk around free without any warrants on their heads.

4 - I believe that Caine will know that HFH was going to fail so he didn't hire them himself but had a flunky or setup a fall guy for it. So instead of naming Caine, Harrick will name Senator Doyle, Detective Archer or Lancaster.

Via Vanguard


OOC: Limiting myself to the 24 hours after the fight (Jeff, if you want longer-reaching reactions let me know).

Hal will hug Nanite and congratulate the Slingshot family on their reunion. He will then immediately look for a power source--be it in the Aztechnology facility or back at the aircraft--to begin recharging his harness. He'll try to charge it at least enough to get two charges. He hopes to copy the powers of (and therefore save the power templates of) Skin Deep and Zero G, in that order. Skin Deep because we're presumably doing a covert operation in Russia soon to rescue Clone's family, and that particular power set could be useful. Zero G because he finds the power combination fascinating.

As I say, let me know if you need more.

Viva Vanguard in Victory!


Thanks Greg.

Hal have any thoughts about Harrik's proposal?


OOC: Heh...this one's a little tough for me, because I've learned that IRL a lawyer NEVER asks a question in open court unless he already knows the answer, and particularly in criminal proceedings a prosecutor doesn't offer a deal unless he knows exactly what he's buying. I need a vacation, I think about this crap too much.

But what the hey, we'll assume things work differently in a comic book world. Overall, Hal is opposed to taking the deal. "We know who really hired him, and we know, with absolute certainty, that he'll never ever tell the truth. Cain's got him too well trained," he says. "It'll be a red herring. Or something that in some way incriminates us again, or one of our allies. Or maybe he's trying to send us on a wild goose chase after somebody else Cain wants out of the way--Black Bat, perhaps--hoping we'll destroy each other. Mercenary's been around causing trouble for how long? It's time he sat in cell for a while."

One other action I'll throw in, IC: One back at the Vanguard Vault and all debriefing, showering, a decent meal and some rest is accomplished, Hal will step into his lab.

No fate but what we make.

The best line in an uneven series of movies, and today Vanguard had proved it true. No fate but what we make. The team had overcome the dark future of the Omegas, and stopped the destructive apocalypse of The Entity, had prevented that awful, awful alternate world. And they'd hung on to their integrity, they had done it as a team, and as a family.

Hal pulled up his special project file. It had been a while since he had worked on it--in part, because he wasn't sure there would be a world left in a few months, wasn't sure there was a point, but now? The project had to continue.

He began running the computer simulation again, and planned....

Viva Vanguard,


OOC: Out of three that have spoken, we are all against it.

Mostly, because we don't trust him or his boss.

Since you mention that lawyers never ask a question they don't know the answer to.. Let's tell him it's no deal unless we know who and, then we get to get it officially in court.

I've never been interested in signing blank checks, which is what this deal amounts to.


Infamous supercriminal attorney, Stanley Argo said: "Hey! Hey! Hey! Slow down. I'm sure we can come to a completely equitable solution for all involved. In exchange for the aforementioned pardon, my client is prepared to reveal his client's name to you immediately, and then yes, also on the record, officially in court."

Then, softly enough to barely be heard over his tie, "Prosecutor? No need to involve them just yet. My client represented to me that Vanguard and CHESS Director Grey are uniquely situated to best appreciate the importance of this exchange; certainly better than would the prosecuting attorney. And also, that time is of the essence. I understand that this information's expiration date is in less than 3 months. I assure you, I don't know what that means, but my client said that you would understand perfectly, and could convince the prosecutor that this is the best for all involved... in fact, the best for the entire country."

Argo paused long enough to punctuate that last part with a greasy smile.
"So! Gentlemen! Have we got a deal?"


OOC: Jeff: Nice! Now I get to grumble and ponder.

I'm more inclined to listen and see if that information is valuable to us. If the information is what we need, then I'm interested in the bigger fish. Even if it irks me to let them go (and I feel dirty all the same).

How about you Vanguardians? What do you think?


OOC: Menagerie will not agree to a pardon for Skin Deep. He will relent for Harrik and the other person who is of no consequence to him.

Menagerie will return to the Great Northwest Wilderness to look to Snow Leopards remains. If she has not received a proper burial he will give her one in the land that she loved so much.

He will attempt to meet with Skin Deep while she is in jail (whether she is to be pardoned or not). He will let her know she has made an enemy in him but not let her know why unless she really presses him in questioning. The whole time during the visit he will be locking her in with his senses both animialist and magical. He always wants to be able to identify her when she is in his presence.

He will continue his magical training with his teacher.

He will make sure Pachy went home and did not start a rampage.

He meditate on Slate's role in this adventure and ask Nature about his significance to the Natrual Order.

He will check on Snowball and make sure to make time to play with her. He will also ask Clone if his mother would make more of those treats he was given before.

He will search for Ratman.

He will ask Director Grey if Menagerie Omega was still apart of Medusa. He would like to meet to talk with himself. He wants to learn more about Caine from the Omega world.

He will pick up his surveillance on Caine again and check with the animals which were watching Caine and Patriot to see if anything of value was learned.

He will petition the Spirit of Nature for help in understanding the threat that Caine represents, if any, to the Natural Order?

He will ask if there is a Quest for her Champion to perform?

Via Vanguard



Hi Tom,

This might be more of a list of things to do during your next downtime.

Could you please prioritize what you'd like to do just for the 24 hours between the victory over HFH and the call from Harrik's lawyer, Argo?




1) Menagerie will make sure Pachy went home and did not start a rampage.

2) Menagerie will return to the Great Northwest Wilderness to look to Snow Leopards remains. If she has not received a proper burial he will give her one in the land that she loved so much.

3) He will attempt to meet with Skin Deep while she is in jail (whether she is to be pardoned or not). He will let her know she has made an enemy in him but not let her know why unless she really presses him in questioning. The whole time during the visit he will be locking her in with his senses both animialist and magical. He always wants to be able to identify her when she is in his presence.

You are right it is more than 24 hours but a downtime list but once I started rolling I couldn't stop.



OOC: No problem. Thanks!


Slate will not let Nanite out of his site for the 24 hours. He knows the virus is gone, but he wants to make sure nothing else might have been done to her. He will not be intrusive, but protective.

He'll also offer to check out Soldier, and ensure he has been "cleansed" of the virus as well.

Other than that, Slate wants to study the virus itself. None of the villains that were present would seem to have the skill set to create that kind of program, and he wants to know who did.

At the same time, he wants to research Aztech technology, and who is behind it or at least behind the setup. The server farm itself may not have been setup to deliver the virus, but someone made modifications, the shielded room, portal, generators, etc... those things take effort to setup/network and that generally leaves some kindof paper trail... payroll, invoices, work orders, etc... Slate will use his considerable hacking skills and heightened comprehension to attempt to dig into this.

As far as the Homicide trial, he'll stay in the background and let the adults make the decision. If he's asked, one in the hand is worth two in the bush... put them away, no deal.



Jeff, for the moment, I'll limit myself to the first day or so.

IC: Matt was both mentally and physically exhausted. All he wanted to do was sit down with a cold beer, and analyze everything that had happened to him. But being the good soldier that he was, he new he need to be debriefed first. As soon as he had the opportunity, he sat down and began record his memories, and have them entered into both CHESS' files, and his personal diary. As well as working on a written report of his experiences he could pass along to the other members of Vanguard. As he read over what he'd written, he felt a little embarrassed. He'd let his guard down, and allowed himself to be captured, and he was determined not to let that happen again. Once that was completed, he went to the lab to have complete diagnostic run on all of his systems, just to insure any modifications to his systems were fixed, and that they wouldn't present a danger to the team, or anyone else for that matter. As the tech ran their test, he mind wandered to his father. His "loving" father, the man who'd tried so hard to raise him in his image, how he'd deal with what he'd learned about him ,and what he wanted to tell his teammates about him. But that could wait until morning, as now he headed to his room for what would be the first night real sleep he'd had in a very long time.

OOC: I'll be responding to a couple of guys in character about what info he'd learned about his father over the next day of so.


1) Immediately after the dust settles, Slingshot will gather the DNA extractor and get a sample of SkinDeep's DNA.

2) In the following minutes/hours, he'll regenerate himself with available materials at Aztechnology.

3) Since Patriot is still active, thus not Harrik, I will ask Nanite to do a surveillance job on him by trying to track him down and get more information on his identity.

4) The Pardon request: Here's my Gambit: I'll listen to Harrik and his deal. I want to know who it is, only then, if it is Silas Caine, Scott will be ok with the pardon. The pardon will be on his actions regarding the event at the Aztechnology facilities. And he will get his pardon only when he testifies in court.

When he does, we nail him for the death of Spider Girucci. Not a word of anything to anyone about this.

I'm not interested in letting Skin Deep go, but with a sample, we might be able to rig a detector/indicator of some sort.

5) Ethan's search of the virus: Scott will see if I can point him in the right direction. Since Ion was Lightning Strike Omega and he had a vested interest in destroying the Entity, could it be possible that it was him that created the virus? Would there be tell tale code that LSO favors and would be indicative of his handy work?

This is in the next 24 hours.

With a longer range in sight: The elections and Silas Caine. Portal/Skype to Cyberspace. Work on getting Skin Deep proof


This is pretty much Hal's position. If he gives us usable, independently verifiable information that we can check out before his court date yes, we support the idea of a pardon for the Aztechnology affair. Otherwise, he can play drop the soap at Chess Castle.


OOC: To summarize Menagerie's view: All three pardoned no. No pardon for Skin Deep. The other two can get the pardon. Even Caine isn't worth all three walking free.

Viva Vanguard


The Blood Sample!
As Vanguard wraps up at Aztechnology, Clone quietly approaches the happy family and politely interrupts their reunion. He looks at Slingshot with a slight smile of apology and says, “I am most sorry comrade for breaking-up of most joyous reunion, but I am thinking that you are wanting of this.” With that said, Clone extents the blood stained tip of his battle-staff towards Slingshot and explains, “. . . it is being from Skin Deep.”

The Pardon!
Then, 24 hours after the Aztech assault, the Mercenary’s lawyer, infamous super-criminal attorney Stanley Argo ( Ray Argo’s brother ), phones Vanguard and CHESS Director Grey: “My client wants to make a deal. In exchange for a full pardon for him, Zero G and Skin Deep, he’ll reveal the name of his employer. In court.”
( OOC: If this is addressed in a group setting Clone will contribute the following )

Clone listens to the immediate chorus of ‘No’s’ that fill the room and then hesitantly makes a suggestion to the contrary, “Perhaps this will be good thing for us, comrades – perhaps we should be agreeing to this I am thinking.” Realizing that most of the team is against what he is suggesting; before they can voice their opinions about what he has just said, Clone continues, “My grandmother is once telling of me - it is better to be strike at the hive, then at the bee’s. Maybe it is not wrong that my grandmother is being correct here, maybe we should be taking out of this employer and not of clients.”

Seeing that his friends are giving him his chance to speak, Clone expands upon his opinion, “Even if the agents of Hom-in . . . Homm’n . . .” Clone then turns to Sentinel and says, “I am sorry, I am not knowing how it is that I am saying this correctly . . . Hom-in-side?” Frustrated with his lack of skill in the English language, Clone doesn’t wait for Sentinel to help him and just turns his attention back to the main group and says, “. . . Hom-in-sides For Hire, are not to be telling of truth at trial, perhaps their employer will be hearing of their willingness to be talking of this and trying to ‘wack them off’ before this is going to trial – then we are having him!”

As the members of Vanguard struggle with trying to understand what it is that Clone was just suggesting, Clone turns to Sentinel once again and says with a look of complete joy on his face, “Are you not liking this use of American slang that I am using? ‘Wacking’ – I am learning of this from true American movie classic of ‘The Godfather’. My English is getting better I am thinking – no?”

( OOC: If this is addressed in a private setting – i.e. Clone finds out while he is alone – then he will hold off on giving his opinion on this until he can speak with the other members of Vanguard about it. Once he’s able to speak with the other members of Vanguard about it please refer to the above IC response. )

The Question!
( OOC: Sorry Tom, going to take some artistic license here and expand upon something you wrote in one of your replies to this issue. If you don’t like the way it works I have no qualms about excluding it from my reply. Hope you like it - )

Back at The Vault; Clone sat silently at the table in the team’s kitchen. Despite a fresh batch of his mother’s home-cooking spread out before him like a small Ukrainian feast, the replicating Russian sat there motionless staring at the featureless wall across the room. As if right on cue, Menagerie suddenly entered the room and broke the awkward silence filling it in his attempt to get a cold glass of water. Smelling the freshly-made batch of Ukrainian delicacies sprawled out before his friend, Menagerie turns to Clone and asks in almost coy fashion, ”Clone, any chance your mother will be making more of those tasty treats you left for me last week?”

As if snapped out of deep thought, Clone turns to Menagerie and responds in a slightly startled tone, “Comrade Menagerie? I am most sorry – I am not seeing you coming into room.” Looking at his teammate and then seeing him looking at the food on the table, Clone suddenly remembers Menageries question and says, “My mother’s cooking? Da, she is bringing some here to us today. Pleased to be helping yourself to as much as you are liking . . . I am seeming not to be having much of an appetite today it is seeming.” With that said, Clone smiles politely at Menagerie, stands up, waves his hand at the food as if to say ‘have at it’, and then casually exits the room.

The Puppet!
Before leaving the Aztechnology compound, Clone inconspicuously kneels down and picks up a small wooden fragment from the shattered remains of The Puppet. Still trying desperately to recall a memory of the mystically malicious mind-controlling marionette; Clone places the shard of wood within a small pocket in his costume.

With his door locked, Clone sat quietly at the small desk in his bedroom and stared intently at the small piece of wood he held in his hand hoping that it would spark some form of recollection in him. He kept flashing back to the very brief and ominous conversation he had with malevolent Muppet of manipulation . . .

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.” 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!”

Clone thought to himself,” ‘pulling my strings again’ – what did it mean when it said that? What did this creature do to me? Dr. X? ‘Client of mine some time ago’? How long were Dr. X and The Puppet manipulating me? How were the two connected? Why can’t I remember any of this?!?”

Their Names Cleared!
Frustrated with his inability to recall how he knew The Puppet and unable to quench the fires of his uncontrollable desire to know more about the mysterious Dr. X; Clone’s thoughts began to wander. His eyes began to travel around the desk before him as he started thinking about the events of the last few days. “I can’t believe how crazy the last few days have been;” he thought to himself, “Soldier is back, Slingshot and his family have been reunited, our names have been cleared of trying to kill President Taylor, I went on a dram date with my one true love Rachael Ray, and . . .” Clone’s eyes then snapped open in alarmed clarity, “. . . oh my . . . Rachael! I haven’t called Rachael yet! I have to explain everything to her!” Picking up the phone resting next to him; Clone starts dialing the telephone number he has for Rachael as he starts babbling to himself in Ukrainian, “Oh my, I can’t believe I haven’t called her yet! I hope she picks up – I bet she’ll be so happy to hear from me! She must be worried sick about me!”

( OOC: Jeff, going to send you a separate e-mail about this )

The Mysterious Dr. X!
Later that night Clone finds himself tossing and turning in his bed as he tries desperately to get a good nights sleep. Frustrated and upset, Clone stares blankly into the darkness for a moment before quickly reaching for the lamp resting peacefully on the night stand beside him. As the light ‘clicks’ on, Clone sits up in his bed and says aloud in Ukrainian, “I can’t take it anymore . . . I have to find Dr. X!”

( OOC: Jeff, going to send you a separate e-mail about this as well )

As always – a GREAT issue! My apologizes for being somewhat delayed in my response time, but I had a TON of stuff I wanted to put into my response and it required a fair amount of time getting it all straight.

Jeff, I’m going to be sending you a separate e-mail with some stuff about where I was thinking I wanted to go with Clone during these next 24hrs - plot ideas and stuff like that ( i.e. Rachael Ray and Dr. X ). I’ll be sending that e-mail out shortly after I send this one out.

Tom Wrote:
“He will check on Snowball and make sure to make time to play with her.”

Tom, love that you didn't forget about Snowball – nice! lol

Talk to you all soon,
- Kev


At the scene Kirk makes sure he memorizes the unique energy signature of Skin Deep and checks during the transformations to see if it changes.  (Should Symbiote get to copy her power set he will also see how using the power set affects his energy signature – he wants to be sure the team doesn’t get caught off guard by her again in the future).

After leaving the scene (perhaps back at base), Kirk approaches Soldier, “Matt, good to have you back man. “And giving him a smile while giving him the once over adds, “You look like hell. After you settle in let’s grab a cold one together and catch up.”

When alone with Shelley, Kirk teasingly remarked, “So, retirement looks good on you.   I’m sure all retired personnel continue to wear their work uniforms under wedding garb.” His smile turned to a look of concern, “You doing all right?”

Not sure if time for this but at some point in the very near future Kirk wants to meet with Grey to discuss Vanguard’s interaction with Valk and Valk’s interaction with Kirk.  He wants to know how Grey felt Kirk could have better managed the situation.  He also wants to further understand Vanguard’s official status as well as his own as it seems like they were treated no better as government agents than had they been independent.   Kirk will review Valk’s file to assess him and wants to know if Grey knows him and he had been misguided here by information he was given about Vanguard or if he has his own agenda.  Kirk wants to know about the tech employed regarding telepathic abilities, who has it, etc.  Kirk also wants to know Grey’s feelings about the MEDUSA division given that they seem to be specifically geared up to act against Vanguard and are seemingly prejudicing other government divisions against Vanguard and CHESS.

After his teammates express their concerns to  Argo Kirk will address him stating, “So, you expect Vanguard to believe that Harrik, who has spent a lifetime building his rep, is going to throw all that away by selling out his employer the first  time he gets caught?  That the man whose contingencies have contingencies best plan for getting out of jail was rolling over?  That’s what you’re telling us here?”

After Argo leaves Kirk turns to his teammates and especially towards Slingshot and Slate.  “We should have some time here before we have to make any decision.  Personally I want them all to pay for what they have done.  But I think that Scott’s threats during the battle make a good strategy here afterward. You spoke about Harrik’s money and that is all that he cares about and having the Entity drain his accounts… it IS all about the money with him.  Let’s use that against him."

“Ethan, we’ve kind of tempered your usage around computer systems not knowing what to expect and fearful of the influence of IT somehow effecting you through it.  It seems that our recent encounter showed not only that you have free will regarding these things but that you’ve grown enough to exercise that free will in a mature way.  You’ve done us all proud.

And we need you here and now Ethan.  Let’s find Harrik’s money and more importantly let’s follow the money trail and see if through that we can find evidence linking Harrik to his various employers and especially his most recent one.  Perhaps the information he is trying to buy his freedom with is available out there in cyberspace without his help.  Even if we can’t find the money trail itself because he wasn’t paid in currency but in some other sort of valuables … perhaps we can find emails or conversations documented out there somewhere.  Caine may avoid modern communications, but his associates Harrik, the Patriot, they have had no reason to do so. 

Do you think something like that is possible?  Can you sort through Cyberspace in a way we can’t to try to find that sort of information? If my computer skills could somehow assist you in any way I’d try to help… and I can try to set up programs and subroutines to search out this information myself and bring in Ajay and the staff, but I’ve the feeling you can do so much more…”

Hope everyone enjoys the day!


PS: Along these lines, Kevin's post actually reminded me of something else Kirk wanted to say after Argo was gone but didn't add not knowing if there would be any success on his mind read (which he will likely reveal to the team the details of what he got)... assuming nothing contradictory Kirk would add.

"I don't think Harrik has any intention to actually reveal his employer in court and I think that this is simply part of his contingency plan to escape ... his transport to the court actually giving him the best opportunity for whatever he has planned to happen in the least secured place he could arrange."



OOC: What Kev wrote is great for Menagerie.  Use it whenever you can.


Avatar rests and waits.


OOC: LOL As simple as this was put - I can definitely see it as the    absolute best response for Avatar! Its a VERY Spartan way to react    to inaction I think lol. As soon as I read this I instantly pictured    Avatar just sitting in a dark and very sparsely furnished room    directly underneath a single ceiling light ( like so many comic-book    warrior types often do ) just sharpening his sword over and over    again with a whet stone, just staring into the darkness waiting for    the 'call to arms'!

Great job, Harold!



OOC: could be that I'm just lazy and apathetic.

Avatar would rather NOT see pardons for these men but there's a greater good here that might be served if their information is worthwhile.  While it's definitely metagaming, I know that Harrik will eventually escape and we'll fight him again so we might as well get something out of him.

I'm just disturbed by how truly tough he seemed to be.  The damage that he dealt out was monstrous for what I am assuming is a trained human.  Just assuming that he is of high level and has Heightened Attack.  I like to think of Avatar as tough but Harrik took him down unarmed as an afterthought.


OOC: “ could be that I'm just lazy and apathetic.”
LOL. Nice!


Lightning Strike:
OOC: The Freedom Force shuffle works every time. 

IC: Strike will make no attempt to follow Strike Omega and hopes that he will fight on the good side.  When it comes to the pardon, Strike will be unequivocal on the subject.  "We should never accept a plea bargain from these scum.  They will simply roll over on someone else and be back on the streets.  Plea bargaining is a lazy way to avoid conducting the investigation ourselves and I want no part of it.  If we give in to this, we will be no better than them and are responsible for every crime they commit.  Let them rot in jail for all I am concerned."  With that, Strike will go back to investigate the conspiracy the old fashioned way with shoe leather and gumption.


OOC: OK, With Tony's reply, I've got something from everyone. Dom, you mentioned some in-character replies to the other PCs. Whenever you're ready. Also, see below…

Here's the tally on recommending a pardon deal to the prosecuting attorney, as far as I can make it out:

Avatar: Yes, make the deal.

Clone: Yes. Maybe Caine will whack them off.

Lightning Strike: Never! Never compromise! Even in the face of Armageddon! Hurm.

Menagerie: Yes, except Skin Deep

Sentinel: No final decision yet

Slate: No deal

Slingshot: I got your compromise position. Need to know if you'll agree to deal that was offered (full pardons for all three)

Soldier: No answer on this topic

Symbiote: Harrik takes our offer or else he can go play drop the soap at CHESS Castle

Sentinel, Slingshot, and Soldier...
If I can get all (or most) outstanding answers on this by end of day tomorrow, I can move this plot along in next issue. Otherwise, it can still be unsolved for next issue, which isn't the end of the world.

Also, if I've miscounted, please let me know.


Viva Vanguard,


“Lightning Strike: Never! Never compromise! Even in the face of Armageddon! Hurm.”



OOC: If it's all or nothing, I suppose we take the deal.  As we sometime say around my office, "catch you later."

To clarify:  I'll go along with all three getting a full pardon IF we get the info before court day and IF we can test it and it proves to be good.

Giving them the pardon and then finding out in court?  Nuh-uh.


OOC: Well this is getting interesting...


OOC: I've already suggested we spend some time trying to establish the link ourselves ... but at this point, we don't know what we are getting here.  Is he giving us Caine on a platter or might it be something else?

Not only does this seem like something Harrik would never do but we really aren't in a position to make this call anyway.  This could easily be spun against us.  Vanguard doesn't have the governmental power to cut deals ...

At this point I'd say Kirk doesn't trust Harrik or this situation and thus no .... hurm.

But no reason to tell them that ... why not keep it on the table for now and see what develops...

and FYI, my personal philosophy is that when someone gives me an ultimatum that it has to be an immediate decision without time to think it through properly (ie now or never) my default answer is  always 'never'.



OOC: No deal for these guys.


OOC: Yes, if it's Caine. If it's not Caine, no deal.