Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Vanguard: Issue 175: Old Friends.

Cthulhu was coming. And with him, the end of the world.
Vanguard had undertaken a desperate quest to stop the end of the world.
Earth’s greatest heroes had less than seven days to secure nine artifacts of power, or else all would be lost.

Fortunately, they were not alone. The Mystic, Archimedes and Oracle would blind-gate Vanguard to each of the artifacts. Once there, they would have up to an hour to secure the artifact before the gate could be re-opened to return them.

Vanguard had failed to retrieve the first artifact. The Spear of Destiny instead went to the Soviet Super Soldiers.

In a few hours, Vanguard would attempt to capture the second artifact of power.

Sentinel, in the team debrief, offered his opinion of the Soviet Super Soldiers’ role in the coming cataclysm: “Given they have thrown Swastika’s name out there and his secret lair had one of the artifacts it wouldn’t surprise me if they are his secret pawns.  It fits.  It follows his M.O. here in the States.  He loved manipulating Miles to work his ends.  He could be doing the same with the SSS just as they proclaim their hatred of him.   We stopped him from his infiltration of the US government… maybe he was successful in an infiltration of the Soviet government."

Slingshot looked ambivalent. "If Doctor X is willing to enslave and brainwash all of SSS, then maybe you're right. I'm not entirely sold yet."

Menagerie listened in silence. Then, “I agree that Swastika is a madman with deep plans, but is really capable of taking over and managing the USSR while doing the same to USA? I think we have two foes, not one.”

Sentinel asked Clone, “What have you seen Revolution do?  Do you think my energies are at risk to him?”

Clone replied, “He can absorb energy, store it, and then blast it out again. I don’t know if they are.”

Sentinel revealed that he had discovered a black book in the Lost Laboratory of Dr. Swastika that appeared to be the fabled Necronomicon! (see last issue!)

Avatar, Menagerie and the Mystic shared what they knew of the black book’s “fictional” history.

The Mystic said, “I had prepared a ritual to secure the first artifact of power after you retrieved it. As that is no longer possible, I suggest that I instead secret away this foul object for the safety of all.”

“Wait,” said Grey. “This thing is the enemy’s playbook? Any chance of using it to increase our odds?”

“No!” Menagerie said, “It is not a playbook. It is a trap! To read it is to be converted to the enemy. Send it away! It is as much a threat to our world as the demon itself.” 

The book had disturbed Kirk since he first felt its being.   Its foul energy was an affront to his senses.  His every instinct told him to obliterate it on a molecular level and remove its foul presence from this realm.  The blackness of its unnatural energy and his aversion to it at the core of his being affected him in a way he didn’t quite understand.
Kirk had been looking down as the discussion went on about The Book.  Uncharacteristically for him and then he looked up and said with what sounded almost like anger in his voice, “There’s another option we haven’t mentioned; we obliterate that piece of filth now.”  And he glanced downward again.
Another part of him was considering the thought Grey had just brought up since he found that damned book.  If Swastika had hidden it that well, there was a reason.  And now knowing its information was directly related to the things at hand … and knowing the wealth of information it contained, the part of him that had studied the legends and exploits of the ages, part of him felt the book played a major role in the events that were unfolding.  That perhaps it did hold the key to preventing the infiltration. 
And on a personal level it was the only thing he had encountered up until now that could perhaps help him to understand his reaction to that black energy. 
And he looked up again and said, staring towards the three in the room who were well versed in this sort of thing, already comprehending that none of them had made efforts to view the book or suggest using it and said, “Is it possible that the contents of this book could be used for good in what comes ahead?”
“Has this sort of dark magic,” and he struggled with the words, his personal feelings being that it was just another form of energy, one he didn’t quite yet understand, “ever been used in a positive way before?”
But he feared he knew the answer.  That if somehow they were forced into using its knowledge and power it would cost one of them dearly.

 “Ever?” Mystic repeated as he looked at Sentinel, “Yes… Rarely... But at a terrible price.”

Slingshot didn't like where this thought was going and said so. "I'm not willing to sell my soul to the devil to try and pull the rug from under him. I prefer using this.” The Malleable Man of Might enlarged his fist to the size of an ACME sledgehammer. "I also like keeping my brains in a functional state. Maybe, we could see if we could hunt down people that may have read the thing and get information from them. I prefer sending it away."

“I concur,” said the Mystic as he respectfully took the Book under his cloak. “I shall secure it with the other artifacts we shall soon possess.” 

After the fate of the Necronomicon was decided, Avatar saw his opening. “I wonder how effective I'll be at this pace.  I need rest to be effective.  Vanguard, it might be best to let the other side get some artifacts and then hit them at their home base with us rested and them spent.”

Slingshot said to Avatar, "That's an interesting thought, but that presumes they are not Swastika's puppets," Scott said, pointedly looking at Sentinel. "The Mages are wasting a huge amount of energy to teleport us there, we might as well make the most of it and get the artifacts. If we keep losing them to SSS, then we could do a raid."

“I agree we should rest.” Menagerie said, “I disagree with hitting their home base. If we allow them to take them then why not let them keep them?”

Sentinel replied, “Assuming the SSS continue to have a means to gather them, it would seem it would benefit us little to engage them since we have to retrieve the item they already have. But we do need to be sure we secure the locations of each item.   Of course, if they meet no resistance then they may be just as fit as we are… it seems we can decide after seeing what happens at the location of some of the other artifacts.

The debriefing ended and Vanguard separated to make preparations for the next leg of the quest.
Menagerie consulted privately with the Mystic and Archimedes on the severity of the loss of the Spear.

Menagerie said, “I still can’t believe that Dr. Swastika had, and then abandoned, the Spear of Destiny.”

The Mystic replied with rational deliberateness, “So what does that tell us? Perhaps he didn’t believe it was the genuine artifact.
Or perhaps he believed it was, and thought it was safe there, to be retrieved at his convenience later.
Or, he never wished to leave it behind and was forced to, due to events beyond his control.
Or, he really is dead, despite the impassioned insistence of Sentinel and, it would seem, Dr. X.”

Archimedes said, “There is another possibility. An unpleasant one. Perhaps he lives, and has grown beyond the need of the Spear.”
The Mystic said, “A chilling prospect indeed.” 

Menagerie said, “Frightening, He might be completely insane now.  Believing he doesn’t need the Spear or the Book. If this is true, then Sentinel is right to obsess over this fiend.”
Menagerie then consulted with Oracle to see if Vanguard’s path was to retrieve the Spear from the Soviets.

Oracle said, ““I’m sorry. I’m trying to help, but that desire is balanced against my fear of causing unintentional harm. Once, I sought to avert a future threat. I informed my team, AEGIS, of future events and the result was a tragedy far worse than what I foresaw. AEGIS ended up murdered by the hand of one of our own, Simon… whom you know as the Primate… whom I once knew as a dear friend. I cannot ever allow that to come to pass again.”

Menagerie said, “Oracle, it was not your fault. It was those that used your wisdom. Everyone has the choice of act or not act on information provided whether it is a vision or found in an ancient text. It is not the books fault for mankind’s failures and AEGIS’ failure isn’t yours either. While I am sure you saw a future that Simon didn’t become Primate, it doesn’t mean that would have been the future if you hadn’t shared your vision.
Remember without your vision, Vanguard would not have been able to stop Primate the second time.’

Oracle was deeply moved by Menagerie’s kind words. “Thank you,” she said.

Menagerie created a new spell to do what Symbiote had requested: prevent Shatter from teleporting the SSS.
(OOC: A Luck Point is spent to “invent” a one-shot spell. It prevents the unnatural transport of any one living soul. Range is 1”. Costs 8 PR and one action to cast. Got a name for this spell, Menagerie?)
Then Menagerie asked Sentinel to introduce him to Lancaster Gerard, the original (golden age) Sentinel. Time was running out, so they spoke over the phone.

Menagerie asked, “Sir, what do you know about Doctor X? Did you ever meet the man? Did he ever fight alongside the Soviets against Swastika?”

A firm voice, resolute and clear, replied: “Very little, I’m afraid. I never met him, but we did coordinate attacks on the Germans. He was said to be a genius… the USSR’s first superhero. Certainly the first one to survive Stalin’s watchful eyes. In truth, the Soviet Union had no other extranormals in service during WWII. It was only after, during the Cold War, that Doctor X began the Program.”

“What can you tell me about Dr. Swastika?”

“Ha,” came a laugh with little humor. “How long have we got, son? A mad scientist? A Nazi? A monster? Words fail to describe him properly. Probably because his like hasn’t been seen before. He’s the most dangerous adversary I had ever encountered in all my years,” said the golden age hero.

“Did you know that Swastika was into the occult?”

“Yes. Just like his idol, Adolf Hitler. Science and sorcery. Both in service to the black madness that was their creed.”

“What had you heard about the Spear of Destiny? Do you have any idea why Swastika would abandon it?”

“I’m afraid I only know what everyone knows. Legends and hearsay. I have no idea why he might abandon such an artifact, especially since Hitler valued it so.”

“Thank you for your time, sir, I - “

“Pardon me, son,” said Lancaster Gerard. “While it’s just you and I on the line, please allow me the opportunity to thank you for what you’re doing. Kirk has told me all about you and Vanguard. He appreciates your support and your dedication to the cause. Lord knows that Mystic and I didn’t always see eye to eye. It does me well to see the next generation succeeding where we did not. Keep fighting the good fight, Menagerie. Godspeed.”

Later, Menagerie asked the Mystic, “Were you active during WWII?”

The Mystic said, “Why yes. From time to time I fought alongside the original Sentinel, Sgt. Stone, Doc Rocket, and the rest of the Liberty League.”

Menagerie asked, “Would you consider Swastika a scientist or a mystic?”

“Neither,” said the Mystic coldly. “He’s an abomination.”

Symbiote flew to CHESS Castle to sample the DNA of Accelerator.
CHESS Castle’s new warden, Bill Nettenstrom and a CHESS Knight escorted Symbiote through the maximum security prison for extranormals.
They passed a cell and inside it was Symbiote!
It was Skin Deep’s cell. In a few days she, Jim Harrik and Zero G would be released as part of a plea bargain agreement that moved Silas Caine from the White House to prison. Through a wall of bullet proof glass, the other Symbiote said, “Be seeing you soon...” The voice was identical. Then he morphed into a perfect likeness of Shelley Harper. She said, “Real soon. It’ll be a regular family reunion.” Shelley’s face smiled with pure malice.

Symbiote looked at the Malevolent Morph the way he might look at a new species of microscopic parasite.  "Bring it," he said.  "I've absorbed your powers and have the template on file.  We know your true face.  We know every little parlor trick you have. I'd suggest retiring or, even, God forbid, using your abilities for something constructive.  Since you're too ignorant and bitter to do so, I suppose we'll dance again."  And with that he walked away from her cell without giving her an opportunity to reply, unless she wanted to stand against her cell door and scream, not the best method for delivering cool, barbed threats.

Skin Deep saved her reply for another time, another place.

As Symbiote’s meeting with Accelerator ended, Accelerator asked, “Have you seen Mother Russia lately? Did she ask about me?”

Hal regarded the young metahuman with compassion.  Young, given too much power too soon, and falling for Mother Russia's pretty face and nice ass, he thought to himself.  It's not like I'M not guilty of that last one myself.  "I haven't seen her, Terry," he lied, kindly. 

"You've got some time ahead of you, son.  Use it to do some thinking.  When you do get out, if you want to gain a better understanding of your powers and maybe use them to do something positive, ask the prison staff to get a hold of me."  He gave the Blitzing Boy a genuine handshake before leaving.

While he was there, Hal visited another prisoner, his father’s ex-partner, Detective Hank Archer.
Archer had given Symbiote ample opportunity to bring it up. When he didn’t, Archer did. He looked at the superhero’s costume and said, “So, ‘Symbiote,’ are you ever going to tell your father about all this?”

(Reply, Symbiote?)

After leaving CHESS Castle, Symbiote used Accelerator’s power template to race back to Vanguard Vault on foot, trying the momentum transfer power out on a few small inanimate objects (a rock, a discarded soda can, whatever's handy) along the way.

When Symbiote arrived back from CHESS Castle he (contributed the Luck Point and) created the transponder tracking device that Clone suggested.  Unless somebody else has a better idea he'll carry it.  With Accelerator's power set, Symbiote will probably be striking first and often in most combat situations, he would hopefully be able to get it on one of them (probably Proletariat with that bulky armor) before any of them realized it.

Slate got Slingshot alone and showed him Dr. Swastika’s journal. "Dad, I found this in the lab. It looks like you," he said tentatively, "What do you think it means, and how could it have been there so long ago?" 

Slingshot saw a journal that revealed Swastika’s fascination with sorcery, especially the Cthulhu Mythos.

There was an amazing illustration of the Star Giant, penned in Swastika’s talented hand.

The journal covered the Nazi expedition to the Lost Lands of Antarctica, wherein lay the Temple of Terror. There were illustrations of the Dinosaur Men, and of temple hieroglyphs depicting the race of Inhumans. Next to that was a depiction of a creature that resembled Slingshot!

Scott looked quietly at the drawing and the information in the book. "Ethan, Thank you for showing this to me. I'm not sure I understand what this means. Would you leave this with me so I can read through it a bit more?"

Slingshot didn’t have long before Vanguard would regroup. With a quick review of the journal (and his Occult skill) he was able to deduce that all the creatures depicted in this section of the writings were spawn of the Cthulhu Mythos. They were all demons or aliens, depending on one’s philosophy, including the ebony creature that resembled Slingshot!

As Clone left the debriefing room, Shelley was waiting for him in the hallway. She gave him a hug.
“Alex, how are you?”

With a look of uncertainty on his face, Clone replied, ". . . to be honest . . . I'm not sure." His expression then turned to one of mild angst as he continued, "I have all these thoughts running through my head and I don't even know if they're mine or someone else's. It’s like It’s like watching someone else through a window, but that someone else is you . . . but it’s not because you're inside looking out at yourself. His expression then changed once more as he asked with a confused look on his face, ". . . does that make sense?" After a brief and silent pause in the conversation, Clone said to Shelley in an exasperated tone, "I think I just need a few minutes alone to collect my thoughts . . . I'll catch up with you later Shelley."

Shelley said, “Rachel is worried sick about you. Do you want me to call her for you?”

Clone stopped and turned back around and said with a defeated look on his face, ". . . no . . . she doesn't even know who I am to be worried about me . . . the Alex she knew doesn't exist . . . he never did." The two started to walk away from each other once again, but Clone stopped and called out to Shelley as if he just had a change of heart, "Shelley?"

As Shelley stopped and looked back at Clone, the former Soviet Super Soldier said, "Call her . . . let her know that Alex is ok . . . I'll call her when this is all over."

Shelley nodded, “Okay.”

Slate monitored his computer’s progress remotely, and as he did so, he found an agent in the Vault, and asked if he could get some basic equipment.  He gathered a few things, and joined the team to prepare for the next outing.  He also went online and speed reviewed some survival guides.
Vanguard was reunited an hour before they were blind-gated to the next artifact of power. With them in the newly bug-free war room were Doc, Shelley, Sarge, Drake and Grey.

Slate went in behind Slingshot, and attempted to stay close to him, but in the background. The young hero held flashlights, some rope/rock climbing gear, a backpack, a sword, a few bottles of water, and some basic food stuff.  He wore a jacket and a hat, looking like an Indiana Jones wannabe.

Just like when Clone first joined Vanguard, Alex remained silent ( for the most part ) during any team discussions or mission briefings. He's going to need some time to rediscover not only himself, but his place on the team.

Agent Drake briefed Vanguard on the world storm, civil unrest, prison riots and the wave of occult murders.

Sentinel said, “This is bad. It would seem that as the time grows closer the world scene as a whole will be getting worse; perhaps Chess can help the other governmental agencies to prepare for what is likely to unfold with the population in general since Vanguard’s efforts will be directed towards the threat itself.”

Slingshot shook his head, "I will assume this is all in massive preparation to the final ritual. There is a correlation between all these sacrifices. It could be location dependent, they could all be nexus sites, or the points on the map could draw some massive pentagram. It could be that they are all people of a particular persuasion: race, situation, moral rectitude, moral corruption, sexual orientation or all virgins. Whatever the corrupt mind of Swastika can come up with or Cthulhu requires."
He turned to Drake, "I think we need CHESS analysts to review the information on all these and see what pattern emerges. Maybe get the feedback of the mages to the possibilities. If we can figure out the pattern, CHESS might be able to go and disrupt some of these preparations and potentially force the spell to require more artifacts, more juice, more fuel, because the spell is imperfect?"

“On it,” said Drake, making a note on his tablet.

Suddenly, SHAKOW! Lightning Strike materialized among them!  

The vigilante of voltage had been torn while staying away from Vanguard.  He still felt that the compromises the group made were too much for him to countenance but when the world was at stake, personal differences had to be put aside.   He clearly felt that the sanctimonious (re: Sentinel) leadership of Vanguard contributed to the recent defeat with the Soviets and that Vanguard as a whole has gotten soft. 
Before materializing, Strike had electrically gone through the Vanguard Vault to ensure that all of the Soviet devices that had monitored Vanguard were disabled. He found that they were. Clone had identified them all.
As he materialized, he formed an invisible electric field of white noise to deter eavesdropping.

Lightning Strike said to the group, “As distasteful as I find this, I believe that the world needs all of us to band together.  

“I feel that my skills may prove useful to Vanguard and that the tactics are in need of modification.  I hope you all realize that the stakes are far higher than any we have faced before.  We need to band together and prevent any other group from gathering all of the items together.  Even holding one item can give us leverage in negotiating with the Soviets.”

Menagerie responded to Lightning Strike, "Why do we care if the Soviets also want to protect the Earth from the threat? The goal should be to protect the Earth, nothing more."

Lightning Strike replied, "Are you so sure that they want to protect the earth?  Would you want them to be holding all the pieces?  Their motives are in question and any group that holds the artifacts could essentially hold the world hostage.  I trust that Vanguard will do the right thing.  I am not so certain that the Soviets are doing this purely to safeguard humanity."

Menagerie said, "I agree that I don't want them holding all the pieces but first you question our motives with Caine and Homicide for Hire and now you question the Soviets' motives. What is this standard you are judging all others by?
“Most importantly I agree that any group that holds all the artifacts would hold the world hostage, including Vanguard. I say let them keep the Spear and we get the rest."

Sentinel looked up upon Strike's reappearance, smiled, nodded his head, and stated matter of factly, "What kept you?  I'd expected you'd show sooner.” He then continued whatever he was doing in preparation of the next retrieval acting as if Strike had never left. 
Kirk acted as if Strike has been fully briefed, as aware of things as the rest of Vanguard.  If that doesn't appear to be the case then he'd be surprised.  He'll ignore his attitude to the degree possible as he always does.
Given that Kirk had expressed his views earlier and everyone had the chance to speak then and that everything is a big question mark at this point, he's not interested in rehashing things simply because Strike has something to say now.

It was midnight. The time had come.
The three magi stood ready to blind-gate Vanguard to the second artifact of power! Once there, they would have up to an hour to secure the artifact before the gate could be re-opened to return them.

Sentinel formed his energy shields.  

"COWABUNGA!"  yelled Scott as he jumped up in an comical imitation of Michelangelo as they all get 'ported

Hal had hooked up the harness to his computer to make sure he saved a copy of Accelerator's power template.  After that, he's ready to go.  He's eager to grab that Necronomicon and utter the sacred words "Klaatu... Barata.... whatever…

The Mystic and Archimedes wove a magic spell before Vanguard’s eyes. Hieroglyphic equations of otherworldly geometry formed in midair in bright lines of gold and blue. An all-seeing eye, not unlike that which emblazoned Sentinel’s chest, grew within an expanding circle that then cut into physical space itself. The circle glowed bright as the sun and the air shifted as static electricity built up within the room.

“Now Vanguard! Go!” called the Mystic over the wind and white light that blasted from the gate!

Vanguard advanced into the light and suddenly all went dark!
The light, the wind and the noise were gone!

Vanguard stood in an immense, dimly lit corporate boardroom, and they weren’t alone.
Wall sized windows on one side of the long room showed they were in Manhattan, about 70 stories above Midtown. The world storm raged across the midnight sky.

“Well. That was a rather impressive entrance,” came a calm, sardonic voice from the shadows at the head of the table.

Most of Vanguard recognized the voice instantly. It was the Black Bat. Those that knew the voice recalled the last time they faced this creature. The rest of Vanguard had read about it in the Vault files.

Flashback! (From Vanguard: Issue 53: The Devil You Know)

Then the Black Bat appeared. Suddenly he was just there, materialized from thin air. The shadows themselves flickered upon his arrival. He was pale and luminous and beautiful.

Vanguard, for a moment, was stunned, captivated. His very presence was electric, hypnotic. The air was charged, filled with possibility and there was a second of hesitation and in that second, the Bat spoke. His manner of speaking was calm, refined and exceedingly polite. His pale eyes were irresistible.

“Thank you,” he said. “Morgue was becoming more unstable and violent each day. I underestimated his bloodthirsty nature. A product of his environment, no doubt. And thank you for clearing the field for me,” he said with a casual nod to the former masters of Big City’s criminal empire, now dead and scattered across the cold floor in an orgy of death. His smile was genuine and without condescension.

“You’ve done my work for me and I am grateful. I must confess, I’ve no appetite for these dramatic confrontations of which you costumed adventurers are apparently so fond. I must have forgotten what it’s like to be so young and so powerful.”

His voice was pleasant and it continued. “I know what you’re thinking. After all, I once stood in your shoes. You think you’re going to kill me. Or even capture me. You are expecting, even craving, some epic, grand battle that will shake the roots of heaven itself. You want so badly a new age of heroes and gods,” his eyes fell upon Kairos. “You persist in seeing the world in quaint and outdated terms of black and white.” His eyes regarded Sentinel. “How fascinating. But I assure you, that won’t happen. I promise you.

“I’m twenty years ahead of you. In that time, my powers have grown beyond your imagining. I am a foe that is beyond all of you. In your current weakened condition, you could only succeed in getting yourselves killed. And I for one would find that most regrettable. In fact, it’s why you’re still alive.
After all, are we really that different? I was a member of the Freedom Force. I did not ask for this to happen to me, but now that it has, what would you have me do? Commit suicide?
You must eat living things to survive, through no choice of your own. Does that make you evil?

“As to our current situation, consider this: Do you wish to create another power vacuum in Big City, like the Freedom Force did when they wiped out Intercrime? Do you believe organized crime will end forever today? A new bloodthirsty degenerate, perhaps worse than Morgue, will rise from the murderous chaos to rule.
“Or… you could decide who will fill that vacuum.”
That killingly disarming smile again. “At the very least, I am the devil you know.

“Together, we can be the power in this city. A power for Order. I’ve already helped you by sending men to prevent the assault on your safehouse. As you’ve already helped me by killing and scattering all my rivals for power…

“I told you there will be no epic confrontation. I have nothing to gain from it. I’m immortal. I don’t have to defeat you. I’ll just do to you what I did to the Freedom Force: I will simply outlive you.”

End Flashback!

Vanguard’s eyes adjusted and there he was now… even more hypnotic, more charismatic than they had remembered.

Menagerie and Sentinel could both detect the dark, powerful undead energy of the Bat.

They could also sense the energy of the second artifact of power coming from behind a framed oil painting on the wall directly behind the Bat.

Sentinel used Vanguard's non-verbal hand signal system to inform Vanguard of this.  (I will rule)

Around the Bat’s table were eight of his lieutenants. They were less calm than he.

Lightning Strike recognized the heads of the Chicago Outfit, the New York Mafia, the L.A. Syndicate, the Frisco Triad, the American Yakuza, the Russian Mob, and the Mexican Cartel. There was only one that Strike didn’t recognize, but all f them appeared human enough. The Lord of the Underworld must’ve still hated the noise and attention that came with extranormal hirelings.

The Black Bat smiled with naked pleasure, “Well gentlemen, what can we do for you, so near to the ending of the world?”

To be continued!

OOC: Actions? Replies? Thanks! 

Viva Vanguard,

Current Conditions:
Avatar: Hit Points: 43, Power Points: 85, Manifestation: None 
Clone: Bodies: 1, Hit Points: 22, Power Points: 64, Hit Point Pool: 22 
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 48, Power Points: 85 
Menagerie: Hit Points: 21, Power Points: 66, Form: Man 
Sentinel: Hit Points: 29, Power Points: 60, Creation Points: 120, Shields: 100 
Slate: Hit Points: 35, Power Points: 73 
Slingshot: Hit Points: 50, Power Points: 92, Invulnerability: 8
Symbiote: Hit Points: 38, Power Points: 93, Charges: 14, Copied: None

OOC:  I loved the art you chose for the Lieutenants. Those are some of my favorite villains of all time!!

Pure Greatness!



OOC: Me too... I could only name a few of them myself but always thought the Tracy foes cool.

Couple of quick questions.

(1) The anti-energy of the Bat is the same energy that surrounded The Book, correct?  Or is it a different read.
(2) I'd think at this point the lieutenants aren't human and are extra-normal even though they don't look the part and that should be an easy check as Kirk glances at them and sees their energy patterns surrounding them.  That's something Kirk would need to convey to the team quickly.

Still considering how Kirk would play this, although at this point my guess is that it doesn't matter since I think Strike's move is going to be to blast the SOB through the wall without saying a word and frankly, likely the rest of us want to do the same thing. 

The Bat has little reason to want the end of the world unless somehow he is tied up into this mess by his  very nature... but at this point he is the worst known threat (with Swastika still truly unproven merely spoken about) to Vanguard and caused the most damage to the team as well our city (since it seems he many have been pulling Caine's strings) and gotten off untouched thus far and done everything he wanted to do while toying with us along the way... without us even knowing it.



Hi Seth,

Quick replies:

1) The Bat is undeath. The Book is anti-life.  The energy types of the Black Bat and the Necronimicon are very similar, but not the same, or related.

2) I gave you and Menagerie a "free" extranormal sense use, to help steer all the players in the direction of the second artifact of power sooner.
I threw in the Black Bat energy reading as color commentary to set the mood. (...and I should have included Menagerie in that sentence. I'll correct the issue before I post it to the blog.)
Scanning the Bat's larcenous lieutenants can happen on your next action.



"1) The Bat is undeath. The Book is anti-life."

Nice illustration.


(OOC: The following write up is really my feelings as a player and are not set in stone for Menagerie. I wanted to get it to you now so you can play off of it if you felt a connection as well.)

Menagerie stood in the conference room confused and frustrated. His team had walked into the inner sanctum of Black Bat. "What the hell?" he thought. "The Mages had no stinkin clue what they were about to do to use. Crap, no wonder Oracle has been so depressed and not forthcoming with any of her 'sight'.

Menagerie stared at Black Bat, he did not even bother to look at any of his lieutenants. Menagerie so wanted to claw that smirk off of the undead's face. He knew it was his instincts as Protector of Life that was wanting to destroy this Prevailer of Living Death.

Menagerie growled and bared his teeth instead. He was frustrated by his inability to end Black Bat's existence but he was equally frustrated with himself. "Was Vanguard the 'stalking horse' or scapegoat?" He thought. "Any of the nine could perform the ritual but so far they were being sent to the ones least likely to be used."

"You know why we are here. Please don't pretend you are so weak that you cannot sense the End Days are here. Will you allow us to protect the artifact?"

<Black Bat's reply, if any>

"I can't imagine that you wish to lose your soul as well or rule over a world without them. So what value does it hold that you would protect it so?"

(OOC: If a fight breaks out this issue Menagerie will use his Essence of Life magic spell on Black Bat.)

(OOC 2: As far as naming the new magic spell. All I can think of is "Hedge of Thorns")



Hi Tom,

As per Issue 170, available in the 25 cent boxes of finer comic stores near you, the mages are gating Vanguard randomly to each of the nine artifacts powerful enough to fuel a ritual to bring the Cthulhu Pantheon to Earth on the winter solstice, when the stars are right. 

Given the immensity of their task, and the limited time you all have to accomplish it, they elected to save time and energy by not locating, identifying nor prioritizing the artifacts before gating Vanguard to them. 
Vanguard is going randomly, and "blind," to each one.  The spell the mages forged to do this keeps them "blind" as well.

There are other paths, other ways to go about this. But this was the path agreed to in Issue 170 and since. You guys can blaze a different trail if you like. Avatar offered an alternate approach last issue.



Kirk knew they could take him.  He ached to do so at his core.  But he calculated the cost to them and with so many more artifacts ahead the price was too high. And he remembered how the Bat took control of half the team in an instant in their last encounter.

Kirk  subtly made sure his communicator was working  including the audio so that CHESS knew they were still here in New York City.  Might not be a bad idea for their mystical backup, who wouldn’t need to expend the power to ‘gate them’ back now, knew whom they were facing.

“About that, we’re here to save the world.  And in that pursuit your arduous presence here is a luxury none of us can afford, yourself included.  Consider everything here forfeit; your bounty is your life and your freedom … for now.  Don’t think about it and leave this instant Bat, because you’ve made it personal and I’m sure in the next few seconds my teammates will void this far too generous offer.”

(OOC: Unless something more is revealed here for Bat’s motive he has no reason for this fight with Vanguard at full power having avoided a battle at our last encounter when we were all weakened and he had a much greater chance of beating us.  If we dismantle this group of operatives he has all the time in the world (assuming we save it) to assemble another group.  In fact, in his mind, he probably left us alive just for this sort of thing.)

Actions: With his energy sense he wants to get a read as to whether the others in the room are superhuman or not and will convey to us team as appropriate.  He will  also ‘lock’ on the Bat’s energy if he does choose to vaporize and leave to be sure he departs and doesn’t return.  He will be ready to use his energy construct to snatch and retrieve the object if anyone other than a (non-mind controlled) teammate makes a move towards it.

(OOC: Please let us know how far from where we are to Vanguard headquarters in turn-time if things go that way and the object becomes ‘in play’ (ie how quickly one of Vanguard can get the object to HQ and rejoin the battle).

If battle breaks out you can have Kirk take appropriate action or hold the attack part until next issue since he will likely be the last person to go anyway this turn.  If it appears someone is going to take off with the artifact than use his action to do anything he can to prevent it and if possible snatch it.

If a battle does break out Sentinel says to Avatar with conviction and  nodding confidence in him, “Raze him to a heap of burning ash.”

Oh, and if Kirk can get an energy read on the shape of the artifact, let me know.  I'm betting on chalice based on the Bat's hubris and that might be good to know for what lies ahead too if its a battle.



Scott looked at his PDA while Black Bat gave his speech. He calculated how far was the distance to their Vanguard HQ.(?). He turned to his son and said softly, "stay close, we may have to run fast"

Scott received the information from  Sentinel regarding the location of the item of power. Looking at the painting, he assume this was a safe of some sort (building engineering check? assuming this was a positive). He calculated what it would take to simply rip the safe from the wall and leave. Could he be able to do so simply using his mighty strength? There was also his son's blast  that could easily open the safe as well. He looked on, calculating his odds.

He also had the potential to occupy several of the bosses with his tentacle attack. It would likely allow the others to do the deed.

Several options were available to him, but as usual, he took the conciliatory path.

“About that, we’re here to save the world.  And in that pursuit your arduous presence here is a luxury none of us can afford, yourself included.  Consider everything here forfeit; your bounty is your life and your freedom … for now.  Don’t think about it and leave this instant Bat, because you’ve made it personal and I’m sure in the next few seconds my teammates will void this far too generous offer.”

Slingshot added, "If you know about the end of the world, then you know what we came for. Hand it over and we'll leave peacefully. Otherwise, what he said" This last sentence is punctuated by a thumb towards Sentinel.

Actions: Wait for Black bat to hand over the artifact, mostly because my actions arrive so late in the turn :)
1-If there is a brawl and no one was successful at taking the item, Slingshot, assuming he deduced how to best rip the safe from the wall with a single action, he will go for it.
2-if there is a brawl and the item is secure, he will pound the daylights out of Black Bat.
3- if there is no brawl, and we are still at a stalemate and he deduced how to rip the safe, he will do so. and prepare for the ensuing brawl. If he has movement he will try to see if he can simply leave through the window taking his son with him.



Symbiote will stand behind Sentinel and let him say his piece.  In theory ,this one should be easy:  The Bat (presumably) has no interest in seeing the world destroyed.  If he'll turn the artifact over to us and let us be on our way there should be a problem.

But this is the Black Bat, a villain who always seems to have a multitude of plans.  And this is also a superhero role playing game, where nothing is ever that simple.

Re: Hank Archer in CHESS castle
"It's too big a risk, Hank," Hal replied.  "He's older now than when you two were out terrorizing the underworld, at least 15 years older than you if I remember right.  His health's pretty good for a man in his early 70s but, still....He has had a couple of heart scares.  This is my idiocy (and now, to some degree, Shelly's).  I don't want to worry him, especially if it might harm his health".


IC: Slate will try to find a vantage point where he can see everything while staying in the background.  He quickly runs through the inventory of equipment he brought along to see if anything might be useful in this situation.  If he comes across anything, he'll share it with the group

OOC: Slate will hold his action until the action starts, whatever that may be.  He will be focused on supporting the team, Slingshot first, if he's good, whoever else needs assistance.  He will digitize anything that might harm his team, prioritizing weapons.


(OOC: Thanks Jeff)

Menagerie stood in the conference room confused and frustrated. His team had walked into the inner sanctum of Black Bat. "What the hell?" he thought. "This is beginning to feel less random each time we do this. Could there be a higher power guiding our path that is above even the mages’ ability to comprehend?”
Menagerie stared at Black Bat, he did not even bother to look at any of his lieutenants. Menagerie so wanted to claw that smirk off of the undead's face. He knew it was his instincts as Protector of Life that was wanting to destroy this Prevailer of Living Death.
Menagerie growled and bared his teeth instead. He was frustrated by his inability to end Black Bat's existence but he was equally frustrated with himself. “Maybe we should have chosen the other option and planned our jumps instead”.
"You know why we are here. Please don't pretend you are so weak that you cannot sense the End Days are here. Will you allow us to protect the Earth by giving us the artifact?"
<Black Bat's reply, if any>

"I can't imagine that you wish to lose your soul as well or rule over a world without them. So what value does it hold that you would protect it so?"

(OOC: If a fight breaks out this issue Menagerie will use his Essence of Life magic spell on Black Bat.)
(OOC 2: As far as naming the new magic spell. All I can think of is "Hedge of Thorns")

Via Vanguard


Avatar stands quietly, sure of his ability to remain uncontrolled by the Black Bat and wondering idly, after Sentinel's urging, if, indeed, his powers springing from Apollo might be "real" sunlight that could hurt a vampire more than being "only" light.  He does not yet activate any powers but readies himself to do so with the aforementioned Light Control as the one that would first be used.

OOC:  If combat ensues, Avatar will activate Light Control and his first action thereafter will be an attempt to blind the Bat, hoping that it would, at a minimum, blind as per the regular blinding attack, and, at best, also inflict some sort of extra damage as if it were true sunlight.


OOC: Hadn't thought about that... assumed at this point it was Apollo's gift - perhaps this will give further unexpected insight into the true origins of Avatar and the pantheons of gods  in the Jeffiverse.



Not even paying attention to the conversation taking place before him, Clone stood quietly behind the other members of Vanguard and began to assess the groups surroundings. His eyes scanned the room wildly for possible exits and anything out of the ordinary ( OOC: Detect Hidden? ). His thoughts then quickly changed focus as he thought to himself, "If the Soviets show up, where will they pop up from?" Not seeing much space left in the room that Vanguard was currently in, he surmised that they would either enter in from the corridor to the groups left or through the double doors to their rear. His head began to swim with the possibilities as he spoke in a tone barely loud enough for the surrounding members of Vanguard to hear, "This is going to get ugly". Slowly turning himself from side to side, the 'Duplicating Dynamo' prepared himself for an attack on multiple fronts ( OOC: Clone is saving his action ).

If an attack comes from the rear ( i.e. through the double doors behind Vanguard ), Clone will attempt to make a handful of duplicates and flood the entrance with bodies.

If a fight breaks out with the Black Bat and his 'crew', Clone will attempt to make a handful of duplicates and rush the conference table in an attempt to push it straight back and pin the Black Bat against the wall.

If both situation happen at the same time, Clone will attempt both of the above tactics.

Talk to you all soon,



Lightning Strike:
As soon as Vanguard appeared in the chamber, Strike assessed the situation.  Bat clearly knew why there were there and considering the location of the artifact, knew what we were after.

Strike wanted to rip Black Bat apart for all he had done and could barely control himself.  He steadied himself and spoke to Black Bat.  “How typical of you to be sitting here discussing how to split up the remainder of the world when you could be doing something about it.  I suppose surrounding yourself with this crew of flunkies contributes to your sense of self importance.  I fail to see how you could have picked eight more incompetent lieutenants to surround yourself with.  It will be my pleasure to cull this herd of scum.”

He continued.  “You know what we want and you know we will take it from you one way or another.  The end of the world does not serve you.  What would be left for you to rule over much less feast upon.  The forces that will be let loose upon this world dwarf your own.   Hand the artifact over and our uneasy truce can remain until this episode is over.  Knowing your loyalty, Vanguard cannot trust you to keep it as you will hand it over to save your skin.”

Strike is hoping to appeal to Bat’s sense of self-preservation.  Historically he would do anything to remain undead and I assume that remains to be the case.  Strike will hold all actions until someone makes a move.  He will rely on the energy sensing folks to pinpoint the artifact and take it.

Thanks for waiting,


OOC: And here I thought Strike would be obliterating him on the spot...  the restraint for the moment is a shocking move indeed!



Lightning Strike:
OOC: I think I made about five saving throws to not attack him.  The main problem is that I am torn between killing him and playing him.