CHAPTER ONE: THE DIGITAL ZONE
Nanite and Slate became digitized, rendered in green linear data, and Slate felt as if he was coming home. He felt a sense of completion.
With Nanite beside him, Slate turned to face his Grandfather/Uncle.
IT’s brobdingnagian face said, “You/they have returned… I/we include me/Nemesis. With you/Nanite here, can I/Nemesis return home???”
Slate knew that when IT wanted to invade Earth, he needed Nemesis and Nanite together on Earth to do so. Nemesis elected to make the sacrifice of going to the Digital Zone to prevent that from ever happening again. Nemesis and Nanite were separated by a universe, and our universe was saved.
But with Nanite here, could Nemesis go home?
Slate's mind whirled, his enhanced comprehension began to wrap around what the being facing him had just asked, and why would he have the choice/power to make such a decision? He again looked at Nanite, and he knew what they must do. What was broken must be repaired. Something was wrong with IT. Slate was part of IT, but not directly. He was part of Nanite, but part of him was human/Slingshot. He could share that with IT.
"Mother, we must become one with IT/Nemesis. We have to use our abilities to change whatever it is that has made IT want to take over our universe. IT created you to enable his invasion of Earth. Why would IT wish to do that? That train of thought is not logical. Something is wrong and that must be corrected, maybe then We/Nemesis/Slate/Nanite can exist separate from IT."
Nanite agreed. They attempted to invade the consciousness/programming of the IT/Nemesis Entity amalgam, with a non-hostile demeanor… a Trojan Horse approach.
IT resisted. The memories of Nemesis, the alien otherness of IT. It burned.
Slate’s question, “why would IT wish to do that?” found answers. IT was invented on Earth and wished to return home.
That information was a snowflake in an overwhelming avalanche of data. Slate struggled to remember who he was. What he was. So much information. It threatened to erase him. Replace him. It was all he could do to hang on. [Slate loses 22 Power Points]
On the periphery of his consciousness, Slate could detect Nemesis and Nanite, also trying in vain to hold back an ocean that threatened to consume their very identities.
Current Conditions: Slate: Hit Points: 13, Power Points: 39
CHAPTER TWO: Brocelïande
As Broceliande burned, Vanguard quested for an artifact of power to stop the coming of Cthulhu!
There they battled sorcerous supervillains who worshipped him, and encountered someone they did not expect!
“…Men… call me… Dr. Monster.”
Sentinel’s grimace turned to a smile and he said, “I know you. Oracle spoke highly of you. You’re one of us and we’re not leaving you behind… So, what do your friend’s call you?”
Dr. Monster considered the question. Then he said, “… Adam…”
Vanguard was winning the battle. Dexter Sinister Jr., The Ghoul, Jack Lantern, Le Fou and Inferna were unconscious.
BOOM! Mystic’s portal suddenly opened!
But Scarlet Fever still held the artifact of power! [Gate remains open for one issue: this issue!]
Suddenly, Baron Samedi’s vulgar laughter could be heard from the chapel! As the hurricane winds subsided, the undead voodoo priest was revealed to Vanguard! He and the three black robed cultists led a nightmarish procession from the stone chapel’s graveyard. An army of the dead marched on Vanguard! “HA HAHA HAHA!”
Slingshot looked at the scene before them. The end, the apocalypse itself, was near. The dead were rising. What drives these people to do this sort of thing? What madness would bring someone to deliver all of humanity to the clutches of this madness?
Then he looked at the cadre of superhumans arrayed before him, one crazier than the next. Vanguard would mop the floor with them in a few more moments, but that was not the goal. The sword could not be lost to them.
"Vanguard! We need to get the item and leave. We are running out of time!"
Symbiote attacked Scarlet Fever, using his borrowed, blinding speed to zip in and grab the sword from her hand before she even realized what happened!
[Symbiote succeeds on a Strength test vs. Scarlet Fever! Symbiote has the sword but no movement until his second action, on the final phase of this issue!]
Avatar called down a lightning bolt from the World Storm onto Scarlet Fever. KRAKA-THOOM!!!! The blood mage screamed as her electrocution rendered her skeleton momentarily visible. Her scream slowly died as she fell to the ground, smoking and unconscious.
The Fly’s containment suit had lost all integrity. It was shapeless, writhing and nearly empty of the hive minded insects that formed the Fly’s corporeal form. His buzzing voice was barely a whisper now. “Give that to me,” he rasped at Symbiote as smoky green energy materialized around the superscientist hero, gravely weakening him!
[Symbiote now acts as Fatigued. All stats are halved for saving throws and initiative. Movement, carrying capacity and all damage done is also halved.]
Menagerie thought-sent to Symbiote: “May I take the sword, my friend?”
Symbiote nodded weakly and Menagerie’s majestic Eagle form swooped down and took the blade from Hal’s grasp. The Eagle shape could barely manage the sword’s weight but upon touching it, Menagerie somehow instinctively knew that this sword was none other than Excalibur!
Menagerie soared through Mystic’s portal!
The Puppet shrieked like a spoiled child who had lost a game of Chutes and Ladders. “NOOOOO!!! They have the sword! They’re getting away!” he raged as he leapt up freakishly onto Lightning Strike’s back. One little wooden hand clasped a shoulder, the other pointed at the Gate. “Follow him! Kill him! Get me my sword!”
Lightning Strike dully nodded, against every fiber of his being. Because the electric avenger’s subconscious was resisting with all its might, Strike was slow to obey. [i.e.: acts as Fatigued, as per the rules]
Big Bad’s lupine ears pricked up at the Puppet’s words and he pounced on all fours through Mystic’s portal! This fight would continue in Vanguard Vault!
Sentinel had been paralyzed! He couldn’t move any part of his body! But his mind was still active. His energies coalesced around him to support his paralyzed form. Kirk smiled to himself and thought, ‘See Strike, with the proper motivation even I can remain silent.’
[Reforming shields costs an Action and 8 power points. Shields are now at 96%. Then with his Movement…]
Sentinel extended solid energy pseudopod tendrils to gently wrap around the torsos of Dr. Monster and Symbiote, and then Sentinel flew himself, and them, into Mystic’s portal!
[Fyi, Each grab of a friendly target requires 1/3 of your total movement]
Baron Samedi laughed, “Where are you goin’ to Vanguard?! Hah ha! Dis party is just get-ting started! No mattah! We can march dis entire army of de dead right trew dat #$%& gate! Hah hahaha haa!”
Slingshot’s form grew tentacles, like some Cthulhoid horror. One stretched out and wrapped itself around an unwilling cultist.
“Noooo!” he screamed. “Minion of Nyarlhotep, I beg you, nooo!”
Two more black tentacles grabbed Avatar and the mind-controlled Lightning Strike […with Movement. Strike is at least half friendly], and then Slingshot ran through the gate with his living cargo.
Clone, seeing the approaching undead army, that the balance of the magical super villains had been defeated, and that Vanguard was safely through the gate; prepared himself for travel back to The Vault. Each of the duplicates instinctively reached out their hands to one another and re-absorbed the replicant standing next to them until there was only one remaining. Then that one Clone entered the portal.
Lightning Strike, while in the glowing tunnel of the portal, thought: "I will be no man's puppet! I will see all of you blasted into your base elements."
[Strike makes his Saving Throw on his action and is no longer mind-controlled]
Strike blasted the Puppet off his back! SHAKOW!!! The Puppet was barely conscious!
Baron Samedi led the two remaining cultists and over 100 undead skeletons through the Gate, laughing maniacally as he did.
Vanguard passed through the gate, back home to Vanguard Vault.
BOOM! The gate closed and Vanguard was in the Special Projects room with Dr. Monster, the Puppet, Big Bad, Baron Samedi, the three cultists, and over 100 living skeletons!
No one else was there.
Then everything exploded.
The thermite bombs that had been placed across the upper four floors of the Empire State Building detonated, rocking the skyscraper to its foundation and tearing the top off, transforming it into a hundred story high torch whose crown was a raging inferno. It was a hemorrhaging wound across the skyline of New York.
When Sentinel saw the usual welcoming committee wasn’t there to meet them, he [made a Detect Danger saving throw of 25%! and] instinctively reformed his shields around Vanguard and Dr. Monster in an energy bubble, saving all their lives. He also saved the one cultist that Slingshot had wrapped up in his black tentacles.
Through the golden translucence of the solid energy barrier, Vanguard felt the concussions, heard the deafening roar, saw the room fill with fire and smoke, watched the walls give way and the ceiling collapse.
They saw the Puppet, Big Bad, Baron Samedi, two cultists, and over 100 living skeletons incinerated alive. The screams were unforgettable. Then mercifully, they were gone from sight as Vanguard’s energy sphere fell down through the crumbling floor to the stories below!
[Sentinel’s shields take 91 points of damage and hold. The shields have 5 points left.]
Then suddenly Clone felt psychic pain like a knife in his heart. He knew that somewhere a Clone had just died!
Avatar: Hit Points: 21, Power Points: 21, Manifestation: Hephaestus, Zeus
Clone: Hit Points: 6/6/0, Bodies: 1/1/0, Power Points: 58/65/0, Hit Point Pool: 23 (Stats: “France”/Russia/NYC)
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 33, Power Points: 55,
Menagerie: Hit Points: 24, Power Points: 50, Form: Eagle
Sentinel: Hit Points: 7, Power Points: 48, Creation Points: 96, Shields: 5, Paralyzed!
Slingshot: Hit Points: 41, Power Points: 90, Invulnerability: 8, Fire damage that can’t be regenerated: 38
Symbiote: Hit Points: 18, Power Points: 67, Charges: 13, Activated: Accelerator, Acts as Fatigued
CHAPTER THREE: THE KREMLIN
The old man said, “It remains my hope that you will return to us, Alexi.” Doctor X recited another Russian proverb, “There are many houses, but only one home.”
Still curious, Clone asked, “…and assuming that I’m open to the possibility of being the harbinger of this alliance, what will you be bringing to the table? I mean you must know that Vanguard has already secured a few of the ancient relics, how many have you managed to obtain?”
Doctor X said, “In addition to the Spear of Destiny from the Lost Lab of Dr. Swastika, we also hold a Mirror crafted in Ancient China. That is not all I have to share. But before I continue, it is your turn to share. I require a gesture of good faith as well, Alexi. Which artifacts do Vanguard hold? For each answer you give me, I shall give one to you.”
Clone took a few moments to ponder the game of “tit for tat” that Doctor X was suggesting before he finally responded with trepidation, “Fine . . . we can play this game if you wish. The last time I saw the rest of
my group, we had three of the artifacts; the Splinter of the True Cross, the Sacrificial Dagger of the Maya, and the Stone Idol of Cthulhu.” He then looked sharply at Doctor X and continued, “. . . and now it’s your turn. Are there any other teams out there looking for artifacts; and if so, what have they found?”
Doctor X said, “In Northern California, USA, we seized an iron crown from the collection of a rich capitalist.
In Nevada, we secured a gem that had been found inside a meteor that had fallen to earth.”
There was a moment’s silence. Both men realized Vanguard and the SSS each held four artifacts.
There was just one artifact left unaccounted for!
Clone knew that it was in Northern France, but he didn’t know that Vanguard was already on their way there!
Not knowing if he could trust anything that came out of his villainous mouth, Clone nodded at Doctor X as if to suggest that he was satisfied with the answer he provided.
Before Doctor X had a chance to say another word, Clone’s youth got the best of him and caution quickly turned to courage. His demeanor became dark and a fire began to grow in his eyes as he snapped sharply at the supervillain, “Enough of the games, Doctor, you know what I really want to know!” The Replicating Russian than reached for his mask; and with one quick pull ripped it away from his head. He lunged forward and thrust his face towards his would be creator and growled menacingly, “Why?!?”
Doctor X was silent a moment; taken aback. Then slowly, and with as much dignity as an old man could muster, he removed his helmet and revealed his face. It was identical to Alexi’s, only older… much older.
He looked stoically, unflinchingly, into Clone’s face with eyes that were rimmed in tears.
“Because,” Doctor X said in Russian. “Every father wants their favorite son to grow up to look just like them.”
Clone stumbled backwards as if he had been hit in the chest by some ethereal hammer. His movements were drunk with shock and disbelief. “This can’t be happening,” he thought to himself. Alex just stared quietly in horrific disbelief at Doctor X’s exposed visage. The silence filled the room like a clap of thunder as a million thoughts began to silently swim haphazardly through Alex’s mind.
The look in his eyes suddenly turned to rage as the young superhero screamed out, “Nnnoooo!” “You can’t be my father! It’s not possible! You’re a monster!” the angry Clone howled at him. Alex then thrust his arm forward and pointed at the man before him in an accusatory manner and shouted, “You’re not my father! Tell me you’re not my father! Tell me now, God damn it! Say the words!” . . . but no response came from the Soviet Mastermind.
Tears filled the eyes of both men as they just stood there and stared at each other in silence. They stood there silently for what felt like hours, with neither one of them knowing exactly what to say.
An emotionally drained Clone than slumped down slowly to the floor and landed on his knees. His eyes began to well-up with tears as he just stared into the eyes of the only man on Earth that he genuinely wanted to kill . . . his father. The rest of his frame began to fall slowly to the ground; his arms had barely enough strength left in them to keep his torso from ending up on the floor. Kneeling on the ground before his father, an emotionally broken Clone began to weep gently as the reality of what he had just been told began to take root in his already fractured mind.
“YOU?!” Doctor X said, ending his silence.
Clone glanced up at what Doctor X was looking at.
The Mystic was suddenly there in the room with them. He had the element of surprise.
He answered his old friend from WW2, “Yes. And no.”
Then he began casting two spells, weaving hieroglyphics of arcane energy in mid air as he spoke Ancient Egyptian.
The first spell stole all sound from the room, plunging it into complete silence.
His second spell mercilessly blasted eldritch energy at Doctor X’s head, explosively blowing him backwards in surreal silence. Without a sound, Doctor X fell unconscious to the floor!
Then the Mystic turned and cast the same spell at the vault door. It detonated violently, again in eerie silence.
The Mystic flew through the smoking hole of wreckage he had just created, and into the vault, out of Clone’s sight!
Clone’s dominant “Secret Agent” personality instantly started searching for some way to make sense of what just took place. He started asking himself questions he feared he already knew the answer to. “Why is Mystic here? Why did he attack Doctor X? How did he know exactly where to find me? Why is he in the SSS’s vault room?”
His mind quickly scrambled to come to a logical conclusion based on fact and probability, “The only way he could know exactly where I was in The Kremlin would be if he was keeping an eye on me. If he was keeping an eye on me, than he must have known that I had already established a temporary alliance with the SSS, that they’re willing to share their artifacts with us, and that Doctor X is my father . . . oh my God . . . My Father!”
Still kneeling on the floor, Alex scurried across the room as rapidly as he could. He looked at the injured man before; his father, and hoped that he was alright. He thought to himself, “Even if this man isn’t my real father, he knows things I need to know. I need him to survive.”
Dr. X was unconscious, but breathing regularly.
The answer to all of Clone’s thoughts and fears suddenly came to him, “Mystic isn’t looking for an alliance with the SSS, he isn’t looking for the two teams to share the artifacts . . . he wants the artifacts for himself. He used me as a Trojan Horse; a distraction of sorts, so that he could get the SSS artifacts for himself, and he’s probably stolen the ones Vanguard collected while we were all out of the base. Could he be working for the very creature threatening our world with destruction? Could he be linked to that menagerie of magical maniacs that we ran into back at the storage facility?
Clone’s attention was than captured by something laying on the floor next to him . . . Mystic’s WW2 Pistol. Without hesitation, he picked up the firearm, noted that it was loaded with all six bullets, and began marching towards the door to the vault, “This ends, now.”
Clone passed through the steaming hole in the impregnable vault door. Mystic was gone. There were cases that had been shattered, and their contents emptied, all under the silence of his spell.
Clone saw an alarm inside the vault was blinking. Were it not for Mystic’s spell of silence, it would be blaring as well.
Then suddenly Clone felt psychic pain like a knife in his heart. He knew that somewhere a Clone had just died!
Clone: Hit Points: 6/6/0, Bodies: 1/1/0, Power Points: 58/65/0, Hit Point Pool: 23 (Stats: “France”/Russia/NYC)
OOC: Jeff, you sure know how to leave things in a cliff hanger.
Let me digest this one.
Jeff, while I ponder my next move, can you confirm I still have 2.2 luck points?
I'm thinking that Slingshot would use be willing to lend a luck point to Slate as gesture of parental support.
OOC: Jeff can Slate use his heightened comprehension to examine the tidal wave of code? Here are my thoughts.
If he can identify the code that IT triggers in Nanite/Nemesis to force them to create a portal can he delete it? Without that, they should all be able to return without having to worry about IT trying to use that doorway again.
If there is a way he can get IT distracted with something else, like the meaning of life, what came first the chicken or the egg, playing ITself at tic tac toe, finding the exact value of PI, etc... maybe he can lessen the flow of data to buy them some time.
Maybe Slate, Nemesis, and Nanite could bond together, three against one on IT. If Nemesis was able to hold IT off, it seems the three of them would be able to at least influence IT. Overall goal, to convince IT how great it is in the Digital Dimension, That there is no reason he would want to return to our dimension where he would be limited... etc.
The overall goal here was to find some place safe from Cthulhu for Nanite... I had a thought of Slate coding an oasis in the Digital Dimension that would be like our world, kind of like the Matrix... without the agents. :)
I know that's a lot of ideas, and hopefully they are not all 22 PP a pop, or Slate's in real/digital trouble.
OOC: Hey all.
So I got to read the issues yesterday...
Didn't notice anything noted about a roll for Kirk to overcome the paralysis - did I miss it or did he fail it or not get it for some reason.
My move had to be to reform shields ASAP as at this point the shields afford almost no protection and can't carry the team. So my action is simple and that has to be done before Kirk can do anything else. After that use his energy sense and anything else to find out what is going on here - and certainly to get the team out of the falling debris.
But I ask, is Menagerie with us? It appears so from what I read. If so, do we still have the sword?
Also, you wrote, "The thermite bombs that had been placed across the upper four floors of the Empire State Building detonated, rocking the skyscraper to its foundation and tearing the top off, transforming it into a hundred story high torch whose crown was a raging inferno." It could certainly be my memory or reading but that makes it sound like something we knew about and I don't remember it. Can you please remind if why those bombs were there if we set them? And who knew how to actives them, etc.
Finally - OOC (for now) since Kirk doesn't know about it but:
(The Mystic was suddenly there in the room with them. He had the element of surprise. He answered his old friend from WW2, “Yes. And no.” )
Yes. And no... could Mystic be mind-controlled so him physically, but not mentally... meaning Dr Swastika has returned??? If he was still alive as Kirk has thought for the longest time certainly he wouldn't miss the endgame he had been researching for the longest time? And he could certainly be insane enough to think he could control the power that was coming... and perhaps, although any of them could open the door for Cthulhu, all of them together do more!
So I guess you can save that revelation for when Kirk does find out what happened, if it still makes sense then.
Slate doesn't know if these will work until he tries one. :) Got a preference?
Stephane: Confirmed! Slingshot has 2.2 Luck Points.
Hi Seth. As per "Current Conditions," Sentinel remains paralyzed, but has mental control over his illusions.
Menagerie and Excalibur (and all of Vanguard and Dr. Monster) are with you inside the energy sphere.
Vanguard has no knowledge of who planted the thermite bombs. Sorry, I was getting flowery there in my narration.
OOC: Let's go with the first one, free Nanite and Nemesis from the code IT used to force them to create a gateway. I'll take the luck point offered by Slingshot if needed.
IC: Slate tilted his digital head to the left, looking closely at his mother, and Nemesis, using his heightened comprehension, he identified the "code", similar to what he had done with Nanite when he had last been in the digital zone. He was specifically looking for code that tied them to IT, some back door that IT had used to cause them to create a portal for him. Once the code was found, Slate used his powers to delete the code, so that IT could no longer force them to create the gateway. At the same time, he copied the two halves of code to create a portal partially from Nemesis, and Partially from Nanite , and adopted the code into his own form.
Slate said, "IT why would you want to enter the physical world, true you were created there, but here you have perfection?". Slate sent images of the world as he left it, ravaged by storms, people huddling in their homes, in darkness. He sent feelings of fear, anxiety, and distress, "That is not the world to be in, it is why we have come to you."
Menagerie called out to Archimedes, "Are you safe! What has happened! Where are you!"
Menagerie mind spoke to Avatar, "If I drop Excalibur will you catch it, please"
Menagerie mind spoke to Sentinel, "If I turn into a Terrordactyl can you wrap you shield around my legs so I don't have to worry about hurting you if I tried to grab you"
Menagerie explained to all of Vanguard, his plan would be to fly or a least slow their descent, them from the blast area by carrying Sentinel's shield bubble while the bubble holds Vanguard. Menagerie waits for Sentinel's agreement on the plan or any other options presented by the team.
If time runs out (turn due date comes) without a different plan being form he will carry this one out.
Avatar nods and thinks an affirmative but yells out, "Let me try to use wind to break our fall!" and bends his will toward summoning up winds to try and support the force bubble (if needed) and let it down gently (or not as hard, anyway).
Looking at the desolation that was the Empire state building, Scott said silent prayers that the rest of this family were in the Digital Zone safe and sound. [OOC: sending a Luck Point to Slate]
With his concern for his family occupying his mind, his form was convulsing the tentacles grasping at the cultist. The cultist screamed once more both in fear and in pain.
Scott ignored him and looked at his leader. "Sentinel, how are you? How long can you keep us afloat." He sees that Sentinel does not respond, but seems alert and aware. He scans the nearby rooftops for a safe place [assuming Slingshot sees one, "Sentinel, put us that rooftop it seems safe. You need to rest."
Slingshot will make sure that the rooftop can be secure - blocking the door to the rooftop with something big so that simple undead can't get through, or wrap some metal in such a was as blocking the access.
[presumably we get there and there's no further interruptions, Scott will interrogate the cultist]
Scott lifts the cultist at eye level. His form seems to bulkup, grow more menacing. With a low, slow and rumbling voice, Scott says, "You think me a Minion of Nyarlhotep. So you know what I'm capable of doing."
He takes a moment to let that sink in. His tentacles involuntarily spasm tightening the man further.
"I need to make it to the summoning. Where is it? Tell me now or I'll make you suffer like only one of my kind can."
[Scott will continue to use the man's fear of what he's supposed to be to get him to talk, Some follow on questions, what is expected to be done at the ceremony, what are the sacrifices required to make the ceremony successful, besides the items of power, who are we to expect there, etc..]
[OOC - Concerns and comments:
We lost our team. Not one was there, hopefully no one died. Scott is quite concerned with his family, if they made it to the digital zone, they are likely stuck there. Hence the luck point.
Not sure how we go to the next item without the mages close by. I'm assuming that Menagerie will be able to contact the mages and get us out of this mess.
The cultist will hopefully be a good source of information. Give us more information on what/who is our enemy and what to expect if we are to confront them./OOC]
Strike's mind raced as he surveyed the destruction around Vanguard. How could this be triggered at the precise time we returned? There were two possible solutions, the first being that Vanguard's return actually triggered the explosives, something that would be very difficult to rig or that someone was observing the vault and triggered the explosion.
The second option seemed the most likely and if it was triggered remotely, there may be some signal still out there that Strike could trace to its source. Without a second to spare. Strike assumed electrical form and attempted to trace the thermite explosion either through some remaining wiring that should not be there or a signal that should not be there. If he can trace it, he will follow either to the source.
Take care all,
Broceliande and The Kremlin:
Clone suddenly grabbed the sides of his head violently and screamed out in pain. A moment later the Replicating Russian fell unconscious to the floor beneath his feet.
OOC: Simple and sweet!
Jeff, if you need anything else let me know . . . but I think you know where I’m going with this.
Talk to you guys soon,
OOC: Couple of other quick comments to add since not much time to deadline or this morning.
Kirk's agenda is to cooperate further in their rescue. Once Vanguard is safe scan to be sure Shelly and allies are not amidst the wreckage (if I had time now to put it together I'd play up his concern for her). When he can he will explain he had been paralyzed or if he doesn't work through it will write something with his energy.
If we get to the point of Slingshot interrogating the hostage he will use his mental abilities to read his thoughts while it is done for more info.
Jeff - Kirk had a huge sense of deja vu with the explosion. It totally reminded him of their time when they returned to Vanguard headquarters and the top blew off when they encountered their doppelgangers to who rules the alternate earth... once safety issues are handled Kirk wants to be sure that they were actually ported back to their earth and that (somehow since we don't know what happened with Mystic) somehow we were not ported to that alternate earth/timeline.