Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Vanguard: Issue 201: Next of Kin.


 Slate and Nanite 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.

Slate used his heightened comprehension to examine and decipher the nearly infinite tidal wave of code!  [With his father’s luck point!]
Ethan 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. 

It was a needle in a haystack, and he found it. 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 digital form!
[A one shot invention that succeeds with the help of Slingshot’s Luck Point!]

As he did this, IT attacked Slate again with the vast avalanche of data!  [18 points of Power Point damage]
Slate weathered the attack, his identity still holding.

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."

IT screamed:  “I/We wish to be free of me/Nemesis!  I/We must send me/him home!”

OOC: Actions?

Current Conditions:   Slate: Hit Points: 13, Power Points: 21


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.

Then suddenly Clone felt psychic pain like a knife in his heart. He knew that somewhere a Clone had just died!
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.

When Clone awoke to the blare of sirens. The armed Soviet soldiers filled the chamber. Doctor X was still unconscious. Soldiers stood in the smoking hole in the vault door.

One soldier levelled his autorifle at Clone and barked in Russian: “What did you do to Doctor X?! And where are the artifacts of power?!!”

OOC: Actions?

Current Conditions:

Clone: Hit Points: 6/6/0, Bodies: 1/1/0, Power Points: 58/65/0, Hit Point Pool: 23 (Stats: NYC/Russia/NYC)


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 whose smoke plume 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!
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!

Symbiote froze up, no doubt concerned for his sister, Shelley. And for Doc.

Menagerie mentally called out to Archimedes through the mystic link they shared, "Are you safe! What has happened! Where are you?!"

Chillingly, there was no reply.  Menagerie realized he hadn’t heard from Archimedes ever since Broceliande.  [OOC: See those issues]

Menagerie mindspoke to Avatar, "If I drop Excalibur will you catch it, please?"
Then he mindspoke to Sentinel, "If I turn into a Terrordactyl can you wrap your 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 was to fly them from the blast area by carrying Sentinel's shield bubble while the bubble holds Vanguard.

Avatar nodded and thought an affirmative but yelled out, "Let me try to use wind to break our fall!" and bent his will toward summoning up winds to try and support the force bubble, as Excalibur landed in his hand.

Sentinel’s paralysis left him! He reformed and strengthened his energy sphere construct, releasing Menagerie and reforming it around his legs as he transformed into a mighty Terrordactyl!  “SKRAAA!”

Sentinel willed the sphere to move beyond the area of the collapse! Terrordactyl Menagerie flapped and pulled the sphere, and Avatar summoned the winds of Zeus to blast it free!

The sphere took damage from the continued collapse [another 43 points] and was finally freed from the collapse zone!

Vanguard was 80 stories over Manhattan, hovering near the newly damaged Empire State Building.  The top four floors and the roof had been completely demolished.

Above them, raged the World Storm.  Below them, a city rioted.

Slingshot, looking at the desolation that was the Empire State Building, said silent prayers that the rest of this family were in the Digital Zone safe and sound. [OOC: sending a Luck Point to Slate]
Slingshot recognized the source of the destruction. “Demolition explosives,” he said aloud. The scope of the job meant it was laid by someone who had access to Vanguard Vault.

Lightning 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 could trace either, he would follow it to the source.

SHAKOW!  Strike found no signal.  Still in electrical form, he entered the wreckage of the top four floors and inhabited the ruins of one of the detonation devices he had detected. The trigger was attuned to the energy signature of Mystic’s portal.  Timed to activate when the portal closed, it was a brilliant design. Strike recognized the technology right away. It was SKULL.

Lightning Strike knew that SKULL was a worldwide subversive terrorist organization dedicated to global domination. It is the most extensive, powerful, and dangerous such organization in history. They are steeped in mysticism and have access to rare technology and considerable wealth. Their legions are fanatically loyal. No SKULL agent has ever been captured alive.

Strike first encountered SKULL when Vanguard first formed [ Issue 2! ].
He last encountered them yesterday, in 1943.

Sentinel had an incredible sense of déjà vu.  In the Omega-verse, the Empire State Building had been utterly destroyed, with controlled demolitions running from top to bottom.  Here just Vanguard Vault, the top four floors, had been destroyed.  The rest of the building remained standing. Sentinel knew the parallel universe had many terrible similarities.

Sentinel used his energy sense to scan the collapse of Vanguard Vault for survivors.  There were none.

Sentinel recognized the energy signatures of Shelley Harper, Doc Rocket, Sgt. Stone, Agent Drake, Nathan Lamb, Larry Manetti, Archimedes, and Oracle.

All were dead.

[OOC: Not a hoax. Not a dream. Not an imaginary story.  After 200 issues, welcome to the Modern Age of Vanguard Comics. L ]

With his concern for his family occupying his mind, Slingshot’s form was convulsing; the tentacles grasping at the cultist. The cultist screamed once more both in fear and in pain. The voice was strangely familiar.

Slingshot ignored him and looked at his leader. "Sentinel, how are you? How long can you keep us afloat?" Sentinel didn’t respond, but seemed alert and aware.

Scott lifted the cultist at eye level. His form seemed to bulk up, grow more menacing. With a low, slow and rumbling voice, Scott said, "You think me a Minion of Nyarlhotep. So you know what I'm capable of doing."
He took a moment to let that sink in. His tentacles involuntarily spasmed, 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."

The cultist’s hood flew back from the rough treatment, revealing the cultist’s face.  It was the face of Scott’s only brother! A face filled with fear and hate.

OOC: Actions?!?

Current Conditions:

Avatar: Hit Points: 21, Power Points: 18, Manifestation: Hephaestus, Zeus

Clone: Hit Points: 6/6/0, Bodies: 1/1/0, Power Points: 58/65/0, Hit Point Pool: 23 (Stats: NYC/Russia/NYC)

Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 33, Power Points: 46

Menagerie: Hit Points: 24, Power Points: 48, Form: Terrordactyl

Sentinel: Hit Points: 7, Power Points: 39, Creation Points: 78, Shields: 35%

Slingshot: Hit Points: 41, Power Points: 89, Invulnerability: 8, Fire damage that can’t be regenerated: 38

Symbiote: Hit Points: 18, Power Points: 67, Charges: 13, Activated: Accelerator, Acts as Fatigued


OOC: I won't be opening the issue until this weekend at the earliest... but the title of the issue doesn't sound good.

Oracle reset anyone?  :)



OOC: Sadly, I don't think so.


OOC: I haven't read anything yet. I'm kind of worried to do so.. ;)


OOC: I read it.. (un)Holy crap.

I'm flabbergasted. This will take some time to digest. Wow. I gotta admit, Jeff, you give good curve balls.


OOC: Ditto, other than I can't say 'good' curve balls.  Horrific is more like it.

Ok Jeff, so at this point, has Kirk felt his link with Shelly die (disappear), if so then I certainly have to play that up.  And please remind me, if we have confirmed that Shelly did indeed conceive and he also just lost his child...

To say he is going the route of denial would be an understatement...



Sadly, yes and yes.
 The link isn't always "on."  When Kirk now concentrates to "activate" it, he discovers that she's passed.


OOC: I am still in shock. It is really hard to respond because it is player knowledge but Menagerie doesn't know any of this.



OOC: Everyone,

Please assume Sentinel tells you what he's learned.



OOC: Going through the issue again.. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. I want to give some turn before I leave on vacation, but at this point it's likely going to be incomplete. I'll see about responding to some emails while I'm gone. I'll be back on the 27th, but won't be able to write anything until the 28 realistically.

IC: Scott couldn't believe what he was seeing and hearing. All dead? Nathan.. damnit. He looked at Sentinel and thought about Shelley and their child. Stone, Doc Rocket, Oracle.. why did she die without reverting things?
There was this little voice inside him that kept praying for the safety of his wife and child. How were they doing? Could they return? Were they stuck in the Digital Zone?

It was the face of Scott’s only brother! A face filled with fear and hate

Scott could not believe his eyes. His anger at the devastation, at the loss of life, all this because of some misplaced idealism."You. You did this? You're behind this Cthulhu summoning! Why?"

[hope to get some answers, a rant or something]

[Option 1 - assuming it's something derogatory, if I see that he needs to be more angry to spill his beans, then I'll go with derision] "Oh little brother, how it must have irked you that I got to play superhero! Live a wonderful life with a wife and child. Prove to the world that I was so much better. People loved me. You know that I will beat you and your little gang of insignificant rejects. Like I have continuously beat them. That group of idiots you were with in France? DEAD. How long did it take us? SECONDS." Scott laughs contemptuously.

[Option 2 if he's spilling his beans, but needs prompting without being too heavy handed then] "When and were is this happening?! I need to know more!"

[OOC] I'm not above slapping him to an inch of his life.  or squeezing him, whichever makes him spill his beans. Scott has only one thing in his mind it's the safety of his family and his friends and this is not a safe environment. His estranged brother or father don't really matter.[/ooc]

[ooc: other side note: I'm assuming that there aren't any actions this turn beyond  coping with the realization of what has happened and maybe being able to get more information or taking it out on Scott's "brother". The goal is to understand where is this summoning and what can we do to disrupt it.  /ooc]


OOC: FYI, I have not read the Slingshot post.  This is just on the issue and I will read it after, so sorry if my stuff crosses yours, although I think you have your hands full with your own situation from the issue and with your family not here and your brother before you, your post is likely on that.

Slingshot ignored him and looked at his leader. "Sentinel, how are you? How long can you keep us afloat?" Sentinel didn’t respond, but seemed alert and aware.

Sentinel collapsed downward onto his knees as if he couldn’t support his own weight as all the color drained from his face.  The bubble supporting Vanguard lowered to the nearest safe rooftop releasing the team; as it happened the construct shook like it could fall apart at any moment and Kirk was doing all he could to keep it together to keep them safe.  At that point on the rooftop Kirk’s head hung downward and his body convulsed.  They got the idea he would have vomited had there been food in his stomach to release.  Tears welled up in his face which now began turning beet red as he spoke.

“They’re gone.  They’re all gone.  We’ve lost them all.  I can feel it.”
“And he cried her name in an undertone as tears fell down his cheeks, “Shelley. My Shell; my love; my life.”

Then he stood up and looked upward and screamed back in rage at the darkened heavens above him, “SHELLEY!”  And took off like a rocket towards the building.  Back into the debris.
He zeroed in right to her body by what remained of her energy signature.  Nothing around him kept him from her as his energies responded to his feelings as opposed to his thoughts to clear the path to her; his energy flowed to his wishes, sort of like seeing an image out of the corner of your eye – knowing it is there but barely perceptible to where you are at.
He found her and cradled her body and kissed her head.  Their link severed.  A piece of him gone.  Her energy signature was like a degraded photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy worsening with what made her having been lost to the greatest enemy, death.  Then his hands moved towards that second faint energy signature within her.  He memorized every nuisance of his child that he could.  To hold that memory as part of himself; as he would her.  And he wept over them.

“No.  No. No no-no-nonono; he kept repeating and he rocked her body back and forth.
And he thought to himself how useless he was now.  How truly powerless he was and how he needed to be more.  To be better.  To do more.
And he did this his power reacted to his emotions resummoning what energies he could and focusing on his body.  His physically battered and worn body.  His permanently scarred never to be whole again psyche and his energies shown around him anew. The skies thundered back as if mocking him. 

(OOC:  This moment could certainly be used as a jumping point in Kirk’s power evolution (advancement) in the future)
And with his energies renewed a composure came over him.  A sense of calm.  He closed her eyes with his hand and tenderly touched her cheek and kissed her lips one last time and whispered, ‘my love,’ and stood up amidst the wreckage.
His energies flowed from him and he felt and retrieved the forms of his lost friends.  His murdered sacrificed family.  In all directions at once his energy moved and they came to him.  He didn’t know what he was going to do with them, but he damn well wasn’t leaving them in this.  Here.
His construct formed a darkened layered construct holding the lifeless bodies of the heart of Vanguard and Chess that were taken from them in the explosion.

It would seem that Kirk’s life as he knew it truly was over.  Everything he had built since that first rooftop meeting years ago.  Everyone that meant something to him, that was the core of the family he built were gone.  And a part of his life that he never dreamed he would have and share, was ripped from him before it truly had a chance to even begin.
And he decided.
And he flew back to the rooftop he had left Vanguard moments earlier.
As he descended to land he began to recite looking at his remaining teammates, “Doc. Sarge. Drake. Nathan.  Manetti.  Oracle.”  Looking to Menagerie with a face of disbelief and nodding his head, “Archimedes”.  And then he walked over to Hal and said putting a hand on his should and shaking his head, “Shelly”.  And he shook his head no again looking downward saying, “My Shelley.”  And he looked upward again into Hal’s eyes and said, “My son Hal, my son”.  (OOC or my daughter, certainly Kirk would know at this point).

Sentinel took a deep breath and then spoke in an emotionless calmness.  It was frightening and alarming.  “I don’t accept this.  I reject this.  And I cannot think about this.  And neither can you.”
“This is going to be undone.  Whether it is an Oracle wake-up call or some other sort of miracle, we are going to find a way.  This will not stand.  And that is the final word.”
The next moment it seemed as if Kirk had returned to them.  More normal.  “Mystic’s body was nowhere to be found.  No trace of him.  I haven’t trusted him from day one and even the past we rubbed each other the wrong way.  Quite convenient that despite him gating us back he was nowhere to be found and escaped the explosion.

(Perhaps this would be a place for Strike to give his findings and conclusions)
Jeff – any chance there is any sort of energy signature left from Mystic’s departure that could point us in his direction?  Other than him, this part of Vanguard has nothing more to go on for this issue that I can tell.

If we can it would be nice to find a place to properly bury our dead before departing.  Even if Kirk isn’t going to stop believing (or let anyone else) that we are getting them back.
…. That’s what I got so far.  A big scene with not much helping our situation.

OOC: Couple of other thoughts.  Any inquiry into Kirk's references to their deaths will be handled with a personality response akin to Agent Cho from the Mentalist if you are familiar with the character.

If this does 'stand' when all is said and done then at this point it would seem Kirk would embark on a journey to find them.  Since energy cannot be made or destroyed, merely changed, Kirk is going to find his love and their child in whatever form they now exist after what 'this existence as we know it' defines as death.  Hopefully we aren't going there.  But after saving the world (assuming we do) if this isn't undone, it would be difficult to see him accepting this and moving forward trying to rebuild.

Besides, in addition to all of their Chess allies other than Gray being lost and our headquarters, we have that evil clandestine part of the government that will work to prevent Vanguard's rebuilding... using the enemies Vanguard captured that are in the Vault as well as information from their doppelgangers. (my theory on what is happening there).  Vanguard will not be able to be rebuilt in its current form with the forces conspiring against us and this emotional damage............ unless you have some other twists to reveal.  I hope so.


Upon surveying the devastation, and realizing just how much--and who--has been lost, Hal grows very cold.

He turns towards the cultist/Scott's brother (if that is who he is).  "Let me try, Slingshot,"  he says, pulling a small pen knife out of his tool belt.

He looks the cultist in the eye for a few seconds, and then begins to speak, very slowly and deliberately.  "I am, among other things, a medical doctor," he said.  "A very good one.  A very smart one.  I have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of how the human body works.  I know, among other things, exactly every pressure point in your body.  I know what parts of your body are the most receptive to pain.

He cocks his head and looks at the cultist cooly.  "For example, did you know that with the exception of the genitals, the hands have more nerve endings than any other part of the body?"

Hal then stabs the pen knife into the top of the cultist's hand.

"I don't care what your bosses have said they would do to you, idiot," Hal says, then grabbing the handle and using the Accelerator power to vibrate the knife at super speed, sending waves of agony through the man.  "I guarantee, we can make it worse.  WHERE.  IS.  THE.  SUMMONING?"

OOC:  Hal will continue to torture the man until he gives the information or until somebody stops him.

Not sure what else to do at this point.

Viva Vanguard (we will survive)



Avatar has no immediate reaction, merely taking in the destruction and death and rolling it around in his mind.  Someone will pay the ultimate price for this, of that he is certain, but rash actions will not result in the desired outcome.  Revenge is a dish best served cold.

He will let his active powers fade away and will wearily take a seat, thoughtfully examining Excalibur.  (OOC:  Does he know anything about it other than what would be considered general knowledge?)

"My friends, I urge caution in our next actions.  Our foe will take advantage of any weakness."


Menagerie carries his friends to a safe spot. As he finds out what has happened to his guide, his closest friend (poor snowball), and all his other friends he turns cold. He stays in current form and watches the cultist.

Menagerie thought sends to the cultist, "You will not welcome your master. I will eat you first."

He rests and waits for the others in Vanguard to finish with the cultist first. He considers the events that lead to this and reviewed all that had died and were lost.

"Sentinel, were you able to locate Mystic?"

(OOC: If Menagerie needs to make a Int Save to recognize that Mystic wasn't mentioned then roll the save. If he fails the save use this instead: Menagerie had the nagging feeling he was missing something. There was something unaccounted for but he couldn't figure out what")

Menagerie will attempt to keep his rage to a low boil. There will be vengeance for this atrocity but it will be deliberate and measured.

Via Vanguard


Slate struggled with the onslaught from IT, but he felt no malice in it... where others would see an attack, Slate saw frustration and even fear, but it was overwhelming. Slate reached out to Nemesis and Nanite.  He had to get them out of here, he had to do more, Slate began to pull on the resources of the Digital dimension, pulling together code to create what he wished, a portal to another world.  He felt something inside him tear, an innocence lost.

Slate created a disk beneath them, surrounded by a bubble of protective code, and activated the code he had copied from his mother and Nemesis, tearing a hole in the fabric between the digital dimension, and home.  Small at first, growing in size... a digital Aperture.  A rip in reality appeared in the remains of the destroyed skyscraper a perfect two dimensional circle filled only with static.

Slate, Nanite, and Nemesis stepped through the portal, into the burning rubble of the Vanguard Vault.  The portal behind them snapping shut with a "BOOM", as air rushed in to fill the digital vacancy.

Taking in the devastation around them, Slate looked around them in a shock his masked face did not reflect, as the fire danced in his metallic eyes he was changed.  

Slate's physical body and mind forced to adulthood by the onslaught in the digital zone.  He looked larger, and moved with a confidence he had lacked before.  This was not the boy who had run, but a man ready to take his place in the world.

Gone from his chest was the blank slate, in its place, a symbol of his true connection to both this world and the digital one.  Aperture arrived.


The Kremlin:
When Clone awoke to the blare of sirens. The armed Soviet soldiers filled the chamber. Doctor X was still unconscious. Soldiers stood in the smoking hole in the vault door.

One soldier leveled his autorifle at Clone and barked in Russian: “What did you do to Doctor X?! And where are the artifacts of power?!!”

Clone gently placed his hand over his face, shook his head back and forth for a moment, and than looked up at the soldier with a look of bewilderment and confusion. The Dazed Duplicator spoke to soldier in his native tongue, "I don't understand . . . artifacts of power? Doctor X?" As Clone spoke the name of his long time enemy a look of concern and fear suddenly gripped his face. "Doctor X?!?" he said as he turned his head and stared down at the unconscious Soviet Super-Mind lying on the floor beside him. His head than snapped back around towards the soldier and he exclaimed, " . . . but I don't understand. What am I doing here?!? What is going on?!?"

New York City:
OOC: This Clone will remain unconscious . . . for now.

OOC: Jeff, if you need anything else from me, please let me know . . . but as always, I think you know where I’m going with my IC Response.

Talk to you guys soon,



Lightning Strike:
Given that LS has lost everything long before this, he will not sit still and wonder about all he has lost.  Time is short and we will all be losing all we know in a matter of hours.  Strike will dematerialize and head to his nearest safe house and research everything he can find about Skull so we can react asap.

War is Hell!!  Vanguard needs to understand that we are in a war!



OOC: “War is Hell!!  Vanguard needs to understand that we are in a war!”

Actually part of my thoughts were exactly that and paralleling this for Kirk with Lancaster's coming to similar conclusion within himself while leading the Liberty League and troops during WWII.

If Jeff does intend to bring us into the 'Modern Age' then we are going to have to figure where the line is drawn to still maintain the integrity of the characters and not turn into our doppelgangers.