CHAPTER ONE: BENEATH THE KREMLIN: Clone
Doctor X was at the edge of his cell, on the other side of the force field barrier. His voice was strained, his body language weak.
“Alexi, my son. You must return to New York. If Mystic is not there, convince Vanguard that he has betrayed us all. Tell them we need to work together now. Time is running out.
“Will you do it?”
Clone’s mind was still foggy and clouded; he could barely make sense of what Doctor X was saying to him, but he knew one thing for sure – he had to escape The Kremlin. He had spent too much of his past in one of these cells, the thought of spending just one more moment in here was almost too much to bare. He would agree to almost anything at this point if it meant his freedom . . . even making a deal with Doctor X.
“Da, Comrade,” he said confidently, “I will bring this message to Vanguard. When would you like me to leave for New York?”
“The countdown has begun. We will make ready, my son,” said Doctor X. Then the injured old man was helped away by guards.
CHAPTER TWO: ABOARD THE CHESS OMNI-CARRIER: Sentinel and grey
Sentinel wanted to locate Lancaster, his grandfather, the original Sentinel. He wanted to turn to him after his loss, and also to inform him of the loss of his friends. Phones and internet remained down. While Vanguard worked on the new Janus Chair, Sentinel planned to fly to Lancaster’s home to break the news to him. Sentinel figured he could fly back to New York in 2 hours, spend up to 2 hours with his Grandfather, fly back to the Omni-Carrier in 2 hours, and be back before the Chair was completed.
Director Grey and a contingent of CHESS officers bumped into Sentinel in the hall as he was leaving.
“Sorry for your loss, Sentinel. I really am.” Grey said with sincerity.
Sentinel took a moment to thoroughly review and examine the energy signature of Grey. He was looking to see if anything had changed. To look for subtleties of something unusual, something that shouldn’t be present. Grey had been incommunicado for too long and he had been compromised in the past.
Sentinel detected no change in Director Grey.
“Where are you going?” asked Grey.
Sentinel told him.
“What? No. Not you too! I got military and police personnel all over the country abandoning their posts to be with their families because it’s the goddamn end of the world.”
“This is different,” said Sentinel.
“I know. Because it’s your family, right? Get the hell back in there! You want to be a leader of men? A leader of uniquely gifted men? Vanguard just took a baseball bat to the teeth. And you want to check on your family? Your men need you now. Get in there, kid. Remind them who you all are. It’s two days until the end of the world. The world needs Vanguard! And Vanguard needs you!”
CHESS Director Grey stormed past the young hero to meet with Vanguard.
Kirk reached out and touched Grey in a non-threatening way to hold him up and said, “A moment before the briefing room,” and he motioned him out of ear distance of the CHESS officers he didn’t know personally.
“You know, if you want to give me a speech about going MIA on my team, you could use some improvement in that department. You want me to lead; keep me in the loop. Give my team confidence that we aren’t always operating in the dark.”
“That again,” groaned Grey. “What do you think we’re withholding from you?”
Sentinel continued, “And the visit wasn’t just to mourn. We’re back at square one after all these days of work on the artifacts. SKULL has taken out those that we worked with in CHESS and all of our support team. Mystic has disappeared and with him our means rapid transport and the artifacts we’ve secured, aside from Excalibur.
“At this point Gramps is that last surviving member of Liberty League that was there in the past the day we retrieved the artifact. I think he may have something blocked in his memory by Mystic back then, relating to the current crisis, and is now a target. I think that the explosion, at least in part, was Mystic trying to eliminate his old teammates because he was afraid now that Vanguard had gone back, perhaps his memory wipe would break down and the League would remember that event and what he did. Perhaps they learned more about him too that he made them forget. Given that the team had a plan I was going to follow-up on those thoughts since it didn’t seem my skills were needed here.”
Then it came to him, “Miles… Miles was there too.” Sentinel knew Miles Hudson, aka Agent America, was in a New York rest home.
CHAPTER THREE: ABOARD THE CHESS OMNI-CARRIER: VANGUARD
Vanguard and company were brought into a large physics lab. There were briefing rooms adjacent to it. There was food, water and medics. There were teams of scientists and technicians standing by.
One CHESS agent approached them, “My name is Agent Harrison, sirs. I’m here to make sure you get everything you need. Director Grey is on his way. He requests a briefing.”
Vanguard reunited without Lightning Strike and with Nemesis, Dr. Monster and Nanite. It was like a wake.
When Slingshot and Nanite asked Ethan how he was, they learned about his amazing new powers.
Aperture said to his father, Slingshot, “I am not sure I fully comprehend everything that changed, but I am certain that if we can find the coordinates, I can now create a digital portal to get Vanguard to their next destination.” He’ll stay close to his Father, Mother, and Nemesis. He will also privately offer up information about the conversation he overheard with the president after Vanguard’s last jump.
Aperture approached Nemesis who was standing nearby, “I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced.
“Can you tell me what happened to you in the Digital Zone? What was it like being linked to IT?”
I… am not certain. My code… my personality… was rewritten. Merged with that of another. A hostile…”
Aperture said, “You were truly a hero, saving all of Vanguard from what I’ve studied…”
“Thank you,” said the android without any emotion.
Aperture continued, “…At the same time; I seem to have some memories of you that I couldn’t have experienced, what could that mean?”
Nemesis replied, “I am uncertain. What memories?”
Due to Aperture’s heightened sense of comprehension, he knew that Nemesis had never met Mystic. Mystic was an unofficial member of the Liberty League during WWII. Nemesis had been a Freedom Forcer in the 1980s.
Clone told Grey everything he could about the last few days, and asks in an almost pleading fashion, “Comrade Grey, would it be most possible to having my memories scammed by true CHESS psychopath? I am sure I am knowing much more than I am knowing I know.”
Clone looks around the room cautiously and then leans into Grey as if he wants to ask him something secretly. In a whisper loud enough to be heard by everyone in the room, Clone asks innocently, "One more thing, Comrade Grey . . . who is this that is sitting in room with us? He is looking like monster that I am hearing about as boy, I am not sure if this is good thing or bad thing." With a tilt of his head and a wink of an eye, Clone says to Grey in his best secret agent type voice, "Not to be worrying Comrade . . . I will be keeping closest of eyes on him." He then looks at Dr. Monster for a moment in an almost accusatory manner and then turns back to Grey and gives him another wink before sitting back into his chair comfortably.
Doc Monster was used to this. Unfortunately.
“Alex!” Grey said. “You’re back! We can get you a complete medical,” he said, nodding to Harrison.
Sentinel followed Grey to the conference room. As he did so he closely scanned the energy signature of Doc Monster. Since he hadn’t met him to read his signature in the past, the best he could do was compare with Grey’s recent read to be sure neither of them possesses something too similar to each other. They didn’t.
Slingshot said to Vanguard and company: “We have very few avenues to pursue:
1) I see the Janus Chair as one.
2) Since our world was being overly computerized and that allowed IT to "attack" from a parallel universe, I see this as pretty much the same, but from a magical universe. I would like to see if we could use technology, as a way to attack and repel this magical incursion. Maybe something like an anti-magic ray of sort. Would this be a feasible avenue to pursue?”
In the conference room, Sentinel stated, “I’m sorry I hadn’t thought of this before but if we are going to attempt some anti-magic ray, maybe we need to make it a bomb. So that if the gates are activated we crash them. We’ve encountered the magical means for this twice already since this started. Perhaps that might help device something. The arena in the Artic negated virtually all magic. And Mystic cast a spell at me in the past that negated magic. He looked to Avatar and said, you offered a cosmic awareness attempt earlier, how about, “Will Vanguard’s attempts to create an anti-magic bomb enable them to prevent Cthulhu’s entrance to our reality and save the earth?” [Reply, Avatar?]
Menagerie said, “If I had to vote I would choose the Anti-Magic bomb over the Janus Chair. I don't think we have time for both. There should be another way to find Mystic or the Sacrifice Site.”
“Yeah?” said Grey around his cigar. “Then what is it?”
Slingshot was thinking out loud, not even hearing Grey’s question. “Anti-magic bomb… Maybe that would be a power that Aperture could have with this new modular power available to him! This power would likely be something that wouldn't affect non-magical entities/devices at all, but be anathema to magical things…
Like a 'firehose' that would tap into the digital world and spray 'pure technological essence'. Range would likely be short, damage would be very high, but very restricted magical beings and things only.”
He looked at his son. “Do you think you could do that?”
Aperture said, “Perhaps. I had pictured it more as a bomb the prevented Magic from functioning, which could be as detrimental to half of our team as it would be to the enemy...
Might be better your way. I'm not sure if that's possible. But I'm open to the possibility…”
Slingshot kept thinking aloud. “Since we now know that Mystic is the bad guy, maybe we should invent something specific against him? If he can't retrieve the items, then he won't be able to do the summoning.”
“Wait! I just realized that we may have the required information! I would like to research that book that talks about my being a demon spawn. Since all the information was from Mystic, we need a better reference? See if there is anything about the ceremony?”
Menagerie agreed research was the best answer. He agreed to help with all that he can including trying to contact the Lady of the Lake, which would require a pilgrimage back to New York City.
He supports putting their efforts into the anti-magic bomb first and then the Janus Chair if the research fails.
Menagerie asked Dr. Monster what he knows about the ceremony.
“…Nothing…” Doc Monster rumbled with regret. “… I know little of the higher powers that… seek to invade our dimension… I sought out the sword of power…. When it became clear the world storm… was an apocalyptic countdown of some kind…”
CHESS Agent Harrison reviewed the briefing on his touchscreen clipboard and, while swiping through pages, he said respectfully to Slingshot, “Mystic kept the… ‘Necronomicon’ and Dr. Swastika’s Journal in the… ‘pocket dimension.’ If Mystic’s turned on us, he possesses these books to which you refer, sir.”
Slingshot nodded and said, “We were told we need only one artifact, but what if what is needed is ALL the artifacts? And he was getting us to gather them all?”
Menagerie said, "But he didn't take all of them... Doc Monster still has the last one. Instead of using the Janus Chair to find Mystic we should be preparing our defenses for when he comes to get Excalibur!”
Slingshot agreed with Menagerie. "Remember that Mystic explained specifically that the ceremony only needed one item, so we had to make sure we gathered them all. The fact that we were less than able to do so, may have turned out to our advantage, and having possession of one is also very important. Again, this assumes he lied to us.
“Without information, we can't tell if what we need to do is go to the ceremony to disrupt it as they have all they need to finish it or we need to stay well away from the ceremony and stay in hiding."
Menagerie replied, "Wait. We never had all of them. We only had half, the Soviet Super Soldiers had the other half. Wait! That has to be where Mystic has gone to collect the rest!" We have to warn the Soviet Super Soldiers!"
Then Clone said, “Comrade Grey, I am remembering something I am thinking I am knowing. I am remembering that one of my copies is returning to Russia to take back some of these artifacts, but it is that I am not knowing what it is that has happened to him.” With a look of comical cunning and dramatic flair on his face, Clone continues, “Perhaps it is that we are contacting Russia and making a most official of diplomatic inquiries into where it is that I am.”
Grey’s remaining eye almost popped out of his head. “WHAT???!!!”
To be continued!
OOC: Great stuff everyone! Ok, here’s what I have now:
Slingshot and Menagerie think Mystic is coming for Excalibur, and want to spend all energy on defense for his arrival. What specifically do you want to build/invent/etc.? Who will help them and how?
Menagerie wants CHESS to reach out to USSR’s SSS to warn them about Mystic. CHESS can do this alone or with Vanguard. Thoughts?
Aperture can spend an Inventing Point in an attempt to create an ‘anti-magic gun’ (please come up with a good name for this thing). When your Modular Code Power builds something not on the V&V device list, it’s a one shot Invention, as per the rules. It should take less than 6 hours to do this. And an Inventing Point.
Aperture, did you want to move from Disintegration to Teleportation? If yes, what Power cost is it (i.e.: what range) and is it a portal or personal? Thanks.
Last I heard, Symbiote wants to rebuild the Janus Chair, but if everyone doesn’t pitch in, it’ll take longer. You’re not sure how long. Do you still want to proceed? Who is helping with Inventing Points or skills?
Is Sentinel going to check up on Lancaster and Miles? Kirk flies 60mph under his own power. The omni-carrier is 120 miles out to sea. 2 hours each way, and 2 hours there = 6 hours. Go or no go?
Avatar’s got Luck Points covered. If you’re using Cosmic Awareness, what’s the question, please?
Menagerie and Slingshot want to do research into the ceremony. Without the ‘Necronomicon,’ Dr. Swastika’s Journal, Mystic, Archimedes or Google, how will you do the research?
Let’s sew up your plans so we can move along to the
bloodbath climactic finale! Thanks.
Countdown: 3:07pm EST. Just over two days and 9 hours until the End of the World.
Current Conditions: (with Nanite’s healing, and your power points rested back)
Aperture: Hit Points: 35, Power Points: 73
Avatar: Hit Points: 31, Power Points: 85, Manifestation: none
Clone: Hit Points: 17/6, Bodies: 1/1, Power Points: 67/67, Hit Point Pool: 23 (Stats: NYC/Russia)
Menagerie: Hit Points: 26, Power Points: 66, Form: Man
Sentinel: Hit Points: 17, Power Points: 70, Creation Points: 140, Shields: 0%
Slingshot: Hit Points: 49, Power Points: 92, Invulnerability: 8, Fire damage that can’t be regenerated: 30
Symbiote: Hit Points: 28, Power Points: 83, Charges: 13, Activated: None
CHAPTER FOUR: NEW YORK CITY SAFEHOUSE: LIGHTNING STRIKE
“Whose mainframe would still be up at this stage of the World Storm crisis?” the dark detective thought.
“The US government’s.” He would need to go datamining there.
SHAKOW! Lightning Strike transformed himself into sentient electricity, entered the US Government’s system and hacked it. Then the brilliant superhero got an idea.
Slingshot’s unusual appearance prevented him from having a secret identity.
So Strike located Slingshot’s personal information and that of his brother, Todd, the known SKULL Agent.
Then he accessed Todd Brock’s passport records.
Slingshot’s brother, Todd Brock, flew to Paris weeks ago, just before the World Storm crisis. Curious timing.
Strike cross referenced his tax returns, and located the personal information of Todd’s and Slingshot’s father. Slingshot’s father also took an international flight the same day as Todd did. Except he flew to Mexico City.
The US Government’s data network lost his trail there.
Still hacking, Strike saw Vanguard had been recalled to the CHESS Omni-carrier. Requisitions were being filed onboard for material, power and personnel, in Vanguard’s name.
Strike recognized the parts list. Vanguard was rebuilding the Janus Chair. No doubt, they planned to use it to locate the missing artifacts of power!
Lightning Strike attempted to follow up the Mexican connection to see where it led. But Mexico’s entire grid was down from the World Storm!
OOC: How do you wish to proceed? Thanks.
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 33, Power Points: 75