In the special projects room of the CHESS Omni-Carrier, suddenly Vanguard is not alone.
Standing next to them is…
Sentinel doesn’t detect the energy signature of the mysterious Mystic or the heinous Dr. Swastika on the SSS. There are no marks visible on the backs of their necks.
Led by the Clone Collective, a detente is forged between Vanguard and the Soviet Super Soldiers. They are united by their common enemy, Dr. Swastika, who now seemingly possesses the form of Mystic, enigmatic ally of the WWII super team, the Liberty League.
The most powerful sorcerer-superhero in history, controlled by the twisted mind of the most evil, occult, mad scientist in history. The threat is almost unimaginable.
Vanguard and the SSS pool their knowledge of Dr. Swastika:
Once a brilliant German aristocrat scientist of the 19th century, Swastika might have been the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein. A member of such occult secret societies as the Thules and the Bavarian Illuminati, his immoral experiments with science and sorcery were guided by his obsession for eternal life. His twisted genius created:
-the undead creature known as Doc Monster
-the means to extend his lifespan
-the first extranormals in history: the Ubermensch, Nazi villains of WWII.
-the Nazi expedition to the Lost Lands in Antarctica
-the means to enslave the otherworldly Star Giant
-the ‘Body Farm’ technology, a means to possess other people
-the subversive terrorists known as SKULL
-a method to remain alive after the death of his original body!
Disguised as Mystic, he stole the artifacts of power from Vanguard and the SSS before Vanguard invaded his eldritch pocket dimension and took them all back!
In Mystic’s body, Swastika is this world’s sorcerer supreme. It is clear his goal is to summon the entire Cthulhu pantheon to this world, in 43 hours. But he needs the artifacts to do it. And Vanguard has them.
Hoping against hope that they have time before the Dr. Swastika-possessed Mystic arrives, Vanguard urgently returns to shoring up their defenses. The Soviets help.
Countdown: 43 hours until the End of the World.
• Rebuilding the Janus Chair: 18 hours remaining.
• Aperture’s Dimensional Travel Portal from his modular nanotech power: Already complete!
• Aperture inventing a Digital Pulse Cannon from his nanotech power: 1 hour remaining.
• Menagerie and Avatar re-inventing a spell to block teleportation: 1 hour remaining.
Siberian, Shatter, Slingshot, Aperture, Sentinel and Clones urgently work on the Digital Pulse “anti-magic” Cannon.
Menagerie and Avatar continue on their arcane studies!
Nanite recovers from having healed Vanguard with her namesake power. (last ish!)
Nemesis, Lightning Strike and Symbiote continue repairs on the Omni-Carrier mainframe.
CHESS Rooks stand guard, to secure the rest of the carrier from the SSS.
Fully regenerated, Aperture uses his modular nanotech power to enhance his artificial mind (+15 to Intelligence) to speed the process.
They are 10 minutes away from completing the Digital Pulse Cannon when emergency claxons make their hearts sink.
CHESS Director Grey patches in to the special projects room: “The Ubermensch and the Imperial Guard are a quarter mile out and moving quickly toward us. Pulled out of the time stream, hijacked from an alternate reality, or rebuilt from the ground up by Swastika’s mad sorcery and science, I can’t tell.”
Mother Russia says, “We shall engage them. Keep working Vanguard! Super Soldiers, with me!”
The SSS fly out to meet the fascist supervillains of WWII and a super-battle erupts high above the Atlantic Ocean!
The dimensional gate of Mystic rips apart the fabric of reality in Vanguard’s projects room!
From the eye of the otherworldly swirling kaleidoscopic vortex of raw energy, Mystic appears.
Within the maelstrom halo of writhing iridescence, he speaks in an acidic, aristocratic voice:
“Jew loving, mongrel masters of this despicable Earth, return to me what you have stolen. Now. Or I shall rend asunder this warship, killing the lives of everyone aboard. Just as I did your precious Vanguard Vault.”
“It would pain me, to be certain. For it is my fervent wish that all of you detestable subhumans witness my complete victory, in less than two days’ time. Please don’t make me destroy you before then. In truth, I sent your former teammates here in order to spare your wretched lives.
“And don’t fear. The artifacts are powerful enough to survive any holocaust I can wield.
“You have My Word that I will spare this craft if you obey tis request without hesitation.
“Any one of you can act now to save innocent lives! Release the artifacts to me. Now!”
Aperture and Slingshot can’t help but think of Nanite.
If Vanguard pays this ransom to save the hostages of the ship’s crew and passengers, they will still soon have the digital pulse cannon complete, a spell to block teleportation, and the Janus Chair rebuilt in order to track the artifacts… and Swastika.
What will Vanguard do?!?!
Aperture: Hit Points: 35, Power Points: 58, Nanotech: Heightened Intelligence
Avatar: Hit Points: 16, Power Points: 85, Manifestation: None
Clone: Bodies: 1, Hit Points: 23, Power Points: 67, Hit Point Pool: 23
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 23, Power Points: 59: Electrical form
Menagerie: Hit Points: 24, Power Points: 66, Form: Man
Sentinel: Hit Points: 15, Power Points: 61, Creation Points: 122, Shields: 100%
Slingshot: Hit Points: 23, Power Points: 92, Invulnerability: 8, Damage that can’t be regenerated: 56!
I've been expecting this one for a while. So Close! Only 10 minutes to spare! I'm on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what to do..
My orders below. Those who have not read the issue, you really should read it before the below.
I know I move like molasses. So depending on what happens before I move, in order of priority:
1- I'll attempt to remove the device as I did with our former team mates. I realize that we have moving and unwilling participants and it would be more difficult to do so. I expect to use my malleable self to the best effect.
2- if the above has been done and threat is not removed (or there's a new one), move towards the threat and bash
3- if the above has been done and threat is removed, move towards the outside and evade as action
The above assumes that nothing else happens or there's no great change of plans.
OOC: I know the Digital Cannon is not ready, and won’t be for ten minutes, but I think Aperture would have a good understanding of what he’s doing at this point… maybe working on focusing/targeting… etc… What I’m wondering is, would there be a chance he could make it overload? Not modify it, but use it as a one shot weapon (bomb) instead of a gun? I’m sure we might need it in another situation, but if we can freeze or lock Swastika/Mystic here, maybe we can end this now.
IC: IF it’s possible, Aperture would offer to turn over the artifacts, triggering the device as soon as he was sure he was close enough to get Swastika/Mystic in the blast area:
“Dad, we have to give them to him… You saw what he did to the Vault, we can’t let that happen to Mom.”
If it’s not possible, is there another possibility? Use it with diminished affects, minus to aim, limited range, etc… if so:
“Say hello to my little friend.” (OK, that was a joke, but you get the idea…) Aperture would hope someone could keep him distracted long enough to get him in range of the weapon.
I don’t know that Vanguard or anyone has ever trusted Swastika, or that there is any reason he would keep his word if they did, but it strikes me that the very fact that he’s asking for the artifacts might mean something… we’ve defeated his allies/lackeys, thwarted his plans, and stolen back what he had taken. Maybe he’s at his wit’s end. Cthulhu is probably not someone you want to disappoint.
My half a nickel rounded down,
OOC: Hey everyone...
First big Kirk post in a while since this seemed like a dialogue scene.
Use it or don't use it. But I think with the toll on Kirk with the loss of everyone and everything that has been his life since this game began and his mourning as well as the 'shift to modern age' this is where he goes at this point.
Without further introduction ...
PDF attached for the below also if easier to read:
“You have My Word that I will spare this craft if you obey tis request without hesitation. “Any one of you can act now to save innocent lives! Release the artifacts to me. Now!”
Kirk walked towards Swastika to address him. He didn’t wait to discuss it with Vanguard. He was non-threatening and for those paying attention he was again almost detached from the events, there but not there.
“I believe you. And I’m tired of all this,” and he waved his hands in a motion.
“For days now we have been racing around, chasing our tails, ‘find the artifacts’, ‘secure the artifacts’, ‘oops we’ve lost them’, ‘no wait we got them back’ and here we are two days away and THIS again. I’m sick of it.
Time is our enemy now. Not you. And right now you continue to weave time to your advantage and we can’t match that. The only thing that we DO HAVE is that apparently you need that LINEAR EVENT in roughly forty-two hours ten minutes.”
As he continued speaking Kirk half turned towards his teammates still continuing his dialogue addressing them too.
“We fight you now, I’d guess even if somehow we pull out a win here, we still have TWO days more of this and who knows what other power-mad nut-job will show up at our door next for the artifacts. Or what other contingency plan you have out of time yourself.”
He turned fully back towards Swastika, now speaking directly to him again as if they were at a table in a crowded fine restaurant surrounding but alone.
“From my perspective we really have no shot here. The last few days have proven it. I’d bet you truly ARE the smartest guy in the room. You’re surely the most powerful here since you’ve got both science and mystical power on your side especially since you’ve taken Mystic, “and he broke form and inquired, “Out of curiosity, exactly when did he become your puppet? Were you already pulling his strings when we met him in the past or was he that much of an ass himself?” Kirk then continued his, “You’re able to bend time and space to your will. And even more important than all that, you have the knowledge. You actually understand the significance of everything going on. You’ve got it all.”
At this point Kirk paused, if they were in that fine restaurant discussing the fate of the world he’d be swirling some fine wine in it glass bringing it to bouquet to perfection to enjoy it before the taste.
“But that’s me. You still have everyone else in the room,” and he swirled his finger in the air indicating it.
“You said anyone of us can act now to save innocent lives, here’s what I want. I want your word not only that you spare the craft, but that ‘we’ are done until THAT TIME. No more attacks or interference from you or your minions. No more hindrances. We prepare unabated until the endgame. Really, should be no big deal for you since you’ll be holding all the cards anyway, you have everything you need from us.”
And if in that fine restaurant making private deals on the fate of the world, now Kirk would put down that wine glass before drinking, lean inward and say locking eyes firmly …
“I also want something else personally. I figure with all your mental and mystical power you can convince me that you’ll honor that bargain with a mind link. I’ll need to truly believe you so that I can convince them. After all, there is a certain amount of honesty in telepathy that transcends the physical.
But with that I also want something more only you can impart; knowledge and understanding. I want to understand how you’ve extended your life and how your essence continues. I need to know that. Because when we meet in two days I want to be sure it’s our last meeting.
Surely you’ll be able to savor that final victory so much more, it will be that much sweeter if we feel we maintain the hope of victory until the end. After all you have a special hatred towards our kind, don’t you? And this will be your last chance to prove your ultimate superiority over us; something for you to cherish, your final battle and legacy since only the world you frame will be left with no true challenges, no opposition, for you.
So what will it be?”
If Swastika questions Kirk’s motives here or reason for hope his reply would be:
“After taking all the facts into account seems like the only thing we have going for us here is that we are the good guys. I’ll always believe that somehow in these times of crisis we will always pull it off in the end. We always have. I don’t know, maybe existence itself, all that is, decides ‘enough is enough’ and lends us a hand and empowers us to save it. I’ll always believe that.
But I also know that when it comes to these desperate times the victory only comes at great personal cost.
I’m paying that ticket Swastika.
Back at that symbolic meal Kirk raises his glass, ‘See you in hell,’ and drinks deeply.
Kirk is playing on Swastika’s egocentric weakness here. Hopefully getting the information for his ultimate defeat and destruction and buying Vanguard the time to prepare.
From the moment of his appearance he will be using all of his powers to get a lock on his physical and mental energy signatures and telepathic patterns. Swastika is the reason that Kirk ultimately discovered his ability to read unique energy signatures and was driven down the road towards the mental disciplines… for this confrontation. Hopefully he can get enough to be sure Swastika does not escape again should they defeat him and should Kirk survive to that point. If Swastika agrees Kirk will do his best to shore up his defenses for the mental contact and further gather information as best he can.
Back when Vanguard’s Vault was destroyed you’d said we were leaving the silver/bronze age and entering the modern age of comics… Kirk has arrived. Hopefully there will be something playable left of him when this is done (if he survives, which is very questionable in my mind at this point).
I/Kirk in no way shape or form think whatever Kirk does here binding on Vanguard/other players. They are his undiscussed conclusions on things. If others want to do something here and now Kirk has bought them more time to figure it out. But he does feel it pointless as outlined. And he gets that others may take issue here with his actions and this may permanently fracture the team but hopes they can hold it together for the next couple of days… he feels not taking on Swastika now, unprepared, is their only hope for long-term victory and preventing the Cthulhu apocalypse.
Hope all that have the day off enjoy it.
WOW!!! Seth that was amazing! I truly enjoyed reading that and seeing Kirk take the reins like that - absolutely AWESOME! I am absolutely speechless - I wouldn't try to follow that in a million years - well done sir!
Jeff, the only thing Clone is going to do is stand proudly beside Kirk as he speaks and stare at Mystic/Swastika defiantly the entire time. He wants Mystic/Swastika to know that he/we support our leader and that he speaks for us all (At least I'm assuming that he does - anyone have a different plan in mind?) - Vanguard stands united!
Menagerie listened to Kirk carefully and watched Mystic intently. He silently and without motion prepared his Essence of Life spell. He would use in an attempt to disrupt any spell Mystic tried to cast. He wasn't sure Kirk was making the right decision but again Frank was sure what the correct decision was.
More than anything else Menagerie wanted to destroy Mystic. If now wasn't the time then he would be patient until the time was right.
Tensely Frank waited to see if Mystic would allow the telepathic connection with Sentinel. At any moment Menagerie was prepared to strike, all that was needed was one false move from Mystic.
He kept his battle cry "For Archimedes, The Lady of the Lake, and Nature itself!" bottled up tight with himself.
"Kirk, you better know what you are doing", Frank thought to himself as he watched, ready to strike.
OOC: Thanks everyone.
Jon: does Aperture still try to jerry-rig his anti-magic cannon into a single-use bomb?
Or does he play along with Sentinel's gambit? Or something else?
Once I get an answer, I can get going asap on the next pulse-pounding issue!
Aperture will go along with Sentinel’s gambit, but he will jerry-rig the cannon, and use the distraction to get as close to Swastika/Mystic as possible.
If the fit hit’s the shan, he’ll pop the weasel.
OOC: Thanks Kev.
Didn't want to assume anything here for anyone else and honestly didn't know how others would feel as Kirk took this action to 'deal' which is very modern age but absolutely not silver/bronze.
It seemed like the most prudent move and Kirk wanted to save those torn in the decision from having to make it.
And of course he could be wrong and Swastika may eliminate him now in the process... but at least Vanguard will know.
It was a tough call... along with Kirk's decision regarding his ultimate goal with Swastika here.
In terms of both this story arc along with the Vanguard campaign and all that has happened to Kirk in recent hours and in his character 'growth' it all makes sense... along with his behavior pattern of seeing the 'end' in terms of heroic lore.
It seems to be what he must do in character but succeed or fail ultimately Kirk even if he survives will have changed with the times and tone of the campaign and in his moral compass.
I will say that we have been in some tough spots before and this is the worst. I'm excited to see how Jeff plays this one out and truly question victory and pulling this one off... and ultimately if we do Kirk's survival and where Vanguard goes from here.
It's actually mind-numbing. And I find it surprising based on past IC interactions at Kirk's growth in this regard and how he seems to have grown from the beginning until now to make this calculated conclusion of what he must do here. I don't think he/I would have foreseen him doing this but it really makes sense. Others may see it as an act of vengeance, but really it is not.
This is Luke turning to Vader and instead of saying "I sense the good in you" he says "I know you are beyond redemption and will never change". Of course Swastika is no Vader... he's more the emperor who had to go.
But it is a turning point where Kirk calculates things and sees a threat that way - someone so evil that they will never change, cannot be contained, and must be removed.
In most story arcs it isn't the hero with that 'you can help anyone' mindset that actually gets to the point where he realizes the threat is irredeemable. In all I can remember a character like that is 'saved' from making that decision because a character, typically a friend, whose values aren't as 'high' take the decision from him and eliminate the threat so he doesn't have to do so. I don't know what Jeff will do here in that regard but I do know that Kirk has committed to his decision.
Looking forward to the resolution here and to see what is left of Kirk and Vanguard.