Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Vanguard: Issue 226: The Return of Cthulhu

After countless millennia, Cthulhu and his pantheon of terrifying madness return to Earth at last.

They would soon remake the world in their horrific image.

And then, the universe.

Vanguard’s sanity is held together by a thread thanks only to Avatar, whose godly presence bolsters the morale of mere mortals.

Through the hole in the sky, beneath the lunar eclipse of the winter solstice, the cyclopean horrific beings writhe and undulate, ready to re-enter the world of Men.

Swastika-Mystic ascends to meet them, chanting with venomous ecstasy:

“’Ai! ‘Ai! Ftaghn! Thanarak! N'gha! Vulg'th! Zhro!”

Sentinel cries above the howl of the World Storm: “Vanguard, the altar and the design on the floor before are linked and imbued with unimaginable arcane power.  Whatever Swastika has done to ensure the dimensional gateway be open for Cthulhu’s entry at the right time – it seems to be the only thing I can perceive holding it all together now. We need to destroy his key to the gateway, or at least remove it from where it can be used by him!”

Avatar nods grimly and summons two more bolts of lightning from the heavens. This time, he doesn’t target Swastika, adorned in the flesh of Mystic and all the Artifacts of Power.  This time, he targets the sorcerous power nexus before the ancient altar.


Lightning strike joins in, firing white hot arcs of crackling electricity from both hands at the lodestone!


Menagerie shouts, "We need to destroy the source of entry!" as he weaves a powerful spell to drain energy from the nexus point of the dread ceremony. [OOC: Two attacks. PR: 36!]

After the devastating onslaught, the smoke clears and Vanguard sees the magical design is cracked.  Eldritch energy sparks from the occult symbol!

Swastika-Mystic turns away from the sundered veil of this reality, looking down at what the heroes have done. “No! Stop!”

Sentinel flies toward him, and sees all the other areas of the temple are connected in micro-ley lines to the altar and the design that evokes “rising steps” or “ascension.”

The golden age hero concentrates and projects his thoughts outwards towards Swastika high in the sky above him; not an attack but, he hopes, a reawakening.  For Swastika wasn’t the contact he wanted to make but rather the prisoner he held mentally and emotionally captive all this time: Mystic.  Mystic!
He reaches out, how his grandfather Lancaster, the original Sentinel, had taught him.
“Mystic!  Mystic!  We need you.  All of existence needs you.  Wake up man!  You are the most powerful magical hero known. We need you! Wake up!” [OOC: Spends 1 Luck Point]

Swastika-Mystic glares at Sentinel.
“No! Damn you! Not yet! It isn’t time! Not ye-eeeaaarrrrggghhh!!!”

Swastika-Mystic suddenly spasms violently in mid-air, a man at war with his own body, limbs lurching and flailing as he hurtles erratically though the storm, writhing, snarling, growling, screaming!
Far below, in the ageless stone courtyard, the ghastly, unliving corpses of the 13 sorcerous supervillains known as the Crimson Coven strike!

With chilling speed, preternatural strength and still-present super powers, the dead lunge at Vanguard!

Avatar withstands the undead malevolence of Superstition; his powers over Fate too much for her bad luck hex.
Sentinel’s shields defend him against the airborne Inferna’s hellfire blast! [OOC: -17 to shields]
Soldier acrobatically rolls with the zombie Demonoid’s vicious claws. [OOC: 15 damage. -8 to Invulnerability. Rolls with 7]
Slingshot is struck by the staff of the twice resurrected Baron Samedi [14 damage. Rolls with 9. 5 from Hits.  Still conscious]
Five Clones are felled by the undead legion of The Witch, The Fly, Pendulum, Mirage and the headless Warlock!
The invisible Aperture is not detected by any of the living dead!
Lightning Strike survives the necrotic claws of Big Bad [13 damage, rolls with 6. 7 to Hits. Still conscious]
Menagerie braves the assault of the revenant of Jack Lantern. [13 damage. Rolls with 3.  Takes 10 from Hits. Still conscious]
The unliving remains of Le Fou and Scarlet Fever miss their targets.

Then the heroes of Vanguard strike back!
Soldier fires explosive rounds into Demonoid and the undead thing collapses to the stone floor.
Slingshot grabs Samedi and hurtles him into the flying Inferna, knocking both of them insensate!
Clone’s army fells The Witch, Pendulum, Mirage and Scarlet Fever!

Above the desperate fray, the form of Swastika-Mystic suddenly stops buckling.
The remaining undead legion of the Crimson Coven that are still standing suddenly collapse!

Something leaves the form of Mystic…

…and merges into Cthulhu!
Mystic cries in his own voice. "I… no! Everyone! Swastika has left my body! But he is entering the body of Cthulhu! That was his master plan all along! Not only to destroy the world by summoning the Great Old Ones, but to possess Cthulhu itself!” he yells in horror.

The titanic thing from beyond space and time suddenly utters an inhuman laugh that chills the blood.
The Swastika-possessed Cthulhu begins to pass through the portal, entering into this universe!

Then Aperture sets his digital “anti-magic” cannon to overload.


It ruptures the seal before the altar. Eldritch energy explodes and dissipates, leaving only a smoking crater.

The rip in the fabric of reality closes, with the Great Old Ones, and the mind of Dr. Swastika, on the other side! The breach seals to a crack of thunder and the shockwave rocks Vanguard back!

Then all goes still.

The interdimensional crack in the sky is gone.

The lunar eclipse wanes and with it, the power of the World Storm.

The Crimson Coven are dead and unmoving.

And Mystic, wearing the Artifacts of Power, still lives.

Vanguard did it.
Vanguard had saved the world!

OOC: Actions for the next hour or so?
Congrats, everyone! Next issue: Experience Points!

Current Conditions: 

Aperture: Hit Points: 15, Power Points: 21, Nanotech: Invisibility
Avatar: Hit Points: 29, Power Points: 35, Manifestation: Heightened Speed, Weather Control
Clone: Bodies: 18, Hit Points: 1, Power Points: 65, Hit Point Pool: 18
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 29, Power Points: 59
Menagerie: Hit Points: 16, Power Points: 27, Form: Man
Sentinel: Hit Points: 28, Power Points: 60, Creation Points: 120, Shields: 83
Slingshot: Hit Points: 23, Power Points: 81, Invulnerability: 0 til Issue 227, Non-regeneratable HP: 42!
Soldier: Hit Points: 31, Power Points: 61, Invulnerability: 0 til Issue 228.


OOC: Worth the wait!


OOC: I enjoyed it. Now, what to do next?


OOC: Awesome issue!!!

Now I need to take a deep breath and figure what next.



[OOC] Wow. I'm not sure what to say there. I didn't think that setting the cannon to overload would do it. Good thinking Jon! Let me know if the next bit is a little too much for you all, but I think it's a valid finish.

[IC] Slingshot looks at the wreckage. Looks at the sky where moments before Cthutlhu was there. The parallels with another world shattering encounter was not wasted on him. He thinks to IT and Nemesis. This combination isn't quite so positive. He felt tired, exhausted. Did we win? At what cost?

He turns to the team. He surveys it. Slingshot is well aware that he was the one that has likely lost the least in this insanity, by pure luck. He walks up to Sentinel put a hand on his shoulder. He reaches out, extends, to all the members present, even Mystic, creating a link between them all, bringing them closer. His own flesh losing cohesiveness due to the large number of individuals and tendrils needed. When the whole team is closer together. He speaks up, overwhelmed at the situation and his own feelings, "The world survives to live another day." he says somewhat flatly, he continues more fervently, "How we continue from here is entirely up to us. You all are my brothers in arms and I trust you with my life. We have done so many times over. While we are Vanguard, I really see you all as my family. Family help and support each other. " Each tendril pulses creating a sense of a hug, "Now, let's pick up the pieces and start new."


OOC: I wouldn't try to follow that Stephane, so Soldier's post would have to be before yours. I also agree good idea on the cannon Jon.

IC: After a moment to catch his breathe, the Patriotic Powehouse's first thoughts are of The Vanguard reserves and The Soviet Super Soldiers. He checks his comm to find out if they require help.

If they don't, he will contact CHESS to request a team to collect the zombie remains.



IC: They did it.  They won!  And for a brief moment he felt exuberance.  He had done something right. He had made a difference.  And then that feeling turned to numbness as the reality of the cost returned. Vanguard as it had been was gone.  All the people he had made a life with, fought the good fight beside, were gone. Aside from these men at his side now and Grey, they were all lost. And then he realized, this wasn’t over yet.

Kirk turned to Mystic, knowing what he had endured … and the power he currently held.  And that they really didn’t know him.
“How are you doing?” he asked Mystic.

As they began to converse Kirk had to know, “How long?”  “How long did he have you?  Was that you back in the 1940’s or him already?”

Kirk needed to understand things.  At this point, at the very least, it had to make sense.  And he had to be able to understand the man standing before them.

“Do you feel he is truly gone?  Prevented from returning as Cthulhu is blocked from doing so?  Can he get back here?”  Kirk had wanted the menace of Swastika ended for good. He was prepared to end no matter the cost.  Now it seemed he was merely out of reach but somehow still out there.
Upon getting those answers and feeling confident they can count Mystic as one of the good guys again, Kirk turned back to Vanguard.

“We have two questions that we need to answer.  And it needs to be all of us that decide here.  First, looking especially to Mystic and Menagerie, ‘can the artifacts fix this?’  Can we fix all damage that has been done since this began?  And I’m not merely talking about our personal losses here, the world as a whole has been devastated by this event and loss of life likely unparalleled. And second, ‘what do we do with them?’ When they come for us, whether we are heralded as heroes or framed as scapegoats for all that has happened, the one thing that is clear is that this much power cannot be held in the hands of one being.  They were separated for a reason.  What do we do with the artifacts now?”

OOC:  Great issue Jeff.  Very glad the team survived the big event and we all had a share in the save.  And three cheers for luck points!  Hope the above doesn't cramp any of your plans but it seemed like it needed to be answered.  Certainly even if one of the good guys, Mystic can't have them for 'safe keeping' and no way we can turn them over to the government.


Menagerie stood still and listened to the world. He tried to reach out to the natural order. "Had his patron survived?" He waited longer. "Had he completed his mission or did the Natural Order still need its champion."

When asked about using the artifacts to heal the earth he said, "I don't know let me consult with Mystic"

Menagerie looked at all the artifacts and when he touched Excalibur ....

{OOC - Jeff I was thinking of somehow using Excalibur as part of Menagerie's next level advancement. I am thinking with Menagerie's connection to Merlin, Arthur, and the Lady of the Lake that he would have some tie to Excalibur. Maybe he absorbs it or something fantastic that you can think up.}

Menagerie will grieve over the loss of Archimedes, Snowball, and all of the Vanguard family.



Once everyone is together Aperture can gate them back.


Slingshot shivers at the memory of that monstrous god. Now that Zwastika merged with that thing, How can we protect ourselves? It will never stop trying to get back here. He looks around. We cannot get caught flat footed again.

He surveys the area, looking for anything that he can bring back and learn from. He will be better prepared next time. [OOC] looking for books, scrolls, anything that would help better prepare us for the next time[/ooc]

He turns to speak to Mystic: " Hand over the artifacts, Mystic. Until we know more, these objects need to be split. One artifact each. I'm sorry about the suspicion, but better be safe than sorry."

Unless we want to debrief here?

Jeff: Having all these artifacts of power, is there a chance to pull a mystical reset button? something that would help the world recover from the ordeal?


As Sentinel and Slingshot approach Mystic to reclaim the Artifacts, the Clones gather together slowly and begin to walk towards them. When the questions are asked about what should be done with the Artifacts and how will they be separated, the Clones digs deeply within themselves and offer to sacrifice part of themselves to protect the world and to hide the Artifacts once again. One of them looks up at Sentinel with says in a soft tone filled selfless regret and understanding, "We can hide them Comrade, we can be taking them to farthest reaches of world where no one will be finding of them and act as their guardians for as long as time allows."

Jeff, GREAT Issue! You actually had me with the 'Well, Earth had a good run while it lasted.' - I couldn't believe it when I read it. I thought to myself, "No freak'n way! We failed?!? Oh my God - Jeff did it - he took the story to 'the crazy place' - holy crap." I started reading the issue with a little fear and thought to myself, "This can't be happening." Absolutely epic conclusion - well done and well written - thank you, I truly enjoyed this part of the Vanguard Saga.

As for the players - thank you one and all - you've all made Vanguard an absolute joy to be a part of - Long Live Vanguard!

As for Clone, he's basically explaining how he is willing to have several of his duplicates cut ties with him (if this is even possible - Jeff's discretion - I believe he was able to 'pull this off' at least one in the past) and hide the Artifacts all around the world (sought of like the knight did with the Holy Grail in the Indiana Jones movie). If this plan is rejected by the other members of Vanguard, Clone will simply reabsorb the Collective and sit quietly in prayer for the next hour (very subtly rocking back and further as he does so), reflecting upon all the death and suffering that's taken place during this chapter of Vanguards chronicles as he does.