Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Issue 10: Abandon Ship!

6:10 am EST, Atlantic Ocean. 18,000 feet below sea level.
Time until Tsunami Machine Activation: 5 hours 50 minutes.

Everyone made it out of the airlock before the Manta Craft ruptured and blew apart! The explosion was deafening underwater, and the shockwave scattered our heroes among the ship’s wreckage.

They were now in the most dangerous environment on Earth. Their only light sources were those mounted on their suits, and the light that shone from Sentinel’s energy forms.
Except for Slingshot, if any of them were to leave the protective confines of their pressurized suit, or if those suits were to be torn open, they would be crushed alive by the deadly depths in which they now operated.
Then the sharks attacked. Black flat dead eyes and rows of hungry teeth.

Impossibly, the hammerheads came at them in formation! But the heroes were ready for them.

Sentinel used the remains of his energy construct to form a giant shield to batter a group of sharks unconscious! His energy constructs dissipated under the pressure of water.
Forester fired a sonic arrow into a cluster of sharks. The water decimated his range, but he still managed to drive off four of the hammerheads. A fifth creature snapped at him, but he dodged past its jaws. One hole in that suit could kill him!
Slingshot remade his hands and arms into large nets and corralled a pack of them.
Viper swam right up to one and punched it in its head, knocking it out. He slugged a second one into retreat, and dodged and then wrestled with a third.
Lightning Strike tested a small lightning bolt that electrified a patch of water away from the rest of the heroes. Sharks fell unconscious, twitching numbly as they descended into darkness. Grey opened fire with a sleek, futuristic energy pistol, scattering more hammerheads!

Before long, the hammerheads were driven off! The mysterious man-shaped swimmer no longer had cover to hide behind.
His dark blur of a shape was now in view. He wore a black, skin-tight diving suit, but there was no oxygen tank. He had a black mask with goggles for eyes. But his neck was exposed, and gills ran along either side! On his chest was a red “U” and on his arm was a swastika!
Sentinel recognized him immediately. Venus, scanning Sentinel’s thoughts, broadcast them to the rest of the heroes:
“It’s U-Man, the human torpedo! I can’t believe it! He was supposed to be killed in the war! He’d, he’d be over 80 years old now! How is this possible?!”

Quickly regained his composure, Sentinel reviewed his considerable mental files on extranormals, letting the team know what he knew about U-Man.
“His real name is Karl Haupstein. He was one of the Ubermensch, or “Over-Men,” a team of Nazi supervillains! They fought the Liberty League in WWII !
He was a decorated U-Boat captain who volunteered to be experimented on by Dr. Swastika, the leader of the Ubermensch.
U-Man could only breathe underwater. So the League had little contact with him and, of all the Ubermensch, the least is known about him. It was said that he had a form of sonar… and micro explosive torpedoes… but nothing was said of this incredible speed, or the ability to control sharks! It was also said that in this environment, he was invincible!
“Another thing. U-Man only ever operated with the Ubermensch. If he is here, they can’t be far behind!”

Sentinel quickly reviewed his knowledge of the Ubermensch, and their last known whereabouts.
“Dr. Swastika: The mad Nazi scientist with a heart as twisted as his name! (Red Skull meets silver age Lex Luthor). Inventor and leader of the Ubermensch, Swastika was killed in 1945. No doubt of that. Remains of his body were recovered from an explosion, and identified.

Blitzkreig: The lightning warrior! (The Flash meets Electro). Captured. He died in captivity, of old age in 1947, due to his hyper-advanced metabolism.

Panzer: The human tank! (The Blob meets Iron Man). Dead. KIA in 1944.

The Aryan: The perfect man, except for his soul! (Superman meets Captain America, only evil!) Went missing in 1945.

Baroness Von Zero: Royal ice flows through her veins! (Ice Man meets Madame Hydra) Went missing in 1945.

U-Man: The human torpedo! (Black Manta meets a Nazi U-boat captain) Presumed killed by battleship depth charges in 1944.”

Then everyone got the sense that Venus was surprised by something, something back on the CHESS Omni-carrier! She turned around and… There was nothing. Venus was no longer in their heads. And the heroes were now unable to communicate with each other!

Meanwhile, U-Man must have recognized Sentinel as well. He hurtled into him at incredible speeds! SLLAAAMMMM! U-Man’s fist crashed into Sentinel’s shields, shattering them. He also tore into the pressurized suit, opening it, ruthlessly ensuring Sentinel’s imminent demise.
(OOC: 8 points of damage directly to hit points! This will happen every turn that you’re exposed in this environment!)

Then he hurtled off, back in the direction he had come. VVWOOOOOoooooSHH! He was gone!

The heroes were together and alone. Surrounded on every side, as far as they could see, by water and nothing else. Even Venus was gone. Somewhere, out there in the darkness, was U-Man.

OOC: Actions?


After Venus relays the telepathic information, “Thank you, Sentinel. This is excellent information,” Forester thinks “loudly,” furrowing his brow for affect. “It’s great having a ‘golden age’ encyclopedia on our side. Thanks for your help, too, Venus.” On a gut level, almost incoherent to extra-sensory perception, Forester feels oddly decadent having his mind read as though he’s somehow rebelling against the months of meditation training he underwent to tune out his own extraneous thoughts. Receiving mental dossiers on Sentinel “rogue’s gallery” only adds to his mixed feelings. An exceptional archer long before he met Marksman, Forester resists the notion that, in a way, he too might be a type of super-powered sequel.

Still using Venus as a switchboard, Forester broadcasts to everyone: “Well, we knew that SKULL toyed around with Nazi mysticism during World War II. From the looks of things, that connection never ended. If we do go head to head against a revived team of Over-Men back on land, I call first shot against Panzer or any “super tank” protégé standing in his place. My corrosive arrow should disable his armor faster than any other attack.”

Forester faces Agent Grey and telepathically asks: “Any chance there’s another Manta Craft on the way to help us out?” The archer pauses calmly. “If not, I’ll bet you still have a few tricks up your sleeve you haven’t told us about yet.”

Then Forester looks to Slingshot and thinks: “Scott, if Grey points the way, are you strong enough to ‘sling’ us all back to shore after we take care of U-Man?”

After the team loses contact with Venus… To shed more light on the situation, Forester fires a flare arrow in the direction that U-Man fled. He looks for any clues in the water the villain might have left behind. If possible, Forester also spends 2 Power Points to make an extra Detect Hidden roll. If no opponents are in sight, Forester will take advantage of any opportunity to escape with his teammates.


A look of astonishment and disbelief crosses Sentinel's face as the figure of U-Man careens through his battle staff and shields shattering them as if they were eggshells and not the potent force to be reckoned with that they truly were. Before he can react to the attack he sees the figure of U-Man zoom off.
His look of astonishment is quickly replaced by a look of agony as he feels intense pain shoot through his body and realizes that U-Man's slashing attack has ripped a gash in the protective suit. Thoughts flash through his mind envying the newly-met Slingshot and his ability to adapt to the pressures of this watery deep nightmare.
His look of pain is replaced by gritted teeth and a look of determination, the emotion on his face echoing his thoughts that "it doesn't end this way, not this soon, and not with so many depending on me, I won't let the world down".

Before the other heroes can react to help (and not knowing if any could actually help), Sentinel raises his hands in front of himself gesturing a stop motion to them to let them know he has it under control and to give him a moment.
Still holding out his left hand in the "hold" motion, Sentinel's right hand moves towards his chest and the torn suit, touching it, his face taught with concentration; once again all witness a summoning of the energy they had seen before. The energy seems to concentrate this time around the area of the suit that was gashed. As Sentinel moves his right hand away from that torn area, energy emanates from his right hand once again expanding and growing as the form of his battle staff once again appears. The energy glow around the gashed area of the environmental suit disappears before the eyes of the other heroes as, remarkably, the gash in the suit seems to reweave before their eyes and seal itself.

However, that familiar glow of protection surrounding Sentinel that helped light the area that the others were becoming accustomed too was nowhere to be seen; the beacon of light coming from the staff being much dimmer than what was there previously before the attack ...likely all wondered just how much that devastating attack had actually taken its toll on him...
As the glow around the gashed area dissipates and the pain and damage to Sentinel ceases, a smile crosses the face of the young hero (he just couldn't help it) and without thinking about it he had already begun twirling the battle staff and entering a defiant defensive battle stance he'd practiced so many times before.

(Next action: Assuming Sentinel has time to do this before another U-Man attack:)
The battle staff glows with energy and a beam flashes creating a board with words for the other heroes to read: "Need to get U-Man out of water to beat him. When he attacks again will do that with construct around all of us. For now, will create inanimate constructs around us to mess with his radar. Must dampen my light."

Once the heroes have a moment to read the words and give some nods of acknowledgement the "board" flows under the heroes and begins to reform to stretch out thinner and thinner. Around the heroes constructs from the board seem to pop up in areas all around them in simple shapes mimicking human forms that would appear to be other humans on a radar device. Finally when the figures are formed and the others have a sense of where they are around them the glow that lit the area from Sentinels constructs ceases and the heroes can only make out the shapes closest to them.

Sentinel thinks to himself, "Now I only have to hope that U-Man takes out one of my constructs instead of one of my teammates and that he does it quickly while I still have enough power to reform my energy into a field to contain us all and that my teammates can take him out before he destroys my construct and becomes invincible again and that this is the original U-Man with the same powers and weaknesses so that my plan will actually work and that we can restrain him and get the information of the location of the base out of him and get there before the world comes to an end ... yea, we just need to get a little lucky here."

A small smile crosses Sentinel's lip as he finishes his thought, then a slight grimace as he feels the water pressure taking its toll on his construct, "I wonder if it got grimmer than this 'back in the day'", he said out loud in his suit knowing no one could hear him as he thought about the Golden Age Sentinel, Sgt Stone, Doc Rocket, and the rest of the Liberty League...


Forester watches with amazement as the injured Sentinel uses his energy powers to communicate and construct an ingenious plan to entice and ensnare U-Man. On his first action after U-Man’s return, Forester will fire a normal arrow and direct a “special attack” against the villain’s leg to reduce his movement rate. If a shark appears first, Forester will instead use the normal arrow to direct a “special attack” against the creature’s mouth, wounding the animal too much to bite.

Forester’s mind races as he considers Sentinel’s surprise at seeing U-Man alive and remembers SKULL’s ongoing interest in resurrection symbolism. Could the heroes use SKULL’s own beliefs to their advantage?

(OOC: During Forester’s time at Haven, did the Marksman mention that SKULL or any Neo-Nazi opponents had successfully revived someone from the dead--through mystical, super-powered, or technological means? If so, did resurrected opponents have any unusual weaknesses?)

(OOC: Can Forester recall any superstitions that European-styled mystics are likely to hold? Intense superstitions that could make them likely to cave during an interrogation?)


Slingshot replied to Forester: “Slinging us back to shore is not an option. I would have done it the first time around. My guess is that bends is still a problem, but regardless of that, for me to "sling" us around I need a sufficiently strong anchor point,” he says as he shrugs his shoulders.
OOC: Are we still so far down that we need to worry about the bends?
OOC: Actions: Assuming that Sentinel gives his warning.

1) Scott will extend a finger to each team member (Viper, Sentinel, Forester, Lightning Strike, Mr Grey)
2) Wait for UMan to come around and grapple/ensnare him. (Maybe use him and his speed as an anchor point for propulsion and in return boomerang him back out of the water (assuming we aren't that far down).


During the underwater shark fight....
Viper enjoyed being free of the confining ship. Pent up frustration from the first Skull encounter exploded on the first Hammerhead. Speaking to each shark he faced, "Sushi Time!" then to the one he scared off, "You must be a Chicken-Shark!" then finally to the third he wrestled with, "Time to find out who's King of the Sea!"

After Sentinel imparts his info Viper thinks to the others...
“Venus baby, can you track the U-man of the Ubermess? We need to stop him before he brings more friends."

After the attack on Sentinel...
Viper begin to swim in the direction of Forester's arrow looking out in the vastness for U-man. He curses to himself when he realizes U-man is gone, gone as fast as he came. Muttering to himself, "Viper doesn't like being second place in the quickness department."

"Venus baby, come back to Viper. Tell me where this ugly fish is." At last he turns back to his team to see Sentinel pulling out his board. He swims back to see what's happening.

In Sentinel's direction, Viper motions a silent cheer with one arm and waits for the trap to spring. This time he's not letting U-man get away.

OOC: Viper plans to use his First Strike Initiative in combination with his gaze. Hopefully he'll distract U-man enough once he enters Sentinel's trap.


GM Replies:
Forester OOC: During Forester’s time at Haven, did the Marksman mention that SKULL or any Neo-Nazi opponents had successfully revived someone from the dead--through mystical, super-powered, or technological means? If so, did resurrected opponents have any unusual weaknesses?

GM: The Marksman was very close-mouthed about his former adversaries and friends.There was, however, a very public situation where one of the early (1980's) Freedom Force members, Black Cat, was killed by a vampire and returned from the grave as one himself. He changed his name to Black Bat and served as a hero for years until finally, he tragically succumbed to his new nature and was destroyed by the Freedom Force, his former team mates! Black Bat had at least some of the weaknesses attributed to vampirism.

Forester OOC: Can Forester recall any superstitions that European-styled mystics are likely to hold? Intense superstitions that could make them likely to cave during an interrogation?

GM: Your occult knowledge skills suggest that if U-Man is legitimately the original U-Man, and if he's part of SKULL, then he could be part of the Thule Society, the real-life cult that infomed much of Nazi mysticism. Both the Thules, and apparently SKULL, are interested in eternal life and power, gotten through secret knowledge/sorcery. Therefore, death without hope of resurrection might be something he would especially dread. How you plan to use that to your advantage is up to you.

Slingshot OOC: Are we still so far down that we need to worry about the bends?

GM: Yes. You're about 18,000 feet below sea level! Slingshot might be immune to the bends, though.


Lightning Strike:
Lightning Strike peers through the murky darkness and steels himself for what must be an inevitable attack. He feels helpless knowing that his powers could hurt both foe and friend alike. He begins to analyze the situation. U-Man can't be coming from nowhere and even given his underwater abilities, his base of operations must be nearby. He strains the limits of his abilities to try to find a hint of electrical impulses that are not emanating from either the suits of his teammates or natural life at this depth.

After U-Man reveals himself, and before Venus ended the telepathic link, Lightning Strike says to the others." This U-man is simply a delaying tactic, trying to get us to focus our energies on him rather than trying to locate the Tsunami device. I'm not sure whose abilities are best suited to tackle him but my gut feel is that Sentinel and Slingshot are the most flexible and could surround him with either a field or physically. The rest of us are better suited to continue the mission."

He tries to contact Venus. "Is there any way you can point me in the right direction? With me looking for any unusual power source and you looking for human beings, we have to be able to find something."

OOC: Assuming conversation and probing don't take an action then I will save one, if not then the probing can be my action.


With no clear means of transportation/protection independent of Slingshot and Sentinel, splitting up doesn’t seem like a viable plan under the circumstances. U-Man can out-swim the rest of us, and dividing into two groups could make Sentinel’s well-engineered plan less likely to succeed. Forester’s actions remain unchanged.


Sentinel replied to Lightning Strike telepathically, before Venus disappeared:
"I agree that U-Man is a delaying tactic, but he's now our best hope of locating the base and the Tsunami device. The manta craft found nothing in all this time and none of us with our "special abilities" have managed to do any better thus far. Rather than poking around in the darkness further, we need to capture U-Man and get him to reveal the location. Besides, who knows what other cohorts of U-Man are waiting to attack us out there in the darkness just beyond our sight; we stand a better chance of success by keeping our resources pooled together; united we stand, divided we fall!"


OOC: I'm not for splitting up, but I was planning on catching U-Man anyways. So I'll simply attempt to grapple and capture him. How? I'll wait and stall until he attacks Sentinel again (As he seems to have a grudge there). And I'll grapple him and wrap him up as much as I can. He can't swim if he can't move.


Viper is going to stick with Sentinel's trap and encourages the others to do the same.
To Grey: "Hey! Who's leading this mess? We need a decision! I'm for sticking with Sentinel's trap, if you ask me."