Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Issue 33: Showdown in the Streets!

Big City, the Bronx. Investigation Day One. 11:30pm

Sentinel scanned the area visually and with his energy senses for any clues as to the demise of the captured hitman. The beacon of liberty saw that the roof door had been kicked open. In the end, his method of holding the door didn’t give way. The wooden door itself did.
The building was a tenement whose residents were evacuating front, back and side doors due to the commotion and fire trucks. He detects no extranormals among the evacuees, nor does he see anyone through the hard rain who looks like a mobster among the denizens of this rough neighborhood.
(Sentinel had only been away from the area for 30 seconds, but upon his return had spent at least a few minutes fighting the fire with the water he had gathered.)

A grateful local tells Sentinel that the target building had been abuzz with activity, “…men coming and going at all hours. Lately, more coming than going.”

Sentinel radios Ajay who reports that all “criminal” internet chatter has suddenly gone quiet.
Later, the CHESS undercover operatives who were deployed into local dives and bars across Big City will report that Vanguard’s intervention into underworld affairs tonight have dried up all sources.
The Five Bosses are circling the wagons and shuttering windows and doors against this rare extranormal interference in their affairs!

Detective Archer’s reaction to Sentinel’s overture was positive and promising until Lightning Strike said: "Since this is our investigation, I assume you don't have a problem with me interrogating a prisoner. Alone!!!"
The electric avenger and Slingshot left the area with one captive each, for separate interrogations.

In the midst of the mayhem, Kairos introduced himself. Sentinel replied: "Always glad to meet someone else willing to fight the good fight; and if you'd like to be of further assistance maybe you can stick around to compare notes with the other members of Vanguard… in fact, I'd be glad for another hand in this mission since we seem to have lost the services of some of our members..."
(OOC: Reply Kairos?)

Agents Drake and Grey of CHESS (The Central Headquarters for Extranormal Surveillance and Security) also showed identification and introduced themselves. Kairos knows that CHESS is a top secret government organization whose jurisdiction is extranormals.
(OOC: Reply Kairos?)

Meanwhile, in an abandoned building, Slingshot’s captive identified himself as Spider Girucci. He was the leader of the pack and his eyes were as sharp as broken glass. He smiled and his teeth were like stacked dice as he coolly offered this advice to his captor:

“You is livin’ dangerous, friend.” His mouth made a derisive snort. It might have been a laugh.
“You got no %$#@&* idea what yer doin’, do ya big fella? You’re steppin’ into a mess that won’t be easy to get out of, for you… or yer family.
“Whaddya think is gonna happen when they find out what you done? Your lives won’t be worth a plug nickel. You ready to take on all of Big City?
“Tell ya what, kid. I’m in a generous mood. Lemme go right now an I’ll ferget the whole incident. Otherwise, book me already. You think I won’t be on the street inside of 24 hours? You crazy masks attacked me in my home. I was defendin’ myself.”
No amount of physical threat gets Spider to offer up anything.

Meanwhile, Lightning Strike’s terrified young captive gave up everything he had, including:
His name: The Shivering Kid
The identities of the other four live captives:
· Spider Girucci, the cold-eyed, Tommygunning leader who Slingshot netted.
· Bull Marr, a savage gorilla of a man, with thick red hair. He shot Lightning Strike.
· Sheeny McGonkle, the word “Magic” tattooed on him in three places.
· Old Paint Clemmons, one eye and all his teeth ruined from bad moonshine.
Unlike the dead men from the aborted ambush, these killers were all locals.

Their Boss: The Octopus! The former member of the Sinister Sea Squadron, this human mollusk’s tentacles extend throughout the underworld! He controls the protection rackets, muscle and enforcement. The Octopus owned “the target house” and everyone in it!

The trembling boy killer had no information on who the other four of the Five Bosses are, what started the Gang War, the current whereabouts of Morgue or Skin Deep, or any other locations run or frequented by the Octopus. “Please! Dat’s all I got,” he pleaded. “Spider! Duh otha guys! Dey would know!” he exclaimed, selling out his comrades in record time.

Moments later, Strike dragged him out from the abandoned building, motionless and smoking. The high voltage vigilante told the police to call the meat wagon for this stiff and then he gestured for another captive to come forward and repeat the process.

Slingshot also returned, with his cocky captive looking worse for wear.

Then, there in the rainy streets, surrounded by crowds of well wishers, a confrontation between heroes unfolded! Lightning flashed and thunder boomed across the rainy night as Kairos faced Lightning Strike and said:
"These men may very well be criminals caught in the act but the crime is done. Our job is done. Let the authorities take them from here...we're not judge, jury, and executioner."

Strike replied coldly: "The crime is never done. These slime spread like cockroaches and unless we step up and stop it now, it will never end. I suggest you figure out which side you are on before you take such an 'ethical' stand. I doubt they will give you that benefit."

Tension mounted. Kairos seemed ready to move (or maybe drop?) his long steel staff.

Witness to all of this was Sentinel, Slingshot, the CHESSmen, the captive crooks, the NYPD, the FDNY, and a familiar figure who suddenly stepped out from the shadows: Forester!

Actions, Gentlemen?
And welcome back Forester/James!
Slingy (and Kairos?) I wanted to resolve this before you returned to the scene of Nanite’s death.

FYI, our players are:
James/ Forester, Harold/ Kairos, Tony/Lightning Strike, Seth/ Sentinel, Stephane/ Slingshot
Vanguard’s lineup changes more often than the Avengers!
Ye Ed


"En guard, Vanguard," the green-clad hero says to the band of familiar and unfamiliar heroes. "Forester, your friendly regional ranger, has returned."

"I only wish it was on better terms," he adds. "Following the recent Chess initiative against the Over-Men and Skull, the retired Freedom Force hero known as Marksman alerted me to some troublesome news. A powerful yet elusive sect of martial artists and mystics has gained unduly power in New York City, and perhaps elsewhere in the United States. One of their most deadly agents is known for his cat-like fighting style..."

Forester raises his left hand slightly to make a subtle point. "The cat motif is basically a symbolic description, though. Don't expect him to wear a cougar costume or pounce on mice."
"That's all the information I have," Forester continues. "But I believe that by assisting Vanguard and Chess on your current assignments that I can help stop this ominous enemy."

Forester is fully meditated, and his quiver is stocked with a full compliment of specialized arrows.


In the midst of the mayhem, Kairos introduced himself. Sentinel replied: "Always glad to meet someone else willing to fight the good fight; and if you'd like to be of further assistance maybe you can stick around to compare notes with the other members of Vanguard… in fact, I'd be glad for another hand in this mission since we seem to have lost the services of some of our members..."
(OOC: Reply Kairos?)

“I had been considering doing something of the sort on my own for some time now. I would be happy to try it out as part of a group. If you’ll have me, I’d be happy to join up.”

Agents Drake and Grey of CHESS (The Central Headquarters for Extranormal Surveillance and Security) also showed identification and introduced themselves. Kairos knows that CHESS is a top secret government organization whose jurisdiction is extranormals.

“Agents, a pleasure to meet you.”

Ignoring anything else, Kairos says,”I KNOW which side I’m on…it comes with taking that “ethical stand” you seem to sneer at. It’s what separates the good from the bad. This fight is over now but the war goes on. Fighting evildoers is one thing…being judge, jury, and executioner is quite another. To interrogate under torture and to kill a prisoner…? My own ethics are clear on that one. It stops here.”

(OOC: Of course, Kairos knows only what he sees and doesn’t realize that the prisoner is still alive. Slingshot’s captive, at least, is alive and not limp and smoldering with a “meatwagon” being called for.)


Seeing that direct physical intimidation isn't working, Scott responds to the mafioso's speech.
Slingshot sighed, "Girucci. I'm doing my job. Just like you are. You got caught. You know the rules. You'll spend a day in the brig and you'll be out in 24 hours. I still got to book you. So keep the strong arm tactics for the weenies that owe you money."

After a slight pause, he continues "I hoped that we could workout an understanding in principle. I'm more concerned with super villains, I'm not interested in your.. activities, unless you do them right in front of me, like you did tonight." He shrugged another day, another crook. He makes as if moving away, then he reconsiders.

He turns to Spider and puts a card into the inside of his jacket. "Here. In case, you want to reconsider. You can reach me there. You're a bright guy. You know that making friends gets you much farther than making enemies. I'm a patient man. Don't lose the card, I only give it once."

[ooc] If he still feels the need to threaten me or my family:
Slingshot lowers his voice to near inaudibility, his neck stretched out so that he's almost cheek to cheek with the gang member, "If you want to make this personal, by all means, take the first step. You can make sure that I'll come knocking. I'll revisit what was done to me ten folds."[/ooc]


Sentinel radios Ajay who reports that all “criminal” internet chatter has suddenly gone quiet.

"Ajay, that baffles me a bit. I can understand things going quiet in face to fact contact, but over the internet??? Where you've got virtual anonymity??? Whoever is behind this has some power to stop internet chatter!
Have your team try to use the chatter ceasing to backtrack and try to determine the source. Go back to track the chatter as it began to stop and see if you can trace the messages or codewords that stopped the chatter... these would likely be repeated in many emails just before everything ceased. Perhaps you can backtrack the code to the source emails and that can give us a lead towards the originator of the message. Perhaps that user name or group of users can give us clue to identities or locations... maybe even if they originated off a specific server...
It'll take some time and is a bit of a longshot, but it seems to be the only hope for our tech team to come up with a lead for us. Let me know if any of this pans out ... Thanks Ajay. I owe you and team a round of drinks for your persistence on this one. Sentinel out."
As an afterthought he added, “Ajay, I was thinking about the ‘target’ building. We should do a search on the property. Likely it’s been purchased or leased recently by a shell corporation, but perhaps they weren’t as thorough as they should have been in covering their tracks and you can find something useful there. Thanks.”

Forester’s arrival clearly pleased Kirk to no end. “Great to have you back! Your eye for detail will be invaluable in completing this mission and putting the pieces together … and what a coincidence that your ‘personal matters’ coincided with our mission; you're meant to be with Vanguard. Your intel helps explain why the NYPD has been having so much trouble resolving things here – the forces at work go far beyond this city or the normal scope.”
“And you met the Marksman! You’ll have to tell me more when we get some downtime.”

Kirk had just begun briefing Forester when the altercation between Kairos and Strike began. “It just couldn’t have been like this for Gramps,” he muttered under his breath, and then whispered to Forester, “please, have my back here,” as he leapt away from Forester and towards the area of the duo. Sentinel realized the potential for things to quickly get out of hand if unchecked.

Before the two heroes could get any closer to provoke a physical confrontation, Sentinel glided into the space between them. He came to his teammate’s verbal defense before things could escalate further. “Gentlemen, a moment of your time before you continue your 'discussion' here,” and gesturing at the crowds of various onlookers, “and I think discretion calls for some privacy here. With your permission … “

As if having a life of its own, Kirk’s aura of protection slid lower and off him; from his feet it began to spread around the heroes starting to form a “room” with walls to give the team some privacy and to seal in their conversation.
(Since Kirk can control the environment within his creations, I’m assuming that he could manage to keep their conversation silent to the crowds).

As the room formed Sentinel added, “if we could get the rest of Vanguard here and Agents Grey and Drake and Detective Archer, if you’d be kind enough to join us …”

Hopefully at this point we’ve got Vanguard, Grey, Drake, and Archer in Sentinel’s “room”.
“Kairos, I appreciate your enthusiasm for ethics, and once you know me, you’ll know that in principal, likely no one here would agree with you more. But you’re jumping to conclusions here and lacking pertinent information.
First, I can understand your being taken aback with Strike’s approach to things, and truth be told, when I first met him a couple weeks ago I think he wanted to fry me within the first minute of our meeting,” turning to Strike with a half smile he added, “you make quite a first impression, you know,” and then giving his full attention to Kairos he continued, “but since that time I’ve seen him put his life on the line and save both this country and the entire world from disaster with his heroic actions and ingenuity on two separate occasions; knowing that, I’d be willing to put some trust in him and his choice of actions and state that things aren’t as bad as you think.
Second, about our ‘job being done here and letting the authorities take it from here,’ do understand Vanguard’s position and authority here are a bit different than your own. Vanguard is a duly authorized government agency just like CHESS and the NYPD. We have been assigned a case that we are investigating in cooperation with CHESS and the NYPD and as such we have a scope of authority to conduct that investigation, so Vanguard is among “the authorities” you speak about and as such, Strike has as the right to interrogate prisoners to complete our mission.”

“Again, I’m not minimizing the need to act with ethics in an interrogation, just stating that you don’t actually know what transpired and that the interrogation is within Vanguard’s scope of authority.”
“That being said, we’ve experts in interrogation here among us and it would be foolish not to get their input on the best way to proceed.
My opinion is that I would think Vanguard has the most “leeway” in an interrogation, but at this point any immediate intimidation advantage was lost by this whole outburst. I would assume Chess has more resources than the NYPD at their disposal here. I’d think a Chess lead in the interrogation with Archer as advisor and voice of the NYPD would be the way to go, and if you want Strike involved to help 'motivate their willingness to express themselves', I'd think he'd be happy to lend a hand.

Aiming his words to his teammates again again he continued, "These thugs are locals and Detective Archer here has probably interrogated them in the past and if not will know their rep and the best way to proceed. You don’t get to be in charge in the toughest city in the world without being the best! Grey and Drake head one of the governments most powerful agencies protecting this country, meaning they eat low-level thugs like these for breakfast … so let’s hear and respect what they have to say."

And then shifting his focus back to the group as a whole he concluded, "And I’d remind you all that if testosterone would resolve this case, based on what's in this “room” the case would be closed here and now; so lets put the egos aside and not look to “mark our territory” and make a decision that works best for the mission.”
Sentinel shut his mouth and hoped that no fist would find its way into it; and he waited to see what was going to happen next.


During Sentinel's speech, Kairos notices a slight stir from the supposedly dead man brought back by Lightning Strike. Realizing that all may not be quite as it seemed, he shrugs and states matter-of-factly, "Perhaps I judge too swiftly. There is yet time to observe. Since it seems that fate has thrown us together, we'll let time and actions tell the true story."

And, he adds to himself, someone needs to watch the watchers...


"Sentinel, I understand your view point. I'm simply trying to have a short conversation. See what I get. I'm in no position to make bargains and don't intend to make it a testosterone filled event. These people know how to talk to the cops. We are not them." He shrugs. "It won't take long."


Lightning Strike:
After Strike drops the prisoner off with the agents (see below) and regroups with the rest of the team, he tries to brief the team and put an end to the situation before tempers flair worse than they already are.

Strike speaks quickly and quietly, "Kairos, the thug is not dead, only stunned. I won't stoop to their level but we need the rest of them to think we are capable of any extreme. He gave up the names of his companions and the man he works for "The Octopus". We will need a full dossier on him ASAP. If we can eliminate them combatants in this gang war own our own terms, we may be able to save some lives"

He continues, "These mobs are run mainly on fear and intimidation. We need to give them something worse to fear, namely us. We have to make them think that we are cold blooded killers who will stop at nothing to bring them to justice."

Strike wants the agents to take away the stunned young punk separately from the others to maintain the illusion. He won't continue the interrogations until he has buy in from the rest of the heroes on this course of action.


Since Forester just showed up, he abstains from any type of decision-making on this topic.


Kirk was clearly pleased by the levelheadedness of his teammate's replies and that his confidence in him had not been misplaced and his willingness to be a "team player," this boded well for the future of Vanguard. He was also pleased of Strike's success in his interrogation and some of the facts helping him to reinterpret his own investigation.

Sentinel added, "The thug I'd interrogated also referred to me as "The Octopus". I thought at the time he used the name as a general description out of fear because I was using a dark construct with many "tentacles," but this would also tie-in to Forester's intel that the dark forces at work here have powers and this is more than a standard gangland war. Kirk tapped his communicator active, "Ajay, we've got further developments for your team. We've got confirmed involvement of someone known as "The Octopus", its likely that he's an extra-normal, possible with enhanced or additional appendages or some sort."

On how to proceed:
Kirk is concerned with maintaining cooperation between the three groups at work here (Vanguard, Chess, NYPD). His speech was more to prevent future problems during this investigation (and had the added benefit of preventing an immediate confrontation between Strike and their newly found friend Kairos) between these groups than anything else (ie Drake pulling rank and causing the NYPD to be cut out of the loop and perhaps encouraging them to try to do their own independent operation to show Chess and holding back information from them) so he does want to hear what Archer and Grey and Drake think.

When Kirk gets a moment to talk to Slingshot alone, he would mention this to him -- letting him know that his words really had nothing to do with Slingshot's actions and were not a criticism of what he had done during his own investigative work.

As far as immediately how to proceed, Kirk is impressed (although not totally surprised) at how well Strike did with his end of the interrogation and has no problem with him proceeding further if the consensus here is that his intimidation tactics and "rogue-type" approach might continue to work better than a standard Chess or NYPD interrogation.

In fact, if all are in agreement to continue with this approach, in order to strengthen Strike's appearance, he suggests that their current "discussion" end in a "seeming dispute" to make Strike seem even more intimidating to the remaining thugs. Kirk suggests that they have the onlookers see a physical confrontation, put on an act, between Strike and himself with Archer and Drake or Grey nearby arguing, which escalates and that Strike blasts Sentinel in the heated discussion. This would be a controlled "lightburst" that would have no ill effect on Kirk but put on a lightshow, at which point, Kirk would put on the act of being blasted and flying across and careening against the side of the "room" at which point the whole "room" would dissipate and Kirk would hit the floor (complete with seeming energy from Strike's electrical strike smoldering off him (Kirk's own power would enhance the look of Strike's attack against him).

At that point, so it could be heard by the crowds, Archer would shout in anger something asserting the authority of the NYPD in this situation, Drake or Grey would trump him stating it was now a Chess matter, and Strike would storm off stating that Chess had called in Vanguard and it was a Vanguard matter and he was finishing HIS interrogation and if anyone interfered they would get the same treatment he'd just given his "liberal minded gutless teammate Sentinel".
As Strike storms off to work on the interrogations, Drake or Grey would follow to "keep on eye on him" and could play "good cop" to Strike's "bad cop" for the rest of the investigation while being present to add their year's of expertise to his work... Archer could be involved in the same manner if they thought it best too.

Hey, every team needs its bad boy and it looks like Tony is elected.

After the interrogations the NYPD and CHESS could be briefed on what actually occurred here to prevent problems in future coordination and if the press makes a big deal about it, after the case is over, we could make an official statement to the press as to what occurred to be sure that the image of Vanguard isn't tarnished.


Slingshot accepts Sentinel’s words.