Penumbra opened a black, swirling mist portal. It enveloped her, the Mercenary, the Hyena and the unconscious Silencer with tendrils that tore at the fabric of space.
The Mercenary, envelope in his hand, said: “Vanguard, this isn’t over.” The portal began to dissipate…
Then everything happened at once!
Lightning Strike shouted, "Even you can't outrun the storm. You all must face retribution for what you have done today!" as he blasted a crackling electrical bolt at Penumbra’s last known location. SHAKOWW! The jagged blast entered into the black, misty portal!
Forester called: "Quitters!" to the disappearing villains. "I guess you're just a bunch of second-stringers after all." The ironic archer fired a cable arrow at the point where he last saw the envelope in Mercenary's hand, before it and Homicide for Hire became enshrouded in the jet, space-bending vapor.
Slingshot and Kairos leapt forward without hesitation and hurled themselves through the shrinking portal, ready for whatever lay on the other side! They were gone!
Sentinel flew forward as well, not wanting Kairos and Slingshot to face Homicide for Hire alone. He shouted words of encouragement at Lightning Strike and zoomed into the portal with his shields ready!
Lightning Strike, moved by Sentinel’s oration, leapt up and into the portal just as it evaporated!
VWOOSH! The Merc, Penumbra, the Hyena, Silencer, Kairos, Slingshot, Sentinel and Strike were gone!
Symbiote launched an attack at Zero G, hoping to cover him with his newly elastic ebony epidermis! But the hovering heavy had a personal gravitational field that repelled the attack! Symbiote could not grab hold!
Zero G laughed thickly as he levitated directly up at astonishing speeds. The anti-gravity assassin receded into the starry sky and flew south!
Forester finished reeling in his cable arrow as he joined Symbiote. On the end of the magnet-suction cup was Spider Girucci’s white envelope! Forester opened the envelope and a channel on the Vanguard communicator. The able archer read aloud what the dead man had scrawled:
Butcher and Barber
When you can’t go lower go east
There you’ll find what you want. Take him, get the hell out of town, and all this ends.”
No member of Vanguard who went through the portal heard that transmission. Forester could not raise any of them on the communicator! The communicator’s GPS system had lost track of all of them!
Forester knew that Lonely Town was home to Big City’s graveyard. A forlorn and forgotten place. Butcher and Barber were streets. His knowledge of the occult also told him that beneath Lonely Town was said to be long abandoned crypts and catacombs. A labyrinth of loss. A maze of misery.
The dead man, Spider Girucci, said Morgue was holed up there.
Flashback! Old Paint Clemmons, before he was killed for ratting out the Five Bosses, told the cops: “It’s rumored Morgue’s an old gangster come back to life off the slab! It’s the Big Sleep for anyone he touches!”
Flashback! Forester had seen the Top Secret CHESS Dossier on Morgue: “Unusual markings: Skin is pale and corpse-like.” End Flashback. (OOC: Apologies to Seth!)
CHESS was arriving on the chaotic scene of the ended battle. They notified Forester. Medics were available.
CHESS Knight Nathan Lamb led a team of Containment Rooks into the building where the Atomic Brain fell.
(OOC: Forester and Symbiote: What is your next move? Stay put? Help with the Atomic Brain? Go to the place on Girucci’s note? Follow after Zero G? Something else? Symbiote can “slingshot” for miles… for now.
In any event, moments into pursuing your next move…)
Forester’s communicator came to life. If Symbiote is with Forester, he could hear this:
Ajay at the CHESS safehouse responded to Forester’s previous transmission. “Glad to hear you’re okay. We’ve lost contact with the rest of Vanguard! What’s going on?
(OOC: insert reply if any, Forester)
Ajay reported: “We’ve had some excitement here. A gunfight right outside the safehouse. Tommy guns. Looks like two different gangster factions fighting each other. We’ve captured none alive.
Agent Drake thinks one faction was here to raid our safehouse while Vanguard was tied up with Homicide for Hire. Looks like the other faction stopped them! It’s clear our location has been compromised. We’re shutting things down and evacuating. Will be in touch.”
Detective Archer took this opportunity to radio his report too. Lightning Strike had set him on the trail of Whisper, the gangster whose mysterious disappearance triggered the current strife between the Five Bosses. “Didn’t get much on this, except for tired feet. I hear Whisper heard a new criminal element was coming into Big City’s underworld. He thought this new gang was looking to move in on the Five Bosses’ turf. We turned his apartment upside down and got nothing. He has no cell phone or email account we can find. I’m ready to call in the outfield.
I’m on my way to the city morgue. Reports of a disturbance there and I’m in the neighborhood. After that, I’ll try to get the bodies in front of the safehouse identified for ya.” Archer sounded tired.
(OOC: Actions, Forester and Symbiote?)
Meanwhile, Kairos, Lightning Strike, Sentinel and Slingshot passed through the midnight mist-veil of time and space and found themselves separated from Homicide for Hire! Whether it was their late entry into the dissipating portal, or the electrical discharge into it, they somehow ended up at a slightly different fold in space than did their quarry!
They found themselves in a decaying sewer tunnel. Sentinel’s constructs were the only source of light. The Vanguard communicators did not work. Nor did their GPS tracking.
There was no sign of Homicide, except one. Voices could be heard faintly echoing. None were within range of Sentinel’s energy sense. The direction of the echoes was not apparent, but the voices’ identities were. Vanguard silently searched for the direction of the voices’ owners as they heard:
The Mercenary said: “Where the hell are we?! Wake her up. Vanguard has the envelope. That damned Forester. We need to go back. Now!”
Hyena, sarcastically: “What went wrong with your master plan, General Schwarzkopf ? Why the ‘tactical retreat’?”
The Mercenary: “Shut up, punk.” Then: “I underestimated them due to their inexperience. And we had a few bad breaks: the good Samaritan Symbiote, loss of communications...”
A man’s voice, maybe Silencer, said: “That wasn’t my fault. That @#$%&* Lightning Strike!”
Hyena laughed : “How about Doc Bot? What the hell was that?!”
Silencer? (nervously?): “The Big Man won’t be happy.”
The Merc: “We’ll fix it now. We’ll go back, armed with the intelligence we gained on this mission.”
Hyena: “Intelligence? Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout Willis?”
The Merc: “Pay attention:
-Slingshot burns well. That means Symbiote does too. We’ll melt them both down to slag.
-Vanguard is uncoordinated. No teamwork. Chaos. Everyone for himself.
-Like most “heroes,” they’re distracted easily by endangered civilians. Sentinel seems especially sentimental.
-I think his shields could be gotten around by you, Penumbra. Shake it off. Get up. Now, who’s this Kairos?”
Penumbra, darkly: “An unwitting pawn of powers he does not comprehend.”
The Merc: “Great. Keep the personal stuff out of my missions, understand? Ready to take us back there?”
Hyena: “Wait. I smell something.” Uttered in a sewer, Hyena’s funniest line all day was unintentional.
There was a sudden stop in conversation.
Luckily, Vanguard now thought they knew the direction of the voices.
Forester: Hit Points: 21, Power Points: 60
Kairos: Hit Points: 20, Power Points: 52
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 28, Power Points: 54
Sentinel: Hit Points: 20, Power Points: 32, Creation Points: 64 out of 64 into shields
Slingshot: Hit Points: 23, Power Points: 55, Invulnerability: 8
Symbiote-Slingshot: Hit Points: 24, Power Points: 67, Invulnerability: 8
OOC Question before I write my action late!!
Are there any cables running along the sewer lines?
Can LS detect any electrical activity running along the sewer lines where we are?
OOC GM Replies:
Late Lightning Strike wrote: Are there any cables running along the sewer lines? Can LS detect any electrical activity running along the sewer lines where we are?
GM Reply: There are cables running along every tunnel with a 7' diameter.
The cables are very old and there is almost no power in them currently.
Forester walks to the area where the rift closed to search for clues. OOC: Did any of the villains drop any equipment before running through the portal? Are there any residual signs of teleportation? Any unusual sounds, scents, or visual effects coming from the spot where the portal had been?
RE: Insert Forester's reply over the radio:
Forester says: "It looks like Atomic Brain is down for the count, and Zero-G flew off too fast to catch. The rest of Homicide for Hire fled through one of Penumbra's portals—and the rest of Vanguard jumped in after them. They could be anywhere from Peekskill to Purgatory, as far as I can tell.
That leaves me here with Symbiote, a metamorphic hero who joined us halfway through the fight--AND a note I snagged from Mercenary just before everyone disappeared.
Forester reads the entire Girucci letter to Ajay, then says: "With most of Vanguard unreachable at the moment, I could use some backup. If Ghost, Clone, Hip-Hop or any other heroes are on standby, send them to the intersection of Butcher and Barber. That's where I'm headed."
If Symbiote is within earshot, Forester says, "You're welcome to come along too. The more the merrier."
With canine-like speed, Forester heads to the intersection of Butcher and Barber to descend through the manhole cover.
OOC: I will certainly be keeping an eye out behind us in case, for example, Penumbra and Silencer teleported in on us silently and from behind but will keep mid-way in the group so that, if something like that happened and the silence descended on us quickly, someone would still SEE my reaction.
OOC: Guys, I'm wondering if, considering the powers of some of our group and where we are, if we could get Slingshot behind them to fill the passage and then Sentinel could use his constructs to ram them, looking something like a piston in a hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder. Might be worth a shot.
OOC: I'm also wondering if, assuming we could get out of any water ourselves (like being on one of Sentinel's constructs), LS could shock the hell out of HFH.
OOC: Those were both strategies I'd thought of also.
I can elevate the team off the water using a construct if we wanted to try shocking them. I'd thought of trying to ram them all, but not of Slingshot being on the other side of it ... we just might want to give thought to possibly taking out the teleporter first before two of us use actions in such an attack.
"Great," Symbiote thought to himself. "Stranded here, wounded, out of action but with more trouble probably on the way, time running out on the harness and my only ally has no apparent metanormal powers I can replicate. You know, maybe a life of publishing papers on the human genome project and trying to get freshmen to stay awake in class wouldn't have been so bad."
Still, Forester seemed like a good egg, and Hal felt obligated to see this through. "My name's Symbiote," he said aloud to the Bucolic Bowman, stretching out his forearm to offer a handshake as he ran alongside. "I'll be happy to help any way I can, but just so you know--in less than ten minutes I'll lose the powers I copied from your teammate, and then I'll have no metanormal abilities to speak of until I can touch another person who does. Let's try to make the time count."
(OOC: I'm with Forester all the way, and figure I have one advantage: Slingshot's reach. As the clock ticks down I'll be looking for anybody to show up with some powers I can refresh the harness with, don't care if it's Squirrel Girl or Forbush Man, and I'll used the replicated reach of the Rampaging Rubberman to make it happen).
After Symbiote introduces himself, Forester says, "In a situation like this, Slingshot might use his superhuman strength to carry me like luggage as he elasticly springs to our next destination." The archer points to the address on the letter.
"I have a parachute arrow," the archer explains, "but I can't fly."
If Symbiote is up for this time-saving travel technique, Forester is ready for lift-off. That might be faster than running to the B&B intersection at, say, 11.75 mph.
OOC: Hey Jeff, It just occurred to me that the location of the letter might become important as we move forward. Since most heroes don't have doesn't have pockets in their uniforms, he'll stick the letter inside his right boot.
Assuming I know the area and the general direction (and Hal is a native New Yorker), I'll do it. "Keep your arms, legs and bow inside the ride at all times," Symbiote says as he uses the power of the Malleable Marvel to launch them both forward.
I have already used a trick shot of "inflating" myself in a small room. It does less damage, but attacks several at once. I can slingshot myself between them and inflate. I could hopefully knock the less sturdy ones, Silencer and Penumbra. I'm not going to touch Hyena and Mercenary much.
Kirk will keep his energy senses at full alert to be sure everything is as it appears and to hone in on HFH.
If the team wants to be elevated for initial approach to allow the electrical strike (or just for stealth) by Strike he will do so, although it seems like there may be room for HFH to not be in the water, so perhaps this won't work (why would they be standing in the water if there was dry area?).
As they get closer, Kirk will adjust his energy construct to mimic the darkness of the tunnel so that their attack has a better chance of going unnoticed.
If Slingshot wants to try the double-team effort, Kirk can manipulate his construct by using small tether like tendrils to move passed HFH (along the ceiling or side of the ceiling or some other inconspicuous place) to form a wall behind HFH and then coordinate "smashing" forward when Slingshot hits from the forward direction so perhaps the two of them moving together might catch more of HFH and offer more damage. He could also be the "front" attack, but it is likely that his construct would have a better chance of getting behind HFH than Slingshot.
If Slingshot doesn't want to do this maneuver, then Kirk's next likely target would be to try to take out Penumbra in a similar type attack to prevent HFH escape or her making another teammate of Vanguard disappear since his attack would have a good chance of being able to move around her portals, etc to actually hit her.
In the close quarters and with the relative darkness, Kirk is also hoping that his energy sense would give him an advantage in both finding his targets and avoiding their attacks (in the same manner of Daredevil's radar sense giving him "sight").
As always, with Kirk being the slowest, this could be moot by the time he gets to go, but he will try to be alert to try to prevent a sneak attack on his teammates and would try to manipulate his shields to protect them if he had the opportunity.
If I missed anything or you need additional clarification on anything, let me know.
I'll keep up the vigilance mentioned in my last post but, if combat inevitable or begins:
1. If at range, I'll target Penumbra with thrown chakrams.
2. If in hand-to-hand range, I'll team up with someone to attack whichever HFH villain they are attacking with the goal to take them down by the team-up. Using the club, of course.
Slingshot listens to the combat plan. He likes the jack-hammer maneuver. "Guys..", he says speaking very softly, "Did I hear correctly? Forester nabbed the paper? That sonovagun, remind me to give him a hug.
On the other hand, we can't just leave and make our way back. we will need to take them out, because Penumbra will teleport them back to Forester and he's not likely going to make it out of that. So we need to hit them hard and hit them now while they are still confused. I like that jackhammer move. I'll slingshot in take up as much space as I can without slowing myself down and Sentinel will build the wall on the far end so I'll pound them against it."
"Sentinel, put a small ledge enough have a few hand hold on the wall near the top. I'll grab onto it and lift myself out of the water. Lightning Strike, you mentioned that you can electrify the water. Give me 5 seconds to get out of the water and pour in the juice. worst case scenario, I'll be able to take the jolt. We have to beat Merc at his own game with a quick one-two. After the electricity, you can come in and help me mop up."
Sentinel will work with Slingshot per his directions.
The only suggestion would be if Strike is going to try the electrocution route it seems like that should go first since it would be one attack from a distance whereas our double-team would be two trying to take them unaware. He'd remind everyone that if the lightning strike comes second and somehow his construct sustains enough damage prior to LS moving ahead to destroy the construct, then they'd have to be sure they didn't fall into the water and sustain damage themselves.
Kirk is fine either way I was just wondering which way had a better chance of succeeding. If Strike is going to go for the electrocution route, Kirk will elevate the team on a platform-type expansion of his construct near him before manipulating it into the scene of the battle on the opposite end either way.