Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Vanguard: Issue 64: Animal Planet!

Vanguard Headquarters, the Empire State Building.

It was 3am eastern time when the world turned against the human race. The Primate was calmly repeating his message in Swahili now: “One year from now, you will all be dead. Your empty cities will be reclaimed by The Green and by the rightful masters of this world, the Animal Kingdom. We have no demands. We just wanted you to know why your civilization is being undone; why your sins have come back upon you. Today marks the end of your blight upon this world.”

Frantic, scattered reports painted a picture of ghastly terror on a scale unimaginable:
Across America, dogs were gruesomely killing their masters in their beds! Zoos around the world reported animal escapes! Ships at sea in every ocean were calling in maydays! In Congo, mountain gorillas attacked a militia camp known for poaching! In Hong Kong, rat hordes ate the flesh off pedestrian shoppers in a grotesque nightmare! Bees, long missing in America, returned in savage attacks! In Brazil, jungle wildlife entered urban Sao Paolo! In Canada, polar bears were killing oil pipeline workers! In England, cattle stampeded near a slaughterhouse, killing and injuring ranchers and slaughterers. Around the globe of planes going missing! Shark attack reports in Australia, Florida, South Africa and elsewhere! Mosquito swarms on a level never before seen plagued Latin America!Hundreds of alligators were sighted in the streets of Miami and Orlando!

Governments were grounding all commercial aircraft! Beleaguered local authorities warned people to stay indoors and lock their pets outside! The BBC resumed its broadcast: “Citizens are urged to stay off the roads! This is not a localized event! Power outages are widespread! The Prime Minister is calling for calm in what appears to be a global crisis!”

Panic seized the waking time zones of the world and would soon grip New York, Washington, Boston, Atlanta, Toronto and Montreal when dawn reached them. Director Grey was speaking with the President of the United States. Agent Drake was building lists of all known animal-like extranormals currently at large: Talon, the fierce black bird-man vigilante; Polar Bear, the Soviet super soldier and former Freedom Forcer; Viper; American Eagle, founding member of the Liberty League; the Human Centipede and on and on.

Lightning Strike said, “I will meet you all in Athens.” Then he transformed into living electricity and entered the television cabling. In time he tracked the source of Primate’s ‘broadcast’ to a program that had been inserted into the BBC’s computer system. It was a sophisticated virus that had been inserted in a hack that might have occurred merely an hour ago.Across cyberspace, Strike saw widespread power outages, server failures, cut communications. Through security cameras in Europe he saw telephone lines and power cables being systematically chewed through by local wildlife. Satellite dishes were likewise being targeted! Power fluctuations were rampant, making it hard to identify unusual sources that could be responsible for Primate’s amazing power. In time, he reported this to Vanguard and CHESS.

Sentinel quickly procured a pigeon for Symbiote and Doc Rocket. The beacon of liberty detected an unusual energy in the air. Perhaps mental energy? He reported this to his teammates and then left Vanguard HQ to help anyone in need of it. Rats and insects swarmed the streets of Manhattan. On Park Avenue, Kirk saw Sgt. Stone wrestling two lions, presumably escaped from the Central Park Zoo. Stone was grateful to see “the kid.” Birds and bats blotted out the moon. Traffic lights and street lights were out. Emergency sirens blared. Sentinel valiantly did what he could in the time he had. Stone kept on going. “Good luck, kid. And hurry!”

Symbiote and Doc Rocket had an hour to begin an analysis of Viper and the pigeon to locate how this was happening and how it could be stopped. Shelley called and said she wasn’t going to make it to the Empire State Building. Roads weren’t safe. She needed to stay put. Then her phone went out.

When Symbiote and Vanguard boarded the Manta Craft, Doc Rocket was still deep in thought in the lab. On the Manta Craft were Vanguard (save Inhuman and Lightning Strike), pilot Larry Manetti, a Hotsleep sarcophagus and a CHESS Rook medic who could operate it. Her name was Christensen.

Grey saw them off and wished them well. “You might vote on a leader on the way over,” he shouted over the engines. “Your combat maneuvers need coordination.” In his way, he was trying to help.

4am. VROOOMMM!! The manta craft took off out the side of the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. WHAM! Wham! Whamwhamwhamwhamwhamwhamwhamwhamwhamwhamwhamwhamwhamwham! Hundreds of birdstrikes. Any one of them could have disabled the craft. Sentinel’s energy shield protected them but the strikes were depleting the shields too quickly!
Manetti was flying blind! Radar was useless and his only visual was clouds of dark birds without end. “Hang on!” he yelled above the pounding. The craft lurched into a violent climb. VRRRMMMMMMMMM! Whamwhamwhamwhamwhamwhamwhamwhamwham! Sentinel reformed the shields five times. Six!

G force pressed down hard upon Vanguard as Manetti struggled to get the craft above a bird’s ability to climb. (All take 2 directly off hit points, unless you’re made of rubber) Manetti was in pain and Christensen blacked out. Manetti growled, “Raaaaaaaaagh!” Whamwhamwham… wham…… wham……

Then Silence.

Sentinel passed out (Lost all his power points except four!) Radar was back. Visuals returned. Manetti leveled out his climb and pointed east, happy to be alive.

During the crossing, Sentinel and Christensen awoke as the BBC went down. CHESS communications were spotty: Elephant massacre in India. Wolf attacks across North America. The natural world kept on having its revenge. Conservative estimates placed global casualties in the ten of thousands. There were projected shortages of rabies vaccine, animal poison antidotes, and treatments of animal-borne diseases as some mad form of biological warfare loomed. Food shortages were projected. Discussions that America’s water supply was not secure. Doc Rocket kept working.

Drake told them that Interpol had to pull its agents away from the AEGIS Spire. They were desperately needed elsewhere. Likewise, no blueprints of the AEGIS Spire, the futuristic skyscraper that defined the look of the technological, modern “New Athens.”

Kairos and others caught some sleep on the passage. Kairos dreamt of an ancient, misty twilight battle. Viper’s headaches continued but he heard no more words he could make out. Forester meditated. Symbiote recharged the Harper Harness. Slingshot considered regenerating (what raw materials would you use?) and somewhere over Greenland, Sentinel detected a rat onboard. (What is done with it?)

Europe now and Manetti kept his altitude for as long as possible. Black smoke plumes dotted the continent. What news they could raise from Europe appeared catastrophic. Panic, mayhem and looting were thrown on the fire. Putin’s Russia had gone quiet. China too. Africa and Asia were hemorrhaging. The Primate was right. It was the end of civilization. The end of the human world.
Manetti yelled back: “Athens! We’re at 25,000 feet. Got an hour of fuel left! Now what?”

To be continued!

OOC: Actions? Please tell me:
a) How do you want to enter Athens? (it is currently 8pm there)
b) How do you plan to enter the AEGIS Spire? Loud and messy? Sneaky? Together? Separately?
c) Any discussion on Grey’s point about a leader for Vanguard?
d) Anything else you want to.

Current Conditions: (everyone rested their Power Points back)

Forester: Hit Points: 16 Power Points: 69
Kairos: Hit Points: 40 Power Points: 82
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 40 Power Points: 75
Sentinel: Hit Points: 18 Power Points: 60
Slingshot: Hit Points: 43 Power Points: 90 Invulnerability: 8
Symbiote: Hit Points: 29 Power Points: 80 Charges: 14
Viper: Hit Points: 47 Power Points: 85


OOC: Jeez, did you see "The Dark Knight" Jeff? That was one of the darkest superhero stories I've ever seen, but's up there. Need to think on a couple of things, but for now here's my quick answer to two points.

1) The rat: Kill it. For all we know Primate's animal control/animal communication power may be a two-way signal, i.e., he may be able to see through it's eyes and ears and this is his means of spying on us. Eliminate the problem.

2) Leadership vote: I propose that everybody who doesn't want the job pipe up and say so. After that's determined we do a secret ballot vote to Jeff among the remaining people who do want to be leaders. A more formal process can be determined later (if there is a later for mankind), like perhaps doing this once a year a la old school "Legion of Super Heroes," but for now we can just say everybody dropped their vote on a piece of paper in a bowl and one of the CHESS techs counted the votes. At this time let me also remove myself from consideration as leader, at least for this year--too new to the game, character too inexperienced

It's amazing how getting a little lunch will clear your thinking...
No. DON'T kill the rat. Symbiote writes out his theory about it being a spy on a piece of paper. "Let's use this to our advantage," he writes.
We find a container--if the Manta Craft is large enough to have a galley, we get a piece of Tupperware or whatever and poke some air holes in it to contain the little beasty. If not...empty a tool kit, a luggage bag, something that will allow us to keep it contained and allow it to hear us but not see us.
Once we've done so, we stick it in a corner where it can hear and it becomes our means for delivering counter intel. If we go in with a full frontal assault, for example, we give a little speech within its ear shot that would seem to indicate we're sneaking in from another direction. Anything to misdirect Primate. We'll write out our real plan on note pads that we pass back and forth to each other, or use Sentinel's telepathy to communicate with each other if that's possible.


These ARE dark times. I didn't think that we'd be seeing something of these proportions.

First, I think that we should kill the rat. Not keeping him in a tupperware bowl with little cutouts so he can have air or anything. We might as well get him a little ball to roll around in or a cage with a little wheel, too. It's a rat and it's a spy. We need to get rid of it unless it's some sort of rat rebel.

A) No thoughts on how to enter Athens. I think that our objective is the AEGIS Spire. Looking at things in that manner, we approach (B)

B) Not sure of the ways of ingress but I say we go in hard and fast and keep going until we find the Primate (if he's here). We are known to be here and I don't think that anyone but Lightning Strike could get in undetected at this point.

C) Not sure on the leader thing. Everyone is pretty free-willed. I know that I wouldn't be all that keen on taking orders that I didn't think made sense.

D) Some random thoughts...I wonder if, between Symbiote's skills and Int, Sentinel's telepathy, and the Hotspleep bed, we could figure out a way for Sentinel to use his telepathy (possibly boosted by the bed) to stop the animals? Maybe Strike could supercharge the bed?I wonder if my dreams could be accessed through the bed?


Forester agrees with Kairos' plan to go to the AEGIS Spire, and with the decision to kill the rat. (He'll spare everyone the minus-one, plus-two, plus-zero math he went through when determining if this was the best decision).

To the rest of the group Forester says, "Grey's been aching for us to get a leader for weeks now. He's been in this business a while now; maybe he has a point."

"Kairos, Sentinel, Symbiote, Strike ... if you want the job, I won't put up a fight."

"Oh, that goes for you guys too," Forester adds, turning toward Viper and Slingshot.


Wow. What happened to our 'silver age' feel??? Talk about death and destruction. Yes, it’s much worse much quicker than I thought too.

Let's get some more info on the rat (if possible) to decide:

(1) for the rat's energy reading - does it seem like a 'normal' rat or something more
(2) energy surrounding/flowing to the rat --- nothing, or more of that 'mental' energy noted earlier; does it seem more concentrated towards the rat
(3) now that I'm isolated from animals in general and have one specific entity, if the energy is flowing towards it, anything more I can learn about the pattern and how it interacts - is the energy focusing in the being as a whole? is it focusing in on a central part of the rat's brain? how does this compare to what I see around Viper? Do I see/feel this energy cascading or focusing on myself any more than on the other heroes (ie anything here to point to that I had problems in the Hot Sleep?)
(4) and yes, the moment, we've all been waiting for - if Kirk tries a 'mind read' of the surface thoughts of the creature, does he get anything? anything intelligent here? does he pick up Primate's thoughts focusing through the rat?

I'm assuming since this is 'inter-issue' stuff we can get some info on this to further base our decision.

And Kirk can't help but thinking is our initial thoughts to just kill the rat exactly the sort of lack of respect for other forms of life that caused Primate's rampage to begin with???

During the crossing, Sentinel and Christensen awoke as the BBC went down.

Kirk awoke glad to be alive. He felt a bit of embarrassment in having lost consciousness, but then thought about the ferocity of the pounding he’d taken (they’d taken) and how he gave all he had of himself without holding back and realized he had nothing to be ashamed about.

In thinking about that attack, Kirk’s anger at the Primate grew! What a hypocrite! All for ‘The Green’ and the animal kingdom… what a farce! How much choice did these animals have in their actions? One of the driving forces of the animal kingdom is the preservation of life; he wondered how these birds, normally creatures of peace, felt as their lives were sacrificed as living weapons. Did they have a choice in the matter? Were they dignified by the Primate in being given the choice in their actions? And what about all the animals that lived in harmony with man, who were now attacking those that loved them and cared for their needs? Would Fido who would leap to protect his home and family from any invader now turn on them willingly? Kirk refused to believe that was so. No, this Primate was nothing more than a self-glorified Dictator that seized power by force and threat. (and so thought Kirk, like all such self-serving creatures, he had planted the seeds of his own defeat).

Kirk forced himself to his feet and went over to offer Christensen a helping hand. “Not too much turbulence in our ascent!” he said sarcastically to cut the tension of what just occurred and put her more at ease, “I’m Kirk.”

Kirk would engage in some small talk with Christensen both to put her at ease with their situation and also to find out a bit more about her knowledge and background with the Hotsleep and with the sarcophagus on board. Kirk still felt it held more of a clue to what was going on than his test with it would have them believe.

How long has she been involved with the project? How experienced with the tech? If she’s been working with it for some time has she noticed anything that seemed different or off in recent times? Any glitches or readings or anything out of the ordinary that seemed suspicious and was perhaps overlooked or glossed over by higher-ups?

Kirk moved towards the pilot area and Larry Manetti. His respect for the skill and courage of the man grew with each mission. He thought about how when his own power failed them, Manetti’s determination saved them. Lancaster’s words about the true mettle of hero coming from his heart rang in his mind. “Thanks for the save, Larry,” he said with all sincerity, “you saved us all.”

‘Nerves of steel’ he thought to himself, and then looking out at the horizon which seemed to beam back in an emerald green hue to his eager eyes, ‘Pilot’ thought Kirk, it somehow felt ‘apropos’ to him, and he added to Manetti, “I’m going to have to bribe you into letting me log some training time with you after all this is done.”

Grey saw them off and wished them well. “You might vote on a leader on the way over,” he shouted over the engines. “Your combat maneuvers need coordination.” In his way, he was trying to help.
Kirk thought about Grey’s words again; it wasn’t the first time Grey had tried to get Kirk to think about it. With Grey’s background and training he could see why Grey felt it necessary to have a ‘team leader.’ But was it really? At this point, wouldn’t it just be a formality or adhering to a set of protocols that Vanguard never really agreed to follow?

Look at the facts; they were all equally ‘wet behind the ears’ when it came to actual field experience. They hadn’t had time to develop combat maneuvers together and practice them so if anyone was leader his battle plan would be only his opinion – what made his reasoning better than that of the others at this junction in time.

And looking at the personalities of all of Vanguard, would any of us truly be willing to follow another’s lead if our gut told us it was the wrong call? It’s too soon for any of us to have earned that much trust and respect from the others.

In times of crisis, whenever it’s really counted, we have come together and worked in harmony as a team, so why endanger that by putting a chain of command in place that some might immediately resent?

True leaders of men emerge by action. The best ones arise to fill a void when it’s needed because circumstance places them in that role and others insist on their presence in it. If and when Vanguard needs a leader, that hero will already be acting as such, and it will simply be the appropriate time for everyone else to acknowledge it.

Flashback (subject to GM allowance, of course)

Setting: New York City, the rooftop of the Liberty League’s headquarters (early 1940’s)

He stood on the roof under the clear night sky overlooking the ocean they’d be traveling tomorrow and contemplating.

Miles Hudson emerged from the roof stairway carrying a flask of scotch and two glasses, “We’re shipping out tomorrow on our biggest mission ever and you leave the party early to play ‘night owl’ on the roof? What’s your problem tonight Lancaster? If you were taking off I’d at least think you were going to meet Katie …”

“I am going to meet Katie,” and as he said it a happy smile crossed his lips, one that would have been imperceptible to anyone other than Agent America, both because he paid attention to all the little details that everyone else overlooked, and because he knew the moods of this man better than anyone else did, “you think I’d miss what could be our last night together? Sometimes a man just needs a moment to contemplate his thoughts...? His voice trailed, “and what about you, I thought you’d have two beauties, one on each arm, by this time of the night.”

Miles laughed, “They’re waiting downstairs; told them I had some important business to attend to up here first, that I had to save the world,” and he added switching topics back, “Katie, she’s something special to you, isn’t she?”

Lancaster paused a second and perhaps admitting it to himself for the first time at the prompting of his friend said, “I think she may be the real deal, Miles.”

“Then, my friend Lancaster, you’re a very lucky man,” he said with a very serious tone, and he added with jovial voice and a mischievous smile pointing downstairs with two fingers, “but I be twice as lucky as you tonight.”

His voice got serious again continuing, “but you’re not up here thinking about Katie, you’ve got something else on your mind, so have a drink,” he said handing him one of the two glasses of scotch he poured, “and let’s get to it.”

Trying to avoid the true topic at hand Lancaster took the glass and drank and said to his friend jokingly, “now what would the kids of America be thinking if they saw us here right now doing this knowing what we’ll be doing tomorrow?”

“God willing, the kids of America will never have to think about what we’re doing tomorrow, but I know the young men of America who’ll be right there with us would raise their own glasses in salute, and Miles raised his glass and said, “To Victory.”

“To Freedom,” Lancaster added, and they drank.

“Now can we cut to the chase,” Miles said, “you ready to talk about what’s really on your mind?”

Lancaster looked at this friend and replied, “It’s just not right! You should be leader; you’re the leader of men.”

Miles replied, “As long as you know it, that’s good enough for me,” he said with a smile, “You’re right, it should be me, and in another time and another place it would be. And if this was just about America, I’d argue and fight and it would be my time,” and he had a fire in his eyes, a blaze that nothing could extinguish, “and my time will come, but in the here and now, this is bigger than you or me, it’s bigger than America herself. The Liberty League needs to be at the forefront of this movement, and while America and her troops are right there with her, we need to send a signal that this is more than just America fighting the good fight, this is an allied effort; this is the world taking a stand. Our troops would rally around me in a second, but all the troops will rally around you. They already have.”

Miles still saw the look in his friend’s eyes and continued, “You going to make me say it, you bastard! I may be the leader of men, but you’re their freaking inspiration! You make them aspire to more than they are… and your presence makes it possible,” and he added with that mischievous smile, “and I’ll never say that again, so bask in it while you can.”

“You’re my best friend; you know that Miles, don’t you?” Lancaster replied.

“Yes, I do. Lancaster, yes I do, and you’re mine too.”

“That’s why right now you’re going to give up the false assumption that this is somehow wounding my pride, and that’s why tomorrow I’m going to do what I’ve always done and lead men to victory. And you’re going to rise into the sky as the leader of the Liberty League and I’m going to point to you and you’re going to bring out the best in all of us, myself included, like you’ve always done… and freedom will prevail!”

Miles continued, “If it isn’t going to be me, then there’s no one else I would accept in the role; now get your ass of this roof and fly off to Katie,” with a wink Mile said, “before I take your place.”

Lancaster smiled at Miles as he took to the sky and waved back as his thoughts turned to Katie. Miles waved at his best friend thinking how the war brought bonds to people that they might never experience otherwise. He thought of how pure of heart Lancaster actually was; and as he did that he darted down the steps producing a couple fresh glasses from his overcoat seemingly from nowhere to compliment the bottle of scotch, “Oh girls,” his voice trailed, “I’m done saving the world yet again for this night…”

(Hey Jeff, hope this flashback doesn’t interfere with anything you’ve had in mind and can be cannon. It motivated some of what made Kirk’s reply regarding ‘leader’ and as it wrote itself, it added some great history between Lancaster and Miles that we’d never discussed but makes sense and makes everything Swastika did that much more horrific. It makes me hate Swastika even more and bring Miles to life.

And I’d add that if we ever get to have a ‘final’ Swastika story, we’d have to definitely tie Lancaster and Miles into it; in fact, as much as we’d normally hate for NPCs to take out the villain, this almost makes it a necessity.

Actually, you’ve already told us that history for the ‘universe’ has been altered; I’d like to think that if that ever gets resolved, in the process, Swastika’s years of control and destruction of Miles/Agent America life gets fixed, and that he’s part of the heroes training the new Vanguard along with Sgt Stone and Doc Rocket; of course, you know I’m always a sucker for the happy ending.


GM Replies:
Kairos wrote: I wonder if, between Symbiote's skills and Int, Sentinel's telepathy, and the Hotspleep bed, we could figure out a way for Sentinel to use his telepathy (possibly boosted by the bed) to stop the animals? Maybe Strike could supercharge the bed?

GM Reply: As stated in the instant classic Issue 63: “Hotsleep was a process of placing a subject to sleep indefinitely. Sentinel had no contact with any other Hotsleeped prisoner… A Hotsleeped prisoner was left alone with his mind for the duration of his sentence.”Hotsleep is a suspended animation system without cryogenics. There are no telepathic amplifiers.

Kairos wrote: I wonder if my dreams could be accessed through the bed?

GM Reply: Probably. Please let me know if Kairos wants to try something. Thanks.

Sentinel wrote: (1) for the rat's energy reading - does it seem like a 'normal' rat or something more

GM Reply: It’s a normal rat. Likely a resident of the Empire State Building.

Sentinel wrote: (2) energy surrounding/flowing to the rat --- nothing, or more of that 'mental' energy noted earlier;

GM Reply: Correct.

Sentinel wrote: does it seem more concentrated towards the rat

GM Reply: No.

Sentinel wrote:(3) now that I'm isolated from animals in general and have one specific entity, if the energy is flowing towards it, anything more I can learn about the pattern and how it interacts - is the energy focusing in the being as a whole?

GM Reply:Yes. The energy is in the air and washing over the rat as it is over all of you.

Sentinel wrote: (4) and yes, the moment, we've all been waiting for - if Kirk tries a 'mind read' of the surface thoughts of the creature, does he get anything? anything intelligent here? does he pick up Primate's thoughts focusing through the rat?

GM Reply: There is something there! And ordinary animal would not “read.” But there is something more there. It is not intelligible, nor does Sentinel “see” an image of the Primate or of anything. But he senses communication of some kind is taking place!

Re: Flashback: Great stuff! I loved the characterization of the differences between the two Leaguers’ personalities and motivations. Monogamy vs. playing the field. ‘Victory’ (or winning) vs. ‘Freedom.’ And “as long as you know it, that’s good enough for me.” Where’s your Golden Age game, Seth?

Re: San Diego: It was great, and packed. They sold out every day. Was attending for work, but it was plenty of fun, of course.
It was similar to Chicago Comicon, but bigger and with a larger movie studio presence.
Lots of Dark Knight presence.
(Who else saw the movie and what did you think? I liked it mostly for Ledger’s performance. When he wasn’t on the screen, I was thinking: Where’s the Joker? I wonder what he’s doing right now.)
Watchmen had a big presence too, including a life size Nite Owl ship. Did you see the new Watchmen trailer they released to the internet last week? Looks like they used the comic panels as the movie’s storyboards.
I saw Gene Colan and weirdly enough, the Greatest American Hero guy with Robert Culp. Also Syler from Heroes who will play the young Spock in the new movie.
Have you gone to the new New York Comicon at the Javits? You and Tony should go next year.


Thanks for the nice comments. I really enjoyed the scene and its flow as it came to me.
GM Reply: As stated in the instant classic Issue 63: “Hotsleep was a process of placing a subject to sleep indefinitely. Sentinel had no contact with any other Hotsleeped prisoner… A Hotsleeped prisoner was left alone with his mind for the duration of his sentence.”Hotsleep is a suspended animation system without cryogenics. There are no telepathic amplifiers.

If there was some exchange on this, Kirk would humbly reply that he would help anyway that he could, but that he felt Kairos was giving his current telepathic skills too much credit and that he was at the most basic stages of mastering the abilities involved. He might compare it to a little leaguer being asked to bat in the majors. You'd be rooting for him, but his chances of actually getting a hit would be nil. He'd remind them, his current ability only allowed him to pick up surface thoughts of a being that he directly concentrated on; no direct communication, no overpowering the thoughts of the being; no attack, etc.

Kirk would relay the information about the rat to his teammates and the concern about 'something more being there', but that it didn't seem like a direct contact of the Primate. He would however go more along with Symbiote's plan (even if he felt the info might not be overheard by the Primate) just for the reason that there was little reason to feed into the Primate's feelings of the lack or respect for the lives of the animal kingdom, even that of a lowly rat.

On the attack on the facility. Although Kirk wouldn't belabor it, he would still think if they could employ some strategy as opposed to an outright attack, it would be prudent. We could certainly hope that with the power Primate would be extending to have the animal kingdom do all this, he would be overextended and perhaps not as aware of other things as he'd like to be.

He'd comment along the lines of, even if you know a storm is coming and prepare for it, if the storm changes pattern at the last moment and its approach is unexpected, it can cause much more damage. Or, you might know a hurricane is coming, but its impossible to fend off because you never know exactly where it will strike until it does.

With this in mind, perhaps we can approach and enter in a more unexpected way. An underground approach? (perhaps some sewer lines or the like in the area, maybe we have some specs on those?) Or rather than an overt approach from the sky, perhaps traveling just above the ground where we might avoid radar contact before making our presence known? Is there an approachable area blocked by natural camouflage where we can get closer before they know it?
If we arrive during the night, perhaps we can 'stage' a direct approach and draw their focus, while the balance of the team approaches from the opposite angle gaining admission to the castle with less opposition and effort. If during the night, Kirk could come from the sky using his creation to create a 'faux' direct attack including faux teammates. He could create the appearance of the team attacking from the sky using small tethers to extend his creation. He would come from the sky and put on a show of attack drawing the attention of the defenses. We'd have Kirk evade as he approached and hopefully he could spend some time pulling off the charade in the darkness before they realize what's happening without actually taking damage. Again, it would likely need to be darkness for any chance of pulling this off, but its just a suggestion.

On the re-entry: It doesn't sound like we've discussed options regarding this and from our ascent, we'll need to be prepared for another vicious attack on the decent. Unless someone has another suggestion, Kirk would be willing to coordinate using his shields once again to get them down safely. He'd suggest that they try to plan the course of descent as quickly as possible and that the reenter as close to the Castle as they thought prudent without giving away that they were there - they could complete the balance of the journey closer to the ground. He'd also point in time that if there descent was like their ascent, he would need about an hour to regenerate at rest before their approach to the Castle if he was going to be of any use to their effort.



My reasons for wanting to spare the rat...

Much like Sentinel, I want to redirect and keep Primate and his Zoo Crew off guard. My suggested plan: As I say, we keep the little vermin in some container with air holes so he can hear us but not see us. One of us then speaks to the pilot, who tells us something to the effect of "We're having engine trouble. Don't think we'll be able to make it all the way. Interpol has a secret base in (fill in the blank, some plausible country on our flight path), we'll have to put down there. Probably take about an hour."

So Primate won't be expecting us as soon as we're going to arrive. Assuming the jet has a skydiving hatch or some means to leave it while still in flight, Sentinel then creates a force bubble and we float down over Athens, hopefully avoiding a repeat of the bird bombing we went through in New York. The jet crew finds some remote area to (hopefully discreetly) put down. Should be comparitively easy if the jet has VTOL capabilities.

So, we're near the Spire...and Lightning Strike meets us. I absorb his powers and we both attempt to enter the Spire through the wiring. If this is possibe our priorities are a) find the device that is amplifying Primate's power, assuming it is a device, b) find and free Inhuman, assuming he's being held within and then c) radio the outside team with one simple message--go. They attack frontally. While the Avaricious Animals respond to this, Lightning Strike, myself and hopefully Inhuman hit 'em from behind.

As I said an issue or two ago, "a plan is just a list of things to go wrong." Discuss, debate, modify and if we elect a leader I'll go by his plan. As for the rat? Worst case scenario, we might end up doing some bad audio theater for a stupid rat. But this might give us a slight tactical advantage, and right now we need every advantage we can get.


I'd be fine with most of this if everyone wanted to go this way, only two concerns:

(1) I don't think we've any means of communicating with Lightning Strike at this time (although I could be wrong)

(2) What basis do we have for thinking the jet will make it down safely once we left? The birds were all over the jet until we got into the upper atmosphere where they couldn't fly - I think we have to assume the same will happen in the descent (unless I'm missing something, which is entirely possible). All flights have been grounded by the governments due to similar attacks taking place worldwide and all the downed aircraft. I think we need to insure the landing of our jet and/or at least the safety of the Chess agents with us.


In reverse order...

Safety of the plane: Since Primate will (hopefully) be expecting us an hour later than we'll actually be there and since the plane won't be landing at an airport, I'm hoping the Manta Craft will be safe enough. He won't have the birds ready or know where to concentrate them.

Communicating with Lightning Strike: Umm...I dunno. In the now-classic issue 64, Jeff wrote "Across cyberspace, Strike saw massive power time, he reported this to Vanguard and Chess." I've been assuming we're in contact with 'Strike I wrong, Tony or Jeff? If we can talk to him, somebody will need to step into the bathroom (out of earshot of the rat) to radio him about our actual arrival time, as opposed to the disinformation we're feeding the rat.


GM Reply:
It was a one-way communication: Strike sent an email.


Hmmm...then I guess we reply to the e-mail and hope that wherever he is, whatever form he's in, he gets it.

Further thoughts on the plane: Assuming we have enough fuel, I suppose they could circle the city until the assault on Primate begins. If we take him and/or his equipment down there'll be no problems, or even if we keep the big ape distracted long enough that he won't be able to muster the birds. If we end up captured or killed...well, the world's probably more or less done for anyway. The plane's crew is pretty much screwed any way they go at that point, though I suppose they could ditch over the ocean near a shore somewhere and hope for the best. If the situation at the Spire is something we're totally not anticipating--nobody's even there, the satellite reading was an anomaly of some sort, whatever--I guess Sentinel could fly back up to provide shielding for them to land. If Sentinel will allow it I could copy his powers, go with him and provide double the shields so that we can be sure the plane lands safely.


Hey all!
Viper enjoyed the roller coaster ride. He wooped and hollared at ever turbulent throw. When Mannetti gets the craft under control,
Vipe reaches beneath his seat and pulls a B16 (*coughs* circus talk for a 16 oz Budweiser) out of a duffle bag.

"Hey Mannetti! Nice drivin'! But just to let you know the beverage cart is coming down the aisle, steady as she goes, aight? I'd hate to spill my brew."

During the What do we do now? discussion, Viper says....

"I say we head through the front door, take this ape down then finish my goodie bag here! Unless someone has a better idea."

Viper rubs his head.

"Anyone have an aspirin? Or a shot of Jack Daniels? Either will get rid of my headache, but the Jack is much smoother on the tongue!"

Don aka Vipe


Kairos will go along with the majority on the killing or not killing of the rat and will hold his opinion on the plan of outsmarting a super-intelligent super-powered evolved ape by putting a rodent in a box with holes and talking in its presence.

As for the assault? It's an inevitability. No one is proposing a walk in the front door but a high-speed insertion from a supersonic plane with all of us in a Sentinel-bubble (possibly cushioned by a Slingshot-pillow), crashing into a weak area (so Kirk doesn't sustain much of in terms of PR loss) and then surging in offers a good chance of success in a quick confrontation with the Primate.

With all of the animals around reporting back to him, I don't think that surprise is a big option here. Also, waiting to go in after dark is not to our best advantage. I don't think that ANY of us has low-light vision and almost EVERY denizen of the animal world has us at an advantage in darkness or shadow. I think that audacity and directness of action is our best option.I

t's also my belief, and it will be one to which I give voice, that the fighting of foes one-on-one is a good way for us to lose this one. Almost every one of these "animal-supers" has multiple heightened ability scores and is probably as tough or tougher than most of us individually. I think judicious use of double and triple-teaming (or quandruple or whatever) tactics on these guys is in order. I also think that Forester's special arrows might give us some advantage here with all of the varied effects. We need to work the "divide and conquer" angle in fights and take down foes that way. It seems like we divide ourselves up more than anything when we should be taking the initiative and dictating the terms of the fight to our enemies rather than REacting to them.

PS: A question that I can't believe hasn't been asked yet...Where is the "throne room" of the Spire? I am assuming that there is some area in the place that is/was the "nerve center" of the place. I would assume that it would probably be high up since "the Spire" implies height (as opposed to a place called "the Dungeon", which would most likely have such an area on the lowest level). We should take whatever the most direct path to this area would be.


[ooc]Again, I arrive late. I apologize for that. I was hoping that I would be able to get some time, but my manager is on vacation and one of my lead guys on the data center side is also. That leaves me with a boatload of fires to put out. I know it's just excuses, but I find myself with little time these days[/ooc]

1) How do we approach Athens? We need to approach by some obfuscated way. We already know that the MantaCraft and Sentinel shielding it won't be able to take that descent. Does the MantaCraft have a submersible capacity? What if we try and reach Athens by going under and staying on top alternatively of water. I'm assuming we'll have something close to the attacks from the sharks underwater and birds above, but if we duck under and stay above and time it right, we should be able to dodge a lot of damage. Assuming they are sharks, if we do this right, they should feed on the birds that will have hit water/ship and died and leave us alone.

2) How do we approach the Spire? Fast and hard. I would like to have the Chess techies on hand to look specifically for any emissions. I would like to see if there is a chance that we could hamper their broadcast by singling out an antennae. I would suggest myself as a suicide mission of slingshoting from the craft to bodily hit the antenna to break it, if Sentinel can't do it from afar.

Do we have any information on the Spire itself? doorways entrances. I'm sure there are some hidden entrances, but I don't think we have the intel to figure it out (or do we?). What about sewers? I know that sewers is asking for a lot of animal trouble, but maybe Primate voided all the sewers to hit the above ground dwellers. I would certainly like to try. I'm just not sure that a kamikaze flight attack on the Spire is the way to go. We were nicely foretold about how well we'll do. If it looks like the ship is taking too much of a toll or Sentinel is, I'll command the pilot to go to ground early and we will take an alternate route (sewers if no-one has any better suggestions).

3) Leader? I would have to say that Sentinel is as close to a leader as we have right now.

4) Anything else? I need my mommy. I mean, I'm a tough Motha. General actions if any, I fully intend on using my girth and abilities to protect the others or the ship as much as possible. I will try and regenerate my hit points. I'm going to assume that my chair is made out of rubber/plastics. I will slowly absorb it to regenerate hitpoints. I'll assume that my strenght (holding onto the metallic remnants of the chair) and my inherent invulnerability will shield me from any issues.I have this feeling that the ship won't last long.


One more if/then, just to cover all the bases. Last one from me, I promise. Probably.

If Lightning Strike isn't there to meet us when we land to start the assault (didn't get the e-mail or whatever), I will copy Viper's powers (just for the variety), assuming he has no objections. If the Serpentine Superhero would prefer I didn't, for whatever reason, I'll go with Slingshot.


GM Replies:
Slingshot regenerates on the flight, absorbing a jet chair into his body to do so! His physiology is clearly no longer anything remotely resembling human.

The rat vote, amongst those casting ballots:
Kill rat: 2
Keep rat alive for misinformation: 2

Hm. Here’s my interpretation: Symbiote and Sentinel perform a radioplay of misdirection. Then Kairos and Forester kill the rat.

The vote for leader, amongst those casting ballots for one choice ( I received one secret ballot):
Sentinel: 2
Vanguard doesn’t need a leader: 1

When Sentinel talks to Christensen about the Hotsleep program, he senses reticence on her part to go into details of the history of the program.

Re: a map of the AEGIS Spire:
In the not-so-classic, apparent denizen of the 25 cent box, aka Issue 64, I said:
Drake told them that Interpol had to pull its agents away from the AEGIS Spire. They were desperately needed elsewhere. Likewise, no blueprints of the AEGIS Spire, the futuristic skyscraper that defined the look of the technological, modern “New Athens.”


Lightning Strike:
As for who should be the leader of Vanguard, LS has no opinion.
"Leadership is a both a blessing and a curse and he/she who leads individuals with as much power as we have needs to be extremely gifted."

Since I am already in Athens, LS will attempt to enter the AEGIS electrical system and gather as much intelligence as possible before either meeting the group for a concerted attack or conducting a surgical strike on his own.

Strike's theory is that these attacks must be being controlled from a central point and it must take a huge amount of power to control all animals in the world. Strike will continue to probe for this power anomaly and seek the source.


OOC: Re: Hotsleep:
Very interesting. And further evidence that there is more here than we know about ... and that there is a cover up of sorts going on - aside from her hesitancy about the Hotsleep, do they talk it up so that she becomes more than a 'red shirt' at this point, or is she overall distant and unfriendly. Thanks.