Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vanguard: Issue 76: The Lair of the Primate!

AEGIS’s Phaeton One, Over Africa.

Midnight cloaked the viridian jungles of Africa.

Oracle skillfully piloted the craft for the 16 hour journey. She had been momentarily affected at the sight of AEGIS reborn.

Symbiote said to the CHESS Rook: "I know you're worried, Agent Christiansen. But there's something that's bothered me about this entire situation since it started. Maybe you can help me with it."
"According to Professor Prometheus' notes, Simon Simian had superhuman intelligence, yes...but that was it. Nothing else. No animal control abilities at the time of his capture, at least, and no psionic abilities of any kind. No long range telepathy.
"Yet he had Pachyderm and at least four or five other animal-powered metahumans ready to enact his escape plan. He had that airship coordinated, ready for pickup. And within a day he had this entire broadcast system, ready to contact and control every animal on the planet," Hal says.
Hal finished with a hard gaze. "If you don't know the answers, if it's above your pay grade and you were never told, so be it," he concludes. "But for the sake of our families--yours, mine, everybodies--if you know something, tell us."

Christiansen was silent for a moment and then said quietly. “It’s an experimental program. It’s possible that the Primate had telepathy when he entered Hotsleep, and AEGIS never knew about it… and it’s possible that… he developed telepathy inside the system.” She swallowed hard.
“On rare occasions, Hotsleep subjects would produce brain scan readings that indicated they were conscious and aware.”

This fit with Sentinel’s brief experience in Hotsleep. He had been mentally “awake” and aware.

Christiansen looked at the floor. “The science team wondered what that would do to a subject, being left to their own thoughts for years on end. But we had no proof. So Maas Biolabs wouldn’t listen. They couldn’t afford for there to be a problem with their Hotsleep system. It would have cost them their government contracts. They would have gone bankrupt. And from the Castle’s perspective, there was no alternative program for containing hostile Level 5 extranormals. So the anomalous readings were ignored.” She began sobbing. “…We had no idea it could lead to this.”

Sentinel’s telepathic scan of her thoughts indicated that she believed she was telling the truth.
(OOC: Replies if any?)

From the air, through night vision binoculars, Vanguard spied herds of elephants and giraffes. Later they saw poacher camps that had been overrun by what had once been their prey. Vanguard also saw the battlefields of the devastating Congo Wars, silent at last.
Peace had finally come to Africa.

The Phaeton One lowered altitude to fly under the radar for the approach to the Primate’s Volcanic Island and birds rose up to meet it. Sentinel activated Doc Rocket’s Transmission Disruptor and the birds returned to normal behavior! The range of the disrupter (100 meter diameter) could be clearly detected by animal behavior on the edge of the range!
But the device also disrupted electronic communications!

On the flyover, the island was thickly forested and appeared completely natural. All the structures revealed by Interpol’s sat intelligence were apparently underground. Only the docks (at 13) betrayed the presence of intelligent life. Gorillas were visible on the jungle slopes of the island. Crocodiles floated on the banks.
From the jet, Sentinel and Lightning Strike detected no energy readings except the heat from the volcano. Either the rest of the island was shielded or shut down.
The only communication transmission of any kind emerged from the mouth of the volcano.
There were no power cables entering or leaving the island. Nor were there transmission receivers for Lightning Strike to “ride” in on. He would have to get closer before entering their systems!

They also detected an entrance near map area 5. (The yellow circle shown on the upper level map, roughly equidistant to 4, 5 and 6) It was closer to the geothermal power source of the volcano mouth, and theoretically the transmission source, so Vanguard would invade there rather than the docks.

Oracle would keep the Phaeton One nearby during the invasion. “Be careful,” the psychic warned.
Sentinel flew and Slingshot and Symbiote-Slingshot morph-parachuted down from the hovering craft, carrying the rest of Vanguard. Mountain gorillas growled and advanced threateningly at Vanguard’s coming, but as the disruptor’s range met them, their behavior reverted to normal, and they retreated to the protective cover of the rainforest canopy.

The air was hot and humid. Hidden in the dense foliage near the island’s pinnacle, they found a steel hatch in the ground. With a wave of his arm, Strike opened the hatch for the others. It revealed a technologically advanced elevator shaft of sorts. A 10’ x 10’ platform could bring people out of the complex to the surface.
But the shaft was dark and powerless. Sentinel turned off Doc’s Transmission Disruptor for a few seconds and Strike transformed into living electricity and entered into the base’s systems to scout.

Something was not right. The cyberspace-faring superhero found all the systems within his range shut down. Powerless. The systems were also somehow isolated from one another. There wasn’t enough here to represent the facility. He sensed a geothermal power station, and a missile launch system but could not place their positions in real space. There were no security cameras operating. The layout felt all wrong. The electric avenger remembered that the Ani-Men exhibited intimate knowledge of Vanguard’s abilities. Lightning Strike got out. (OOC: Strike successfully detected danger.)

Strike withdrew back to the physical world, reformed his body and reported his findings to the team.

The volcanic island was as dark, silent and primeval as it was before Man walked the earth.

OOC: Actions?

Current Conditions:
Forester: Hit Points: 13 Power Points: 69
Kairos: Hit Points: 21 Power Points: 82
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 11 Power Points: 63
Sentinel: Hit Points: 13 Power Points: 52 Shields: 100
Slingshot: Hit Points: 40* Power Points: 90 Invulnerability: 8
Symbiote-Slingy: Hit Points: 88* Power Points: 110 Invulnerability: 8 Charges: 12

*In archiving the new site, I discovered these guys took heat damage in the prison break fight, and in the ‘Symbiote Smash’ fight, that can’t be healed via regeneration due to Slingshot’s weakness.


Slingshot responded to Strike's impressions and report of his electronic scouting. "I think you're right. They know our powers and abilities and are prepared for us. We will have to be conscious of our actions and what our primate adversary has prepared for us. Right now, we have a complex that seems technologically dead. We have to be prepared for anything. I'm assuming that we will be in the dark down there. Sentinel, can you provide us with lighting with your constructs?"

[ooc GM question: I'm assuming that the island's diagram is accurate. Which elevator shaft are we at? Are the docks also available to us? Obviously, I'm looking for alternate entrances into the complex.[/ooc]

Since I'm elastic and durable, I propose going down first. You guys can use me to slide all the way down, assuming it's not deep enough that I can't reach it. I'm expecting to need lighting and I was hoping to have a small construct (a hat or something) with me to look around me as I'm going down. I recall Sentinel's constructs emitted light, right?


Forester meditated twice during the 16-hour trip: once at the beginning and again at the end. If memory served him correct, this would protect him from telepathic scans.

In case Sentinel needs to telepathically reach him on this mission or in the future, Forester instructs his charismatic cohort to project the image of a pyramid in his mind. Forester will recognize the symbol as Sentinel and let his teammate's thoughts enter.

During the trip, Forester asks Christiansen about her comment about Level 5 extra-normals. How were the levels determined? Was it an exact science? Where would the members of Vanguard fall?

"As for me," Forester said, "I'm an eleven."

As much as possible, Forester will stay camouflaged as the heroes move forward on the ground. In spite of the dangers ahead, the arboreal island made him feel at home.

He was very happy to have a back-up quiver with arrows. If the jungles get too dark for him to see, he will use a Flare Arrow as a flashlight. He readies a Scented Arrow to distract any animals that might attack.


GM Replies:

To Slingshot:
Stephane’s construction experience helped decipher the satellite imagery. He believes he identified several elevator shafts. They are marked on your map as solid yellow circles. Vanguard is currently at the shaft that is directly southwest of room 5, and roughly equidistant to areas 4, 5 and 6. (The top of the map is north). Slingshot believes it is the only elevator shaft that leads to the island’s surface.

The docks are an option for entry. They were visible from the flyover.
The lower level of room 1 looks possible too, according to the map, but was not visible from the air.
Vanguard elected the elevator entrance near room 5 because they requested an entrance near the power source (the volcano mouth) or the transmission source (seemingly the volcano mouth as well).
But this was before Strike’s scouting of course.

Sentinel’s constructs can emit a glow if he desires.

To Forester:
After regaining her composure, Christiansen answered Forester’s query. “The level ranking system refers literally to the levels of CHESS Castle. The more challenging an extranormal’s powers are to contain or neutralize, the lower in the Castle they are held. Extranormal prisoners are regularly evaluated, and re-ranked according to good behavior, bad behavior, greater understanding of their abilities, etc.
“I do not know where Vanguard would rank.”

To Everyone:
Most of Vanguard have never seen Forester in a natural setting. He blends in well to the surrounding foliage, and at times you lose track of his position.


‘In case Sentinel needs to telepathically reach him on this mission or in the future, Forester instructs his charismatic cohort to project the image of a pyramid in his mind. Forester will recognize the symbol as Sentinel and let his teammate's thoughts enter.’

“Will do. However, my current telepathic skills are limited to ‘hearing’ the surface thoughts of individuals. It is true that prior to beginning training in the disciplines I was able to initiate contact on a certain level with one being, but that may have been due to the recipient as much as due to my latent ability. I guess what I’m saying here is unless we have extraordinary circumstances or some sort, I don’t think it possible I’d be able to contact you in that manner.

I do think your caution is warranted. As the two members of Vanguard that are more in synch with the world around us, we need to run interference for the others and be even more alert to the possibility of Primate making things seem other than what they are.”

Slingshot said: “Since I'm elastic and durable, I propose going down first. You guys can use me to slide all the way down, assuming it's not deep enough that I can't reach it. I'm expecting to need lighting and I was hoping to have a small construct (a hat or something) with me to look around me as I'm going down. I recall Sentinel's constructs emitted light, right?”

“That’s right.” Kirk was about to follow Slingshot’s lead when it hit him.

Perhaps it was the fact that he hadn’t had proper rest in days … or Doc Rocket’s tongue lashing and the lack of chance to reassure him … or that damnable stimshot (why did it bother Kirk so, why did it feel so unnatural for him, as if he should be drawing his strength from elsewhere?) … or perhaps it was just his own personal ‘detect danger’, his experience from super human lore that he knew as no one else did … but explosively Kirk shifted gears.

“This is bullcrap! Either Primate was a step ahead of us again and knew we were coming here now or he had this set up in the event his base was found. Either way, Strike’s infiltration attempt likely alerted him to our presence… and either way I’m sick and tired of being the ‘animal in the maze’. From the beginning Primate has always been a step ahead of us, leading us along his chosen path, and now he’s leading us into an actual physical maze with the elevators and underground layout of his base.

Well, I for one say NO MORE! He doesn’t get to define the parameters of this final battle; I say we take that power from him. He’d just love for us to follow this path downward into his lair in the darkness with who knows what other traps and dangers perfectly laid out for us … or he’d like us to enter through his other defined entrance, the docks. I say we take neither!

Here’s what I suggest, we can scout out the volcano itself. If it’s powering the base as we’ve deduced, then there has to be machinery to feed off it and maintenance areas and tunnels to funnel that energy into the base and service the mechanisms. We can see if we can locate those and between my energy sense and that of Strike we can determine if that provides a more prudent and safe entry point into his lair… and if not, we might be able to truly disrupt the energy supply of the base.”

“Or, we can simply make our own entrance.” And he turned towards Forester and gave a small ironic laugh, “And we can thank the Black Bat for making me think of it. We did quite well tunneling our way towards the surface after our underground battle with him; we can do equally well tunneling down into whatever damn part of Primate’s base we want to enter! We choose! Not him! Our terms! Not his!”

And Kirk on a stimshot adrenalin high added, “Oh and another thing, I’ve been racking my head for any sort of weakness or advantage we might have and came up with nothing... until now. When we first saw the layout of the base as given to us, I was quite surprised that Primate would have disrupted the natural environment with its placement. However, upon locating the base and seeing how it was actually underground, we found no such thing. And that’s his weakness. Up until now he wreaked havoc on a world that he cared nothing about, even using the animals he claimed to champion as living weapons, well one thing he does care about is the natural environment right here where we are. His home.”

“So what say you Vanguard? I say that we take the battle to Primate on our terms now,” and looking at Symbiote in the garb of Professor Fahrenheit he added, “and let him know that ‘Daddy’s home.’”


Upon hearing Agent Christiansen's explanation of how the Hotsleep has...or hasn't...worked.
IC: Hal lowers his head, seeming to consider his tool belt for a moment. Finally he looks up at Christiansen. "If we survive this, there's going to be a conversation with the administration of Chess Castle and Maas Biolabs," he says, carefully controlling the anger just below the surface in his voice. He says nothing more about the subject the entire flight.

Upon hearing Sentinel's plan for storming the Primate's lair.
IC: Hal listens carefully, then slowly breaks into his first genuine grin since the entire business with Pachyderm. "What the hell, it's obvious he knows we're here, trying to 'Die Hard' our way into his control room isn't going to work at this point," he says, warming to the idea. "It's about time we started taking the fight to him." Before the drilling begins, he shouts down the nearest shaft in a probably-not-very-good bogus Swedish accent. "Oh, Sam? TIME TO SPANK THE MONKEY!!!"


Slingshot is a little taken aback by Sentinel's speech and over all reaction, but he sees the logic and totally understands the mouse in a maze imagery that we are all feeling. "Sentinel, I'm all for it. I wasn't there for your digging, but I'll help."[OOC: I'll use my malleable body to scoop out the dirt drilled out by Sentinel's construct.]


Kairos waits for a consenus to be reached, not wanting to cloud the waters with more theories. He'll perform a rear guard duty at this time with chakrams ready to throw.


When push comes to shove, Forester follow's Sentinel's lead.


Lightning Strike:
Strike listens to the plan laid out by Sentinel and the rest of the team. The plan made sense but still something was gnawing at the back of his mind. There were too many unanswered questions about hot sleep and how it changed Primates abilities. It was as if he knows what are plans are.

Without more information, Strike reluctantly agrees with the plan.
Hopefully this last minute change of plans will not give Primate enough time to prepare. Strike will continue to probe for energy sources as the burrowing begins.

That's all for now.