Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Issue 87: Beneath the Prison of the Men!

CHESS Castle! Hotsleep Sector, Tier Five!

The sense of déjà vu broke momentarily as the Primate, the super-intelligent gorilla who had been held in Hotsleep for years, was undone along with his dreams of global conquest and a kingdom at peace in the Green. He crashed hard to the floor, unconscious!

Sentinel scanned the Hotsleep sarcophagus. It had been undamaged during the Primate’s extraction. He might be re-inserted, but the process would take 10-15 minutes and he would need technical help.
Inhuman held the motionless Owl with sadness and regret.

Agent Sam Drake broadcast across the PA from auxiliary security: “Attention prisoners, this is CHESS and Vanguard! We have regained control of the prison! Stand down! This is your final warning!”
It sounded believable.

Symbiote and Slingshot raced into Hotsleep Sector and Symbiote helped Sentinel begin the process of re-inserting the savage Primate back into his chemical sarcophagus.
Kairos, convinced that the Owl was safely unconscious, planned to lead an assault up into the heart of CHESS Castle to break the prison riot!
Slingshot would join him, ID-ing the supervillain Static as a worthy target of their strike!

Meanwhile, outside the prison walls…
Lightning Strike needed to get out of the cyclopean saucer ship that he had just rammed into the slungshot Pachyderm! Massive, fiery debris rained down harmlessly toward the Hudson River! There was no sign of the Pachyderm, or of the several Ani-Men onboard, among the falling, flaming wreckage!
With seconds to spare, the high voltage vigilante beamed himself out of the dying craft!
Strike knew the prison’s ground level was unavailable to him; the super-villainous Static had created a field that disrupts transmissions, including the one Strike was riding! So Strike materialized outside the prison walls, blowing the electrical on a nearby telephone pole! KA-BOOM!

The high voltage vigilante ran back toward the prison through the gale force wind and hail! Unlike last time, the outer wall of the prison was still intact! Thunder rumbled above as Strike made out one figure: Elemento, still flying in the heart of the storm!
KRAKA-BOOOM! Strike let loose with two electrical bursts, piercing Elemento in the back, knocking him instantly unconscious! The three-time Intercrime loser fell smoking from the sky!

Meanwhile, back inside CHESS Castle…
Kairos and Slingshot waded through the chaos of rioting prisoners! They had a chilling sense of déjà vu as everything unfolded just like “last time” except for the fated fighter’s energy rifle. Using their know-ledge of the future, the two heroes ambushed Static and made short work of him. BZKOW! SMASH!

With the power back and the guards rallying behind Kairos and Slingshot, the tide was turning. By the time they pushed out into the prison yard, reinforced by guards, two CHESS Knights and the newly arrived Sentinel, Symbiote and Lightning Strike (now that Static’s field was broken) it was all over but the shouting. Without a getaway craft, the Ani-Men had nowhere to go. Most, like Crab Man, had little time left on their sentences and threw in the towel. “All a big misunnerstanding,” he said.

In the yard they met up with Forester, who had seemingly been repeating his original actions from the “first time” as best as he was able. He had recaptured Dr. Chiropterus and the Hyena!

CHESS Castle was secured!
The thunderstorm was beginning to break up. CHESS jets roared overhead.
But Oracle was gone!

In time, within the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, Vanguard convened in their briefing room with CHESS Director Grey, Agent Drake, Doc Rocket, Sgt. Stone and CHESS Knight Nathan Lamb.
…Lamb… Doc… both still alive!
Vanguard told CHESS what happened with Oracle and the vision of the future.
“Alternate timelines,” said Stone. “I hate that stuff.” Drake seemed skeptical.

Forester was certain to report Inhuman’s actions in the enemy’s camp. Inhuman was silent for now, biding his time to get Grey alone.
(OOC: What does each of you say about Inhuman’s and Symbiote’s actions in the now-averted future?)

After that briefing, Drake reported on the situation at CHESS Castle.
“CHESS Castle is secure.
Extranormals missing or dead: Pachyderm. Also Web, Monarch and the Human Centipede, assuming they were on the saucer craft.
Captured or recaptured: The Primate, the Owl, Cockroach, Crab Man, Gator, Hyena, Jellyfish, Slugg, Dr. Chiropterus, Elemento, Goth, Ray Argo, Static.
At large: Ratman, Accelerator, Gadget Girl, Black Ice, Figment, Singularity, Mother Russia, Smog.”

The number of escapees was much lower than the first time and the Animal Revolution had been halted before it began!

Based on Vanguard’s info, CHESS and Interpol get to Africa to discover that the Primate’s volcanic island lair had been destroyed, overtaken by fresh lava. No sign of the virus, Snow Leopard or any Ani-Man!

The next day, Hal planned to meet his dad and his sister Shelley for lunch. He walked the city streets to their favorite diner. The city was undamaged. Nothing was burned. No one was dead. The animal attacks, fires and lootings he saw with his own eyes had never happened.

He turned the corner and saw his Dad and Shelley standing in warm sunlight. Shelley never tried to make her way across a burning city to Dad’s apartment. Nor did she ever stand, small, frail and bleeding in a dark barricaded lab while the world outside was ending. They were safe… happy.
“’Bout time you showed up. I’m hungry,” smiled Dad.
Shelley stopped smiling and looked at her brother’s face. “Hal… What’s wrong?”

The End

OK. Downtime has finally come!
Let me know any major things you’d like to do over the coming weeks/months. Please prioritize them.
Remember, your actions help steer this mighty saga!

Experience Point Time!
Experience: You were all involved in:
Visions of the Future:
· CHESS Castle Jailbreak: 1200 points
· The Primate escaping Hotsleep: -200 points
· Tracking the Primate to Europe: 200 points
· Experiencing Death via Oracle’s premonition at the AEGIS Spire: 200 points
· Defeating the Ani-Men in the saucer ship over Athens: 1000 points
· Battling, but not capturing, the twin Pachyderms in the Athens Steel Reclamation facility: 500 points
· Becoming the Pachyderm Symbiote (Symbiote only) : -500 points
· Defeating the Primate and his Ani-Men in the Volcano: 800 points
· Ending the global Animal Revolution: 300 points and +1 Charisma Point
All of this is halved as it was experienced via a vision.

Real CHESS Castle Jailbreak:
· CHESS Castle Jailbreak: 750 points
· Deflecting Pachyderm and the Ani-Men in the saucer ship from battle: 400 points
· Capturing the Primate and the Owl: 1000 points
· Preventing the Global Animal Revolution: +1 Charisma Point

The new totals:
Kairos: 7000
Lightning Strike: 10000
Sentinel: 10000
Slingshot: 9000
Symbiote: 6500

Everyone still gains 1 level and 1 point of Charisma!

So here’s a summary of what I need:
1) Reactions to Inhuman and Symbiote’s actions in the now-averted future? What if anything is said to Grey and CHESS? To each other?

2) Confirm that your Level Advancements are those you outlined before; that you haven’t changed them

3) And give me a sense of what you are doing during downtime.

Once I get all this, I’ll modify your sheets and begin the next thrilling adventure arc!



Great issue, as always. I may have more later, but here's my reactions right now...

1) Once things are settled again at Vanguard Headquarters Hal still vehemently insists that Doc Rocket get a full cardiovascular checkup. Yes, the stroke in the alternate future was undoubtedly brought on by the stress of the Animal Revolt but still...Hal will all but physically drag his mentor to a medical doctor.

2) Regarding me and Inhuman: I will offer no defense for myself, everybody who saw the vision of the almost-future knows what I (almost) did and why I (almost) did it and can make their decision accordingly. But I will recommend no sanction of any sort for Inhuman. Undercover operations (at least according to every spy book and movie I've ever seen) are a tough moral quagmire, with hard tradeoffs and the occasional case of Stockholm Syndrome a real possibility. Spies with years of training who know what they're getting into have a tough time dealing with it. Inhuman had no such training and had approximately three seconds of prep time before he was thrown into the situation. Add to this the fact that it didn't actually happen, only might have happened, and I personally feel nobody has any right to punish him. Again, I'll let others decide my fate.

3) Assuming I am still on the team, however, I want to talk about Hotsleep, with Drake and Doc especially although all are invited to chime in on this. As I've said, I think a total review of the program with an eye towards ending it is called for. Conscious but trapped inside your own mind, with no outward stimulus, no contact with any other's torture, and not even necessarily an effective containment as the entire Primate affair has shown us. We need to find other alternatives to holding those prisoners, including coldsleep if necessary. Maus Biolabs needs to be investigated.

4) We should question The Owl to find out how Primate developed these animal control powers and how he managed to communicate with at least some Ani-Men even in hotsleep. Maybe some of the other Ani-Men should be interrogated too, particularly Crab Man since he proved to be reasonably cooperative in another reality.

5) And then there's the matter of Primate himself. As indicated earlier, I think we should go ahead and use the Intelligence Remover on him...IF everybody, up to and including Primate himself, agrees to it. I'd like to ask for a yes or no vote from all Vanguard members, and we only do it if the vote is unanimous...I'm not doing an end-run around anybody this time, and I believe we all should sign off on it. If everybody agrees to it we wake up Primate (carefully, under extremely guarded conditions) and ask if it's what he wants. If he agrees to it he gets moved to a gorilla preserve after the injection. He'll probably have to be monitored the rest of his life (maybe with a nanotech tracking device) but he can live out his life in peace, with no human interference...not that different from what he wanted in the first place. If we do this I'd like to roll-play it out, I've got a nice little speech to Primate already in mind (God help you all)...

6) Hal is still willing to talk to Sentinel and, if appropriate, his grandfather about the origins of their powers. He'd be particularly honored and thrilled to meet the elder Sentinel.

7) Given her sterling performance in the alternate future Hal is more than happy to recommend that Shelly be hired as a CHESS scientist and posted at our headquarters. But you bums keep your grubby hands offa my sister!!

8) I'll still take the two-hour time limit increase as my level advancement.

Thanks and Viva Vanguard,



Kairos won't even make mention of the actions of the others and will avoid the subject even if confronted directly.In regard to the Hotsleep issue, it is doubtful that Kairos's opinion would be asked and he will not give it unless in discussion and he IS asked.
If this is the case, Kairos will be opposed to any messing around with the method of imprisonment as it is inevitable that something will go wrong. If the issue is stimulation, pipe in music and old movies. It's SUPPOSED to be a punishment, not a holiday. Torture? What Primate would have done vs. torture for him....? Hmm...even in "good guy" comics, I don't think that there would be a lot of sympathy. "Escape to Chimp Eden" is not and should not be in the cards for him.
Kairos will try to spend some "down" time with his book store and in reflection and introspection. Do whatever must be done, Jeff, to get my new power to me.
Finally, Kairos will make sure and find out Shelly's schedule if she begins working for CHESS and will begin some flirtation, making sure to use the ol' Greek statue-like physique to charm the naive young lady scientist.

IC: Assuming Kairos has voiced his belief that we shouldn't use the Intelligence Reducer: "I'll certainly agree that villains should be transferred to new holding situations slowly. And I'll even concede that with some it just may be too dangerous. In those cases yes, I'll work on some way to get some virtual-reality type stimulation for them," he says. He then looks at the Avenger of the Ages. "But what's your solution for Primate? Hotsleep didn't work for him. He apparently has abilities that can reach beyond hotsleep--how do we keep him there? Pachyderm, Ratman and Snow Leopard at the very least are still at large, maybe others we don't know about. How are we going to keep him in that sarcophagus?"

Hal continues. "I won't make any case for Primate's sainthood, we all saw what he tried to do. But his family was killed by humanity and he's spent years in hellish solitary confinement. Worst of all, he was never asked if he wanted to become what he is," the Scientific Superhero's voice becomes hard as he continues. "Professor Fahrenheit was a great scientist, but his ethics sucked. He took an innocent ape and gave him sentience...can we really be sure that was a gift and not a curse? Once you've given a being human intelligence and human emotions but an animal's body and left it as one of a kind, a creature that will never know companionship of another like can you be sure it's what the creature really wants? That it wouldn't be happier living out a lifespan as nature meant it to be?

"My ethics have taken a beating here lately, saw some things in that possible future I didn't like about myself," Hal continues. "That's why I want a yes or no vote out of everybody. I truly believe offering him an option to become an ape again is the safest thing for humanity and the most compassionate thing for Primate. But I want everybody on board--a yes or no vote." He turns back to Kairos. "If your vote is no, so be it, I'll drop the whole idea. But I've got to ask--what's your better idea for keeping this from starting all over again some day?"


While I never precisely said that I was opposed to the use of the Intelligence Reducer, I WILL take that stance now. Sympathy is fine but reducing his intelligence and letting him go play isn't really justice. He's a sentient being whether he wanted it or not. He DID make choices once he had sentience, just like the rest of us, and those choices led him down a darker path. He should pay the price, just like any other criminal. Your suggestion is not really any different than a lobotomy.
Hotsleep doesn't work for him? So install better security measures. This was a lesson learned. CHESS should use it. Hotsleep might not be working for some of the rest, for all we know... should we lobotomize them, as well? As for giving HIM the choice? How do you know that he isn't telepathically controlling you and the Reducer isn't permanent, just something that will wear off down the road? Too many "ifs". If you are really able to create something that can take his intelligence away, you should be able to dream up something to keep him confined.
In the long run, though, it doesn't matter to me what you do. CHESS has our debriefs and that should matter for something in terms of how they keep him. It's your effort... spend it as you will. Keep in mind, though, that he was tried and sentenced here and, hero though you may be, I don't think that you have the legal authority to do what you're talking about doing.


OOC: Yeah, this plan is completely unviable.
Looks like your only hope now is the Ape City.


OOC: Hmmm...not sure why I brought up legal authority. Screw it...we're VIGILANTES. Even if we have them, we don't need no stinking badges!


As far as Slingshot is concerned, there's NOTHING to put him to justice. He hasn't done it yet, all he's ever done is plan it as far as he's concerned. Here's the catch: By voicing these objections, he'll know that his plan worked in another timeline and how's that going to stop him from attempting it again and again.. One thing: Devolution.I don't care about Justice at this point. This is like dismantling a nuclear bomb. It's worth it.


Certainly a point there.


1) Alternate Future actions:
Inhuman: Scott doesn't know what to say. He's never been in that position. He wouldn't put himself in that position in the first place. He does feel that he can't trust Inhuman not to make backalley deals. If pressed, he will voice those opinions, but otherwise he will keep them to himself. His behaviour is more reserved around Inhuman from now on.
Symbiote: He does think that Symbiote's actions were not cool. It should have been brought forward as a team decision. On the plus side, Scott is all for devolving Primate. He seriously thinks that this is the best solution to a really bad situation that can only get worse. Primate never asked to become sentient, that's Dr Fahrenheit that did that. Giving him back his Apeness is both salvation from future actions and also repentence from the arrogance that was Dr Farenheit. Scott will be vocal about devolving Primate for the two reasons mentioned above.
Scott will have a conversation directly with Symbiote about this (another email).
2) Level Adv: Nothing's changed.
3) This downtime will be about Nanite. Either search for her lost consciousness (even within her body) and thinking of "rebooting" her. If you can give me some best guesses (with my now new skills), let me know.


In the alternate timeline debrief, Director Grey asked Symbiote a question:
"You say the alternate timeline didn't happen, so we shouldn't be so hard on Inhuman, and by extension, you.
But then you say the alternate timeline was real enough to win yer sister a promotion?"
Grey smiled with his mouth but not with his eyes.


Symbiote to Grey: "I said that Inhuman's actions in the alternative timeline didn't warrant punishment, I never said anything about mine. As indicated, I'm offering no defense. The team can do with me as they will.

"But Shelly proved herself a capable scientist in that alternate world, I tend to believe any test you put her through in this one will prove her capable in this one as well. Seems to me like CHESS will need all the big brains around here they can get in order to prevent fiascos like this in the future."


Level advancement and actions given back from what when we thought the Primate adventure was over would still apply for Kirk. We could still gather information from what we wanted to know then even if some of it isn’t currently necessary for immediate usage.

On Kirk’s revelation about his new power (surface thought scan); if it comes out in the debriefing, that is fine. If not, Kirk would meet with Grey and Drake separately to tell them once again (most of Vanguard already knows). Kirk’s request for keeping this info on a need to know was for strategic purposes for the team to give them a tactical advantage but his intent was misunderstood by some in the alternate reality and he wouldn’t want the team to think him being unduly ‘secretive’.

Regarding Oracle’s power and actions taken by the team: Kirk would view the situation as having ‘lived’ the most likely possibility of events at that moment in time. But given the butterfly effect and Kirk’s belief in free-will, he would not recommend any action against his teammates. He does believe they have been given a glimpse into the possible personalities of his teammates and would consider that in future dealings with them.

For his own conclusions of personalities (and not shared unless the need comes up in the conversations – ie if they do want to take action against Hal): In the alternate future Symbiote took responsibility for his actions (and still does now) and learned from the situation while Inhuman never seemed to really come clean regarding what he did or consider that perhaps he did go to far. Kirk would remain cautious in future dealing with Inhuman just as he said he would in the alternate future. With Drake, he didn’t jump on the anti-superhuman bandwagon in the alternate future and this frames a more positive view of him that he had already begun to develop.

Primate is another story. Although he never did ‘destroy’ the earth in this reality his intentions remain unchanged. He did orchestrate the prison break in both realities. In this one he was willing and would have set off a nuclear bomb had Vanguard not prevented him, once again taking countless lives in his quest to rule or raze.

Kirk questions whether it would be Vanguard’s decision as to what should be done with Primate here, but believes they cannot simply put him back in the Hotsleep long-term again. It is his suggestion that they get a high level telepath to check the status of the prisoners and their mental activities to see if there are any others showing irregularities like Primate. He himself will take the time to ‘check’ each prisoner’s surface thoughts currently to see if anything seems off. Does he pick up anything different from Primate than the other prisoners? Can they get Venus to ‘really’ check the situation?

Kirk would agree with Kairos’ logic about Primate that he made choices and took actions and should be held responsible for them. Kirk would feel that since he has shown such disrespect for life that actions must be taken to protect innocent life against similar future attempts. He certainly would not object to devolving Primate who has shown no regret for any of his murderous actions in the past, in the present, or in the alternate future and made no attempts to cooperate with rehabilitation, if there are no better alternatives presented.

With Silas Caine, let’s have Chess investigate his activities from the perspective of everything that was learned in the alternate reality (ie what corporations and businesses was he using, what technologies did he come forward with, etc).

In addition to making sure Doc gets checked out properly when Symbiote speaks with him, he’d also like to put a call out to Viper just to touch base with him and make sure things aren’t go too sour in his life; maybe some words of encouragement at the right time might keep him on the right track (he is disturbed by the fact he wasn’t able to determine what really happened with Viper in the alternate reality).

Since Nathan Lamb heard about what happened to him in the alternate reality and the respect that Slingshot and Sentinel had for him, Kirk suggests that the two of them take a moment to mention that respect to him in this reality … sometimes you don’t say the things to people you should and what happened to them impels Kirk to do this with Lamb. He feels the Knights are the men they are largely due to Lamb (leading by proper example) and also respects the fact that Lamb has promoted the sense of teamwork=2 0between Chess and Vanguard (Lamb likely would have had to agree with and perhaps gave some of the cross training to Kirk when the team first came together).

Given Crabman’s decisions in the alternate future (the fact that he was willing to just a step beyond self-preservation in his actions), Kirk feels that he does have the potential for rehabilitation. With his parole hearing coming up Kirk would check his profile to see if this appears possible (ie that he got the wrong breaks and was sort of forced on the criminal road); any programs to help get him a job on the straight and narrow if he gets out? If Kirk is convinced no one ever gave the guy a break, he’d pay him a visit to see if he can give him some words of encouragement to keep him on the straight and narrow this time out… maybe the guy just needs someone to voice the possibility of some positive potential.

He’d make a call to Oracle thanking her for all her assistance with things. He’d mention that he was sorry for her loss (this encounter with Primate must have brought back all the pain from his original actions against Aegis and it seems like Oracle was a lonely soul that had no one left, after her sacrifices, she should know that there are good souls out there that care) and try to offer whatever solace he can to her.

Kirk would check in with Gramps to see if he would be open to a meeting Hal since he is a friend a Kirk and a fan of Lancaster. He would also discuss the revelations about his powers revealed in the mission to see if Lancaster can shed any further insight into things. Does Lancaster know any further family ‘legacy’ history regarding their gifts? If he has any time left between these actions given and the others previously, he’d likely try to get some more training in the mental disciplines (even if he isn’t going to ‘advance’ in it in game terms this round).

Sorry for my delayed response and no 'dialogue' this time around, but the past couple of weeks have been hectic.Viva Vanguard!


Hey Jeff,
I went to the Vanguard site and caught up on the way you handled ol' Forester. Having him try to retrace his steps (instead of walking away in ennui) was okay.

If Forester is now 3rd level, he'll get the Silver Arrow and Garlic Arrow that we already discussed.

During his downtime, he will tell Grey EVERYTHING he pre-experienced in the future world.

In the past, Marksman warned Forester that he was still vulnerable, and that the enemy would try to recruit him. Since Forester's mind was vulnerable to Oracle's precognitive powers (which Fred sees as a form of attack) under the guise of help--Fred still sees her as a very real threat and orders her never to use her powers on him again.


Lightning Strike:
Sorry for the delay in replying. Level advancement and skills do not change except to split the advancement between agility and endurance.

Strike will spend the off time researching two main subjects. He wants to find out as many details behind the hotsleep technology including where the components come from and who designed it, how and where it is built and the current duration of all the people in it.

He will also assist Chess in the Silas Caine research, providing information he has already learned and using the Chess facilities to do further digging.

That's all for now.