Vanguard was triumphant against the Terrordactyls! But they were still stranded! No transportation, no way out, and no way to call for help!
From their aerie on the steep mountain base, they saw the impossible prehistoric valley before them was at least 150 miles in diameter. Dense tropical forests, deep canyons, pristine rivers and lakes, smoking volcanoes, and breathtaking waterfalls from dizzying plateaus, all beneath a sky of white mist.
Vanguard followed the signal into the heart of the lost lands! Talon and Symbiote flew ahead to scout, soaring above and below the rainforest canopy, carrying Forester, Soldier and the electrical form of Lightning Strike. The rest followed above the canopy atop Slingshot whose long limbs made short work of the miles.
The lost world was breathtakingly beautiful. Perhaps all the more so because of its precarious state, surrounded on all sides by a climate deadly to the valley’s inhabitants. They saw flora and fauna of another millennium. They witnessed Sauropod herds, Tyrannosaurs that hunted in packs (their skulls echoing the shapes of the Terrordactyls), dragonflies as large as eagles and plants that could devour men whole. The team’s speed protected them from curious predators.
In an hour they were nearing the signal’s source, and slowed their pace. Vanguard was beneath the thick foliage now, advancing cautiously, their scouts in the lead. The terrain was swamp-like.
Then they discovered the transmission’s source! It was an ancient stone structure that could best be described as a temple. Its size was hard to gauge because its architecture was somehow non-Euclidean!
Sentinel’s energy sense was overwhelmed by the site. Slingshot’s signal detector was off the scale!
The Vanguardians who had trembled in the shadow of the Star Giant (way back in Issue 13!) recalled the same queasy feeling of gazing upon something that was not right! The sense of dread the team felt as it entered the valley through the night of the mountains visited them again, abated only by Avatar’s powers.
The silent signal came from within that ageless temple. Around its open doorway were carved pictoglyphs that John could not assign to any known school of archeology. But the team could recognize shapes that evoked Star Giants. And others that could have been the terrible Squid creatures that created their former teammate, Inhuman! A low humming existed that was only noticed now.
Forester (and his Occult Studies skill) was visibly stunned.
Suddenly, before Vanguard could act, there were voices in a language that wasn’t English from the thick viridian jungle. Human figures revealed themselves. Vanguard was surprised to see the Soviet Super Soldiers, a known team of extranormals! (see image)
One of them, Siberian, shouted to Vanguard: “Halt!”
The existence of extranormals in this universe has changed its history in many ways. The Berlin Wall did not come down. Before the 1980’s, superbeings became the new nuclear weapons of the Cold War, weapons far cheaper to maintain and deploy. CHESS knew the Soviets had a robust internal program to locate and “recruit” extranormals within their empire. Thus, the Soviets were triumphant in Afghanistan, thanks to the Soviet Super Soldiers and Vladimir Putin, the Iron Tsar who rules the U.S.S.R.
Vanguard had read the CHESS Files on the Soviet Super Soldiers as part of their general training:
Mother Russia was recognized by Vanguard. Just escaped from 20 years at CHESS Castle, her powers are known: Immense strength, seemingly impervious to physical harm. Due to her intelligence and experience, she had been the Super Soldier’s leader before her imprisonment. It is unknown if she has been reinstated.
Siberian was the leader for the decades of Mother Russia’s absence. CHESS records reported this 20+ year member of the Soldiers to be ruthless and dangerously intelligent. He commands cold and ice!
Clone! Vanguard was shocked to see this former member of Vanguard that had been assumed dead! The Clone they knew wore a green costume very similar to this man’s red design. Vanguard had been briefed that Clone had defected from the Soviet Union, and that he had the power to make duplicates of himself!
Polar Bear! This large Russian mutant had been a member of the Freedom Force in the 1980’s after he defected! He possessed great strength and mass, deadly claws and senses as keen as his namesake. He appears to have mutated again since returning to his homeland, becoming more bear-like!
Accelerator! His presence here was unexpected! The viceroy of velocity was part of the CHESS Castle jailbreak as well. His powers involved the control of velocity and speed! How did he get here?!
Cosmonaut was a rumored to be a wonder of modern of Soviet science and engineering. His protective uniform could withstand outer space, and was reportedly arrayed with advanced weaponry!
Echo was a new and unknown entity.
Shatter was an enigma to CHESS. US spies reported only that it was a normal man who survived an accident at an engineering lab.
Vanguard knew of two more: Hammer and Sickle, energy-wielding siblings, who were not present.
Siberian commanded in fluent English: “Halt! This place is the possession of the Soviet Union! You have no jurisdiction here! You are ordered to come with us! Now!”
To be continued!
Rest has restored everyone’s power points. Talon has a minor wound and Symbiote has expended 3 charges so far. The Vanguard communicator that holds Lightning Strike is “on,” allowing Strike to hear everything that’s transpired.
Private message from the GM to Clone:
Special Soviet Supplemental Story!
Citizens rejoice! The Soviet Super Soldiers are the heroes of the people! They are:
Mother Russia! Just escaped from 20 years at CHESS Castle, she is a martyr to the revolution, returned at last from the capitalist imperialist oppressors! She possesses immense strength and imperviousness to physical harm. Due to her intelligence, charisma and experience, she had been the Super Soldier’s leader before her cruel imprisonment. It is unknown if she will be reinstated as leader. But her new gotten freedom is a cause of happiness to all citizens!
Siberian! The leader of the Soviet Super Soldiers since Mother Russia’s absence. This veteran member who commands the powers of ice and cold is a brilliant and brave hero of the people! But Clone has noticed tension between him and the returned Mother Russia. Clone! The human collective!
Polar Bear! This large Russian mutant had been a member of the Freedom Force in the 1980’s after he defected! He has since returned and is a citizen in good standing once more! He possesses great strength and mass, deadly claws and senses as keen as his namesake. He is gruff, aloof and doesn’t wish to discuss his past in America.
Accelerator! An American defector who Mother Russia brought back with her from the capitalist gulags. His powers involve the control of velocity and speed! But Clone finds him spoiled, lazy and selfish, no doubt due to his decadent upbringing. Accelerator stays close to Mother Russia.
Cosmonaut! A wonder of modern of Soviet science and engineering. His protective uniform can withstand outer space, and is reportedly arrayed with advanced weaponry! Clone hasn’t had much contact with him, as Cosmonaut spends the majority of his free time in the lab.
Echo! A young woman with the ability to generate powerful sound waves. But she needs sound waves to do it, hence her name. She was recruited in the same recent wave that brought Clone to the team.
Shatter was once a normal man who volunteered to be transformed by Soviet science into an amazingly powerful hero! He is intangible and has power over the field that holds things together, as best as Clone is able to understand it.
The team was sent to Antarctica on a critical mission! Heroic spies for the revolution discovered that America was invading Antarctica with their superlackeys: Vanguard! Their plan was to exploit the resources there, including a scientific anomaly: a signal of some kind that was occurring in all computer technology and seemed to be based in Antarctica!
The Soviet Super Soldiers landed their jet deep inland and made their way through an icy mountain pass to discover an unexpected wonder: a tropical valley nestled within the mountains! Shrouded in mist and heat from hot water springs and lakes, the 150 mile diameter valley was lush with life from a bygone age. Dinosaurs roamed there! Real, living dinosaurs!
Then Shatter detected the Americans’ jet while it was still miles away. After a heated discussion between Siberian and Mother Russia, Siberian ordered Shatter to destroy it from a distance of miles. His powers were seemingly without range! The team entered the prehistoric valley, tracking the signal source via Cosmonaut’s sensors.
On foot, progress was slow. The dinosaurs were a deadly threat to be avoided. Then they found the source of the mysterious signal ! It was an ancient stone structure set within a swamp that could best be described as a temple! Its size was indistinct because its architecture was somehow non-Euclidean!
Cosmonaut’s sensors were overwhelmed by the site.
A queasy feeling of gazing upon something that was not right! A sense of palpable dread.
The silent signal came from within that ageless temple. Around its open doorway were carved pictoglyphs. A humming existed that was only noticed now.
The Super Soldiers withdrew to plan their next steps. Echo, on watch from the air, spied something approaching: It was Vanguard. They had survived the destruction of their craft and now flew toward them!
The Soviet Super Soldiers prepared to ambush them. But another dispute erupted between Mother Russia and Siberian. Siberian wanted to ambush them, take them captive and question them.
Mother Russia wanted to let them enter the unsettling temple as the S.S.S.’s stalking horse!
Siberian won again, but not before their argument gave away their position!
The Super Soldiers revealed themselves to Vanguard! Clone had been carefully briefed on their known abilities:
-Sentinel could form energy and bend it to whatever shape he desired!
-Lightning Strike had power over electricity and either the ability to turn invisible or to teleport!
-Forester was an archer with an assortment of high tech arrow-devices!
-Slingshot was a large rubbery strong man who could stretch his shape!
-Symbiote was reportedly able to simulate another extranormal’s superpowers with a touch!
-One could have been Kairos, a lucky and skilled fighter, except he wore a helmet (ooc: Avatar!)
There were four others with them Clone did not recognize!
-A fierce black feathered bird man (ooc: Talon!)
-A big man whose red, white and blue costume served as propaganda for the US (ooc: Soldier!)
-Two people in CHESS agent field uniforms. Clone knew CHESS was an evil organization that brainwashed superbeings in the West to enslave them to the government! (ooc: Manetti & Harper!)
Siberian commanded Vanguard in fluent English: “Halt! This place is the possession of the Soviet Union! You have no jurisdiction here! You are ordered to come with us! Now!”
Clone didn’t think that Vanguard would surrender, base villains that they were!
IF a dialogue is possible . . .
Well I would imagine the first thought running through Clone’s mind would be “This might be my opportunity to finally defect, but how can
I pull this off without letting the others ( The Soviets ) know that
I’m doing that? If they discover that I’ve defected my family may become endangered.” I would imagine that he would also be looking for signs that these Westerners could be trusted with helping him defect safely and secretively so that his family wouldn’t get any of the backlash from it. Also – he might be looking for ways to exploit the growing conflict between Siberian and Mother Russia.
If a dialogue were to break out between the Americans and the Soviets he would try to take Mother Russia’s side in it all and possibly suggest to her that they ( the Soviets ) tell the Americans that they wouldn’t be opposed to a “join operation – to the mutual benefit of both parties” – essentially slipping Mother Russia’s original plan of a “stalking horse” into the plan. Not only would this allow Clone a chance to see some of the unknown Westerners in action, but it might provide him the opportunity to speak with them and “feel them out”.
IF a fight breaks out . . .
If combat were to break out I would image that he would split himself into 2 or 3 Clones and attempt to engage Soldier – simply because he looks so “Yankee doodle dandy,” Clone might see this as the man he might want to develop some kind of rapport with if he is to successfully defect. If he does have to confront him he would only try to wrestle him and not actually try to injure him, but hamming it up a bit so that the other Soviets wouldn’t think Clone was going easy on him. Possible capture and “feeling out this American” would probably be the driving force behind his attack(s).
Regardless of which way the situation turns I would image Clone would be paying close attentions to everyone in involved at the encounter.
This whole situation could go from a blessing to a curse in the blink of an eye if Clone doesn't play his cards right.
Talk To You Soon,
OOC: Doubt this works, but in the spirit of "Cyclops tried reasoning with Alpha Flight first," I'm for trying a little diplomacy.
IC: Hal looked at the potential enemies before him. He knew these people were heroes in their own homeland, and that Clone--or at least some version of Clone--had fought alongside Vanguard under the streets of Big City. He had to at least try to reason with them.
Assuming nobody else acts first or steps forward, Symbiote does so...
"Siberian, we aren't here to cause trouble," he says. "We have an injured teammate--Nanite, Clone knows of her--and we have reason to believe that the means to help her is here." The Duplicating Diplomat continues. "Your country and ours are signitors to the Antarctic Treaties, which dictate that this continent is neutral territory, owned by nobody and to be set aside as a natural preserve and for scientific research. We came here in the spirit of scientific and medical research, and we have no interest in interfering with whatever reasons bring you here."
He eyes the eight Soviets in front of him. "If you'd like to assist us, we'd appreciate it. Otherwise, we respectfully ask that you stand aside. We'll find what we need and get out of your way."
OOC: When this almost invariably doesn't work and an attack begins, Hal will fly at Clone, picking him up and flying straight up with him if possible (though specifically not using his claws against him)...
IC: "Clone, you know me--we've shared the same powers," Hal says, trying to reason with the Replicating Russian. "You also know Nanite. I'm glad you're alive, but a fight between our teams accomplishes nothing. Help me stop this."
OOC: In the meantime, by flying straight up and gaining as much altitude as possible, Symbiote hopes that any duplicates that split off from Clone will simply fall to the ground and dissolve.
IC: To Group - Hey, looks like we stumbled into a party! What are we waiting for? Let's partner up and have a little fun! I don't know about you guys, but I've got dibs on the cute blonde.
IC: To Mother Russia - Hey good lookin'. Whatdya say we go some place private? We can build a little love nest in this tropical paradise, and spend some time getting to know each other.
Adam takes a non-threatening posture with a smile on his face, and his gaze fixed on Mother Russia as if waiting for her to reply.
OC: If the Russian Super Soldiers make any attempt to attack, Talon will fly about 100' into the air above them to avoid the initial melee. He will gauge their strengths and see what their plan of attack will be before taking action. At that point he will come to the aid of anyone in our group that might be in danger or help one of the other heroes attack a particularly tough opponent and bring them down.
Avatar will wait to see what Symbiote's attempt at communication brings (delaying his initial reaction). If it appears that communication may take us somewhere, then Avatar will activate his Oratory skill and join in with Symbiote. If combat ensues immediately, he will activate his shield as his first action and then attack anyone attacking him as a default. These actions may change as I see responses from the SSS.
In his mind Kirk recalled the Star Giant and his experience with it that impelled him to pursue further the mental disciplines that until then he didn’t realize was part of his nature. Even at the time of his doing it, he was concerned about allying himself with this creature whose nature and intent he really didn’t know. But he reassured himself that at that moment ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ and that they needed whatever assistance they could muster to free themselves and save earth. However, Kirk’s fears regarding the Star Giant were reinforced by Grey’s comments in the debriefing as to if it was wise to let the creature go free … words that became all the more alarming after realizing they came from Swastika who was possessing Grey at that time and likely knew more about the creature than anyone else.
Kirk was raising his hand to issue forth his energies to ‘copy’ the entire surface of the pictoglyphs to reinforce his visual memory of them. He was hoping upon doing so, to shrink the image in size and maintain it with him for reference later while his current continuous construct existed, but before he could do so he heard a voice shouting.
(OOC Jeff, I’m assuming that Kirk wouldn’t get to actually do his ‘copy’ since you said ‘before Vanguard could act’. However, we did have enough time to see and comprehend portions of the pictoglyph. If you’ll allow this action during that observation moment, let me know.)
As Kirk recounted what he knew about the Soviet Super Soldiers, he thought about Shatter, and then about what happened to their Manta Craft.
As he identified Accelerator among their numbers, he thought to himself, ‘Thug for hire with no conscience. Traitor.’
As he heard Siberian’s ‘command’ Kirk caught sight of Soldier in his red, white, and blue with his star prominently and proudly displayed. All of this a symbol of freedom … freedom that Kirk himself valued and vowed he’d defend.
“Possession … jurisdiction … you have no rights to either of those things here! Who are you to order us?” he thought to himself recalling the International Treaties and getting ready to reply.
But he heard Symbiote begin to speak first, and held his tongue. Symbiote voiced what Kirk was thinking in an even more peaceful and diplomatic way than he himself would have been able to do given to whom it was being spoken and the blotch on freedom they represented.
Kirk isn’t looking for a fight here and would prefer it be avoided. Kirk is always looking to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. That being said, given what the SSS stands for he certainly doesn’t want them to feel they have any upper hand here or to give them any reason to think that they are ‘weak’.
Assuming that Symbiote’s diplomatic words have the peaceful proper effect, Kirk follows his lead looking to find out what is really going on here, all the while suspecting treachery on their part and keeping fully alert with shields up prepared for it.
Assuming that Symbiote’s diplomatic words don’t work, Kirk realizes that the melee that will follow isn’t really helping them regarding their mission or the mystery. His ac tion will be to fly forward at top speed into the temple with the idea that ‘if this is what you are preventing me from seeing’ that’s exactly where I’m going.
As he enters on full alert with his shields ready and trying to use his energy sense to decipher who or what are inside, he is prepared for an unknown attack (perhaps even the missing Hammer and Sickle) from the interior or to deal with whichever of the SSS pursues him inside. Depending on what he finds inside and/or what who follows him, he will either evade or attack whoever or whatever is threatening him. If he enters with no attacks or foes being on the inside and knows he is being pursued, he could extend his shields (as clear energy in color) back towards the entranceway to both damage them, use their own momentum against them, and knock them back out of the temple (making sure none of his teammates are following in first).
Those are some of my ideas based upon not knowing what I’ll find or what the actions or others will be …if you need me to be more specific, let me know what I know to make the decision. Also, I’m assuming that my shields are already up as we approached the area which would be logical, although you didn’t specifically state it.
Hope you had a great vacation.
Sentinel’s shields are up, but he doesn’t have time to make an imprint of the pictoglyphs (cool idea by the way). Will he attempt it during his entry into the mysterious temple?
Soldier will wait to see what the Soviet's response is. Until then, position himself at one of their flanks, and try to gain as much info on them as possible. He'll visually scan them for any weapons, or obvious powers (armor, bionics, etc.).
One last "if/then" scenario. If, after my little speech, the SSS attacks first I'll do the aforementioned pick-up-Clone-and-fly-off action. If Siberian (or any of the team) talks first, however, but makes it clear that they still intend to take us prisoner ("Your words mean nothing, Capitalist Pig! Hand over any weapons and follow us to your cells!") Hal will say the following...
(IC): Symbiote looks at Accelerator and sighs. "Too bad. If we could have come to peaceful terms this could have been a new start for some of you who have criminal records on American soil, like Accelerator over there," he says. "Accelerator, it feels like we've met before--in another place, another time. Are you getting that feeling too, Slingshot?" Hal looks at the Vulcanized Vigilante. "Doesn't it feel like we ran across Accelerator before, back at CHESS Castle? Got all wrapped up in the meeting?" he says, hoping Scott remembers the tactic Hal used against the Velocity Villain in the alternate vision they all shared of the CHESS Castle jailbreak, when Hal was using Scott's powers.
Then Symbiote flies at Clone....
Again, this is only if it's clear the Soviets still intend to take us prisoner. If they're willing to talk or continue negotiations Hal will not attack or say any of the above.
If Kirk had time to grab the pictoglyphs 'template' during entry he'd go for it. Thanks.
If they don't attack, Soldier will try to maneuver himself where he can watch the entire group of Soviets. He'll let the more senior members of the team initiate any conversation, and listen carefully to what's said, while keeping his guard up.
If they attack, he'll yell "Ambush, take cover!". He'll try to dodge any attack directed at him, unless he sees one of other Sentinels is caught off guard by there assault. In which case, he'll try to place himself between them, and the attacker, using his body to take the brunt of the attack. He'll move to engage the closest ground target in HTH combat.
Strike will stay in the device until combat starts and then attack the nearest unsuspecting ruskie!!
take care all,
Sorry for the lateness. I'm just not on the ball as I usually am (eh). I'll also forgo too much talking as it's late in the game.
I'll follow along with parlay and if it comes to fighting, Slingshot will take on Accelerator (use the wraparound technique originally used by Symbiote).
To be true to my characters background story and personality, etc. – I would have to say that I would be very shocked and upset by Vanguard’s reaction to me. It’s obvious to me (Clone), that the team had met up with the duplicate I had defect all those years ago, but to “out me” like that in front of all The Super Soviets? Clone would be thinking that not only is his safety and well being now in danger, but most likely that of his family as well. As far as I remember –
The Soviet Union never treated would be defectors well and their families usually caught some of the backlash as well.
Although he would still want to defect – he now has to do some “damage control” and save face with his team. He would be thinking that Siberian has to be taken out of the picture some how.
He would definitely want to work on broadening the gap between Mother Russia and Siberian, and slowly begin to show increasing amounts of support for her as the group’s leader.
So with all that said – shocked that the Americans would put him and his family in danger, he would need to think quick if was going to re-convince his team mates that he was a loyal and trustworthy citizen of The Soviet Union.
This would be his response to Symbiote:
“Stupid! Reckless! Amerikanski Cow-Boy! You have no thought what it is that you have just been doing! Now you must trust me now . . . regardless of what it is that I must be doing!”
With that he would begin to replicate himself and have the duplicates grab hold of Symbiote and begin to swarm him – swarming him in hopes that their combined weight would eventually overcome Symbiote’s carrying capacity and slowly force him to land. If we were about to crash I’m sure Clone would begin to re-absorb duplicates one at a time to slow his decent a bit.
Clones is unfortunately going to have to “lump up” Symbiote a bit sadly to say – just to make it look good in front of the Soviets. He can’t have the Soviets thinking he is a defector or that he had a duplicate of himself defect.
This is a very sticky situation that the Vanguard team has put Clone in.
OOC: I have to say - I'm really enjoying this - this is a lot of fun - thanks again for letting me join the game.
Talk to you soon,