Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Vanguard: Issue 166: The Easy Path.

Jim Harrik had sold out Silas Caine.

Harrik, Skin Deep and Zero G would walk, and Caine would take the fall.

 In his lab, Symbiote said, “Wow. Went easier than I thought. Though I have the feeling we've not heard the last of him.”

 “No,” murmured Doc Rocket. “I should think not… You know what they say, Hal.”

 “Hm?” Symbiote replied absently as he returned to his work. “What?”

Doc said, “There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it's easy.”

Five days after the assault on Aztechnology, Silas Caine was arrested. Word got out that his bodyguard, the Patriot, that symbol of American, and human, ingenuity was really hired assassin, Jim Harrik, and Caine’s poll numbers plummeted. His party withdrew his nomination and tried to draft retired General Steele (Soldier’s father). Steele (who Vanguard knew was Silas Caine’s Vice President in the Omega-verse) declined to run and it seemed President Taylor would soon sail to re-election.

Prosecutor Doyle told Vanguard that Caine will be charged within 48 hours of his arrest for conspiracy to murder President Taylor, frame Vanguard for the murder, and murder of Vanguard, among other charges.

Caine pled the fifth and prepared to mount his defense. His wealth would ensure him the best legal defense that money could buy, but his political career was over.

Later that night, Clone found himself tossing and turning in his bed as he tried desperately to get a good night’s sleep. Frustrated and upset, Clone stared blankly into the darkness for a moment before quickly reaching for the lamp resting peacefully on the night stand beside him. As the light clicked on, Clone sat up in his bed and says aloud in Ukrainian, “I can’t take it anymore . . . I have to find Dr. X!”


During the five days after the assault on Aztechnology, this had transpired:

Slate was very curious about the state of the Digital Zone… almost fixated.  The experience had changed him, and he wanted to know more about it.  He would often be found observing cyberspace through Symbiote’s Digital Zone Portal.  He questioned his father, Symbiote, Sentinel, and his mother extensively about their knowledge and experience regarding the Zone.  Did they feel what he felt, what was Nemesis like?  He studied the Omega team’s “Datanaut suits” and found that they would allow a human to exist in the Digital Zone and not be rejected by it. He had no idea for how long.

If he wasn’t studying the portal, he was with his mother… He desperately wanted things to get back to “normal”.  He got back to home schooling, trying to learn everything he could, especially studying the history of supers, specifically anything he can find about the Black Bat.

Also, he was sneaking into servers in the Vault, but at this point he will request internet access.  Argument points: “I was able to save the Digital Zone, and I did figure out Homicide was after the President.  I had done nothing to display malice, or to cause concern… PLEASE…”

(Reply Slingshot/ Vanguard?)

After viewing the code created by Omega Lightning Strike, Slate’s opinion of him, and by default, Lightning Strike had certainly expanded.  He’d like to ask him some questions about his powers… “What does it feel like when you go into a machine?  How do your senses work, can you see in there, smell, feel?   Does it hurt when you change forms?”

(Reply Lightning Strike?)

Lightning Strike and his father and mother were the closest thing to Slate, each of them being not totally human, and Slate desperately was looking to be like someone else…

By getting back to normal, he’ll return to working out with Stone and Nathan, but he’s not nearly as excited to leave the Vault as he once was… this place was home, this place was safe.  He actually grew a little agoraphobic. He would happily hang out with Clone at the Vault, but couldn’t locate him.

He’d love to have pizza with Sentinel, but “let’s have it delivered.”

Clone, uncharacteristically, spent almost none of his ‘down time’ in The Vault or with the other members of Vanguard. Through the occasional visits from the members of his family, Vanguard found out that aside from Clone sleeping at his family’s house, they haven’t really seen him around much either. Even the charitable organizations he volunteers his time with and the other members of his church congregation have commented on Clone’s lack of presence.

Symbiote voted for allowing Slate access to the internet. He's earned the team's trust, as far as Hal was concerned.
Hal "tried out" Skin Deep's powers a few times, trying to mimic actions, voices as well as appearances as best he can. He wanted to be ready to go undercover to help find Doctor X when the time came.

Hal approached Menagerie. "I keep saying someday I'm going to study the properties of what we call magic. I'm still convinced it's merely science we don't yet understand, but whatever it is, you seem to be our resident expert," he said. "Black Bat. He seems to be a creature of magic, and, more than that, as a dead thing brought to life through dark magic and a creature that feeds on life itself I suppose he'd be an abomination to the Natural Order. In a world full of nature, as something that doesn't fit in I'm guessing he would present a contrast, like a piece of filth on a clean white sheet. With that in mind--do you think you can track him?"

(Reply Menagerie)
Hal didn’t see Mother Russia / Knockout in the five days after Aztech.
He continued to work on his secret project. But his mind kept returning to his last encounter with Hank Archer.
FLASHBACK within a FLASHBACK!! Before the wedding…

Lightning Strike reached the cabin ahead of Sentinel, Symbiote and Menagerie. The cabin on the lake was off the grid; no power lines, phone lines or cell phone service, and therefore the Vanguard communicators would be down. The night was dark like only the countryside can be.
Lightning Strike got his arms around Hank Archer and said: “Hank, if there was any way to prevent what happened to you, you know I would have done it.  I couldn't tell you everything that happened for your own safety.  The people behind all of this will stop at nothing.  You were used as a pawn to get at Silas Caine and although every fiber of my being wanted you to pull that trigger and gun the bastard down for what he has done, I couldn't let you do it."

Archer growled belligerently but stopped throwing punches for now.

Strike continued, "Others from Vanguard are on their way here.  We probably have only minutes until they get here.  You have to tell me where my counterpart is.  Vanguard won't stop until he is hunted down. If he is here, tell him to come out.  Neither of us can harm one another so he knows I am not a threat to him.  In fact, there may be a way for him to help me bring down Caine but if Vanguard takes him out, he will be condemned to hot sleep and be in a coma for the rest of his days. Vanguard will see to it."

“He’s not here,” snarled Archer. “And he told me you’d say that. He said to tell you, of course I don’t know where he is. Would you have told me that?”

Strike left without a word, leaving his uncle to the mercy of Vanguard!

Sentinel, Symbiote and Menagerie soon made their cautious approach on the cabin and found Hank Archer alone. “More capes?” he growled when they revealed themselves. “I’ve had it with all of you!”

Symbiote hung back, still not sure if Hank knows his secret identity or not. 

Sentinel said, “Hank, I can understand how angry you are about everything that has happened.  You know I’ve respected you from the day we met.   We know that you were controlled by the Black Bat and framed and have been working hard to prove it and get you released.  We know that the Lightning Strike from the Omegaverse broke you out.  Surely someone who dedicating his life to upholding the law doesn’t want to spend the rest of it running from it.  We want you to get your life and your name back and as much as we wish you could continue free now, you won’t get it back that way. You need to surrender yourself so we can continue working on your release and on clearing your name.” 

Hank Archer snarled, “Forget it. Even if I manage to survive jail, I’ll never beat the rap. The frame up is too good.”

(Replies Menagerie, Sentinel, and Symbiote?!)


Symbiote finished the small tracking device for Avatar’s collection of antiquities.

Avatar secreted the device among the books, crates and packages that were his life’s work. In a few days, the mystery buyer would collect it from Sotheby’s warehouse, and Avatar and Symbiote would be able to follow.
Avatar was alone, working out one day and in walked Sgt. Stone. “Why the long face, kid? Someone take yer lunch money?”
Sarge casually pulled on two big, oversized boxing gloves. “Ya got yer fancy superhero costume mussed up?” Sarge slowly hauled himself into the gym’s boxing ring. The boards groaned under his weight. Sarge faced Jon, his gloves at his side.
“Aww. Things didn’t go your way? That must be awful hard on a golden boy like you,” he smiled.

 (Reply, Avatar?)

Slingshot wanted to change the Digital Zone expedition project into a skype/portal idea, to establish relations with the denizen of Cyberspace. “Since we have befriended IT, the best thing is to keep the communications going and stay friends. If amalgamation is what happens when you stay in the cyberspace, too many things have gone in that shouldn't, so we need to keep an eye out for it.”

He spoke to Nanite to see if she's ok with this. “I would like to see Slate understand his origins and become his full potential as the missing link between technology and nature, if he so chooses to be.”

Nanite hugged him. “Me too. Thanks honey.”

Slingshot and Nanite took a long weekend away from their son as a quick honeymoon.

When he got back, Scott got a call from his estranged dad, whom he hadn’t seen since the wedding. “Son, I just wanted to say, congratulations to you and Nan. And that we’re all very proud of you.”

Slingshot wanted to continue the research on his nature with Doc Rocket and whomever was willing to assist.
“Yes,” said Doc, reviewing his notes. “Yes. Fascinating case, yours. Sit down, Scott. Tell me again. How did you come to be Slingshot?” Doc looked up into Scott’s eyes and listened intently.

(reply, Slingshot?)

Sentinel asked if Shelly's activity in the recent mission was one-time due to circumstance, or if her 'retirement' plans have changed?

No,” said Shelley. “It was about Nan. I think I’m happier back in the lab. Superhero-ing was something I wanted to do and now I’ve done it. I think I can help people more in other ways. But what should become of my wind suit?”

(Reply Sentinel, if any?)

Kirk visited his grandfather to debrief the last mission, as was their custom. “Your victory turned to defeat in the end, I believe, son,” Lancaster said as he stirred the study’s fire with an andiron. He stood up and was level with a framed photo of the Liberty League that sat on his mantle. “It can be demoralizing when that occurs. And not just for you. You’ll need to work hard to hold your team together, I expect. When teams come apart… it’s never from without. In fact, outside forces bring a team closer. Bind them together. No, when teams come apart, it’s usually from within.”

Kirk tried to aid his fellow Vanguardians in their efforts as best he could. He tried to keep their spirits up and sought out Slate, Avatar and Clone in their isolation. He only found the first two.

Kirk wanted to assist Slate with information and analysis of the Digital Zone and with Slate accessing the Internet.  This is something Kirk would advocate with Slingshot and others and would work closely with Slate as approved by all both to monitor effects and help Slate.

(Replies if any?)

Sentinel approached his teammates separately to discuss Black Bat so they can each think about possible solutions to be prepared for their encounter and defense. “Bat was able to subvert the will of half the team to attack Caine ... what can we do to prevent him from taking over their will in the future?”

·         With Avatar, in addition to voicing concerns over the Bat he want to thank him for his efforts in their recent battle. His engaging Harrik in head to head combat, being capable, willing, and single-minded enough to do that really got them the victory.  Without him having been constantly in his face, Harrik likely would have picked off each member of Vanguard. Regarding the Bat, does Avatar have any tricks in his gifts from the Gods that might assist them in warding off his mental control?  What are his thoughts regarding strategy?

·         Menagerie – Prepped him in the events of their encounter with the Bat - Kirk explained that the Bat was an affront to the Natural Order from his energy senses.  What can he do or prepare to be ready for him?  He was able to assert his influence over half the team - anything Menagerie can have in store to prevent that?

·         Slingshot/Slate - Assuming Slate gets internet access, what he can find out about the Bat's activities, aliases, etc?  In a direct encounter, Slate is literally 'wired' differently than the rest of us. Can that be used to our advantage?  Seemingly he would want to take out Slate early in an attack since he can likely resistance his influence.

·         Soldier - Pure tactics.  How can we best be ready?  Does he feel that his nanobytes can assist in rejecting Bat's influence?

·         Strike-Symbiote: We've got our magic guys Avatar and Menagerie thinking on things ... anyway we can use the make-up of Soldier-Slate to our advantage to protect them team?

·         Clone seems to have almost a connection to the supernatural of which he isn't aware ... any stories from his mom from the past that somehow help with the Black Bat? 

“Rather than be taken unawares lets be ready so that the Bat can't turn one half the team on the other half with a wave of his hand in battle.”

Menagerie visited Skin Deep at CHESS Castle. (OOC: see last issue! –Ye Explainer-in-chief Ed)

Skin Deep said “I’ll be watching your stupid expression as I and my friends walk out of here free. Now get the hell out of here.”

Menagerie replied, “You don’t understand. You have no value other than as bait. Through you we will capture a true predator. Odd that someone without their own expressions would call another’s stupid.

You are a prey which mimics true predators in order to survive. Laugh all you want, little mouse, while you are protected. Soon you will be back in the wild. Will you be able to hide from the predators again, now that you are known?”

Menagerie continued his magical training with his totem spirit, Archimedes. He checked on Snowball and made sure to make time to play with her. Clone was oddly absent.


It was now five nights since Aztech.

There was a Vanguard team meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. The agenda was:

-CHESS briefing on MEDUSA

-CHESS briefing on “the Lost Lab of Dr. Swastika.”

-Felicity Chase, PR and Vanguard the Animated Series

-REACH activities
But Soldier, still reeling from everything he'd been through, and hurt by Vanguard's decision to cut a deal, approached his fellow team members, and asked for a short meeting tonight.

Lightning Strike was strangely aloof following the revelation that Caine was behind everything.  He should have been happy that Caine would not be president and would hopefully spend time in jail but instead all he felt was numb.  The fact that Black Bat was still out there pulling the strings gave Strike more resolve than ever that the decision to allow these pardons was wrong.  There was always going to be another rock to lift up and uncover more slime.  Finally, unable to keep these feelings to himself, he seconded the motion for Vanguard to meet tonight.

Menagerie meditated on Slate's role in this adventure and asked Archimedes about his significance to the Natural Order. The great old owl stared into a distance that Menagerie could not perceive. “Hmmm. Something’s changed. The path of the future has been altered. The threat from that mechanical world is over, lad. And so is the threat from the digital child. This is Vanguard’s doing?” he said with genuine surprise.

“What of Black Bat, teacher?”

“The vampire lord? Do ye really have to ask, boyo? He is unlife… undeath. Anathema to the natural order,” he said slowly. “A contagion that perverts Nature and Life. Aye, given time and energy, ye should be able to Sense the vampire. Do you think Vanguard is ready? What deals, I wonder, will your friends cut with that one?”

Archimedes looked away again. “What’s this? In the clearing away of that false future, something has been revealed… Something is coming.” His feathers expanding, seemingly increasing his mass. Then he whispered, “Come with me.”

“Teacher, I am to meet with Vanguard now. Soldier had suddenly requested-”

“I said, come with me.” The two magical creatures flew from their aerie atop the Empire State Building, beneath the night sky, high above the concrete castles of the city, and down into Central Park. To The Lake.
There, nothing stirred. The Lady did not arise. Her animal court did not give them audience.
Menagerie’s Nature Sense detected nothing.

Archimedes said, “Shite.”

“Teacher, what is-”

“Be off with you, lad. Go meet with Vanguard. We’ll be needing them soon. I have work here, that I can only do alone.”

“No teacher, I want to stay here with you. Help you. I can-”

“I said, go. We’ll meet at dawn at the Tower. I’ll tell ye everything then. Now go!”

Vanguard assembled at Soldier and Lightning Strike’s request. Menagerie and Clone were not present. None of the CHESS liaisons were available for the impromptu, night assembly.

Sentinel asked that they wait for Clone or Menagerie to arrive..
Awkward silence added to the tension of a team that was still divided over the deal that was cut with Harrik.

Then Menagerie quickly entered the room, apologizing for his lateness. Having just come from the Lake in Central Park, he was distracted and anxious to speak when…

Soldier stood up and chose his words carefully as not to offend Vanguard.
"Gentlemen...I've asked you all here because I've come to the conclusion. I need to take a leave of absence to deal with some personal matters. I'm not resigning, but I do need to take a break and resolve some issues that I'm dealing with. If you need to contact me, you can leave message with CHESS, and I'll respond as soon as possible." With that, he waited for any comments they may have.

Lightning Strike also stood up and spoke to the assembled heroes.  “As you all know I have been with Vanguard and fought alongside you from the very beginning.  I am a man of few words and not given to speechmaking that comes easily to some of you.” He nodded to Sentinel.

Strike continued, “The events of the past few months have led me to do some serious soul searching and I have finally come to a conclusion.  Effective immediately, I will be taking a leave of absence from Vanguard.  I feel in my heart of hearts that granting those murderous scum a pardon was the absolute worst decision we could make.  The blood will be on our hands should they commit one more crime.  The ends do not justify the means in our case.  Vanguard should represent the best that mankind has to offer.  We should never compromise our principals.  It is a slippery slope that I am not willing to go down.  I do not condemn anyone for deciding in favor of the pardons as I think getting Caine out of the presidency was of paramount importance, however, I do believe we would have found the evidence in due time. “

Menagerie was about to tell Vanguard of the threat that Archimedes has divined when Lightning Strike said, “I also feel that our missions have become more cosmic and of a grander scale and I for one wish to get back to fighting crime on the streets.  We have an obligation to every man, woman and child in this city and our country as a whole to make them feel safe and protected.  I want to be that man on the streets looking out for them in ways that perhaps Vanguard as a whole cannot.  My friends, this is not goodbye.  If ever the need arises, I will come back to Vanguard and serve with you again.  It has been my honor and privilege to have fought by your sides and we have accomplished great things and will accomplish more in the future.  I have my ways of finding out if I am needed and will be at your sides in the blink of an eye.”

With that, Lightning Strike made to exit the conference room, collect his belongings and move on to the next phase of his life.

Avatar nodded at this. He, too, had thoughts of leaving Vanguard but had decided to stay for the time being.
"We'll definitely miss you. I understand what you mean about street crime but there's a never-ending supply of villainy out there at all levels. Don't forget about us and keep in touch. We're always here to aid you if you need it."

Menagerie was very concerned about the pending departures. He offered any support to Soldier that he would take. "The phrase 'A little birdie told me so' has a much broader meaning and implication for me."
Menagerie told Lightning Strike that he agreed with the distaste of allowing Harrik and Skin Deep walk but this isn't the answer. "The pack is always stronger with all its member. Going it alone invites disaster."

Hearing Soldier and Lightning Strike's decisions, Slingshot was intent on his hands with a dour look to his face. He looked up, clearly unhappy. "I understand how you feel. Damn it. I wanted Harrik, that bastard, to pay. Skin Deep too! But you were all there! You were all in the Omega Universe. You know what would have happened if Caine made it to the presidency! We still have to deal with MEDUSA. Steven.. Matt.. I know exactly how you feel." Scott didn't notice that he managed to crush his armchairs as he did his small rant.

Lightning Strike countered, “I have my doubts that what we saw was what would have happened in our universe. There are a myriad of permutations that could have ended in a practically infinite number of outcomes. The fact that we were shown one outcome, means no more than seeing a clairvoyant on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. We controlled our circumstances and the fact that we prevented that one particular outcome means that we happened to drop the pebble in the right place in the pond and our ripples went the way we hoped. Once again, the ends do not justify the means.”

Sentinel listened to the replies of the others, and then said, "I know that we are all unhappy with the deal made with Harrik, and that half of us were totally against it. I'm among them. But this isn't on us. Vanguard doesn't have the legal authority to cut deals. And what's happening here makes it even more clear to me. This was orchestrated.
“I didn't believe Harrik would roll over the way he did and sell out his benefactor for his ticket out of prison. He said he was for sale to the highest bidder... he wanted us to believe it was 'the system'. I don't buy it. How about Black Bat pays more. He eliminates his competition in Caine. He has Harrik come to us, when we have no authority to cut a deal, to splinter his other biggest threat, Vanguard... us. And you're playing into it.
“You need some time to clear your heads, you take what you need. We're all entitled to that. But don't let Harrik have the satisfaction of knowing he got in your head... and don't let that egomaniac Black Bat fracture you into going totally Lone Wolf so he can pick you off easier and make us weaker."

Soldier and Strike said their goodbyes and left.
Soldier packed his bags, checked in with CHESS, and left them a contact number.

Sentinel followed Strike to his room. As Strike gathered his belongings, out of the earshot of everyone else, Sentinel said, "Stephen don't do this. You are the only other one that has been here from the very beginning, from that first night on the roof. We need you. As much of a pain in the ass you can be your lone wolf approach to our missions is unique and invaluable and provides us with an edge. We won't be the same. And you need Vanguard as much as we need you. I fear for you off alone. We keep you grounded. I'm afraid you will go too far off into a dark place without us. Stephen, tell me you aren't quitting here."

Lightning Strike responded to Sentinel once confronted in his quarters. "Kirk, if you come here seeking forgiveness for what Vanguard has done, you obviously don't know me well enough. If you feel palming off what was done on the government and that assuages your guilt so be it. You and I know the feds would not have acted without our consent."
Strike continued, "I am not some kid fresh off the streets who needs his nose wiped. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself on the streets and you can believe I will be keeping an eye on the affairs of Vanguard. I find your choice of words interesting. As a man essentially made from electricity, explain to me why I need to be grounded. That being said, I am sure this will not be our last conversation."
Strike continued to pack.

Sentinel said, “I'm not seeking your forgiveness. Or that of any one else. Each member had an opinion on the matter. I happened to agree with you on this one. It didn't go our way ... but ultimately I disagree with you on who made this decision. I think final decision on cutting this deal lies with those who have the authority to cut deals and that isn't us.
“And my words were out of concern for you. It's not that you can't take care of yourself regarding the villainy out there. You've more than proven it time and time again. And I'm sure you will in the future, with our without us. No, I'm afraid you'll lose yourself to what is within you ... or perhaps lacking within you. Since Caine took your wife you've cut yourself off from others... even from close family that cared like Archer. You cut yourself off from him and you see how it turned out for both of you. We keep you in touch with your humanity ... I'm afraid one day you'll enter that electrical form and never choose to return. That would be a tragic loss.
“Stephen, I know you're angry. But don't stay away long. You really do need us as much as we need you."

Lightning Strike finished collecting the few personal possessions he kept at Vanguard Vault. He turned to Sentinel and said, “How typical of you to assume that I have failed to take care of my few remaining family members. The fact that I take care of my own in ways you can’t understand supports my decision. Don’t try to stop me on this one Kirk and feel free to lead the team as you see fit.”

Then SHAKOW! He was gone.

Sentinel was alone in Strike’s empty quarters. He walked back to the meeting room just as Shelley Harper burst in. She was holding her cellphone.

Shelley said, “Guys! Something weird is going on. Rachel Ray just called me, looking for Clone. She thinks Alex is in trouble. She just spoke to him and said he didn’t sound right. He was really distraught. Rachel Ray says we have to find him!”

Menagerie immediately tried to raise Clone on his communicator and got no answer.

Shelley said, “I don’t want to invade his privacy or anything but can we, like, track the GPS on his Vanguard communicator just to make sure he’s alright?”

Slate brought it up on the wall sized monitor.

“He’s still in the city,” said Hal. “I’ve got the address. 9 East 91st street.”

“What’s there?” asked Slingshot.

Avatar Googled it. “It’s the Soviet Consulate.”

The GPS transponder was right outside the consulate. It wasn’t moving. It was 10:17pm.

To be continued!

OOC: Actions?!

Also, Replies to any and all of the above.

Sorry that some of you didn’t get everything done that you wanted to during downtime. Usually it’s longer. 

Seth/Sentinel, you took your advancement early (via a Luck Point), remember?  You bought down your minor weakness. Fyi, a mind blast is possible but could require multiple advancements to buy it.

New, updated character sheets to follow.


Current Conditions (with five days of healing since the Aztech assault):

Avatar: Hit Points: 16, Power Points: 85, Manifestation: None

Clone: Bodies: 1, Hit Points: 20, Power Points: 64, Hit Point Pool: 20

Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 23, Power Points: 85

Menagerie: Hit Points: 13, Power Points: 66, Form: Man

Sentinel: Hit Points: 27, Power Points: 70, Creation Points: 140, Shields: 0

Slate: Hit Points: 35, Power Points: 73

Slingshot: Hit Points: 41, Power Points: 92, Invulnerability: 8 (could not regenerate heat/flame damage)

Symbiote: Hit Points: 36, Power Points: 83, Charges: 14, Copied: none

Viva Vanguard!


Private to Clone:
Having walked the streets of New York for hours, Clone found himself standing outside the Soviet Consulate. He had no idea how long he had been standing there.

His communicator was still off. He had needed time to think after his brief call with Rachel Ray.

It was after 10pm. Long past consulate hours.

He stared silently at the red flag of the USSR that flew in front of the building. The flag he once fought for. Once swore to defend.

Also, reply to any and all of Issue 166 that you care to. Thanks!


OOC: Nice setup!

Here's a quick reply to close off one thing:

>>Also, he was sneaking into servers in the Vault, but at this point he will request internet access. Argument points: “I was able to save the Digital Zone, and I did figure out Homicide was after the President. I had done nothing to display malice, or to cause concern… PLEASE…” <<
 Scott smiles, "You know we did this for your protection as much as for everyone. You are so young, yet you've shown such promise and wisdom. I'm quite aware of what you've been able to do. If I didn't tell you, I'm proud of you, son." He give Ethan a hug. "I see no issue with granting you access to the internet. Further to that, your mom and I talked and I'm interested in building a communication bridge to Cyberspace. This will allow you, us all, to communicate with the Entity and continue to foster our friendship."

One of Scott's fondest memories of his father was helping him build the tree house at the cottage. They had spent the whole summer working on it. Coming up with the plan, sizing up the tree, the buttressing, the roof. Thinking back to that moment, it was probably what prompted Scott to become a civil engineer. "Why don't we work together on it? Come and let's see if anyone else in the team is interesting in helping?"

>>There was a Vanguard team meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. The agenda was:
• CHESS briefing on MEDUSA
• CHESS briefing on “the Lost Lab of Dr. Swastika.”
• Felicity Chase, PR and Vanguard the Animated Series
• REACH activities<<
  That looked like a really interesting meeting! especially the MEDUSA update.


OOC: Jeff, is there anything that I can do to heal up faster? Use of Heightened Endurance and/or Healing skill applied to myself?

Assuming that John catches wind of what Symbiote is doing with Menagerie, he asks if he can participate in the former’s experimentation. “I’m no magician, Hal, but I do seem to be powered by the divine and if that isn’t some form of magic, I don’t know what is. I can throw in and do research and my powers can, perhaps, provide insight when you have questions that I can put to the gods. I can tap into something…maybe it’s the wisdom of the Greek gods or “gods”or maybe it’s something else…that lets me get answers that are limited in scope to “yes” or “no”, basically, but one way or another, the choosing of the correct path between two, can be the difference between success or failure and can certainly speed up research. Up to you, of course, but it sounds like possible fun. I feel a need to learn more about my powers, anyway, and purposeful, directed research is the best way, eh?”

John has been working hard but not using his powers at all, feeling that working out with them is a cheat. Harrik’s experience has got to be the key to how easily he defeated John when they fought. Avatar wasn’t at his strongest at the time but that makes little difference. John knew that the man, unenhanced though he might be, was an awesome combatant, something that he hadn’t really thought over the times that they’d encountered him. A leader and tactician, yes, but he hadn’t been prepared for Harrik’s virtual dismissal of Avatar while manifesting the powers of both the war god and the god of messengers.

Sweat was streaming from him as he worked the multiple extra-heavy bags in the Vanguard gym. Sgt. Stone’s entry shook him out of his focused reverie.

“Go my way? No, they didn’t, not really. That’s not the way things are supposed to play out.”

John strips off the bag gloves that he’d been using and pulls on some boxing gloves, more to protect his own hands than anything else.

“The way I figure it, I’m playing at a whole different level than I have until now. I can’t just rely on what I’ve relied on in the past. Yeah, life’s been great…and generally pretty easy. I’m blessed, you see, but the bad thing about that is that even the holiest of holies gets taken down in all the stories and it’s usually by something from left field.”

John steps into the ring, manifesting Heightened Strength as an avatar of Ares, his eyes picking up their divine glow.

“Unfortunately, divine abilities, while great in theory, aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. In the end, the gods get foiled by chance or by the sharp wit of some mortal, so wrapped up are they in their godhood. Guess that’s where I need to focus and where my true strength might lie, the powers of the gods combined with the wit and drive of mortality? Ah, screw it, Sarge, why can’t things be more simple?”

John manifests the Heightened Endurance derived from Hera and shrugs. “Time to take out some frustration, I guess.” Avatar attacks Sgt. Stone, inwardly wincing at what is most likely going to be a painful lesson at the massive hands of the old pile of rock.

When Sentinel finds John and speaks with him, John shrugs. “Thanks for the compliment but, honestly, I didn’t know what else to do. Harrik was and is the key figure in any fight that he happens to be in and keeping him occupied or taking him out, when possible, generally seems to be the best possible tactic. I feel more like cannon fodder, though. He took me down more quickly than I ever thought possible. I’m just glad that the rest of the team pulled everything through like they did.”

John shrugs at the thought.

“In regard to the Black Bat? That’s a scary one. I was still doing the Kairos thing when we fought him but even with the powers that are at my disposal now, I don’t think that there’s a lot to do. I don’t think that he’d be very successful at controlling me, personally, and I think that some of what I know people on my side of a fight feel might help them resist, but it’s no guarantee. I don’t know…maybe the light of Apollo would hurt him? Other than that, it’s just fighting skill and hitting hard. Maybe if we had some conflagration that would burn him up? Again, I don’t know. I’ve been itching to use my Hephaestian immunity to fire and heat to do battle in flame but it hasn’t come up yet. I’ll think it over but I think that I’m kinda limited in regard to what I could do against him. The light thing, though, might be of use. Vampires are supposed to be harmed by sunlight and I’ve got the power of the sun god in my hands if I want it. Arrows of sunlight from Apollo’s bow guided by the hand and eye of an avatar of Artemis? Could be pretty effective. No matter, though, Sentinel. I’m 100% with the team on whatever we decide to do and you can count on me to do whatever is necessary.”


OOC: Thanks, Stephane.
Hi Harold,
We can back-call this.
Heightened Endurance would have to be manifested continually (summoning it every 24 minutes) to affect your daily Healing Rate. But manifesting prevents you from resting, which is required to heal. So that won't work.
Healing skill will work like having medical attention while healing, as per the rules, (it'll multiply your healing rate by your Int/10 or 2.1.).
Everyone in Vanguard had medical attention the first day.
So you can do this the remaining four days for an extra 10 hit points healed.

OOC: Thanks, Jeff.


OOC: Since, it's 5 days after Aztech. This is plenty of time to ensure that the Skin Deep extracted DNA is being processed for review. I would like Doc Rocket to analyze.

Don't want it to get "lost".

Re: Slingshot flashback - Sorry, my family was in town this weekend and I wasn't able to get it done. I'll be working on this over the coming week. I don't think this is necessary for the turn to continue (unless you tell me otherwise). I would like to take my time and do it properly.

Clone: a few questions:
Did we know if Clone wanted to talk to the soviet. I would like to talk to his family to know if they knew any reasons for him going there? Is there anymore family member that needed retrieval? a friend maybe?

I'm sure that we (USA) keep tabs on the soviet communications. Is there anything that pertains Clone? Did we get a exchange request for some other person? Is there anything about Clone being on trial for treason or some such?

Also hunting down Mother Russia to see if she can help, even if it's only information.

Looking at the location information, Scott shakes his head. We definitely need to send someone to retrieve the communicator. I would doubt that clone is anywhere near there. Anyone that has extra sensory capabilities, should go there to see what they can gather. I don't think it would be a good thing to muscle our way in. International incidents have a tendency to backfire on you.

We need more information, to ensure that if we have as much has possible.

We should get a hold of Mother Russia. Maybe Talon knows where she is..


OOC replies to Slingy:

Vanguard didn't know that Clone was thinking about the Soviets, just that he was distant and quiet.
You can reach out to his family, who have recently moved out of Vanguard Vault. Shelley has their new address.
You've heard of no Soviet chatter that pertains to Clone.

Menagerie to Hank Archer, "So what do you plan to do? Run and hide for the rest of your life? There has to be a way to turn this to your advantage. Even in prison you can serve the cause of Justice.

Menagerie will reach out to talk with the birds and rats around and in the Soviet Consulate to find out if Clone is in there and what is happening.

He will also make sure he is at the Tower at dawn to meet with Archimedes.



Digital Zone/Cyberspace (to Slate, Slingshot, Symbiote, others involved)
“I’ve had a couple of thoughts about this… is it possible to isolate what it is in the makeup of the Datanauts suits that enabled the zone to accept us? If so, instead of the suits might we be able to adapt the same technology into usage via nanobites? This would allow us greater mobility and eliminate the risk of the suit being destroyed and the zone rejecting us?”

“Ethan, when dealing with the virus released in the zone, it seemed you were able to adapt the zone to reject the virus… almost as if you inserted your own subroutine to adjust the parameters of the zone to combat it. Might you be able to do something similar to encode the zone to accept us in its environment? We know we can exist there at least temporarily since we have done so but perhaps it is possible for you to adjust things so that we can exist converted digitally without the rejection or damage.”

Archer Situation
Via mental scanning… any presence of control being asserted on Archer? Is Black Bat’s mental presence still within him in any way? Is there anything Kirk can pick up to calm him or assist him?

And asked previously… is there anything regarding the truth about Caine coming out that can be used to clear Archer at this time?

Since Vanguard’s opinion on the Harrik situation seemed to count for so much, can our new found authority or ‘respect’ from those with judicial power extend to our assisting Archer out of this situation?

OOC: I’m confused as to when the confrontation with Archer at the cabin happened now… is it before or after the revelation about Caine?

Avatar- Sgt Stone
OOC: Favorite Scene of the issue: Loved the setup. Great stuff!
And Harold, way to run with it in your post. Very cool!

No,” said Shelley. “It was about Nan. I think I’m happier back in the lab. Superhero-ing was something I wanted to do and now I’ve done it. I think I can help people more in other ways. But what should become of my wind suit?”
(Reply Sentinel, if any?):

“Have to tell you, that’s a bit of a relief. When you went into the Zone, had Ethan and Scott not gotten you out at that moment… I was going through the gate. I mean, I was always concerned for you out there on our missions,” and he paused, “but now, it was almost overwhelming. But Shel, despite my misgivings… once you’ve put on the suit, it’s hard to take it off. You have the soul of a hero and a heart that cares beyond most. It’s one of the reasons I feel about you the way I do. With your talents and smarts you can give in so many ways and maybe you don’t need to put on the suit anymore…. but perhaps you should keep it in reserve for now, until you are absolutely sure. And if along the way you find someone worthy of the suit, maybe then you’ll decide to pass it along.”

Avatar-Black Bat
Arrows of sunlight from Apollo’s bow guided by the hand and eye of an avatar of Artemis? Could be pretty effective. No matter, though, Sentinel. I’m 100% with the team on whatever we decide to do and you can count on me to do whatever is necessary

“Thanks John. I know we can always count on you. Your bold perseverance despite the odds against us has inspired us onward and turned things around more than we let on… and the sun power of a God is surely something that strikes fear into the Black Bat’s dark heart. It likely means he’ll try to take you out of the game so he doesn’t have to confront you. We’ll have to be prepared for that…

We’re pretty good on the whole true faith in God thing too…Clone is a one-man Legion of faith… yes, we are very very different from last time. We can confront him on a number of different levels…” and Kirk began to plan.

OOC: Jeff, when we are ready to gear up for the Black Bat or in further prep, perhaps you can remind us of the stuff of legend vs the stuff we know to be factual in this word regarding vampires, etc. I think you did this last time around but likely we all need to be reminded.

I do remember that whole thing but since you didn’t mention it in the issue end I thought perhaps we’d already advanced that level previously and taken care of it (you lose track at our pace). No problems here on it and perhaps we’ll talk further about the mind blast next time unless something more appropriate or needed comes up in the next adventure.

On Clone/Soviet Consulate, Kirk is fine flying within range to do recon and will use his senses to confirm things as appropriate. He will go in with his shields ‘up’ naturally but would try to read things from a distance and pass along the information before making his presence known in the situation unless some other action is warranted.

If I missed anything needed or appropriate for Kirk to respond to, please remind me.



Menagerie/Tom: The Tower is, of course, Vanguard Vault, btw.

The Range on Nature Sense/animal psychometry is CHA x 5”, or around 550 feet. Do you want to fly within range of the consulate? Thanks.

Sentinel/Seth: Thanks.
The Hank Archer confrontation is a flashback, occurring before the wedding, and therefore the final resolution with Harrik and Caine. Sorry, we didn’t complete it before the wedding.

Re: vampire legends: will do.



OOC: Yes. He will fly within range as a bird.


Slate went to work on the requests regarding the Digital Dimension. He didn’t really know how he affected things in that dimension, but he was excited to work on it with Scott and the rest of the team.
After finding Clone’s communicator, he immediately went to work trying to find additional information as to his whereabouts, including video cameras around the Russian compound. He will not invade the Russian’s systems unless he is specifically asked. He thinks about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and has not intent of creating a diplomatic incident. He will also look for any American security devices that might currently be targeting the consulate.
Slate requested one of the tracking devices that were created to find his mother. He wants to have one of them near at hand and if no one is using them… he’ll keep it in his room.
Slate stayed out of the discussions with Soldier and Lightning Strike. Soldier had been away from Vanguard for most of his “Life,” and although Slate wanted to get Lightning Strike better, he didn’t feel he could change his decision, the things he said made sense to Slate regarding the release of Harrick and his team… It seemed somehow contrary to what his father had taught him about responsibility and right and wrong.
Slate grabbed a bag of carrots out of the fridge and went looking for Snowball, he needed a friend.
Thanks for the character sheets, very convenient to have the current ones in hard copy format for me...
In regard to Hank Archer: Finally, Hal stepped forward. "Hank, I don't know exactly what's gone on between you and Lightning Strike. Not entirely my business. But, please, please believe me when I tell you we're going to get you out of this situation. If you won't believe Symbiote, maybe you'll believe.."
And with that, Hal removed his mask.
"...your best friend's son."
He paused and let it sink in. "It's me, Hank. I've played it close to the vest in order to protect you and Dad and everybody else I care about. But I'm not going to hang on to my secret if it means that you continue to be hurt. I'm trusting you, and asking you to trust us for a while longer.
"We'll get you out of this, Hank. We're going to tell the authorities the truth about why you're here, for starters. We're going to tell them that Lightning Strike Omega kidnapped you against your will, and that you cooperated when we asked you to return to prison. And in a few weeks, when Slingshot has his wedding, we're going to ask for help from the one person who can get it for you, one of our esteemed wedding guests--we're going to ask the President of the United States to give you a full pardon."
OOC: Obviously, as with the best laid plans of superheros and scientists, this doesn't work out too well at first. But once the smoke clears from the Blessed Event Horizon affair, and the president learns that we saved his life AND were unjustly accused for a while for our trouble? I'm hoping he'll be grateful enough to grant us this boon.
In regard to Sentinel's question about protecting the group from The Bat's mind control: "I don't know, Kirk. Black Bat is pure magic, way out of my area of expertise. I am willing to put myself, Strike and Slingshot through full MRIs to find out if I can detect some sort of influence on our minds. But all of this leads to another question...
"Harrik says Cain was working with Black Bad. But when we first encountered him, he sent me, Slingshot and Strike to kill Cain. Why? Why try to destroy your own henchman? Just what kind of game is Cain or the Bat--or for that matter Harrik--playing? Who's really in charge here?"
In regard to Clone: (This response is tentative, may change once Kevin gets back with us). "He's outside the embassy," Hal said, moving quickly to his computer. "Once he's inside he's in Soviet territory, and getting him back or even just talking to him becomes a lot more complicated. We have to reach him NOW," he says, waiving his gauntlet over a contact on the computer. The Harness absorbed Lightning Strike's power template. With that, Hal turned to electricity, dived into the nearest power outlet and travelled by electrical current to the nearest lamp post at the consulate, hoping to head Alex off before he made a big mistake.

That's all for now.
Viva Vanguard


OOC: Great post, Greg.
Excellent on the Hank Archer
segment... and the dialogue showing the contrast between the Symbiote-Lightning Strike personalities.... good stuff!



OOC: Thanks. The Presidential pardon business just came to me. Wonder if it'll work...


OOC: Sorry Seth. Missed this:

Sentinel wrote: Re: the Archer confrontation at the lake house flashback:
“Is there anything regarding the truth about Caine coming out that can be used to clear Archer at this time?
Since Vanguard’s opinion on the Harrik situation seemed to count for so much, can our new found authority or ‘respect’ from those with judicial power extend to our assisting Archer out of this situation?”

GM Reply: Hi Seth.
This scene takes place beforeVanguard cut the deal with Harrik, and Caine was arrested. So there’s no truth coming out yet that can be used to clear Archer’s name. Likewise your second question. That hasn’t happened yet.

In the present (five days after the Aztech Invasion), Caine has just been arrested today, and is pleading the fifth. So nothing yet to clear Archer’s name either.
But even when Caine’s crimes go public, I don’t know if his name could be cleared. It would just mean Archer attempted to assassinate a criminal (Silas Caine) instead of a presidential candidate (Silas Caine).



Private to GM:
Standing silently outside the Soviet Consulate beneath the soft glow of a nearby street light, Clone frantically mulls over in his head the decision he's about to make. He knows that once he knocks on that door, there's no turning back. Anxiety and panic quickly replace logic and reason as he tries to think about what he feels he needs to do and what has happened to him to bring him to this crossroads in his life. His eyes close for a moment as he thinks about his friends, his family, and his new life here in the United States. A tear slowly runs down his cheek as he whispers aloud in Ukrainian, " . . . I'm sorry mama."

He slowly reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out his Vanguard Communicator. He raises the device up in front of his chest as if to speak into it, but instead clasps his other hand over it as if to silence it from speaking. Once again Clone whispers aloud in Ukrainian, " . . . goodbye my friends." As he starts to walk across the street he unconsciously begins to relax his grip on the device. Without concern or intent, Clone allows the communicator to lazily slip away from his hand and eventually fall to the ground.
the decision has been made.

Standing motionless before the door to the consulate for a moment, Clone takes a deep breath and then rings the front bell. Knowing that he has arrived unexpectedly in the middle of the night, Clone removes his hat and stares up at one of the nearby security camera's. With a look of utter defeat and complete indifference on his face, Clone says to the blank lens of the security camera ( OOC: in Russian ), "Tell Doctor X . . . I am here."


Love the way the story is developing, Jeff! If you need more from me - let me know. If you need to take control of Clone's actions for some reason during this story to make it work a certain way - go for it - I'm all about the story. Also; depending on how you want to work the story, if you need to 'sideline' me for an issue, or two, or more - no worries - I'm totally cool with it - whatever it takes to make the story work out better, count me in.
Talk to you soon bro,