Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Vanguard: Issue 168: The Super Soldier That Came In From the Cold.

During the five days after the assault on Aztechnology, this had transpired:
Avatar was disillusioned after his battle with Jim Harrik.

Sgt. Stone got him into the ring and proceeded to show him no mercy. WHAM! It was soon clear this was no sparring session. BOOM! The twin titans slugged it out or 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 20, without stopping. POW! Sarge poured it on like never before, and withstood the preternatural power of Avatar. SLAM! 25 minutes and both men still stood against the mutual onslaught.

Sarge grunted as he gasped for air, “Why ya holding back?” He looked John in the eye with his baby blues. “Kid, there’s only one of us in this ring that doesn’t have to be a brick if he don’t wanna be.” 

Avatar's activated powers were about to fade. He cocked his head at the old pile of stone in front of him and and queried, "What do you mean?"

Sarge gasped, “I mean yer still thinking like Kairos. Or like Sir friggin Lancelot. You can shoot lightning bolts outta yer ass. Laser beams outta yer eyes. Blizzards like a regular nor’easter. So why you wanna fight me with yer bare hands? Or goddamn Jim Harrik in-close with an antique weapon?

You think mebbe it’s unfair to use all yer powers? Well is it unfair that my hide is made outta friggin rocks?! Fight me, damn you. You think Harrik was fightin’ you fair ‘n’ square?!”

Sarge made with his Sunday punch. POW! 

Avatar saw stars and fell to his knees. His activated powers of godly Strength and Endurance were fading…

(Actions? Replies?)

Symbiote and Sentinel kept their word to Detective Hank Archer.

While Hank was in custody, the two heroes IMMEDIATELY began lobbying for a Presidential pardon for Hank Archer, through the director of CHESS and any other contacts they had at their disposal. Symbiote stopped just short of nagging. 

CHESS Director Grey brought it to the White House. “They said no dice,” said Grey several days later.

“The president can’t pardon a man who tried to assassinate the candidate who was running to defeat the president. Would be like Nixon pardoning Sirhan Sirhan.” 

Sentinel said, “Since Primate helped redefine the definition of intelligent life and murder due to his sentience ... there was clear evidence of his ability to control and influence others via mental influence... what laws have been written regarding recognizing this?” 

Grey replied, “You’ve been visiting too many parallel dimensions, kid. Primate was imprisoned for the murder of most of AEGIS Europa. All that other stuff was a vision that Oracle put in your head. At least if I understand it all properly, and I’m not sure that I do.” 

Sentinel countered, “Was it recognized in court that some members of Vanguard were under the Bat's mental influence in attacking Caine?”

Grey replied, “We kept all that out of court, remember? And thank god we did.”

Sentinel tried, “OK. What court precedents are in place regarding mental control?” 

Grey said, “None. Hank Archer’s case would be a precedent if he plead something like mind control.” 

Symbiote started nagging at this point. 

Grey took it back to the White House, who fell silent. Whether they were ignoring the request or reconsidering it was unclear at this point. Days passed without an answer and…

Five days after the assault on Aztechnology: 
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.

Vanguard had no idea that Clone had been thinking about the Soviets, just that he was distant and quiet. Vanguard had heard of no Soviet chatter that pertained to Clone. They knew Clone’s family had recently moved out of Vanguard Vault. Shelley had their new address.

Looking at the location information, Slingshot shook 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. We should get a hold of Mother Russia. Maybe Talon knows where she is…” Slingshot said, unaware that Symbiote had been seeing her.

Sentinel was fine with flying within range to recon with his extranormal senses. He formed his energy shields and flew to the hanger, to exit the top of the Empire State Building from the 85th floor! 

Menagerie transformed into the shape of Eagle and followed the beacon of liberty! “SKRAAA!”
The two hurtled straight up Fifth Avenue toward their destination, 60 blocks to the north! The two miles would take them less than two minutes to cover! Both planned to use their paranormal senses once they were within range! Rain was falling steadily and thunder growled from the distant horizon.
Inside Vanguard Vault…

Slate tried to find additional information as to Clone’s whereabouts, including video cameras around the Russian compound. He wouldn’t invade the Russians’ systems unless he was specifically asked. He thought about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and had no intent of creating a diplomatic incident. He also looked for any American security devices that might currently be targeting the consulate and found none.
The scion of cyberspace hacked into a traffic camera on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 91st Street. Half a block down the street it showed a solitary figure, obscured in rain and darkness, crossing the street to the embassy!
Slate said. “That’s him. His communicator is moving toward the consulate. Wait. The GPS stopped moving… I think he dropped his communicator.”

"He's outside the embassy," Symbiote 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 said, waving his gauntlet over a contact on the computer. The Harness absorbed Lightning Strike's power template!
With that, Hal turned to electricity -SHAKOW!- and dove into a 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!

Symbiote was gone!

Slate began trying to figure out what was going on. He looked at phone records for calls to the Embassy to see if Clone had been in contact. He searched both the phones from the Vault, and from Clones parent’s residence. He also searched for any emails sent to the embassy. He was not trying to read every email Clone had written, more to find any indication that he’d been in contact with the Russian embassy, Mother Russia, or any of his previous team members.

He increasingly became frustrated with how slow the interactions were between him and the computer… typing, waiting for a response… all so inefficient they needed to know what was going on now. He thought fondly of that short time in the digital zone, seeing the data, feeling it around him, he longed to return. IT was in there, somewhere in this very terminal, in every terminal, every digital device, there was a connection. He had to be able to tap into that “source” somehow. 

Slate was vaguely aware of the conversations going on around him, of individuals standing, a flash and Symbiote was gone. Slate could almost see the living electricity moving through the wiring of the Vault, but it was gone so quickly… what must that feel like, he wondered again. His attention snapped back into focus.  

Slate discovered that no calls were placed between Vanguard
Vault or Clone’s parents’ residence and the Soviet Consulate. Clone’s email account showed no email between the consulate, Mother Russia, or any Soviet Super Soldier. The account had been idle for weeks.
The digital child rewound the traffic camera recording in front of the embassy and saw Clone standing for an hour in the rain outside the embassy. Then he tracked him backwards, walking the streets of Big City alone, for hours, until he emerged from Vanguard Vault earlier today.
He reviewed security camera images from within the “public” areas of the Vault and noticed Clone had been uncharacteristically quiet and aloof since the Aztechnology Assault.
Slate froze one image of himself, standing right next to Clone, oblivious to emotions that were now so obvious.
Suddenly Slingshot grabbed his son and raced to the top of the Empire State Building. Wrapping his elastic limbs around the northern corners of the observation deck, he slungshot himself and Slate across the sky like a living missile!
Avatar emerged onto the Vault observation deck and summoned a Pegasus down from the storm clouds! He leapt atothe white, luminous, impossible steed and flew north!

Shelley was alone in the meeting room, wondering if she should don her Zephyr windsuit and fly to the aid of her friend Alex. But her eyes were transfixed on the traffic camera…
Outside the Soviet Consulate…
SHAKOW!!! The lamp post exploded in a rain of sparks as Symbiote reassembled his molecules into human form on 91st Street!
Hal reeled to face the embassy and saw Clone standing on the steps before the consulate’s door, just 40 feet away. Through the rain, he saw the door was open and standing in the doorway was Mother Russia, the one-time leader of the Soviet Super Soldiers!
Both she and Clone had turned to look toward the explosion of Symbiote’s arrival. Clone still stood outside the consulate’s threshold.
Upon materializing outside the consulate, Hal tried to keep it light with the Muscovite Maid of Might and the Replicating Russian.   He smiled at them both and pantomimed dusting off his arms and legs, and feeling of his own torso as if to make sure his body was solid.  "Wow.  If I do that a thousand more times, I don't think I'll ever get used to it," he said.  Symbiote then took two steps closer to the Defecting Duo but moved slowly, keeping his hands where they could see them.  The idea was to convey the feeling that he wasn't there to fight.  "Guys, what are you doing here?  You particularly, Alex?  I know you have concerns--about your powers, about your appearance, about your past.  But do you think you're going to find the answers you want in there?  Do you believe you'll be treated any better, any more fairly or humanely, than you were in the past?"
"And Tatanya.  You and I have had some awfully good times, and I thought we kind of trusted each other," he asked, smiling devilishly.  Then, with a more sincere tone, he asked, "Was I wrong?"
Mother Russia offered no reply. In fact, her face held no particular expression at all.

Symbiote continued. "If you need answers, we'll get them for you. I have a few plans, now that I can copy Skin Deep's powers. Slate and Sentinel can do almost anything with computers, and Menagerie seems to have almost unlimited potential with his magic. We'll even put off saving the world again for a while," Symbiote said, jovially. "But you've got to know that going back to the Soviets is just putting chains around your own ankles again."
And he waited for the reply.
Suddenly, Lightning Strike materialized on the steps of the consulate, riding an unseen wireless frequency. The electric avenger had just quit Vanguard over Jim Harrik’s pardon. SHAKOW!
He said something briefly to Clone, and perhaps Mother Russia, that Symbiote could not make out.
And then he dematerialized! SHAKOW!
Neither Clone nor Mother Russia had spoken to Lightning Strike.
Clone returned his gaze toward Symbiote. He had a look of deep sadness and regret in his eyes. His eyes said what he could not, their message was simply - 'goodbye'. Clone then turned his attention to the Soviet super-heroine standing before him in the open doorway, once again his eyes spoke for the replicating Russian - 'I'm ready'. As Mother Russia stepped inside; with trepidation in his step, Clone walked into the embassy - the door closed slowly behind him.
Symbiote was alone on the street. Rain fell.
And then down from the heavens descended the otherworldly heroes and demigods of Vanguard!
Slingshot’s body was a huge black parachute that carried Slate softly to the street. Slingshot resumed his powerful, human form.

Sentinel levitated downward, his mighty energy shields aglow.

Menagerie, in the form of a great eagle, soared down. SKRAA! The wizard hero had already “seen” everything that had transpired here, through the yellow eyes of a nearby alley cat. 

Avatar’s mighty Pegasus glided down, and the Spartan superhero was momentarily illuminated by a flash of lightning!

Vanguard was assembled! No extrasensory power detected any danger on the street. The consulate that stood before them apparently had some form of defense that thwarted Sentinel’s energy scan and Symbiote’s borrowed electrical senses.
Thunder rolled across the heavens.
OOC: Actions?!
If you post before Greg/Symbiote, please assume that Symbiote will report all he saw.
Current Conditions:
Avatar: Hit Points: 26, Power Points: 70, Manifestation: Pegasus
Clone: Bodies: 1, Hit Points: 20, Power Points: 64, Hit Point Pool: 20
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 23, Power Points: 77
Menagerie: Hit Points: 13, Power Points: 65, Form: Eagle
Sentinel: Hit Points: 27, Power Points: 61, Creation Points: 122, Shields: 100
Slate: Hit Points: 35, Power Points: 72
Slingshot: Hit Points: 41, Power Points: 92, Invulnerability: 8
Symbiote: Hit Points: 47, Power Points: 88, Charges: 13, Copied: Lightning Strike
Viva Vanguard!

OOC: Yes indeed, Symbiote will tell the team everything he saw. Fuming.

More later...
OOC: Archer - Yes, I guess my head is scrambled and I have visited too many parallel dimensions. I thought we did have some sort of change in law ... if not with Primate, was there something about artificial intelligence?
On the appearance of Lightning Strike, any chance Symbiote has a clue whether it was our Strike or Omega Strike?
On Kirk's senses being blocked. Does he sense a mystical field blocking him or technological? It is a wall or circular? (ie could he perhaps approach from above or below to change perspective) Can Menagerie make contact inside or is he blocked also?
You did say outside there was no danger from our senses... any evidence that Strike is nearby still in any form?
What do we know about the Russian Ambassador? It seems likely Kirk would know his name and some stuff about him, etc.
Way I see it, unless we want to cause an international incident all we can do is wait... unless we are inviting in. Highly unlikely, but no reason not to try...
My formal action will be forthcoming and based on some of the above... but at this point I'm thinking Kirk turns to the rest of Vanguard and says, "If there are no objections, I'm going to try knocking..." Kirk will go to the door/intercom and try to see if he can speak with the Russian Ambassador. If they open the door to respond perhaps some of our senses will work. If he can get inside, why not do so and see what he can see? And if they say no, no loss here.
OOC: Does Menagerie know about Clone's ability to make duplicates that a permanent?
Can Menagerie contact any mice or pets within the Embassy? Can he listen in on the conversions? Is there any conversations that aren't in Russian?
Can Menagerie sense anything magical in the area?
Was Clone ever given American Citizenship? Would Vanguard know if he was?
Menagerie asked those around him if anyone know of a way to get a message to Clone? The message Menagerie wants to send is "Rachel Ray is worried about you and wants to talk to you."
Happy Thanksgiving
That gave me a thought. Energy senses not working... but I didn't specify about telepathy. Can Kirk get a telepathic lock on Clone to hear his thoughts? I'm guess Jeff will say no but if yes, at least we can get a clue. That would be one way, but of Menagerie is able to broadcast his thoughts from animal form (like he always does) we could in essence communicate - if that power set would work... although it seems Clone wasn't looking to do so prior to entering the embassy... perhaps now, and if not, at least we might learn the situation before contemplating our next move.
Replies to Sentinel and Symbiote:
Sentinel replies first:
“I thought we did have some sort of change in law ... if not with Primate, was there something about artificial intelligence?”
GM Reply: Yes. AI was ruled to have the same rights as an American citizen, much to Nanite’s relief.
“On the appearance of Lightning Strike, any chance Symbiote has a clue whether it was our Strike or Omega Strike?”
GM Reply: No.
“On Kirk's senses being blocked. Does he sense a mystical field blocking him or technological? It is a wall or circular?”
GM Reply: Kirk can’t tell.
“You did say outside there was no danger from our senses... any evidence that Strike is nearby still in any form?’
GM Reply: No.
“What do we know about the Russian Ambassador? It seems likely Kirk would know his name and some stuff about him, etc…
"If there are no objections, I'm going to try knocking..." Kirk will go to the door/intercom and try to see if he can speak with the Russian Ambassador. If they open the door to respond perhaps some of our senses will work. If he can get inside, why not do so and see what he can see? And if they say no, no loss here.”
GM Reply: Kirk knows the Russian Ambassador’s name, but he lives in Washington DC. Whoever is responsible for the consulate would normally not be here, as it’s well after official hours.
If you try the knock idea, please include an if/then series of orders, in case it doesn’t work, so I’d still be able to move the story along.
“Can Kirk get a telepathic lock on Clone to hear his thoughts?”
GM Reply: The young telepath scans the Russian consulate and can detect 13 conscious minds within the building! They are scattered among the basement, first floor, second floor and third floor. He has no way of identifying Clone without a thought scan. He chooses a mind close to the front door (PR= 1, + another 1 for using an action) attempts a mind scan and finds he cannot read the subject’s thoughts! Kirk can’t identify the cause of this failure, whether it’s the same cause of his failed energy scan, or if it’s the subject’s ability to resist a mind scan!  (OOC: What now? Scanning the remaining 12 will cost 24 points of Power)
Replies to Menagerie:
“Does Menagerie know about Clone's ability to make duplicates that a permanent?”
GM Reply: No. No one in Vanguard does.
“Can Menagerie contact any mice or pets within the Embassy? Can he listen in on the conversions? Is there any conversations that aren't in Russian?”
GM Reply: Menagerie can only see through the eyes of “Earth’s wild predators.” There are none inside the consulate.
“Can Menagerie sense anything magical in the area?”
GM Reply: No.
“Was Clone ever given American Citizenship? Would Vanguard know if he was?”
GM Reply: He was working toward it for him and his family. Vanguard hadn’t heard if it was given yet, but it would’ve been a big deal; Alex would have mentioned it, so it must not have happened yet.
Menagerie stared at the Russian Consulates door in shock and dismay. He tried desperately to use his heightened senses to find out if Clone was being controlled magically. He called out to the predators in the area to find out if Clone was being held against his will.
There was no response.
From everything he could tell Clone walked in of his own free will into the traitorous arms of Mother Russia. He couldn’t believe it either. He had heard she had changed to the point of adopting the moniker of Knockout.
The memory of Lightning Strike appearing and speaking to Clone flashed in Menagerie’s mind’s eye. He could not believe it then when the rat had shown him and he can’t believe it now.
Menagerie slowly walked around the perimeter of the building. He made sure he stayed on U.S. soil at all times. He wasn’t going to create an international incident over this. It was Clone’s free right to enter. He was a Russian citizen still as far as Frank new. Beside no one had to defect to leave the U.S.A. It was a free country where leaving the country for another is allow as long as proper documents were filed. Menagerie reminded himself Clone wasn’t American; he was Russian so all he had to do is exactly what he did.
Clone had the freedom to leave Vanguard just like the others had before including Lightning Strike. There was not wrong to right here, only a personal choice to be made.
So why did Menagerie feel so bad. Was it because Clone had left with saying good-bye to either Snowball or him?
Menagerie stopped walking. He had found what he was looking for. A place to roost that would provide visibility to the most used exits.
Menagerie turned into an owl. He flew up to the roosting spot.
He reached out to the smallest predators he could find. He offered them food in the winter and a chance to serve ‘Our Lady’. He needed eyes to watch least used exits. Any obstructed or secret exists that they knew about he asked them to watch as well.
Unsure of what to do for Clone, if anything at all; Menagerie did the only thing he could do for his friend.
He watched.
Viva Vanguard
Before Kirk physically approached a small 'unseen' strand of his energy (figure a millimeter or so, likely perceptible to virtually no one and of translucent color with energy glow as minimal and undetectable as Kirk can do) flows at ground level towards the structure. The goal here is to see if the barrier that prevents his and Menageries senses from working is physical also. The energy will approach the structure and see if it is blocked.
If there is no barrier then I've a question. Let's say Kirk extended the energy past the entrance area into the premises
(1) Would it be possible for Kirk to use his energy that is past the barrier (assuming the barrier is surrounding the premises) to amplify his energy sense to reading inside? In other words since his energy would be 'in theory' past the area could his senses flow through the energy as a conduit to get him some readings?
(2) If Kirk has reason to believe the above is possible, is he on good ground having his energy enter the premises or might that create an incident equal to himself entering?
Assuming no further information is gotten to give a reason not to do so, Kirk will 'knock'.
He'll go up to wherever visitors go and ask if he can see Clone.
If someone answers, (assuming an intercom device) it would be a simple request along the lines of, "This is Sentinel of Vanguard, we know that one of our members Clone, was apparently invited into and has entered your embassy. We're concerned about him and would like to know if it is possible to speak with him."
Again, not looking to provoke anything here.
Assuming we don't get to speak with him and seeing Menagerie watching the premises after they move away from earshot he'll use their communicator to have Ajay get some eyes in the sky and see what the satellites can pick up. Is their thermal readings also blocked? Can he get things set up to maintain watch as to those existing and leaving, etc for when Menagerie wants to leave if this drags on.
Assuming we make it back to headquarters and we have a discussion about about this turn of events, Kirk will make the point that although it is possible that Clone took these actions freely, there is another possibility. He could have taken these actions under the influence of another... it might not even have been total control. He might have just gotten an extra push towards something he was already considering... he had withdrawn from us which was unlike him and he left without a word. Even if taking this action, why not tell us? This could even have been some sort of Russian mental 'programming' which was triggered.
If I'm missing anything else needed or anything above is unclear, let me know. But I wanted to get something in before deadline.
PS: Forgot about the mind reading. Kirk won't try to scan all of the minds but perhaps another couple located elsewhere in the building to see if he is being blocked or not.
If it ends up that they are leaving the scene to return to headquarters without a big showdown (which I'm expecting here)... if trying some more reads might give a better clue as to what they are up against here, he would do so before leaving.
Slingshot listened to Symbiote relate what he missed. "It sounds like he's doing this voluntarily. Something must have happened that both Clone and Mother Russia, both defectors, would be willing to go back for."
He paced for a moment. "Whatever it is, we know they are good people and we know they would go back for what was right." He slams a meaty right fist into his left palm. He turns on his PDA and calls out for HQ, hoping for either Grey or Drake. "I want a report of the whereabouts of Polar Bear and Shatter. Do we know where they are and if they have also gone back to Russian territory?"

The goal is again to get information. If they (Bear/Shatter) are available, someone should go meet them and question them on what would motivate Mother Russia/Clone to go back. I would elect Symbiote since he can travel faster/farther than any of us right now. Otherwise, we can travel the normal way.

If they have both re-defected, then that would leave us with one last person to reach - it's a long shot, if he's still alive, I mean cosmonaut. We could likely ask the Entity to help with the search.

These are the only leads that I can come up with at the moment. I'll try to think up some more, but I'm running out of time.
IC] "Why don't we all defect? That would at least keep the team together? I'm not saying go all the way with it, but at least get inside the consulate to talk to them or Clone."

[OOC] Clone will follow the team on this one, they've known Clone longer and know him better than Slate, so he's not stepping out by himself. If Slingshot mentions Cosmonaut or contacting the Entity, Slate gets very excited, and volunteers to help set something up, as he's been studying everything digital since he returned from his trip into the Zone.

[IC] "If we decide not to enter, I can setup monitoring sub-routines that will keep the consulate under surveillance 24/7 and alert us to any movements, but as we've all seen recently, movement doesn't always require walking through the front door. I can also tap into the communication grid to see if there is any traffic regarding Clone or Mother Russia coming into our out of the consulate. Doubtful they'd let something like that slip, people have been monitoring those communications for quite some time..."

Another thought based on Slate’s reply. Let's see if we can check surrounding traffic cams and other devices, etc from the past couple of weeks to see what other suspicious characters have come and gone... as Jon said, many don't come and go that way, but perhaps some do.
I've been slow to respond on this one because frankly, I'm stumped.

Seth/Kirk's idea of just going up and knocking is beautiful in it's simplicity. Hal's all for it if nobody else has a better idea. He's willing to go visit Polar Bear and Shatter if they can be located, too (though I thought Shatter got turned into a horrific monster in the Lost Lands? Am I thinking of somebody else?).

Beyond that? If we go back to Vault with our tails between our legs (as is looking likely), he'll begin trying to figure out a way to track down Lightning Strike. Strike knows something he's not telling us, and while this normally doesn't bother Hal, it does if it's endangering Clone (and possibly Mother Knockout, as I shall think of her for now).

Viva Vanguard,

That wasn't Shatter.
Echo was transformed into a hideous monster in the Lost Lands, in Vanguard Issue 96:
OOC: I'm good with simply walking up to the consulate and talking to them. I'm just not interested in getting into a fight.
My character is no spy, but couldn't we be able to "compromise" some of the help? I'm not quite in favor of giving money, but we might be able to get some cleaner to divulge information they might know about?