Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Vanguard: Issue 179: Measure Twice, Cut Once.

Vanguard was victorious! In the second leg of their desperate Quest against Cthulhu and the ending of the world, Earth’s greatest heroes had unexpectedly come face to face with the Black Bat, vampire crimelord of several continents, and eight of his cadaverous captains in crime!
Vanguard destroyed the vampire crimelords but their master, the Black Bat, had escaped.

Slingshot, frustrated with how he had been mind controlled into almost killing his only son, as well as the Bat’s escape, slammed the Bat’s iron safe onto the massive granite conference table! KA-WHAM!
The safe broke apart revealing its contents. Stacks of cash and a large golden cross.

Avatar, an experienced archeologist said, “This is from the Middle Ages.”
He picked it up gently and examined it. “These images claim…” 
He paused and began again. “Purported fragments of the True Cross were brought to western Europe, from the Holy Land and the Byzantine Empire, all throughout the Middle Ages,” he explained to Vanguard. “Reliquaries of the True Cross were sometimes made in the shape of a cross.”

He turned it over, and in its back plate was a small cruciform opening. Within the opening was set a small sliver of the True Cross.

Menagerie and Sentinel confirmed that this was indeed the second artifact of power.

Slate pulled his mask up above his nose, grasping for air... pain was a relatively new experience for him... tiny cuts from the bites of the rats cover his body, seeping blood. He reached up, feeling pain as he touched his side where the Vampire smashed him in the ribs... still, he felt the nanobots in his blood stream moving to the sites of damage, beginning repairs... he will survive.

His focus next moved outward, slowly taking in the carnage of this quick battle, amazed at what happened in such a short time. Burned and twisted bodies strewn about; rats appearing to realize they should not be here headed for the nearest exit; and his father smashing a safe to bits...
Slingshot hugged his son. He looked at him with distress in his eyes. "You know that I would have hurt you. I was looking through my eyes, but I was unable to do anything." He clenched his fists. He looked around the location and said to the air, "Bat, you've made an enemy today. Be sure we never cross paths again."
Slingshot hugged his son. He looked at him with distress in his eyes. "You know that I would have hurt you. I was looking through my eyes, but I was unable to do anything." He clenched his fists. He looked around the location and said to the air, "Bat, you've made an enemy today. Be sure we never cross paths again."

They had precise coordinates for each of the eight remaining artifacts of power.
He's back! with that Slate ran to his father, wrapping his arms around him, burying his face against his chest...

As the battle at the Penthouse came to an end and the remaining four Clones regained control over their senses and actions, each of the duplicates took a moment to stop what they're doing and just stare at the other three in silence. A strange and unfamiliar sense of anxiety swept through each of them as a slight chill raced down the back of their necks. They couldn’t help feeling as if they're staring at their own detached reflections from some kind of a dark and disturbing dream. Where were the voices? Where was the perfect harmony of shared thought and emotion that they each knew as their collectively singular self? The moment passed just as quickly as it came and all four of them were snapped back to reality by Slingshot's enraged warning to The Black Bat.
Although they lost the use of their hive-mind, each of the four Clones knew what the other was thinking ( OOC: figuratively speaking ). The newest addition to their list of absorbed Clones brought with it a completely new and previously unknown set of emotions with it - fear and suspicion. Everyone they had ever come in contact with over the course of their life had tried to either harm them or manipulate them for their own selfish needs; everyone except for his family . . . if they actually were his family. Clone knew that the members of Vanguard were his friends, but he couldn't help feeling afraid of them none the less. The 'New Clones' fear and paranoia had kept him alive and safe all of these years and Clone's 'Ukrainian Peasant Farmer' personality had always been insecure and confused - combined, these two personalities only amplified each other. Trust - he wasn't sure if he could ever give this to anyone ever again, not even to the people who had always given it to him. He had to make sure that he kept quiet, that he never tipped his hand to anyone, and that he would always have an escape plan in place should the need ever present itself - never again would he be the victim. So for now he would observe, listen and learn, but all the while playing the role of the humble little Clone that always sat quietly 'at the back of the bus'.

Menagerie contacted the mystics via his Vanguard communicator. “We’re in New York. How much power will it save if Vanguard traveled back themselves?”

The Mystic replied: "It will save me a gate spell and hours of rest to recover from it.

Menagerie asked, “Do you possess a spell to ruin the Bat's lair?”

The Mystic replied, "I'd rather not expend precious magical energy to spoil the Bat's lair. We'll need it for the Quest.”

Menagerie asked: “How long would it take to discern the locations of all the artifacts we seek?”

The Mystic answered, "Two days, perhaps less, and much Power. But in half that time, we would possess half the locations. No one was bitten? Good. You know how to destroy vampires, correct?"

Menagerie knew (via his Occult skill). A wooden stake must be put through their heart. Then they must be decapitated and the body burned to ensure they will not return to a state of undeath.

The sorcerous superhero explained this to his teammates and Vanguard grimly followed his instructions.
Slingshot used his stretching abilities to quickly go through the lobbies of the other floors and gather the necessary wood to help finish the job permanently.

Menagerie gathered up the vampire bodies. Menagerie asked Avatar to remove their heads.  If Avatar refused, Menagerie would borrow Avatar’s sword, doing it himself.
Menagerie worked carefully and quickly in the Bat’s lair. He purified key areas he was able to identify and use the holy cross artifact to bless the building and all that was within it.
Menagerie arranged for CHESS to transport the bodies carried back to the Vault.  At the next sunrise, Menagerie would burn the bodies in a funeral pyre at a secure location that CHESS would provide.
The vampire crimelord minions of the Black Bat were destroyed.

Slate moved around the room looking for clues and connections. The Bat may be a beast, but if he's doing business in this day and age, Slate felt confident he was using technology to track his assets/business. He searched the office next door, but would stay close to Vanguard as they decided next steps.

The scion of cyberspace found no computers at all. Either Bat knew of Lightning Strike’s abilities, or those of the FBI and NSA.

One of the Clones followed Slate and offered to 'watch his back' as he searched the office next door. Should the opportunity also present itself, Clone will 'palm' anything that he might find in that room that he thinks might be useful to him down the road. He'll only do this of course if he's confident that nobody is looking - he doesn't want to get caught and then have to explain himself - he wanted to keep Vanguard as his friends . . . at least for now.

This Clone found nothing. So much nothing that it was suspicious. No personal items of any kind. It was clear to his trained eye that no one lived here. It was a safehouse most likely. Used for meetings like this.

One of the Clones walked towards the small group discussing the cross, but made sure to stand on the outer edge of the discussion area. He looked on silently with wide-eyed amazement and appeared to be completely baffled and intrigued by the discussion and the object. His Folklore skill told him this was a holy relic of immense power, piety and importance. They should treat this sacred artifact with respect and reverence.

Two of the Clones walked around the room slowly in an obvious attempt to search for information and to keep an eye on the burned remains of the vampires - hopefully the dead stay dead.

Vanguard was able to quickly transport themselves back to Vanguard Vault under their own power.

Slate, upon arriving, sneaked away to his room to get a clean uniform. Then he checked on his mother, Nanite.

The three magi would be completely rested in an hour or so.
Vanguard used that hour primarily to debate and decide their next plan of attack!

Sentinel said, “If Archimedes’ cosmic awareness would simply give us the general area, I don't think we gain enough here.  We lose the time for Archimedes to do it and we just have a general area of the object that we may or may not be able to find with Sentinel/Menagerie's senses.  The location could be underground and we'd both miss it even if we managed to cover the entire area physically.  Or perhaps something else would block our senses from such a wide possible area so that we'd miss it.  At least with the porting in we are in the exact location of the artifact so that if something interferes with our senses we have only a small area to search and come close enough to sense it.   And with the general area only we wouldn't even have the option of bringing in other assistance to locate the artifacts since they would be lacking the ability.
I don't see this as an option unfortunately.  Although we certainly could use a better handle on things since time/power/health are running down for us and unless we get some freebies in some of these retrievals we are going to be spent by the time of the event and we are going to go in running on fumes trying to prevent the summoning.”

The Mystic said, “If you spend days on healing and on intel, there may not be time to collect the remaining eight artifacts unless you split up.”

Sentinel asked, ““So for Intel gathering what about my earlier idea of using scientific or magical methods to expand the scope of his energy power to focus in on the artifacts?  Given that Menagerie can also hone in and sense them also perhaps the two of us can be used as the focal point of the spell/device to help hone in quicker and more accurately.  Don't know how quickly the science types could come up with something but it would seem a magical spell to do the amplification should cost less than the method we are using now.  If there are more that are nearby it could perhaps allow for physical transport rather than magical too. 
“And if we did have this intel, given that the SSS has one artifact already if some are closer to them or within their borders as a last resort we could inform them.  At this point if they are under Swastika's control or working for the enemy  unknowingly whether they have one artifact or several makes no difference (from what we've been told) they have the same opportunity to summon Cthulhu’s Pantheon to earth.  So if we inform them, they can gather them.  At least we'd only have to hit one place to retrieve them or prevent their usage.
“We already have to hit them for the artifact they do have if we feel them a threat.  So their having more than one means we gather from less locations (Avatar already suggested having them do the work, so having them do some of it is on the table already).”

The Mystic estimated that creating a new spell that greatly increases the Range of Menagerie's and Sentinel's extranormal senses (a one shot invention of a very powerful spell) could take two days or more. If it succeeds, you would sense the locations of all of them at once.  And have more specific location than just the neighborhood. So time would be spent researching and inventing instead of healing Power back after Cosmic Awareness use.

Doc Rocket estimated that a scientific amplifier might take around the same time but it’s a guess because they've never studied Menagerie's and Sentinel's powers before. However this path would be developed by Vanguards scientists, ( and their test subjects Menagerie and Sentinel ) keeping the Mystic rested and ready for when the time came for transport. 

Sentinel said, “Another thought: Oracle can see the future which is shifting. All right.  But the location of the artifacts really shouldn't be shifting (I suppose unless another party takes them in the next few days before us).  In her future sightings she has no idea of where any of them were located or what was guarding them?  Might there be some means, perhaps by a spell, to 'guide' her visions towards some of that intel?  If hypnosis and the power of suggestion can influence a person's actions can we use some form of that to guide her vision into helping us better?  Or might some of her visions of the future already have information about that but she simply didn't focus on that information at the time instead being overwhelmed but the bigger events taking place.  Could her memory contain some of the information we need and she be unaware but guided to it with assistance?”

Oracle replied, “I’ve probably played much of my part already: notifying the other Magi and you of what the sudden new future seemed to hold: the coming of Cthulhu. I can also serve as a desperate stop gap at the end if everything goes terribly wrong, as I did during the Primate Jailbreak attempt.
“But the problem of using me in the middle segment is this, my friend: I give Vanguard information from the future. It alters your actions, thus creating a totally different future from the one I saw. So my intel is now inaccurate because the chessboard has just been changed, perhaps for the worse.

Doc Rocket theorized, “I dare say this is what happened in the Vanguard Omega saga. Vanguard saw a dystopic future caused by ITs invasion, Caine's Presidency and other things. That knowledge allowed them to alter that future, resulting in another, completely different future: the coming of Cthulhu.” 

Oracle said, “The same dynamic cost me the lives of my team mates, years ago. So I’m hesitant to do it again unless completely necessary. (OOC: fyi, Game-wise, this is a Major Psychological Weakness that places restrictions on using her powers. If things go terribly wrong at the end, she might be able to give you a get out of jail free card. But she's not ready to create yet another brand new timeline. Not yet anyway.)

Avatar said, “What if we continue going on our quests for the items, perhaps breaking up, and have our mystics and/or scientists working on a way to detect where a "mass" of artifacts are so that, near the end of getting them, we can jump into the place/area and try for all of them that we haven't yet obtained.  I don't think that there's any other way unless we are to somehow ally with our opponents.  There's no way that we can get EVERYTHING.”

Slingshot said, “Guys. We are hunting down artifacts of immense powers. It seems that they all have been used to create some of the most powerful people on this planet and some of the worse people on it as well. Swastika, Bat… I'm expecting to find Caine on one of these jaunts.
“We are running out of time and energy/health. Can't we make use of these artifacts? We are the beacons of hope. All these artifacts seem to have backgrounds of holy nature (As opposed to unholy nature). Could it be that we would be able to use them to empower us? Maybe Sentinel's energy sense, could see if there's a match between one of us and the artifact we have? Maybe gain the ability to unlock its powers? Something that will give us an advantage?
“I agree with Sentinel. I don't think the new plan is acceptable.
“To date, it was easy. We were within reach of the items. Being in the general neighborhood would likely waste hours in search, instead of wasting hours in research. What's Menagerie and Sentinel's range for detecting these things? If we get drop shipped with no intel (no idea what or where to look), we might as well look for a needle in a haystack. I mean, what if we had been dropped within a block of this location. What century would we have found the lair of the Bat?
“I think at this point, we don't have a better plan. It's half a plan. Unless we have a plan that is better, we need to continue with the current one.”

Menagerie agreed and prepared for the next blind jump.

Symbiote is most definitely not in favor of splitting up. “We've barely survived the encounters we've had so far. We need to rest as best we can and hit it again.”  He'll go in with Accelerator's powers activated next time.

Avatar will follow along with the majority for now, trying to gain as much rest as possible.  Next time, he will have the Speed of Hermes manifested.

Lightning Strike said, “I believe that splitting up will weaken Vanguard but why shouldn’t we have a team that guards what we have, and another team that looks for other artifacts.”

Sentinel said, “There could be more than one group planning to use the artifacts, independent of each other and in different locations.  So if we don't get all the objects, I'd guess the summoning would create a mystical event of magnitude that likely could be detected... and perhaps we could teleport there to prevent it. But if there is more than one event happening simultaneously at the endgame it would be seemingly impossible to get to them all even split up and assuming we were of any power level and health to do anything about it.
“In fact, it almost makes it seem more plausible to spend the two days locating them all and then perhaps Chess or other allies could also be used in intel gathering to see if the artifacts will be used in a summoning. They could monitor them and if somehow things went awry we could try to go in then.

“We just had a battle with the Bat and took damage and it would seem on the surface that he was NOT going to use the artifact in a summoning (of course, he could have been lying).
It really seems impossible that we are actually going to secure all of the artifacts in this time frame.  Perhaps knowing the locations would be more valuable at this point?  I truly don't know.  But unless we get an easy one on the next teleport, our situation will just continue to deteriorate.

“I really was thinking continue in our quest but after trying that out I’m thinking perhaps knowing the locations might be more plausible an approach.  Then maybe we could limit our retrievals to those that truly are high risk.  And if they all are high risk then it seems we would be out of time at that point, but it seems likely that if they are all high risk we won't make it doing it this method either.

“Getting the locations would possibly give us more resources to stop the threat and this seems the only method we have currently to do it. It would seem I just convinced myself we need the locations.  What do you think?”

Clone sat quietly and listened to the other members of the team discussion the options before them ( OOC: he would have merged back into one Clone at this point ). As the discussion starts to take on the form of a debate; rather than a simple discussion, over which course of action to take, Clone offered up the following in his still unfamiliar American accent, "I think we have a lot more time to find these items then any of you realize. Assuming that at least one other group; the Soviet Super Soldiers for example, is out there looking for these objects - all the objects could be snatched up within a few days. All we would have to do is find out where the SSS is storing their objects and snatch them up and combine them with the ones that we're able to find." Before anyone can point out the obvious flaws in Clone's logic, the Duplicating Dynamo continued, "What if while we were out hunting for objects I left one of my duplicates behind with Doc Rocket and he can tried to use his hypnotic abilities to find something that would give us a clue as to where their base is located? We could have all the objects within a few days and only have to do half the leg work - what do you guys think?”

Vanguard voted as a team on their next plan of attack.

They decided to ally with the SSS in order to improve their chance of success.

They wanted to use scientific or magical means to expand Menagerie and Sentinel’s senses to locate the artifacts, moving forward.

They elected to study the artifacts of power and use them in the field. Clone’s Folklore skill told him this was sacrilege and he would not participate in their study.

Vanguard decided to use the next two days to heal, gather intel, attempt to expand Sentinel and Menagerie's sensory ranges to locate all the artifacts. Then they would re-engage the quest, teleporting quicker (and at a lower Power cost) to the artifacts. Splitting up might be necessary due to time lost inventing/healing/gathering intel.

These decisions dramatically altered their plan. The power levels of the Magi would be taxed much less, and they would no longer be the “bottleneck” of the quest.

Decided on their new course, Vanguard sprang into action.

Over the next two days:

News reports confirmed that the world storm raged, casting all land masses into darkness.
Global panic and riots spread as all financial markets crashed.
The governments of the world appealed for their citizens to remain calm, even as martial law was declared.
People turned to their houses of worship in the certain knowledge that they were living in end times.

A CHESS briefing reported that the ritualized, unrelated occultic murders continued. There was still no pattern.
CHESS Castle remains locked down in the wake of prison riots.
CHESS is overwhelmed, like all law enforcement and military branches, attempting to handle the global crisis.

Vanguard studied, worked and healed. The medical skills of Symbiote and Doc Rocket, and the Healing skills of Avatar (via his manifestation of the Greek goddess Hestia) greatly increased the team’s healing rates (Healing rates are doubled.)

Slate used his Heightened Comprehension and internet access to do a quick study of the Occult (adds new skill: Occult Studies), and returned to the supply officer to can get some objects that might be useful based on his studies.

The Mystic, Archimedes, Oracle, Avatar, Menagerie and Slingshot studied the fragment of the True Cross in the Special Projects room. In two days, they could not begin to understand its powers, nor detect any link between it and the other artifacts, nor the individual members of Vanguard.
Menagerie and Slingshot were desperate to find a way to use the Cross in the quest, to help the team, miraculously heal them, anything.

After two days of study, the Mystic, Archimedes and Menagerie cast a ritual spell of “activation.” (OOC: One Luck Point each). They, Oracle, Avatar and Slingshot focused their energies (Power Points) at the Cross and called upon it, and what it represented, for help.

Suddenly, white energy erupted from the cruciform reliquary, rocking through the very walls of Vanguard Vault!


When the massive shockwave had dissipated, Vanguard had been healed! (Healing rates are doubled again!)

The True Cross was silent.

Soldier had returned to active duty with Vanguard on the second day, due to the crisis. He and Sgt. Stone (and the Three Magi) would guard the True Cross while Vanguard quested for the other artifacts.

No CHESS Knights, or other superheroes, could be spared for this duty during this global emergency.

Slate monitored his personal computer to check its progress decoding the hieroglyphs found in the Lost Lands. Before the two days ended, it had found something. The creature engraved in the Lost Land temple that resembled his father, Slingshot, was identified in the hieroglyphics as a “Spawn of Nyarlhotep.” 

Via the internet, Slate found an image of Nyarlhotep, a black shapeshifting deity, a twisted image of his father.

Nyarlhotep, the crawling chaos, was said to be an evil, mad god of the Cthulhu pantheon.

Lightning Strike, Slate, Symbiote, Doc Rocket, Shelley and a legion of Clone lab assistants, attempted to invent an amplifier for the sensory powers of Menagerie and Sentinel.

It took more than two days. (OOC: Vanguard gets a third day of healing)

Sentinel had demanded that CHESS get MEDUSA to turn over any technology they had on telepathy. MEDUSA declined, stating Special Agent Valk was equipped with mental training, not a device.

On the third day in the Vanguard Vault electronics lab, their incredible invention was finished.
(OOC: Sentinel and Symbiote expend a Luck Point each. Slate spends 0.6 Luck Points. Menagerie had spent his on the True Cross. Strike abstains)

Gigantic twin chairs sat back to back. Over them hung helmets arrayed with webs of neuron sensors.
(OOC: Imagine a double helix Cerebro. This thing really needs a name. Anyone?)

“Now to test it,” Doc Rocket said gravely.

Sentinel and Menagerie were seated within the technological behemoth, one facing east, the other west.

Doc Rocket advised, “Prepare yourselves, gentlemen.”

Symbiote threw the switch.

The twin chairs roared with electrical power and Menagerie and Sentinel felt their consciousness expand violently! Their minds reeled from the hammering overload of the infinite!

Sentinel could see every extranormal on earth. Via his telepathy, he could hear their thoughts. All at once.
Menagerie’s mind drank in the impossible scope of every living thing, of nature itself, on a planetary scale.
It was all they could do to keep from being swallowed up in the psychic tidal wave that threatened to bury them alive.

Vanguard helplessly watched the two heroes convulse in the psionic amplifier chairs.
Menagerie and Sentinel struggled to stave off madness (via their Willpower defenses and high Charismas) and focus on what they were looking for. Each hero’s mind’s eye frantically searched half a globe for the answers they sought, before they were overwhelmed.

Shelley yelled to her brother, “Look at their EEG readings! We’re going to damage their brain function!”

Lightning Strike cursed, “The damned fool! I told him!”

Symbiote shouted, “Everyone get back!” and pulled the emergency override!

KA-BOOM! The control panels exploded!

Menagerie and Sentinel were pulled out of the flames.
The halon systems extinguished the destroyed controls.

Doc and Symbiote roused the two heroes.

“We’ve got it,” rasped Menagerie.

‘We know where they are,” murmured Sentinel.

“The middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Northern France. The Lost Lands in Antarctica. Moscow,” said Menagerie who had faced East.

“Northern New Jersey. Nevada desert. Northern California. China,” said Sentinel who had faced West.

To be continued!

Three days left until Armageddon.

Everyone is fully healed!

You voted to ally with the SSS. Still want to? If yes, how do you wish to engage them? What specifically do you say?

There was talk of investigating the locations (magically, technologically or using intelligence agencies that aren’t overwhelmed by the global crisis) in order to decide how best to move forward. Do you want to do that? How long would you like to spend on that?

In short, what are the next steps?!


Viva Vanguard,

Current Conditions:  Everyone is fully healed!


Wonderful issue

For the new device, how about The Janus Matrix or Janusix?



Janus, two faced. That's good!



Another awesome comic!
Spawn of Nyarlhotep? That bears pondering.


Great Issue, Jeff!


Hi All.
Just got to read yesterday for first time.  Great issue.
Just quick OOC directions for now, but:

Now that we have the locations we need intel on them to decide.

With Slate and Kirk on the computer skills and other team members assisting, and if needed, Ajay and extremely well trusted Chess tech team lets get the current satellite scope on these locations, along with known usage, owners, etc as well as any possibly associations of the locations being used for illegal activity.  It shouldn't take that long to glean all available intel on these locations. Once we have this we can determine which might be in more friendly vs less friendly hands.

If we are going to ally with SSS, let's them the location of the hardest to secure that would cause incident.  At this point before getting the other intel I'd say let them go for China.  They can cause the international incident with the Chinese government instead of Vanguard....

We will also make sure that our searches, etc are secure etc so enemies can't get intel on our searches to get the locations.  With Slate and Strike here I'd think we should be good on that front.

We get the intel on the locations it helps us decide on how to proceed.



OOC: Thanks everyone.


Preface –
Slate opened his eyes, 7:00 flashed on the alarm clock beside his bed.  He rolled over looking up at the ceiling, playing back the dreams that had haunted his sleep… Vampires with glowing red eyes, Nyarlhotep morphing into his father, calling him to join them, human sacrifices he’d seen on the news and internet… Analytically, he played the dreams back, but it was like they were mist, fading away when he focused on them.  He could not understand how he dreamed, and why he couldn’t recall the dreams with the clarity he could remember every waking moment since his birth. 

He got dressed, wearing his uniform under some sweat pants and a hoodie.  He thought about the sunglasses on his night stand, but he didn’t feel like he needed them anymore.  They had been a way to hide who/what he was, and that didn’t seem to matter here.  Everyone seemed to have accepted him.  His thoughts retuned to the Janus Machine (feel free to change that if something else is decided on), and how they could tap into Menagerie and Sentinel’s senses… Their senses had to be based in the Parietal or Temporal lobes.  He’d recommend doing CT scans on each of them while using their detection powers… if they could identify where the powers were located in the brain, perhaps they could augment the signal they “felt” with, like a bat using echolocation, they could boost the active signal they produced, and tie it in to the satellite system.  Slate began to get excited and ran for the door, almost running right into Nanite who was standing in the hallway, as if waiting for him.

“And just where are you off to,” she asked.  “Down to the labs, I think I’ve got an idea that can help.” He replied.  “Let’s get you something to eat first,” Nanite smiled at her son, taking his shoulders, turning him back toward the kitchen.  Slate was torn; He needed to go; They needed his help, but he could not deny her.  His shoulders slumped a little, and he agreed, nodding his head.

Nanite sat across from Slate watching his every move, her feet tucked under her, nursing a cup of coffee she hadn’t even tasted… “So, tell me about these trips; are you being careful?”  She looked into her cup.    Slate flashed back to the battle.  Rats, vampires, Slingshot staring at him with eyes that didn’t know him… these he could not/would not share with her.  “Yes, I’m being careful… and dad is there.”   “It’s been lonely here without you and your father,” she began. 

“I know mom, I miss you too, but have you seen the news?  Someone has to do something.  We have to do something.  This could be the end of the world!”  “I know, I know, Scott said the same thing.  I just wish you didn’t both have to go,” she sighed.  She came around the table and wrapped her arms around his shoulders; he felt warmth emanating from her.  He felt at ease, everything would be OK… maybe he should stay… he shook his head… he needed to go, she was in danger.  Everyone was in danger, and he could help.  He gave her hand a quick pat.  “I’ve really got to go,” he said.  “I know," she frowned, reaching around and taking his bowl… “Go. Shoo,” she said with a grin, and he was off, pulling on his sneakers as he headed out, never looking back to see the tear in his mother’s worried eye.

OOC: Slate builds a quick model into his communicator to track the coordinates of the items locations.  Per Sentinel’s direction, he will change the search program on his computer that had been researching the Hieroglyphs to identify facts, and rumors around these locations.  He will carefully code the search so that it cannot be hijacked or piggybacked by anyone outside the Vault, and tether his communicator to the base computer.  He’ll also inspect the firewalls and other hardware in their internal systems to ensure Vanguards systems are secure.

As to contacting the SSS, Slate will recommend that they share locations with them as items are retrieved, beginning with Moscow, if that’s not the already identified Spear of Destiny.  He agrees that China would probably be best for them next, then Northern France.  He'll again look to the team to see if there is anyone else they can enlist to assist them, surely there are other heroes out there.  He'll recommend reaching out to Mother Russia to break the ice and begin communication.

For Vanguard, he’d recommend using the jet to head to New Jersey, then maybe the mystics could transport them in the jet to Nevada, and they would be able to proceed to Northern California without needing another teleport.  That should give Vanguard four items, and the SSS two or three.  At that point, they could determine who would be going after the Mid Atlantic/Antarctic items.  For selfish reasons, Slate wants their team to go to Antarctica to hopefully gather some additional information/data on the book he’d found, and relatedly anything that might be related to his father.

As Vanguard prepares for the next encounter, he’ll be back in his Indiana Jones attire, including the backpack of equipment he’s prepared to face the supernatural, and his fedora..



[OOC] Sorry for the last minute reply, but I've been stumped with what to do next. I'm not quite sure how much time we have in game to gather the rest of the artifacts. Are we going to be able to get them all in time with minimal amount of healing? I'm also a little scattered in my thoughts, for that I apologize in advance]

So a couple of questions:
1) How much game time do we have until the fated deadline?
2) can our teleporter (mystic?) teleport us to those coordinates and pull us back fast (not have to wait for the hour needed to restore PP?
3) Do we have the coordinates of the Spear as well?
4) Do I know Slate's discovery about my resemblance? (I haven't read anywhere if the information has been passed along to me)

1 and 2 would affect my decision on involving SSS. IF we can be sent in and retrieved as soon as we have the item in our possession, I'm willing to risk not involving SSS.

Otherwise, we may not be able to run this gauntlet and make it out alive in the end.

3 would give me SSS location, nice to know :)

4, If I know I'll try to have a blurb done by Labour day on that, so Jeff can insert it in, but it shouldn't affect anything we actually do for the turn.


Vanguard is sitting in the War room. On the screen is a world map with each of the locations with an item of power. Slingshot speaks, "We need to be methodical and efficient about this. We need to do a bunch of hit and runs. We cannot waste time, effort fighting our way through all these items. We will not be able to survive 8 encounters like we had with Black bat."

Slingshot muses, "These items of powers seem to be in the possession of powerful people. We need to expect opposition of one sort or another." He looks at Mystic and the owl, "Now that we have exact coordinates, can you teleport us in and then back out in short succession?"
[if answer is positive]
The malleable man of might continues the thought, "I think that if we focus on being stealthy, fast and agile, we should be able to get in, grab the item and 'port out of there, before we need to engage into too much of a fight. I can take a hit and as long as there are enough material, I can regenerate most damage. I think we should be in a position to be able to do most locations without involving SSS. The only issue with that, is that I would wait until the last item before hitting SSS. They are a large group and with serious firepower. I would leave them for last."

[on the subject of research] Slingshot gives his input, "let research most locations. Let's focus on the New Jersey location for now, that should leave CHESS enough time to gather intel on the other locations (are they known locations/entities, under surveillance by one group or another (why?), etc.."

"Some fast information on the New Jersey location?"

[ooc] I'm assuming we are not involving SSS at this point. I think we should take our jet to the jersey location, to save the mages some energy, unless time is so short, (question 1/2), and we need to jump to the location.

Other Alternatives:
1) I'm not fond of splitting up Vanguard and go after two items at once, but I can be overruled.

2) If we involve SSS, I would split the team in 1/2 Vanguard, 1/2 SSS. They do have a teleporter, so they would be quite helpful there.

Random thought about the locations: Middle of Atlantic Ocean? How much are you willing to bet we are talking about the Starfish?


Menagerie asked with Director Gray still access to the diplomatic channels that was used when Clone's family was liberated? If he did, then Menagerie suggesting using those channels to communicate with the SSS and inform them about China has an artifact.

Menagerie would use what little time remained before they leave to meet private with Archimedes. He would ask for any words of wisdom or advice he would have for him.

Menagerie agreed with the plan to use the Vanguard jet to the nearest location and then have the Mystics' port them the next location.

He also agree with the hit and run tactics. No time for prolonged fights.

Menagerie doesn't converse much other than what is necessary. His experience with the Janus Machine almost overwhelmed him. He was focusing his willpower and contemplating all that he had experienced.

Via Vanguard


OOC answers:

To Slate and Sentinel:

CHESS has contacted other superheroes to support Vanguard in the quest.  Because of the global crisis ( world storm, power outages, riots, fires, occultic murders, etc) they are all active, in the field in their respective cities and regions, supporting emergency personnel to help civilians. And have been doing so, without rest, for days now.  The situation is escalating, so there's no chance this duty will slow down. CHESS Director Grey isn't ready to pull them from this critical duty to support Vanguard yet. But that could change.

OOC answers to Slingshot:

1) Three days left.
Vanguard is fully rested and fully healed. 
Sentinel wants CHESS intel on all eight locations. Normally this would be quick. Given the global crisis, CHESS is overwhelmed.  Vanguard's task is critical but will still take longer than normal. (World storm obscures satellite imagery. Power outages. Rioting, etc) Perhaps a day.
This path would certainly require Vanguard to split up in the last leg. But Vanguard is fully healed, and doing this will result in more info about each site, and thus more preparedness. What does the rest of Vanguard think of this path, called "Measure Thrice"?

2) Yes. Now that you have all the locations, it becomes simple teleportation, as per the rules. Mystic's teleportation spell is a portal with range enough to cover Earth.

3) With all nine artifacts located, it seems the Spear of Destiny (last seen in the possession of the SSS) is the Moscow artifact.

4) Slate showed Slingshot Dr. Swastika's journal, including an illustration in his hand of a large hieroglyph from the Temple of Terror in the Lost Lands that strongly resembles Slingshot.
Slate hasn't told Slingshot that he's identified the image as the "Spawn of Nyarlhotep" yet.

Ye Expositional Ed


Thanks Jeff.

3 days, 8 artifacts. I think it's going to be difficult to keep up, but not entirely impossible.

So Slingshot votes to not involve SSS.

Spawn: Scott had planned on following up the whole Swastika journal after the current focus, but if Slate brings up the spawn, he'll try to follow up on it.


OOC: Sorry, I missed that.  Slate would share the information as soon as he got it.


OOC: Thanks.. Now I have to ponder how I want to spin this.


OOC: Never thought gathering the info on the locations would take that long.  We CANNOT spend the day.  Let Ajay and his team work on it and as we get pieces we can adjust plans accordingly.

We move out now to the next location.  At first I was thinking NJ since it was close and we can do it on our own power, but for that reason, unless intel tells us otherwise we save it for last.  My gut says its a Caine safehouse (where was the location of his safehouse we hit in the alternate universe?  does it correspond with this NJ location).

Since our mystic guys are fully powered up, let's teleport.  And my choice at this point is Antarctica.  We know at least particularly what to expect there and seemingly if any of these locations were a 'place of power' that we know about with the lost temple there this one is it.  It's presence puts it as the best likely spot that we know about that could be used for a summoning.  I say we go there.

How quickly can we be ported back from the location once there?  Is it still an hour or can they get us back sooner now?

Do any of these locations correspond with close proximity to our other missions? (ie how about the ocean area - was it where we encountered Swastika's underground lair and the Star Giant?  was that lair ultimately destroyed or just abandoned?)




( OOC: As per Issue 179 ) "They elected to study the artifacts of power and use them in the field. Clone’s Folklore skill told him this was sacrilege and he would not participate in their study."

OOC: If this situation should become an issue at some point for Clone; Jeff feel free to use your judgement on this one, then please use the following . . .

IC: Clone's body-language immediately betrays his once concealed dislike for the way the 'Objects of Power' are being handles. His head moves back and forth slowly as he makes eye contact with each of the other members of Vanguard and says, "This is wrong . . ." His tone becomes deeper and more assertive as he continues, ". . . the objects we are being led to are sacred and holy relics; they were never meant to be in the hands of ordinary men, so please do not treat them as if they're mere baubles or trinkets. These sacred relics are beyond our understanding and comprehension, and should be treated with care and respect."


As his friends begin to discuss the information gained through the use of the Janus Device ( OOC: Since we don't have an official name for it - thats what I'm going with - Tom, GREAT call with 'Janus'! ), Clone mumbles back to himself the locations of the remaining artifacts, " . . . The middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Northern France, The Lost Lands in Antarctica, Moscow, Northern New Jersey, the Nevada Desert, Northern California, and China."

After pondering the possibilities for a few moments, Clones starts to 'think out loud', "Moscow is of course the location of the Super Soldiers and the artifacts they've collected, but what about the others? The middle of the Atlantic Ocean, possibly a ship or perhaps the mythical Atlantis? Northern France, a cathedral with a hidden secret maybe? The Nevada Desert, Las Vegas, Area 51? China, the ancient burial mounds maybe or another Super-team perhaps? The Lost Lands in Antarctica, could that ancient temple be our 'end game' location? And then there's Northern New Jersey and Northern California, more collectors of rare antiquities?" Clone shakes his head slightly; snaps himself out of his own deep thoughts, and then looks towards the other members of the team, "Perhaps we can start off with the one closest to home, Northern New Jersey."

OOC: Although Clone is suggesting Northern New Jersey, he'll go with what whatever the group decides.


OOC: Should anyone voice their desire to not join forces with the SSS . . .

IC: A look of concern crosses over Clone's face as he voices his opinion on the subject, "I think deciding at this time to exclude the possible of joining up with them at this time is a bit premature. If we want to try and get the artifacts on our own first and then consider whether or not to join forces with them - fine, but to absolutely rule out the possibility with three days still remaining sounds short sighted to me. That's just my opinion though - I don't like to 'burn bridges' or limit my options."


Really GREAT issue! I'm really looking forward to seeing where this all goes and what these locations are - that spot in the Atlantic sounds freak'n dangerous as Hell! LOL

Talk to you all soon,




Is there a PC consensus on which of the artifact locations to go after next?

Or a consensus on how long you would like to investigate these locations before your next jump. Sentinel says one day is too long to spend. How about 12 hours? Six? Three? Thanks.

OOC replies to Sentinel:

It no longer takes an hour to be ported back from an artifact location. Now it's a simple teleportation spell to get you there, or back. (see my last email to Stephane/Slingshot)

The North Jersey artifact location doesn't correspond to a Caine-related site in the Omegaverse.

The mid-Atlantic artifact location isn't where you encountered the Star Giant that was under Dr. Swastika's control. But the Star Giant did survive, and is mobile.



OOC: I'm voting for New Jersey as the next.

I propose to do 1 hour research on that location. Is there a short list of people we can have to research the other location while we are gone? Even if it's only google and googlemaps and business/owner information?


OOC: Jeff and everybody,

Harold and I are both going to have to punt this time (he asked me to let you know). 
Please use both characters as you see best.  I do vote for the Lost Lands next.

Thanks and apologies,



OOC: I agree on Lost Lands being next.

I am willing to investigate for 6 hours but no more




Right now, North Jersey is beating Lost Lands in Antarctica; 4 votes to 3.

NJ voters: Clone, Slate, Slingshot, Strike.
LL voters: Menagerie, Sentinel, Symbiote.

If I don't hear from Harold/Avatar by tomorrow morning, it'll be North Jersey.

Jon: teleportation portal isn't big enough to transport a jet, as per rules on Teleportation.



Haven't heard from Harold.

Jersey it is!
I'll start writing the new issue, and get it out asap.