The Eclipse

Wait... We Didn't Die!
But I'm not sure if this is better...

Groggily, the Messenger woke up from his coma. He found himself strapped vertically inside a glass tube inside an immense underground cavern. Looking to his left and his right, he found his teammates also strapped inside additional tubes still unconscious.

In a matter of seconds, the Messenger was able to extract himself from his tube and ignoring the alarms, began to free the rest of the Eclipse. The heroes discovered that they are indeed in a giant underground cavern on a steel platform partially covering a huge underground lake. They also discover that their various devices are missing.

The heroes split up to gather as much information about the area as they can.

  • Iron Wind and the White Fist began searching the area at super speed looking for their equipment.
  • The Messenger logged onto the nearest computer and discovered that the device that they had been strapped into is some kind of brainwashing device. He also discovered that it has a second purpose (as yet undetermined) that involved tying the victims’ brain waves together.
  • Photon Wave also began searching for gear, but was immediately drawn to another large piece of equipment resembling a teleportation device from ‘Star Trek’ fame. His initial investigation led him to believe that the device is indeed a teleportation device.
  • The Valkyrie, Flower Power, Still Hammer, and Longhorn “Tex” dealt with the four technicians on-site and discovered them to be highly sophisticated robots programmed to fulfill their tasks. Before depositing the four into the lake, the heroes learned that this is the lair of Doctor Apocalypse and that there are other super-powered beings that have undergone the brainwashing procedure: Rumble, Dwarf Star, Old Sparky, Bounceback, and Fracture.

While Investigating the bridge off of the platform, Still Hammer hears the ‘Clomp, Clomp’ of approaching large footprints (probably in response to the various alarms they have set off). Gathering at the teleportation device, the heroes discover that the platform can only send 4 of them away at a time.
Will the heroes stay and fight whatever is approaching (without all of their super-powered devices)? Or will they risk the unknown and attempt to escape using the teleporter?

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Into the Jaws of the California Republic
Defeat is a Dish Best Served in the Mojave

The heroes of the Eclipse coordinated their arrival at the suspected California Republic base deep in the Mojave Desert. Expecting stiff resistance, all eight members of the Eclipse participated in the raid. As their informant stated, the heroes discovered a freight elevator in a maintenance shed next to the abandoned cell phone tower.

Immediately after their arrival at the bottom of the shaft, the heroes faced two realizations: first that their communication with MEDUSA was being jammed, and secondly that they had to battle multiple waves of California Republic guardsmen which were being directed by Blok.

During the battles, the White Fist fell under the mental sway of the Countess. The Countess used the subdued hero to protect Blok from attacks that she claimed to be ‘against the rules’. She also maintained a private telepathic connection with Flower Power (imparting a piece of disturbing information that the heroine has to yet have the opportunity to share with the rest of the Eclipse.

After the defeat of Blok and the guardsmen, Flower Power’s psychic connection to the Countess was cut off with the sound of engines starting. The Messenger quickly flew outside to see if he could find the exit to the villains’ escape tunnel while the rest of the team searched the base looking for the initial side of the tunnel.

After opening a door, the heroes inside were confronted by Magnus and several CalRep guardsmen armed with the large Power Blast Rifles. This battle was over quickly – especially once the Messenger realized that he was no longer in contact with the group and returned to assist. Flower Power attempted to make mental contact with Magnus to draw needed information from his unconscious mind. To her teammates disgust, she began to remove the villain’s costume, claiming that her outfit needed an update and Magnus’ costume was perfect.

The Messenger, Still Hammer, and Iron Wind fought with Flower Power to keep her from taking the suit while the rest of the heroes continued down the hallway that the villain was guarding – discovering the base garage and the escaped tunnel. The Messenger managed to separate her from the costume after Still Hammer doused her in darkness. Once separated from the costume, the strange compulsion to wear it disappeared.

The heroes all raced down the escape tunnel with the super-fast Messenger easily outpacing even the speedy White Fist and Iron Wind. As the Messenger exited the tunnel into the desert, he became immediately aware of two things… first his wrist communicator began squawking ‘It’s a trap! They’re setting up an Ambush!!! Can you hear me?!’ Second, he noticed that multiple attacks being levied against him as he flew into the sky.

The rest of the team exited the tunnel in time to witness the Messenger take an incredible number of hits from Echo, Sandblaster, Windshear, and seven more CalRep guardsmen armed with both the Power Blast guns and slug throwers. The heroes made a valiant effort, but in the end were overcome by the sheer weight of numbers and knocked unconscious.

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Crazy Time in California

Following the battle with the Monterrangutan, the heroes of the Eclipse spent 2 days healing their wounds and continuing cleanup and rescue work in Monterrey. Suddenly, all received an urgent message on their wrist communicators from Amber. An unknown supervillain was wreaking havoc at the Taste of San Francisco street carnival.

Photon Wave, the Valkyrie, the Messenger, Iron Wind, and the White Fist all responded to the call. On the way to San Francisco, the heroes learn through the newscast that the villain is the San FranPsycho.

As the heroes arrived on the scene, the Psycho was immediately attacked by the White Fist and Iron Wind. The Psycho let off an incredible mental blast that reduced Iron Wind to unconsciousness. The Valkyrie immediately revived her to consciousness using Curtana – but the armored maiden was fated to fare poorly in the battle as the Psycho transmutated her into a large stalk of corn!

The rest of the heroes immediately pummeled the Psycho, but were then surprised to be confronted with 10 members of the California Republic – each armed with large guns shooting Power Blasts. The CalRep agents began firing at both the heroes and the Psycho.

Between the attacks from both fronts, the Psycho was quickly defeated and three CalRep agents immediately grabbed him. The White Fist also grabbed the villain and telekinetically lifted the group into the air. 2 of the CalRep agents fell off, but White Fist had to kick the third one off. Unfortunately, when they saw the hero leaving with their target, the entire CalRep squad opened fire on White Fist knocking him out as well. Fortunately for him, the Messenger saw his dilemma and caught both the unconscious hero and villain before they fell. Evading CalRep fire, the Messenger quickly left the field of battle with his burden.

White Fist, who had regenerated, took the Psycho into custody and the Messenger returned to the battle where he found the Valkyrie unconscious from multiple attacks, Photon Wave circling back from around the rear of a building, and Iron Wind still a stalk of corn. There were also three CalRep agents assisting the escape of 3 other CalRep agents that had been blinded by Photon Wave’s blinding flash.

Between the two of them, the Messenger and Photon Wave were able to capture one CalRep agent and two of their unusual weapons. The remainder of the foes had disappeared into the city.

MEDUSA agents quickly rolled in following the completion of the battle to take the CalRep agent and the weapons into custody. Seeing a potential connection between a terrorist organization striving for an independent California and a supervillain demanding California by extortion, the members of the Eclipse joined Agent Kyle Michaels at the local MEDUSA office to interrogate the prisoner and examine the weapons.

Photon Wave joined the scientists in the lab looking over the weapons and discovered that the guns have barcodes and serial numbers! (Is this perhaps in indication that TECH is supplying the California Republic???)

The Messenger assisted in the interrogation of the agent (after stopping physical abuses on the part of MEDUSA interrogators). He learns that this was a quickly planned attack after news reports indicated that the Psycho had escaped. They were tasked with capturing the Psycho and returning him to their base for ‘recruitment’. The weapons are new arrivals to the arsenal. They had been ordered after the previous encounter with the Eclipse shoed that their weaponry was insufficient to challenge the heroes.

They learned the Location of the CalRep desert base and that there are typically 20-30 men present in the base. They also learned that there is an escape tunnel that lets out into the desert that is undetectable under the covering of the sand.

Almost as an afterthought, the White Fist asked if there are any metahumans at the base. The captive agent described six metahumans:

The Countess: the head of the installation
Echo
Magnus (When asked, why is he called Magnus, the agent replied that he said the voice told him to call himself that…)
Windshear
Sandblaster
Blok: head of discipline – the agent was obviously afraid of Blok

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Monkeying Around in Monterrey

For a week following their success at the Zoo, the heroes of the Eclipse were wined and dined by Pacifico’s elite. All of the heroes enjoyed the attention (the Messenger participated in the festivities more so than the rest.)

Mid-week, Lee Zhu Pinyin sent the Eclipse the gift of a small fleet of vehicles in gratitude for saving his life and the lives of his family. They received 2 small but speedy sports cars and 1 armored van. The heroes humbly accepted the businessman’s gift.

Dr. Eric Daniels also sent the heroes a gift of sorts. Seeing the sheer volume of calls that the heroes were receiving, he sent his administrative assistant Amber Poniard to work for the Eclipse as a receptionist and secretary.

At the end of the week, all of the inhabitants of Pacifico were startled to see the image of the evil supervillain Doctor Apocalypse in the sky. In horror, they heard him utter the following threat:

Greetings Humans. I am Doctor Apocalypse and I have returned from Beyond Death. All will remember my power. In the Intervening years, I have grown even more powerful. Do NOT expect your puny heroes to defeat me again.
My Demands are Thus: In 14 days, the California cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Pacifico, Monterrey, and all of the land encompassing shall be evacuated of all citizens and ceded to me as a sovereign nation. Within 30 days following, the government of the United States will formally cede all of California to my new nation. Within 30 days following, all US citizens will be evacuated from California. Anyone left behind will be executed.
Unless the acceptance of my offer is broadcast within 24 hours, the city of Monterrey will serve as the demonstration of my wrath. Failure to comply would be unwise.

The heroes discovered that every individual across the four mentioned cities saw the phenomenon. Even more amazing, every individual saw the image as if they were looking at it straight on – no matter what direction they were facing.

Within hours of Apocalypse’s demands, California Governor Browne broadcasted a defiant rejection of the extortion attempt and called out the National Guard.

The heroes learned about Apocalypse’s history and his previous attempt to ‘liberate’ the island of Manhattan (an attempt that was foiled by the Sentinals. They also learn about the existence of Apocalypse’s son, Benjamin Apocalos.

The members of the Eclipse divided their efforts.
Photon Wave researches how Apocalypse could have pulled off that amazing exhibition.
The Valkyrie and Iron Wind went to Monterrey to search for Apocalypse’s threat.
The Messenger went to the New Jersey State Penitentiary to interview Benjamin.

Photon Wave was unable to locate any technological way to duplicate the ‘mass hallucination’

The ladies began patrolling the city of Monterrey – helping to keep the peace especially with a large number of people attempting to leave the city as a result of the warning.

Benjamin Apocolos was decidedly unhelpful – not necessarily through an unwillingness to help, but having been in prison for years, he claimed to be totally unaware of any activities of his father.

A quick call was placed to Masterini to ‘consult’ on the potential use of magic by Apocalypse. Masterini was able to confirm the presence of a large magical ‘residue’ dissipating over the cities. It was definitely a magical event.

24 hours to the second following the completion of Apocalypse’s warning, a monstrous Earthquake hit the city of Monterrey – and ONLY the city of Monterrey. Although tremors were felt far away, the devastation effects of the earthquake were confined solely within the city limits.

The Heroes promptly dove into action assisting police, fire, and National Guardsmen maintain order and rescue civilians.

During rescue work, the Valkyrie found a previously undiscovered cavern underneath a collapsed factory. In the cavern, she found a 25 foot simian creature curled up as if hibernating and covered in a layer of calcified rock. The press prompty dubbed the discovery the ‘Monterrangutan’.

Meanwhile, Photon Wave studied the effects of the earthquake in an attempt to figure out how Apocalypse caused it. He discovered scientific anomalies… namely that there is no logical explanation for how this quake could have happened. The data appeared as if some huge unknown entity reached into the ground, grabbed two big handfuls of bedrock, and began shaking violently. His logical, scientific mind was flustered by his findings.

Rescue, Cleanup and Crowd Control efforts continued for the heroes the following day until they all received alerts that the Monterrangutan had been accidentally freed from the stone by excavators—- and that it was very angry… and hungry.

An Epic battle ensued with the monstrous beast as it attempted to pummel the heroes with both fists and huge chunks of rubble. Punishing damage was dealt by both sides of the combat until finally the beast lay slain at the feet of the heroes.

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Rats and Cats - staC dna staR

The members of the Eclipse concentrated their attack on Palindrome’s giant Rat. The heroes were disgusted to find that the ooze on the Rat flew off with every impact – covering them with a resrictive goo. Banding their efforts together, the heroes eventually managed to defeat the beast.

As the last blow landed, the rat began to glow with a golden light. The giant rat shrunk down to the size of a normal sewer rat and the ooze faded away to nothing. The only other relic of the encounter is the giant collar that had been worn by the rat.

Reading the collar, the heroes find the following inscription: “Senile Felines”

Immediately recognizing the palindrome, the heroes immediately ran to the Cat exhibit where they discovered a group of eight jungle cats with a faint glowing aura menacing a group of a dozen civilians.

Already tired from the earlier battle against the Rat, the heroes bravely waded into a protracted combat. The heroes manage to defeat the cats (returning them to their prior un-modified state), but two of the civilians were not fortunate – suffering injuries that required hospitalization.

The remaining civilians are all rescued without injury. The survivors include a prominant Pacifico businessman and his family — Lee Zhu Pinyin

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The New Adventures Of the Eclipse Begin
A Ballgame and the Zoo - what a great weekend!

The new members of the Eclipse were gathered together for the first time in the downtown offices of MEDUSA. Leading the discussion was former High Roller Agent Kyle Michaels.

Following a brief introductory discussion, the heroes were introduced to several other individuals.

  • First came the Pit Boss – the team’s liaison to the High Rollers. The Pit Boss was his customary stern self – and he made it clear that he is not happy babysitting a bunch of kids, and that if the heroes ever call him, it had better be for a good reason.
  • Next entered Sgt. Tim Lincoln of the Pacifico Police Department (PPD). Sgt. Lincoln introduced himself as the team’s liaison to the PPD – a job he seemed much happier with than the Pit Boss did! He made certain that all of the heroes had his direct contact information.
  • Finally, the team was introduced to Doctor Eric Daniels, the team’s new liaison with the think-tank GEMINI. As an introductory gift, Dr. Daniels provides the heroes with wrist-communicators that can also serve as external cell phones.

Following the departure of the various liaisons, Agent Michaels invited the heroes down to the waiting limousines to be taken to their new home. The heroes were taken to a lightly-industrialized section of Pacifico knows as Queensgate. There they were driven to a walled compound where Agent Michaels opened the gates using a retinal imager. The building inside the walls turned out to be a 2-story warehouse facility with ample open space on the main floor and ample living space on the second floor.

They were given the grand tour and were thoroughly underwhelmed by the quality of the accommodations that their new headquarters provides. Agent Michaels assured them that all new hero groups are provided similar facilities until they have proved themselves. The one silver lining was the shielded, stand-alone power generator in the facility’s basement.
Before leaving, Agent Michaels scanned the heroes’ retinal images into the base security system, and informed them that he would be sending the limos to pick them up in the morning for their introductory press conference. As a parting gesture, he encouraged the heroes to enjoy themselves for the evening and gave them Box Seats to the Pacifico Surge game that night.
The majority of the heroes (White Fist, Flower Power, the Messenger, Iron Wind, the Valkyrie, and Photon Wave) decided to take advantage of the offer and attended the game in civilian garb.

After the completion of the sixth inning, gunfire erupted from across the stadium. White Fist immediately flew across the arena using his telekinetic powers and spied a dozen gunmen wearing California Republic fatigues attacking an odd-looking goateed individual. 6 gunmen were in the lower section firing at close range while 2 groups of three gunmen were firing from the upper level. The target is obviously a metahuman as he was witnessed exhibiting both the Invulnerabilty power as well as some kind of mental blast.

While White Fist waded into the 6 attacking gunmen, Iron Wind grabbed the badly wounded target and ran him back across the stadium to the box where the Valkyrie could administer aid. Flower Power added the target to the telepathic switchboard that she had set up. As she did this, the target responded with amusement that she was ‘another telepath’.

The gunmen on the upper levels began moving in opposite directions around the stadium trying to get to the box. The Messenger and Photon Wave both moved to intercept one of the groups while Flower Power joined the fight across the stadium by creating a huge snake to participate in the battle.

Valkyrie was kept busy by the target – as soon as she finished administering first aid, he jumped up and ran out of the box. She followed him, expecting to provide protection, but as soon as he was out among the panicking throng, suddenly there appeared to be 5 of him! The five versions appeared to come together into one image and then burst apart – heading in 5 different directions. Valkyrie attempted to follow the one that she thought was the ‘real’ target, but she turned out to be wrong as the illusion faded away.

The battle was short and sweet – and in less than two minutes, seven of the gunmen lie unconscious at the feet of the various heroes. Five, unfortunately escaped in the chaos. Within minutes PPD and MEDUSA agents arrived to take charge of the captured gunmen. A quick telepathic probe by Flower Power revealed that the gunmen were an ‘Acquisition Team’ sent to kidnap the target for ‘reprogramming’. The target’s name was Daniel Higgins – a Psychologist.

Needless to say, the events at the game required an impromptu news conference that replaced the one scheduled for the following morning.

The next morning, the phone at their new headquarters was ringing off the hook with both minor ‘emergencies’ (“My cat is up a tree!”) as well as well-wishers from the community. The most prominent individual to leave a welcoming message was Dr. Lloyd Merryweather of the Paragon Society.

Later in the morning, an extremely expensive Jaguar pulled up to the gate. The visitor announced himself as Alvin Reichel of the law firm Reichel and Holmsen. The Messenger buzzed the attorney into the compound and met him in the lobby. The team is familiar with the firm as one that makes its substantial living defending supervillains. Reichel introduced himself and stated that he was requested by one of his clients to deliver a message to the team this morning. He handed over an embossed card and left.

The heroes read the message on the card: Oozy Rat in a Sanitary Zoo

The heroes spent a brief discussion debating about the purpose for the card. Certainly, given the delivery, the card was sent by a villain for some purpose – probably a challenge of some kind. Iron Wind was quick to note that the phrase is a palindrome, but that does not further their queries. The Messenger calls Agent Michaels to see if MEDUSA has any insight.

Agent Michaels informed the heroes that there is a known villain (whether a metahuman or not is unknown) called Palindrome who seems to find it amusing to challenge superheroes with seemingly random attacks. He warned the heroes that the receipt of a palindrome usually is followed quickly by an attack of some kind which follows the palindrome. It is vital for the public safety that the heroes correctly identify the target. He also warned the heroes that Palindrome wants the heroes to face the challenge – so be sure not to over-think the clue.

After another brief discussion, the team decided to first check out the Pacifico Zoo and then check out the San Francisco Zoo. They quickly fly over to the Pacifico Zoo where they are greeted by excited, screaming zoo patrons. Unfortunately, the patrons are not screaming in excitement because the city’s new superhero group arrived for photos and autographs… but because of the rampaging 75 foot tall rat (amply covered in ooze) attacking the complex!

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An Unfortunate Interlude

Unfortunately, due to real-life schedules getting in the way, the Vanguard Chronicles will enter a temporary hiatus.

The Pacifico campaign will begin to be chronicled here.

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A New Problem
It's the PITs

On the return flight to New York, the storm that had begun a few hours ago has grown into a swirling maelstrom blanketing the city. Grey Mist attempts to use his weather control abilities to stop the storm, but he is only able to affect the storm in a small, localized area (which the jetcopter pilot appreciates tremendously!).

Wanting to investigate the storm, the heroes look to drop the Greater Good into someone else’s custody temporarily. Not wanting to lose the Center City group to an expedited bail process, the Cleaner contacts MEDUSA for assistance. Agent Artis Shannon begrudgingly give the heroes directions to a dilapidated [[MEDUSA HQ – East Coast | warehouse]]. Agent Shannon takes the prisoners out of the copter and tells the Vanguard that he can hold them for 48 hours before turning them over to local law enforcement.

While the Greater Good is being carried off to their cells, the Vanguard rushes out to investigate the storm. While they fail to find a supervillain above the clouds directing the storm, they do spy a section of the shopping district where a fire is raging out of control.

Flying over the scene of the fire, they discover two things: First, in a 2 block bubble the storm is not falling and Second, a giant serpent-like creature is undulating through the street. Landing the copter, the heroes encounter Firefighting crews outside the bubble area who express gratitude that the heroes have arrived since a ‘bunch of loonies’ are in there destroying everything!

As the Grey Mist, Astrid, Xue Zen, the Cleaner, MagLev, Enerjon, and Tank enter the bubble and move to engage the serpent, two masked figures emerge from a burning jewelry store to attack. The first is a man in a skin-tight black jumpsuit with a carved jack-o-lantern mask. His form is wreathed in flame. The second is dressed in a worn pair of overalls and a red checked flannel shirt with a porcelain clown mask. He is carrying an oversized chainsaw.

The heroes engage the villains. Grey Mist realizes that his telekinetic ability is suddenly gone! Tank blasts the serpent with a sonic blast and discovers that the beast is made up entirely of animated garbage. Enerjon knocks out Pumpkin-Head with a single well placed power blast before turning to join Grey Mist, Xue Zen, and Astrid in attacking Manslaughter (the chainsaw-weilder). Maglev and the Cleaner join Tank in attacking the serpent.

Suddenly, a figure leaps from the mouth of the serpent and splatters on Astrid’s force field – it is the former Errant Scuz! Remembering that Scuz is unaffected by energy attacks, Grey Mist disengages with the chainsaw wielding villain and directs his mace at Scuz. A single blow from the mace incapacitates Scuz into shapeless ooze.

Meanwhile, a filthy, disgusting, rancid man walks from a nearby alley. He is wearing what arguably may have once been a City Garbage Man uniform. Recognizing this foul being as the antithesis of everything he stands for, the Cleaner immediately rushes to battle his foe while the rest of the team knocks out chainsaw. Elated at finally facing his opposite, the Cleaner taps some unknown, primal energy and unleashes the most powerful blow that he has in his short superhero career. The single shot from his mop handle drives the Garbageman back through the air and into unconsciousness. With the defeat of the Garbageman, the giant serpent collapses back into its individual components.

At the same time, Grey Mist feels a very familiar punch in the back of his head – it is his old nemesis Parasite from the South Carolina group Recon – and Parasite has attacked him in the exact same way that he did previously – while standing on the back of Grey Mist’s neck! Unfortunately for the villain, Grey Mist is not knocked out by the blow as he was in South Carolina. Enerjon sees the tiny villain and peppers him with energy blasts which seem to have little effect. More effective, however, is Astrid’s paralysis ray and the tiny villain disappears. Tank’s pet monkey leaps over to the teen hero and as if grooming, plucks the tiny villain from his uniform.

Realizing that the bubble is still up, Enerjon and Astrid begin searching for another villain, but within seconds, the bubble vanishes and the rain starts to fall. Firefighters and Police rush in to fight the fires and deal with civilians caught in the burning buildings. The heroes are certain that another as yet unknown villain has made his escape. Grey Mist realizes with relief that his telekinesis has returned.

Grey Mist encases Parasite in a ball of metal and in one of the nearby buildings MagLev locates a large jar which they use to transport Scuz before he washes down the gutter. The Vanguard takes the captured villains to the MEDUSA warehouse where Agent Shannon (again begrudgingly) agrees to hold them for 48 hours.

The heroes verify that the members of the Greater Good have been separated from their equipment and revive Fahrenheit 451 for questioning. The interrogation is brief and conclusive: either the suspected mind control is far stronger than thought to be, or 451 is not being mind controlled and is exactly what he appears to be – a normal citizen working with a citizen’s patrol group!

A junior agent rushes into the main room and turns on the local news… The Governor of Maryland has issued warrants for the arrest of the super-terrorists that have kidnapped the valiant members of the Center City hero group, the Greater Good as well as caused significant damage to the Center City Mall. Further, the authorities have contracted with PITs to capture the wanted criminals. Specifically mentioned in the warrant are Xue Zen, MagLev, Astrid, Grey Mist, and the Cleaner. Enerjon is aghast that the majority of his team is now considered to be wanted supervillains. He immediately requests a transfer to ‘a hero group that acts like heroes!’. His request is flatly denied.

Agent Shannon says that he won’t turn them in, and he will still hold the Greater Good for the rest of the 48 hours on their word that they are indeed villains, but they need to leave the MEDUSA warehouse immediately. As they prepare to leave, Astrid asks Agent Shannon if MEDUSA can exert influence to transfer Stanislaw to a New York City hospital.

Enerjon attempts to call Lee Sung, but is told that their benefactor is ‘unavailable’. Taking that as an ominous sign, the heroes decide to go into hiding while they decide what to do next. After a quick debate, Enerjon calls White Star to join them. She utilizes her teleportation powers to return the unconscious Greater Good members to the Center City Mall.
Enerjon and White Star return to the Aerie while the remainder of the team gets a series of hotel rooms under their secret identities.

Both groups of heroes have nocturnal visitors. At the Aerie, a PITs squad of a dozen mercenaries arrives at the penthouse via helicopter. Gonzo watches the incursion invisibly from the next rooftop while White Star, Enerjon, and Tree Brother allow the agents to search the Aerie for their absent companions. Finding none of the wanted heroes, the PITs team leaves as quickly as they came.

At the Hilton, the Heroes are awakened by a knock on the door. Astrid scoots astrally down the hall to get a look at the visitors and sees Sun Ye with some members of the usual ‘breakfast crew’. They are carrying a variety of boxes (including one that says ‘PS3’. Grey Mist lets them inside and immediately starts setting up the video game system. Lee Tan apologizes for the continued inaccessibility of ‘Uncle’ and hopes that they are not intruding. Uncle keeps well aware of their location and is aware of their predicament. Sun Ye helps the heroes recover from the recent battles, and the visitors leave.

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Return to Center City

Following their encounter with Dr. Kohlneziewski, the battered heroes allowed him to leave the SWORD base without conflict. The Vanguard then made their way back to the Aerie for some recuperation. As they re-enter New York City, it starts to rain.
The heroes decide that if they are going to be able to move forward in their crusade against SWORD, then they are going to have to find some way of reentering Center City. In their secret identities, they acquire a set of hotel rooms on the outskirts of the city to use as a base.

To find out the lay of the land, MagLev and the Cleaner attend one of the Bishop’s rallies in their secret identities. The rally is led by the Reverend Spencer Carruthers, a Chicago-area televangelist that has relocated his operations to Center City to support the Bishop in his stance against the Government Hero groups. Shortly into the Reverend’s speech, the heroes find themselves almost mesmerized by the eloquence of the Reverend. Despite all of their attempts to remain objective, the two find themselves agreeing enthusiastically with everything that the Reverend is saying.

Monitoring the event from outside, Xue Zen deduces that the Reverend has employed some form of mind control ability on the crowd inside. To break the spell, Xue Zen creates the illusion of a fire breaking out in the roof of the facility causing the occupants to exit the building. Once outside, MagLev and the Cleaner are freed of the external influence.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Vanguard debates the likelihood that the Bishop has some means of exerting Mind Control influence over the city. Astrid doesn’t believe that anyone has that kind of power. Grey Mist and Gonzo both agree that he must have some way of magnifying his ability over a large area. Tree Brother suggests that perhaps there is something in the water supply – but the effect is not universal within the affected area and the affected area is not consistent with water supplies.

As the heroes have already vetted the Bishops residence for signs of unusual energy consumption, the Grey Mist decides to perform a little reconnaissance on the radio transmitter that broadcasts the Bishop’s weekly show. He uses his weather control ability to lay down a fog cover early in the morning as he flies to the transmitter. He uses his magnetic powers to examine the area for any anomalies, but is interrupted by a female voice in his head…. ‘Grey Mist… you are not welcome here’. He looks down and sees a particularly obese woman looking up at him from the ground. Deciding not to initiate a conflict at this time, Grey Mist returns to the heroes’ hotel base.

A closer examination of the flash drive that they got from Epsilon reveals that the device is full of old Scooby Doo cartoons. Hidden amid them is a text file that reveals that the new Center City SWORD base is hidden somewhere in the Center City Mall. Astrid and Xue Zen use their Astral Projection powers to search the Mall after close. Once they try to penetrate below the basement, they experience a peculiar wrenching feeling and suddenly find themselves in Tokyo. After a quick flight back, the heroes decide that a more direct search is necessary. Xue Zen uses his illusion powers to phone in a gas leak causing the guards to leave the premises.

A quick search fails to reveal an obvious entry to a hidden base, so the heroes begin punching holes in the floor. They are interrupted by the sound of an explosion from the parking lot. Outside, the Bishop’s citizen patrol (the Greater Good) has assembled – and Fahrenheit 451 has turned his flame thrower on Xue Zen’s truck, causing it to erupt in a ball of fire. Along with 451 are ProLife, the Cavalier, Corporal Punishment, Guardian Angel, and the Reverand Spencer Carruthers who introduces himself as the Evangelist. A brief fight ensues and the Greater Good finds itself to be no match for the assembled heroes. Grey Mist suggests that maybe they really are normal citizen heroes under the mind control of the Bishop. Thinking that distance from the Bishop might break the control, they call George Wynn and arrange for the jetcopter to come pick them up. The Vanguard loads the Greater Good into the copter and return to New York.

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Tying Subplots Together

Once again… your humble narrator finds himself way behind in these chronicles…. A summary of recent events follows:

Xue Zen visits Stanislaw in the hospital. The old hero is still in a coma. Not trusting the doctors, Xue Zen takes photos of Stanislaw’s charts in order to make an independent diagnosis.

Other things that Xue Zen learns about Center City include:

  • Crime is virtually non-existent
  • Lt. Patrick Roche has been fired from the police force due to his outspoken advocacy of the Vanguard.
  • The local and state governments are routinely acting on ‘suggestions’ from Bishop Fairwell
  • The Bishop’s civilian enforcement group Greater Good is often seen around the city. There is no public reaction to the hypocrisy inherent in a new group of costumed heroes working for the Bishop.

In California, Maglev’s suspicions are quickly relieved when she finds Astrid talking with Epsilon in a private room.

Important Information Learned from Epsilon

  • He is a geneticist and a member of SWORD
  • He was a part of Project Spinal Tap – He knew that ethically the project was wrong, but was forced to participate under duress. He was threatened with mortal harm to his wife.
  • He is the one that sabotaged the project originally by changing the protocols in one clone (Astrid).
  • His wife has recently died and he is now free to act to disrupt the evil plan – he wants to help the heroes in any way possible.
  • He has cured Astrid’s ‘cold’. The cold symptoms were the result of signals being sent to the clones by SWORD using a revolutionary USAF missile guidance chip. (Yes… the one stolen from the Center City Mall in the Vanguard’s first adventure) Since the signals were in direct conflict with specific protocols he had put in place, the conflict manifested itself as a respiratory infection. The issue was made even worse by a second set of ‘signals’ emanating from the wrist communicator. He recommends that Astrid not use the newer communicator anymore.
  • He knows that the main SWORD base on the east coast is located somewhere in Center City, but he does not know where it is. That base is where the signals are being sent from.
  • The SWORD base in NYC will have the location of the Center City base in its computer system. He gives the heroes a flash drive to slice through the computer security.
  • He is a hunted man. The deaths of Lars Kopernik, Ivan Kohlneziewski, and Zed indicate that there is a ‘death list’ for all of the people that were involved in the project.

Astrid and MagLev return to the Aerie with Epsilon to plan the attack on the SWORD base. In order to keep the geneticist safe, Astrid gives him the keys to her California beach residence. He gratefully accepts and heads for safety.

The Vanguard make an assault on the Airport entrance to the SWORD base under the cover of a rainstorm provided by Grey Mist. As they arrive at the airport, however, alarms are going off, the guards from the tunnel are running to the special hanger, and the unmistakable sound of a rocket engine are coming from the tunnel.

Grey Mist uses his magnetic powers to adjust the width of the rails to slow the train down without derailing it. A battle ensues against the Wild Boar, Headhunter, the Black Panther, the Beholder, Monsoon and Wildcat while a group of scientists scrambles from the train to the hanger.
The heroes trounce the villains and lock the scientists inside a disabled plane.

They explore the SWORD base on the lookout for whatever emergency caused the villains to evacuate the base. The base is littered with the dead bodies of technicians and scientists, all showing signs of being killed by an expert swordsman. They are able to find the computer room and access the computer records using Epsilon’s flash drive automatically downloading information to the drive.
A small cough behind them causes them to whirl around – there standing behind them is Doctor Ivan Kohlneziewski armed with a wicked looking longsword.

Ivan reveals that he faked his own death in order to revenge himself on all those who contributed to his framing and especially on Epsilon… who is in reality Doctor Evan Pastor an extremely high ranking member of the SWORD hierarchy. Ivan is the Synthetic Memory Murderer

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