Friday, October 19, 2012

Buster Squad 5 - A Necessary Evil Actual Play Volume 5

New session!

The tale began with Kale still in the clinic, and Mindstorm visiting.  Mindstorm was approached by the owner of the Heroes shop, who revealed himself to be retired hero The Hippocratic Oath!  He had a situation and he explained it to Mindstorm: The clinic needs supplies, bad…and The Hippocratic Oath offered his services as a healer to Omega, if Mindstorm would resupply the clinic.  Mindstorm agreed, then began planning an assault on the Atlantic General Hospital, calling Cyber-Burglair to tap him for the mission.  Immediately after making the call, Mindstorm was contacted by Dr. Destruction, who was concerned due to another cell in Southpoint having gone dark.  Mindstorm gathered his team, and they headed out for the other cell’s HQ.

When they arrived, they found a dozen dead drones laying around, and the cell all having been killed aside from one member, known as The Shifter (in reality, a V’Sori double agent known as The Sleeper).  The Shifter only had a shoulder wound, which instantly made Mindstorm suspicious.  He and Flux talked it over, and contacted Dr. Destruction who told him to take The Shifter on board until he could find a new cell for Shifter.  Mindstorm agreed, but decided to tell Shifter nothing, not even being willing to take him back to their headquarters.

Flux, mulling things over, remembered that there was a doctor at the Atlantic General Hospital that was known to help street people with medicines, and that Willy the Fish ran a pretty big underground medical supply trade.  Mindstorm took Bully’s phone (Bully was talking to Willy’s compatriot Izzy) and had Izzy arrange for a meeting with Willy.  Izzy told them to come to his safehouse, and they set up a teleconference with Willy.

Willy agreed to sell them what they needed for $25,000, which Mindstorm agreed to (they still had the gold from Capone’s vault), but Willy offered to save them some money if they would just take out one of his rivals, a new face on the scene named Oswald.

Mindstorm agreed, and the team decided to approach Oswald at his set-up in Downtown, and spring a trap for him.

Flux and Bully approached, with The Shifter hiding ON Bully as a suit.  Mindstorm and Socks burrowed beneath the ground.

Flux tried to talk out an arrangement with Oswald, while Mindstorm suggested that Socks try to use stealth to get in under the truck and steal supplies.

Oswald and Glaive (his bodyguard) heard them.

Oswald suckerpunched Flux, but had no effect, and Bully lunged forth (with Shifter melting off of him) and attacked.  Glaive was too much for Flux or Bully to hit, but Mindstorm summoned lightning that messed Glaive up!  Socks jumped into melee, and realized that he knew Oswald and Glaive as the former villains Longarm and Cutter: Former members of Omega whose cell had been killed!  What Socks DIDN’T know, was that their cell was killed by the guy lurking on their team: The Shifter!

Glaive repeatedly fell short with his weapon, when The Shifter stabbed him in the chest with a spear-arm and brought him down.  Socks ripped into Oswald, and Bully finished him off.  Impressed with themselves, Buster Squad 5 raided the supply truck, then took off back to the clinic.  Upon returning, they were relieved to see Kale up and around, having been healed by the Hippocratic Oath!

Hippocratic Oath expressed his thanks, but the Squad had no time to rest as Dr. Destruction revealed that he had discovered what Hydra’s device was missing, and had made arrangements to acquire the items!  He sent the team to the Farmer’s Market on The Docks to meet a woman named Hardcore and get the items!

The team, Kale happily in tow, headed to The Docks!  A mysterious figure hit them up regarding some kind of necklace, that he wanted a cool $10,000 for.  Socks offered him $10.

Kale, trying to take the necklace from Socks, sensed the magic emanating from the necklace!  Mindstorm quickly paid off the cloaked man with gold, and gave the necklace to Kale.

The team made contact with Hardcore, and she took them to a warehouse, where they came face to face, in the flesh, with Willy the Fish!  Willy, with bodyguards in tow, told them to have a seat!  He offered them something to drink, they began talking with each of them…about the pasts, their powers…he started to tell Socks a little about his past, but held off, still for fear of traumatizing him.

After a good long spell of conversation, he told them they could grab the crate with Dr. Destruction’s goods and they could go!

As Socks moved in to retrieve it, there was an explosion and the place was surrounded by a dozen Drones, a dozen Warspheres and a dozen Fins!

Everyone moved into a defensive position, with Mindstorm summoning a storm and Flux summoning a whirlwind!

Buster Squad 5 was quicker on the uptake than Willy’s crew, launching into action.  Kale stalked into the middle of the Drones and Warspheres, surrounded first by fire, and then ice, dropping them.  Bully snapped into a rage and began wading through the villains.  Socks took the crate underground and hid it, while one of Willy’s bodyguards was murdered by a Fin.  Willy shocked the team by sprouting horns, and goring the Fin!

The remaining bodyguards blasted away, gunning down anything they could!  Mindstorm unleashed lighting into the crowd, followed by electrical bursts.  Flux unloaded with his cyclone, sending targets scattering!  When one Warsphere wounded Flux, Willy burrowed through the room and came up in front of him, then lashed out at a Drone.

A Drone seriously injured The Shifter, while Kale teleported back into the building to get away from approaching Fins.  Buster Squad 5 and Willy’s men were handling themselves well…until six armed men approached.  They opened fire from a distance, blasting Mindstorm and Flux.  One of them laughed, opening fire and wiping out Willy’s guards.  Two of the Drones, bolstered, further injured Flux and wiped out The Shifter.

Willy ordered a retreat, telling the team the box was more important, and he charged the newcomers…Mindstorm ordered the team to pull back, but Bully – in a full rage – charged them as well.  Another of the newcomers laughed and lunged at Bully with a katana.  Bully smacked him down, but he came back up in a rage, now wielding a chainsaw!  The gunmen kept firing at Bully, bringing him down further.  Socks tried to burrow under Bully and bring him underground, but the fighter drove his chainsaw into the ground and tore up Socks as well.  He nailed Hardcore a moment later when she got too close…and one of his compatriots shot Bully down while another threw a grenade on the pile, injuring all of them.

The team hurting and now clearly outmatched, tried to pull back to the box, and Kale cast a spell, reaching out for both Bully and Socks…when only Socks responded, Kale teleported him close, shorting out his powers in the process.

Mindstorm, reluctantly, ordered Socks to dig them to freedom, while Flux closed the path behind them.

Willy told them “Run!  For my blood runs through your veins!  Use it wisely!” as he shifted into a giant monster and tried to block their retreat.

Word spread quickly…the V’Sori had trounced Willy the Fish AND one of the terrorists, Bully.  Bully’s body was paraded through the streets as an example.

As the team returned to headquarters, Dr. Destruction asked for the status of his contents, then told them a team would come pick the box up.

He then showed the hurting team what he had been told just minutes before: That the V’Sori had been tracking them since they returned from Hydra’s base, and how.  He showed them the footage of Socks killing Ikaran at his outpost, and the V’Sori showing up to check on them.

Destruction told Socks, simple:  “You cost this organization an asset in Ikaran, and a very loyal and powerful operative in Bully.  Your stupid vendetta jeopardized this team and this organization.  I only pray that what’s in this box was worth the price we paid for it.”

And of course, the team never realized that they had been being tracked for weeks and were sitting right there in their base…SIGH.

The next session proved uglier still.

Notes:  This “Very Special Episode” puts the team on the defensive.  The elite team I dropped in was tasked with taking out Buster Squad 5 after they raised their profile more and more in Star City.  They group lost popular (and powerful) NPC Bully, as well as NPC ally Willy the Fish.  I figure they’ll be about due for some serious revenge not long from now, though.

After a month-long break…

We picked up shortly after Dr. Destruction’s goods were picked up by another team.  Mindstorm, furious at the current situation, immediately called for a team meeting.  As the four remaining members of the team gathered together, Socks gave a touching – and hilarious – eulogy about departed “team leader” Bully, and placed Flux in charge of the team.  Mindstorm ignored him.  As Mindstorm tried to consider options for new team members, they all detected a sound…beeping…all around them.

Socks reacted first, burrowing into the ground…Kale, Flux and Mindstorm followed as their headquarters blew sky high.

Socks made the effort, as he burrowed into the ground, to strategically collapse the tunnel as he went, hoping to choke off efforts to follow them.

Dr. Destruction contacted the team quickly with coordinates, and they made their way under the city to a boarded up KFC full of Atlanteans.

Mindstorm pulled Socks aside and chastised him for everything his recklessness had caused them.  Then he took the dossiers of the OMEGA defectors they had hunted down a few weeks back and threw them at Socks, asking if he remembered them.  As Socks stared at the dossiers, Mindstorm pointed out that they were defectors who the team had to hunt and kill.  He told Socks, in no uncertain terms, that if he ever makes a move that stupid again, he will kick Socks off the team, tell Dr. Destruction Socks defected, and then hunt Socks down and kill him.

Socks was left with his jaw hanging open at the boldness of Mindstorm’s statement.

Sarna, the Atlantean running the safe-house, informed them that Dr. Destruction had told them they were to remain only for an hour, and then they were to strike a local hidden naval base and hijack a minisub…at which time Dr. Destruction would contact them with further instructions.

She also told them that Destruction had told them to change their appearances as well as their tactics…the V’Sori were about to be claiming victory, and Destruction’s thought was to let them have it.

The team found some raggedy clothes, and Socks dyed his hair purple.  They pondered what to do about Kale…who summoned his magic and transformed into a V’Sori…then promptly wondered why he hadn’t ever thought of that before.

The team headed to The Docks, to hit the naval base, and saw about half a dozen V’sori and half a dozen Drones on site.  Flux snuck to the sea and dove in, making his way under water to the sub…while Kale, as a V’Sori, simply walked across the base and to the sub, passing inspection by all that saw him!  One V’Sori wandered too close to Mindstorm and Socks, so Socks suckerpunched him and broke his neck!

Kale made his way up to the sub, where one of the V’Sori finally began to question him, so he summoned more power from Leviathan and took the V’Sori’s mind, entered the sub and had it lowered into the water.  He picked up Flux, and they later rendezvoused with Mindstorm and Socks!

Notes:  I was floored…FLOORED…with how flawlessly this plan played out.  I mean, THEY thought Flux would sneak onto the sub, Kale would slip away and Mindstorm and Socks would have to fight for a distraction, but it went WAY better than that.  Back to the game.

Flux and Kale were piloting the sub, as Dr. Destruction contacted the team once more and told them about a Hydro-Base a mile under water!  A strike team had been sent down two days earlier, and while communications from the base had ceased, so had communications from the sub, aside from a distress beacon.  The team headed toward the base, with the goals of finding out what happened to the team, and to make sure the base was disabled.

As the sub approached the base, Socks spotted the other sub in a docking bay, and saw a second bay that the team could use.  Flux veered the sub into the bay, and the team entered the base.

Mindstorm sent Socks and Kale one way, while he and Flux went the other…ordering Flux and Kale to remain in telepathic contact in case of trouble, while also giving each side a ranged fighter and a melee fighter.

Mindstorm and Flux entered the base’s living quarters, finding blood and signs of struggle everywhere…blaster marks on the walls, overturned furniture, etc.  They also found, on the walls of the base, timed explosives that had not yet been set.  In addition, some kind of strange, muddy substance on the floor.

Kale and Socks entered the main corridor, finding the center of the base and more blood and signs of conflict.  The weird, muddy substance was there as well, heading off into one section of the station, while a bloody trail led the other.

The team regrouped and decided to enter the other sub, where they shut off the distress signal, but saw no other bodies or signs of life.  Getting weirded out and kind of frustrated, the team headed deeper into the base, first following the trail of blood into the mess hall.  Again, signs of struggle, overturned tables, etc…in the back of the hall, they found large stores of food.

The team then followed the muddy trail, encountering a V’Sori hanger.  They then entered a lab, where they suspected the purpose of the base truly lay.  Mindstorm searched for journals, while Kale summoned the power of Leviathan and began to work the controls while reading V’Sori aloud!  He dug through file after file, experiment after experiment until he said aloud, in English: “What’s a Protean?”  Then, he turned to the team and told them that the V’Sori had tried to meld a K’Tharen with a Protean!  Before the team could ponder what that meant, a large, muddy, malleable, Fin-like creature stalked into the room, snarling!

The Proto-Fin lunged at Socks, who managed to avoid its attacks, while Mindstorm jolted it.  Flux followed lightning with fire, and Kale summoned eldritch bolts, which did little.

The Proto-Fin lashed out at Socks with a bizarre attack, but he luckily dodged at the last second!  Flux unleashed flames once more, and scorched the beast badly!  Kale tried to follow fire with fire, but his had little success…then, to the horror of the team…the Proto-Fin began to heal!

Socks roared into life, unleashed a furious series of attacks, hammering deeper and deeper into the heart of the Proto-Fin.  As it collapsed, Mindstorm hacked at it with Energy Knives, cutting its head off!  While Socks tore its heart out and devoured it, Mindstorm threw the head to Flux and told him to incinerate it, which he did.

Kale, having just studied the Proto-Fin, relayed that the Fin was apparently trying to breed with Socks, and that it had been absorbing the bodies of its prior victims.  Not waiting around to see if it recovered, Kale told the team to head back to the submarine as he moved from room to room, triggering the explosives and letting the base erupt in explosions.

As the team departed, Mindstorm contacted Dr. Destruction about the mission, with pleasing news that Kale had managed to copy the data from the experiments before they blew the base, and asked about their return to Star City…but Destruction told him that they weren’t coming back to Star City!  He told them that the V’Sori had just pulled two humans, an Atlantean and a half-Atlantean from the wreckage of their base, and that the team was to stay as far away as possible!  He directed them to Florida, where they would then take a flight to Japan…to recruit: The Monolith!

Notes:  A much better mission after the downer of the last go-around.  Socks picked up his last Seasoned advance, gaining Brawny after his body underwent bizarre changes from eating the Proto-Fin’s heart.  Flux boosted his Strength from a d4 to a d6, hitting his second Seasoned advance.  We decided to continue on with the game, so I sped things up about a week, with the team in Japan, hiking through the woods to find the Monolith.

As the team hiked toward the Buddhist Monastery where The Monolith was believed to be held at, Mindstorm filled them in on Monolith:  Dr. Karl Antaeus was an environmentalist with the power to transform into a giant stone man…and over time he had become more radical and unbalanced.  He had went to this monastery after being defeated by Champion and The Alpha Force, and Champion had sworn to take up the mantle of the environmental causes driving Monolith.  Now, the orders were simple: Bring Monolith out of retirement after ten years.

The team (now tentatively using the codenames #1 (Mindstorm), #2 ( Kale), #3 (Flux) and Doesn’t Matter (Socks)), walked up the final path toward the monastery.  Several monks milled about, but about ten in the courtyard met them at the path.

Mindstorm said they needed to speak to Dr. Karl Antaeus, and they were rebuffed by the monks.

This went back and forth, with Socks and Flux joining in, trying to convince the monks that they had to see Antaeus, and that the Monolith was needed to beat back The V’Sori.  The team was repeatedly rebuffed.

Mindstorm grew annoyed, while Flux and Socks were in his ear begging for a fight.  Mindstorm began to suspect that Monolith was being held against his will, but the monks denied this.  Mindstorm said they were hiding something, the monks said they were merely protecting Antaeus.

The conflict slowly boiled to a head…and finally the monks attacked because Mindstorm and the team would not leave!

Flux controlled a stone barrier and wrapped it around one monk, while two others attacked him!  Mindstorm had been summoning a storm throughout this, but did not bring it into play yet, trying to fight in a calmer manner.  Instead, he telekinetically moved one of the monks away, though he came charging back.  Socks even refrained from using his claws, slugging it out with another monk, who was giving as good as he’d gotten.  Kale cast a spell with one hand, transforming a giant Buddha statue into a walking ally, while blasting one monk with a palm blaster.

The team played very nice, Flux trying to Bind opponents, Mindstorm telekinetically moving them and Socks using fists over claws…until one monk hammered Kale with one brutal attack, then dropped him with life-threatening injuries with a second!

The kid gloves came off, and Mindstorm began unleashing lighting bolts, while Flux – who was taking hits on all sides – began using fire to bring down the monks.  As soon as Mindstorm got clear of him, Socks went for a Sweep on three of them, and made it an Omega Strike, wiping out all three!

The one that brought down Kale went after Mindstorm, while Mindstorm freed Flux to go save Kale!

Socks, tired from the Omega Strike, ran down one of the monks while Flux and Mindstorm cleaned up the rest.

With Kale down, Socks fatigued and wounded, the team were glad it was over…until the ground began to shake!

The monastery collapsed and Monolith, enraged, emerged!  He charged the team, unleashing shards of earth that ripped Mindstorm to shreds and nearly brought HIM down!

Mindstorm unleashed a bolt from the sky, striking Monolith…and doing squat.  He retreated behind Flux and Socks.

Socks tried to burrow, but the constant earthquake made that sound like a BAD idea…so he lunged at Monolith…and failed to harm him.  Monolith formed a stalagmite, and began slashing away at Socks.  Flux tried to meld Monolith to the ground and make him fall over, but Monolith’s control was far greater!  Mindstorm pleaded with Monolith to stop fighting and join them, and was crest-fallen when it seemed to have no effect.  Flux and Socks, however, sensed that something wasn’t quite right…Flux decided to get inside his mind, and he reached Dr. Antaeus, who was out of control and frightened!  Flux could also sense the overwhelming swell of energy being output by Monolith, causing the earthquake!

The team was getting very desperate, with Socks finally about to give in when a little pink-haired Japanese girl popped in next to Mindstorm and said Dr. Destruction had sent her…then gave him a little mechanical device that she said was designed to bleed off the excess energy in Monolith’s body.  Mindstorm telekinetically flung it at Monolith, hit, and drove the powerhouse down!  The team quickly subdued him, and headed out for a rendezvous, so Monolith could be indoctrinated into OMEGA!

Notes: We had to wrap up very quickly, as I had just received news of a family tragedy.  Mindstorm had played “The Calvary Arrives” moments earlier, so I popped in a little Japanese girl-genius to help stop Monolith, though I made sure the decisive blow as in the hands of the PCs.

Kale, in a non-Necessary Evil game, would be dead.  That said, he has sustained grievous injuries once more.  Kale, The Magic Eunuch, anyone?

I gave out one more XP, which pushed Mindstorm into Veteran, and he took Power Points, with one power being Telepathy, which is how his Leadership Edges are now going to begin effecting Wild Cards.(Note: This was pre-Deluxe edition in which that became the standard.)