Sunday, December 23, 2012

Buster Squad 5: A Necessary Evil Actual Play Volume 12

The Penultimate Session

As the team made its final preparations, Dr. Destruction said he was working on repairing Talos, and Kale was floating in something that resembled a Bacta Tank from Star Wars. Mindstorm asked if Kale would be ready for the mission, Destruction simply said that it would be up to Kale.

Mindstorm went to see Kale, who began speaking to him telepathically. Mindstorm told him he needed Kale to stay behind, in case Dr. Destruction made a big move. He told Kale that Vesper and Flux would be alerted to the situation, to give Kale back-up. In Kale and Talos’ place, Mindstorm recruited…Cyber-Burglaire. Mindstorm told Kale that they would handle the V’Sori…and Dr. Destruction…and Leviathan. Kale mused that Mindstorm had become a lot more optimistic.

Talos, speaking through the walls of Destruction’s base, said he was working on acquiring a new body as they spoke. Oh, and that he was totally going to kick Bully’s butt.

Mindstorm, Socks and Bully met with Dr. Aden, Cyber-Burglaire and two V’Sori, which made the team nervous…until they realized that the two V’Sori were really disguised Atlanteans. The group departed for space.

Mindstorm and Socks told Cyber-Burglaire to find a way to ensure that Bully survives the deactivation of the Drones, and Burglaire stuck his fingers up Bully’s nose and jacked in, Cyborg to Cyborg, in hopes of an answer. As they neared the satellite, he reluctantly said that he had no way of saving Bully…not with as little time as he had to work with.

Aden bluffed the team’s way onto Satellite 15, and told the V’Sori technicians that greeted them that they had prisoners but that their ship was malfunctioning. They bought the bluff, and the team made it on board.

As the team attacked the control room, they made short work of the technicians inside…but Fins arrived, the first of which managed to hold Cyber-Burglaire in his spot! As Socks was finishing off one of the technicians, another Fin busted in, moving super fast! Socks, Bully, Mindstorm, Burglaire and the two Atlanteans were trying to battle these two Fins when a third Fin and several War Spheres entered the control room…and the new Fin immolated one of the Atlanteans!

The remaining Atlantean (dubbed “Steve” by Socks) acquitted himself well, shaking off attacks from War Spheres and dropping a couple of them. The flame throwing Fin went after Bully, but his attack missed and he blasted Socks and the Gravity controlling Fin, killing his ally! Cyber Burglaire managed to initiate the Drone Shutdown command…which also caused the War Spheres to collapse, but caused Bully to collapse as well! Then an ominous message flashed up saying “Champion Ultimatum Enabled”.

Burglaire struggled…and managed to isolate Bully’s programming, giving him one final command…”Live”. Bully came to, and spoke for the first time since his return. Mindstorm told Socks, who had explosives strapped to him, to go set the explosives on the power core of the satellite! As Mindstorm left the command room, he found the wounded Dr. Aden, who had taken his captors by surprise and forced them to attack each other, but was mortally wounded when they fought back. He told Mindstorm to win and it would all be worth it. Mindstorm took Aden to the shuttle but could not understand the controls to alert Dr. Destruction. Aden used the last of his power to direct Mindstorm through the V’Sori controls before passing away.

The team boarded the shuttle and flew away as the satellite exploded.

Notes: “Steve the Atlantean” became a dark horse favorite for handling himself so well in the fight.

As the team returned to earth, they caught the news that the Earth had erupted into full-blown war, with resistance pockets battling all over the planet. The V’Sori military presence in Japan had been sabotaged, and 4-Star and Lucky had emerged from hiding in New York to lead a battle in the streets. In Star City, Dr. Destruction was raising the call to arms when he was consumed in a wall of dust and the signal went out.

The team flew to Star City and began departing the shuttle. They caught wind of a red and blue blur, but couldn’t make sense of it yet. On the way down, Mindstorm was blasted and suddenly lost his powers, crumpling to the roof of a building! As he struggled to recover, he heard the sound of a basketball beating on the roof, and turned to come face to mask with the leader of the V’Sori’s Death Squad, who said it was time for a little “one on one”…and removed his helmet to reveal that he had been Mindstorm’s brother Vincent Blevins all along!

Mindstorm gave Vincent a pretty big “You Suck” speech, punctuated by a crack of thunder, which nearly caused Vincent to wet himself. Mindstorm, powerless, attacked Vincent with a vibro-knive! Vincent and Mindstorm went back and forth, with Mindstorm eventually drawing first blood. Vincent alternated between trying to shoot Mindstorm and trying to pistol whip him, and Mindstorm kept wearing him down with repeated stabs and slashes, before stabbing Vincent in the chest and pushing him to the rooftop. Sneering at Vincent, he carved his heart from him chest before commenting “Huh. I guess you had one after all.”

Meanwhile, Socks and Bully were surrounded by Fins, to which Bully quipped “Not enough Fins.” The two partners were back to back, battling the Fins, when the wandering warrior Hiro attacked one Fin and the elven swordsman Sarveen battled off another.  Socks, Bully, Hiro and Sarveen made short work of the Fins, when the Death Squad arrived, punctuated by Jacko’s chainsaw firing up! He charged at Hiro with it, but Socks intercepted him and forced the chainsaw up high…holding him in place for Bully’s vicious gore! The Death Squad stood shocked at the devastation wrought on one of their own, by the monster they helped create. Baldwin, Cervantes, Dante and Murtha entered the fray, but Kale teleported to the scene and gave Murtha a horrible sneak attack, giving him an immediately lethal infection, putting an end to the leadership of the Death Squad right away.

Cervantes dared Kale to battle him, saying he could absorb his magic, but Hiro dropped him with a huge martial arts kick. As Bully ended Dante, Socks pulled Baldwin to Hell. Socks squeezed the life out of Baldwin, who begged off, saying he was only following orders. “So am I,” was all Socks offered in reply.

Mindstorm stumbled upon a crater near the rooftop where he faced his brother and found Dr. Destruction laying inside. To his utter shock, Destruction’s helmet was cracked open to reveal King Mero of Atlantis…the hero known as The Aquarian! Mindstorm, stunned, immediately telepathically summoned Kale.

The team entered the pit and Mero coughed, smiling weakly at them. He telepathically reached out to them and showed them everything that had come before…how he had been rescued from a V’Sori attack by Dr. Destruction, only to have Destruction pass away quietly from a stroke. How he took over the mantle of the Dr. How proud he was when Mindstorm told him that he refused to kill rogue operative Vesper, taking her under his protection. How he grew to trust the team more and more, not just as foot soldiers, but as heroes that the world needs. He explained how he could never tell anyone…because the V’Sori were mindreaders.

And then, the spectre of death fell over the team…and Buster Squad 5 (er, four), found themselves staring off with Champion…the long dead hero of Earth, killed in the initial V’Sori invasion, now turned into a powerful failsafe Drone by the V’Sori, activated when the team shut down the Drones. The squad prepared themselves for combat…when everything froze. A flash of light erupted, and everything went black.

When their vision was restored, Kale, Bully, Mindstorm (who had his powers restored) and Socks found themselves standing alongside Dr. Destruction (who had been healed), a reconstituted Talos, Tula Michaels, Sugrot the rogue Fin, Vesper and Cyber-Burglaire…the force selected by the mysterious Outsider, creator of Star City, to battle for the planet Earth. The group had been transported to a barren, moonlike area filled with large skeletons.

Socks spotted Champion coming in the distance.

As Champion swooped in, the team put their heads together to figure out how to stop him, with Meros pointing out that he is vulnerable to Gamma Radiation. Mindstorm asked Vesper if she could create Gamma Radiation. She said no. Kale said he could.

Kale summoned energy from the depths of Leviathan’s power, unleashing a bolt that rocked Champion and left him with two Wounds. Sugrot opened fire and managed to harm him further, while Dr. Destruction unleashed his Ray of Destruction and finished him off! A huge opening salvo for the forces of Earth!

The remaining V’Sori team, led by Shocklord H’reed, arrived behind the fallen Champion. Talos immediately joined Destruction and Sugrot near the front lines, with Bully and Socks joining as soon as they could. Tula, Mindstorm, Kale, Vesper and Cyber-Burglaire tried to get into position to attack from a distance.

The V’Sori and their allies focused their attacks on Dr. Destruction, revealed to them as not only the leader of OMEGA, but also as the King of Atlantis. A well-placed blast from a Fin killed King Meros, enraging Earth’s defenders. Sugrot immediately executed the Fin that made the killing shot, gaining some measure of vengeance.

The final battle was otherwise not close, nor was it dramatic. Earth’s defenders were too strong and too determined. Fittingly, the final combatant for the V’Sori was first Shaken by Socks, then struck down by a bolt of lightning from Mindstorm.

Everyone returned to Earth. Champion slumped to the ground, defeated. King Meros lay dying in the pit, reaching out one last time, explaining that The Outsider had shielded the Earth from the V’Sori as a result of the conflict on the moon, then allowing the team to see how he had tried to help each of them, before softly uttering his final words: “Thank you…for proving me right.”

The V’Sori that could, escaped. The V’Sori that couldn’t, went into hiding. Many of the Fins broke ranks, joining Sugrot and forming a K’tharen island nation. Socks vowed the hunt the remaining V’Sori to the ends of the Earth, while Mindstorm reminded the team of one last goal…one last promise…to free Kale from the grip of Leviathan’s control. Socks asked, to no one in particular, what might happen if he ate an Atlantean God’s heart.

NOTES: Bittersweet, but only one session remains. If I had known that Champion was going to go down in the first round of the final battle (Kale’s opening attack hit for 44 damage, due to Champion’s weakness to Gamma Rays), I would have beefed up the final V’Sori contingent, maybe keeping the Death Squad alive until the end, instead of having them attack Bully and Socks in the streets.

We took the week off for Christmas, but the plan is to wrap it all up next weekend, as the team faces off with an Atlantean God.