Sunday, March 17, 2013

Buster Squad 5: A Necessary Evil Actual Play Volume 13

In the aftermath of the Omega victory over the V’Sori, the world had been thrown into chaos. Mindstorm, Kale and Talos were working feverishly to utilize Dr. Destruction’s resources to better the world, while Socks, Bully and Steve the Atlantean spearheaded the hunt for the remaining V’Sori around the world.

Cyber-Burglaire decrypted Destruction’s information for Mindstorm, granting him unfettered access to the structure of Omega. Meanwhile, an Atlantean Blood Cult following Leviathan began making a lot more noise.

One evening, while working, Mindstorm stumbled across the file on Talos…and it suddenly clicked: Talos had been in the hands of King Meros, who was posing as Dr. Destruction…and Meros knew nothing about robots…meaning that, all this time, Talos was moving around on this team without the proper programming. He read closer and learned that Talos reactivated himself and Meros went ahead and deployed him to the field, hoping for the best. All this time, Talos was running around, not bound by his programming. As Mindstorm tried to reach out to Kale, Kale told him that the Atlantean Blood Cult was making a move, threatening to blow up an Earth Unity rally! Mindstorm swore under his breath and contacted Steve to pick up him, Kale and Talos, and take the six of them to the rally.

As they closed in on the rally, Mindstorm scanned the crowd to find the rogue Atlanteans and detected a couple in the audience, so he whipped up a VICIOUS storm to try to disperse them. He regretted that moments later when a lightning bolt ripped from his own storm and blasted the ship, injuring Bully. Steve the Atlantean struggled to put the ship down safely, but managed to do so without killing the team, even though the ship was toast. As the team piled out of the ship, a sneering Atlantean stared down at them from a rooftop, sword in hand. As the rally scattered, the Atlanteans among the crowd drew their weapons as well and prepared to fight.

Mindstorm asked Kale if he knew anyone here, to which Kale replied that he knew Samor, the priest that seems to have commanded Mindstorm’s own storm against him. Mindstorm asked him what he knew about Samor, and Kale replied “That he was never this strong. But selling your soul to Leviathan will do that.” Steve sighed as he looked at the Atlantean cultists advancing on them, and said “So now I take up arms against my own people,” before readying his blaster pistol. “Alright, then.” Kale noted that Samor might be their best hope of finding out how to find and stop Leviathan. Talos did a quick count of the Buster Squad and asked “Isn’t six usually a bad omen for you guys?”

Mindstorm instructed Kale to neutralize Samor, the Atlantean Sorcerer teleported to the building Samor was on, grabbing the Priest and attempting to strip him of his abilities…but Samor laughed, swatted his hand away saying “Leviathan loves me best,” and slashed him with his sword.

Talos lunged into the onrushing Atlanteans and asked them if they were ready to die for their God, before crushing one of them and muttering that he really doesn’t understand religion. And then the Atlanteans gangpiled him and did a surprising amount of damage to him. Mindstorm sent an Electrical burst that fried several Atlanteans, while Bully and Socks rushed into combat…but did surprisingly little damage. Steve, on the other hand, was a crack shot picking off cultists left and right.

Mindstorm attempted to Telekinetically bind Samor and failed, but Kale used Samor’s own trick and stole Mindstorm’s summoned storm to blast the Priest with lightning. The cultists were giving Talos, Bully and Socks all they wanted and more, but Steve was still inflicting damage when he commented to Socks that his heart just hadn’t seemed “in it” since the war with the V’Sori ended…which was promptly followed by Socks shredding Atlanteans. Mindstorm finally bound Samor with his TK, and Kale magically paralyzed him.

With the Atlanteans fallen, Kale picked into Samor’s mind for the location of the bomb, which was beneath the city! Socks burrowed down to find it…while Talos followed! Socks and Talos found the bomb and Socks asked Talos if he could disarm it. Talos said “No,” and grabbed it tight, then leapt out high into the air. He yelled at Mindstorm to make a Telekinetic platform and landed on it, then leapt higher…taking the bomb high into the sky, where it exploded in the atmosphere.

The team began questioning Samor for information on where Leviathan was being summoned, but Samor laughed at their threats…until Bully and Socks made a VERY persuasive case of intimidation (the “Spill the Beans” Adventure Card), as Mindstorm flew into the air looking for Talos.

Samor laughed that Leviathan was HERE and Socks, Bully and Steve were struck in their tracks (Shaken)…as Kale disappeared and LEVIATHAN loomed over them! The massive God took the form of a Sea Dragon and sneered at the meager opposition in front of him, swatting Steve with his tail and lashing out at Bully and Socks…but Socks, the little science freak that should not be, blocked his attack!

Socks screamed out to Mindstorm that they needed help NOW and he struck Leviathan, drawing blood on the Atlantean God! Steve lined up what seemed to be the perfect shot to take Leviathan out, but his blast had no effect, and Bully was hammered to the brink of unconsciousness. Socks kept attacking relentlessly as Mindstorm returned to the field of battle…just in time for Leviathan to revert back to Kale!

Kale BEGGED the team to kill him, because he had forced Leviathan back down inside of him…but that he was healing quickly. He told “Mike” (Mindstorm’s real name) that this was their only chance, and that he was sorry for everything. Mindstorm took his hand and said “I won’t leave you. Bring Leviathan back.” Kale said he was sorry once more, and Leviathan returned…holding Mindstorm’s hand.

Mindstorm raised his other hand to the sky and lightning surged down into his body, traveling into the Atlantean God. The eruption of power blew Socks, Bully and Steve away from the field of battle. It blew out every window in Star City. It blew out the power grid in Star City. Mindstorm cooked Leviathan from the inside out, killing himself in the process.

As Socks struggled to recover, his nose and ears led him to the smoking pit that was Leviathan and Mindstorm. When his eyes finally adjusted, he saw the very still body of Mindstorm floating in the air. Then he heard the soft speech in Atlantean and saw Kale standing at his feet, surrounded in mystical energy. The Atlantean speech grew into a crescendo until he finally spoke English: “By the Power of Atlantis, I command you to live! Live, damn you.”

And Mindstorm’s breath broke the silence.

Socks, Bully and Steve walked to the edge of the pit as Kale brought the very damaged, but living, Mindstorm out. As the Buster Squad returned to Dr. Destruction’s base, a back-up of Talos came online. Talos and Kale got back to the business of repurposing Omega while Mindstorm healed and Socks, Steve and Bully traveled the region, putting warlords, V’Sori, rogue Atlanteans and former Omega operatives gone rogue. Talos came to Mindstorm one night and confronted him about Mindstorm knowing Talos hadn’t been reprogrammed. Talos explained that all this time, he’s not been bound to reprogramming by Dr. Destruction, but that he had made a choice…and Mindstorm would have to trust him like he trusts the rest of the team. Mindstorm said that’s why he fought so hard for Talos…Talos said that’s why he blew himself up to save Star City.

As the months drifted on, Mindstorm went back to work. A few more heroes came out of the woodwork, and many of the Omega operatives had come to believe in the cause, truly. Kale made the team nervous at first, because he was now absolutely overflowing with power…but he was no longer drawing it from Leviathan. Mindstorm felt Leviathan die…but that power had to go somewhere, and it seemed as though it stayed in Leviathan’s chosen vessel. The team had to separate, because the world is a lot of ground to cover, and the Buster Squad no longer operated in tandem anymore…until, a year after the fall of Dr. Destruction, their V-MAPs flared to life for the first time in a very long time. It was an automated message from Dr. Destruction, explaining to them that the Earth will never TRULY be safe until the V’Sori Overmind is defeated…and that the Atlantean Teleport Tubes can be calibrated to take the team straight to the Overmind. He explained that they had the ability and resources to resolve this once and for all, but that he was no longer in a position to give orders or command…but that it was up to them to decide: Stay on Earth…or take the fight to the heart of the V’Sori fleet and end this for good.

And so the team prepared for that one final push to ensure that Earth is free from the V’Sori threat forever.

COMMENTS: I lied. This was NOT the final adventure. Next week really will be.

I promoted Steve the Atlantean to Wild Card, and Socks’ player does all the rolling for him and Bully, while Mindstorm’s player handles Kale and Talos.

I wanted the fight with Leviathan to be BIGGER, but we were in kind of a time crunch…but I had the “Kale turns into Leviathan” thing in mind going into it, with three outcomes: a) Leviathan wins, everyone dies…b) Leviathan turns back into Kale, they kill Kale, Leviathan and Kale die…or c) they refuse to kill Kale, Leviathan comes back completely healed, and if they defeat him AGAIN, they get Kale back, with Leviathan’s power but without being bound to him anymore. Of course, I should never underestimate Mindstorm’s player’s absolute refusal to leave anyone behind (especially since he truly began crossing that barrier from villain to hero), and he intentionally held onto Kale’s hand in hopes of him turning back so he could fry Leviathan. He rolled insanely well on damage, and I made it worse by applying the damage to him as well, giving him 7 wounds to soak (which he failed to do). In the aftermath, with Kale back, he got to make Kale’s spellcasting and Healing rolls, and he was literally rolling for his own life…barely rolling well enough to save himself.

Bully and Talos were largely non-factors in this mission, but Steve made for nice ranged support…and Socks got to cap off his career with the ultimate melee performance…he stood toe to toe with an Atlantean God and not only drew first blood, but inflicted three wounds by himself (he took Giant Killer in anticipation of this fight, and utilized No Mercy to make a bad damage roll come out MUCH better).

Ultimately, one more big moment in a campaign that has been full of them…and next week we say goodbye, as Mindstorm’s player is leaving at the beginning of April and the last weekend of March, we are playing in a larger group than usual for International Tabletop Day.

Oh…and now the characters are Legendary.