- The Commander (Doug) – telekinetic super-soldier with a really angry dog (Yukio). The dog is a powerful ally (250-300 points) and very intelligent and very, very aggressive.
- Arc Light (Christian) – battlsuited gadgeteer with electrical powers
- The Rat Queen (Emily) – brick with super-perception; made of actual rats
- Eamon Finnegan (Kyle) – smooth talking gravity-master; Ultimate Fighting Lawyer, to borrow a phrase.
- Zephyr (Merlin) – Real name Murui; Shaolin Kung Fu expert and super-speedster.
We had a full house again today. Yay! Heroes are better in groups.
When last we left our heroes
Questions were asked and answered.
- General Legend and sister are on their own side, which happens to be ours
- Aries and Cortez are pursuing power, but their ultimate goal was not made clear
- Little girl with cat is cheating by interfering with the past
- Cassie is in fact our ally
- We will be meeting the person whose symbol is the black swan, in 18 hours; is he our enemy? Yes and no.
- Never mess with the time core; it’s not what we think, and it doesn’t do what we think it does
- No, he’s not going to tell us what it is and what it does. What’s the point of being an inscrutable Japanese elder without the inscrutability
Form Blazing Battle Plans
We decided to start the game by putting our four-A’s plan into action, first by Assessing and gathering data.
- That led us immediately to blueprints. Location and tactics.
- How does he know who to target when it comes to precogs?
- What’s with the black swan? If supervillains are all in love with their own symbolism and stuff, what’s the symbol symbolic of?
- We talk about doing an in-person recon, but we were warned away from “showing up early.” The Commander, who knows the value of eyes-on recon that you can’t get from imagery, is not eager to skip this step.
- Who owns the warehouse? Who paid for the security?
He does the recon anyway; it’s a giant warehouse and people are going in and out, but it almost looks too regular, not quite like it’s been staged, but not quite like it wasn’t, either. It’s the Platonic Ideal of a warehouse, and that Just Don’t Happen in NYC.
There are definitely people not just looking around, but they’re looking for trouble. There are way more security personnel than a warehouse would need. I try and use imaging to gather and send images back. There are at least 30 guardsmen, and I manage to get clean images of at least seven. Every 10yds there is a motion-sensitive camera; many are hidden (though I succeeded by 16, so I see everything).
These guards are buff, too. Not your usual mall-cop. They’ve all got handguns; I don’t see any longarms, but they almost have to be there.
I decide to order them a pizza and see what happens. We decide that if I break the future, they’re not cleaning it up, and if I break it, I bought it.
OK, fine. The delivery driver shows up in 30 minutes or less. They don’t let him in. They ask him to get out of the car. They frisk him. They check his delivery order, and when there’s no name that matches who’s inside, they send him away.
We research the owner of the warehouse. He’s wealthy, specializes in luxury goods, makes sure they get where they’re supposed to. Basically you’re classic import/export front.
Arc Light is busy tracking the owners; it looks like a front for some government agency. Zephyr tries to get close enough to detect magic (nope), while Eamon and Arc Light find out that it’s definitely some sort of Black Ops operation.
Armed with that information, The Commander tries to call General Legend to find out what’s all going on; he eventually answers, and “doesn’t respond” to a lot of questions. We conclude from the questions to which he grunts, is silent, or frowns. It’s almost certainly an Aries facility, his sister is almost certainly going to be there, and she almost certainly isn’t the direct contact we’re meeting.
Eamon gets the original blueprints; there was a sewer line running underneath the building, but it was rerouted. We decide to have the Rat Queen check out the old and new lines.
The old tunnels have bars blocking the way, but they’re separated three inches apart; easily penetrable by rats.
They definitely had some work done; they routed the thing way differently than they should have. Pretty much anything under the building has been diverted, and maybe even under the street – we conclude that they’ve build a pretty immense sub-basement level.
We spend the time doing superheroics; we restore power to a few downed areas. We bring medicine in to needed places, and try and get the local block guys to trust is.
It actually works this time.
The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry
We realize that the Dog of NIMH will be mostly functional (“I’ve always been a quick healer,” says the Dread Puppy Roberts), so Arc Light whips him up a suit of armor. He also sets up drone surveillance around the area.
We have a sneaking suspicion that the “meeting” is not a sit-down, but rather us being on the scene when something else happens, which means we’ll be fighting that threat while at the same time being in the presence of black swan guy.
We plan to hover at “no threat’ range ’til the last instant, then make a beeline for the warehouse.
At roughly the appointed time, three black helicopters show up, and we see them coming. Thirty or forty guys, maybe, fast-rope down and take positions. The security guards engage in panic fiire, then withdraw into the building. They have nice weapon and sensor packages; lots of guns, plus some heavier stuff on one of the helicopters.
Eamon helps us head down to the surface. so we can do a bit of direct inspection. The Commander looks and listens to the gunfire, and he has been shot at, and shot near, many different types of gunfire. He has never heard or seen this weapon before. He warns people that these rifles might be more . . . special . . . than usual.
One of the truck bays to the warehouse is open, and Zephyr sees the body of a guard; gunshots to the head. So either low recoil, high skill, technology or any or all of the above. Zephyr quickly (!) grabs wallet, radio, and ID badge from the fallen guard. The company ID says “Vast Logistics.”
The entry wounds are large; 10mm or so. Very accurate for such a large capital.
We get on the radio: A calm voice says “they’ve broken through to the second level.”
There’s lots of sounds of gunfire and sounds of people fighting and dying.
We take positions and then we see Cortez coming in from the northeast, then goes to the north part of the building, then enters a down elevator that the floor opens up.
Then more helicopters show up, and even more soldiers show up; they disgorge more people, so now there are something like 60-70 troopers assaulting whomever is maintaining the facility.
We dither about plans, and someone spots The Commander (who made his stealth roll by 5 anyway) and shoots at him. He returns fire, but his foe dodges behind cover.
We roll tactics; 7 rerolls in the bag thanks to a not-great but not-bad Tactics roll.
It’s time for some hardcore tactical military action. Zephyr moves like the wind, taking maximum advantage of his speed to engage in close-in strikes. He goes for a back-of-the head strike. He hits both targets in the head, doing 1d+5 to each, for 8 and 11 points. They’re definitely distracted, though.
The commander runs up and thrusts through the guy’s armor, then kicks him back. Yukio chases after the guy, who retreats.
One of the bad guys tosses a grenade at the commander, which dodges around and then sticks to his back, despite an attempt at a Power Block. It beeps twice, then explodes. Good news is I get my full 360degree DR, bad news is it only counts for half. Damage roll is 63, karma point reduces that, and I get thrown 2 yards forward.
Once again we find ourselves, despite copious intelligence gathering, facing a fight that we have no plan to execute successfully, against a guy that can shrug off a 4d+13 (2) impaling strike to the vitals.
We are screwed, or should be.
Zephyr fast-draws his three-part staff, and attacks again, this time for swing damage. knocking him to the ground and out. He’s got some really cool grenade-like things on him, too.
The Commander has had quite enough of this. Three explosions of 30-36 damage each on three clustered foes with kablooey rounds kills three and blasts the fourth backwards. Yukio gets the instruction “kill” and savages the one behind me, killing him.
The leader I knocked back stabs himself with some black goo, and he gets up.
He shoots Yukio, who’s armored and gets to take advantage of my power block/force field. Most bullets deflect off, and the dog takes one point of damage.
The commander’s the only available target. He gets shot at. A lot. He gets hit for one point of damage by a 9d6 attack; every third bullet is AP, apparently, with a (2) divisor. Those are worrisome.
Zephyr gets a grenade thrown at him, and his Enhanced Time Sense kicked in; he tries to knock the thing away with his staff. It attaches to his staff. He exercises his perfect memory (“I forgot I had eidetic memory!”) and chucks the beeping grenade at the nearest cluster of guys. “Hey, why is there a grenade on a stick, and how did it get here?” They all take 66 points of damage from a 20d6 explosion.
The commander once again gets shot at a lot, but thanks to Dodge 13 and DR 40 he mostly shrugs it off or avoids it.
The team leader goes full-auto on Yukio; power block sends the shots wide or absorbs them – a few points of damage are taken. It’s now a race to see who can rip this guy to shreds first.
Arc Light flies into the fray with another massive slam attack, 18d-3 . . . fortunately for the target he dodges, and Arc Light goes two hexes past him.
Eamon picks up one guy, throws him into another guy, and takes out one more soldier. Zephyr picks up one of those great grenades in each hand.
The rule is “do not go full auto on The Commander’s dog,” and he does a running double-slice, beheading the leader and one more with a slice to the neck each. Total Highlander moment.
Arc Light gets two tossed at him; he dodges them, and returns with a non-lethal electric blast.
We finish up the upstairs with a few explosive bullets. That clears the upstairs. We collect 5 grenades from the bodies, and pass them around.
We find a set of steps behind a false wall, leading down. There are two guys at the bottom of the stairs; we chatter for too long, and then settle on Murui (Zephyr) and The Commander jumping down more or less on top of them, and meleeing the hell out of them.
The Commander drops down and beheads one; Zephyr grabs the other’s neck and snaps it. Quick and clean.
Cortez is in the gallery, shouting orders. We hear Markus’ name called out, the father of the little girl from the future.
We call Markus, Eamon speaks: “You don’t know me, but I have a force on the other side of the equation. If we can remove Cortez, will you stand down?”
Arc Light uses his mad computer skillz to simulate Cortez’s voice, shouting “stand down! cease fire! medics coming through” to try and buy us some time.
They all take a knee and grab cover.
Zephyr and Eamon collaborate to zip out, grab Cortez, and bring him to within our little circle.
It doesn’t work . . . but he comes calmly walking forward towards us anyway. He tells us we’re moving half-cocked, and so he shows us both a warrant and battle orders. A check by Eamon shows that these guys are legit. They’re here to collect something called VAST, it’s an AI. They think that the AI is behind the black swan murders.
The AI has malfunctioned, and Markus is going to Gitmo at best.
We suggest that The Commander and Eamon to talk to Markus; the best offer Cortez is willing to make is life in Gitmo if they turn over the final server.
We go to the opposite side of the room, and the soldiers on Markus’ side are twitchy. Markus is tall, handsome, dark in an Eastern European way. Eamon offers his hand, and finds that he’s flesh and blood. The Commander’s magical tattoo starts to twitch.
As Eamon talks to Markus, and he’s showing all the signs of a sociopathic personality. No threats, keep to the facts, no niceties.
Our goal is twofold. One, find out about the black swan cards. Two, get as many alive as possible. Markus says ‘come with me’ and we both follow. We end up in a server room, advanced tech even by Arc Light’s standard. We see an ellipsis form at the top left of an over-large LCD. Code comes crashing across the screen; it’s an advanced startup sequence of some sort, but it doesn’t look familiar . . . at the same time, it looks very familiar.
Eamon introduces himself. His profile comes up on the screen, and the whole nine yards comes across the screen in a flash. All the various interviews, video, stuff.
Great, says Eamon. Tell me what you want. The computer is looking at Black Swan theory. An unforeseeable event with catastrophic effect and unavoidable. The AI was working to prevent disasters with Amanda. They came across the black swan – eliminating the precogs would still the waters, allow detection.
The AI has been working with Amanda Smith since she was 11 years old. Computer implanted into the back of her skull. Amanda was not a voluntary partner? Nope, but she eventually became voluntary, says the AI (Stockholm?).
We get information on the project, it was started by Cortez. Who has all the proper legal authority to collect the server. Eamon wants to continue with miminal loss of life. Life is not important, only the black swan is important.
We establish that the AI can’t leave New York for some reason. He needs a way out. We want to help him prevent the black swan event; why does Cortez want to stop you from stopping the black swan event.
We’re at an impasse; the AI doesn’t trust us and we don’t trust the AI or Markus either. Evidence of crimes by Cortez – that makes protecting the AI a matter of protecting critical evidence. The AI, on the other hand, is effectively a homicidal manic, but not a sentient one. More like a rabid animal. Cortez is acting legally but not morally.
We end there. with a lot more questions to be asked and answered.