A SHORT HISTORY OF VANGUARD--1948

FEBRUARY, 1948

02/13/48: Mission Twenti-Seven -- Tale Of Future Past   (GM: Devin McKinney)

BOOMER and SPHINX are called into Col. Patterson's office and told that Achilles Kirkandopoulos (GEMINI) seems to be having problems. Questions and mind-probing reveal that he is plagued by dreams of a man claiming to be his son (he is unmarried and childless at the moment). Patterson thinks he is cracking up, Boomer and Sphinx think he may be on to something. Patterson is not impressed with their attitude and, instead of sending them along with Gemini to a meeting in Bogota, pointedly tells them not to go. Of course, they take vacation time and go anyway.

      However, on the DC-7 they are confronted by a ghost-like man who turns very substantial, and bleeding, before their eyes. The person looks amazingly like their friend Achilles, and introduces himself as MICHAEL Kirkandoupoulos, Achilles' son. Once his bleeding is halted, he displays a small device and askes for help from his "father's old comrades. The two Vanguardians get into the hold of the airplane, where Sphinx's armor is stored, and Michael pushes the right buttons.

      All three depart, and find themselves in a Mexican building where a firefight seems to be going on between several federales and some super-powered, or otherwise strange, people. They are attacked with the others and end up having to drive off the Mexican policemen. They are then introduced to the strange assembly around them. Among them are a dwarfish person called RANGO dressed in plate armor, a chainmail-wearing female with greatsword and bow called ASWANSEA who claims to be an elf, a robotic person looking like a highly advanced form of Pollux calling himself WEAPONEER, a lurking assassin-type called NIGHTSTALKER, a knife user called BLADE MISTRESS and a woman who introduces herself as just SANDRA and has the look of a secret agent.

Michael explains that the year is 1978, which is something of a shock for Boomer and Sphinx, who at least had their suspicions, and really a shock for Nightstalker, Weaponeer, and Sandra, who are from 1988. The dwarf and elf seem to be from some other world entirely. Michael says that he was working for a man called Antonio Icarus and recently discovered that the seemingly aboveboard work he was doing had a sinister undercurrent. He had tried to protest and this resulted in his daugh­ter being kidnapped and himself thrown into the Mexican jail the group had just trashed. For­tunately, Michael had access to a "Sonywalkman," whatever that is, and was able to cobble toge­ther the time and space travel device that brought the group together.

      Blade Mistress and Nightstalker protest that they had other things to do and refuse to help any further. Boomer and Sphinx decide that one of them should return to Vanguard base and make a report (carefully not revealing the connection between Achilles and Michael), and Sphinx decides he should go. Michael attempts to send them back where they came from and succeeds, more or less, though three new people appear: another sneaky type called CAT, a plainly dressed gentle­man called TAROT and a woman called HARRIER.

      The new three decide to stay and help and the group decides to raid the villa in the area owned by Antonio Icarus. This reconnaisance results in a set of papers indicating that something major is about to happen in Switzerland. There is only one way for the group to get there in time, they must trust to Michael's device again, which is showing signs of wear. They depart, appearing in the outskirts of Bern, near Lake Geneva. They also arrive with Nightstalker instead of Cat. Apparently, being connected to the time-travel device makes you vulnerable to being grabbed again. Nightstalker complains about having been sidetracked to Japan instead of his wished-for destination, and is just as happy to be back with the group.

      In the meantime, Sphinx found himself in the same cargo hold he departed from and contacts WHITE LOTUS mentally. Apprised of the situation, Lotus decides he should join Boomer to help out, but something goes wrong, and Sphinx is transported back to the group, while Lotus finds he can­not manipulate his powers as long as Sphinx and Boomer are in the future. He begins to meditate and hold himself ready as a conduit to the two teammates.

      The group realizes that they must raid a building owned by Icarus Industries that is on the shore of Lake Geneva. They highjack an Icarus truck and use it to get inside, then assault the main building, finding a group of scientists being watched by a man in an armored suit and looking down on the scientists by some sort of movie screen (television?) that allows him to interact with the sci­entists and give them orders and ignore their protests. At one point, he apparently says that "No one can refuse the order of Doctor Destroyer!" and kills one of his minions. During the course of the assault, Patterson sends FREEDOM FORCE to get a report from White Lotus and the American hero finds himself in the middle of the battle.

      Despite the assault, the experiment goes through over the protests of the scientists; Lake Geneva and much of the surrounding items (clothing, trees, a couple of people), are turned into small green pellets. Fortunately, none of the group is so favored.

      Realizing that they have not done well, the team decides to use Michael's device once more to go back a week in time and investigate the castle residence of Antonio Icarus, who seems to be Doc­tor Destroyer (a name known by the 1988 heroes, but not local law-enforcement people). In the course of transporting the team, Harrier disappears.

      Using a ruby brought along by Rango, the team manages to acquire a small truck and races to the Rhone. They pretend to be villains looking for a job, which gets them to the main gate, then, when slowed down, they assault the castle. The main problem they have is the agents using weapons with effects similar to the device that dried up Lake Geneva. One of them turns Weapon­eer into a green kernel. Fortunately, Michael is ready to turn him back.

      The other problem is the dragon pair, one of which almost kills Sandra. However, they manage to kill one dragon and wound the one Doctor Destroyer is riding on, driving him away and allowing them to ransack the place, free Michael's daughter (remember her?), and get evidence that Michael can use to stop the experiment that dried up Lake Geneva. This thwarts the first attempt by Doctor Destroyer to conquer the world.

      The various team members say farewell and are transported back to their original places, leaving Freedom Force, Boomer, and Sphinx with the tricky question of what to tell Achilles.

02/19/48: Mission Twenti-Eight -- You Can't Go Home Again (GM: Heather Mace)

BOOMER, FREEDOM FORCE, JOTUN, and EL JAGUAR, are called together by Colonel Patterson to investigate the disappearance of DEVADASI. She had apparently been dancing for a Hindu temple in San Francisco and suddenly disappeared. Patterson is afraid that she has found some way to return to India, which the Indian authorities would not be happy about. FOX, listening in, decides to pass the word on to SALAH-ED-DIN, who immediately decides that he had to be involved, for fear the Hindus could be using her to attack his Moslem brothers in the new nation of Pakistan.

      The official party arrives in India and discovers that Salah-ah-din and Fox have stowed away. Adding them to the party, the team heads for the hills near the border of Nepal, looking for the temple that Devadasi originally came from and may have returned to.

      They find the temple and demand entry. They are met by priests who lead them to rooms which become cells. This doesn't stop our heroes long and they look through the corridors of the immense temple until they find a worship room where a gaggle of black-clad worshippers are worshipping Kali! This is supposed to be a temple to Vishnu. They see that Devadasi is on the dais next to an immense statue of Kali, and when she starts to dance, she gains six arms, each carrying a sword of mystic force!

      The heroes attack and find the worshippers are basically thuggees. Someone observing the ceremony turns out to be sent by some other agency to break things up, and displays a sudden usage of force barriers and walls. The statue comes to life and has to be taken down by Freedom Force and Jotun. The other heroes manage to knock Devadasi out and neutralize the lead priest of Kali, which snaps the control they have on her. The evil thuggees are defeated in short order.

      Seeing how handy the other operative is, Boomer talks to him and finds he is from Afghanistan, a member nation that has not yet sent a representative to Vanguard. Boomer asks if he'd like to join Vanguard, and he expresses interest,

      Fox takes Devadasi back to headquarters before she is really aware of what is going on. Thus, she misses being in her home country and is very resentful. However, she and Fox are later seen to be conspiring, and Colonel Patterson is not happy about the thought of the group's world-class teleporter taking Devadasi where she wants to go.

MARCH, 1948

03/26/48: Mission Twenti-Nine -- Mean Streets  (GM: Heather Mace)

In March, the United Nations announces their intention to create a new, supplemental, base for Vanguard on the largely unused Ellis Island, near the United Nations building now under constuction. A somewhat more controversial announcement is the plan to turn Palestine into a partitioned country, with an Arab area, a Jewish area, and Jerusalem divided up as a partitioned city, sort of on the Berlin plan.

       (Speaking of Berlin, the western Allies and the Soviet Union are coming very close to blows on the subject of Berlin's status. Both the Red Guard and the American Elite have been seen in the area.)

      Immediately after the announcement of the partition, the bloodbath begins. The Arabs put the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem under a state of siege and began killing Jews. The Jews fight back as best they can, but they were undergunned and outnumbered. The British, who are supposed to control the area, pull into themselves and are always late at the scene of an outrage, particularly outrages against the Jews.

      Finally, on March 15, the United Nations Supervisory Team calls in Vanguard, and, after almost two weeks of bureaucratic dithering, Colonel Patterson asks FREEDOM FORCE, RED STAR, and SPHINX to form a team. Almost their first volunteer is SALAH-ED-DIN, whom Red Star refuses as being too involved and tells him he is forbidden to go to Palestine. He storms off in high dudgeon.

      Finally, the team is established as the three leaders and BOOMER, PARTISAN, HUSSAR, PHOTOS, STELLARI, MUJAHDEEN (the new recruit from Afghanistan), and CONQUISTADORE (the new recruit from Nicaragua).

      The team's first mission is to discover the fate of a food convoy meant for the Jewish quarter that had not reported in for hours. A flying squad findS the burnt-out trucks and several bodies. They trace the tracks of the survivors to a burnt-out village, in which the remainder seemed to have been killed. Some of the team members notice evidence that flame-projecting superpowered people seem to have been involved, as well as someone capable of virtually sandblasting a target.

      Coming back to the UN Compound, the team discovers they are being spied on by a female who proves to have great strength (though not as great as Freedom Force's and Red Star's) and very hard skin. As they question her, they discover she is Jewish (using the name Star of David) and has the mental picture of an old rabbi in her mind as a leader to her. Then the entire team is momentarily felled by a mental attack and, when they wake up, the girl is gone.

      They cannot find which rabbi was the psionic and leader the girl followed, and spend the next few days patrolling the streets. Knowing that another convoy is due from Lebanon in six days, the team decides to guard that convoy, reasoning that either the arabs will leave it alone, or attack with their superpeople and give Vanguard a chance to eliminate them.

      During their patrols, Red Star sees Salah-ed-din in the distance. Shortly thereafter, Salah-ed-din approaches Mujahdeen and berates him for not joining the Moslem cause. Mujahdeen stalls him and asks for time to think.

      Stellari goes to explore the route the upcoming convoy is to take and flies over a town whose inhabitants shoot at him. He flies down to investigate and is confronted by EFREET, who tells him to leave or he will have to kill him. Stellari argues with him and is caught in a volcanic entangle. Breaking free, he continues to try to reason with the fire spirit until he is almost killed, at which time he finally runs.

      At the same time, Sphinx and Photos are in the Jewish quarter near the border of the arab quarter when a riot starts over an arab water-peddler and his balky donkey. Photos tries to stop things and escalates the disturbance. Most of the other team members (except Mujahdeen, who is outside the town talking to Salah-ed-din) come in piecemeal to try to stop the riot and Red Star and Freedom Force team up to keep the British forces from shelling the entire riot. A combination of Sphinx's impressive presence, Conquistadore's shockwave (which does some damage to surrounding buildings), and the efforts of the other members send the rioters packing before there is too much devastation of people and property. Stellari then tells Red Star and Freedom Force about the encounter with Efreet and everyone realizes that Mujahdeen is missing.

      After the water riot, the Isreali force sends PHOTOS home and looks for Mujahdeen. He turns up shortly, saying that he had been held briefly by SALAH-ED-DIN, who wanted to recruit him for the Moslem side. The Afghan then disappears again, infiltrating the Moslem group.

      In the meantime, the team goes looking for the Jewish partisans. They have little luck until Freedom Force suddenly takes off. He is obviously mind controlled, but the other team members cannot catch him before he tunnels into the sand outside the city and disappears, leaving shreds of his costume behind.

      The team renews its search and finds a suspicious dwelling with an overlarge door. Breaking in, Boomer discovers it is the home of a gigantic man who proves as gentle as his normal-sized wife is hostile. After some questioning, he reveals a passageway going into the earth. Following it, the team finds Freedom Force talking to an ancient rabbi. In the large cavern is also the young girl the team had caught some days before.

      The rabbi explains that they are expecting the food caravan very soon, but the moslems have fortified the town Stellari found and were expected to try to block the convoy. The Jews are going to try to take the town away from the Arabs.

      Freedom Force and Red Star assure the jewish leader that the United Nations had sent Vanguard to Israel to take care of such banditry, and commits the team to taking the village without jewish intervention.

APRIL, 1948

04/01/48: Mission Thirty -- The Fools On The Hill (GM: Heather Mace)

The next day is April 1st, and the team sets out to stop the arabs on the hillside town from stopping the caravan. Leaving most of the team outside in the air, FREEDOM FORCE and CONQUISTADORE go in to the walled town to negotiate.

      In the meantime, Mujahdeen is in a tower of the town, being given a talking to by SALAH-ED-DIN. When he sees his former teammates arrive, Salah-Ed-Din swoops out of the tower window and confronts them.

By this time, Freedom Force and Conquistadore have met the ostensive leader of the group, SCIROCCO, a desert wind controller, who rejects all their pleas for peace. The two Vanguard members had been feeling a menace in the air, and suddenly this menace coalesces. They realize they are facing the ghost of DERVISH! (see mission eight).

      The rest of the team, consisting of BOOMER, HUSSAR, PARTISAN, RED STAR, SPHINX, and STELLARI attack at Freedom Force's signal, and the Arabs reveal their other supers, a mentalist called MIND WARRIOR, EFREET, SHOCKTROOPER, and a terror called HAND OF ALLAH. Dervish is almost unstoppable until Stellari realizes that Salah-Ed-Din's sword is reinforcing Dervish; the Italian bravely wrests the sword away from Salah-Ed-Din. Stellari is paralysed, but Mujahdeen took the opportunity to wrest the sword away from Stellari, and he, as a true worshipper of Allah, can use it! Whirling, he cuts at Dervish and connects, and Dervish has no defense against the sword that is sustaining him. He screams and disssolves.

      The arabs lose morale and flee. Stellari manages to capture Mind Warrior, but Scirocco, Hand of Allah, and Efreet all escape.

      The convoy arrives safe and sound three days later.

04/17/48: Mission Thirty-One -- Down Mexico Way (GM: Steve Perrin)

CONQUISTADORE and STELLARI are rotated from the Israeli team to join a team in Mexico forming around the Mexican member, EL CUCHILLO (The Knife). Others in the group are AMAZONIA (back from maternity leave), BARON SAMEDI and his ZOMBIE, DEVADASI, New Luxembourg member DR. HYDE, FOX, JAGUAR, PRINCESS PHOENIX, SELKIE, WEREWOLF, WHITE LOTUS and WONG.

The problem is that a plague had struck Mexico, affecting mostly those people of European, rather than Indian, extraction. The team immediately begins investigating as best they can and Jaguar, Amazonia, and Dr. Hyde find the major clue -- a resurrection of the worship of Quetzacoatl. With his own ties to the Jaguar cult, El Jaguar manages to talk a local priest into telling him where the main temple of the religion is. They also get the clue that the vector for the disease is processed wheat. Indians eating corn bread are not getting the disease.

The team pile into the Flying Wing and head for the Temple. Over the temple, they see signs of inhabitation and White Lotus takes most of the team down in a flying platform of his manufacture. They are met by four rocket-powered interceptors with Nazi markings, which Stellari and Princess Phoenix manage to knock out of the fight.

      The team then lands on the middle pyramid of the ancient city, which currently holds one of the leaders of the Cretacians, a representative of the Immortals, Shugenju, and an Aztec priest.

      Even as they start to fight this group, a mixed force of Nazi stormtroopers, dinosaurs, and Aztec warriors boil out of cover and attempt to join the fight.

      In a tremendous struggle all around the central pyramid, the team learns to fear long-range machinegun fire and the depredations of mutated dinosaurs. Desperate, Baron Samedi goes into astral form and tries to find help, calling a spirit force of enormous potential to assist the team.

      With clever tactics and great courage, the team manages to teleport away intact, with Shugenju, the Immortal Leader, and the Aztec priest as prisoners. Shugenju, however, dies with a blue radiance, and is now probably inhabiting a clone somewhere. The Immortal proves to be a mentalist but seems to have been around since the Roman days and to answer best to the name Septimus. He always communicates with Eric mentally, and has no idea where the Immortal leader is.

      The spirit force called by Baron Samedi is the new Pakistani member of Vanguard. He is code-named SPECTRE and has a great potential as he learns his assorted spirit powers.

      A force sent to the ruined city the next day finds no one. The Cretacian tunnels are blocked.

MAY, 1948

05/08/48: Mission Thirty-Two -- Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang Of Mine (GM: Heather Mace)

PRINCESS PHOENIX is notified that she has a special visitor, an envoy from her brother, the Shah. The envoy, an old and trusted follower of her brother, informs her that a marriage has been arranged for her. The name of the bridegroom is not available at the moment, but she should come home soon.

      The Princess says she will, thinking that she should at least find out who this suitor is before rejecting him out of hand. However, she is suddenly assailed by EFREET, who shrugs off her every fire blast and teleports away with her.

      A team consisting of BOOMER (back from Israel), EL JAGUAR, MASAI, NIGHTINGALE, SELKIE, and SPECTRE leave for Iran immediately. There they are welcomed and informed that the Shah has no idea why Efreet had kidnapped the princess, especially since Efreet's Lamp was to be the brideprice! The Efreet's Lamp? Yes, the suitor was Bart Williams, and he had offered the lamp to the Shah as the price for his sister.

      The team is at a loss, but decides to go to Petra, near Isreal, which is where Princess Phoenix gained her powers. They first go to Jerusalem and contact the now-smaller team there commanded by Freedom Force. They are loaned trucks and use them to get to Petra. There, they find that there is a spectacular ceremony underway, with Princess Phoenix and Efreet as guests of honor and HELLSPAWN as the functionaries. The team resolves to sneak up on the ceremony, toss in some grenades to spook the opposition, then charge in and rescue the Princess and Efreet.

      Halfway in their sneak, they are visited by FOX, who has been sent by FREEDOM FORCE to find out what is happening. They send him back for assistance, continue their stalk, and get into throw­ing range. They pull the pins of their grenades and throw them. There is an immense explo­sion, a great wash of flame engulfs them, including Fox, CONQUISTADORE and Freedom Force, who have just teleported in, and they suddenly find themselves on a hilltop that has no sign that Petra had ever existed, even though the surroundings show that this is the same spot.

05/15/48: Mission Thirty-Three -- The Honeymoon Express Has Been Derailed (GM: Heather Mace)

BOOMER, CONQUISTADORE, EFREET, FOX, FREEDOM FORCE, MASAI, NIGHTINGALE, PRINCESS PHOENIX, SELKIE, and SPECTRE find themselves in another world. Their garb, with the exception of Conquistadore's, has all changed, and their remaining grenades are now round glass balls with something inside them, Boomer's throwing sticks are now a series of different objects, etc. Fox does a series of teleports all around the world and finds it very different. Among other things, Rome does not look like it was ever ravaged by Vandals and Visigoths. The Coliseum is still intact and in use.

      Since the place looks like where Petra should be, they go back to where they left the trucks, and find an encampment like one out of the Arabian Nights, where attendants welcome back Princess Phoenix and the mercenaries sent to rescue her. The group is loaded onto flying carpets and carried back to Iran, fighting off a Roc along the way.

      In Iran they confer with the Shah and find that many things are much the same as in Vanguard's own world. Worse, Persepolis is being bombarded by psychic storms. They try to contact this world's version of White Lotus and find that there is no White Lotus, just the monestary full of various Lotuses of different persuasions including one that is duplicate of their White Lotus, although he is a Blue Lotus, a specialist in communications, here.

      A group of Lotuses (Red Lotus, aggressive magic; Green Lotus, defensive magic; Grey Lotus, transportation; and Blue Lotus) join the team and manage to pin down the location of the center of the menace. It's in Pompeii, near the center of the still-existing Roman Empire. The team heads for the area and Efreet disappears.

      Moving onward, they find a way into Pompeii, which is still mostly under the ash, and enter a villa, finding HELLSPAWN and SHUGENJU awaiting them. The struggle, as usual, is fierce, but Spectre turns the tide by finding and holding onto Efreet's lamp. Hellspawn flees or is captured and the Lotuses, using the lamp as a focus, manage to find a way to send the team home, and bring the real residents of this world back. They cannot take the Hellspawn members they have captured with them, because this is the Hellspawn of this world, not the Vanguard world!

       They get back, and the lamp stays in the other world. But they arrive in Petra, and go to where the trucks are and find the drivers waiting for them, holding on to Efreet's lamp in this world, which the other world's team had left for them.

      Efreet's lamp is given to Colonel Patterson for safekeeping, and Efreet is even more hostile than normal to Patterson from then on. It seems he has a problem with anyone using his lamp -- and the curse that ties him to the lamp does not allow him to affect it in any way.

JUNE, 1948

06/05/48 Mission Thirty-Four -- Flights Of Fancy (GM: Heather Mace)

DEVADASI wants to help PHOTOS get over her fear of flying. The two of them and the new Mujahdeen (same codename, different person) from Afghanistan tag along with STELLARI and FREEDOM FORCE who fly down to Los Angeles in the Flying Wing to the opening of the Mount Palomar Observatory. HUSSAR is instructed to follow Photos and keep an eye on her by his KGB superior. DR. HYDE comes along for the ride.

      At the observatory, Photos gets flashbacks that seem to have nothing to do with her life. They give her a hostility toward Stellari that she does not understand. She leaves, followed by Devadasi, and they try to work out the problem. As far as Devadasi's mind probes can confirm, it seems to have something to do with Photos's father, whom she never knew.

      Later that evening, Stellari, Freedom Force, and Dr. Hyde go on the town in Los Angeles. Free­dom Force meets an actress who is very smitten by the famous hero, much to the chagrin of Stellari and Dr. Hyde. Freedom Force comes back the next morning looking very smug.

      The next day, the group gets into the Flying Wing to take it to Edwards Air Force Base for servicing. On the flight there, Photos's fear of flying overwhelms her and when Stellari tries to calm her with a light burst (thinking that a reinforcement of the basis of her powers would be helpful) she suddenly accuses him of trying to murder her and attacks him!

      Hussar attacks Photos to stop her from killing Stellari and crashing the plane, and Dr. Hyde immediately attacks Hussar for assaulting a female team member. The fight gets general as various psychological problems leap to the fore and the result is that Photos says "You destroyed my craft; it is only right that I destroy yours," and blasts one of the plane's fuel tanks. In seconds the Flying Wing is a charred mass, falling from the heavens. Only Stellari and Hussar are caught inside, and they survive thanks to their excellent protection. However, Hussar has to replace his wings and weapons, which were destroyed in the fire.

      Apparently, Photos was suffering racial memories of her father, who was an alien shot down over this planet by someone using star bands like Stellari's. Devadasi has sworn to get to the bottom of this. Patterson is not pleased.

06/17/48: Mission Thirty-Five -- Photos's Czechered Past (GM: Devin McKinney)

      After the previous mission, DEVADASI disappears with PHOTOS for a couple of weeks and they return the evening before new Venezualan member HURACON arrives in his family yacht. Devadasi has several things she wants to discuss without Patterson horning in, so she calls a meeting in the yacht under the cover of an informal cocktail party. People at the party also include RED STAR, WEREWOLF, ZEEBREIS, MUJAHEDEEN, EFREET, FREEDOM FORCE, SPHINX (who first checks out Huracon and finds him OK) and BOOMER.

      Devadasi has discovered that Photos has racial memories of her father's spacecraft going down in Czechoslovakia and her father's partner being put in stasis in the craft and left while the father went out to see what sort of world they were in. The Russians have just taken over Czechoslovakia, and Devadasi does not want the craft to fall into their hands, or any individual government's hands. Even Red Star agrees to this. To the best of Photos's knowledge, the craft was not found up to the time she left the country to join Vanguard, and she had not heard of any finding up to the time the Russians moved in.

      The group recruits FOX and sets out for Europe. Fox teleports them to Rome, then the group buys a couple of trucks (war surplus) and heads for French-occupied Bavaria, just over the border from where the craft was hidden thirty years ago. Through guile and flashing Vanguard passports, the group has little trouble and manages to set up a base camp in Bavaria, about 5 miles from the site.

      The group divides into three teams. Jagriz (whose Sphinx armor is undergoing an overhaul), Professor Kroeninberg, and Devadasi are to stay at the base camp, Boomer, Fox, Mujahedeen, Werewolf, and Conquistadore are to scout the terrain and find the spot, and the rest of the group waits for Fox to come and get them.

      Fox discovers that as they near the site, he has more and more trouble teleporting. Boomer sends him to get the backup force and, after the backup is in their new position about 3 miles from the site.

      The scouts progress to the site, discovering that it has just been disturbed, and the truck tracks lead directly to the nearby town of Karlovy Vary, which is full of men in peasant clothes and AK-47 rifles.

      Werewolf goes down in human form to find out if the ship and its occupant are still there. She is co-opted into doing the cooking for the men, whom she can soon tell are actually KGB agents in training. When she does not return, Boomer decides to move the crew closer to the town, and Mujahedeen teleports to a good advantage site. "I didn't know he could do that," says Boomer. The three remaining scouts move forward, but Conquistadore trips and falls, alerting a guard who cannot see them in the growing dusk, but decides to go investigate. Boomer puts him out of action, but realizes that they have to move now before the guard is missed. He sends Fox, who is very nervous about the situation, to get the backup team.

      On the return trip, Fox cannot find his target and deposits the group a mile outside the town, and collapses from the damage he took in the missed teleport. Bravely, he manages to concentrate again and move the team to the required spot, where Boomer fills them in and they decide to attack.

      Attacking the base, the unarmored KGB agents are too slow and unprotected to stand against the Vanguard supers. However, they find that the blockhouse in the center of the town contains the spaceship, the partner, and DR. QUAL, who is supposed to be in a cell in Nuremberg!

      Things might have gone badly for the team but Dr. Qual's psionic amplifier burns out after he mind blasts Huracon. The doktor's attempt to escape is stopped when Efreet picks exactly the right insult to make him want to fight back, and Red Star finishes the job.

      Fox is badly wounded in the fight, but manages to teleport most of the group back to the base camp in Bavaria, where Devadasi can heal him. Freedom Force, Huracon, Efreet, and Zeebreis carry the saucer away by air, keeping to the ground to avoid allied radar, and meet them at the camp.

      The team then gets back to Vanguard base and establishes the still-comatose alien partner in the Vanguard hospital, not saying where they found it. Not trusting the discretion of Colonel Patterson, they imprison Qual in HURACON's yacht for the moment, and Freedom Force digs out a cave on Yerba Buena to put the saucer in.

      The team was not obvious about who they were, and the KGB survivors may suspect who attacked them, but have no proof. Most of the ones who had direct contact with the heroes died. Red Star, who as a GRU agent is not a great friend of KGB, still feels some remorse, and wonders if she is doing the right thing.

JULY, 1948

07/08/88: Mission Thirty-Six -- Shugenju Is Coming To Town (GM: Heather Mace)

It's a quiet day at Vanguard base -- Treasure Island. WHITE LOTUS is on esper duty at the front gate when he greets EARTH SPIRIT back from her trip to Japan, where she has been working in earth­quake relief for the shaker that has just leveled Nagasaki. FOX pops in to play some practical jokes on EARTH SPIRIT, and then kidnaps DEVADASI from her parachute training (in mid-jump) for a quick dinner in Bangkok. FREEDOM FORCE zooms out of the base in his car, wearing a new suit, on his way to have dinner with his girlfriend, Susan Williamson. AMAZONIA is busy giving her Amazons  training over at the bunkers on the Marin headlands.

      ZEEBREIS checks in with White Lotus as she returns from playing in the ocean as Earth Spirit and Wong Lee leave for San Francisco for dinner and an ice cream. EL JAGUAR reports in, he is investigating the old Tong tunnels under Chinatown, searching for possible entrances into Vanguard base. As midnight approaches, White Lotus waits for Devadasi to relieve him. A messenger on a motorbike arrives at the front gate with a parcel for White Lotus. It is a message from SHUGENJU. He has kidnapped Wong Lee and will kill him if White Lotus doesn't show up in Japantown at midnight alone. Shugenju did not realize that White Lotus has disowned Wong Lee for leaving his service to become a Vanguard agent.

      However, White Lotus reasons that Earth Spirit might be helping the Shugenju, and this is his chance to nail her once and for all. White Lotus contacts the aforementioned Vanguard members, and as a sleepy Devadasi arrives at the gate house in a dressing gown, White Lotus informs her that it is time to go. She swipes a uniform from a guard and they fly off to Japantown.

      In Japantown, the fog is very thick and the heroes approach cautiously. They find Shugenju waiting for them in the middle of a foggy street, with a steel globe hanging from a lamppost. The heroes also find SHINYU, MINDTIGER, and TENRYUKAZE (see Mission One) waiting with Shugenju. Shugenju laughs at White Lotus, telling WL that he figures White Lotus would bring the other heroes with him, so he took the precaution of putting Earth Spirit in the steel globe with Wong Lee, and that the globe would explode if anyone attacked.  However, before anyone can act rationally and ask Shugenju what he wants, White Lotus attacks, leaving the rest of Vangaurd with no option but to follow up.

      Shinyu turns into her dragon form and proceeds to almost kill Zeebreis. A STEEL TIGER leaps out of the fog and does much body and stun to Freedom Force. Fox is mind controlled by Mind Tiger, while Tenryukaze knocks out El Jaguar. Wong Hsing opens up with his AK-47, but is more of hindrance than a help. Shugenju grabs White Lotus after Shinyu tries to bite WL, yelling at Shinyu for almost huring White Lotus! At this point, Vanguard realizes that Shugenju seems very old, possibly an effect of all the mind exchanges and clonings. Shugenju teleports away from the battle with White Lotus, with Amazonia frantically trying to track him. Somewhere in a laboratory, Shugenju tries to exchange minds with White Lotus, but the Chinese mystic avoids him and manages to escape Shugenju's death traps.

      Back at the fight, the tide begins turning. El Jaguar wakes up, takes the AK-47 from Wong Hsing, and empties it into Shinyu's eye. Fox manages to trick Mind Tiger and knocks her out. Free­dom Force wakes up and uses Shinyu on Steel Tiger, knocking them both out until next Tuesday. Davadasi KO's Tenryukaze with Ego Attacks, which he seems especially vulnerable to. Shugenju sneaks back invisibly and teleports Shinyu away, but Vanguard gets to keep the other three.

      Oh yes, Earth Spirit and Wong Lee survived the destruction of the globe because of a lucky break (Earth Spirit's luck kicked in). Vanguard is left with the knowledge that Shugenju will probably be back, soon.

07/15/48: Mission Thirty-Seven -- An Eye For An Eye (GM: Heather Mace)

FREEDOM FORCE is on duty when he receives a call from EL JAGUAR. The Honduran hero has found something in the Tong tunnels and needs backup. Looking around, FREEDOM FORCE finds PRINCESS PHOENIX, BOOMER, MUJAHEDEEN, SELKIE, and SALAH-ED-DIN, who has come back and is on probation until he proves his repentance.

      The team is unable to find El Jaguar, so they have an idea of where he went into the tunnels, and split up into three teams to infiltrate into the three entrances. Freedom Force and Princess Phoenix are to act as beaters to flush (you should pardon the expression) the potential quarry (whatever it is) into the arms of the others. Mujahedeen registers strong reservations, and is even less thrilled when he finds that his teammate, Selkie, suffers from extreme claustrophobia.

      Mujahedeen and Selkie are met by a being Selkie recognizes as a LEPRACHAN! As they attempt to deal with what seems to be the clumsiest sprite in history, Boomer and Salah-ed-din come upon them and move on, since they cannot see the Leprachan. Salah-ed-din rushes on ahead and meets El Jaguar. At the same time, Princess Phoenix and Freedom Force are meeting  El Jaguar! Then El Jaguar appears to Boomer, who is well behind Salah-ed-din.

      As the teams start yelling that they have found Jaguar, the various Jaguars attack! The one fighting Boomer, and then Selkie and Mujahedeen, proves to be the real thing, but with vampire fangs and other abilities! Then the real VAMPIRE attacks Mujahedeen and Selkie, and SHINYU attempts to help one of the false Jaguars kill Salah-ed-din. Boomer manages to blind Salah-ed-din, but no enemies, with a flash attack (enrolling him in the Oops Club alongside his drinking buddy, Stellari), and then must fend off the vampire-jaguar on his own.

      Freedom Force and Princess Phoenix drive their assailant away and find their way to the rest of the fight. Freedom Force arrives just in time to keep Boomer from bleeding to death from a jaguar-claw wound that avoided his armor. Shinyu, the vampire, the Leprechan, and the two false Jaguars flee, but Jaguar is caught and Mujahedeen blows his heart out of his body with an anti-tank round. Then Boomer cuts off his head with a razorrang.

      With only a dead teammate to show for their troubles, a very chastened group of Vanguard members take the body of their comrade home, where it is cremated and the ashes sent back to Honduras. There are a lot of Vanguard members who want to find that vampire, and Shinyu, again.

AUGUST, 1948  

08/14/48: Mission Thirty-Eight -- Paris In The Fall (GM: Devin McKinney)

As a bit of local interest, STELLARI announces that he has become fascinated with biplanes and has formed a troupe of aerobats to perform at local air shows. He proudly shows off his plane and offers to take various female members of the team up for rides. It's a single seater, so they have to sit on his lap.

      SWIFTSURE, RED STAR, DEVADASI, PRINCESS PHOENIX, SELKIE, MASAI, and FREEDOM FORCE, with new Burmese member TIGER, are asked to accompany a group of scientists, which include Vanguard's own DR. KROENENBERG (inventor of the Sphinx robot), ACHILLES KIRKAN­DOUPOLOUS (Castor of the GEMINI), Herman Stettner (inventor of the K-Bomb), and other such luminaries as ALBERT EINSTEIN, who are having a conference on Science for Peace in the Louvre in France.

      During the open-air invocation, the gathering is attacked by a horde of robotic foes and a couple of humanoid (but not human) characters called SCARAB and BLACK BODY. One of the robot attackers looked exactly like POLLUX, who was at the conference. As the team attempted to fight the invasion, Kroenenberg, Achilles and Pollux, and Einstein were all abducted, along with an under secretary of the United States State Department. Those assailants which had been knocked out of the fight were teleported away.

      At the same time, a jewelry exhibit in the Louvre was raided by a dragon-like alien who wore bands like Stellari's.

An attempt to lure the aliens down to the New York Vanguard base was unsuccessful. The aliens teleported the under-secretary down, with his mind totally scragged by some sort of psionic search.

      Swiftsure and Tiger find that the jewelry stolen ties in with several other jewelry thefts by strange people throughout the world. Most of the jewelry seems to tie in with a set of Egyptian artifacts found ten years before in Egypt and scattered to the four winds in the intervening years.

      The team tries to correlate its findings and remember that, sometime back, when Photos was having her problems with Stellari, she saw something at Mt. Palomar that disturbed her. The astronomers at Mt. Palomar are reporting some further strange sightings. If these abductors are aliens, perhaps there is a connection.

08/28/48: Mission Thirty-Nine -- Photos Finish (GM: Devin McKinney)

A team consisting of AMAZONIA, DEVADASI, FREEDOM FORCE, PHOTOS, SELKIE, SWIFTSURE and SWIFTY, TIGER, and WHITE LOTUS goes to Palomar at the request of the astronomers there. They find that the observatory has made several strange sightings around the planet Jupiter. White Lotus attempts to investigate by going to Jupiter, but it is too big a place for him to search effectively. Meanwhile, Photos is playing with the telescope, moves it from its set point, and suddenly uses it to emit a tremendous beam of light into the sky. Freedom Force attempts to intervene and is blasted from the sky.

      At about the same time, at the base, the aliens who attacked the scientists attack, going for Photos's father's partner in the hospital, medical records for Photos and Stellari in the base and the saucer found in Czechoslovakia, which is in a cave dug into Treasure Island (where Colonel Patterson cannot find it). BOOMER, EARTH SPIRIT, EFREET, JOTUN, MASAI, PRINCESS PHOENIX, RED STAR, and WONG HSING, find themselves in a battle in various portions of the base and the cave. The aliens eventually retreat, with some of the material they wanted. They do not get the saucer or the partner.

      At Palomar, the beam of light apparently signals a spacecraft, which lands and debarks a group of beings who are very similar to Photos in their powers. After an initial battle, Devadasi and White Lotus make them listen, and they realize that the assembled heroes are not their foes. They explain that they are interstellar patrolmen. They are looking for what happened to Photos's father and his partner, and they also explain that Star Bands are made by reducing the Life Essence of a member of the Photos Race!

      About this time, the Vanguard members are informed that the base has been attacked and the attackers beaten off.

      Then one of the aliens reports that they have spotted the emanations of a set of star bands. They ask Vanguard to come along. They do so.

      However, the aliens have spotted Stellari! After a misunderstanding that results in the destruction of one of the biplanes (the pilot is unhurt), they straighten this out. They also learn that the Photos-race essence in Stellari's bands is Photos's father! Furthermore, a psychic linkup with that essence reveals that the essence prefers to be where he is. This leaves Stellari and Photos's relationship even more strained than it was, but with hope for some reconciliation.

      After a bit more work, the aliens are traced to an area in New York. At the same time, their mothership (a stolen megaship the patrollers are particularly anxious to get back) is finally located around Jupiter. The aliens decide to go after the ship (otherwise it will just teleport the aliens on Earth back to it and leave), and take SPHINX along to maintain a psychic link with Vanguard. A Vanguard team, consisting mostly of the Mt. Palomar group but substituting Princess Phoenix for Selkie, heads for New York.

      After a major battle, both ship and aliens are taken. The aliens take Photos's father's partner, the alien raiders, and their saucer with them and leave. Vanguard is left to wonder at the vastness of the universe. Photos is offered the chance to go with her father's people, but can tell that they consider her to be at best a half-breed and a weakling compared to them, she would have to fight for her place in their society. She decides to remain on Earth, where she has respect and friends.

 

SEPTEMBER, 1948

09/16/48: Fortieth Mission -- Dreaming Of You (GM: Heather Mace)

September first is a time of great solemnity, yet rejoicing, for Vanguard. After a controversial 18 months as Vanguard's leader, in which he did not endear himself for his vacillation in the face of his superiors and refusal to give the heroes any credit for brains or initiative, Colonel Patterson is leaving the United Nations. His replacement is Henri Gerard, a hero of the French Resistance, whose far more informal ways and "get to the heart of the problem" attitude bid fair to finally let Vanguard bloom as a hero group. For more than two weeks after his induction, things are quiet. Then

      Nighttime at Vanguard base, and two members are having significant dreams. RED STAR is dreaming of an Olympian vista, and a visit in her dreams by ARES, who reiterates his affection and makes offers and suggestions that are very friendly indeed. She smiles in her dreams and snuggles into the covers.

      BOOMER, on the other hand, is dreaming of his great-grandfather, the abo shaman who taught him how to use his boomerangs. His dream is of terrible devastation to come to himself and his people. He needs help.

      Acting quickly, Boomer secures Gerard's permission and collects a team of HURACON, HUSSAR, MUJAHEDEEN, ZEEBREIS, VALKYRIE (just back from Israel), and WEREWOLF. They take the Flying Wing and depart for Australia.

      They arrive at the traditional grounds of his grandfather's tribe outside of Perth, to find that it has been bought by developers and they face destruction. His Grandfather has died, at about the same time as he contacted Boomer in the Dreamtime. Boomer also finds WIPATI, his first love. Unable to do anything about the inexorable rate of settlement, Boomer goes into a Dream state to find some way of contacting his grandfather, using the shaman articles that his grandfather had expressly requested be preserved, against all tribal custom. The message he receives is to go to Ayers Rock, prime nexus of the Dreamtime.

      The team goes there, meeting another shaman who directs them to a pool at the top of the rock which could lead to the Dreamtime. Zeebreis goes in, and finds herself confronted with a gigantic Dreamsnake. The rest of the team, many of whom do not work well in water, follow, and after a small struggle which does no one any real harm, the Dreamsnake allows Boomer and Wyerpui onward to find his Grandfather.

      Finding the Grandfather, Boomer is told that he must move certain rocks and trees around the ancestral area to another spot. In that way, the soul of the tribe will survive and the tribe will survive. Boomer agrees, and the team leaves the Dreamtime.

      They leave Boomer and Wyerpui to use some of the funds in the special Swiss account to arrange for the movement of the tribe. Boomer takes an indefinite leave of Vanguard until this is accomplished.

 

09/22/48 (actually 10/7/88): Mission Forty-one -- Night At The Opera (GM: Heather Mace)

WORLD EVENTS: President Truman speaks in San Francisco as part of his campaign against Republican candidate Thomas Dewey.

      Foulke Bernadette, the official UN negotiator in Israel, is assassinated on Sept. 17 by Israeli fanatics, despite the actions of Vanguard. His proposals are presented posthumously on Sept. 20 at the UN and well received except by the nations immediately involved.

      The Berlin Airlift is still going on.

      The Russians in North Korea and Americans in South Korea are still trying to solve their differences.

In San Francisco, the Italian bass Italo Tajo is making his San Francisco Opera House debut as Don Basilione in "The Barber of Seville." It's a major operatic event.

      During the day, FREEDOM FORCE is asked to meet with Harry Truman. The President asks Freedom Force to join the CIA. Freedom Force accepts. When he asks where he will be stationed, Truman asks him to just stay with Vanguard, and someone will contact him later with particulars of his assignment.

      That evening, DEVADASI puts together a party consisting of herself, PHOTOS (Princess Phoenix's maidservants are put to work making her a formal dress), VALKYRIE, HURACON, and HUSSAR to go see the opera. Independently, SALAH-ED-DIN made a date with a chubby but friendly local debutante and hired a box. His servant Muhammed accompanied him. Also, SWIFTSURE decided to take his longtime sweetheart JOAN FITZHUGH and Freedom Force took his starlet girlfriend, SUSAN WILLIAMS. During the first intermission, there is much comparing of notes among the teammembers who find each other there. Swiftsure being in secret ID, he keeps somewhat to himself; though most of the heroes know his real identity, his girlfriend doesn't. Also during that intermission, Huracon is approached by a young woman who asked to meet with him. He assents to meet her after the performance.

      But, during the second act, Salah-ed-din notices that his date is missing. Before he can act on this information, he is attacked by his manservant, who suddenly springs claws and gouges him badly. He has neither sword nor armor, and cannot stop the attack. As he lies bleeding in his box, someone wearing his face goes to Freedom Force in the audience and asks him to follow him. Swiftsure, seeing this and thinking that they are not aware that he is there, follows.

      Freedom Force is ambushed and clawed before he can change. He falls, dripping blood. The pseudo-Salah-ed-din hauls him into a small office to one side of the lobby. Swiftsure arrives in time to see a Chinese gentleman leave the room. He meditates for the moment it takes and acquires his powers. Realizing that he, without his armor, is still very vulnerable, he nevertheless goes to the door and opens it. There he sees Freedom Force on the floor, and his attacker moves to slay him, as well. Desperately, he dodges, but it is not enough. The claws tear into him and he blacks out and falls.

      In the meantime, Huracon has noticed that the young woman who spoke to him is in the box opposite him. Suddenly, she is taken out of the box. Fearing foul play, the Venezualan Avenger hurriedly makes his excuses to his friends and leaves the box, just in time to see Salah-ed-din stagger down the box passageway toward him, bleeding copiously.

      Leaving the Syrian in the hands of Devadasi, Huracon hurries on, wishing he had his cloak with him so he could have flown over the audience. He arrives in the opposite side passageway in time to see a Chinese gentleman manhandling the girl, attempting to drag her away. He springs to her defense, bowling the Oriental away from his victim.

      He then finds himself in a fight with the oriental magician and a vampire, probably the same one who had converted Jaguar in July! He barely holds his own.

      In the meantime, Photos and the now-cured Salah-ed-din have found the bodies of his manservant and date. Hussar and Valkyrie are approaching the door where Freedom Force and Swiftsure disappeared behind when they are approached by someone wearing Swiftsure's face, who says he has looked for Freedom Force there, and they should check the other side. They do so, running into Salah-ed-din and Photos.

      The Swiftsure look-alike, meanwhile, teleports upstairs and finds the vampire retreating from the formidible Huracon (whose winds are beginning to sing throughout the hall, to the discomfort of the audience and opera singers) and Devadasi, who has fallen. The Swiftsure fake pretends to attack the Chinese magician, then takes Devadasi to "safety," and then disappears with her, teleporting to where Freedom Force and Swiftsure are only barely beginning to wake up. Their wounds had been partially healed to keep them from dying. Apparently they were wanted for something else!

      Photos joins the fight upstairs just in time to be charmed by the vampire and to attack Huracon, blinding him just as he puts the Chinese out of the fight for a long time. Operating with his sonar-like wind sense, Huracon still fights back, fading from the vampire's arms. Giving up, the vampire turns to gas and leaves.

      The shapechanger, still looking like Swiftsure, takes large chunks out of Devadasi in the seclusion of his office, but Freedom Force wakes up and drives him away. Hussar attack with his dress sword, but the creature seems to have special immunity to enchanted weapons.

      In the meantime, Valkyrie had called FOX at Vanguard base and told him to bring their weapons. About this time, Fox shows up with Valkyries' boots, cape, scabbard, and sword, Salah-Ed-Din's sword, and Hussar's armor, wings, and lance.

      Finally, the attacks of all the heroes, including the now-awakened Swiftsure (who knocks him away from Devadasi) wear the creature down to where it turns invisible; when he realizes that Photos can still see him, he teleports to the lobby, then away before Photos can track him down.

      Fox teleports the girl and Devadasi to base, where she tells Vanguard that the vampire is Zyzygny Svladislav, her guardian. He lives in a townhouse and is often visited by the Chinese, who is put into jail with some WHITE LOTUS-enchanted bonds. She identifies the Chinese as Leed Su, a Chinese Immortal. White Lotus is impressed. Svladislav's other constant visitor is an Indian gentle­man known as Ras Ram, the shapechanger. Devadasi realizes that Ras Ram is a Rakshasha.

      Going to the townhouse, Vanguard finds it hurriedly deserted. Among some discarded envelopes, they find a couple with Bart Williams' return address. Apparently, Svladislav and his demonic friend have decided to join Hellspawn.

      The next day, Henri Gerard issues new security regulations. Every member of Vanguard going anywhere without his normal equipment MUST wear at least the basic body armor (3/3, act on 11-) from the Vanguard shelves. Members should preferably go fully equipped whenever possible, even on social occasions. Self-powered heroes may ignore this regulation, though it is suggested that those, like Swiftsure and Freedom Force, who could be caught unaware, should think about wearing the body armor anyway.

09/27/48 (actually 10/28/88): Forty-Second Mission -- The Bitter Dregs Of Defeat (GM: Heather Mace)

Vanguard brings in MANHUNTER to try to track down the vampire Svladislav. An examination of his townhouse in San Francisco shows that he left in a hurry. The investigation team discovers an envelope for a letter from Bart Williams -- one that gives an address in Nova Scotia. Manhunter immediately forms a team to investigate the address and perhaps capture Bart Williams and/or the vampire in a place where they can be tried for their crimes.

      In the meantime, someone has broken into the holding facilities at the Vanguard base and taken Tenryukaze and Mind Tiger away. Steel Tiger has apparently been reduced to his component iron particles, and the Chines Immortal transformed into a small bronze statuette. Since the Shugenju's body was found in the bay by Zeebreis, one assumes that he has a new body, and is starting to show his power by rescuing his minions. 

      The team going to Canada consists of Manhunter, BEARZARK, HUMMINGBIRD, HURACON, HUSSAR, JOTUN, MUJAHEDEEN, PARTISAN, and ZEEBREIS. Muhahedeen is not happy about the team composition, noticing that none of the major powers, such as White Lotus, Freedom Force, Swiftsure, Red Star, Devadasi, Stellari, or Salah-ed-din are around, but the others feel that they can handle the situation. After all, none of them have ever really faced Hellspawn except for Manhunter, and he did just fine (of course, he had Devadasi, Red Star, and Werewolf with him, that time). The major members of the team are busy trying to track down Shugenju, anyway.

      They take a C-47 to Nova Scotia and hire a truck to go to the address, which is miles from the nearest town, and, it appears, many miles from the nearest other habitation.

A stealth team of Partisan and Manhunter attempt to approach the house at dawn, and Manhunter is surprised by BLACK QUEEN. He shoots her, but suddenly disappears (probably the action of DR. KRONOS). This gunshot starts a general assault on the house, which brings out REAPER, SVLADISLAV, and RISING SUN.

      The Vanguard team finds they are totally outclassed by these villains, despite their superior numbers. Zeebreis sees the fire/heat powers of Rising Sun and panicks, leaving the scene immediately. Bearzark charges into the house, missing Rising Sun by scant inches, and disappears, following Manhunter. After Hussar, Huracon, and Jotun are knocked out of the fight (mostly by Reaper), Mujahedeen realizes that the situation has pickled too far and slopes away. Hummingbird, so far unnoticed, tries to rescue Huracon but is stopped by Reaper. She dodges away and manages to pick up Mujahedeen and get away with him. Partisan finds that only his explosive charges can touch the elusive Reaper, and he is totally outnumbered, so once he wakes up from being knocked away by Reaper, he manages to sneak away.

      The truck is crisped by a patrolling Rising Sun before it can be driven away, so the four survivors must walk to town before they can report their failure to Gerard. Vanguard must somehow see if their comrades have been fed to the vampire Svladislav, or in some way sent away from this world, as happened to a group earlier. Unfortunately, none of those captured had any real contact with White Lotus. Retreiving them will be difficult.

09/28/48 (actually 11/11/88): Forty-Third Mission -- Greeks And Gifts (GM: Heather Mace)

When FREEDOM FORCE and SWIFTSURE find out who has gone off to find the vampire, and who they might run into, they mobilize a backup force consisting of themselves, SWIFTY, WHITE LOTUS, RED STAR, and new Israeli member TESSERACT. Using FOX to get them to New York, they grab an agency C-47 and set out for Nova Scotia. They find the remnants of the previous mission near their burned-out truck.

      Returning to the house, the team find the villains gone. White Lotus can not track them, but he finds a trace of where the missing heroes may have been sent. Leaving Swifty to report back to General Gerard, the team transfers to the location the missing heroes have been sent, and find themselves in the middle of an Ancient Greece-style city, surrounded by massive villas that looked as much like temples as residences. Red Star recognizes the place immediately from the graphic set of dreams she has been having recently -- Olympus.

      Swiftsure heads out for a "reccie" and runs into (almost literally) a figure in winged hat and sandals who is as quick as he is. It is HERMES and the two speedsters strike up an immediate friendship. Hermes invites the British speedster home for a feast, during which Swiftsure guzzles down some ambrosia, and finds himself 10 years younger, a youthful 19.

      Zeebreis finds a fountain that attracts her, the others start exploring the city. After a few small encounters with bemused residents, Red Star finds that Ares is not where he should be and where she should look for him -- the home of Hercules.

      She goes there, with Tesseract following at Freedom Force's orders; Red Star finds Ares chain­ed to the throne of Hercules. He was "given" to Hercules because he allowed himself to be ab­duct­ed and enslaved to Hellspawn through drugs, and also got involved with a mortal wo­man.

Hercules and Red Star do not get along. They end up charging each other and knocking each other out. At the advice of Hercules' wife, Tesseract gets Red Star out of there and to the home of Hippocrates the Healer, who administers to the thoroughly unconscious heroine. When asked how this happened, Tesseract says, "After Red Star knocked out Hercules, his wife suggested we should leave before he woke up,

      In the meantime, the rest of the team finds that Bearzark is in the stables of Artemis, and Man­hunter is being held by Aphrodite. The other three are wandering about the slopes of Olympus.

      Entering Aphrodite's residence, the heroes find Manhunter and find that Aphrodite has been trying to seduce him without using her natural powers. Manhunter has been having none of it, and puzzling over the reason she doesn't use her obvious powers. When they try to get Manhunter out, they are stopped by Aphrodite who finally lets them go after extracting a promise from Mujahedeen that at least one of them will do her a favor later.

      In the meantime, Hermes and Swiftsure rejoin the team and offer to fetch back the three wan­derers on the slopes. Then the team goes to Artemis. With Hermes vouching for them, the team is invited along on a hunt, and Mujahedeen impresses the Huntress mightily with his anti-tank rifle, which he presents to the goddess when she admires it. She gives the team back Bearzark.

      All this time, White Lotus has been in the home of Athena. He has found a book on Japanese sorcery, and is studying it closely.

      Finally, the team gathers again, sans Red Star. They decide to leave some of their number in Olympus to help Red Star, or get her out if necessary, while others, prompted by Athena's Oracle, head back for Earth. Freedom Force, Swiftsure, Jotun, Hussar, Bearzark, and Tesseract leave. White Lotus, Red Star, Hummingbird, Mujahedeen, Manhunter, Huricon, and Zeebries stay.

DECEMBER, 1948

12/24/48: Forty-Fourth Mission -- Saints Preserve Us (GM: Heather Mace)

The group coming back from Olympus discover that, while a couple of days had passed for them, 3 MONTHS had passed on Earth. SWIFTSURE, FREEDOM FORCE, HUSSAR, TESSERACT, PARTISAN, JOTUN, and BEARZARK all find that their lives are shaken up. Vanguard is just in the process of recruiting new members, which it cancels when it finds that some have returned and the others are on a rather bizarre form of detached duty at the moment.

      Of the returnees, Swiftsure and Freedom Force find the most disruption in their lives. Swiftsure has the problem of now being effectively 19. People have a hard time believing he is the same person. Moreover, his girlfriend has left on an extended leave. However, Freedom Force discovers that his girlfriend, starlet Susan Williams, has (1) starred in a box-office smash and (2) just gotten married -- the day before Freedom Force returned!

      Investigation shows that the new groom is wealthy William deRais, and the couple are honeymooning at deRais' ancestral family mansion in the bayous of Louisiana. Since the wedding, Susan has been cut off from every contact, even her agent doesn't know how to get in touch with her, and he has this great offer for her to play Joan of Arc.

      DEVADASI makes it her business to keep track of Freedom Force, and investigate the circum­stances of Susan's wedding. She brings Tessetact and VALKYRIE into her web. In the meantime, Swiftsure makes it his business to harrass Freedom Force in the guise of "helping his mate over a hard spot," at last finding an outlet for his long-standing hostility.

      After a couple of long drunks, Freedom Force decides to confront the newlyweds. Devadasi pre­ceeds him with her co-conspirators and finds a seemingly very contented Susan Williams. Swift­sure, acting on GERARD's orders, follows Freedom Force and adds himself to the Ameri­can's party.

      William deRais proves to be an affable man who welcomes his guests warmly and assures Freedom Force that Susan will never want for anything nor get any ill-use at his hands. However, his tour of the house specifically excludes one portion, raising everyone's suspicions.

      That night, Freedom Force and Swiftsure set out to investigate the sealed areas, followed by the women. Working their way through some rooms holding antiques that seem no more remarkable than those the house is already decorated with, they finally come upon deRais in armor, in a small room decorated with the blood of innocent children and with a portrait of Joan of Arc (looking amazingly like Susan Williams) in a place of honor.

      DeRais reveals that he is the original Gilles deRais, Bluebeard. He has managed to stay alive through his satanic rituals, waiting for the time he knew would come, when another Joan of Arc would appear to be his bride. When asked about the blood, he said that it came from the sacrifice of the neighboring children, but Susan would never have anything to fear from him.

      Finding true love a poor excuse for general pedicide, the team attack him, finding that his armor and sword are powerful artifacts, and the struggle intense. Seeing that his friends have the upper hand, Freedom Force flies through the ceiling of the room to get Susan and bring her down to the fight. She gets there as deRais falls, unconscious and bleeding. Looking at the room in horror, she goes to her husband's body and sets her hand on him. There is a flash and deRais is gone.

      Is he finally dead? Is Susan really the reincarnated Joan of Arc and her touch banished the demonic creature to Hell? Or has deRais simply escaped, and may appear again.

      No one knows, now. Susan has jumped back into her film career, her ro­m­ance with Freedom Force on hold until she can straighten out her own mind about the events in Louisiana.

      Swiftsure's girlfriend has left Vanguard, telling Swiftsure that she cannot deal with his change in age. Devadasi has a self-satisfied smirk on her face when she discusses the situation.