BOOMER gets called to Argentina. He asks BOXER to watch out for Wayerpui. He has just found out that the Australian government does not recognize his marriage and is, in general, very displeased with him. He is starting to get hate mail for marrying an abo.
Boxer, while sitting with the children, seems to see Jeremy turn into a rainbow snake and back again, he also gets other flashes. He checks with Devadasi to see if his eyes are playing tricks on him, but Devadasi can find nothing wrong.
EL DORADO, PELOTA, and HUSSAR are on guard duty. Everything seems to be quiet and peaceful. FREEDOM FORCE (as Jack Delaney) has been drinking. Alone. The Leprechaun appears and offers him some "brew." He drinks. "Off to bed with ye," says the imp, "You'll be helping your friends soon."
TYR and VALKYRIE are excercising together. They have found a mutual attraction that seems to go beyond their common Scandinavian background. In fact, they are just about to seal their new understanding when Valkyrie says she just wants to sleep and ships Tyr out. Tyr is mystified and asks Boxer to check her out. He stays with the Boomer children while Boxer does so. Boxer finds nothing wrong physically, but her ki is definitely strange. When he gets back to Boomer's rooms, he realizes that, while Tyr was doing isometrics, Jeremy had vanished. They call TESSERACT to see if she can trace his path. The base is put on alert.
Tesseract figures out that the path of the missing child goes to the dreamland. She also gets the same images Boxer did.
FREEDOM FORCE wakes up in Dreamtime. The Leprechaun tells him that Jeremy was not supposed to know he was a Wanabe, but something in the Dreamtime is strong tonight and pulled him in.
Red Star wakes up in Dreamtime, finding ARES. She doesn't know who he is. Ares storms to ISHTAR (who, it turns out, is also Aphrodite) and she removes all of Red Star's mental blocks. Ares wants Red Star to come with him because the next war of the gods is about to be fought, with the ancient enemies of the gods, TIAMAT THE DRAGON, Typhon THE HUNDRED-HANDED GIANT and FENRIS THE WOLF on one side along with their minions, like the Frost Giants, and Vanguard, as the "New Gods," on the other.
Tiamat, apparently, is responsible for inspiring and possessing Shinyu, which is why the Pacifist Dragons' sister turned bad. Typhon was responsible for the zombie attack on Angel Island, They were supposed to attack Treasure Island, but they got confused; this is easy for a zombie. Red Star must choose her teammates or her children. She chooses her children, but hopes to come back for this new Ragnarok anyway. This seems unlikely.
As Ares and Red Star leave, Freedom Force finds Ishtar. She explains that Red Star is gone.
Valkyrie wakes up in Dreamtime and sees the rainbow snake. Her lover from the previous adventure's dreams is there. He swats at the snake. It hisses and slithers away. He asks her to "come fight in a new Ragnarok," and mentions that Freya is dead.
Tesseract, meanwhile, sees the little snake appear. It leads her to Valkyrie, who is trying to decide whether or not to go with her lover. Tesseract demands his identity and he shows her. It's her horse, who is also a demon. Guess which side he is on!
Freedom Force, led by the Leprechaun, happens on this scene at this moment. The rainbow snake is Jeremy. The demon tries to convince Valkyrie to go with him. Leprechaun gives the snake to Tesseract, and she returns to normal time. Jeremy slithers back to his crib and becomes a child again.
Everyone returns to the base and goes to Wayerpui's room. Ishtar appears to the guard duty people and tells them to go to and to go to full alert. Tyr says to cancel the alert, but Freedom Force overrules him and says the Leprechaun is on the base to back up his statement.
In Wayerpui's room, Ishtar tells everyone about Red Star, Ares, the children, and the coming of Ragnarok and who the opposition is. At this point, Earth Spirit wanders in and asks Boxer for a dream interpretation. It seems that she was told in a dream to kill Vanguard and sink the island, but the spirit of earth saved her.
The leprechaun suggests that Tyr be bait for Fenris, but he flees when Werewolf smells around and finds that all the Immortal characters and Valkyrie all smell "Good" to her. So does Gerard when Vanguard visits him with the tale of what is going on.
A group of all of the above except Ishtar, Earth Spirit, and Devadasi is sent to Mt. Diablo to try to capture the demon-horse or Fenris, with Tyr as bait. Valkyrie offers the sacrifice. They get far more than they wanted. Boxer is hiding, but Shinyu/TIAMAT appears next to him and offers him a chance to switch sides. He attacks, so she pops away. Princess Phoenix appears out of the west, and thanks Valkyrie for the sacrifice. She has been seduced over by the demon! Shinyu appears and tries to eat Tyr. Tyr is still moving after the initial bite and realizes that Shinyu has just one eye. He blasts away the other one and dies in the second bite.
An Ogre Mage appears and attacks Werewolf, a Japanese demon attacks Tesseract.
As Shinyu finishes Tyr, Boxer and Valkyrie have found Shinyu's weakspot; both strike. Shinyu is killed. Princess Phoenix is captured and brought to her senses.
The rest of the attackers are driven away.
Valkyrie's garb turns black; she picks up Tyr's body, and disappears. When she reappears, her costume is still black.
A group consisting of BOOMER, BOXER, EL DORADO, HURACON, STELLARI, and WEREWOLF go boozing. They stumble back and most go to bed. Stellari, however, is under the impression there is a further party in Huracon's room and stumbles over to the South American wing. He is just taking a swing from a Dos Equis taken from the lounge refrigerator when Sun Maiden seems to receive a call from Mother Inca. She answers, and both she and all of the South Americans (including PELOTA, who is sleeping the sleep of the virtuous and Stellari) and Boxer find themselves outside the temple in British Honduras where they first worked with Sun Maiden. All but Pelota and El Dorado (both of whom have problems with close areas) start down into the tunnel.
In the meantime, WEREWOLF has dreamed that she is running in wolf form with a huge black male wolf. She runs and runs....
Boomer returns to find that Jeremy has disappeared again. Then a very small rainbow snake appears in the child's crib, wraps itself around Boomer's arm, then disappears. Boomer meditates on the dreamtime and follows his son.
He follows his son through the jungle to the space in front of the temple. He gets the story so far from Pelota and El Dorada, then heads down the tunnel. The other two screw up their courage and follow.
Meantime, the others have found themselves in the cavern where they slew the monster child of the Immortal Inca. They find Partisan's body on the beach along with those of several Incan warriors. Then a boat arrives poled by a young woman in a chiton.
She introduces herself as NIKE and speaks a variety of American English with several strange words in it. Boomer and the others arrive.
Crossing the cavern pool, the group moves along a path that leads into a large chamber. Therein all of them (with one important exception) see someone who seems to be a significant person in their past. Pelota sees a revered priest, Boxer sees his first wife (dead some 300 years), Sun Maiden sees Mother Inca, and so forth. Only Boomer, the only one there really conversant with the Dreamtime, realizes that the person is Sorcerer. Moreover, on a pallet behind Sorcerer is White Lotus, with a black shape over him that seems to be sucking up his essence.
Boomer attacks. All his attempts to identify Sorcerer are warped to seem like he is identifying the loved one of the viewer. Every time someone identifies the person they are protecting from Boomer, everyone else hears them say the name of the person he thinks it is. Among other things, this triggers grave psychological problems for Boxer. His teammates are NOT supposed to know his dead wife's name!
Nike proves to be very strong. Boomer is losing fast against all of his friends (most of whom do not want to hurt him). Jeremy appears again and bites Boxer, who realizes who he has been protecting. At the same time El Dorado realizes that there is too much strange about this situation and suddenly he can see that he has been helping some Oriental person.
The tide turns. Boomer manages to cut the black shape away from White Lotus. It attacks Sorcerer and Sorcerer falls. The illusions fall away and the assembled heroes attack the shape and it dissolves under their attack.
Nike introduces herself as Red Star's daughter and has letters from Red Star for several Vanguard members, including Boomer. She has come from the future of Olympus, and her command of English comes from 1960s television. Aside from that, nothing she says about the future is intelligible to anyone in the group.
Boomer sends all the dreamers away, then he and Nike get into her boat with the bodies of Sorcerer and White Lotus and Partisan and follow the river. They find that it wends its way through several Homes of the Dead. On a river outside the Chinese Halls of the Dead, a Chinese Judge of the Dead offers to take Wong Lee off their hands. After some confusion, Boomer realizes that he means Sorcerer, who is in the body of Wong Lee. In fact, the spirit now in that body is entirely Wong Lee's, Sorcerer is totally gone. Boomer and Nike turn over Wong Lee's body.
Then, as they are drifting away from the Chinese Halls of the Dead, a great outcry arises and they find themselves pursued. They pole themselves away, wondering what caused the sudden anger against them.
They then find themselves on what Nike recognizes as the River Styx. They are suddenly confronted by Cerberus, the three-headed canine guardian of Hades. He swoops down on them and takes up Partisan's body and bounds off with it. Considering Partisan's determined atheism and his ethnic roots to the Balkans, the two decide that this is a proper resting place for him.
Finally, the river lets them out next to the Ocean outside San Francisco Bay.
Since she has nowhere else to go, and Red Star's letters say she has been sent to take Red Star's place in Ragnarok, Nike is staying at the base, but no one knows just what her status is except guest. The Russian government, of course, has no intention of having some Greek as their representative. The USSR refuses to believe in Olympian gods and wants to know what Vanguard has done with their representative.
Greece has a representative and even if Achilles Kirkandopolous stepped down (perhaps to take up a researcher status on the base), there is no reason for the very Christian Greek government to appoint the daughter of an Olympian god as their representative. However, when the subject is discussed with Achilles, he offers to have Nike as his "sidekick" for awhile, until the Greek government gets used to her, then to resign in her favor so he can become a full-time researcher. Certainly his new wife would rather he wasn't an active adventurer.
White Lotus finally wakes up. He is as powerful as ever, but can no longer do spells quickly. He can only do things in a ceremonial magic way that takes hours if not days. He is no longer an adventurer, just a researcher and gadgeteer for the team.
He reports, however, that Partisan was drained to death by the shape, which turns out to be Tiamat, and that Tiamat is very probably destroyed by the events just past.
Spectre makes one of his appearances about this time, and mentions that he was just at the Chinese City of the Dead and witnessed an interesting event. Someone looking like the pictures of Wong Lee he has seen was conducted before the gates, then suddenly disappeared again.
Just as Boomer and Nike get to the base, San Francisco is rocked by an earthquake of incredible power. Indications are that it was caused by the remaining members of the Triad, done by influencing Earth Spirit in her dreams. Vanguard helps in the cleanup, but is asked to leave San Francisco by the United States government. The group decides to make the ex-Nazi base they found in Antarctica habitable. The intial group, which includes BOXER, EARTH SPIRIT, EL DORADO, FREEDOM FORCE, JOTUN, MUJAHEDEEN, PELOTA, VALKYRIE and WEREWOLF, sets up housekeeping, being sure not to awaken the Beast From Below that still, as far as they know, sleeps under the base.
Jotun goes for a walk and finds a collection of other Frost Giants who hail him as their leader's son and call on him to join them in an attack on the base. He must make a decision between the civilized life he has led and being with his true kindred. He makes his decision and goes along with the giants. But as they approach the base he warns his friends and attacks the giants!
There is a long struggle, but the giants are defeated and run away, calling Jotun a traitor. But Jotun seems content in his decision to stay with the world he knows.
Who knows what will be his reaction if he ever regains his memory.
At the Antarctica base, the Leprechan shows up, offering to show Freedom Force and his friends where Fenris is. The group agrees to go along and they go through tunnels and other areas of some distress for people like Pelota and El Dorado, who cannot force themselves to go along and stay to mind the store. Finally, with help from the supposedly deceased TYR, they reach the lair. The ensuing battle is fierce but short. Valkyrie loses her sword, but Fenris is disposed of forever.
Tyr, whom Valkyrie originally took to Valhalla, says Valhalla is abandoned and in need of new gods. Valkyrie leaves with him to create a new race of Aesir.
The team that slew Fenris pick up EL DORADO and PELOTA and (minus Tyr and Valkyrie) arrive by Freyja's boat back at Treasure Island. There is some celebration and a wake is held for Tyr and Valkyrie. Some members leave, some come back, and then something happens to Treaure Island. The civilians and guests and others seem to disappear, until there is just a group consisting, among others, of DEVADASI, EL DORADO, JANNISSARIE, MUJAHEDEEN, PELOTA, SPECTRE and SUN MAIDEN. They find themselves on a bleak plane with jets of fire and demonic creatures. They are attacked by the hundred-armed giant Typhon, who is seemingly invulnerable. They retreat through several caverns connected by tunnels that never seem to lead to the same place twice and find, among other things, a graveyard of gods and old heroes, including a couple of theirs. Then, in a forest beset by a driving acid rain, they find a trans-dimensional tavern called the Inn of the Old Phoenix wherein they find Baron Samedi! Samedi says that his lifeline on Earth is gone, and he cannot help them directly, but he can tell them that they must find Typhon's heart, and that some sacrifice will be necessary. Also, Typhon is getting his seeming invulnerability by tapping the souls of CONDOR and DR. HYDE.
The team finds Typhon again and while some fight, a group go into a stone hut and find three gems. One is Typhon's heart, the others are the souls of El Condor and Dr. Hyde. Something tells them that someone must smash the gems, but this could be deadly. Mujahedeen and Jannissarie volunteer and smash all the gems. Typhon falls, El Condor and Dr. Hyde are brought to life again, and Janissarie and Mujahedeen are not slain, much to their surprise. (White Lotus later does a divination and discovers that if one person had made the sacrifice, he would have been destroyed, but two people doing it spread the damage so no one was killed.)
The essences of Condor and Hyde recreate the heroes. The team is presented with gifts and told that accepting these gifts will put them among the gods. All except Condor and Hyde turn down the opportunity. These two, who have already had a taste of other worlds, accept their gifts and become gods of flight and strength and disappear finally from the ken of man.
Gerard sends a large contingent including BOOMER, FREEDOM FORCE, PELOTA, STELLARI, TESSERACT, and WEREWOLF to Naples to back up NIGHTINGALE and MANHUNTER, who are keeping an eye on Hellspawn. The group is dogged by various spies and Freedom Force is captured by Hellspawn, which includes ISHTAR!
While imprisoned by Hellspawn, Freedom Force hears Ishtar herself say that she finds Hellspawn much more interesting than Vanguard.
The team attempts to break Freedom Force out and finds itself (with Freedom Force) suckered into being magically transported to a dome that seems to be underwater.
This is a place that Aphrodite (who is also Ishtar, you will recall) keeps her enemies. The team manages to find a way out, having to battle one guardian in the process. When they come out, they are still in Hellspawn's villa, and Hellspawn is gone.
In May, 1950, North Korean troops pour over the 38th parallel into South Korea.
Taking advantage of a Russian walkout, the United Nations votes to meet the invasion with force.
The position of Vanguard is immediately in question. For the moment, Gerard suspends all operations and commands all members to stay in United Nations areas or go on vacation to their home countries. He persuades the leaders of the United Nations, which include the Russians again, that Vanguard should not be used in this conflict.
Neither the American Elite nor Red Guard are sent to Korea, either. For the moment, at least, the Korean "police action" will not be a super-powered struggle.
Vanguard goes into a state of reduced activity for six months. Nothing of any significance happens.
A team consisting of BOOMER, BOXER, CONQUISTADORE, FREEDOM FORCE, NIKE, TIGER and ZEEBREIS, makes an appearance at a new televison station (Nike is particularly pleased, but Boomer doesn't think the new form will ever amount to anything). A storm comes up and there is what seems to be a lightning strike. Boomer and Boxer find that everything but the room they were in and the people in it (which includes several TV technicians and reporters) has changed. The city seems to have gotten older and is entwined in webs belonging to humongous spiders; there are no signs of life.
An old newspaper is dated 1988. The team members fear that this is their future. They attempt to find some better cover, along with about twelve reporters and television technicians, and pass through streets clogged with bodies and debris until a man with a strange rifle throws himself at their feet and says they must run because otherwise "they" will catch them, too.
The man is pursued by what looks like a gang of zombies. While Vanguard fights them off, a giant spider tries to snare some of the civilians, but quick work by Boomer, Tiger, and Freedom Force stop that while the others take care of the zombies.
The man identifies himself as a Survivor. Apparently, about ten years before, a corporation based in San Francisco did something that let in "mosquitoes from hell" that could infect people and make them their slaves. Anyone stung by a mosquito became one of several terrible entities, including one that looks human but contains a horde of anopheles.
The Survivor leads our heroes to an old Cold War bomb shelter where the rest of his group is hiding. They are awaiting word from a commando unit they sent with a large bomb to blow up the Kulik Corp. headquarters in hope that will destroy the power of the invaders. A faint hope, but all they have.
As the Vanguard members and the reporters are talking to various members of the group in various rooms, one of the team comes back. He rapidly proves that he has been taken over by the mosquitoes. A fight breaks out as gigantic killer worms, an immense centipede, and other nasties stream in.
Most have an aura that takes an immense amount of personal presence to stand up against. Tiger, for one, goes screaming away, though he later redeems himself.
In the middle of the fight, the ceiling over the fighting heroes' head dissolves in an explosion, and several costumed faces peer down at the combat. They rapidly size up the problem and charge down to help out. The enemy is easily beaten.
The newcomers introduce themselves as a group of heroes from this time, but another world. They assume that Vanguard is a group from this world, just as Vanguard assumes that the other heroes are from this world. This is straightened out after awhile. The nine newcomers are CAPTAIN LIBERTY, ARGENT, SILVER AVENGER, ALCHEMIST, CYNOSURE, GOLDMAN, INTERFACE, TORSION (who apparently is from yet another alternate world), and GYNOID. They might be from Vanguard's future, but none of them has ever heard of Vanguard. Neither has anyone among the Survivors.
What is more interesting is that they seem to be in this world because they were in pursuit of the last remnants of REICHGUARD, whom Vanguard defeated a year-and-a-half ago (Vanguard time). Torsion recognizes several Vanguard members from his own world's records. He wasn't alive when Vanguard defeated the "gods."
After sorting out who is who, and coming to the conclusion that the Vanguard heroes and the Silicon Valley heroes cannot be from the same world (though why does TORSION insist that the Silicon Valley heroes come from the same world that the Vanguard people his world knows of. And the Vanguard heroes are the ones who went to Torsion's earth a year and a half ago...). After much discussion, the heroes decide that they must try to do what the Survivors could not: destroy the gate to the world of horrors. Insisting on this is the only Survivor who did not go into terminal psycho-shock in the attack of the monsters, whose father was leading the bomb party and who might be alive.
After much discussion, they decide to attack the Kulik Corp. HQ at the top. Entering the building just under the wasp-like hive that has supplanted its (the Transamerica Pyramid the Silicon Valley people call it) peak, they find that the floor, walls and ceiling are crawling with bugs. Fighting their way up several floors, they finally come up on the boardroom floor. There they find that REICHGUARD (Consisting of old foes UBERMANN and the semi-sentient PANZER suit and five others called IRON EAGLE, BARBARIAN, DEATHSTALKER, STORMTROOPER, and MJOLLNIR) has been taken over by the bugs and are defending the queen, an immense humanoid form with a baby's head. It is continually generating eggs that fall through an empty elevator shaft.
Torsion seems to switch sides and attacks Boomer, who blinds him with a flash attack. Torsion escapes, but why is he suddenly fighting with Reichguard? Has it all been a plot from the first? The young Survivor who has accompanied them this far dies from an attack by IRON EAGLE.
The horror of the situation hammers at the sanity of the heroes. BOOMER is convinced that he is in the Dreamtime, and other heroes are also badly affected. But the battle against the relatively straightforward Reichguard helps stabilize the heroes and they fight feircely. When the queen is knocked out, CONQUISTADORE steps up and cuts off the baby head. But it immediately grows legs and scoots down the egg hole.
"I've seen this movie," says ARGENT, much to the puzzlement of the Vanguard members.
After the queen escapes down her bolt hole, Reichguard tries to break off the combat and follow her. But the combined heroes manage to stop IRON EAGLE, BARBARIAN, and a combination of attacks stops PANZER from carrying an unconscious UBERMANN down the hole just as the animated armor is about to step into it. DEATHSTALKER, MJOLLNIR and STORMTROOPER, as well as the turncoat Torsion, all escape the fight, apparently to rejoin their leader at the bottom of the hole. The only thing the heroes can do is follow the villains to what is apparently the root of the problem (there is no sign of a gate on the upper floors).
By now, many of the heroes are very close to the edge of sanity. CAPTAIN LIBERTY seems to have become a complete daredevil, BOOMER still keeps referring to the world as the Dreamtime. GYNOID, apparently a shy and retiring type to begin with, seems to be in a state of semi-catatonia.
The combined team makes their own way to the basement, avoiding
potential traps in the elevator shaft. There they find an immense breeding
pool for the anopheles and a gate that seems to consist of a thick film
of slime suspended at a 60
The other side of the gate is a land of constant mists and strange, unsettling, noises and blurry shapes walking in the distance. The team moves toward a light they see in the distance and come upon a gigantic figure in a fetal position. Questioning of the figure reveals that he is Gregory Kulik, the misguided occultist who opened the gate to the Earth for the Anopheles. Now he has been set by the anopheles to be the power source for the gate to other worlds (it opens to many more than one, and many different times). He begs the heroes to kill him to release him from his toil.
Over the protests of the heroes with codes against killing, the heroes use the transmutational powers of Alchemist and Goldman to create enough explosive to kill Kulik and rig up a timer. Kulik says that they can stop the anopheles easily if they go through the gate when he tells them to. The heroes do so.
The team comes out in what looks like the basement of an office building from the 1920s. In the basement is a horde of fanatical figures assembled around a strange edifice that has seven people stacked on slabs in a column. Each was connected to the one below by tubes; as the heroes realize what they are seeing, Kulik carefully slits the throat of the bottommost so her blood starts to run into a large brass urn. Apparently, the idea is to drain the blood of all the victims through the veins of the ones below, slowly killing each one by transfusing all his or her blood to the one below.
Rushing forward to stop this travesty, the team find themselves opposed by a Gregory Kulik in his occult prime, a horde of fanatical followers, and a group of supertypes consisting of the remnants of REICHGUARD, TORSION, and a handful of other costumed figures that reminded the Silicon Valley heroes of other heroes of their own time; heroes such as CAPTAIN GUTS, NIGHTHOUND, and others. Just where the anopheles has recruited these heroes is a mystery.
A long fight seesaws back and forth and finally ends when ZEEBREIS disconnects the victims from the drainage tubes and Kulik is knocked out and his followers flee.
There is a rustling of worlds shifting position and worldpaths altering. Suddenly the Silicon Valley heroes find themselves in the warehouse they had transferred to the anopheles world in, and Vanguard finds itself in the TV station again, along with the reporters, including one who had been killed by an attacking worm! All remember their adventure somewhat hazily.
<<For those players who wonder, the seven victims in the cellar were "pulp era" heroes of the 1920s who in "our" world broke up Kulik's plots before the anopheles could manifest but in Horror World failed and were sacrificed to bring the anopheles over.>>