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Vanguard Gathers

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July, 2012

Voltage opened his eyes. He had finally located the elusive Dr. Green. The man had evaded capture and had kept under the radar far too easily. Despite meticulously avoiding leaving any trace whatsoever, the man had finally, finally tipped his hand. Voltage's weeks of vigilance had paid off. He also knew the man to be evasive and dangerous. There was no more time for games, and no time to let him move his base of operations again.

He stood up and changed into his costume. He mentally fired an email to King of Suits, the ally he had fought beside the first time he fought Green. Second, he sent another message to Stormbreaker, the second person he had fought Dr. Green beside.

I have located Dr. Green. I believe he has decided upon a dangerous and deadly course of action. We have only a few days in which to stop him. Otherwise, he may move base again. I do not know what he plans, but he's too dangerous to allow free. He has killed or nearly killed several people. Meet me at the following address, it's an empty warehouse on the waterfront. From there, I will teleport us to his base of operations, where we can take him down."

He turned towards the window and sighed. This was going to be rough. He knew that Green had gathered more helpers, more people who believed in his mad schemes. More sacrifices on his road to divine power.

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Marceau Suvou always felt a little silly checking his email at the library.

It was a logical, natural place, and he certainly was inconspicuous enough after several months of this practice(though the librarians' friendliness made that almost harder than if he was under suspicion), but leaning a little back in the frustrating swivel chair to examine the message on the screen, the King of Suits wished to the depths of his heart that he could afford something a little...harder to read over ones' shoulder.

The tall Frenchman read the message from Voltage over again, a sense of growing tension in his gut. What he and Crusader had found at the house had certainly been warning enough that they would tangle with Dr. Green again, but knowingly attacking a supervillain in his lair...

It made everything he had heard about the Allies of Freedom seem that much more astounding, seeing as such(comparatively) small potatoes filled him with dread. Taking a moment to steel himself and collect his thoughts, he rapidly typed out a short but cheerful reply, adding "I will be bringing a guest! A man of skill and courage who will be of invaluable aid. He is called the Crusader..."

Landing on the warehouse roof a little after Stormbreaker had arrived, the King of Suits observed the area nearby with care, nodding to his companion as a signal to descend, leading him down their destination through a side door. Glancing around the large space he called out softly "Hello! We have arrived, as per your request!" swirling his cape closer to his body he added with a magnanimous gesture to the shield-bearer "Lady and gentleman, this person is my comrade, the Crusader! Crusader, these are the dashing and indomitable Stotrmbreaker and the electric genius Voltage!"

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Clark always considered himself a more or less social person under normal circumstances. As Crusader, however, he spent so much time punching mobsters and gangsters in the face that meeting other people in costume seemed almost unnecessary. Still, the King of Suits insisted, and there was a pervasive, nagging feeling that he couldn't leave this Dr. Green thing alone--not yet. It was the beginning of something far more serious than just some poor soul being the subject of weird experimentation.

He stood next to the King of Suits, having followed him to the designated meeting place. He didn't say a word as he was introduced, sticking a gloved thumb into the strap holding his shield on his back. It seemed a little odd, but it wasn't like he knew any of these people beneath the mask. An old warehouse might have been more appropriate than he realized.

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Silvia had left Voltage with a phone number, which she had routed through some other equipment Earth-side for it to work with her ship's own communications equipment. Reception is terrible, but what can you expect interfacing with such primitive tech?

The phone was answered by Lord Giles, one of the older members of Silvia's crew, and true nobility with the manners to go along with it, plus the education to manage the books. Giles, for his part, delivers the message to the captain, and thankfully they've finished post-maintenance testing ahead of schedule.

So, the captain gives the order, and they make their dynamic entrance, parking a flying Spanish galleon twenty feet above their warehouse gathering, a noisy affair though less so than one would expect from most aircraft, let alone spacecraft. Silvia herself drifts down before walking the rest of the way to the meeting, with handshakes all around, though few words pass her stoic demeanor. This isn't a social call. They're preparing for battle.

"Good day," she finally says to all gathered, and turns to Voltage. "What have you found on Green?" Her hand rarely strays far from the hilt of her sword.

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Voltage nodded towards the assembled heroes. This was the time. He was barely an adult, and was about to inform, plan, and direct an assault on superheroes, with every other hero being likely older than him. As nice as introductions were, he knew know better way to do it than cut to the chase.

"I know where he is." He said, letting that information sink into the assembled heroes' minds. "He's been very, very careful with his equipment purchases. Using all sorts of false identities and accounts to make sure he left no paper trail. Either by accident or on purpose, though, I found something that links to him definitively. So I traced it, and the delivery. He apparently moved into the base of a would-be world conqueror, long after said conqueror perished. Apparently he moved into the facility and slowly but surely had it rebuilt and restructured to suit his needs. He's been building it for months while he moved about, poking and prodding at us."

He hit a button on something small in his hand, and suddenly a holographic projection appeared from a small device that had sat on the ground. It showed a relatively small island, with a large mountain in the center. "The mountain is hollowed out. An extinct volcano. I think he's using geothermal power to make sure he stays off off the radar. No unusual energy signatures present, nothing unusual to detect. Before you might offer your ship, Stormbreaker, I'm afraid we can't use it. He's bound to be able to detect it well in advance. While this won't be a very stealthy mission, he may see the ship and vacate his facility before we have time to get there."

"As for what he's doing, well. He has acquired some unusual energy couplings, designed to take a great deal of power, and unusual forms of energy. He's also bought components for a device King of Suits and I prevented him from using. It was supposed to give a young man super powers, but that didn't work out very well." It was obvious that the incident in question was clearly something he had bad memories about.

"Dr. Green is a man who genuinely believes that metahumans are godlike, and that all of humanity is destined to have powers. He also believes himself to be some sort of prophet, a harbinger of a golden age of metahumans. This would make him a crackpot, but he doesn't care how many people he has to kill or hurt to make that future happen. He's already maimed one young man, and has done who knows what damage to the genetics of others."

"So, with that said. I think it would be best if we divided our forces in two. Two of us take one route in, two take another. He has a lot of thugs and hired guns, but also probably people he has deluded into believing in his vision. The latter are especially dangerous, as I'm sure we are now all well aware of."

"The satellite pictures I was able to get don't penetrate the facility proper, and all of the important parts are indoors, so the layout is alien to me. However, this is why I feel we should separate ourselves into two teams. One team should try to make for Green's testing and data facilities, to destroy his work and download any important data he may have. Some of his discoveries may be useful, and knowing what sort of things he's developed would be critical to helping defeat him again should he evade us or escape capture. I've developed a program that will download and delete his entire database and send it to a secure database that I have set up. It's literally plug and play and can hack into the entire network from anywhere that connects to it. If he's smart, and he is, all of his most sensitive research data is on a private server that only he can access."

"Therefore, I propose we attack the facility in two groups of two. One group will enter the facility with subtlety, locating the servers and plugging in the device. The other will distract his forces so that said group can get to work. Then, we can all gather together and attack him head on. I'm going to be part of the 'distraction' team, because frankly I'm not very subtle with my powers. Even if something happens to go wrong with the device, I can teleport wherever the server is located and run the script manually. King of Suits, I think you should do the sneaking parts. I know you are skilled at stealth. If things go without a hitch, you should have minimal resistance. The bulk of his forces will attack myself and Stormbreaker. I know what you can do, Crusader, and I think you'd be well suited working with King of Suits."

"Now, sorry for spending so long talking." He smiled awkwardly, if politely. "If you have any objections, concerns, ideas, suggestions or need to take time to gather supplies or what have you, now would be the time."

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Marceau had watched and listened to the young lightning-thrower with great attention throughout the speech. He always liked listening to others talk( something that did wonders for his social life), and the fact that the guy was outlining a plan to invade the castle of a mad scientist made Voltage's elaborations downright exciting!

Glancing at the hologram again, he mused on the odd coincidence that Dr. Green was building his attempt at taking over the world on top of another's failed glory. There was something gloomily poetic about the situation.

In answer to the electric genius's call for any comments, he said brightly "I am quite prepared, Voltage! I have all I need, and taking more would just be a burden. I have had the honour of working beside Stormbreaker, and trust entirely that you two can deal with any half-baked le puissante that Dr. Green can pull out of his hat!" He looked cheerfully over at Crusader "If you need any of my weapons for an especially tricky foe, don't hesitate to ask! I have plenty of spares." he said with a grin.

He glanced at the island hologram "I hope that volcano is quite extinct, it would be a shame if all the evidence was destroyed by a convenient eruption."

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The reason for Crusader's odd vision became clear as Voltage spoke. What would have happened if he had slept in? If the King of Suits had been seriously injured or worse that night? The feeling of dread that came with that uncertain future was giving way to a very real path of changing it. Voltage's age didn't really seem like a particularly hindering factor to Crusader; he nodded and listened, quite aware of his role on the team and on this mission in particular.

"Oh, I think I'll be okay; I'm good at improvising... but I'll keep your offer in mind." He'd never needed help before, and there was a slight sting to Clark's pride in admitting that he just might. There really was no time or room for him to have such bravado, though. Still, he really did wish he had more than just a shield to work with. If nothing else, the whole situation made him more adamant about doing some serious upgrading and training when this was all over. He had a feeling that someone's future depended on it, and not just his own.

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The good captain finds herself disappointed they won't be taking her ship. She's sure Ages Lost is more than fast enough to get in before they can respond, and much would be helped by a full broadside, but she does not object.

"Very well," she replies. "It is a simple enough plan, if crude. If it is a trap, then we shall break it. Do we have any information on his forces? If not, I need only a moment to inform my crew before we depart. And give them the coordinates," she says pointedly, not voicing the actual request. "Even if you do not wish ride to battle aboard Ages Lost, she can arrive some time after the distraction begins, and we do need a second escape route in case you are... indisposed."

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'I understand, and yes, I agree. If you time their arrival to after our own, that can help a great deal. Good idea. I think, therefore, that we should leave within about an hour or so. That should give everyone time to prepare. Hopefully, we'll at least surprise him a bit. He may know the attack is coming, but not when. That will be the difference."

This ragtag group were actually uniquely suited to what he had planned. King of Suits and Crusader were adept at stealth and were solid hand to hand combatants, while Stormbreaker and his own powers were well suited to disrupting foes, not to mention being all around tougher than average.

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Getting lightly to his feet, the King of Suits removed the hardy red glove on his left and hand and rapidly compassed the small group, shaking the hands of the three other heroes with vigor and an enthusiastic "Good luck!". Replacing the glove he stood nearby Voltage, a fearless smile on his face.

"Slip in, place the device, destroy Dr. Green's database and hopefully end his villainous career. Simple enough. I am quite ready and able, Voltage!" he nodded to Crusader "This shall at least be more interesting than our last meeting. More productive, too!" he added with a warm smile.

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Voltage grinned, and nodded. "Exactly, this time we won't be caught off guard." He gathered the group together around him, making sure they were fairly close around him. Then, he floated slightly in the air. Current seemed to flow around them, dancing of of their skin harmlessly, raising the hair on the back of their necks.

"Teleporting lots of mass takes more effort, but I've teleported more than this. It's just going to take a few seconds to make this jump, I've been practicing jumps with similar mass and distance, but it still takes effort."

Voltage's eyes vanished under the electrical current, glowing silver, his hair shot straight into the air. Converting that much mass into energy was difficult, but doable. He flashed, turning into pure electricity, before turning back. He flashed again as the energy crackled around them, growing in intensity. Then, the world turned white, and they were gone.

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"Are we gonna have a way to communicate with each other once we're in there? Figure that might be important... just in case." He couldn't really fathom what the worst-case scenario would be; he sincerely doubted Dr. Green would anticipate a covert attack at the same time as a frontal assault. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't the delving into the unknown that was making him nervous. He was putting his trust in complete strangers, and they were doing the same with him. If he were a more self-conscious person, he might've backed out.

Crusader offered a handshake to all present as well; that was when he really noticed Stormbreaker's missing arm. He was polite enough not to stare or dwell on it, but he was sure there was one heck of a story behind it.

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