Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Heroes of the United Worlds 12

12: The Moriarty of Mars arc part 4-5

11. the Evil Eight

Having stymied the imprisonment and death threats from the Red Queen the Centurions now face the whole of her super-human army in a battle royale!

10.2: Red Queen’s Rain

With the centurions and several inner-system heroes out of the way – and her adversaries weakened by her machinations pitting the Centurions against them (in case you were wondering who was being targeted in the Jupiter system atatcks) the Red Queen is making her move to claim full control of the inner system. Her first step there is taking control of earth via pluviculture (artificial rainmaking) with mind controlling chemicals.

Eventually someone is going to have to bring Gaia Girl home since she’s powerless off earth. Once they are there the heroes will be attacked by the earth defense network since those are the Red Queen’s orders. The PCs will have to figure out what’s going on and how to reverse the process (easy enough to do with Gaia Girl’s powers), but they should have to spend a little bit of time on the run.

11.1: Evil Eight 1: Magno Boy

Any Heroes not with the rest of the group – or any with really fast super speed flight that gets them back to Ganymede – will find the HQ abandoned since Janus Lad is back with his boss. The alarms are going haywire, but the key one is either a) a breakout underway to free Magno Boy from prison or b) some high tech mercenaries at the Fusion PowerStation where Magno Boy disappeared. Clearly some sort of rescue attempt is underway.

This is somewhat foreordained – once the PCs get there the key parts are done in that Magno Boy/ Superconductor Man (as Magno Boy but increase his powers by a factor of 10 and his endurance to a 70) is now free. Allow for a single round of combat before the villain is warped away by Janus Lad in something that should really irritate the heroes. If any of them dive through the portal have them be the ones in chapter 9.5, otherwise continue as listed below.

9.5: The Two-faced God

Whatever PC was most sympathetic to Janus Lad (or any who jumped through the warp) find themselves on an asteroid with that faceless failed Centurion. Janus lad will let them know he has next to no time to talk, but that he is being forced to work for the Red Queen on the threat of his death. He urges the Centurions to disband, saying that right now the Red Queen is planning some horrible act on all of them but that he might convince her to forestall it if the group completely disbands.

If pressed he’ll stress that the Red Queen is all about balance and that one of the Centurions has disrupted it in some way. In order to restore it she’s willing to unleash a plague of criminality and destruction to undo any good the Centurions have done.  He might even recall the phrase ‘the dynamics of an asteroid’ if the PCs do some skillful questioning. This should be flagged as a talking scene either by making the players think they have the upper hand or because they know Janus Lad could disappear at any time. If the PCs do insist on knocking him out they will hear a beeping from his neck band and he will still vanish. If the conversation proceeds normally the PC will be returned to wherever they came from once the short interlude is over.

10.3: Capricorn One

Another of the Red Queen’s activities is the destruction of a shuttle flying between Demios and Olympus Mons. There have been any number of shuttle and ship explosions on Mars since the Centurions disappeared as part of apparent blackmailers who end up not wanting terribly much money. The first and most immediate threat for the heroes returning Red Raven and Shieldmaiden to Mars are the hunks of debris falling down on the city. The second is investigating who is doing this, and reasonable superhuman efforts will let them track down the agent provocateurs, though not the leader. The group was actually acting to seize control of all transport off of Mars, the central transport hub between the inner and out worlds.

Once Demon Boy sees the list of dead from the shuttle crashes he will be able to identify who the Red Queen really is – she’s Moira Ty-Re, his old math teacher, who had been the most fervent voice against his setting up a lab off of Deimos. Her name is on the list of the deceased, but she would never have left Deimos willingly – she felt that Demons were above any other world’s inhabitants.

11.2: Evil Eight 2-3: the Terra Twins

Some group of the Centurions will be called upon to prevent another jailbreak, this time for the Terra Twins (assuming they were captured, otherwise they will be up to some nefarious ungood somewhere that the PCs will be called on to stop). Again there will be high tech mercenaries involved in the breakout just as with Magno Boy , and they will also have a ship specially made out of earth and live plants if the twins were imprisoned somewhere that they would have access to neither.

Again once the conflict goes against them the Twins are whisked away by Janus Lad. At this point the Evil Eight are complete – the Red Queen has constructed her own mirror image Centurions consisting of Ablative Boy, Dragon Boy, Janus Lad, Magno Boy, the Terra Twins, Quad Kid and herself. Never before has the system seen such a malefic force.

10.4: On the Dynamics of an Asteroid

The Centurions now have a name for their mysterious foe, but alas the last thing she did was fake her death and she did so very well. Investigations on Deimos will turn up nothing of particular value as she will have guarded her base with devices specific to countering their powers. More troubling is the fact that she is a supra genius and intent on undoing everything Demon Boy and the centurions have done.

Research into her past is only slightly more illuminating – a master of mathematics, hyperspace physics and various other fields she has a sizable if abstruse CV, the crowning glory of which was proof that the asteroid belt was once the fifth planet before it had collapsed in a cataclysm. Any smart and or scientific character can held Demon Boy paw through it for details, and they will turn up that in her youth she was briefly censured for an idea that built on her discovery – she developed the method for repeating the event, a device that would destroy a moderate sized planet. This was beyond the pale even for Deimos and the information was suppressed. Given that the centurions are her target it’s not hard to figure out where she intends to unleash this.

11.3: The Evil Eight Strike

The whole of the Evil Eight (less the Red Queen, of course) materialize outside of the Centurion Clubhouse for a brawl. They even have a space dragon for Dragon Boy to control. While this is a nice big fight it is also a delaying tactic to prevent the heroes from finding and shutting down the world destroying bomb. The team – which might already be split up – will have to split up more in order to deal with the real threat. Split away from the main team after the first round to see how the planet-saving is going.

10.5: At Ganymede’s Core  

The “On the Dynamics of an Asteroid” threat (and mind you I am stealing this plot concept in toto from an Isaac Asimov Black Widowers story”) requires the bomb be planted near the planets core. The centurions learn that a test of a vessel meant to explore under Io left for Ganymede’s core several days earlier, but it doesn't leave a tunnel. Someone will have to chase it to the planets core in order to stop the explosion – clearly a job for one or more of the 21st Century Heroes!

Getting there will require three successive Strength feats at d% (with power cost on each) backed by their flight power. They have 5 tries to get there– having more than one hero in this increases the chances someone will get through, and if one gets through the others can follow. Once down there they find the ship is on remote control and the bomb will detonate if just crushed – they have to find a way to stop it that isn’t immediately obvious, but any good idea should have a chance of success. Otherwise, well, you have to blow up the planet. Oops.

11.4 The End of the Evil Eight

Once we know if the planet is saved or not jump back to the main fight. In this if any of the PCs try to talk to Janus Lad and appeal to his heroic side, or if any of the PCs who were sympathetic to him are placed in real jeopardy, he will switch sides. Ideally this will be when the Evil Eight are about to kill one of the heroes, but it doesn’t have to be. He changes sides by teleporting away either the Space Dragon or Superconductor man (the latter if he’s present) will seriously changes the odds of the fight.

One turn after his changing sides his headband will start to smoke and he will reveal it has a failsafe detonator to insure he cooperation. But before he goes he will see the Red Queen defeated. He teleports a group of PCs (one for each player, plus Demon Boy if present) to the Red Queen’s base. 

11.5: Checkmate

This is the final, final showdown with the Red Queen, who quite unexpectedly has a passel of irate (if damaged) super heroes on her doorstep. If the 21st century heroes have not managed to stop the bomb it is possible for someone to do so from here (OK, you don’t have to blow up the planet) while the others have a confrontation with the Red Queen. This may be emotionally cathartic but it’s anti-climactic – she’s armed with her devices but probably stands very little chance. Instead she rants about how Demon Boy’s leaving Deimos produced an unacceptable shift in the system’s balance of power, made worse by his formation of the centurions.

As she’s ranting a pale, almost translucent figure appears and, with a gesture reduces her to an ashy skeleton and then to nothing (though this might be a trick if you want to bring her back later) . “She failed us. The next ones will not. The Centurion must fall for our future to be assured” the fragile one hisses before vanishing back into the timestream.

Where do things go from here? That, my good GM, us up to you.

The Red Queen aka Moira Ty-Re

A genius from Deimos, she has turned her attentions to crime to undo the good that the Demon Boy and the Centurions have done to maintain a balance of power.

S: 9  E: 12  A: 12  I: 45 C: 16 Level 5
Background: Science and Engineering
1) Heightened Intelligence B +30
2) Force Field Device: 20 charges, Provides a force field defense or can push people back for 1d12 damage. Each use as a defense burns up one charge.
3) Prejudice: citizens of Deimos are dislikes amongst the system. All Charisma modifiers are at -4