The First Mission!
SHIELD’s new “Avengers Initiative” has found meta humans or humans with access to specialized gear, training, and courage. Their purpose is to apply a maximum of force with a minimum of numbers for the sake of the greater good.
Their nominal leader is Miles Ivanovich, code name “Goldfist.” He pilots cutting-edge power armor, all gold. His people skills are not so good, and his arrogance has earned him countless enemies. (You should see the various clever things they call him in the internet.) Still, the power of his armor is undeniable, and he’s willing to serve—for the honor and glory. He carries a monomolecular bladed sickle, and speaks fluent Russian and Spanish (from his time visiting Cuba—that does not make him popular with the US State Department, but he’s not particularly popular with anyone…)
SHIELD is perhaps best represented by Lulu Santiago, code name “Green Lotus.” She was created as a gamma radiation experiment by Hydra scientist Dr. Feducci, and when she tore free and escaped, she sort of wrecked some body parts he was still using. Now an implacable cyborg scientist terrorist, he has sworn to get his revenge on her. Meanwhile, she joined up with SHIELD as a full agent, with access to their intelligence network to keep tabs on her nemesis. In her free time, she has a friendly rivalry with one of the X-Men, Colossus, who made the mistake of being condescending to her about her strength. Give it time, comrade, give it time… When she is not in a SHIELD jumpsuit, she sports a torso-baring knotted shirt, Daisy Duke cutoffs, and bright red shoes.
The third member of the team is known as Tien Mu, a Chinese American immigrant granted citizenship as a teenager. Her name means “Mother Lightning” and that has caused some friction with SHIELD as the international organization has sometimes translated her name to English, and she prefers the Chinese title. Her powers as a lightning goddess are not well understood, and when pressed on the subject she tends to teleport off and relax on a cloud. She wears a conical hat and a white tabard, wielding a staff that is actually a splinter of another dimension. She is guarded about her past, but it is an open secret with her handlers at SHIELD that she was involved in something in Mongolia a few years back where the Dragon King was released, a monster with cosmic powers named Onaga. Before she agreed to work with the Avengers Initiative she was a vigilante on the eastern seaboard, using her abilities to suppress imported Asian crime syndicates preying on Asian populations. Her commitment to chivalry and doing things right has caused friction with some people due to the more pragmatic strategies suggested to her by SHIELD personnel.
THE FIRST MISSION: BLOODY DAY AT BLACK MESA
Briefing and Insertion
Goldfist and Green Lotus were briefed while supersonic in a quinjet on the way to New Mexico. Captain Everett Black was briefing them, but cavalier disrespect from Goldfist was persistent and ongoing, so he gave up and left them the briefing on their PDAs to work out on their own. Tien Mu was to join them, when she got around to it.
They were dropped off far from the Black Mesa Research Facility in Arizona, and they broke into the abandoned tunnels connected to the complex to slip in unnoticed. A team of marines had inserted and lost contact, and a team of SHIELD personnel entered another way and also lost contact. The Avengers were up. When an interdimensional research facility registers a seismic event hundreds of kilometers away then loses contact, you don’t sit back and hope for the best.
Goldfist navigated the tunnels, his suit artificial intelligence Boris rendering the blueprints provided by SHIELD as a 3-D HUD wireframe.
Tien Mu joined them before they encountered something trotting around in a trainyard underground, mashing everything flat. This critter was twice the size of a subway car, a massive grumpy monster. Another one like it was chilling out in the background. These things were so big that they could lean back into a train car and use it like a beanbag chair.
Green Lotus snuck into the room and sought cover, watching the two aliens. Goldfist chucked a melted length of train track at it (seems these things had heat rays and had used them on the tunnel.) That got its attention, and it flared its massive heat ray (from its Volvo-sized fist projector) that burned Tien Mu and Goldfist badly. Goldfist was dying in his armor, Tien Mu shrugged the damage off with her divine power and pulled the armor jockey to safety around the corner. She gave him medical attention so he would survive, but the suit took some damage, frying non-vital systems.
Green Lotus snuck back to join them, and the woozy and pained Goldfist used her PDA to find an alternate route through crawling in access tunnels. They bypassed the huge monsters after sending a fuzzy message to SHIELD that there were monsters underground.
To the Warpcore Energy Center
Goldfist easily found the access hatch and disabled the explosives around it, opening it so they could enter the Warpcore Energy Center. They found it abandoned, and Goldfist’s fingers flew over the computers to find out more about their situation.
A pair of desperate scientists contacted them from the Sector C Motor Pool; they were unable to escape due to dimensional instability and teleporting portals. They explained for the initial experiment, the Anti-Mass Spectrometer was the focus, and the Lambda Core Reactor served as a stabilizer. However, it would not shut down, and as it gathered more and more energy it destabilized; whatever is going on with it can’t be good, it is at the heart of the problem here.
Meltdown in Sector D
Goldfist told them to sit tight, he discovered the warpcore lab in Sector D was melting through its containment and would dump dangerous dimensional waste in the groundwater of the American Southwest. Warpcore works by existing in multiple dimensions, and the science team used it for energy by siphoning off the potential energy between its dimensional realities. When it was stable, energy production was good. Now it was wildly throbbing and pulsing, and the dimensional instability of the area supercharged the warpcore in the lab in Sector D.
The Avengers made their way to the Rail Differential. On the way, Goldfist was caught by a fishing barnacle, but he cut free and they were then more careful to look up a lot. At the Rail Differential, Goldfist used the executive system access protocols issued by SHIELD and programmed the grinding lift to open blast doors in a staggered way, to let them out on the surface without allowing anything else to escape. From the surface, Goldfist carried his teammates to the dam, they saw and felt the mounting dimensional instability. Goldfist and Green Lotus infiltrated to the computers still active near the overflowing energy of the Warpcore Lab, and Tien Mu flew overhead.
In a desperate gambit, Goldfist shifted the energy dampers to create a gust of energy straight up, and Tien Mu focused all that energy harmlessly up towards space. She used all her weather control skills, and Goldfist used all his digital expertise, but discharging the energy still almost killed her. They succeeded in disarming the bomb the warpcore lab had become, and the warpcore material was rendered inert on a scale never before seen.
Motor Pool Rescue
Relieved at their success, they focused on the next problem. They flew back to the Rail Differential. While Tien Mu rested for about an hour, Goldfist rescued the last surviving scientist from the motor pool and flew him off the mesa to where a SHIELD high tech tent city was set up to monitor their progress.
There was no time to repair his armor, but he did pick up lunch for himself and the team, as well as additional PDAs. When he returned, Tien Mu was ready to get back at it, and they navigated the light rail system, delving towards the deep Sector B Lambda Reactor. On the way, they ran into some meat-faced three-legged dogs that they dispatched with ease, continuing on their way and refusing to investigate strange noises and the movement of alien things in the dark.
Facing the Alien Mind
The closer they got, the weirder the dimensional hijinks got. Goldfist logged on to a computer that connected wirelessly with one that was half in this dimension, the closest one to the Lambda Reactor Core. Knowing all they could, they closed in.
By now they could feel the numbing whisper of a completely alien psyche, breathing onto their brains. Tien Mu was accustomed to cosmic rhythms, and managed it; Green Lotus didn’t feel it so strongly over the swarm of her own energetic thoughts. Goldfist found it difficult to concentrate as the overbearing and careless chant of alien thought unnerved him.
Finally a metaphysical decision point was the access to the weird dimension that housed the alien intellect that had merged with the reactor to keep the dimensions connected. As it released floating bubble-headed energy shooters at them, they fought back.
Green Lotus flung boulders and pancaked the flying aliens as Tien Mu cast her staff and called it back to her hand over and over. Goldfist zoomed around the room blasting aliens with his repulsors and slicing them in half with his sickle. Hovering over the unfolding head of the creature, he realized that they had to break its concentration to compel it to release the reactor core so the dimensions would separate.
They attacked with gusto, and at last Goldfist got the last cut down into its incomprehensible mind, tearing the dimensions apart.
Battered but jubilant, the team contacted SHIELD to start on the mop-up. They saved the world. All in a day’s work.
At the end of the adventure, Goldfist was 4th level, Green Lotus was 3rd, and Tien Mu was 2nd.
Many thanks to the Half Life video game, that provided this awesome setting and bestiary and so forth! I enjoyed working from the basic premises of the game, adapted heavily to my own inimitable style.
Thanks to the Avengers, too!
And special thanks to the Half Life Wikia, they gave me lots of great background. I haven’t played this game in years (though I was really into it for a long time.) The refresher was very helpful. I also found this great map there, which I adapted for my own nefarious purposes. Behold, Black Mesa Research Facility adapted for Fictive Avengers!