Thursday, October 16, 2008

New content over at the Meekrat Entertainment Group.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

CYOB is going on a brief hiatus. The adventures of Charleston Charge will continue shortly.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

050: Siege of the Torture Chamber

Freeing the captives would give them some extra manpower, so Charleston decided to that first. He wished he knew exactly how many super-villains in lab-coats there were, but figured they were scientists. What threat could they pose? He made his intentions known, and the team went through the doors carefully and began freeing the captives. Player One and Player Two were the first to be freed, followed by Shrugs. They were all placed in the main room, while Santos waited with them to make sure nothing happened to them.

The next two to be freed were Captain Depresso and the Forgiver. Charleston carefully opened the door, and was hit in the back of the head. He fell to the ground and received a vicious kick to the side.

"Wait, this is that Charleston Charge guy," said Captain Depresso, "He's on our side."

"Looks like I'm the one seeking forgiveness this time, old chum," said the Forgiver, helping Charleston up, "We thought you might be one of the Gemini Twin Troopers, or even worse, one of the actual super-villains."

"It's fine," said Charleston, "Good to see you two up and going. Want to help us take this place down?"

"Yes," said Captain Depresso, "Yes, I do."

"Same here," said the Forgiver.

They went to the next room, but both Fadeaway and Charleston made sure no one opened the door: it contained the patchwork men. The closet was quickly opened, and Benji and Pilate were freed. They were mildly sluggish, but seemed happier out of their cages. Both animals went to their masters, who greeted them warmly.

The final room continued the elongated Slink-E. Charleston opened the door and wondered how the heck he was going to do this. He was saved from making a decision when Double O came in and scoffed.

"Hanging around while I do all the work? This is why you'll always be a sidekick, Slink," he said, walking over to the device which held the sidekick's feet in place. Double O wore battle-armor, lacking any powers of his own, and he lowered his gauntlet at the device and blasted it. Slink-E whipped around the room, eventually going through the wall due to the momentum he obtained.

"So much for stealth," said Fadeaway.

The doors at the end of the hall opened, revealing a trio of Gemini Twin Troopers. They lowered their guns, but Slink-E whipped his closed fist at them, striking each of them. Three more took their place. Fadeaway turned intangible and flew directly at them, their bullets whizzing through his body and hitting Double O's battle armor without harming anyone. Fadeaway solidified his hands and threw two of the troopers against the walls, knocking them out. He picked up the third and heaved it at their ranks. The Forgiver and Meerkat began using some sort of martial art on their ranks, while Fadeaway, Double O, and Slink-E simply began punching things. Captain Depresso and Land Captain were fighting back to back, and the animals were running around doing whatever they could.

Charleston, meanwhile, pushed his way past the melee and tried to find the super-villains and their captives. They were nowhere to be found. Suddenly, energy surged through the air, and all the Gemini Twin Troopers were gone. At this point, Charleston noticed that the room was slowly growing shorter.

"Clever," he said, as everyone else looked up, "Everyone clear out!"

Unfortunately, the doors shut at this point. The Meerkat went over to open them and was shocked for his trouble. Double O's ordinances were useless, and Fadeaway couldn't pass through it. A drone with a video screen dropped from a small hole in the ceiling, and floated over to them. The Red Scare's face appeared on the screen.

"So many little rats, all caught in my trap! How gleeful! You have ten minutes to live. I suggest using this time to make peace with whatever deities you have. Fare thee well."

The drone vanished into the ceiling.

"People with super-strength, do your best to keep the ceiling from crushing us," said Charleston, eyeing the doorknob, "I think I've got an idea!" He ran over to the door and lifted up his bionic leg, and savagely kicked the doorknob. Each time, he was mildly shocked, but on the seventh kick, the doorknob came loose and fell off the door, leaving a small hole. Double O, Fadeaway, and Slink-E all sprang into action.

"Good job," said Double O, doing his best to help hold up the ceiling effortlessly, "If any of us could shrink, we could escape."

"Meerkat," said Charleston, ignoring Double O, "You think Pilate can squeeze through the hole?"

"He'll get shocked," said the Meerkat. Pilate perched on his shoulder.

Charleston took off his coat and slipped his sleeve through the hole, "That should provide him with enough insulation."

"I suppose he'll have to try. Won't you, buddy?" said the Meerkat. Pilate chittered, and scrambled down his master. He climbed up the coat, and with some effort, he made it through the hole.

"Now what?" said Captain Depresso.

"Fadeaway, can you get through the ceiling?" said Charleston.

"No, it's an ultra-dense material. I can't get my molecules through it," said Fadeaway, doing his part in keeping the room from crushing them.

"Then we wait," said Charleston. The ceiling slowly made its way down, until everyone was nearly bent double. At that point, however, a smashing noise started coming from the door. With each smash, the door bent inwards a bit, until they were torn from their hinges.

"Hola, friends!" said Santos, squeezing underneath the sinking room. Pilate scrambled over to his master. Santos steadied himself and hefted the room up, and there was a metallic crunch. The room had stopped moving, and the heroes quickly exited.

"You see what I did there?" said Double O, "Classic nick of time rescue. This is why I'm the best of us."

Charleston ignored him, and stared at the room which was now resting slightly below the top of the doorway. "Can you guys pull the room down?"

The super-strong heroes stood side by side by side by side, with Santos in the center, and gripped the floor of the elevator room. Fadeaway counted down, and all the heroes began to strain once again. Within minutes, there was another metallic crunch, and the room dropped to their level, knocking all within the room to the ground.

Charleston picked up a piece of pipe which had no doubt played a part in their initial freedom from the room and stepped purposefully into the room. He held the pipe like a baseball bat, and intended to use it as such. The Meerkat, Captain Depresso, the Forgiver, and Land Captain filed in behind him, allowing the super-strong heroes to catch their breath.

The green scientist was the first to his feet, being a plant/man hybrid who called himself Doctor Greenthumb. He shot tendrils at the heroes, but these were sliced to ribbons by the Meerkat's claws.

"Captain Depresso, he's a plant guy. If I smash his head, will he live through it?" said Charleston, remembering that Captain Depresso was a walking encyclopedia of super-heroes and villains. He would have to find out why, some day.

"Yeah, but he'll be down for a while," said Captain Depresso.

"Good," said Charleston, bringing the pipe around in an arc and smashing Greenthumb's head in. He made a noise half like a sigh and half like a yelp and slumped to the ground.

The little blobby thing was next, now wearing a lab-coat. He had, indeed, once been a man, but genetic experiments had left him a blob of protoplasm. He was called Doctor Degenerate. Benji cornered him and barked at him continuously. There was not a whole lot Degenerate could do in a fight.

Suddenly, the room filled with freak-fish.

"Energy blasts!" shouting Charleston, swinging his pipe madly, "Does anyone have them?"

"I have the best!" shouted Double O, and energy arced through the air, taking out the fish. Liana Koleyna stood in the corner, wearing a bloody lab-coat over her super-outfit.

"I've got this one," said Land Captain, striding over to the Witchyologist. Charleston couldn't hear what was said over the next few minutes as the pair shared a hushed conversation. It ended with Liana on her knees, crying. Land Captain walked back over to Charleston and placed his hand on the young man's shoulder. "She'll be giving us no more trouble tonight."

"Aren't there more?" said Charleston.

"They're lab-coat super-villains," said Captain Depresso, "Unless they have a battle-suit or something, they'll mostly try to hide behind others. These are the only ones with actual super-powers."

Charleston nodded. He walked over to Doctor Degenerate, and said, "Where are the prisoners that were in this room?"

"The other scientists took them away!" whined Degenerate, "You'll never find them now!"

"Yes I will," said Charleston, holding the pipe purposefully, "I will find them, and find out where they took Edolie, and if anything untoward has happened to her, I'm holding you responsible."

"I'll never talk!"

"Whatever," said Charleston, turning towards the door. He stopped, and wondered for a moment. There was a chance Edolie was still somewhere in the asylum, and if so, he should go with the super-heroes and clear it out. Even now, CAST agents were coming in and leading the lab-coat super-villains away. Greenthumb's face had already begun growing back. However, if she wasn't still here, then time may be of the essence and he should set out to find her immediately. She was, after all, the only partner he had who hadn't died yet. He wanted to keep it that way.
What should Charleston do?
-Accompany the heroes in clearing out the rest of the asylum
-Leave to try and find Edolie

Monday, October 6, 2008

049: Hallway to Hades

It seemed obvious which path Charleston should take. He turned to the Meerkat, Graves, and Clarence and motioned for them to take the left hallway. When no one made a move, he said, "Let's go left. I don't think they should have torture rooms."

"It might be some crazy turn of the century asylum," said Graves, "They tortured people all the time."

"Unless we went back in time, I doubt that it's a turn of the century asylum," said Charleston.

"No, you retard, I mean it could be run like one. Isn't a super-villain running it? Aren't they usually crazy as hell?"

Charleston pondered this for a moment, and had to concede that yes, it was entirely possible that the super-villain in charge was running it like a turn of the century asylum. "However, what if he's not, and he's just torturing people? Your friend Player One could be getting tortured right now."

"The gamer fag? Eh, no skin off my nose."

Charleston debated bringing up the priest's colorful language, but realized it would be a lost cause. Instead, he pursued going down the left hallway, "Still, if someone is being tortured, we have to help them. What if the sidekicks are in there?"

"If Pilate is down that hallway, then things are going to get pretty ugly," said the Meerkat.

"Sidekicks are worthless piles of crap," said Graves, "Besides, I'd be more worried about the freaking radiology wing. What sort of asylum has radiology? That's x-rays and stuff, right? You don't need x-rays to tell if someone is crazy. Besides, look at the signs."

Everyone did so. There was a small placard above the middle doors, telling what was on the upper floor. The radiology lab also had a placard. The left hallway's sign, proclaiming it to lead to torture rooms, was hastily written on a piece of cardboard with glitter glue. Someone had gone through the trouble of drawing several flowers on the sign as well, for no apparent reason. It was wedged in the door-frame, covering another placard.

"We're going left anyway, but perhaps we should take down the sign and see what it's covering," said Charleston, reaching up and taking down the sign. The placard underneath said "Recreation Room". He stared at it for a moment, and turned to Graves, "You're the asylum expert. Do they usually have rec rooms?"

"I guess so," said Graves.

"I mean, my only real experience with asylums is from that one 'Nightmare on Elm Street' movie. You know, the one that took place in an asylum," ended Charleston, sheepishly.

"The thing I don't get about 'Nightmare on Elm Street'," said Clarence, who had been doing things which would not be very polite to repeat, "is why they went all the way across the country to play video games."

Charleston and the Meerkat looked at him blankly, and Graves merely dismissed Clarence's idiocy with a wave of his hand. "Don't bother correcting him," said Graves, "You'll just start a loop of stupid."

The quartet stood in silence for a moment, until Charleston said, "Well, we're going left, then."

"It's probably a trap," said Graves.

"It's also entirely possible that they converted the rec room to a torture chamber, isn't it?" said Charleston, exasperated, "Isn't it?"

"Whatever. Let's go get ourselves killed because you're too stupid to know when you're walking right into a trap."

"Listen, I'll go first. If it's a trap, then you'll hear me screaming. If it's not, I will calmly walk back here and let you know. Deal?"

"Yeah, I guess."

Charleston slowly opened the double doors, and slid into the hallway. There was damaged medical equipment strewn about, and the fluorescent lighting flickered on and off. He breathed deeply, and immediately regretted it: the air on this side of the door was putrid. He picked up a length of pipe, and walked carefully down the hallway, half-expecting to see something appear suddenly in the flickering lights and dash towards him.

He made his way down the hallway to the first side door without incident, and slowly opened the door and looked inside. Player One and Player Two were inside, their wrists tied together and their mouths sharing the same gag. They appeared to be unconscious, but otherwise unscathed and therefore moderately safe. He went across the hallway and peeked into the adjacent door, finding Shrugs strapped to a bed. There was a hand-drill covered in green goo on a table next to him, but Shrugs looked unhurt despite this. In any case, it would probably do to continue this search with a bit more haste.

The room next to Shrugs' held the Forgiver and Captain Depresso, both heavily bruised and hanging from their ankles. Charleston carefully walked to the device holding the two heroes up, and lowered them. They were both unconscious, which was probably just as well. He carefully laid them on the floor, and continued to the adjacent room. It had several CAST agents, a few of whom had worked for TYRIS. Someone had apparently decided to take them apart like puzzles and sew the limbs back on wherever, and therefore the agents looked like mismatched children's puzzles. Charleston quickly closed the door and continued down the hallway. The next door was a broom closet, in which Fadeaway's Benji and the Meerkat's Pilate were stored in cages. Both were asleep, but otherwise looked fine.

The next room contained Double O's Slink-E, stretched to his maximum length with a ball-gag in his mouth. He filled the entire room, and Charleston had no idea how to help him, despite the pleading in the sidekick's eyes. He quickly closed the door, and tried not to vomit. The next door contained more CAST agents. They were in jars, and Charleston immediately closed the door and failed not vomiting, and he suddenly felt heavier. There was one more room, behind double doors at the end of the hall, and Charleston slowly made his way towards it. He didn't want to open the door just yet, but unlike all the other rooms which were dead-bolted, this one had a keyhole. Charleston knelt down and made use of it.

Liana Koleyna, the Witchyologist, was sitting on a stool by a table with various surgical implements upon it, studying them. Edolie DePrit was strapped to a mildly inclined table in a hospital gown. There were several more CAST agents about as well, most of them still whole, if not unscathed. There was another man in a lab-coat about as well, standing in front of a table where electricity sporadically blazed through the air. Charleston could not see who was on the table, and was quite glad for that. The final person was a green gentleman in a lab-coat, with a bandage on his arm. Charleston guess that this explained the green goo-covered hand-drill. He stood up and turned around, and walked quickly to the end of the hall and through the double-doors.

Land Captain and the Neo-Bassets had arrived.

"Well, I've found the strike force everyone's sidekicks!" said Charleston, leaning on the doors.

Fadeaway, the Meerkat, and Land Captain looked at him expectantly. Double O stared indifferently at the back of his own hand.

"Well, the good news is that Benji and Pilate look like they're just fine, just drugged. Either they weren't planning on doing anything to them, or they haven't gotten around to it yet. Slink-E is stretched out, and I didn't want to free him yet. The strike force looks okay, for the most part. They do have some people in a room at the end of the hall, though," he said, hoping Land Captain wouldn't ask about Liana.

He did.

"Uh, well, she's in the room."

"Then we have to go rescue her!" said Land Captain.

"I don't think she needs rescuing," said Charleston, slowly.

"What do you mean? Is she dead?"

"No, she's-"

"She's doing some torturing, isn't she?" Charleston nodded, and the blood drained from Land Captain's face. The superhero continued, "I sort of figured it would be something like this. I always hoped it would end up differently, but I guess once you start genetically engineering flying freak fish you can't really go back."

Santos began trying to comfort the distraught Land Captain, but Fadeaway pointed to Charleston and said, "Did you have that thing on your coat outside?"

"What thing?" said Charleston.

"The red thing on your back," said the Meerkat, "The thing you didn't have when you went down that hallway, but have now."

Charleston quickly removed his coat and threw it on the ground, hoping it wasn't ruined. There was a giant translucent red blob on it. It sprouted two eyes, a mustache, and a mouth.

"I was once a man!" it warbled deeply, "And I'll not tolerate your interference with our experiments!" It slid off Charleston's coat cleanly and slipped under the double-doors leading to the end of the hallway.

"I'll follow it!" said Fadeaway, vanishing. A few minutes later, he reappeared, white as a ghost. "You could have warned us about all the sick stuff back there."

"Sorry," said Charleston.

"Anyway, that room at the end of the hall? Pretty much every super-villain ever to don a lab-coat is in there, with a bunch of Gemini Twin Troopers. They were about to do something to that poor girl, but I stopped them sneakily."

"Thank god," said Charleston, hoping to God that this wasn't going to turn out to be another incident like the one that occurred in South Carolina, "Any supernatural people?"

"Not really."

"Graves and Clarence, you guys go let Agent Villain know what's going on. The way should be clear, right?"

Santos nodded, and said, "Si."

"Okay," he said, as the priest and the fat man exited through the tunnel, "Now, should we free the captives first or go right for the end of the hall?" When no one else answered, Charleston knew it was up to him to decide.
What should Charleston do first?
-Free the captives
-Head for the end of the hall

Thursday, October 2, 2008

048: Agent Villain

It would probably be better for Charleston to get some rest, he realized, and so he closed his eyes and went to sleep. After a few minutes, Land Captain looked back at him, his face becoming one wrought with guilt.

"Ishmael, drive for a while. Liana and I have to have a talk," he said.

"Aye aye, Land Captain," said Ishmael.

"Why do I have to lie to him, Liana? Out of all the people in this universe, he's the only one who hasn't actively tried to do me in," said Land Captain.

"As members of the Astounding Superhero Syndicate, we have to keep some of our secrets," said Liana. She was wearing a traditional witch's costume, save that it was made of black scales.

"He already knows our secrets, and besides, I didn't have to lie to him at the courthouse."

"You rushed off without telling anyone where you were going, sweetheart. If you had checked out with the Embryonic Man like you were supposed to, then you would have been told that loose lips sink ships."

"That's another thing I don't like."

"Outdated expressions?"

"No, the other members of this team, if you can call it that. We're not a superhero syndicate, we're Mark King's personal army-for-hire. He says jump, we say how high. Am I the only one who gets that?"

"You have to realize that most of our teammates have less than astounding powers, and the ones that could strike out by themselves have ties to Mister King. This is the only chance they have to do some good."

"What about you and me, then? I've been a solo act for most of my career, and you certainly don't have any ties to King."

"If you want us to be a dynamic duo, honey, then you're going to play by my rules. If I can make some money doing this superhero thing, I'm going to, and the Syndicate by-laws state that no super-hero can have non-civilian romantic entanglements outside the Syndicate."

"It still stinks like rotten fish. Besides, Charleston is probably going to think he's going insane. One minute, Ishmael is sentient and the next he's just a souped-up car?"

"There are ways of dealing with Charleston, my dear."

"We're not dealing with him. He's my friend."

Liana sighed, "I knew you wouldn't see it my way." She took out a syringe and, before Land Captain could react, injected him with its contents. He instantly fell asleep. "Thank you so much for putting Ishmael in autopilot before taking your nap, dear."

Hours later, Land Captain and Charleston awoke, still inside Ishmael. They were in a heavily wooded area, and there were noises on the edge of hearing. Dangerous sounding noises.

Charleston yawned, "I thought we had to meet at a warehouse or something."

Land Captain rubbed his neck, "Apparently someone altered our course. We've been out for hours."

"You went to sleep, too? How could you do that and keep driving?"

A battle raged in Land Captain's mind. In the end, he decided to ignore Charleston's question, "I wonder where we are. Let me pull up the GPS system. Ah, we're in Ohio, outside Cleveland. I'm guessing the asylum is close by, and those are the noises we're hearing."

"Well then, let's get over there and see what we can do to help. Hey, where's Liana?"

"A very good question," said Land Captain, starting Ishmael. Moments later, they pulled up to a group of individuals in blue jumpsuits adorned with gadgets. A priest, a fat man, and a thin man with a boxing glove were standing off to the side seemingly doing their best to ignore everything. The Meerkat and the Neo-Bassets were standing on the other side of the blue jumpsuit-adorned group, looking worried. Various headlights lit up a barricade while screams floated over from the asylum.

A man in a suit looked up at Charleston and Land Captain as they exited Ishmael. He had an eye-patch and was missing a tooth, and was scarred. Charleston recognized him as Agent Villain.

"About time you got here," he said, "I'm running out of bodies to throw at these people. They've taken down the strike force and, surprise surprise, captured everyone's significant others and sidekicks. This includes one of my agents, so I’m a bit pissed off at the moment. No one kills my agents but me."

Charleston assumed he was being metaphorical or something, and said, "What should we do?"

"Charleston Charge, isn't it? For starters, you can do something about those robots," said Agent Villain, pointing to several drones floating outside the asylum.

"Robots would fall under superhero jurisdiction as well, wouldn't they?" asked Land Captain.

"I'm not sending any of my people in there until those robots are taken care of, but if you want your group of costumed nothings to go after them, go right ahead."

Charleston and Land Captain walked over to the Meerkat and the Neo-Bassets. All of them looked quite distraught.

"We're going to try and take care of those robots," said Charleston, "We'd appreciate your help."

The Meerkat exhaled, and smiled, "Finally! I was wondering when he was going to let us do something. They've got our sidekicks, you know. My Pilate, Fadeaway's Benji, Double O's Slink-E. They took the Witchyologist, as well, and some CAST agent with funky hair."

"Edolie!" said Charleston, angrily, "Okay, so what's the plan? Do we know what the robots can do?"

"Basic drone robot stuff," said the Meerkat, "Lasers, mostly. Lasers and pinchers."

"The Neo-Bassets can take care of the robots," said Fadeaway.

"Okay, then I can take you two and tunnel into the asylum while they're distracted. Go get the Paci Custodis. The CAST agents are refusing to go in until Villain gives the order, and he says he won't do that until the robots are dealt with. They can be cavalry."

Fadeaway took flight, grabbing Santos before he confronted the robots. Double O waited a moment, and followed bellowing something about the day being saved due solely to his efforts. Charleston went over to the Paci Custodis, and was greeted with cold indifference.

"Hey, priest," he said, remembering the harsh treatment Land Captain had received, "We're going in. Are you going to stand around all day, or are you going to help us?"

"Yeah, we were just waiting for you to show up. Come on."

The Meerkat had already started digging. Land Captain tactfully ignored Father Graves, and Clarence bounced along happily. Ben kept staring at Charleston with rapt fascination, which Charleston tried to ignore. They entered the tunnel, and emerged in a room full of Melonheads.

"Mutant freak things!" shouted the Meerkat, "Who gets these?"

"Fair game!" shouted Graves, pulling out a gun and shooting one, its bulbous head splattering against the wall. Clarence followed suit, while Ben pulled out a lighter and lit his oily-rag covered boxing glove on fire.

"KITSUNE FISTO!" he shouted, punching a melonhead and setting it on fire. It screeched. While the Paci Custodis carefully slaughtered many of the melonheads, the Meerkat skillfully wove between them, taking them out with careful nerve-pinches. Land Captain utilized a variety of fighting techniques, and Charleston made a note to ask him where he learned such things. For his part, Charleston lashed out with whatever limb was available.

Minutes later, any melonhead that was not dead or unconscious had run away, which left Charleston and his group with a difficult decision. The room had three ways out, not counting the tunnel. Ben had also just realized his hand was on fire, and was screaming. Charleston took a deep breath.

"Land Captain, take Ben outside and see how the Neo-Bassets are doing and meet up with us as soon as possible." Land Captain fired off a salute and helped Ben back into the tunnel. Charleston turned to the rest of his group, and opened his mouth to speak, but closed it immediately. The middle way led to stairs, and was presumably the way the melonheads had gone. The right way said it went to radiology, and Charleston was unsure if asylums were supposed to have radiology labs. He was sure, however, that they should not have torture rooms. This is what the left way proclaimed itself to be. Before he gave his orders, done based solely on the fact that people seemed to be listening to him, he needed to choose a path...
Which way should Charleston go?
-Up the middle

Monday, September 29, 2008

047: The Mystery of the Land Captain

A bit of meta before we begin:
This is the 50th Choose Your Own Blogventure post! Hooray! More excitement when we hit the fiftieth actual story installment. Now, your paltry dose of prose:Charleston came to a decision.

"Hey, I'm going to talk to your car," he said.

Land Captain chuckled. "Why would you talk to ol' Ishmael? He's not a talking car, not like Friday. That was my old car."

Charleston looked at Land Captain's reflection the rear-view mirror, awe-struck, "What?"

"This car is pretty fast and all, but nothing compared to Friday. Poor Friday got destroyed bringing me to this universe, though, and then I got a new car."

"From who?"

"I'm not sure," said Land Captain, "I don't actually remember."

The rest of the ride was spent in silence. Charleston stared out the window, and made a mental note to track down Mister Lucky as soon as he was able. Either the mass memory-change was having some adverse effects, or something much more sinister was going on. Besides, he had heard Land Captain refer to Ishmael as a sentient car after the trial. He would have to keep a close eye on his friend to make sure that his mind didn't deteriorate any more. Besides, he knew nothing of Land Captain's history save that he fought aliens frequently. He would have to get to the bottom of this mystery that was the Land Captain eventually. For now, he had to prove himself to CAST so that he could possibly join them.

"Do you know who's going to be there?" said Charleston.

Liana handed him a print-out, and gave him a sad sort of smile. He knew how she felt: how long would it be until Land Captain forgot about her, or about Charleston? When would he stop reverting? A problem to think about, but for another time. He looked at the print-out:

Shrugs, Player One, and Player Two would be representing the Paci Custodis in the strike force. Clarence Claybourne, Father Graves (no first name was given for him), and Ben Johansen would be there to provide back-up if back-up was needed. Charleston remembered all of them but Ben, and they had seemed professional enough about things when they rescued him from the False Prophet. He made a quick mental note to find the False Prophet, preferably with a few members of the Paci Custodis, and kick his pointy teeth in.

In addition to Land Captain, the superhero community would send the Forgiver and Captain Depresso. These four would make up the strike force. Back-up would be there in the form of the Meerkat and the members of the Neo-Bassets: Fadeaway, Santos, and Double O. Their sidekicks would not be included in any part of this mission. Charleston assumed this included Liana Koleyna, who may just be there for moral support.

There was not a list of CAST members. Well, there was, but every name was blacked out.

"Where are we going, by the way?" said Charleston, "I mean, are we going straight to this asylum or do we have to meet up with everyone beforehand?"

"They gave me coordinates," said Land Captain, "So I'm following those."

"How long?"

"Nearly an hour, it looks like."

Charleston nodded, and wondered if he should take a nap before they got there, so he could be well-rested for the trials ahead.
Should Charleston take a nap?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

046: CAST Away

Which path should Charleston take?
Paci Custodis - 1 vote
CAST - 4 votes
Superhero - 0 votes
While he was a natural for super-heroics, having attributes beyond that of a mortal man, he wasn't sure that's what he wanted at the moment. After all, with super-heroics you get super-villains, and he didn't feel like gaining an archenemy. Joining the Paci Custodis would allow him to do something he had some experience with: fighting the supernatural. However, he knew how hard it was to find out how to do so and, if Jimmy Swift was a Paci Custodis, then they obviously weren't that picky. He would like to be in an organization with a little more prestige than that. An organization like CAST, the Clandestine Alliance of Stealth Tactics. He was surprised they were still around, however, and he would have to find out more about them if he wanted to join. Well, there was only one thing for that. To the library!

He called down to the front desk to get directions, and was met with ignorance. Not only did they not know where the nearest library was, but they had no idea why he would want to go there. Was the hotel's wireless connection not enough for him? When Charleston replied that he had no computer, they laughed at him and hung up. Charleston sighed, both for the concierge's lack of professionalism but also for the state of the library in today's culture. Well, there was only one thing to do: acquire a computer. He once again called down to the concierge and requested a computer. This was met with less derision, and several hours later, Charleston was the owner of a brand new laptop, and began to struggle with it.

In the past, he did have a personal computer. However, it was sent over by the now-defunct TYRIS and set up by their technicians, including the internet connection which was the current cause of Charleston's distress. He clicked on the help button, cursing the touchpad while he did so, and was given a list of things he may need help with. Eventually, he managed to establish a wireless connection, and the first thing he did was find the nearest library. As it turned out, there was one down the street, but it was closed now. No matter. He went to the CAST web site and found that there wasn't one. It dawned on him that a clandestine spy organization wouldn't have a web site, and decided to try Wikipedia instead. This yielded the following information:

"CAST, or Clandestine Alliance of Stealth Tactics, was founded in the 1970s to combat the menace of Zodiac and other unconventional international threats. CAST had many agents at its disposal, though they received retroactive fame from the memoirs of Nate Houlihan, the former agent Seven-in-One, which detailed the missions of an elite squad. Other notable agents include Agent Big Fish, Agent Man-in-Charge, Agent Pheromone, and Agent Villain."

There was no mention of the recent reformation of CAST, however, which seemed like something which would be important. He wondered if being able to join CAST was something you worked up to, and he rather hoped it wasn't. Then again, if he could somehow get the word out to them, perhaps they would allow him to join them. He simply had to do something really spectacular and preferably legal. It would also help if it was something he could accomplish within the space of one day, as he was impatient. In fact, he was so impatient that he shut down his laptop and hit the streets looking for something to make himself known. Thirteen labors rolled into one, more or less.

Hold on, hold on. He recalled Player One or the Forgiver saying something about an asylum in Ohio where a super-villain was assembling an army of super-villains and other psychopaths in order to take over the world or something. That was an unconventional threat if he ever heard one, and if the new CAST was anything like the old one, it wasn't something they would take lightly. He went back to his hotel room and dialed 911.

"911. What's your emergency?"

"I have news of an imminent threat to national security! I need to speak to CAST!"

"What's your emergency, sir? Also, I have no knowledge of any organization of that name."

"There's a super-villain in Ohio who has taken over an asylum and he's going to use the super-villains and psychopaths there to take over the world!"

"We need to patch you into someone who'll actually know what you're talking, sir," said the operator, and moments later another voice replied:

"Agent Operator speaking. What's the imminent threat to national security?"

Charleston repeated himself.

"Gotcha. Thank-"

"I want in on this."

"What? You can't just say you want in on this. That's not how it works."

"I used to work for TYRIS!"

"You and everyone else, buddy!"

"My name is Charleston Charge!"

"Yeah, sure. You're the fifth guy who has tried that. Hold on, we know to deal with you."

Charleston was put on hold, and was quite unamused by Agent Operator's attitude. It would seem politeness was dead. The other end clicked back to life, and the voice made Charleston's heart flutter.


"Edolie?" said Charleston.

"Charleston!" said Edolie.

He could hear a brief scuffle on the other end, and the next voice was Agent Operator's: "Well, that and the confirmation I received from the voice recognition software I booted up is good enough for now. We'll send someone to pick you up. We'll want you here for the planning."

Charleston hung up, quite pleased with himself. He put his laptop into a pillowcase so that it wouldn't get damaged, and slung it over his shoulder. He put on his hat and went to the lobby of the hotel. Two hours later, a familiar car pulled up. Charleston walked out the door calmly and made his way to the car.

"Ahoy there, buddy!" said Land Captain, rolling down Ishmael's window, "You'll have to get in the back this time. Liana's come along for the ride." Liana waved politely from behind Land Captain.

Charleston sat down, and after greeting Land Captain and Liana, asked a question which had plagued him for the past several minutes: "I thought you guys were with the Astounding Superhero Syndicate, not CAST. What gives?"

"We're working in conjunction for this case, along with a few of those Paci Custodis. They've got word that there's all sorts up at that asylum, and they want to make sure we follow that Agreement of theirs."

Charleston nodded, but another older question arose in his mind: Ishmael was not an ordinary car, and may have been immune to the memory block instated by Mister Lucky. He had to find out somehow, and the easiest way to do this was ask. He wondered if he should ask Ishmael before or after they took down the asylum...
When should Charleston ask?