Wednesday, April 30, 2008

005: Attack of the Freak-Fish

Fight the fish: 7 votes
Run from the lab: 2 votes
Call for help: 5 votes



If Charleston ran or called for help, the freak-fish would no doubt lunge at him and devour him. The only way he could potentially survive is to stand and fight. He adjusted the silver gloves he had put on earlier, and then ducked quickly, pulling a table in front of him. He needed all the help he could get. Unfortunately, his swift action seemed to have startled the freak-fish into attacking. They let out some sort of weird noise, sort of like a garbled shriek, and several of them hit the table. A lot more of them made their way over the table. Some broke their jaws on Charleston's special gloves, and he managed to take out quite a few of them. However, their numbers were too much. Soon, his clothes were in tatters and his body, while much more resistant than a normal human's, was bleeding. He opened his cell phone and speed dialed headquarters, but was too weak to say anything. He dropped the phone, and as he took what he thought was his last breath, he heard someone shout.

"Git off him, you bloody bastard fish! Git off him!"

It was too late for Charleston, however, and he fell into unconsciousness. The fish left him, however, and the man who saved him placed him on a table and tried to dress his many wounds.

An hour later, Land Captain arrived with another agent. He was a nebbish-looking man with thick, round glasses. The man who saved Charleston stood outside the lab, drinking a bottle of beer. He saw the two men, wiped the foam off his mustache, and stood up.

Land Captain was on the man instantly, pushing him against the wall and shouting, "Who are you and what happened to Mister Charge?"

"Name's Edgar. Edgar Koleyna. 'Fraid this is all my fault."

"How so?" asked the nebbish-looking man.

"I'd like to know who I'm speaking with before spilling my guts, sir," said Edgar.

"My name is Robin Banks, and this is the Land Captain. He has a strong sense of justice. Now, what happened and why is this all your fault?"

"I used to joke with my granddaughter, I did. I used to tell her that someday I was going to catch me a fish and teach it how to eat human flesh. When my grandkids would act up, I'd have 'em put one hand in, then the other hand in, and then they'd have no hand no more. I was just joking, honest, but then my granddaughter just got it into her mind to breed fish that could do just that," said Edgar, wiping away a tear.

Robin stared at him. "The both of you do know that there are fish that naturally eat human flesh, don't you?"

Edgar shrugged, "I guess she did. I did, too, it was just my way to joke like that. Never thought it'd see a man killed, which I guess answers the Land Captain's second question."

Land Captain let Edgar fall to the ground, and then he ran into the lab. He came out carrying Charleston's bloody body.

"He's still alive, but barely," said Land Captain, "We need to get him to a hospital."

"Screw the hospital," said Robin, "We need to get him to TYRIS."

Land Captain nodded, "We'll put Charleston in the trunk. It's special. He'll be safe there."

Robin nodded. Land Captain put Charleston in the trunk, and then the trio sped towards the nearest TYRIS office. When they arrived there was a gurney waiting for them. They moved Charleston from the trunk to the gurney, and then went into the building to meet with the head of the office. Land Captain, Robin, and the office head listened to Charleston's tape recorder.

"What should be done about this, sir?" asked Robin.

"While we do not frown upon mad science and its actions in general, when it is used against one of our agents we must take action! Liana Koleyna must be apprehended and her experiments destroyed."

Land Captain coughed politely.

"Yes?"

"I would like to volunteer for that job, sir. She's a super-villain, basically, and I'm a super-hero," said Land Captain.

"Your enthusiasm is noted and appreciated, but this woman has a very dangerous fish at her disposal," said the office head.

"Well, I'm the Land Captain. I think I could probably take on some fish, with the right gear," said Land Captain.

"Very well. Report to our research and development department. You'll be outfitted so that you can take this witch in."

Land Captain saluted, and marched out. Robin and the office head watched him leave, and then Robin said, "How much of a chance does Charleston have?"

"He should live. The man would have probably healed eventually if we dropped him in the woods somewhere. With our help, he should be back on his feet within the month. At least, one foot. His left leg was torn up quite badly, and may never be the same even with out help."

Robin nodded, "That's good to know. He's one of our top agents."

"Indeed he is," said the office head, "I just hope that Land Captain can bring in the witch that did this to him."

-

Should we join Land Captain as he goes to fight Professor Koleyna, or watch Robin Banks as he does BUREAUCRACY?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

004: Stamp... stamp... stamp...

Call in a specialist: 2 votes
Sneak into the lab: 7 votes
Make amends: 6 votes
Follow the path into the woods: 0 votes
Follow the stream: 0 votes



Charleston's thirst for knowledge was great. Specifically, the knowledge of what lay within the lab. The two most prudent paths for him would be to apologize to Professor Koleyna, or wait for her to leave the lab and sneak into it. He thought about both scenarios for a bit. Truth be told, Charleston was only a man of words as long as it related to insurance. He also had a way with women, a way which usually left him injured in some way. The only woman he had ever dated was bitten by a vampire and was currently a member of the vampire's cult, and it was pretty much Charleston's fault this happened. Therefore, the course of action was clear: he would wait until Koleyna left the lab, and sneak in. All he had to do was wait...

An hour later, he was still waiting when Land Captain returned with Charleston's new boots. Charleston was sure Land Captain's arrival had made Koleyna stay inside the lab, just to be spiteful. Grumbling, Charleston put on his new boots while Land Captain rambled on about how he had thwarted an alien abduction attempt on the way there. Then, an idea struck him. It was a terrible idea, but it just might work.

"Well, I guess the frog is not going to show up today!" shouted Charleston, towards the lab, "I might as well leave, gee golly gee whiz!"

Land Captain was befuddled, "Are you all right, Mister Charge?"

"Just play along!" whispered Charleston, who then raised his voice, "Yep, just a false alarm I guess!"

Land Captain touched the brim of his hat, and then got into the car. Charleston got into the back, vainly trying to see if Koleyna was watching. He could not see, and soon they were off. A minute or so later, Charleston had Land Captain stop the car.

"I'll call you when I'm done here, Land Captain," said Charleston.

"What are you going to do," asked Land Captain.

"Make my way back to the lab through the woods. I figure that if Koleyna doesn't see me, then she'll be willing to leave the lab for a bit."

"You're a clever one."

"Not really. It's one of the oldest tricks there is," said Charleston, getting out of the car. He watched Land Captain drive off, and then began walking down the road, his long coat flapping in the wind. He held onto his hat - something resembling a fedora, but not quite a fedora - and looked up at the sky. It was turning gray. Charleston groaned, and trekked on. Then, he realized something: Land Captain's car could go fast. Quite fast, and in quite a short time. Therefore, he had no idea how far away he was from the lab.

Then the rain came. The drops came down like tiny little daggers, stabbing at Charleston's face and wetting down his hair. Drops dripped down his back. He put up his color and scrunched his shoulders in an attempt to stave off the wetness. He buttoned up his coat so that the things he put in its inner pockets wouldn't get wet, and he stamped down the now muddy road. By now, it was more swamp than road. As he stamped, he thought he heard something else stamping. He stopped, and listened:

Stamp... stamp... stamp... stamp...

It was coming up the road, whatever it was. Panic and curiosity rose up within Charleston, and he knew he had few options...

The stamping was too close. He had to make a choice now, and he had no time to think. He dashed off the road, hid behind a tree, took out his tape recorder, and waited.

Stamp... stamp... stamp...

Charleston watched as a giant non-anthropomorphic frog hopped down the road towards his hiding place. He clicked on his tape recorder, and began whispering.

"I have visual confirmation of the rumored giant frog. It is non-anthropomorphic, about as big as a Buick, I think, and it appears to be relatively healthy..."

Stamp... stamp... stamp...

"Each hop takes it, oh, maybe ten yards? It doesn't appear to be trying, though. I'm guessing it could take a much larger jump if it actually tried. I wonder if I could ride it..."

Stamp... stamp... stamp.

"The giant frog has stopped right in front of me. It's not looking at my hiding place, it's just sort of... sitting there. Like it can sense me or something? Do frogs have some sort of... froggy-sense? Could be worth looking into."

There was a flash of lightning and the roar of thunder. The frog let out a monstrous croak, quickly turned around, and let loose with a mighty jump. Charleston ran out from behind the tree.

"I can still see it, and I'd say it jumped around seventy yards, give or take. Ah, wait, I know..." said Charleston, pulling a gadget out of his pocket, "I'll use the digital tape measure."

He wedged a small spike into the back-most part of the frog's footprints, and then stopped. The frog was still sitting there. Charleston shrugged, and then ran towards it. When he got closer, he shouted gibberish at it, and the frog jumped again. Charleston knelt down where the frog had sat.

"The giant frog was scared of me. Curious, but I guess that means it's not a natural giant. Perhaps some sort of mutation. Or maybe it's just a coward. In any case..." Charleston held the digital tape measure at the back-most part of the newly vacated frog prints. It read 74.6 yards. "The frog jumped about seventy-five yards."

There was another flash of lightning, roll of thunder, and monstrous croak. Charleston clicked on his tape recorder as the croak echoed through the woods and said, "That was the frog." He put away the digital tape measure and tape recorder, and then began trekking after the frog. If he was lucky, he might be able to catch it. If not, then at least he was keeping busy.

Half an hour later, Charleston saw the lab in the distance. At this point, he could not do much sneaking since he was sopping wet, but he intended to try to sneak into the lab regardless. He walked into the woods, sighed as his feet sank a little into the mud, and made his way towards the lab. As he walked, the mud sucked at his boots. When he was close to the lab, he stopped and realized that there was no way he could figure out if Koleyna had left or not, since the lab had no windows. He did hear the distinctive noise of rain bouncing off a tarp, and this did little for his mood. He had intended to sneak into the lab through the hole in the roof, and the tarp would make things very difficult. Coupled with the rain, the task would be nearly impossible without any sort of gear. Charleston pulled out his tape recorder, said, "Note to self: always bring climbing equipment" and put the recorder back into his pocket.

After pondering what to do, Charleston picked up a rock and hurled it at the door. He did this with several rocks, and eventually Professor Koleyna opened the door. Charleston tossed more rocks away from the lab, and Koleyna closed the door. Charleston sighed deeply, but then Koleyna opened the door again and left the lab. She looked around, then placed her palms against each other and closed her eyes. A flash of light erupted from the ground, and she was gone. Charleston dashed for the door, and once he was safely inside he took out his tape recorder and said, "Fish doctor is not what she seems." Then he walked over to the table with the notebook on it, and was rather shocked to see that the notebook was no longer there.

"How dare she take measures against my snooping!" said Charleston to a curious carp.

This gave Charleston some pause. If she had taken preventative measures against his snooping, why was the door unlocked? No doubt she would have done that first, if she wanted her activities to remain a secret. Only then did he realize that he could no longer hear the rain on the tarp, and that the part of the lab that was under the hole in the roof was becoming drenched. This was troublesome, and Charleston turned towards the door only to see the notebook taped to it. He quickly pulled it off the door, and flipped back a few pages.

Charleston read the page several times, finally exclaiming, "A freaking tree put a hole in the roof? Seriously? A tree? I went through all that trouble just to find out the hole in the roof was an act of nature?"

He flipped forward through the notebook, and read the last page:

"Dear Mister Charge,

You should really have known better. No means no, especially when it comes to insurance. Your curiosity is an attractive trait, but as they say, curiosity killed the cat. Here are some other tidbits to satisfy your curiosity: I have dabbled in mad science. My efforts have produced a fish combining the ability to survive outside of water of a mudskipper, the mouths of a piranha, the ferocity of a barracuda, the mobility of a flying fish, and the ability to cling of a clingfish. They also have heightened intelligence and a sort of hive-mind. I hope you have fun with them.

Sincerely yours,
Professor Liana Koleyna."

In the darkness in the corner of the lab, Charleston finally noticed the light glinting off hundreds of shiny teeth. This was going to be painful, and he had few options. He could probably take out a few fish, but there were several dozen of them and only one of him. He could also run from the lab, but that would only be a temporary measure with the hole in the roof. The final thing he could do was call for assistance. At least, the final thing he was willing to do. What was worse is that he had only moments to think of a solution...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

003: Professor Liana Koleyna

Investigate the building: 15 votes
Follow the stream: 7 votes
Go into the woods: 2 votes



Charleston knew a good field agent would follow the stream. After all, a giant frog would inevitably live close to the water. Then again, it may have been a wood frog or possibly a giant toad. Charleston wasn't too sure, but believed toads and wood frogs lived in the woods. Therefore, it would be prudent to follow the forest path.

Then he realized he was wearing his nice shoes. Well, then, there was no way he was going to blindly traipse through the woods in his nice shoes. He looked over at Land Captain.

"Hey, Land Captain," said Charleston, pulling out his wallet, "If I give you some money, can you go get me a pair of boots? I think I'll need them."

Land Captain took the money, fired off a salute, and said, "What size?"

"Eleven and a half or twelve. Thanks."

With that, Land Captain sped off. Charleston reevaluated his options. The woods and stream were out. That left the damaged building. He took a pair of silver gloves out of his pocket and put them on, and then walked over to the building. He knocked on the door, just in case, and then opened it.

Inside the building was a laboratory which would have been quite clean if not for the section of roof that had fallen in on it. The three walls that remained standing were covered in aquariums, and each aquarium had a single fish inside. The one closest to Charleston had a goldfish in it, except its coloring was exceptionally metallic. In fact, the sunlight glinted off all the fish in bizarre ways. Charleston took out a tape recorder and mentioned this. He put away the tape recorder and walked over to one of the lab's tables and began paging through a notebook. He went to the latest entry, and then took out the tape recorder again.

"Latest entry is dated yesterday. It's an inventory of experiments lost due to some catastrophe. Possibly the giant frog? Maybe one of the previous entries will shed some light on this..."

Charleston was about to turn the page when someone grabbed his wrist and coughed indignantly. He followed the hand's arm to a chest, and then quickly averted his eyes.

"Sorry, ma'am. I had no idea you were female." He hoped the woman didn't notice he was blushing.

"Who the hell are you and what the hell are you doing in my lab?" said the woman, still holding onto Charleston's wrist.

"Your lab? One second," said Charleston, pulling out his tape recorder with his free hand, "Damaged lab belongs to... what's your name?"

She glared at him for a moment, and then said, "Liana Koleyna."

"Belongs to Liana Koleyna. Miss-"

"Professor."

"Professor Koleyna, my name is Charleston Charge. I have come here on behalf of the TYRIS Group due to reports of an abnormally large amphibian. He quite possibly sits on a log in the swamp playing the banjo while singing about rainbow connections."

She gasped, and said, "A giant frog?"

"A giant frog. Do you have any information?"

"I'm just an ichthyologist, Mister Charge. I'm working on a way to make fish more resilient in order to withstand water pollution."

"I see. I won't bother you about the practical aspects of such an endeavor, but I will ask you this: would you like to buy some insurance? We offer a special rate for mad scientists. Since you're already a scientist, you could perhaps work on making some sort of composite fish to gain the 'mad' label."

She glared at him again, and then asked, "Would it cover the damage to my roof?"

"Well, no, since it's already damaged. If it's damaged again, however, we would be able to offer full coverage if the damage is a result of mad science. If you want additional protection, say, against a giant frog, you'd have to buy additional policies."

"I'm sorry, but I'm not interested. I think you should leave, Mister Charge," she said, dragging him out the door. Once he was outside, she slammed the door.

Charleston shrugged, straightened his tie, and said, "She refused to elaborate on the giant frog. Also, no further clues as to why the roof is damaged. I am going to investigate."

He walked over the building and noticed a distinct lack of windows. There were also no tracks on the ground. No tire tracks, no frog tracks, no tracks of any kind. Furthermore, from this angle, it looked like the roof had simply caved in. Then again, he was no forensics specialist. He could call one in, though. He filed this away in a mental databank.

Another thing he had noticed in the lab was the distinct lack of a refrigerator or any sort of cooking apparatus. Koleyna had to eat, and perhaps he could sneak into the lab while she was gone. Yes, it was a bit unethical, but if it helped him get to the bottom of this, then it would be worth it. Then again, he could just try to make amends with Koleyna and get his information that way. Barring that, he could always just wait for Land Captain and follow the path into the woods or the stream. One thing was certain: he would not yet give up. If he gave up, there was a good chance he would get fired.

Charleston walked over to a large rock and sat down and began to think.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Last Metapost

Two things:
1) I've noticed that there's a lot of voting the first three days that the story is up, then like no voting at all. So we're going to try a new update schedule. New bits of story will go up on Sundays and Wednesdays.

2) In order to stifle superfluous metaposts, any new news will go up on the Choose Your Own Blogventure Message Board. So keep an eye out, I guess.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

002: The Land Captain

Fifteen minutes later, after eating some delicious waffles, Charleston had come to a decision. He was not really in the mood to deal with things he might not be able to see, and might not even be there. This ruled out everything but the giant frog, and seriously, how much of a problem could a giant frog be? He should be there and back before dinner. He pulled out his phone and called up the Dispatcher.

"Is the giant frog assignment still available?" he asked.

There was some static, then an obviously disguised voice said, "Indeed it is, Mister Charge. The car has already been sent to take you to your destination. Have a nice day, Mister Charge."

The phone clicked, and Charleston went outside to find a man dressed like a captain standing by a Buick. The Buick's back door was open and the captain was grinning like a madman.

"Are you the driver the company sent?" asked Charleston. Several times in the past, he had been kidnapped by various opponents to his company. He found it paid to ask these kinds of questions, because at the very least it gave you plausible deniability.

"I sure am, Mister Charge," said the driver, "You can just go ahead and call me Land Captain."

Charleston raised an eyebrow, "Land Captain?"

"I'm a superhero. I generally fight aliens. I've saved the universe a few times, you know. Me and Ishmael, here."

"You named your car Ishmael?"

"Sure did. We can chat more in the car, but we'd better get going."

Charleston nodded and got into the car, and the Land Captain got into the driver's seat. He pulled some switches, turned the key, and they were on their way.

"Do you know the way there, Land Captain?" asked Charleston, fighting the urge to doze off.

"Nope, but Ishmael does," said Land Captain, "He's pretty smart as far as cars go."

Charleston knew he would have to keep an eye on this Land Captain. He seemed to be insane, but the Company wouldn't send a madman to drive him, would they? He was about to pass a comment about the unlikeliness of a superhero working as a driver when he realized that the car was going a wee bit too fast. The world outside was little more than a blur.

"Land Captain! How fast are we going?"

"Fast as we can, sir! Speed is of the essence, and ol' Ishmael here can go pretty darn fast. Don't worry, though, we won't run into anything and no one will see us. Like I said, Ishmael is a special sort of car."

Charleston nodded, then quickly buckled his safety belt and tried to dig his nails into the car's seat. He closed his eyes and prayed they'd be there before...

The car stopped.

Oh thank whatever gods there were, the car stopped.

"We're here, Mister Charge!" said Land Captain with a smile, then he chuckled, "Don't worry, I've been assigned as your personal driver. You'll get used to ol' Ishmael eventually."

All the blood drained from Charleston's face. He had faced down demons and hydras in the past with a knowing smirk, but this car was something altogether different. There was something unearthly about it, and Charleston decided he would some day find out what it was.

"Ah, before I forget," said Land Captain, reaching into his pocket, "When you're done, or when you need a ride, just give me call." He handed a card to Charleston, who took it and shoved it into his pocket.

"Thanks a million. I'll be sure to do that."

Charleston had barely gotten out of the car when it zoomed away. He let out a sigh of relief, and then looked around. He was surrounded by woods. There was a damaged building nearby, and it was built by a stream. Off to his left there was a path leading into the woods, away from both the stream and the building.

He wondered if he should investigate the building, follow the stream, or go into the woods...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

001: The Assignments

Today felt special, Charleston had to admit. He had no idea why this was so, but there was just something that made it unique. He'd have to be a bit more careful today, then, since the last time he felt odd some goblin creature tried to gnaw off his leg. In any case, it was time to find out what he had to deal with today. He logged onto his company's website and followed the arcane hints to the current assignments page. He allowed his mind to wander for a second as he recalled the story behind the hints.

Long ago, his branch of the company had a fellow called the Dispatcher. In the days before computers, he ruled over the mail room and sent up messages most urgent to the various insurance agents. He had a bit of a knack for knowing which agent was best suited to which job. As the technology improved and the Dispatcher grew older (and he was quite old to begin with), he learned all the skills he needed to keep his job. Once the company started allowing employees to log in from home, he began making sure only employees and the exceptionally sharp could make it into the system by instituting the hints. It was a good system, and it kept out the riff-raff. Unfortunately, no one had seen the Dispatcher for several years, and it was widely believed that he had either come up with an advanced artificial intelligence to handle the chores of dispatch, or that his soul had entered cyberspace and haunted the company's web site. Charleston had very few thoughts on the matter, and was simply glad the system worked. A bit too well, however, as he had four assignments waiting for him.

There were two kinds of assignments, really: the appointments and the ones where they just arrived. The first assignment was one of the latter: a man had recently purchased a house that was somewhat deep in the forest. There were reports of him walking in his sleep and trying to pry the iron grate off an abandoned well, and the whole thing reeked of some sort of possession. Charleston groaned, because you never knew who was doing the possessing. He jotted down "Possessed Somnambulist Homeowner" into his notebook.

The second assignment was from a rural area, and unsurprisingly, had to do with crop circles and mutilated cows. Apparently, there were also unconfirmed reports of UFO activity. The smart money pointed to aliens, and so Charleston wrote down "Clich├ęd Aliens" in his notebook.

The third assignment was a cryptozoological thing, with rumors of some sort of giant bipedal frog mucking about. Charleston wrote down "Giant Frog" and wondered why the heck anyone would need insurance against a giant frog. Perhaps the area had some insect farms or something.

The final assignment was actually requested by the potential customer. She was sure her house was haunted, though she could be just paranoid. Charleston recalled that seventy-five percent of last year's appointments ended up being false alarms. Which is not to say that they weren't fruitful: people prone to calling up the company were also prone to buying insurance. After pondering this for a moment, Charleston wrote "Potential Haunting" in his notebook.

Charleston logged off and closed his computer, pondering over which assignment to take...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Charleston Charge and the Company

The man's name is Charleston Charge, and he's an insurance salesman. Well, that's not entirely accurate. While he does sell insurance, he also does some claim adjustment. The main thing he does, though, is special jobs his employer needs done. Not anything illegal, mind you. The guy's as straight-laced as his job allows. It's just that the insurance he sells is no ordinary insurance, and sometimes a bit of a special touch is needed to make sure things go right.

The company he works for is Tahmores, Yair, and Ruggiero Insurance and Security Incorporated, commonly abbreviated to TYRIS Inc. It was founded by Rudolf Tahmores, Anthony Yair, and Theodore Ruggiero in 1871 in South Carolina. TYRIS began by offering insurance against the various supernatural elements that had begun to haunt plantations but soon branched out into selling insurance against any sort of supernatural, occult, cryptozoological, extraterrestrial, and just plain weird phenomenon. If you're the sort of person whose house is infested by the damned souls of a million angry orphans, you call the company.

Charleston's branch (a company like TYRIS is a global operation, after all) consists of himself, several other go-to guys, and several specialists. This is not to say that Charleston is too shabby at protecting himself. He's able to deal and take more punishment than any mortal man should, but he doesn't like telling that story much. The dispatcher for his company, who lets people know where they might be needed, and where they've been asked to come. If they come uninvited, though, you'd best listen to them: they know what they're doing.

Friday, April 4, 2008

What This is About (FAQ)

Welcome to "Choose Your Own Blogventure". Here I'll be answering some questions about what, exactly, this is.

1) What is "Choose Your Own Blogventure"?

You may be familiar with the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, where you would be thrust into an unlikely situation and be forced to work your ways around myriad paths until either coming to a gruesome end or coming out on top. Well, this is kind of like that but not quite. It's more like the Super Mario CYOA books, in which you would decide where Mario went and he would eventually come to a gruesome end or come out on top. It's not even like that, though. This is how things will be done:

-I will post part of a story. At the end of the part, you'll get several paths for the main character to follow.
-You will vote on which path you want the main character to follow. All three options will have something pre-written for them.
-The main character will do what you want him to.
-Repeat

2) What if the main guy dies during the course of this?

I guess we'll have to dredge up a new one, then.

3) How long will each story be?

It's one never-ending story, but each plotline will take several months. I plan on updating this weekly, so we'll see how all this goes.

-

If you already have a blog with the name "Choose Your Own Blogventure" (which is quite likely, but I'm too lazy to look) then let me know and I'll change this blog's name.