Wednesday, May 28, 2008

012: Edolie DePrit

Ubreakable fiberglass cane: 2 votes
Cane with a concealed blade: 2 votes
Techno-cane: 5 votes
Charleston Charge was quite angry. Nurse Melody had insisted on dressing him, and her bedside manner left a lot to be desired. The pants had been an especially dire trial. He had steadfastly refused to put on his long coat and fedora-like hat, and they were now draped on the back of the wheelchair he had been forced to sit in. As he was wheeled through the front doors of TYRIS, he saw Land Captain standing with Liana Koleyna and another woman. An RV with two trailers latched to it was behind them.

"Ahoy, Charleston," said Land Captain with a salute, "I'm still assigned to drive you for this mission. They've also put me in charge of keeping Liana out of trouble, so she's coming along too. She's not too crazy anymore, though, so you don't have to worry."

"Not really all that worried, Land Captain. I am wondering who she is, though," said Charleston, pointing at the other woman.

"My name is Edolie DePrit. I am your assistant," she said.

"I see," said Charleston, whose eyes refused to stop looking at Edolie. He blinked several times, and then looked back over to Land Captain, "What's in the trailers?"

"Well, we'll be doing most of our living in the RV. The first trailer has our food and other supplies, while the other one has some other supplies. Paraphernalia, you might call it."

Charleston narrowed his eyes, "What sort of paraphernalia?"

"Well, Ishmael's in there, for one thing."

"What else is in there, Land Captain?"

"Liana's fish."

"The ones that mangled my leg?"

"They might come in handy, Mister Charge! Besides, Liana says they're really well trained. They won't attack anyone without her telling them to."

"I want to hear it from her. Is this true, Liana?"

She blushed, then nodded and smiled.

"Why are you being so quiet?" said Charleston.

"She's sort of embarrassed about the whole evil genius thing, Mister Charge. She should get over it eventually, though."

"Yes. I see," said Charleston. He thought for a moment, and then turned back to Edolie, "What are your qualifications?"

"I was trained as a field agent for the French secret service with a concentration in medicine. I promise you I will not slow you down while we pursue the frog," said Edolie.

"Wait, we?"

"Well, yes. While you have your new cane, it would not wise to send you wandering around the woods by yourself while you adjust to your new leg. I will be your partner, your constant companion, your shadow."

"How are you in the woods, though?"

"I've been given what I've been told to be the proper attire, and a quick lesson in forest survival. So I am adequate for our purpose."

"Oh. How did you know which cane I wanted? I only decided last night."

"I was not the one who ordered your cane. Someone merely assumed you would want this one," said Edolie, proffering a box.

Charleston opened it to find the titanium-reinforced techno-cane. He took it out of the box, and weighed it thoughtfully. "Edolie, help me up. I would like to try out this cane."

Edolie held out an arm, and Charleston used it to stand up. He wavered for a moment, and then placed the cane on the ground. When he thought he had attained some balance, he let go of Edolie's arm. He was unsteady for a moment, but managed to remain erect. He took an experimental step, and found his new leg to be nearly indistinguishable from the biological one. He took his coat from the back of the wheelchair, having Edolie helping him into it, and then he picked up his hat and placed it carefully on his head.

"All right, I'm ready," said Charleston, heading over to the RV. Edolie helped him into the passenger seat, while Land Captain prepared to drive. Liana and Edolie went into the back of the RV.

"Where to, Charleston?" asked Land Captain, "I know we're off to find the frog, but where should we set up camp?"

"Well, we could set it up in front of Liana's lab. We could also go into the woods, or follow the river."

"Pretty much the same choices we had when we first went to find out if the frog existed," said Land Captain.

"Pretty much." Except, this time, they had someone who knew the area with them. Charleston chose to take advantage of this. He turned around, and said, "Well, Liana, what do you think?"

Sunday, May 25, 2008

011: One Froggy Mission

Charleston Charge and the Frog of Chaos: 6 votes
Charleston Charge and the False Prophet: 5 votes
Charleston Charge and the Lost City of Uhld: 0 votes
Charleston thoughtfully chewed his delicious waffles. It had been a month since Land Captain had rescued him from Liana Koleyna, and he had almost completely healed. In any case, he was more than able to leave TYRIS and pursue a goal or two. He knew what he wanted to do, too. He would seek out the cult of the False Prophet, and hopefully free his girlfriend from the False Prophet's thrall. It would take some work, and some time off, but he was willing to do the first one and had plenty of the second one coming to him. He hit the alert button, and a nurse who looked like a fertility goddess came in.

"Yes, Mister Charge?" she asked, her voice low and gruff.

"I would like a vacation form, Miss Melody," said Charleston, "Oh, and some more waffles."

An hour later, after the form had been filled out and returned and the waffles eaten, Robin Banks arrived, with a smile on his face.

"So you're ready to leave, Charleston?" he said.

"Sure am."

"Then we should celebrate!" said Robin, throwing some confetti at Charleston.

He picked up one of the larger pieces, and saw that it was his vacation form, shred to bits. He looked over to Robin, who radiated smugness.

"You're still on assignment, Charleston. After you bag the frog, or at least find out what its deal is, then you can take your vacation."

"You're a jerk, Robin."

"Hey, it's not me. This order came from the Dispatcher himself. Too many agents have been taking missions to exotic locations only to quit them and take two weeks of vacation."

"My mission is in a forest, and you know how much I hate recreational camping. I always attract every weird creature within a ten mile radius. It's hard to relax when every cryptozoological creature, escaped government experiment, and alien pet around is bothering you."

"Then you'll be pleased to know that you won't be going on this assignment alone, and we've provided adequate shelter for the duration of the mission."

"You mean I have to stay out there until I find the frog?"

"Certainly. Land Captain says you were quite interested in finding the frog, after all. You should be pleased."

"I was interested when I didn't know I'd be forced to spend who knows how much time in the woods."

Robin shrugged, and said, "You leave tomorrow. I've sent someone to fetch your clothes. You've no way out of this, by the way, so don't even try."

"I wasn't even planning on it."

"Certainly. Now, since you're technically handicapped now, with a bionic leg, we thought it would be wise to supply you with a cane and an assistant. While you do not have the choice of assistant, we will allow you to choose your cane. We know how much you like choices, Charleston."

"This is pretty much the worse choice you could give me, Robin."

"What with you setting off to finish your mission tomorrow, we thought it'd be wise to just give you a small choice to make. Keep your mental reserves as full as you can, and all that."

"You're a saint, Robin."

"Here's a brochure with all the fun and interesting canes you can choose. Have fun, Charleston."

Charleston sighed, and looked at the brochure. Three canes caught his eye: one was a fiberglass cane, supposedly able to break through cinder blocks. Potentially useful, thought Charleston. The other was a simple wooden cane, at least on the outside. Its head came off, revealing a long, thin blade. It had its charms, certainly. The third was, by far, the most technologically impressive. Its head had several buttons on it, and it was apparently able to fire darts, shoot out gas, and emit electrical shocks. It was made of finished oak with a titanium center.

Well, thought Charleston, I might as well choose.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

010: Attack of the Wichthyologist

Try to disable Koleyna: 3 votes
Hide, then surprise Koleyna: 4 votes
Block the door: 2 votes
Land Captain came to a decision.

"Safety first!" he said, quickly driving down a side-street so he could bring the car around to the back of the TYRIS building, and then everything went black. Moments later, Land Captain awoke to find that the goggles had disengaged themselves. He took off his hat and rubbed his temples, then looked out the window. The blue fog had lifted, and the world was filled with people again.

"My readings indicated that Professor Koleyna-" said Ishmael.

"Wishyologeist," said Land Captain, "Witsh... witchyologist."

"-has entered the building. She is headed to the fifth floor, to what I assume is Mister Charge's room."

"I have to go shtop her," said Land Captain, opening the door. Or at least trying to open the door. After several failed attempts, Ishmael opened the door for him. Land Captain tried to step out of the car and fell on his face.

"Are you all right, Land Captain?" said Ishmael.

"If I don't stop her, if I don't, then she'll kill Mister Charge with her fish," said Land Captain.

"Yes, but you're clearly in no state to go after her."

"Why dint you tell me about this?"

"I did not know how the human body would react to being disengaged."

Land Captain placed his hand on the hood of the car, and whispered, "Shock me."

"Excuse me?"

He raised his voice, "Shock me."

"I'm not sure that's a good idea."

"I'm not giving you a choice! SHOCK ME!"

"Very well," said Ishmael, shutting his door. He emitted a small electric shock. Land Captain shook for the duration, then fell to the ground. Ishmael backed away, and tried to whisper, "Land Captain?"

Land Captain leapt to his feet, sizzling slightly, and he pointed to Ishmael. "No need to worry, Ishmael. That was just what I needed! Off I go!"

"Godspeed, Land Captain," said Ishmael as Land Captain dashed down the alley.

When he turned the corner, he collapsed against the wall. With some effort, he managed to work his way down to the door. A woman in a purple suit held the door open for him as he grabbed onto a plastic tree in the lobby. Both man and tree fell to the ground, causing the security guard to investigate.

"What happened to you, man?" asked the security guard, "Did you get that fish bitch?"

"She's in the building, but in another dimension," said Land Captain, "You need to get me to Mister Charge's room immediately. She's going after him."

The security guard, having worked at TYRIS for several years, did not question Land Captain. In any case, the superhero was a mess. The medical ward would be the best place for him. The guard helped Land Captain to his feet, and walked with him to the elevator. As they waited for the elevator, the guard reached for his radio.

"All available units, we reports of a possible extra-dimensional disturbance in the med ward. This is not a drill. All available units report to the med ward."

Several guards ran into the room as the elevator came, and they all piled into elevator with Land Captain and his helper.

"What's the plan, sarge?" asked one of the guards.

"Try to take her down without killing her. The same doesn't go for her fish friends," said Sarge, gently helping Land Captain into a corner, "Keep in mind we're probably going to be doing this in a hospital room with an injured man inside, as well."

The other guards were silent.

"We're pretty much screwed, aren't we, sarge?"

Sarge was silent. Then he nodded. The doors opened, revealing a perfectly calm hallway. Two more guards were stationed outside Charleston's room. Sarge led the other guards to the door of the room, which was still open. Inside, everything was peaceful.

"What's going on?" asked Charleston, sitting there and hitting a cup of gelatin with a spork.

Several guards walked in and stood by Charleston's bed, aiming their multi-purpose weapons at the opposite wall. They were set to give off a wide electric pulse, designed to react with a creature's nervous system in such a way that it turned off. Sarge remained in the doorway.


"We've had reports that there may be an attack on you," said Sarge, but was unable to continue because the door slammed into his face. He fell to the ground, blood gushing from his nose. Land Captain, who was sitting on the floor by the elevator, had rolled up his sleeves, revealing silver sleeves underneath. He hit his forearms together, and his entire body began to shimmer. He crawled over to an unused IV drip, used it as a support to get himself up, and then quickly made his way towards Charleston's room. He was halfway there when the screams started. He began to hobble more quickly, and finally reached the door, ramming into it. It burst open, and Land Captain fell to the floor and became covered in blood.

Koleyna, who had perched on the foot of Charleston's bed, turned to Land Captain. Charleston was unharmed, but his gelatin had been ruined. He looked shocked. The ceiling was covered with fish, and occasionally a drop of blood would hit the floor.

"Who the hell are you?" she said, stepping off the bed.

"I'm Land Captain, and you must be the Witchyologist."

"I've heard of you," said Koleyna, crouching down in front of Land Captain, "My employers had an awful lot to say about you. Imagine how pleased they'll be when I tell them my fish made a snack out of you."

Land Captain was stricken, not because of the threat, but because she hadn't noticed what he had said, "I've already taken care of your employers, Witchyologist," spat Land Captain, "Now it's your turn, Witchyologist."

She laughed. It was almost pleasant, and there was a cough from the bed.

"Why do you keep saying Witchyologist?" said Charleston. All in all, he was remarkably calm.

"It's her, Mister Charge," said Land Captain, "I figured that she's a fish doctor and not too nice, so she's the Witchyologist."

Charleston nodded, "Makes sense. Pretty clever, too."

"Thanks, Mister Charge."

"You made up a super-villain name for me?" said Koleyna.

"Sure did, miss," said Land Captain, "Now, if you'll just-"

"You made up a super-villain name for me," said Koleyna. She had tears in her eyes.

"Kind of figured with my motif and all, you could be my arch-enemy," said Land Captain, "You could wear a witch's outfit made of fish scales or something."

Koleyna sat down, tears running down her cheeks, "I think that's possibly the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me... Land Captain, was it?"

"Uh, yes, miss."

"All my life, I've had to do everything by myself. They always gave me such independence, and then thought I was okay being by myself. No one ever thought to ask if maybe I wanted some sort of aide, or if I wanted to help my grandfather catch fish. They just assumed I didn't. Then those aliens came, and they left me alone, too, to make their fish to take over the world. I've always been all alone. No one has ever really thought about me," said Koleyna, wiping away tears.

"No problem, miss. My pleasure. Now, about the arch-villain thing..."

Koleyna stood up, and walked over to Charleston's bed.

"I'm sorry for all the trouble I've caused you, Mister Charge," she said, reaching out a hand, "I know I'll probably be going to jail for assault and multiple murders, but I really am sorry about all of this."

"Yeah, I heard the whole thing," said Charleston, "Crappy life, lashing out. I'll put in a good word for you. Besides, the only guard who's actually a human being is the sergeant. All the others are things called flesh-pods."

"Thank you, Mister Charge," said Koleyna, walking over to Land Captain. She reached out a hand and helped him up. "And thank you, Land Captain." She put her arms around him, said, "Maybe when I'm done serving my sentence, could I look you up?"

"Sure, miss."

"Please, call me Liana," she said, "I don't think I'd want to be your arch, though. How would you feel about a partner?"

"I'd have to run it past my car, first, but I think I'd like that."

The sergeant came in, his nose bandaged up, and said, "All right, Professor, I'd hate to interrupt, but you've got a debt to society to pay."

Professor Liana Koleyna nodded, and said, "One more thing, officer." Then she kissed Land Captain.

Charleston chuckled.

After Liana was led away, Land Captain was helped into a wheelchair and both he and Charleston were moved to another room. The freak fish seemed reluctant to leave the room, and workers were even now installing a piece of Plexiglas over the door. No one was sure about what could be done with the fish. At Land Captain's request, Ishmael had been told how things had gone. The car seemed pleased.

Later that day, while Charleston and Land Captain were enjoying some delicious waffles, Robin Banks arrived with a smile on his face.

"Good job, Land Captain," he said, extending a hand which Land Captain shook, "You really came through for us. I've got good news, too. Since the flesh-pods are artificial constructs owned by TYRIS, Professor Koleyna is being released into our custody, if that's all right with her assault victim. Charleston?"

Charleston nodded, his mouth full of waffle.

"Excellent," said Robin, "I'm glad to see you're both recovering. I'd like you to discuss what you'd like to do next. When you figure it out, just call the Dispatcher."

Robin left the room, and Land Captain and Charleston finished their waffles.

"How do you feel, since you saved the day?" asked Charleston.

"I feel pretty good, Mister Charge," said Land Captain, "I'm glad it ended how it did. I sort of hope I get to see Liana pretty soon, though."

"I think it'll happen," said Charleston, "Employees get a whole load of fringe benefits, one of which is being rewarded for saving the lives of other employees. What are you going to do next?"

"I'm going to go back on my normal driving assignments. I don't have the knack for selling things, after all. I have the potential to do the most good on the move. What about you, Mister Charge?"

"You can call me Charleston at this point, Land Captain. Well, I have been giving it a lot of thought. One of the things I'd like to do is go back and find out what was up with the giant frog. That's been bugging me since I got over the fact that I have a new leg. Seeing you and Liana like that, though, got me to thinking about my girlfriend."

"You have a lady friend, Mister... Charleston?"

"Well, I did. I haven't seen her in several years, though. The last I saw of her, she was being led into a vampiric cult led by a guy who called himself the False Prophet. I tried to get her out, but I think she was under mind control or something. I'd like to track her down, maybe kick some vampire ass."

"Language, Charleston."

"Sure, Land Captain. Vampire behind. Kick some vampire behind. I have some vacation time coming to me, so it wouldn't be a drain on the company. I might also go back home for a little while."

"Where do you live?"

"Not where I live. My home. It's a city called Uhld. Oh well. I've got some time to think about it."

At this point, the sun set, and somewhere miles away, a giant frog plopped into a man-made lake.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

009: Wichthyologist

Full speed ahead: 3 votes
Let Land Captain drive: 0 votes
Use... the goggles: 6 votes
Ishmael's synapses fired off, running complex scenarios involving each decision. In the end, only one seemed acceptable: letting Land Captain use the goggles. Ishmael also rationalized that, should Land Captain be rendered comatose by the use of the goggles, then he could whisked back to TYRIS. If Ishmael was rendered nonoperational, then Land Captain would be stuck in this weird world between dimensions for who knows how long?

"I have reached my decision," said Ishmael, mere seconds since Land Captain had beseeched Ishmael to make his decision quickly, "I shall allow you to use the goggles."

"Excellent," said Land captain, grabbing the goggles that were lowered in front of him, "Let's go catch ourselves that ichthyologist witch!"

Land Captain paused, holding the goggles in his hands, and then a smile spread across her face, "My god, that's what I'll call her! I'll call her the Wichthyologist!"

"Need I remind you that time is of the essence?" asked Ishmael.

"No, just thinking out loud."

"One last thing. I've been wondering, you told the Alogrins that there was an easy way and a hard way. What was the easy way?"

"Fighting them was the easy way. The hard way would have been not punching those blasted aliens. I never said it was hard for them, did I?"

"I suppose not."

"Now then," said Land Captain, placing the goggles over his eyes, "How do these work?"

"In a few moments, after the cranial nodes calibrate, my headlights will convert to makeshift visual apparati, allowing you to see through them and sense what's coming. As thus, you'll be able to move my form freely and with only a moment's thought. It'll be just like walking."

"Really?"

"No. However, the actual mechanics of the goggles are so hopelessly complex that I am forced to make things up in order to spare your mind. After all, the stronger your mind is, the less prone you'll be to the mind-shattering effects the goggles may have upon you."

Land Captain paused for a minute, and then said, "I just felt my ear sizzle."

"That was the goggles. Think about moving."

Land Captain did so. The car lurched forward. He lurched several more times, and then the car started moving forward smoothly. It gradually picked up speed, eventually moving so fast that the car was a blur, moving past the buildings, all enveloped in a blue fog. There were no people or vehicles visible in this world between dimensions, though, something Land Captain would have to figure out later. He assumed that, since people and vehicles were static objects, they didn't appear here. It made as much sense as any other explanation.

Ishmael's voice rang in Land Captain's ear, "I'm picking up the readings of an Alogrin jumper unit. It's charging up, but well past the fifty percent mark."

"We should get there in plenty of time," said Land Captain.

"It takes several minutes to disengage from the goggles. I am not giving you the option of forgoing that process, as the chances that it would break your mind are nearly one hundred percent."

"So what choices do I have?"

"Either you could try to pin her under the car, though you'd have to stop slowing down now in order not to kill her. This would have the benefit of allowing us to stop her from entering the real world and attacking TYRIS with her fish. There is the fact that she may have some sort of verbal control over her fish, and therefore she may be able to attack you while you're defenseless."

"Not sure I like that."

"The second option is that we hide somewhere around the TYRIS building, which would allow you to disengage from the system without error. It would also allow me to recharge enough to jump after Professor Koleyna-"

"Wichthyologist."

"-Professor Koleyna and hopefully stop her. This has the added bonus of the element of surprise, something this situation would greatly benefit from."

"Is there a third option?"

"I'm guessing Koleyna wants to enter the building and pop up in Mister Charge's recovery room. We could pull in front of the door and hope for the best. Whatever you'd like to do, Land Captain. We're coming up on Koleyna quickly."

Land Captain's mind raced. What should he do?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

008: Ishmael's Decision

Barge in: 2 votes
Sneak in: 10 votes
Decide later: 0 votes
Land Captain continued drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, and then suddenly stopped. "It seems to me that we really don't know what's on the other side. So what I'm thinking is that you activate your cloaking device, and then we proceed full speed ahead."

"Aye aye, captain," replied Ishmael.

They entered the portal, and wound up right back in front of the laboratory. Only everything was enveloped in a sort of blue fog, and the Alogrins were standing all over the place. None had noticed Ishmael's arrival.

Land Captain leaned over to Ishmael's stereo, and whispered, "Drive as slowly as you can into the woods. I've got some more thinking to do."

Ishmael did so, managing a sufficient blend of speed and stealth, and with a bit of luck they parked several yards away from the tree line. Once they thought they were safe, Land Captain exhaled. He had been holding his breath.

"Where are we, Ishmael?"

"We appear to be on Earth. The same Earth, no less. We know the Alogrins have technology to jump from universe to universe, and I know how it works, as it's the technology I use. However, they seem to have modified it to deposit them in between the jump."

Land Captain nodded. He remembered how a group of Alogrins had contacted him to see if he would track a group of evil Alogrins who had designs on the destruction of the multi-verse, and how they had modified his Buick Electra to be able to jump between dimensions and do all sorts of other fancy things.

"Wasn't that tunnel thing the jump?" asked Land Captain.

"Indeed, but right now we are in mid-leap, so to speak. Closer to the Earth we currently reside on, yes, as being directly half-way between the two universes would no doubt tear us apart," said Ishmael.

Land Captain nodded, "So right now we're between dimensions with a group of evil aliens and a demented ichthyologist. How's the atmosphere?"

"Everything appears nominal."

"Gravity and all that okay?"

"Aye aye, captain."

Land Captain smiled. So far, life in this universe- or more accurately, the universe they jumped from- had been all right but a bit dull. A little driving here and there, yes, but up until now the most excitement he had experienced was delivering Charleston Charge to TYRIS. Now, he had his old group of foes, and what was potentially a new archenemy. He couldn't wait to go head-to-head with her.

"Take off your cloaking device, Ishmael. It's time we made ourselves known. Then switch to manual. I know you don't like it, but sometimes in life there's just times when a man has to take the wheel."

Ishmael did so, and Land Captain set his hands on the steering wheel, at 10 and 2. He checked his mirrors, buckled his seat-belt, and then turned off the car. He took a deep breath, turned the key, and let the engine's purring engulf him. This is what he lived for. Not driving people around, not trying to figure out what the heck to do. He could do those, yes, but they didn't complete him. But right now, at this very moment, this is what made his life worth living. Just a man, a car, and a group of perps waiting to be collared.

He put his foot on the gas pedal and drove out to meet his foes. Despite the short distance, he was still able to gain enough speed to drift in front of the lab. With one swift movement, he turned off the car and unbuckled his seat belt. Before the car had come to a complete stop, he had already opened the passenger's door and dived through it. He hit the ground with a roll, and came up with his fist connected with a surprised Alogrin's chin. It fell to the ground, and Land Captain grinned. He managed a back-flip, landing on the top of Ishmael, and he stood up, hands on his hips, and looked down at the shocked Alogrins.

"Remember me, you scurvy dogs?" he shouted. The Alogrins were tall, thin, and deep blue with egg-shaped heads and bulbous black eyes. The ones who had a streak of decency had taken to tattooing little emblems on their chests, which none of the Alogrins here had.

The Alogrins were hushed, and one stepped out of the crowd. He was a bit taller than the rest, and a lighter shade of blue, his eyes had white specks. Land Captain knew these were the marks of an elderly Alogrin.

He began to speak, and the special circuitry in Land Captain's hat translated the words, "Don't meddle in the affairs of your betters, Land Captain!"

"I'm looking for Professor Liana Koleyna," said Land Captain, "We can do this the easy way, or the hard way!" He sighed, knowing that that was a very clich├ęd thing to say.

The elderly Alogrin clenched his fist, and thrust it at Land Captain. The surrounding aliens nodded, and advanced. Land Captain laughed, and leapt off the car, kicking the nearest Alogrin in the chin. He picked up the fallen alien, hefting it above his head, and hurled it at several more of them. They fell. Land Captain knew that the Alogrins had never been able to fully compensate for Earth's atmosphere, and so they usually relied on sheer numbers to overwhelm their Earth-based foes. In space, it was a completely different matter, but here and now, Land Captain had the edge. He launched himself into the biggest cluster of Alogrins, and began throwing kicks and punches. He grabbed the wrist of an Alogrin who had tried to punch him, and yanked the alien with such force that it was hurled behind him, knocking out several of its fellows. Soon, the entire cluster was taken down, and the remaining Alogrins maintained a safe distance.

"So, do you want to tell me where she is?" asked Land Captain, fists still clenched, "Or do I have to take out the rest of you?"

"You win, Land Captain," sighed the Alogrin elder, "She claimed she needed to finish a job, and headed off down the road in one of our vehicles." He pointed down the road, in the general direction of TYRIS.

This fact was not lost on Land Captain. He walked over to the Alogrin elder and did his best to look menacing, growling, "What did she take with her?"

"Some of her creations and the jumper we gave her," said the Alogrin, shrinking back, "Please don't hurt me," he added in a whisper.

Land Captain turned, "That fiend! I've no doubt she's planning to finish off Mister Charge, or perhaps that entire branch of TYRIS! I've got to stop her!" He ran over to Ishmael, but before he got in, he turned back to the Alogrin elder and said, "You lot have until I get back to clear out of here! If I catch you in these parts again, I'll make you walk the bloody plank!" Hoping his threat was sufficient, he climbed into Ishmael and started the car.

"Well done, sir. I've transmitted a report of this to what passes as the Alogrin authorities, so it'll most likely get cleared up. However, I do have some bad news."

"Can't it wait? We have to stop Koleyna!"

"It can't, sir. Being in a state of mid-jump is wreaking havoc with my programming and power reserves. If either gets too low, you may not be able to return."

Land Captain drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, and said, "What does that mean, exactly? I mean, I know what it means, but how does that effect me?"

"If I use my maximum speed to reach Koleyna, there is a chance my programming will buckle from the strain of being in two places at once. Likewise, if I allow you to drive, then there is a good chance my power reserves will run dry. They are not recharging as efficiently in this in-between world as they would in a normal universe."

"I could drive at your maximum speed," said Land Captain.

"You're a good driver, Land Captain, but not that good. Even with the lower risk of crashing into something, you may impact with Koleyna, killing both of you instantly."

"I could use... the goggles."

Ishmael was silent.

"I said, I could-"

"I know what you said," replied Ishmael sharply, "Do you know what you risk if you use the goggles?"

"I risk losing my mind. I know they allow my brain to directly interface with your body, Ishmael. I would become the brains of this car. There's a chance I might not come back, that my mind would be outweighed by yours, but you know what? There's a madwoman out there, heading towards a building filled with people. People with friends and families. People just trying to do their jobs. She plans on setting a bunch of freak-fish on those people, to tear them to shreds. She would come out of nowhere, without warning, and I doubt many of those people would survive. If I don't take this chance, those people will die. If I don't take this chance, you might die, too. I may be the Land Captain, but I'm still just a man, and what man can honestly say his life is worth more than the lives of a building filled with people? What man can say his life is worth more than that of his dearest friend? Not I, Ishmael. Not I."

"You might turn into a vegetable."

"Better a vegetable who tried to do the right thing than a man who stood by and did nothing."

"It's my decision," said Ishmael.

"Then make it," said Land Captain, "Make it quickly."

Ishmael knew his options: Go full speed after Koleyna and risk losing his mind, let Land Captain drive and risk losing his life, or let Land Captain use the goggles and risk losing Land Captain himself. Ishmael knew what Land Captain wanted, but it was his decision...
The poll finally started working, so that's a good thing.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

007: The Alogrins

Go to the laboratory: 8 votes
Look Professor Koleyna up in the phone book: 0 votes
Google Professor Koleyna: 5 votes
Land Captain continued drumming on the steering wheel. He adjusted the car's mirrors, and then stared out the window. Eventually, he came to a conclusion.

"You know..." he said.

"Yes?" replied Ishmael.

"The criminal always returns to the scene of the crime, so this professor should return to her laboratory. In fact, she probably thinks that since she took out Mister Charge, then we'll leave her alone," Land Captain said, starting the car, "Well, we'll show her a thing or two, won't we?"

Minutes later, the pair was back in front of the laboratory. Or, at least, where the laboratory had been. The building and all the fish were gone, with only a tiled floor to mark where it had once stood. Land Captain walked the perimeter, occasionally kicking to see if the building had simply turned invisible. This was not the case, and he went back to Ishmael to think.

"It seems to me that Charleston saw Professor Koleyna vanish herself away. Well, what if she could vanish the building away, too? Unless she's able to just sort of change time and space, something like that would leave a lot of residual energy," pondered Land Captain, "Ishmael, run a scan on the area. See if there's any sort of energy build-up. No idea what to look for, but I'm guessing it'll be pretty easy to spot."

"Aye aye, Captain," replied Ishmael, who started beeping. The headlights turned a shade of green, and their light scanned the area. A minute later, the beeping stopped, "You were correct, Land Captain. What's more is that I've the energy signature in my data banks. You probably won't believe this, but it's-"

"It's the Alogrins again, isn't it?"

"Aye aye, sir."

Land Captain sighed, "It's always those blasted Alogrins. It's always been them. You crash your car through their ship one time, and they never seem to let you forget it. I wonder what they want now. In any case, it'd be a step down from destroying the multiverse."

"Aye aye, captain. What course of action do you suggest?"

"Do you still have that doohickey that lets you follow energy signatures? The one we followed the Alogrins with during our last set of adventures? I figure we use that to find out where this building- and the professor, most likely- are."

"Affirmative. Keep your hands and feet inside during the transfer, unless you'd like to add a hook or peg leg to your motif."

Land Captain did so, and after he closed the door, Ishmael's hood ornament began to glow. The glow engulfed the car, and then a whirring noise filled the air. There was a flash, and both car and man were traveling down what appeared to be a stylized tunnel of light. Land Captain knew that this was just the car shielding him from the unspeakable horrors that dwelt in this space between worlds, and that were the shielding removed, he would most likely be reduced to a gibbering mess of a man. There was a dark spot at the end of this tunnel, and Land Captain knew that this was their destination. Ishmael stopped short of the dark spot, and hovered in the ether.

"What gives, Ishmael?"

"The Alogrins are on the other side, as well as a woman who has engineered demonic fish. Barging through may not be the best course of action, as they may be waiting for us."

"They were never waiting before," said Land Captain.

"We were chasing them before. As such, they were always trying to stay one step ahead of us. This time, whatever they're doing, they're not trying to get away from us."

"True," said Land Captain, "For all we know, this could be the Alogrin home world. I know not all of them are evil, but enough are that the chances of us arriving in a friendly area are pretty small to begin with. Since we're following a trail, the chances get a lot smaller."

"Any ideas, captain?"

"Well, we could barge in and show them a thing or two. Chances are they're just standing around doing nothing, right? Only thing is, that would give us away too early. We have a job to do, and we'll only get one chance at it. I know you've got a stealth mode, though, so we could probably activate that and sort of sneak our way in until we find some friendly natives." Land Captain drummed his hands on the steering wheel, and then added, "Only thing is, we don't know what we're getting into with this. We're pretty fast, though, so we could probably make the decision right after we go through the portal. It'd be risky, but I'm a superhero. My job is to take risks."

Land Captain mulled over his choices: Barge in, sneak in, or choose after he went through the portal?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

006: Land Captain Sets a Course

Land Captain sat in his car. He had gone to the R&D department, gotten the special skin-tight armor, and marched out to his car to the cheers of the TYRIS employees. Nearly all of them knew of the occupational hazards of working for TYRIS, yet they had a special place in their heart for those who willingly harmed their fellow employees. If a wendigo or something attacked you, well, that was to be expected. It was a wendigo, after all, you can't reason with them. However, when a person willingly did harm to an employee, then it was on. And so it was with a proud heart that Land Captain marched out the doors of TYRIS. He opened the door of his car, and he waved towards the building to the sound of one last cheer. Then he sat down, and put his head down on the steering wheel.

"I've really done it this time, Ishmael," said Land Captain, "Ol' Land Captain has really bitten off more than he could chew."

"You've battled aliens and super-villains across several universes. You have saved those universes several times. You should have no trouble with some genetically engineered fish monsters," replied Ishmael.

"No, it's not that. It's different this time," said Land Captain, picking his head up a little bit and then slamming it back down, "Those were just friendly battles. Nothing serious."

Both car and man were silent, and then Ishmael said, "What are you talking about?"

"You know. I've never had an archenemy."

"What about the aliens? You fought them consistently for several months."

"It's not the same. They were more of a casual combatant. A bunch of faceless drones and whatnot. Not one of them stood out in any way. I'm sort of hoping this professor woman is the one."

"The one what?"

"You know. My archenemy. She uses fish to fight her battles and she's some sort of witch. Some sort of fish witch, I suppose. I wonder what she'll want her name to be?"

"Aren't you jumping the gun? You've no idea if she'll even be an arch. For all you know, she could be sitting sadly in her laboratory and regretting her actions."

"I don't think so. Any woman who'd use fish for evil is... well... evil."

"Please don't get your hopes up, Land Captain."

Land Captain sat up straight, put his key in the ignition, and said, "Land Captain doesn't need to get his hopes up. He knows which way the wind is blowing!"

Ishmael was silent, and then attempted to sigh, "That doesn't even make sense. Where shall we head, Land Captain?"

"I suppose we should head to the lab, maybe."

"We could check the phone book to see if Professor Koleyna is listed anywhere."

Land Captain tapped his hands on the steering wheel. "We could also Google her. See what university she went to and talk to her professors. We could see where she's coming from."

Land Captain and Ishmael sat in silence. Ishmael knew that Land Captain was more of a fighter than a thinker, and was not very good at things like this. He turned himself off, and waited.