Wednesday, July 30, 2008

029: Astounding Superhero Syndicate

Who should GR... er, Player One call?
Home: 1 vote
TYRIS: 1 vote
Last resort: 4 votes
Player One sat in his cell. To his disappointment, it was not one with the classic bars. Instead, they put him into a plastic room in a strait-jacket. Apparently, Shrugs was also incarcerated in some way in the same building, obviously suffering from some sort of insanity. Player One knew that he and Shrugs were the sane ones here, the ones who could see beyond the exterior into the decayed red eyes of the interior. However, he still had an ace in the hole: the one phone call any prisoner is entitled to. Shrugs was also, technically, entitled to a phone call but his refusal to use modern technology forfeited this privilege. Player One had asked if he could use Shrugs's phone call, and was starkly refused. Now, he had to figure out who to call, an exercise which had so far resulted in failure due to injections and beatings and whatnot. He breathed deeply, sat on the floor, and closed his eyes: he needed some help with this. As he breathed, he found himself transported, at least psychologically, to a world out of a fantasy novel. He was dressed in a green tunic, and was free of the strait-jacket, but still couldn't move his arms. Oh well.

A princess walked up to him and curtsied, "Greetings, Player One. You have need of my wisdom?"

"Indeed I do, fair princess. I've been thrown in a dungeon because they think I'm crazy, and I can send a message to only one person."

"You need to decide which person will do you the most good?"

"Yes. I could call my housemates."

"They would most likely chastise and punish you for leaving. Did you not say that most of them seem to dislike you?"

"Yeah, I think they do, at least. I could call TYRIS, the ones who sent me on this quest."

"There are others who can complete it, should you fail. Do you have anyone else in mind?"

"I have a lot of other people in mind, but either I don't know where they are or they'd be unwilling to help. There is one person, though, who's not too bad and doesn't think I'm too bad either. He's a superhero."

"Perhaps he is the one you should call, then. Fare thee well, Player One. Godspeed!"

Player One woke up, and began shouting for his phone call. Half an hour later, they brought him a tranquilizer and a phone. After they undid his strait-jacket, they handed him the phone and he clumsily but accurately pushed the buttons.

"Hello, is this... that thing? The Astounding Superhero Syndicate?" he said, feeling the effects of the drug.

"You have reached the Astounding Superhero Syndicate," said the answering machine, "Please leave your name and emergency, and we will get back to you as soon as possible, citizen."

"Aw, man. This is Player One. I'm the guy what tried to get in on your team thing. Well, I'm on a quest but now I'm in an asylum outside of Cleveland, and I sort of need help getting out, so I was wondering if you could get my pal out here to bust me out. You know, he's all sad and stuff. Could you get him here? Thanks a lot." Player One dropped the phone, and looked up at the guard, "I got the machine, could I have another call?"

"One call, crazy-pants," said the guard, slamming the door and turning off the light, leaving Player One in darkness.

Player One mused that this was becoming a very complicated mission.


Two days later, two members of the Astounding Superhero Syndicate stood by the phone. One was a statuesque gentleman, adorned in a suit of primary colors. He was Go-To Guy, the World's Mightiest Mormon. The other was a giant floating embryo. This was Clyde, the Embryonic Man, and he had neglected to tell anyone that Player One had called.

"Guy's a jerk-ass," said Clyde, projecting his words directly into Go-To Guy's head.

"Language, Clyde," said Go-To Guy, "Just because you don't like Player One doesn't mean his distress is any less important than anyone else's."

"He wanted Captain Depresso, it sounded like. Only thing is, we can't find the guy. He's not really a member of anything right now, he's just sort of wandering around being an emo jerk-ass."

"Language, Clyde," sighed Go-To Guy, "Do we know where he is?"

"Didn't you hear? Player One was arrested. They threw him and his pal into jail for being crazy, thank God. Why should we send anyone to help him?"

"I thank God every day for these powers, my wives, and this life I've been given, Clyde. Besides, I had El Scientist Magnifico run a check. Those cops and that asylum aren't on the level! We need someone to check it out, anyway, and I was thinking we could send the Forgiver to track down this Captain Depresso and the two of them can check out the Asylum. Perhaps they can help him with his quest, too."

"The guy murdered some people."

"He claims they were zombies."

"Yeah, well, whatever. I'll get on the horn and get Forgiver to track down Captain Depresso. I just hope you know what you're doing, Go-To Guy."

"God guides my path," said Go-To Guy, walking away.

"Jerk-ass," said Clyde to himself, "Aw man. I don't want to talk to the Forgiver. Bastard's intense! Maybe I can just leave him a note, or something. Maybe I'll just leave a note here so someone else can take of it. Man, I need me a smoke."
What should Clyde do?
-Contact the Forgiver telepathically
-Leave the Forgiver a note
-Leave a note for someone else to take care of it

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

028: Player One and Shrugs Revealed

What should GR do?
Ignore the bus driver: 0 votes
Watch the bus driver from afar: 6 votes
Watch the bus driver more closely: 2 votes
The following is a look into the mind of GR:

"The driver should be watched. I don't want to go up there and actually sit by him, though. I'll just sit here and watch that driver. I will focus all my attention on that driver, and I will watch him with a ferocity seen only in lost jungle tribes. He will know he is being watched, and when I'm done watching him he'll feel like a new man, I will watch him so hard.

Okay, I must have been watching him for a few hours by now.

Forty seconds.

I've only been watching him for forty seconds?

Whatever. I'll just sit back, relax, and start watching him again. A little bit less intensely, maybe. I need to make sure my eyes are in this for the long haul. In fact, maybe I should look out the window every so often so they don't get too strained or tired. Not too long, though, because that driver needs to be watched, for some reason, and-

Was that a cow?

No. It was a rusted-out pick-up truck. Yes, the driver needed to be-

Was that a cow?

Oh my god yes, it was a cow. It was a brown cow and oh my god there's another cow! There's a whole flock of cows or whatever! A herd of cows? Yes, a herd of cows and it was right out there out the window!

I'm going to that window over there, where the action is. This is just fantastic. So freaking amazing. Amos is still asleep, good. E must be in the bathroom or something, because I don't see her anywhere. Oh well, who cares about her when there are cows to be watched. Many, many cows-

Oh. My. God.

Are those buffalo?

It is buffalo. This must be a buffalo farm or something, because there's a bunch of buffalo right there and this might be even greater than the cows. Few things could top-

Are those emu?

I feel like I just did the most amazing thing ever about fifteen million times. I feel simply amazing. Any regrets I had about this bus ride are gone, and I am prepared to say that is was one of the greatest things I have ever done. There is absolutely nothing that could top this trip, and the best part is that once we're done in South Carolina, we'll be coming back this way and I can see the emu, buffalo, and cows again. Maybe I can pick up a second-hand Nintendo DS or Sony PSP in South Carolina, so I have something to do in between watching the animals. Yes indeed, there is nothing that could upset this trip.

Wait, wasn't there something I was supposed to do?

Something about the driver?

Hey, there's a train!

Hold on. Hold on. I'm remembering something... something the driver said when we first started.

Oh shit. I think we're in trouble."

So ends our look into GR's mind.

At this point, the driver was speeding towards the train and the momentum of the bus was far too great to stop it in time. Both train and bus were screwed, but perhaps there was something GR could do to at least save a few lives. The train looked as if it was a freight train, which was good, as it meant none of the cars had people on them. Perhaps a few hobos, riding the rails, but they knew the risk and could handle themselves.

GR thought quickly. In times of great stress, the body does odd things. It made GR see supernatural beings as pixilated ducks. Before his very eyes, the driver turned into a duck. It looked rather comical, driving a bus and being a pixilated duck, but GR was not amused. He pulled out his gun and shot the driver. He would worry about the consequences of this later, as right now he needed to get himself and Amos to some sort of safety.

Ah, the bathroom! It was small, and he and Amos could steady themselves for the crash in there. He quickly woke Amos, and dragged him into the bathroom.

"Brace yourself, Amos! We're going to crash!"


As they braced themselves, GR mused that he should have paid closer attention to that bus driver. He closed his eyes and waited for the impact.

It came, and GR's head was bashed against the side of the bathroom and he knew nothing but darkness for quite a long time. He did not have a pleasant awakening, as he woke up strapped to a gurney. On the plus side, he was alive. On the minus side, he was strapped to a gurney. Ah, and there were police officers, talking with Amos. He hoped they didn't notice he was...

Ah, one was walking towards him. He was quite screwed.

"Player One?" said the officer, pulling out a clipboard.

"No, my name is Game R. Mann. I'm on official business. It's classified SFB, so I can't tell you about it."

"Don't mess with me. I know you're Player One. You fit the description, we ran your prints through the computer, and your modus operandi matches what we have on file. We see that you've killed again."

"He died in the crash?"

"He died from a bullet through his head, matching the bullets we found in the gun we took off you."

"He was a zombie! So was the other guy! It's my job to kill zombies! It's his job, too!" said Player One, alias GR, motioning with his chin towards Amos, "His real name is Donovan MacCaulkovich, but we call him Shrugs! It's because only speaks in what he thinks is onomatopoeia!"

"Shakes! Shakes!" shouted Shrugs, alias Amos.

The officer stared at him and said, "So what you're telling me is that you two go around killing people."

"No, we kill zombies and vampires and that which should remain dead!" replied Player One.

"Even if you weren't Player One, I think we'd still have to bring you in for being a psychopath. Your friend is coming, too, though right now we've got nothing on him."

"Don't I get a phone call?"

"Yeah, once we get to the station. You get one."

As they wheeled Player One's gurney into the back of the ambulance, he wondered two things. How were they going to clean up the immense destruction caused by the bus knocking the train off the track, and who should he call?

He could call him, and see if anyone was there to help. He could also call TYRIS, as they, in a roundabout way, had caused all this. There was also one other person he could call, but it was a last resort, and he really didn't want to call them. He had plenty of time to think about it, though.
Who should GR... er, Player One call?
-The last resort

Sunday, July 20, 2008

027: Talking to E

Yes: 7 votes
No: 2 votes
GR was very bored. He turned to Amos and said, "I'm going to talk to that woman, I am."

"Shrugs," replied Amos, who reclined in his seat and went to sleep.

GR made his way up the bus to the woman, and sat down next to her.

"How about this trip, eh?" he said, "This has got to be the longest bus ride I've ever been on, and I didn't bring anything to do. I'm bored as all get out."

The woman turned to him, "We just left."

"I know, but really, I'm so bored. So, what's your name?"

The woman paused and turned to the window. She sighed and said, "E. You may call me E. I know who you are, young man. I know full well who you are."

GR froze. "What do you mean?"

"I know who you are. I know what you do. I know what you've done. I know why you're on this bus. I know everything about you and your friend."

GR's mind had begun to race. He was beginning to regret talking to E. He would try to bluff his way out of this: "What do you mean? We're just two guys, on our way to South Carolina for a business trip. On business. We're going there on business."

E turned to him and smiled, "Don't worry. I'm here to help you."

GR arched his eyebrow and asked, "Are you one of us, then? A member of the Paci Custodis?"

She shook her head, "I'm something different."

"Civilians and super-heroes aren't really allowed to get caught up in this."

"I'm above those as well."

"What are you, then?"

"I have no reason to tell you that."

"You have no reason not to tell me that."

E laughed. "You'll find out in time. I know this for a fact, because whichever path you take, my true self will be revealed to you. As much as I don't like it, I need you and your friend right now."

GR thought about this for a moment. "Us in particular or just two guys who shoot things?"

"Any number of guys who shoot things," said E with a smile, "I can make do with you and him, though."

GR nodded and began to look out the window. After a few minutes he sighed, and looked at E again. "Why are you wearing a hood?"

"Would you like to see?"

"Hey, I don't want any funny business. I've got me a lady, somewhere out there."

"It's nothing like that."

"Okay then. Let's see."

E pulled back her hood, revealing her hair.

At first, GR was confused as to why this was a big deal. Then he noticed that the hair kept changing its color. E pulled the hood back over it.

"You're not a supernatural, are you?" said GR.

"Nothing like that. If I were you, I would keep a close eye on the driver. I think there's something off about him."

GR nodded and went back to his seat. Amos was still asleep, which allowed GR to put his mind to the question at hand. Should he ignore E's warning and the bus driver as well? Perhaps he should try to be subtle about it, and watch the driver from here. Then again, perhaps he should make sure the bus driver knows that he's being watched. He was sure he had plenty of time to think about this.

What should GR do?

-Ignore the bus driver
-Watch the bus driver from afar
-Watch the bus driver more closely

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

026: Beginning of the Bus Trek

When should Amos use the bathroom?
Now: 5 votes
On the bus: 3 votes
Amos stood up and bounced from foot to foot, pointing towards the bathroom.

GR sighed, and said, "Yeah, go ahead and use it now. The bus isn't even here yet."

"Nods!" said Amos, dashing off towards the bathroom.

GR rifled through his bag. He brought several t-shirts and a lot of guns. Not normal guns, however: these were old video game accessories which had been repurposed to shoot actual bullets. Basically, he had taken the plastic casings off the accessories and managed to shove actual gun parts into them. Amazingly, they worked, and gave him the element of surprise. Barring pixilated ducks, no one really expected one of these to do any real damage. Many still had the cords attached to them, which GR would use to garrote people. Well, not people. Zombies and whatnot. It was difficult to garrote things which didn't breathe, but he managed. After all, fighting the supernatural was basically his job. It came with a few perks, but also brought with it a sort of low-level psychosis. In times of extreme stress, GR...

Well, we'll just see what happens to GR when the time comes.

Amos, meanwhile, was having trouble with the bathroom. He also suffered from psychoses brought about by his job, a sort of reality warping work-related stress. As mentioned, it made him speak only in what he thought was onomatopoeia but was actually a mixture of onomatopoeia and saying the names of basic actions. He also found himself unable to use anything invented after the Civil War, which meant he could not drive a car. He could ride in one, yes, but he had to shut his eyes and hum tunelessly while doing so. He was dreading the bus ride to South Carolina. The bus station's bathroom was actually quite clean and nice, but Amos's affliction ignored this, and focused on the fact that it was rich with plumbing. Yet, he had to use the bathroom and they were in the middle of a city. The bus might have been easier, with its bathroom being basically a mobile outhouse. Amos sighed, and began to focus his willpower to overcome his affliction, at least for a little while. After several minutes, he was able to focus on the unbelievable cleanliness of the bathroom, which came as quite a relief.

At this point, GR was going through Amos's things. He had no real reason to do so, other than that he was bored and forgot to bring any sort of portable gaming device. There were several Civil War-era uniforms there, all for the Confederate side. GR knew that this was not because Amos was a die-hard Confederate, if such things even still existed, but rather because he used to enjoy participating in Civil War re-enactments. When Amos's afflictions first began, he was wearing the Confederate uniform, so it was only by purest chance that Amos didn't dress as a Union soldier. Amos had also packed several Civil War-era weapons, all of which were in perfect working order. He took care of his things, did Amos.

"Cough." said a voice from behind GR, who was fooling around with one of Amos's crossbows.

"That's onomatopoeia," said GR, turning around, "Good job, Amos."

"Cough cough," said Amos, pointing from the crossbow to a concerned-looking police officer.

The blood drained from GR's face. He was, after all, a fugitive and he was about to travel south, and both he and his companion were heavily armed. He tried to smile at the officer, who just stared.

"The 5:15 to South Carolina is leaving in ten minutes," said a pleasant female voice over the loud-speaker, "Please make your way there."

Something about the voice struck GR as wrong. Not unpleasant, mind you, but wrong. He and his compatriots had taken the bus several times, and it was always a gruff masculine voice. Not only that, but this new voice really had no idea how to do its job. GR noticed that he was still holding the crossbow, and that the police officer was walking slowly towards them. GR put the crossbow back into Amos's bag, and then handed it to Amos. He picked up his own bag, saluted the police officer, and he and Amos walked quickly towards the bus. The police officer was about to say something when the loud-speaker came on again.

"Would all available security please report to the central bus terminal? Thank you. Repeat, all available security is to report to the central bus terminal."

The officer looked at GR, shook his head, and hurried towards where he assumed the central bus terminal was. GR and Amos looked at each other, shrugged, and walked onto the bus. They sat near the back, but soon found that the bus had only one other passenger. GR could tell it was a woman, but she was wearing an odd hooded cloak. He assumed that he and Amos weren't the only ones to receive the call from TYRIS. He stared, unashamed, at the back of the woman's head while Amos began whittling again. Soon, a shifty-looking man in a bus driver's uniform entered the bus and sat down in the driver's seat.

"Attention all passengers. Thank you for choosing the bus instead of a car, or a plane, or even the freaking train. Oh god, I hate the train. It's on a track. A track. What sort of sense does that make? Then you have to plan all your travel things around where the tracks go and it's all just too much trouble. Freaking trains. I swear, if I see a train coming, I am going to build up speed and ram that mother-" there was a high-pitch screech "-train right off the damn track. In any case, our trip is going to take a while, about three or four days which includes stops. All three of you have room to make yourselves comfortable. Enjoy the ride."

GR was still staring at the back of the woman's head. He wondered if he should talk to her or not, and continued staring as the bus lurched forward and began the long trek to South Carolina.
Should GR talk to the woman?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

025: Undercover Amish Agents

Who should they call?

CHOICE A: Known Paci Custodis: 7 votes
CHOICE B: Young Paci Custodis with everything to prove: 1 vote
CHOICE C: Some crazy guy: 1 vote
In a large metropolitan city which will go nameless, two men sat on a couch watching television. One was thin and pale, and wore a black trench-coat and predominately black clothes, including a glove on his right hand and a pair of absurd goggles. He was young. A man in a confederate soldier's uniform sat next to him, with a day's growth of beard. This man was a bit older.

"You know, I've been thinking about 'Wife Swap'," said the young man.

The man next to him shrugged, and said, "Shrugs."

"Do the husbands who get their wives swapped get to have sex with the wife they swapped for?"


"I mean, the wives do just about everything else, right? It's not too far fetched an idea, eh?"


"Yeah, you're right. I wouldn't want to sleep with half these women, either."

They sat in silence for a few moments. The phone rang, and the young man stared at it. He looked at his companion.

"I think I should just let the machine get it. Probably not for either of us, anyway."


The machine picked up the call. The outgoing message was mainly unintelligible, but that was all right, because you only called if you knew who you were calling and they wanted you to be able to call them. The incoming message began: "Hello, this is Robin Banks. I work for TYRIS, and a cult of vampires gathered up around this fellow named the False Prophet has taken out two of our agents. One was there for a meeting with his spokeswoman vampire person. The other was actually there to avenge the death of the first agent and for personal reasons. In any case, I think this upsets the agreement you people have with the vampires. Don't bother calling me back or anything, as it's not an emergency or anything. Just thought you'd like to know."

The phone clicked off. The young man and his companion looked at each other.

"Think the others will want to look into that?"


"I'll go look up stuff on the False Prophet. You stay here and... watch television. I thought you couldn't do that?"

The other man looked at the young man, and pointed to his eyes. They were closed.

"Eh... all right."

The young man left the other man to his own devices, which included whittling a block of wood. By the time the young man had come back, the block of wood had been whittled into a slightly smaller, less blocky piece of wood.

"Well, the False Prophet is pretty bad news, but he's supposedly a bit southeast of here."


"Where are the others?"


"Furthermore, why didn't they take us with them? Not like we're any good sitting at home watching television."


"Yeah. If one of them were here, we could just go with them and take out this Prophet guy, take a nice little break in South Carolina when we're done. Oh, or we could go to Georgia and see Williams Street."


"Is Georgia even close to South Carolina?"


"You should know, Mister Confederate Soldier Man. Whatever."

"Points. Shrugs."

"You know I can't drive because I don't have my license, and I'm technically a fugitive. Why can't you drive? Oh wait, I know. It's because you won't use anything that was invented after the Civil War, you Amish piece of trash."

"Shake fist!"

"You know that's not onomatopoeia, right? That's just saying actions."

"Nods," said the man, and then, very deliberately, "Shrugs."

"Well, maybe you should care about the difference!"

The young man crossed his arms in a huff, and the other man continued whittling with a smirk on his face. Half an hour later, the young man spoke.

"We could get in contact with that one guy. The one who works for-"


"Yeah! He could probably get us a driver and everything!"


The young man picked up the phone, and quickly dialed a number, and a put-upon voice answered, "Hello, Bra-"

"Hey! It's me! The one who lives with-"

There was a deep sigh, and then, "Yes, I know who you are. What do you want?"

"I want to go to South Carolina, but I can't drive or anything. You can help though, right?"

"Why should we help you get to South Carolina?"

"Adventure! Basic goodness! All sorts of reasons! Oh, and my roommate can probably hook you up with a better job."

"Really? You think he'd do that?"

"Maybe! It couldn't hurt to help us out!"

"Okay, I'll send a car. Just talk to him, okay?"

"Will do!" said the young man, slamming the phone down, and flashing his friend a victory sign.

The pair ran off to pack, and then sat around for an hour waiting for the car to arrive. It was a Pinto, and as it honked its horn, a hubcap fell off. A weary-looking man was in the driver's seat.

"Sorry I'm late, fellas. My boss wouldn't let me just send a car, and told me to go myself. Then he made wait until my lunch break. So I can just about get you guys to the bus station, and give you some bus fare. How does that sound?"

The young man was torn. While he could have walked to the bus station himself, he didn't like being outside for too long or paying for his own bus fare. So, all in all, it was a good deal, and his companion agreed. They threw theirs bags in the trunk of the car, and hopped into it.

"We should have codenames," said the young man.


"I'll be... Game R. Mann and you can be my uncle Amos. You can be an undercover Amish secret agent or something, but we won't tell people that part, because it's a secret. I can be your plucky young partner who is not Amish, and so we clash and generally have a good time. It'll be great."

"You're insane," said their driver, "That name is stupid."

"Amos is a good name!"

"No, your name."

"I'll go by GR."

"That's only moderately better. Why are you coming up with all this nonsense anyway?"

"I like fun."

"Whatever. Here we are, and here's your bus fare. Hope you have a safe trip, kind of."

The newly-christened GR and Amos stepped out of the Pinto and took their bags. GR bought two tickets to South Carolina, and then the pair waited. Amos tugged on GR's sleeve.


Amos looked at him with a panicked expression.

"You should go to the bathroom now. Then again, the one on the bus might be cleaner. I don't know, Amos! And we've only moments to decide!"
When should Amos use the bathroom?

On the bus

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

024: A Ghoulish Fate

Leave her alone: 0 votes
Contact TYRIS: 3 votes
Go in alone: 4 votes
Charleston opened the car door, and said, "I've decided. I'm going in alone."

"You sure about this, Charleston?" said Land Captain.

"Dead sure," replied Charleston, reaching into his jacket. He pulled out a long brown envelope and handed it to the Land Captain. "If I'm not back within the week, give this to Robin. Now get out of here, otherwise they might come out here and get you." He shut the door.

Land Captain saluted him, and drove off. Charleston took a deep breath, put on a pair of silver gloves, and marched up the sidewalk and into the house's basement, to the stone doors. He reached out to touch it, and it swung open to reveal a dark hallway.

"I was sort of hoping for some sort of portal, honestly," said Charleston, reaching into his coat and pulling out a flashlight. It hit the darkness but did not illuminate it. He turned it off and put it away as a young woman in a flowing white robe came through the doorway. She had fangs.

"You're expected, Charleston Charge," she said, holding out her hand.

Charleston took it, and was whisked through the door. After many twists and turns, they stopped in a circle of light. It seemed to come from nowhere.

"The Mouth of the Prophet wishes to speak with you," said the young woman, sinking into the darkness.

A blond woman, dressed in a sensible skirt and jacket, stepped into the light.

Charleston smirked, and nodded, "Lauren."

"Charleston. I see you didn't get my message."

"I got your message. I just ignored it. I've come to rescue you from the False Prophet."

"I don't need or want rescuing. I'm far happier here than I ever was with you."

"You're just being hypnotized or something. Oh, and you killed a man in cold blood. If you aren't being hypnotized, then things might go poorly for you. That's against all sorts of laws."

"I know all about the laws, and the agreement. Don't lecture me."

"Oh, but do you? The agreement clearly stated that, should a civilian arrange a meeting with a vampire, then that civilian was not to be harmed in any way otherwise the vampire would be subject to eternal imprisonment or death. Rocky was a civilian. He was not a super-hero or a member of the Paci Custodis. He was just a man who came here to sell you insurance, and you tore off his limbs."

"I did it to send you a message, but you didn't care. You still think we have a chance to work things out, don't you?"

"You're probably under the False Prophet's vampire glamour or something. I refuse to believe you'd become so degenerate and immoral that slaughtering an innocent man to send me a message sounds like a good idea."

"Perhaps I've always been this way, deep down."

"You have not. You used to cry when we saw road kill, for god's sake."

The pair stood in silence for a moment, staring into each other's eyes.

"What went wrong?" said Charleston.

"You were never there," said Lauren.

"I can be there now."

Lauren narrowed her eyes at him. She snapped her fingers, and two young women in flowing white robes emerged from the darkness and grabbed Charleston's arms.

"What are you doing?" he said, putting up some token resistance.

"You want to be with me, Charleston Charge. So be it," said Lauren, pulling out a letter opener, "Open his mouth."

Another girl came from the darkness and held Charleston's mouth open. Lauren took the letter opener and slit her wrist, and held the bleeding vein over Charleston's mouth.

"Now you can be mine forever, Charleston," she said as she forced him to drink her blood, "Just be glad I chose to let you live."
A week passed.

Land Captain arrived at the office of Robin Banks with the envelope Charleston had entrusted him with. He placed it on Robin's desk, and Robin opened it.

"He says that if we've opened the envelope, then we're either very impatient or he's been gone for more than a week," said Robin, "It goes on to say that we should just consider him lost."

"We can't do that, sir," said Land Captain, "Charleston is a good man. A bit misguided and impulsive, but a good man nonetheless."

"I agree," said Robin, "Unfortunately, due to the agreement, neither you nor TYRIS can do anything about Charleston's disappearance other than take a passive role in helping him out of this mess."

"What's the agreement?" said Land Captain.

"Around the bicentennial, super-humans and super-naturals were on the rise and everything was a giant mess. Werewolf hunters were taking on mad scientists, vampires were fighting super-heroes, and it was just a generally terrible time. So representatives from each community - super-naturals, supernatural hunters, superheroes, super-villains, and somewhat normal folk - got together to decide what to do. It was a pretty simple solution. Superheroes would only fight super-villians, supernatural hunters would only hunt super-naturals, and normal folk would just keep on going on with their lives and occasionally be swept up in some grand adventure."

"The Mouth of the Prophet killed a man, though. Isn't that breaking the agreement?"

"It sure is. So all we really have to do is get the word out about that, and so we have to decide how."

Land Captain nodded.

Robin coughed, and pulled out a sheet of paper and a pen, "They'll all accomplish the same end, really, it's just the means that will change. I, personally, know some supernatural hunters. They're called the Paci Custodis, you know. Supernatural hunters in general. I doubt we could get the whole little group I know down here to get things done, but we could probably get a few."

"Some tried-and-true hunters, then?"

"You could put it that way, yes. If we don't want to wait for them to come down from Detroit, I know there's probably tons of freelancers in the area who are just dying to get in on the whole scene. We could put an ad in their little newsletter or whatever."

"Youngsters with everything to prove."

"Sure. The final option is a roll of the dice. We put out the word that the False Prophet's lackeys broke the agreement, and hope for the best. The problem with this is that some of the Paci Custodis are insane. We may be getting more than we bargained for with them."

Land Captain was silent.

"No summary?"

"Crazy hunter who may end up killing us all?"

"Works. So, what do we do?"

Land Captain shrugged.
Who should they call?

CHOICE A: Known Paci Custodis
CHOICE B: Young Paci Custodis with everything to prove
CHOICE C: Some crazy guy

Sunday, July 6, 2008

023: A Most Productive Meeting

CHOICE A: Interview the agent after the meeting: 3 votes
CHOICE B: Use a mini-camcorder to record the meeting: 6 votes
CHOICE C: Ask Land Captain to use his car to listen in on the meeting: 0 votes
Charleston woke up on his couch, still fully dressed, with the television still on and a half-empty bottle of Yoo-hoo sitting on the table. Groggily, he picked up a legal pad and flipped through it. He had written down several plans, and the one with the most pros was using a mini-camcorder to record the agent's meeting with the Mouth of the Prophet. There were only two cons, one of which appeared to be underlined several times and circled, but some errant drops of Yoo-Hoo had made them illegible. He shrugged, and looked at the clock. It was half past six. He was wondering if he had enough time to change clothes and sleep in his bed for a bit when his phone rang.

"Land Captain here. The meeting is set up for an hour after sunset."

"Huh. Big surprise," said Charleston, now looking forward to sleeping in an actual bed, "Any word on the agent?"

"New fellow named Rocky Rode. There's a bit of a situation, though. "

"What's wrong?"

"Weird stuff has been going on all day."

"Weird how?"

"Someone spent half an hour going down a hallway, for example. And the office supply closet gained a few dimensions. Robin thinks it might be back-lash from that thing Edolie smashed."

"That shouldn't happen," said Charleston, under his breath. It was something to worry about, yes, but the Mouth of the Prophet was more important at the moment. "Should be nothing. Tell Robin it should be nothing. On the way here, after you pick up Rocky, tell him I'm tagging along to make sure he's doing all right, and that we're going to record his meeting for quality purposes."

"Aye aye. See you around eight tonight." The phone clicked off, and Charleston, who had been changing into pajamas, brushed his teeth and slept in his bed for twelve solid hours. It was a deep, dreamless sleep.

He woke up, got ready for the meeting, and ate some delicious waffles. While he enjoyed his waffles, he was also getting a little sick of having them all the time. He made a note to go shopping later, so he would have something to eat other than waffles. He found his miniature camcorder and tripod, and waited. Land Captain and Rocky arrived precisely at eight. He got into the backseat with Rocky, and Land Captain began to drive.

"Hello, Rocky. New to TYRIS?" said Charleston with a smile.

"Yes, sir. They've told me stories about you, sir." said Rocky, shivering. Charleston noticed that he was wearing an action suit, like Edolie. He did not look nearly as good.

"What have they told you?"

"They say you're a brilliant agent, but you have bad luck with keeping your friends. Is it true that the five partners you've had died?"


"Okay, that's good, because-"

"Only two of them are dead, for sure."

"What happened?"

Charleston sighed, having told this story a thousand times before, "The first one was killed by panther-men created by a mad scientist. They got loose and liked his cologne so much that they mauled him to death. The second one is technically sort of undead now, as he was bitten by a zombie. I would have put a bullet through his brain, to keep him from coming back, but I lost my gun a while ago. The third partner was abducted by aliens, so he might not be dead. The fourth partner was absorbed in the Kly'tx collective, so he's technically still alive. He just lost his humanity. The fifth partner is just missing after she blew up this machine that was warping reality."

"Wow. I'd hate to be your partner. No offense, sir."

"I doubt you'll have to worry about it. Did Land Captain tell you what was going on?"

"Yes. He said my interview was going to be recorded. Except, aren't you on vacation?"

"A clever subterfuge. Good job noticing."

"We're here," said Land Captain.

"Good luck, Rocky," said Charleston, handing him the camcorder.

Rocky took it, and saluted him. Charleston moved to the front seat and began drumming on the dashboard. He looked at the clock.

"Rocky hasn't even entered the building yet," said Land Captain.

"Oh," said Charleston, looking out his window, "This isn't the comedy club."

Instead, it was a fairly small, but nice, house in the suburbs. Little bushes lined the walkway to the door, each concealing a tiny lamp to illuminate the sidewalk. Rocky entered the house when the door opened mysteriously, closing again after he entered.

Charleston drummed on the dashboard some more. After a few minutes, he asked, "Can Ishmael tap into the camcorder?"

"He sure can."

"So he could let us know when it was done and we could go get food or something."

"I guess so. Shouldn't we wait here in case Rocky needs help?"

"Ishmael can go four-hundred miles an hour or something. We can go through a drive-through and be back here before anyone knows we're missing."

"All right, then. Where to?"

"I think I saw a Wendy's up the street."


To the untrained eye, Ishmael would have seemed to simply vanish. While it was gone, the door opened again, and a blonde woman placed the tripod at the end of the walkway. After she re-entered the house, Ishmael reappeared and Charleston burst out of the car.

"DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN!" he shouted, grabbing the camcorder and throwing it into the car. He ran to the door of the house, and kicked it down. He went through three rooms, and found what he was looking for: Rocky had been dismembered and hanged with his own intestines. There was a message on the wall: it said Leave Me Alone. Charleston stared at the scene.

"Basement. This house probably has a basement," he said, resisting the urge to vomit as he stormed through the house, looking for a basement. He found the stairs which led to the basement, and hurried down. It was a very nice basement, as far as basements go, and it had mysterious stone doors set into its northern wall. He stared at them for a little while, and went back to the car. He sat down heavily, and tried to avoid looking at Land Captain.

"Play the tape, please."

The tape started.

Rocky appeared on the screen, with an empty chair behind him. "This is agent Rocky Rode, of TYRIS. I am about to have a meeting with... what was your name, miss?"

A voice from off-screen said, "The Mouth of the Prophet."

Rocky sat down, with the back of his head to the camera, "The meeting is about the possibility of providing insurance and security to the many holdings of..."

The Mouth of the Prophet was still off-screen, "The one I speak for. We both know that's not what this is really about. We know it's actually about a sad man who can't let go of his past and thinks he can make things how they were again with his fists and a minimum of thought."

Rocky's voice began to crack, "Actually, it's about insurance and stuff."

"Oh, no. I know why you're here. Does he think I don't know how he smells? Besides, I saw him in the car you drove up in. He needs to be sent a message."

Rocky rose from his chair while he screamed, and his arm separated from his body. The blood covered a hand, which smeared itself on nothingness, shaping a mouth. It came towards the camera.

"I've made my choice, Charleston. Leave me alone, or I swear to you that what I'll do to you will make what I do to him seem like a fun time."

The mouth moved away from the camera, and the blood-covered hand moved towards Rocky's other arm.

"Stop the tape," said Charleston, "I never want to see that again."

"What will you do now?" asked Land Captain.

"A man just died because of me. My mother and father died protecting me, all my partners are gone because I never thought things through, and my girlfriend is a crazed vampire," said Charleston, "What if I'm some sort of jinx? Everyone who's ever been around me for too long dies, or just disappears."

"Just bad luck," said Land Captain, "Was that her, though? Your girlfriend?"

"I think so. I can't believe I forgot that vampires don't show up on film. It sounded like her, though."

"Well, what are you going to do? As you said, she just killed a man. A TYRIS agent. You only got mauled by fish a bit, and everyone at TYRIS was pretty upset. What happens when someone dies on duty?"

"We contact someone on the outside, whose job it is to deal with stuff like this. TYRIS isn't about revenge. It's about the compensation and prevention of loss."

"So are you going to contact TYRIS?"

"I don't know. Maybe I should leave her alone. Except a man died because of me, and because of her. If I contact TYRIS, though, then the circle of violence just keeps going. They'll contact someone, or a group of someones, who'll probably die going up against her and that Prophet guy. If I go in alone, then no one else gets hurt but me, and perhaps that's for the best. Maybe I'm a key cog in this whole thing, and if I get taken out, the rest of the circle of violence stops going. I don't know, Land Captain. I just don't know."
What should Charleston do?

-Leave her alone
-Contact TYRIS
-Go in alone

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

022: Making Calls

CHOICE A: Find some way to set up contact with the agent being put in charge of the case: 0 votes
CHOICE B: Set it up so that Land Captain becomes involved, and go from there: 4 votes
CHOICE C: Wait to see if the place buys insurance, and then just find out the address of the Mouth of the Prophet from there: 0 votes
As Charleston walked to his front door, he realized that the optimum to most situations was bringing in Land Captain. There was just something about the man, a sort of Midas touch that turned problems into gold. There was still the problem of getting the Dispatcher to accept the assignment for dispatching, and the further problem of getting Land Captain involved. Charleston had an idea, though. He picked up his phone, and dialed the Dispatcher.

The phone rang, and someone picked up. After a brief coughing fit, they said, "Dispatcher."

"It's Charleston Charge."

"Hm, yes. Heard about the frog assignment. Sorry about your partner. Aren't you on vacation?"

"Indeed I am. It's just that I was at this comedy club earlier tonight, and some guy attacked the comedian. Oh, and I think there's a bunch of vampires involved."

"We are not the Paci Custodis, Charleston."

"I know, I know. I'm not saying we should go in there and start beating the crap out of anything with fangs. After all, they're just sitting around their bizarre comedy club being weird. If some psycho is coming in and making trouble, then perhaps they should benefit from insurance or security. That's what TYRIS sells, after all."

"So you are saying that we should send someone to give them an unsolicited estimate?"

"Maybe call them up and offer the services, and wait to see what happens."

"It just so happens that, shortly before you called, we did receive a call from a comedy club about a man matching your description coming in and thrashing their comedian. They do want insurance and security, and it would seem we've you to thank for this."

Charleston was silent for a moment, "Oh. There are aliens, too. Better send Land Captain to drive."

"Really, Charleston. I've known you since before you started working for TYRIS, I know when you have an ulterior motive. This is about Lauren, isn't it?"

"Yes," whispered Charleston, sadly.

The Dispatcher sighed, and said, "You can't use TYRIS for your personal problems, Charleston. It reflects badly on the company."

"I know, I know."

"As such, I shall be forced to forget we ever had this conversation. The agent is being sent in the morning, and I suggest you speak to Land Captain tonight. As I understand it, he usually goes to bed and wakes up rather early when he's not on a case. Since it's you, however, he may be more than willing to take your call. Good night, Charleston." The phone clicked off, and Charleston called Land Captain.

He answered on the first ring, with "Ahoy, Charleston. How's the vacation?"

"Going fairly well. Hey, you're driving an agent to some comedy club tomorrow, right?"

"Aye aye."

"Is Liana coming with you?"

"No. She's back at her lab, rebuilding it. I guess she's going to try to create fish which are more resistant to mercury poisoning or something."

Charleston sighed with relief. He knew she was reformed, more or less, but that didn't change the fact that Liana had attacked him with fish.

"Can I ride along?"

"I don't see why not. Is this about that girl of yours?"

"Yeah. Is it that obvious?"

"Does a compass point north?"

"I need to talk with the agent before hand, try to get something planned. I have some idea of where she might be, and this meeting tomorrow might help with that."

"Fine with me, buddy. I'll leave it to you to work out the particulars. I need to get some sleep. See you in the morning."

"Good night. And thank you."

"I'm saluting right now," said Land Captain, "Good night."

Charleston hung up the phone. All he had to do now was figure out what to do for tomorrow. He could either just wait and ask the agent about the Mouth of the Prophet after the meeting. Alternatively, he could give the agent a miniature camcorder to record the meeting. They could claim it was for quality reasons, or something. Heck, he could probably even ask Land Captain to use his car to watch the meeting, though he doubted the superhero would go for that. He would figure it out, and then sleep for a bit. He could probably use the rest.
CHOICE A: Interview the agent after the meeting
CHOICE B: Use a mini-camcorder to record the meeting
CHOICE C: Ask Land Captain to use his car to listen in on the meeting