Monday, September 29, 2008

047: The Mystery of the Land Captain

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

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

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

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

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

"From who?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"How long?"

"Nearly an hour, it looks like."

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

Thursday, September 25, 2008

046: CAST Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

"911. What's your emergency?"

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

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

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

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

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

Charleston repeated himself.

"Gotcha. Thank-"

"I want in on this."

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

"I used to work for TYRIS!"

"You and everyone else, buddy!"

"My name is Charleston Charge!"

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

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


"Edolie?" said Charleston.

"Charleston!" said Edolie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 22, 2008

045: Menace of the Manakeet

Should he eat before he leaves?
Yes - 5 votes
No - 1 vote
Charleston entered the waffle house, the sweet aroma of his favorite food wafting through the air. How long had it been since he had delicious waffles? Drenched in syrup, covered in butter, the occasional berry bringing itself to the forefront of his taste buds to let him know that yes, despite all of life's ups and downs, there would always eventually be waffles. Nearly lifted off his feet by the heavenly smell of fresh waffles and real maple syrup, he sat down at a counter and ordered the waffle house's signature Waffle Family Buffet: his choice of any four varieties of waffles, brought to him as he finished each four-waffle portion, and an amount of toppings bordering on the obscene.
How should Charleston get to Detroit?
Plane - 0 votes
Train - 4 votes
Automobile - 1 vote
Bus - 1 vote
Several hours later, Charleston emerged from the Waffle Family Buffet, filled with waffle-y goodness and slightly sticky. Now, he had to turn his mind to other matters. Namely, how to get to Detroit? As far as he knew, the planes were still delayed. Besides, he was reasonably certain one of the security guards had seen him. He could always use his money to rent a car, or even buy a car, but there was the slight snag that Charleston had never gotten his driver's license. While this was usually not a problem, as he was a careful if somewhat nervous driver, he thought that a man who had so recently been arrested and tried in the Supreme Court should not be driving without a license. He could also take a bus, but he had heard stories from Edolie and Player One about the sort of crazy people who drive those buses. He was sure it was an isolated incident, but he really didn't want to take any chances. That left the train. Charleston marched through the streets of town, right to a traffic cop, and only paused a moment when he heard him holler stop. A moment was all the traffic cop needed, and he tackled Charleston before he was hit by a semi-truck.

"Are you mad?" said the traffic cop, helping Charleston up, "You have to pay attention. This is a serious city, and I am a serious cop."

"All right," said the mildly-confused Charleston, going to brush some dirt off his hobo-clothes and deciding the effort would be futile. He continued through the streets of town, paying close attention to traffic signals and on-coming traffic. As he got closer to the train station, he toyed with the idea of resuming his march, but decided against it. They may think he was some sort of terrorist. He walked up to the ticket booth, only to be greeted with a door being slammed in his face. A smaller door opened in the center of the larger door, and a long nose poked out. It was shaking with either anger or fear, and really looked quite comical.

"What do you think you're doing, hobo?" said the nose.

Charleston began to think that, perhaps, he should have bought new clothes. He would keep a note of it in his... he had no notebook, or little tape recorder. They had been taken from him. He was hit with a wave of remorse, a biting sense of longing for his former life. Things had not been simple then, of course, but he did not want simplicity. If he did, he would remain a hobo. No, he wanted problems to solve. Adventures to choose. A little tape recorder he could say things into. A fedora-like hat, like the one which had just been stolen off his head by some punk kid while Charleston was thinking of how good things used to be. Well, he would get them in Detroit, and by hook or by crook, he would get there. No nose was going to stand in his way! He turned to face his nasal nemesis, and was taken slightly aback by the nose's disappearance. He tapped lightly on the tiny door, and the nose once again poked out.

"Why did you do that?" asked Charleston, hurt.

"I don't got time to stand around while you daydream. Now, what do you think you're doing, hobo?"

"I'm no hobo. I'm a man who's down on his luck and freshly innocent, filled to my non-existent gills with waffle-y goodness. I, sir, am a paying customer who wishes to purchase a ticket to Detroit!" A little old lady applauded him politely.

"You look like a hobo, and everyone knows hobos don't ride in with all the non-hobos. The whole system would break down if we let you do that."

"I'm paying for a ticket, you aural antagonist!"

"Aural's ears, dim-bulb, and I don't care if you're buying the whole damn train, as long as you look like that you ain't riding with the decent folk! Good day!" The tiny door slammed, leaving Charleston brimming with rage and feeling wounded. He hoped the nose suffered heavily this allergy season, and he stomped off to try and think of what to do.

What did hobos do? Why, they rode the rails, of course. Except as far as Charleston was aware, they never really had a destination in mind. Then again, he knew very little about the traditions of hobos. No doubt he would have eventually learned them, but now he was merely a transitory hobo/non-hobo hybrid. What he did know was how to break into a train station and find out when the next train to Detroit was coming. He did so, Charleston stood by the tracks and waited for his train. In the wee hours of the night, it came, and he leapt onto it. Holding himself up with one hand, he opened the door of what he hoped was a nice, dry car and swung himself in.

He was not alone.

Motley Shakespeare had set up a desk in the car, with a candle burning in an old tin can. He was writing on a piece of old washed-out newspaper with a pigeon's feather as a quill. He looked up from his writings.

"Who, pray tell, are you?" said Motley Shakespeare.

Charleston wondered what he would do in the presence of the actual Shakespeare, and applied this knowledge to his current situation: "Charleston Charge, at your service."

"Oh, what foolish youth, to think that one such as him could provide a service to one such as I. What laughter is to be had. A-ha. Ah, but perhaps he can be of some assistance, at that. A man comes, he who guards the train, and it is beyond the prowess of even my words to stop him from creating trouble for me. Perhaps if this Charleston Charge could use his strength where my wits have proved lacking, then he may ride this train to his destination with my blessing."

"I guess I could do that."

"You bring me great cheer. Go wait atop by mobile domicile, for he arrives shortly."

With a shrug, Charleston climbed on top of the car. A few cars down, silhouetted in the moonlight, he saw a man checking the cars and prepared himself. Nothing could prepare himself for when the man looked directly at him, and charged bellowing a bird-like squawk. As the man drew closer, Charleston saw that he was no man at all, but rather a man/parakeet hybrid with a face full of feathers and a beak, and wings for arms. His feet were bare, and taloned. So perplexed was Charleston that he barely had a chance to dodge the man-parakeet, this manakeet.

The manakeet chortled at the moon, turned to face Charleston, and began warily circling him. Charleston poked his head back into Motley Shakespeare's car.

"You didn't tell me he was some sort of man-bird!" shouted Charleston.

Motley Shakespeare shrugged, "Having known no other guards, I simply assumed all of them had his characteristics. I shall take care in the future not to make such rash assumptions."

Charleston quickly pulled his head out of the hole as the man-bird pecked. The wind made Charleston's coat flutter and he struck a pose. The manakeet got into a defensive position and chortled. Knowing absolutely nothing about this manakeet save the fact that he had somehow been employed as a guard, Charleston decided to trust his instincts. They told him to hit it. As the manakeet crouched down, Charleston kicked it in the face with his bionic leg and it flipped itself into the air. It flapped its wing-arms madly, and other than slowing its descent, nothing happened.

Charleston loved his coat. It had been with him through thick and thin, and while it was showing its age now, it was still a very good coat. He may have lost his hat, his tape recorder, and all sorts of dignity, but he still had his coat. However, if he wanted to get to Detroit and possibly get a new coat, sacrifices had to be made. After all, it wasn't like he could sacrifice his hat. He pulled off his coat and sprang at the manakeet, who leapt backwards. Reflexively, it went at him with its talons raised, but Charleston was too quick and too lucky for it. He grabbed its ankle and threw his coat over the creature's head, and while it struggled madly against its make-shift trap, Charleston wrapped his arms around it and walked to the edge of the car. In one swift movement, he launched the manakeet off the train. It flapped its wings madly and landed safely, but a bit dazed, and Charleston watched it disappear into the distance. He fired off a quick salute, and went back to Motley Shakespeare.

"Is he dealt with?" asked Motley Shakespeare.

"I threw him off the train."

"Well done."

Motley Shakespeare continued writing, occasionally dipping his quill in an inkpot. It was the only thing in the boxcar that was new.

"How long until we get to Detroit?" he asked, lying down in the hay.

"Less than a fortnight, more than a night."


It took three days to get to Detroit, most of which Charleston spent wishing that Motley Shakespeare was much less haughty. He had no idea what Motley Shakespeare thought of him, but a quick look at one of Motley Shakespeare's manuscripts hinted at a character of great strength but little intelligence that guarded a genius playwright. When they reached Detroit, Charleston simply left the boxcar without a word to or from Motley Shakespeare.

The first thing he had to do was set up a base of operations from which he could re-equip himself and ponder his next action. Ah, and shower several times. Life as a hobo was a dirty one. He found his base in a moderately nice hotel which asked no questions when he paid in cash. He had them bring up a new outfit to his room, as well as some other necessities. As he emerged from his seventh shower, there was a knock on the door and the bellboy dropped off some fresh laundry and a package. Charleston tipped him, and laid the clothes out on the bed. Other than the undergarments and shirt, everything was tan. He put his new especially long coat and fedora-like hat in the closet, just for a little while, and put on the rest of the clothes. The shoes were a sort of hard-wearing dress shoe, almost a boot. The tie had red stripes with dark green spots on it, and it made Charleston's eyes water if he looked at it for too long.

Charleston stared at the closet, and stepped towards it, each step a step towards destiny. He reached in and pulled out his especially long coat, relishing the act of putting it on. Then, with breath held, he reached up and pulled out the fedora-like hat. With a certain amount of reverence he placed it on his head. Only one thing was missing, but he had not yet opened the package. He did this quickly, and pulled out an MP3 player.

This was not what he wanted. Who the heck gave him an MP3 player when all he wanted was a tape recorder? He angrily cycled through its options, and came upon once called "voice". Cautiously, he selected it, and it brought up a menu, one of which was "record voice". He selected it, and brought the MP3 player up to his mouth.

"Hello hello hello, this is Charleston Charge," he said. He stopped the MP3 player, and selected the recording. He could hear nothing, and then realized he should put the tiny headphones into the MP3 player. He did so, and tried listening again. This time, he heard his own voice playing back to him. He nodded, and put the MP3 player in his coat's interior pocket. Watch out world, Charleston Charge was on the case!

Er... the only question was what that case was. Despite all his downtime, he was still no further along with deciding which path he wanted to go down. Once again, he pondered his options. He decided that being a super-hero was sort of like being a private investigator, and so he rolled those two options into one. So he had three options: trying to join CAST, trying to become a Paci Custodis, or trying to become a superhero. Each one was fraught with excitement and danger, and this suited Charleston just fine.
Which path should Charleston take?
-Paci Custodis (Supernatural hunting)
-CAST (Espionage)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

044: New-Found Wealth

Which should Charleston choose?
Choice A: Continue running towards the plane (0 votes)
Choice B: Try to get them to wait for him (2 votes)
Choice C: An elaborate third option which would somehow stop all planes from taking off, allowing him to easily get on the plane. (6 votes)
Instead of going with one of his easy options, Charleston chose to pull an elaborate trick to stop all the planes from taking off. He had seen a movie once where two young men pulled down an air traffic radio tower, but they had the aid of a car. While Charleston was strong, he doubted he was as strong as a car. If he had access to a phone and a willingness to be incarcerated, he could call a bomb threat into the airport. Perhaps he had some sort of previously unseen and unmentioned power which could aid him in this?

No. He did not.

Hold on! While he may not be as strong as a car, he was still stronger than the average person. He was sure that the air traffic radio tower had some sort of delicate piece of equipment on it which he could dislodge with a well-aimed rock. He turned on his heel and made a mad dash for the tower, keeping an eye out for largish rocks. Finding only a few, he decided to make the most of what he had, and when he reached the tower, he began hurling the rocks at anything that looked delicate. He had four rocks.

The first rock missed the tower entirely, comically knocking out a pedestrian. The second rock hit a satellite dish, causing it to hang limply. A third rock hit an antenna, which fell onto the satellite dish and knocked them both down.

Charleston had one more rock.

He was about to throw it at another bit of the tower, but then realized it could do more good by being thrown at Anderson's plane. Charleston turned and did so, hitting something on the plane's tail.

All across the airport, planes stopped. On the edge of sight, Charleston saw some security guards and mechanics coming out of the building, no doubt to see what was up with the tower. He walked away from it nonchalantly, and headed towards Anderson's plane. No one was leaving it, and so Charleston started pelting the door with pebbles. Eventually, this solicited a response.

The door open and Player One looked down upon Charleston. After a moment, he said, "What do you want?"

"I need to talk with Anderson Smith!" shouted Charleston.


"It's about something important!"

Player One disappeared, and was replaced with Anderson Smith.

"What?" he said.

"You owe me! You and King and Lucky!"

"What are you talking about? We already saved you from those vampires. What more do you want?"

"You know. What with..." Charleston suddenly remembered something vital. Namely, the fact that Anderson had been in the thrall of someone else during the crucial moments of the battle. He was unlikely to remember anything, and was therefore a dead end. Or was he? The man was in a private jet, after all. "I'm sort of down on my luck right now. I could use maybe a place to stay. Can I sleep on your couch or something?"

"If we let every homeless guy we save sleep on our couch, we would need more than one couch. So no. Sorry."

"How about some money, then? Please?"

Anderson sighed. While he was financially well-off, he hadn't gotten that way giving money to random hobos. In the deepest recesses of his mind, however, something told him he should probably do so, at least this time. He took out his billfold, extracted several bills, rolled them up into a wad, and tossed it down to Charleston. "If you ever come to Detroit, you might as well look us up." The door closed.

Charleston counted his money, and was pleased. He was once again a naturalized citizen, and he had enough money to do pretty much whatever he wanted to. Life was suddenly filled with options, his eyes having been opened to a wealth of things he could do.

Perhaps he could become a private investigator? Maybe a member of the Paci Custodis, if he could find out how? Then again, he did possess powers beyond those of most mortal men, a prime characteristic of a superhero. There was also the return of CAST, which Charleston could probably join.

Hold on one second. Why choose between them? With a bit of effort, he could become all of them. At least, he probably could. It was a distinct possibility, and Charleston knew where it all happened: a city called Detroit. Only two questions remained: how he should get there, and if he should get something to eat before he embarked on his journey. Life was looking up.
QUESTION ONE: How should Charleston get to Detroit?

QUESTION TWO: Should he eat before he leaves?

Monday, September 15, 2008

043: Land Captain's Lament

Should Charleston go celebrate?
Yes: 6 votes
No: 2 votes
Charleston decided to go to the celebration, if only to get some free food. Living on the streets, even for such a short time, had shown him the importance of never passing up a free meal. Jimmy Swift instructed Charleston to follow him, though Jimmy immediately got into a car and left him standing in front of the courthouse. He stood there, watching the car drive away, when another car pulled up. The window rolled down, and Land Captain told Charleston to get in.

After a few moments, it became clear that Land Captain was doing the speed limit. This baffled Charleston.

"Since I joined the Astounding Superhero Syndicate, I've had to limit the use of Ishmael's speed to times of emergency. They're also working on getting me situated in my secret identity."

"You have a secret identity?" asked Charleston.

"You don't think I was born with a captain's hat and a love of justice, do you?"

"What is it?"

"I trust you, Charleston, so I'll tell you."

Land Captain did so, and Charleston nodded. It was a normal sounding name, but had a certain rightness to it. After a few moments of somewhat awkward silence, Charleston decided to ask a big question.

"Land Captain, do you remember when that picture of us was taken? The one Swift showed you."

"I assumed someone was trying to pull a fast one. Is it real?"

"No, of course not."

The pair drove on, gradually closing in on Swift's car. Ishmael was deftly dodging obstacles, and another thought struck Charleston.

"Does Ishmael remember that picture?" he said.

"Well, it's a fake, isn't it?" replied Land Captain.

"Well, yes, but if we can find out more about the picture, perhaps we can track down who took it?"

"Ah, we can't do that. Ishmael and I thought that telling the Superhero Syndicate that he's a sentient car was a bad idea."

More silence. Charleston leaned over and whispered "we need to talk" into Ishmael's air vent. As the low-speed chase continued, something became increasingly apparent. Either Jimmy Swift was half-heartedly trying to lose them, or he had no idea where he was going. Lacking any way of communicating with him, Land Captain and Charleston chose to simply continue following him. In fact, they followed him right to the airport where he and five other people exited the car. It had obviously been cramped, and judging from the droopiness of one passenger, not a very pleasant ride. Charleston turned to Land Captain.

"Pull in front of them dramatically," said Charleston.

Land Captain nodded, and did so, swerving to a stop in front of the sextet. Land Captain then emerged from his car with a stylized step while Charleston merely opened the door.

Player One, the droopy passenger, looked at Land Captain with a bemused expression. "You totally stole that from Speed Racer."

"It's homage," said Land Captain, leaning against Ishmael.

Player One shrugged as Jimmy Swift, Clarence Claybourne, Father Graves, Anderson Smith, and Morrey Roberts stopped around him. Morrey, suffering from motion blindness, ran into Clarence who took no notice.

"I thought we were supposed to be doing some sort of celebration, Mister Swift," said Charleston, walking around Ishmael.

"You did?" said Jimmy, adjusting his tie, "You did. Well, yeah, we're going to celebrate here. At the airport. On a plane. With hookers and blow?" Jimmy turned to Anderson hopefully, who grimly shook his head. "Okay, no hookers and no blow. Plenty of booze, though. You like booze, don't you?"

"Not really," said Charleston.

"I don't either," said Land Captain.

Swift turned to him belligerently and looked him up and down, "You're the guy. The lying superhero guy. No one invited you, sailor boy, so why don't you pack up your tights and drive off into the ocean or whatever it is you do?"

"Yeah. Go sodomize some other sailors, you salty seaman," said Father Graves.

Land Captain looked at him, mouth agape. Charleston was about to say something comforting, but Land Captain raised a single hand. He looked at Charleston, eyes brimming with tears, "It's all right, Charleston. I know when I'm not wanted. I'll find some way to get a hold of you once you get settled in. It shouldn't be too hard. It's time I should be shoving off, anyway. Liana is probably worried about me, and I have some superhero duties to perform up north."

"Give my regards to Liana," said Charleston as Land Captain closed Ishmael's door.

"Give mine to Edolie," said Land Captain, as he drove off.

This remark confused Charleston, but there were more important things at hand. He remembered why he had been arrested in the first place: he was looking for Anderson Smith who was now right here in front of him.

Or, at least, he had been. Anderson and his group were boarding a private jet. Charleston ran after them, but as he did so, his bionic leg began to malfunction. He had to get on that plane in order to talk to Anderson Smith, which would somehow ease all his troubles. He would also punch Jimmy Swift in the face as soon as he could manage.

He had seconds to decide a course of action: he could continue running, hopefully catching the plane before it left and his leg gave out entirely. He could try to shout to them over the din of the airport, hoping that they would wait for him to board. The third option was an elaborate plan that suddenly spawned into Charleston's head, which was to somehow delay all flights at once, allowing him to easily catch the flight.

What to do, what to do...
Which should Charleston choose?
-CHOICE A: Continue running towards the plane
-CHOICE B: Try to get them to wait for him
-CHOICE C: An elaborate third option which would somehow stop all planes from taking off, allowing him to easily get on the plane.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

042: The People of the United States V. Charleston Charge

Breaking the fourth wall: I tried to do something different with today's segment. I think it turned out all right.

How should Charleston plead?
Guilty: o votes
Not guilty: 3 votes
Insanity: 0 votes


Washington, DC
(Date removed)

The above-entitled matter came on for oral argument before the Supreme Court of the United States at 11:14 a.m.

DHARMA H. LAWSON, ESQ., Washington, DC; on behalf of the Petitioner.
JAMES SWIFT III, ESQ., Detroit, MI; on behalf of the Respondent.

(11:14 a.m.)

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: We'll hear... who are you? You, the second stenographer.

PLAYER ONE: I'm typing this for the Internet!

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: I'm afraid that's not allowed, son. Bailiff, take away his computer.

(I am going to use sneakily Anderson's phone to text the trial to myself, and I will transcribe it later. I apologize if it's not courty enough for you, but I suck at texting.)


MS. LAWSON: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: Charleston Charge is--

CHARLESTON: Don't I have to say what I plead?

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: Order! Order! This whole case is highly irregular, and so you will have to bear with us as I attempt to make sure this farce of a trial continues apace. The only things Mister Charge are actually charged with are illegally emigrating from the lost city of Uhld and gross vagrancy. Mister Charge, how do you plead?

CHARLESTON: Not guilty. I may have been a vagrant, but I was a clean vagrant.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: Fair enough. Miss Lawson, the floor is yours.

MS. LAWSON: All of my arguments are for the other things Mister Charge was charged with. If it pleases the court, I shall continue acting as if he was still charged with these things.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: Highly irregular, but I'll grant it.

MS. LAWSON: Thank you. First and foremost, how do you explain the fact that you are in these photos?

CHARLESTON: I have no idea why I am in those photos, and if I'm not charged with this--

MS. LAWSON: Just answer the question, Mister Charge.

CHARLESTON: I don't know. Wasn't I supposed to take an oath?

MS. LAWSON: I'll ask the questions here. The photos, Mister Charge. Explain them.

CHARLESTON: I told you, I don't know anything about the photos. It's obvious they were faked, since look, that guy? The one who's been torn in half? He's standing right there. Oh my god, that one is my lawyer. I knew I had seen him before.

MR. SWIFT: I object!

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: What do you object to?

MR. SWIFT: The other lawyer is woman! Lawyering is a man's job! Her job is to get under this desk and--

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: Mister Swift, I will not have such sexist behavior in my courtroom.

MR. SWIFT: How about this sexist behavior?

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: Mister Swift, please step off of your desk and pull your pants back up. No one wants to see that, and was this not already a farce of a trial, I would have you escorted from the courtroom. Miss Lawson?

MS. LAWSON: Thank you, your honor. I call Joseph "Scoop" Griswald to the stand. Mister Griswald, how do you explain these pictures?

MR. GRISWALD: The darnedest thing. One minute, I was on my way to South Carolina, following my pal the Moonman Marauder, and the next I was back in Detroit with a camera full of pictures. No one else seems to know anything about where I took the pictures or anything.

MR. SWIFT: I object!

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: Mister Swift, please. There is nothing in Mister Griswald's statement to object to.

MR. SWIFT: He's lying.


MR. SWIFT: I think it's staged. Rehearsed. Besides, I want to call my witness.


MR. SWIFT: I call Land Captain to the stand! That's right, everyone gasp! All right, you Communist bastard, what do you know about these photos?

LAND CAPTAIN: I'm not a Communist, sir. I know nothing about the photos.

MR. SWIFT: I know you're lying. A man might hang if you don't tell the truth.

LAND CAPTAIN: I'm not lying.

MR. SWIFT: So you're putting Charleston Charge up a creek without a paddle. That's all, your honor.

F'HAAT TOHTOA: Hold everything! I have come with damning evidence!

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: I was expecting this. Hello, Mister Tohtoa. What do you have?

MISTER TOHTOA: I have here a signed certificate of naturalized citizenship belonging to one Charleston Charge, and signed testimonials from several people detailing that he was a model homeless citizen.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: I'll allow it. Jury, go make your deliberations.

JURY FOREMAN: We're pretty sure he's not guilty, your honor.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOKAVICH: Wonderful. This court rules in favor of Charleston Charge.


Swift came up to Charleston after the trial amid the media circus that had surrounded the newly-innocent man. It was a very unorthodox trial, and had succeeded in making Charleston an instant media darling. Swift invited Charleston out for a celebration. Charleston pondered this for a moment, and wondered if he should go.
Should Charleston go celebrate?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

041: Not Without My Lawyer

Which lawyer should Charleston choose?
Gil Ardo: 0 votes
F'haat Tohtoa: 0 votes
Jimmy Swift the Third: 4 votes
Charleston sat in a nondescript little room, unfurnished save for a table, chair, and desk lamp. There was a large window on the west wall, which he assumed people were watching him through as he doubted anyone would let an exterior window get that dirty. There was also the obligatory door, which was not so much a furnishing but a door. He had been given three files to look at, to further help him choose a lawyer. A federal agent had assured him that it was basically a formality, and there was already a labor camp in a third world nation awaiting him.

"What are the charges against me, again?" said Charleston, looking at the lawyer files.

"Are you sure you want to discuss this without your lawyer present?" said a man in a severe suit and sunglasses. A wire ran from a device in his ear into his suit coat.

"I don't really care. You've already assured me that it's futile."

The man slammed his hands on the table, and pointed at Charleston, "Let me make this clear. We want to do this as by-the-book as possible, Mister Charge, and so you have to choose a lawyer before we tell you anything."

"Fine. I choose this one. The one from Earth," said Charleston, holding up the file on James Swift the Third.

The agent took the file and held it up to the window. A few moments later, a thin, arrogant looking man was shoved into the room. He had an ill-fitting gray suit on, and was carrying a briefcase. Charleston could have sworn he had seen him before.

"Did you have all three of them just waiting outside?" asked Charleston.

The agent laughed malevolently, "Are you dense? Why would we do that?"

"Yeah, I suppose-"

"We already had Ardo and Swifty here to try them for incompetence. You made the wrong choice, boyo. Now, you want the evidence we have against you? Exhibit A, you worked for TYRIS and were an instrumental part of its operations, it would seem. You had six times as many missions as any other insurance agent."

"I liked my work."

"Nice try. No one likes their job. Exhibit B," said the agent, pulling a tabloid out of his coat, "Go ahead. Take a gander."

Charleston stared at the front of the tabloid, which bore the headline: "SUPER BATTLE IN SOUTH CAROLINA"

The story, with photographic accompaniment, detailed the battle in horrific detail. There were pictures of everything: the dead, the return of the Paragon Platform (which was actually in every newspaper), the army of villains, and one of Charleston himself sitting with Land Captain with a less-than-flattering caption below it.

How could this be? The whole event was wiped from everyone's memories, and he was darn sure no one took any pictures or anything. Except for Photogra-She, though Charleston recalled that her photos had been primarily of the amazing Serial Hang-Man. He was only in one of the tabloid photos. Ah, but that was the thing. Photos had to be credited to someone, and Charleston looked at the name.

Scoop Griswald?

"Who the hell is Scoop Griswald?" said Charleston.

"Oh god," said Swift, "Don't get me started on that bastard. He's some guy who works for a newspaper up in Detroit. Not a real one, a college one. He claims that real newspapers dilute the news, or something. Now, Mister whatever your name is, I think you should plead guilty. I mean, they have a picture of you at whatever this thing was."

"What would I be guilty of?" said Charleston.

"Counts of insurance fraud, conspiracy, vagrancy, indecent composure, and who knows what else. I don't really care. They tell me you're guilty as hell, so it's really up to how much time you want to spend in jail."

Charleston was continuing to regret his choice of lawyer. "Can't I plead insanity? Or, I don't know, NOT GUILTY?"

Swift laughed, "Yeah, if you actually want to try. I've seen the evidence. It's airtight. You're screwed."

Charleston sighed, "They have a picture of me, and I bet you that Land Captain won't even remember it being taken."

Swift stared at him, and began mouthing random words at him, and eventually smiled a devilish smile. Charleston looked at him quizzically. Swift sighed heavily, "You may have just bought yourself something. Land Captain... that's a superhero, right? I read about him in the paper. Yeah, if you can get a superhero to lie about you, then you might actually have a case! So I guess it's up to you what you plead."

"Shouldn't you give me advice? And shouldn't that agent have left at the beginning of this conversation?"

The federal agent was standing in the corner with his arms crossed. He slowly shook his head, and made obscure hand gestures. Swift returned them, and the pair seemed to reach some sort of agreement. What it was would forever remain a mystery to Charleston.

"Nope. So I guess it's guilty, not guilty, or insanity. I guess the trial is in half an hour, so you better choose pretty quick. I’d still suggest guilty, so we can get the whole thing over with."

Charleston sighed, and began to think.
How should Charleston plead?
-Not guilty

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

040: Objective Detroit

Whom should Charleston seek aid from?
Mark King: 1 vote
Anderson Smith: 3 votes
Mister Lucky: 2 votes
Charleston stood outside the library, staring at a stone lion. Mister Lucky obviously found you if he needed you, and it might be hard to get a meeting with Mark King. Anderson Smith, on the other hand, was basically a normal guy. A normal guy who seemed to be able to act as the conduit for powerful beings, but a normal guy nonetheless. Therefore, he would be the easiest to find. The only thing was getting to Detroit. A week ago, he could have simply contacted TYRIS and they would have sent Land Captain, but Land Captain was already in Detroit and Charleston had no idea how he could reach him. Therefore, this would take some ingenuity, which was pretty much the only thing Charleston had left.

Hold on just a second. Anderson Smith was a member of the Paci Custodis. Perhaps Charleston could find some of them in South Carolina, and they could help him go north. It was worth a shot, at least. The only thing was finding some, as they were quite secretive.

Hold on another second. Charleston was unsure of how it happened, but maybe he could become a Paci Custodis and learn all of their secrets and how to contact other members. He was sure they had some sort of hidden network, since so many had been at the battle. The only question was how to become one. He could ask Anderson...

Oh wait. He was engaging in paradoxical thinking again.

Then again, was he even eligible? He was born in a far-off mystical country and was already imbued with super-human powers and a weird sort of mysticism. Perhaps this rendered him ineligible to receive the special powers of a Paci Custodis. He sighed, and walked off to find a homeless shelter for the night. Barring that, he could find a church. They were supposed to give people shelter, right?

Eureka! A church! If there was anywhere that might know about the Paci Custodis, it would be a church! He sprinted off to find out, and eventually happened upon a relatively small Roman Catholic Church. The nightly service was letting out, and he let himself in after the few church-goers left. He made his way to the alter, tipping over candlesticks as he did so. A priest came out when Charleston was looking inside the organ.

The priest coughed loudly, causing Charleston to startle and hit his head. He muffled a curse, and pulled himself out of the organ.

"What do you think you're doing?" asked the priest.

"I'm looking for something about the Paci Custodis. They're a group of people who hunt things like vampires and werewolves."

The priest stared at him for a moment and then nodded, backing slowly away. "Ah, yes. One moment, please. I'll go get what you require."

As the priest went into a back room, Charleston sat down on a pew and smiled. This was going great!

A half hour later, the priest had not emerged from the back room but Charleston didn't notice this. He had fallen asleep. He also didn't notice two burly policemen come into the church, and he stirred only slightly when they put him in handcuffs. He finally woke up when they stood him up to walk him out of the church, but was too groggy to do anything. He fell asleep in the squad car, and woke up when they reached the police station. Mild confusion turned to horrified shock as Charleston realized he had been arrested, but what for? He asked.

"Sleeping beauty is finally awake. That's a shame, I bet some of our other pals would love to see if their kiss woke you up," said one of the cops.

"That was in very poor taste," said the other.

"I'm just being funny."

"No, you're being offensive. Now read him his rights."

The first officer did so.

"You can't arrest me for messing around in a church," said Charleston, trying to remain calm, "Can you?"

"This isn't about messing about in a church. The government is pretty darn sure you had something to do with that whole Paragon Platform thing a week or so back. There's a bunch of reports of a bunch of super-villains and super-heroes and God knows who else coming here, and then just vanishing. The government smells a conspiracy."

"Why didn't the FBI or CIA come arrest me, then?"

"We're turning you over to them ASAP, sleeping beauty. We already know you're going on trial. There are only three lawyers in the entire country who would take your case."

"Is it that hopeless?"

"Not only is it that hopeless, but you're a homeless guy. These three are the only ones stupid enough to do a hopeless case pro bono."

"Who are they?"

"Well, the first one is some electric squirrel guy from some planet that exploded. He's named Gil Ardo, and I don't think he ever won a case. The second one is a dog-man named F'haat Tohtoa from some planet that didn't explode. The third one is pretty much human, his name is Jimmy Swift the III. I guess they're all pretty good lawyers, despite everything."

Charleston went into deep thought. Electric squirrel, man-dog, or human? He wished they had told him which one
Which lawyer should Charleston choose?
-Gil Ardo
-F'haat Tohtoa
-Jimmy Swift the III