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?

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