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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Hell and Back Archives
As We Take Our Stand, Part II

Character(s): Jack Paris, the Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Doug's Day of Leader Stuff: Bungle in the Jungle
Title of Post: Jack Pack, Attack!
"Kerouac wants to go fight now," Kerouac whined.
Jack looked to Val, who was wearing long sleeves today. She shrugged.
"Look, I just kind of wanted us to review things a little before we went storming in to fight who-knows-what for this obelisk."
Kerouac growled at the girly-math-guy.
"Alphred, what do you know about that totem that you say is connected to the obelisk?"
"Very little," Alphred said. "But it is somehow related to Ta'al."
"So, um, we shouldn't use that as part of our plan, right?"
"I think we should trust to the spirit gods to show us the way," Alphred said.
"I'm bored," Skitch grumbled to Kit.
"Yeah!" Kit yelled at Jack. "Can we get going, please?"
"Just one more minute," Jack said. "I thought we ought to review what spells we had available before we..."
From out of the underbrush hiding the Pack's location, stepped a short, bald man with a bad overbite and heavy spectacles. Khyrisse peered at him curiously, as he somehow resembled the Mad Doctor Swank.
"Are you coming, or do we have to sit around all day?" Thaddeus Bodog Swank sighed. "Mister Adam is getting restless, and we need to destroy you before we can claim the obelisk."
"I just wanted to..." Jack started.
Cori leapt forward, sword flashing through the air at the little man.
"Can't we just..." Jack started.
Bursting through the jungle cover like a meteor, a silvery golem flew into the center of the party, swinging his arms around, knocking Marty and Ebreth to the ground. "Monster Society... attack!" Swank screamed.
"Oh, poop," Jack said, pushing Valende out of the way of the imperturbium artificial intelligence's flailing limbs.
She fell into Kerouac.
"What the--?"
"Kerouac wore his Velcro armor today," he said. "Kerouac likes to stick to walls with it."
"Oh, flark," Val said in her best Asinus impression.

Character(s): "Ember"
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: I'm Rubber And You're Glue
Title of Post: Knowing Nothing About Comics, Laura Sticks To The Commandoids
Ember's bare arm flashed from the embroidered hem of her cloak and the shadowy form of a giant sundew materialized between Spike and Slug. "Aaaaaah!" screamed Spike, struggling. "Oh noooo!" yelled Slug, thrashing.
"A sundew?" complained Skitch. "Couldn't you make anything cooler than a sundew?"
"It seemed to be effective against those, uh, lacking in superior intellect," murmured the illusionist.
"KEROUAC KILL!" roared Kerouac, dragging Val with him as he charged Hot.
"It's sucking us in, Spike!"
"Quick, Slug, grab my tail!"

Character(s): The RP, the MSE
Author: Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Cohen
Storyline: Bungling in the Jungle
Title of Post: Are.. you.. ready.. to Jungle?!? Er, Rumble!!!!!
"Kerouac HATES the Creature Commandoids!!!" A roundabout swing of the huge axe took a chip out of the flaming stone golem, which breathed a nasty-looking stream of scalding ash onto the berserker. Neither of them seemed to mind the pain or damage they had to be receiving.
The giant sundew still had a good grip on Spike, but Slug was diligently trying to drag them out. He (?) reached out a slimy tendril to grab at the nearest thing, which turned out to be Kit's leg.
"Aaah! Get off me!!!"
"Oops, sorry, kid." In frustration/desperation, Spike sent a barrage of quills flying in every direction, sending numerous members of the Rat Pack diving for cover.
"I should warn you," Valende said, "I have been having several very bad days."
"I'd recommend tossing someone into an active volcano," Slug offered cheerfully. "It's a great tension reducer!" The elven cleric actually had to pause a second to think on that.
Lying face down in the mud and shrubbery, Skitch vowed for the umpteenth million time that he was never ever ever ever returning to this place. He reached into his pocket for a playing card.
"Stop yanking!" Slug said.
"You stop yanking," Spike answered.
Suddenly, a new figure descended into the fight. "Prepare to die, inferior verms. So speaks... Captain Tres!"
"Oh, that abso-freakin-lutely does it!!!" Khyrisse yelled, turning almost as insane as Kerouac.
The metallic... thing, launched a device that exploded right next to Vas, then took a swing at Ember. She ducked in the nick of time, and its fist cracked a large tree in two.
We've got problems, we need to coordinate, not just brawl randomly, thought Jack Paris. The strange looking man in the black coat with the strange dental work stepped towards him.
"Ah, you would be the brains of this little operation," Dr. Swank said. "Ergo, the dangerous one. But not after one inverts an integer or two..."
Jack screamed in agony.

Character(s): Khyrisse and the villain she's been waiting for all her life
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Jungleland: Monster Society of Evil
Title of Post: Enemies Within
"Jack!" screamed Val, but Velcro'd as she was to Kerouac, couldn't get to him. She pulled out her sword and hacked violently at Hot and the golem every time the damn berserker turned his back to one of them. Which was often. Valende couldn't believe this jackass was still alive.
"Now is venn I betray you!" cried Captain Tres, and punched T.B. Swank in the head.
"You are going to regret that, my dim-witted Aryan ally," hissed Swank, very dangerously indeed.
Jack continued to make anguished screams, but Khyrisse had stopped noticing. Khyrisse had noticed the last member of the Creature Commandoids. And she had suddenly realized that all that she had suffered in the last weeks had been his doing.
Khyrisse's scream of rage as she fell upon Scapegoat was louder than any Kerouac had made in his life.

Character(s): Dr. TB Swank, Captain Tres
Author: Jonah Cohen-- rightful ruler of the Universe!
Storyline: Big time Rumble in the Jungle
Title of Post: When bad guys tussle (We hate Nazis anyway)
"Very well, my hessian ex-comrade, hum Wagner's Ring Cycle to this!"
Captain Tres writhed in pain as he was struck by the bio-genetic matrix repolarizer.
"You know," the caterpillar said, "that thing is pretty neat." Jack Paris was, unfortunately, in no condition to appreciate it.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Down In Jungleland
Title of Post: Baby Steps
He fell where the metal creature had thrown him and stayed there. His arm shook. There were cries and burning around him, and distantly, as if he were at the bottom of a well, Ebreth Tor heard a rending scream of pain. He saw blood on the heel of his hand where his nails clenched into it as he struggled to his elbow. Through the dull panic clogging his throat like smoke he breathed, and Ebreth Tor stood. He took a step, swaying, brought his second foot alongside it, a tentative, terrified motion. The battle swirled around him in a desperate jangle of noise and light. Ebreth Tor took another step. He could feel his throat closing off and the shadows bending. He could hear Jack screaming out. He took one step and then another. The world tilted dizzily, and Ebreth Tor fell into blackness.

Character(s): Malak't and his hordes
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Walkabout
Title of Post: Strategy
Meanwhile, Malak't and a few dozen dinosaurs and birds made their way to the obelisk of air. The obelisk was a constant vertical stream of cold air that rose up from a small mound of earth.
Malak't licked his lips with anticipation and called forth the words.
The ground crumbled, the wind quaked. The air demon was set free as the obelisk of air shattered.
Malak't hopped with glee as the air demon came forth, razing the land with wind. Now all he had to do was wait two more days to perform the final ceremony.

Character(s): Rat Pack, Monster Crew etc.
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Walkabout
Title of Post: Storm Front
"You know," the caterpillar said, "that thing is pretty neat."
Just then Alphred stopped and looked hazily in the distance.
"No..." he whispered. "Everyone get down!!!!" he yelled so loud that everyone stopped what they were doing.
Alphred dropped down to the ground and held his hands over his head. Everyone looked at him if he was mad. That was when the wind picked up.
"Oh SHIT!" yelled Kerouac as the hurricane force wind approached. He followed Alphred's suit and dropped to the ground, as did everyone else.
It was like being in the center of the grandfather of all tornados. Trees flew about like fluff. The wind felt like it was trying to blow the very flesh off the bones. Just when it seemed like it couldn't get any worse, it did. The wind spoke.
"I AM WHAS'SHA," the wind echoed. "AND I AM FREE!!!!"
The voice was maddening. Skitch and Kit put their hands over their ears to block out the sound. Tarrin looked up once and saw the combination of Slug, Spike and sundew being tossed like a ball in the wind.
Alphred tried not to scream, for he knew they were without hope now.

Character(s): Khyrisse, having a marvellous time
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Title of Post: Please, Nobody Interrupt Her? It'd Be a Pity To Spoil the Moment...
Khyrisse never even heard Alphred. She was kneeling on Scapegoat�s chest, hands locked around his throat, smashing his head into the ground repeatedly. She was cursing-- with a great deal of creativity and detail, actually, for anyone who could understand her-- in a language that sounded like a dozen undead cats fighting in a sack full of mud. Every once in a while she switched to Cynystran or Elvish, but her vocabulary in either usually failed her after a sentence or two. The name of Eric Tremontagne was mentioned repeatedly, but it wasn�t the only one in there. Trillarillia, Pieret, Ariath, Edyric, Ixhriy, Knighthawke, Forix, Magnate, Shilree, Derek... The tornado howled past the two, but neither victim nor attacker noticed. It was doubtful Khyrisse could have heard anything through the hammering of her own pulse in her ears. If I let you go you�re going to do the same to everyone! she thought furiously, not really clear on which �same� she meant and not caring. Any of it, doesn't matter-- NEVER AGAIN!! She tightened her grip, and grinned viciously at the sound of his windpipe crumpling. Eventually she stopped cursing for long enough to cast spells... but her hands stayed locked around his throat.
Remembering who she was dealing with, Khyrisse cast power word, blind first, and followed it with a feeblemind spell. With a sudden maniacal grin, she cast fear on him, then added an emotion spell of grief for good measure. Only then, when she was sure the bastard would properly suffer, did she start casting damaging spells. Five magic missiles exploded upwards into his jaw from the slender fingers locked over his windpipe. Lightning bolt followed it, lashing over his body in blinding arcs. Khyrisse looked rather singed by it herself, but she didn�t appear to care. That edge of the clearing looked like a demented cross between the northern lights, a thunderstorm, and an exploding alchemical laboratory. Scapegoat was an unrecognizeable husk under Khyrisse, who was still pounding his head vehemently into the charred and shattered earth, bitching in three languages. She was clearly going to have to be physically removed from the wreckage.

Character(s): "Ember", Kit
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Jungleland: MSE
Title of Post: The Greatest Thief On Ataniel
Ember gracefully ducked the metal golem's punch and tried to ignore Jack's screaming. There's nothing I could do for him. Stay together, girl.
There wasn't much she could do against an artificial intelligence, either, so Ember let Vas get between her and it with chivalric haste and cast phantasmal killer at the evil scientist. Unfortunately, he seemed to shrug it off. The metal golem connected with Vas and sent him crashing violently into the undergrowth. Ember winced and flew darting to the side, her eyes flicking about for help as the metal construct turned to her.
She saw, instead, Thaddeus Bodog Swank pluck the Greatest Thief on Ataniel out of the shadows behind him with contemptuous ease. "Surrender now or I kill the child!" he shouted, wrenching her head around.
"No!" screamed Ember, twisting around in mid-air. She felt the golem's fist explode into her side, felt her head driving into the ground, and then felt nothing.
Skitch went absolutely pale.
"Aah! Don't do it!" Kit struggled, eyes wide in her head. He'll kill you all anyway!
"Your recklessness will be the defeat of all your friends," he sneered at her.
"Drop dead!" she cried.
Dr. Swank did.
Kit backed away from his body, and then she tore off into the jungle like Shadow was after her.

Character(s): Alphred and Kerouac
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Jungleland: Evil Spirits
Title of Post: Plus and Minus
The tornado went whipping off across the jungle, ripping up trees and laughing violently. "We are doomed!" cried Alphred, despondently. "Whas'sha the air spirit is freed! All four spirits are loose upon the land! Our efforts have been for naught!"
"On the bright side," said Kerouac, hopefully, "we are making mincemeat out of these villains."

Character(s): Kit, Mephisto
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Jungleland
Title of Post: Dance With The Devil
Kit pushed blindly through the undergrowth, gasping. Her face was streaked with tears and scratched with brambles. "Hey, kid," said a quiet voice, too close to her. Kit scrambled backward, her heart thudding almost through her chest. "Take it easy," said Mephisto. "I'm not going to hurt you. We need to talk."
"You're a devil," yelled Kit, backing away some more. "I'm not going anywhere with you!"
"We're not allowed to just walk around Ataniel stealing people's souls, you know." The archdevil sat on a big rock, leaning forward and crossing his arms on his knees with strangely reassuring normalcy. "Not only aren't you evil, you aren't dead. I don't want your soul, kid. I want that stone you stole from me."
Garal watched from the vegetation, barely daring to breathe.
"I stole that fair and square!"
"You sure did," he agreed. "But you got us both in a lot of trouble, Kit. I haven't been able to go home in months. And as for you, you've got powers mortals just aren't supposed to have. What if it had been Skitch you'd told to drop dead? Or his mother?" Kit looked unhappy. "It's only a matter of time before you really hurt someone, kid. Now far be it from me to discourage theft and abuse of power, right, but I need my stone back. And it's much too dangerous to be in mortal hands, no matter how clever. Eventually you are going to slip and say the wrong thing. I don't usually ask people to do the decent thing, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to this time. Please give me the stone back, Kit." He held out his hand, tiredly, and waited for the child's response.

Character(s): Jack, Kit, Valouac, Marty
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Bungle in the Jungle
Title of Post: Everyone Loves A Fray
Jack screamed in pain. Whatever it was that the scientist was doing to him, it was wreaking havoc with his mathematical form. Jack could barely concentrate to keep himself together, let alone come up with a plan to deal with the device.
Some leader I am, Jack thought. I drag my heels and we get ambushed, and now I can't even get off the ground. Anyone else would have done a better job...
Then Jack got an idea.
It wasn't a good idea, but it was the only idea that was coming to mind. Months ago, he wouldn't have even been able to do it, but if there was one thing Jack did well, it was learn.
Since the device had screwed up all of Jack's environmental constants, Jack scanned his memory banks for ones he could use instead. Latching upon them, he did the requisite calculations to ignore the new input from the bio-genetic matrix repolarizer.
Jack got to his feet and swept the dust off his tunic.
"What? How are you doing this?" the worm-Swank who had taken the controls asked.
"Are you okay, Jack?" Vas asked from his nearby melee.
"No problemo," Jack grinned. "And hey, call me Vic."


"I'm a thief. I can't just go around returning stuff," Kit said. "It's a matter of honor. Besides, why should I believe you?"
"Because I'm your father, Kit," Mephisto said.
"Oh, right. You're a big dork, is what you are."
"Would you believe that I'll use the stone to help you defeat Ta'al?" Mephisto tried.
"No," Kit said.
"A million gold. How about a million gold. All thieves want a million gold."
"So this thing makes people do what I say?" Kit asked.
"Uh... only once per person, though," Mephisto lied.
"Right. Sure."
"Come on, kid... it's way too dangerous for you."
"Then I want you to turn into a cat and be my pet and advise me how to use it."
"Oh, fuck," Mephisto said.


Kerouac had run up to where Malat'k was bowing to the wind demon and started hacking at the dinosaurs surrounding the figure. Tornadoes continued to fly out into the jungle in all directions. "Kerouac hates elementals!" he shouted with unusual fury even for him.
Malat'k looked up at the berserker. "Whas'sha! Do away with this idiot!"
The wind demon floated over to Kerouac and smiled. "As Ta'al wishes, none will survive."
"Nyaaaarrgh!" Kerouac screamed, diving at Whas'sha with his Axe of Vengeance. Valende, who had been holding off the dinosaurs, was dragged along.
"Your mortal weapons cannot harm me!" the wind being cried. He opened his mouth and a gust of wind blew the Axe of Vengeance from Kerouac's hands, where it flew across the battlefield.
Kerouac looked down at his empty hands.
"Oh, no," Valende said. "No, no, NO."
"Eat flaming elf!" Kerouac cried, and flinging his arm, swung Valende at the wind demon.


Marty had run over and lay on top of where Master Ebreth had fallen. Maybe if they think I'm dead, they'll leave us alone, he thought.
"Hey, this one's alive!" the gorilla said, kicking Marty.
"Okay, fine, you caught me," Marty said, climbing to his feet. "Can I borrow a weapon to fight you with?"
Kong leapt at Marty. Marty sidestepped, and tripped Kong over his shoulder with a savate kick. "Okay, weaponless combat. I can deal."


"So, this is the little doodad that whacked all of the environmental constants?" Vic asked the worm.
"Please don't crush me like a bug," Swank begged.
"I'm a lover, not a fighter, pal."
Vic flipped the switch off. "I think I'll keep this, if you don't mind."
Then he noticed Kerouac. And Val.
Stuffing the device in his satchel, he pointed and clicked at the worm. "Catch you later, caterpillar. I've got a damsel in distress with my name on it."


"I think I'll call you Fidget," Kit said.
"I hate you, you know," Mephisto purred.


"I'm..." Whack. "Going..." Whack. "To..." Whack. "Get..." Whack. "You..." Whack. "For..." Whack. "This!" Whack.
"You must be +3," Kerouac grinned happily.
Whas'sha seemed taken aback by this unusual form of attack, and was slowly retreating.
"You're dead, you know that, don't you?" Valende screamed over the wind.
"Does this mean that fucking is out?"
Valende was almost out of borrowed stoneskins when Vic stepped up behind Kerouac.
"May I cut in?" he asked.
Kerouac, distracted, turned to look at the mathematician.
Whas'sha took the opportunity to blow a large rock at the berserker's head.
Kerouac and Valende dropped to the floor.
"Allow me, babe," Vic said, reaching his hand out to help her up.
Valende tore the sleeve off her dress and took Vic's hand.
"Jack, what about the..." she started.
"Hey, babe, call me Vic. And this is no problem."
Taking the bio-genetic matrix repolarizer, he turned the dial from the setting "Jack Paris" to the setting "Elemental Force" and flipped the switch back on.
Whas'sha, suddenly caught in a terrible feedback loop, took to the air, presumably to rendezvous with Ta'al.
"My hero," Valende said, kicking Kerouac a few times.
"A kiss, then?" Vic asked.
"What happened to Jack?"
"He'll be back as soon as the feedback wears off. Just a few minutes, but it's time enough for our moment in the spotlight, beautiful." "A kiss, then," Valende said, leaning into Vic's arms, which she really knew were Jack's arms anyway, and that neither of them would have glue on them.
She demurely lifted one foot as they kissed, kicking Kerouac on the way up.


Marty had finished with Kong and was dancing in and out of the dinosaurs with the grace of a ballet dancer. Many of them had followed Whas'sha into the jungle, but those left behind were still a danger to Master Ebreth.
"I'm sorry," he said, as he kicked a dinosaur in the teeth. The saurian fell.
"Hey, do you apologize to everyone you kick?" Vas asked.
"Oh, yeah," Marty said. "I hate being kicked, so I know how they feel."
Vas shrugged.
"I'm sorry," Marty said, tripping two dinosaurs as they lurched forward.

Character(s): Malat'k
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Walkabout
Title of Post: I told you he is a smart dinosaur
"Attack, my hordes!" Malat'k screamed.
Dinosaurs and birds of all shapes and sizes swarmed into the fray. Meanwhile, Malat'k and his bodyguards and advisors slipped away into the jungle. If his minions finished off the Jungle Lord and his companions, so be it. If they failed, that would be fine as well. They would all die when he set Ta'al free. Then he, Malat'k, would rule all of Salagia!!!

Character(s): Alphred, Portobello
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Walkabout
Title of Post: Unexpected Help
Alphred looked at Malat'k's hordes, but there was no fire to goad him into battle. He knew in his heart that he had failed and that Salagia was doomed. It would be better if it all ended here while fighting the hordes.
Alphred took a step towards the dinosaurs, and a grey hand closed on his arm.
"Jungle Lord," said Portobello. "Do not give up hope; there are allies that can help us."
"Have everyone fall back and follow me. You will see."
The thing inside Portobello chuckled with glee.

Character(s): Garal and Kit
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: Jungleland
Title of Post: If You Have To Do What She Says, Don't Let Her Say Anything
"Kit, come back!" Skitch cried.
Garal looked up from treating Ember. "Skitch, take over for me here. I'll go after Kit. Just hold this on Ember's head until Val can heal her. Give her these pills if she wakes up."
Kit ran through the forest in a way that befit The Greatest Thief in Ataniel, making her hard to follow.
She was faster, but Garal could keep up because he could skip a few yards every so often through other planes. She was quiet and was well camouflaged, but she was carrying some kind of beacon. Garal could see it easily when he looked for shortcuts.
Kit stopped in a clearing. Garal was about to approach him, as the halfling still thought, when he realized the thief was talking to Mephisto.
Garal hid until the conversation was over. He was impressed at how the young thief handled the devil, but he was disappointed in Kit's choice. The stone was too powerful for a child. The thief was smart enough not to believe any excuse the planeblazer could give, so Garal decided not to give Kit a chance to use the stone on him.
Garal walked over to Kit. "Nice trick. I am impressed with how well you handled the conversation." Kit tried to answer, but Garal just continued, "It's really dangerous out here, and I have to get you back to the others. Ember's hurt; and with Val stuck to Kerouac, I had been trying to treat her when you ran off." Garal grabbed the child's wrist and the cat.
"I..." Kit tried to say, but Garal went right on talking. The halfling kept talking, throwing out idle comments about the fight, planeblazing, and their trip back, as he took them back through the shortcuts he had used. Back to the party, where hopefully the fight was finished and he could safely leave Kit and check on Ember. He hoped Kerouac had stopped long enough to let Val treat her, but he didn't count on it.
They got back, and Garal noticed the elemental overhead.

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