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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Go Down Swinging, Part VII



Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: What To Do With A Guide No One Trusts

"Greetings and salutations!" beamed the non-descript Oriental man, in Dalen, and bowed deeply before the group, while Khyrisse was folding up the Carriage.
"Hi," waved Vickie, putting away her hang-glider.
"Mato Miehet, at your pleasure. I could not help noticing you are not from around here--"
"What was your first clue," muttered Rani, looking over her motley group of decidedly non-Oriental teammates.
"--and I wish to offer my services as a guide to the fine city of Shanghai."
"This one has lived in Shanghai for five months," Amatsu whispered to Khyrisse behind his hand.
"And its environs," added Mato.
"Do you know where the Temple of the Forgotten Daimyo is?" asked Khyrisse.
"Of course, honorable lady."
"All right," said Khyrisse, and shook some gold coins into her hand. "Take us to the Order of Redemption first, please."
"This one has lived in the Order of Redemption for five months," Amatsu whispered to Khyrisse.
"I know," she hissed back. "I want to see if he tries to take us for a ride before we go someplace unknown."
"Ah!" whispered Amatsu. "You are wise, Lady Starshadow," and melted back into the background.
"Lead on, wormface," said Rani. The Shikinti guide frowned at her.
"Rani," suggested Crandall, "you know, you're probably going to want to try to maintain a slightly higher standard of etiquette around here. This is a pretty polite country, at least last time I was here."
"Yeah yeah," said Rani. "Are we going or what?"

Character(s): Flicker and Khyrisse
Author: Laura Redish and Kristin L'Kar Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: En Route To The Order Of Redemption
Title of Post: Common Ground

"Why won't you talk to Praxis about it?" Flicker was arguing, in a low voice. "His psychic surgery could have your magic functioning again in minutes."
"My psyche is a complicated mess, Flicker. I have the ghosts of my entire city in here with me. I can't risk them."
"Praxis does have some experience with psyches that come with attachments, you know," he said. "If he's handled me he can handle you. He won't disrupt your memory impressions."

Khyrisse hesitated. "Nooo, 'disrupting' is not what I'm worried about, really. 'Erasing' is." She looked guilty. "I can't get away from the idea that Praxis might do that, if he really thought it was for my own good."
"Praxis would never do that, Khyrisse. Never." Flicker's voice was entirely sure. "And especially not if you told him not to. He's as steady a hand as they come. He has respected the integrity of my psyche and he will respect yours. Praxis has never once tried to exorcise me."
She sighed and ran her hand through her hair. "All right, then I'll ask him," she said, tiredly, and then in a smaller voice "they're bleeding over in my dreams. I should probably ask him about that, too." She laughed weakly. "He'll think I've gone mad."
"Khyrisse, why don't you ever talk to me about this?" he said. "It's all right to incorporate them as part of yourself. Stop resisting that. There's nothing that demeans. They don't belong to you, that doesn't mean you can't belong to them."
Khyrisse looked very startled. "I... I don't know," she said. "I guess I didn't think it was the same thing."
"It's not," he said, "but I do have some idea what it is to have the impressions still of the people you once belonged to, you know."
Khyrisse shuddered. "I--remember them as me, but I remember that they're not really ME me..." She waved her hands around in frustration. "It's hard to explain what I mean, there aren't any words for this except in god-language!"
"Khyri," he said, gently. "Don't worry about the words. I know what you mean. Just speak."
And she did, at first slowly, then in clumps, and finally until it was rushing out of her, her old friend's hand in hers, all the way to the Order of Redemption.

Character(s): Rat Pack + 1
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: What Killed the Cat?

Mato bowed with deliberate slowness and then led the Rat Pack on to the Order of Redemption. The streets of Shanghai were narrow and were filled with the sounds and odors of the Orient. Skitch, being extremely curious, stopped at almost every booth along the way. After a few hours they reached the Order of Redemption.
"Here is the Order, honorable ones." said Mato as he bowed. "I shall meet you back here in three hours. There is something strange in the city which I must see to."

Rani's ears perked up at this. "What is so strange?" she asked.
"Nothing of your concern, honorable one. It is just that several bodies have been found in the dark streets of the city. My master has asked me to investigate."
Rani turned to the Rat Pack. "I am going to check this out. I will be back with our guide."
"Ok," said Khyrisse.
The Rat Pack then entered the Order of Redemption.
"So where are these bodies?"
"This way honorable one."
Mato led Rani back into the city towards what was the seedier side of town. They turned down one winding street and then another. Soon they entered a dark alley.
"How much longer?" said Rani with disgust.
"We are there." said Mato.
"So where is the corpse?"
Mato laughed. It wasn't human. It was like a chorus of a thousand tiny voices laughing at once. Mato turned around, his face was gone. In its place was a seething mass of maggots of every size.
"The corpse? Why right in front of me, of course."
Mato dissolved into a wave of worms and maggots and rushed for the detective.

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue/The X-Files
Title of Post: And Trouble Is My Middle Name

Rani whirled as the maggot-creature lunged for her, her eyes widening into her most classic Gillian Anderson face as she ducked out of the way with sheer instinctive immediacy. The pseudopod left a trail of slime across the dirty brick wall where she had been.
This is what I get for following a collective of bugs, Rani admonished herself. Don't you remember the last bug-thing you listened to? This was hardly the first dark alley Rani had been cornered in in her life, though, and she wasn't eight years old anymore.
She backed into the far corner of the alley, between two trash cans. The thing oozed after her. "There isssssss nowhere to runnnnnnn," it hissed, wetly. "You willlllll not tellllll the otherssssss what you know. Foolllllish womannnn. You should nnnnnot have llllllet me know you knew what I wassssssss."
As it lunged for her Rani phased through the wall. She could hear the splat of the creature striking where she had been even from the other side. She heard it hissing in rage, too, and she knew she wasn't clear yet.
Rani ran down the back alleys of twilit Shanghai, her eyes flicking back and forth down the clay cobbles.

Character(s): Rani, Mato
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: WAHP: The X-Files
Title of Post: Worms, worms everywhere and not a bird in sight

Rani ran until it felt her six chambered heart was going to explode. She ran down one alley to another. Every time she thought she was safe that worm thing would appear. Once it jumped in front of her from one of the roofs above. Another time it oozed out from the very ground. Its pursuit of her was relentless.
Rani stopped to catch her breath when a maggoty tendril smashed into the wall next to her head. Worms flew all over her. She felt them biting and gnawing into her flesh.
Shit! SHIT! she thought as she took off running again. This time she didn't take any chances. She phased through three walls, doubled back four times and ran faster than she had ever had done before. Finally she collapsed, her body refusing to move one inch further. She heard the wet creeping sound of that thing approaching. Rani closed her eyes. She was hurt, but she wasn't going to go down without a fight.

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: The X-Files
Title of Post: Looks Like Mulder's Not Coming, So...

The sleeve of Rani's blouse was torn, her right arm shooting pain at her from the acid burns the maggot-man had left. Her heart thumped irregularly in her chest as she pulled her right glove off with her teeth, then her left. She could hear the scraping on the clay cobbles as the creature approached, and she forced herself to wait for it.
The Order of Redemption was two blocks east and one north now. Rani could make it there. If she could get Mato Miehet out of her way for about five minutes.
She could see the shadow of the creature looming over her in the near-darkness. And slowly, keeping her breathing regulated, Rani raised her hands.
She screamed for the first time as its mass hit her palms with a searing hiss, but she could feel its slimy surface melding into them and she pushed the body of Mato Miehet over her and into the alley, and through the alley, rolled as she pushed her arms and the body of Mato Miehet that was now a burning part of them through the cobbles, and then with a wrenching pull that wracked her brain, separated.
She could hear the sizzling splash as the colony fell into the sewer below.
Rani caught her leather gloves up in her badly burned left hand, gasping, and fled to the Order of Redemption, tears stinging in her large, dilated eyes.

Character(s): Jhaeran, Praxis and the Rat Pack
Author: Jeff Hersh (corrected by Kris)
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue/Reclamation:Gold and Amber
Title of Post: My God! They are Everywhere!!!

"Khryisse! It is good to see you again," said Praxis, greeting the travelers. "How have you been?"
"You don't want to know," said the elf, with a wry little smile. "But unfortunately I think I'll have to discuss some of it with you. It can wait, though."
"Where are my manners," said Praxis. "Let me introduce you to someone else who arrived here recently."
Praxis visibly concentrated and soon a tall Diari man entered the room.
"This is Jhaeran. He is from the Church of Pysyri and is here on Church business."
Jhaeran bowed in the oriental tradition. "Honored to meet you, fair one," said the Diari in perfect Elvish.
Khyrisse blinked at him, surprised. It was the first time she ever heard a Diari deign to speak her native tongue. She bridled inwardly, for no reason she could explain, and suddenly wished that her Diarian accent wasn't quite so abysmal. The first non-elf to speak my birth language to me in a decade, and it's a Diari. I wonder whose brain he looted that accent from. Khyrisse sighed internally, stomped on her annoyance-- Retaliatory bigotry is just as bad! Stop it!-- and did her best to keep it from affecting her expression. "The honor is mutual," she replied politely. In Dalen.

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: The X-Files/Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: Return

Rani burst into the courtyard where Praxis and the Rat Pack were still speaking, breathing raggedly. "Whoa!" cried Marty. "Are you like okay?"
The right sleeve was torn almost entirely off her blouse, and her arm beneath it was blotchy and burned. She was clutching her red leather gloves in one badly burned, swollen hand. Her hair was perfect, though. "Our guide is a sentient collective of maggots," she said, succintly, "and he's trying to kill me."

Character(s): Mato, Xyrhyix
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Evil Diarian Blobs
Title of Post: Evil Things Only Doug Would Use

As Mato scurried down the sewer, preparing to put himself back together--damn the Diarian, anyway--he suddenly found his way blocked.
"Like me you are," the giant blob in the Shikintu sewers said.
"Out of my way, creature!" Mato hissed.
"Tasty looking," Xyrhyix said. "Maggots yummy."
Oh, crap, Mato thought. This is not good.
Xyrhyix shuffled forward hungrily.

Character(s): Skitch, Jhaeran, Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: Disgust

"Ew!" shrieked Skitch, with unabashed delight. "Maggots!"
"I guess he's not going to show us where the temple is anymore, is he," sighed Mina.

***


Jhaeran turned from his Elvish conversation with Khyrisse and paled. Before he could stop himself he had spit in the half-breed woman's face. "Sranjhac," he hissed, with uncontrolled revulsion; clamped down on it visibly, and stalked back into the inner sanctum of the Order, his hand shaking. Pysyri, give me focus. Pysyri, give me calm. What more horrors lie in wait for me in these barbarian lands? Oh, my Lady, give me strength. I must not falter.

***


Rani drew her intact left sleeve slowly across her face, her eyes flat and distant. "Twenty-seven years," she said, not really to anyone, "and I still don't have an answer for that." She turned and went up the stairs to the guest quarters, without looking back.

Character(s): Praxis and Pals
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Why "Shikinti Blue"?
Title of Post: Master of his Domain... that didn't come out quite right

Amatsu Mikaboshi flushed crimson and felt like he was going to die of humiliation on the spot. "My lord," he said quietly.
"It's alright," Praxis said. "I'm sorry that your arrival has been... rocky."
"Heck, I'm just sorry I missed fighting the living maggots," Vickie Dare said.
"It is good to see many of you again," Praxis continued, looking at Flicker, Amatsu, Khyrisse, Val and Vas. "And I look forward to speaking with the rest of you as well. Lord Haito and his daughter, Hou-Hsieh, wanted to discuss some matters about this Remnant problem with you."
"Dear," a woman said from the hall, "isn't he cute when he's businesslike?" Inez Jardin entered, wearing a red silk dress and, incongruously, her katana. A bald man in monk's robes accompanied her. "In this country, it's very rude to start discussing business without making guests feel at home."
"My lady is correct," baldy said. "This one is Shaolin. Tea?"
"Yes, please. I'll join you in just a moment," Praxis added. "Please tell your Diarian friend---" Rani, right? The only time Praxis had seen her was in the Mithril Dagger, when she was (unsuccessfully) trying to glare away Marty Hu-- "that we will speak shortly of this monster she mentioned, and I wish to heal those burns. But I do have one thing I must briefly attend to, then... I could use some tea."
He nodded to Xiang, and the dark-skinned samurai with the fu-manchu mustache followed him. The Rat Pack sat down, an awkward silence briefly settling over the group, though the tea was indeed tasty. "And what's your name?" Inez asked.
"Skitch... I'm Khyrisse's apprentice," he answered with pride.
Inez Jardin smiled. "Pleased to meet you, Skitch. After tea, we can see some of Lord Haito's menagerie. He has elephants."
"Cool!"
Marty swayed dizzily and almost fainted.

***


Jhaeren was seated in the garden, trying to compose himself, when Praxis and Xiang entered. They didn't give the Diarian a chance to begin.
"That was entirely unacceptable. You have embarrassed me, and given a grave insult to my allies -- one of my closest friends among them."
"That woman is--"
"It is quite apparent by looking what she is, and I am quite aware of your country's prejudices towards people such as her." As well as your prejudices towards "kiljhac" with the Gift. I wonder if you would try to do the same to me? "That is no excuse. You will apologize for your rudeness to her or you will no longer be welcome in this place."

Character(s): Ebreth and Otter, clueless
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: The Alomar Incident
Title of Post: Not Everyone Knows What's Going On...

Ebreth Tor stared in surprise as the Diari priest spat at Rani and said a Low Diari word he'd never heard before.
"What was that all about?" said Otter.
Ebreth shrugged and watched the two of them make tracks out of the courtyard, in different directions. "Maybe they used to date?" he guessed.

Character(s): Orlen, Mato and Xyrhyix
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: Two Blobs Are More Fun Than One

Orlen ran towards a woman's scream. He arrived in time to see a Diarian woman escape into the temple and a maggot creature fall into the sewers. Orlen assumed the woman would be safe in the temple, so he decided to follow the maggots into the sewer.
The golden haired Diarian levitated the sewer grate away from the opening and laid it down. Then he lowered himself, sword and mind ready. Yuck! he thought, Why couldn't I have gotten there sooner? I could be enjoying a hero's welcome and not get this crap on my shoes.
Orlen put those thoughts aside in his search for the creature. He sought out the mind of the maggot creature and was not surprised when he found that Mato had a collective consciousness, but he didn't expect to find the Xyrhyix.
"One opponent at a time," he muttered as he approached. The light was dim, so he held his sword in a defensive position. After a deep breath, and a vicious cough when the filth hit his lungs, he caused the air above Mato to solidify and drop down.
Orlen was sure the blob had seen him, but it didn't seem to care. The blow had stunned Mato, so Xyrhyix moved in for the kill.

Character(s): Mato Miehet
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: To Kill a Colony

Xyrhyix was upon the colony of maggots that called itself Mato Miehet. The blob wolfed down Mato's substance in a single gulp. Mato was gone... almost.
Across the world on Paris Island, a tiny rip opening in reality and a single maggot fell out. The worm crawled into the soil and called. Insects and larva from all over the island heeded the summoning. That night, Mato Miehet was reformed. He was also very hungry.

Character(s): Orlen and Xyrhyix
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: Is It A Good Blob Or A Bad Blob?

Orlen stood, facing Xyrhyix. He didn't know what the creature would do next.
The blob looked pleased. "Yum. Thank you," it said as it slithered past him.
Orlen looked after it, not sure if he should follow. The blob looked sated, but it was making for the open grate.
He reached the surface a few seconds after the blob. It looked content as he followed it down a side street. Xyrhyix slid down another sewer grate without looking back. Orlen turned and walked back to the temple.

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