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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Shikinti Blue, Part II

Character(s): Rani (who always has screwdrivers for breakfast)
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Secret (but fairly mundane) Origins
Title of Post: Very Romantic Story

"Chienvelais", Val murmured, as Rani slid into one of the dining hall chairs, unflapping her satchel. The detective looked up at her with a certain amount of surprise, her eyes a bit incisive. "Chienvelais," she repeated the elven greeting, flipped a wheat bagel out of her bag, and bit into it.
"You know," said Khyrisse, "you are welcome to join us for breakfast, Rani. There's plenty of food for everyone." She smiled wryly. "We're not going to poison you."
"Good luck poisoning me," she smirked. "Thanks, but I've got a heart condition. Crappy inbred Diarians."
Orlen cleared his throat, politely choosing to ignore the last statement. "So," he said, in friendly fashion. "You're part elven?"
Khyrisse hoped wearily that this didn't end with any well-meant racism she was going to have to iron out of Skitch.
"Yep," said Rani.
Orlen waited a few moments for her to elaborate; when it didn't seem she was going to, he prompted "That can't be common. There aren't many elves in the Empire. How did that happen?"
"My mother had a forbidden affair with a kiljhac," said Rani, tapping alcohol into her orange juice.
Valende blinked at that somehow incongruous origin. "Well, that's romantic."
"Oh, yeah. Real romantic," said Rani. "In fact, my mother was so romantic that after she gave birth to a little abomination she wouldn't tell the Diari police she'd been raped. See, apparently in Diaria they think kiljhacs are pretty much a bunch of crazed sex offenders, and I'll tell you I haven't seen much to convince me they're wrong, so if she'd claimed to have been raped the police would have cleared her without a second thought. But she wouldn't say that and so she was exiled for miscegenation. One of her sisters risked her own citizenship to help her smuggle the child with her, because the Diari authority had assigned it to a research facility for study before it was destroyed in accordance with Diari law. And she fled her homeland, never to return, in search of the father of her child. Very romantic." Rani shook her hair out. "Well, when she found him, he'd mysteriously forgotten how to speak Diari. She had nothing but the clothes on her back and an infant daughter, spoke no Dalen, and her only training was as a paleobotanist. She wound up a cheap whore in Rimbor City. Killed herself when I was eight by swallowing ilsinjhi fesla that didn't belong to her. Very romantic story." No one quite said anything. "So Diari suck, and kiljhac suck, and most especially men suck. Would you like more? That's it for her story, but I've been a private eye for years and there's no shortage of romantic stories in this world."
There was silence for about a minute and a half. Just then, Amatsu entered the dining hall.

Character(s): Marty Hu
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Star-Crossed
Title of Post: Opti the Mystic

"Cool," Marty muttered to himself, after hearing Rani's story. "I'm only two out of three!"

Character(s): Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris
Title of Post: And, Pessi the Mystic

Khyrisse blinked at Rani for a second, then stared thoughtfully down into her mug. Where have I heard something like this before...? "Good is gullible, evil makes me sick, and people are invariably a pain in the ass." She smiled a little, ruefully, and downed her peppermint tea. I've finally found somebody more cynical than I am.

Character(s): Amatsu and friends
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Jacks or Better
Title of Post: Paris Never Dies, part 2

The Rat Pack was sitting down to breakfast, some more well rested than others, when Amatsu entered, several fresh wounds newly bandaged. "Are you alright? What happened?" Praxis said, standing.
"This one has suffered only minor injuries," he lied slightly. "Miss Dare and I infiltrated the temple of the forgotten daimyo and slew three ninja of the Black Serpent Clan. But we... that is, we found..." he looked very uncertain as to how to explain.
He was spared when Vickie entered, accompanied by a grizzled man.

Character(s): Asinus Paris, Meliel
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Heaven's Ass
Title of Post: Reason To Believe

Asinus was brought into the presence of Meliel by eight cherubs who bore him aloft on white scarves. Asinus prayed that no one he knew could see.
The palace of the Archangels was a mathematical impossibility. Asinus figured that was why Robinson lived in the area. It was just the sort of thing that the old nerd would like outside his window. Asinus would have preferred a nice harem somewhere, personally. He wondered if there were such things in heaven, or if he was idealogically too far from the place ever to really find out. Meliel turned out to be a book.
It was a strange binding, being composed entirely of paper and glue, and had only a flimsy cover. The words on the cover read "Someone To Watch Over Me."
"This is the flarkin' angel?" Asinus asked of one of the cherubim, but the stupid baby just flew off.
I am the angel Meliel, Asinus thought.
"Get the flark out of there!" he shouted. "God, I hate people in my mind." Usually, he added to himself.
"My apologies, Asinus Paris," the book said. "Up here, we are less... suspicious."
"Yeah, well, I'm not giving up cigars, either," the donkey muttered.
"This is," the book continued, "in part why we need you."
"You need someone for the cover of Smoke magazine?"
"We need one who is true of heart but weak of trust. There are those in Heaven who seek change, you see."
"Less manna, more lobster?" Asinus asked. "I can empathize."
"The Reversal has caused a great deal of stress to the metaphysical planes," Meliel continued. "Heaven, while immune to the evils of mortalkind, is not proof against misguided goodness."
"So you want me to keep things nice and status quo? Yeah, that's a job for Asinus Paris if I ever heard one," Asinus growled sarcastically.
"No, my friend," Meliel said. "We need you to deliver judgement upon us all."
"As of now, Asinus Paris, you are given the mantle of Truthseeker. All of Heaven will be open to you. You have but to decide what we should be, and we shall accept your judgement."
"Out of all the dead souls you get, you picked me for this? No flarkin' way."
"We cannot use one who is deceased for this task, my friend. You will soon be returned to your world."
"I... will?" Asinus asked, surprised. One more chance to get it right?
"You have much to do on your world, Asinus Paris. But when the time is right, you shall return to us to grant us the benefit of your wisdom."
"Okay, pal, where's the flarkin' camera?" Asinus said. "Just 'cause I've got four legs, don't mean they're for pulling."
"When the time for decision is upon us, you shall know the truth. You... uh... what are you doing?"
"I'm trying to envision dancing girls. It's my dream, I've got to be able to get at least a dancing girl."
Meliel gave Asinus a strange look, which was impressive considering that he was only a paperback book.
"Look, pal, I liked the schpiel, but I'm going to go kick back in the Fountain of Bliss or whatever you've got. Thanks for the baby ride, but I'll hoof it from here."
Asinus turned and wandered out of the Archangel Palace.
Only seconds after the ass had left, two dark figures floated down from the sky and into Meliel's chamber.
You are too late, Meliel thought. The selection has been made.
The figures said nothing.
"Someone To Watch Over Me", paperback edition, third printing, burst into flame.
Within moments, the Archangel Palace had adjusted itself once more, making room for one less.
Unbeknownst to anyone, particularly the bearer, the Burden of Heaven was once again on mortal shoulders.
"Hey, does anyone know the way to the topless clouds?"

Character(s): Val, Skitch, Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris... But Which One?
Title of Post: (Mistaken Identity)^2

Valende leaped up from the table with a joyfully relieved look. Vas scooted out of her way, grinning. "Jack!" The elven priestess threw her arms around the startled mathematician's neck. "Don't you ever do that again!"
Val kissed him fiercely. Jack, after a stunned moment, put his arms around her.
"Honorable lady--" Amatsu said, hesitantly.
"Well, I guess you can't really blame him," Vickie said, grinning.
"No, I imagine not," Vas said, chuckling.
Val, however, was pulling slowly back away from her welcoming kiss. Still in the circle of Jack's arms, she frowned a little, studying his face.
"You aren't Jack," she said after a moment, decisively.
"Whoa, he's a doppelganger?!" Skitch said, upending his milk as he jumped out of his chair and over to Khyrisse.
Khyrisse stood up and grabbed her son before he could throw anything, staring at Jack. "What?"
Val backed up and interposed herself between her employer and the strange mathematician. Her eyes were more confused than suspicious, though. "...I don't know. But he's not my Jack."

Character(s): Jack Paris, the Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Jacks or Better to Open
Title of Post: You Don't Know Jack

No, but I suddenly wish I were, were the words that flitted through Jack Paris' mind, but what he finally forced out was, "Can people stop calling me a doppleganger, please?"
"Only if you tell us what you really are," the elven woman who had only moments ago been so wonderfully affectionate said, glaring at him.
"I'm Jack Paris," Jack said. "Son of Robinson Paris. He'll vouch for me."
There was an uncomfortable silence.
Jack looked around, until his eyes fell on Haroshi.
"But..." Jack continued, losing his train of thought, "I can see that things are a bit... strange here. Hari, aren't you dead?"
Hari looked as if he was about to speak, but before he could, the other elf maiden stepped forward.
"That's for sure," she said. "If you don't remember, Jack, I'm Khyrisse Starshadow."
"Where'd you get the beard?" a young boy asked.
"Uh, pleased to, um, meet you," Jack said, feeling singularly out of place. "You guys must be the Rat Clan, right?"
"Rat Pack," Khyrisse said. "And we're familiar with Jack Paris, if you haven't figured that out yet."
"I got that," Jack said. "I think I know what's wrong here."
"You're a doppleganger?" Vickie asked amusedly.
"No," Jack said, his eyes taking a familiar guilty look upon them. "How, uh, much do you know about, um... Jack Paris."
The kissing elf raised one eyebrow. "I know all that there is to know," she said.
"Well, if you do," Jack said, "then I hope you're familiar with the mathematic term 'subset'."
"I shouldn't even try to follow this, should I?" Marty asked Ebreth, who was standing towards the back of the party, watching unnoticed. The pirate shook his head.
"You mean...?" the beautiful elf started.
Jack looked around nervously. "I'd rather not go into the specifics... but if you know about Jack, I'm more of the, uh... same."
"Look," Khyrisse said. "I think I get the gist of what you're telling us. You're basically a twin of Jack's with none of his memories."
"Well, not of the Rat Clan at least," Jack said, looking pensively at the elf who kissed him.
"Valende," she sighed, answering his frequent looks.
"Rat Pack," Khyrisse corrected. "How long ago is this... divergence?"
"Could someone explain what the heck we're talking about?" a male elf asked.
"I'll vouch for him... at least for now," Khyrisse said. "What I'd rather know is how you got here."
"I've been here, well, here in Shikintu at least... for the last three years. I kind of had a mission, but I can't really go into that."
"Does it have to do with the Remnant?" Valende asked.
"Yes," Jack said. "You could say that that's what got me into this position."
"One more reason," Val muttered.
"But I really can't talk about--"
"Jack!" Mina cried, coming in from guard duty.
"Lita?" Jack asked, his eyes boggling.
"Man, if Mister Roper comes in, I'm out of here," Vickie said.
"I knew this would hurt," Marty sighed, holding his head.

Character(s): That Confusing Rat Pack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: Subsets

"I'm Mina, Jack," corrected Mina.
"That's not quite Jack, Mina," corrected Valende.
Jack looked dizzily from Mina to Ebreth Tor. "But--"
"I'm not the same Tor," sighed the big pirate, tired lines straining his face.
"Aren't you dead?" Crandall said to Haroshi Yashida.
"Aren't you dead?" Haroshi Yashida said to Crandall.
"I'm Flicker," the Norse elf introduced. "I was a friend of your father's. More or less."
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Yoshida," said Mina.
"That's Mr. Yashida, Lita," corrected Jack.
"I'm Mina, Jack," corrected Mina.
"I'm actually a ghost," corrected Hari.
"I'm Otter," said Otter. "And that's all I am. Ever."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: Respect Among Thieves

Ebreth drank his third cup of coffee and watched the spitting image of Jack talking to the spitting image of Lita. If everyone else wasn't making the same mistakes he was he'd think he was even moreinsane than usual. It was weak coffee they had here in Shikintu, but beggars couldn't be choosers. He put the cup down suddenly. "Khyrisse," he said in her ear, leaning across to her. "Kynvelyn. I need you to get a message to Kynvelyn."
"What?" she hissed back.
"He's undercover on the Remnant flagship still. I--I don't know if he could do anything for Jack, but if anyone can get that Passage prototype away from ∆lwyn, that's who." He paused. "But don't tell him I said that. Tell him I bet you he wouldn't be able to do it. That should get it to you."
"What about Jack?"
"I don't know. He surrendered himself. I don't think he'd leave with Kynvelyn even if that weasel did have a mind to rescue him. We'll have to get rid of ∆lwyn. Maybe this other Jack can help us. Maybe we can, maybe Garal can bring us back to Hell to find Geryon." The pirate crossed his arms to keep their shaking from betraying too much of how he felt about that prospect. "But if we get that Passage thing away from him maybe we could use it against him somehow. Maybe it would at least buy us some time."

Character(s): Commander Ixhriy and three of his close friends
Author: Kristin L'Kar Andersen (who MUST have channeled this from SOMEWHERE)
Storyline: Interlude: Trouble in the Afterlife
Title of Post: Kris' Exceedingly Weird Dream

Ixhriy swooped in through the front door of the palace of the succubi, on his first official vacation... and found Glasya and Belfry huddled in the hallway.
"Now, Nasty... your blood pressure..." Belfry said faintly, arms thrown over her head.
"Bless my blood pressure!" *CRASH!*
"What wrong with Fire-Head?" Ixhriy said, his blue eyes comically wide as he looked at Glasya. She brushed a loose, honey-blond curl out of her face as he flapped past her to take a look.
"Well, she gets these irrational crushes, you see, and--"
"I'll tell you what's wrong! Some pathetic excuse for a dominatrix is up there taking my name in vain and MY DONKEY IS IN HEAVEN!"
Glasya reached out and yanked the fascinated Ixhriy out of the doorway, mere instants before a bottle of scarlet nail polish came whizzing out the door. It exploded violently against the opposite wall.
Ixhriy snuggled in close, perfectly content with his change in location since it placed him in proximity to Glasya. "Woooo! Fire-Head is sexy when angry, just like Retty...!" he cackled.
"That was my favorite bottle of nail polish, too," whined Belfry.
"Redheads!" said Big Nice Devil, with an exasperated sigh.

Character(s): Jack Paris, the Rat Pack (gee, it's nice to write that again...)
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Shikinti Blue (are we planning on boozing our way through the country?)
Title of Post: So Let Me See If I Have This Straight

Jack sat at the same table as the Rat Pack, but everyone seemed too uncomfortable to appreciate the familiarity.
"So let me see if I have this straight," Jack said. "You guys met up with my Other, and have been adventuring since July."
"Right," Valende agreed. "Until he left us at the Ghede Cinqjours. Ebreth says that he's with the Remnant now."
"Yeah," sighed Jack. "I don't get that. I can't see myself selling out for any reason. Something really bad must have gone down."
"It was right after Cori's death," Khyrisse said. "We think Jack blamed himself."
Jack shrugged. "If that was all, I'd've just gone and hid somewhere. He must've had some reason to make a deal with the Remnant. Something more important to him than his own life."
Valende looked down and said nothing.
"We're going to talk to Kynvelyn," Ebreth Tor offered. Jack frowned. Seeing Tor sitting next to Mina made him angry... but now wasn't the time. Apparently his Other had made peace, and Jack wanted to be able to trust his own judgment. Everything just seemed so... melodramatic.
"He might be able to get the Passage prototype back," Ebreth continued. "Then we can get back to trying to get Jack... uh, the other Jack... out of there."
"Well," Jack said, frowning, "I guess it's a good thing that we did what we did. You see, Robinson extrapolated me to keep the secret of the Passage safe. We figured I could guard the secret while the other Jack could go out and, well, be a decoy, really."
Valende frowned, and Jack knew he had said something wrong again. At least Crandall and Hari are here, he thought. Them at least, I can trust.
"What secret is so important that the Parises had to go and yank Jack around like this?" Khyrisse asked.
"I, uh... can't really tell you."
"Of course," the archmage sighed. "You're a Paris. What was I expecting?"
Jack looked to Crandall, who shrugged.
"Well," he sighed. "I guess if I can't trust myself, who can I trust?" My Other, strange as he's gotten, seems to believe in these people, and Crandall's with them... so was Cori before my Other lost her. They might be my only hope. And that elf who kissed me... "Jack, I thought that no one person had all of the Passage information," Mina asked.
"I guess that's true," Jack said. "But I'm the one they stuck with the formula for it. And the coordinates."
"So you know where the Passage leads?" Khyrisse sighed, trying not to sound like she was sick of the very word.
"Not exactly... but if we can get our hands on a teleportative matrix, I can duplicate it."
"Why do we need to travel there at all?" Valende asked. "Jack... our Jack is with the Remnant."
"Unless we can get that prototype," Ebreth sighed, "I'm guessing that that's where the Remnant is going to be."
"That and in my citadel," Hari offered. "If Chu-I Po is indeed the Second Rider, then it stands to reason that the true location of ∆lwyn's keep would be something that demon sorceror knows."
There was a long silence, as everyone pondered their options.
Marty broke the silence. "Um, can someone go over the part about Jack again?"

Character(s): Garal and the Rat Pack
Author: Eric Gasior (with input from Doug)
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: And The Meek Shall Be Meek

"I know where we can find a teleportative matrix," Garal said. Some members of the Rat Pack looked surprised. He wasn't sure if they wondered where a halfling would find a teleportative matrix or they had forgotten that he was there.
"I know where we could find a box spring for it," Marty offered.
Jack looked at the halfling. "Really? Great!"
Khyrisse countered, "I think we should find ∆lwyn first. We need to save Jack, the other Jack, and we might not need to find the end of the Passage after that."
Garal answered in a quiet voice, "It's there if we need it."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Shikinti Blue
Title of Post: Can't Speak For Anyone Else, But...

The strange look Ebreth Tor had been giving Garal was entirely due to the fact that he had no idea what a 'teleportative matrix' was, actually.

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