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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Passage, Part V



Character(s): Jack, Khyrisse, Garal, the Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Into the Grand Finally
Title of Post: The Worms Crawl In...

Jack Paris whistled to himself as he and Khyrisse sat over the table, working out the speed vectors to take the Trade Carriage through Garal's makeshift Passage.
"We're going to need to make about eighty-eight miles an hour to break through the dimensional membrane... um, can the carriage do that?"
Khyrisse smiled. "Piece of cake. We've clocked it at over a hundred."
"Wow," Jack said.
"We will need to take your, ah, constants into our planning... Jack... ah, the other Jack occasionally caused problems with the carriage."
"O... kay," Jack said. It was strange to have these people whom he barely knew be so informed about him. He felt naked.
"Now, once we're in there, are there any course corrections we need to make?"
"Um, not if we move in at the right vector. Part of what's going to happen is that the course is already designed to take into account the planar tides and gravity wells... basically, if we go in fast enough and on the right course, the environment will make all the turns for us. That's why I can't tell you where we'll end up," he added meekly.
"We're past that, Jack," Khyrisse said. "You go line the carriage up, I'll get everyone on board."
Jack smiled. "You got it, chief."
"Jack?" Khyrisse said. "Don't call me chief."

***


"A little to the left," Garal said.
"And up. A little up," Jack added.
Ebreth Tor sighed. "Up? How the hell do I do up?"
"Um," Jack thought.
"Maybe you could put something under the wheels," Garal offered.
"Yeah!" Jack said, pulling a wad of papers from his satchel and counting out a handful. This many!"
"This thing is heavy, you know."
"We couldn't find Marty," Jack said.

***


"We're about to head into the Passage," Khyrisse said to Vickie and Amatsu. "The Carriage is taking off from Garal's room. You're welcome to opt out now if you wish."
"My place is with those I serve," Amatsu bowed.
"You da boss, girlfriend," Vickie smiled.
Khyrisse raised an eyebrow at the departing pair. For some reason she had expected more stress from Vickie. Oh, well, she thought. I probably shouldn't complain about problems that don't come up...

***


Orlen and Otter looked at the carriage facing the giant stone arch, and the thick stone wall behind it.
"We're supposed to take off at full speed, I hear."
"Yes, I heard that."
"Next time, we should do this outside."
"Amen."

***


Rani and Val settled in on the roof of the carriage, behind Khyrisse, Garal and Jack.
"At least now I don't have to listen to dimboy the whole trip," Rani said, placing her hand on Val's.
"True," Val said, distantly, looking at the back of Jack's head.

***


"Ready to go?" Jack asked.
Garal closed his eyes and opened his planar senses. "We're ready here. The gate will activate with the speed energy of the carriage."
"Then let's get going!" Jack said, almost eagerly. "On to the Passage!"
"Wherever the h... flark that is," Khyrisse muttered.

***


The carriage hit the dimensional archway at eighty-eight miles per hour, and there was a bright flash of light that for some reason Khyrisse felt ought to have been blue.
And the Rat Pack was gone from Ataniel.

Character(s): Jari
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Puppets
Title of Post: Replicants

"That will be all Jari," said Shilree to her secretary. "Please forward the new trade treaties to the Emperor."
"Yes Regent."
"After that I am going to spend some time in my laboratory. Do not disturb me unless it is important."
"Thank you Regent."
Jari got up from the sitting pillow and walked out of Shilree's office. She then went to her desk, called for a courier and proceeded to get back to some filing she had to do. An hour later the courier arrived.
"Mistress Jari?" the young man asked.
"Yes," she said half paying attention. "I will be with you in a moment."
Jari wanted to finish writing this letter before she left. She put the last line to the letter and looked up. Standing over her was an average looking Diari man not much older than twenty.
"Take this," she said handing the courier a crystal, " to the Emperor in Ekyarn. I take it your papers are all in order."
The man just stood there starring at her.
"Hello? Are you paying attention?"
Suddenly the man struck. A dagger appeared in his hand and before she could react it plunged deep into her heart. Jari shuddered once and died.
The man stood over the body for a moment then kneeled next to it. He then put his face next to widening pool of blood and lapped it up like a puppy. Once that was done he hid Jari's body behind the desk and sat in her place.
Slowly his face and body started to flow. It was as if this assassin was made of wax that was being sculpted by an unseen hand. After a few minutes he was now a she. To be specific he was now Jari.
Just then the door to the Regent's chamber opened and Shilree, dressed in "sweat clothes" jogged out.
"Jari I changed my mind. I am going to go for a run. I will be back in an hour or so."
"Very good Regent. Have a good run."
The doppelganger watched as Shilree jogged out of the office. She looked down at the body of Shilree's secretary. An hour would be more than enough time to hide the corpse.

Character(s): The Rat Pack, Topside
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: PIKA
Title of Post: Waiting For The Worms

A shadow streaked over the courtyard of the Order of Redemption and through the wall of the main building. Magical alarms echoed over the grounds.
Praxis sensed an entity passing through the guest rooms on the second floor at an alarming speed, its mind bearing some of the telltales of psionic talent, before the presence suddenly vanished.

***


The Carriage streaked through a spiraling corridor of reflection that dimmed in the distance, as if the walls of the “tunnel” were made of mercury and the Rat Pack was carrying the only light. Oddly enough, there was no wind from the speed of their movement, just a sense of increasing pressure. The dying glow of their entrance to the Passage gave one last flicker behind them and vanished.
“Shit.” Rani suddenly poked Khyrisse in the back. “Floor it.”
“What?”
“Khyrisse, we have company!” Val said. There was a sharp hiss of metal behind her as Val drew her sword.
Khyrisse glanced incredulously over her shoulder.
A cloaked and hooded rider raced through the Passage next to the Carriage, riding a horse that somewhat resembled one of her own team, a phantasmal steed-- but it was a sickly, mottled shade of gray. Its hooves and eyes looked as if they’d been infested with algae, and the skin around them was an irritated red.
I knew you could kill them, but I didn’t think you could make them undead!
The Rider turned her head and looked back at Khyrisse. She got a glimpse of an intent, hawklike face that seemed to be made of crystal, the planes of the transparent muscle and bone visible beneath her skin, like shadows slanting down through clear water.
The carriage team shied frantically away from the woman’s steed as she pulled past. It was the first time Khyrisse had ever seen them frightened of something. She struggled with the reins, trying to get them under control. The Carriage began losing speed.
“Khyrisse,” Jack said, holding onto the side of the driver’s seat, “um, slowing down is a really bad idea.”
“I know...!”
A strangled noise of pain suddenly came from the crystalline woman’s throat. Undead rider and horse veered off, caroming into the rippling wall of the Passage. There was a blinding spray of multicolored sparks, a spiralling scream, and the remaining Rider of the Remnant disappeared. Val turned and looked at Rani. Her eyes were closed, and in her hands were the head and intestine of the other two Riders. The priestess smiled.
“It’s gone, Khyrisse,” Garal said, looking back along the side of the Carriage. “It crashed through the extraplanar boundaries of the Passage. I don’t know if it’s dead, but it’s probably badly hurt, and certainly lost. Can you calm down the team?”
“Yes, yes!” she replied, a little crankily, trying to turn the team before they went through the wall. Summer, I’m going to give you such a kick in the tail...!” The left lead horse tossed its head in a last flash of defiance and settled down.

Character(s): Shilree and Anjra
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Interlude: Just For Fun
Title of Post: Why It Sucks To Be Emperor

"You look tired Anjra," said Shilree, over lunch.
"It is nothing, love," dismissed Anjra. "My duties are many now. Come, give me a kiss."
Shilree leaned across the table and did. Suddenly, Anjra's eyes went wide and she clutched at her chest. "Heart attack!" she gasped.
Shilree jumped up. "You're having a heart attack?"
"No," said Anjra, relaxing. "Some 76-year-old woman in Tesin was."
Shilree expelled air. "Don't scare me like that, Anjie! Did you ever do anything about this serial killer you were telling me about?"
"I sent Belle after him. That should solve the problem." Anjra fiddled with her water glass. "Now if the cholesterol awareness programs I'm pushing will only have an impact, maybe I can make it five minutes without--AAARGH!"

Character(s): The Rat Pack, The Paris Family
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: The Grand Finally
Title of Post: ...The Worms Crawl Out

Jack prayed to all the math he could think of that the Rider's interference wouldn't affect their trajectory. Someone, somewhere above (because we all know the math skills of the lower planes) must have been listening, for a moment later, the Trade Carriage burst through a stable dimensional gateway...
The Trade Carriage shot out of the other end of the strange dimensional tunnel like a ball from a musket and skidded into a large open plaza.
"Holy..." Jack started.
The plaza that the Rat Pack suddenly found themselves in was about half a mile in diameter. Beings of all sorts of strange appearances wandered about, and a variety of stalls selling everything from goblin fruit to glowing triluminaries dotted the plaza.
Beyond the plaza, huge spires of silver and crystal rose up into the sky.
The black, starspecked sky.
There was no Bane above, no moon at all. Still, a variety of streaking and blinking lights flew through the firmament. Below the starfield, flying ships of all makes, from Montasi style clippers to eerie manta rays glided across the sky.
Ahead of the Rat Pack, three great glass pyramids illumed the cityscape in the absence of a sun.
"Cool!" Skitch cried from inside the Carriage, and before anyone had even finished taking the scene in, he had scrambled onto the roof to get a better look.
"Where are we, Garal?" Khyrisse asked.
"We have returned to the prime material, I know," Garal said. "The dimensional fixed point I sensed must have a portal back to our home dimension."
"This isn't Ataniel, though," Khyrisse said, "I'd know if it was. Jack?"
"I wouldn't have believed it," he said, awed.
"Believed what?" Khyrisse demanded.
Jack pointed to a large sign to the left.
The letters glowed with a strange, internal light. "Welcome to STARCROSS STATION."

***


Asinus and Margo stormed into the upper Palace.
"Tharraz!" Margo called. "Tharraz, where are you?"
A tall, white-furred wolfen humanoid raced out of an adjoining room to greet them. "Milady Margolis," he said. "Have you returned from your... personal business?" The last few words he said with obvious distaste.
"Yes, Tharraz. And I have brought allies to protect us from the Dencrite fleet that besieges us."
"A donkey? This is the help you bring? He is not even bonded to a shakti! I had expected you to bring Lord Silverhammer!"
"Bite me, wolfboy," Asinus said. "Man, I can see how people get off on these animal insults."
"Asinus and his family have resources of a different sort," Lady Margo said. "And they will be needed. We have a second problem."
Just then, a young man raced in, a steel collar around his neck. Small bits of dirt flaked off the soles of his feet as he ran. "Bright Lady!" he cried. "The First of the Three has fallen! An army of dead men appeared from nowhere and taken it!"
"The Remnant," Margo said.
"Told ya so," Asinus said. "Now we get ready to hit 'em with the old one-two."
"With our forces split? Are you mad, ass?" Tharraz cried.
"We ain't alone, Rover," he said. "If I know my girl, and I think I do, reinforcements are already on their way."

***


Rauvin looked quickly around. None of the shakti wielding nobility was anywhere to be seen at the back entrance.
"Now, my little catspaw," he said in a soothing voice, "go. Remember all I told you. Bring them to me..."
He knelt to the ground, and from his cupped hands, released the Rat.
"Thank you!" the Rat cried, and scurried off in search of its friends.

***


"I... I remember Max telling me about this place," Khyrisse said. "He got a ship here after escaping from the Gila homeworld... it's some sort of space station."
"It's too big to be a space station," Ebreth said.
Khyrisse elbowed him playfully.
"It's some sort of interplanetary trading center," she continued. "That's where he got that hammer/armor combo thing."
"A shakti," Jack said.
Khyrisse whirled on him. "I thought you said you didn't know where the Passage went!"
"I didn't... until just now, I thought this was all a fairy tale... Robinson told me and Lita these stories... but we never imagined..."
There was a loud explosion from somewhere off to the west, and cannonfire from some of the ships in the sky.
"They're under attack!" Garal said.
"The Remnant?" Ebreth asked Jack.
Jack shrugged. "I thought that they were supposed to have come through a Passage... not to have star ships."
"Well," Khyrisse said, "our first priority is to make sure we're safe. Then we go find Jack."
"I... I think he's here," Jack said. "Not nearby... but in the city somewhere."
"That's a start," Ebreth said. "Now to narrow it down. Rani?"
The Diarian lowered herself from the carriage roof. "Already on the case," she said.

***


"Lord Hunter! Our forces have taken the red sector! We're concentrating clearing fire there, and preparing to beachhead."
"Excellent. Any further luck on Jack Paris?"
"That... ah, was the other thing, Lord," the new lieutenant said. "The relic has... changed... again."
"What? Have we lost him?" the conqueror demanded, his eyes beginning to glow with anger and energy.
"No!" the lieutenant cried in fear. "Quite the opposite, actually!"
"The... opposite?"
"We now show... ah... two of him."
"Two? How can that be?"
"I don't know," the lieutenant said, clenching his face for the final blast.
"Keep looking, then," the conqueror said. "And when they're found... bring me both of them."
"Yes, Lord Hunter!" the Dencrite lieutenant said, and raced off.
Orion the Conqueror smiled. For the first time since getting tossed through the temporal rift at the Center, things were starting to go his way.

***


Jack Paris finished with the letter and blotted the ink.
The chances of his plan working were one in two thousand, three hundred and sixty-six, but it was his only hope. Ćlwyn had been on top of him night and day to get them through the Passage, and now that Jack had (albeit in his own way), he was a prisoner in the largest of the three glass pyramids. At least he finally had enough time to himself to get done what needed to be done. He folded the letter carefully and pressed his lips to it in place of a seal. He slipped it into his vest and picked up his satchel.
Now or never, Jack Paris, he told himself. Now or never.

Character(s): Praxis + Inez
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: WAHP: Back in Shikintu
Title of Post: And they totally cleaned out the fridge!

"Well," Praxis said, "it looks like they're off through the Passage."
"What on earth did they do to this carpet?!?"

Character(s): Ebreth, Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Grand Finally
Title of Post: The Game Is Afoot

Ebreth was trying not to be too fascinated by all the flying ships, with moderate success. "Ćlwyn," he said, grabbing Rani's arm. She yanked it away from him. "We've got to kill Ćlwyn. Jack won't let us help him while Ćlwyn lives."
"Mmmm..." Rani squeezed the section of Po's intestine in her hand, touching her upper lip with her tongue. "He's here, but... No one thought to get a piece of that third one, did they?"
No one answered her.
"Then we're going to have to do this the old-fashioned way." She stuffed the intestine back into her jacket pocket.

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