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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Starcross, Part II



Character(s): The Rat
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: This seems awfully familiar

Seeker of Places spent his time doing what he did best, exploring. By the time Jack and Flicker were on their fiftieth drink the Rat had found five hidey holes, the bar's grain stores and a secret chamber behind the fireplace. Still he left the best place for last. Seeker of Places entered the food preparation area, that is the kitchen.
The Rat sniffed. There were exotic smells and very familiar ones. Just then a large cleaver came down in front of the Rat. The rodent looked up into the face of a fat lilac colored humanoid.
"Rats zey are not allowed in Ubert's kitchen!"
To which Seeker of Places thought... "Not again..."

Character(s): Ebreth, Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Marty Must Be Related To The Blob; He Never Gives Up

*Thunk!* The cleaver slammed into the wooden bar floor inches from the rat's head, just as he veered by some ratly instinct.
"Come here, Rat," said Ebreth.
Someone almost stepped on the rat as he ran through all the feet in a panic. The rat hated bars.
"Come here, Rat," said Ebreth.
"Feelthy steenking creature!"
"Come here, Rat," said Ebreth.
The rat made it to the crouching pirate's outstretched arm and squirmed frantically up his loose sleeve.

"Ubert vill julienne you, you meeserable--"
"Can I help you." Ebreth Tor stood to his full six-foot-four as the lilac-colored chef paused the cleaver blow that would have struck him.
The alien Ubert looked up at him. "Non," he said, after a moment.

***


Valende was stroking Rani's silver hair reassuringly when Ebreth, Khyrisse, Marty, Mina, and Skitch joined them outside. The detective appeared to have recovered most of her composure. "Are we ready to go?" Valende said sweetly.
Skitch was giving the two women a really funny look.
"I think so," said Khyrisse, counting heads as the rest of the Rat Pack spilled out of the bar.
"Good." Valende went over to talk to Garal.
"Rani?" said Marty, soulfully. "Do you want to hear the rest of my poem?"
"I think I've had enough romance for one day, Marty."
"But I rhymed 'liver' with 'river' and everything!"
"I don't want to know," muttered Rani.
"Let her alone, Marty." Ebreth put his hand on the young paladin's shoulder, looking very deliberately only at him. "It's not very nice to make plays for people who have previous commitments."
"Kiss my ass, you puritanical homophobe."
"Can we just get going?" said Khyrisse, visibly unhappy with the new tensions in her party.
"Okay," called Garal, "I need everyone to stay together and not go, uh, wandering off." His eyes flicked involuntarily to Vickie. "I'm shortcutting us through Limbo, and it's easy to get lost there."
"If anyone has a helm of alignment change," added Ebreth, "this is going to be a real good time to not use it."

Character(s): Khyrisse, worried mother-to-be (*shhhhhh!*)
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: PIKA
Title of Post: Having Khyrisse In Your Head Is Really Convenient When You're Getting Blood Work Done!

You know, needing to talk to six different people at once and hopping dimensional boundaries left and right was a lot easier when I was a god, Khyrisse thought crankily.
"Hold that thought for just a second, Garal?" she said, trying not to let her personal irritations color her tone. "Flicker... Can I talk to you?"

Character(s): Flicker
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Lamarckism Is Dead

"I'm quite sure, Khyrisse," said Flicker. "Babies are the same kind of creatures their parents are. It doesn't matter where they're conceived or what planes their mothers visit."
Khyrisse exhaled in relief.
"Congratulations, by the way."
"Listen, Flicker, if you could just not tell anyone about this for a little--"
"Khyrisse," he interrupted gently. "Could you really imagine I would?"

Character(s): Crandall and Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Revenge Is A Dish Best Served With Honey

"Hey. Crandall." Rani caught up with him as the group walked carefully through Limbo and linked her thumbs through her belt loops, scuffing her heel on the ground. "Listen--I just wanted to say thanks. For covering for me in the bar back there and all that. That's two I owe you."
"Hey, think nothing of it," he said. "I'm always glad to help. Things are working out, then?"
"Yeah." She shook her head. "You were right. She was interested. I don't know how the hell you knew that."
"Body language."
"Body language is my job," she said. She shook her head again. "Anyway, however you did it, I'm really glad you did."
"You're welcome."
"And I'm sorry for telling you to shove your patronizing interference where the sun don't shine and all that."
"Hey," he said, "no problem, really. What are friends for?"
"Well, I owe you," she said. "I would never have tried it if you hadn't talked to me about it last night, and--well, she's great. I really appreciate this. That's all." She rubbed her neck with her left hand. "And if there's anything I can do for you..." She gave him a two-fingered salute, one corner of her mouth perking up at him, and turned back to the others.
"Oh, you already have, Rani," Crandall said under his breath, a genuine smile spreading across his face. "Believe me, you already have."

Character(s): Ebreth Tor, buttinsky
Author: Laura Redish (with help from Kristin L'Kar Andersen)
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: In Limbo

"What is it, Ebreth," sighed Val, like she already knew.
"I just wanted to say," he said. "You do know what you're doing here, don't you?"
"I'm old enough to be your grandmother, Ebreth," she said, her mouth perking with tired amusement. "Great-grandmother."
"You don't act it," he said. "You act like a woman who doesn't realize she's sabotaging the best thing she's found in years."
"Save the psychobabble for Skitch, dear." Her voice sounded hard even to herself.
"If you think this isn't going to break Jack's heart," he said, "you're deluding yourself, Valende. Don't do this."
"It's a little late now, isn't it?" she said, too sweetly.
"No," he said, "no, it's not. You say 'Jack, look, I felt lonely and abandoned, I made a mistake, and I'm sorry, now don't scarper off on me again and it won't happen again', you can pull this out. You say 'Meet my new girlfriend, Rani, I told you I was bi, right?' and it's the end of the ditty about Jack and Valende."
"Maybe Jack's not as insecure as you are."
"Bury your head a little deeper, Val."
She folded her arms. "Crandall said Jack would be fine with this. I think he knows Jack a little better than you do, don't you?"
"Crandall said that?"
Val gave him a smirking, told-you-so smile.
"No," he said, shaking his head, "no, I don't believe it. It's out of character."
"I don't remember you guessing Jack was going to betray us all, either," she retorted. "Since when are you the expert on Jack's character?"
"Valende, think about this. He's never even kissed a woman before. He hasn't got a chance in hell of seeing this coming. Have you ever discussed this with him?"
"Did he discuss it with me before running off to sacrifice himself to the Remnant?" she hissed at him. "I'd say we're even."
"Valende!" She turned her head. "You're throwing away the love of a good man," he said. "This is the only warning you're going to get. It's not too late now, but it's going to be soon. Is this really worth losing Jack over?"
Valende stalked painfully across Limbo, her arms around herself.

Character(s): Garal
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: A Different Kind of Angst

"Vickie, I don't know if you've ever been in Limbo before. Would you like to walk up front with me?" There, I said it. I hope she doesn't make a fool of me.
She gave him one of those female looks that he never understood. "Sounds keen, Garry buddy!"
He blinked his green fractal patterned eyes in amazement.

Character(s): Vickie Dare, Garal, Amatsu
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Oblivious

"So, Matsie, ever planar travel before?"
"I must admit that it has never come up," the ninja on one side of Vickie Dare said.
"Do you know how to get to the really exciting planes, Garry?" Vickie asked Garal, on the other side.
"Like what? The Center of Opposition? The Lost Heaven? Hollywood?"
"How about the Cave of the Water Curtain in the blessed land of the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit?" Vickie asked offhandedly.
"Never heard of it," Garal said, looking at her strangely.
Amatsu, however, had stopped and was looking at Vickie with a raised eyebrow.
"You hush," she said. "It was just a question."
Alone, Garal thought. Next time I say "walk up front with me alone."

Character(s): Amatsu Mikaboshi
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: WAHP: Star-crossed, and how!
Title of Post: One Missing Piece

"Crandall said Jack would be fine with this." Valende smirked with satisfaction at Ebreth Tor's shocked reaction.
Neither of them noticed Amatsu, standing a discreet distance away -- but within earshot, if one was a longtime ninja. He stood unobtrusive and unnoticed, as he had for most of his life, and thought. Another piece seemed to fall into place, and he glanced at Crandall. He thought: Kunoichi.
Amatsu himself had been a bit shocked by Rani's less than subtle declaration. He didn't really know much about... that type of relationship, so he had filed it in the same category as the one between Khyrisse and Ebreth: one that was none of his concern.
Or was it? He instantly recognized that with one act of passion, a tremendous wedge had been driven into the Rat Pack. Kei herself could have been no more effective in sowing discord.
Amatsu resolved to keep an eye on this. Then he noticed Garal, navigating the bubble with Vickie Dare beside him. He went to join them, telling himself that this was most definitely not another situation that was cause for concern over the Rat Pack's personal lives.

Character(s): Mina Paris, Valende
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Only One Blow-Up Out Of Four Characters, I Think I'm Doing Okay

Mina had been silent ever since Rani's outburst. I am not going to do this mad, she kept telling herself, but all she could hear in her mind was a constant argument. It was the kind of fight she used to have with her father, without her father--the kind where she tried to come up with every excuse or line of reasoning he would have and cut through them like rice paper.
Most of all, she could see Jack. Not Jack as he was now, but Jack as she remembered him from when they were both younger. The innocence she would have died to defend.
It was too much for the young sorceress.
Her teacher Tyldant had always counselled patience, inner peace, and understanding. Tyldant didn't have any family, though.
Before she even knew what she was doing, she was stomping across Garal's Limbo pocket to where the elf stood, distanced from the others.
Valende didn't turn when Mina approached, but the sorceress could tell that she wasn't unexpected.
"Try," she said coldly to the elf.
"Try what, Mina?" Valende sighed tiredly.
"Try to convince me you're not the lowest person I've ever met."
"I neither have the time nor desire to talk about this with you, Mina."
Mina grabbed Valende by the shoulder and pulled her around. She withdrew the hand quickly upon seeing the look in Valende's eyes.
"I said--" Valende said precisely, and with icy anger.
"I heard what you said," Mina almost-yelled. "But I'm not leaving until you hear this."
"Ebreth already talked to me, I think I've heard quite enough of people not minding their own business."
Mina inwardly smiled to hear that Ebreth had also come for Jack. She was glad to be proven right about him now and again. "My own business is the well-being of the people I care about. I had thought you might be one, but I'm sure as hell that my cousin Jack is."
Valende didn't say anything, which made Mina's plans of shooting down all of her arguments hard.
"I could see the look on his face when he looked at you," Mina said. "Jack has... a look.. when he finds answers. To see him around you, you'd think that there weren't any more questions left."
"This isn't about Jack," Valende said. "It's a different relationship entirely."
"Oh. I see," Mina said, digesting the contention and discarding it as somewhere between myopic and Marty Hu-vian. "So love is love, and the more the better?"
"I never said love. But how can adding to it be wrong... Jack's a mathematician, he would tell you the same."
"Jack also knows that both sides of an equation have to be balanced," Mina said. "If you add to one side, you have to subtract from the other." Mina frowned. Her math wasn't as good as her anger, so she shifted back to that. "Do you even care how Jack would feel about this?"
"Of course I care," Valende sighed. Mina could see that she was getting tired of this discussion.
"And so before jumping into bed with someone else you checked with his feelings first, then?"
Valende turned away.
"That's not love... that's selfishness!" Mina shouted.
Valende whirled around. "Don't you dare talk to me about love, little girl. I'm sure your--what, twenty years?--of worldly experience has taught you so much more than I know."
Valende seemed to be getting angry. Maybe she wasn't as clueless as Mina had thought.
"I know about Jack," she said, more levelly. "When we grew up, we used to talk about this sort of thing. We were kids, sure... but we both knew what we wanted of the world. He used to talk about how he believed that there were roles in people's lives... like variables or something... and that the most important one was the person who made you complete when you added them to yourself. But he wasn't talking about a quantity. You could add a hundred other people, but they wouldn't come near equalling the perfect balance of the right person. A person who you think about more than you ever think about yourself. Jack always thought about other people more than he did himself... but I believed him that there would be someone for whom he would sacrifice everything. I knew that sort of feeling once, and lost it, stupidly. And I don't think I'll ever find it again... but it was true. When he saw you, he saw that answer. I recognized it from the days we used to dream."
Mina paused and wiped her eyes.
"I don't think you were thinking about him more than you were thinking about yourself," she finally sighed. "And I don't want to have to tell him that he was wrong."
Valende had turned away, but Mina couldn't tell whether she was shuddering with sorrow, anger or laughter. I guess I'm not the one who needs an answer to that question, she thought.
"If... if you want to talk about Jack... I'm around," she finally said. "But if you don't... I've said what I came here to."
Mina turned and headed back to where the others were marching through subspace.
Please, God, she thought in silent prayer, don't let him lose it too.

Character(s): Rani
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Last Call For Limbo

"Hiya," said Rani, and raised her gloved hands as Valende turned on her. "Hey, I'm not here to call you an immoral wench, promise."
It made Valende chuckle a little, upset over everything though she was. "I--think I really just need to think about this by myself for a little bit, Rani," she said, sorrowfully.
"Take your time." The detective shrugged. "Hey, don't put bastards in the carburator, right?" Val laughed. "This isn't everyone's business," said Rani. "I'm sorry I made it everyone's business. I've got a big mouth sometimes."
"It's all right," said Valende, sadly.
"Anyhow, things are going to work out just fine." She squeezed the older elf's shoulder very awkwardly. "So let's all go kick some undead ass, rescue your boy toy, and everyone will be a lot less tense in the morning."
"That--sounds like a wonderful plan," sighed Valende.
"Yeah, that's what they pay me for." She grinned, flashed her red-gloved palm at her, and walked away, as the dimensional rift back to Starcross loomed at the horizon.

Character(s): Rauvin, ∆lwyn
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Too Many Villains

∆lwyn gazed out of the glass pinnacle of the First of the Three. The Remnant had been slowly spreading into the city in search of the few remaining Parises in the Passage Circle. Rauvin had at least heard enough to have learned about those plans before his cover had been blown. Now that ∆lwyn had seized the basis of the Paris' last hope for the future, it was time for him to give the order that would destroy their terrestrial power, pruning them from the tree of Ataniel forever.
"Rauvin," ∆lwyn said, "the time I promised you is at hand. The Three Riders, whom I created so many years ago, have done their work. They have limited my enemy's view of my power. Three Riders? Why not four? Or eight? But I know the Paris mind. Let them learn about three, and they only see three. Rein in the Remnant for three hundred years, and they believe that it is so very much smaller than it truly is. The Parises should have been counting their dead."
Rauvin smiled. "I am pleased to have been of service, my lord. It will be nice to be the last living Paris."
"Last? No, Rauvin," the dead archmage said. "there is one other."
Rauvin nodded. He knew.
"All my enemies are here, now. Ataniel will soon burn, and there will be nothing they can do."
"But what of the invading forces?" Rauvin asked. "They have been a pleasant distraction so far, but they too crave control of this place."
"I have already taken care of that," ∆lwyn said. "In one hour, some of the Dencrite will come for our prisoner. You are to relinquish him to them."
"As you say, Lord ∆lwyn."
"And now, the time has come for the Minaret. Fetch it for me, Rauvin."

***


Kynvelyn ran one finger along the dusty star cruiser.
"This hunk of junk is your ship?" he demanded.
"This 'hunk of junk', as you put it," the smuggler said, "made the Kessel Run in five parsecs."
Kynvelyn shrugged.
"You got change for a Minaret?" he asked.

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: The Threefold Plan, Fold Two

Jack crawled through the ventilation duct of the Arbiter's pyramid. One small part of his mind focused on the relative cartesian position of himself compared to his target, but the rest of his mind was on his friends.
There must have been a better way, he thought to himself. I should have talked to Ebreth. Or to Val. Heck, Khyrisse lost her son and she was more together than me. Sometimes, Jack Paris, you are a class-A idiot.
At least Jack took consolation in the knowledge that his friends, while probably hating him now, were at least safe from the Remnant. That part of his threefold plan had worked. Now came the second, and in some ways, the least likely to work part.
Three junctions forward, two to the left, the mapping part reminded him.
Jack had been glad when they had arrived at this place. The systems that ran the Arbiter headquarters were remarkably similar to those that Jack had inhabited in the far future, on Orion's ship. Jack had had no luck with this leg of his plan back on Ataniel... the Remnant had thousands of ships... finding one person on one ship would have been impossible without the technology here.
Two more junctions, he reminded himself.
They would have understood, Jack continued berating himself. I could have just explained it... should have just explained it... but no, I had to be stupid again.
Jack sighed. He was there.
"Here goes nothing," he muttered, and pushed down on the ventilation duct. He lost his balance, unfortunately, and clattered to the ground below.
He picked himself up, and looked around.
Ten revenants of the Remnant gazed at him.
One of them he recognized.
"Cori," he said. "I'm here to get you out of here."
That was when they attacked.

Character(s): Garal
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Passing Out

Garal was amazed at how much psychodrama could happen in a five minute walk, but the end was near.
"Khyrisse, do you want to appear outside or indoors?"
"Outside."
He chose a point on a side street for the Rat Pack's emergence. He pointed out to Vickie, and Amatsu, the blue shift of the last few moments.
A pyramid loomed above them. Garal hoped the Arbiters were friendly.

Character(s): The Rat and the Rat Pack
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: The Rat Points the Way

The Rat Pack stood in the abandoned plaza in front of the largest of the three pyramids.
"Are you sure it is safe?" said Marty. "Pyramids have things like dust and spiders in them. I hate those."
"Umm, only ancient pyramids have those," said Ebreth. " I am sure they keep this one clean."
"Let's go in," said Khyrisse.
"Hold it!" said Jack. The Rat was on his shoulder whispering in his ear.
"Really?" said Jack "Are you sure."
The Rat whispered some more.
"Umm, guys, the Rat says that this is the wrong pyramid. The space rats told him that this is the one that the Remnant controls. The one with the Arbiters is over on the other side of the city."
"Are you sure?" asked Garal. "The planewalk should have taken us to the Arbiter's pyramid."
Jack shrugged. "Don't look at me. That is what the Rat said."
"Maybe Limbo twisted us around somehow," said Vas. "Stranger things have happened."
"True," said Khyrisse looking up at the pyramid then at the Rat then back at the pyramid. She had a decision to make. Pyramid number one, or pyramid number two.

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