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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Starcross, Part IV



Character(s): Vickie, Amatsu, Jack, Khyrisse, Garal
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Who Are You Going To Distrust From The Jack Pack Next? Reena?

"I'm on the case, Matsie," Vickie grinned. "I love solo plotlines."
"What?" Amatsu asked, confused.
"Just a meta thing Pluvious taught me," Vickie said. "Suffice it to say that the minute someone makes a move out of line, there'll be a stapler in the back of their head."

***


"You mean to tell me," Khyrisse said, glaring at Garal, "that all this time you've been able to teleport and we've been taking the carriage around everywhere?"
Mina leaned over to Garal. "The answer you want to give here is some variation of 'no', I suspect," she whispered, her voice smooth as sable.
"The nature of planeblazing," Garal said, as if reciting some long-past conversation, "is that of finding weak points in the planar continuum, and using the paths between those points to travel from one dimension to the other."
"So how does that help us here?" Ebreth asked.
"Since we arrived here," Garal continued, "I've noticed that the dimensional fabric is all twisted up on itself. Within Starcross, it seems like there are entries and exits everywhere. I doubt I could do something like this on Ataniel."
"I remember Robinson's stories," Jack mused, "when he would talk about this place... he said it was some sort of dimensional nexus."
"Like the cynosure?" Khyrisse asked. "Eric used to mention that the disappearing city at the southern end of Cynystra was some sort of dimensional folding."
"I've only heard of three," Jack said. "Space stations, mostly... there was the Nebula of Dread, Starcross, and the Face on Mars."
"What's Mars?" Khyrisse asked.
"It's this mythical realm," Jack said. "Like Saturn."
"Well," Ebreth said, "it seems like our best bet is to warp into the Remnant's pyramid, then."
"I don't know if that's doable, though," Jack said. "The pyramids are supposed to be the cause of the spacial flux... it could tear us apart trying to get in them through subspace, peeling us into primal matter like the stuff of stars, layer by layer."
"That's pretty grim, Jack," Ebreth said.
"You know," Khyrisse said, "for all you claim not to know much about this place, Jack, you know an awful lot about it."
"Robinson used to tell us stories," Mina interrupted. "Space adventures. Jack really liked them... we both did. All of us. I could tell you stuff too... we just never knew this place was real."
"I wish it wasn't," Jack whispered. "It kind of takes the thrill away."
"Well, maybe he made up the giant badgers," Mina offered.
"Excuse me," a giant badger wearing a spacesuit with an American flag on it poked his head into the bar. "Is this Munden's?"
"Down the street," Ebreth said, pointing.
"Thanks, pal," the badger said, disappearing.
"That's not the First time that's happened," sighed the bartender, apologizing to the Rat Pack.

Character(s): Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Jack Loses His Head

Jack Paris had met Cori Yashida eight years ago. At the time, he was working with Errol Tandra as an accountant for Tandra's army-for-hire. Cori Yashida (Yoshida, at the time) had been singlehandedly holding off Tandra's army at the Pass of Three Dragons to defend one of the Silver Crane's caravans.
Jack had fallen in love at first sight.
That night, he had returned his entire salary to Tandra's books, written a small note identifying the three equipment officers who had been embezzling, and run off into the night.
Cori had moved to a position at the Shikinti side of the pass and was sitting over a bowl of rice when Jack approached. Her sword was out in less than a second.
"I come in peace," Jack had said. "I'm a mathematician. Uh, my card..."
Since that day, so long ago, Cori's blade had never been raised against Jack Paris. Until today.
Now it sped at Jack's neck with what Jack knew was Cori's signature move. A quick decapitation to be followed by a rapid wrist flick that brought the blade back across the victim's chest in a deep, diagonal cut.
Jack thanked the spirit of Oshi Yoshida. Having fought along side Cori for eight years, he knew how to avoid it.
First, protect the neck. Get it out of the way. However, if he ducked under the swing, he would have the backslash going through his head. Pulling back would cause Cori to overextend herself, but since the strike would still do him in, the advantage would be one he'd never be able to press.
No, the only way Jack had ever seen someone avoid this strike at this range was to move in. He lunged forward, keeping his head up. He had to clear the blade, so that only the hilt or Cori's wrist made contact with his neck.
On the way in, he could start working on the second move, disarming Cori.
This would be tricky, as there were nine other Remnant warriors in close proximity. Fortunately, Jack's spiral maneuver had entangled them and allowed him to move to where he was now, facing Cori by the only door to the room.
Jack looked at the two sides of the triangle formed by Cori's arms, a fulcrum she was using to keep the blade firm until the back twist came. As Jack moved in, he reached his arm up into that triangle.
The back of Cori's hand slammed into the side of Jack's neck with tremendous force. It would have knocked Jack down by itself, if he hadn't twisted his arm up with hers. In this particular case, the force of the blow caused Jack to pull away, straightening his arm and torquing Cori's arms apart.
Oshi's blade flipped into the air.
"Holy, flark," Jack muttered, "that actually worked." Jack had actually expected to die painfully.
Caught almost off guard, Jack reached out with his now-sore arm and caught the blade by its pommel. He swung it at Cori like a club, and the flat of the blade smacked her cheek. Cori reeled and Jack slammed his head into her nose. He felt cartilage break, and her body fell limp.
That was not a good thing, as Cori was the only thing between him and the undead horde--the rest of the undead horde, he reminded himself.
As Cori fell, Jack grabbed her around the waist and began to back out of the room.
This is a stupid idea, he told himself. You'll never get out of here carrying her.
Jack didn't listen. He had lost his head.

Character(s): Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: PIKA
Title of Post: In Which Lady Margo Has Her Suspicions About Asinus' Next Floozie

Khyrisse figured the probable outcome of taking at least one artifact, the hidden Sphere of Wild Magic, Jack’s mathematics and her unborn child through a dimensional shortcut to a building that was causing a major interspatial warp. And winced.
"I am strongly against teleporting into the Pyramid, then. Under other circumstances," she said, with a reassuring look for the planeblazer, "I'd trust your shortcut, Garal, but what Jack's describing sounds way too unpleasant. I don’t know if I'll want to teleport in via the Arbiters' methods, either. Which means attacking the Pyramid outright-- and I still want any information on the inside that I can get before doing that."

***


Khyrisse looked calmly at Lady Margo, despite the fact that she was still holding very tightly to both her pride and her temper. "The Rat Pack has decided to recover the missing ship for you, Lady Margolis." She glanced over her shoulder at the new, expanded version of the Rat Pack, busily discussing how to go about stealing the ship. "We'll probably cause a nice amount of chaos in the ranks of your enemies, as well," she said, with a little quirk to her mouth. "If that does your people any tactical good, please use it."
"I will see what can be done with that, although our forces are too thinly spread to make an effective counter-attack at this time. Thank you," Lady Margolis replied. She hesitated, than continued, in a slightly stiff tone of voice, "I have been... advised that I may have offered insult to you or your group. That was not my intention."
"No, not really... But the Rat Pack is not pursuing the Paris Family's goals. We're pursuing our own." A militant spark appeared in Khyrisse's eyes, but she kept her temper under control. This woman probably doesn't even know about our quarrel with Caimen. "They simply coincide with the Paris' in this particular instance, because we're friends with certain members of the family."
The Lady smiled slightly, and a knowing look flickered across her face for a moment. "I-- think I can understand that." "You said this was a spelljammer?" Khyrisse asked, sounding a bit puzzled. "I confess, I've never seen one."
"It's a ship powered by magic, or psionics in a few rare cases. You'll need a mage or priest for the helm."
Khyrisse looked utterly alarmed. "This thing eats magic?" she yelped.
"No, of course not. It is powered by magic, as spells are." Khyrisse sighed in relief, and Margo shrugged. "The more potential and experience a magic-wielder has, the better the ship will fly for them."
"The Fallen," Khyrisse murmured. She looked down at her left hand, then yanked the glove tighter with a decisive snap and a little smile. "I think I can manage that, yes."

***


"Do you think we could perhaps split up into a Sneaky group and a Non-Sneaky group? One group could concentrate on getting to this ship, then, and the other group could provide a distraction. I have ways to coordinate the two, if no one else does," Khyrisse said, back with the Rat Pack. "At the moment, as a whole, we're--" About as unobtrusive as a horde of drunken goblins on shore leave? "--not terribly subtle."

Character(s): The Rat Pack Stows Away
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Come Sail Away...

"If Rani goes with one group," offered Orlen, "and I go with the other, we'll have unlimited long-distance coverage, so to speak, and you won't have to worry about running out of sending spells."
"I like the idea of setting one group up to distract the guards and another to steal the ship," said Flicker, "but seamanship is going to be at least as important as sneakiness here, especially if we're going to have to maneuver the ship to pick up the other half of our team mid-distraction. Who has experience sailing?"
Ebreth Tor laughed.
Otter raised her hand.
"I could wing it," offered Vickie.
"I think winging it would be much more useful with the distraction group," Khyrisse said, discreetly refraining from mentioning that Vickie was much of the reason she was suggesting a distraction group anyway. "Besides, we'll all get to ride the boat during the escape phase."
"Well, Jack and I know our way around ships, of course," said Mina.
"Yeah, me too," said Rani. She gave Jack a dirty look. "Once, I even had my own."
"Then," said Flicker, "perhaps Rani, Jack, Mina, Otter, Tor, Khyrisse and I should pick the ship up, while the rest of you keep the guards busy?"
"I've never been on a ship in my life, Flicker," confessed Khyrisse.
"Maybe not," said Ebreth, grinning, "but you're the power source."
"Let's bring some barf bags," suggested Rani.

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Sounds Like A Plan!

"Bring the Fallen back to this Pyramid," Lady Margolis was instructing, "and our forces here will be able to take care of any of Lord Hunter's ships that might still be following you. Do not engage in aerial combat any more than you can help. The Fallen is a Montasi spelljamming cutter and is no match for the larger starships in a firefight. You will need to get the ship and return here as quickly as you can. We can protect you once you're in range of the Pyramid, but until then you're on your own. Good luck, allies."
"Thank you," sighed Khyrisse.
"Is it safe to travel here through the dimensional fabric?" asked Garal, timidly, looking over the coordinates of the Dencrite docking station the Arbiters had given him. "I could route us here through the ethereal. That would get us past a lot of guards right there."
"Certainly," said Margo. "Don't try to return here that way, though. The Pyramids of Light are centers of spacial flux, and trying to enter through subspace could tear you apart, peeling you into primal matter like the stuff of stars, layer by layer."
"Well, 'Jack' was telling us the truth about that, anyway," Vickie whispered to Amatsu.
"Then how is your associate planning on teleporting us into the Remnant pyramid?" demanded Khyrisse.
"Using her chakra's connection with the helm of the Fallen, of course," said Margolis. "There's no reason we can't beam people from place to place within the Prime Material." She coughed. "Well, no reason except that Anais is the one who can do it and her chakra is incomplete. But anyway, if you can retrieve the ship, she'll be able to send you in. I regret that we will not have backup to send in with you."
"We can handle it," said Khyrisse, a little miffed.
"Very good then." Margolis inclined her head.

***


"So Garal leads us all to the docking station," Ebreth said, as they headed out of the Pyramid, "where we split up; our team heads invisibly for the Fallen and commandeers it, while the other team causes a distraction. Once we've got control of the ship, we pick up the others and escape back to the Pyramid, where the Arbiters can send us after Ćlwyn."
"Right," said Khyrisse, "but who are you summarizing for?"
"I don't know. Just felt the need."

Character(s): Still More Elves of the Rat Pack
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Flutterbys on the Ethereal

"I do not need a barf bag," Khyrisse said under her breath, wondering whether she wanted to resent the implication or laugh at it.
"You are the only landlubber in the group," Ebreth said, with a teasing sparkle in his eye. That pretty much decided the matter.
"I am not a landlubber!" she said with mock indignation, trying not to grin. "There needs to be a term for people whose native habitat is the air instead of the land or water."
"I thought that was flutterhead," Skitch said, not bothering to try. "That's what you call Vas."
"Skitch, that's an insul-- well, I guess so is landlubber, isn't it?"
"Ah, you could say so, yes."
Khyrisse whapped at Ebreth, laughing. "If I can stand Flicker's skiing and Vas' driving, I think I can stand a ride in a spaceship!"
"What's wrong with my driving?"
"...What's wrong with my skiing?" Flicker murmured, with a little smile.

***


"Mom, do I have to stay with the distracting group?" Skitch said. "Can't I come with? I can be sneaky."
" I think we want as few people as we can get away with in the sneaky group. People who know something about sailing, can get in quietly, and get out in a hurry. We won't be gone long, I promise."
"I'm not all that great at being distracting either, though." He looked morosely down at the floor, streamers of mist curling around his boots as he kicked at the 'ground' of Garal's passageway through the etheric.
"Sure you are. You've got your knives. You're good with them-- Vas told me he was impressed, and you know what a good shot he is." She grinned at him suddenly and rumpled his hair. "Plus you can write things on the walls."
"I can?"
"Graffiti away, kiddo. Anything that belongs to the enemy is yours."
"All RIGHT!"
Khyrisse looked around for the male contingent of her bodyguards. "Oh, and Vas?"
He looked around from his thoughtful perusal of the people walking ahead of them. "Yes, milady?"
He's been awfully quiet lately. I wonder if something's up? "We're already going to have a quick way out, if all goes well," she said, handing him the Trade Sigil and the whip. "Your group may need this, though."
"Khyrisse, I'd prefer that you kept the Carriage," he replied, his face unwontedly serious. He shook his head and held it back out to her. "Val and I will not be going with you as it is. This may be your only means of escape."
She smiled slightly and shoved it back at him. "I can cast one if I need to, Vas. Remember? Skitch, you make sure he doesn't do anything crazy like-- fly it into the pyramid or something."
Vas gasped and put a hand on his chest. "Moi?"
"Vous!"
"Woe is me, assaulted on all sides..."
Khyrisse grinned at him. "You just wish."
Vas chuckled, bowed to her... and wandered over to Vickie.
"Skitch?" Khyrisse said, watching her bodyguard. Vas held up the Sigil between two fingers. Vickie grinned delightedly and gave him a thumbs-up.
"Yeah?"
Vickie was taking out her folded-up air-gliding contraption and showing it to an admiring Vas. "Don't let him let anyone else do anything crazy with it either."
"Boy, you're not asking much, Mom..."

Character(s): Garal
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: A Halfling Sulks

Garal concentrated on finding the quickest path to where the Rat Pack was going.
Why is Khyrisse insisting that Vas takes the Trade Sigil? I can get the disctraction group to safety in a hurry if something goes wrong. And why is Vas hitting on another woman I'm interested in.

Character(s): Mina Paris (prettier than Vickie Dare, flark it!)
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: And I Am An Ethereal Girl

Mina watched, blinking, as Vas turned from her to flirt with Vickie Dare.
Khyrisse watched an inscrutable expression flicker across the beautiful nineteen-year-old's face and disappear. She realized with a start that Vastarin had barely responded to the girl's interest in him at all.
"Hi," Mina said then, a little too cheerfully, turning to Orlen as the handsome blond psionicist walked near her. "We haven't really had a chance to talk at all! I'm Mina."
"Orlen," said the Diari man, surprised, but still managing a graceful half-bow. "I am a musician."
Khyrisse could see the corner of Mina's eye still on Vas and Vickie.
Vas' back was to her.
Khyrisse sighed internally.

Character(s): Vickie Dare and the Pack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: The Woman For Whom The Word 'Distraction' Was Invented

"We're here," Garal said in a sulky voice, putting his small hands on the ethereal wall. "The coordinates Lady Margolis gave me are right on the other side."
"You're sure?" said Khyrisse.
"Hello!" said Rani. "If he wasn't sure, he wouldn't have said it."
Khyrisse acknowledged it with a little puff of air halfway between a laugh and a sigh. "Your point," she said, and smiled ruefully at the detective. "It never hurts to double-check. All right, ship people, I'll need you to stay close to me."
"Okay," said Ebreth, deadpan.
"Stop that!" She swatted at him, laughing. "We're going to be quieter than this once we get on the docking station, aren't we?" she beseeched.
"I've been a private eye in Rimbor City for eight years," said Rani, tossing her silver flip of hair. "You think I made it this far by doing my bitching in the middle of covert ops?"
"They'll never know what hit them," promised Ebreth.
Khyrisse shook her head and cast Invisibility 10' Radius on herself. She thought inexorably of Ember, as she always did now: Nice illusion! Her hand slipped reflexively to her own stomach, and Ebreth put his hand on hers there, gently, a moment's touch.
"Oh no!" wailed Marty. "They disappeared!"
"We're right here, Marty," said Mina.
"Aaah!" screamed Marty. "Disembodied voice!"
"We're just invisible," said Mina. "It's an illusion."
"Illusions give me the wig."
"You and me both," murmured Khyrisse. "Okay, distracting people, get ready to distract."
"Hold it a minute." Rani stepped outside the circle of invisibility and caught Valende by the loops of her sword belt. "Hey," she said. "Break open a can of whoop-ass for me," and kissed her.
Khyrisse gave up trying not to wince when she realized the people standing outside the spell range couldn't see her anyway. Jack looked very uncomfortable but not really upset; Ebreth and Mina's eyes met, very briefly. "Well, you be careful," Valende said back at Rani, softly.
"I'm always careful."
"Goodbye, Rani!" said Marty, hopefully as a kicked puppy dog.
"Goodbye, Marty," sighed the detective, and retraced her steps back into Khyrisse's circle.
"She said goodbye to me!" Marty said joyfully to Vickie.
"Marty, buddy," said Vickie, "let me buy you a vowel here."
"Are you ready?" Garal said to Vickie, not looking at her.
"Mrs. Dare's little girl is always ready, Garry," she grinned at him. "C'mon, Matsie, let's teach 'em the meaning of the word 'distraction'."
Vickie saluted in Khyrisse's general direction and took a firecracker out of her bag.

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