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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Starcross, Part V



Character(s): RP: Team Distraction
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: I Love It When a Plan Comes Together!
Unbeknownst to the rest of the Rat Pack, Crandall possessed a magical trinket that let him see invisible things. He was pleased to see that it worked even against the spell when cast by an archmage like Khyrisse.
He was equally pleased to see that -- with a slight assist from himself -- tension was beginning to wrack the Rat Pack like a bout of terminal insomnia. He watched Val and Rani kissing, secretly observing the slightly disturbed look this caused in Jack and Khyrisse, the more than slightly disturbed look it created in Mina and Ebreth. To say nothing of Marty. Mina was trying to hide it, but to one as skilled in manipulating emotions as Crandall, it was clear as day that she was fumingly mad at Vastarin. Surprisingly, Garal also looked peeved. Amatsu was tougher to read -- but Crandall thought that he too had to be jealous of the himbo flirting (not unsuccessfully) with Victoria Dare.
And here was another chink in the Rat Pack's armor to exploit. He had noticed a subtle but definite rift forming between the newer and older members of the group. Khyrisse clearly placed her trust in Valende and Vastarin, but it was obvious who was stepping up to ride the big horse of leadership in this half of the team.
Inwardly, Crandall smiled.

***


"Okay, people," Vickie Dare said, "the key to a good distraction is to keep the no-goodniks on their heels. Hit em with all you can and disorient 'em. Then, when they're not sure what's for real, they hesitate and you filet 'em like a fish."
"Lovely metaphor," Vas said, with his trademark charming grin.
"Thanks, babe. What we need is a several pronged attack, go at 'em from more than one location."
"We shouldn't split up any further," Valende said with calm authority.
"Uh, well, it might be feasible," Crandall interjected with practiced caution. "We should at least consider it."
"Thank you, Crandall," Vickie said, sparing Val a glance. "Matsie is the perfect person to strike out on a solo tack. He can avoid being seen, take out any baddies quietly if need be, sabotage stuff and provide his own distraction. Am I right or what?" she said to the ninja.
"This one can do as you ask," Amatsu replied quietly but matter-of-factly.
"It's too risky, and co-ordination---" Val began.
"Orlen here can keep Matsie in touch with the ole brainwave deal, right?"
"If you don't mind, Mr. Mikaboshi." Amatsu bowed and Orlen returned it.
"But--"
"The boys are up to it, Val," Vickie said flatly.
"I trust them to get the job done," Crandall added.
"If they're confident they can," Garal said quietly.
How does it feel, Valende, Crandall thought, to feel people lining up against you?
"Good," Vickie said, looking pleased with herself, "here's what we're gonna do..."

***


I'm talking real unsubtle here, Matsie, something that makes Rani look polite. Like what you did at the temple but more bombastic.
Amatsu had consulted with Raiden, located his place to strike from -- one that offered a good view, good defensive possibilities, and ease of hiding, and then waited patiently. It didn't take long.
-We are ready-, came Orlen's voice in his head.
-Understood.- Silently, billowing grey smoke clouds began to trickle then flow freely from out of junction shed. The grey clouds darkened to black and coalesced into an immense monster that blocked out the light of the stars. It swooped down into the courtyard, engulfing all the beings therein in cool darkness.

***


"I'd say he's made his move," Crandall deadpanned as he watched the fearsome-looking shadow dragon descend in the distance.
Vickie Dare grinned. "Was it the dragon or the screaming that cued you in? Let's go!"

Character(s): WHO's Annoying? The ELVES?...
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Ariath Lessons: The Joys of Being Underestimated

Skitch blinked at Vickie as she began assigning people tasks for the raid. The turquoise eyes narrowed, and he stepped unobtrusively out of sight behind Valende. Concealed from view, he scowled furiously at the daredevil. You're not the boss of me. And you're not the boss of the Rat Pack, either. Vas may be all goo-goo-eyed at you, but I'm gonna see that you don't hurt Mom!
Vastarin laid his hand gently but firmly on Valende's shoulder as Vickie Dare snubbed her, heading off without even bothering to include her in the plans for distracting the enemy forces. "What you do doesn't matter; I'm running the show here."
"Peace, sister," he murmured in her ear. He thoughtfully watched the others disperse from behind the midnight-blue manga puff.
Valende shook his hand off. "As usual, Vas, you're thinking with a different part of your anatomy than the gods intend--" She turned around and caught the look on his face, and stopped. "What is it?" she whispered.
"We have an enemy amongst us," he said, with a comforting smile. To the others, this discussion would most assuredly look like he was soothing his sister's temper. And that is exactly how I want it. Valende, regretfully, has not a dissembling bone in her body. "Be careful, Valende."
"Who?" she hissed at him, pretending-- without much difficulty-- to still be angry.
Vas hesitated, and she glared at him, her anger unfeigned now. "I still need proof, Valende. I have been watching him. Valende," he pleaded, as her emerald eyes continued to bore into his. "I am on your side in this... as I always am. Trust me."
His sister sighed, and her tense irritation ran away like water. Vas frowned. There was a slightly weary and fragile cast to her posture as she relaxed that worried him deeply, as if she were emotionally pulling back from the people around her.
"All right," Val sighed. "I trust you. Who else am I allowed to trust, though, Vas? Is this person after Khyrisse? Or Jack?"
He grinned flippantly at her. "I suggest you take a page from milady's book," he said, "and trust no one."
There was a tug at his elbow. Skitch stared belligerantly up at him. "Does that include me?"
"No, Skitch," he laughed. "You are a member of Khyrisse's family, are you not? I simply think she should consider everyone's words with a grain of salt."
Skitch considered him carefully for a long moment. "I think somebody who doesn't fly should hold the Carriage," he finally said, changing the subject. "You can get away if you need to, can't you?"
Vas nodded respectfully to the young thief, eyes dancing. "An excellent idea, young master." With a flourish, he removed the Sigil and gave it to Valende.
"Me?" Val blinked at it.
"This way, if it should be necessary," her brother said, with a sly grin, "to rescue our scattered people from an ill-considered plan... you will have the wherewithal to do so. Not," he hastened to add, raising his hands in professed innocence, eyes full of mischief, "that I believe our plan is ill-considered. But you never know."
"You're going to go flirt with that Vickie again, aren't you?" Skitch accused.
"Such behavior is the furthest thing from my mind, I assure you," the archer said, with a sweeping bow. "For once. I will check in with you freqently, Valende." He vanished.
Skitch blinked. That was weird. ...I wanna know who he's watching. "Okay, I'll stay close to you then," he told Valende.
Val stifled a sigh of relief. That will make my job considerably easier, since I doubt Khyrisse would thank me for letting her son get killed... "Thank you, Skitch," she told him, smiling. "Congenial company would be most welcome at this point."
Skitch went slightly pink and offered her his arm with a shy grin. Valende took it gracefully, and they strolled away in the direction of the nearest disturbance.
"Mom says I can write on the walls all I want," he confided cheerfully.
Valende's laugh rang out in the corridors of the space station.

***


Vastarin settled his quiver more solidly against his back, and made certain that all of his arrows were where he wanted them.
Particularly the undead-incapacitating poisoned ones that Flicker had so thoughtfully provided him.
I see you disregarded my warning shot, Crandall, he thought, and a small, suppressed core of vengeful anger burned a little bit hotter. Outwardly, he looked amused and anticipatory, casually testing the pull of his bow while choosing a place to begin his part of the distraction. Perhaps you never even noticed it-- so much the better. We shall see what a specially prepared arrow through the back of the neck does to still that poisoned tongue. His mouth twitched slightly, his smile becoming a trifle bitter, the slightest bit grim. Ah, Ariath... the things you taught me about the negative side of manipulation. I must remember to thank you someday. An arrow whizzed through the window of a security post, shattering first the glass, and then the guardsman's hand as he reached for his weapon. Personally.

Character(s): Team Distraction vs. the Dencrite Mercenaries!
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: To Boldly Go Where No Rat Pack Has Gone Before

One of Orion Seven's officers was trembling with rage. "Find... whoever did this!" he ordered his men, "I... want them... court martialed!" Nervously, the soldiers obeyed, happy to leave him behind as he stood, fists clenched and shaking, as he looked up at the wall which read:
Dencrites Eat Boogers

***


"Unless I'm crazier than a Ferengi with ear wax, this looks like the base's water supply," Vickie Dare said, examining the door on the immense tank. "Talk about a perfect place for sabotage."
A high-pitched humming resonated through the hallways, the air sparkled, and then three large figures stood before the Rat Pack. "Enemies of the Conquerer!" shouted the biggest, "It is your day to die!"
"Aliens!" Marty Hu cried. "Aliens give me the wig!" He leapt for cover.
"What doesn't give you the wig?"
"Damnit, Skitch! I'm a paladin, not a... oh, never mind!"
The alien who had spoken was dressed in a navy blue uniform, with metal armor overlaying it. His skin was cocoa brown, his shaggy hair and beard black, and a tremendous crease ran down his forehead. He gripped a crescent-shaped two handed weapon, shapened at both ends.
To his left stood a somewhat shorter alien -- gender uncertain -- with pale green-blue skin, rough and crinkly, and a very antisocial look. Spikes went in neat row down the center of his head and something of a top-knot decorated the base of his head. He (?) held a strange-looking club.
Perhaps the spookiest was the shortest, in slate-grey piecemeal armor. His bald head was ghostly pale, a cable connected his temple and shoulder, and one eye was covered by a rounded triangle that glowed with a rotating fractal pattern. Hey! He's stealing my act, thought Garal.
"I hope you shall understand if we do not accept your word that our deaths are imminent, sir," Vas said, pulling back his bow and loosing two arrows at baldy. The air in front of the alien grew blurry and both arrows bounced away, a foot in front of him. In an icy, crackling monotone, he said:
"Resistance... is futile."
"He's using a field distortion that destabilizes the dimensional structure of space," Garal said, feeling a bit like Jack as he said it. "So, uh, ixnay on the owbay."
Valende was about to help her brother when the big one was at her. In the nick of time she raised her sword to block his blow, and a loud *KLANG!* echoed through the hall. "Haha!" the alien cackled in a deep voice. "Where is your logic now?!?" Val got the vague feeling that she was being mocked even though she had no idea what he was talking about. Angrily, she struck back, but he not only parried her blow, he swung and one end of his weapon pierced her shoulder clear to the bone.
Crandall struck spikey in the side with his mace, but the alien seemed unperturbed and was only too happy to return the blow, closing in on Crandall as he did so. Then he gave him a savage head butt and Crandall's vision momentarily went hazy.
A bolt of magical energy ripped into monotone, and it was staggered. "It appears sorcery may be more efficacious," Vas said, smiling.
"Sorcery... is irrelevant." Vas ignored the catch-phrase and cast another spell --- but this one was deflected by the spatial distortion field.
"He's... He's adapting to deal with new attack forms," Garal said. Before Vastarin could respond to this unpleasant revelation, the alien had a hand wrapped around his throat, and it effortlessly lifted him off the ground.
It was proving difficult for Val to predict how the alien would use that strange weapon. But something seemed to be preventing him from pressing this advantage as he should have . She swung and he parried. *Kthunk!* The weapon didn't seem like metal any longer! Then, he clutched his head in obvious pain, winced and shouted "AAARGH! Klech hates telepaths!"
Orlen gave him no more reason to love them when he konked Klech on the head with his nunchuk. As her opponent was distracted and hurt, Val lunged forward and drove her sword straight into his heart. He screamed, and the life began to drain from his eyes. "You were right," she said, "today was a good day to die."
The fight was not going well for him, and Crandall was desperately searching for a way to stop his relentless opponent. Then, he saw it. Going up from the alien's tunic into his neck was a narrow tube. Liquid was running through it. Unsheathing his dagger, Crandall reached out and was able to sever the tube.
White fluid sprayed everywhere, and the alien cluthched his neck, then fell face first into a puddle. "I... I thought that was his jugular," Crandall said, a revelation hitting him, "but.. I think that's his food supply!"
"I'd heard that space rations were bad," Skitch opined, "but this is ridiculous!"
Vastarin continued to struggle, but to no avail. A hatch popped open on the alien's forearm, and a scary-looking mini-drill emerged on a robotic arm. "You will be... assimilated."
Suddenly, the alien quivered, its drill stopped, and a rain of gears, wires, circuits, transistors and a nine-volt battery fell out of its back. It toppled, perfectly rigid, to the ground.
"Belay that order, Mr. Vastarin!" Vickie Dare said happily. She was holding a large Swiss Army Knife with about 50 attachments, all of them out. "Knew there had to be some kinda junk in there he couldn't do without."

***


From a monitor station, the Dencrite sentinel observed the screens with growing panic. "Main water station destroyed... decks 6-11 flooding... alien intruders on deck 12... I must alert the Conqueror!"
His hand reached for a button on the console, but then his head snapped up as a hair-thin wire grabbed him by the throat. He clutched at his throat, struggled to free himself from the garrotte, but soon his struggles ceased.
Amatsu let the limp body drop back into its chair. He looked with interest at the console, the screens like a series of crystal balls, showing scenes from all around the base. Interesting, indeed.
I shall monitor the hallway and alert you if danger approaches, Raiden Mikaboshi thought to him.
"Thank you, honored one," Amatsu answered, watching the screens. He waited for Orlen to contact him again.

Character(s): Crandall, Vas
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Crandall's Agenda

Crandall watched the group continue down the metal hall from the background. So far, so good. Crandall was walking a thin line right now; he did want to keep Valende off-balance enough to keep the hope of her seeking refuge in Rani tonight alive, but not enough to risk jeopardizing their mission. If the Rat Pack didn't succeed, all Crandall's efforts were for naught, and his chance at revenge lost forever. Lord ∆lwyn had underestimated the passion of Crandall's hatred for the young mathematician, but Crandall would sacrifice the ancient sorceror and his Passage to it if he needed to.
Jack had, of course, been too naive and oblivious to pick up on any of what had been going on, but Crandall had not forgotten. And then Gabriella had killed him, and that had been the final straw.
∆lwyn be damned. The ancient sorceror was unwise to allow any revenant with a grudge against the Parises into his army, as if the Remnant was the only mechanism that could have animated the vengeful dead. Crandall was after one man and one man alone. Maybe it was two now. Crandall would have to see. But he would see Jack Paris' face when he realized his girlfriend had betrayed him if he had to kill ∆lwyn himself. He would see him abandoned by his family. And he would see the young mathematician suffer, and Crandall would laugh.
After that, perhaps he would turn his attentions to this subset.
And then, and not until then, Crandall might get around to the business of killing Parises for ∆lwyn.
A sudden movement at the edge of Crandall's vision distracted him from his resentful fugue, and his undead heart nearly froze. A man in some kind of strange bodyarmor was behind them in an alcove, drawing a bead on Valende's back with a laser weapon. Oh, the fuck you do. Crandall gritted his teeth and cocked his fist and the Negative Material energy bolt streaked silently and instantaneously from his hand into the guard's neck. He seized up and collapsed, his weapon disintegrating part of the alcove floor in a flash of light. Crandall looked quickly around to see if anyone had seen him dispose of the guard, but no one had, so he breathed a sigh of relief and followed his companions, silently thanking the evil sorceror he meant to betray for the range weapon.

***


Vas walked as carelessly as ever, and his face betrayed nothing, but what he was thinking, as he saw Crandall's unnoticed and definitely undead rescue of his sister from the corner of his eye, was: Just when you think you know someone.

Character(s): Amatsu
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Too Bad the Vets + Newbies Don't Cooperate More

Amatsu's eyes darted back and forth across the bank of viewscreens. He saw Dencrite troops moving, saw installations that clearly housed important things. Saw ships landing and taking, gained a decent insight into the layout of the base. (He even saw two aliens playing some sort of game on a crystal screen much like the ones he watched. Rows of human heads steadily marched down the screen as the aliens fired simulated missile weapons at them. Strange indeed.)
And he saw the Rat Pack. So far unharmed, he noted.
Then, the perspective of one of the screens showed a view on a corner, where an armored alien stood, waiting in ambush. Before Amatsu could formulate any thoughts on response, he saw Crandall turn his head slightly, raise his hand and a blurry bolt fired from his gauntlet. The alien dropped dead.
Interesting.

Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: The, Uh, Less Stressed-Out Half Of The Pack (believe it or not)

Whatever the distraction crew was doing, it certainly was making white-armored guards run down the metal platforms in the opposite direction.
Ebreth looked rather longingly at all the docked skyships while Rani communed with the docking bay. "I think I've found it," she whispered, and stood, looking around. "Follow me."
Mina caught Jack by the elbow and Ebreth by the sleeve as the group moved after the half-breed detective. "Please don't tell the other Jack about this yet," she hissed, looking after Rani. "I talked to Valende-- I'm still hoping she may come to her senses."
"Could you imagine I'd tell him that?" Ebreth demanded, sotto voce.
"I'm not really looking forward to talking to my Other at all," Jack confessed with a sigh.
Mina looked a little sad. "I just want to give her the chance to do the right thing," she whispered, "before she really hurts him."
"I'm sure he's expecting it," said Jack, looking down. "Or something like it... She's beautiful. We're--nobodies."
"Jack," said Ebreth, almost tenderly, "shut up."
"What he said," said Mina.
"Come on, you guys!" Khyrisse whispered back at them. "I've only got a ten-foot radius on the invisibility. I don't want you falling behind."

Character(s): Marty and Vas
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Distraction

"Hello! Hello, guard! Could you, like, tell me where the bathroom is or something?"
Two arrows thunked into the back of the guard's neck as he turned on the paladin.
"Dude," Marty said to Vas, "could you wait a minute next time? I really need to go."

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