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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Starcross, Part VI



Character(s): Khyrisse; Captain Kyber and Captain Tor; Skitch the Vandal
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: The Ship That Sang

Mina and Jack were laughing in the two gunner's seats, swivelling the cannons back and forth like childhood friends playing. It did not in the slightest obscure the fact that they had both handled cannons before. Khyrisse slid into the strange metal chair at the back of the ship. There were crystal bulbs on its armrests with oval holes in them facing her, and after a moment she slid her hands in. The bulbs lit up as she did so, her fingers entering smoothly into hand-shaped impressions within the crystal. The space was for hands larger than Khyrisse's, she could tell, but it didn't seem to hinder her from using the artifact. Five fingers in each crystal, she noticed smugly. Guess us kiljhac can build space ships too.
Then she felt her senses open into the ship around her, and her train of thought was lost.

***


"Some kind of docking clamps," said Otter, frowning over the side. "We'll need to release those before we can move at all."
Flicker nodded.
The ship shuddered then, just slightly, as a wind swirled improbably from out of nowhere and the sails tightened. "No!" shouted Flicker, whirling to face aft. "Khyrisse, stop! You'll tear us a--"
"You don't have to shout," said the mast, as the weird wind suddenly cut out and the sail relaxed.
Flicker pushed his hair back out of his face. "Khyrisse?"
"Hi," said the mast. "I can hear everything from here. This is pretty neat."
"Whatever you did," he said, "don't do it again until we get the docking clamps off."
"What's with the wind?" Ebreth asked the Norseman, crossing the deck.
"Hello, sailor," said the ship. Ebreth jumped about two feet.
"Khyrisse can apparently control the wind from the helm," explained Flicker.
"How did you do that?" Ebreth demanded aftward.
"You don't have to shout," the ship said again. "I can hear everything on board. I can see everything on board, too. I can even feel everything on board. Ebreth... I want one."
"Well, we'll see how things fall out," he said. "You don't feel us walking on you, do you?"
"Only the way a boat does," she murmured. "Boats like people standing on them."
"You'll tell us if we do anything that hurts you, right?"
"I've been a city before, Ebreth. I can handle being a boat."
"A ship, honey." He patted the mast. "You're a ship."
"Oh. Sorry."
"Khyrisse," said Flicker, "can you move the sails at all?"
"Nghhhh!" she said. "No."
"Well, we can handle that part," said Ebreth. "I'll--take main if you'll take jib?"
Flicker looked at Ebreth until the big pirate had to look away a bit, discomfited. "All right," was all he said.
"I think I might be able to release those docking clamps if someone could lower me over the side," Rani was saying, leaning over the rail. "They look hinged. If it's mechanical I ought to be able to spring it if I can get my hand on part of it."
Mina giggled and returned her swivelling cannon to its catch. "I bet the other group's not doing anything this fun," she said to Jack.

***


Skitch shrieked with laughter as the Dencrite toilets exploded in flumes of water.
He was still annoyed with Vickie for being so bossy, of course, but anyone who gave you cherry bombs to take into the men's rooms couldn't be too bad.

Character(s): Khyrisse, fallen divinity
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen ("Hey, Orion! You a BOAT!")
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Hmm, There's a Strange Thought-- The City That Flew...

Khyrisse caught the look between the two captains, and a light breeze swirled over the deck, not quite enough to stir the sails. It tousled Flicker's hair affectionately with the sound of soft laughter. "Hiya, Shalini," the ship whispered. "Try not to tear a strip from Ebreth's hide, just as a favor? I think he's been dying to do this ever since we got here."
No, this isn't so different after all... There was an arpeggio of creaks and sighs and the occasional pop from all over the ship as she settled her consciousness into her new body, a sensation oddly like stretching the kinks out after spending a night asleep in a chair. Not nearly as big as I remember, but much bigger than the body I've been inhabiting. The violet eyes of her physical body drifted partly shut as she wandered into reverie, accessing some of her own memories from Trade. A dozen different threads of air suddenly breezed around the ship, whisking the dust off, twitching covers into place, making it hers. It feels less mortal, too, she thought, with what could only be termed a sigh of relief. Although I have to admit that mortality has its benefits...
Khyrissse started suddenly, and sent her attention winging aft-- and had a momentary wave of vertigo, as she looked out at the ship and in at herself at the same time. Yeurgh... Let's not do that again, she resolved, images of herself from several different angles jittering in her brain, slowly reconciling with images from the same angle of observation in opposite directions. One body at a time. Okay, good. I seem to be fine, just sort of half asleep. The deck vibrated imperceptibly as she chuckled. My "cargo" should be all right. You're going to be having some strange dreams before you're born, little one.

***


"Hi, Mina!" came Khyrisse's voice, from somewhere near the gunner's seats. Mina jumped a little and looked around. "Can you tell me if those things have recoil? I'll need to compensate for that if you have to use hem."
"No, they're energy weapons... a little like magic missile," the younger mage replied, smiling. She put her hand on the rail. The wood was slightly warm to the touch. "Wow, that was fast," she murmured.

***


The hull shivered slightly around the clamps. "Getting those things off me would be much appreciated," Khyrisse said to Rani, in a wryly amused tone.
"I'm working on it."
"Good. They feel like my wedding ring used to. Yuck."
Rani laughed.

***


"Psst! Ebreth!" Khyrisse whispered. "What's the difference between a boat and a ship? Given the circumstances, I probably ought to learn!"

***


Khyrisse sat in the helm of the ship, her mind in several places at once, weaving the threads of multiple conversations into her growing tapestry of the activity on board. Trying to get used to the omnidirectional sight of the ship before she actually had to use it. Trying not to twitch right the flark out of the restraints that fastened her to the docking station. Trying not to listen for the chaotic chorus of the thoughts and emotions of her inhabitants, the chord of respiration and pulse and movement, the infinite murmuring sounds of life. I can't do that anymore, and if I could I'd probably fry my little mortal brain. Don't go there, Khyrisse. Trying not to absentmindedly drum her heels on the metal chair like an antsy five year old. Come on... I want to fly!

Character(s): The Rat Pack Abroad
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: How To Cause Chaos In A Docking Station, Part Seven

"I only need about four more inches," hissed Rani, straining.
Ebreth wound his leg around the stanchion and leaned further overboard, gripping the psychometrist tightly by the ankles.
"Got it!" Her eyes slid shut as her bare fingers brushed the metal surface of the docking clamp. "Holy shit," she gasped, "these--docking clamps are all connected by some kind of central mechanism. I've never seen anything so compl--"
"Can you do it?" interrupted Ebreth, through gritted teeth. This wasn't the most comfortable position in the world.
"Oh," breathed Rani, "I can do you one better, apeboy." The curve of the docking platform shuddered, and the docking clamp began slowly to release its grip on the Fallen.

***


DOCKING COMPUTER COMPROMISED, blared the loudspeaker. DOCKING COMPUTER COMPROMISED.
Amatsu didn't know what that meant, but he was sure Miss Vickie Dare must have had something to do with it.

***


Ebreth dragged Rani back up onto deck by her feet, staring as the entire dockful of starships began, slowly, to drift. "You released all of them?" he said, incredulously.
"Let's see them chase us down now," grinned Rani, standing and pulling her glove back on.
"You can always tell where we've been," the stanchion sighed at them ruefully. "Just follow the trail of chaos and destruction."
"At least we're wreaking it on our enemies this time," Flicker pointed out, hauling in on one of the lines. "Let's get out of here before one of those big metal ships drifts into us. Is everyone set?"
Mina gave him a thumbs-up from the aftward gunner's seat.
"Give me power," said Ebreth, seizing the mainline.
"How much power?" said the mainline, impishly.
"Three knots," he said. The mainline didn't say anything. She clearly hadn't been expecting a real answer, and didn't understand the one he'd given her. "Just a little bit," he translated. "We don't want to attract too much attention. Everyone's floating around, maybe they won't notice us moving."
The sails slowly filled.
"Fuck," sighed Rani, "the distraction people split up. Orlen says they're scattered all over the goddamn docks."
"Merde!" said the ship.
"Orlen's trying to collect them. Let's head for him. You guys are damn lucky you picked up some psionics." She pointed off across the docking platform. "Thataway."
"Starship Fallen," a staticky voice crackled from nowhere in particular, "belay your course until the docking situation is remedied. Repeat, belay your course at once."
"So much for not attracting attention," said Ebreth.
"Now might be a very good time to step on it," said Flicker.

Character(s): Skitch, Master of Sabotage
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen, who never did this kind of thing during her childhood in Chicago. Nope. Never.
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Getting Into Some Real Mischief

Skitch crouched in front of the vending machine, sleeve pushed up to his elbow, and wriggled a hand inside the dispenser slot. All the way back, tilt left at the wrist, stretch your fingers up... He squinted in concentration, the muscles in his skinny arm trembling slightly as he held the uncomfortable position. Come on, come on, where are you-- Aha! His fingertips hooked around the tiny, high-tension spring, and he tugged sharply forward.
Every candy bar in the machine fell clattering into the bin.

The cafeteria staff bolted out of the kitchen when the fire alarms went off. A familiar little figure crawled out from under the counter after they were gone.
Vas pushed the door open, looking back the way he came. "Amazingly gullible, this lot," he mused, grinning. "You'd think they'd never seen magic before."
"I'll bet they haven't!" Skitch lifted a shiny aluminum lid from the intended cafeteria fare. "Ugh!" He held his nose and removed more lids. "Peee-YEW!"
Vas wrinkled his own nose and perused the chalkboard. "Hmm, those are supposed to be lasagna.. turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes... creamed corn, broccoli... and dinner rolls. You'll be hard pressed to improve upon that lot, Skitch."
Skitch chortled. "Wanna bet? Ooof! Help me carry these into the kitchen, will you? They just need some rearranging!"

Vas ducked and put his fingers in his ears, as the industrial-size blender went on with a howling buzz. Skitch danced around the room in a chef's hat three sizes too big for him, whooping and banging lids together.

Skitch licked his palm and smeared off the chalkboard, then scribbled his own, improved version of the day's fare on the menu. He propped it up next to the trays and looked around for a bag.
Vas studied the three sections of trays in the aisle-- one a mottled white streaked heavily with red and brown, the second a rather lumpy white with wide smears of speckled green, and the third a layered white-and-tan with runny clots of yellow.
" 'SPECIAL TODAY! ALL YOU CAN EAT!'," read the sign. " 'Dirty Underwear, Moldy Old Socks and Toasted Snot Rags! Gettem while they're hot!!'."
"Skitch, what on Ataniel are you looking for?"
"I want to take this candy with!"
"How can you think of eating after designing this monstrosity?" Vas laughed. "Come on!"
"I haven't toilet-papered the light fixtures yet! Oh, all right, I'll do 'em as we go." He shook up a can of Caffeinated Fizzy Pop, grinning. "I can soak it on with this stuff afterwards."
Val was out in the hallway with Crandall, standing over several white-armored bodies and looking a bit frazzled. "Are you done now? The guards are converging on this area, we've been in one place too long."
Skitch wrapped toilet paper around the curved-bar handles of the cafeteria doors and popped open the can. Brown liquid sprayed everywhere.
"What on Ataniel is that?" Val snatched the can away and sniffed it dubiously. "Malted formaldehyde?"

Character(s): Skitch and the Rat Pack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: My Mother Was A Space Ship

"Just a minute! I'm almost done!" Skitch finished the last T on LORD HUNTER DRINKS FROM THE TOILET, then scooted around the corner after Val. He immediately wished he hadn't. "Oh, crap," he said, backing up as five guards in shiny white bodyarmor converged on the group.
"Watch your mouth, young man," Valende said tartly, drawing her holy sword. Vas sent a lightning bolt sizzling into one of the guards, who caromed backward, his bodyarmor clattering against the wall. One of the others fired a laser blast into the elven fencer, and he fell back seizing his burned shoulder with a grimace of pain. Crandall moved defensively in front of Skitch; Orlen, apparently, did something, because the largest of the four remaining guards doubled over as if he'd been struck in the stomach but hard, and then, just as the others raised their weapons to fire, they atomized, pop-pop-pop. Behind them was, well, a floating ship, with Jack squinting at them over the sights of some kind of cannon, its end smoking a bit.
"Go Jack!" yelled Skitch, jumping up and down, as Valende hastily conked out and disarmed the guard Orlen had dispatched.
The Fallen pulled up alongside them, coasting to an imprecise halt as the wind fell out of the sails. "Do we have everyone?" Khyrisse's voice called anxiously.
"No." Orlen flew up to the deck. "Amatsu's on the other side of the docking station, and Vickie says she's in the trash compacter."
"Well, this plan certainly backfired," said Rani, crossly. "Team Distraction distracted us. We could be halfway to that pyramid by now."
"It's Vickie's fault," said Skitch. "Wow, lookit Khyrisse! Your hands are glowing, Mom!"
"Well, we can't very well stick around here waiting for people who scarper off," Val said, sounding surprisingly much like Rani. "This place is going to be crawling with enemy ships."
"You aren't suggesting we leave them behind," said Flicker.
"What if I am? I didn't tell them to scarper off!"
"Get a grip on yourself," Flicker said to her very low, in Elvish.
"I could stay behind for them," offered Garal. "I'm very good at staying out of the way, and once I connect with them I can lead them back to near the pyramid, even if I can't get inside it."
"Brilliant," muttered Rani. "Can anyone tell me why we didn't take off as soon as we found the ship and let Garal lead the other team back in the first place? We'd have been out of here before anyone knew where we'd gone."
"No one thought of it," said the Khyrisse-ship. "It happens. You're sure you're up to this, Garal?"
"Yes," said the halfling, sticking his chin up.
"Good luck," said Crandall, squeezing Garal's shoulder in passing as he swung up the rope Otter had lowered for him.
"Okay, people," Khyrisse's voice floated from the cutter, "let's rock and roll!"
"I blew up all the toilets with cherry bombs Vickie gave me," Skitch explained to Ebreth, "and I hid all the toilet paper in the air ducts. Ha ha ha!"
"Good for you, kid," said Ebreth. "Hang on, this ride may get a little wild."

Character(s): Amatsu, Vickie, Garal, Orlen
Author: Jonah Cohen
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Coordination

-What should I tell them?-
-We can coordinate at...this point, it's labeled, uh, with a blue octagon-, Amatsu thought at Orlen. He consulted the schematics. -I would say that Mr. Garal is two levels above that chamber. Miss Dare will have to proceed some distance to the south.-
-Will you be able to arrive there safely?-
Dencrite warriors are heading this way, Raiden suddenly announced.
-I believe so. Thank you for your assistance, Mr. Orlen, I must be going.-

***


"South? No problem, O-guy! Love your brain routine. It's fab!" Vickie took out her compass.

***


Garal was almost down to the blue octagon level when he came face to face with a pair of the Dencrite soldiers in their forboding white armor. "Hands up," one of them commanded, pointing what was clearly a weapon at him, "or die."

Character(s): The Cavalry
Author: Laura Redish (as geased by Douglass Barre)
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Outgunned

The Dencrite docking station was in a state of chaos. Unmanned starships of all sizes and designs were floating aimlessly about, bumping into each other and plowing through docking bays, drifting away from the station, being chased by frantic shuttles, immobilized with tractor beams, and grappled with long slender hooks. It wasn't the kind of situation in which Flicker would have thought the absconding of the Fallen would have merited much attention, but the time they had spent collecting Team Distraction--most of Team Distraction, frowned Flicker, hoping the other three were all right--had apparently given someone enough time to decide this was all their fault, and four bizarre winged vessels and a globular ship that reminded Flicker a little of the renovated Farstalker were making it very difficult for the cutter to get underway. She was a maneuverable craft, all right, but the other skyships kept cutting her off and firing on her. A larger, saucer-shaped vessel loomed ominously behind them. "What is that?" Flicker said suddenly, noticing the light gathering in the crystal belt of the giant saucer-shaped vessel.
"I don't even want to know." Ebreth Tor brought her hard about. "Back-wind the jib!"
Flicker, who already was, didn't respond.
The globular ship's shots rang out across the bow, but too high as she ducked beneath it and came about. "Jack!" yelled Ebreth. "Get these guys out of our way, we have to make a break for--"
The light gathering in the crystal belt of the giant saucer-shaped vessel converged and pulsed out at them like a shooting star, tearing violently through the hull.
Khyrisse screamed.
"Khyrisse!" Ebreth struggled with the mainsail as the Fallen listed, sickly. At least, thought Flicker, there was no water to rush in and sink her. The ship might not be seaworthy, but she could still fly.
Jack had shifted his fire to the smaller globular ship. "Our cannons aren't inflicting much damage on the large one," he explained. "I think it's got some kind of parabolic shield."
"Keep trying, Jack, we can't take another hit like that!" shouted Tor. "Khyrisse, are you all right?"
"I'm okay," her voice wobbled. "Get us out of here!"
"We're trying!"
The little globular ship careened under Jack's precise shots. Mina was plugging away at the saucer ship dutifully, but Jack seemed to be right; it didn't look damaged at all. In fact, it whirled about to face them again, deadly light converging in its crystal belt.
And exploded in a spray of sparks.
A Corellian cruiser sliced sideways through where it had been. "Go on!" Kynvelyn's staticky voice shot out at them. "We've got these guys!"
Khyrisse could only scream in relief.
"That wasn't the right line, dipwad," said Fleegle, poking him from the gunner's seat.
"Bite me, Pima." Kynvelyn struggled with the controls. "I think she likes me."
"You think everyone in a skirt likes you."
"Well, they do!"
The wing flew off another of Orion's ships as Fleegle's laserfire blasted into it.

Character(s): Laura's Contingent
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Does She Not Take Wing Like A Living Thing

Ebreth exhaled fiercely as Kynvelyn's starship blasted through his attacker. "Everyone hang on!" he yelled, grabbing the mainsail as a couple of the smaller ships darted around the Corellian cruiser. Jack sniped cannonfire at them. "Khyrisse, give me what you've got!"
The damaged Fallen shuddered as he squared her sail to the rising magical wind. "Tack, you idiot!" Flicker shouted into it, his hair whipping his face.
"I am tacking," roared Ebreth. "Let her run!"
"Are you ins--"
"Trust me, Kyber!"
"Captain?" Otter asked Flicker pointedly.
Flicker hesitated hard, swinging his head to Otter and back to Tor. "Fuck," he said, and flung himself up the rigging.
"Khyrisse!" shouted Ebreth, whipping the line free. "Give me full speed ahead, I mean it! Keep this mast up, Rani, we're getting out of here."
Whatever she was shouting back was lost in the wind. The ship jumped like a breaking porpoise."Everyone get down," bellowed Tor, hauling manually on the line until the mainsail bowed with the wind and then, without warning, jibed. Flicker threw himself windward as the sail swung violently over on the opposite tack through an arc of nearly 180 degrees. The boom smashed right into Tor but he scrambled up onto it somehow, straining mightily, as the whole thing swivelled hard to lee. Flicker could feel the mainmast buckle with the impact but it did not give. Rani was still clinging to it, gasping and battered by the boom, and Ebreth Tor crowed exultantly as the ship tacked sharply, keeling so hard her spinnaker nearly brushed the building tops beneath. She leapt like an arrow from a bow, and Flicker could swear it was the weight of his own body hauling to windward keeping her from going over, he could feel the wind whipping across his face, and how he did love her, when all was said and done: the Fallen, Shalini, the sea.

***


And then the Arbiters' Pyramid was looming before them, and an alien-looking starship pulled about behind them and then another, and cannon sounded, and then the Arbiter fleet had closed ranks around the wobbling Fallen. Flicker cut the mainsail and it flapped with sudden looseness, the mast creaking. Rani was clinging to its base, battered and gasping for breath. Her blouse was gone. For the first time since Flicker had met her, her hair was in her face. "I'm going to kill you!" she screamed at Tor.
The big pirate skidded from the boom still clutching fistfuls of mainsail, his face a dark mask of pain as his feet hit the deck. "We're alive. Aren't we."
"That was some pretty ugly jibing there," commented Otter.
"For ninety fucking knots, I'd say it was pretty smooth," he said through his teeth, and slid to the deck. "I think. My legs are broken."
"Good!" screamed Rani, her ribs visibly bruised, hair a violent silver tangle across her scratched face and ripped black bra.
Flicker sighed and jiggered down the rigging. "Mak a di damn fine run, Tor," he admitted.
"I'm. Getting. Old."

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