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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

We'll Always Have Paris Archives
Starcross, Part VII



Character(s): The Rat Pack and the City That Flew
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: O Captain! My Captain!

Khyrisse gasped for air, snapping the sails briefly. She could swear she was sensing pain from several sources on her deck, other than the stabbing burn through her midsection. Little pinpoints of other-sensation, sharps in the chorus. Oh Grendel! ...There's a count against being greater than mortal that I'd forgotten-- you hurt mortal things too easily. Next time I try this I'm designing in more personal flexibility, damn it! Her consciousness buzzed agitatedly and helplessly around her damaged crew.
"Val! The mainmast, please!" she pleaded, and flipped her attention back to it. There was blood soaking into her deck, smeared across the lower mainsail. I have... Ebreth's blood... in my hair. The ship shuddered slightly beneath the Rat Pack as they scurried around the deck. "I'm so sorry," the ship babbled. "Rani, are you all right? Ebreth, talk to me!"
"No, I'm not all right!" Rani shouted. "Do I look all right to you?"
"I'm so sorry," Khyrisse mourned. "Val is coming, she'll be right here."
"Khyrisse, it's okay," Ebreth said.
"It is not okay!" she wailed. "I knocked you down!"
"I'm the one who decided to let the ship run before a 90-knot wind and free-jibe, you know," he said, smiling a little in spite of the pain.
Rani spat something unprintable at him.
"I'm sorry, Rani," Khyrisse said, writing off the insult to her captain as pain-induced and trying, without much success, to arrange herself in a more supportive position beneath the psychometrist. "I'd be in a lot worse shape without your help, that's for sure. Thank you, Rani, really. Val, hurry!"
"I'm here," Val said, mouth twitching. She gave Rani a quick kiss, healing her injuries a little--Hopefully enough to make her a little less aggravated with Ebreth! Val thought, amused--before kneeling next to Ebreth.
"I hate this, I can't help," the ship whispered.
"I'm fine. I was in good enough shape to bring us in, wasn't I?" Ebreth told her, patting the deck.
"Yeeees," Khyrisse replied slowly, relaxing a little as Val finished realigning his broken shins and began healing him. A clenched stress point, rather like a knot in her throat, eased a little. Khyrisse sighed in mingled relief and exhilaration. "...I haven't felt anything like that since I was a goddess. What a ride!"
"Kit is going to be so pissed when she hears what she missed," Skitch grinned, tearing past on a sugar-high. "I wanna be a space pirate. Woo-hoo, the Dencrites suck!"
"Kiddo, write on me and die!"

***


Ebreth went aft, moving carefully on his still-aching legs. Khyrisse was sitting in the metal and crystal helm, eyes closed, face calm but intent. "The Arbiters say we're safe to disembark now, Khyrisse," he said softly.
"Hmm?" the ship replied, almost as if she had been asleep. "Oh... of course." The sails fluttered in a breeze that sounded like a regretful sigh, and Khyrisse's elven body stirred slightly, shivering. "Pull in, stupid," she whispered, with her own mouth for the first time in what seemed like hours. "Damn it, this body's the wrong shape and too small," she sighed, opening her eyes and looking at Ebreth. There was distance behind her gaze, golden sparks floating three-dimensionally in the violet like the glowing windows of a city at twilight. She wobbled out of the chair, struggling with her balance like a newborn colt, and the illusion faded.
"I think it's just right," he chuckled, catching her.
Khyrisse laughed and kissed him. "Thank you, my captain."

Character(s): Newbies, Vets, Who Gives A Damn, They're Rat Packers...
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: The Trouble With Kynvelyn's Theory, Of Course, Is That Khyrisse Doesn't WEAR Skirts :)

"There," Valende sighed, pulling the bandage tight on Vas' shoulder, who bore this stoically. "I've got everyone patched up enough to move, at least."
Vas stood, and as an afterthought, offered Val his tunic with a teasing smile. She looked at him quizzically. "For your lady," he explained. "Lovely though she is, even in her current dishevelled state, I imagine that she does not wish to be ogled by the passersby."
Val gave him an amused look, not taking the article of clothing from him. Then she reached behind her head and removed her own tunic, standing unembarrassed in the dark green lace teddy beneath, and handed it over. Vas held her tunic, bemused, while his sister took his and pulled it over her head.
"Now, what was all that for?" Vas demanded. "My way was simpler, surely."
"Rani becomes part of what she touches," Val told him, smiling impishly. "If she wears anyone's clothing it's going to be mine, thank you."
Vas shouted with laughter.

***


"How do you breathe like that, Mom?" Skitch inquired, studying Khyrisse and Ebreth, still standing close together on the aft deck. Khyrisse came up out of the kiss giggling helplessly. Ebreth slanted a good-natured glare at Skitch over her head. Skitch grinned.

***


"All right," Khyrisse said, tossing her tousled hair over her shoulder. "Who are we still missing here?" She ran quickly down the list of everyone she knew was on board. Skitch, Ebreth, Marty, Flicker, Otter, Vas, Val, Rani, Crandall, {{Jack}}, Mina, Orlen... Flark flark flark. Too many of us! "Garal, Vickie, and Amatsu? Is that it?"
"Um, I think so," Skitch said, hopping around on one foot.
She glanced around at the visible portion of the Rat Pack. "We look pretty battered, frankly. Val, how are you for healing spells?"
"By the time I get everyone patched up again, I'll be out, I'm afraid," Valende admitted reluctantly.
"I still have most of my spells, I think, but I don't know how reliable they'd be in a fight at the moment." Khyrisse rubbed the back of her neck. "All right, I'm going to set up the Mansion-- inside the Arbiters' safe zone, but right at the edge, at the closest point to the docking station and the furthest from the Pyramid. Garal's certain to see it there, and he can home in on it and bring everyone right back to us. We'll take a break and wait for our missing people, at the very least... but I think it might be better if we attacked the Remnant after some rest, given that Val is really our only healer."
Val sighed and closed her eyes, frustration flickering briefly across her face. All she said, however, was, "It shouldn't take me long to recover, just a few hours of sleep." Two steps forward, one step back. Any more of this and I'm just going to scream. ...Hold on, dearheart, wherever you are. Don't do anything foolish, please.
Kynvelyn's ship did a victory roll past the Pyramid, in blithe disregard for the other ships still zipping around the sky. Khyrisse and Skitch cheered, waving.
"I'm not tired," Skitch volunteered, bouncing up and down. "I could go scout."
"You are full of ghastly amounts of chocolate candy and Fizzy Pop! Don't think I didn't see you haul that on board. Laps in the pool and a decent dinner for you, kiddo!"
"Awwww!"

Character(s): Ebreth Tor; two pretty boys; the poker bunch
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Rest Break

"We shouldn't waste any more time," disagreed Ebreth.
Khyrisse shook her head firmly. "Even when we were turning Bane we stopped to rest," she said, "and if we hadn't Grendel knows what might have happened. It would be foolish to rush in after the Remnant wounded, tapped for spells, and missing people."
"I'm also out of PSP's," added Rani, in Valende's tunic. "If anyone cares."
"If the other three aren't back by the time the rest of us are ready to go, mabye we'll think about heading out without them. It seems like Vickie does her best work outside the confines of the group anyway." Valende glowered, but Khyrisse said it with cheerful resignation. "But I want to give them at least a few hours to try to catch up with us, and I want the people we've got to be going in at full strength. Okay?"
Ebreth rubbed his neck. "Okay," he sighed.

***


"Orlen?" Vas drew him discreetly aside. "May I ask a favor of you?"
"You can ask, friend, but I'll need to know what it is before I can agree, you know." The psi-bard smiled.
"Naturally. I need someone to do a psionic probe on Crandall."
"Without his permission?" Orlen frowned. "That would be quite unethical, Vastarin."
He shook his poofy head. "You misunderstand," he said. "I--have reason to suspect Crandall is undead. I am concerned he may be a Remnant spy."
Orlen blinked. "Well, I--should certainly be able to confirm or deny that. One moment, please." He closed his hazel eyes in concentration, and then opened them again, looking more surprised than anything else. "He's undead all right. But--he has an unusually strong force of will overriding his allegiance to the Remnant."
"He--what?" Vastarin ran his fingers through his manga 'do. "You know, I'd been hoping talking to you was going to make things less complicated, Orlen."
"Maybe you need to talk to him about this," suggested Orlen.

***


"I'll take two," said Crandall.
Ebreth dealt them. "Skitch?"
"One," he said slowly, sliding the card across to the pirate.
Ebreth gave him one and turned two cards in for himself. Khyrisse was taking a bath, and some of the Rat Pack were working on teaching Skitch to play poker. "What're we at, Jack?"
The mathematician looked at his hand, his lips pursed in characteristic concentration. "I'll raise four," he said.
"I'm in for four," said Mina.
"I'll see your four and raise you two," said Crandall.
"How much should I bet?" said Skitch, holding his cards in front of his face.
"Well, if you've got a good hand, you want to get other people to bet as much as possible," said Ebreth. "If it's not so good, you want to bet a little or get out. But you don't want everyone to know what you've got, so be a little sneaky sometimes, right?"
"So if it's a really bad hand," said Skitch, carefully, "I should pretend it's really good?"
"Nice try, kid," grinned Ebreth, and tossed his cards down. "Dealer folds."
Skitch did a very poor job of hiding how crestfallen it made him.
"What was your bet, Skitch?" asked Mina.
"Twelve," said Skitch.
"So you're seeing Crandall's six, and raising six," coached Ebreth.
"I'll see the eight and raise four," said Jack.
"Crap!" said Skitch. "This is a stupid game. Jack always wins."
"Don't give up yet, Skitch," said Ebreth. "He could be bluffing."
"Jack's not as good at that part," grinned Crandall.
"Yeah, that's what I used to think too. Mina, you in?"

Character(s): Garal
Author: Eric Gasior
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: One Down, One To Go

I don't need this. Garal let his planar sense fall on him and did a quick scan for an escape route. The only path he could get to quickly was between him and the soldiers, and it only led 20 feet behind him. He prepared to create a portal that would take him further away when an idea hit him.
"Don't shoot!" he said while throwing his hands up in the air. He also started backing up.
"Hold still!"
aral did, but he got what he wanted. The two Dencrite soldiers moved toward them. When the soldiers got to the right point he opened the path and they appeared behind him.
Without turning to look at his handiwork, Garal started running down the corridor. He cast a glance over his shoulder when he heard one of them hit the floor. He stopped dead when he realized that the one still standing was taking off his helmet to reveal Amatsu. Garal was suddenly glad that the path didn't lead into space.
"Come on!" The halfling shouted to the Shikinti warrior. "We've got to find Vickie and get out of here!"

Character(s): Jack, Mina, Ebreth, Skitch
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: We'll Always Have Paris: Starcrossed
Title of Post: The Unthinkable

"I don't believe it."
"Believe it," Jack said.
"But... it's not possible!" Skitch insisted.
"I can't believe I folded," sighed Ebreth.
"Look, I don't have x-ray vision or anything," Jack offered.
"This stinks," moped Skitch.
"I do believe I was played," Ebreth mused.
"Men," smiled Mina, and pulled the chips into her large-and-getting-larger pile. "You're so predictable."
"See? Isn't this more fun than knowing I'm going to win all the time?" Jack asked.
Skitch looked at his three chips. "No," he answered truthfully.
"Ante up," Mina smiled. "The night is young, and so am I."

Character(s): Crandall and Vas
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: A 20th Level Liar

"Give me one good reason not to kill you right here."
Crandall looked down the undead-poisoned arrow at the uncharacteristically grim anime elf. "I can help you kill ∆lwyn," he said.
"Why would you do that," hissed Vastarin, "creature?"
"Because it's the only way to free myself from the curse of the Remnant once and for all?" said Crandall. "I was travelling with Jack when I was killed. Apparently that's enough. Well, I'll tell you something, mister, I don't like being undead any more than you would. Jack was my friend, and I won't be used against him. I got away from the Remnant, I found Cori and Jack, I thought we could handle this together. Well they're gone now, but I know what I have to do. Are you going to stop me?"

Character(s): Valende and Ebreth
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen and Laura Redish
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: ...And His Handiwork

Valende, looking a bit weary around the eyes, caught up to Ebreth in the living room, absently gathering up the scattered poker deck. "Ebreth," she said, quietly. "I wanted to check on how that knee was doing... The joints are always the hardest to heal." Her mouth curved in a slightly rueful smile. She hadn't missed the flash of-- dislike? disapproval? anger? something negative, that much was certain-- in his eyes over her solicitousness of Rani, on their way to the Mansion. "That is, if you don't mind accepting help from someone like me."
"Oh, Hell, Valende, I didn't say there was anything wrong with you," Ebreth sighed. "I don't think you're being malicious, I said I thought you were making a mistake."
"Well, I'm as mortal as anyone," Val replied in a carefully neutral tone, inviting him to sit. "That's possible. May I check, please?"
Valende was determinedly silent until she'd verified that Ebreth's knee had healed with no lingering ill effects. Then she sat back on her heels with a sigh and looked soberly at him. "I'm glad you don't think this is maliciousness. I do love Jack. I want him out of there and safe again just as much as you do. I just... don't know if he and I have any future with each other, after this." She looked away, her fingers fretting with her holy symbol. "He didn't even trust me enough to tell me what he was doing, that he might not be back," she whispered. "Rightly so, I suppose. I never would have agreed with his handing himself over to the Remnant. Never."
"All right, so he fucked up," Ebreth admitted, readily enough. Val smiled a little, sadly, reminding herself that Ebreth had more reason than most to be upset over Jack's bewildering defection. "You've never fucked up in your life, Val? He did the wrong thing, but at least he did it for the right reasons. If he's willing to admit he screwed up, I think he deserves a second chance."
Val looked back at him. "He may very well deserve a second chance. If there were perfect justice in this world, he'd probably get it. But Jack is not the only emotionally disturbed party here. Do I get a chance to lick my wounds or not, Ebreth...?"
The pirate shrugged. "You're just setting yourself up for more emotional pain by doing this. You think Jack is the only one this is going to hurt? You're not the only one who's been around the block, you know, you're not the only one who's seen this all before. I have never once seen a person who was emotionally hurt by a partner make things anything but worse by running off and having rebound sex with someone else. Never. Once."
"Disregarding the nonsense about rebound," she extrapolated, in a chilly tone, " you are telling me that I should dump Rani. And when Jack comes back, I should soothe him, and tell him it was all right that he ran off and sold himself to the walking dead, and welcome him back with open arms. This will make everyone happy? This will content everyone with the state of my personal life?" She tilted her head to one side in a gesture that suddenly reminded Ebreth sharply of Vas, lifting one hand in mock regret. "Oh, and lest I forget-- apologize to Jack for having taken up with Rani, as well."
"Did I say that? I said you should give him a second chance before you go throwing what you've got with him away over the prospect of a new relationship."
Valende buried her fingers in her raven hair as if she'd like to pull it out. "I don't know if I have anything with him to throw away. He didn't leave me in a position to know."
"So find out first. If you don't like his answers, fine, dump him. Then try to find someone new. Getting pissed off with him and having sex with someone else, that wasn't fair to him, and it wasn't fair to Rani, and it wasn't even very fair to you. It was a mistake, Valende. You... made... a mistake. Think about this from the outside, will you?"
"I don't think anyone's thinking about this from the outside," she said, glowering at him.
"Jack deserves the dignity of having his mistakes discussed with him as if he's a human being. Then, if you're not satisfied he's learned what you need him to learn from them, go. You don't belong to him, but you owe him more than this. That's all."
Valende gave a long sigh, less in sorrow than in exasperation. Why, demanded a badly bruised corner of her emotions, is it all suddenly 'Jack deserves better than this', 'how can you do this to poor Jack'-- but no one protested on my behalf when Jack left? ...Not a word, not even 'goodbye'. Not a word! Am I so incapable of making my own decisions? So untrustworthy that he couldn't tell me what upset him? Did I mean so little to him? She sighed again, rubbing her forehead as if to scrub away the childishly resentful thoughts. Perhaps someone did protest, even if I never heard of it. You don't know that part of everyone's exasperation with Jack's decision was not on your behalf, Valende...
"My relationship with Rani," she finally sighed, "has very little to do with my relationship with Jack. Mina told me that she believed I wasn't thinking about Jack more than I was thinking about myself when I did this-- and she was right. But you know what, Ebreth? I wasn't really thinking about myself, either. I was thinking about Rani. Yes, I imagine that having someone need me when Jack made it so spectacularly clear that he did not was probably comforting, but it mitigates the fact that she needs me not one little bit! I should sacrifice her feelings for his? This makes sense?"
"Look, " said Ebreth, "Valende, look. Forget if it's moral or immoral. You slept with someone else, I don't care if you did it to help Rani or just to hide from your problems with Jack. If you keep it up, you are going to lose Jack, and unless you're a very, very different person than I thought you were, that is going to hurt you, and you are not going to have a productive relationship with Rani, Val. Come on, you know better than this. This is all, I am saying. I can see where this is going. If you were out here you could too. And I'm sorry this is pissing you the hell off but I hope to God you'd tell me if I was being this stupid. That's all."
Valende shuddered briefly with the effort of keeping her temper in check. Jack means a great deal to Ebreth... and Ebreth means a great deal to Khyrisse. Verbally tearing a strip from his hide would therefore be a very bad thing, Valende. He speaks in an effort to protect a dear friend, that's all. When she finally spoke, her voice was very, very calm, even if her tense posture left something to be desired. If I do not look about as ready to snap as one of Vas' bowstrings, I will be greatly surprised. "Yes, losing Jack would hurt me a great deal, Ebreth," she said softly. "You're right. I love him, and none of this was done with the intent to cause anyone pain. I'll think about everything you've said-- and I'll remember that it was said out of your great affection for Jack." She lifted her head and looked at him, green eyes glittering. "...But I'd like to do it alone, if you don't mind."
Ebreth lifted his hands in a reassuring, almost apologetic way. "Okay. All right. Okay. I'm--sorry. Okay." He retreated backwards from the living room.
The door closed, and Val, after a moment's hesitation, walked over and locked it. She sank down on the couch and buried her face in her hands.

Character(s): Valende and Khyrisse
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen
Storyline: WAHP: Starcrossed
Title of Post: Role Reversals

Valende, ranger though she was, never noted the arrival of another person in the room until they were standing right next to her.
"Val?" Khyrisse said, quietly, and gave an apologetic chuckle when the priestess started. "Sorry. You looked rather wrapped up, I should have made some noise or something..."
"Khyrisse," Val said, with what patience she had left. "How did you get through a locked door?"
Should I explain again that it's my mental construct? I could walk through the walls if I wanted to mess with my head that badly... No, she doesn't look like she's in the mood for magical theory. "Trade secret," the archmage replied, smiling a little. She sat down on the couch next to Valende when she didn't look up. "Val, I hate to pry, but you look like you could use someone to talk to."
"I've had quite enough talking for one day, thank you!"
"Ouch," murmured Khyrisse. "..Does it help any to know that I don't think you're being spiteful or thoughtless or unfaithful? I don't know if I understand what's happened, exactly, but I'm sure it's not any of those." She hesitated for a moment, and then added, very carefully, "I feel sorry for everyone involved, really-- but the position I identify most with is yours, Val."
Val sat up and looked at her, blinking. "You've had this happen to you?"
Khyrisse nodded and sighed.
Val smiled a little for the first time. "And here Vas and I thought you were woefully straight..." she said; mostly in jest, although there was a little bit of curiosity in there. Khyrisse laughed.
"I am, I'm just not narrow... Mine were both male."
The priestess immediately shook her head. "That's different, Khyrisse."
"Not when they're on two different timelines, and you're the only one who remembers both. That's a killer of an extenuating circumstance."
Val's eyes widened. "Ouch," she finally murmured.
"That's a word for it." Khyrisse smiled ruefully and held out her arms. "Come on, Val; how often am I going to get to be your wailing wall, here?" Val laughed, a bit shakily, and rested her aching head on Khyrisse's waiting shoulder.

***


"I probably would have wound up fighting the Remnant anyway, when Luthien got around to it," Val said plaintively. "I spent fifty years before I ever met Jack in killing the undead, at the behest of my God. I'm supposed to go away and stay out of trouble? Without even a word of explanation? What was he thinking?"
Khyrisse rolled her eyes. " 'Stay with the nice policeman'."

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

"Don't you think you were a little hard on Val?" Garal asked Vickie.
"Huh? Was I?"
"Well, I kind of thought so," Garal admitted.
"She deserves it," Mina muttered. "I just thought you were a bit imperious to everyone else."
"Really?" Vickie asked.
"You know, giving orders and all. You just seemed a bit off."
Garal nodded.
Vickie sighed and pulled a small day planner out of her satchel. "Oh, okay," she said, nodding. "Give me another day. I keep forgetting that we're in Actual Time, not Real Ataniel time. Throws my cycle off."
"Too much information," Garal blushed.

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