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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

The Rat King Archives
The Darknesses Love Can Transform, Part III


Character(s): Warp, Jack Paris
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Orion's Belt
Title of Post: Killing Tessa, Part One

"What did you do to her?" Warp demanded of the Center.
"I didn't do anything to her," the voice from the intercom said. "She came to me asking to do research in the Nexus. I refused her, of course, but somehow she snuck in. At that point, she somehow psychically connected to the Nexus, and has been using its power to slowly destroy the underpinnings of
the universe. She is quite mad."
"I'm still not killing her," Warp said, and opened a large portal, sending it to envelop Tessa.

***
The Starcrusher docked to the Center's citadel with a loud clang. Jack saw his chance. He leapt out of Orion's computers and into the strange mathematical miasma flowing through and about the citadel. There wasn't any magic as he knew it here, but there was something strange about the environment that allowed him to float slowly through the citadel, unhampered by an anchor.
Whatever it was, it also made him feel sick.


***
The warp engulfed Tessa, and Warp attempted to cut her off from the Nexus. Unfortunately, the Nexus connected all space and time, and next to that, Warp's powers were coals to Newcastle. "Shit," he muttered. "There's got to be some way to reverse this."
"There isn't. None of us even stand a chance that close to the Nexus. You're the only one. Kill her, Warp, and save the universe."

***
Orion strode through the citadel. The plan was falling apart. He had a full psychological profile of Warp now. He knew that the Enigman was nowhere near able to kill the telepath. Still, he hadn't conquered a thousand star systems by being unable to properly motivate people. He just needed to get
a chance to talk to the hero. The door to the Center's quarters opened automatically.
"Orion," the Center said. "Welcome."
"Bother me with that later," Orion growled. "What is he doing now?"
"He's in the Nexus, but he's been unable to affect her in the slightest."
"Give me communication," the Conqueror demanded.

***
Jack Paris traced the nausea to a point in the center of the citadel where temporal metaphysics seemed to be in flux.
That was where he headed.

Character(s): The Rat
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: What the Rat Saw/ Rat Kings: Pre-Finale
Title of Post: Into my flaming clutches

The rat scampered down the pipes. He was sure was heading in the right direction; at least, he hoped so. Left. Right. Down. Right again. Yep, that seemed correct. At least, it felt right. Still, he had the feeling he was getting deeper underground.
The rat paused and sniffed the air. Yes, he was definitely going deeper underground. This was not the right way. He decided to turn around, just as the pipe fell open below him. The rat fell into a huge underground expanse. It was dark, but there were flickers of light and energy far below. The rat panicked.
Odn was looking more and more haggard. The spells were taking all his energy. He hoped he would be done with this soon.
The Collector, who stood perfectly still behind Odn, had an air an anticipation around him. This were going exactly as his true master had said they would.
Odn stopped his spell casting and sniffed the air. There was something bestial about him now.
"The first of our quarry comes, Laran! Make him welcome."
Odn pointed skyward, and the Collector looked up. He saw the approaching rat falling straight for the vortex.
The rat hit the vortex and was buffeted by the winds. However, they did slow him down. The rat, however, was not in a position to appreciate this.
The Collector shot up his hand and invoked the rat's sigil. The rat flew, against the winds, right into the Collector's hand. The rat was unconscious from fear.
"Place the escapee in his proper place. The King of Kings is about ready to be charged," said Odn.
The Collector did as Odn said. He placed the rat in the space in the very center of the King of Kings. A rush of energy flew through the necromantic structure. All the rats were cased in flesh again, and they were screaming.


Character(s): Hyix
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Playing Mind Games with Rat Kings
Title of Post: Pawn to 8th rank

Hyix oozed into the Tharrfest grounds. The scent was strong. He was close. Soon his purpose would be fulfilled.

Character(s): Jack and the Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: Showdown
Title of Post: Back in the Sewers Again...

Jack trudged through the storm drain, following Uncle Asinus.
"I don't trust this," he whispered to Val.
"Neither do I, but--" Val started.
Then suddenly eight spheres of glowing rose-colored light whizzed into the tunnel and began to circle the Rat Pack.
"About flarking time," Asinus grumbled.

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Flashback: How Stupid Are These Guys Anyway?
Title of Post: We followed Uncle Asinus?

"Should we really be following him?" Ariath wanted to know. "He's probably leading us into a trap."
"How could you say such a thing, minions?"
"Do you have a better idea?" said Fred. "Obviously we don't know where this bastard is."
"Like, it's not a trap if you know it's there," said Janice.
"You know he's possessed by a villain and you still want to follow him?" Ariath couldn't believe all these people were still alive, frankly. "What do you think, Tor?"
"Hmmm?"
"Oh, will you pay attention!"
Like Ebreth wanted to think about rat kings and liches. He was still thinking about Khyrisse on the couch, shedding protective spells like veils. "Whatever the rat wants," he said. "Let's find the rat."

Character(s): Janus
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: Showdown
Title of Post: Return of the Blob

Janus, Master of the Five Elements stepped out of his booth at the Tharrfest funnel cake bistro.
"You must be the scary blob from space I was told about," Janus said.
"I must be the scary blob from space I was told about," Hyix replied.
"Just what I wanted to hear." Janus' voice resonated in a deep and eerie tone that even Hyix wondered about.
Janus's face had no features, but his posture indicated a grin. "Hasta la vista, baby."
Solar plasma shot from his hands at the alien blob.


Character(s): Hyix, Janus
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Playing Mind Games with rat Kings
Title of Post: Crunchings and munchings

The blots of plasma hit Hyix squarely and disappeared into the blob's mass. Hyix quivered for a second, then doubled in size. Hundreds of baleful red eyes stared at Janus. Hyix then moved on. He had more important things to do.
Janus watched at Hyix flowed down one of the open sewer pipes and vanished from view.
"Now I have seen everything," Janus said matter-of-factly.

Character(s): Jack and the Rat Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: Showdown
Title of Post: Raindrops Keep Falling On Our Heads

Jack watched as the water started to rush into the sewer.
"Hey, guys, can we hurry up before I end up needing another bath?"
No one answered Jack.
"Guys? Hello?"
"The final marking time has come, honey," Val said in an eerie calm.
A blob raced past the circle of Rat Packers who had come to surround Jack.
"Oh, man, this is going to hurt, isn't it?" Jack asked no one in particular.

Character(s): Janus, Hyix
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: Showdown
Title of Post: Janus Hates Blobs

Janus stepped out of the void within his cloak and into the sewers. He should be a little bit ahead of the blob. He heard some sort of chaos going on farther down in the sewer. That ought to be the Rat Pack ganging up on poor Jack.
Then Hyix came shuffling along.
"I promised that I'd try to keep you from getting to wherever it is you're headed. You look like trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P and that stands for... uh..."
Hyix shuffled past, ignoring the Master of the Five Elements.
"Man, I hate rude blobs that ignore me," Janus echoed.
The faceless man looked around to see if anyone was listening. Just in case, he intoned, "Void power... activation!"
A black void opened up under Hyix, sucking him and the sewer water down into the blackness.
"I've got a friend who's always looking for new allies," Janus said. "He'll loooove you."

Character(s): Hyix
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Playing Mind Games with Rat Kings
Title of Post: I have got a hole in my pocket dimension

Hyix fell into the void, and into a room filled with strange life forms and walls that shone with an inner light. Now Hyix was angry. The faceless one was interfering with the purpose. The thing, which was from outside the spheres themselves, folded in on itself. With an audible outward rush of air, it reappeared exactly from where it disappeared. Right next to Janus.

Character(s): Warp, Jack Paris, Orion
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Orion's Belt
Title of Post: Killing Tessa, Part Two

"Warp, this is Orion."
"What a surprise," Warp snickered to cover his nervousness.
"It's too late for your weak human mercy. She's destroying the universe, Warp. Like your own universe was destroyed."
"Nice try, but the anti-Enigma already tried to control me by pushing those buttons, pal."
"Then I'm afraid that I have no choice." Orion turned from the intercom to his personal comlink. "Sharpedge, set course for Earth. Treaty or no, we're going to destroy that ball of rock."
"No!" Warp shouted. Without him on Earth to warn them that his warpfield around the solar system was being breached, they'd have no time to prepare.
"You have five minutes to make your choice."

***
Jack entered the containment field, and saw Warp there. He entered the field.
If he still had a body he would have vomited. The Nexus was tearing him apart, and he didn't have the strength to get through the containment field from this side.
Jack leaped blindly.

Character(s): Khyrisse, fallen divinity
Author: Kristin L.K. Andersen, ghostwriting for herself
Storyline: Rat Kings: Showdown
Title of Post: An Eerily Familiar Sensation

Khyrisse hissed in pain, scrubbing the palm of her left hand (ungloved, for once) on her thigh, trying to dull the sensation. She was annoyed by the distraction and glanced irritably down at it.
A flake of white drifted downward from the point of contact, followed shortly by several more. Khyrisse blinked and lifted her hand to stare at it. The skin on the palm of her hand was... peeling. Underneath the flaking tissue was the sigil of the Collector, hard and white, only partially visible until now. She lifted her right hand and touched the palm of the left with trembling fingers. Her eyes widened and the blood drained out of her face. She swayed backwards into Ebreth, looking like she was going to faint.
Blue light suddenly played over the Rat Pack as the sigils came to life.

Character(s): Rat Pack
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Rat Kings etc.
Title of Post: Betrayal, Part 1

Jack calculated the odds, and figured he was better off not resisting. The entire Rat Pack, sigils glowing with blue fire, pushed him down the passages of the sewers. As they walked down the sewers, Jack noticed that the architecture of the pipes were changing. It was as if they were approaching some sort of large central structure.
"Get moving!" ordered Vas.
Jack walked on, looking over his shoulder every once in a while. Soon they entered Odn's chambers. Jack marveled at the architecture. It was a mixture of almost every Atanielite culture, including a few he had never seen before. The Pack pushed Jack down the stairs and into the cyclopean chamber that continued the true King of Kings. That is when Khyrisse's sigil fragmented into lances of light.


Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: A Prophecy Fulfilled
Title of Post: When You Mess With Proscribed Items, Your Plans Get Hosed

"Mark the last one," said Odn, rising, "my Collector."
The undead Laran put his hand into Jack's chest. Time seemed to bend around the two of them. Jack almost thought he could see the lichling becoming more solid, more human, younger. "Massssssssssssssster," he slurred, his speech very slow. His flesh was pulling together.
"Do not turn back," said Odn. "Laran, do not falter."
Necrotic energies sprayed from the creature like blood. "Jack," cried Val. She found that she could speak, but not act against the King of the Kings. "You're dispelling him! He's losing his undead cohesion!"
"I'm not doing anything," Jack tried to say, but the words were lost somehow.
"Yes!" roared Odn, triumphantly. Laran Raimonde fell to the ground, a man's body. Jack stared at the strange sigil burned into his chest. He felt queasy. "I'mnotsureaddingaconstanthereisthebestide--"
"And now," intoned Odn, "the Rat Kings have opened the--"
"Vas, look out!" shouted Val.
Vas barely ducked out of the way of the black Beast. "Help me!" he cried.
"Shit!" shouted Ebreth. "It's the thing that killed Pieret!"
"Jack!" cried Val. "You're our only--"
As Jack lurched at the King of Kings there was an explosion of blue light. Their two outlines were flung apart and into it. "Dalen?" said a confused voice, and then the space-time continuum reconnected. Jack and Odn were gone.

***
"Excuse me?" said Jack. "Where... am I?"
"You're on Transit Station D36."

***
"Excuse me," said Odn, "but where is... this?"
"Hey, fuckhead," said one of the youths. "Either learn English or go back to fuckin' Mexico."

Character(s): Warp, Jack Paris, Orion, and... ?
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Orion's Belt
Title of Post: Killing Tessa, Part Three

"Warp?" came a voice from the comlink in the superhero's ear.
"Jack?" Warp whispered? "Where are you?"
"I'm, uh, in your comlink," Jack sighed. "Not much help, I know."
"Can you go through it to get to the Starcrusher? I need that ship stopped so I can figure out what's wrong with Tessa and save the universe without killing her."
"Uh, no," Jack admitted. "I'm kind of stuck. I'm kind of magical, you see, and I've lost my body and I can't exist in this containment field without an anchor."
"At least I'm guaranteed decent conversation," Warp said.
"What?" Orion demanded over the comlink. "Who are you talking to? You'll never be able to get in contact with your allies. That containment field can even keep you trapped within."
"Bite me," Warp said.
"You have two minutes, Warp. Kill her, and you'll be free, Earth will be safe, and the universe won't die. Let her live, and we're all dead... and I'm taking everything you care about with me."
"What I really need now is some deus ex machina," Warp sighed. There was sudden static from the comlink as Warp picked up another transmission from the Starcrusher.
"Lord Orion," Pyre shouted, "we've got an intruder! Some sort of amorphous being with eyes and mouths! It's destroyed the astrogation relay!"
"What?" Orion bellowed. "Destroy it!"
"Now its gone again," Pyre cried. "It just disappeared!"
"Thank you, God," Warp said.
"You know, is this an infinite space-time nexus?" Jack asked.
"Yes," Warp sighed.
"And she's destroying it by looping its power through herself?"
"Um..." Warp said. "What was that middle part again?"
"If she's connected to an infinite source, you just need to introduce a finite element to disconnect her." Jack paused. "I'm just guessing here, but you're trying to do that, right?"
"Get that ship going!" Orion was screaming in the background.
"Yes. That's exactly what I want to do. Without killing her."
"Can you use your powers to introduce a finite element to her field."
"I can do it in five words," Warp said.
"Wow," Jack said, kind of awed.
"Hey Tess!" Warp yelled. "Do you still love me?"
There was momentary consciousness in Tessa's eyes, as she focused on her first love. And how it ended.
Then there was a flash of light, and Tessa was gone.
"Did it work?" Warp asked no one in particular.
"Nexus is stable," the Center interrupted.
Warp sighed. "Tell Orion he's got five minutes until I come kick his fucking alien ass."

Character(s): Janus, Hyix
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: Showdown
Title of Post: Hyix is a Pain in my Butt

"All right, you alien mofo," Janus grumbled, wrestling the thing to the ground, "I can do this. Things can't be completely immutable..."
Then Janus felt the blob slither out of his arms and race down the hall. "Shit," Janus said, looking at his robe, now in tatters from the thing's teeth. He looked around, but all he could see was an old "Sewer Treatment Plant Ball - August 9, 802" banner.
He grabbed it and wrapped it around himself. It would have to do.
The blob slithered under a door at the end of the hallway. Janus followed.

Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Rat Kings
Title of Post: Rat Kings

Across the planet, all the Rat Kings started to glow and hum. The energies they collected focused on the King of Kings and the essence of the Collector.


Character(s): Jack and the Pack
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: Showdown
Title of Post: The Truth About Janus

The blue chair was flashing.
Jack had disappeared.
The Beast roared with rage. After all this time, he was free. He lashed out.
Janus ran into the door, wrapped in a muddy banner. "All right, King of Kings, prepare to face the wrath of Janus, Master of the--"
The Beast suckerpunched Janus, who fell to the ground.
Janus' head shattered like glass, and a human face was visible underneath. A familiar, albeit staticky voice was barely audible from within. "Warp? Are you okay? What's going on out there? Talk to me, Warp!"

Character(s): The Integral Ebreth
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: Showdown
Title of Post: Cut Off His Tail With A Carving Knife

"Jack!" shouted Ebreth. He found he could move again. The floor of the chamber was moving with bones, tiles, and the bodies of rats. Some kind of pungent, salty smell was swirling in the air. The body of Laran Raimonde was crumbling into sand. Suddenly Ebreth saw one of the rats' heads lifting from the huge mandala of rats. "Hey! It's our rat!"
"Ebreth, no!" shouted Khyrisse. "This place is collapsing! We've got to get out of here!"
"We need our rat!" Ebreth skittered across the tilting floor. Some stupid deathtrap triggered as the ground shifted and he stumbled, but he jumped up and over the blade that shot out at his knees. "Come here, rat! Come here!"
"He's stuck!" cried Skitch.
Necromantic energies swirled violently in the air, deprived of a center.
"This is going to hurt," Ebreth told the rat, and sliced through its tail with his sailor's knife, breaking the True King of Kings.

Character(s): The Collector, Hyix, Vision
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Rat Kings
Title of Post: The Nature of Collections

Hyix entered Odn's chambers and flew into the chamber of the King of Kings. Ahead it could see what it came for. Its kindred child of Vision. It was non-corporeal, but it was still there. Hyix folded in on himself and engulfed the body of Laran and the spirit of the Collector, just as the collected energy in the King of Kings and the Rat Kings hit the chamber.
The rosy spheres and the vortex flew apart. The sigils that were burned into the Rat Pack's flesh dissolved away like ice. The combined Hyix and Collector sprit reared up.
Deep in space, within the Juggernaut ship Vision, the thing that called itself Vision felt the call. It turned in on itself and reappeared in the chamber of the King of Kings.
"I do not like this!" screamed Vas.
Hyix grew to gigantic proportions. The entire place shook. Then Vision appeared.
Wordlessly it merged with the Hyix/Collector hybrid then shattered. A black column of greasy smoke flew up, through the roof and across the planet.


Character(s): Ebreth Tor
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Dead Diarians From Outer Space: They Want Our Women!
Title of Post: The Line That Absolutely Needed To Be Said

Ebreth's eyes grew wide as the Vision suddenly appeared from out of nowhere. "Run!" he shouted. He stuffed the bleeding rat, squealing with pain, into his shirt front and grabbed Khyrisse by the arm.
"The Beast is in front of the door!" cried Vas. "We'll be killed!"
"We'll last longer than we will against that--" Ebreth shook his head violently. "Move!"

Character(s): Vision... or what he has become
Author: Jeff Hersh
Storyline: Rat Kings and Mind Games... Fin.
Title of Post: Epilogue?

A fine ash drifted across the face of Ataniel. Over time, the ash settled and, as if under its own control, began to merge into little black balls of black, gooey ash. Black, gooey ash with hundreds of malevolent and hungry red eyes.

Character(s): Everyone
Author: Douglass Barre
Storyline: Rat Kings: Showdown
Title of Post: The King of Kings

From out of the column of smoke stepped... the Beast. Its fur was turned pure white. "I... am... the King of Kings..." it said. "The energies of a million deaths are within me... I will live forever..."
"Oh fuck this," Ebreth said, and tossed the small mithril dagger at the creature as he ran away.
The mithril stuck into its fur and lightning arced from it.
On the other side of the arc, the blue stone throne flashed once again. Odn appeared once more upon it.
Dead.
The body of the archmage dissolved into biomass.
The Beast fell to the floor.
The energies were gone, to where, none could tell.
The King of Kings was no more.

Character(s): The Rat Pack
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: Endgame
Title of Post: The Broken Chain

The broken King of Kings shook and began to go off like firecrackers, the dead and animated corpses of the other rats exploding one by one.

Character(s): Odn
Author: Laura Redish
Storyline: Rat Kings: Denouement
Title of Post: Somewhere In L.A.

There was a blue flash. "I... am... the King of Kings..." intoned some incomprehensible language. "The energies of a million deaths are within me... I will live forever..."
The flash ripped open and disappeared. The strange guy was gone.
"Did--you see that?" said one of the youths.
"I--didn't see nothin'."
"Well, that's good, cause I--didn't see nothin' either."

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