There was the distant sound of crumbling stone. Plumes of smoke rose from the slums. Nash frowned down at them sigh, pausing mid-stride. Tezcatlipoca set a hand on his shoulder, hurrying him along the open street. “The Vemana have evacuated to the Aztec Quarter. The defenses there will help to keep them as safe as anywhere in Paradise. The Loa agreed to lure the angelic forces into the heart of the slums. We rely on Prester John to want to keep some image of benevolence for now, and avoid outright destruction for fear of revealing his true nature.”
“You know,” said Betty, her eyes narrowed, “You’re an unusually arrogant human. I can admit I find that admirable. It takes real stones to wear someone’s skin in front of their friends and family.”
Nash watched as the two gods sped up the wall. He could have followed them, maybe. But he wasn’t that fast, and he suspected Betty could handle the situation. He turned back towards the young man who had arrived with the dog. Legba’s servant coughed nervously. “You aren’t going to beat me, are you, sir? I just walk Legba. I didn’t mean to offend.”
I stretched out on the small, inflatable raft, and frowned down at the cut on my arm, tail flicking. Bella had always been a bit overdramatic. It was a bad habit of humans, and she was oh-so-very human in some ways. Mind you, I wasn’t against the occasional display of showmanship, but I didn’t take it too seriously. I hadn’t, for a very long time. I slid a length of fabric torn from my clothes around it, tying it tight.
Bella understood many things about herself. Her powers. Her limits. Her nature. She was War. She was the embodiment of conflict, of strife, of uncertain combat. She was the incarnation of the survival instinct. She was one of the most powerful beings in the world. And she was far outmatched by the enraged Sister in front of her.
“Now?” asked Djehuty, frowning. I gave him an unapologetic smile. “The emissaries will be here in a matter of days. This war can end, but we need you here, Bastet. Your strength is one of the things that forces them to respect us.” He tugged the feathers on his head, frowning at me as he preened. “Surely your village will be safe for a few days more on its own?”
“Miller? Sergeant Fetu Miller? You’ve got a visitor.”