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.
The doors swung open, to reveal an empty elevator. To their credit, the men manning the machine guns didn’t hesitate for even a second. Both barrels swung up towards the roof above the elevator, and began to fire. The heavy pounding of the machine guns filled the air with low thumps. Round after round pounded up through the roof, the dense uranium tearing terrible gouges through the stone and metal, perforating it like it was cheesecloth. It was loud enough that no one but I made out the two soft pops of a small caliber weapon.
I yawned, and coughed a bit. My mouth was dry. I pulled myself out of the bed, and padded into the kitchenette. The full moon hung on the horizon, glowing like a distant eye. I gave it a knowing wink as I poured out a glass of water.
The walk back through the darkness was unpleasant. I’d been told I would die many times before, by both friend and foe. Sometimes it was a warning. Sometimes it was a threat. Sometimes it was just a hope. It had never been a prophecy. Christians were big into their prophecy, although they seldom admitted it. They thought God had everything worked out in advance, and even stranger, they thought it was all going to be okay.
I woke up with my arms wrapped tightly around a pillow, and grumbled. The bed was uncomfortably empty. and Horace was nowhere to be found. That irritated me until I remembered where I was, and where he was, which tufearrned irritation to depression. I crawled out of bed and found the extremely jittery looking Sergeant Major, a cup of coffee in one hand, his eyes narrowed. “I thought you said we were going to Prester John’s first thing.”
I raised an eyebrow. That was an unusual claim. “I wasn’t aware that servants of War COULD go renegade. She’s not known for playing delicately. I don’t think I’ve ever met a servant of War who was whole when she had finished with them. How did you get away from her influence?”
I sat in the tree, and watched as the man approached my village. My territory. My humans.
Love is powerful.
My body was aching, wracked with feverish chills. The knife had hurt badly. And it kept hurting. Being in the warmth of Horace’s home wasn’t helping. I was becoming disconnected. I could feel the world flowing like wax around me. It was becoming difficult to concentrate on what was happening. Memories were echoing in my head. I heard a crack, and shook free of a vision of people who had been dead for millenia.
I can’t say that I am prone to self-examination. I have lived a very long time, which is itself proof of my skill. I am First, and I am Cat, and these things are sufficient to overcome almost any obstacle in my way. The handful of times when I have found myself defeated, I returned to my human, settled down to receive affection and grow stronger, and then proceeded to murder whatever had embarrassed me. It was very difficult to kill me, so long as I had a human. But Horace had a rather frustrating lack of confidence in me. “You know what your job is, Horace. Why are you going through this? How can you even trust this man?”