Jim slid into the room, back pressed up against the wall, as Sebbek and Jun walked arm in arm ahead. Pressing his back against the wall, he had the distinct feeling of just having passed some permanently soul-fatal test that he never wanted to take in the first place. He wiggled his hips to see if he still could, forced some memories to the surface of crowds of screaming girls and television shows, and nights in hotel rooms reading poetry and screwing groupies. He tried to persuade himself he was still him, that nothing had been lost, nothing consumed, nothing found so despicable it needed to be plucked like over-ripe rotten fruit and the life sucked out of the marrow.
Jun was knelt down by the small girl with the golden eyes and cat headed doll, they were making a cat’s cradle with a piece of red wool, passing it hand to hand and back again. Sebek was watching the child closely, as if looking for some sign of danger within, and satisfied, strode over to Jim.
“James,” he boomed, holding out a strong brown long fingered hand. Jim reached out and shook his hand, looking up at the giant before him. His crocodile head was handsome in a way, each scale picked out in a pale white green, with glints of gold and silver, his teeth shone ivory white and numerous, his mouth snapping as he talked, a delicate long tongue occasionally licking out between strong snout, as he regarded the world through ruby eyes. A third eye opened and closed occasionally blinking in the middle of his head, this eye was golden and swivelled fearsomely. Jim would have felt faint if he could, it was almost as if his soul had decided he had had enough and was headed out of there in a hurry.
“You will get used to that feeling of needing to flee, James. All non-Anubisians get it for a few hours when in our company, whether or not we mean them harm, the result of Millenia of worshipping us like Gods. This is not the first time we have met, I met you shortly after you became free of your mortal body, James. Your heart was weighed against the feather then. I won’t tease you and pretend it was a close call, you are no saint, but no soul-detritus either. You are safe, James.” He passed Jim a small cookie. “I’m an Android, Sebby. I don’t eat.”
“You don’t eat Jim, but Tabitha over there does. You are going to need to give her an offering, perhaps a song and a bit of dance too, old boy.”
Tabitha and Jun were still playing cat’s cradle, Jun intently focusing on the child. “Listen, Jim, she is a baby Anubisian, just a baby, she is not in control of herself yet. She is prone to very messy tantrums which could bring down half a city, let alone you and Jun. An offering and a polite song and dance, and she will be good and calm.”
Tabby’s eyes fixated on Jim, she threw down the doll and flew towards Jim, one hand outstretched before her. A circle of white light lit her palm. He could feel the mini fiber hairs on the back of his neck prickle. Careful, Jim, he thought to himself, you might turn into a real boy if you don’t get control. “What ARE you?” she demanded haughtily. Jim’s hand shot out and shoved the cookie into hers, a little too fast, a little clumsily. She hugged onto his leg laughing, cookie crumbs obliterated in a shower of particles. “You are a doll! A big doll!” Jim felt hurt. He had been called a doll before, but not like this. This was kind of humiliating. He was not some child’s plaything.
“A song, Jim! How about a song!” shouted Jun. There was something in the child’s eyes, and Sebek’s demeanor which told him he really didn’t have much of a choice. Jim didn’t like the way life was going, not one bit.
The small child moved back and sat on the floor with her cat-headed doll. Jim could see the shadow of a cat head mirror her human form, as he broke into The End, letting the programming half take over his nervous movements. The child sat rapt, then stood and applauded loudly, before wandering off to another room following a small coterie of felines who wove around her legs happily.
Pulling over a chair at the table, sized for a giant not a human or a small baby-Goddess, Sebek sat down with a sigh. “Bastet had a baby. As you know, Jun, we are forbidden from reproducing ourselves more than once a millennia, by the Grand Council, but Bastet has never been good at doing what she was told to do. Tabitha is Bastet-Ra, child of the Goddess, child of the Light. She is going to be more powerful than almost any of us, it appears. She is only a few weeks old, and already showing signs of extraordinary power. We have to stop her going rogue, which is where I come in. Anyone who controls Tabby, will control the future of the Anubisians. She potentially has the power to save and destroy multiverses. She is also a brat.” Sebbek sighed loudly.
“This event, this birth brought our particular universe back into the attention sphere of the Nephilim. They are going back after the Earth again, and when they have sucked the juice from the human’s there, they will look for other planets to swarm.” Jun sat listening politely. She had heard tales of the Nephilim and was generally unimpressed. They never seemed like much to her, so much jetsom and flotsom from the Angelic Sphere, interplanetary lice with the body’s of giants and no soul to speak of, just eating machines with big guns and appetites. “So, Jun…any idea who is trying to kill you?”
Jun picked a cookie from the plate and started nibbling round the edges. “I was hoping you had some idea about that, Sebby,” she replied softly. “After all it was your boys who just blew up my bar, killed Masami and tried to drill holes in me and Jim.”