Tuesday, June 3

A Farewell to Koen

The mortals had almost evacuated. Very good, Bloodwing thought. He did not want them present if the squabble with Sekhmet turned into inter-pantheon conflict. Ra-Horus was still sore over the Library of Alexandria. And he and Sekhmet had...History.

His son watched with sadness as K'rra fled with her fellow adventurers. The demon sensed sense in her soul that she believed her love, when he said they would be together again in another life as they always had. Was it not natural for envy to linger in his heart for them?

Darien glanced back at Sekhmet. Surely she must have seemed somewhat familiar to him. But her sidelong glance of twin embers was more than enough to shake him from his combat fatugue. He reluctantly gathered his broken prosthesis and followed the rest.

Vortex approached her mother, trying to recollect the eternal memories of his immortal self. She pulled in her burning claws, and the flames abated. Her fur grew dark save for the ears and paws and tail.

"S...Sumalee? You incarnated as a mortal to birth me as Koen?"

Vortex pulled back the claws of his own demonic form, and he shifted to Bloodtail form as they embraced.

"The gods of the Nile, like many others," she said in a sweet, hushed tone devoid of malice, "are so powerful that our true selves can never be encompassed by solely one form. I was born as the incarnation of Sekhmet, a living goddess to the Bloodtail tribe. My fury alone held all the warring tribes at bay, even when still a kitten. Your mortal grandfather incapacitated me from a long range, that I could not stare him down and burn away his soul before the poison of his dart laid me low. When he pulled my claws from me, my incarnation changed from Sekhmet to my other form...Hathor, the Mother Goddess."

Koen looked at the clawless digits of the semblance of his old form.

"That's why I was born without claws on my hand-claws? I'm only Sekhmet's son when I possess them?"

"Correct, my son. This form is...passive. I knew that when I came of age, you would reincarnate as my child. I would never have denied you that chance."

"When did you become Sekhmet again?"

"The gods...took me back. They said I was needed. Come back to Heliopolis with me, my son. Let us finish a lifetime there...like this. Like it should have been. I have always preferred this form to be honest, though Sekhmet would say the opposite."

"I think I'm the only person here that understands that. Why did she let you become Hathor again?"

"She insisted. She is Vengence, yes, but she is also fair."

"Is she going to punish Darien?"

"No. Even though he hurt us, he protected us all from the wrath of the Fates by stepping into his Father's role. And his anguish is more than punishment enough."

He looked back to Qli-3.

"Go Koen," she said as the light from her reactor dimmed slightly, "what the Steels must do is too dangerous for spectators, even for the gods..."

Koen was tempted to embrace her, but then remembered what the chains had already done to him and two others.

"Goodbye, Sister. Thank you for rescuing me. I will return to..."

Qli-3 smiled, but shook her head sadly.

"You are welcome, brother. Enjoy the family you were denied in peace."

Bloodwing nodded silently to the two nekos as they were consumed by rays as dazzling as the sun. The demon winced from the glare, then looked up at the hovering fleet of golden triremes and sighed.

"Someone in our family gets a happy ending after all."

A similar brilliance shone a moment on the ship in lead formation, and they turned their rudders and unfurled their solar sails to head home.

A cheer rose from the black ships above. A shape descended from the main ship in an irregular spiral. As it grew closer those below could hear the drone of its four insect-like wings. The crustacean-demon landed, it chitinous legs scraping clear lines upon the dusty stones of the station with a grinding echo and a shower of sparks.

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