FIGHTING DARKNESS

Chapter 5: The Fates Shocking News

Bast wasn't much for honorifics like her fellow Gods, preferring her servants to be straight forward, though polite, and obeying the proper etiquette for conversing with a God which he had done. Now he would simply get down to business.

"I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, ma'am, but I learned today that a God has been playing a dangerous game among the mortals."

Bast's eyes sparked but she didn't move or say anything. He took that to mean he should continue.

"I was almost too late preventing Shezmu from taking one of the defenders of the city you sent me to observe. The mortal is safe though badly shaken by the attack that had started more than three days earlier."

The Goddess hissed in shock.

Asar nodded, grimly. Yes, ma'am, I had no inkling Shezmu was even in the mortal realm much less in my vicinity. But what was even more shocking ... he didn't know I was there either. Now how is that possible?"

"It shouldn't be," Bast said flatly.

Asar nodded. "That's what I thought. Which was why I've come to suspect some unknown power is responsible for hiding Shezmu and I from each other. I also have a strong suspicion I wasn't supposed to have known about the attack at all. But two things occurred that spoiled this hidden person's plans. One, I was on patrol in the area and, two, Commander Feral, the one attacked, has a mind strong enough to fight off the attack and sent out a loud mind call for help that I heard." Bast's eyebrows rose in surprise.

"Yeah, that surprised me too. Anyway, I saved him and during our ensuing discussion, Feral extrapolated some interesting facts that led us to suspecting there was someone more powerful in the area orchestrating all of this. What he figured out makes me feel really stupid and to humbly beg you to swat me one for being incredibly dense and unobservant."

Bast eyebrows rose in question at such a request. Asar grimaced. "His observations clearly indicated someone was definitely manipulating Shezmu which is what led me, belatedly, to suspect a God was actively interfering and also could explain what you detected that sent me to Megakat City in the first place," he said bitterly.

"The nebulous energy signal...," Bast snorted in annoyance that she hadn't caught on to that either. "Not your fault, Asar. I should have thought of that myself. What other facts did this mortal present that led you to be certain of your conclusion?"

"Feral was always puzzled by the appearance of the omegas. After this attack, the pieces of the puzzle in his head came together and he realized only someone more powerful could be behind everything that had been going on in the city for the past decade. When I filled him in on Shezmu's methodology that solidified his supposition about why the omegas behavior suddenly changed these last couple of years. He feels, and I'm forced to agree with him, that this God used the escalating strife caused by the omegas to entice Shezmu into checking out the city. Using some form of coercion this God made Shezmu ignore his normal inclinations and caution to stay and make an attempt to get a war started. He certainly wouldn't have tried at all if he was in his right mind because Megakat City just doesn't fit his needs." Asar sighed in disgust at not seeing this early on.

"So Shezmu proceeded to manipulate the omegas to increase their attacks against the city. But it was that interference that made Feral realize someone was messing with the omegas."

"How so?"

Asar elaborated, "The omegas are simply too self-centered, egotistical, and distrustful of each other to ever work together successfully no matter how much they wanted to win. Yet, evidence showed they were trying to do just that...not once but several times in different combinations of omegas. That rang alarms and clearly demonstrated someone else was pulling the omega's strings. This led me to realize whoever was doing that had to be very powerful for Shezmu not to sense he also was being manipulated. He'd be pissed to discover someone's using him as sort of a Trojan Horse to divert our attentions away from the major player and his true purpose."

"He would indeed," Bast grimaced. "And do you have any idea what that purpose might be?"

"I have a suspicion but not the skill to determine what I discovered is the reason for the interest in Megakat City. But what I have been able to ascertain is all of this seems to have started with that faint energy signal a half century ago and the birth of a male Kat. The two events seemed linked and have only now reached fruition which explains the hidden God's stepping up his plans with the addition of Shezmu."

Bast frowned at him. "And what does this male Kat have to do with a God's plans?"

"The Kat is Ulysses Feral, now fifty-five years old, with a secret buried within his mind that stunned me when I entered to save him. No mortal should have such a power within them. It would normally kill but in him it sleeps and waits. I suggest, ma'am, that you use your God's eye to determine what this power might be and if it is indeed what this hidden God seeks and might explain why Feral was the very first person in all the city that Shezmu tried to take over. Perhaps in him is the key to all this," Asar suggested, persuasively.

That puzzle piqued Bast's interest. She turned her eyes away and sent her thoughts like a laser probe to the mortal realm, quickly finding the one she sought sitting at his desk and working at Enforcer Headquarters.

With a touch so light it would seem no more than air itself, she probed the tom's mind and encountered what Asar had found. It was extraordinary. Shock made her pull out and hover over the tom in consternation. Feral showed no signs he'd been aware of her touch, which, considering what was hidden in his mind, should have been impossible.

Frowning in concern, Bast once more sank into the tom's mind, using extreme caution, as she began to search a little deeper for answers. The first thing she saw was the battle for the tom's mind waged between her warrior and Shezmu. Asar had done well repairing and soothing the damage while leaving the event largely intact in the tom's memory. Nothing in the traces of Shezmu's mind probe told her the identity of the other God behind all this but then she hadn't expected it to. The other had to be at least as strong or stronger than herself.

Moving past the memory, she headed for the power she'd already detected. She hovered close without touching as she felt that might be very unwise and studied the phenomenon closely.

Hidden very deep in the mortal's subconscious was a core of power so great it should have lit up the world but at the moment it it's light was faint as it slept. How could such a thing be present in a mortal? This would be normal within a God not in this fragile vessel! As Asar had said, the power seemed to be waiting for the right moment to be set free but what that signal could be she hadn't a clue. Her warrior had been right in his suspicions...this was indeed what the mysterious God wanted. Actually, any greedy and power hungry God would want this for themselves which made it nesting in a mortal even more incomprehensible.

A very dangerous game was indeed afoot. Anyone managing to take this power for their own could conceivably rule all the Gods. That knowledge sent a shiver of fear down her spine as nothing in her life could. Wars among the Gods had the propensity to go on for centuries and the worlds under their control and all their people suffered and died in droves. This must be prevented at all costs.

She needed to get to the bottom of this mystery quickly before more of her kind found out about it. To see if she could get at least a few of her questions answered, she pulled away from the muted power and went hunting around Feral's memories. She finally located a few old memories from the tom's kittenhood that might hold the key. Watching and listening to each memory as they unfolded before her, she grew more and more disturbed.

Moments later, she was pulling away in horrified dismay then retreating back to her own body in the blink of an eye. Without looking at Asar who eyed her with concern, she stood up and vanished without a word.

Asar blinked in surprise at her sudden departure which wasn't like her. Whatever she had learned, had made her concerned enough to go seeking further information. All he could do was continue waiting for answers himself. Sighing, he went to the Koi pond and sat on its edge to wait and meditate.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

"A celestial hinge pin! Why was I not notified a celestial hinge pin existed on the mortal plain just waiting to be tripped upon by any God wanting to exploit it?" Bast angrily demanded of the Fates.

She had appeared only seconds ago in the three sisters' garden where they sat and enjoyed the late afternoon sun in their peaceful valley somewhere in the God's realm. One was carding wool, another was stirring a caldron of something that smelled rather interesting, and the third was preparing dried herbs and bagging them. They didn't pause in their labors but did give the upset Goddess their attention.

They were neither intimidated nor friendly with most of the Gods. Only a few did they tolerate and were willing to allow in their glen, Bast was one of those few. She always treated them with respect and kindness. Her habit of insuring they were given anything they required, which wasn't often, was greatly appreciated by them as it showed how thoughtful and compassionate she was of others. While the other Gods sought only favors or doing things for the fates because of being obligated, Bast did it because it was right and she liked doing it.

Closiris, the youngest, was the most fair and beautiful of the three. Her hair was golden and hung so long that it could serve her as a dress...which it did today as she chose to wear nothing else beneath it. It was she that was standing at the caldron, stirring away.

"My dear Bast, we are not obligated to inform the Gods of anything if we chose not to, and this is no exception," she said softly. A smile lit her lips to take the sting out of her rather blunt statement.

"But...such a thing left inside a mortal could cause unfathomable things in the universe. To not have them guarded to prevent molestation is unthinkable," Bast exclaimed.

Mosur, the Elder, gave the lovely Goddess a small smirk, but her deep set eyes of green were cold as space itself. Her iron grey hair was still wavy but her face showed the lines and deep creases of advanced age despite the fact she would never die.

She never missed a beat of her carding as she spoke in a voice as deep as a well and just as dark, "Ahh, but you are not required to monitor or guard the mortal, Bast, my dear. His fate has been set, his path determined...he but strayed from it momentarily but that matters little in the broad scheme of things. Events have ensured he is once more on the path he was meant to follow."

"But someone has interfered!" The Goddess objected, getting frustrated as always by the Fates seeming lack of concern. Nothing ruffled their serene calm.

"Have they indeed..." murmured Mosur, undisturbed by the news. "That may well be, Bast, but there are many things in this universe beyond a God's control...this be one of them and it comes at a time of great cosmic changes. Mortal and immortal alike will be tested and none...not even we three...will know what the outcome will be until it all ends."

"What will be will be, dear Bast," Josira murmured, she who was the middle sister, with hair of darkest night and cold, dark eyes that held the glint of stars in them.

She was more like an alabaster statue than a living person. A gown of ice blue covered her slim form. She had just finished filling a bag with the herbs she was working with and setting it aside with dozens more in a whicker basket set beside her work table.

"Not even you can sway its path no matter what actions you may decide to take."

Surprised, Bast stared at the three. "What do you mean?"

"You will do or not do according to what you feel is necessary, just as the enemy will do what it will or will not do as it continues its carefully laid plan. The hinge pin will decide in the end where the true future of all will lie," Closiris clarified a little.

"I've never heard of such a thing ... that a mortal may decide the fate of the entire universe," Bast said, taken aback and uncertain.

"It has happened but one time before in a time long forgotten even by you Gods. No record of it was kept and, no, you may not hear of it from us. You have your answer lovely Bast. Return you now to home and the decisions you feel you must make," Mosur said, more firmly, signifying Bast should leave.

Reluctant and still frustrated, she bobbed her head respectfully then vanished, appearing once more in her throne room. Bast couldn't bring herself to sit yet so began to wander restlessly around her throne room as she thought furiously on what she must do now.

From his position on the Koi pond rim, Asar watched her worriedly.

Finally, she stopped wandering and went to her chair and sat down heavily. Resting her head upon one paw as it rested on the arm of her seat, she stared off into the distance.

Now that she understood what was afoot, Bast had a bad feeling the God behind this may not realize the power hidden in the mortal might not allow itself to be used that way. Certainly, after learning what this mortal represented to the universe at large, she had no intention of attempting such a thing herself, even to try and protect it in some fashion. She wondered if the fool even realized what this thing truly was or did they simply think it was some kind of mortal anomaly that they could exploit? Not many would have recognized a celestial hinge pin when they saw it as it was very rare.

She shook her head in disgust. All for the sake of power! Some Gods showed no sense at all. And now she had to do what she could to insure the fool didn't attain it, but she had no idea, really, how to do that without getting herself fried as well or interfering too much with what this mortal was supposed to do...whatever that was. What a mess.

Watching his Goddess warily, Asar was deeply concerned. Bast's lovely face showed she was seriously troubled by whatever she'd learned. She hadn't been gone long...perhaps twenty minutes or so...but that had been long enough to have upset her.

"Ma'am? What disturbs you?" He dared to ask after a lengthy wait of more than twenty minutes produced no action from the beautiful Goddess.

She blinked and focused once more on her warrior. Things were already in motion and there was nothing she could do about that except to go along with what the circumstances dictated she should do. How she hated being in the dark and being forced to follow a path already laid before her. Sighing, she gestured for Asar to approach then waved a paw to one side of her and a curved bench of gold covered with a thick cushion appeared.

He hurriedly did as she bid, sitting on the bench with his spine stiff and paws folded in his lap. His expression was worried and concerned as he waited for her to speak. She gave him a brief explanation of what she discovered and by the time she'd finished, Asar's mouth hung open and his expression wore the same expression she had when she'd learned what they had gotten themselves into.