Enter Sheba

The jungle was dark but by no means quiet. Insects, small scuttles, the soft papery rustle of parting plants, just enough noise to set the imagination on edge as the shadows seemed alive with hidden motion. Circe smirked in the darkness, checking her pistol and tucking it back into its holster. She knew well enough where their "objective" was. This was essentially wasting time.

"I can sense it…its curious…a little afraid but more curious than anything else…like a child peeking where is shouldn't…" she whispered into the rig, trailing off thoughtfully. It was a different mind, simple and direct but by no means weak. Definitely sentient…her powers only worked in the vaguest sense on animal minds.

Warp followed along behind the twins occasionally looking back for things that might be sneaking up behind, his hand resting on his pistol. Cy smiled and nodded, One of Ivy's pets brother dear?

Rock scanned the area carefully as they moved. Or an escapee from the local zoo.

"Circe, can you have the rigs show us its general location?" Blink asked over her rig.

"I can give you the general coordinates, yes…I want Warp to follow me, twins you do back up…" Circe said starting forward. What ever this thing was it was jump and scared…the twins were just jumping and used to killing. It would be there first reflex if surprised. Warp was a thief not a killer…and he could provide them both a quick exit. "Tail me at about 5 meters."

"Certainly, " Cy smiled

"Okay got your six." Warp whispered looking between the heads up and his normal vision as he went.

Blink used her various sight modes to look for presences moving in the jungle. Looking around, she tightened her grip on her pistol, ready to shoot if necessary.

Inside the complex, the alternate team hit the first security check point with no sign of a break-in so far. Circe's report came in over the Rigs.

"Holly, can you give us an overlay comparing Circe's position to ours. Channel to Circe. This is Von Schmiessen. Can you tell approximately how far you are from the intruder?"

"About 100 meters away and closing." Circe replied.

"Acknowledged, Circe. Channel to interior team. I want us to proceed on a potential intercept course from our position to where Circe has located the intruder."

Emerging from the compound, the second team started out. All but Photon, who stayed back in the doorway. The darkness disturbed her, an instinctive fear that it lead to her undoing.

Circe lead the way through the humid night. These suits did breath well that was certain as they didn't "bog" like standard armor. She came to a clearing and, in a move that seemed to defy reason, stepping into the middle of it. "We won't hurt you, please…you don't have to come out unless you want…" she spoke to thin air in a soothing voice, hands at her sides.

For a moment, there was silence. Blink felt the hairs rise on the back of her neck as something scuttled through the brush just ahead of Circe.

Cy stopped, freezing, knowing that movement drew the eye. She stood loose, ready to leap into the fray or retreat back the way she had come. Instinctively she caressed her brother's mind, a light touch.

She looked even more closely in the area she heard the sound. She touched Circe on the shoulder and pointed. Circe nodded and motioned her to be still a moment.

Warp stayed back in the bushes where he could watch Circe but wasn't seen by the other very easily hand on gun ready to shoot thru the bottom of the holster and thru a portal if necessary. Saves drawing time that way.

Blink saw the figure drop from the trees and step forward where she could be seen by all but still in easy run of the tree cover.

She was tall and covered with a dark brown fur. Her face was an odd mixture of cat and human with wide luminous greens that shined with reflected light. Naked but for some simple hide and feather adornments on her arms, wrists and a leather sash holding a simple stone knife, she dropped into a crouch, cocking her head curiously. "You have more people…why Gods hide?" Her voice was a soft purring.

Warp moved ahead into the clearing after looking around for others. A cat person. Well if there are plant ladies why not cat ladies.

"Now you can't tell me Ivy didn't know about this…" Blink said softly, to no one in particular. An old movie line came to her… When someone asks if you're a god, you say YES!

The motion and sound drew the creature's attention. Whipping to her eyes to Blink and Warp, she fixed them with an intent feline stare. A tail curled up behind her and hung swaying.

Circe didn't move. "We are not gods, just people, different you from but people just the same. My name is Circe." She paused, that had popped out so reflexively. She barely answered to her real name any more. "What can we call you?"

The cat woman seemed to think about it a moment. "Not Gods, but old ones say God live in deep green and strike dead tribe who go through…" She purred softly, eyes thoughtful. "Sheba."

Sheba. Why am I not surprised? "Sheba?" Blink held her hands out to show she was holding no weapon. "Where does your 'tribe' live?"

"Other side of deep green," Sheba said. "Not know that?" She sounded confused, taking a few steps closer and sniffing.

"I'm Warp. Many in your tribe?" Warp asked while looking into the undergrowth trying to spot other cat people.

"Many… you not furless gods?" It was more statement than question. Sheba sat back on her haunches, looking from face to face. "Not gods… hmmmm… then where?" She suddenly darted forward, moving with blinding speed.

Warp tried to track where the feline was heading towards and debated on opening a portal in front of her to return her to them. The cat female darted closer to the party, Circe took a reflexive step back, biting back her instinctive urge to hurl up defense.

Cy moved. One second still the next motion. She darted in front of the two women, placing herself between them and the cat woman. She crouched, the power of her psi blades singing in her mind. Not yet…

Sheba came up short, crouching in front of Cy, eyes wide. She sniffed at the other woman, curiously and cocked her head. "Not going to hurt." she said.

Blink tried to track her movements with infrared. She went back for her pistol, prepared to draw.

Sensing the rise tension, Circe tried to disarm it, stepping forward, she extending a hand, palm up toward Sheba. God, I hope this isn't totally condescending… she thought but smiled, no teeth, to the cat girl. Sheba looked from Cy to Circe and back then sniffed the offer hand. She nodded. "Smell like old God place but little different."

"Holly were there any other intruders besides the one presently with our group?" Warp asked over the com set.

"Nothing on the senors." Holly replied. "what an odd creature…"

Rock stepped forward. "You seek the god of this land? She is a green, plant- lady called Ivy."

Sheba jerked back reflexively as he approached. Circe shot him a look but didn't say anything. "Green Goddess? yes…she say not go to old God place after she make go away."

"After she make who go away? Then why did you defy her by coming here?" Rock questioned Sheba…trying to find out some answers.

"Why did she make you go away?" Blink asked. "Rock, easy-vay on-vay e-thay oves-may." she whispered over. Blink looked through the trees and other surrounding area, for any other intruders. "Holly, what's the situation? I'm not detecting any others nearby yet."

Holly said," Sheba is the intruder according to readings. I don't have anything else on the sensor net."

Sheba stepped back toward the trees, retreating from Rock. Circe spoke mentally, Back off and let me deal with this, Rock, Cy. She risked a slight mental nudge at feline, trying to soothe her instinctive fear reaction. "Where're not gods and certainly not going to harm you…we just want to talk…the one you call the Green Goddess, she told you to stay away from another place…with people like us?"

Sheba nodded slightly. "Place of Old Gods, Ones that Make and Ones that hurt. Make Elders…"

Well, now. Isn't that interesting. Ivy's got gene-splicers around here… "Sheba, could you show us where this is?" Blink kept her voice low, so as not to scare the cat-person any more.

"So your tribe was made by these Old Gods?" Warp asked.

Sheba nodded again then looked from face to face. She licked her hand, eyeing them assembled curious. "Can show…maybe…"

Von Schmiessen checked his weapon to make sure it was loaded properly. "Channel to Team 2. I want to surround the intruder so it can't get away. Holly, can you project an number of positions from which this team can stand and best monitor the situation. Pick the one that gives us the best overall coverage."

Over the links for all the team Martin's voice came on. "I don't think we have to treat this like a military situation… this is incredible, what a being." She sounded tired but excited," Circe, do you think you could keep her calm enough to come inside?"

Blink smiled slightly at Dr. Martin's voice. "There are others, and someone made them." She whispered softly into the comlink.

"Made rather well…" Martins muttered. "No visible anatomical deviation, a smooth hybridization of two distinct species…"

Interesting. Brother dear. Very interesting, Cy thought. Let's let Circe handle this.

"Holly to Von Schmiessen: I don't think you could stop her too fast even for most of us." Warp cautioned.

Circe nodded, "That shouldn't be a problem. I think that's her goal…" Guess she hasn't heard what curiosity can do to cats.

"Sheba, we'd like to talk more with you, about your tribe and why you're here…will you do that for us?"

With only a moments pause, the cat woman nods, "You answer question for Sheba too, yes?"

Circe nodded. "OF course."

Rock opened his link to Cy, Something just isn't right about all of this. Think we would get into trouble if we did a little recon on our own? She could hear the playfulness of his request in his question.

Cy smiled softly, I still think this is a test by Ivy. Butttttt…… well you only live once. Lets see if we can slip away.

Circe quirked an eyebrow at the mental buzz from Rock and Cy. Odds where they were about to fuck this up. None of her business…

Sheba sat back on her haunches, regarding the twin an quizzical look on her face.

"All right, Circe lead her back to the facility and we'll work on this," Dr Martins said.

Warp followed the others back into the complex if that was where they were headed. Otherwise he watched and examined the cat taking his hand finally away from his holstered pistol.

Sheba peered at Warp through the darkness, curiosity and something else in her eyes. Gradually she moved closer to him, sniffing at him. That is, until the building came close and fully in sight. Making a low purring sound, amazed she looked up at it.

Photon propped the door open, then stepped away from it. She stopped when a stab of pain reminded her why she hadn't followed the others, then backed slightly toward the door. Her eyes narrowed as she allowed her sight to shift into other spectra…

Von Schmiessen and the interior team set off. Photon stayed in the light but peered into the surrounding terrain, altered perceptions piercing the darkness but finding nothing. In fact it was she that felt watched, coldly, analytically observed like a bug in a jar. The feeling was as brief as it was intense, passing in a moment but leaving her with a cold shiver running up and down her spine.

Von Schmiessen adjusted his rig. "Holly, I want an HUD of all team member position in relation to each other and the intruder. Channel to Photon. Are you alright? I sensed your discomfort at the dark."

Holly brought up the display as per request, giving Schmiessen a rather unique perspective on the situation.

Photon shook the last of the disturbing sensation off, then responded, "I'm fine… given what happens to me when I'm out in the dark, though, I don't really care for it."