Sally lunged across the highway towards Nabu with a feral scream that turned into a roar as she flew. Her mouth elongated into a muzzle, her hands twisted into claws, and her body became more feline.
A human faced with this charge would have instincts take over. Instincts that would have them recoil, raise their hands and impose their arms between the claws of the beast and their soft, vulnerable face. They’d probably scream too, a reflexive action that Nabu didn’t quite understand the purpose of.
Biology was something Nabu understood, but for the entire lifespan of the universe, it had been something that happened to other people. It wasn’t a problem Nabu had to deal with directly. While his body now operated on biological principles, his brain was still that of a Curator. Calm, analytical, and fast.
All those thoughts crossed his mind while Sally was still in the air. Calmly, Nabu stepped into her reach, passing between the claws before she could bring them together. Then he raised his cane and rapped it across her face in two hard strikes before ducking under her leap.
Sally flew through the air over his head, landing near the downed truck. Her claws scrabbled on the asphalt for an instant, trying to get purchase, before she was able to halt her momentum and whirl to face him. She shook her head, clearing it from the strikes. Nabu regarded her dispassionately. This is the third of the runners Bast sent. Given their rate of propagation, I still have sufficient time to conserve power in this battle.
That was a vital factor. Nabu didn’t know how long his power would last before it would need to recharge. He didn’t know the mechanisms his new, limited power utilized. He could incinerate this monster where it sat, but if he did so, would he be able to stop the others?
Nabu had insufficient data to make a determination. Instead, he raised his cane again, and held out his free hand, his fingers pointing towards the cardiophage, his palm raised towards the sky.
Ryan had loved watching movies. Nabu had been watching Ryan, but he’d often positioned himself so he could watch the movie as well. One particular gesture, in these types of situations, always seemed to be particularly insulting and provoke an immediate response.
He curled his fingers upwards in a series of rapid ‘come here’ gestures.
Sally snarled and charged across the ground at him. She wasn’t going for the leap this time, not after how that had worked for her on her last pass. Instead she was in a bounding run, her paws firmly on the ground beneath her. Nabu waited until she was fully accelerated, then stepped forward to crack her twice atop the skull before dancing to the side.
Sally stumbled into the space he had just vacated, her head ringing from the blow. She shook her head again, and the long, naked tail lashed behind her. “Bastard,” she growled with a mouth that shouldn’t be able to make those sounds. “You’re toying with me.”
“Yes,” Nabu said simply. “I want to give you a chance. I have a great deal to do in a relatively short time.” He pointed with the cane down the road, back towards Grant. “Return to the others. Abandon your mission. I will allow you to live.”
“She’ll kill me if I do,” Sally growled.
“Yes,” Nabu said, not seeing any reason to attempt to deceive her when she was so painfully correct. “However, I will be forced to terminate your life if you do not. Your odds are better if you return to the town. By then, your mistress may very well be dead.”
“You can’t kill a goddess,” Sally snarled.
For the third time, Nabu simply responded with a single affirmative, “Yes.” This one he was less certain of. The only mechanism he knew of to destroy a nanoverse permanently involved taking it into a nanoverse and wielding the nigh omnipotence there to crush it. However, he wasn’t convinced he wouldn’t be able to figure out an alternative methods.
Such thoughts weren’t what Sally needed to listen to him. “I cannot,” he said again to confirm, “but I arrived with two other gods. I assure you, they absolutely can.”
“And they’ll kill me too,” Sally said.
“Their concern is with your mistress,” Nabu said. “If you are not trying to start the eradication of the human race, they will not be interested in your death.”
Sally considered for a moment.
Nabu saw her answer before she sprung. Fear, hunger, and hatred drove that leap. Nabu grimaced. It had been the same way with the other two, as well. It was senseless, needless.
But the reasoning of biological organisms had never been entirely clear to Nabu. He watched Sally charge, and answered by running to meet her. A tiny surge of his energy flowed into the cane, and it blazed with a golden light.
Nabu dropped into a low crouch, sliding along his knees, as Sally leapt into the air, slashing with her claws. He held up the cane, and this time when it struck Sally’s face, it didn’t make a wooden crack. It made a wet, sticking sound. Sally’s own momentum carried her along the blade.
Nabu comforted himself with the fact that her death was a near instant as he could manage.
Sally collapsed to the ground. Nabu didn’t look back at her remains, not wanting to see what a grizzly mess he’d left behind.
The human Sally had been assaulting, the one driving the truck, was still breathing. As far as Nabu could tell, he’d be fine. That was for the best.
Nabu had other priorities this day. He surged with light and propelled himself into the sky again.
Seven more to go. And the others would be going to other towns, seeking other prey.
If he still had his full powers, he’d be confident of his ability to hunt them down and kill them before they’d reached their destinations.
Now? Now he was less than certain.
He flew towards the next destination, feeling his power leaking out of him with every passing second.