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Desert Queen

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She prowls the ruins of her long-abandoned temple, rats and snakes scurrying and slithering from her shadow. The wind howls between sandstone pillars, pitted and scored from millennia of scouring sand, and the floors are buried beneath drifting waves as tawny as her coat. This is more her temple now than ever it was when the proud, clever and yet oh so ignorant two-legs walked its halls, worshipping her name. Now the stones echo to the calls of the jackals and the vultures and the caracal instead of the droning chants of priests; the air reeks not of choking incense, but the faint, fresh yet timeless scents of the desert, tantalising, exhilarating.

She slinks and glides, graceful as shadows dappling the sunlight, flexing her claws and switching her tail. Her eyes burn in the shade of the walls, green and amber, and her rolling purr throbs out into the silence like a heart beat. She stalks her measured route through this her palace, mind far away, visiting each corner of the wide earth. She hears and sees them all, her children, her true worshippers, her people. Watches over mothers as they birth their tiny, helpless kits in burrowed dens or among the savanna grasses or in rocky caves. Purrs her pride at the fierce striving of the warrior males as they court their queens and claim their territory, caterwauling their prowess to the stars. Is there to comfort the dying, nuzzling their tired eyes and welcoming them at last to the soft sweetness of her furred embrace.

She ponders the rhythm of the turning world, content to watch as life goes on, just as it always has, just as it should be: the intricate, joyous dance of birth and growth and death, unchanged since before the advent of the two-legs and unchanging still, despite all they have wrought in despoliation of the world. But there is one difference, she reflects, her anger building like the gathering storm. The numbers of her people are dwindling, some faster than others, as men possess their hunting grounds and chase them out; hunting and killing them to adorn their thin hides with her people’s beautiful fur, and because they recognise no property - are wild and free and raid the placid herds of the two-legs as is their natural right.

Her thrumming purr becomes a growl and her tail switches faster in anger as she listens to the wails of the stricken: the proud hunters caught in traps, the kits drowned struggling in sacks, the sad and frightened and lonely caught in cages and hurt with needles and wires and bitter, chemical death. These are not part of the natural cycle, these are travesties, the once mighty hunter now prey to a cunning ape which has climbed beyond its place on the food chain.

Her snarl reverberates like thunder through the ruins and lightning flickers in her eyes. She is patient, but she is vengeful, and the two-legs little know the doom that awaits them for their vanity and arrogance. She is Bast, Queen of Cats, but she is also Sekhmet, the ravening lioness. She has hunted their kind before, oh yes, pounced among them as red Death, slaying in the mindless joy of blood lust. She has petitioned her lord, the Sun who watches over all, and knows that soon her time will come. If they do not change their wasteful ways, these profligate ape-children will feel her claws and fangs again, as she is released to run amok upon the earth they think is theirs and theirs alone.

Until that time, she is content to wait, weaving through her dusty palace and swaying to the night-time symphonies of the desert dwellers, curling lazily in the bright pools of sunlight, always watching over her children and promising them her eternal devotion. She is their Mother, their Queen, their avenging Goddess, and when men are but a whispered memory among their shattered towers of metal and glass, her kind will still hunt and play and mate among the trees and grasses, undisputed lords of the wild, free earth.