Her eyes snapped open, instantly awake. She swung her legs over the side of the bed and jumped out, fully dressed. Lightly, she padded down the hall and through the house. Cautiously, she cracked the sliding-glass door open, wincing as it squealed across the floor. She froze, half expecting her father shouting to “get back to bed this instant or else.” Luckily, the house remained silent and she slipped out of the apartment and onto the balcony.
She halted, staring at her reflection in the glass pane. Shaggy black hair, chocolate skin, intense amber eyes… they all added up to an outsider’s face. She had never fit in at school or anywhere else. Heck, even she and her dad didn’t get along well. She had always been the outsider, the weird girl, the loner. That, she vowed, was going to be changed tonight.
Taking a deep breath, she scaled the apartment wall, finding minute hand- and footholds with ease. She swung herself over and landed lightly on her feet. Just like a real cat, she thought proudly.
She cautiously padded over to the edge of the roof and looked down. Below her, eleven stories down, lay the sleeping city; so busy by day, yet so still at night. She looked up, past the asphalt jungle, and into the forest. Its cool green depths silently beckoned to her. Soon, she promised. Soon.
It was, as she called it, a running night. It just made you want to move. The wind tugged at her hair, whispering move move move. A breezy, cool sky sparkled with thousands of stars over head like someone threw a handful of diamonds into the sky. Silently, she watched the still, sleeping city from her lofty perch. Suddenly, she stood up from her feral crouch. Sounding from across the city, almost inaudible, rang a bell, chiming louder by the second. Almost noiselessly, with superhuman strength and agility, she darted across the rooftops of the quiet city. Dodging or leaping over obstacles, she leaped gaps and scaled chimneys with ease.
At the edge of the city, she paused again, straining her ears. From the shadowed forest came the faint sound of the bell, ringing… then silent. She grinned, took a reading on the fading sound, and leaped off of the roof and into the forest. Branches and leaves whipped her racing body and tugged at her hair. After a few minutes of breakneck racing through the forest, she halted at a small clearing. She was not, however, alone.
Green-glinting eyes shone in pairs around the clearing. She slowly, deliberately walked forward, quelling the worm of fear in her gut. She bowed. “Sisters. Well met.”
“Well met.” Her sensitive ears picked up the response in a chorus of quiet female voices. The glowing eyes moved forward out of the shadows and into the fickle light of the stars. A group of seven tall, lithe women stood in a circle under the stars around her. “We gather here today,” spoke-sang the tallest, most feline woman, “to welcome a sister.” Keen, sharp eyes turned to her, scrutinizing her. She could almost feel their stares, picking apart her personality and digging into her soul. Trying not to look afraid, she boldly gazed back, trying to look brave. She must’ve passed some unspoken test, for the eyes soon turned back to the woman talking.
The older woman smiled, displaying a small, pointed canine. “Welcome, sister. We have long roads to run, you and I.”
Her throat was dry, but she managed to cough out a “Yes, if fate wills it.” She wasn’t sure, but she thought she caught a glimpse of sympathy in her eyes, like she knew how it felt to be the newbie in a group.
The leader stiffened, raising her head like she heard someone—something calling. In response, the other women tensed, turning into the wind. The breeze whipped her hair across her face, hiding her face in shadow. “Sisters!” she cried. “We hunt!”
Like a smooth river flowing together, the daughters of Bastet leaped down from their collective perches and ran. Long limbs bunched and extended tirelessly, chasing after a strange, elusive scent. She brought up the back, for the first time in her life struggling to keep up with someone. As she ran, she laughed at the sheer glory and exhilaration of the hunt. This was how it was supposed to be. Running, following people who accepted her, understood her. She grinned wryly for a moment. This felt completely normal, perfect, even, to her, but a regular mortal, seeing seemingly ordinary humans in such an inhuman way would probably be shocked.
She noticed the pace growing faster, speeding up. A sudden gust of wind brought with it a musky, herbivore scent: a deer. She suddenly stopped, letting the others race past her. A few things had clicked in her mind. Here was the predator. There was the prey. Soon the predator would meet the prey. She looked away, abruptly feeling nauseous.
There was a snarl, a squeal, then silence. She cautiously looked up again, and then walked the few yards to where the rest of the group congregated. The leader, who apparently made the kill, looked up and saw her approach uneasily. The woman smiled at her and beckoned her to join them. She noted, with faint relief, that there was no (visible) sign of a scuffle. She wasn’t that catlike yet.
The leader motioned her over. “Here, have some of the venison.” She sat down next to her, still feeling kind of awkward, and took a bite. It was tough and gamy, not like the venison in those fancy restaurants her dad took her to. It took some chewing, but it was full of good flavor. The leader watched her adjust to the setting, smiling. “I am Siv. The others are Veria, Sharza, Aislinn, Emili, Holly, and Renee.” As she named them, each woman looked up and smiled, forging bonds of support and friendship.
“What do we call you, sister?” the leader—Siv—asked. She suddenly felt relaxed, with the sweet breeze ruffling her hair and good food in her belly. The laughter of the others—her sisters—drifted to her on the gentle wind as the fire blazed before her. If she wanted a new name, a new life, now was the time to make it happen.