Twelve beasts of various sizes and shapes gathered in a ring one night, both moons obscured by heavy stormclouds. A massive feline with a pelt blacker than ebony spoke, his vibrant gold eyes almost luminous in the darkness. “How can a human know of our world? The Olashi have been very careful in their spying; no Earthen being has any idea we exist.”

A second black feline, far smaller than the first, tossed her sleek muzzle in a shrug. “I don’t know. But this young girl does. She even knows pieces of different languages. What should we do about her?”

An uneasy grumbling went around the circle, silenced by a low growl from the first great cat. “Could what she knows be used against us? The world is troubled of late… I feel a storm brewing, though I cannot pinpoint the source.”

The female looked across the ring at the black predator and nodded reluctantly, “Unfortunately… yes. Were we to have enemies that would invade our home, what she knows could be our undoing.”

A striped feline, even larger than the first at a towering twelve feet high, snarled liquidly. Ears flattened to his skull, the lean cat muttered, “Then send someone to watch her. Guard her.”

Another restless noise swept through those assembled, this time halted abruptly by a dangerous hiss from the second cat. The female looked up with sapphire eyes at the two felines, then shook her head, “Earth creatures are stupid, and do not resemble us.”

The striped one laughed ruthlessly, and with one huge paw shoved a tawny canine forward. “This one could be taken for one of their beasts.” The canine, much smaller than the others at three feet, looked startled as he regained his footing from the abrupt push. The first feline peered down at him speculatively, then nodded his noble head.

“Are you willing to do this, Mackalla Ammh?”

The canine settled onto his haunches, thoughts running deep. But he knew that he truly had no choice, and so relented. “Yes, I am. I will watch and guard the human who knows us so well.”

The female bared ivory teeth in a fierce grin and slapped the canine’s shoulder approvingly with a hand-like paw. “Good. We will send you to Earth by Portal. Take care, Mackalla. Keep in touch.” The canine nodded, glancing down at the jeweled band he wore ’round his wrist; the communicator would be his only link to his world.

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