Kittens Playing God

Chapter 5: 12/11/317

“Hey, Lasha. Your birthday is coming up, right?” Algasath asked. He did say he might not always be able to share meals with Lasha but he’s been consistently present the past months.
“Yeah. the 11th.”
“I just wanted to ask, how would you like us to handle it? Would you like a big party or should we not make a big deal out of it?”
“Hmm…” Lasha hadn’t really thought about it. She’s been handling her grief quite well, against her expectations. She was mostly just numb. “Maybe a sort of old person party would be good, where you just invite people over for tea and cake.”
“We can do that. Who should we invite? Nelub, Estih… and Marvie of course. Any more?”
“I think I’d like to keep it small. Just them.”
“Got it.”


“Your birthday…” Marvyad responded to the invitation. “There’s nothing weird going to happen there, right?”
“Just cake and games. Are birthdays weird for your people?”
Marvyad showed some slight distress. “I kinda hate them. Like, I’ve got no opinion on human ones yet though. But Shandari birthdays suck.”
“How so?”
“I…” Marvyad avoided her eyes. “I dunno, they just piss me off.”
“Okay. Well, you won’t have to celebrate a Shandari birthday ever again. You could have a human one for yourself, if you want.”
“Thanks, but I’d rather not have one at all.”
“Hmm.” Lasha wondered if she could learn more about Shandari. Marvyad wasn’t the only one, so maybe there were some books about their culture and home. Algasath had a quite extensive library. She hugged her friend and went off to personally invite her other friends.


“A birthday party?” Nelub grew a smile. “I heard humans and Asterians have similar rituals in that respect.”
“How do Sjetta handle it?”
“As you know, we aren’t born with parents, so it’s hard to keep track of the exact date. I only know mine because I died in the war. But we generally know what year we were born in, so we all collectively add to our age at the start of the year.”
“So it’s like a holiday?”
“I guess?”
“So yours is coming up soon too. Or, wait, do you have a different calendar?”
“No, we made sure to match it all up among us. Just the exact year might be different between them. We’ve got the year 312 right now. We’ve begun a new era when you humans arrived. But I think for you it’s the year 2000-something, right?”
“2463. What was your calendar like before?”
“I don’t know, that was long ago, and I never studied our own history. I think we only had six months. Fortunately, your calendar matched up with our solar cycle pretty well, I think we only had to add a couple days? Anyway, can I bring a cake? You can’t have too much, can you?”
“Yeah, sure. Okay, I’ll tell Estih next.”
“Don’t tell her I’m making a cake, she might not do one herself then.”
“I’ll be careful.”


“You’re inviting me?” Estih sat outside her house, watering the flowerpots. Lasha had assumed they were fake flowers until then.
“Of course!”
“That’s sweet of you. I’ll be sure to come.” Estih lifted the watering can and was lost in thought for a moment.
“Something wrong?”
Estih placed the can down. “Oh no, I’m just worrying. Did you talk to Nelub yet? I’m sure she’d like to bake a cake. She loves cakes. Did she have any plans?”
“Didn’t mention anything.”
“I don’t want to make one unnecessarily… I don’t trust Algasath to get you a good one. Oh, I should just do it. Marvyad will be there, right? Shandari can always eat.”
Estih smiled with determination. She patted Lasha’s head and said: “You just promise me to grow up strong and kind.”
“I’ll be at least one of those things.”
“The latter one is the most important.”

Lasha returned home with a strange feeling in her insides. Celebrating her birthday here made it official in a way. Real. It affirmed that this was her new family. One she was pretty happy with.


Three cakes ended up on the kitchen table. Algasath and her guests took turns hugging her, then Estih placed a box in her hands.
“If human birthdays are anything like Asterian birthdays, it is customary to bring gifts, correct?” Estih looked at the others. “Don’t tell me I’m the only one who brought her anything.”
“It’s fine, I completely forgot this was part of it too. I kinda already have everything I need.”
Lasha opened the box, the size of her palm. Inside was a necklace, a pendant of a symbol vaguely resembling a pair of cherries, or a spade-like form in its negative space.
“It’s the symbol for darkness. It was hard to come up with something but I thought if you decide to go back to humans, it’d be nice for you to have something to remember us by.”
“I’m not gonna just leave! But thanks, Estih, that’s very thoughtful.”
“I brought cake!” Nelub moved on. “I baked it myself!”
“Mine’s self-baked too.” Estih explained.
“I got one from the bakery.” Algasath admitted.
Nelub’s creation was colorful and covered in sweets. Estih’s resembled Algasath’s in that it looked very clean and well made with care put to not overdo any one ingredient. Either way, they all tasted good.

“So, what’s the games part?” Marvyad eventually asked Lasha.
“Oh, it was tough organizing something. Some kids take you to a theme park, or see a movie. One party was in a McDonald’s. But I’m sure we’ve got some board games around. I don’t want this to be an old people party entirely, where you just sit around.” Lasha faced her other guests. “No offense.”
“I’m just 19.” Nelub protested.
“I’ll go see what I have.” Algasath said and vanished into one of the upper doors of the throne room.
“Didn’t think he’d actually have any games.” Estih said to herself.
Lasha gave Marvyad a slice of Nelub’s cake. “Here, you’ve not had anything yet.”
“I’m not in need of sustenance. And you seem to enjoy this much more than I would.”
“Oh come on, you don’t eat cake because you’re hungry. You do it because it tastes good.”
“What does that mean?”
“Like, it’s sweet.”
Marvyad bit off a piece to investigate. “Not sure I’m getting it.”
“Shandari don’t have a sense of taste.” Estih explained.
“Huh? Why is that?” Lasha wondered.
“Shandari have a very strong resistance to poison, so maybe that would be just an unnecessary warning system for them. They can’t get sick from anything and they don’t benefit from a diverse diet either.”
“So am I missing out on something or not?” Marvyad asked.
“Yes. You won’t be able to enjoy my cake that way.”
“Aw man.”
“But you’re a shapeshifter, can’t you just grow yourself taste buds?”
“If I knew how they worked, yeah. But I’ve never even seen one.”
Lasha stuck her tongue out at her.
“Wow. Gross.” Marvyad said.
“You’re gross. You probably eat boogers.”
“No, that’s gross.”
“How would you know it’s gross if you can’t taste?”
“It’s obvious! It’s like saying I’m deaf and so your voice doesn’t sound dumb.”
Lasha cracked up. She wasn’t sure how to counter that comeback. Marvyad joined her laughter.
“Kids…” Estih shook her head.
A thud announced that Algasath returned with a bunch of boxes, which he dropped on the table. They were made of wood instead of cardboard but were painted with illustrations of the game’s premise.


After all the cake was eaten and Nelub and Estih went home, Marvyad stayed with Lasha in her room. Lasha let some music play from her laptop, which Marvyad quite enjoyed. She said her home planet had some bad acoustics, so Shandari never got into making music.

“That was fun today.” Marvyad said, lying flat on the ground.
“Yeah? This was probably one of the more boring ones. But whatever bothered you with Shandari birthdays wasn’t a part of it then?”
“No… I don’t think it could be. It’s not that I don’t want to explain it to you, I just don’t know how.”
“I’m lacking a lot of context on your society. That’s probably the issue, right?”
“I was thinking of reading up on Shandari. Some older ones probably knew how to explain it better. Would that be weird?”
“No, that’d be…” she trailed off. “Do you know what other Shandari are like that came to this world?”
“No, you’re the only one I know.”
“I think I’d rather stay among humans and Sjetta. You treat me like there’s nothing wrong with me.”
“But Shandari do?”
“What I’m doing here, hanging out with you. That’s not what I’m supposed to be doing. But to you, it’s all normal.”
“Feels like this should be normal for Shandari too.”
“Some say I should’ve been born a Terahl if I just wanted to sit at home and make friends all day. But I also like to go out and explore, like when we went to the beach. I don’t want to have to decide for one way to live. I just didn’t fit into any box and now I’m here and no one even knows these things are supposed to be in two different boxes.”
“That sounds super annoying.”
“More than that. People have been killed over this. I’m just glad it’s something you’ll never have to understand.”
Lasha decided not to comment and let the moment pass.


It was the 11th December 317. It was Lasha’s 18th birthday, her fifth in Amieredetta. And at this rate, it might turn into a local holiday in a few years. Maybe Sjetta just aren’t used to celebrating birthdays in a small fashion, even if it was just for one person. Sure, she was the daughter of the Godking Algasath, but she was still a flawed human being, no more likable than any other. Perhaps it was the fact that she was still the only human around, so people paid special attention to her. She still celebrated with only a select group of friends, but people would congratulate her on the streets more often every time. Some even decorated their house to the occasion. As sunless and cold as this town was, the people sure compensated with loving warmth.

Algasath alluded to something special he had in store for her this year, for which he pulled her into his private chambers. Essentially just a library minus the order.

“So, what is it, dad?”
“Well… now that you’ve fully grown… or are close to…” he stammered.
“You aren’t giving me ‘the talk’ right?”
“Oh, no, that’d be a bit late. It’s a deity thing. You see, I’ve been around for longer than the idea to keep track of time. Immortal and all that. And as one of the ten gods of this world, I have certain… possibilities.” “Quit being so awkward, dad, what is it?”
“We can appoint mortals to be our demigods, giving them some of our abilities. Something I’ve not done so far. It would make you nigh-immortal and give you limited powers over darkness.”
“Wa-wa-wait, you want to make me a demigod?” Lasha took a step back in surprise.
“I wanted to extend the offer. The idea is to delegate some responsibilities as a god, but I don’t have to give you anything to do. To be honest, it’s just…”
Lasha folded her arms, following his thinking. “You want to keep me around.”
Algasath glanced to the side. “Basically… Of course this can be undone any time but it’s still…”
Lasha embraced her father, forcing his attention back to her. “Sure, dad. Sounds fine.”
“Really? I mean…”
“What are you worried about?”
“Oh, you know me. I always fixate on all the bad that could happen.”
Lasha let go of him so he could see her eyes when she spoke. “What I’ve learned these past five years is that so much good is still waiting to happen. So much good I want to do. Don’t worry about me, dad. I’m ready for it.”
Algasath pulled her back in for a hug. “Then from this day on, you’ll be the demigod of the night.”
“So do we have to do some sort of ritual?”
“Oh, no, I just did it. It’s not really that complicated.”
Lasha removed herself from the embrace to inspect her body. “I don’t feel any different.”
“Here, hold out your hand.” Algasath instructed her.
Lasha did and figured she would try to do something she couldn’t before. Indeed, a black sphere appeared when she willed it to.
“Wow.” she poked it with her other hand. It was completely intangible but she could feel cold and something tingly inside. “I can summon weird magic shadows now?”
“I’m sure you’ll figure out what to do with these. There’s something else I need to talk to you about.”
Lasha made the sphere disappear. “Oh?”
“In a couple of days, I invited the other gods over to discuss revealing ourselves to humans. You should be there too.”
“The other gods…”
“Of course, you’ll just be asked some questions about humans, there’s no pressure. Just help us understand how your kind may react and such. Think you can do that?”
“Yeah.” Lasha swallowed the saliva in her mouth.
“Most of them are nice, don’t worry. They won’t eat you. Just prepare yourself, they may not look like what you expect. We all were created with no original shape, so we change into different forms every couple decades. I don’t partake in this, I’ve been looking like a Sjetta for ages now. The current theme is cats and dragons. So if you see what looks like an ordinary house cat walking in, don’t try to pet them. Be respectful.”
“Okay, got it.”
Algasath stood still, as if waiting for something.
“Cats and dragons?”
“You run out of things eventually.”


Marvyad placed her hand in a shadow sphere. “Ow!” she quickly pulled it back out. “That felt like… like if you mixed the sensations of being burned, electrocuted and bitten by rats into one.”
“Really, to me it just tickles a little.”
“Look at you, cool immortal girl.”
“Sorry I made you touch it.”
“No worries. As long as I have body mass to repair myself with, I’m immortal too! We’ll live together forever.”
Lasha undid the sphere again. “I wonder if my parents would be proud of me.”
“Wait, you have more than Algasath?”
“My human parents…” Lasha waited for Marvyad to say something but she seemed to sense Lasha was going to add something. “...In a way, it feels pointless. Like, to achieve anything, because I can’t show them. They made me, had plans for me or just wanted to watch where I’d go and now all of that is gone.”
“I’ve had feelings like that… But thinking about it, it was different. You lost someone while I never had someone in the first place. I’m sorry, all I can offer is that I see you. I’m watching you grow.”
“And I’m lucky for that. I’m glad for that. So it just feels… It’s not right that I can’t be happy with that, right? Why do I need them back so bad? Why does it all seem pointless if it’s not them?”
“This isn’t something easy to get over. Five years might not have been enough. But you have all the time in the world now.”
“Is it true? What you said about being immortal?”
“Yeah. As a shapeshifter, I can always renew my cells. I can always replace vital organs with newly grown ones. As long as I’m not starving for material, I can survive anything. I’ll stick around as long as you. And Algasath is completely immortal too. No one can take us away from you.”

Lasha had experienced episodes of depression throughout the past five years, among ones of euphoria as well. She wondered if she was headed for another crash. Maybe, with enough willpower, she can force her mood to remain stable. She really didn’t want to start off her immortal life feeling sick with herself. She took Marvyad into her arms. Her body was soft, as she did not require bones to uphold her shape.

Next Part: Chapter 6: Afterlife