[03:29] When the human returned, it brought no Hesha.
It also brought no humans.
Evenatra bristled quietly, sinking her claws into the dusty earth between the shrubs, kneading the ground to ease some of the irritation out of her posture. This outcome was neither bad nor good, a frustrating shade of grey that barely forced her emotions in either direction.
If the human was going to decline coming along, they only had Ghregg. If the human asked for Ghregg to be returned to the human party, they had no one and would certainly lose any diplomatic ties to these potential allies.
It took a few moments for Samanta to spot Evenatra in the shadows.
"(...hey, so,)" the human began, soft in volume, but not quite a whisper, voice subtly distorted by the suit. "(We think it might be strategically best if we split up. Um. I'll go with you. The others are staying with the Nayabaru.)"
Strategically best? Inwardly, Evenatra grimaced; not that she could hold the sentiment against the humans, given strategic benefit was exactly what she was currently pursuing herself.
"(...where'd your companion go?)" the human asked, with some delay, perhaps having first assumed Idarago was simply hard to spot.
Right. That subject was easier to talk about on short notice. "(I telled him to keep a distance in case you come back with Nayabaru,)" Evenatra responded. "(Do not want him in danger.)"
The human visibly dithered for a moment. "(...er, but you?)"
Evenatra took a moment to unpack the question. "(Yes. Talking to you, that was my idea.)" She clicked, then cast her gaze back to where Idarago had slunk off to, waving one arm to summon him back.
[04:52] Had the Nayabaru done something to the other humans? They were social, right? But this one had returned alone. Unless they were doing what he and Evenatra were doing, and keeping the others out of sight. It would be a gesture of good will to reveal themselves first, Idarago thought, as he carefully stalked from shadow to shadow.
That would be sensible. And perhaps why Evenatra had signalled him forwards. Because the other option, that they had to break into the building and rescue the other humans under the nose of the Hesha... well. Even with a god, that was still terrifying.
[05:14] "(Oh, there he is,)" Samanta commented, her tone trying to convey a fondness, but betraying a nervous edge – to anyone that would know to interpret the signals, that is, and neither Evenatra nor Idarago qualified.
Evenatra, meanwhile, was privately agonising over the situation. "The human is coming with us," she summarised to Idarago, transparently tense. "But not any of the others. Apparently they're hedging their bets and spreading out. Can't even blame them, but sure wish I could."
Which left the difficult decision as to what to do now. The path of least resistance was to head back to the others, bringing Samanta with them. As much as that bolstered their human numbers by 100%, it felt like defeat, a bitter pill to swallow.
What were the alternatives? Evenatra could think of some, but they all required the others were as far away from the settlement as feasible.
"How comfortable would you feel in leading this human back to the others on your own?" Evenatra asked Idarago, grimly.
[16:36] Hedging bets was sensible. Splitting up was NOT sensible. Either humans had very different hunting strategies, or they did not understand Nayabaru.
...granted, he and Evenatra had split from their party, so maybe the humans felt they had good reasons too. Hopefully. Because if the humans were emulating them, this needed fixing. Somehow.
And to make it worse, now Evenatra wished to proceed on her own after all. But then, she was a goddess, and potentially about to provide a very large distraction. He liked the idea of her rampaging through the settlement to free the trapped humans but admittedly also liked the idea of not being underfoot in the process, or anywhere that a panicked Nayabaru might trip over and reflexively stab.
"Uncomfortable, but I'll do it," Idarago answered. Reconsidered. "I'll try to do it. How good is this one at sneaking? And how well do humans respond to non-verbal signals like 'stop' or 'move quickly'?"
[17:29] "They base a lot of their gestures on hand signs," Evenatra revealed. That much was in the commons, thankfully – Jeneth had found it interesting enough to observe human body language over the aeons, perhaps because it was more stable than their speech.
"Stop is like this," she said, a little awkwardly forcing her forepaw to be as flat as possible, holding it so the plane of it was vertical. Not the most natural gesture for a kavkem to make by a long shot, but doable.
"They should understand a 'move quickly' that's much like ours," she added, waving her arm as though shoveling some invisible liquid over her shoulder in a hurry. "But also like this." Said, she set up her right forepaw so the back of it faced to her right, fingers pointing left, and then described rapid circles with the tips of her fingers.
So they were doing this. Evenatra glanced to the human, then addressed it: "(Go with Idarago. I will go, speak to the others directly, but only when you are safe. Risk, yes, but have to do this.)"
Samanta shook her head with some alarm. "(No, don't – we already discussed it. You won't convince Saira, anyway, and Jason won't leave Saira. If the Nayabaru are dangerous to you, don't risk an interaction.)"
Evenatra glanced up sternly at Samanta, although the subtleties of her expression were likely lost to the human. "(No. Must try.)" To Idarago she translated, out of politeness: "I told the hyuman I would try to convince the other humans to come along on my own, but she's trying to persuade me not to."
"(Jason has military training, he's probably better equipped to deal with a threat than you are,)" Samanta tried to explain.
Evenatra grimaced. The human was making several category errors at once and there was no way to bridge that inferential gap quickly – explain why they would likely have to deal with the Karesejat, explain why the biggest danger to Evenatra would be remaining in the vicinity of the Karesejat...
...or even just explain why splitting up was precisely the wrong idea if the Nayabaru did lose their good will toward the strangers. They might as well be handing the Nayabaru ammunition.
"So here's what we'll do," Evenatra said to Idarago, a sigh laced through her words. "We'll both lead her back. If you want, I can reveal myself to the group, if it lends any credence to things you would like to say to them. If that's not a concern, I'll break off before we get back to the others, quietly, and hide until I'm convinced you and the others have moved on.
"In either case, I intend to go back and try to persuade the other hyumans to follow you after all. This means this hyuman may want to intervene, as soon as it notices I've left. Try to gently dissuade her. Can you do that?"
[17:43] Idarago now knew two words of human sign language and, courtesy of Ghregg, perhaps four words of human spoken language. And with this he needed to be persuasive to a mammal.
Well. There was dirt, and claws to scratch it with, and the classic hatchling solution of "gently grab their scruff and pull". Except with the height of a human it would be the abdomen-cloth, but the same principal hopefully applied.
If they were lucky their new human would want to assure herself of the safety of their current human and not notice Evenatra slipping away. "The others won't believe me without you, I'd prefer not to say anything until we're all in shelter."
[17:47] "Then I'll come with you," Evenatra promised, glancing back up at the human. "(We discuss it. We will go, leave here with you, leave the other humans behind. It is not a good choice, but we understand. You have made choice. We respect it.)" Lying was surprisingly easy if you only barely understood a language to begin with – it was a struggle to form the words either way.