§ 2020-12-27 00:00:00
[04:29] The only vaguely satisfying thing about the situation Asraaban was in, was that it went against the spirit of what Valcen had asked of him – but the spark that felt good about defying Valcen had little to say in light of the dangers ahead.
Once they were well out of earshot of the others, Evenatra asked: "Did Valcen have anything useful to say about the precise nature of the perimeter being drawn, or was it just vague allusions?" She wasn't expecting more information unless Valcen had deduced it. No doubt the Karesejat had shared only fragments with him.
§ 2020-12-31 17:29:07
[17:29] Asraaban grimaced. "Nothing about the immediate situation regarding you. A little more about the current plans for the humans – at least from his perspective – and a little about his long-term plans, but he only spoke OF the ambush, not of the structure of it."
[17:53] "Right," Evenatra responded flatly; she was predictably tense. Her attention was cast forward, cautiously scanning the landscape they were heading into. She wasn't shaking yet, but she looked as though she might start any time. "Stay behind me," she instructed; if they came across things hiding from the electromagnetic universe's sight, she at least had a chance at seeing them.
[18:32] It was a logical and practised formation. Evenatra had a better chance of spotting the traps, so she was to lead. His role was to help her if she missed one.
Of course, these were not usual circumstances. They would not have hours to untangle a mess, most likely minutes at best. His role could well be to distract Karesejat by any means necessary. Up to and including flinging himself into her jaws and trying to tear her mouthparts to shreds, no matter how upset Evenatra would be with his envenomated corpse.
[19:14] "Once we find the perimeter," Evenatra began. "I'll need your help in deconstructing the whole line, as far as we can go." Assuming it even exists. As Asraaban had said – it was one thing to believe that Valcen believed what he was saying and another to assume it was the actual truth. There was a chance they were simply being lured away from the humans.
§ 2021-01-16 14:34:34
[14:34] Standard procedure, although under a tighter timeframe than normal. That portion he did not have a problem with. It did seem that Evenatra was ignoring the hornface in the clearing. "I know we need to clear a path for the others, as much as possible. But if Valcen was being truthful and not misled, the Karesejat is in this immediate area. What is your plan for evasion should we encounter her, and what is my role in it?"
[15:57] Distract the Karesejat just long enough that you can run, then disconnect and build myself a different avatar later, some part of her wanted to respond in reflex, but she stopped herself in time – Asraaban would take it badly. Instead, she sunk into the customary kavkem habit of silent thinking, grateful that it was socially accepted to mull things over privately.
But her mind kept being pulled back in to it, inexorably.
"Your role is to follow your training," she said. "And do any damage you can to the array before withdrawing back out through the funnel." And I? What will I do in all this, other than quake in borrowed terror? "I'll see what damage I can do to slow her down, possibly cripple her. I won't get another opportunity like this, but I'll run if I don't get far with it."
'Opportunity' was one way of putting the odds. Realistically, it was one for Terenyira. The Karesejat certainly knew more about Evenatra than vice versa.
[17:15] Asraaban turned and gave Evenatra the incredulous stare she deserved for that. "You don't NEED another opportunity like this, with potential hostages that may not want to die. You've been running for centuries. You're the perfect bait. You can SET UP an ambush any time and place that's suitable, like around the flying egg the humans came in, and not fling yourself into HERS." It was a lifetime of training that kept his voice low, clipped words over snarls, because of all things Evenatra was she was possibly the least suicidal Shyilungadech he'd known, himself included.
Until today, apparently.
"You don't need to act as decoy to slow her down, she won't care about my existence while you're in range. If anything, I should be the one slowing her down while you run! The Karesejat will follow! She always does!"
[00:58] Evenatra stopped walking, her feathers in an ambiguous state for a moment, conveying nothing at all – confusion, irritation, aborted anger, regret, submission, building rage. She stared at Asraaban. The feathers settled, her posture finally speaking the language of a deep irritation.
"I have news for you," she said, her voice revealing a cold edge Asraaban had never witnessed before. "I've tried setting up an ambush for her on four separate occasions in the past and only barely escaped with my life in two of them." She neglected to mention that she had managed to damage Terenyira in the past – it seemed like a moot point given the ultimate result was still losing against her opponent. "The worst way I can approach Terenyira is by sitting myself somewhere and giving her all the time in the world to analyse how to crack open the defensive perimeter. Here? This? She won't expect an offence here. And I am sick of running from her.
"I should be able to take her down – so what's stopping me? Panic, caution, poor but not overall very informative past experiences," she hissed lowly, bristling – but the frustration seemed less directed at Asraaban than the stress of the situation, other parts of her posture still speaking the clear language of friendship.