The cat moved through the forest underbrush, slipping from side to side, making sure his front paws gentled down instead of solidly confronted the padded forest mat of long-accumulated and partially rotted vegetation. The beaten course of travel the intruding group of foreign warriors followed, making no attempts to remain silent, was to his left. Hasti didn’t need to see the warriors and made no attempt to close the distance between them and himself. Two of the warriors worked to haul the load they’d positioned upon the skin stretched between two long poles, while the other warriors carried their great heavy spears. The cat felt all this information transmit itself across the short distance just by listening closely to what sounds bled out from the warrior’s careless journey, without any regard of what other life might be around them.

Suddenly, the trading party stopped, and the cat stopped with them. There was no noise, other than some murmuring, coming from the great ape group. The cat crouched further down, invisible through the thickness of forest flooring that extended across the distance between where he was and where they were. The cat had no intention of hunting the humans, however, as he was only intent that they leave his territory, which they almost had accomplished before stopping. The cat began to move slowly backward, before barely rising on all four legs to turn and move to his left, toward the course the departing warriors had taken. Once a good distance away, Hasti moved toward the beaten path the men had been traveling on. He made no attempt to hide. He advanced to the center of the path and then sat down to stare straight ahead. All the warriors who’d been before him when he’d done the same thing near the camp, were gathered before him again at about the same distance.