David Linden held his breath as two Gariniki paused in the rainforest's murky twilight, directly in front of his cramped observation blind – a gecko mother and child. With their backs to him, he couldn't understand all that the child was gesturing, but one of the signs was "story."
"Oh, give me a story," he whispered, knocking over an empty water-cup in a vain attempt to lean closer through the station's video screen. "Just one. Just enough to let me figure out how to talk to you before they take us away."
The mother gecko's whistling laugh echoed through the speakers as she stroked the young one's head with claw-tipped fingers. "Even Afara-mudi fears the Word outside the House."
Which meant the path to the village was public, so no stories. David retrieved his cup with a groan of frustration. Why should his vigil yield more now, when four years of recordings from this location had given them nothing? The Gariniki didn't know that the eviction officer had arrived in orbit – and she would mean nothing to them, if they did.
Even a single story might make the difference. Father was up dealing with Officer Monroe right now; he could use a recording to argue that Garini Provisional Colony needed more time – a year or so, maybe, to assemble a collection of the canonical stories that made sense of the geckos' oblique language. Father had already won them a good six years' worth of extensions: no one could argue logic