We did the "How are ya's" along the way. Kat had told me somewhere in the journey here how important it was to "see" each person I met or looked at. I just grunted, and said "Got it."
The problem with people, in my mind at least, was they always assumed someone new was an idiot when it came to their local pond. Pond were ponds. A big fish, a couple of other almost big fish, usually wanting to be the "big fish. Their school of followers, a couple of lurkers, and a few predators. The real predators never came to the pond meetings. Probably because they were never got invited.
I also knew how to look at people and greet them. Law enforcement 101 covered that in detail. Greet everyone, check them out, give them a threat rating, and move on. Before I grasped that I had thought it was just bullshit politicking. It was that too, I thought of it as "brushing buttons," just enough contact to generate a nonverbal response, not enough contact to actually generate a reaction.
The first thing I noticed was the smell. The smell of a group of people packed in like this was another data point to be taken in. Did they stink wrong? If they did it wasn't a good sign. There was honest stink, poor hygiene stink, sick stink, and fear stink. This was wood fire, honest stink. A long time ago me and Ninja had been talking about how to read a crowd in a room and had come with 50 different variables that we read in the first couple of minutes.
Then there was the "flow" for lack of better words. When I was younger I had thought of it as a mystic current that the world generated. Now I was more inclined to believe it was a highly tuned survival sense that was constantly updated by experience.