2611/The Bird is Not the Word

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The Bird is Not the Word
Date of Scene: 25 July 2020
Location: Main Room - Titan's Tower
Synopsis: Kían's loquaciousness fades, to his dismay.
Cast of Characters: Kian, Caitlin Fairchild, Nadia Pym-van Dyne, Kate Bishop

Kian has posed:
    See, here's the thing.  When you have someone who is intelligent and curious, but has been unable to communicate clearly, when you take that barrier away, it's like opening the floodgates.
    In Kían's case, it's been more like breaching a dam.  Other than when he's been in his room trying to telepathically fix the language in his mind, the birdman has been a regular chatterbox.
    Not to say he won't shut up—he does, briefly, to listen, and then discourses at great length in reply, because Gods above and within, he's missed being understood!
    For the moment, he's talking about his home, and the way he describes it, it sounds like something Frank Lloyd Wright would have designed for Tarzan, an open structure strung lightly through the canopy of a copse of trees.  He may or may not be aware as to whether anyone is actually listening.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    Caitlin's listening politely.  Which is to say, she's not ignoring him, but given the nature of the topic and his enthusiastic attention to minutiae, she's not wholly engaging either.  With the Brainiac issues momentarily resolved she's returned attention to her pet project: her palm-sized pet drone and the AI that controls it.
    The latest iteration is a chunky metal box plugged into an outlet for power, and a blinking blue light indicates it's communicating wirelessly with the drone that buzzes around.
    "Sounds pretty swell, Kian," Caitlin says at a pause.  She lines up some popcorn and flicks it with her finger; the drone takes off with a buzzing of rotors, intercepts it before it flies off the table, and brings it back to Caitlin.  "How many people did you say lived in there at once?  Just families or like, whole, um…"  She tries to think of the word.  "Flocks, I guess?"

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Nadia flies into the room using her artificial bio-synthetic wings for locomotion rather than walking.  She looks absolutely frazzled and it's questionable if she's slept at all since Illyana teleported over the Brainiac technology and shrunken cities that were in her possession.  Most of her time has been spent shuttling back and forth working on both restoring Brainiac's Mass and Spatial Manipulation Array to function and figuring out the functionality of a portal in her father's lab to wormhole between Parallel Earths.  In short she has been burning the candle at both ends pretty hard.
    "Hey Kian," she waves as she buzzes past towards the kitchen, "Caitlin, is there any trimethylxanthine?  My body is trying to shut down on me again."

Kian has posed:
    "Oh, no," Kían explains.  "I lived there myself.  It was really a home for two at the most.  Raká and I—" and his voice catches a little, that's a memory he didn't need to come up quite that suddenly, "—had talked about formalizing our relationship, but with me about to go off to the homeworld and the Imperial University, it seemed better to wait until either I came home or he got admitted there.  Gods, if we only knew… well, we didn't.  Kié, Nadia."
    He takes another look at her, and frowns slightly.  "Maybe you need sleep more than a stimulant?  I'm guessing that's what you asked for.  I'm a physicist, not a chemist."
    He brings his hand up to his mouth and coughs a couple times.  "Nnh, excuse me."

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    Caitlin gives Kian a sympathetic look at his explanation.  She opens her mouth to speak but Nadia buzzes in and starts rummaging around in the kitchen.  This provokes a slightly alarmed reaction from the redhead, who is a little protective of her corner of the Tower.
    "I'll get it for you," Caitlin tells Nadia, and goes into the cabinets.  Everything's labelled with a near-obsessive level of detail; stickers, tags, and inventory notes abound.  Caitlin runs it like a professional kitchen, given the sheer number of people who need to eat there every day.
    "You can just call it 'caffeine', y'know," she nudges Nadia.  The first time the girl had asked for it, Caitlin had been forced to Google the name of that particular molecular chain.
    Biologist, not chemist!
    She starts making a fresh carafe of coffee; more efficient than the Keurig pods.  "Don't give up hope, Kian," Caitlin suggests to the avian.  "We might figure something out yet."
    The drone lands in front of Kian, alighting on six insect-like legs.  It pushes the popcorn at Kian and drops into a puppyish 'play' posture, rotors buzzing eagerly.

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Nadia buzzes over to wrap her arms around Caitlin for a moment in a hug, "My hero!"  She buzzes back a bit in Kian's direction before the full extent of what Caitlin said seems to register.  "Oh, right.  Caffeine!"  Her brain is clearly not firing on all cylinders, at least linguistically, that bandwidth is likely being repurposed towards quantum physics equations she's turning over in the back of her mind.
    She buzzes closer to Kian, content to let Caitlin shoo her out of the kitchen.  "Sleep takes too much time, too many people I need to help."  She seems incredibly determined about this despite her fatigue.  "I haven't figured out how to distill sleep into something I can drink yet.  'Caffeine'" she thinks carefully to get the more common name out, "is the closest thing I've got."
    She pauses and blinks a few times at Kian.  "Wait, you're a physicist?"  Another pause.  "Wait, is my exhausted brain playing tricks on me, I swear that was regular English."

Kian has posed:
    "I hope we do find my world," Kían says, and silences himself a moment with a mouthful of popcorn.  "I could get adopted into the Imperial family for this stuff.
    And then he grins at Nadia.  "Both correct.  Most of my studies were in physics because that's what my powers most related to.  I suppose it's helped me understand them a little better, and what I can do with them, but where they come from and what their limits are, I still don't know."
    And then there's another coughing fit; He flits over to the fridge for the purple Kool-Ade, definitely his favorite flavor.  The taste of salt must be from the popcorn.

Kate Bishop has posed:
    Kate strolls in like she owns the place.
    Which she doesn't.
    Mostly because people wouldn't let her embezzle from her dad's companies to fund the operation and instead went through the mysterious channels that kept the place in the black all this time.
    Anyhow she is just coming back from a patrol in Metropolis, a signature purple motorbike helmet tucked under one arm and wearing her full gear still.  "Did I hear someone say caffeine… hell I could use some about now.  On the bright side the worst thing that happened tonight was a liquor store robbery that wasn't even worth calling for backup."
    She pauses.  "You okay, Birdy Buddy?"

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    Caitlin accepts the hug willingly and returns it with a smile and a laugh.  She digs out the sugar for Kian while she's there, passing it off to him so he can make his own.  "I'm putting some on right now, Kate," Caitlin tells the archer.  "It's that yummy Colombian blend," she explains.  If there's something the Titans go through more than food, it's coffee, tea, and energy drinks.  Even Caitlin's supercharged metabolism feels the benefits.
    Almost without thinking about it she starts digging around the fridge to see what she can make for people.  Pre-prepared potatoes, breakfast meat… "Guess I'm making some hash," she concludes, and puts on her apron before starting to pull out plates and pans.
    "Y'know we've got more than a couple engineers and physicists here," Caitlin tells Kian.  "Maybe someday we can set up a Faraday cage and run some tests.  Find out how your powers work under different circumstances.  I mean—it's gonna sound stupid, but I never really figured out how fast I could run until someone asked me to actually, like, sprint under full power.  It took practice, but I figured it out."  She shrugs and pours diced potatoes and breakfast meats into a pan full of sizzling oil.

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Nadia looks thoughtfully at Kian.  "Once I am done figuring out how to use Brainiac's technology to restore those cities and opening a portal to a Parallel Earth to find my father, we can definitely try to find your planet.  I bet Dr. Foster could help, she's really nice and knows everything about Astrophysics!"  The energetic enthusiasm comes in small burst like a sputtering engine clinging to continued operation as she fights back the fatigue.
    "Oooh a Faraday Cage, that sounds fun.  Yeah, let's definitely do that."  She peers back at Kian for a moment.  "What are your powers anyway?" she asks curiously.
    Kate gets a friendly wave from the, buzzing rather than walking, Wasp girl when she enters.  "How did your bow end up?"  When Nadia is exhausted, she is apparently even more easily distracted than normal.

Kian has posed:
    "Nnh, can't have coffee, it knocks me out," Kían says.  "Terry gave me some, and ended up having to carry me to my bed.  Completely… nnh."
    Another violent coughing fit, that a deep slug of purple Kool-Ade doesn't help.  He looks up at Kate slightly wide-eyed.  "I… don't know.  I… oh Gods.  Hwat… WHAT-ever Garth did to me… iss wearing off, I think.
    He looks to Nadia, stricken, trying to force himself to concentrate so he can answer her question but… it's too late.
    He turns away from everyone; his throat glows briefly, and before it fades he says one word that he probably learned from Vic.
    Well, okay, he could have as easily learned it from Colette.
    There's a definite catch in his voice when he finally says, "It iss gone.  No more Eng-lish."  He hasn't turned back.

Kate Bishop has posed:
    Kate nods to Caitlin "Awesome… coffee on… now hash… you are amazing, Ms. Fairchild."  Never one to not butter up the cook.  Though she totally means it as well because this is in her book… Totes Awesome…
    She grins to Nadia.  "They did, I can show it to you later if you like… it is amazing and I do not even remotely understand some of the things they did to it.  Especially the stuff Kara did with that Kryptonian machine… woosh over my head."
    When she looks back to Kian she furrows her brow and then her eyes widen.  "…aw damnit," she mutters then steps over and careful to both not spook him and because of the wings tries to give him a hug.  "You will get it Kían"

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    A moment of silence for Kian's sudden lack of articulation.  It's the best Caitlin can do.  Her face twists in sympathy as the little magic Garth had wrought evaporates entirely.  "That's how it goes with magic," Caitlin remarks a few moments.  "It never seems to stick around.  Even Raven can't make things last forever."
    She looks at Nadia and Kate.  "Either of you know a good xenolinguist?  Maybe we can… I don't know.  Come up with a translator.  Or get Kian some English tutoring lessons that are tailored to his native language.  It's not like we've all got great grammar here."

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Nadia peers at Kate for a moment.  "Wait, I thought they said no machines?" she asks and just throws up her hands, likely regretting the sudden instinctive motion moments later, given her exhausted state.  "But I would like to see it," she adds after a moment.
    When Kian not only fails to answer her question but seems to be in distress Nadia immediately buzzes back in his direction with a look of concern.  Thankfully her wings are artificial and unaffected by her exhaustion still allowing her to move about relatively quickly, if otherwise physically very droopy.  "Are you okay?  Oh no."
    She furrows her brow in thought at Caitlin's question, temporarily diverting some brainpower away from Quantum Physics.  "Maybe not xenolinguistics, but we could construct a pattern recognition learning algorithm to adaptively learn languages including Kian's and function as a sort of universal translator, I think that might be doable."

Kian has posed:
    "I am… I haff been taking Eng-lish les-sons through Hap-py Har-bor," Kían says tightly, letting Kate hug him, and taking care to keep his mind to himself.
    It's an effort.
    "I haff been try-ing to fix Eng-lish in my mind hwile I could speak it.  I am hope… I hope it iss wor-king."
    Probably it has; what he has left is definitely better than where he was before.
    Even so, Kían trails off unhappily, then slumps against Kate and silently starts to cry.

Kate Bishop has posed:
    Kate just gives a tight comforting squeeze and keeps hugging as Kian talks through it.  Supportive thoughts.  She cares about the birdy buddy and seeing him sad is pretty rough.  "Colette has been coming to tutor him pretty often actually, from Happy Harbor."
    When he says he thinks it has been working well.  "I think it did work.  It isn't perfect Kían but it is definitely better than it was before."  She means it too and well he can tell thanks to the contact telepathy.
    Still when he slumps and cries she just hugs and is silent for the moment, her eyes glancing to Caitlin and Nadia.  Tiny bit of What Do.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    "Collette's pretty smart," Caitlin agrees, "but xenolinguistics—I mean, it's a very specialized study.  We can't program an AI to help Kian out until we understand how his language works.  Otherwise, he'd have to teach it how to do the translating, and by the time he did he'd learn English in the process."
    She gives Kate a sympathetic look; there's really not much anyone can do for Kian in the immediate sense, except for offering the comfort of friends and safety.  It doesn't take long to bring the food to a sizzle and she spoons up a few bowls for people.  As Kian's morose and Kate's supporting him, Caitlin opts to bring their bowls and some flatware over to them.  "Kian, is there anything we can do to help?"

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Nadia makes a face, because of course Caitlin is right, if only she was actually firing on all cylinders she might have a better solution.  "SHIELD probably has someone who might be able to help, I can ask Dr. Morse the next time she checks up on me.  But it does sound like you have improved Kian," she offers encouragingly before buzzing over towards the kitchen again to stare at the coffee in the process of being made.  Soon, soon the glorious caffeinated liquid shall give her life once more.
    When she catches Caitlin looking more concerned in Kian's direction she turns back again to see the crying bird-man with an expression of 'Oh no, what do I do now?' because the exhausted girl is really unsure how to help him in the near term and he already has another who knows him better giving him a hug.

Kian has posed:
    "Col-lette has learn some of Akiár'shak, my lang-uage.  She iss very cle-ver," Kían snuffles.  "And my Eng-lish iss bet-ter.  I can feel it, hear it.  But iss not good yet.
    He gives Caitlin a weak smile.  "Best hyu can do for me, iss be pa-tient.  Put up with my poor Eng-lish.  I am work… I am wor-king on it."
    He frowns slightly.  "I do not know if I wan'… want SHIELD in-volve.  They let me go to Hap-py Har-bor, but hwen I was with them, I am made to stay in-side, could not fly at will.  Would not… nnh!  I would not wan' to do that again."

Kate Bishop has posed:
    "It will be good in time Kían.  You just need to keep at it and keep practicing and not give up.  Eventually you will have it down pat."  Pause.
    "Hell it is super impressive how much you've picked up due to immersion and practice and it hasn't even been a whole year yet, birdy buddy."  She grins.  "We all know you are working on it."  She waits until he is ready to give up the hug and all not pulling away until then.  The contact she knows also helps him with the language after all….
    Though the food is getting cold and damn she is hungry.

Caitlin Fairchild has posed:
    "You don't have to do anything you don't want, Kian," Caitlin assures the avian.  She gets drinks for everyone, a salad bowl of the rest of the hash for herself, and sits down at the table in her preferred chair.  "Your English has gotten a lot better, and you're free to fly here.  All you have to be is patient with us while we help you learn," she says, and flashes a cheering sort of smile at the alien.  "Tell you what, since you're feeling down, you can pick dessert this weekend.  Whatever you want, even if you're not sure how to make it.  I'll figure something you for ya."

Nadia Pym-van Dyne has posed:
    Once the coffee is ready Nadia buzzes over towards it, not a moment too soon and pours herself a mug full.  For a second it appears like she might be contemplating just making off with the entire carafe but she restrains herself to just an oversized mug.  Grabbing one of the bowls of hash and a spoon with her other hand she floats back through the air towards where Caitlin has joined the others.
    "Sweet bliss," Nadia mumbles as she drinks the coffee on her way over.  The change in her demeanor is quite rapid, her shoulders slump less, her head actually raises, and once she reaches the others she finally touches down willing to use leg power again.  "I am reborn!  Time to SCIENCE!!  Don't worry, Kian," she says shoveling a spoonful of hash into her mouth, because food energy is also necessary, "we will find a way to help you!  And no way will I let SHIELD keep you inside!  If they can't send someone to us, to you, no deal!"  She seems uncannily sure that she can do this.  Sometimes one is left to wonder, if you prick her will she not bleed coffee?

Kian has posed:
    Kían smiles just a little.  "Thank hyu all… but I muss go and probe my own mind and make sure of hwat I still haff and hwat I haff lost.  I muss be sure I do not lose more."
    He steps back from Kate and bows to his three teammates.  "Thank hyu for under-stand.  I haff made mis-take of let me get used to tal-king free.  For-got it would go away again.  Muss go focus my mind."  He chuckles softly.  "Hyu will en-joy the quiet I think."
    With a flick of his wings, Kían is off down the hall to his room.