5200/The Leap of Faith

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The Leap of Faith
Date of Scene: 15 February 2021
Location: Roof - Titan's Tower
Synopsis: There's a new birdman in town. Officially.
Cast of Characters: Kian, Gar Logan, Terry O'Neil

Kian has posed:
    It's no understatement that Kían was pleased that Gar chose to take the I'takár, the First Flight rite.  He can't be sure how much the rite means to Gar, but it means quite a bit to him—even if he himself isn't a rhyákh and Gar isn't an actual Akiár and Terry has to stand in for Gar's parents.
    Well, Earth is weird, it's to be expected that an I'takár conducted here would be weird.
    The chosen venue is the roof of the elevator housing, where Kían usually does his morning prayers.  He has carefully explained that for a rite, one may not fly—or rabbit-hole—up there.  The ladder is obligatory: it is for the moment a ritual High Point and they must be attained from below.
    Where Gar got his pendant, Kían doesn't know, but it's appropriate—far below, at the base of the tower, the copper phoenix sits atop a small pile of rocks, awaiting its owner.  Kian himself climbs the ladder first, clad for ritual—which is to say, wearing only his pendant.  He takes a moment to center himself while he awaits I'Márek'Marí and Terry to join him.  Ever since Gar said he wanted to take the rite, Kían has only referred to him as I'Márek'Marí—First of Mark and Marie—just as he himself was Ta'Kái'Erýn—Second of Kái and Erýn—before his own First Flight.
    He's nervous.  He's never presided over a rite before, and actively avoided engaging with the priests on his world because they wanted to make him a rhyták, an avatar of the Gods.  He tries to mask it as best he can, although this may be the first I'takár ever where the candidate was less nervous than the celebrant.

Gar Logan has posed:
    This was something that, while Gar may not fully understand the whole thing, a part of him thought it would be good to do for Kian's benefit.  Gar can become an Akiar, for a time, and while he is not truly Akiar, he is as much Akiar as a true one when shifted.  So, consider it 'close enough.'  He's also flown quite a bit, in multiple bird forms, so while this isn't really a 'first flight,' it's the significance behind it that matters.
    There are a couple things that were settled on that make this a little different, as Gar makes his way up to the rooftop with Vorpal, Kian already there waiting for them.  He decided to dress the way Kian typically does, since it seems to be a normal thing for them. While he could go naked… it's cold and windy, and heaters in place on the roof only do so much.  Gar also is not Starfire.  He's had moments in the nude, or at least wearing very little, but it isn't something that happens intentionally in most cases, and buzzing the Tower wearing nothing… kind of isn't the show he feels like giving right now.
    The pendant itself, copper in the shape of a phoenix rising, holds meaning for him especially in light of recent events with the doppelganger.  The piece itself has a flame-like finish to it, with notes of green already showing in parts of it that will probably spread over time.  It sits far below, waiting.
    For the ritual, the names were seen as important, and there was only one pair of names Gar could give—those of his biological parents, Mark and Marie.  While he also didn't fully understand the gods in Akiar culture, it seemed Kian's explanation about one in particular fit, hence the timing of the ceremony.  If his Akiar self was going to be a thing, perhaps that particular god would be worth acknowledging.
    The Garkiar exits the elevator, wings shifting behind him.  He wears only the kilt, rubbing his arms along the way, then his hands.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    To wing it, or not to wing it?  That was the question!  Vorpal wasn't quite sure about whether he should illusion some wings up in order to not be dissonant with the proceedings, but he was also not certain whether the pretense of wings without the actual thing was blasphemous.  So, the Cheshire went wingless, but as a nod to Kian's culture he is clad only in a kilt similar to the Akiar's, but in his own personal colors of red and orange.  The question of how his fur color and pattern had changed had been raised, but he was just as clueless as anyone else, eventually handwaving it as These Things Happen when Wonderland is involved.  There are heaters strewn across the rooftop to provide for those who don't have Kian's ability to summon up heat when needed—Gar, probably, since Vorpal does have the advantage of his winter coat having come in.  This causes him to have less definition and a great deal more /floof/ than usual.
    He refuses to talk about it.
    He follows Gar out of the elevator, doing his best to assume a proper attitude for this ritual, fighting his impulse to be… well.  Himself.  He's trying!

Kian has posed:
    This is hardly a traditional I'takár, so corner-cutting is not inappropriate, and Kían is taking advantage of his rhy'thar to bathe the area in infrared.  The Gods gave him these powers, he's going to use them.
    As the others climb the ladder, they will find Kían standing there, hands linked at the thumbs and fingers out like one might make a shadow-puppet of a bird, held over his chest.  He gazes into the western sky; despite the time of year, the sun peeks through gaps in the clouds, casting a golden glow over the scene.
    He does not look over at the other two; instead, he simply awaits them to take their pre-arranged places in front of him, I'Márek'Marí at the edge, looking down to the base of the Tower and Terry behind him, hands on his shoulders.

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar and tradition rarely go hand in hand.  Why should this be any different?
    The evening time goes with the Akiar god that has to do with the heart, emotion, life, or however Kian described it, as it made the most sense in fitting what Gar's all about.  Once he's close enough, the warmth radiating from Kian leads him to quip, "This isn't gonna give me cancer or cause me to grow, like, a tumor from my forehead, is it?"  He's joking, really.  That's what he does.
    Once he's reached the top of the elevator shaft housing, he watches Vorpal following.  "You just wanted an excuse to wear a kilt, didn't you?  That's a Scottish thing, not an Irish thing.  Or did you forget?"  His features are much his own, even as one of Kian's people.  There's just the more physical change to the body size and a few details, plus the all-green wings.  "And you can still call me 'Gar,' Kian."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "There's Scottish in the family.  Great-Granddad had a dally with a girl from Glasgow, allegedly, so I a perfectly entitled to wear a kilt," Vorpal quips.  The British had once mocked the Scottish attire, but they soon found out its usefulness and purpose n the armed conflicts between them—running through heather with trousers bogged the British down, not so the Scottish.
    He assumes the position, with his hands on Gar's shoulders.  He refrains from making the joke that, if Gar doesn't take it seriously, he's going to push him off the edge.  Best behavior, see?

Kian has posed:
    Kían glances sharply at Gar… and then his expression softens.  {Not until you bring him back to us, I'Márek'Marí.}  He's able to reach through Gar's for-the-moment Akiár mind to limit the Vorpalness of Vorpal's mind—or who knows, maybe they've been practicing in private so that Terry's chaos-mind doesn't hit Gar so hard anymore—and so that Vorpal can understand what he's saying, since he must do some of this in his own language.
    He spreads his arms wide and raises his wings high.  "H'kýe h'ka!"  The translation echoes through the mindlink, which has abruptly grown tighter: {I open my soul!  Lord Erýkh, I'Márek'Marí comes before You today to join the skies.  I'Márek'Marí, are you sure you are ready to take the Great Charge, to be a guardian of the skies?  And Téri of clan Oníl, on behalf of his parents, will you consent to this?}

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan's hands go up at the look he gets from Kian, like he's ready to prepare a defense.  They know what they're going to get from him!  At least the humor is returning!
    {Oh, yeah.  The pendant is… supposed to represent me somehow, right?} he seeks to verify.  Thought that's what Kian was getting at, with the significance of wearing something meaningful to oneself.  He is also trying to limit that Vorpal-sense, for it really wouldn't do for something of this nature.  There is still the chance that the flight could be misjudged, or an untimely gust of wind could alter course, enough that an error may risk striking the rocks or something else, rather than skimming them to grab the pendant.  He does have the benefit of already being capable of skilled flight, but that shouldn't take away from the point of all this.
    His bare shoulders, which are not fuzzy like Vorpal's, shift and tense slightly under the touch of the Cheshire, the wings held so nobody gets in the way of one another.  He says, {I am ready.} There is further significance in Vorpal speaking for his parents.  When they went over the waterfall's edge to their deaths, it was a bird they convinced Gar to become in order to save his own life.  It is only fitting their blessing comes from beyond, through Vorpal, for this flight.  A new flight.  He takes a step closer to the edge, open area just ahead, his expression showing determination as he looks down toward those rocks.
    This is not the time to ask if anyone ever failed the first flight.  So, he doesn't.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    The waterfall incident also comes to Vorpal's mind.  Is it because of the telepathic contact?  Maybe, maybe not.  He had seen it with his own 'eyes' while inside Gar's memory, so it was present with him nevertheless.
    He feels Gar's shoulders tense slightly under his touch, and he gives them a gentle caress with his fingertips as he says, "In the names of Mark and Marie, I consent," as he released Gar's shoulders from his hold and letting his hands drop by his side.  Not being Akiar, it was safer for him to speak the words rather than say them mentally.  Just in case his Cheshireness provided too much interference.

Kian has posed:
    {And it represents you well, tavárik'h.}  Kían steps forward, facing I'Márek'Marí and putting his hands on his shoulders.  Since Vorpal is no longer in the telepathic loop, he switches not only to speaking, but to English—surely a first in the history of Akiár ritual.  The realization of that causes Kían to stumble over the words: "Wh-who will we greet on your return?"  It is the prompt for what will be I'Márek'Marí's chosen name—presumably 'Gar'.

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan keeps it by the book.  Kian did coach him on the proper things to say.  This wasn't just a spur of the moment decision.  It had been on the radar since Gar first saw Kian doing his daily ritual.  It is one Gar most likely will not do as frequently, but time will tell.
    Once Vorpal's part is said and he steps back, the space is filled in by Kian.  {Yeah, I guess it does.} he admits.  The phoenix as a sign of resurrection, rebirth.  Things about it simply fit.
    For Vorpal's benefit, he too switches back to normal English to complete his answer.  "You will greet Gar."  Naturally.  What other name would he have given but the one they already know him by?

Kian has posed:
    It has been timed well: only the faintest sliver of sun is visible over the horizon now, peeking through clouds and buildings as best it can.  Kían's coppery skin fairly glows in the ruddy light.  He takes his hands away and backs up a step, bowing low, his wingtips brushing the rooftop: the most formal and respectful bow, Gar can tell through the mental link.
    There's no mistaking the emotion in Kían's voice as he intones, almost chants, "Go then, I'Márek'Marí, and brin' us back Gar."  This is intensely meaningful to the birdman, that much is clear through the mental link.  He steps to the side and takes Vorpal's hand, giving the cat a clear view of just how important this rite is to the Akiár—he can sense Kían's slightly elevated heart rate, his intense concentration, the thousands of years of history to this rite.

Gar Logan has posed:
    Without a need for any further prompting, Gar looks down one more time at what's below, far below.  No turning back now.  Well, he could beg off, but he can't just disappoint Kian like that, or Vorpal for that matter.  A question of changing his mind struggles to gain purchase inside his head, and it's given as much a shove to the side as he can manage.
    It helps that he leans into a forward dive, a breath caught in the back of his throat as he exits the vicinity of the warmth from not just Kian but the heaters as well, the surface below speeding up to meet him.  The watchers above will see his wings tuck in, then fan out to aid him in shifting course, veering away from a purely vertical descent.  He's going to have to come at his target from the side in order to avoid going splat, so his path takes him wide in order to circle back closer.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Vorpal squeezes Kian's hand back.  It's not every day that you get to participate in a ritual that is out of this world, after all.  And he realizes this will also make some fantastic copy… introducing the people of Earth to one of the most important rituals of Akiar culture, happening right here, on Earth, among Kian's adopted family.  It was a rather perfect encapsulation of the Titans, when you came to think about it.
    These are thoughts that run through his head, by way of distracting himself from the lump that forms in his throat as Gar jumps.  It's not that he doesn't trust Gar's expertise in flight—it's just that even an expert can make mistakes.  His breath catches, and he holds on to it for the next several seconds….

Kian has posed:
    Kían can't help but watch I'Márek'Marí's dive; generally that's not done, but Kían isn't a proper rhyákh, a priest, so forget what isn't generally done.  He has seen his green friend fly before… but the First Flight is always an emotional affair, and certainly the other Akiár mind can sense Kían's agitation, urging I'Márek'Marí onwards, channeling Téri tavárik'h`s thoughts as well.
    Even the presiding priest hopes the best for any candidate sky-guardian.  It's all but impossible to filter out the mental {Come on, tavarik'h!} that Kían is feeling.

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan has begun to feel the effects of the cold, amplified by the speed picked up in his descent.  They can see him taking a wide turn that slows some of that momentum, but he's still moving at a swift pace.  It's not something most land creatures can match.
    It's no surprise Gar's doppelganger led the multi-stage attack on him as a hawk first.
    As they follow his path and approach, he closes in on the rocks.  If they can see clearly enough, as the wings adjust position so does a hand, held low as he steadies his height.  In his passing, the pendant disappears.  Did he get it?  He begins to gain altitude, the wings back in motion.  He did not hit the rocks.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Vorpal keeps holding that breath, though relaxing visibly when Gar begins his ascent.  But that's only part of things—did Gar get the pendant?  Did he succeed?  He's not entirely sure what happens if you don't succeed—do you get a do-over?  A mulligan?  Do you have to wear the Akiar equivalent of training wheels until you pass?
    Questions for later, perhaps.  Right now, he was simply trying to stay calm and watch.

Kian has posed:
    Kían of course can see perfectly clearly what's going on—eyes like a hawk, in a literal sense.  Téri and I'Márek'Marí both can sense a mental pulse, the equivalent of an exultant "YES!" as the pendant vanishes from its place.
    It is the rare Akiár who grabs their pendant on the fly; even Kían landed to collect his, before mounting his ascent back to his parents' High Point.  Kían is perhaps inordinately proud of the accomplishment, almost as if he had taught his friend how to fly himself.
    He does keep his mind clear of what happens with a failed I'takár.  Now is not the time.

Gar Logan has posed:
    Those with the eyes to spot it do indeed see no sign of the pendant falling away from the spot or being otherwise dropped.  The flash of that triumphant sense conveyed through the mental abilities of the Akiar leads to a slight turn from the green one below, so eye contact can be made.
    Fortunately, it does not lead to Gar accidentally flying into the path of an airplane engine.  There are none around, and they don't normally come close to the Tower either.  With those wings, he catches an updraft rising alongside the tall building and uses it to coast the rest of the way until he lands, feather-light, upon the same spot he took off from.  A shiver is there, even once he's back within range of the added warmth, and he holds up a fist.
    Dangling from it is the length of chain with the phoenix pendant swinging from it.  His expression is one of satisfaction.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    Vorpal lets out a whoop!  But then, remembering that this is a ritual, promptly tries to gather his composure.  He doesn't make any quips about the Padawan becoming a knight, because he hasn't shown Kian those movies yet… although today might be a good day to watch them, celebrating with pizza.  Perhaps.  Depending on Akiar custom.
    He turns to Kian and, with a wide grin, he says "He did it!"

Kian has posed:
    Kían is immediately all serious again.  Mentally signalling his green friend to put the pendant on, he asks peremptorily, "Where iss I'Márek'Marí?"
    It is, regardless of how seriously Kían takes this rite, impossible to hide his pride—or his amusement at Téri's joyous reaction.

Gar Logan has posed:
    One thing that's mostly the same is Gar's features, which includes the snaggletooth that shows as he grins, raising the chain and pendant to slip it over his head and down around his neck, where the copper piece, still chilled, rests against his skin.
    There's a moment's hesitation after the prompt from Kian, then he remembers this isn't quite finished yet.  "I have left him behind."  It's what's supposed to be said, as it is a temporary title for purposes of following the ritual.  He was Gar before this, and he will still be Gar after this, whether he succeeded or failed, but should he ever find himself on their world?  There are witnesses to this moment.
    He waits before saying or doing anything else, though he takes in Vorpal with a quick glance before it's back to facing Kian.

Kian has posed:
    "Then you will haf his place an' his family," Kían says.  "Presen' yourse'f to the Gods—" and what he means is clear by mental contact: bow to the west, then north, then east, then south, then west again, "—and to your family."
    And by that, he clearly means to Vorpal.  'Present yourself' there could mean anything from a respectful bow to a delightedly tight embrace.

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan nods once, going through the steps of making the proper bow in each direction.  Having not grown up immersed in Akiar culture, there is still much about this he does not fully understand, but others wouldn't know better right now, really.
    Once that's done, he faces Vorpal with a crooked grin, parting his arms and wings, meaning to use both pairs of limbs to slip into an embrace.  "Was I supposed to grab it on the fly?  Because I thought that was the right way."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "I don't think you were, but it was certainly the You way of doing it."  The Cheshire cat grins and bounds forward, to wrap his arms around Gar and give him a kiss, chuckling, "You showoff…."  He rests a hand on Gar's chest and look at the new pendant.
    "It's beautiful… congratulations, Gar.  You are the first Terran to ever have a First Flight.  That makes you an Earth Ambassador of sorts to the Akiar."
    He ponders on that for a moment.

Kian has posed:
    Locked into the moment, Kían spreads his arms and raises his wings again.  "Erýkh k'Rhys, we presen' You Your chil' Gar s'Márek'Marí t'Lógan.  Keep him and his under Your wing.  We thank You for this day, an' this joining of another wing-brother to the skies.  All present, go in peace."
    Kían bows to the west, the north, the east, the south, the west—and then to the east again for his Goddess Kiáre.
    "The rite iss over.  Thank you, Gar tavárik'h, an' Terry tavárik'h."

Gar Logan has posed:
    Arms and wings surround Vorpal as they share a moment, with Kian explaining the end of the rite of passage, the ritual.  "I wasn't… okay, maybe I was showing off a little.  I've played too many games to think there was any other way of grabbing it."  Gar squints at the feline.  "An ambassador of sorts?  What do you think, Kian?" he questions, before one of his own wings extends to draw Kian closer.  "Come here, you."
    He asks, while guiding a hand toward Kian's closest arm, "Was that what you were hoping it'd be?  It still feels a little awkward to me since I'm just sort of… pretending to be one of you like this, but technically I am for now.  And you seem happier."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "I mean, if something is worth doing, it's worth doing with flair," Vorpal says, hanging on to Gar and looking to Kian, "I have to admit that for a moment I was a little worried… how did you learn to dive like that?"
    He pauses, "Let me guess... video games?"

Kian has posed:
    Kían hugs both Gar and Terry tightly, spreading his wings around them.  "It iss meanin'ful to me that you haf decided it woul' be meanin'ful to you.  I can not thank you enough, Gar tavarik'h.  If we fin' my worl's, you will be welcome as a win'-brother, an' Terry as your tenár.  I hope some day to welcome you to my home there."
    He can't help himself, and kisses Gar's cheek, and Terry's.  "He can dive like that because he iss a bird when he wan's to be.  I haf seen him be a falcon an' I can not keep up wit' that.  He has the practice an' the instinc's both."

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan keeps a position that allows him to be mostly side by side to Kian, at least.  "I wanted to do it, too."  There are probably all manner of Akiar, some better suited for the First Flight than others.  It's a harsh reality that not all members of a species are equipped to survive, or succeed.  He, Kian, Vorpal, the members of the Titans, they're already special in various ways, be it natural talents or more than just that.
    "And we will find your world, sooner or later."  He grins at Kian's affections and offers a quick return of it, noting to Vorpal, "Pretty much what he said.  I mean, it's not my first time flying, even like this.  I'm not bragging when I say I should have been able to do that.  And now… I probably won't have this on all the time," he says, fingering the phoenix pendant, "but it's always going to have a certain meaning to me."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
    "Agreed. You probably want to leave it behind when going on missions.  It looks far too precious to damage," Vorpal agrees, smiling.  "It's kind of cool, having a twin brother from another world.  I wish I had a twin brother!"
    And then he pauses, remembering that, for a little bit, he did have one.  One with a figurative goatee.  Technically an evil version of himself, but it counts, for certain purposes.
    "Never mind, I retract my wish."  He returns Kian's kiss on the cheek, and says, "Now how about we celebrate this in proper Titan fashion?  Let's order a pizza and we can put in… hmm… Star Wars.  Yes, let's do Star Wars for Kian—first trilogy?  That way you will be able to understand some of the references we make sometime."

Kian has posed:
    "I think' you woul' only be oblige to wear it when you are actually in Akiár form," Kían says, reaching over to run a finger over the medallion.  "It iss fair to say there has never been an Akiár like you before… but there never has been one like me before either.  An' Terry tavárik'h, I haf no idea what my people woul' make of you, but they will haf my min' to know that you are a frien'."
    This is not the first time Terry has suggested Star Wars, and the idea draws the same slightly baffled look as it has before.  "I am not sure about watchin' stars go to war," he says dubiously.

Gar Logan has posed:
    "I'll figure it out later. I don't think I'm gonna be carrying it with me all the time just in case I happen to change into this," Gar explains.  There may be other situations that warrant it, however.  Special ones, planned flights, things like that.
    He leads the way back down the ladder after separating himself from the pair, keeping his eyes on the surface below rather than staring at either of them.  "Yeah, food and movies.  That's the ticket.  And, there's never been an Akiar like me?  Well…."
    Before entering the elevator again, he breaks into song.

      "Well, Ali Baba had them forty thieves
      Scheherazade had a thousand tales
      But, master, you in luck 'cause, up your sleeves
     You got a brand of magic never fails
      You got some power in your corner now
      Some heavy ammunition in your camp
      You got some punch, pizzazz, yahoo, and how?
      See, all you gotta do is rub that lamp, and I'll say
      "Mister Aladdin, sir, what will your pleasure be?"
      Let me take your order, jot it down
      You ain't never had a friend like me, ha-ha-ha!
      Life is your restaurant and I'm your maitre d'
      Come on, whisper what it is you want
      You ain't never had a friend like me!"

    Sounding like the Robin Williams Genie, of course.