8139/Games Birds Play

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Games Birds Play
Date of Scene: 30 September 2021
Location: Kyshán: t'Káeh Qihár Field
Synopsis: A normal day (for birdfolk) is had.
Cast of Characters: Kian, Gar Logan

Kian has posed:
    That Kían should reserve the t'Káeh qihár field for a pickup game is not only predictable, but obvious.  It has been over a year and a half since he's played, and it was one of the great joys of his life, despite his inability to get promoted to the interclan league.  Well, there were extenuating circumstances, like missing practices and even games due to having to be at the local university to be studied some more.
    This is just a friendly game, six on six.  On Kían's side is Kían himself, his sister Shíri and tavárik Kiár as hunters, and Raká, Gar, and Kían's brother Keth as blockers.
    On the other side are six of his teammates from the qihár league, three hunters and three blockers.
    {I recommend trying to keep your mind under tight control, Gar tenár'h,} Kían 'sends.  {Otherwise you might give your intentions away to the other team.  If need be, 'send privately to me and I can 'send to the rest of our team without cluing the other side in, but if you're confident that you can communicate with the team without letting the other side overhear, go ahead.  This is a friendly game… but I can be very competitive,} he adds with some amusement.
    {Remember, don't worry about the other team's ribbons.  You're a blocker, your job is to keep their hunters from getting close to us.  Although of course if you happen to get the opportunity to de-ribbon someone, by all the Gods, do!,} he adds a little more forcefully than is really necessary.
    When the siren blows to take positions, Kían rockets to an upper corner of the playing space, hovering there, gaze flicking back and forth between the opposing team, looking for his first victim….

Gar Logan has posed:
    This was the game Kían had shown Gar in the past, from his own perspective.  When the offer was made to join in on a practice, how could he say no?  There was confidence growing that they'd be returning home, and after the conversation with Shíri and Raká, Gar was also doing a bit better than before it.  He found his spine again by the time Raká had said enough about wanting Kían to stay for more selfish reasons, understandable as they were, but Gar was not about to let Kían's fate simply be decided for him by others.  Neither was Kían, for that matter.
    Looking over his side, and the other one, he flies around the hunters and blockers both, offering them each a high four.  {We do this on Earth.  It's like saying 'good job' and I thought maybe we should start out with this.  The alternative was smacking each of you on the butt, and whether you'd like that or not… ahh, let's just play, yes?}
    There is a more private conversation with Kían, as he adds, {I'll try.  This is all new to me, and I'm still getting used to all these other minds in my head.  You guys are all used to it.  It's second nature.  On the other hand, I could just think about things like I usually do and maybe that'll be distracting enough.} He might not be wrong, in that sense.  {I can try the normal way first.}
    No answer to the strategy given, just assent, and he sends, {I'll try to pair up with you as much as I can.}  After the siren sounds, he follows suit but places himself somewhere in front of Kían, wings beating as the green one looks out over the positioning of their opponents.

Kian has posed:
    The timing of the actual start of the game is random; providing a countdown would be too easy.
    When the signal goes, with a loud *blaaaat*, Kían absolutely rockets past Gar, on the prowl for opponents' ribbons.  He was fast on Earth, but he's even faster on Kyshán, where the gravity is slightly less.  {Keep tabs on my brother, he hasn't played as much as me and Shíri have!} he 'sends to Gar.  {I know what I'm doing, I don't need cover!}
    Kían demonstrates that by promptly relieving one of the opposing blockers of a ribbon on his way to setting up an attack on one of the opponent hunters.
    Completely confident Kían is maybe a new thing for Gar to see, but there it is.

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan holds up a hand as if to say 'Wait…' but Kían is off like a bolt of bird, zooming around the playing field en route to what, only he knows.
    {Hey, I have a great idea.  I'll look after you, Raká,} he determines, sharing that with his side, as far as he knows.  A new position, looking to stay in proximity to the one he snapped at just a bit recently, but they're on the same side here.  He gets the sense Kían would not enjoy losing because Gar and Raká couldn't get on the same page.
    He keeps an eye on the one Akiár he knows best, watching how easily he swipes a ribbon from a blocker, and Gar's own flutter to either side of him as he circles around to keep other hunters lined up ahead of him.

Kian has posed:
    {Look after whoever needs looking after!} Raká replies, and then adds with a more friendly tone, {But thank you, Gar… tavár'h.}
    Kían's sister Shíri is no slouch, although her grab for a ribbon isn't as successful as her little brother's.  And the hunter that has a go at Kían, thinking that because he hasn't played for a year and a half, learns very much the hard way just how fast an Akiár is who's spent that time in a heavier gravitational field.  {Oh no you don't!} Kían sends openly, just about skidding sideways in the air, to cause the opposing hunter to sail past.
    Another opposing hunter takes aim on Gar, with no pretense at stealth.  Apparently he thinks the alien is easy pickings.

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan mutters under his breath, "Maybe you do," but he wraps that thought up in exchange for a more cheerful, {You got it!} for Raká's benefit.  Best to make sure he stays on his game.
    As for Gar himself, just how good he'll be at this game is very much up in the air, like the rest of them.  He remains in motion, as a stationary target is a too easy target, and when one of the hunters flies directly at him without even trying to feint or fool him, Gar lets Akiár instinct and his own experience as one take over.  As the hand comes for one of his ribbons, his wings fan out to help him surge into a quick burst just over the other one, then the wings and his body tuck to loop back down and under prior to veering off to one side with a hand of his own darting out.
    Upon righting himself, one of the hunter's ribbons dangles from said hand.  {Forgetting something over there?} he asks, the tone of his mental words full of innocence, but also some level of smugness.  His pair remain draped off his belt, dangling past his feet, shifting with the breeze and any movements.

Kian has posed:
    "Ai, qokh!"  So unmanned—unbirded?—by the surprise of losing a ribbon to Gar, the hunter completely fails to see Kían take aim from above and swoop by to relieve him of his second ribbon.
    "Ai, QOKH!!"
    Kían has never provided a translation of that word, but considering the tone of voice, it's probably something even Vic would save for a special occasion.
    The assembled friends and family—at least those of Kían—on the sidelines burst into an unearthly racket of trills, chirps and keens.  "Ki-ai, tenár'h!  You an' I are bringin' this game back to Eart' wit' us, you are a natural!"
    «In Akiár'shak for the rest of us, showoff!!» Keth calls to his big brother, although with more amusement than annoyance.  «And excellent grab, both of you!»
    «Like you haven't seen me play, Keth!»  Switching seamlessly to telepathic contact, he adds urgently, {And look out behind you!}  Gar might just be able to intercept the incoming opposing hunter, if he moves fast.
    Kían for his part has one blocker trying to herd him into a corner where an opposing hunter awaits… but the look on his face is one of utter confidence.

Gar Logan has posed:
    That's one thing Gar hasn't really done yet as an Akiár—their bird-like chatter.  At least like this, he can understand the general meanings of what he hears from them.  The move may have been beginner's luck on Gar's part, but perhaps Raká's more on target than he thought with saying he's a natural, and now Kían says as much too.  For one's first grab to be in defense of a hunter coming at him, and scoring before one of his own hunters finishes off the knockout?
    Trill, chirp, and keen away!
    The 'Garkiar' shows off by clamping down on the ribbon between his teeth, adding, {We're just getting started!}  He could grow to like this game, if they can find enough flyers on Earth to make it work.
    The warning comes just in time, Gar catching a glimpse out of the corner of a sharp eye, rolling off to one side as the fingertips of the hunter skim a ribbon only for it to twist away from him.  Gar does not follow up with a grab this time, sending out a general 'thanks' before surging back in closer proximity to the other hunters on his side.  He's supposed to be keeping the opponents clear of them.

Kian has posed:
    Nearly boxed in to a corner, Kían just folds up his wings and drops like a stone away from the hunter and blocker both, unfolding them again once clear of his pursuers and flitting away, on the prowl for his next victim… er, target.  His brother Keth—now that they're alongside each other, it's amazing how alike they are—drops in just above and behind him, then peels off to get in the way of a blocker trying to herd Raká towards an opposing hunter.  During the brief moment of confusion, Kían strikes… but misses.
    Kiár, however, does not, and another blocker is down to one ribbon.
    Although the other team are doing a good job of shielding their minds, it's pretty clear they regard Gar as an actual threat on the field and not as easy pickings: the other two hunters converge on him from beneath.

Gar Logan has posed:
    All it takes is one quick surprise and elimination for the other hunters to stop taking you lightly.  The first one, maybe understandably, decided to see what Gar had, and he found himself out in a one-two tandem strike.  It puts the other side at a disadvantage with one of the hunters out, but not done yet.  Any elimination helps.
    Gar starts for Raká to aid him, after seeing the way Kían avoids the attempt to trap him—clever, that—and he can't do the same thing because of the hunters moving upward in their pursuit.
    What to do, what to do.  He sends across a need for help, the hunters treating him like prey, and although he attempts a feint to one side before surging in the other direction, he does get away from them… but not before one has claimed a ribbon, just getting the hand around the end of it.  No margin for error, now.
    {I couldn't get out of it!  What did the other one say?  Qokh!}  He drops his prize from his mouth, letting it flutter down toward the netting below.  Now he's got to be extra careful.
    With a blocker trying to shade him and pinch him toward another one, he grunts under his breath and rolls off, up and around in an arc that causes the blocker to turn into the path of the sun in trying to follow him.  It brings him adjacent to that blocker, and both hands swing out for a grab.  At least, he snags one of the ribbons before spinning off prior to giving the other one a chance to reach back.

Kian has posed:
    If Gar has no margin for error, neither does the other side now—already one down, and three of the remaining five down to one ribbon.  Two down—Shíri relieves one of the blockers of his remaining ribbon and he flits off the field.
    Unfortunately Keth follows shortly, getting pincered between a hunter and a blocker, he loses one ribbon, and then the other in short order.
    Kiár and Raká are trying to set up one of the other team's hunters, but she's lightning fast, and they're having more than a little trouble.  {Gar!  Help us cut her off!}

Gar Logan has posed:
    For a few moments, Gar is left unchecked.  There isn't a great opening for him to take advantage of, so he compensates by running interference, causing one of the blockers to rotate off into Shíri's path so she can claim his ribbon.  Another down.
    Then Keth is gone faster than any of them can move to help.  Two hunters on his side, going against one of the remaining from the other.  {On it!} he sends back, and so far he's doing better than expected with focusing on who should hear it, who shouldn't.
    As he takes off to try redirecting the speedy hunter, the other one still left is making an effort to use the distraction to come up on both Raká and Kían.  He spots this.  {One behind you, trying to sneak!}

Kian has posed:
    {Watch out for her, she's our team's coach!} Kían warns, diving to the attack.  And Kían's year and a half in heavier gravity becomes evident again—he's actually faster than her, and she looks shocked when she realizes it.
    The encounter between the two is only a fraction of a second.  Kían comes away with one of her ribbons… but she's grabbed one of his.  «Wha—how?»  Kían sounds genuinely shocked himself.
    «Fastest hands in the league!» she replies with a laugh… and sets her sights on Raká.

Gar Logan has posed:
    {Oh, really?} Gar retorts, and a look forms in his expression.  What's life without risk?  He's taken more than his fair share of them as a Titan, done things others would not imagine because of what he is and what they aren't.
    Why should a game faze him?  He's been a gamer as long as he can remember.  There have been challenges in the training facility with the others.  This is just a new version of flag football, tag, capture the flag.  And, he's no slouch in the air.  The benefits Kían draws from the difference in gravity, Gar's lived there twenty years, just about.  That's a lot more than a year and a half.
    While that coach trades with Kían, leaving both of them with one apiece, Gar decides on changing it up.  She's targeted Raká, and now he's targeting her.  Flip the script.  Blocker to Hunter.  Prey to Predator.
    Maybe they have birds as fast as the peregrine falcon, maybe not.  It isn't to say an Akiár can fly that quickly, but this isn't Gar's first flight.  He's had that, literally and figuratively.
    With Raká being chased, Gar surges into pursuit, wings tucking by his sides as he divebombs toward the coach, almost recklessly.  Fast, maybe too fast, and with her attention elsewhere he slips a hand out at the last moment, trailing it past her side as he pulls up, grabbing….

Kian has posed:
    …and at the last second she rolls slightly, her ribbon going just out of reach.  {Sorry, pretty green bird, but I am not being taken down by a first time player!} she 'sends to Gar, and with remarkable agility, twists around to make a grab at Gar's remaining ribbon… just failing to grab it, her concentration being broken by Kiár flashing by.
    {Missing something, Kála?}
    «What?  Ai, qokh
    Kiár spends half a second too long gloating, though, and it costs him a ribbon.
    That's not enough to level the playing field, though.  Reduced to two blockers and a hunter, and minus their best player, and all three remaining down to one ribbon each, it's kind of a foregone conclusion.  Kían and Shíri eliminate the hunter and a blocker, and Kála throws in the towel, calling an end to the proceedings via a dignified resignation rather than an embarassing elimination.  «Gods above and within, Kían, if you'd flown like that before, you'd've made the interclan league… and you, Gar, are you sure this is the first time you've played qihár

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan snaps a finger in passing.  He'd tried to channel the peregrine during his pursuit, something he had not exactly tried before while Akiár.  Didn't quite work, but it helps lead to a flurry of activity.
    He misses, then he's missed.  Kiár gets Kála, then Kiár himself is out.  All in a matter of moments.
    Gar spins away to create space, his remaining ribbon trailing with him, then the final moves bring about the end by surrender.
    This time, when he cheers, it does come out like a trill and he stops to blink at this.  {Haha, I was that close to getting you!  And I feel like I've played it before.  He's shown me.  I saw it through him.}  He gestures toward Kían, adding as his wings now keep him hovering, {And did you call me a pretty green bird?}  He's grinning at this, a little crookedly.  He did last to the end, surely no small feat for a novice.

Kian has posed:
    Kían swoops up to congratulate Gar with a kiss.  {Why shouldn't she?  You are a pretty green bird!}  He's positively exultant, although not actually gloating over their win.  «I really thought I had you cleanly, Kála.  That was an unbelievable grab you made.»
    She beams at him, with the pride of a coach who's done a good job.  «You did have me cleanly.  I just got you cleanly in return.»  She spirals down to the ground; her team follows, as does Kían, waving his team to do the same.
    Kían actually looks a little winded, probably the first time Gar has seen him out of breath from flying.

Gar Logan has posed:
    Gar Logan's wings twitch and flick briefly from the unexpected 'reward' from Kían, which leads to a pause afterward before he returns it.  That's right, the Akiár are a sharing society.  There's already been some of that going on with the shifter, the cat, and the bird.  {Well, yes.  I am,} he agrees after a moment.
    Everyone else gets a curious look out of him, for he's quite interested to see what the rest of them made of his maiden flight in the game, and he adds to Kála, {I think I got the basics pretty good.  I'd definitely play this again.  I'm gonna need a good soak, though.}  Unsurprisingly, his shoulders are going to tighten up a little.  Lots of wing exertion there, also breathing more heavily.
    {This game is kind of similar to some of ours, except we don't have a version that's all in the air like this.  Almost nobody can fly on my planet, except with planes and ships.}  He includes a visual thought of a typical passenger jet for them to understand as he angles back lower.
    {Do we go eat now?  What are your favorite foods?}  Leave it to Gar to think about that.

Kian has posed:
    There's plenty of mindchatter, and much of it is in fact about Gar's successful debut, and hopefully Gar doesn't find it too overwhelming.  Kían for his part is completely in his element, enjoying not the victory so much as just getting to play again, chattering happily with Kála over some of the plays that got made.
    It is a perfectly normal day in the life of any average Akiár—maybe that's what Kían is happiest about right now.
    «A word of warning… don't let Gar in your kitchens unsupervised, you'll get cleaned out,» Kían says with a smirk, and leads the way back to his home.
    Yes, there will be food.