Rise of the New Warriors, Part 5

Summary:
August 4, 2014: Friends from the heavens above and the depths below meet on the boardwalk.

New York Harbour

A pier off the New York harbour.


Characters

NPCs


Mood Music:


Smell that salt air. It, it doesn't feel like home. That would be an overstatement. The surface world could never truly be considered an Atlantean's home, but it's still a nice place to live. And Garth has adapted well. He's learned English, he’s acclimatised, he’s even largely gotten over that dependency on water. Nowadays, it’s less of a crippling weakness, and more of an inconvenience, like someone with diabetes or a common allergy.

He comes down here to think, to be close to the water. But this water is hardly clean. It's off New York's harbour. As much as he would enjoy a swim, he isn't going to be diving into that filth anytime soon. Dressed for a day at the pier, he wears an off-white woollen sweater, brown belt, and blue jeans, and brown leather shoes.

He leans against the railing on the pier, watching the people go by, children eating cotton candy, someone playing a squirt gun game. Oh look, they won a prize. The vendor gives the teen his stuffed bear, though, it sounds like he’s having a bit of a temper tantrum that he didn’t win enough points to get the prize he really wanted. Poor guy.

*

The crowd clears more and there is one spectacle hard to miss, walking up along the squirt gun game a woman towers above most, flame red hair resting in waves like lava down her shoulders, spilling down her back and nearly brushing the ground, framing the offset of sunset tawny flesh. From crown to feet and then from armour clad feet the encasing of heavy purple armour coats long legs to cease at mid thigh, leaving the expanse bare until a few strips of that metal arc over her hips. Abdomen is bare until the covering of her chest where it seems simplistic in the 'nary there cusping coverage.

The unhappy child is regarded by pupil-less green gaze, a small frown twisting Starfire's lips as she hands the vendor a few crumpled bills and gives it a shot… That water stream lamely arching to barely hit the target. The vendor offers her the same bear the child holds and Starfire waves it off, tossing him another couple of bills as she lowers a bit more to accommodate her height and take aim once more. This time she focuses…

The target dings, the balloon pops and the lights go. The vendor just stares, puzzled but none the less offers the larger prize - Starfire letting the child choose and walking away. Victory! And on the other end of that target there is a hole in the booths wall, melted into place.

So she cheated.

*

Arms folded, back against the railing, Garth got to watch it all. At first, he was going to go over and say hi, but as he came to realise what was playing out between Koriand'r, the child, and the vendor, he couldn't help but watch in amusement. He could have helped her out, he could have manipulated the water, but he wanted to see what she would do.

And so he grins, pleased to see her, and humoured by her actions. He pushes off from the railing, and heads on over to greet her. He has to make his way through the crowd, past a mother and child who wants to try the squirty gun thingy, just like the lava lady. The little girl points, “but I wanna,” as her mother takes her, “you can do it when you’re older.”

Reaching her, Garth thinks about offering a hand, but instead spreads both hands, wondering if Koriand'r will recognise him, or know that he’s gesturing to hug her. He had to learn about human customs once himself, but while he’s at least from this planet, she is completely alien to this world, “Koriand'r, it’s so great to see you!”

*

Starfire gains stares, some people steering away, or leaving the pier entirely, others admire, or wander closer with childlike curiosity. Mostly like the small child that comes up, touches her armoured leg and runs away giggling much to the mother's dismay… Only to be ushered away under chiding tones.

Alien's are basically unknown, and Koriand'r is met with apprehension or the assumption she is one of those cosplayers. So far no one has gone the way of freaking out and using lethal force against her… Save those she fights against for this orbiting rock.

Garth's actions bring her rolling stride to a stop. Keeping an ample amount of distance between them as she assesses him with a sweep of that emerald gaze from toe to head and then his arms, leaving it hard to discern the exact placement with a lack of pupils, emotion left out.

Years have passed and the woman has changed, there is light there somewhere beneath the hardened warrior alien exterior, but nothing like before. Once recognition comes in though it seems to dawn like the slow peek of sun over the horizon, her smile a lop-sided grin to go with the tilt of her head.

A peer from left. Then right, she steps in and suddenly closes that gap between herself and Tempest and hugs the man in a crushing embrace.

*

A startled tone escapes from the Atlantean's lips as his alien friend's embrace crushes him. It's a good thing he's sturdy. A hug like that might have crushed Arsenal's windpipe. Although they have both changed in the years since they last saw each other, they remain the people they were. He is Garth of Atlantis, and she is Koriand'r of Tamaron.

He holds her close to him, smiling even through the discomfort of such a tight embrace, and he will eventually let go, and politely wait for her to do the same. When he finally is released, he’s still grinning broadly, not really having a care about the crowd they’ve attracted. “As I was saying, it’s so great to see you Kory. You look, different, as I imagine I do.”

He gestures to the scars upon his face, two deep cuts. “this is obviously new, battle scars,” he imagines she’d appreciate that, “and I go by Tempest now.” Yep, he has no secret identity, nothing to hide. He is Garth. He is Tempest. Everyone who wants to know that, is welcome to. For what little it’s worth to them.

*

Once Starfire is done accosting the man, her gauntleted arms unwind from around him, releasing the tight hold upon him with a moments apologetic glance just before readjusting that armour and stepping back.

Watching his movements and indications as he speaks, Starfire quirks her lips lightly at the scars. She appreciates them, has plenty of her own she wears just as openly on the bare spans of exposed skin, but it takes a lot to garner such a thing on Starfires physiology, and hers are newer as well, but nowhere near as harsh at what is beneath the skin.

"Trials… and time do things to people. It's expected." She states it without a care, as aloof as her smile now. "Starfire, but I am just as fine with my real name."

She cannot hide her identity, it is impossible and honestly, she cares little for coddling emotions. "Tempest is fitting for you, if I recall." At the final statement brows furrow in thought, her mind a web of holes like swiss cheese..

*

Making a mental note to refer to her as Starfire, or Star, from now on, Garth agrees with her assessment of his new codename. "Well, I couldn't go by Aqualad forever. Some things have to be left behind…” and the way he looks to the side, there is more to that story, but he is not prepared to expand on them.

“But, how are you, Starfire? What happened to you? I tried to call you, but, your phone number had been disconnected.” He doesn’t think he was singled out, but he is curious what’s happened to her in the years since they last met.

Seeing the crowd of people, he gently puts a hand behind her back, trying to steer her to walk with him, so that they can have at least the semblance of privacy in this public space. “As for myself, I’ve become a High Councillor of Atlantis, which somehow means I spend all my time on the surface world.” It doesn’t make much sense to him either.

*

Starfire is watching Garth closely, reading people’s faces, actions… It's something she can do well enough especially when some things are worn somewhat openly. Some subjects bring out even the slightest tic and at the mention in stature change as well as name change she nods slowly. He eluded going further and she is not one to press, offering in return exactly what he gave.

"I do not think the cell phone would have reached my home planet. I went home, it's no more… My people number less then my hand can hold and they are with me. Free…" Her own face twisted at the final word, but lightened quickly with it as well, her hands uncurling from fists as they walked on and away from the crowds.

"Congratulations! Right?" The moment of elation for Garth gets yet another curious glance, that was the right word? Right??

*

The Atlantean is thankful when she does not press for further details on the matter, and walks with her along the pier. Her story though, it shocks him. “No more,” he repeats, wondering about her planet, but careful not to push the issue. His body language screams curiosity, but he says no more on it.

Clearly, she’s endured pain that he can only imagine. His life has hardly been a soft and gentle one, but he still has his friends, a foster family of sorts, a kingdom, a life. But for her species to be critically endangered, that is another level entirely.

He smiles, “got it in one, Starfire,” and nods that she did use the appropriate term. And moving onto a happier subject, he reveals, “it's a good thing too. I was able to arrange for something special. Remember how a lot of us used to fight together, go on adventures, fight evil and such, well, I’ve been working with some of the old gang, and we’re going to form a team.” He waits, trying to gauge her reaction, and adds, “We’re calling it the New Warriors.”

*

When Garth says she got it she smiles, a fleeting thing in brevity as she also noted his curiosity and does not feed into it. It is nothing she desires to share, or dwell on.

His moving on is met with much more happiness, though what he speaks of gets nothing from her but an even look that does not give way to her emotion on the matter, a brow rising slowly. "Who is 'we'?" Starfire inquires, as they reach an end of the pier that has them in relative privacy, leaning over to rest her elbows on the banister railing while the light wind manages to tug a few red strands free to twist and dance across her face. Looking out over the water she does not look at Garth quite yet, she's gathering her mind together, trying to fit pieces.

*

When they reach the end of the pier, Garth places his hands on the railing again. He looks out at the setting sun, which seems to eerily match the colour of Starfire's skin. "Over the past few days and weeks, I've spoken to Robin, who now goes by Nightwing, Speedy, who's now called Arsenal, Raven, Magma, Iceman, the Human Torch, Stargirl, and few others. Some you know, some you might not. I've been finding that everyone seems to know someone. But they're all heroes, and all committed to helping people.”

“We're going to be our own team, doing what we want. We won't answer to anyone, but between us, we have a lot of resources to lean on. As High Councillor of Atlantis, I've arranged for Atlantis to fit the bill for the headquarters. They've already started upgrading the old Warrior Plaza building. Though that's between us. It was supposed to be a secret.”

Turning against the railing to look at her, he offers, “there would always be a place for you Starfire, if you want it?”

*

There's a stillness in Starfire now, one that couldn't be moved with blunt force trauma, she seems like a Greek goddess statue there, beholding the polluted scenery of the city and the littered waters. The only thing that moves is her hair in the night-wrought breeze that carries a chillier temperature.

Finally her hand rises and captures her hair, pulling down those errant strands, twisting them into the length and pulling it over one shoulder. Something about that gesture shows the unease.

"This is my home, I'll defend it by my own means." Righting herself and now looking directly upon Tempest she reaches out and strokes fingertips along his cheek and jaw, patting just before departure. "I'm best as I am."

Smoothing her hands over her hair she looks away, out towards the setting sun and then towards the encroaching darkness. "Time changes things." The tone in her voice almost cracks and then she is gone, in a trail of comets tail light that follows her like that of a falling meteor.

*

Nightwing had a similar response, so her apparent rejection doesn't hurt as much as it would have otherwise, but it is still a blow. Seeing her, he thought it kismet. He had gone years without seeing her, so maybe it was a bit too much, too soon. But, it meant a lot to him, what he was trying to do. And he held out the hope that one day, she might see things as he did.

He leans in to the stroke of his cheek and jaw. His skin is hot, far hotter than a humans, but not hot enough to burn her. Atlantean physiology has its quirks. They're usually good, but not always. But he is given hope when she mentions that time changes things, “well, Starfire, I’m sorry to hear that, but you will always have a place among the Warriors.”

And as he looks on at the setting sun, he makes a mental note to exchange phone numbers with her before she leaves. After all, he would hate to go years without seeing her again.


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